16 October 2009
14 October 2009
12 October 2009
09 October 2009
The Vanishing of the Bees is the latest in a flood of bee films (http://vanishingbees.co.uk/)
Stretching credulity, Liam Gallagher presents a short promo on the plight of bees, complete with yoof swagger, Mockney and strange hand movements (see http://vanishingbees.co.uk/blog/liam_and_the_bees/).
08 October 2009
The Last Beekeeper, produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, follows the lives of three commercial beekeepers in South Carolina, Montana, and Washington. Over the course of a year they struggle to come to terms with the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. CCD threatens crops and world food supply along with the livelihoods of beekeepers.
07 October 2009
Max (apiary warden) and the bee inspector (David Rudland, I think) noted that the bees had particularly bad infestations of varroa. Part of the problem was that I had put the Apiguard trays on top of the crown board rather than on top of the brood box. This, I am told, makes it less effective. I know pefectly well that the Apiguard should go on the brood box. D'oh.
The second part of the problem was that some beekeepers think it makes no difference - it's purely whether the bees actually take their medicine, not whether it's on the crown board or brood box.
Ask two beekeepers, get three answers.
30 September 2009
The apiary warden, Max, wrote "Both [your] hives have very bad varroa. You will see dead pupae and bees without wings. You need another treatment which needs to go on top of the brood box, not the super. Without further treatment the bees probably will not make it through the winter."
25 September 2009
What makes a blog sticky?
In my case, trying to extract around 90lbs of honey makes a blog sticky... and most of the kitchen, my hair, the computer keyboard and two small children, for a start.
Honey for home use is put in the nearest jar to hand. Tip top tip: clean former pickled gherkin jars with extra care...
16 September 2009
14 September 2009
12 September 2009
08 September 2009
27 August 2009
17 August 2009
11 August 2009
10 August 2009
05 August 2009
03 August 2009
01 August 2009
A source of youth and vitality?
This is the question that many worldwide scientists have been asked about bee pollen and propolis, substances from which bee bread is made. Researchers in Russia have investigated the long living people of the Caucasus region and found that most of them were bee keepers too poor to eat the clear honey, which they sold locally, they however ate the scraps of honey and pollen (bee bread) found at the bottom of the hive. It was concluded that eating these scraps, which were almost pure pollen was the reason for their longevity.
Carlson Wade writes in his book Bee Pollen and Your Health, "Two of the greatest gerontologists of the USSR, professors Nikita Mankoysky and D. G. Chebotarev, have also found that pollen is able to cause self-renewal or rejuvination and add years to the life span."
(a) bee bread is not almost pure pollen [that would be called 'pollen'], it is pollen, honey and all kinds of things, such as fungi and bacteria
(b) citing a researcher is from Foreign Parts with a funny-sounding name does not make the research valid (see http://mellifera.blogspot.com/2009/07/ever-wondered-how-bee-is-able-to-fly.html)
(c) quoting from a book does not make the evidence any better than asking your granny (I should know, I have written two books)
(d) most importantly, hens' teeth in a light suspension of snake oil is much more effective than propolis and pollen at extending human lifespan (I should know, I am 371 years old and from the far galaxy came I did).
30 July 2009
29 July 2009
""We're no longer allowed to use this story about not understanding bee flight as an example of where science has failed, because it is just not true," Dickinson* says.
The secret of honeybee flight, the researchers say, is the unconventional combination of short, choppy wing strokes, a rapid rotation of the wing as it flops over and reverses direction, and a very fast wing-beat frequency.
Read more at http://www.physorg.com/news8616.html
*Michael H. Dickinson, the Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering (and his postdoctoral student Douglas L. Altshuler and their colleagues at Caltech and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas).
28 July 2009
27 July 2009
23 July 2009
21 July 2009
20 July 2009
Average daily maximum temperature 21.8 oC (0.9oC above average)
Highest daily maximum 29.7oC
Lowest night minimum 5.8oC
Rainfall was 33.4 mm 68% of the average.
16 July 2009
There were probably eight or ten wasps in the hive - and those were just the few I could see. The bees were chasing them around, but not out.
Not sure what to do about this.
Pic from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_jacket
15 July 2009
14 July 2009
09 July 2009
02 July 2009
05 June 2009
"Thank you for your order. This is an assembled hive and this department is
extremely busy. It should be despatched in two or three days."
Curious how they focus on their issues rather than their customers' requests. "Sorry" would have helped.
Of course the moral of this story is... order your hives in good time.
26 May 2009
Hive Alpha (the original) has a brood/half, and four supers. Two supers are full and capped, and the other two are about half full each.
Hive Beta has exactly the same layout. No supers are full, and there are fewer bees than in Alpha - at a guess, half the number - and the bees are smaller.
Now work that one out!
*I avoid the 'artificial swarm' term. It was more like 'incompetent jumbling.' See entry
23 May 2009
Though these were not the big fat fellers, they were definitely bees of the bumble kind, and plenty of them.
No honeybees, though.
21 May 2009
Found this on http://www.apitherapy.biz/home.html :
"The law requires that we make no health claims, whether true, supported by scientific research or not, for the remedies we make and sell. Supporting scientific research is available elsewhere on the internet and we are always happy to answer your queries or problems either by email or on the telephone. This is a free advisory service."
And on the same page, this:
"Royal Jelly - nature’s rejuvenator may help in the relief of symptoms of ailments such as PMT and arthritis, may encourage healthy skin, hair and nails and may help with the promotion of overall wellbeing. This product is shipped in a cold pack to ensure maximum freshness on receipt."
By the way, Royal Jelly retails at £10 per 50g (that's £200/kg, or about £50/lb).
20 May 2009
Small section of an article in http://www.theecologist.org/pages/archive_detail.asp?content_id=2468 about Tony Spacey, ex-paratrooper now beekeeper:
‘I got into bee farming because my hands won’t fit up their arse,’ Tony tells me by way of introduction. ‘I come from a farming background in southern Africa. When I was four I saw my grandfather’s arm well and truly buried in an uncomfortable place in a cow and the old boy turned and smiled at me and said, “One day, you can do this.” From then on I decided to become a soldier.’ He spent 18 years as a paratrooper, leading bayonet charges in Angola, winning several medals and generally being ‘not really a pacifist’.
Find Littleover Apiaries at http://www.littleoverapiaries.com/
The site is full of cobblers about 'active honey' and general pseduoscience, but Tony S is obviously a successful and (I guess) very good beekeeper.
17 May 2009
Try out http://muratakin26.blogspot.com/
I am embarrassed even more than usual to say that the language is entirely foreign to me; I'm guessing at Turkish...
I often intend to post explanatory pictures about the techniques of beekeeping, but the pictures on http://muratakin26.blogspot.com are waaaaay better than I could hope to produce.
16 May 2009
Dettol, I understand, is antibacterial, but you won't catch me drinking it. Ditto propolis.
12 May 2009
I particularly like this blog, for its incompetent sub-text... "So I have built the top bar hive to his design + a few deliberate changes and few inadvertant modifications."
Great photos, and here's an example: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_V_Ri-waWrlg/Sf28RUB6n0I/AAAAAAAAAEQ/s2AVeEtd-Aw/s1600-h/IMG_7107.JPG
11 May 2009
The Times Online 8 May 2009 reports: "While bees have been dying out in Britain, Europe and the US, managed bee numbers worldwide having been thriving because of global demand for honey, biologists suggest in the journal Current Biology. They also say that the bulk of agriculture, including wheat and rice, does not rely on pollination."
The article is based on an academic study, titled "Global Stock of Domesticated Honey Bees Is Growing Slower Than Agricultural Demand for Pollination."
Summary [from the article]
The prospect that a global pollination crisis currently threatens agricultural productivity has drawn intense recent interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public , , ,  and . To date, evidence for a global crisis has been drawn from regional or local declines in pollinators themselves , ,  and  or insufficient pollination for particular crops  and . In contrast, our analysis of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)  data reveals that the global population of managed honey-bee hives has increased 45% during the last half century and suggests that economic globalization, rather than biological factors, drives both the dynamics of the global managed honey-bee population and increasing demands for agricultural pollination services . Nevertheless, available data also reveal a much more rapid (>300%) increase in the fraction of agriculture that depends on animal pollination during the last half century, which may be stressing global pollination capacity. Although the primary cause of the accelerating increase of the pollinator dependence of commercial agriculture seems to be economic and political and not biological, the rapid expansion of cultivation of many pollinator-dependent crops has the potential to trigger future pollination problems for both these crops and native species in neighboring areas. Such environmental costs merit consideration during the development of agriculture and conservation policies.
09 May 2009
A) How much honey will I get this year? (10 marks)
B) What the devil am I going to do with it? (90 marks)
Answers, please. Additional marks for use of English and clarity of expression.
07 May 2009
So making it to late December with six of my seven hives still alive and kicking is pretty good. I pulled the top cover from the dead hive, popped off the inner cover and peered inside. There was no cluster of bees to obscure my view through the three boxes to the bottom. But strangely, the bottom of the hive had very few dead bees. I had a bad thought: colony collapse disorder? A lifeless hive mostly free of dead bees is one of the signs.
I started taking the hive apart so I could clean it up for spring and store it. I removed the top box. Then the second.
In the bottom box: a tiny cluster of live bees, tucked away in the rear left quadrant of the hive.
I was happy (an understatement) to see them, but of course they weren't glad at all. In a flash, a few of the bees were up in my face and tangled up in my hair. I was able to swat most of them away, but a couple caught me in the hand. In another second, I could smell the fruity-sweet scent of their sting pheremone.
Neat blog, http://hilltopbeekeeper.blogspot.com/
06 May 2009
05 May 2009
04 May 2009
Despite my reshuffle of the boxes on my last visit, I discovered that there are still larvae above the queen excluder in Hive Bravo.
(See http://mellifera.blogspot.com/2008/06/time-will-tell.html and following. Do you ever get the feeling that history is repeating itself?)
Owing to stupendous incompetence, my last visit (see http://mellifera.blogspot.com/2009/04/chancing-it-yet-again.html) failed to solve the problem. On today's visit, in effect I moved the excluder rather than messing about with individual boxes, and swapped everything top to bottom. I am fairly confident that her majesty is now below the excluder.
Incompetent coda: Though these are WBC hives, I have a couple of second-hand National boxes (they kind-of fit) with no castellation lugs and the frames to not have spacer tabs, either. When I picked up the first box the loose frames all slid down together, concertina-style, squishing lots of bees and, possibly killing the queen, too.
If that's the case, let's trust in good weather and the bees' instinct to re-queen. Regina Mortuous Est? Vivat Regina!
Super photo from http://www.beemaster.com/site/honeybee/qpage.htm a really useful site.
03 May 2009
See it here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10570113&pnum=0
Sue, if I may be so familiar, says "But sharp declines in populations in the US, Canada and Europe have sparked global concern about bees, and the future of the world's food supplies if they continue to be decimated, as bees are essential to pollination and food production."
Besides the loose syntax of the sub-clause, I really dislike use of the verb 'to decimate' to refer to something that is clearly not decimation.
How fogeyish I am become.
01 May 2009
Thank you, Colin, for the comment on yesterday's post (http://mellifera.blogspot.com/2009/04/propolis-and-other-sticky-topics.html):
"The fact is Toby, that without PROPOLIS there would be no bees, no hives and no honey.
It has been proved to be a natural antibacterial agent, it strengthens the immune system, and moreover acts as a protection against the flu virus.
All proved in research."
You may well be right , though I question your grasp of cause and effect. I suspect it runs more like bees then honey and propolis. Regardless, you still won't catch me eating propolis (which, let's face it, is "No More Nails" for bees.)
Let's have the links to the research, then.
Pic from http://www.makingdiyeasier.co.uk/unibond/nomorenails.html
30 April 2009
29 April 2009
The announcement of a new beekeeping course also contains the usual hand-wringing about bee decline. The report includes the following:
"A decline in the number of flowers as food sources has led to a poorer environment for honeybees and is likely to have been a major factor in the 75% decrease in the number of hives over the past 100 years."
"The number of bees has decreased by 75% over the past 100 years."
Well, which is it? Were all bees in hives in past 100 years? Or perhaps the 75% of hives that went were the only full hives, and the remaining 25% devoid of bees?
None of the statements are sourced. For example, has the number of flowers (how do you count 'em?) declined? What about the vast fields of oilseed rape?
26 April 2009
Max, the apiary warden, has been kind enough to check on the bees while I child-wrangle our latest arrival. Max wrote: "If you are working as hard as your bees the wife should be happy. The top super is untouched but they are filling the next one down. If this weather continues it will be fine."
Yes, providing my box-switch-queen-excluder escapade in Hive Bravo actually worked...
Pic from http://www.beesource.com/pov/hayes/abjaug85.htm, well worth a visit
24 April 2009
Quite a good film on BBC4 "Who killed the honey bee" by Martha Kearney.
The odd part was, having not seen the intro titles, I was convinced that it was by Alison Benjamin and Brian McAllum, who wrote "A world without bees." In many ways, it was a televised version of their book.