30 July 2008

Bees join hunt for serial killers

"Bees join hunt for serial killers," adds a tiny snippet to my pitiful store of knowledge:

"The researchers' analysis describes how bees create a "buffer zone" around their hive where they will not forage, to reduce the risk of predators and parasites locating the nest. It turns out that this pattern of behaviour is similar to the geographic profile of criminals stalking their victims."

Dr Nigel Raine, from Queen Mary College, University of London, came up with the theory, based on tagging and observing foraging patterns of bumble bees.

Dr Raine also states "Bees' pollination 'services' account for about one in three mouthfuls of food that we eat as humans. They pollinate a huge diversity of our fruit and vegetable crops."

Does he mean all bees, from bumble to honey, I wonder?

Smart bees

This was published on 15 January this year. Always nice to be up with the news, eh?


23 July 2008

CCD: We are not brought down except by ourselves

Feral bees are subject to nature's ailments: varroa, nosema, acarine, viruses and more. The selective pressure on wild bees is for reproductive success and survival, a heavy element of which is dictated by the ability to resist disease. Hardy bees will tend to be selected.

Commercially kept bees are to some degree insulated from disease. The selective pressure imposed by beekeepers is directed towards honey-making. Productive, unstingy and unswarmy bees will tend to be selected.

Diseases borne by feral bees will, from time to time, transfer to the commercial population. The disease variants will tend to be vigorous (they have contended in an arms race with the much hardier feral bees), and, on some occasions, entirely new to the commercial population.

The result is CCD.

We are not brought down except by ourselves.

21 July 2008

A World Without Bees

A world without bees hunts for the answer to the CCD calamities facing modern commercial beekeeping.

Worth reading, even if the quote from Albert Einstein is utter twaddle.
You can order A world without bees, by Alison Benjamin & Brian McCallum, from http://www.guardianbooks.co.uk/

16 July 2008

Jammy devil (it's all turned out well)

With a little help from Peter B, it turns out that (brace yourself) both hives *do* have brood in them.

Clearly, better eyesight would help, alongside a dose of patience.

As Peter put it, "Despite doing almost everything wrong, both hives are thriving, full of bees, brood and honey. You're a jammy devil."

Pic from http://www.coil.co.uk/

14 July 2008


After consulting with Peter B, things do not look good.

The hive split was on 21 June. If things went well, there should now be new queens (21 June + 16 days = 7 July). Assuming they are mated and laying, the new queens would have started to produce brood cells by now.

On inspection on 12 July, there was no visible brood.


12 July 2008

Now I am *utterly* baffled

To recap: the single original hive had larvae both above and below the queen excluder, so I moved half the frames into a new hive, and (re)placed queen excluders on top of both. The aim was to split the original confused colony into two hives, and hope that the bees would re-queen as necessary.

Well ... it seems to have worked. I now have two thriving colonies. And yet bizarrely, I could find absolutely no trace of brood in either hive.

After a full hive inspection - right down to the bottom board and looking at every frame - I saw no larvae. No drone cells. No queen cells. Yet the bees are very busy, and I even took four frames of honey out of each hive.

What on earth is going on? Now I am *utterly* baffled.