26 May 2009

Murdering beekeeper gets caught out by honey trap


Now work that one out!

My two WBC hives stand in the same apiary, around 2m apart, facing the same way, with bees split* from the same original colony in May 2008.

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

“Incompetence - When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.”

23 May 2009

Plight of the bumblebee

In the garden this afternoon, I noticed that on a single plant there were six bumblebees. On a nearby flowering redcurrant, ditto.

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

Why become a beekeeper?

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

Yet another excellent bee blog

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

C'mon, Colin

Disappointingly, Colin (who commented on my rude remarks about pseudoscience at www.yourhealthfoodstore.co.uk) has not yet sent me the research that backs his claims about the antibacterial and other properties of propolis.

Dettol, I understand, is antibacterial, but you won't catch me drinking it. Ditto propolis.

12 May 2009

Top-bar hive: diary of a novice beekeeper

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."

Visit http://novice-beekeeper.blogspot.com/

Great photos, and here's an example: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_V_Ri-waWrlg/Sf28RUB6n0I/AAAAAAAAAEQ/s2AVeEtd-Aw/s1600-h/IMG_7107.JPG

What has happened to Turlough?

The best bee blogger on earth has stopped blogging. What has happened to Turlough?

News, please.

11 May 2009

Fears of global decline in bees dismissed as demand for honey grows

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 [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5]. To date, evidence for a global crisis has been drawn from regional or local declines in pollinators themselves [6], [7], [8] and [9] or insufficient pollination for particular crops [9] and [10]. In contrast, our analysis of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) [11] data reveals that the global population of managed honey-bee hives has increased not, vert, similar45% 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 [12]. 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.

Credit: Tara C found this article for me!


09 May 2009

How much honey will I get this year?

Currently I have two WBC hives, with a total of seven supers. Last year, one hive with three supers produced about 25kg of honey, and I still have masses of it yet to give away (~not for sale at any price~).

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

Fruity-Sweet Hilltop Beekeeper

Nice story from http://hilltopbeekeeper.blogspot.com/2008/12/solstice-in-bee-yard.html

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

Opening the doors to Iraq's students

Among bad news, we find some good: the Brits are offering beekeeping courses to Iraqi students.


05 May 2009

This you have to see...

This you have to see: http://azizler.blogspot.com/ with some tremendous links to other sites.

Turlough, are you watching? (http://turlough.blogspot.com/2007/09/bell-jar-bees-slide-show.html)

04 May 2009

Regina Mortuous Est? Vivat Regina!

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

Decimation, NZ-style

Reasonably current summary of the plight of bees in New Zealand, written by Sue Kedgley, the NZ Green Party spokeswoman on food safety and the environment.

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