27 August 2009

Straight dope (no, not that kind...)

Curious article from pre-history, namely May 2007, about why bees are disappearing.

Straight dope = information without adulteration or rigid kind of marujana or honest but stupid person?


Every time I visit the hives, I suit up top-to-toe -- and still the little buggers manage to get through!

A couple of bees were caught in the suit material by my shoulders, and stung me right on the collar-bone. I can now do my very own waggledance.

17 August 2009

Mary Celeste

Visited the hives on Saturday, and one (of three) was eerily quiet. Checked inside...

What seems to have happened is this:

- This hive had the shook swarm, with relatively few bees

- There are *tons* of wasps this summer

- On last inspection, I noticed (and killed) many wasps

- On last inspection, I closed up the hive entrance to help the bees defend the colony

- The wasps won the battle...


- This hive had the shook swarm, with relatively few bees

- The flying bees returned to the old hive

- Leaving an enfeebled colony, which died out

On the previous inspection there were plenty of bees and a laying queen. I will take the hive to bits and inspect more closely.

10 August 2009

Pollen, honey and hay fever

Ian Douglas, who "writes about technology, science, the internet and beekeeping" in the Telegraph, says (and I agree) that honey does not cure hay fever.
He writes "Honey does not contain pollen." Oh Yes It Does. His theory is that because honey does not contain pollen, it will be no good in a homeopathicky way to cure hay fever.
He goes on to add a proper argument, citing a small trial, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11868925, the conclusion of which was "This study does not confirm the widely held belief that honey relieves the symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis." My only caveat is the small (36) sample size.

05 August 2009

Beehaus & caravan accessories

A new version of Beehaus has been launched. It's a pity that it looks like a 1970s caravan accessory.
In my view, Beehaus is a good idea, because (a) it promotes beekeeping and (b) hive design has been static for years, and Beehaus may move it onwards. The basic design changes in Beehaus are (1)rectangular boxes of five frames each, which allows incremental expansion, and (2) full-depth division board to allow two hives on the same stand.
I use WBC hives - the ones with the sloping sides - probably the worst and most annoying. If I'm feeling flush, I might buy a Beehaus one day to try it out.
More details from http://www.omlet.co.uk/, and that's the photo source, too.

01 August 2009

Propolis, pollen and pseudoscience

Yes, yet more pseudoscience, this time from Rainbow Wellbeing (http://www.rainbowwellbeing.com/):

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).

So there.