30 September 2009


Apiary inspection today, because foulbrood has been found within 4 miles (6km).

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."
Thank you Max. I will be there in the morning.

25 September 2009

What makes a blog sticky?

In the early years of the internet, everyone talked about making their websites sticky. Talk of compelling content (porn), images (photoporn) and user interaction (chatporn) abounded.

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

Wax moth is a consistent and vexing problem

Some sources quote Galleria mellonela as the wax moth. Comparing photos with the moths on the comb, Achroia grisella is a closer physical match.

"Wax moth is a consistent and vexing problem in stored comb; the rate of moth development in a stack of stored supers rivals the imagination! "

14 September 2009

Moth disaster photos

And see the rest of the gory mess on the web (last few pics).

_____Diary of an_____ Incompetent Beekeeper

Failed hive: the culprit...

Over the weekend I took the failed hive apart, comb by comb... and the culprit was Achroia grisella, or wax moth. [OK, the real culprit was my incompetence, but let's skip daintily onwards...]

The infestation was truly total. Oddly, despite killing off the colony, there was not a single dead bee in the hive. Had the bees flown back to the original hive (this was a shook swarm), or had they chosen not to return to the hive and died elsewhere?

The combs were *covered* in fine filaments, forming a dense, cottony network supporting the cocoons and that (I guess) bees cannot navigate. The whole hive had an intensely perfumed, almost headily sweet, smell.

Pic from http://www.vc66.co.uk/mothweb/bnf1.htm, run by James Duffie

12 September 2009

CCD, Dave Hackenberg, religion

Found a 2007 report on CCD at http://www.manataka.org/page1705.html The piece was written by Linda Moulton Howe. She has her own site, http://www.earthfiles.com/, if you like that kind of thing.
It quotes Dave Hackenberg, often credited as the first person to raise the alert on CCD. His commercial colonies suffer a very great deal from CCD, it seems, which may tell us something.
The Manataka site (http://www.manataka.org/) is full of piffle. I particularly like the homepage image, which (probably unconsciously) demonstrates how religions/cults/kabals/nutjobs and the rest borrow iconography from a single core theme (open hands, rays of light etc).

08 September 2009

Manuka and pseudoscience

I often read claims about honey that I find somewhat dubious, to say the least. Following a comment (see below) from Manuka Honey Health (http://www.manukahoneyhealth.co.uk/), I thought it might be jolly to find out more about manuka.

Manuka is the common name for Leptospermum scoparium, or the tea tree to you and me (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leptospermum_scoparium), as in tea tree oil, tea tree shampoo, tea tree tea (OK, I made that one up).

There is no evidence for manuka honey or any monofloral honey (rape? heather?) being better for you, in any way, than multifloral honey. If there is evidence, let's see it.
One last thought: honey is, in so many words, bee-sick, or perhaps bee-spit.