Archive for the ‘Bee-ology’ Category

The late E.F.Woods was the inventor of the Apidictor.

“Sound engineers are familiar with a phenomenon known as the ‘cocktail party effect’. This is the ability of the human brain, in a room full of chattering people, to pick out and concentrate on one conversation, not necessarily the loudest. Eddie was blessed with this ability and it served him well when listening to the medley of sounds that his microphone picked up in the hive.

One sound that caught his attention was a sort of warbling noise that varied between the notes A and C sharp; that’s 225 – 285 Hz in terms of frequency. He noticed that this sound got steadily louder, then it stopped and a day or so later a swarm took off.

Eventually, he decided that it was made by the 4-1/2 to 6 day old nurse bees, his reasoning being as follows:

In a normal colony there are about 4,000 nurse bees, half of which feed the brood and the other half, the queen, who eats 20 times her own weight in a day.

When a colony decides to swarm, its first action is to reduce the supply of food to the queen in order to slim her down into a condition for flying. This puts some of the nurse bees out of work and reduces her egg laying. Hence, a few days later, there are fewer larvae to feed so more nurse bees become unemployed and the whole process is progressive.

The nurses have to get rid of the energy that would go into food production so they probably stand there exercising by flapping their wings, fanning in fact, but how do we account for the peculiar frequency?

In flight, an adult bee flaps its wings 250 times a second but when fanning, it grips the comb and this brings the frequency down to 190 Hz. (Hz is just an abbreviation for Hertz which is the engineer’s word for ‘times a second’.) However, a young bee’s wings do not harden completely until it is 9 days old and until then the resonant frequency is higher. It may be that 4-1/2 day wings resonate at 285Hz and the 6 day old ones at 225Hz and the sound is a mixture of single frequencies rather than a collection of warbles from individual bees.

Eddie built a simple audio frequency amplifier with microphone and headphones and incorporated what is known as a bandpass filter. This allowed the frequency band 225-285Hz through to the ear and blocked off the rest, making it easier to hear.

Note that the flight frequency of 250 Hz falls in this band which is why the tests should be made in the evening after flying has stopped.

Eddie stressed that the warble does not necessarily indicate a swarm; it indicates that the queen has gone off laying and there could be other reasons. In any case, it means a brood nest inspection is needed.

If you give a hive a knock with the flat of the hand, the bees hiss at you and this is something that Eddie listened to very carefully. Under normal conditions it is a short sharp noise, lasting about 1/2 a second, starting and finishing quite suddenly; the bees are alert and defensive. If a swarm is in the offing, the bees are in a happy-go-lucky mood, the sound is not so loud, rising and falling less sharply. Eddie described this as a loyalty sound and he fitted another filter to help pick it out.

With this instrument he found he could get up to three weeks warning of swarm preparations and was alerted 10 days before queen cells were started.

Lots more, including down-loadable plans at: http://bit.ly/6d4B9I

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It is a mystery that has had scientists stumped. But now experts in Scotland believe they have discovered why bees have been abandoning their hives and vanishing.  Scientists at the Roslin-based firm Global Bioenergetics think disturbance to bees from mobile phones, radio signals, wi-fi and microwaves is disrupting them with devastating results.  They think increased airwaves could be interfering with their ability to do the bee dance, which they use to tell other bees where to find pollen.  Stress caused to the bees by the radiation could be damaging their immune systems, leaving them prone to increasing levels of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides sprayed on crops.

The scientists are trying out a new device, called a Bioemitter, that transmits electromagnetic waves to provide a stable environment and reduce stress for the bees in their hives, boosting their immune system.

(Trials started in 2008 – but we are not sure yet what the conclusions are from the research.)

More at: http://bit.ly/85ZKKk

Also more on the issue at: http://doitnow.typepad.com/good_vibrations/2009/11/emfs-and-declining-bee-populations.html

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Whenever I visit my hives I come away feeling much calmer.  Non-beekeepers are often amazed when I say this.  They assume that I would become more stressed with the “threat of the sting”.

But the inverse is true.  After my seasonal dosage of stings which occur naturally when beekeeping, any stings after them become little more than a pin-prick.  This was true even at the height of the stinging season last July when I had two very buzzy hives and (rather stupidly) opened both up the same afternoon at the end of an inspection.  They managed to sting me through my suit at least 20 or so times!  The effects were that, overall, I felt better, not worse!

No, the threat of the sting is not a problem.  But the calming effect is intriguing.  And I have a feeling that, apart from a sort of bee-sting-therapy, it is the actual vibrations that the bees give off that helps to create this overall calming effect.  I have discussed this idea with other beekeepers – and none has yet disagreed.

This is definitely one of the areas that has to do with “beetwixt and between” – especially for those of you interested in the non-physical aspects of  bees and beekeeping.  Yet the research seems to be fairly scant.  Or maybe I simply have not yet come across it?!

So, to celebrate the coming of the new year, I intend to write a number of casual posts on the theme of Bee Vibrations.

Hope you enjoy and keep buzzing good vibrations for the rest of the year!

Photo from: http://www.ace-clipart.com/

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Honey sales in Kuwait rose 20 percent last month as people concerned about the spread of swine flu attempted to boost their immune system naturally.

Traditional medicine expert Youssef Al-Faresi told KUNA news agency that people were taking honey to ward off the H1N1 virus because of a lack of official vaccines.

“Honey is commonly known for its stigmatisation of the antibodies; it is useful for schoolchildren who could get in touch with swine flu patients,” he said.
More at: http://www.arabianbusiness.com/567106-kuwait-honey-sales-rise-on-swine-flu-fears

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From Friday 4 September 2009 to Sunday 6 September 2009 from 12noon – close, there is a”Bee Social” going on as part of the Pestival weekend on the Southbank in London – to celebrate with the bees as the summer draws to an end.

For one weekend only, Pestival is going to transform The Front Room at Queen ‘Bee’ Hall into a giant bee hive, a place for all to learn and discuss the colony collapse disorder. Come listen to the talks, discussions as well as a special duet performance by the Royal Festival Hall’s resident bees with guest peformers.


Programme includes:
Robyn Hitchcock’s launch night on Friday 4 September spills out into The Front Room for an extended DJ set and party. Thick La Cucaracha meets Maggot from Goldy Looking Chain. Strict dress code: masks, wings and antennae!

Talkaokie who leads a round table discussion and where bee specialists are on hand to explain the plight of bees and do demonstrations. (Saturday & Sunday, from 12pm – 2pm and 4pm – 7.30pm)

Susanna Soares will showcase her pavlov’s bee device, beautiful in construction and useful tool In predicting health problems. Bees have a phenomenal odour perception. They can be trained within minutes using Pavlov’s reflex to target a specific odour and their range of detection includes pheromones, toxins and disease diagnosis. (Saturday and Sunday  at 2.30pm and 3.30pm)

North London Beekeepers who are on hand to give urban bee keeping advice. (Saturday & Sunday)

LottoLab’s The Bee Matrix, a unique exhibit of glass, light and bumblebees – part science experiment, part sculpture – to demonstrate the role of history in shaping visual behaviour. Lottolab will be on hand to engage people in their research a project Seeing Bees See. (Saturday & Sunday)

Dr. Rufus Cartright, beekeeper Steve Benbow and a group of school children who present research findings from their BeeCab summer bee/pollen pollution project. (Saturday & Sunday)

Le Suisse Marocain, a Parisian carnival artist who, in keeping with the tradition of the unknown in the ‘Old Masters’ category, calls himself ‘Le Suisse Marocain’. The role he has chosen for this is that of the artist-as-clown, and over the festive period, he paints a live mural inspired by bees in The Front Room. Come along and watch the artist create his living work.  (Saturday & Sunday)

Plus many more performances on the Larvae Stage.

More at: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/calendar/productions/bee-social-113f

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Rythmic Forms

The very inception of life is rhythm.

Life is rhythm and Rhythm is life.

The rising of the SUN is rhythm.

The shimmering of the RAYS is rhythm.

The BLOOMMING of a BUD is rhythm.

The Feel of the BREEZE is rhythm.

The ROAR of the WAVES is rhythm.

The Chirping of the BIRDS is rhythm.

The BUZZING of the BEES is rhythm.

The Voice in a SONG is rhythm.

The TINKLE on the FEET is rhythm.

The BREATH we take is rhythm.

The Heart that BEATS is rhythm.

From: http://www.kathakindia.org/?page=rythems

Image from: http://www.thenewyorkoptimist.com/sitebuilder/images/bs01_Rythmic_Forms_textile_detail_2005-600×450.jpg

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Flowers of a given species all produce nectar at about the same time each day, as this increases the chances of cross-pollination. The trick works because pollinators, which in most cases means the honeybee, concentrate foraging on a particular species into a narrow time-window. In effect the honeybee has a daily diary that can include as many as nine appointments — say, 10:00 a.m., lilac; 11:30 a.m., peonies; and so on. The bees’ time-keeping is accurate to about 20 minutes.

Honey bee nectaring on button willow

Honey bee nectaring on button willow (from NY Times article cited below)

The bee can do this because, like the plants and just about every living creature, it has a circadian clock that is reset daily to run in time with the solar cycle. The bee can effectively consult this clock and “check” off the given time and associate this with a particular event.

Honeybees really are nature’s little treasures. They are a centimeter or so long, their brains are tiny, and a small set of simple rules can explain the sophisticated social behavior that produces the coordinated activity of a hive. They live by sets of instructions that are familiar to computer programmers as subroutines – do this until the stop code, then into the next subroutine, and so on.

These humble little bees have an innate ability to work out the location of a food source from its position in relation to the sun. They do this even on cloudy days by reading the pattern of the polarization of the light, and pass this information to other bees. In the dark of the hive, they transpose the location of a food source in the horizontal plane through the famous “waggle” dance into communication in the vertical plane of the hive.

Honeybees can tell their sisters how far away the food is up to a distance of about 15 kilometers. For good measure, they can also allow for the fact that the sun moves relative to the hive by about 15 degrees an hour and correct for this when they pass on the information. In other words, they have their own built-in global positioning system and a language that enables them to refer to objects and events that are distant in space or time.

German scientists in the early part of the last century called this ability of bees to learn the time of day when flowers start secreting nectar and visit the flowers at appropriate times Zeitgedächtnis, or time-sense. But the species of flowers in bloom, say, this week, is likely to be replaced by a different species at a different location next week or the week after. The bee needs a flexible, dynamic appointments system that it continually updates, and it has evolved an impressive ability to learn colors, odors, shapes and routes, within a time frame, quickly and accurately.

More at: http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/guest-column-lets-hear-it-for-the-bees/?ref=opinion

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