Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Beekeeping’ Category

A third of UK bee colonies have been lost over the last two years and there have been many explanations given for this. There is strong evidence that neonicotinoids – a class of pesticide first used in agriculture in the mid 1990s at exactly the time when mass bee disappearances started occurring – are involved in the deaths. The evidence against these chemicals is strong enough that they have been banned or suspended in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia – but not yet in the UK.
Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by blocking specific neural pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. The chemicals impair bees’ communication, homing and foraging ability, flight activity, ability to discriminate by smell, learning, and immune systems – all of which have an impact on bees’ ability to survive. 

It seems bees genetic make up makes them particularly vulnerable to neonicotinoids. Recent mapping of the bee genome has revealed that bees’ capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects. Instead bees have two strategies to protect themselves. On the first day of foraging in a new area, scout bees are sent out first to taste the nectar and pollens – if any are adversely affected they will be expelled from the hive immediately, and the colony will avoid the area.

In addition, once foraging begins, nurse bees in the hive clean foragers each time they return. These strategies protect the colony from mass exposure to lethal doses of chemicals, but they do leave honey bees particularly susceptible to sub-lethal exposures to any contaminants they encounter.

The other really important factor is the complex behaviour of honeybee colonies. For example, the 10,000 forager bees in a typical hive need to co-ordinate their quest for nectar – and they do this through the famed ‘waggle dance’, which communicates the flight direction and distance to sources of nectar. The complexity and precision of these dances is breathtaking, and success relies on the integrity of a nervous system where each synapse is crucial. It is no surprise then that honey bees have been shown to have a higher number of neurological receptors than other insects.

Honey bees live and work as a colony, not as individuals; what seems to be happening is that the cumulative impact of small doses of nenoicotinoids on thousands of bees over time is affecting individual bee’s ability to work and communicate effectively as part of a colony. Because lots of bees in each colony are behaving sub-optimally this can lead to the sudden, and devastating, outcomes that we’ve been witnessing in recent years.

The Soil Association believes that there is already enough evidence to justify an immediate ban on neonicotinoids today.

Article from The Soil Association <HERE> – with addition PDF Download: Bee briefing: The evidence that neonicotinoids are implicated in colony collapse disorder in honey bees, and should be banned in the UK

Picture below from: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/2821.html

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

In February we moved our five hives to a new apiary.

Four have queens – and Faith is, unfortunately, Queenless.  Today (for the second time), I put a frame from Liberty into Faith to see if we can create a new queen before the workers die off.

The photograph shows the new apiary – which is surrounded by bluebells in the most beautiful wood that I can walk to.  It makes a difference from the 10 mile drive to the old (now out-apiary).  Hope you like the look of their new location!

Read Full Post »

American scientists have discovered that a fly parasite can turn honey bees into confused zombies before killing them, in an advance that could offer new clues to why bee colonies are collapsing.

So far, the parasite has only been detected in honey bees in California and South Dakota, American researchers reported in the open access science journalPLoS ONE this week.

But if it turns out to be an emerging parasite, that “underlines the danger that could threaten honey bee colonies throughout North America,” said the study led by San Francisco State University professor of biology John Hafernik.

Hafernik made the discovery by accident, when he foraged some bees from outside a light fixture at the university to feed to a praying mantis he’d brought back from a field trip.

“But being an absent-minded professor, I left them in a vial on my desk and forgot about them. Then the next time I looked at the vial, there were all these fly pupae surrounding the bees,” he said.

Soon, the bees began to die, but not in the usual way by sitting still and curling up. These bees kept trying to move their legs and get around, but they were too weak, said lead author Andrew Core, a graduate student in Hafernik’s lab.

“They kept stretching them out and then falling over,” said Core. “It really painted a picture of something like a zombie.”

Further study showed that bees that left their hives at night were most likely to become infected with the fly parasite, identified as Apocephalus borealis.

Once bees were parasitized by the fly, they would abandon their hives and congregate near lights, a very unusual behavior for bees.

More at: http://news.discovery.com/animals/parasite-bees-zombies-010512.html

Read Full Post »

“In 1822 the first hive bees were brought to this part of the world (Sydney), by a Captain Wallace, or Willis, in the ship “Isabella,” according to Haydon. From the bees thus introduced colonies were propagated and distributed inland. In the Government Gazette, of 21st June, 1822, there appeared this advertisement : — “Hive of bees for sale by Mr. Parr. Bees imported by Captain Wallace (or Willis).” In a number of the old Sydney Gazette, dated Friday, 1st November, 1822, there appears this paragraph: — “We congratulate our readersi upon the complete establishment of that most valuable insect, the bee, in this country. During the last three weeks three swarms of bees have been produced from two hives, the property of D. Wentworth, Esq., purchased by him from Captain Wallace, of the ‘Isabella,’ at his estate, Homebush, near Parramatta.”

“In the Sydney Morning Herald, of 10th August, 1863, it stated that at a meeting of the Acclimatisation Society of New South Wales, bees were first brought to this country by Captain Braidwood Wilson, from Hobart Town, in 1831. This was contradicted in a later issue of tTie same paper in these words: — “Bees were brought from England to Sydney in the year 1824, in the ship ‘Phoenix,’ which sailed from Portsmouth in March of that year.” This, too, is evidently a mistake, or perhaps another importation, as is evident from the fact that bees were advertised for sale in 1822, which has already been referred to. In 1840, a settler at Jervis Bay purchased two colonies of beef-‘, for which he paid £4, and engaged two aboriginals to carry the hives on their heads a distance of 40 miles. These were the black or English bees, sometimes termed the; German bee. For most of these dates and extracts I am indebted to Mr. S. M. Mowle, Usher of the Black Rod, of the Legislative Council, who married the only daughter of the late Captain Braidwood Wilson, R.N.”

From: Australian Bee Lore and Bee Culture by Albert Gale 1912.

Read Full Post »

The Beehive Ark

I came across this amazing beehive design at a Woodfair recently.  Please find the full story of this unique design for a top-bar hive below the photograph with the designer’s contact details if you want more information:

My initial inspiration to create a curved hive was from the curved structure of honeycomb created in top-bar hives.
The design re-appropriates traditional clinker boat building techniques, and celebrates long-established craft practices in the UK; beekeeping and clinker boat building.

The beehive is created using overlapping strips of steam bent oak and chestnut. Chestnut was chosen for the roof and the base of the hive, as it is a species native to Sussex, and has good properties for use outside. The central part of the hive is made from white oak, which is traditionally used in clinker boat building.

The hive is about exploring and expanding the possibilities of existing designs to create an aesthetically satisfying and functional form, which could supplement a contemporary garden space.

Despite using unconventional techniques for making a beehive, I have ensured that the construction adheres to the basic principles in order for a top-bar hive to function effectively. A swarm shall be moved into the hive next spring, and as a continuation of the project, the bees will be documented living in it.

If you’d like to ask anything about the beehive, please contact at: kayleywillcocks(at)hotmail(dot)co(dot)uk

Read Full Post »

CLICK HERE or on the photo below to sign the petition to save bees and our crops and send this link to everyone you know!

Quietly, globally, billions of bees are dying, threatening our crops and food. But a global ban of one group of pesticides could save bees from extinction.

Four European countries have begun banning these poisons, and some bee populations are recovering. But chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep all killer pesticides on the market. A global outcry now for a ban in the US and EU, where debate is raging, could provoke a total ban and a ripple effect around the world.

Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for these dangerous chemicals to be outlawed in the US and EU until and unless they are proved to be safe.

CLICK HERE to Sign the petition to save bees and our crops and send this to everyone.

More at: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/call-to-ban-pesticides-linked-to-bee-deaths-2190321.html

Read Full Post »

With the first two weeks on holiday, the bees had to wait until last weekend before I removed the honey.  We took four full supers – which will produce a good crop – though I have not extracted it yet. Planning on that next weekend.

I always leave a super on each hive to over-winter.  Some beekeepers think this is a waste of good honey – but I think that the bees will be more healthy if they eat their own honey rather than sugar substitute.

Whilst inspecting the hives I took my notebook out of the toolbox to find it had been leaked on by some water – and all of this seasons records were literally dissolved.  Quite extraordinary!  So my records are now my rusty old memory and the odd blog entry.  A lesson there somewhere – perhaps use indelible ink or something?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »