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Archive for the ‘Beetwixt & Beetween’ Category

The swarming season is drawing to an end.  We caught one final swarm this week – making it a total of five.  Two of the swarms decided to move on within days of being put into their new home.  I have often found this happening when there are several really hot days after the swarm has been moved.  It is only natural, I suppose.  We have enough colonies, anyway.

As June draws to a close, the June gap has taken away the youthfulness of Spring and the seasons are drawing breath before the garden once again flourishes with July and August colours.  I can’t wait for the purple firework displays of the buddleia to come out!

I was moved this week by a fascinating insight into  Rabindranath Tagore’s “Relevance for the Future of Spirituality and of Humanity” by Deepak Chopra given a few years back at the Tagore Festival.  It is well worth watching: I have not come across Tagore’s work before – but Chopra kept referring to a book of poems of his called Gianjali which I downloaded (for free) from  an amazing website called The Spiritual Bee.

Here is part 89 of the collection.  It really struck a chord for me.  I hope you enjoy it too!

“No more noisy, loud words from me ⎯ such is my master’s will. Henceforth I deal in whispers. The speech of my heart will be carried on in murmurings of a song.  Men hasten to the King’s market. All the buyers and sellers are there. But I have my untimely leave in the middle of the day, in the thick of work.

Let then the flowers come out in my garden, though it is not their time and let the midday bees strike up their lazy hum. Full many an hour have I spent in the strife of the good and the evil, but now it is the pleasure of my playmate of the empty days to draw my heart on to him; and I know not why is this sudden call to what useless inconsequence!”

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“For many years Mark Thompson, a beekeeper local to my area, had the bizarre urge to build a Live-In Hive – an active bee home you could visit by inserting your head into it. He was working in a yard once when a beehive spewed a swarm of bees ‘like a flow of black lava, dissolving, then taking wing.’ The black cloud coalesced into a 20-foot-round black halo of 30,000 bees that hovered, UFO-like, six feet off the ground, exactly at eye-level. The flickering insect halo began to drift slowly away, keeping a constant six feet above the earth. It was a Live-In Hive dream come true. Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the

Mark didn’t waver. Dropping his tools, he slipped into the swarm, his bare head now in the eye of a bee hurricane. He trotted in sync across the yard as the swarm eased away. Wearing a bee halo, Mark hopped over one fence, then another. He was now running to keep up with the thundering animal in whose belly his head floated. They all crossed the road and hurried down an open field, and then he jumped another fence. He was tiring. The bees weren’t; they picked up speed. The swarm-bearing man glided down a hill into a marsh. The two of them now resembled a superstitious swamp devil, humming, hovering, and plowing through the miasma. Mark churned wildly through the much trying to keep up. Then, on some signal, the bees accelerated They unhaloed Mark and left him standing there wet, ‘in painting, joyful amazement.’ Maintaining an eye-level altitude, the swarm floated across the landscape until it vanished, like a spirit unleashed, into somber pine woods across the highway.”

From: Out of Control – Chapter 2 – Hive Mind by Kevin Kelly

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A revolutionary new beehive called the FLOWhive is launching this week on Kickstarter. It apparently harvests honey in a very innovative way and is set to revolutionise beekeeping and honey harvesting worldwide.  If it works the way the marketing video says, then it could save hours of manual labour taking the supers off hives and extracting honey with all the mess it brings with it. The project goes live on Indigogo in the next few days.  I’m definitely going to look out and see what these guys are offering!

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Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a major threat to bee colonies around the world and affects their ability to perform vital human food crop pollination. It has been a cause of urgent concern for scientists and farmers around the world for at least a decade but a specific cause for the phenomenon has yet to be conclusively identified.

Bees usually begin foraging when they are 2-3 weeks old but when bee colonies are stressed by disease, a lack of food, or other factors that kill off older bees, the younger bees start foraging at a younger age.

Researchers attached radio trackers to thousands of bees and tracked their movement throughout their lives. They found that bees that started foraging younger completed less foraging flights than others and were more likely to die on their first flights.

The researchers, from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Macquarie University in Sydney, Washington University in St Louis, and University of Sydney, used this information to model the impact on honey bee colonies.

They found that any stress leading to chronic forager death of the normally older bees led to an increasingly young foraging force. This younger foraging population lead to poorer performance and quicker deaths of foragers and dramatically accelerated the decline of the colony much like observations of CCD seen around the world.

Dr Clint Perry from the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at QMUL, said:

“Young bees leaving the hive early is likely to be an adaptive behaviour to a reduction in the number of older foraging bees. But if the increased death rate continues for too long or the hive isn’t big enough to withstand it in the short term, this natural response could upset the societal balance of the colony and have catastrophic consequences.

“Our results suggest that tracking when bees begin to forage may be a good indicator of the overall health of a hive. Our work sheds light on the reasons behind colony collapse and could help in the search for ways of preventing colony collapse.”

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Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt – marvellous error! –

that I had a beehive

here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

were making white comb

and sweet honey

from my old failures.

——

Antonio Machado

(1875-1939)

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“The Sphinx, the Pyramids,

the stone temples are, all of them,

ultimately as flimsy as London Bridge;

our cities but tents set up in the cosmos.

We pass.

But what the bee knows,

the wisdom that sustains our passing life

– however much we deny or ignore it –

that for ever remains.”

P.L. Travers

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We caught the first swarm of the season on Monday night.  It was 18ft up in a bush – and I had to use an extension to my long pole (used for painting) to get the box up there.  Luckily Dennis (whose garden it was) had an additional 3 poles which I used to extend my pole as well as get the smoker up there!

The photo looks as though I am trying to catch the sun!

Having inspected the hives on Saturday, Faith is still very weak and I somehow doubt will come through as I have now tried to re-queen her twice.  We therefore decided to call this swarm “Hope” to keep the spirit of our three first hives – Faith, Hope and Charity.  The original Hope and Charity died off in 2005, but Faith has kept going since then.  Oh – and it was luck that the place that we caught the hive in started with an H – so we stuck to the Bee Law of naming the hives from the first letter of the place that they were caught!

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