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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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Like many beekeepers in the UK, 2014 turned out to be a very good season for honey.  With a very wet start to the year, we had a near-ideal spring and summer.

Having a previous record of 150 lbs in previous years, this year we managed to take off 250 lbs form 4 hives.  I’m sure other beekeepers have achieved more productivity per hive – but for us, it was a great year.

At the start of 2013 I took the advice from a seasoned beekeeper who posted on this site.  He told me to use TWO National brood chambers per hive – not one.  Having spent several seasons frustrated that the brood took at least one brood chamber and one super-as-brood chamber, I experimented in 2013.  The system worked well.  So in 2014, I gave each of my established hives the extra space.  Combined with the fact that the hives recovered much more strongly after swarming, I can’t understand why

Faith (the first hive I ever installed) continues strongly having re-queened a number of times – and lives up to her name.  She produced the best crop of honey with four supers (not all full).  The more observant will see an additional concrete block on the top of the hive.  I had problems with badgers tipping some of our hives over a few years back.  The weight of the block on top of the hive seems to have stopped this particular problem.

IMG_1100

Faith, with two brood chambers, ready for over-wintering.

I will write more about the other five hives in future posts.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

An Australian supplier of Mediterranean and Turkish food products has been stung with a $30,600 fine for misrepresenting its “Victoria Honey” product, which is neither derived from bees nor made in Victoria.

The ACCC found Melbourne-based distributor Basfoods to have made misrepresentations on its product labelling and its website that suggested its “Victoria Honey” was produced by honey bees, when it was mainly comprised of sugars from plants including corn and sugar cane.

The watchdog also considered by naming and labelling its product “Victoria Honey”, Basfoods had represented the product as originating from Victoria, Australia when in fact it was a product of Turkey.

The product was supplied to independent supermarkets, speciality retailers, online stores, delis, restaurants and cafes across Australia, as well as through Basfood’s retail stores and via its website.

More at: http://www.smartcompany.com.au/legal/42519-aussie-supplier-stung-with-30-000-fine-for-honey-not-made-from-bees.html?utm_source=SmartCompany&utm_campaign=125c1cda85-Thursday_19_June_201419_06_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_234118efee-125c1cda85-93822749

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)

What the Bee Knows

“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

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.