Monday, January 22, 2018

☯ Beekeeping Tip #6

To Paint or not to paint, that is the question.
Hives do not have to bee painted white! Look around and you’ll see keepers using all colors of the rainbow. Beautiful as these hive are, is it necessary. Many will say yes, to preserve the wood and give longer life to the box. But what about the alternative…..
How about linseed oil?
Linseed is used in fine furniture finishing. It will protect your investment. It is cheap or comparative to paint in dollars. It contains NO petroleum distillates, NO volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and NO heavy metal driers. For us this is best. I do not want to leave the bees in an environment where VOCs are unavoidable.
Wait! The paint is on the outside you say.
Yes, however, bees smell at a rate of parts per trillion! If VOCs take 2-3 months to dissipate in your house, how long can these smellers smell it?
We also don’t like the idea of paint peeling into the environment nor when we might want to clean up the hive. You can also reapply linseed in the field.
Another thought on using linseed. It allows the hives to fade into the background of the environment. If you want to keep hives safe from prying eyes this is the way to go.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Beekeeping Tip #5

Did you find a weak colony? If it is late in the season consider combining it with a strong colony. There may be an old queen or a queen the was weakly mated. Cut your losses, in time and bees, and combine the two. A variety of methods of combining are out there, one of which is the papering method. But first you should take out the weak queen.
Combining can help ensure strong colonies in the spring for spring splits or nucs.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

"The scientists were also surprised to find the bees showed a taste for the widely used herbicide glyphosate. "

Honey bees' attraction to fungicide "unsettling" for food output

Emma Batha3 Min Read

LONDON, Jan 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Honey bees are attracted to a fungicide used in agriculture with “unsettling implications” for global food production, a scientist said on Tuesday.
Tests carried out by a team from the University of Illinois showed bees preferred to collect sugar syrup laced with the fungicide chlorothalonil over sugar syrup alone.
The finding follows other studies linking fungicides to a worldwide plunge in honey bee and wild bee populations which are crucial for pollinating crops.
“Bees are kind of like humans in that they sometimes like things that aren’t necessarily good for them,” said University of Illinois entomology professor May Berenbaum, who led the research.
She said fungicides were bad news for bees because they could exacerbate the toxicity of pesticides and kill off beneficial fungi in hives.
Her team set up two feeding stations in an enclosure allowing the bees to choose sugar syrup laced with a test chemical or without. The chemicals included three fungicides and two herbicides at various concentrations.
The researchers were taken aback to find the bees choosing one of the fungicides.
“It was a surprise when they actually liked them,” Berenbaum told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone, adding that it could explain why fungicide contamination in hives was so common.
“This is not anything that anyone had even thought about before so we need to readjust our focus because there certainly could be implications for agriculture ...”
However, she said the bees actively avoided a second tested fungicide and were neutral about a third.
The scientists said the findings were “worrisome” in light of research showing fungicides interfere with honey bees’ ability to metabolise pesticides used by beekeepers to kill parasitic mites that infest their hives.
The scientists were also surprised to find the bees showed a taste for the widely used herbicide glyphosate.

A study by the Center for Biological Diversity last year said hundreds of native bee species in North America and Hawaii were sliding towards extinction.
It said bees provided more than $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year in the United States.
Experts have blamed habitat loss, heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanisation for declining numbers.
The United Nations recently announced an annual World Bee Day on May 20 to raise awareness of their importance and declining numbers. (Reporting by Emma Batha; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit to see more stories.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Pesticides in “Bee-Friendly” flowers

Pesticides in “Bee-Friendly” flowers

Before you buy at Lowes or the garden center read this......
Unknown pollinator on Zinnia, photo by Butts'Bees
Take a walk around your local garden centre and you will see a
mouth-watering display of gorgeous plants on display. You might note
that some are specifically labelled as bee or pollinator friendly, with a
picture of a cartoon bumblebee on the label. The Royal Horticultural
Society (RHS) provide a “Perfect for Pollinators” logo which can be
added to the label of any of the long list of garden plants that they
judge to be good for pollinators. If you like hearing the buzz of bees
in your garden, and want to do your bit to help our wildlife, you might
well be tempted. Indeed, I have often spent a small fortune myself on
potted plants when I only went to the garden centre to buy a pack of
vegetable seeds. The big DIY and supermarket chains are similar –
somewhere by the main entrance you will see a range of colourful plants
in plastic pots and trays, some of them labelled as bee-friendly.

            If, like me, you’ve ever succumbed to the temptation to
buy these plants, you may be somewhat concerned by the results of our
latest research. Here at Sussex University we have been busy screening
the leaves, pollen and nectar of these plants to see if they contain
pesticides. We bought flowering plants from a range of major outlets;
Wyevale (the biggest garden centre chain in the UK) and also Aldi,
B&Q and Homebase. We deliberately bought plants that are known to be
attractive to bees and butterflies; most of them had a bee-friendly
logo, often the RHS one.
Honeybee on sunflower, photo by Butts'Bees

We found that most of these plants contained a cocktail of
pesticides, usually a mixture of fungicides and insecticides. I wish I
could say that I was surprised by the results, but sadly I wasn’t, for
this mirrors similar studies performed in other countries. Only two out
of 29 plants contained no pesticides. Seventy six percent of them
(22/29) contained at least one insecticide, and 38% contained two or
more insecticides. One flowering heather plant contained five different
insecticides and five different fungicides – a veritable toxic bouquet.
Seventy percent of the plants contained neonicotinoids (insecticides
that are notorious for their harmful effects on bees), commonly
including the ones banned for use on flowering crops by the EU (for the
technically minded, 38% contained imidacloprid, 14% contained
thiamethoxam and one contained clothianidin). Enough detail; you get the
picture. Plants sold as ‘bee-friendly’ plants are usually stuffed full
of pesticides.
Read More at Dave Goulson's blog

Monday, January 8, 2018

Beekeeping Tip #4

Take off the gloves.
It is a great experience to get to know your bees without the gloves. I have found that we tend to be clumsier when gloved. If you are bare handed you will be more conscious of the bees and their movement. If you are sweating you may even be used for a salt lick by the bees. In any case, a glove-less beekeeper can gain insight to how our movements affect the hive.
Still unsure? Leave the gloves off. If you get stung once or twice put them on and get on with your inspection. You are still a beekeeping heroine (or hero)!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Study: Bigger honeybee colonies have quieter combs | Cornell Chronicle

Study: Bigger honeybee colonies have quieter combs | Cornell Chronicle

When honeybee colonies get larger, common sense suggests it would be noisier with more bees buzzing around.

But a study recently published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology reports that bigger honeybee colonies actually have quieter combs than smaller ones.

“The surprising result was that – and at first I thought something
must be wrong – when there are more bees on the comb, the vibrations are
actually reduced,” said Michael Smith, a doctoral student in
neurobiology and behavior and the paper’s lead author. Po-Cheng Chen,
Ph.D. ’16, a former doctoral student in the field of electrical and
computer engineering, is a co-author of the paper.

The researchers found the bees actively damp vibrations in the comb,
possibly by the way they grasp the combs, though more study is needed to
verify the mechanism.

The finding is important because bees communicate with substrate
vibrations in the comb. Bees perform a waggle dance to communicate to
other bees the exact location of a patch of flowers; the dance vibrates
the comb to spread the message to other bees. Even queen bees transmit
vibrational signals to communicate with other queens. But in order to
convey these messages, or any message, one must eliminate noise.

The study underlines the universal need to separate signals from
noise in all biological systems – from unicellular organisms sensing
their environment to human bodies trying to sense hormone
concentrations, Smith said.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The researchers were surprised to find that bee deaths increased by up to 50 percent more than they expected compared with the individual effects of pesticides and poor nutrition

Study is the first to demonstrate combined effects on bee survival -- ScienceDaily

Joe Raimondo,

The combined effects of pesticides and a lack of nutrition form a deadly one-two punch, new research from biologists at the University of California San Diego has shown for the first time.
In a study published Dec. 20 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Simone Tosi, James Nieh and their colleagues used honey bees due to their important role as agricultural pollinators and "bioindicators" of environmental quality. The researchers studied how honey bees fared with exposure to neonicotinoids -- pesticides broadly used in agriculture -- along with limited nutrient sources, scenarios that are commonly found in agricultural areas.
Credit: Simone Tosi, UC San Diego
The scientists studied two common neonicotinoid pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are used worldwide in vegetable, fruit and grain crops. However, after these pesticides are applied to crops they remain in the environment and can be found in nectar, pollen, water and soil.
The researchers were surprised to find that bee deaths increased by up to 50 percent more than they expected compared with the individual effects of pesticides and poor nutrition. Surprisingly, no previous studies have tested such "synergistic" effects when these threats are combined and amplified beyond the sums of the individual factors.
"We tested the effects of different neonicotinoid pesticides because of a growing concern and evidence about negative effects of these pesticides on pollinators," said Tosi, a postdoctoral researcher in UC San Diego's Division of Biological Sciences. "Our results provide the first demonstration that these stressors can synergistically interact and cause significant harm to animal survival."

 To measure energy levels in honey bees, researchers extracted their “blood” (hemolymph) using a microcapillary tube. Credit: Riccardo Cabbri

Declines in honey bee health have caused global concern due to the insect's critical ecological role as a major pollinator. Bee health has been closely watched in recent years as nutritional sources available to honey bees have declined and contamination from pesticides has increased.
In animal model studies, the researchers found that combined exposure to pesticide and poor nutrition decreased bee health. Bees use sugar to fuel their flights and work inside the nest. Pesticides decreased their hemolymph ("bee blood") sugar levels and therefore decreased their energy stores.
"These findings should cause us to rethink our current pesticide risk assessment procedures, which, based upon our findings, may underestimate the toxic effects of pesticides on bees," said Tosi.
In addition, Nieh, a professor in the Section of Ecology, Behavior and Evolution, noted that their results "may have even broader implications beyond honey bees because prior studies have not demonstrated a negative synergistic effect of pesticides and poor nutrition in animals.
Story Source:
Materials provided by University of California - San Diego. Original written by Mario Aguilera. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Beekeeping tip #3

Use a screen bottom board. Even in northern climates, a screen bottom board provides needed ventilation, a cooler hive in summer means less bees on cooling duty, a cleaner hive, a way for mites to drop out of the hive (they seldom if ever crawl back in) and less condensation inside the hive.