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Showing content with the highest reputation since 31/07/11 in Blog Entries

  1. The bacterial brood disease American Foul Brood (AFB) occurs worldwide and leads to significant losses of honey bee colonies every year. In several countries, as in New Zealand, AFB is a notifiable disease and infected bee colonies have to be burned to contain the disease. Although it has been under investigation now for more than a century, the underlying characteristics of the host–pathogen interactions on larval level remain elusive. An effective treatment of AFB does still not exist, partly since the progression of the disease following ingestion of spores has only been described superfici
    12 points
  2. Overcast afternoon. Venturing out to the back yard recovering from a migraine. Over the past month or so I have been feeding a couple of nucleus colonies 1:1 syrup with seaweed extract added. Also 1/3 of a Megabee premade patty. Nucleus 1 has continued to increase the brood area and there is a continuous emerging of new Bees now, and in turn the population is noticeably getting larger to care for the corresponding increase in brood. I added 1 Apivar strip after adding some bees from a queenless colony that had missed the treatment round. A few dead varroa were noted on the floor of
    10 points
  3. Have you ever wondered about honey, what it is and why it’s like it is? What about quality and honey, what should beekeepers know? Honey comes from Nectar Nectar is a solution produced by plants that animals collect for food. Plants have special structures that make this solution usually from water and sap flowing in the plant. Often these are found in flowers and attract animals that pollinate the plant, but that is not always the case, and they can sometimes be found on any parts of the plant above the ground. Nor is nectar always there to facilitate pollination.
    9 points
  4. A honey bee nest and its enclosure provides a rich and stable range of ecosystems where we might expect an abundance of microbe populations to thrive, constantly replenished through its interface with the phyllosphere that surrounds it. We know a great deal about the harmful micro-organisms that cause disease; foulbrood bacteria, chalkbrood and nosema, even virus infections, but very little about beneficial micro-organisms that maintain health. Despite a contemporary obsession with prophylactic ‘probiotics’ and gut health there is actually not much known about the contribution from microbes to
    8 points
  5. Inspection of the nucleus colony today was pivotal in the development of this colony. The queen had all but run out of space to lay. 5 frames had about 80% coverage by attached bees and more out foraging. Rather than potentially stalling the egg laying through having no empty cells To lay in I made the decision to transfer the colony to a 10 frame box. Whilst transfering I placed an empty drawn frame 2 frames in from the internal feeder with the thought of providing a new brood frame for the queen to start laying in. This stimulation process has proved to be effective in growi
    8 points
  6. This article was originally published in 2015 Everybody needs to look over the fence once in a while, especially beekeepers. Something that caught my eye recently was a study looking at weeds and glyphosate resistance, a study which itself took a glance over the palings at antibiotic resistance in hospitals. Resistance is not a phenomenon unique to beekeeping, it is universal and, at its simplest, just about how organisms adapt and evolve in their environment. From our point of view, when we think about resistance, the aspect that concerns us most often is varroa mites
    8 points
  7. Everyone knows honeybee females (queens) mate at the beginning of their adult life and are then unable to mate again. A queen mates with many males (drones), often on a single occasion but sometimes after multiple flights in successive days. The mating is very quick, not more than 5 seconds and perhaps no more than one or two seconds, after which the male is paralysed and dies. Competition between males in a mating congregation occurs, mostly as a result of size and power, and some selection operates seemingly on the basis of flight altitude, different strains favouring different h
    7 points
  8. The number of kiwifruit blocks covered by a canopy is increasing. These canopies consist of a hail netting supported on rammed posts, and can cover a considerable area, thousands of square meters. Many, but not all, are fully enclosed with netting down to ground level along the sides. From a grower's perspective these provide some substantial benefits. Obviously, given the name, one is protection from hail. Even unnoticed hail damage can cause a significant fall in the return a grower gets for their fruit. Another benefit is an almost total reduction in bird damage to buds and fruit, and any w
    7 points
  9. Not totally bulging at the seams but definitely growing. This is the 2 frame nuc that I have been feeding protein substitutes and sugar syrup all winter. They finally graduated to a second brood box today. By the End of October I think they will be ready to split and add a mated queen to The queenless half. Bam! doubled a hive count instantly and plenty of time to build up for the summer honey flow.
    6 points
  10. As Honey bee workers mature they undergo a behavioural development scientists call “temporal polyethism”, more commonly referred to as an age-related (not age-dependant!) division of labour. Younger bees for the first two to three weeks of adult life work inside the hive at tasks such as brood care and hive maintenance, and older individuals work outside the hive as foragers. The transition to foraging involves changes that cause many thousands of alterations in gene activity in the brain affecting metabolism, circadian clocks, hormone activity, and phototaxis. This is largely related to the e
    6 points
  11. If you’re a gardener (aren’t all beekeepers?) you’ll know a little about what biologists call the ‘stress induced flowering response’. As a lad some forty-something years ago I think I knew that, even if scientists have just got around to studying it in the last decade. You know, stop watering whatever it is, or provide a bit of a temperature shock, and it’ll burst into flower. We already knew that right? We suppose plants can survive as a species if they flower and produce seeds, producing the next generation although they themselves cannot adapt to unfavourable environmental conditions. The
    5 points
  12. Colony is still expanding. Brood area is increasing significantly. Still shot gun pattern although every cell has either a pupae, larvae or egg in it. Some dodgy cappings but all inspection of larvae, pupae come up negative for AFB. If the laying pattern doesn’t improve by October this queen will be culled and replaced with a new season queen. Which is a shame as the current queen is an April 2018 mated queen.
    5 points
  13. Just to show progress. Today I had a quick peak under the lid, now close to 5 frames covered. Photos show 7th June and 5th August. Heading in the right direction.
    5 points
  14. Nucs are going OK with 1-1 1/2 frames of brood and some older brood starting to emerge. Today I topped up syrup and added another 1/2 of a MegaBee pattie. Brood area is increasing in all the hives. Nuc #1 has some dodgy looking capping so I have inspected those and a few more cells. All is OK so far but I will remain alert the this in future inspections.
    5 points
  15. OK so a quick look in the nucs today. Overcast grey skies but relatively warm so lots of bees were out flying and good amounts of pollen on the returning bees. Colours ranged from vivid orange, yellow and a small amount of white. Todays task was to add about 500ml - 1 litre of 1:1 syrup to each nuc feeder and have a look to see if brood rearing has increased. Both nucs are chomping through the Megabee pattie and all the syrup add last week has on the whole been consumed with a small amount evident as freshly stored syrup in the empty comb. #1 nuc has gone th
    5 points
  16. It’s 8.58pm and I am sitting by the fire. To date I have added a pollen patty to all of the 5 frame nucs and fed them copious amounts of syrup to get at least 3 frames of feed in the boxes. So far this has worked. There are a few 3 frame nucs that are house in 3 way boxes. They, apart from only 3 frames of bees are looking happy and the combined warmth from sharing a common hive body seems to be helping them. Each of these 3 way nucs has a 500ml container sitting above on the hive mat. This feeds each colony over a week or two. I will be keeping a close eye on them and look to move them in to
    5 points
  17. Hives Went through the hive with the old (failing) queen and the new prolific one. The queens are separated with a QE so I know what's happening with each one. Hive is doing really well in terms of numbers of bees & brood. In the failing queen FD, the bees had made a supersedure cell from one of the playcups - it had been capped during the week. No swarm cells anywhere - just the one supersedure. My guess is that the nurse bees in that part of the hive couldn't smell the better queen up the top and decided to requeen. It would be a shame to let a perfectly good look
    5 points
  18. Anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis) is a serious allergic response that often involves swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and in severe cases, shock. If anaphylactic shock isn't treated immediately, it can be fatal. A major difference between anaphylaxis and other allergic reactions is that anaphylaxis typically involves more than one system of the body. Symptoms usually start within 5 to 30 minutes of coming into contact with an allergen to which an individual is allergic. In some cases, however, it may take more than an hour to notice anaphylactic symptoms.
    4 points
  19. Propolis is a mysterious material, not so much a thing bees produce but literally a collection of ‘things’ they use. Beekeepers view it as a bit of a nuisance and frequently selectively breed honeybees that use as little as possible. In some respects, that’s not a good idea. Apis, euglossine, meliponine, and megachilid bees, and, occasionally, other social insects, all use a kind of propolis to a greater or lesser extent, which in its simplest description consists of plant resins mixed with wax (propolis and cerumen) or mixed with clay or sand soils (geopropolis or batumen). There
    4 points
  20. It’s a complicated thing. There are plants that do not require pollination of any kind to produce fruit and seeds. There are some that require the stimulus of pollination, but not actual fertilisation, to fruit. Where pollination is required a plant may use pollen that it has produced (in the same or a different flower), or may have to use pollen from another, distant, plant of the same species. Unfortunately too, there are plants that have a bet each way, both ‘cross-pollinating’ and ‘self-pollinating’. Pollen is passively dispersed by currents of air and water but animals can be
    4 points
  21. Physics provides a lens that focuses on our honeybee colonies in interesting new ways and a recent paper from Derek Mitchell at Leeds University’s School of Mechanical Engineering does just that. The mathematics is a bit challenging if you’re anything like me, but it’s possible to get through that, and he also has some worthwhile observations we can apply to polystyrene hives. Mitchell’s current interest (Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD); his thesis was about differences in heat transfer between natural and man-made honeybee nests using CFD) also has something useful to say about that beeke
    4 points
  22. 1. Introduction 2. Venom Biochemistry 3. Minimising the dose 4. Treating the sting 5. Topical treatments 6. Systemic, toxic, and anaphylactic responses 7. Ocular stings 8. Beekeepers 9. Caring for others 10. References Introduction New Zealand is fortunate to have very few stinging insects. These are members of the hymenoptera in which the ovipositor has been modified into a sting delivering venom and are known collectively as Acul
    4 points
  23. Social insects like honeybee living in close proximity have a higher risk of spreading diseases and poisons among nestmates, so we would expect to find mechanisms that mitigate this. One of these systems is an innate immune system that provides an antimicrobial film on their exoskeleton, a hostile gut environment, a peritrophic membrane and gut epithelium, and effective cellular and humoral defences. These secrete antimicrobial chemicals, engulf or entomb foreign materials, and provide enzymes that degrade or destroy pesticides and pathogens. The genetic precursors for all this are ancient, co
    4 points
  24. The promiscuity of honey bee queens generates lots of interesting questions about social insect society, many of which relate to the many different ‘sub-families’ that co-exist within a colony. For example, do individuals within a colony overcome their self-interest to rear the ‘best’ replacement queen in an emergency or do they try to pick their closest relative? Just how far does social co-operation extend? Emerging recent research is starting to suggest that, apart from picking well-fed larvae of the optimum age, workers tend to select larvae from particular ‘royal’ sub-families. If that t
    4 points
  25. It’s hard to find a paper or article these days that doesn’t begin with a reference to “Declines in the number of global pollinator insects” or some other form of the bee or insect ‘apocalypse’ sentiment and the potential economic or ecological damage to be wrought. While one reaction to this is to prevent or mitigate the circumstances that cause it, finding alternatives to natural biotic pollination is another one to consider. At times there are clear reasons why forms of ‘artificial’ pollination are valuable, but the cost of harvesting pollen to use, and the manual or mechanical means to del
    3 points
  26. The drawn empty frame I checkerboarded a week or so back has now been populated with eggs and newly hatched larvae, honey and pollen stored as well. There is lots of natural pollen coming in now and the bees have mostly left the pollen patties alone. As the colony grows there are a couple of older brood frames that will be cycled out to make way for new frames.
    3 points
  27. For most of us viruses are confusing. Many people are unable to distinguish between viruses and bacteria and expect them to be much the same kind of thing, which they are not. Viruses don’t fit easily in to the various categories of living things we are used to dealing with, and actually whether they even are living organisms is arguable, and how they came to be still more controversial. Which is why there is never a clear answer about how we might kill a harmful virus. Viruses are not cells and can’t reproduce on their own, and some see them merely as parcels of genetic material (
    3 points
  28. Getting colonies sorted today for a sale I made, so while in the back yard I checked on the nucleus colonies I have been building up over the past few months. Nucleus 1 is now covering 4 frames and has 2 frames with brood on both sides, a total coverage of about 1.5 FD frames. This is excellent and the colony is heading in the right direction. By the end of August I reckon I will be moving them over to a 10 frame box. Nucleus 2 has done extremely well and today was used to make up a larger colony with the addition of Bees and brood frames from a very strong
    3 points
  29. Checked both hives. The split hive was fed syrup for the past week to encourage comb-drawing, which has worked very well - the checkerboarded top box has a good amount of uncapped syrup on freshly drawn comb and the queen is busily laying in the middle - no queen cups / cells. Sugar shake tested for varroa from brood frames, no mites fell on the plate. Removed varroa strips and the top feeder, added a honey super above QE. Happier about the stores situation now than I was last week - the bees have put a good amount of syrup / nectar away and there's plenty of pollen around the broo
    2 points
  30. Both hives checked. The 2-queened hive is really pumping - having one queen in each FD and placing a QE in between was a great tip, as now I can better see what's going on. The new queen is laying up a storm - the old one is still laying but not as well. The hive is full of bees and the bees are 'holding hands' big time - they are even hanging below the hivedoctor base. Despite this, there is still space to lay and to store honey. Hopefully checkerboarding emptier frames to the middle will help so that the bees don't do anything silly before the varroa strips are coming
    1 point
  31. A quick AFB matchstick test for one of the hives - no symptoms but wanting to be sure. Further inspections stopped by rain...followed by hail. Thanks Auckland.
    1 point
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