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Dave Black

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  1. 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 induced to visit flowers for rewards like pollen itself, nectar, resins, and oils, or even by deception, in order to carry pollen to another plant. A pollen vector has to transport a quantity of viable pollen to a receptive part of the plant (the flower stigma), and we look for direct (pollen grains) and indirect (fruit or seed set) evidence that this has happened. That’s pollination. We have to understand the possible plant reproductive arrangements to work out what contribution any given pollinator might be making, and we have to understand a lot about possible pollinators, their morphology, seasonality, nutrition, and behaviour, for example. Many of our fruit and seed crops benefit from being assisted in this way, and for some it is essential. In these cases the important visitors are almost always insects. We call this ‘entomophilus’ pollination, and improving the circumstances in which insects (and a few other small ‘bugs!) operate can result in quantitative and qualitative improvements in yield, and better financial and nutritive outcomes. Observing pollination in order to make such improvements is not however straightforward. We have to be able to look at the biology of both the plant and the animal in unaccustomed detail and understand how each has to respond to fluctuating environmental conditions. Not only that, but consider that ‘crops’ are a social construction and a part of a market economy. ‘Crops’ are much more than their biology. Studying pollination Agents capable of pollinating flowers can be abiotic (wind, water, gravity, electrostatic forces, rain) or biotic (such as birds, bats, insects, mammals). Any one of these may be capable of meeting all or part of a plant’s requirement. Biotic pollinators are different in that the relationship is built on some form of exchange (even if a fraudulent one) that is advertised, desirable, rewarding, social, and constrained. There are then questions to be asked about how the potential exchange is communicated and to who, the costs and benefits of the ‘reward’ to each party, choice and competition between the interests of the individuals and the populations they are part of, and the ‘rules’ that affect the trade (physical, chemical, and biological), things like pollen presentation, anther dehiscence, flower duration, stigma receptivity, and the physical ability of particular pollinators. Much of the 'mechanics' of observing pollen transfer is tried and tested and standard methods have been worked out. Often, pollination studies tend to stop short of including fertilisation; the conditions for good pollen viability, germination, pollen tube growth, and pollen (in)compatibility have to be found elsewhere but actually form part of the ‘whole picture’. Rarely do studies give much thought to the actual transportation; how does the pollinator find, collect, and carry pollen? In the case of honeybees the COLOSS Beebook describes protocols for identifying and evaluating pollen quantity and quality transported by bees, evaluating the same deposited on stigmas, estimating the proportion of foragers from a colony visiting a crop, observing bee densities in field plots, appraising the effect of competition between plants for pollination, and conducting pollination research in unusual environments like greenhouses. DNA meta-barcoding is beginning to be used to identify pollen loads, sigma deposits, and track pollen flow. These kinds of protocols are generally equally applicable to most pollinators and are intended to ensure studies are robust, comparable, and repeatable, but beyond collecting observations about the process of transportation, pollination studies have a long row to hoe. The ‘Nature’ of advertising Plants, and pollinators, have options, some more than others. Before any kind of exchange can take place plants have to prompt pollinators to come visiting (plants are, literally, rooted in place), but leaving food rewards out for all and sundry will hardly achieve the required outcome. Successful pollination has come to rely on signals, simple, elaborate, and occasionally dishonest, for communicating necessary information. From one perspective, plants 'advertise' in a marketplace for service, and the most obvious representation of that advertising are flowers. In markets, supply and demand fluctuate. At any point in time there may be a surplus or deficit of flowers relative to the number of pollinators. Increasing competition between flowers might result in an increased investment in rewards and display; reduced competition might have the opposite effect. Advertising comes at a cost and in the end a plant’s pollination and reproduction will depend not only on the efficacy and ‘value for money’ of its own signals but also on the signals of co-flowering species, their distribution, and relative abundance. We do not see the world as others see it. Signals that plants can produce that can be perceived from a distance fall into two types. There are those that make use of the electromagnetic spectrum, (that we refer to as colour – a limited part of the spectrum), and the emission of volatile chemicals (some of which we smell). Such signals can be tailored so that they are detected by a broad range of pollinators, or only by a few specific pollinators, perhaps one, and not necessarily by us. They may indicate the reward is available, exhausted, or located in a specific place. Comparatively well known, colour and ultra-violet ‘nectar-guide’ patterns can be accompanied or supplanted by far more important but cryptic ‘odour-guide’ patterns. Olfactory signals appear to be especially easy to learn and remember, at least for bees. Some recent studies suggest ‘odour plumes’ sometimes used by pollinators can be disrupted by anthropogenic pollution, such as ozone and diesel. Signals are easily overlooked or misunderstood in pollination studies because it’s necessary to recognise if and when a specific animal will sense a particular signal, and how that will be understood, prioritised, and remembered. Temporal change in food networks Nectar is essentially a modified phloem exudate available as a carbohydrate food reward for pollinators, mostly a source of energy. Plants can control nectar secretion and can adjust it according to rate of consumption, temperature, or humidity. In some plants there is a daily rhythm to production, in others it is clearly under the control of a hormone. The ‘transience' of the secretion serves to conserve an expensive product; in some examples nectar secretion was estimated to account for nearly 40% of the total carbon absorbed by the plant. The main carbohydrate is sucrose which is metabolised in a time/temperature-dependant way, by enzymes (‘invertase’) on the cell walls of the nectary tissue, to hexose sugars. Some invertase remains in the nectar, so the nectar sugars continue to change composition with time. Sugar solutions are also hygroscopic to varying degrees, so their concentration is not fixed, nor is the viscosity. The environment has an effect on the nectar itself, humidity and heat changing the physical properties of the solution. Besides sugars, there are other constituents that matter. Minerals, amino acids, enzymes, alkaloids, volatiles, and antimicrobials are selectively attractive and unattractive to various flower visitors, by design. Microbes (like yeasts) come to inhabit the nectar and are also responsible for significant changes to its composition, and its allure. Pollen is foremost in the mind looking at pollination of course, but besides the obvious function for the plant it is also a food reward for the pollinator, but, unlike nectar, directly linked to a plant’s reproductive success. It, and its compliment of microbes, is the major (perhaps the only) source of food required for pollinator activity, growth and repair, comprising amino acids, fats, oils, and minerals. It comes ‘packaged’ in a huge variety of perishable forms, sometimes ‘labelled’ with aromatic or gustatory compounds that try to protect it from or limit herbivory (for example, alcohols and phenols like linalool or perseitol). Bees’ aversion to chemically defended pollen depends on what else is available, and they can be put off the whole patch by a few unpleasant flowers. As a valuable product pollen supply can be constrained by things like morphology, by environmental factors (for example, temperature and humidity restraining antithesis), by its longevity, and by competition or theft. There is an obvious tension between pollen being both food and the object to be transported. Some pollinators specialise in one, or one or two, types of pollen, while others require a great variety. Lately there is a suggestion that stoichiometry may be a guiding principle when it comes to what pollen suits a particular pollinator. While there is scant evidence that pollinators are able to assess its food value, there is plenty of evidence that they select on the basis of its physical form, its presentation or accessibility, odour, or taste, and that their appetite or tolerance for different pollens changes depending on, for example, scarcity or abundance. In practice then, nectar or pollen can be harvested by a parade of visitors as time and circumstance change; visitors with different mouthparts, different appetites, and different priorities. Pollination studies consequently have several questions to think about. How, and when, is the supply of nectar and pollen regulated? How do we account for depletion by visitors, by wind, rain, heat, and humidity, or by the plant conserving it? How can we determine if and when the temporal changes in its chemical and physical properties affect its attraction and utility for different visitors? Last, how well does a given pollinator compete with the other flower visitors, and do they need to? The importance of memory In recent times navigation and memory have become topical and the subject of some studies that suggest impairment of these functions can occur following exposure to agricultural chemicals, although so far it is hard to see how the comparison is being made with only a rudimentary understanding of what the ‘baseline’ is. Pollinators are thought to acquire information about the location of their nest-site and food sources in ways that are common to most if not all insect orders, the hymenoptera being the most closely studied. An insect monitors and stores distance and compass metrics derived from its own movement and is able to compare its current sensory experience with a memory of the desired sensory experience (in one expression, by matching ‘images’). Various guidance strategies allow pollinators to travel at a distance from their nest site, and with experience, to embark on, and return from, complicated journeys. With increasing experience accuracy emerges automatically as more precise or reliable cues have more successful outcomes and information from the various strategies is evaluated and refined. While these strategies work together one may be prioritised over the others at any particular time to resolve conflicts or deficiencies, and importantly each can be used train or 'calibrate' the other guidance systems. It's clear that memory is a crucial part of the system, and that different memories are recalled ‘on-cue’ and depending for example on whether an animal is seeking food, or has gathered food; what has been referred to as 'motivational state'. We also know that memories are ‘layered’, and time dependent – they are acquired, reinforced, and extinguished in ways yet to be understood. There is a complex relationship between memory acquisition and extinction, with physiological age being a factor. Older foragers are often more likely to show evidence of the progressive loss of some types of brain function, particularly spatial memory. On the other hand younger foragers are thought to have a shorter memory. Forgetting what they knew yesterday encourages them to try new locations and food sources and so builds experience. This might be particularly useful for pollinators that forage on much more transient and distributed flora. We should not expect all pollinators to be the same. Bumble bees and solitary bees are masters of the local search and have progressed from simple Levy search patterns to develop very effective routes (like 'trap-lining'). Honey bees are not as efficient in the same way, however, their ability to recruit nest-mates to exploit the same resource, and their ability to navigate more effectively over large distances, ensures efficiency at the colony level. Many pollinators, and particularly honeybees, also display a learned preference for particular flowers based on memory of a previous experience. They become especially adept at recognising and manipulating a type of flower and remain loyal to it for a significant period of time, a phenomenon now known as ‘floral constancy’. It’s possible this is more important for foragers that use image matching navigational strategies. In observing pollination, a forager's motivational state, its sensory and locomotive abilities, and how and when it stores, manages, and retrieves memories is of fundamental importance if we are to understand how pollinators make decisions. Just as much as varying nutritional demands or sensitivity to signals, varying aptitude for using the same basic neurological tool-set is responsible for stratifying pollinators within a landscape and across time. Business practices and Commerce Flowering crops are unlike plants that exist in a natural ecosystem in that they are significant aggregations of selected plants purposely planted and cultivated for food or commerce. These plantings can take many forms such as pasture, field crops, agroforestry, and greenhouses, and are generally monocultures with different degrees of human intervention. The planted area can be sufficiently large that it can test the foraging range of some pollinators, modify their diet, and reduce their density to a point that limits full pollination. This can be aggravated by the displacement of local nesting sites through shading, soil tillage, and overzealous ‘horticultural hygiene’. The cyclic overabundance and famine that characterises a flowering crop is not necessarily an advantage over the lifetime of an embedded pollinator. These simplified environments are less resilient to changes in weather, season, and climate, when a single adverse event can produce unsuitable conditions that curtail the activity of insects and disturb the pollination of the entire crop. Pollinators will respond to all manner of changes, like flower abundance and diversity, climate change, land use change and intensification, and introduced species and pathogens. These responses change their distribution, physiology or seasonal phenology and so synchrony between visiting behaviour and the timing and duration of flowering. The consequences of fluctuation and change in the environment can be buffered or offset by the presence of a variety of flower visitors that can assume complimentary roles under changing circumstances. Besides one of scale, the pollination of these plants has extra dependencies that stem from sociocultural or horticultural practice and pollinator management. In horticulture the organisation of things superficially quite peripheral to pollination, for example, crop-load, rootstocks, pruning, irrigation, windbreaks, pest management, and the use of dormancy breakers or growth regulators, can have a significant impact on pollination success. Likewise, pollinators can be ‘managed’ but this only applies to a quite limited subset of possible pollinators, nearly all of them bees. Honeybees have become the most popular managed crop pollinator largely because of their persistent, perennial life-cycle, and portability. A few species of bumblebees can be managed, but like the few solitary bees that are used their colonies are fundamentally seasonal and year-round availability requires specialized controlled environments. The supply, placement, and timing of introduced pollination units, or the maintenance of pasture grazing, ‘set-aside’, headland, and field margins, are activities with their own financial costs, benefits, and risks that relate to the economy they are part of. A social enterprise The ‘outcome’ required from a flowering crop is may not be full pollination nor, necessarily, is there a long-term plan. The prominence of financial drivers and assumptions about ‘value’ quite possibly mean that what biology might see as sub-optimal may remain a preferred state when the costs of labour and horticultural management are considered. Value is at the core of many pollination studies and, as such, they need to be quite explicit about the time and spatial scales the data relate to for it to support future planning. There are useful examples that provide a social context for the relative importance of pollination compared to other interventions, and that illustrate the interplay between ‘social’ issues and crop pollination. Here are three. In New Zealand a significant number of kiwifruit blocks are now covered by a canopy. These canopies consist of a hail resistant netting supported by cables attached to 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, one is protection from the elements. Even unnoticed hail or wind damage can cause a significant fall in the return a grower gets for their fruit. Another benefit is a significant reduction in bird damage to buds and fruit, and any waste due to bird lime. The factor that may have pushed these expensive constructions 'over the line' was an introduced bacterial disease that can rapidly destroy an orchard. The canopy provides an element of phytosanitary security and protects the plants from wind damage, reducing broken shoots in the spring that are an important point of entry for the bacteria. Considering the effect these covers would have on the honeybees that are universally used to pollinate the flowers had not been a priority; unless the disease could be managed there would be no flowers. Under the covers large numbers of foraging bees failed to return to their colony and died. Those that did return delivered pollen that is mono-floral and without the proper balance of amino acids the bees require for adequate protein nutrition. A hive starved by both quantity and quality of pollen deteriorates very quickly. The loss of bees also affects the colony's ability to regulate temperature and care for brood, young bees that normally care for brood begin foraging prematurely, protein deficiency encourages brood cannibalisation, the queen will stop laying eggs that produce new bees, and the hive enters a spiral of decline that takes months to correct but is very quickly an ineffective pollinating unit. Many beekeepers refuse to place their hives under covers, and were in a position to send them to honey crops instead. The industry is trying a range of 'work-arounds', including alternative pollinators, aids to navigation, supplementary feed, and even supplemental artificial pollination (mechanical hand pollination if you like!). The introduced native bumblebee Bombus terrestris is a possible alternative, although not without ecological risk. Commercial supply of these is available, and it is it is possible to rear colonies locally albeit on a seasonal basis. However, where local annual production has been tried it has not been able to out-compete the supply from continuous, year round, and sometimes counter-seasonal production of large multi-national suppliers, increasing the risk to local ecosystems, and local pollinators. Further afield, in Maoxian County, Sichuan, China, by the 1980s land-tenure customs had produced quite small holdings from which farmers were being incentivised to maximise a cash return from a crop to market (rather than as food). The rules and standards in a commodity market are entirely different. The apple orchards are located in cool, mountainous regions with differences in sub-climate and elevation altering the flower phase of every orchard. Pollinators struggled. To make the most of their land-use growers reduced or eliminated polliniser trees, maximised fruiting trees, and focused on high yields, confident people could pollinate the trees reliably. Pollen could be sourced from the few remaining pollinisers however distant, shared, and people could apply it in the frequent conditions that were not favourable for bees. Relatives or neighbours might get pollen free of charge. The different flowering times enabled neighbours to help each other pollinate and close community bonds kept the labour costs down. Polliniser trees were often planted in home gardens so that flowers would not be stolen and where it was convenient for flower harvesting and pollen extraction. Pesticides could be used extensively, a disincentive for beekeepers who anyway preferred to use their bees for honey crops elsewhere. Nor was it ever clear how a beekeeper would be paid for a pollination service. Faced with a multitude of 1/5th ha land-owners, whose trees was he responsible for pollinating? Whose pollen was being used? A decade later the economy had changed again. By 2011, apple growing had considerably reduced in the most marginal areas. Climate change had increased the amount of cool, rainy, cloudy weather, the farm gate price of apples had dropped substantially, and production costs had risen, exacerbated by young people drifting to work in the cities. The famers had adapted by shifting away from apples, a crop that requires cross-pollination, to fruit and vegetable crops that were not cross-pollinated, like lettuce, Chinese cabbage, tomato, celery, onion, along with other fruit trees, such as plum, loquat, and walnut. What was the value of pollinators now? An almost identical story comes from south of Chengdu where Hanyuan County is the biggest pear producer in Sichuan. As in Maoxian, since the 1980s the area has been undergoing a transition from subsistence cereal crops to cash crops, especially pears. Most pear varieties are self-incompatible and need cross pollination to set fruit and keeping one to two colonies of honeybees (Apis cerana cerana, the Chinese honeybee) was common for some households. Until about 1985 wild insect pollinators were mostly common, and erratic fruit yield and quality were not a concern. Traditional land tenure was fragmented, land owners were often absent engaged in off-farm activities, while the small plots were managed season-to-season, the insecurity stalling investment-led change. As pear trees became more abundant insect pests (mainly fruit moths and Pollination factors.pdf aphids) flourished and entrenched extensive broad-spectrum spray programmes that also killed off the potential pollinators. This established hand pollination, but also ensured that pear trees were always over-pollinated, producing unsustainable fruit-sets and heavy, labour-intensive, fruit thinning. Returning to bee pollination is not proving to be easy, even if pesticides are controlled. Native pollinators were not scalable. Pears do not provide a nectar surplus and the bees cannot produce honey, so beekeepers in pear orchards end up incurring a cost for feeding bees with sugar syrup that they argue compounds the lost income from honey. These days China’s government agricultural officers spend their time trying to unravel these archaic interdependencies, while the rest of world uses them as poster-children for ‘bee-mageddon’. In both these cases from China some commentary framed them in terms of ‘pollination failure’ and its mitigation by (low waged – exploited) human labourers. An alternative framing might see farmers managing a family business driven by financial decisions and choosing cost effective pollinators. Looking ahead Observing pollination is an absorbing, multi-disciplinary challenge at every level of study, and one with real, tangible consequences. It can only become more important as climate change rapidly introduces yet more uncertainty about the conditions pollinators will operate under in the future. The speed of change appears to be such that some pre-emptive management is preferable to a conservative or even reactionary, response; relationships formed over millennia might alter in decades. Understanding what these are and how they operate now is vital to sustain these processes, and to construct a flexible, responsive, diversity of pollinating mechanisms that will work whatever the circumstances. We will be unable to predict the specifics of our changing climate with any certainty, and continuing a dependency on any single species of pollinator seems unwise. *“Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose”. Richard Dawkins.
  2. The group's long CoVid lock-down has been punctuated with Web-hosted virtual meetings for those able to join. This month it was out of the web-world and back to the wide-world with the group's first Honey Show. The BOP group exists to facilitate shared knowledge and experience, in a social setting where potentially everyone has something to contribute, including people that have never (or never intend to), keep their own honeybees. Keeping bees, as a hobby or a business, benefits from good information about many things, for example information about biology and horticulture, carpentry, engineering, business, to legal, employment, and compliance matters. It’s valuable then, that the group appeals to a wide range of people with different life interests. With beekeeping at the core of what we do, providing opportunities to lift the skill of beekeepers beyond proficient to real expertise is an essential process. Rather than teach, our collective role is to provide opportunities to learn, and to learn by doing, by participating, communicating, and by seeing what is possible. Honey Shows are supposed to be a test of some essential beekeeping skills. They examine the ability to harvest and pack honey and other bee products while maintaining the highest standards for quality and hygiene. They should also be aspirational and provide examples of the best that can be achieved. Some of the more peripheral talents, like brewing, making polishes and cosmetics, and cooking with honey, provide an opening for more diverse interests and supply ideas for innovative revenue streams. Creative arts exhibits celebrate novel perspectives on what we do and broaden our horizon. These are all things that provide opportunities to grow, learn, and improve. We are aware that some members are not confident about being 'tested'; about the competitive nature of such 'Shows', but that needn't be so. Yes, larger Shows can seem merciless, and pedantic, to the uninitiated. In our event you are meeting the standards we explain in advance, testing only yourself. For some classes of entry there may be guidelines or no standards. If you think you have created something that merits sharing and discussion amongst our social group then display it, it need go no further. If you wish to 'practice' or test or exhibits for larger Shows you can do that too. The BOP event is intended to be a greater test of the group than of its members. This month's test produced a range of outcomes. I can confidently say that none of the many entries in the honey class could have been prize winners in any Show so you have nothing to beat! However, every one had something to teach us, (like the use of a torch!) and all of them were available for tasting, so even bystanders got tips and a taste. The wax exhibits however included one or two entries of a high standard (potential 'winners' elsewhere) as well as some 'tutorials'. The mead section too overwhelmed us with varieties. We used a lot of lolly-sticks and tasting glasses. The DIY entries were all versions of robbing guards (!), and the 'Crafty' people supplied a decorated hive, photos, a photomontage, and pieces of wool and needlework and so on. We had more than we could comment on in the two hours-odd we had available, and more than we expected given the short notice exhibitors had to prepare.
  3. Our operators had two of these; if they are not sold they will be. The logistics just don't work.
  4. 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 deliver it are expensive and imperfect. Two scientists at the Advanced Science and Technology in Japan have applied some ‘blue-sky’ thinking to the problem and come up with an unusual suggestion. They observe that is pretty easy to indiscriminately spread pollen around in an orchard, in fact the waste involved is a large part of the cost. Rather, a system must be gentle, precise, thrifty, and aerial, so what better to choose to deliver the pollen than bubbles! They see bubbles with different eyes. Bubbles can be chemically functional, light-weight, steady-liquid, bilayer molecular membranes, low cost, and bio-degradable. The pollen grains can’t scatter as they are bound by the thin film, and the bubbles are easy to create and control in flight. They can’t damage the delicate parts of the flowers, but (it’s a good thing) they are somewhat sticky. It’s obvious really. So the paper describes how they set out to show just how obvious it is. They needed to show the bubbles could be made, that they would work well as a pollinator, and that there was a practical way of controlling them. A ‘proof of concept’ was what they were attempting. This is how they describe the outcome; “…we demonstrate that (1) chemically functionalized soap bubbles exhibit unique properties, such as delivering pollen grains to the targeted flowers in a simple manner, reducing the usage of pollen grains, effectively attaching soap bubbles on the pistils of the targeted flowers using the high stickiness of the soap bubble membrane, preventing severe damage to delicate flowers using the softness and high flexibility of soap bubbles, and enhancing the pollen activity by promoting germination ratio and length of pollen tube; (2) chemically functionalized soap-bubble-mediated pollination can be used for practical Pyrus pyrifolia var. culta pollination at orchards aside from its contribution toward the healthy expression of fertility for various pollen grains; (3) mechanically stabilized soap bubbles capable of withstanding windmills due to robotic pollination can be successfully prepared; and (4) an autonomous controllable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with a mechanically stabilized soap bubble maker can fully automatically transport pollen grains to Lilium japonicum flowers, thus successfully aiding in plant pollination.” These weren’t just any old bubbles. They used a particular surfactant that aided bubble formation, but which did not harm growing pollen tubes, in proportion to the size and number of pollen grains it had to ‘host’ (2000/bubble – 4mg/ml). The liquid was the right pH, with added boron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts, proteins from Gelatine, and an inert, cellulose-based viscous polymer (your eye-drops) to fuel germination and control the properties of the bubble membrane. Truly ‘functional’ bubbles. The drone, and the bubble maker, were off-the-shelf toys, although, beyond the ‘proof-of-concept stage, you can imagine them being much more sophisticated, intelligent even. Where will this end up? Probably nowhere, like 99% of such ideas, just creating more ideas. But that 1%? That 1% changes things. Yang and Miyako, Soap Bubble Pollination, iScience (2020), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2020.101188
  5. I've had a good look through NZ Post and NZ Customs and I can't see anything that restricts personal export of honey, so I'm going to want to see the Regulations to settle the question. Nor do I see the logic of such a restriction. Commercial exports are of course a different matter.
  6. The title caught my eye; I was hoping for rather large suspended copper sculptures buzzing around the building. A great addition to Wellington's public art collection! Oh well...
  7. This isn't an either, or. Both are effective, doing different things under different circumstances, and often used together. It's worth learning how and when to deploy both. The was once a brief craze for a product sold as 'liquid smoke'. It smelt like a terrible Islay, but achieve nothing much as far I could see, but had a ready market amongst the many who seem unable to keep a smoker going. Adding sugar is a bit of a faff; I don't like because it just makes things sticky, but wasps will if you have them. I think people used sugar spays when collecting swarms so they had a mix prepared. If swarms had been out a bit they could be grumpy and spraying them with food lightened their mood. I never found it worthwhile. Stick to plain water, doesn't make the spray bottle horrible either. One more thing. I saw this weeks ago, in the days when we were allowed out to the barbers. It produces a beautiful and long-lasting mist. Apparently available from Wish but I haven't followed that up. Anybody seen or tried it? The hair dresser was unwilling to part with hers and didn't know where I could buy one.
  8. Agreed. It looks like apis predominantly, but without being able to manipulate the focus... if you imagine them as a coffee bean, you get different shaped silhouettes as you rotate around the long axis, and another seen end on. But I wonder if it's important for the average Joe to know, it's all nosema, and the effects are pretty much the same. Sometimes we get lost in the details.
  9. Not much. It's a foliar fert and any problem is likely due to the surficants it contains; by its own account, very effective ones. Needless to say, spraying bees with a surficants is pretty dumb. Because it's not a pesticide, and not toxic, I'd doubt there is much in the way of warnings or controls that apply, but @Don Mac may know more.
  10. 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 heights. A single drone congregation area might contain more than 20,000 drones from potentially hundreds of colonies, and the chance of an individual male being able to mate more than once would be very low. In honeybees therefore it’s not surprising a male expends his entire effort mating with a single queen, and not surprising that probably his best chance of improving his reproductive success is posthumous sperm competition. Queens, at least during mating, appear to have very little ability to choose the paternity of her offspring, but there are good reasons to suppose her interest is in being able to produce a sizeable range of genetic characteristics. Variation is good for managing conflict in a social group, protecting the colony from diseases and environmental change, and providing progressive, adaptable worker performance. Especially in honeybees, as she can never mate again, she has a particular interest in actually opposing or counteracting individual males’ reproductive success, negating sperm competition and choosing diversity. This ‘choice’ is said to be ‘cryptic’, because it is hidden from the male (Eberhard, 1996). Queens are estimated to lay about 200,000 eggs each year; something like 1.0 – 1.6 million fertilised eggs in her 5 – 8 year lifetime. Some hymenoptera (species of ants) do better by a significant margin, producing 8 million workers fertilised by sperm stored for decades. Much more sperm are stored in the spermatheca (in the order of 5 million) than will be needed. Drones will produce between 2 million and 12 million spermatozoa each, and at the end of a mating flight a queen might contain 200 million or so temporarily housed in her oviducts, vagina, and bursa copulatrix. Only around 2.5% of the sperm she acquires during mating is stored, and even less are actually used (think an average two per egg over her lifetime). Spermatozoa can be stored for many years and retain viability. Paternity studies have shown it is completely mixed and used equitably. Discovered in 1905 the key to this remarkable economy of sperm use is something called a Bresslau sperm pump. This structure sits between the spermathecal and the spermathecal duct, a valve in muscular tissue that, if you like, ‘reaches in’ and grabs a constant volume of spermathecal fluid (containing sperm) and transports it out to the eggs. (After mating it ‘pumps’ in the opposite way, filling the spermatheca). While the fluid volume is replaced and always stays the same, the density of spermatozoa it contains gradually declines. The Bresslau sperm pump is also found in ants. With the instruments available nowadays it’s actually possible to count sperm on eggs. Just how bees, wasps and any are able to keep spermatozoa alive for so long eludes a complete explanation, but in short, by an extreme conservation of energy and reduction in oxidative stress. Both seminal fluid and spermathecal fluid must have a role in providing a habitat that nourishing the cells, reduces oxidative stress, and protects them from pathogens, but it’s most likely spermathecal fluid evolved to maximise their long-term viability. Studying spermathecal fluid from virgins and mated queens shows they do differ, but also have some functional similarity with some elements in seminal fluid. Drones too store sperm, although not for as long. In a process that takes at least 40 hours it appears that the storage ‘environment’ is gradually changed from semen to a receptive queen’s spermathecal fluid, to a mated queen’s spermatheca. Spermatozoa in the spermathecal fluid ‘acclimatise’ to their new environment and begin to metabolise very, very slowly, essentially ‘outsourcing’ some of their vital functions to the female environment. In particular, while spermatozoa are able to metabolise aerobically, in storage there is evidence to suggest they switch to anaerobic energy production using a partly metabolised product in spermathecal fluid to limit the release of damaging Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). As well, the spermatheca is a bead-like organ with two spermathecal glands situated outside a hard sclerotized wall impervious to oxygen. By comparison to other organs the spermatheca has significantly lower oxygen concentrations inside. Spermathecal fluid is also known to contain many highly-active antioxidant enzymes, and these increase if we compare virgins with mated queens. It's become well documented in many species that males don't just transfer spermatozoa during copulation but include a complex mixture of molecules, anti-oxidants, ions and cells other than spermatozoa, including sometimes pathogenic micro-organisms. These male compounds have a variety of functions. Some directly affect the sperm’s survival in the female’s reproductive tract, providing nutrition, pH and osmotic buffering, and defences against oxidizing agents. Other products have important effects on the physiology and behaviour of the female, such as promotion of sperm transport, and inducing ovulation or oviposition. We are now beginning to realise that seminal fluid contains molecules that have a demonstrable effect on gene expression, and that a number of proteins cross the vaginal wall into haemolymph where they can bind to receptors on neurons directly affecting nerve signalling. A somewhat surprising example, consistent with other insect studies and earlier work, establishes a (short-term) loss of visual ability in queens linked to a peptide transferred in male semen. The effect is that queens are less inclined to undertake further mating flights (because they can’t see properly), but with the consequence that the queen tries to fly earlier if she can, before the loss becomes too debilitating. Males have no interest in queens flying to mate with more males. The scientists used RNA-sequencing to look at the changes in gene expression following artificial insemination, comparing them with naturally inseminated queens and queens inseminated with a saline control. They were able to identify the changed genes as ones known to be associated with functions that mostly enable vision. They then carried out a similar exercise, but this time measured the actual performance of the eyes (all of them!), things like their response to different light frequencies, and sensitivity to visual contrast. Last, they used RFID tags to monitor natural flight activity (and queen loss) after the same set of treatments (insemination, mock insemination etc). Each set of experiments indicated that queen’s visual performance deteriorated 24 – 48 hrs after receiving seminal fluid, and they were more likely to be lost on subsequent mating flights. The same effect has been observed in other studies of fruit flies, a parasitoid wasp, and in the bumble bee Bombus terrestris, suggesting that this ability to manipulate female mating using components of seminal fluid could be widespread or even universal amongst Hymenoptera and perhaps all insects. Further reading Boris Baer, Sexual selection in Apis bees. Apidologie 36 (2005) 187–200, INRA/DIB-AGIB/ EDP Sciences. DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005013 Boris Baer, Jason Collins, Kristiina Maalaps & Susanne P. A. den Boer. Sperm use economy of honeybee (Apis mellifera) queens. Ecology and Evolution 2016; 6(9): 2877–2885 doi: 10.1002/ece3.2075 Laura M. Brutscher, Boris Baer, and Elina L. Niño. Putative Drone Copulation Factors Regulating Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Queen Reproduction and Health: A Review. Insects 2019, 10, 8; doi:10.3390/insects10010008 G Koeniger et al (1988) Assortative mating in a mixed population of European honeybee Apis mellifera ligustica and Apis mellifera carnnica. Insectes Sociaux, Paris Vol36, No2, pp.129-138 Liberti et al. Seminal fluid compromises visual perception in honeybee queens reducing their survival during additional mating flights eLife 2019;8:e45009. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.45009 Boris Baer et al, Insights into female sperm storage from the spermathecal fluid proteome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Genome Biology 2009, 10:R67 (doi:10.1186/gb-2009-10-6-r67) Ellen Paynter, A. Harvey Millar, Mat Welch, Barbara Baer-Imhoof, Danyang Cao & Boris Baer. Insights into the molecular basis of long-term storage and survival of sperm in the honeybee (Apis mellifera). Scientific Reports, (2017) 7:40236, doi: 10.1038/srep40236 Niño EL, Malka O, Hefetz A, Tarpy DR, Grozinger CM (2013) Chemical Profiles of Two Pheromone Glands Are Deferentially Regulated by Distinct Mating Factors in Honey Bee Queens (Apis mellifera L.). PLoS ONE 8(11): e78637. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078637 J. Woyke (1983) Dynamics of Entry of Spermatozoa into the Spermatheca of Instrumentally inseminated Queen Honeybees, Journal of Apicultural Research, 22:3, 150-154, DOI: 10.1080/00218839.1983.11100579 Aldo Poiani, Complexity of seminal fluid: a review. Behav Ecol Sociobiol (2006) 60: 289–310. DOI 10.1007/s00265-006-0178-0 Eberhard, William. (1996) Female Control: Sexual Selection by Cryptic Female Choice. Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-01084-6
  11. 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 honeybee fitness, and still less about what the effects of antibiotics and fungicides from pollutants or veterinary treatments might be on the microbiotic environment ‘bees share. There are two ‘communities’ of bacteria here that are particularly interesting, that associated with the pollen collected and stored for food, and that inhabiting the ‘bee gut itself. Pollen provides the bulk of proteins, vitamins and lipids for colony growth. It is also a warm, moist and sugar rich source of food, albeit acidic, and arrives with its own collection of microorganisms, some well able to exploit it for their own purpose. While it has always been believed pollen stored as ‘bee-bread’ is a pre-digested store of food (similar to honey) closer study show this is probably not true. We find ‘bees prefer pollen less than three days old, that is, they weren’t waiting for some process (akin to fermentation) to occur before eating it. In addition the bacteria counts from collected pollen were low and declined rather than increased. That’s not what we’d expect if the store was supporting the microbes. The populations were so low that it was implausible there were enough to have any effect; the estimate was one microbe for every 2,500 pollen grains. Using microscopy the mostly intact grains did not appear to have been altered in any way by storage, and the bacteria found did not have the characteristics of a stable microbiome but were adapted for survival in acidic, antimicrobial environments. The bacteria in stored pollen are very different from those in the hind gut where pollen is being digested, and where they are present in hundreds or thousands per grain of pollen. It appears then that stored pollen is in a state for preservation rather than conversion, and that actually the true ‘store’ of nutrients is the ‘bees themselves. We often talk about pollen (fresh or stored) being digested in a ‘communal stomach’. What we mean is that pollen is eaten by a fairly limited group of young bees and fed to everyone else in the colony. These ‘nurse’ bees consume pollen and from glands in their head then secrete a semi-liquid food, This can be pooled in honeycomb cells to feed larvae or shared directly, ‘mouth to mouth’, with the queen and other members of the colony. As nurse bees age and become guard or forager bees they gradually lose the ability to digest pollen and have to be fed by a new generation of nurses. How these ‘bees extract nutrients from pollen grains is not fully understood, but it’s possible microbes play their part. Scanning electron microscope observations of pollen passing through the digestive tract show a range of states, depending on far along the gut you look and, presumably, on the type of pollen grain and its construction. Some are fully ruptured, perhaps because of osmotic shock, others seem more or less intact but empty, the contents removed gradually through the germination pores in the grain. Another interesting line of research has considered the inevitability of bees consuming the yeasts, bacteria, and fungi that naturally associate with pollen (or nectar) and suggest that this would mean bees are actually omnivorous. Using native (solitary) bees and examining isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the amino acids glutamic acid and phenylalanine that were consumed the research was able to show the bees were assimilating both microbial and plant proteins. In another study they demonstrated a decline in biomass and increased development time in larvae fed a diet progressively increasing in sterilised pollen, indicating the microbes were an essential part of the diet. This is analogous to leaf-cutter ants growing and consuming fungi grown on the leaf substrate they collect, rather than eating the leaves. We talk about the bee ‘gut’ as though it was all one homogenous organ, but in reality it is a series of blended zones or organs each with distinct functions and correspondingly different environments and inhabitants. Looking at the microbes in these ‘zones’ is tricky. Older methods rely on culturing bacteria on a growth media, but it possible to miss or underestimate microbes that are unexpected or difficult to culture. Later methods use PCR amplification and genetic makers, but that too has some limitations so that at the moment the most accurate information comes from studies that use and compare both methods, what’s called culture-dependent and culture-independent methods. Working out where these microbes belong is also tricky, some, not adapted to live in a particular environment, may just be passing though and do not form the stable biofilms bacteria flourish in. Newly emerged ‘bees have no, or only a couple of types, of gut bacteria. ‘Bees acquire bacteria that inhabit their gut from their foraging environment, but also from each other when food is shared. Plainly bacteria in the phyllosphere are present, mostly in the crop, but this is an inhospitable temporary haunt because its contents change so often. It seems unlikely there is a permanent ‘core’ group of bacteria associated with this region, and little evidence for one. The mid-gut and hind-gut do have lasting ‘core’ groups of bacteria and the highest bacterial counts are found here, with most actively growing and reproducing biofilms in the hind gut. The communities have quite different inhabitants from those found in pollen, ‘beebread’ or honey and remain consistent across seasons and geographical regions. When we look closely enough we find that although a gene sequence can indicate a close physiological relationship to other organisms, when it comes to bacteria even closely related species can display remarkable differences in their functional genes. Perhaps surprisingly this simple set of perhaps eight or so core bacteria types are found only amongst eusocial bees, and appear to have diversified to occupy particular niches and perform functions that only apply in groups of honeybees or bumblebees, and that are conserved by their sociality. Long-standing co-evolution has produced functionally unique strains adapted to a symbiotic existence with each other and their bee family, possibly unique even at colony level. L. M. Klungness, Ying-Shin Peng, Scanning electron microscope observations of pollen food bolus in the alimentary canal of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) Canadian Journal of Zoology, 1984, Vol. 62, No. 7 : pp. 1316-1319 https://doi.org/10.1139/z84-189 Anderson KE, Sheehan TH, Mott BM, Maes P, Snyder L, et al. (2013) Microbial Ecology of the Hive and Pollination Landscape: Bacterial Associates from Floral Nectar, the Alimentary Tract and Stored Food of Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). PLoS ONE 8(12): e83125. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083125 Anderson KE, Carroll MJ, Sheehan T, Mott BM, Maes P, Corby-Harris V. 2014 Hive-stored pollen of honey bees: many lines of evidence are consistent with pollen preservation, not nutrient conversion. Mol. Ecol. 23, 5904–5917. (doi:10.1111/mec.12966) Steffan S, Dharampal P, Danforth B, Gaines-Day H, Takizawa Y, Chikaraishi Y. (2019) Omnivory in bees: elevated trophic positions among all major bee families. Am. Nat.vol. 194, no. 3. doi:10.1086/704281 Dharampal PS, Carlson C, Currie CR, Steffan SA. 2019 Pollen-borne microbes shape bee fitness. Proc. R. Soc. B 286: 20182894. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2018.2894 Philipp Engel, Vincent G. Martinson, and Nancy A. Moran Functional diversity within the simple gut microbiota of the honey bee. 11002–11007 PNAS July 3, 2012 vol. 109 no. 27. https://www.pnas.org/content/109/27/11002
  12. Not helpful that the paper sits behind a pay-wall, but I do have a copy. In brief the proposal is that several studies have shown Varroa breeding tanks in high humidity (@ >80%) so modify beehives to be more like natural nests where the humidity (apparently) is high (@80%). Mitchell has done some interesting work modeling airflow in hives (search the Forum) so it's an idea that should be taken seriously, but should still be discussed critically. Most of you probably have an entirely different idea about the value of humidity in a beehive, so that's probably the place to start. BTW Derek Mitchell's work is mentioned in Tom Seeley's new book, but it deals with temperature control, not humility control.
  13. There would be a Trade Descriptions case against this if anyone could be bothered. As the UK will be practically lawless shortly they'd better be quick.
  14. @derekm A few initial thoughts; 1. I knew when I got to the word 'tuple' this read was going to take some effort! 2. This might be the nail in the coffin for the 'heating varroa' advocates. 3. Have there been actual measurements (rather than modeling) of humidity a) in natural nests and b) in the putative 'ideal' man-made nest and do they compare with modeling? 4. I need to read it a few more times.
  15. @Sofia L Yes this a field of interest here, with some very good work being done. Have a look here. https://is.gd/8bjK3Q
  16. @yesbutI don’t really have the time or inclination to read through this, surprisingly acrimonious, thread. Another one to evolve way beyond its remit. I had a skim through the RIRDC document, a pretty conventional one from a reputable government body and all the sections you’d want if submitting to a peer-reviewed journal. I don’t really think it’s reasonable to suggest it’s not written well enough to allow a ‘scientific’ assessment. It hasn’t been peer reviewed perhaps, but while I support the peer review process it hasn’t proved to be the blue tick of all things wise and true. It adds to a body of knowledge. I don’t think it’s credible to argue that dogs can’t be a part of the solution. They are good enough to be trusted with the nation’s biosecurity after all. However, in legal circles tracker dogs and sniffer dogs are known to have a significant error rate and are not infallible ‘evidence’ for a court. Doesn’t make them useless. I don’t see that ApiNZ argue that you can’t use dogs either, but you do also have to satisfy the terms of your DECA. In short then, there seems to be ample room for a quick, negotiated solution here. As the body responsible for ‘enabling’ progress I’d expect ApiNZ and not the Management Agency to do much better here, I see it as their job to facilitate how, not throw up barriers. That said, solving the AFB problem is ultimately up to Beekeepers, not the organisations they create to carry the blame. Pragmatism rules. That will be all.
  17. Discuss. Abstract: Failure of the queen is often identified as a leading cause of honey bee colony mortality. However, the factors that can contribute to “queen failure” are poorly defined and often misunderstood. We studied one specific sign attributed to queen failure: poor brood pattern. In 2016 and 2017, we identified pairs of colonies with “good” and “poor” brood patterns in commercial beekeeping operations and used standard metrics to assess queen and colony health. We found no queen quality measures reliably associated with poor-brood colonies. In the second year (2017), we exchanged queens between colony pairs (n = 21): a queen from a poor-brood colony was introduced into a good-brood colony and vice versa. We observed that brood patterns of queens originally from poor-brood colonies significantly improved after placement into a good-brood colony after 21 days, suggesting factors other than the queen contributed to brood pattern. Our study challenges the notion that brood pattern alone is sufficient to judge queen quality. Our results emphasize the challenges in determining the root source for problems related to the queen when assessing honey bee colony health. Kathleen V. Lee, Michael Goblirsch, Erin McDermott, David R. Tarpy, and Marla Spivak (2019). Is the brood pattern within a honey bee colony a reliable indicator of Queen Quality? Insects 10, 12; doi:10.3390/insects10010012 (Open Access)
  18. We used to diagnose tracheal mites (acarine) in the field with a hand lens, a cork and a few pins. Pull or flick the head, first pair of legs, and first segment of the thorax off with forceps or a blade and with the lens and look for a pair of quite large white tubes heading down into the thorax towards the wing muscles. If they are discoloured from clean white opalescent tubes and show brown staining chances are it’s mites inside blocking the tube. Of course a lab can do it neatly, and expose the individual mites to look at too, but there you go… I doubt it's mites; all the varroa-killing magic we put in hives is probably killing all the Acari.
  19. 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 beekeeping perennial, top vs bottom entrances. This is not the first application of CFD to beekeeping, the Forum has a discussion from a couple of years back about polystyrene hives, and Cory Thompson (with others) studied airflow in Langstroth hives using the method. The results are always interesting, but as important are the assumptions, simplifications and limitations used when devising a workable model. Honeybees harvest nectar to provide a source of a carbohydrate solution in periods of dearth, typically in the winter, but also during drought periods when flowers may not produce any. In order to store this food effectively they concentrate it to reduce the space it occupies and to prevent spoilage. This concentration is accomplished by doing two things. By adding the enzyme invertase the nominally sucrose nectar is converted to contain smaller sugars, mainly fructose and glucose. Fructose is much more soluble in water (even hygroscopic) and not easy to crystalise; a saturated solution of each of the three sugars (at 25C) will contain 81% fructose, 51% glucose, and 67% sucrose. In addition, a solution containing more than 60% fructose can contain much more glucose than a more dilute fructose solution. In almost all cases honey is a super-saturated fructose solution containing glucose. The other thing done to concentrate the volume is to remove most of the water. Typically nectar containing perhaps 80% water is reduced to honey, containing less than 20% water, by evaporation. Any change of state, in this case the liquid to gas transition, requires energy. We call this energy ‘latent heat’; the temperature of the body (the solution, the water) remains constant but the added energy changes its volume, from a fluid to a loosely packed gas of excited molecules. To find out how much energy we can just look it up on Wikipedia J, for water it is 2,260kJ/kg (depending on temperature and pressure). This is actually quite a lot, and even more if you think about the quantity of water involved. A colony could evaporate more than 400kg of water in a year, using almost one gigajoule of energy, or nearly 300 kilowatt-hours. Thirty litres of petrol to you. So where does all that energy come from? A little might come from the warmth of the sun, (and a tiny bit from the invertase chemistry), but given that the ‘bees operate in an enclosed, shaded wooden tree or box a more plausible answer, especially if you can visualise what the ‘bees actually do, is that it is metabolic energy, and it comes from the food itself – nectar. Besides all the other things honeybees do with the energy they harvest; fly, dance, grow, brood, even, waste it, evaporating water might be a very significant one. It’s reasonable to argue that the survival of the colony depends on the efficiency (energy efficiency) of foraging (the colony must gather more energy that it expends or it dies) but we don’t tend to think about the cost (in energy) of storing and making that food energy available. It must be said that the people and (biological) disciplines that study honeybees aren’t experts in physics or engineering, and may not be the best people to think about things like energy or materials. In this study, as a starting point, Mitchell considers the model system to be bounded by the nest enclosure, which constantly loses heat to its environs, and the journey to and from the flower patch where the nectar source is at a fixed distance. The nest enclosure does not change (the hive isn't 'supered'). It excludes the honeybee time spent in flower to flower transport energy (which is assumed to be replaced in the flower patch) and flower nectar depletion or dilution. For the sake of simplicity there is assumed to be no variation in energy consumed due to in-flight changes in insect weight or wind speed, nor does it consider significant activities for the honeybees like water and pollen collection or the nest consumption of honey to fuel brood rearing. The model focuses on the Thermal Energy Efficiency (TEE) as determined by the honey ripening rate, nectar concentration, ambient temperature, airflow inside and outside and any behaviour that controls it, and the thermal conductance of the nest (heat lost). It shows the energy used for nectar conversion is significant, from 20% to 60% of the total energy recovered by nectar foraging. Typical values show that over 50% of the delivered energy may be used in the process of honey ripening and even in exceptionally favourable circumstances for temperate climates, do not use less than 25%. The energy consumption of nectar desiccation limits the maximum foraging distance of honeybees and also changes the energy return for a given nectar source, as well as which nectar sources are viable. The TEE limits nectar conversion so that honeybees can profitably retrieve and refine nectar from either a weaker nectar source or from a greater distance, but not both. A colony that collects nectar at distances, concentrations and TEE outside the break-even line will not add to its honey reserves and may not survive. That much is supported by observations in other studies. As well, improvements in TEE would require less nectar, so less foraging flights, less fanning, and less wing wear. If you're looking for a 'take-away message', Mitchell is suggesting that thermal conductance of hives, previously thought to be only a consideration for winter, has been shown to be a major factor during the nectar collecting periods of the year, and consequently beekeepers should improve thermal efficiency by changing their hives to ones which lose less heat, and facilitating honeybee behaviours that have the same goal, for example, only using bottom entrances. Mitchell D. (2019) Thermal efficiency extends distance and variety for honeybee foragers: analysis of the energetics of nectar collection and desiccation by Apis mellifera. J. R. Soc. Interface 16: 20180879. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2018.0879 Mitchell, D. (2017) Honey bee engineering: Top ventilation and top entrances. American Bee Journal, 157 (8). pp. 887-889. ISSN 0002-7626 EPS vs Wooden Boxes (2017), https://www.nzbees.net/forums/topic/8664-eps-vs-wooden-boxes/ Sudarsan R, Thompson C, Kevan PG, Eberl HJ. (2012) Flow currents and ventilation in Langstroth beehives due to brood thermoregulation efforts of honeybees. J Theor Biol. 1;295:168-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.11.007. Epub Nov 25 2011.
  20. The quick answer in the books is that foraging ceases with wind speeds over 15mph (24km/h), assuming flight activity is not limited by light or temperature, and honeybees fly at up to 21-28km/h (28km/h is 7.8m/s). The question deserves a little more thought though. Adrian Wenner did some work measuring flight speed in the ‘60s, calculating flight speeds of 7.0 -7.8m/s for laden and un-laden ‘bees. He looked at wind towards and against the direction travel, but not really at cross-winds, and understood that the height at which you measure the wind speed matters. Honeybees reduce altitude as wind speed increases, and they also don’t travel as far. Foragers that work close to home come in to play, the long-distant team stay at home. Nectar sugar concentration becomes more important. Sustained wind at hive sites can aggravate drifting, increase forager mortality, and change the energy budget for a colony, usually making things less favourable, even lethal for unmanaged colonies. How much all that matters, and at what point that begins to matter, only experience will tell.
  21. 'Old' bees in 'spring' might be four months old, but in the absence of precision maybe it's just a matter of which bees are stinging. Can't say I've ever noticed a seasonal effect at all.
  22. We know venom potency is related to bee age. I'd probably expect 'spring' hives to have proportionally more old bees, with more potent venom, for a while. So it might come down to how we define 'spring'.
  23. 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 Aculeata. There are 29 native solitary hunting wasps, most of which hunt spiders as food for their offspring and are not known to be aggressive towards people. The native solitary bees amount to 18 species of Leioproctus, seven Hylaeus species and four species of Lasioglossum. All these solitary insects, evolved to use their venom in small amounts for subduing other insects, (not mammals) or in a limited defensive effort. It is the introduced social species from the Aculeata that are mainly responsible for stings to humans. These insects manage a communal defensive effort directed specifically at mammalian predators (like people) and so employ toxins and strategies that are effective against mammals, sometimes fatally so. These introduced animals include four species of wasp, a similar variety of bumblebees, and the honeybee. The honeybee is unique in that an individual can only sting once, and then dies. A wasp or a bumblebee is able to sting repeatedly. All of them defend their nest sites by deploying many individuals to attack the aggressor. Insect repellants (like DEET) are not effective on hymenoptera. The incidence of stings varies with your location and the season. Wasps’ stings are the most numerous, particularly in the late autumn when they actively hunt at picnics and barbeques, dive into soft drink tins, rubbish, and consume the sweet saps from garden plants and trees. Honeybee stings are less numerous and more common in the spring, but it depends on the setting (urban, rural, orchards etc). Bumblebee stings are infrequent, often in mid to late summer when the nests are disturbed as a result of being bigger and more obvious, or because it’s a ‘tidy-up’ time for people and their gardens. The reporting of incidents leaves a little to be desired. Fortunately wingless wasps that look like ants don’t figure in the statistics. Most people are unable to tell a ‘wasp’ from a ‘bee’. A few can identify a bumblebee (there are several kinds), and only the most studious could distinguish a ‘paper wasp’ (either of them) from one of the vespulae. Many claim not to have seen what ‘bit’ them in any case. In some respects the venoms from the three are very similar, and how an individual will react, or needs to be treated, can also very similar. An allergic response to one can mean the individual will be allergic to the others. However, it’s not a rule; there are also significant differences between them. Honeybee (Apidae: Apis) venom has been collected for centuries and is consequently the most studied. Mellitin, Apamin, and a peptide that degranulates mast cells are unique to honeybee venom. Wasp (Vespidae/Polistinae) venom contains different phospholipases, and a unique antigen. Bumblebee (Apidae: Bombus) venom is different from both of these, but has some similarity. Consequently there are separate preparations available for testing hypersensitivity or desensitizing. Almost all reactions to stings are allergic responses, even though we don’t commonly use the phrase. Venom biochemistry Bee venom is a blend of components including two peptides, several acids, histamine, dopamine, noradrenaline, tryptophan, sulphur, some minerals,oils, and enzymes. Fifty percent of the dry weight of honey bee venom is mellitin. Mellitin is a chemical that is unique to bee venom and is cytolytic, which means that it bursts cells (the little red ‘dot’ at the sting site is burst red blood cells). Mellitin also dilates blood vessels, leading to low blood pressure. Twelve percent of honey bee venom is Phospholipase A2 (the most potent allergen). Phospholipases are enzymes that help mellitin destroy cell membranes. Apamin is also unique to bee venom (3%) and is a neurotoxin. Hyaluronidase (2%) is an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid, which is one of the components of the tissue in between your cells that hold them together. Hyaluronidase contributes to the “spread” of the reaction. Mast cell degranulating peptides cause the special ‘mast’ cells in your body (part of your immune response system) to release the many biochemicals (including more histamine) in their granules. Histamine causes ‘leaky’ capillaries and contributes to the slightly raised red area that itches in sensitive individuals. In wasp venom the major unique components are phospholipase A1 and B, antigen5, acetylcholine, and serotonin. Many of these proteins are also recognized as foreign by the human immune system (antigens) and lead to a response from the body’s immune system. The ‘first responders’ are the lymphocytes. Lymphocytes come in different types. Their surfaces recognize things that belong and things that don’t and they respond in two ways to things that don’t. They will release antibodies which ‘label’ the foreign matter so that some action can be taken against it, and they will produce more lymphocytes which are there as a form of ‘memory’ of the event. A ‘normal’ response produces immunoglobulinG (IgG); an allergic response produces ImmunoglobulinE (IgE).The mast cells too play an early role. Mast cells are covered in immunoglobulinE antibodies and come ‘pre-loaded’ with histamine, serotonin, protein-destroying enzymes, the anticoagulant heparin, and slow acting leukotrienes, prostoglandins, and cytokines. In response to IgE mask cells disintegrate, liberating their contents. People all produce different amounts of IgG or IgE in response to different ‘invaders’, and what the antibodies ‘recruite’ to aid their effort varies between individuals, so the range of response is very different and depends on the venom, the dose, the site, the individual’s physiology, and even their psychological state. The venom from a sting therefore has a direct physical effect on surrounding tissue, but also causes a response in the body that may or may not magnify that effect. For example, the venom itself will destroy mast cells and release their contents to have a local effect, but the body’s immune system can also start to produce immunoglobulins that will degranulate mast cells remote from the venom site and create a system-wide (systemic) effect. The table below shows the range of possible reactions to a sting. Reactions Reacting Immunoglobulins Onset Times Clinical Manifestations Local IgG 4-48 hours Painful, pruritic, & oedematous sting lesions, 2.5-10cm in diameter. Systemic IgE 12-24 hours Headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Toxic IgE ½-1 hour Systemic symptoms, syncope, seizures, hemolysis, rhabdomyolysis, acute tubular necrosis with renal failure. Allergic IgG 12-24 hours Initial wheal & flare response at sting sites, followed by painful, pruritic indurated lesions. Anaphylactic IgE 10-20 min up to 72 hours Generalized urticaria, angioedema, dysnpea, bronchospasm, inspiratory stridor, wheezing, chills, fever, apnea, respiratory failure, hypotension, cardiovascular collapse, rarely disseminated intravascular coagulation. Delayed (Apis only) IgG 2-14 days Headache, malaise, low-grade fever, generalized lymphadenopathy, polyarthralgias, serum sickness & thrombotic hrombocytopenic purpura possible, rarely peripheral neuropathy. (After Diaz, 2007.) Minimising the dose There is a basic difference between honeybee stings and the others in terms of the construction of the ‘apparatus’. A wasp or bumblebee’s stinger has no barbs. This means that the insect can withdraw her stinger, and is able to sting again. In contrast, a honeybee can not withdraw her sting. The sting consists of two barbed lancets and a stylet, and the venom gland discharges into a space in between the lancets and stylet, and venom can only travel down this shaft as movement in the opposite direction is prevented by valves. The venom sac has no musculature; the muscle associated with the sting is attached to plates which drive each lancet in turn forward with respect to the stylet, the stylet supporting each using a sort of ‘monorail’ connection. Once the sting has become caught in the skin the bee can’t escape without it becoming dislodged from her body, and as that happens, the Dufour and Koschevnikov glands are torn out and remain with the trapped sting. The later gland produces isopentyl acetate, the ‘banana’ scented pheromone beekeepers are familiar with. This marks the site and stimulates other bees to sting. The lancets meanwhile, are driving themselves, one by one, deeper into the skin and continue to dispense venom. Do not overlook the fact that the most important response to stings from wasps or bees defending their nests should be to get away from the vicinity of the nest. Getting to safety is more important than removing stings immediately, but stings should removed as soon as possible once a person is away from the area. The method of removal does not affect the quantity of venom received by the subject. Much of the advice commonly given regarding the immediate treatment of bee stings derives from a misunderstanding of the structure of honey bee stings. Conventional wisdom says to scrape bee stingers away from the skin because pinching the venom sack could push extra venom into the victim. In fact, how fast you get the stinger out is much more important than how, and in a small number of cases, the scrape treatment results in breaking the sting lancets from the rest of the sting, with the lancets remaining in the subject’s flesh. The method of removal is irrelevant, but even slight delays in removal caused by concerns over performing it correctly (or getting out a knife blade or credit card) are likely to increase the dose of venom received. The advice is to simply emphasize that the sting should be removed, and as quickly as possible, within a couple of seconds. A fingernail is the most convenient tool; just scrape or flick the sting away. If you think you can get your credit card out that quickly, ‘lets do lunch’. The exception to this advice is in the case of a sting to the eyeball or eyelids. A sting to the eyeball should only be removed using microscopy, by an expert; and sting to the eyelid can be removed but must be examined in the same way to ensure remnants do not damage the eye’s surface. If the sting is followed by severe symptoms, or if it occurs on the neck or mouth, seek medical attention immediately because swelling in these areas of the body can cause suffocation. Stings directly into blood vessels can cause a very rapid cardiopulmonary escalation and systemic response. Occasionally, someone can be stung many times before being able to get away. Depending on the number of stings, the person may just hurt a lot, feel a little sick, or feel very sick. Humans can be killed if stung enough times in a single incident. With honey bees the toxic dose (LD50) of the venom is estimated to be 19 stings per kilo of body weight. Obviously, children are at a greater risk than are adults. In fact, an otherwise healthy adult would have to be stung over 1,000 times to be in risk of death, but half that can make you very sick. Most deaths caused by multiple stings have occurred in victims who were known to have poor cardiopulmonary function. A second, potentially life-threatening result of multiple stings occurs days after the incident. Proteins in the venom act as enzymes: one dissolves the ‘cement’ that holds body cells together, while another perforates the walls of cells. This damage liberates tiny tissue debris that would normally be eliminated through the kidneys. If too much debris accumulates too quickly, the kidneys become ‘clogged’ and the patient is in danger of dying from kidney failure. It is important for people who have received many stings in one event to discuss this secondary effect with their doctors. (Wasp stings are as potent in this respect as bee stings.) Patients should be monitored for a week or two following an incident involving multiple stings to be certain that no secondary health problems arise. Treating the sting Most reactions are local and confined to the general area of the sting with pain and a swollen itch, but over 24 – 48 hours they can develop into a much larger area (sometimes the entire extremity. A few hours after the sting more redness, oedema (swelling), and itching develop. Over 12 – 48 hours, the area can become quite swollen, painful, and may also have some associated bruising. The swelling generally begins to resolve after two days, but the site may remain tender (and continue to itch) for a few more days. The total reaction lasts 4 – 7 days. Large locals around the face and mouth or on the hands may cause temporary disability. The large local is IgE-mediated, and therefore is an allergic response. Treatment of local reactions includes ice and elevation with non-aspirin containing analgesics (Ibuprofen), both H1 and H2-receptor blocking antihistamines (diphenhydramine, (Benadryl), famotidine, ranitidine, and non-sedating ones, such as fexofenadine (Allegra), loratidine (Claritin), and ceterizine (Zyrtec), and, occasionally, systemic corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone, or prednisone, in doses tapered over 2-3 days. Aspirin-containing analgesics should be avoided because both bee and wasp stings may be complicated by local subcutaneous hemorrhage. Taking anti-histamine or a leukotriene-receptor antagonist very soon after the sting may decrease the late phase reaction. Leukotriene-receptor antagonists’ montelukast (Singulair) and zafirlukast (Accolate) block the leukotriene receptors on mast cells and eosinophils and both have peak activity 3 – 4 hours after taking them. In one study of six allergic beekeepers, the skin within their large local reaction and their blood and urine were analyzed 2 hours after a bee sting. Three of them had high histamine levels and the other three had high leukotriene levels, suggesting that allergic beekeepers either have high histamine release or increased leukotriene production, but not both. This implies that about half of beekeepers who have large local reactions might benefit from the immediate administration of a leukotriene inhibitor, whereas the other half would benefit from anti-histamines before or very soon after the sting Oral steroids are useful in treating large locals to stings around the face and hands. The small blisters sometimes formed on the sting wound should be left alone. It is possible to infect the wound if bits of the sting shaft remain or if adequate cleanliness is not observed. Topical treatments Many local and traditional remedies have been recommended for initial management of local hymenopteran stings including the topical applications of tobacco poultices, vinegar, baking soda and salt, aluminum sulfate, and papain, or meat tenderizer. As a rule the clinical activity of all topical treatments for hymenopteran stings (other than ice) is poor, or absent. The more popular ones include; Antihistamines. Histamine is one of the main mediators of the inflammatory response so treatment with antihistamines is indicated. Several topical products containing antihistamines are available for treating the pain, itching and inflammation caused by bites and stings. However, topical antihistamines have been criticized as not being very effective. They are also liable to cause sensitisation so should not be used more often than two or three times a day for up to three days. Oral antihistamines are more likely than topical preparations to bring sustained and effective relief. Hydrocortisone. This has anti-inflammatory activity and hydrocortisone cream is available for treating itching caused by insect bites. However, its usefulness is limited by the directive to limit use to two applications daily, as more frequent application may be necessary to sustain relief. It is not appropriate for use in children under 10 years of age. Once again, oral administration of a corticosteroid, say, prednisone (by prescription), is a more effective treatment. Calamine and zinc oxide. Calamine is made from zinc carbonate with ferric oxide, which is what gives it the characteristic pink colour. It is mildly astringent and its soothing anti-itching action is due to the large surface area and porous nature of its particles, which promote the evaporation of water to cool the skin. Calamine Lotion BP also contains 0.5 per cent phenol which has a local anesthetic action. Calamine has been used for generations for treating hives and itching from many causes, including insect bites. It is cheap and there are few restrictions on its use. Zinc oxide has similar properties. Ammonium sulphate solution (Stingose). This has been claimed to have a de-naturing effect on the proteins introduced by bites and stings, but the claim dates back to one academic paper in 1980 and should be treated with considerable skepticism. There is little or no objective evidence of its effectiveness (except, perhaps, for stings in the marine environment from jelly fish nematoblasts) nor is there a credible explanation of how it would work in the case of subcutaneous terrestrial stings. Systemic, toxic and anaphylactic responses A systemic reaction can be mild and manifest as purely cutaneous (skin) responses like hives (but distant from the sting site) and typically involves the trunk or scalp, and/or a rapidly-developing swelling of the face. Gastrointestinal symptoms may also occur, and include a metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Attendant neurologic symptoms include light-headedness, dizziness, (which can also have a cardiovascular cause) and tremor. “Systemic and toxic reactions to stings should be managed with supportive care, including oxygen and intravenous fluid therapy, and pharmacotherapy with intravenous analgesics, H1- and H2-receptor blocking antihistamines, and corticosteroids. Anaphylactic reactions must be managed promptly with immediate airway and circulatory support, including subcutaneous and intravenous vasopressors, specifically adrenalin, and intravenous fluid resuscitation.” That’s another way of saying “You need to be in hospital.” All patients at high risk of any systemic allergic reaction to hymenopteran stings, even those who have undergone successful venom immunotherapy, should carry an emergency kit containing pre-filled adrenalin syringes while outdoors and wear a medical alert identification bracelet or tag. Adrenalin must never be injected intravenously, and preferably, not subcutaneously, only intramuscularly. Patients must be cautioned against injecting adrenalin solutions into their fingers, which could result in ischemic distal digital necrosis, over superficial veins, which could result in rapid vascular up-take, or near the sciatic nerve in the upper, lateral quadrant of the buttocks. A study done in Canada showed that adrenalin for first-aid treatment of anaphylaxis in infants using the ampoules/syringe/needle method is not practical. Most parents were unable to draw up an infant adrenalin dose rapidly or accurately. Someone operating under stress is also unlikely to be able to give the correct dose, but an adult body mass will be more tolerant of small mistakes. Fortunately anaphylaxis is a rare event. In the US about 80-90 people a year are killed by lightening (in NZ it’s less than one), and around 40 people die from insect stings (less than half are honeybee stings). In the general population somewhat less than one per cent are likely to be hypersensitive. The prevalence of hypersensitivity reported is not adjusted for climatic differences between regions or countries, and doesn’t account for the temporal or geographical distribution of Hymenoptera. Ocular stings Sting injuries have long been recognized as a significant source of eye trauma. Sting injuries can affect a variety of ocular structures, and patients typically present with an acutely painful red, watery, swollen eye. The area may be indurated (firm and nodular) around the site of sting, and the retained stinger may be visible. In addition to the immunological and toxic effects the eye can suffer significant mechanical harm. The stinger is composed of hard chitin. As noted, the honeybee’s sting is barbed and cannot be withdrawn, and while wasps and bumblebees do not possess a barbed stinger, portions of this structure may occasionally break off and remain in the tissue. Direct injuries to the lid may involve penetration of the tarsus, in which case not only will there bee a reaction to the venom, but also the disembodied stinger may damage the corneal surface. Sting injuries to the ocular structures therefore often result in a puncture wound and infection from a foreign body. Ocular complications include a retained foreign body, conjunctivitis, corneal swelling or perforation, bleeding, uveitis, blistering of the conjunctiva (chemosis), painful corneal inflammation, pupil dilation, optic nerve swelling and damage, including acute and irreversible demyelination of the optic nerve, cataract formation (notable with wasp stings), and deformation of the lens iris and cornea. Retained stingers should be removed carefully and the area should be cleaned. Removal of the stinger with a jeweler’s forceps under biomicroscopy is the only sure way. Cold compresses may be helpful in limiting the secondary inflammatory response. Ice (wrapped in cloth to avoid freezing the skin) should be applied for no more than 20 minutes every hour. Oral antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents help control associated itching and pain. In addition, more frequent administration of potent steroids for treating uveitis aggressively and proactively has been recommended to help prevent long-term effects, like cataracts, iris atrophy and glaucoma. In particular, for victims with toxic optic neuritis, early intervention with a three-day course of intravenous methyl-prednisone followed by a tapered dose of oral prednisone over seven additional days has been shown to help patients recover their sight following this type of trauma. Beekeepers Beekeepers have a significantly higher probability of being stung, and a far greater exposure to bee-related antigens than the general population. They have a greater risk of allergy and anaphylaxis; various studies have suggested rates of allergy between 17-43%. In a study of German beekeepers 4.4 % reported systemic reactions to bee stings (allergic reactions), 75.6 % reported mild local reactions, and 18.6 % had no reactions to bee stings. Curiously, 25.3 % of the beekeepers reported more severe reactions to bee stings in spring than in later months. There are few studies, but this one also tried to determine what factors might explain the range of values and the risk factors that appear to predict allergy. This analysis revealed that the most significant factors, in descending order of importance, were symptoms of upper respiratory allergy while working with beehives, susceptibility to allergies in general, time spent as a beekeeper, fewer than ten stings per year, and more severe non-allergic reactions to bee stings in spring. In addition, age, and body mass (but not sex), were inversely correlated with the probability of a systemic reaction, but could not be used as a predictive factor. Using the main factors identified by the study the researchers could correctly classify the allergic reactions in 85.2% of the cases. When comparing studies, much of the variance in the incidence of allergy reported could be successfully explained by the age of the beekeepers used by the different studies. To put all this another way, if you are a new beekeeper, young and skinny with a history of other allergies, and develop respiratory or skin problems when handling bee equipment and haven’t been stung much, then your risk of having a systemic reaction one day is much greater compared to the big crocodile-skinned old geezer who hasn’t worn gloves in years and drinks too much beer (but it should decline as you become a crocodile-skinned…). It might be wise to make sure someone knows when and where you are working with bees About 25 % of beekeepers have high anti-bee venom IgE levels, and all beekeepers have increased anti-bee venom IgG. Despite this, anaphylaxis to bee stings only occurs in a minority of these individuals and we don’t know why. Repeated exposure to the venom leads to a change in the way the lymphocytes in the immune system react to the particular offending antigen. The cells switch antibody production from allergic IgE to non-allergic IgG which cannot cause mast cell activation, and there is no subsequent anaphylaxis. Controlled venom immunotherapy is very successful at ‘de-sensitising’ individuals who have become hypersensitive. Even without considering immunology, being stung is, at best, irritating. In the case of stings to the face they can be debilitating, and especially around or on the eyes, permanently disabling. Mass stinging events can be life threatening. Beekeepers use several methods to mitigate the risk, avoidance (by good technique), evasion (planning an escape route), and physical protection (Personal Protective Equipment - PPE). Beekeepers are able to breed strains that show a considerable difference in their propensity to sting and generally select calm, peaceable populations to work with. The most essential of these strategies is to use a well designed veil; we have seen how dangerous a sting to the eye can be. Consider that dark glasses will make the face and eyes a target. Bees that get in under the veil, or get tangled in hair, are best dispatched between finger and thumb. If a lot of bees get in (not just one or two), walk away, if possible cover your eyes and face with your hands and remove the veil to let the bees out. Clothing fulfills various needs (not just protection), and should be practical, comfortable, washable, and light-coloured, and should not trap bees in the fabric or on the inside! Knowledge of bee behaviour allows a beekeeper to anticipate how bees react to visual cues and scents so that, for example, movements are conducted with finesse, and colours, perfumes and smells that disturb the bees are not used or masked. Gentle techniques, and the act of timing hive manipulations favourably, develop with experience. Stings and any squashed bees are best removed and the site smoked so that guarding bees are not encouraged to sting. Hive design and construction, and position, the weather, bee-forage, and the seasonal life-cycle of the colony and its neighbours all contribute to the need for a colony to heighten or lower its defensive response to a beekeeper’s attentions. It is unwise try to ‘work though’ a situation where stinging or robbing is getting out of hand. Caring for others Plan and prepare your response in advance. Communication, transport, supervision, etc. After a sting… Get you and the victim away to a safe area Remove the sting as quickly as possible Relieve the local symptoms with ice, calamine, ibuprofen and liquid/tablet antihistamine as required/available. Observe, and take action if you see · Stings to the eye, mouth or throat · Swelling of lips, neck, face, or eyes when they have not been stung · Hives or welts · Abdominal pain, vomiting ACTION · Stay with patient and call for Ambulance · Give medications if prescribed (eg. Antihistamines) · Locate EpiPen® or EpiPen® Jr if prescribed · Contact emergency contact/parent/carer WATCH FOR SIGNS OF ANAPHYLAXIS (severe allergic reaction) · Difficulty / noisy breathing · Swelling of tongue · Swelling / tightness in throat · Difficulty talking and / or hoarse voice · Wheeze or persistent cough · Loss of consciousness and / or collapse · Pale and floppy (young children) DO NOT GIVE YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES TO SOMEONE ELSE References Arcieri, Enyr Saran M.D.; França, Edimar Tiago M.D.; de Oliveria, Hailton Barreiros M.D.; De Abreu Ferreira, Lizane M.D.; Ferreira, Magno Antônio M.D.; Rocha, Flávio Jaime M.D., Ocular Lesions Arising After Stings by Hymenopteran Insects, Cornea, April 2002 - Volume 21 - Issue 3 - pp 328-330. James H. Diaz, Hymenopterid Bites, Stings, Allergic Reactions, and the Impact of Hurricanes on Hymenopterid-Inflicted Injuries, (2007), J La State Med Soc VOL 159. B.J. Donovan, Anaphylactic shock and strong cardiac stimulation caused by stings of the bumble bee Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae), The New Zealand Entomologist, 1978, Vol.6,No.4, pp385-389. Buddy MarterreMD., Bee stings, immunology, allergy and treatment, American Bee Journal (Aug 2006). K Münstedt, M Hellner, D Winter, R von Georgi, Allergy to Bee Venom in Beekeepers in Germany, J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2008; Vol. 18(2): 100-105. Hiten G Sheth, and Timothy J Sullivan, Optic neuropathy and orbital inflammatory mass after wasp stings, J R Soc Med. (2004) September; 97(9): 436–437. P Kirk Visscher, Richard S Vetter, Scott Camazine, Removing bee stings, (1996), The Lancet, Volume 348, Issue 9023, Pages 301-302. Dave Black (2013)
  24. Is it even possible to make things worse? The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says. https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/385953/devastated-northland-manuka-honey-producers-seek-chemical-markers-definition-review-from-mpi
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