Bee Informed

Bee Smart Crosswords #2- Miner Bees

If you’d like to print out the crossword  please download it with THIS LINK.

Here is the word list to help you out:

ABDOMINALIS
ANCYLANDRENA
ANDRENIDAE
ANDRENINAE
ANTHEMURGUS
ASTRAGALI
BUZZINGINSECT
CALLIOPSIS
CERASIFOLI
ENCELIAE
GLORIOSA
MACROTERA
MEGANDRENA
MENTZELIAE
MESOXAEA
MINIMA
OXAEINAE
PANURGINI
PANURGINUS
PASSIFLORAE
PERDITA
PERDITINI
POLYTRICHUS
PROTANDRENA
PROTANDRENINI
PROTOXAEA
PRUNORUM
PSEUDOPANURGUS
VERBINAPIS

Bee Accountable

As hobbyists and professionals in beekeeping, we have a great many options available to us in the decisions we need to make relating to the environment in which we keep our bees and the goals and objectives we have established for determining our success in beekeeping.

There are a great many things we can blame failure on when it comes to bees…  Lack of forage, weather, pests and predators, disease and injury.  The list can seem endless at times as we struggle in our efforts to keep bees healthy and alive, let alone thriving.

It is perhaps our biggest blind spot and our greatest failure when we are inattentive and lazy in our beekeeping.  There are many things that happen that can be pinned on ignorance.  We just didn’t know or realize.  This is always going to happen in beekeeping.  There is still so much we don’t know about bees despite the growing amount of research that has been done and continues to be done.

However, there are things we do know.  Things we choose to ignore for who knows what reason or excuse.  Choosing to be ignorant when we know the information is available but requires effort is one example.  Allowing ourselves to be distracted from our tasks and duties in beekeeping when we know they should be done is another.

Failure to anticipate potential problems because we didn’t plan properly ahead of time or at all.  This might be the one that gets us the most.  There are problems that arise in beekeeping that are preventable.  Lack of available food and water, inadequate hive ventilation, an excessive amount of space for too small a population.  Many times, perhaps most of the time we see these thing, they are preventable.  Had we been diligent and informed and making an active effort in our beekeeping duties they likey can have been prevented.

Accountability to our bees is important.  We owe it to ourselves and those colonies to put forth our best effort in trying to prevent all that we can prevent.  There are enough things beyond our control that we have to simply be responsive to in order to avoid disaster in beekeeping.  Poor planning, laziness, and unnecessary ignorance shouldn’t add to that already too large pile of trouble.

Bee honest with ourselves.  Bee accountable to our bees.

Bee Smart.

The Bee Smart Online Crossword Puzzle #1: Basic Anatomy

 

If online puzzles aren’t your thing, you can download a PDF version by clicking on this link.  The PDF even includes a wordlist for a little extra help.

Crossword Hobbyist – Basic Bee Biology

The answer sheet is also available as a download for our patrons over at our Bee Smart Patreon site.

Meet a Miner Bee-Andrena astragali

There are more than 4,500 species of bees in the world commonly referred to as “Miner” bees.  This one in particular, the Andrena astragali, is a specialist that likes to forage on a plant called the “Death Cama” AKA Toxicoscordion.

Toxicoscordion venenosum (Death Camas) - Flickr - brewbooks
By brewbooks from near Seattle, USA (Toxicoscordion venenosum (Death Camas)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Death Cama is known for being poisonous as it contains a type of neurotoxin that is harmful to just about everything in every part of it, even the nectar.  Everything except Andrena astragali that is.

 

Yes! Bee Smart Bee Bringing The Crosswords

As promised, here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project, we want to always work to bring you new, original content that you aren’t going to find anywhere else and is going to help you bee Smart about bees and beekeeping and have fun while you’re doing it.

So, here come the Bee Smart Crosswords.  Every week, on Wednesdays, a new crossword puzzle based on something having to do with bees or beekeeping will be posted here on the website.

The first Crossword hits next Wednesday.  Bee ready to to buzz through this game like a pro.

Kamikaze Bees

Pretty much all bees have stingers on them or “stings” in general.  Also, pretty much all bees sting to defend themselves and their nests.  This is pretty well established.

However, what most people don’t realize is that not all bees lose the sting once they have used it to sting something else.  As a matter of fact, pretty much only Honey bees, Apis mellifera, lose their sting due to having it literally ripped from their body along with the venom sac after having stung something else.

File:BienenstichApisMelliferaMellifera.jpg
A honey bee stinging
Through different studies, we’re pretty much convinced that honey bees actually know they are going to die when they sting.  They know it and they do it anyway.  In Japanese, “Kamikaze” means, “Divine Winds”  referring usually to hurricanes an such.  I’ve heard it they looked on Kamikaze airplane fighter pilots as being a special attack wreaking terrible destruction.  This, I think, is a pretty interesting description of what damage can be done to an opponent when you are willing to go to such dramatic feats to not just defeat the enemy but utterly eliminate them.  Think of the devastation a hurricane can do.

A honey bee, knowing it gives it’s life in it’s sting to defend nest and self is essentially going all out, literally giving it’s everything to overcome the perceived enemy at any cost.  I think the concept of a swarm of bees taking to the air in order to not just defend the colony from attack but to make that enemy entirely go away is true to the concept of Kamikaze.  Just about everything that has taken to raiding a honey bee hive, from wild bears to human beekeepers and everything in between,  has learned to regret that decision as it runs as far away as fast as it can.

Not all bees lose their stings, oh no, pretty much all the rest can keep going back to give a gift that keeps on giving until the threat removes itself.  Bumblebees are known as exceedingly docile and calm out in the flowers.  There’s a time though when those bumblebees can attack ferociously if you are interfering with their nest.  Not only will they come out to sting in defense, they retain the sting and just coming in again and again and again, etc…

Related image
A bumblebee dealing out a sting.

Honey bees don’t always lose their sting though.  It depends on what they are stinging.  If they sting another honey bee for example or something of similar size and makeup, they will mostly keep the sing instead of having it pulled out and dying.  In larger, thicker skinned creatures though, the tiny barbs that are on the sting will catch and not only stick in to be yanked out of the bee, they continue the attack after the bee has detached.

Oh yes, the honey bee stinger is actually a more complicated thing than a simple barbed needle.  In fact, it is two needles working together in a piston-like motion so that once inserted into the body of a victim, they continue to dig themselves in even deeper giving more direct access to the venom in the connected venom sac that came off with the sting.  A good reason to never pinch the sting to remove it is because by doing so, often more venom is injected by squeezing the ven0m sac along with the sting.  Scrape that sting out with a knife, plastic card, even a fingernail instead.

File:Stechende Biene 12a.jpg
Getting down to the business end of the stinger.
That isn’t the end to the mischief the honey bee has wrought in stinging though.  Oh no!  It’s not done done with us yet.  Not only does it’s stinger get physically, forcibly removed from it’s body, leaving it in our body.  Not only does the sting continue to dig deeper into the skin to deliver its venom more effectively.  While she has indeed gone off to die, the little worker bee who has wounded us so, she has also left a chemical marker scent upon us.  A pheromone that acts as a beacon to other honey bee workers flying to the defense.  We are now not only wounded, we are now tagged so that the other bees have a persistent pheromonal version of GPS straight to us.  That’s right, running will avail us little safety, we are marked and they will come to finish the job.  Sounds ominous doesn’t it?  It’s a good thing they aren’t overly persistent.

Most of the time, if we can get anywhere from 20 to 100 yards away (depending on the breed of bee) they will consider having done their job sufficiently and removed the immediate threat and call the forces back home.  Whew!  This is actually true of pretty much all stinging bees.  They really don’t intend to utterly eliminate us, just remove the immediate threat.  Once the perpetrator clears out of the immediate area, most bees are fine with calling a cease fire and returning to battle stations.

In fact, there are times, again depending on the breed of honey bee, where instead of stinging immediately, they give us a warning instead.  A simple little bump, a head butt if you will.  Simply just to let us know, ” Hey pal, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll high-tail it out of here cuz playtime’s over.  Don’t make me have to tell you again.”  yes, I am anthropomorphizing but it’s more fun that way.

So now you know a little more about the stinging activity of bees.  It’s a good thing to know.  Just remember, bees don’t “attack”  they aren’t going out looking for a fight.  That would be the wasps and hornets.  No, bees just want to do their thing and be left alone.

Think of it as bees are all about, “Don’t start none, won’t bee none.”