Bee Informed

New regs for Friday: Bumblebees and more

The Trump White House has issued an order to delay certain listings that they want to look over before enacting.  Caught up in that is the listing of the Rusty Patch Bumblebee to the protected species list.

Fish and Wildlife has consequently delayed the official listing for 60 days until March 21st to comply with the White House order.

President Trump’s regulatory moratorium captures protections for bumble bees in Friday’s edition of the Federal Register.

Source: New regs for Friday: Bumblebees, farmers, fishermen

Taming Aggressive Bees

We know that stinging is a defensive behavior for honey bees.  Some species and breeds of honey bees go about that defensive reaction across a spectrum of aggressiveness.  While some are relatively docile or low key to get “fired up”, others are on a seeming hair trigger to explosive response.

What are the determining factors to how aggressively a given type of honey bee or breed of bee will respond?  Are they genetic, chemical, or behavioral?  Some some combination of some of all of the above.

Someone is looking into the subject and may bee trying to breed a different type of bee based on that.

By Jonathan Wilkins – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

(Inside Science) — James Nieh, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, has been studying bees for decades. He’s often a go-to expert on bees.“I often get people who ask me, ‘what about those killer bees, those Africanized bees?’ And it turns out that these guys are beneficial in the environment for a variety of reasons, beneficial in the sense that they do better than the European honeybee,” said Nieh.

Source: Taming Aggressive Bees

Despite few taste genes, honey bees seek out essential nutrients based on seasonal resources

Honey bee nutrition is always a topic of great concern for keepers of bees.  Seasonal changes in mineral needs for the colony are important, especially as we work to prepare hives for annual weather events such as Winter or other environmental shifts such as dealing with dearth due to intense heat.  Of course, for migratory apiarists and those with stationary bee yards in more “challenging” locations that are sometimes referred to as “food deserts”, maintaining healthy bee colony nutrition becomes even more of a concern.

Hmm, but as this article goes on to show, the more information we find about bees, the more questions we have.

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE (February 9, 2017) – Despite having few taste genes, honey bees are fine-tuned to know what minerals the colony may lack and proactively seek out nutrients in conjunction with the season when their floral diet varies. This key finding from a new study led by Tufts University scientists sheds light on limited research on the micronutrient requirements of honey bees, and provides potentially useful insight in support of increased health of the bee population, which has declined rapidly in recent years for a variety of complex reasons.

Source: Despite few taste genes, honey bees seek out essential nutrients based on seasonal resources

Lawsuit filed over honeybee deaths

Apiarists face plenty of problems trying to keep bees healthy and alive while utilizing them to make a living.  When procedures set in place by others be they people, businesses or government agencies, go awry, apiarists, like any other business, want accountability and whatever is required to get back to where they were before the problem.

Even if it’s accidental, these professionals should still be given the respect and due process to get their business operational again.

A beekeeping business has filed suit over mosquito-spraying last summer that killed 4 million of its bees.

Source: Lawsuit filed over honeybee deaths

Beehind The Hive: age and activity

Yes, yours truly is bringing a “Tell All” column here on Bee Smart called “Beehind The Hive”.  The little truths and tidbits my sisters and mama don’t really want you people to know.  Actually, they don’t really care who knows beecause they’re gonna do whatever they want anyway.  But, it’s more exciting to introduce it like this.

Today I’m spilling the dirt about how bees do certain things because it’s related to how old they are.  It’s true.  As bees reach certain ages, usually measured in days, they become able to do more things in the hive.  For example, producing beeswax.  Worker bees all of them females, aren’t able to produce beeswax the same day they climb out of the cell.  It takes awhile for the bees physiology to get to the point that they can biologically do that and there is a need in the colony for it to be done.


Bees accumulate abilities to do more and more things as we get older.  Physically and by learning. and much of what actually end up doing is based on a need for it in the colony.  If there’s not a need for it, the bee will go do something else.  So in the case of making beeswax, If the bee is the right age to be able to make it AND There is enough nectar or honey to be consumed to stimulate the production of the wax AND there is a need for wax to be made by that particular bee, then the bee will make and work wax.

If any of those conditions aren’t there then the bee, although able and capable of making wax, won’t.  She will go about doing something else she is capable of doing and senses an active need for it to bee done in the hive.  She might patrol the comb for pests.  She might transfer nectar and pollen from foragers coming in to storage cells.  There are many things she could do though it is maybe more common to see bees doing one certain thing at a particular age, that doesn’t mean that’s all they are limited to doing.

Not only that, but bees can change the activities they are involved in within a matter of minutes.  As they see the hives needs change or that there is a new priority that needs attention, they will stop what they were doing and go do the new thing.

What’s really interesting is that honey bees can even change their physiology to meet certain demands even though their age might have left a particular window of ability beehind.

Let’s go back to making wax.  “Usually”, honey bees become able to produce wax at about age_ until about age _.  After that, their body phases out of that ability and the bees focus on new abilities and tasks.

BUT, When honey bees leave in a swarm to go build a new colony in a new hive somewhere else, most, if not all, of those bees that are leaving are bees that are way past the wax making age.  Still, they gorge on honey t prepare for the trip, they all fly out and wait for the scouts to pick out a new place to move into.  Then they move in and if the new place doesn’t already have beeswax in it (because bees will often move into abandoned nests left behind by other honey bee colonies) they will start making fresh wax and building combs.

Crazy right?  How do they do that if they are supposedly “too old” to make wax?  They do it by literally changing their physiology.  Kind of like turning on a time machine inside their body and getting younger inside till they reach the point that their body can make wax.  Once they finish that then they get to the business of building a new nest.

So you see, it’s true that bees develop and perform abilities in stages at certain ages.  It’s just honey bees aren’t limited to only doing those few things they are at a certain age for.  The colony’s needs, their own physiology and the environment around them will often have bees performing a wide variety of tasks at any given time.


Gold standard assessing neonicotinoids: Field bee hive studies find pesticides not major source of health issues | Genetic Literacy Project

Some lab studies but almost no field studies suggest neonicotinoid pesticides are harming bee health. Why is there such a gap in conclusions? And why are field studies virtually ignored in the media, while one-off lab studies hinting at catastrophe are circulated widely?

Source: Gold standard assessing neonicotinoids: Field bee hive studies find pesticides not major source of health issues | Genetic Literacy Project

A Visit To Dadant Bee Supply

This past week, Antnee G and I took a trip up to Sioux City, IA to get a little backstage tour of the store, talk with General Manager Jim Raders and pick up Antnee’s first beekeeping equipment and gear.

The video will bee posted here on the Bee Smart website on Monday Feb. 6th.

In the meantime, we had a fun trip getting to talk with Jim about the history of the business and the different things that Dadant has to offer.

Lots of cool things are available at Dadant, from beekeeping woodenware, bottling supplies, Personal Protection Equipment and even candles.

I actually remembered to take pictures this time to give you a bit of a sneak peek before you see the video.

Antnee G da Beeman
Big Bear is also da Beeman
An awesome beeswax eagle.
The always popular Dadant catalog
Wall display of hive box sizes, frames and foundation.
I so need this clock in my workshop.

Bee Smart Weekly Podcast: Episode 5 – Bee Friendly Land Management

Episode 5 of the Bee Smart Weekly Podcast is out! This week we had the crew most of the time, though adapting to the tech is an ongoing process and some of them had “technical difficulties”.

A special guest sitting in this week is John Winkler from the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resourced District in Sarpy County Nebraska. John and the gang over there are tremendously interested in keeping the public lands they manage “Bee Friendly” and talked with the crew about working land to benefit pollinators such as bees.

Listen to “Episode 5- Land Management with Special Guest John Winkler” on Spreaker.