Bee Informed

Bees learn to play golf and show off how clever they really are | New Scientist

It’s fascinating what bees can do.  They learn, they teach, they communicate with each other.  Of course beekeepers have known about this for a very long time in general.

We only have to watch honey bees on alfalfa flowers to see that they learn and teach others how to obtain or achieve an objective.  With alfalfa flowers, they can learn to outsmart the tricky little pollen “trap” in order to get straight to the nectar.  Then they teach other bees how to do it.

It’s almost like leaving kids in a house with a “child proof” cookie jar.  You gotta know that they’ll be in cookie heaven almost before you get out the door.

Studies like this show us to what lengths bees will go to to achieve an objective.  Individually and collectively.

Bumblebees have shown they can learn how to push a ball into a hole to get a reward, staking their claim to be considered tool users

Source: Bees learn to play golf and show off how clever they really are | New Scientist

Eleven-year-old boy recovering after being stung by bees 400 times

Finally, honest journalism.  After seeing dozens of hyperbolic headlines since it was first reported, we finally get a news source that reported just the facts.

We’ve been treated to nonsense ranging from bees “attacking” the boy to even one headline claiming that the bees “ambushed” the boy.  Honey bees, even Africanized honey bees, are defensive in nature.  They do not preemptively “attack” anything.

Honeybees will mount a formidable defense though.  Often, the “offender” may not even realize he or she caused the bees to feel threatened.  In many cases, the person(s) involved may not have even known a hive was nearby to accidentally offend.

Africanized honey bees mount an even more aggressive defensive than our more common European honey bees here in the U.S.  Having said that, still a defensive reaction and not a premeditated or even spontaneous “attack”.

Unfortunately, a boy had to learn a very hard lesson about situational awareness before you go shooting at things.

(PHOENIX) — The good news: an Arizona boy is happily buzzing around after being stung angry bees.  Four hundred times. ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV reports that Andrew Kunz, 11, of Safford, is swollen and covered in bee stings but otherwise OK after his misadventure. Petrea Kunz, his grandmother, said Andrew was out in the desert […]

Source: Eleven-year-old boy recovering after being stung by bees 400 times

Review: Hive Keepers Smartphone App -1

I installed the android version of the app “Hive Keepers” today.  They offer a full access 30 day review period.  What a great opportunity to do the first Bee Smart review.

The install and registration process were simple enough.  They don’t ask for any credit card info to begin the free 30 period.  Good start.

They ask you to sign in again with your email address and new password.    To be honest, I didn’t find the various screens very intuitive or explained well.  You have to just explore and figure things out as you go through the different pages.

Eventually I set up the “Bee Smart Test Apiary” with one hive in it named “Lucy”.  Yes, it’s my hive Lucy that I can’t stop talking about, deal with it.

As it was 8:30 pm, all I was able to do was add the three boxes, they refer to all hive boxes as “supers” by the way. I named each box simply “La”, “Lb” and “Lc”.  There are 5 frames in each box.  Each frame gets a name in the app as well.  I named the frames, “A1, A2,A,3, A4, and A5” then “B1 – B5” and “C1 – C5” respectively.

The app prompts you to take pictures of each frame, both sides, at each inspection of a given box in a hive.  Interesting setup that.

In regards to actual inspections, I found, just looking over the pages for the first time, a bit lacking in asking for details.  This review will span the 30 day trial period so it’s possible that may clear up as we go along.

It’s snowy and cold here in Omaha, NE on Saturday February 25th.  We are supposed to get a warm up trend in the next couple of weeks.  So I will hopefully get a chance to get a  nearly 70 degree day to actually inspect and maybe get some photos.

Bee Smart Presents: The Bee Smart Revue

I am proud to announce a new podcast offering from us here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project.

It will bee posted weekly and feature none other than yours truly, Bubba Bee as the host.  That’s right, Big Bear gave me my own podcast.  Poor fella is just that over-worked.  Either that or just that desperate for content.  Either way, you’ll bee able to hear me a buzzing at you every week discussing the various topics that we have posted on the website here, finding more out about the Beehooligans as I chat with them one at a time, and a little bit of insight on how life is inside the hive.

The Bee Smart Revue will bee aired live every Wednesday morning to brighten your hump day and help you get through the week.  That’s right, it will bee a live show and you will bee able to log in and ask questions and chat with me.  How’s that sound for a fun time?

More information will bee posted here on the website as details such as times and ways to contact me during the show come available.

I’ve Always Been A Beehooligan

From the days I first began as beekeeper, I can say pretty confidently that I’ve been a Beehooligan.  “Beehooligan” is the term we coined to describe someone who doesn’t follow the standards or “conventions” of the larger group very well.  As a matter of fact, a hooligan in general is someone who not only doesn’t follow along with “proper” or socially acceptable practices but pretty much enjoys tromping on them, through them and over them whenever it happens.

So it is with a “Beehooligan”.  We not only don’t care what most folks think of as the acceptable way to go about things, we pretty much are oblivious to it or don’t pay much attention even if we do know.

Given that line of thinking, I could be described as a hooligan for almost my whole life.  I do things my way win, lose or whatever the result.  I’m not saying that makes me any better or worse than anyone else, just someone who marches rather haphazardly to my own madcap drummer.

In the beekeeping world, it not only has carried over, it has spilled over and run amok.  From the beginning I have ever been the experimentalist and the guy who, for lack of a better way to say it, sees something and says “Hold my beer, watch this…” as I wade into the fray.

I’m the guy who will stand in the middle of the swarm cloud of bees as they move from one to the next place, laughing almost maniacally.  Actually, there video of me doing just that somewhere on a local TV station.  I’m the kind of fella who climbs up on a roof with just a ladder, a hive tool and a box and proceeds to hang over the side of the roof, nigh upside down to cut a hive out of the soffit.  Why?  Because it needed to be gotten and those were the things I had on me at the time to get it done with.  Forget gravity and 30 foot drops.  Ropes to secure myself?  “Hunh?!  Wish I’da thought of that before then.  Oh well, too late to back out now…”

I don’t encourage people to go about beekeeping as I do.  As a matter of fact, I frequently let people know that I am probably the example they ought NOT to follow.    Everyone has something they can teach others, even if it’s what not to do.    Ever heard the saying, “If it’s stupid but it works, then it’s not stupid.”?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure whoever said that phrase had to have been watching me at some point in time.

I love my bees.  I feel a passion for beekeeping that I often feel not many others understand or can appreciate the full depths or extent of.  I always have questions that I want the answers to and apparently am too impatient to wait for “real” scientists or researchers to do it safely or appropriately first.  I want to know and I want to know now so please stand out of my way because I’m going in head first.

I plan to share some of my experiences and stories from my own point of view going forward here.  I truly believe that while teaching in a formal classroom or workshop setting is great, some things are taught best sometimes just by telling a story.  Let me tell you about my individual successes and my failures.  Let me tell you about that time I fell out of a tree trying to catch a swarm, and so on.

I think not only will you be entertained, you will also come away from reading about my experience and maybe learned something without having to experience it yourself.  If nothing else, perhaps I can be your crash test dummy.




Bee decline threatens US crop production

Wild bee populations, not to bee confused with feral honey bee populations, are seeing significant reductions in population presences.  With the addition of the Rusty Patch Bumblebee in January to the Endangered Species List, it is something that has been coming ever more to our attention.

Of course, there are more than bumblebees we are talking about here.  There are leafcutters, mason bees, carpenter bees, and thousands more out there that are part of the overall growing environment.

It iso a problem with many vectors being threatened at once.  Trying to put the blame on a single smoking gun is the folly we usually pursue, usually to the detriment and delay of any real positive action.

It’s not just a binary set of choices facing us.  It’s not a situation to let managed bees go to save wild bees.  It’s not a “one or the other” situation.  It so rarely ever is.  We need to see the “big picture”  to provide context as we can too easily obsess over a single detail within and never really understand these relationships and interactions crucial to the whole scene.

The more we know, the better we bee.

The first-ever study to map US wild bees suggests they are disappearing in the country’s most important farmlands.

Source: Bee decline threatens US crop production

Honey bee genetics sheds light on bee origins

Ah, what a complicated web we weave when first we practice to….interbreed?   At least, that’s the story from the University of California in trying to determine where our fuzzy, buzzy little friends got their geographic and biological beginnings.

There’s an old saying that goes along the lines of we can’t really know where we’re going until we know where we’ve been.  In trying to figure out where our bee populations are headed, they want to find out where they came from.

An ambitious goal indeed.

Where do honey bees come from? A new study from researchers at UC Davis and UC Berkeley clears some of the fog around honey bee origins. The work could be useful in breeding bees resistant to disease or pesticides.

Source: Honey bee genetics sheds light on bee origins

Bees’ favourite plants revealed by Botanic Garden study – BBC News

We know honey bees show preference to flowers with higher sugar content in the nectar and with the pollen that has particular nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, etc.. they need for brood rearing and such.  The Botanic Garden of Wales says they have been able to pin down the most preferred flowers by honey bees.

It might inspire your garden and beekeeping related planting plans.

National Botanic Garden of Wales research reveals which plants bees choose their pollen from.

Source: Bees’ favourite plants revealed by Botanic Garden study – BBC News