Bee Informed

Where Does Bee Smart’s Content Come From?

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is essentially the informational arm of my work as a professional apiarist.  My “Hands On” work is communicated through the BBE-Tech Apiary Services website but everything to do with teaching, doing presentations and making content available about all things bees, beekeepers and beekeeping that is informative, useful and (I hope) entertaining is done here on the Bee Smart beekeeping project.

The vast majority of content is produced, edited, written and recorded by yours truly.  Why?  Because I like to facilitate and help people be successful in their chosen area.  If I can facilitate a successful experience and make a living at the same time, albeit not a “Grand” living, color me ecstatic.

I leave the door open for some special collaborators on this project, namely JPtheBeeman, Schawee, Beekeeper of the swamp and Antnee G, to write, send in video and collaborate on audio projects as much or as little as their hearts desire.  I bee-lieve in the work all those folks do and if I can help them get their awesome content out to others even moreso, by golly I’m there.

Having said that, they are not “paid” employees or contributors.  They are not expected to do anything they do not choose to do here.  If they find it easier and accomodatable to post content here without the worries of managing a website or other such tasks, then I have done my little bit in fair trade with them perhaps for that awesome content.

In regard to other potential contributors, I’d absolutely LOVE to be able to pay for awesome content others are capable of bringing to the table.  In the future, as we gain more patrons and grow our earnings, we will have the budget to pay people for extraordinary contributions.  In the meantime though, I won’t be the next Huffington Post and pay people in “exposure” because I think that’s just dishonest.

If there is a way I can barter or trade with a potential contributor short of $ and you are willing to discuss it, talk to me, let’s make magic happen.  But it’s your choice entirely.

As for me, I will work hard to continue to bring you the best content that is useful, informative and (hopefully) entertaining about all things bees, beekeepers and beekeeping that I can and earn your patronage.

 

Bee Smart, Bee Informed Video Series. Episode 1 John Winkler

John Winkler from the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources was on the Bee Smart weekly podcast recently.  While we had a full audio episode, we thought you might like to see some video excerpts that focus on some of what John had to say about NRD land management practices and being bee friendly.

 

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Seeing is bee-lieving

Honey bees are extra-ordinary creatures.  There are so many interesting things to know about them that set them apart from every other creature in the world you could write every day in a lifetime and still not cover it all.

One of the fascinating things about bees is their vision.  The anatomy and physiology of what they eyes are and how they work to help bees do what the do is phenomenal!

First of all, bees have two sets of eyes.  There are the “simple eyes” technically called “ocelli” and there are the “complex” eyes which are the “Compound” eyes.  Except for bee larvae, they don’t have any eyes at that stage.

Bees live in a world of almost complete and total darkness when they are inside a hive.  Just like you and I, they need to find their way around in the dark.  The bigger eyes, the compound eyes, aren’t the best for that.  The ocelli are their answer to how to “see” in the dark.

There are three (3) small spots on the top of a honey bee’s head, between their antennae in a triangular layout.  Those are the ocelli.  Ocelli are only able to observe changes in light intensity, but that ability helps them do so much.

Apis mellifera, F, face, Maryland, Beltsville 2013-04-25-16.35.09 ZS PMax (8682047014)
By Sam Droege from Beltsville, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Honey bees have two (2) large compound eyes.  These are the eyes we can see on the bees head on either side.  The compound eyes have multiple tiny facets with lenses (ommatidia) covering each eye.  Each of the three castes of bees has a different number of ommatidia.  For example, Queens have about 4,000, Workers have about 5,000 and Drones have around 8,000 of them.

The compound eyes do more than just “see things” for the bees.  Compound eyes are capable of forming images (seeing things), seeing in color (except red) including the ultra-violet spectrum, detecting movement, identify shapes and patterns, initiate head turning response, and seeing polarized light.

Not only that, but there are little hairs growing from the surface of the compound eyes and the bees use those hairs to detect air motion.  That is how we figure bees to be such interesting pilots because it allows them to gauge airflow speed and direction.

Whew! Those are some kind of eyes.

This is what some researchers tell us bee see things as…

image from http://www.neurobiologie.fu-berlin.de/Gumbert-Kunze.html

The biology of honey bees is a thing of technological wonder and artistic wonder.  The more we learn about these incredible little critters, the more we realize we have so much more to learn.

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How Does Bee Smart Stand Out From The Crowd?

There is a lot of useful beekeeping related content out in the world.  there is a lot of informative beekeeping content out there as well.  Yes, thanks in large part to YouTube, there is a LOT of entertaining content pertaining to beekeeping as well.

People are out there, creating content that usually falls into one of those categories.  Sometimes a few will cover more than one of those categories.  The first way Bee Smart strives to stand on its own in content presentation is to bring together things that fit all three of those categories as much as possible.  When we create unique content, that is our first objective, to make it useful, informative and entertaining.

Another way we work to bee unique is that because we know there are people already out there creating some great content, we have no plans to re-invent the wheel if it’s not necessary.  I comb the web to see what’s already out there and if someone already has a wonderful video, audio or written presentation, what we want most to do is to make sure we can get that information in front of as many people as possible.  We will try whenever possible to contact those people to allow us to add it to our links and lists of cool stuff.   If we cannot obtain their permission or make contact, then we will consider making our own version of it (NOT taking theirs and we will ALWAYS give credit where it is due) because we think it’s worth people knowing about.

Thirdly, most beekeeping related content falls into the “How To” category of things, which is awesome.  However, while we want people to see the “How To” or the advice or the great tips, tricks and hacks people have to share out there, we think there is something just as important and sometimes even more important to us that doesn’t get done nearly enough.

What is that, you ask?  Why it’s you.  It’s showing the people side of everything.  Sharing information about the “tech” side of things is all well and good, but to fully appreciate anything, it truly helps to see it in context of the experiences of the people who are doing these things.  I think this is where Bee Smart will shine brightest.  Bring the experiences and stories of the people in beekeeping and beekeeping related areas as well as what they are doing in regards to innovation, creation and education.

Bee Smart Podcast Project: Advanced Bee Culture

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is all about bring useful, informative and entertaining (hopefully) content about all things bees, beekeepers and beekeeping.

In the spirit of all of the above, I am proud to announce the “audio” recording of the book “Advanced Bee Culture” by W.Z. Hutchinson.  This is the second edition published in 1911 and edited by E.R. Root of the A.I. Root Company.

Unlike traditional audio book recordings, each chapter will be recorded as one episode here until the book is completed.

I hope you enjoy hearing this book as you drive, or sit back and relax.  It happens to be one of my personal favorites containing a great deal of information still pertinent and relevant today.

Look for the posting of the Introduction and Chapter One Thursday, January 19 and hopefully every Thursday afterward the next chapters will be posted here on the Bee Smart website.

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Bringing The Bee Life To You

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is available to bring a special live and multimedia presentation to your school, organization or business in the Omaha/Metro area in Nebraska.

We have two options to offer depending on your needs.

Option 1:  Bee Educated

The Bee Smart beekeeping project will bring a combination of a live presentation with a video presentation to show participants about the incredible things bees and beekeepers do.  This presentation can last from 1 to 2 hours depending on group size.

We can bring a live portable bee display (bees cannot get out) only between May 1 and September 15th otherwise we have a photo and video display of a live bee hive and a selection of honey samples, beeswax item samples and plenty of useful, informative and useful information available to bring out all year long.

Cost for this interactive and entertaining presentation is based on number of participants.  Call Big Bear to schedule this exciting presentation at 402-370-8018 or email us at:

beesmart@bbe-tech.com

Option 2: Bee Adventurous

The Bee Adventurous presentation is designed to be a 4 to 8 hour presentation booth with a live observation hive of bees (bees cannot get out), a real professional beekeeper to talk with visitors to the booth and plenty of real honey and beeswax product samples.

Cost for this interactive and entertaining presentation is based on number of participants.  Call Big Bear to schedule this exciting presentation at 402-370-8018 or email us at:

beesmart@bbe-tech.com

Diapause, Do Honey Bees Do It?

One of the most common questions beekeepers are asked is what happens to the bees when it gets cold outside.  Usually sung to the tune of, “Do bees hibernate?”

When it comes to insects, like honey bees, IF they did any such thing, it would probably be “diapause” and not “hibernation”.  To be real loose and cavalier with explanations, “Hibernation” is like taking a very long nap and all the vitals become depressed and slow down.  Think of it kind of like being in a coma.

“Diapause” is more of a state in which development in something like an insect, say… a honey bee, seems to nearly stop cold while bad and ugly things in the environment around them happen.  Again, playing loosely with descriptions, think of it sort of like going into suspended animation when the weather gets too rough to find food or water, etc…

I have had more than one person ask if “diapause” was “The Change” for bees since they were all girls just getting older over the Winter.  No, bees have plenty of other reasons to be cranky, they don’t need another one.  Though in the Winter, they might actually appreciate hot flashes.

As for honey bees though, they do neither in the cold of Winter.    Honey bees are awake and active the whole time.  When temps hit somewhere around 57-ish degrees F or lower, the colony will cluster.

Honey bees survive Winter in their nest by “Clustering”.  That is, they group together in a ball style shape in and around the wax cells in the combs and as a group, shiver their wing muscles to generate heat.  By being clumped so closely together, they keep themselves and each other warm through the Winter.  The colder it gets, the tighter they cluster together.

Winter cluster image courtesy of Randy Oliver at scientificbeekeeping.com

How do they keep up the heat?  By eating honey.  The bees forage for, make and store honey primarily for times like Winter, so that they will have a full pantry and not have to go outside to get more food.  It’s already in the hive.  The more they generate heat, the more honey they have to consume to maintain the energy to do it.  The faster they go through the honey stores, the more likely it is that bees will starve out in the late Winter or early Spring because the food didn’t outlast the weather.

The closeness of their bodies and even the beeswax combs themselves also help to act as some bit of insulation so as to help keep some of the heat they generate hanging around and keeps them, in however little or greater effect, from using too much energy to soon.

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