Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto Rico

How cool is it when science and nature complement each other.

Love it when science happens.  Honey bee genetics, biology, physiology.  Especially when science shows us that natural adaptation happens.

Take a look at this journal article about the “Gentle” africanized bees that have been selected for in a specific and limited geographic area.

Source: Genomic study explores evolution of gentle ‘killer bees’ in Puerto Rico

Notable Apiarist, Roger Morse

When  first got serious about apiculture, Roger Morse became one of my first beekeeping “Notables”.  Mr Morse’s work has been truly influential in modern beekeeping.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

He was one of the first researchers to delve in-depth into the Varroa mites. Not only that, he had a good look at Small Hive Beetles as well.  Closely connected to Cornell University,  he has authored numerous research articles on any number of topics relating to beekeeping and was a contributor to that time of apicultural information, “ABC’s and XYZ’s of Beekeeping”, and the monthly beekeeping magazine, “Bee Culture”, among others.

He was influential to several of those we currently count on for new and important research.  People like Tom Seeley, author of “Honeybee Democracy”  for example.

The writing and presentation style of Roger Morse was persuasive to say the least.  At least to me.  I find his writing in particular to be familiar, friendly even.

One of his books in particular number among my favorites, “The New Complete Guide to Beekeeping”.

Cornell University press euligized Roger Morse and provided us with a far too brief but well done last look at his work.

Ooh, They’re talking about the taxonomy of africanized honey bees

This is honey bee taxonomy week.  As an interesting sideroad for All Hallow’s Eve I thought we’d visit the Smithsonian Institute taxonomy page on the “Killer Bees”.  (Click on the photo to visit their page and read the very interesting article.)

A.m. scutellata Queen and attendants

Africanized honeybees are descended from stocks that evolved in the tropics and, as such, are ill-equipped to withstand prolonged cold winters. They are believed to be limited to tropical and subtropical habitats.

Monochrome Terrorists

Do your hives stay out near a wooded area where skunks hang out?   Next time you go out to check your hives and the bees are behaving just absolutely nasty, check them out.  Does the population of the colony seem weak?  Are there scratch marks near the entrance?  There’s a pretty good chance that a skunk has been terrorizing your hive by scratching at the entrance and eating your bees.  No wonder they’re so nasty.  Gee thanks you striped punk.

Skunk skulking around hives

Junkyard Grubbers

Junkyard Grubbers

Those late Summer pests, Wax Moths, lay their eggs in the wax of the combs.  the larvae emerge and eat the wax from the brood sections of the hive.  This is because they (the wax moth larvae) get most of their nutrition from various impurities found in brood comb wax and in order to get to that junk, they eat the wax too.

Wax Moth larvae on brood comb.

 

 

 

How to Bee Real

So, you talk a big game about being down for the environment and how you got our beneficial pollinators backs.  Do you put your money where your mouth is though?  Do you go further than money and put your actual effort into it?

If you’re a beekeeper, then you have the creds.  You are making it happen.  But for everyone who isn’t a beekeeper, what about you?

Now, not everyone who is interested in bee conservation wants to be a beekeeper.  Just like not every beekeeper is solely focused on honey bees.  We have apiarists who manage mason bees, bumblebees, honey bees and more.

A person concerned about the environment and beneficial pollinator bees doesn’t have to be a beekeeper either.  But if not a beekeeper, what can you do to “bee real” in the bee conservation effort?

You can do any, some or all of the things listed below.

Big Bear’s List of Ways to Bee Involved

  1. Become a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist.
    1. If you already are or are just getting started, YOU ROCK!
  2. Hire an Apiarist to manage an apiary for you.
    1. Just Beecause you don’t manage the bees yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have bees and have your own honey and beeswax to use for home or business purposes.
  3. Provide support to research into keeping bees alive, healthy and thriving.
    1. For ground level research, you can’t go wrong by supporting Randy Oliver at his website.  He does awesome work not only doing the research but by making it accessible directly to hobbyists and apiarists himself.
  4. Provide support to education and training efforts that increase awareness, teach and train people about bees and beekeeping.
    1. Yes, you can sponsor someone to take classes or begin a training program like the Apiarist Apprentice Trade program at BBE-Tech Apiary Services in Omaha, NE.
  5. Offer a location for a hobby beekeeper or professional apiarist to establish an apiary.
    1. If there’s one thing bees and beekeepers need most, it’s quality places to set up and maintain an apiary.
  6. Buy from a local beekeeper.
    1. Whether it’s honey, beeswax items, or any of the hundreds of delicious and awesome things made from honey and other hive products, supporting local beekeepers means supporting local bee conservation.
    2. Check your local Farmers Markets.  Not only are beekeepers there selling their stuff but all kinds of local growers whose crops got help from pollinating bees are too.
  7. Implement an IPM plan in your lawn care and gardening activity.
    1. Integrated Pest Management is perhaps the best way to prevent our beneficial pollinators from being unnecessarily exposed to toxic pesticides.
    2. The Label Is The Law!  Mix and apply ANY pesticides you use exactly as the label describes.  Not more, not different.  You don’t need to dump a gallon of weed killer on a single dandelion.
  8. Bee an advocate for bees and beekeeping in your community.
    1. There are many cities and towns that don’t appreciate, understand or “get” all the benefits to bees and beekeeping locally.  Even if you don’t intend to have your own hives, you CAN bee a proponent for bees and beekeeping at town council meetings, neighborhood associations, city, county and state elections, etc…

So, this list above is a good start.

Whatever you do, DON’T just be someone who talks about environmental and bee conservation issues but doesn’t actually do anything about it.  The world is full of fakes and phonies.  We and the bees need you to Bee Real.

Technically Speaking…

I am a technician.  In multiple, various ways.  Professionally, I actually am a certified computer network technician.  I was a licensed and registered pesticide applicator.  Personally, I consider myself an “amateur” scientist in that I don’t get paid to engage in research but I am actively involved in R & D and testing various methodologies, techniques, and products as related to beekeeping.

So I generally approach everything from a technician point of view.  It’s just how I roll.  Below is a pretty general and common definition of a technician, at least by Google standards.

I happen to fall into all three of these.  I maintain and operate professional equipment, I have been specifically educated and trained to apply information, techniques and concepts based on scientific research, and yes, I am a beekeeper which does indeed count as an art and a craft and yes, does require skill to be successful.

When I talk about bees and beekeeping in presentations, classes, online, or pretty much anywhere, I come at it from a technician mindset.  We employ the scientific process all the time as beekeepers, especially when including Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our operating plan.

After spending many years as a professional technician in other fields, I come to beekeeping almost instinctively at this point using the same mindset.

As a contributor to Bee Smart beekeeping project here, I have a few purposes driving my participation.  One, I beelieve that beekeeping is generally a hobby for the vast majority of people and it should be enjoyable.  Beekeeping should bee fun.  By trying to include some entertainment, even at my own expense, I hope to help others have fun and remember some of the things we share here more because of the association of being amused while learning.

Two, I want to encourage and foster a “next step” in professional apiarist careers and services.  Time and technology marches on and as they do, so must beekeeping.  Hobby beekeeping will always be around I think but making a primary living at it must evolve.

This is where JPtheBeeman, myself and others have taken our directions to involve ourselves professionally in beekeeping but not in the conventional role as a migratory pollinator or in substantial honey production.

We encourage some folks to take some risks, bee adventurous, and do something unique that helps make everyone involved a winner.  I want to help people take that step and so have built my business on live removal and relocation services combined with skills training and education as a coach and instructor.

So, whether read my articles, posts and watch my videos and hear me on the podcasts, that’s the point where I’m coming from, a technician with a passion for bees.