Honey Bee Bashing Needs To Stop Yesterday

There seems to be a slight trend building in response to the problems facing bees that is actually working against the overall goal of improving conditions and health of bees everywhere.

The news that honey bees were facing a mysterious mortal crisis really hit it’s stride back in the early 2,000’s.  Colony Collapse Disorder was a thing on the mainstream media and the world began to pay attention to the situation facing honey bees.

With all of the attention focused sharply and intently on honey bees, enthusiasts of more than just Apis mellifera began to get perturbed that other types of bees were feeling the heat of environmental calamities but not getting their own 15 minutes of fame.  So these focused fans began to work harder to bring the details of environmental crisis to native bees to light.

It started well enough, the #beetoo movement.  We saw that bumblebees like the Rusty Patch bumblebee was placed onto the Endangered Species list soon followed by another bumblebee species in Hawaii. Grim tidings to bee sure.

Yet, it doesn’t seem enough to some people to get some attention.  To these more radical few, it’s not good enough until you have ALL of the attention.  So began the ramp up in rhetoric to make honey bees not only less-victims, but perhaps even villains.

They make the point that honey bees aren’t native to North America and that as occupational immigrants, they aren’t deserving of prioritizing related to research and protection.

They say that honey bees aren’t as effective pollinators as most native bee species.  Which is true.  What is also true is that honey bees are efficient, partly due to their ability to focus on a flower crop and not be very likely to stop focusing on say, alfalfa, to just hop over to some thistle or other flower type.  Honey bees stay focused on a flower type until they have worked all of those flowers in the area before focusing on a different nectar source.  This makes them more desirable to farmers working to maximize an entire crop.

These hyper-fans also tell us that many native bees make more efficient use of bee population numbers to accomplish more.  For example, fewer Mason bees can pollinate more area than a much larger population of honey bees.

This is also true.  However, by and large, honey bees are THE champs at being able to be managed by people in large numbers and transported to a variety of crops over a larger part if the growing season.  Many native bees are simply not manageable or as available over the same period.

“Only” seven species of honey bees are around to produce honey out of the more than 24,000 plus species of bees in the world.  Native bees outnumber honey bees.  Yet again, true.  Honey though, is a highly sought commodity.  It brings millions, if not billions of dollars into the market beyond pollination services.

My point is this…We do not need to throw honey bees under the bus in order to see awareness for native bees increase and improve.  As a matter of fact, honey bees help bring more awareness to the overall conditions and situation of all bees.

I love all bees.  I teach about honey bees and provide beekeeping hands-on training.  I also teach classes about native bee identification, and conservation.  I am providing not just classes but a creative, interactive way to get more people actively looking for native bees bees and improving habitat and environmental conditions for them.

Being divisive about bees and throwing the spotlight species under the bus only serves to lessen overall bee conservation efforts, not improve them.  We can increase positive awareness for honey bees and native bees alike at the same time and appreciate what each species brings to the table.

That’s what the Bee Smart beekeeping project is working toward.

Building Bee Approved Bait Hives

According to certain notable bee researchers and authors, there IS a way to build bait hives that are more likely to be a preferred destination for wayward honey bee swarms.

In a co-authored Cornell Extension publication (#187), “Bait Hives for Honey Bees” back in 1989, ROger Morse, Tom Seeley and Richard Nowogrodzki gave us some valuable tips to capturing those wayward swarms in ait hives to put them into our own apiaries.

The twelve recommendations to build a better bee bait hive are:

  1. Height: about 15 feet (5 meters) above the ground.

  2. Shade and Visibility: well-shaded, but ighly visible.  Bees avoid or abandon bait hives in direct sun.

  3. Distance from parent nest: not important.

  4. Total entrance area: about 1.5 to 2 sq inches (10 to 15 cm²); a circular opening about 1 ¼ inch (3.2 cm) in diameter is suggested.

  5. Entrance shape: Not important

  6. Entrance position: near the floor of the hive.

  7. Entrance direction: facing south preferred, but other directions are acceptable.

  8. Cavity volume: about 1.4 cubic feet (40 liters) This is about the volume of one standard ten-frame Langstroth hive body.

  9. Cavity shape: not important.

  10. Dryness and airtightness: dry and snug, especially at the top.

  11. Type of wood: Various types acceptable; many types of trees have been occupied. Bees may avoid new lumber.

  12. Odor: the odor of beeswax is attractive. However, putting in pieces of comb is not advisable, as comb aso attracts wax moths and can harbordisease organisms.  If a hive body is used as a bait hve, agood solution is to insert a few wired fames, each containing a strip of foundation. Commercially available chemical lures that smell like lemon grass and apparently miic the scouts’ communication scents work well and can be used in bait hives of any shape.

The First Step To Rescuing Local Bees Is

Hi, my name is Tony Sandoval, AKA, “Big Bear” and I run the Bee Smart beekeeping project.  It’s all about bee conservation, beekeeper hands-on experience and increasing public information.

The local bee conservation is a big part of the whole thing.  Can’t train beekeepers or give the public unique learning experiences without bees.

Every year, there are calls made by home owners, property management companies and others to have bees, usually honey bees or bumblebees, gotten rid of.  Only some of those removed actually don’t need to be moved, they’re not in a place to hurt anyone, the people just aren’t wanting to tolerate them.

Still others have chosen inconvenient nest locations that result in unfortunate interactions that might be public safety or health issues. Such as when they move into the wall or roof of a house or building.  They might have chosen a ground nest location where there is a lot of human and animal traffic.

Most of these unfortunate situations are resolved by extermination.  What’s really sad is they don’t have to be exterminated.  They can usually be removed and relocated alive.

Why don’t people choose relocation more often?  Cost is one factor.  It’s actually a pest management issue.  The Bees have moved into a location that puts them at odds with people thus being considered pests.

When most people think of “pest management”  they think of extermination first.  However, pest management is more than extermination.  It’s prevention, it’s relocation, it’s release.  Extermination is usually the last resort if there is no immediate, mortal threat.  Yet it’s usually the first choice by people who don’t want the bees there.

Bee rescue begins with public education and is quickly followed by people choosing live removal instead of extermination.  Bee rescue starts before I get a phone call.  You have to want to keep the bees alive.

In Nebraska, by law, any bee removal from a building, any building, includes complete removal of the nest.  Most pest control companies are great at killing bees but rarely, if ever, remove the nest.  They’re supposed to, but they don’t.  It’s easier to apply a pesticide and let them die where they are.

In a live removal though, the entire nest is removed.  When I do a live removal, not only is the nest removed, the space is treated to prevent attracting new critters and filled to prevent re-inhabitation.  To top it off, I consult the contractor on how to properly seal the repair so it isn’t an entry point again.

Most people have no idea how poorly their houses and buildings are sealed to allow pest entry.  Modern, rushed, construction methods and old, settling buildings have hundreds of entrance points for small things to get in.

I work with contractors and bring apprentice beekeepers to get the bees, remove the nest, leave the nest site better than it was before and take the bees somewhere they can have unharmed and productive lives.

You have to make the decision to call me instead of an exterminator before any of that can happen though.  Which, when you do call me, makes you the hero.  You made the important decision, I’m just carrying it out.

Bee a hero, choose bee conservation instead of extermination.  The bees you save could be pollinators to the local farmer market produce you eat.  They could be the producer of the next jar of honey you buy.  They could be the inspiration and teacher of the next generation of beekeepers.

You can make that possible.  Bee a hero and choose live removal.

You can get a free inspection by calling me at 402-370-8018.  Ask for Tony.  We’ll come to an arrangement where every one wins, the bees, you, and the community that needs them.

 

 

Bee Smart Crossword #5: Honey Bee Taxonomy

So, what is taxonomy?  According to the dictionary;

tax·on·o·my
takˈsänəmē/
noun

BIOLOGY
  1. the branch of science concerned with classification, especially of organisms; systematics.
    • the classification of something, especially organisms.
      “the taxonomy of these fossils”

Basically, taxonomy is the scientific way of organizing and classifying living things.  In the case of our Interests, that would be bees, especially honey bees as far as this puzzle is concerned.

If you prefer working the puzzle on paper, you can print the puzzle out as a PDF with a word list to help you learn new terminology.

Crossword-Bee Smart Puzzle #5_ Bee Taxonomy

 

The Return of the Bee Smart Podcast featuring the Beehooligans, Episode 33

Yes my friends, it’s here.  This first step back is a humble little episode, hosted by yours truly.  There are plans to make this more…companionable as it picks up steam again.

You will be able to listen to the full episode here on the embedded player in this post and you can listen through the whole lineup of Bee Smart podcasts on the Podcast Page of this website.  (eventually they’ll all bee there, I am still adding them in one at a time).

This episode discusses the return of the podcast and the timely topic of Honey Bee Taxonomy.

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.

Honey Bee Taxonomy

This week, our general topic will center on the taxonomy of honey bees.  what is taxonomy you ask?  No, it’s not having to pay a fine to the government for having bees.

Taxonomy is the scientific classification of living things in order to identify and organize where they fit in related to other creatures.

Why is taxonomy important to those involved in apicultural pursuits?  Beecause we are often very concerned about genealogical traits of colonies that will have the most success in the places we keep them.

Knowing where bees are originally from, the traits and genetic lines they descend from and how any and all of that relates to their success in various other locations is important to everything from pollination traits, defensive traits foraging and honey production traits and the types of pests and illnesses they have been adapted to as they evolved in the place they originate.  Queen rearing is very much affected by knowing what bees are and from whence they came.

Scientific research that is always ongoing makes great use of taxonomy to locate and identify new species and sub-species of bees all the time.

It’s always a good thing to learn and know about taxonomy where bees and beekeeping are involved.  Check out the new puzzles coming up this week that focus on honey bee taxonomy.  The Crossword puzzle will post on Wednesday and will have the downloadable PDF with a wordlist on it.  The answer sheet to the Crossword and the Wordsearch versions are already available for our supporters on our Patreon supporter webpage  

The next episode of the Bee Smart beekeeping podcast featuring those Beehooligans will also talk some about taxonomy and how it is useful for beekeepers of all levels of experience.

Of course, we’ll bee sure to get some posts up with even more useful information along this line as well as we get through the week.  The objective here is always to help folks Bee Smart.

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

Honey Bees May Be Harmed By Crop-Protecting Fungicides

While I won’t say if this is a “thing” yet, I will admit that I won’t bee surprised.  Bees are such complex creatures not only because of each one’s physiology, but the very nature of the super-organism we know as the colony.

This describes sub-lethal effects that don’t get looked for in regular testing most of the time.  Until a few years ago, even the EPA wasn’t thinking about sub-lethal effects on pesticides being submitted for use in the U.S. and didn’t include testing for it.

It certainly gives us something else to add to the discussion when discussing bee nutrition and environments.   

Farmers rely on fungicides to prevent those brown spots that can ruin an otherwise perfectly delicious apple. But, it turns out, those fungicides could be hurting honey bees.

Source: Honey Bees May Be Harmed By Crop-Protecting Fungicides