Posts Tagged: honey bees
Nero may have fiddled while Rome burned, but the honey bees just kept on working.
We recently visited an apiary in Glenn County, and the honey bees were all over the fiddlenecks in patches adjacent to the hives. A springtime scene of golden flowers and buzzing bees. An artist's dream...a photographer's delight...
The fiddleneck (genus Amsinckia) is kissing cousins with borage and forget-me-nots in the family Boraginacae. The flower-laden stems curl over like the head of a fiddle or violin in concert. And when a honey bee forages on the fiddleneck, the stems bend even more.
I think there's a country song there somewhere. It bends, but doesn't break. Tune in, tune out. It's livestock's poison but bee's nectar.
Fiddle de-dee (good!) for the bees...fiddle de-dum (bad!) for the livestock.
Honey bee settles on a fiddleneck. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A taste of nectar--honey bee on a fiddleneck. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Come on in--the nectar's fine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That old saying, "Be all you can be," should be changed to "Bee all you can bee."
Have you ever seen festooning in a bee hive, when the bees link their legs together to perform tasks?
"They festoon when they're producing a lot of wax and drawing new comb," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Sometimes bees will build comb in bee space, and when the beekeeper lifts out a frame and scraps away the excess comb with a hive tool, the bees may festoon.
Such was the case yesterday at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciity at UC Davis.
If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, does that apply to bees?
One of the highlights of Susan Cobey's class on "The Art of Queen Bee Rearing" is a visit to commercial queen bee breeders in Northern California.
Cobey is a bee breeder-geneticist at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, and Washington State University.
It was raining. Did we say it was raining? It was pouring.
When it rains, the virgin queens and drones don't fly out to mate. During her maiden flight, each virgin queen will mate with 12 to 25 drones, and then she'll return to her hive, where she will spend the rest of her life laying eggs. She'll lay about 1000 eggs a day during the busy season, or about 2000 eggs a day during peak season.
Rain stops the mating. So do cold temperatures. The thermometer has to read at least 70 degrees for the mating flights. Otherwise, it's a no-go. A no-fly day.
The process from egg to larva to pupa to adult is almost miraculous. It involves using a grafting tool to remove the tiny, almost microscopic egg from the comb and transferring it to a queen cup. From there, it's back into the hive where the worker bees tend to the queen cells, feeding them royal jelly.
This month, however, proved to be one of the most rainy months on record. It rained nearly every day.
Many of the queens-to-be won't be.
Queen Bee and Her Retinue
Diners know that a napkin serves a good purpose: touch the lips with it or protect the lap.
Well, honey bees occasionally use a napkin, too. A recent sun break--blue skies, 70-degree temperatures, no rain--resulted in honey bees foraging for water on a rain-soaked napkin on the patio.
They came in twos to stand on the napkin to sip water.
"Water foragers tend to forage at the water source nearest to their colony," writes honey bee expert Norman Gary, emeritus professor of apiculture at UC Davis, in his recently published book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees (BowTie Press).
"Minerals, salts, gases, organic compounds from organisms in the water and other unknown elements influence the bees' preference of water sources," he wrote. "Only the bees know the secret ingredients that determine their choices; otherwise bees would be able to create super-attractive watering holes with special flavors to lure bees away from swimming-pool decks, drinking fountains and birdbaths, where they are sometimes perceived as a problem by beekeepers."
All honey bees are welcome in our yard--with or without a napkin.
Honey Bee on Napkin
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have not more than four years to live."
That comment, widely attributed to physicist Albert Einstein, is all over the web. And it keeps surfacing in news stories, talk shows, opinion pieces, documentaries, essays and blogs--just about everywhere where bees are and where they aren't.
Problem is, Einstein (1879-1955) didn't say it.
Even Snopes came out and said Einsten, didn't say it.
Albert Einstein was a physicist, not an apiculturist, ecologist or entomologist. Besides, colony collapse disorder (CCD) didn't gain the news media's attention until 2006.
No one has traced the origin of the comment attributed to Einstein, but some folks think it originated in either France or England. Kind of reminds us of all the places that say "Abraham Lincoln slept here" or "George Washington slept here" or quotes falsely attributed to them.
Snopes said it well: "One tried-and-true method for getting people to pay attention to words is to put them into the mouth of a well-known, respected figure whom the public perceives as being an expert in the subject at hand."
Not only did Einstein NOT say it, but it the quote doesn't take into account that millions of people throughout the world exist on grains (such as rice and wheat), which are not pollinated by bees.
One third of the American diet is pollinated by bees, but that's not the case in much of the world.
"Honey bees are thought to have inhabited our planet up to 40 million years," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "They survived the dinosaurs and the glaciers. It is likely they still will be here long after many other animals have gone extinct."
The United Nations, in its recent report on "Global Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators," agreed that "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
"The contribution of pollinators to the production of crops used directly for human food has been estimated at $153 billion globally, which is about 9.5 percent of the total value of human food production worldwide," according to the report. Those crops include these categories: vegetables, cereals, sugar crops, edible all crops, fruits, roots and tubers, nuts, and spikes.
Soon someone will be quoting Albert Einstein as saying "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
Or honey bee guru Eric Mussen.
Honey Bee on Almond