Pumpkin Biscuits with Honey Butter by Arl’s World

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Love the color of these biscuits and how easy they are to make.  Not only are they a hit for breakfast …but they are also perfect by themselves.  The pumpkin in the biscuits and the honey butter are a great combination to stand alone for a mid morning snack or with afternoon tea.

via Pumpkin Biscuits with Honey Butter — Arl’s World

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The Fall Four

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I find myself digging ever deeper into the void of my beekeeping knowledge. It seems the more you think you know, the more you realize you don’t know enough. That said, I’m forced into at least assessing the current state of affairs in the bee yard and make decisions based on my ever increasing level of uncertainty about these things.

It seems that I keep reading here and there that the two biggest killers of honey bees are mites and starvation. More recently I saw a third reason suggested, that being winter moisture in the hive. And then let’s not forget about problems resulting from inappropriate internal hive space. Let’s call these threats to beekeeping the Fall Four. So, with these things in mind, let’s visit the bee yard and see what’s happening.

It’s now late October and crunch time for assessing the Fall Four. Hopefully you survived the summer dearth period. Some of my friends fed their bees through the dearth and others allowed their bees to eat their stores – either method works. But now is the time to take on the Fall Four and look at each item and make it right prior to the coming cooler weather. Remember, honey bees are cold blooded animals and anything less than ideal brood nest temperature, in the low nineties, is likely to be stressing. And although the cool weather has started, we’ve still got a long way to go as well as times we can’t enter the hives or use certain interventions. So, this time of year we’re all beekeeping preppers.

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Item #1 is Mites. I’ve lost one colony to mites this year. It crashed with a mighty thud. Within three to four weeks it went from absolutely thriving to a handful of struggling bees. The weather was warmer then so I continued to see bees coming and going. If a mite crash was to happen now, with these cooler days, I’d probably see no bee traffic as it would take all of the sickly remaining bees to heat the brood area, queen, and cluster. Luckily I’m currently seeing traffic by late mornings on all my hives. A friend of mine told me the other day that he considers a colony dying by mites to be similar to the flu running through a dormitory – one day all are fine, but within days everyone is bedridden. It’s not the mite itself that kills but the viri it spreads. Just like the flu, when the right virus coincides with the right opportunity it’s off to the races. So, pardon my rambling, but have you checked for mites lately? That doesn’t mean look at your bees and try to find mites. It means place a sticky board underneath, ether roll, or sugar shake and count mites and treat accordingly. Recently I’ve been reading about the need to treat all hives when mites levels are high in any hive in an apiary. It seems a failing colony getting robbed out is itself a vector for transmission of mites within an apiary. Personally, I’ve decided this year to treat using Oxalic Acid. Given it is an organic acid and apparently works by eroding the mites finer anatomical parts, the mites are not able to build a tolerance or immunity over time. With all colonies looking healthy right now, my plan is to wait until the broodless period around Thanksgiving and treat all of my colonies simultaneously.

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Item #2 is Starvation. I placed my colonies on a maintenance level of feeding when dearth started. I had a plan to reassess stores at the start of October but then the Flood of 2015 came and plans were dashed. By the time I got into my hives several things indicated it was time to step up my feeding program – two weeks of rain, lack of fall foraging, and bees stuck inside eating their stores. My current goal is to get the hives heavy as soon as possible. That’s going to mean switching to a 2:1 sugar syrup to encourage storage while not stimulating brood rearing. I know from my recent inspections (after the flood) that the queens have already decreased egg laying. I don’t know if that’s because nothing was coming in during those long, wet weeks or because the days are getting shorter. Doesn’t matter though, my response is the same – feed ’em up good now. Now is the time to learn to pick up your hives from behind to determine their weight. That way, during the dead of winter you can assess stores without opening them.

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Item #3 is Moisture. I’ve heard and read many times that moisture kills bees before cold temperatures kill bees. I’ve watched the YouTube videos showing beekeepers in the mountains of Virginia, upstate New York, and Vermont with snow piled high around their hives – and their bees survive just fine. I think that is proof enough that bees can survive the temperatures of a South Carolina winter. But moisture, that’s a different matter. Almost every winter I see moisture inside the outer covers on chilly days. If not controlled that condensation starts to mold – not good. The old books talk about installing your hives tilted forward so condensation will run forward and not drip down directly onto the bees and chill them. That’s good but I really want to do more. For one, reducing the syrup to a 2:1 mix this time of year also helps to start reducing the amount of moisture within the hive. A little later in the Fall, I’ll remove all liquid feed and place a feeding shim with dry sugar on top. Some people simply pour dry sugar on top of a piece of paper placed on the top bars or on the inner cover (Mountain Camp Feeding). The sugar acts as a desiccant and absorbs the humidity. The bees feed on any sugar that the condensation liquifies. It’s a two birds with one stone situation. But the best method to solving the moisture problem is adequate ventilation. My inner covers have an upper entrance cut into them. If the colony’s population is robust I just leave the upper entrance open as during summer. If the bees have decreased in numbers I may flip the slot so that it is on the top of the inner cover, or screen it, to prevent intruders while still providing ventilation. I don’t worry so much about the low temperatures unless it’s also really windy for extended periods; I do worry about that wet, damp chill that comes with too much moisture in the hive.

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Item #4 is Internal Hive Space. Now is certainly a good time to assess hive (i.e boxes) volume. Most colonies grow throughout the nectar flow. If you were lucky you had the pleasure of stacking boxes on top of boxes – the uppermost boxes filled and capped with hoarded stores of honey. After the great flood, I was surprised to see that the bees had eaten a good bit of their stores. Other colonies had decided to eat some frames and leave others capped and untouched. Also, some colonies started their reduction in colony size early and are now down to half of the numbers of bees they had during the flow. Either way, they simply do not need the extra space any longer. My mentors have told me that here in the Midlands a hive with a 10 frame deep and a 10 frame medium, well provisioned, is all that is needed to get through winter until about late February. (two deeps or three mediums are also okay and represent about the same volume.) So, I look to consolidate remaining honey frames into as perfect of a second box as possible giving the bees a well stocked pantry above their brood area. Any extra full frames are placed in the freezer for possible use in late winter/early spring during buildup. I take a similar approach with regard to colonies that have reduced their numbers. I give them just enough room to be cozy and remove extra boxes (remember extra boxes are invitations to hive beetles and wax moths and require patrolling by your bees). The idea is to turn hives into efficient and compact units going into late fall and winter.

As already stated, I know more and more that I know less and less about bees. I’m sure that the way I am approaching this can be done a thousand different ways. That’s the intrigue of beekeeping. It’s an art and your methods are equally as valid. What works for you may be superior to what works for me. So take my observations and methods as incentive to explore, experiment, and tweak to your own situation. It’s all an adventure.

Sex between species: what happens when invasive honey bees meet the locals? by Ros Gloag

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Some social insects have proved to be adept invaders. Assisted by the international trade of the modern world, these species have spread far beyond the ocean and mountain barriers that once determined their distributions. In some cases, these range expansions have brought previously isolated sister species back into contact. What happens when such species try to mate?

We were interested in this question of interspecific mating in the case of two honey bees: the Western honey bee Apis mellifera and the Eastern honey (or hive) bee, Apis cerana. These species diverged from a common ancestor at least 6 million years ago, with A. mellifera native to Europe and Africa and A. cerana native to Asia and India. Western honey bees have of course since been transported, in association with agriculture, to every human-inhabited continent on earth. Eastern honey bees meanwhile, have been quietly expanding their range too in recent decades, invading both Papua New Guinea and Australia. Thus what were allopatric (or separate) ranges for millions of years have suddenly become partially sympatric.

Read entire article at:  Sex between species: what happens when invasive honey bees meet the locals? — insectessociaux

Bees and Bee Boles at the Lost Gardens of Heligan by Adventuresinbeeland’s Blog

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I just can’t resist sharing this wonderful post by Adventures in Beeland. Facinating stuff!

Today we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan and saw the old ‘bee boles’. These are recesses in a wall big enough to hold straw skeps. The wall would have provided shelter and typically would have been south or east facing. At Heligan most of the boles have removable wooden doors in place. I would be interested to know how the wooden doors would have been used. I’m guessing they may have been in place over winter to provide extra protection from the wind and rain and then removed come spring?

Read the entire article at:  Bees and Bee Boles at the Lost Gardens of Heligan — Adventuresinbeeland’s Blog

The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life by BEEKeeperTom’s Blog

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Having delivered many talks to non/new beekeepers on honeybees and their importance, the Egyptian tomb honey question is asked more often than not.

Now Georgia (in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, not the US.) appears to trump Egypt by more than 2000 years!

Georgians have long laid claim to being the first winemakers in the world, but could they also be pioneer beekeepers? After a thorough examination of some five-millennia-plus-old jars unearthed in Georgia, archeologists have declared that the artifacts contain the world’s oldest honey.

The honey stains found in the ceramic vessels, found 170 kilometers west of Tbilisi, are believed to be made by bees that buzzed around in Georgia 5,500 years ago — some 2,000 years older than the honey found in Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, which had been considered the oldest before, Rustavi2 proudly pointed out.

As in ancient Egypt, in ancient Georgia, honey was apparently packed for people’s journeys into the afterlife. And more than one type, too — along for the trip were linden, berry, and a meadow-flower variety.

Read the entire article at: The Science Behind Honey’s Eternal Shelf Life — BEEKeeperTom’s Blog

The Bees do Most of the Work

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On presenting honey for judging:

What are we except packers of the bees’ hard work? I don’t select the flowers to visit. Nor do I cure the nectar into honey; nor combat pests or robbers.  I do nothing as a member of their society. Aside from caring for the bees to enable them to do their work as they choose, I am merely the packer of their efforts. And so, I will do it with reverence and effort respectful of the work they gave to me. If that effort results in a ribbon then I’ve done my job to take what they gave and present it to others at its best. Yes, it’s fluff and not reflective of the best beekeeper out there. It’s extra for those that look for yet another activity related to their beekeeping. Hopefully my effort sparks some interest in others to look at the miracle the bees provide.

Beekeeping Vocabulary – “S” is for…

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Photo by Robert Engelhardt, CC BY-SA 3.0

Today’s beekeeping vocabulary word is, “Smoker.”

From Wikipedia:

A bee smoker (usually called simply a smoker) is a device used in beekeeping to calm honey bees. It is designed to generate smoke from the smouldering of various fuels, hence the name.

The fact that smoke calms bees has been known since ancient times; however, the scientific explanation was unknown until the 20th century and is still not fully understood. Smoke masks alarm pheromones[1] which include various chemicals, e.g., isopentyl acetate[2] that are released by guard bees or bees that are injured during a beekeeper’s inspection. The smoke creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the beehive and work while the colony’s defensive response is interrupted. In addition, smoke initiates a feeding response in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire.[3][4][5] When a bee consumes honey the bee’s abdomen distends, making it difficult to make the necessary flexes to sting.[citation needed] (The latter has always been the primary explanation of the smoker’s effect, since this behavior of bees is easily observable.)

Smoke is of limited use with a swarm, partly because swarms have no honey stores to feed on. It is usually not needed, either, since swarms tend to be less defensive as they have no home to defend, and a fresh swarm will have fed well at the hive it left behind.

Source and to read more: Wikipedia

Cinnamon, Honey and Hot Chocolate Recipe by Honey Hunter

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Every struggled to fall asleep at night? Yep, us too. Here is a soothing cinnamon honey and hot chocolate recipe to relax your body and mind before getting under the covers. 1 tsp cocoa powder ½ tsp cinnamon powder A cup of milk (soy, almond or oat alternatives work just as well) 1 tbsp raw…

Read full recipe here: Cinnamon, Honey and Hot Chocolate Recipe — Honey Hunter

Former Coal Miners In Southern West Virginia Spent Their Summer Learning How To Keep Bees Thanks To UD’s Debbie Delaney by Bee Culture Magazine

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Ed. Note: What’s amazing, at least to me, isn’t so much the shift from coal mining to beekeeping. Rather it’s the reversal of the destruction that had resulted from mining. The return of bees to these areas actually changes the land. The bees support the flora which, in turn, supports various species of animals and other pollinators. A transformation begins to take place with the assistance of the honey bees.

Former coal miners or citizens whose lives have been shaped by the coal mining industry in southern West Virginia spent their summer learning how to establish and operate bee colonies thanks to help from the University of Delaware’s Debbie Delaney.

Delaney, associate professor of entomology in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, spent her summer in Summers County working as a consultant through Appalachian Headwaters which is a non-profit organization that formed the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective. Delaney said that the goal was to help get the socioeconomic growth program up and running for displaced miners in 14 counties in southern West Virginia.

“We got about 500 nucleus colonies or nucs, which are small colonies of bees, and a queen and all summer we’ve been erecting bear fences and creating bee yards so we can grow the colonies over the season and get them through the winter,” said Delaney.

Beginning next year, local partners will come on board and get hives which will be a way for them to generate income.

Delaney said that how much income will vary depending on what kind of forage is available during that time of year—and that since the initial installation began after foraging season, they have had to feed the bees a lot to get them up to weight to make it through winter.

Read the full article here: CATCH THE BUZZ – Former Coal Miners In Southern West Virginia Spent Their Summer Learning How To Keep Bees Thanks To UD’s Debbie Delaney — Bee Culture

Cross-kingdom regulation of honeybee caste development by dietary plant miRNAs by Save The Bees Concert

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Honeybee larvae develop into workers but not queens, in part, because their diet of beebread/pollen is enriched in plant miRNAs. While miRNAs are generally negative regulators of gene expression in eukaryotes, they also negatively regulate larval development when honeybee larvae consume beebread/pollen and take up plant miRNAs. Xi Chen and Chen-Yu Zhang’s group in Nanjing University, report this finding on August 31, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

How caste has formed in honeybees is an enduring puzzle. Although queens and workers are genetically identical, queens are reproductive and have a larger body size, develop faster and live longer than workers. Prevailing view is that differential larval feeding determines caste differentiation: royal jelly stimulates the differentiation of larvae into queen, whereas beebread and pollen consumed by the rest of the larvae lead to the worker bee fate. However, it is still not fully understood how alterations in diet modify so thoroughly the developmental trajectory of honeybees.

In previous studies, Chen-Yu Zhang’s group has reported a striking finding that plant miRNAs are ingested from plant diets and pass through the gastrointestinal tract, enter into the blood, accumulate in tissues and regulate endogenous gene expression in animals. Their findings suggest that ingested exogenous miRNAs can regulate endogenous gene expression and reshape animal phenotypes. Interestingly, since the components of beebread/pollen are mainly plant materials and royal jelly is a glandular secretion of nurse bees, the diets for worker- and queen-destined larvae are differentially derived from plant- and animal-sources. Therefore, Xi Chen, Chen-Yu Zhang and colleagues decide to investigate if miRNAs from different larval diets may have distinct impacts on honeybee development.

Here, they report that plant miRNAs are more enriched in beebread/pollen than in royal jelly. While plant miRNAs of beebread/pollen are fed to larvae, they cause developmental delay and reductions in body and ovary size in honeybees; in contrast, miRNAs in the royal jelly are not sufficient to reach a functional level, therefore queen-destined larvae evade this regulation. Mechanistic studies reveal that amTOR, a stimulatory gene in caste differentiation, is the direct target of miR162a. Interestingly, ingested plant miRNAs have a similar inhibitory effect on fruit fly development, even though fruit fly is not a social insect. In summary, this study uncovers a new mechanism that plant miRNAs in larval diet of worker bees delay caste differentiation and keep ovaries inactive, thereby inducing sterile worker bees.

The findings of this study are important for the following reasons:

Read full article at:  Cross-kingdom regulation of honeybee caste development by dietary plant miRNAs — Save The Bees Concert

Where do bees sleep? by BEEKeeperTom’s Blog

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A beehive is a busy place; many bees are working together to produce honey. Working so hard makes bees tired, and they need to rest. Lovely honeybee on a flower, pollen baskets loaded to the gunnels

Same as humans, bees get rest by sleeping. But, even though that seems logical, up until 1983 scientists didn’t know that bees sleep. The scientist who discovered that bees sleep is Walter Kaiser. He noticed that bees sleep by bringing their head to the floor and their antennae stop moving, some bees even fall sideways. The beehive seems like a hectic place, so it makes you wonder, where do bees sleep? But, before getting into that, we should explain why is sleep so important for bees. What happens if bees don’t sleep?

Read full article at:  Where do bees sleep? — BEEKeeperTom’s Blog

Double or Nothing? by Bad Beekeeping Blog

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A gentleman at our bee meeting posed a challenging question a couple of weeks ago: “What should I do with a weak hive? I think it might be queenless.” Well, it depends, of course.

I’m continuing with the series of questions which I overheard at a bee meeting not long ago. Today, it’s about weak/queenless hives. As in all bee questions, we are given just a bit of information. It’s not the beekeepers’ fault – they might not know what clues to look for and what information to bring to the club when they present their questions. (Actually, if they knew what information is needed to answer the question, they’d probably already know what to do.)

Read full article at: Double or Nothing? — Bad Beekeeping Blog

Tips for a hassle-free honey extraction by The Beehive Jive

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It’s the time of year that we all love . . . Whether honey is a motivation for your beekeeping or not, it’s always exciting to see those shining jars full of beautiful honey from YOUR bees. Talk about job satisfaction! And yet a new beekeeper said to me the other day that they are…

Read more here: Tips for a hassle-free honey extraction — The Beehive Jive

Beekeeping Vocabulary – “R” is for…

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Larva floating in royal jelly By Waugsberg (Own work)

 

Today’s beekeeping vocabulary word is, “Royal Jelly.”

From Wikipedia:

Royal jelly is a honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens.[1] It is secreted from the glands in the hypopharynx of nurse bees, and fed to all larvae in the colony, regardless of sex or caste.[2]

When worker bees decide to make a new queen, because the old one is either weakening or dead, they choose several small larvae and feed them with copious amounts of royal jelly in specially constructed queen cells. This type of feeding triggers the development of queen morphology, including the fully developed ovaries needed to lay eggs.[3]

Royal jelly has long been sold as both a dietary supplement and alternative medicine. Both the European Food Safety Authority and United States Food and Drug Administration have concluded that the current evidence does not support the claim of health benefits, and have actively discouraged the sale and consumption of the jelly. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has taken legal action against companies that have used unfounded claims of health benefits to market royal jelly products. There have also been documented cases of allergic reactions, namely hives, asthma, and anaphylaxis, due to consumption of royal jelly.

Source and to read more: Wikipedia

Clean Satay Chicken w/ Courgette and Carrot Noodles by thebeechick

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Everyone loves a cheeky Chinese every now and then right? But how often do we make our own Chinese food at home? This is my adaptation of Satay Chicken – using all nourishing ingredients for your body and tasting ‘Friday-night-feasting’ mega good! This is a great meal full of healthy natural fats and protein – and is simple and quick…

Read full recipe here: Clean Satay Chicken w/ Courgette and Carrot Noodles — thebeechick