Investigating Bees Via Pollen Analysis

The Bee Informed Partnership is fortunate to be active in both the bee science and beekeeping world, which leads to a lot of opportunities for collaboration and applied research. One of the recent ways in which this collaboration has come to fruition is an exploratory study looking at the potential to use trapped pollen from honey bee colonies as a means to: 1) look at the presence of heavy metals in the environment, 2) assess the degree to which the available pollen was able to meet colony nutritional needs, and 3) use laboratory techniques to assess pollen richness and diversity throughout the bloom period. This…

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Feeding Bees – Gravity Feeders

The best method for feeding bees is a topic that most beekeepers have an opinion about, and of course they are all right. In this previous post I discussed the pros and cons of frame feeders for in-hive feeding. In this post we’ll go through gravity feeders, which are the other type of commonly used feeders. Hopefully the information in these posts will give you confirmation that you are using the right method for you and your bees or inspire you to try something different. Gravity style feeders are placed on top of hives and as you may have guessed, use gravity (in balance with…

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Feeding Bees – Frame Feeders

Like most beekeeping topics, beekeepers tend to have their preferences when it comes to how they feed their bees. The two most common types of feeders used in hives are the frame feeder and the bucket or can (gravity) feeder. Both types of feeders have their merits and potential pitfalls, and beekeepers who elect to use one over the other often feel strongly about the choice. By looking at some of the arguments for and against each type, beekeepers can make a more informed choice on what type will best meet their needs and their bees’ needs. This post will run through the good and…

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Latest Spring Fashion – Blue Pollen

Early spring can be a time requiring patience for beekeepers in northern locations. The weather can be volatile, but the occasional sunny days bring about bee activity. As a beekeeper it can be tempting to open hives and start digging around once you see some flight activity, but the reality is that you may end up doing more harm than good at this stage. Sometimes the best thing you can do as a beekeeper is leave them alone. If you really must do something bee related on a sunny spring day, try just observing the entrance and see what your bees are gathering. On a…

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Honey Mustard or Mustard Honey?

Honey bees need an abundance and diversity of floral resources to grow and thrive throughout the season. In areas of intensive agriculture, like the almond orchards of California, forage can be scarce before and after the primary cultivated crop blooms. One of the pollinator friendly plants that is often seen in and around orchards and agricultural fields is mustard. The common appearance is due to both deliberate planting as a cover crop and the plant spreading through self-sowing. There is a great deal of research going into developing cover crop seed mixes to supplement forage before and after almond bloom. Many of these seed mixes…

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A Look At Filaree As A Forager Food

The vast majority of the commercially managed honey bee colonies in the United States spend February and a portion of March pollinating almonds in the central valley of California.  Almond pollen is very nutritious, and colonies build well on it when favorable weather conditions prevail during bloom. The weather during almond pollination season in 2020 was very favorable, and colonies made significant increases in both population and food reserves during the bloom period. While warm and dry conditions this year led to a good nut set, it did mean that bloom progressed quickly, and once finished there were limited flowers available. By working in various…

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A roof over their heads

A colony of bees is fairly loose in their requirements of a cavity to live in. Basically they need a space of a suitable volume with a defensible entrance and enough protection from the elements so they can maintain an internal environment to survive in good health. A lid for the hive helps meet this last requirement by helping to retain heat and exclude precipitation. At its simplest, a lid can just be a piece of plywood or other material that provides coverage to the top of a hive. Beyond meeting the basic needs of the colony, beekeepers have added modifications to lid and cover…

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Look Down

Separating a hive from the bottom board and tilting it forward is a useful first step before proceeding further with a colony inspections for several reasons. A tilt allows you to assess the overall weight of a hive while letting the bottom board carry the weight. Tilting also facilitates looking at the bottom bars to assess the coverage and density of bees allowing for a population estimate to be made. These are both valuable pieces of information that allow broad inferences about colony health to be made, but tilting the hive forward before proceeding further also allows you to examine the state of the bottom…

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More Five Dollar Bee Words

I am fortunate to spend a lot of time reading and listening to a lot of beekeeping and bee science topics which inevitably leads to coming across terms I have to look up. A couple years back I compiled a list of these challenging words and turned it into a Five Dollar Bee Words blog. Since that post I've continued to encounter words that have sent me to the dictionary so I've put together another list. Chorion is the flexible membrane surrounding honey bee eggs that is absorbed as the egg grows into a larva. Dioecious plant species have a separation of male (pistil) and…

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What Robbing Looks Like

Most new beekeepers find out about robbing the hard way when they either spend a little too long poking around in colonies at the wrong time of year, arrive in a bee yard already to find a frenzy of activity around hive entrances, or encounter the aftermath in the form of dead colonies and empty hives. Robbing can be particularly bad in the late summer and fall when several conditions align, leading to high potential for robbing. These triggering conditions include nectar dearth after a main flow, large colony populations with a high proportion of foragers, temperatures suitable for intense flight activity, and potential for…

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