Wintering Sheds: Why are more North American beekeepers overwintering their bees in cold storage?

More and more US beekeepers are starting to place their bees in sheds for the fall, for indoor wintering. While beekeepers in Canada have done this for decades, the popularity of the practice in the US is more recent. Beekeepers began by using structures already built for onion and potato storage in Idaho to house their bees in the fall. These beekeepers then remove the bees in January, and bring them to California for almond tree pollination. Many beekeepers are still using old potato and onion sheds in Idaho, but as the popularity of this practice has increased, some beekeepers have built sheds just for…

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Lucky-hit Nectar in Creeping Charlie

In the twin cities, spring brings complaints- about creeping charlie taking over lawns, strangling garden plants, and being generally relentless. But is the creeping charlie flower a good source of food for bees? In researching creeping charlie, we uncovered a fascinating story about this invasive plant’s strategy to draw insect pollinators. Creeping charlie draws a lot of insect visitors, including bees. Sweat bees, bumble bees, and honey bees are among its most popular insect visitors. Creeping charlie flowers have an interesting strategy for rewarding pollinators. This strategy is called “lucky hit.” They produce nectar with an average volume of 0.3 mL per flower, but the…

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Carolina Jessamine Part 2: does it harm native bees?

This is my second post on the Carolina jessamine plant. The first post covered the effects of Carolina jessamine pollen on Honey bee colonies. The adult bees can become less active and die, and brood can die as well. But the Carolina jessamine plant is native to the Southeast United States. Honey bees are not. They were brought to the Americas by humans. This means that honey bees have not co-evolved with Carolina jessamine the way that native bees have. Do the chemicals in the plant affect native bees as well? I did a literature search to look for answers to this question. I was able to find…

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Yellow Jessamine- pretty, fragrant, and…toxic to honey bees?

I just went on a trip to East Texas. While I was there, I heard a lot about the Yellow Jessamine plant (Gelsemium sempervirens) and its deadly effect on honey bee larvae. Yellow Jessamine (often referred to as yellow jasmine) is the state flower of South Carolina, and is often used in landscaping and gardens for its beauty and fragrance. The plants contain alkaloids that are toxic to humans and other vertebrates. Many beekeepers in East Texas report having experienced weakened colonies due to Yellow Jessamine. When I searched through the scientific literature, I found no published studies on the effects of Yellow Jessamine, or the toxic alkaloids…

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Hi from Phoebe Koenig, new Midwest Tech Team Member

Hi! I’m a new member of the Midwest Tech Team, and am looking forward to meeting many of you in the future. Here is a little bit about my honey bee background and my motivation for getting involved in the Bee Informed Partnership: I first became interested in honey bees when I was taking an animal behavior class as a college undergraduate. It fascinated me that so many individuals help the queen reproduce, sacrificing their own reproduction. I wanted to learn the theories underlying this phenomenon, and found that the more I learned, the more my interest in bees was cultivated. I wanted to learn…

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