Propolis and human health

Poor Mike isn’t feeling so well this week. He likely has a cold. But on the positive side he can turn to our beloved bees for a bit of help. People all over the world use a substance bees collect to help treat colds, coughs, and general icky-ness: propolis. Some trees and plants excrete resins to protect their growing buds and wounds from getting infected with bacteria, fungi, and viruses and from insect invaders. Bees visit these plants, collect the resins on their back legs like pollen, and bring it back to the hive. Resins are really sticky, so other bees need to help the…

Continue Reading →

Field Notes and Hive Inspection

  Not taking notes while inspecting your hives is like going to Yellowstone without bringing a camera.  You might still get what you want out of the experience but you will have no snapshots of things you might otherwise forget.  Organizing your observations into a notebook or spreadsheet during a hive inspection will provide information that can be accessed long after the inspection has taken place.  Think of the hive inspection and the field notes that go with them as a snapshot in time.  These “snapshots in time” can help a beekeeper track the progress of his hives, head off any potential problems before they…

Continue Reading →

Almonds, pollination and harvesting

To get almonds you need pollinators. Above is an image of a handful of honey bee colonies out in an orchard during the almond bloom. This pollination starts at the end of January and throughout February depending on weather. There are close to a million honey bee colonies in California during the time of this bloom. This makes California's Almond bloom the largest annual managed pollination event in the world. Below are images of almonds on the trees several months after pollination. During this time of year almonds are becoming mature and harvesters are preparing to start shaking the trees. Once the almonds reach a…

Continue Reading →

Differentiated Females

Two weeks ago while inspecting some hives just outside of Willows, CA I shot the video of this queen. She caught my attention because of the distinct striping on her abdomen. Rob Snyder and I were in Willows to inspect and sample hives that were in sunflowers for pollination service. Tomorrow I have a presentation to give for the Marin County Beekeepers. As I put the finishing touches on my presentation I came across a passage in Snodgrass’s, “The Anatomy Of The Honey Bee” that made me rethink what I thought it meant to be a queen and a worker. The passage is below… “…young…

Continue Reading →

Grafting

Thousands of queens are raised and sold around the country. But how does one get their bees to raise all these extra queens? The secret lies within manipulating the bees own biology (as does most of beekeeping). There are two types of eggs in the colony: unfertilized and fertilized. The unfertilized eggs will become drones and the fertilized eggs will become female bees, either workers or queens. A bee must be born a queen, but there is no difference in genetics. She becomes either a worker or queen depending on how she is raised and what she is fed. Bees destined to become workers develop…

Continue Reading →

Nectar Flow

It’s August in Northern California and the nectar flow from the Yellow Starthistle is on… In fact, some beekeepers have already begun extracting honey. For those beekeepers trying to make pure Starthistle honey it’s important to have their bees in locations where there are few other nectar producing plants. Starthistle nectar and honey have a distinct green tint that is visible in both the cells of the hive and the jars on the shelves. Last week, Rob Snyder and I were in the field with Shannon Wooten to sample some of his hives. He took us to a few of his locations in Shasta County…

Continue Reading →

Drone Fishing

Last week, Jody Gerdts and Maggie Shanahan went fishing for drones. Drones and queens mate generally over 60 feet up in the air. Drones gather in specific spots, queens fly by, and the drones chase her. The ones that catch-up get to mate. These drone congregation areas are sometimes even in the same from year-to-year. Some of the books say drones and queens fly different distances away from the hive to prevent inbreeding. However, after talking to beekeepers that have seen the drone congregation areas I am unsure if the distances are true. I have talked to beekeepers that have seen congregation areas much close…

Continue Reading →

Modified Hive Tool

Normal Hive tool functions 1. Dislodge Frames 2. Separate Hive Bodies and frames 3. Cut: weeds, vines, plant material, packaging tape, newspaper, pollen patty, taste honey, open treatment packaging, slit zip lock bags (winter feeding). Heat hive tool with smoker to cut out queen cells. This is an important site to look at if you want to know and purchase quality tools. 4. Scrape: Top bars, bottom boards, telescoping top covers, inner covers, and stingers. This is important for hive hygiene: Remove burr comb and excess propolis to maintain clean hives. 5. Push: Down frames, smoker fuel and crush Small Hive beetles. 6. Lift: Frames…

Continue Reading →

Laying Worker

When you dissect thousands of bees, it is important to remember that exploration is the process and discovery is the goal. Pictured below is the stimulated ovaries of a worker that I discovered while performing an autopsy on a honey bee.   In beekeeping terms we would call this a “laying worker”. During the period of time from queenlessness to colony death workers may sometimes begin to lay eggs.    A laying worker occurs when the ovaries of worker bees are stimulated. The ovaries develop allowing her to lay eggs. Normally ovary development in workers is suppressed by the presence of uncapped brood. Sampling and assessing honey…

Continue Reading →

Be Involved. Be Included.Bee Informed.

Donate Now ! →