Nitrile Gloves and You

When asked  "Besides a hive tool, a smoker and a veil, what is your favorite tool in the beekeeper's toolbox?", fellow BIP field specialist Dan Aurell replied with NITRILE GLOVES!  There are a lot of situations where a beekeeper (especially a BIP field specialist) might want to pull on some nitrile gloves. The most obvious benefit gained using nitrile gloves is that they can help prevent honey bee stings (or just make them less severe).  This fact assumes that you are already going gloveless and not using thick leather gloves.  They do not prevent stings outright but they can help prevent the stinger becoming embedded…

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The NEW Honey Bee Discovery Center in Orland

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Honey Bee Discovery Center Kick-off and Exhibit Preview in Orland, California. This event was followed by the Queen Bee Festival the day after. The Honey Bee Discovery Center is ‘the first interactive exhibit and museum of its kind’. It highlights the history of beekeeping from hobbyists, sideliners and commercial operators’ perspectives, and features the evolution and breakthroughs in equipment, pollination and art inspired by bees. Inside the center, one can find multiple showcases of vintage bee equipment related to all apicultural activities, complete with an observation hive near the center of the room. All around the new…

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New BIP Team Perspective

Forward: For my first blog post I was asked to write about my perspective of joining BIP as a tech transfer team member.  I have been in the field so much that I am just now getting around to it. I hope this blog accurately captures both the factual and emotional aspects of becoming a BIP tech team member.  So here it goes... It’s About The Bees! As one of the rookies on the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) tech transfer team, I feel incredibly lucky to have joined BIP at such an interesting time for the organization, and for the beekeeping industry itself.  On the first…

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Empty Calories

Somewhere early on in a “Beekeeping 101” class you’ll learn that honey bees forage for 4 things: nectar, pollen, propolis, and water. The nectar and pollen become honey and bee bread to provide sustenance. Propolis is used as a structural component and also contributes to colony health through immunological activity. Previous blog posts about propolis here and here provide more information. Water is necessary for a variety of purposes including preparation of brood food and evaporative cooling. So in addition to water, bees need 3 substances produced by plants. But do they collect anything else? Of course they do. If you’ve ever seen open syrup…

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2019 California Spring Update

Many California beekeepers reported that the start of this year was the worst in 20+ years. Several factors contributed to this year’s issues, starting with the numerous fires last year causing nearly 3 months of smoke in the area. Once the days got longer, queens started laying but the temperatures dropped again and egg laying stopped once more resulting in smaller colonies after almonds. In fact, most colonies were 2-3 weeks or even a month behind, which delayed the start of queen production. Many producers had to source bulk bees from beekeepers further south to begin starters, builders and nucs. Once queen producers started generating…

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Top Bar Hives

It’s hard to beat a Langstroth hive for its modularity, productivity, and convenience but it can also be interesting to play with bees in a different configuration. I was introduced to bees and learned beekeeping in New Zealand and I’m always looking for opportunities to see bees in new locations and contexts. In reading about beekeeping volunteer opportunities, I came across some different hive designs used around the world where access to materials and budgets are limited and was intrigued by top bar hives (TBH).  The beauty of a top bar hive is in the flexibility of design and low cost possibilities.   Greeks were…

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Honeydew: A Mixed Blessing

When Americans think of honey, most of us assume it comes from floral sources—basically bees collect flower nectar, add enzymes, and evaporate moisture to produce the finished product. However, I was recently talking to a friend who grew up near the Black Forest in Germany, and he told me as a child that his mother would give him “forest honey,” which was thicker had a much richer taste than anything he had seen in American supermarkets. Also known as honeydew honey, the source is not floral but actually from the waste products of a number of sap-sucking insects including aphids, leafhoppers, and psyllids. Mealy bugs…

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Alfalfa Leafcutter Bee (Megachile rotundata)

Megachile rotundata (or the alfalfa leafcutter bee) is a species native to Eurasia that was introduced into the United States after the 1930’s because of a drop in seed production. This bee was brought into the US to increase pollination yields of Alfalfa for seed because honey bees are not the best pollinators of the crop. M. rotundata was also introduced to New Zealand (1971) and Australia (1987) for the same reasons. This solitary species is now widespread across the United States with many feral populations. Alfalfa has a tripping mechanism that triggers the stamen (pollen reproductive organ) to strike the pollinator enabling pollen transfer…

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Bee Educated! A Semester with Pollinaterps

I've been around the research block a few times.  In high school, I was involved in a student lead permafrost research initiative where I got the chance to travel to Churchill, Manitoba and get my hands dirty with my first taste of fieldwork.  I started in on-campus research way back in my very first semester of freshman year, studying vampire bat behavior.  I spent a summer in an entomology lab at the Smithsonian, identifying parasitic wasps, and pan trapping at sites all over Maryland.  And now, as a seasoned sophomore, I got the chance to expand my research horizons to the vanEnglesdorp lab. I had…

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Bees in the Classroom

Have you ever thought about teaching your kids, grandchildren, a young family friend, or even a class at a local elementary school about honey bees? Well, I have! I love going into elementary classrooms and teaching the youth about honey bees. They are our next generation of bee keepers, farmers, scientists, and researchers so we need to get them excited early. When I go and talk to a classroom of students I make sure to always bring a few things with me: My bee suit – it gets their attention and gets them involved because they love to put it on. Honey – for them…

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