Nectar, Pollen and Pollen Substitute: Keys to a healthy colonly

In this blog I will talk about nectar, pollen and my theories on how honey bees utilize pollen/substitute patties and dry pollen substitute. So why do honey bees collect pollen? It would be hard to ask this question without asking why they collect nectar. Honey bees collect nectar from the nectaries of plants, which are glands that produce nectar. A honey bee uses her proboscis (mouthparts) to lap up nectar from flowers. There are some flowers in which the bee’s proboscis is not long enough to extract nectar, one example is the honey suckle flower. With this flower, bumblebees will chew a hole in the…

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National Survey for Honey Bee Pests and Diseases in California

This Fall I had the opportunity to conduct the National Survey for Honey Bee Pests and Diseases with Katie Lee in Southern California. The main goal of this survey is to confirm the absence, or presence, of pests and diseases that are exotic, or not introduced at present, to honey bees in the United States. Exotic threats that are of the greatest concern to beekeeping in the U.S. are Apis cerana, Slow Paralysis Virus and the parasitic mites of the Genus Tropilaelaps which includes four known species, Tropilaelaps clareae, T. koenigerum, T. thaii and T. mercedesae. For more information on Tropilaelaps spp. and their life-cycle refer to Jennie Stitzinger's…

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Toyon

I am continuously impressed with the seemingly endless wealth of knowledge beekeepers accumulate over the years. Whether that knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, a product of their own curiosity, or a combination of both; a successful beekeeper, more often than not, possesses a fundamental knowledge of the topography of the land on which they keep their bees. Topography and climate generally go hand in hand and studying the distinctive characteristics of both can help to determine the most ideal places to locate your bee yards. The location of bee yards strongly influences management strategies, techniques, and decisions. For this reason beekeepers are…

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Purple Brood

Liz and I spent a week in Southern California taking samples for the National Honey Bee Disease Survey. We came across purple brood – something I had never seen before. The larvae had a bright purple hue to them along their gut line. It was quite pretty. After some research, it seems that the most likely cause for purple brood is nectar from the plant Cyrilla racemiflora (common names are southern leatherwood or summer titi). It is poisonous to the brood, so beekeepers either have to move their colonies away or take the loss. Only one colony of the eight we sampled had it, so…

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Urban Beekeeping in Washington

  Hunt. (2012). The Rise of Urban Beekeeping in Washington. The Washingtonian. November 2012. "Colony Collapse Disorder is a real concern—but some backyard beekeepers are trying to combat it."   Hunt. (2012). The Rise of Urban Beekeeping in Washington. The Washingtonian. November 2012.

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Hurricane Sandy and the Seabees

Last weekend the east coast was hammered by Hurricane Sandy. Thankfully, all of us at the University of Maryland lab made it through unscathed, but some areas of the East Coast weren't so lucky. My heart goes out to everyone who experienced flooding and devastation. I kept my parents company during the hurricane at their home on the eastern shore of Maryland. The rain started to get heavy Sunday afternoon and by Monday morning the winds were blowing hard. I didn't want to brave the roads in those conditions so there was no chance of me escaping my parents by that point (just kidding!). Somehow the conversation turned to…

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Whats wrong with my hive?

To determine if something is wrong with your hive, you must first know what a healthy, productive hive looks like. Knowing what a healthy colony looks like takes time, patience, and many hours in the hive to get a feel of what is going on in the colony throughout the year. Sometime the colony does not look so great and the size of the colony starts to dwindle. You can do two things here, panic or take a look at what is actually going on. Look at the brood, look at the bees(size, wings, uniformity, behavior), look at the sealed brood, look at the food…

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Halloween and the Honey Bee

Halloween is coming up ladies and that means you need to pick a costume and fast. For you bee enthusiasts out there it may be difficult to waver from variations on the cute honey bee costume popularized by the “Bee Girl” in Blind Melon’s 1993 video for “No Rain.” This year however I challenge you to forgo the stereotypically fanciful costume and go for realism. For example, one could simply wear their bee suit. If you live in a Northern climate it’s the practical way to go as it will keep you warm all night. Another benefit is that with a myriad of pockets you can…

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