Only you…

“Only you….” Depending on your age, that phrase can evoke images of Smokey the Bear and his stoic message of preventing forest fires or, if you are a bit more on the wiser and mature side, you may recall the hit song, Only You, from the Platters. Regardless, the message is ageless and could not be more relevant in today’s world of beekeeping. If you are reading this, you know that every one of your colonies has Varroa mites. Yes, every single colony that you manage has Varroa mites. Take a deep breath. But you know what to do. You know that monitoring has to…

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A Bit About Wings

I spend a lot of time taking photographs of bees, particularly as they flit from flower to flower gathering pollen or nectar. All of this time spent stalking them through gardens has given me appreciation and wonder of their flight capabilities. Bees are capable of flying at speeds up to 15 mph and carrying nectar loads that approach their own body weight. In addition to these feats of strength, they are also capable of delicate maneuvering and hovering while they approach flowers. These amazing aerial abilities are of course made possible by their wings, which at a glance seem undersized for the task. At this…

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2018 Northern California Update

Weather in Northern California greatly fluctuated this spring. It was in the 70 and warmer before the almond bloom started, then once the trees started blooming the weather turned cold. There were a few days when temperatures dropped to the low 20’s. These temperatures damaged the early pollinated almonds and will most likely affect the overall yields of early blooming varieties, which suffered damage by frost in some locations. We sampled many hives during the bloom and they were packed with pollen even though the bee flight hours were low due to cold windy weather. The weather also impacted the bee’s temperament, bees were more…

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Bee Toes

Honey bees have had a close relationship with humans for thousands of years and have been intensively studied and observed by both scientists and beekeepers. Despite the accumulation of knowledge and ever increasing understanding of bee behavior, there are still a number of mysteries that bees guard. One of these behaviors that is yet to be thoroughly understood is called festooning. If you have ever been in a hive and noticed the bees seem clingy and hang from or between frames in chains, you have seen festooning. It is not currently known why bees exhibit festooning behavior. There is general agreement, however, that the behavior…

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Five Dollar Bee Words

I came to the world of bees by accident and had no bee-specific knowledge or training prior to becoming a beekeeper. Prior to working with Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), I spent 8 years as a commercial beekeeper where I gained a good understanding of bee behavior and management from practical experience. Since joining BIP, the exposure to colleagues and scientists has led to a lot of “lightbulb” moments where an unfamiliar word was used and I had to ask what it meant. The explanation was normally met by an, “Oh sure, I’ve seen that, I just didn’t know there was a word for it,” or…

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Preliminary results: 2017-2018 Total and Average Honey Bee Colony Losses by State and the District of Columbia

By now, we hope that you have taken time to reflect on this past year’s honey bee colony losses – both your own losses, as well as those experienced by beekeepers across the nation. In case you missed it, you can view our official preliminary results abstract here: https://beeinformed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2017-2018-Abstract.pdf We fared worse this year compared to the previous one, but long-term BIP efforts over the past decade suggest that we actually experienced a relatively ‘normal’ year. That means about 40% of our colonies died! The United States is vast, and extremely diverse. Everyone can appreciate that beekeeping in the desert oases of the southwest is…

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Drift

Bees have incredible navigation abilities that allow them to fly miles away from the colony to forage and return home with enough precision to locate the entrance to their colony, even when there are dozens of nearly identical hives within a small apiary site. The current understanding of navigation is that a combination of position relative to the sun and landmarks across the landscape get them close and then a combination of visual cues and pheromones to precisely locate the colony entrance. When a returning forager ends up returning to the wrong colony, she is typically not attacked as a robbing bee but accepted into…

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Supplementing Bees with Acai Powder: My Upcoming Summer Trial

I have a few perks working with Bee Informed Partnership out of the University of Minnesota: 1)I get to build relationships with many commercial beekeepers,  2)I have access to the University of Minnesota lab equipment and 3) I get to utilize Marla Spivak's great mind along with other members of the lab. Because I have been fortunate enough to have this type of access, I can now test this idea I have had for many years: Can we feed bees antioxidants to improve health?  Before I chat about the actual experimental design, I want to give you more background information. By the way, I am excited about…

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It’s The Final Countdown!

Cue Europe’s classic song: https://youtu.be/9jK-NcRmVcw?t=1m57s Yes! This is it folks. Your last chance to participate in this year’s Bee Informed Partnership’s National Survey. Completed paper surveys are being returned daily – you only have to see Selina’s mailbox to agree! The online survey will close at 11.59 PM on Tuesday, April 30th. That means this is your last weekend to participate. So far we have chalked up completed online surveys from 4,307 backyard, 107 sideliner, and 25 commercial beekeepers! These are great numbers, but we are hungry! Hungry for more data! If you have not already, please consider participating online anytime until the end of…

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Colony Loss and Management Survey 2017-2018 Frequently Asked Questions

Here we go! As of this morning (4/13/2018), over 2,200 of you have completed the Colony Loss and Management Survey. Thank you for your time and continued support! So far your response rate is tracking previous years, but we of course want to beat last year’s numbers! This year marks the 12th anniversary of the Colony Loss Survey! So please, spread word about our survey far and wide so that we can beat 6,000 responses! Each year we receive excellent questions from beekeepers filling out the survey. We take this as a sign that you are really, really keen on helping us better understand your bees.…

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