bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Norfolk honey fraudsters appeal fails

An appeal by the Bakers, the couple who sold foreign honey labelled as Norfolk (UK) honey, has failed. Their fine of almost £100,000 (about $190,000) stands.

The Bakers claimed the sentence was too harsh and oppressive and they find it difficult to find the money.

But before you give them any sympathy, consider this: The judge said that the Bakers had fought the case at every stage and caused it to run for four weeks. The prosecution had cost well in excess of £100,000. They had also put innocent shopkeepers at risk of prosecution for selling mislabelled honey.


Criminals stung

Two thieves making off with beehives in Derbyshire, England had a torrid time when the hives came apart in their hands. They were seen running around a field in an agitated fashion. They eventually did get the two hives into their van -- and, with luck, things went from bad to worse.

The last beehive thefts in the area were seven years ago from, believe it or not, Beeley Moor.

Incidentally, some idiot took the roof and one empty super off my stack of stored supers in an out-apiary a few weeks ago. I have no idea what they wanted them for. Fortunately, I discovered the theft before the rain came pouring in on the empty frames and before (bee) robbing had begun.

Labels: ,

Funding blind beekeepers

I'm still puzzling over this one.

In the Eastern Cape of South Africa social businesses are benefitting from tax-free investments.

The Gadra bee-keeping project is already fully invested and will provide training and equipment to a group of six blind people, who can become income-generating beekeepers.
Now, I've always considered reasonable eyesight as an essential to good beekeeping, especially when judging the health of a colony and when looking for eggs (I am very aware of this because I'm annoyed I now have to wear reading glasses to make positive egg identications now!)

I know that Francois Huber, notable for his understanding of 'bee space', was blind, but he did use a sighted assistant (who I imagine was no stooge). So, can anyone enlighten me about what's going on in South Africa's Eastern Cape?

Labels: ,

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Living with varroa

Michael Young, wonderful showman that he is, demonstrated what it must be like for bees infested by varroa. As reported in BeeCraft, at a Northern Ireland bee conference he produced four 100mm live crabs from a proverbial hat and placed them on his bee surrogate. Wonderful!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

CCD, disappearing bees and Marie Celeste

There's a lot of US coverage about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and this blog is receiving lots of searches for “disappearing bees”. So I'd just like to remind readers that the phenomenon might be on both sides of the Atlantic.

Last spring I reported on the UK's very own Marie Celeste syndrome. As-yet-unexplained losses also occurred in southern Europe at the end of the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Are these related? I really don't know.

Labels: ,

London bee blogger

There's a new bee blogger on the block: The Diary of an Incompetent Beekeeper.

You can tell he's a new beekeeper -- just look at the colour of the wood on his hive! But he does a nice blog.

However, the question I'd most like answered: Is Toby swearing at the person who didn't warn him about all the faffing about dissembling WBC hives? Pretty they may be, but I'd consign them to the over-engineered category.

Let's start a competition for the best use of a WBC. A Hampshire beefarmer I know thinks tehy make marvellous compost bins. I think they make good burglar frighteners.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

A cross-dressing lawyer, a bridge and a dead beekeeper?

Did you hear the one about the cross-dressing lawyer, a bridge and a dead beekeeper?

Well ... beekeeper Ken Richards died when an army-built bridge on the property of Keith and Margaret Berryman collapsed in 1994 in New Zealand. The case has been rumbling on for ages. The lawyer, who is described in the media, as a cross-dresser (do they wear British-style wigs in New Zealand courts?) seems utterly fed up because he claims the court is denying justice to the Berrymans. He circulated inadmissable documents, has been found in contempt of court, has been suspended and fined $NZ 5000 and now says he is quitting for good.

I suspect there is more of this story is to come.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The disappearing-disappearing illness

While no-one can yet explain the Colony Collapse Disorder hitting the North American honeybee population, it may have a precedent.

The New Scientist reports that it may be a re-emergence of a mysterious illness that struck in the 1960s. It came and went and experts seem never to have discovered what caused it. It is sometimes jokingly called the disappearing-disappearing illness.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wikipedia and CCD

I'm impressed by Wikipedia's coverage of Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious phenomenon that is killing off bees in the North America and maybe Europe.

Labels: , ,

Not such a sticky week

The UK's National Honey Week (this week) doesn't seem to have sparked into life yet, but a Northamptonshire beekeeper is doing his bit:

Beekeeper David Odell is hoping that the natural aphrodisiac qualities of honey will boost his sales this Valentine's Day.

... he has 60,000 bees per hive which produce more than 800lb of honey every year.
What are his bees on, I'd like to know! I think the journalist got their figures muddled somewhere. If not, please call me!

Labels: ,

Monday, February 12, 2007

Disappearing bees clue

Another clue has emerged in the disappearing honeybee phenomenon that has hit in 22 of the states in the USA and several European countries:

One expert at Penn State University says dissected bees have shown alarmingly high levels of foreign fungi, bacteria and other organisms as well as weakened immune systems.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Toxic hives?

An interesting quote from Pennsylvanian beekeeper Dave Hackenberg who has lost an estimated one-third of his 3,000 colonies to the mysterious so-called Colony Collapse Disorder:

“They disappeared. They left and never came back. There were no dead bees on the ground, just empty boxes. Nothing went near the hives. They sat there empty, like there was something toxic, and it was repelling everything.”

Labels: , ,

AHB spread in the USA

Here's the latest map on the spread of Africanized Honey Bees in the USA courtesy of USDA.


Czech facts

Honey consumption stats:
Czech Republic 700 grammes per person per year
Germany 1.2 kg
Austria 1.2 kg
Switzerland 1.4 kg
Greece 2.4 kg.

Last year, a record 9,080 tonnes of honey was produced in the Czech Republic.
3,360 tonnes were exported and 2,390 tonnes imported.

Bee colonies numbered 525,000 last year, down from 800,000 in 1990.
Beekeeper numbers fell to 49,000 from 80,000 in the same the period.
The total population is 10.25 million.

So an EU-backed campaign has been started to increase Czech honey consumption.


Propolis lollies

Children's Lemon and Honey Lollipops made by Comvita are claimed to combine the soothing action of UMF 10+ active manuka honey and the power of propolis, to help with sore throats and colds.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 09, 2007

What becomes of hive jostlers

Simultaneously this blog is celebrating its third birthday today with its 1000th post -- and for once I have little to say!

The best story I've come across today is about workers laying a pipeline in Glendale, Arizona on Loop 101 (sounds like a learner driver's skidpan). They were attacked by bees and five of them were taken to hospital with severe stings. The fire department says the workers “jostled” a hive. I must say the jostling bit made me chortle. Jostling indeed!


Sunday, February 04, 2007

California bumbling

California is considering the import of bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to help in pollination but fears that it will import pests. Bombus impatiens is already regarded as a pest in California.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 02, 2007

And now we have a name for it

The sudden and unexpected demise of honeybee colonies continues to be reported across the globe. From the Mediterranean in the late summer of 2005 to the US now.

Although the colony deaths are not yet satisfactorily explained -- and may of course be the result of quite different causes -- we nonetheless have a name for the beast: CCD: Colony Collapse Disorder. Personally, I'd prefer the rather less prosaic Nobeesdisease.

Labels: , ,