bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Monday, September 17, 2007

Queen bee passes away

I was saddened to hear that Dr Eva Crane died earlier this month, aged 95. Her obituary is in The Independent, The Times, The New York Times amongst others. She lived in the neighbouring county to me, but I regret being too late to beekeeping never to have heard her speak.

Anyone interested in bees and honey should look at her remarkable publishing record:
Crane produced more than 180 scientific papers, articles and books on bees, honey and beekeeping; her books include Honey: a Comprehensive Survey (1975), A Book of Honey (1980), The Archaeology of Beekeeping (1983), Bees and Beekeeping: Science, Practice and World Resources(1990) , The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting (1999) and, a book about her travels, Making a Bee-Line (2003).

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

The gold rush is gathered

The 2007 harvest is almost in -- just a bit more heather honey to come and a lot of ivy nectar being gathered which I will certainly not extract as it has the most disgusting taste I have ever encountered from a honey.

From an initial six colonies I have extracted something between 400 and 500 lbs (approx 200 kg) of honey. The bees have grown to eight colonies having already united some colonies and given away a couple of others during the course of the year. I'm pleased with the harvest since it has been such a poor summer after a terrific spring.

I now want to reduce further to six colonies, expecting that I may lose one or two over winter from the various ailments abounding. (I am about to treat for varroa -- a little late some would say, but this time of year works for me in this area.)

BTW, for those new to Propolis, attracted by the bell jar picture links, you might be interested to see other images including lots of close-ups filed under the my pictures keyword.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Bell jar bees -- the slide show

Lots of nice comments coming in about the bees in the bell jar (via howithappened, boingboing and elsewhere) -- but regular readers might have missed the slideshow of progress over the past couple of months. I see how I can try to help the bees improve the design -- and just this morning was given another bell jar. So roll on next season!

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reappearing disappearing disease

With Israeli bee virus being accused of CCD and this week, not an attempt to pin it all on a Spanish virus, Slavik has sent me an interesting, if selective, timeline of the history of bees in the USA. It highlights several episodes of "disappearing bees disease, starting in 1896 and implicitly relating the phenomena to what we might now term biosecurity.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bell jar bees complete the task

The bell jar bees have finished the job -- with one fatality left entombed in gold (second photo). (For progress at each stage, click the bell jar bees keyword.)


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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Raining bee poo

First a heard an excess of buzzing in the garden, then smelt honey and then saw rain glistening against the clear blue sky. A swarm was leaving, the smell was honey from the bee poo raining from the outer edges of the swarm. I've never seen or smelt that before.

The swarming season should have finished be now, but in my deliberately cramped nucleus hive the bees hadhad enough of the congestion this lunchtime and decided that it's time for half of them to leave. They might have had the decency to poo outside the garden instead of over the washing and the bikes.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ancient hives discovered in the land of milk and honey

Beehives dating back 3000 years have been found in the ancient city of Rehov in Israel.

Thirty intact hives, made of straw and unbaked clay with an entrance for the bees at one end and a lid for beekeepers at the other, were found in orderly, three-high rows in a room that could have accommodated 100 hives.

Their location in a city has puzzled experts. They speculate that the city’s ruler might have wanted the industry under his control, or because the beekeeping industry was linked to religious practices since an altar decorated with fertility figurines was found alongside the hives.

Thanks, Slavik, for the tip.