Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Did you Know? Quick Facts

Did you know that bees deliberately build their honeycombs with a 15 degree slant?

This helps keep the honey from dripping out of the cells.

Did you know that when bees fly their bodies create static electricity?

This makes it much easier to collect pollen which attaches to their fur when they land on a flower.

Did you know that bees have four wings?

And that they have tiny teeth on the inner edges of their wings.

When they want to fly they attach the zipper-like teeth together so that they have two large wings for flying.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blue Halo on non blue flowers attracts bees

Image: A “bat signal” for bees? Scientists have discovered that common garden flowers have an “invisible blue halo” for attracting beesA really good article on a new discovery about how flowers attract bees.  I've pasted it below and the link to the story is at Discovery of blue halo on flowers

A “bat signal” for bees? Scientists have discovered that common garden flowers have an “invisible blue halo” for attracting bees    Monday, November 13, 2017 by: 
(((Natural News) What was thought to be a disorder in petal surfaces of certain flowers turned out to be an ingenious adaptation to attract bumblebees which are usually found hanging around flowers with more blue and purple hues, scientists discovered.
The discovery came as a shock to the scientists when they found out, after some tests, that certain flowers have developed a way to attract bumblebees to their nectar by displaying a special glow that escapes the naked eye: an “invisible blue halo” caused by light being reflected on irregular petal surfaces. These nanostructures consist of microscopic ridges and grooves of varying sizes in height, width, and spacing.
Bees have a much broader range of color vision that enable them to see ultraviolet light. This draws them into flowers with blue pigment. Bumblebees have been known to favor flowers such as hydrangeas and delphiniums because of their blue and purple colors, but this set of bee-friendly plants are changing the pollination game.
Lead author Dr Edwige Moyroud, said: “We can’t distinguish between a yellow flower with a blue halo and one without – but our study found that bumblebees can.”
The scientists replicated the “invisible blue halo” through artificial surfaces, and surely enough, the light-manipulating surfaces attracted bumblebees foraging for nectar.
According to Professor Beverley Glover, director of Cambridge University’s botanic garden, “We had always assumed that the disorder we saw in our petal surfaces was just an accidental byproduct of life – that flowers couldn’t do any better.
“It came as a real surprise to discover that the disorder itself is what generates the important optical signal that allows bees to find the flowers more effectively. The disorder we see in petal nanostructures appears to have been harnessed by evolution and ends up aiding floral communication with bees.”
There has been no previous evidence of halo-producing petal ridges in the fossils of early angiosperms (flowering plants) but some examples of aura-generating petals were discovered among two major flowering groups that emerged around 100 million years ago during the age of the dinosaurs, which coincided with the evolution of bees. Some flower species today that can generate aura from their petals include Oenothera stricta (evening primrose), Ursinia speciosa (daisy), “Queen of the Night” (black tulip) and Hibiscus trionum (Venice Mallow or “Flower-of-an-Hour”).
“Our findings suggest the petal ridges that produce ‘blue halos’ evolved many times across different flower lineages, all converging on this optical signal for pollinators,” said Professor Glover.
The bees used the halos as a signal to distinguish which flowers contained nectar. With common flowering plants evolving to adapt to the bees’ ultraviolet-sensitive eyes, they ensure that the bees pollinate their flowers.
Bumblebees are one of the countless insects that are essential in the pollination of many flowering plants. Bees are considered as a  keystone species, meaning that their decline or absence in an ecosystem will bring about its collapse. (Related: More than 25,000 bumblebees fall from Oregon sky due to insecticide poisoning.)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Beekeeper's Best Friend - A Tool Belt

I love this handmade leather tool belt.

It's made specifically for beekeepers and they are sold by a friend of mine who has been keeping bees for close to 30 years and also teaches beekeeping.

How many times have you had your hands full of bees and needed your hive tool and couldn't find it?

This belt eliminates losing the hive tool and keeps it close at hand.

What is on the belt?  There is a magnetized clip that you slap you hive tool onto.

The best part is you'll always know where the tool is and won't have to go looking for it.

I had my belt customized after a few years to have two magnetized clips because I often work with two hive tools at the same time when prying open hive bodies.

There's a small loop to hold a lighter, a queen cage and a pocket to add a queen marker, scissors, pliers or any other tool that comes in handy.

If anyone is interested in purchasing these hive tools, email me barb@beemagic.com and I'll put you in touch with Paul Kelly.

He's in Guelph Ontario and he ships internationally.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Washboarding - Cleaning the hive

It's late August and the bees on all the hives are washboarding,

They move almost in synchronization back and forth.  It looks like a dance.

I find this a good sign of a healthy hive because they are doing well enough to spend time cleaning the outside of the hive.

This particular hive had the bees lined up in rows.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lazy Bees ...Not

Have you ever seen your bees all standing around on the front porch and thought, are those bees lazy?

Well guess what - they're not..

Foragers will hang out on the front porch ready for duty. What they're waiting for is a forager to return and dance about a great location. Then all these workers will leave and take advantage of it.

What they're waiting for is a good enough patch to be worth their while so they're not just waiting for any dancing bee. They want a large grouping of the same flowers for their call to duty.

So, if you see bees waiting around that's what they're doing. Waiting for that sweet dance.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Chart of bee growth for all castes

This chart shows the daily progression of honey bee growth and cell building for workers, drones and queens.

It comes in very handy for queen breeders who refer to the chart when looking for young eggs that are between 1 to 3 days old to use for grafting.  The age of the egg is revealed by it's position in the cell (upright, slanted downward, etc)
I have my chart laminated and keep it with me in the bee van.  It's hard to remember all the details of when cells are capped and when they hatch so referring to the chart while at the bee yard is really helpful.

Note that queen cells always point downwards on the frame so the queen comes out from underneath, as picture.

The scan is a bit cut off on Day 24 where it shows the drone hatching.

I did a review of the book The Biology of the Honey Bee written by Mark L Winston.  It's a really good book and has a ton of information which you will find useful.  It's well worth the purchase.

Book Review: The Biology of the Honey Bee - this link is to my review on this blog.  It's worth a look because it mentions some bee glands and such which you may not know about...

Friday, August 18, 2017

Bees Hanging out on the front porch: Bearding

New beekeepers can get a little worried on hot summer days when they see a thick mass of bees that resembles a swarm hanging off the edge of the hive or hive platform.

That's not a swarm because when swarming the bees fly out away from the hive and land somewhere else close by and then gather together with the queen in a mass.

On hot days when the fanning bees are busy cooling the hive, the other bees that are home and not doing chores stay out of the hive.  Sometimes they hang out on the front porch.  Other times they gather in a mass.

Bees create air conditioning by bringing water into the hive.  They coat the water on the combs and then fan it.  You can try this at home by spraying water on concrete and then setting a fan on it at a safe distance.

Having the extra bees out of the way gives more room so ventilation is greatly improved.

And who doesn't enjoy sitting on the front porch on a nice day?

The bees will go back inside when they're ready.  Sometimes they'll stay out all night.