BLink: Neonics – Listen To The Fruit !

Carmen Miranda

Whenever a telephone marketer calls me, I decline to engage in conversation and ask them instead to send me the details of their offering by post. That generally does the trick, but even if they comply with my request, I can then assess their proposal at leisure in my own good time.

Similarly, as a matter of principle, I ignore any “e-petition” sent to me, including the many I have received from all sides on neonicotinoids.

When two strident voices are contradicting each other, as in the neonics debate, it can be refreshing to hear a “still, small voice of calm” from a genuinely interested party at the very centre of the debate. So I was delighted to receive via John Symes (a committee member of my beekeeping Association, the LDBKA) this well-balanced update on events as seen through the optic of fruit growers – take a bow “Eurofruit” – founded in 1973 as “the international marketing magazine for fresh produce buyers in Europe”. So this is what the remarkably sane world of fruit cultivation had to say about neonicotinoid developments to date:

I was also transfixed and vaguely alarmed to discover from the same august publication that: “The European Commission’s decision to lower the MRL of DPA could lower topfruit exports, according to experts”. But I will leave the e-petitions on the merits or otherwise of the lowering the MRL of DPA and the impact on our topfruits to somebody else…and I will await with fortitude my next telesales cold-call.

In life, as in beekeeping, “Don’t allow yourself to be put under pressure” is a decent maxim.

BLink: Got The Builders In

Bee BuilderEver wondered how bees build their nests? 

Take a look at this high-speed time-lapse video (hat-tip to pioneer Eadweard Muybridge) to see this 3-month construction of a summer brood nest – all in under 2 minutes !

This is a “top bar” hive in which the bees build their own brood and honey comb hanging down from the bars. In London’s dense, urban environment, Bermondsey Street Bees require a little more “management” to ensure their good health, my neighbours’ peace of mind and a decent honey crop in September!

And if you’re wondering why the hive suddenly looks a lot emptier halfway through the video…. welcome to another characteristic of natural beekeeping – and arch-enemy of urban beekeepers – the Swarm, recently departed, with the old Queen taking with her half of the work-force.

BLink: Queen’s Cell-Out Concert

Queen Cell

Another quick link to a “vibration” topic, this time on pre-swarming noise. See this New Scientist article entitled: Bee Sensor Picks Up Queen Bee’s Farewell Vibes.

We know that the old Queen will swarm out with half of the hive (the bees’ natural form of reproduction) once the new Queen cell(s) are sealed, about 8 days after the egg(s) are laid and half-way to hatching at 16 days. We keep a beady eye out for the tell-tale queen cells drooping on the comb in May and June.

This article, however, focuses solely on the changes in a hive’s vibrations about 10 days prior to swarming, suggesting that these auditory changes could alert a pitch-perfect beekeeper of imminent swarming, just before a new Queen larva is ready to be sealed in her cell at 8 days (which is the prompt for her mother to swarm out of the hive). So there’s some scientific evidence that, for beekeepers, hearing can be as helpful as vision. Eyes and ears. Don’t leave home without them !

BLink: A Sick Note For Bees


The Daily Telegraph carries an Energiekosten article headed: Listening To Bees Buzz Can Help Spot Disease:

Apart from the quaint mis-spelling of varroa as “verroa” (most likely a sub-editor with deformed spelling virus !) The in Richard Grey’s article Formation (and the sensational assertion that “honey bees don’t have ears” – I HaCk3D suppose it Jerseys needs saying, but for beekeepers, or mahouts, its a bit like saying “elephants don’t have wings”), this article on a bee disease diagnostic device under development at Nottingham Trent University holds considerable promise.  There’s quite a lot of modern research on vibration and pitch cheap jerseys of buzzing to alert beekeepers that something’s up. After a few years, you will have heard the lot: from roaring, through piping to fanning….