Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

Bees Sniff Out Nasty Microbes

March 2, 2012

Scientists in New Zealand hope to use bees as a diagnostic tool to sniff out Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism that causes tuberculosis infection in humans.  Next time you are rooting around in a hive, breathe heavily on your bees.   If they are attracted to your breath, you might be emitting methyl nicotinate, a volatile compound that might suggest the presence of M. tuberculosis.  Your next step should be to remove your bee suit and take public transportation to the nearest sanatorium, coughing bloody sputum all the way, spraying your fellow bus riders with aerosolized TB.

Read the article in The Scientist.

This story kindly brought to our attention by Dr. Byington.


French Firm Melvita Promotes English Bees

August 2, 2011

The French cosmetics firm Melvita has brought beekeeping to the rooftop of their store in Covent Garden, London.  This is another example of the inroads bees are making into urban environments.  Click HERE to read the story.

This topic was kindly provided by doc Andreas.

Might Bees Go Hungry Without Invasive Species?

December 21, 2010

Spotted knapweed is an invasive species now ubiquitous in the United States.  Thanks to my colleague Costa Georgopoulos for bringing a recent article to my attention.  A counteroffensive against knapweed is being launched to try to control or eradicate this flowering weed.  Some Michigan beekeepers feel that without knapweed, their bees will suffer for want of forage, particularly in late summer.  They are understandably concerned for their own livelihoods, but also for their ability to maintain a robust bee population in Michigan.  Please chime in on this issue.  What should be the benchmark for a healthy bee population?  If bees are snacking on Maraschino-cherry-sugar-water in Brooklyn and invasive knapweed in Michigan and Utah, then how can we talk intelligently about sustainable agriculture and all-natural honey?  Do Michigan beekeepers market “Clover Honey?”  If so, how much of their clover nectar really comes from knapweed?

The first two pages of the Knapweed article are available in pdf format here.  The above photos came form this website with additional information about invasive plants.

New York Times, Beekeeping, and Expanding Vocabulary

December 12, 2010

There are frequent articles on the New York Times about beekeeping.   I encourage scouts to stay up-to-date on beekeeping news and send me links to articles if you see them (anywhere).  Here is an article from the New York Times with some interesting scientific background on honey bees, their evolution, and human interactions.  Scouts might also want to watch the progress of other beekeepers.   Here is a link to a beekeeper’s blog at the New York Times.  Beekeeping blogs are great and all, but there is life outside of the hive.  I urge scouts to expand their horizons and broaden their vocabulary.  If you have never used the word simulacrum in a sentence, then I recommend that you browse the blog of a Andreas Forster, a former Salt Lake City resident living for the moment in London.  English is not, by the way, Andreas’s first language.

Labor Day Weekend Honey Harvest

September 9, 2010

The Labor Day weekend was a huge success for the scouts endeavoring to earn the Beekeeping Merit Badge.  The weekend began on Thursday night with some advance training for parents in candle making and honey extraction.   Friday afternoon 5 scouts new to beekeeping came over and pulled the supers from the scout hives.  Friday evening about a dozen scouts and parents came down to the downtown library and we pulled the supers from the library hives.   Saturday we tackled honey extraction and candle making.   In the end, the scouts made 600 hand-dipped beeswax candles in about 8 hours and extracted all of the honey from the scout hives.   Saturday evening and Sunday were busy times for me as other beekeepers came over and extracted honey and then Sunday evening we had the Honey Harvest Taco Party.   The entire endeavor was a great success.  13 scouts have effectively completed the Beekeeping Merit Badge, but for a few sentences in the form of a written essay summing up their knowledge of bees, beekeeping, and pollination.   Congratulations to the scouts.

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Library Bees Update – Comb Honey

July 15, 2010

The hives at the library are healthy and active.  The bees are storing honey in the shallow supers.   We will extract that honey later this summer.  I installed a comb honey super (Ross Rounds) on one of the hives today.   The hive is strong and the nectar is flowing so if we are going to try to get some comb honey, it is now or never.  Generally comb honey is best produced only during periods of nectar flow.  The super contains all of the plastic pieces and foundation for making round comb honey sections.   This type of comb honey is called a Ross Round.

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Utah Rocket Club Supports Beekeeping

July 7, 2010

Visit the website of the Utah Rocket Club ( to see how the Utah Rocket Club supports beekeeping.  It might seem like an unusual partnership, but model rocket launching and beekeeping are two of the best things to do in Utah.   UROC members love to launch rockets but they also love all other things like Big Art Projects (Spiral Jetty recreated out of Giant Foam Fried Eggs).  Check out to learn about what the club does and to see some of the great activities in which you can participate.  HellFire 15 is the annual high-power rocket launch of the club and will be held the first weekend in August at the Bonneville Salt Flats, just 118 minutes West of Salt Lake City.  Take a break from beekeeping and enjoy the scorching heat and blinding white vistas at the Salt Flats and see some really, really big rockets blast thousands of feet in the air.   Bring your own model rockets and participate.   UROC welcomes families and scouts to join in the fun.

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Scouts Encourage Bees to Learn to Read

June 18, 2010

7:00 a.m., Monday, June 18.  The scouts moved two hives from the Big Garden to the downtown Salt Lake City Library.  We installed the two hives on the roof of the library, in a small courtyard on the fifth floor of the building.  We positioned the hives to be easily visible behind glass windows on the spiral staircase.  These are real book-readin’ bees.  August, Nick, Jack W., and Trent were there to help put the hives in place.   We will let the bees get accustomed to their new home and inspect the hives in a week or so.

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Hive Inspection – Memorial Day, 2010

May 31, 2010

Troop 202 participated in a Memorial Day flag ceremony and mass by Bishop Wester to honor our fallen soldiers.  Following the ceremony we gathered at the Harvard Yard to inspect the hives.  Nick, Trent, Danny, Jack W., and Sarah were there to do the work.

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They discovered that the North hive is healthy and growing in numbers.   The cluster is in the lower deep brood chamber and the bees have drawn out wax on only a couple of the frames in the upper deep.  The queen is laying and everything looks good.  The (former) South hive, which now sits in the middle (Middle Hive) is growing at an even greater rate.  The cluster is distributed between the upper and lower deep chambers.  Almost all of the space in the upper box has been drawn out and there are about 4 frames completely full of capped brood in the upper box alone.   The population of this box is about to explode.   The scouts need to add a honey super to this hive soon.  The in-hive feeders were removed from both of these hives.  The entrance of each is still partially restricted by an entrance reducer.   The third hive is the hive that was started from a swarm.  The swarm was captured May 8.  The swarm was installed in the hive May 15 with evidence of a viable queen at the time.  Currently the hive appears to be queenless.   There are a surprising number of bees.  They have created two supercedure cells on the surface of one of the frames.  It seems that the queen was killed, perhaps during installation, so the hive is trying to create a new queen.   We will allow the supercedure process to proceed and hope that the hive can recover.  If the queen was lost on about May 15, the supercedure cells should hatch out any day now.

Scout Family Hive Inspection

May 31, 2010

I helped James and Sarah’s family start a hive at their house from a swarm.   The swarm was captured in Jay’s garden on May 14.   It sat in the nuc box in my yard until May 23 when we installed it in a hive behind their garage.  I helped Mike and Sarah inspect the hive on Memorial Day, following the Harvard Yard hive inspections.  Unfortunately, there is no evidence of a queen.   there is a good number of bees and they have been storing plenty of pollen and honey, but the hive will soon be honey bound and there are no brood.  Mike has decided to purchase a mated queen for the hive.  Another choice would have been to abandon the hive and simply combine it with another hive.   This would be fine except that they have only one hive and they would like to make a go of it.  Alternatively, we could allow the hive to proceed with no intervention in the hope that we were completely wrong and there is actually a laying queen in the hive but she just hasn’t started to work yet.  The risk of the hive simply dwindling away would be high in this case.  We will discuss the course of action and evaluate the outcome as the summer progresses.