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A colony of honey bees spotted by a photographer at Chatfield is creating a bit of buzz In Colorado in the Untied States of America.

Nesting on an open branch at the state park. Mario Padilla an Entomologist with the Butterfly Pavilion thinks it is unusual.

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Padilla says these are honey bees, good for honey and pollination services. When not kept in boxes by keepers they can nest in hollowed logs and other places, but not typically out in the open.

He says the bees construct wax in sheets as seen in the photos, but we usually don't get to see it because of where they choose to nest.

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Padilla has seen these types of hives before, but mostly in places with mild winters. He says he's not sure if the hive will be able to generate enough heat to survive the cold Colorado temperatures this winter.

A link to the original story is here.

He calls them sheets, we would call them combs, hence 'honeycomb'.

Help Save The Honey Bee in Wilmslow!

Wilmslow Residents, The Honey Bee Needs YOU!

BeeEducated is holding a FREE training session on how you can do your bit to help honey bees and other polinators in our area!

Book your Free ticket now!

 

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Do you know the difference between a honey bee, bumble bee or wasp?
Did you know we are one of the reasons for the decline of honeybees?
Did you know local honey can prevent allergies?

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There will be a one-off event held at the church and local people can come and learn about the decline in honeybees.
Hopefully, we can all have an impact in reducing the decline of the bees.
If you are interested in bees, gardening or would like to be a beekeeper, or if you want to know how you can help the local honey bees, please do come along.
Make it a date in calendar.

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The session will cover ideas about how you can get involved.
You cannot be too old or too young to attend, you will enjoy the session and it’s free.
You will leave feeling motivated and empowered to help protect the honeybees in Wilmslow, you will learn about how little changes, such as growing a few plants in your garden, will save these tiny beautiful pollinators.
Menu
Reasons for the decline in bees
Impact on you and me
Hand pollination
How we can help them
How far can you go to help them
BEES NEED YOU. Because you need them.

The session will be led by Mr Ian Johnson; Apiary Manager at the BeeEducated group held in Wilmslow and will cover everything you need to know, to do your bit!

https://youtu.be/IoP2RQ_y0a8

Towards the end of the year, beekeepers prepare their honeybee colonies for winter.

An abridged version of ‘Winter Bees’ from the Pinner and Ruislip Beekeepers Association. In order to live to the spring a colony must be a good size, be disease and mite free. A build up of mites or disease could mean a colony dies.

Hives are checked to make sure they are not damaged. Preventative methods are used to make sure and that they won’t get damp. Bees produce a lot of water vapour and this could condense in the top part of the hive and drip down on the bees making them too cold.

A mouse guard is attached to each hive entrance to stop unwanted pests getting in and eating the stored food.

An English colony needs around 40 lbs of honey to survive our unpredictable winter. The bees make and store extra honey between spring and autumn in readiness for winter because there little or no food in the UK from mid-October to February.

If, due to bad weather, the nectar flow has slowed up in late summer then the bees are fed a supplement of liquid sugar syrup during August so that the bees have time to turn it into honey and store in sealed cells before the weather gets cold. The beekeeper encourages overproduction of honey within the hive so that the excess can be taken without endangering the colony’s winter stores.

 A summer bee and a winter bee are physically different

Cooler autumn weather triggers the rearing of stockier, stronger winter bees to make sure the colony survives the winter. The autumn larvae are fed a low fat, high protein content (unlike summer bees reared on high fat, low protein) which results in fatter bodies and a different blood protein profile than a summer bee and they live far longer 4 to 6 months instead of the six week lifespan of a summer bee. They will also have far less work to do.

Honeybees do not hibernate but what they do is even more fascinating than that.
Honeybee will over-winter clustered together vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. This cluster looks like a ball of bees that covers a few frames usually in the vertical centre of the hive. The ball size will depend on how many bees are in the hive and what the temperatures are outside the hive. The colder it is the more close together the bees will be in the cluster. The bees only heat the cluster; the rest of the hive is the same temperature as the apiary. The bees on the inside of the cluster can still walk around. Food consumption is minimal. Bees regularly switch places, with ones from the inner core taking up a position on the outer core to allow the outer bees to go inside. As food supplies dwindle around the cluster the bees will move up; rarely do they move to the sides.

The queen will start laying eggs in January in the middle of the cluster thus starting to build up the bee population in readiness for spring. By the end of winter the stores of food will become low. In the early spring, when nectar flow begins, the colony grows rapidly. Going into winter a good colony would consist of approximately 60,000 bees but at the end maybe 10,000 are left.

 

Winter feeding will be done if the bees are on the verge of starvation or to stimulate the queen to lay and some beekeepers place dry sugar around the hole in the inner hive cover, others use bakers’ fondant (additive and flavouring free). Pollen substitutes are sometimes given. On mild days the bees will take the feed and place it around the brood nest where it is available for them to use.

Milder winters cause more beekeeping problems in that the bees will not form a cluster but freely walk around eating precious stores then not have enough when it is very cold and maybe starve. Also if it gets too cold for too long, the bees won’t be able to shift in the cluster to access their food.

Dwindling populations are one cause of colonies dying. When this begins to happen, the amount of bees in a cluster become less. Fewer bees place a stress on the remaining bees to maintain cluster temperatures during very cold weather.

Some bees die much before their time for other reasons which include mites, bacterial diseases etc. On milder days bees take cleansing flights as they do not defecate inside the hive. If they cannot get out for a long time then they could develop dysentery (nosema)

Source:

Pinner & Ruislip Beekeepers’ Association was formed in 1954 by the amalgamation of the Pinner BKA and the Ruislip BKA.

The Pinner Beekeepers’ Association was established at a meeting at “Newlands”, Pinner on Friday 17th 1928 and in 1929, with an annual membership fee of 5 shillings, the membership comprised of 100 enthusiasts.

It’s uncertain exactly when Ruislip Beekeepers was founded, but both clubs were active in the 1930s. After the 2nd World War, the realisation gradually dawned that the area couldn’t support two clubs, so the two groups amalgamated.

From our records it appears that the first Honey Show was held by the Pinner Beekeepers, in conjunction with the Pinner Horticultural Association in 1932 on September 24th.

In 1986 our association was granted charitable status (No 290514).

Authors Note:

You may care to visit their website at http://www.prbka.co.uk to read the above article in its unabridged form, I am sure they will welcome your visit.

Honeybee colony destroyed

American Foulbrood (AFB) was discovered in a colony in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. September saw the destruction of hives by being burned down to prevent the spores from escaping with a cost of over 150,000 bees. Honeyhill bee farm are counting the cost. The disease is carried upon the equipment the beekeeper uses and is transferred to other hives by poor hygiene and lackadaisical care.

The Scottish government have restricted the movement of bees and bee keeping equipment in the area in order to try and contain the outbreak. People are urged to not buy or use second hand equipment as the spores from AFB can survive for years, and enjoy the copious amounts of neglect heaped upon beekeeping by some less than caring bee keepers.

Yvonne Davidson, said “AFB was found at a remote apiary in Tarland. It has no association with Tarland Bee Group.”

The Scottish government acknowledge there is no direct risk to public health, but stepped short on acknowledging that the bees play a most significant part in food production and of the production of the wheat and oats used to make Whisky.

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Image 1 Asian Hornet Nest found near Tetbury

An Asian hornet nest (image 1) has been located and destroyed by experts in the Tetbury area.

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image 2, Asian Hornet Nest

The nest (image 2) was found at the top of a 55 foot tall conifer tree (image 3).

 

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Inspectors from the National Bee Unit are continuing to monitor the area for Asian hornets alongside local beekeepers. However to date, no live hornets have been seen since the nest was removed.

We urge anyone to report suspect Asian hornet sightings to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk.

Further guidance on the Asian hornet can be found on the Asian hornet pages of Beebase where you will find a very useful Asian hornet ID sheet sheet and Asian hornet poster which is available for identification purposes.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/20/threat-honeybees-asian-hornet-arrival-uk-confirmed-defra-invasive-species

 

Threat to honeybees as Asian hornet's arrival on UK mainland confirmed

Invasive species has been spotted in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire, with attempts under way to locate nests

The Asian hornet’s long-feared arrival on the UK mainland has been confirmed, government scientists have said, with ecologists warning of dire consequences for honeybees if the species is not swiftly eliminated.

The hornets eat honeybees and have become widespread in central and southern France, prompting warnings in recent years that they could arrive in the UK via potted plants from France.

While not considered a threat to humans, the arrival of the hornets add to the woes of Britain’s honeybees, which are vital for pollination of many crops but have been suffering declines for decades.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said on Tuesday that it had a confirmed sighting of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire. Officials said efforts were already under way to destroy the invasive species, using cameras and traps to locate nests before attempting to kill them off with pesticides.

An asian hornets’ nest
An asian hornets’ nest. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

Nicola Spence, Defra’s deputy director for plant and bee health, said: “We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

“It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognise the damage they can cause to honeybee colonies. That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.”

Matt Shardlow, the chief executive of the charity Buglife, said: “It’s really bad news. The ecological impact is that it potentially affects our ability to feed ourselves in the future.

“In terms of threats to people, as long as it doesn’t reach ridiculous levels of abundance, which it will struggle to do because there is not enough prey here for it, then it shouldn’t really add risk in terms of number of people who die from wasp stings.”

The hornets were first found in Jersey and Alderney over the summer, with beekeepers hoping they would be unable to cross the channel. But the confirmation that they have reached the mainland will put beekeepers on alert.

A spokeswoman for the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) said: “They will be a real threat to our ability to keep our colonies going. The first sighting is an important event for us, because we’ll have to start making traps.

“Asian hornets have a horrible habit of hanging around a hive entrance and then as soon as a bee comes out, they’ll bite their head off. A number of them will do that until all the bees are dead, and then go in and take their honey.”

Tim Lovett, director of public affairs at the BBKA, said the sighting was “not good news for honeybees”, adding: “What happens next in terms of containment measures will be vital and we look to Defra to implement the contingency plans to deal with this invasion of a non-native species.”

Defra’s science wing, Fera, says that the primary effect of the hornet’s predation is the death of adult worker honeybees, warning that “just a handful of hornets can destroy an entire … nest in a couple of hours”. While certain honeybees have defence strategies to reduce damage, including forming a mass of bees around the hornet, raising the temperature to a lethal 45C, Fera says the European honeybee is less effective at this “heat-balling”.

In terms of the risk to humans, Shardlow said: “This is a fairly big wasp. Generally the bigger they are, the less aggressive they are. There are no bigger threat to humans than the wasps we already have.”

One live hornet and one dead one were spotted by government experts but as yet no nests. The National Bee Unit in North Yorkshire is conducting DNA tests on the dead hornet in an attempt to discover how it arrived in the UK. Government experts believe the species will be unable to survive the colder winters in the north of the UK.

From the web today

Written by
Sarah Shearman : ideas@qz.com
September 29, 2016

Brexit has kicked the hornets’ nest.

Across Europe, populations of wild bees have been declining for the past decade. It’s estimated that 75% of food crops—including fruit, vegetable, seed, nut and oil plants—depend in part on bees and other animals to pollenate them, so the fallout from this mass death is potentially disastrous.

Climate change, habitat destruction, and disease have all played a part in this decline. But the link between bee deaths and a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids (nenonics, for short) is becoming more and more clear. Now, after leaving the EU, there is a chance that Britain could reintroduce these chemical concoctions back into its agricultural fray.

Neonics were introduced in the early 1990s to replace DDT, a more toxic chemical that was commonly used in farming. Because they are so effective at killing pests that could otherwise devastate crops, nenoics are now the most widely used pesticides in the world. But they affect insects they’re not meant to target, too. When bumblebees are exposed to neonics, their brains are affected, impairing their memory and ability to forage for pollen, as well as changing the ratio of males to females in a colony and sometimes even reducing the number of queens. This doesn’t bode well for Mother Nature’s delicate balance.

With mounting evidence that neonics cause harm to these very important insects, in 2013 the European Union put a moratorium in place, banning their use for two years. At the time, the UK opposed the ban, and Britain’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) fought to lift it by arguing it is disastrous for rapeseed farmers, whose crops are used for cooking oil. Now that the two-year period is up, the EU is currently reviewing the latest evidence to assess whether the ban should be extended. It’s expected that it will.

Given the fierce opposition to the ban from the NFU and agrochemical lobby, environmentalists are concerned that the UK will abolish the ban on neonics when it leaves the EU. With three quarters of the world’s crops relying on natural pollination and wild bee communities contributing an average of over $3,000 per hectare to the production of crops, the reintroduction of neonics could have serious implications for the UK’s rural economy, food security, and global trade—and, of course, the bees.

Neonics can accumulate in the soil for years after use, showing up in the pollen and nectar of flowers growing in field margins, hedges, and water streams. Professor Dave Goulson, a biologist at Sussex University and founder of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, is one of the foremost scientists researching the effects of these pesticides on bee populations. His 2012 study on this subject helped pave the way for the EU moratorium on neonics. Since then, he says, evidence on how neonics pose a serious threat to bees has been mounting.

The most conclusive of these studies was published last year, by a group of Swedish scientists who tested the effects of neonics on bees in the field. Goulson’s more recent research examines how neonics can accumulate in the soil for years after use, showing up in the pollen and nectar of flowers growing in field margins, hedges, and water streams. “Evidence for them affecting bees, I think, is beyond reasonable doubt,” Goulson says.

Crops in the UK survived for years before the introduction of neonics, and they can continue to strive without them. After learning about the potential harm they cause bees and other insects, British arable farmer Peter Lundgren willingly stopped using the chemicals on his farm in Lincolnshire, northern England, around eight years ago.

“When I talk to groups of farmers who have had damage to crops by pests that would be controlled by neonicotinoids, they are open to alternatives,” he says. “I think they know essentially that neonicotinoids’s days are numbered.” Lundgren has been doing just fine without spraying his crops with the pesticides or buying treated seeds, carefully managing his wheat, rapeseed, and barley crops by using other insects and the occasional use of less-strong fertilizers to control pests. He now campaigns on the issue.

Still, the NFU is adamant that the ban is detrimental to farmers. It argues that there has been a “dramatic” increase cabbage-stem flea beetles since the EU introduced the ban in 2013 and claim that no form of pest control other than neonics can prevent this insect from damaging valuable rapeseed crop. “Our stance on neonicotinoids seed treatments remains the same in light of current evidence,” Emma Hamer, the NFU’s senior plant advisor, said in a statement sent to Quartz. “We believe the EU-wide moratorium is ill-informed—a knee-jerk reaction from the EU Commission that is over-precautionary.”

Bee prosperity aside, if the UK decides to reintroduce neonics once it leaves the EU, it could potentially affect Britain’s standing in the global economy.

The UK exports its food and drink to over 200 countries, accounting for a trade worth $23 billion in 2015. If the UK reintroduces neonics, countries where a ban is in place might refuse to import its agricultural produce.

France, which is among the largest importers of the UK’s agricultural produce, is moving towards introducing a total ban on neonics that goes beyond the EU’s ban on three kinds of the pesticide. The Canadian province of Ontario and the American state of Minnesota have also been suggesting a neonics ban. “As farmers we need to be careful—a bonfire of the regulations might mean that we end up in a position where we can’t trade with the rest of the world, let alone Europe,” Lundgren says.

With so many uncertainties over how, when, and even if the UK will leave the EU, at this point it is only possible to speculate over what Brexit could mean for bees. But with such bitter divides raging, it seems possible that the bees who had no say in the vote could be the ones forced to buzz off.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @Shearmans. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

What We Now Know – and Don’t Know — About Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder

Original work by By Robbie Shell. Printed by National Geographic.

nationalgeographic.com

Reproduced by Kizz Street

  1. First, a definition: Colony Collapse Disorder is a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony (hive) disappear, leaving behind a queen, food, nurse bees and baby bees. Without the mature worker bees to bring nectar and pollen back to the hive, it collapses (dies). CCD was first identified in 2006. Ever since, it has been a huge concern for the agricultural industry — which relies on bees to pollinate crops — and for commercial beekeepers, who earn most of their money renting out their bees to big farms around the country.

For example, California’s almond crop – estimated at somewhere around 800,000 acres – relies almost exclusively on billions of bees trucked in to pollinate almost 400 miles of almond groves stretched across the state’s Central Valley.

  1. Keep in mind that CCD does not have just one cause: Many factors contribute to its presence, but two major culprits seem to be: overuse of pesticides (see next paragraph), and attacks from parasites (especially the deadly varroa mites) and pests (such as small hive beetles and wax moths).
  2. The debate over what causes CCD frequently turns on the question of pesticides, or more specifically, insecticides, a type of pesticide designed to kill insects. Scientists are paying increasing attention to a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids (neonics, for short). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is looking into whether and how they disrupt bees’ nervous systems. Neonics are manufactured by chemical companies and sold to farmers who use them to eradicate pests on cotton, citrus plants, wheat and corn, among other crops. Chemical companies say the risk from neonics is overstated, and that they are necessary to protect our food supply.

What many scientists, environmentalists, and organic beekeepers do agree on is that all the different insecticides and herbicides used on farms and in fields — as well as those sprayed in hives to fend off mites, fungi and other intruders — create what has been called a “toxic soup” of chemicals. Chronic exposure to these chemicals, say opponents of pesticide use, can make it difficult for bee colonies to breed and resist disease.

  1. Colony Collapse Disorder remains the subject of continually evolving new theories. Some scientists now suggest that climate change could throw off pollination schedules because warmer weather affects where plants grow and when they bloom. Bees may not be primed to meet the needs of these new schedules. Recent decisions by big agricultural producers to use all available soil for growing crops, thereby removing acres of land once filled with wildflowers and other sources of nutrition for bees, are cited as another potential contributor to CCD.

Then there are the spooky “ZomBees,” a term used to describe bees infected by parasitic “zombie flies.” Eggs laid by zombie flies in a bee’s abdomen hatch into larvae that eat away at the bee’s brain and wings. Disoriented by these attacks, the bees begin to behave in uncharacteristic ways. They leave their hives at night (which healthy bees rarely do), dance (not the helpful waggle kind), and then fall to the ground, crawling around blindly in circles until they die.

  1. Some interesting, and discouraging, numbers: The U.S. Agriculture Department’s (USDA) latest figures on honeybee mortality rates estimate that between April 2014 and April 2015, 42% of U.S. honeybee colonies died. This compares to 34% the preceding year. For the first time last year (2015), the number of honeybee deaths during the summer was greater than in the winter — not a good sign given that hives are expected to be stronger and healthier in warm weather, and more stressed in the cold months.

The total number of managed honeybee colonies has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today, according to the USDA.

Gloucestershire live http://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk

'Several' Asian hornets caught by beekeepers since shock arrival in Tetbury

Read more at www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk

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Experts have now caught "several" Asian hornets attacking bee hives since the first confirmed British sighting, it has emerged. The massive insect was discovered in the Tetbury area earlier this month and was the first of the foreign species found in the UK. The insects pose no risk to human health but could wipe out honey bees, and Prince Charles' hives at the Highgrove Estate are within a three-mile cordon set up by Defra.

Yesterday the British Beekeepers Association sent out a warning to members claiming beekeepers have caught "several" more of the insects. The organisation said the National Bee Unit - which runs Defra's bee programme - reckons the hornets are related to French insects but may be weak due to inbreeding.

In a statement to members, the British Beekeepers Association said: "The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) was found by a beekeeper in the Tetbury area last week and other beekeepers in the immediate area have since seen hornets hawking in front of their hives.

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A 20km incident zone has been imposed by Defra and the National Bee Unit (NBU) is currently locating the nest. Fortunately the NBU have been expecting the arrival of the Asian hornet for some time and had a contingency plan ready to go.

The NBU has caught several hornets and examined their genetics; it appears that these hornets are related to those in France.  So they have not come in from China or another country.

This is important because they are obviously breeding from quite a small genetic pool and may have been weakened from in-breeding.  The issue is whether they flew directly from France to Gloucester which is considered unlikely.

The Asian hornet - or yellow-legged hornet - is smaller than the UK's native hornet and has yellow legs, a dark velvety thorax, and a dark abdomen with a distinctive yellow band on the fourth segment.

And from The Westmorland Gazette:

Pest experts urge South Lakeland residents to be alert to Asian Hornets

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European Hornet eating a wasp. Wonder if he would like some salt and pepper with that...

From the BBC:

'Colossal' wasp nest found in Corby attic

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A "colossal" wasp nest the size of a "barrel" with a tunnel attached has been found in the attic of a house.

The homeowner near Corby discovered the one-metre wide nest (3.2ft) while renovating the property, which had been empty for two years, as reported in the Northampton Chronicle.

Pest controller Gary Wilkinson said "luckily" the wasps had moved out about a year earlier.

Its size and long entry tunnel made it a "spectacular work of art", he added.

Mr Wilkinson was treating the house in Pipewell for woodworm, when the owner who wants to remain anonymous, said: "Can you come a have a quick look at this for me?"

"We just went, 'Wow', as it was colossal," Mr Wilkinson said.

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"It's the biggest I've ever seen by quite a margin.

"It's an impressive wasp nest alright - much bigger than a barrel.

"They can get to the size of a large football but this is something else altogether."

The company said the nest was "rare" not only because of its size, but

because the wasps had built an "intricate tunnel from the nest to the outside" which was perfectly preserved.

The tunnel itself measures about 1.4m (4.5ft).

Mr Wilkinson estimates anything from 6,000 to 10,000 wasps could have called the nest their home.

An "average" nest would "typically have up to 3,000 wasps", a company spokesman said.

Mr Wilkinson described the structure as "quite beautiful" and made from paper-like material the insects had stripped from fences and tree bark.

Fortunately for the homeowner and pest control team, the nest had "gone to its full life-cycle" and there was nothing left alive in it.

"We'd certainly not be that close to something that size - even in a bee suit - if we thought it was still being used," Mr Wilkinson said.