honeybees

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Honey on Tap: A New Beehive that automatically extracts honey without disturbing the bees.

The Flow Hive is a new beehive invention that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the system eliminates the traditional process of honey extraction where frames are removed from beehives, opened with hot knives, and loaded into a machine that uses centrifugal force to get the honey out. Here is how the Andersons explain their design:

The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.

When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again." 

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Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing

Honeybees have thrived for 50 million years, each colony 40 to 50,000 individuals coordinated in amazing harmony. So why, seven years ago, did colonies start dying en masse? Marla Spivak reveals four reasons which are interacting with tragic consequences. This is not simply a problem because bees pollinate a third of the world’s crops. Could this incredible species be holding up a mirror for us?

And it says a ban on its bee-killing pesticides is “disproportionate”?!?

Followers, friends of followers, friends of THOSE friends, sign this now!

If the bees aren’t saved, our lives..ALL of our lives, for that matter, are going to take a huge turn for the worse. 

Please, sign this petition. I’m begging you, followers. It only needs 400k signatures. It’s so, so close to being completed.

Please, sign it. We have to save the bees.

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At long, long long last, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking on neonicatinoids, the class of pesticides implicated in the mass die-offs of bees. The agency announced Thursday that it will be restricting the future manufacture and use of products containing the pesticides; in letters sent to companies that apply those products outdoors, it warned that it likely won’t be approving new permits for their use until it can determine that they won’t cause “unreasonable adverse effects on the environment.”

The agency took a first step toward protecting pollinators, but critics say much more still needs to be done

Speaking as an experienced beekeeper.

Enjoy not having apples, avocados, blueberrys, onions, cherries and celery ever again for the rest of your life four years after honeybees go extinct because politicians didn’t care enough.

But hey, what’s pollination?

Politicians like to forget that ecosystems are a thing and if one species dies out it can actually have a huge impact on other living things how weird

In the past decade, the US honeybee population has been decreasing at an alarming and unprecedented rate. But why?

Emma Bryce offers some explanations in the TED-Ed Lesson The case of the vanishing honeybees.

One solution?  Plant flowers! In Marla Spivak’s TED Talk Why bees are disappearing, she reminds us that when bees have access to good nutrition, we have access to good nutrition through their pollination services.  

So get out there, Tumblr - and plant some bee-friendly flowers!

Animation by Lillian Chan

Hi everyone!

I just had an amazing, humbling experience with this chunky little fuzzy bumble bee. I went to let my dog out and when I opened the back door, this cutie was crawling very slowly across the patio. After recognizing that she was not a wasp (thank goodness, I didn’t want to have to kill anything today… wasps are jerks and we all know it.) I decided to help her out and get her up off the ground and back to her bumblebee business. (The Beefcake and I later named her Queen of the Bee-zantine Empire.)

I know, I know… “Aurora, why wouldn’t you just leave it alone? It’s not even a honey bee!”
Prepare to do some learning. Here’s what I’m going to talk about in this post:

1. Some facts about bumblebees! (Because who doesn’t like facts?)
2. Why bumbles are important. (And plants they help us pollinate.)
3. How to help a grounded bumblebee. (And what I did to help my bumble friend.)
4. How to help non-grounded bumblebees (and honeybees) in your neighborhood!
5. How to tell if it’s really a bumble/honeybee.

Let’s get to it!

1. Facts About Bumbles:
To avoid boring everyone (myself included) to death by making this part of the post sound like a long, drawn-out speech full of science mumbo jumbo, I’m going to list some really basic facts and some that I thought were kinda interesting. Bee facts! Yeah!!!
- There’s a type of bumblebee called a “Cuckoo Bumblebee” that are brood parasitic. This means they don’t make their own nests, they just go invade another bee’s nest. The queen of the Cuckoos will murder the other queen and lay eggs in that nest and the workers that live and were ruled by the first queen then take care of the invading Cuckoo queen’s babies. I think there’s a Showtime drama television show about this. (I don’t really think there is one, but there should be.)
- Female bumbles can sting repeatedly because their stingers don’t have barbs like honeybees do. This means they don’t leave their stinger (or guts) when they sting something! Bumbles usually are defensive and will only sting if they’re in danger or are defending their nest. (The multiple stabs could also be in the show.)
- They can fly at lower temperatures than honeybees can, and can forage for their food from flowers that are long and tube-like because they have longer tongues.
- Bumblebees produce honey just like honeybees do! That being said, they do not stockpile it so we humans don’t harvest it.
- Franklin’s Bumblebee (native to Oregon and California) has been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature.) These bees like lupine and california poppies so if you have a garden and you live on the west coast, do them a favor and plant some of these things.

Neat!

2. Why Bumbles Are Important:
To make this easy on everyone, I’ll just make a simple list of things bumblebees pollinate for us humans. (PS - Honeybees pollinated 1/3 of the UK’s animal-pollinated crops while the other 2/3 was done by… you guessed it… bumbles.) Here’s a list of fruits and veggies we can thank bumbles for:
- Kiwis
- Cranberries
- Blueberries
- Cherries
- Pears
- Plums
- Apples
- Blackberries
- Oranges
- Lemons
- Melons (including watermelons, honeydew)
- Raspberries
- Peaches
- Strawberries
- Sunflowers
- Tomatoes
- Peppers
- Cucumbers
- Squashes and pumpkins

Get the idea?

3. Help Grounded Bumbles:
Generally if a bee is grounded it is either hurt, sick, or it doesn’t have enough energy to get up and go. Here’s how you can help!

- GENTLY scoot the bee onto a piece of paper and transfer it to some type of container that air can get into but the bee can’t fly away immediately. I used a little tupperware container, but I left the lid off completely because I like bees and I’m not afraid of or allergic to them.
- Find some flowers and put those in there! The only flowers I could find in close proximity to my house were hyacinth flowers, but the bee seemed to like them well enough.
- Give your bee friend some sort of sugary solution. Dissolve a little bit of sugar in water, or if you have honey just mix it into some water and give your little bee a drop or two. Do not use artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners are best.
- Give your bee friend some water in a dish that has a lip for her to sit on so she doesn’t fall in. This is more of an issue during the summer months when there are droughts and bees can’t always find good water, but I figured I’d list it just for future reference.
- Let your bee get better and fly off on their own! Chances are if they were just running on low energy, your diluted sugar solution will give them that little boost they need to fly off.

NOTE: If your bee has a damaged wing it will be very hard to help them. A bee without wings is pretty much useless and it will likely die. It’s sad, but that’s nature and nature isn’t always nice.

If your bee friend has a broken leg it can recover, but just be careful when moving it so you don’t damage any of its other legs.

4. Help ALL Bees: 
- In the warmer months (spring, summer, autumn) put a little dish of water in your garden so bees can drink it! Make sure the dish has a little lip or edge for them to sit on so they can still access the water but are not in danger of falling into it.
- Don’t kill honeybees or bumbles that get into your house! They’re probably just as confused and scared as you are. Put them in a tupperware and transport them outside. (Wasps are a different story…)
- If you have a garden/patio that supports plant life, consider planting some flowers or fruits and veggies that bees like to forage from! In return you’ll get healthy little crops and you’ll also feel better because you get to help out our buzzy little friends! Here’s a little chart to help you out with that.

5. How to Identify Bees:
I’ll let this picture do most of the explaining.

Bumbles: Fuzzy, fluffy fat babies.
Honeybees: Fuzzy bodies, thick legs.
Wasps: Don’t get close enough to identify these. If you are unsure from a distance, just assume it’s a wasp and leave it alone completely.

Scientists Call for End to Cosmetic Insecticide Use After Bumblebee Genocide in Oregon

After the mass poisoning of more than 50,000 bumblebees last week in Wilsonville, OR, and other incidents now being reported in neighboring Washington County, scientists are calling on local officials to ban the cosmetic use of insecticides on city- and county-owned lands. The mass poisoning is the largest event of its kind ever documented, with an estimated impact on more than 300 wild bumblebee colonies.

“The cost of losing pollinators far outweighs any value of controlling aphids on ornamental plants,” said Mace Vaughan, pollinator conservation director at the Xerces Society. “After the events of last week, and based on the overwhelming science demonstrating the harm that these products can cause, we are calling on city and county governments to immediately stop the damage.”

http://ecowatch.com/2013/end-cosmetic-insecticideafter-bumblebee-genocide/

The Split Brain of Honey Bees

Honey bees may have only a fraction of our neurons—just under a million versus our tens of billions—but our brains aren’t so different. Take sidedness. The human brain is divided into right and left sides—our right brain controls the left side of our body and vice versa. New research reveals that something similar happens in bees. When scientists removed the right or left antenna of honey bees, those insects with intact right antennae more quickly recognized bees from the same hive, stuck out their tongues (showing willingness to feed), and fended off invaders. Bees with just their left antennae took longer to recognize bees, didn’t want to feed, and mistook familiar bees for foreign ones. This suggests, the team concludes today in Scientific Reports, that bee brains have a sidedness just like ours do. The researchers also think that right antennae might control other bee behavior, like their sophisticated, mysterious “waggle dance” to indicate food. But there’s no buzz for the left-antennaed.