24 December 2014

Homing pigeons versus bees - which is the fastest?

Spotted on the BBC site, an item about a competition held in Hamme, Germany, some years ago.

A pigeon fancier and a bee-keeper decided to settle their argument about which species would be the fastest to return home.

Bees and pigeons were released from the same site, 3 1/2 miles from the 'home', at the same time. The bees had a slight disadvantage, because they were first rolled in flour to make them easily identifiable.

The first bee to arrived 25 seconds before the first pigeon, another two bees arrived before the second pigeon and at that point nobody bothered to count any more.

Well done bees!


19 October 2014

Beekeeping Acronyms and Abbreviations

N.B. This page is a work in progress and will be added to from time to time. It is intended to complement the Beekeeping Glossary  where there are more detailed explanations of the terms.

ABPV: Acute Bee Paralysis Virus 
AFB: American Foulbrood 
Amm: Apis mellifera mellifera
APHA: Animal and Plant Health Agency (link)

BBKA: British Beekeepers Association (link)
BFA: Bee Farmers Association (link)
BIAS: Brood In All Stages - eggs, larvae, sealed. Acronym used in colony records
BIBBA: Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders' Association (link)
BPV: Bee Paralysis Virus - coverall term for undiagnosed symptoms of paralysis

17 September 2014

Small Hive Beetle in Italy

I would think that most British beekeepers would know by now that Small Hive Beetle Aethina tumida has been found in Italy - not the first time it's been found on mainland Europe because it was previously found in, and eradicated from, Portugal. Here's hoping the Italians will be able to deal with it as efficiently.

** Update**
15 June 2015 - Good news, I hope.
Via Gavin Ramsay  on sbai
I have to say that the apparent success of the eradication attempt in southern Italy is surprising ... and good. It might still be lurking somewhere there - or elsewhere in Europe - but this sea of green dots for 2015 is very promising.
From Italian health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety

Current epidemiological situation
  • Figure 1: Calabria protection area (20 km radius)
  • Figure 2: Sicily protection area (20 km radius)
  • Figure 3: Calabria and Sicily monitoring area (100 km radius)

4 June 2014

Cleanliness matters

It used to be thought that a beekeeper who wore a propolis stained beekeeping suit, smock or pair of overalls was one to be admired. Propolis, wax and honey stains were a badge of office, to be nurtured and retained as evidence that they were far too busy with their bees and beekeeping to have time to take their protective clothing off for long enough to put launder it.

Times have changed, and so have perceptions, and although it's still common to see bee suits, smocks and trousers speckled with mildew from winter damp, it's as rare to see a beekeeper wearing dirty outer clothing as it is for a surgeon to wear bloodstained tweeds.

13 April 2014

When Ribes comes into flower.

Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII'

One of the things I was told as a beginner beekeeper was that Spring colony inspections shouldn't commence until the Flowering Currant was in bloom - that's Ribes sanguineum for those who prefer the Latin names.  

(Image from BBC Plant Finder)

Rules of Thumb
We have one of these shrubs in our garden and it's only just in flower, which would suggest it's time to open the hives for the first inspection of the season - but this particular plant is growing in a cold pocket, so always flowers later than any other in the area. This means that the 'rule' doesn't work too well for me and my bees.

12 February 2014

Bees use polyurethane and polyethylene polymers as nest materials.

Article taken directly from Science Daily  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211103340.htm I thought it was interesting.
A new study by a University of Guelph graduate and a University of Guelph scientist reveals that some bees use bits of plastic bags and plastic building materials to construct their nests. The research was published recently in the journal Ecosphere.

It's an important discovery because it shows bees' resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world, says lead author Scott MacIvor, a doctoral student at York University and a 2008 University of Guelph graduate.

9 February 2014

Fruity Beef Meatballs with Curried Banana Sauce

This recipe works so brilliantly that I thought I'd share it. It is good as a meal on its' own, or can be served alongside a variety of other curries. It will work if you use only the pre-prepared curry powder, but the extra spices give a richer flavour.

serves 2 - 4 people

You will need:
Shallow ovenproof dish
frying pan
food processor (not essential, but it's the easiest way to prepare the date, apple and onion mixture)


  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 apples
  • 8 pitted dates
  • about 500g beef mince
  • about 1 tbsp dried breadcrumbs
  • salt
  • ground mixed pepper