Beekeeper uses this DIY bee vacuum he rigged up himself when collecting honey

“My dad built a bee vacuum!” Read the rest

This wild honey harvest how-to video is delightful

Enjoy this hypnotic video of a honey harvest in the desert. Read the rest

Beekeeper uses bears to taste test his honey

Trabzon is a northeastern province of Turkey. You'll find a lot of light industry there: small farmers, plantations growing tea and craftsman. It also happens to be home to some of the most sought-after honey in the world.

Ibrahim Sedef, is a beekeeper who, along with his bees, works in the region, producing Anzer honey. It's aromatic stuff and is wildly believed to have curative powers—your healthcare mileage may vary. People love Sedef's honey. Unfortunately, so do a bunch of local bears.

Sedef tried a number of solutions to keep the animals away from his beehives: he locked the hives up for the night. He secured his home against the animals breaking in. He even left out sweet fruit and baked goods for the bears to draw them away from his products. No dice. Over three years, he lost over $10,000 in profits. At this point, a lot of folks may have turned to having the animals killed, in order to protect their profits. Not Sedef: he enlisted the furry brutes to do a bit of taste testing for him, instead.

Image via Flickr, courtesy of Beverly Read the rest

Delicious honeycomb slice beekeeping video

Get a load of this delicious video of a beekeeper slicing that honeycomb down, from which to extract this year's honey harvest. Read the rest

Some idiot torched hives with half a million bees in Texas

Over the weekend, someone set fire to two dozen bee colonies in Alvin, Texas belonging to the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association. The perpetrator also dumped some of the bee boxes into a nearby pond. The Beekepers Association and the police are offering rewards for information leading to the conviction of the idiot who did it. From KTRK-TV:

"We're looking at 500,000 to 600,000 that have been destroyed out of that environment," said (beekeeping supplier Steve Brackmann)...

"It takes a long time to establish a colony," Brackmann said. "It can take a year to get a full one, but the queens were probably killed, which means those that survived have nowhere to go."

One comment on Facebook referred to it as ecoterrorism, and Brackmann doesn't disagree with that. Bee populations are dropping rapidly across the country because of insecticides and herbicides which take away the plants on which bees forage.

More at the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association's Facebook page.

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Bees wearing wireless sensors create a "living Internet of Things platform"

While researchers continue attempts to build practical insect-size flying robots, engineers at the University of Washington have prototyped a backpack for real bees that outfits the insects with sensing, computing, and wireless networking capabilities. From UW News:

“We decided to use bumblebees because they’re large enough to carry a tiny battery that can power our system, and they return to a hive every night where we could wirelessly recharge the batteries,” said co-author Vikram Iyer, a doctoral student in the UW Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering...

Because bees don’t advertise where they are flying and because GPS receivers are too power-hungry to ride on a tiny insect, the team came up with a method that uses no power to localize the bees. The researchers set up multiple antennas that broadcasted signals from a base station across a specific area. A receiver in a bee’s backpack uses the strength of the signal and the angle difference between the bee and the base station to triangulate the insect’s position...

Next the team added a series of small sensors — monitoring temperature, humidity and light intensity — to the backpack. That way, the bees could collect data and log that information along with their location, and eventually compile information about a whole farm...

“Having insects carry these sensor systems could be beneficial for farms because bees can sense things that electronic objects, like drones, cannot,” Gollakota said. “With a drone, you’re just flying around randomly, while a bee is going to be drawn to specific things, like the plants it prefers to pollinate.

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Count your bees with a Raspberry Pi and machine learning

Sure, you worry about your bees, what with colony collapse disorder, but they're hard to count! Read the rest

20,000 rescued bees decorate this woman's maternity photos

Emily Mueller and her husband have a business relocating bees from areas where they might be exterminated. So when she hired Kendrah Damis to snap some photos of her third trimester, Emily wanted to include 20,0000 of their closest friends in the pics. Read the rest

Watch this gentleman break the world duration record for wearing a bee beard

Sure, we've all worn a bee beard for a minute or two, but Canada's own Juan Carlos Noguez Ortiz just broke the Guinness World Record by sitting for more than an hour with a facehive going. Impressive! Read the rest

For twelve years, this family has let bees nest in their living room

In addition to benefiting from excellent feng shui, the family harvests about 15 kilograms of honey each year from their bee housemates, who showed up on the day of a wedding. Read the rest

Fresno cops find $1m worth of stolen bees in "beehive chop shop"

The Fresno, California Sheriff's Department raided a "beehive chop shop" and uncovered $1m worth of bees stolen in "great beehive heists" that have taken place across the bee-starved state. Read the rest

Mushrooms may help in the fight against bee colony collapse

It's mushrooms to the rescue in a major study to stop bee colony collapse disorder. One culprit, parasitic varroa mites, stood out as a major threat because they were developing tolerance for many pesticides. Read the rest

Robotic drone bee pollinates flowers

Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously. From New Scientist:

The manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs 15 grams. The bottom is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, then rub off on the next flower visited.

In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies (Lilium japonicum). Moreover, the soft, flexible animal hairs did not damage the stamens or pistils when the drone landed on the flowers...

“We hope this will help to counter the problem of bee declines,” says Miyako. “But importantly, bees and drones should be used together.”

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New honeybee sperm bank racing to halt bee decline

For years, entomologist Brandon Hopkins has argued for the establishment of a germplasm repository for cryopreservation of honey bee semen. Unfortunately, bee semen us very hard to collect and even harder to preserve, but Hopkins found better ways to extract and store their genetic material. Read the rest

Spider vs Bees

Fastbees.net posted video of a large fishing spider hunting bees. As long as it doesn't move too quickly, it can grab the relatively small insects and sneak off with them. But when it gets skittish: game over. [via] Read the rest

Quarter of bumble bee species may soon be endangered in US

Reuters reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes listing the rusty patched bumble bee among America's endangered species.

Though just one of many species of bumble bee, Bombus affinis's sharp decline is a worry to conservationists. About a quarter of bumble bee species face "a risk of extinction."

The agency attributes the decline to a number of factors, including disease, pesticides, climate change and habitat loss.

Bumble bees, as distinguished from domesticated honey bees, are essential pollinators of wildflowers and about a third of U.S. crops, from blueberries to tomatoes, said Sarina Jepsen of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which petitioned the government for protection of the insect.

Bumble bees’ annual economic value to farms is estimated at $3.5 billion, according to experts.

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Bees can sense a flower's electric field

New research shows that bees can recognize flowers by the plants' tiny electric field that differs between species. The electric field bends the tiny hairs on a bee's body, firing neurons located at the base of the hair. From the journal Science:

Such fields—which form from the imbalance of charge between the ground and the atmosphere—are unique to each species, based on the plant’s distance from the ground and shape. Flowers use them as an additional way to advertise themselves to pollinators...

Electric fields can only be sensed from a distance of 10 cm or so, so they’re not very useful for large animals like ourselves. But for small insects, this distance represents several body lengths, a relatively long distance.

"How bees sense a flower’s electric field" (Science)

"Mechanosensory hairs in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) detect weak electric fields" (PNAS)

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