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New Harvard Study Proves Why The Bees Are All Disappearing

May 20, 2014 in , ,

Well its official, neonicotinoids are killing bees at an exponential rate:

I think the last paragraph of the above article says it all really. The demand and greed for larger crops creates a much more damaging type of farming. Again and again money is at the root of it but would you do it differently? Ask yourself if you farmed land that would make you £100,000 a year if farmed organically or £500,000 if you used pesticides what would you do? Greed and wanting more seems to be ingrained in us from an early age these days. Are we losing sight of what’s important and beautiful in this world or is it already lost?

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“British” Honey Harvest Devastated

October 31, 2012 in , ,

The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has announced the results of their survey of beekeepers honey yeilds. Many experienced beekepers have descrbed 2012 as their “most difficult beekeeping year ever”.

The figures are disturbing with the average drop in yeild being 72%! So from an average of 30 pounds of honey down to 8 pounds this year. Thats absolutely huge and I would expect that the price of British honey to rise considerabley.

So whats caused this massive drop in honey yeild. Well 88% of the beekeepers surveyed blamed the poor summer; a lot of rain and relatively cold weather being the main factors. This poor summer may have longer term ramifications as queens may not have been able to produce enough brood to see the colonies through the Winter months.

The BBKA even issued an unprecidented mid-summer warning to check stores and feed them if necessary to prevent starvation.

Apparently London beekeepers faired the worst and Northern Ireland the best but still suffering a drop of 50%.

Check out the full report from the BBKA here.

So now that Ive covered the main story and issue Id also like to point out that as far as Im aware Scotland is still part of Britain, so how can this survey be “British” when not one Scottish beekeeper was surveyed? As a Scottish beekeeper Im slightly offended that for some reason we have been deemed not important enough to talk too. I now wonder how many of the 2712 beekeepers surveyed where actually English. Id really like to know that ratio as I suspect it could be verging on an English survey.

Does this affect the validity of this survey some what? The cynic in me feels like its a way of creating a bit of media hysteria to drum up donations to the adopt a beehive initiative the BBKA run. Which is advertised in the survey pdf document.
Are you a Scottish beekeeper feeling slightly left out? Even if there are no Scottish beekeeper reports, the BBKA have only survey a very small percentage of their total membership to come up with these results. Infact its less than 9% of their total membership that have been surveyed. Their total membership can only bee a small number of the total beekeepers in the UK anyway…especially as it seems they have no Scottish members!
However the results are still disturbing for those beekeepers surveyed. Where your honey yeilds down this year?

Please let us know!

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Help save our bees from Bayers pesticides! 24 hours to act!

April 27, 2012 in , ,

The excellent organisation Avaaz is running a 24 hours campaign to put pressure on the company Bayer. The campaign aims to make Bayer stop selling or Governments to ban a select group of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Bayer has lobbied hard to keep these poisons on the market but already four european countries have banned them.

Bayer shareholders will vote on a motion that could stop these toxic chemicals in just 24 hours. Let’s all act now and shame the shareholders to stop killing bees, you can do this via the Avvaz website:

Click here to send a message to the shareholders of Bayer via Avaaz 


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Brand new site for Honey Beekeeping

January 13, 2012 in , ,

Well a bit behind schedule and not completely finished but the new site has been launched anyway! There has been some struggles, it definitely was not easy transfering all the data from the old site. However, I think most of the info has survived intact and I will be reviewing it all and adding more as I go (bare with me on that, and if you have anything you wish to add to the pages then just email me). Read the rest of this entry →

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Community Bee Group organise outreach day

July 4, 2011 in , ,

The Bungay Community Bee Group (BCB) as well as keeping bees
helps with education and engagement. The Bungay Bee Hive Day on Sunday
24th July is the biggest outreach event BCB have organised so far. At
this celebration of ‘all things bee’ with there will be a full
programme of talks, walks and ongoing activities for adults and
children, with a focus on insect pollination, biodiversity and what
each of us can do to help restore balance in our overstretched
environment. Read the rest of this entry →

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Abruzzo Tornareccio Honey

June 27, 2011 in , ,

Abruzzo is the region in a central Italy, home to three protected national parks with most spectacular mountain- and sea landscapes. Due to the climate, altitude and protected status you can find a wealth of trees old beech woods, mixed with Turkey oaks and Austrian pines form most of the forests, with maple, mountain ash, fir, yew, laburnum, hazel, wild pear, wild cherry and apple trees also present. The area is not very well known to travellers, but is very popular with Italians itself. We think they are very good in keeping their best secret holiday spots. The area is very popular for all kind of sports, trekking, horse riding, photography and fishing.

Read the rest of this entry →

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To Save Bees Humans Must Change

April 22, 2011 in ,

According to a recent United Nations report, the potentially disastrous decline in bees, impacting the vital pollinating element in food production for the growing global population, is likely to continue unless humans dramatically change their ways. The United Nations define these “ways” as everything from insecticides to air pollution and go on to say:

“The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st centurey.” UN Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner said “The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the worlds foods, more than 70 are pollinated by bees.” Read the rest of this entry →

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Personal Experiences Story by Jalboh

February 17, 2011 in ,

Leaving my ‘Beginner’s’ series for a little longer, (or maybe for good??) this month I’ve submitted another of my ‘Personal Experiences’ stories.

Once, when I was young and just starting to become interested in bees, or rather, started thinking about all the money I could make if I WAS interested in bees, my dad was asked to take some bees out of someone’s roof. A task he had done many times before and had got to the point where he could (generally) do it quite quickly and with little fuss. This, however, depended on the weather and time of day etc.

At the time he was the postmaster in quite an elite neighbourhood. He was always very chatty and had a good old chin-wag with most of the people who came into the post office. He targeted the ‘snobs’ and often took wagers with colleagues that he’d get them chatting and laughing within a week, month, or whatever. Anyway, eventually he became known as ‘The Bee Man’ by those who didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t remember his name.

He often had people, who had heard of his interest in bees, come around to pick his brains on the subject. One of these was our local postman, a young (at the time) man 10-15 years older than myself. On this occasion, when my dad was asked to remove the bees from the roof , the young lad came along for the experience. He had quite long hair (a style that was just beginning to become popular at the time). My dad used to call him ‘Bushpig’ because he had a rather rough, clumsy air about him.

A woman had come into the post office and told my dad that they were going to have a very formal dinner on Saturday evening and were expecting some important business associates of her husband to be there and, as the bees were attracted by the light, they would be a nuisance, so could my dad please come and get rid of them. As I was quite young, my dad was glad of Bushpig’s help.

Saturday came and we all set out on our rescue mission. We were led, through the dining room, to the trapdoor in the passage. Remembering that, in South Africa, terrace houses are found in the older, poorer areas and most houses, even very posh ones, are single storey (‘bungalows’ over here). The table in the lounge was quite long and had about a dozen places set with the best silver and cut-glass wine glasses, flowers and silver serviette rings and more other things than I’d ever seen before.

To be on the safe side we went in and out through the kitchen so as not to mess up the dining room. The whole job went very smoothly and quickly and without incident – until Bushpig’s foot slipped. He missed the rafter and went through the ceiling landing right in the middle of the dining room table!

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Bee Safe, Not Sorry

January 10, 2011 in

Silently, billions of bees are dying off and our entire food chain is in danger. Bees don’t just make honey, they are a giant, humble workforce, pollinating 90% of the plants we grow.

Multiple scientific studies fault one group of toxic pesticides for their rapid demise, and bee populations have soared in four European countries that have banned these products. But powerful chemical companies are lobbying hard to keep selling this poison. Our best chance to save bees now is to push the US and EU to ban this deadly product — their action is critical and will have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

We have no time to lose — the debate is raging about what to do. This is not just about saving bumble bees, this is about survival. Let’s build a giant global buzz calling for the EU and US to outlaw these killer chemicals and save our bees and our food. Sign the emergency petition now and send it onto to everyone and we’ll deliver it to key decision makers:

Bees are vital to life on earth — every year pollinating plants and crops with an estimated $40bn value, over one third of the food supply in many countries. Without immediate action to save bees we could end up with no fruit, no vegetables, no nuts, no oils and no cotton.

Recent years have seen a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations — some bee species are now extinct and others are at just 4% of their previous numbers. Scientists have been scrambling for answers. Some studies claim the decline may be due to a combination of factors including disease, habitat loss and toxic chemicals. But leading independent research has produced strong evidence blaming neonicotinoid pesticides. This has led to beekeepers and scientists in France, Italy, Slovenia and even Germany, where the main manufacturer Bayer is based, already pushing successfully for bans of one of these bee killers. Meanwhile, Bayer continues to export its poison across the world.

This issue is now coming to the boil as major new studies have confirmed the scale of this problem. If we can get European and US decision-makers to take action, others will follow. It won’t be easy. A leaked document shows that the US Environmental Protection Agency knew about the pesticide’s dangers, but ignored them. The document says Bayer’s “highly toxic” product is a “major risk concern to non target insects (honey bees)”.

We need to make our voices heard to counter Bayer’s very strong influence on policy makers and scientists in both the US and the EU where they fund the studies and sit on policy bodies. The real experts — the beekeepers and farmers — want these deadly pesticides prohibited until and unless we have solid, independent studies that show they are safe. Let’s support them now. Sign the petition below, then forward this email:

We can no longer leave our delicate food chain in the hands of research run by the chemical companies and the regulators that are in their pockets. Banning this pesticide will move us closer to a world safe for ourselves and the other species we care about and depend on

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Some Practices in Beekeeping

November 22, 2010 in

Not all the things beekeepers do are always done the same way. Some beekeepers may tackle a task in one way while another beekeeper does it a different way. Sometimes a new beekeeper will not listen to a more experienced beekeeper and he pays the price for it. (This will be the topic of a future article). Other times there are different ways, one just as good as the other, of achieving the same result.

I have kept less than 50 hives as a hobby. I have also worked on a commercial bee farm, running over 2,000 hives. The methods used by the hobbyist just could not work on a commercial scale, and methods used by a commercial beekeeper would be considered ‘poor practice’ by the hobbyist. There are times, however, when, due to time constraints, using some of the ‘tricks’ of commercial beekeepers, could help solve a problem that the hobbyist may have.

I have been putting up posts aimed at beginners so far. However, I’d like to add some, from time to time, which are not necessarily instructive, but may just be informative or (some may find) ‘interesting’. This is one of the latter. Hopefully some of you will find it interesting.

An example of what a hobbyist would consider, not ‘poor practice’ but ‘shocking practice’ is the way the commercial beekeeper robs his hives. Let us look at how the hobbyist should do it. First of all he should take the ‘softly-softly’ approach.

Quietly open the hive, giving it a single puff of smoke before removing a frame. Inspect it to see if it is ready to be removed. If so, gently shake, knock or brush the bees off the frame and place it into the super he has brought along. Replace the frame with an empty one and go on to the next frame. Give the hive another puff of smoke, just to keep the bees subdued and carry on till you’ve taken off all the honey you can. Close the hive and go on to the next one.

The commercial beekeeper might have half a dozen assistants. He will go ahead giving the bees so much smoke they will think there is a forest fire raging round them. He will remove the lid, have a look at a couple of frames and then crack loose the supers. The first assistant will then come along behind him and bang all the bees out of the supers, dump the supers on the ground next to the hive and move on to the next one. Two more assistants will carry the full supers to the truck and come back with empty supers, dumping them onto the hive. There will be two on the truck, one stacking the full supers at one end of the truck and another handing down empty supers from the other end of the truck. The sixth assistant comes along at the end of the line, squaring off the empty supers which have been placed onto the hive and replacing the lid. Job done. This method means you have 6 – 8 hives open at the same time. There is total chaos, banging and shouting in the camp and, needless to say, this would be suicidal to try this in the daytime (with the African bee, anyway). We would rob at night using miner’s helmets with lamps (torches) attached. That way you are contending with only the hive you are working on.

This had it’s problems. Sometimes queens would be killed and you’d come back to a vastly depleted hive at the next visit. Other times you’d bring queens back to the honey house. Next day you’d find clusters of bees hanging from the eaves of the honey house. The bees that were brought back attaching themselves to the queens that had been brought back. We would then hive them and start them off as new swarms.

These were just part of the hazards of commercial beekeeping. But when you are robbing 5 – 6 camps a night, each with 20 – 30 hives and you are bringing back 200 – 250 supers of honey, the hobbyist’s method just could not do the job.

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