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Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

Drone congregation areas revisited – podcast

 

Chris Park and Patrick Randall of the Living Beeing podcast

Vita’s blogger has had a long time interest in drone congregation areas (DCAs) and has reported some of his thoughts and findings on this blog.

A new podcast series, Living Beeing, asked to interview with him, so he invited them along to Selborne Common, in Hampshire, England, to the location of the first documented evidence of a DCA by the Rev Gilbert White, the pioneering 18th century naturalist.

It was a perfect afternoon, just one day before the 300th anniversary of the Rev White’s birth. Perhaps the drones realised that and put on a stunning performance — even before a queen pheromone lure was hoisted — buzzing loudly at the same spot that White had reported his mysterious finding in 1792, in the last year of his life. He never knew what the sound was — but we do now.

The podcast is here.

And some videos of DCAs are here.

Pollen varies in quality

Here’s a selection of pollens gathered by bees in southern England in May 2020.

The yellow is oilseed rape (canola).

Brick red is horse chestnut.

Blue is phacelia (grown for game birds).

That’s quite a selection, but all pollen isn’t of the same quality. And it does deteriorate over time.

But whatever the season there is sustenance for bees from Vita:

VitaFeed Nutri

VitaFeed Power.

 

 

World’s video wiki features Vita

The world’s video wiki, Wiki.ezvid.com, has featured Vita Bee Health’s contribution to honey bee health and conservation.

Its special video page contains lots of interesting bee facts, a TedX video talk by Elaine Evans and an anaylsis of how a bee becomes a queen.

And did you know there is a group of Moray Beekeeping Dinosaurs? Follow the link  to find out

A tough year for many beekeepers

Source: USDA, public domain

Reports from around the world indicate that 2019 has been a tough year for many beekeepers.

In Chile, a severe decade-long drought in parts of the country has been devastating for some beekeepers with one reported to have lost half his hives … “spring rains once led to fields of dandelion flowers in Casablanca, a town on the Chilean Pacific coast. Now, there is just dry earth…

’At the end of winter, bees need flowers to grow and make honey,” [Pablo Alvarez]  told Reuters reporters. No flowers means no food, he added.” More at VOA news.

In eastern Australia, bush fires have taken a toll on all sorts of wildlife and beekeepers have often been the first to see the devastation. At least one beekeeper has arranged counselling for his young workers who have been traumatised by what they have seen. “The fires were that hot in places that some beekeepers, who have a fairly good understanding of their local bush, don’t believe those trees will be flowering or producing nectar and pollen for the bees for at least 20 years and in some cases they don’t believe it’ll be in their lifetime,” Stephen Targett president of New South Wales Apiarists Association told Australia’s ABC News.

In Europe, unpredictable weather has also blighted beekeeping as Phys.org reported:

Italy’s main agricultural union Coldiretti said 2019 has been a “black year”, with “a harvest almost halved” from the 23,300 tonnes of honey collected in 2018. More than 1000 extreme weather events were reported – up 50% on 2018.

In France, it’s expected to be “the worst on record”, according to the National Union of French Beekeeping (UNAF), with “fewer than 9,000 tonnes”—almost a quarter of the crop harvested in the 1990s.

In Spain, the harvest has been poor since 2015, with a drop of 5.2% in 2017 and a 2018 season which was “not up to expectations”, according to the country’s agriculture ministry.

Portugal has had fierce forest fires, especially amongst its (plentiful) eucalyptus trees which burn easily. Portuguese fire scientists told National Geographic that the only way to solve the problem is by people valuing forests as they once did and use them “for pasturing sheep and goats, or beekeeping, tourism, or small-scale biomass energy generation”.

 

 

Vita hosts free showing of Honeyland in Basingstoke

Wednesday 4 December 2019

7pm for 7.30pm

at Basingstoke College of Technology

Register for free tickets

Vita Bee Health in conjunction with Basingstoke College of Technology is hosting a free showing of the recently released and highly acclaimed film Honeyland. It is playing in very few cinemas around the country, but here is a chance to see it in Basingstoke.

“In this terrific documentary shot in North Macedonia, a woman tending wild hives is rattled by her new, disruptive neighbours.” The Guardian

In a deserted Macedonian village, Hatidze, a 50-something woman, trudges up a hillside to check her bee colonies nestled in the rocks. Serenading them with a secret chant, she gently manoeuvres the honeycomb without netting or gloves. Back at her homestead, Hatidze tends to her handmade hives and her bedridden mother, occasionally heading to the capital to market her wares. One day, an itinerant family installs itself next door, and Hatidze’s peaceful kingdom gives way to roaring engines, seven shrieking children, and 150 cows. Yet Hatidze welcomes the camaraderie, and she holds nothing back—not her tried-and-true beekeeping advice, not her affection, not her special brandy. But soon Hussein, the itinerant family’s patriarch, makes a series of decisions that could destroy Hatidze’s way of life forever.

 

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