Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Two Awesome Talks by Mike Palmer

I really enjoy listening to Mike Palmer discuss beekeeping. He's been doing it for years, and he's obviously both knowledgeable and thoughtful in his approach. Here are two great talks by him given at the National Honey Show 2014.

The first topic is Keeping Bees in Frozen North America. In this video, he discusses three key factors for successful beekeeping in a cold climate:

  • Suitable bees
  • Population management
  • Timely winter preparations
The first 12 minutes or so of this video, he discusses his beekeeping calendar so that his audience can get an idea of the kind of conditions he deals with in Vermont. However, if you don't find that interesting, you can skip it. The rest of the video, though, was very informative. At least, I picked up all kinds of great tips.

BTW, as Mike was discussing requeening methods, I was reminded of a tip someone gave me last weekend. They said that when one introduces a new queen, it helps to kill the old queen and smoosh her over the new queen's cage before hanging it in the hive. I was told that the pheromones from the old queen all over the new cage will help facilitate acceptance. Obviously, I haven't tried that yet, but I thought that was an interesting idea and figured I'd pass it along.

In this second video, Mike discusses sustainable queen rearing using Brother Adam's method of simultaneously inducing emergency queen rearing and a swarm response.

Ghosts in the Hive

The following video has been in my YouTube queue for quite awhile, but I just finally got around to watching it. In this video, biologist Ricarda Kather gives a lecture entitled "Ghosts in the Hive - Varroa's life cycle inside a Honey Bee Colony" at the National Honey Show 2013. Wow! What an amazing insight into the varroa mite!

Once again, I am just amazed by the intricacies of nature. If I weren't a beekeeper, I would be impressed by the mite's ability to mimic bees and their cleverness in propagating in a colony. Oh, heck, I really am impressed. I may not like mites, but they are quite clever, really. 

Enjoy the show.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Urban Honey -- For Real, This Time

People are always surprised when I tell them that hives can not only be kept in cities, but they actually thrive. The warmth of the city, fewer pesticides/herbicides, and continual blooms from spring to autumn provide bees with a leg up in terms of producing brood and honey.

Here is an excellent TED Talk by Noah Wilson-Rich. He discusses the benefits of bees in cities and how urban beekeeping may be a way to save both the bees and us.

One of the things Noah mentions that really resonated for me is that modern-day children don't experience stepping on bees. I remember being a child and getting stung. In the past 25 years or so, though, it's never even been a thought. I've walked barefoot with abandon, but I can see how there is something wrong with that. There were simply no bees to worry about because they were being killed by chemicals, mites, and loss of habitat. It wasn't until last year when I got a hive that I started seeing bees in the grass (really on clover) again. I can't even begin to express the joy I felt seeing them there.

Here is another video showing Fortnum and Mason's hives in London. This isn't a particularly informative video like Noah's. It doesn't even show TBH's. I'm sharing this because I simply love looking at the hives. They're just gorgeous -- gotta love those skep-like finials!