Bees have teeth!

So...., after telling people for years that bees only sting, they don't bite, apparently bees can bite, they chomp on parasites and the like, inject their victims with some stuff that paralyses them.

This article below is lifted directly out of the BBC website, I hope they don't mind, and here is a link as well:

The varroa mite is endemic throughout both feral and cultivated honey-bee colonies (...but not here..... yet!).The pests that honey-bees bite include varroa mites as well as wax moth larvae.

Honey-bees are known for their sting, but scientists have now discovered they can also bite.
Bees resort to biting when faced with pests, such as parasitic mites, that are too small to sting.
Close study of the biting behaviour has revealed that they secrete a chemical in their bite that stuns pests so they are easier to eject from a colony.
Tests suggest the chemical could also have a role in human medicine, as a local anaesthetic.
Stun tests
Dr Alexandros Papachristoforou, a biologist at Greece's Aristotle University of Thessaloniki told the BBC honey-bees had previously been seen dealing with pests that lived alongside them in colonies but this had always thought to be part of their grooming behaviour.
"Everybody thought that was it. Full stop," Dr Papachristoforou said. "But that's not the case. It's something totally different and was just there and we could not see it.
"I think we know too many things about the pathology of honey bees," he said. "We are still missing a lot of basic knowledge on their biology and behaviour."

If the population of mites in a hive is left unchecked they can sap the strength of workers, making them much more susceptible to viruses, disease and other debilitating conditions.
Wax moth larvae burrow through the comb in hives gradually destroying the cells where broods are raised and honey stored.
The knock-out effect of the chemical secreted in the honey-bee bite, known as 2-heptanone, was discovered as Dr Papachristoforou and colleagues observed bees dealing with pests.
Dr Papachristoforou recovered wax moth larvae that had been ejected from a hive, assuming the bees had killed them. Instead, he said, the larvae had started wriggling again soon after being ejected.
Before now bees were thought to secrete 2-heptanone as an alarm pheromone to tell other colony members about a potential threat.
However, said Dr Papachristoforou, this had never seemed an entirely satisfactory explanation because 2-heptanone was so volatile that it quickly lost its potency. In addition, he said, bees had at their disposal a much more powerful chemical alarm signal.
To stun pests, the 2-heptanone is injected at the site of the bite a bee inflicts on a mite, moth or larvae.
Early tests suggest 2-heptanone may also find a role in humans as a local anaesthetic. It could be an alternative to well established treatments such as lidocaine that can provoke allergenic reactions in some people.The researchers published their results in the journal Plos One.
"The potential implications of this new research for honey-bees and their interactions with varroa mites and wax moth larvae will need to be looked at in more detail, but the initial results look really interesting," said Giles Budge, senior researcher with the UK's National Bee Unit.
"I think it is amazing that despite all the years of intensive study there are still massive discoveries to be made about fundamental honey-bee physiology such as the ability to paralyse small insects and mites," he said.
Dr Papachristoforou, said the good news about the research was that bees would not inflict any damage on humans if they bit them.
"Humans cannot be bitten by bees," he said. "They have such small mandibles they can only use them against larvae and mites."

....and here's a bee tooth to prove it (lifted of the papers website, linked above):

Figure 2. The honeybee mandible and the result of biting wax moth larvaea) SEM scan of a honeybee mandible. P, the pore from which 2-H is secreted; G, groove; S, spikes; E, edges. b) the opening created in a wax moth larvae exoskeleton after a honeybee bite. 1, 2, and 3 are parts of the mandible that penetrate the corresponding points on the wax moth larvae exoskeleton.

2012 10 28 Baghdad - lazy spring

I pushed my bike over to dad's to check on the girls down Alphington way. beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. A few weeks since I'd checked, and last time they were doing OK, healthy, lots of half-filled frames. I thought if there was only one super on top instead of 2, I'd have harvested by now, but having the second box on cuts me a bit of slack with regard over-crowding (being a trigger for swarming). Lets me be a bit more lazy with my checks too. Turns out it was pretty much the same as last time.

I only had my phone camera, so no shots of the process, just before and after (other than the shot of the bees on Edis' back.)

 This is where I grabbed my phone.... that's a lot of bees, round the back of dads head and upper back. 
Dad didn't know they were there. Its amazing how still they are sometimes, all hell broke loose when I shook them off him, absolutely beserk.

I had made a point of scraping out a few big spoonfuls of the fresh stuff, which is very tasty when fresh and still warm.
Edis below, enjoying a minor harvest.
The way he goes through honey, it'd last the afternoon.

In summary:
- plenty of honey, but unconsolidated, so barely unharvestable.
- healthy number of bees, lots of brood, lots of grubs
- didn't see the queen, but lots of eggs etc.
- One supersedure cell, with a grub in it. Mashed it.
-  No sign of any pests, mould, disease, anything.
- This is the healthiest and strongest hive we have.
- A bit Cranky, they were taking pot shots at dad for the next day or so, while he watered the garden.

2 stings for me, both right forearm, through the suit. 1 for Edis, through his cords.

Sting Tally:This season: 3 so far (Jonas 2, Edis 1)
2011/2012 season: 41 (Jonas 30 Adrian 1 Edis 6 Jazmina 3 Rima 1)

2010 / 2011 season: Heaps
Honey Tally:This season: nil so far
2011/2012 season: 49 Litres
2010 / 2011 season: 34  Litres
That's about 1 sting per Litre.

2012 10 20 Taggerty girls made it through winter

Got up to Adrians on the weekend, for a couple of hours only, enough time to have a quick squiz around his new grape plantation, check out his new shed, and do a bee-check up in nearby Taggerty, where there are still 2 hives. the Buxton Hillbillies ( had died out over winter, they were always a risky proposition, after the way we found them...which left the Utter hive (double box), and Kates (single box, a swarm off Metropolis from last year ).

Another beautiful day at the foot of the Cathedral range. You look down to the valley, everything you see in front is their foraging ground, but nothing much flowering this time of year.

We checked the single box hive first, in case we found honey in the double box one. No such luck...
By the front door, a thick pile of bee corpses.

I'm guessing this is just natural attrition over winter, they die, get taken outside and dropped. In this case they are on the ground, so the bodies dont go far away from where they were dumped.

Some damage to the boxes too, where they sit on the ground. This is one of the Utter boxes, a remnant from Adrians parents beekeeping efforts in the 70's.
You can see where the EmLock was, by the crease.
Big gap. Next time we need to bring a spare box to replace this.

Inside, all good. Not massively filled up, but they seemed to be doing OK. Grubs. Eggs.

And a bunch of cockroaches. We found a couple in this and quite a few in the other box.
And some mould. Not a problem apparently. Does not look great, though.

Love that hex geometry, especially where it goes askew.

 Another roach.

This is looking up at the sun through the frame below, you can see the shadow of the extent of honey on the other side.

Same frame as above.

Roaches, earwigs. We squished probably 20, every one we saw.

This is the old Utter box that is rotted

Something here for everyone.
- empty cells
- capped honey
- uncapped nectar
- grubs
- pollen
- capped brood


Holy crap, swarm cells ahoy.

These hives being where they are, we dont check them very often, so we can be pretty sure they are gonna swarm sometime soon. Not much we can do about it. They have plenty of space in these boxes, so no  overcrowding.  I just hope the next queen is stronger than this one.

The filing clerk, stacking away the pollen.

Here's a grub close to being capped off, this happens to worker grubs at about day 9, they stay in there and pupate until about day 21, when they emerge, clean out their cell, and get to work.

2012 10 14 Springtime in Metropolis

Ahhh.........springtime in Northcote, 
the bees are buzzing,
lots of movement around the hives lately, 
a cloud of workers to and fro all day.
Maybe some honey....?

(using tape and gardening gloves, since I mislaid my gauntlet ones)

We tend to pick our lettuce at night, by torchlight....
that's the flight path, right across the vegie patch.
Metropolis on the left, and the Other
 First, the Other...
Plenty of Honey, but no more than last time. The 2 frames I'd moved up were the same, and the 6 frames around them were still pretty much untouched.

Lots of nectar in the middle box , though, a sign of hope. 
The weather has been gorgeous lately, and there's plenty of blossoming around Northcote, a few of the  Banksia street-trees around here are fairly humming as you walk under them, along the footpath.

Plenty of grubs downstairs.
Check the worker and drone side by side, top right.
The drone looks stumpy and fat, like a size 12 arse in a size 8 bikini.
Here's the classic comparison, though they vary between sub species of Apis Mellifera.

Brood, some of it quite solid

Meanwhile, next door in Metropolis...

plenty of action at the turnstiles.
(That's the Other in the background, sorting itself out again after having been pulled apart and re-assembled.)
 A few bees lurking under the lid

The whole table this hive sits on has been slowly bowing lately, meaning that it sits at a bit of an angle.
If you don't get the gaps between the frames right, or if they are fully glued up with wax between the frames, you get voids, which the girls dutifully fill up with random burr-comb.

 Looks awesome to see their freestyle efforts, but I cut it off, and put it back straight.
Sorry, girls.

Taking the queen excluder off, they had bridged across with brood comb, so when I took it off it exposed a section through their brood.

 See the eggs in there?

those little grains of rice..... 3 of them...

scooping them back in before closing the lid

some beautiful new white comb.

I sat down for about ten minutes after, and was constantly being harassed by a squadron of pissed off bees. I thought I'd wait till they backed off, but they didn't.
Lately they dive bomb me occasionally when I'm in the yard, for no good reason. Kranky.
This one on my glove was attacking the camera.

No stings yet.
Sting Tally:This season: nil so far
2011/2012 season: 41 (Jonas 30 Adrian 1 Edis 6 Jazmina 3 Rima 1)

2010 / 2011 season: Heaps
Honey Tally:This season: nil so far
2011/2012 season: 49 Litres
2010 / 2011 season: 34  Litres
That's about 1 sting per Litre.



below  is a link to a vid that includes an opinion that city honey is better than country honey, sounds like a city beekeeper hyping up their own work to me, but in any case, an interesting look at urban beekeeping. The situation they are talking about is keeping bees in an urban setting, New York, New Yoik, somewhere near the docks??.

(they mention they get $40 per pound for this honey, Incredible!)

The premise is that in the city, most trees are ornamental, therefore don't have as many pesticides and fungicides inflicted on our  little bee friends.

I gotta say, here in lush Northcote, Melbourne, Australia,  my girls have no problems finding nectar and pollen, the surrounding area is full of backyards  full of flowers, trees (native and foreign), and growies of all varieties (other than tropical plants...), at least at this time of year. Herbicides and pesticides - I'd say there is probably a greater concentration of this type of thing than out in the countryside. Not sure, just guessing. I think about some of the stuff in my shed, tomato spray, rose spray.... i have no idea what else, but there are plenty of people who use 'roundup' around here, (glyphosate) and who knows, maybe even the nicotinoid treatments  that they say are a cause of CCD (colony collapse disorder) in the U.S.

Anyway, make up your own mind.
It's a good look at some top- bar hives too.

Heres the link to the video, with an unfortunate Advertisement you have to sit through first...,32068,1801148971001_2122836,00.html

and here's a few screen grabs....

(hey, how come these cool guys are in New York wear the same daggy gear as us...?)

(some hive painting tips here...)

(brave New Yoekers getting up close and personal...)


Hey there,
here's the first of two interesting bits of news from the world of apiary I've come across,
this one is a bit disturbing....

It is totally lifted off the TIME website, I have no idea of copyright and so on, so I've offended anyone by copying this onto my blog, let me know.Here's the website:

Since August, beekeepers near the town of Ribeauville, in the northeastern region of Alsace, have been reporting their bees are producing blue and green honey, according to Reuters. And they’ve traced the cause back to a biogas plant that processes waste from an M&Ms factory.
Bees are apparently picking up vibrantly colored, sugary waste from the plant, operated by the company Agrivalor some 2.5 miles away from their apiaries. A statement from Agrivalor that appeared in the French newspaper Le Monde said the company would clean its containers and store waste in airtight containers to prevent bees from reaching it.
“We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it,” Philippe Meinrad, co-manager of Agrivalor, told Reuters.
France generates 18,330 tons of honey per year, making it one of the largest honey producers in the European Union. In Alsace alone, about 2,400 beekeepers manage 35,000 colonies, which produce about 1,000 tons of the stuff per year. However, France hasn’t been spared by the largely unexplained decrease in the world bee population in recent years, Reuters reported.
Gill Maclean, a spokesperson for the British Beekeepers’ Association, told the BBC that the harsh winter of 2011-2012 may have affected bees’ ability to forage. This could be a reason why the bees sought out the alternate sugar.
“Bees are clever enough to know where the best sources of sugar are, if there are no others available,” Maclean told the BBC.
Rest assured: Consumers won’t see blue honey on store shelves anytime soon. Alain Frieh, president of the apiculturists’ union, told Reuters the only similarity between regular honey and their bees’ M&M-tainted byproducts might be taste.
“For me, it’s not honey,” Frieh told Reuters. “It’s not sellable.”

Read more: