Friday, March 27, 2009

Bees coming to a park near you!

My aunt sent me this article from the SF Chronicle about a proposal before Berkeley City Council to create bee habitats in public parks by planting native "pollinator-friendly" plants. Concerned by news reports of declining global bee populations, Berkeley wanted to do something to help. Did you know former City Councilwoman Betty Olds was a beekeeper? She was one of the first to support this notion. Mayor Tom Bates also came out in support of it, saying that it won't cost more than the regular landscaping budget.

Some people are concerned about their kids or their picknicks, but as you all know, the bees at CPS are not even noticeable from on campus. They disperse, and although there will be more bees visiting the plants, they won't be attracted to the barbeque or the watermelon like Yellowjackets would be. And many Berkeley residents and parents are looking forward to it. One father of a three year-old in North Berkeley's Codornices Park, said, "bring on the bees. Definitely more people will get stung. Bees are vital to the world, and we need them."

Here is the update from yesterday:

Berkeley to draw bees with plantings in parks
by Carolyn Jones
Thursday, March 26, 2009

The bees are coming to Berkeley.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to create bee habitats in city parks and open spaces by planting "pollinator-friendly" landscaping. The intent is to help pollinators, particularly bees, whose numbers have been rapidly declining worldwide due to habitat loss and pesticides.

Park staff will plant native, flowering plants at least 30 feet from children's play areas, garbage cans and restrooms to minimize the risk of bee stings. Nests will be removed.

The city's gardening superintendent will decide how, when and where the landscaping will be planted, but the plan should get under way within the next few weeks.

New research on CCD

K.O. sent me this interesting article about the connection between pesticide use and CCD. The pesticide Fluvalinate is commonly used against Varroas. Shockingly, the concentration of toxicity has increased dramatically over the past twenty years, and with no new warnings or instructions for use. According to the article, the chemicals are now 300 times more toxic to the honey bees, not to mention the traces that get into honey we consume.
(Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus and electromagnetic radiation from cell phones are also discussed in the article.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Update 2/24

We have rearranged the configuration of the hive so it is easier to keep the ants out. We've also added a new super. A super is a box that beekeepers use for honey only, no larvae. There is a mesh called a queen excluder between the super (on top) and the box below. The mesh has holes big enough for worker bees, but not for the queen since she is larger. I am adding 3 empty frames to that box tomorrow. Those will probably soon be filled with honey.

Here's a picture from flickr of a beekeeper with a queen excluder.

The bees are still suffering from varroa mites. Outside the hive can be spotted a number of dead bees that have been dragged out of the hive. I saw two bees with wing damage from the varroas. Here's an extreme example from flickr.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


The beehive has some chalkbrood, which is a caused by the fungus Ascosphaera apis. It infects larvae that are then killed and shrivel into white chalk-like bits. There is no treatment per se, but there are various techniques used to combat chalkbrood. They include replacing the queen, discarding infected brood comb, providing water with a little clorox, and keeping hives well-ventilated but dry. We aren't at a very drastic stage of chalkbrood right now; that's not our biggest worry.

There is some new larvae in the bottom box (none in the top). The newest generation however is full of varroa mites!!! Bad news. I will put more powdered sugar soon.
Honeybees are Dying Out by amycho90.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bee stages of development

Inside a beehive, there are different types of comb. The brood comb is where the queen lays her eggs. The upper corners of the brood comb will usually have pollen, nectar, or honey. The rest of the cells are used to house bees as they develop from an egg. During the summer, the queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs in one day. The bees go through different stages of development. The term brood refers to the egg stage. The next stage is larvae, a time during which the young bees are fed by other bees. The final stage is the pupae. The bees grow larger at this point and reorient vertically in the cells, spinning a sort of cocoon. The other bees will create cap on the cell. When the bee is fully grown, it emerges from the cell!
Drones are the male bees, produced from unfertilized eggs laid by the queen. Their brood are larger in size.
In this picture, the paler flatter area on the left is capped honey. The large protruding cells are the drone brood. [picture from flickr]
Honey & Drone Brood by chantal foster.

another picture
Worker brood, honey, and pollen by chantal foster.
The nice brown flat cells are the capped brood that are in the pupae stage.

And lastly, another picture of the larvae stage. After the tiny egg stage, the bees look shiny and white and worm-like!