Visiting the Bee Pubs: Part 1

WP_20161105_054In the last two years, I’ve seen a lot of drawings of bees trying to play guitars. They’ve been on posters, on chalkboards, on signs and on flyers but I’ve yet to see a bee that’s succeeding. The guitar is designed for a two-armed human, and a guitarist generally requires the standard-human arrangement of shoulders and elbows. The honeybee lacks these things. And even when the arm arrangement can be satisfactorily depicted with a few lucky pen-strokes, the rear legs are used for standing, and there’s always a leftover set, the pair waggling awkwardly in the middle.

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ONBG meeting, 10th March 2018 – overwintering, pests, crime and apps

Our first meeting of the year was at the Marsh Harrier pub in Oxford: 16 people dropped by to chat.

Discussion ranged over how our hives had fared over winter; floor debris advice for newbees; problems with badgers; Small Hive Beetle; hive thefts; and poisoning from crop sprays.

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How to tell if a hive is alive in winter

Click to zoom

We are having some very late snow for this area. How can you tell, by looking at the outside, if these hives’ bees are alive or not? (Answer below)

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Infrared images of hives in winter

(Ambient: 2C.) Resembling a rocket taking off, the glow below is simply trapped heat in the shadow of the hive, which has not yet radiated away. The bees are clustered above.

I mentioned borrowing an FLIR (heat vision) camera from Jack in an earlier post. He blogged some pictures of his own TBH’s taken with it. Now here is what I saw on a variety of hives belonging to myself and others, at the beginning of winter, when the bees cluster together for warmth.

I had the camera for a couple of days and tried different settings. I realised a couple of things were artefacts of the way I was using the camera. For example it’s pretty low resolution, so if you take a picture from, say, 10 feet away you see a blurred “average” of the heat distribution. But go within 3 feet and suddenly you see bright spots in the wood – hot spots where screws are conducting heat out, and bees will feel colder next to these. It brings home why some people aim to minimise use of screws. Continue reading

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Moving a hive

Picture courtesy of Stuart Cummins

We moved some horizontal Top Bar Hives today, partly because they were a bit visible from the road and there has been an increase in vandalism in this neighbourhood.

There is a well known adage that you must move a hive “less then 3 feet or more than 3 miles or the bees will be unable to find it on returning”. But we moved these hives about 80 metres and used a trick to force the bees to re-orient when they exit: there is a maze of branches in front of the entrances (see picture). The bees can no longer zoom straight out without noticing the hive has moved, they are forced to stop and think! Continue reading

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ONBG meeting, 16th Nov 2017 – insulation, honey and mites

On a winter’s evening a dozen folk gathered at the Victoria Arms in Oxford to discuss, you guessed it, bees and beekeeping.

Jack had brought along the heat-vision FLIR camera he used to photograph his hives’ heat profile in a previous post. Brian and I have borrowed it to see where our hives, which are different styles, lose heat during winter – more on that in a future post.

People brought up some interesting questions and stories… Continue reading

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Another unintended pesticide impact

The Guardian newspaper has recently reported that a common neonicotinoid has a dramatic effect on songbirds at very low doses.

This emphasises how our use of agricultural chemicals can have unintended consequences, and the importance of the Precautionary Principle. Birds aren’t the target species – they’re not even insects! Continue reading

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