Meeting Reports

The next meeting of East Devon Beekeepers can be found HERE.

Reports of previous meetings can be selected from the list under Recent Posts on the left.

Report of April meeting 2019

Dance Like No-one’s Watching – The role of honeybee communication in colony well being

A talk by Lynne Ingrams

Lynne, who is a Master Beekeeper, explored the Why? and How? of the many different forms of communication between bees, how they respond to their environment, and how this affects the ability of the colony to survive and thrive.

The honeybee colony is often referred to as a super-organism, which means an organism consisting of many individual organisms. The term describes a social unit of animals such as honey bees, bumble bees and ants, which have highly organized division of labour, and where individuals are not able to survive by themselves for any length of time.

Why do bees need to communicate?

There may be 60-70,000 bees in a small enclosed space, so there is a need to operate efficiently. There is also a need to respond swiftly to changing threats and opportunities. Ideally, actions need to be coordinated.

Information flow within the bee

The two main systems for communication within the bee are the nervous system and the endocrine system. The nervous system works very quickly with electrical messages passing to and from the brain to other parts of the bee. The endocrine system produces hormones, which are chemical messages. These are produced in cells or glands in one part of the body and affect cells in other parts of the organism. Thus they may be slower to act compared to nerve impulses.

Information flow within the colony

Because of bees’ mobility they can use dance language, trophalaxis and messenger bees to convey information. Bees also produce pheromones that act on other bees through the hive atmosphere (see below). An example would be the sting pheromone which can produce a rapid response.

Division of labour

Queens and drones each have their own jobs in the colony. Workers, however, progress through a series of physiological changes to their bodies as they grow older, enabling them to sequentially act as nest cleaners, larval feeders, queen feeders, honey and nectar processors, wax makers, guards and lastly, foragers. This provides flexibility and a rapid response to changing situations.

How do bees respond to changes around them?

The colony relies on indirect stimulae of the shared environment and will respond accordingly. Thus if the temperature rises to a dangerous level more bees will be recruited to forage for water. Cold weather will produce a clustering response to protect the brood.

Lynne talked about the ‘technologies’ available to the bees within the superorganism. Thus scout bees recruiting house bees to a good nectar-producing flower will use dances, trophalaxis, antennation, vibration and scent. During swarming they will use pheromones, dances, vibration and piping.

Pheromones

Probably the best known is the scent of the queen which promotes colony cohesion. Workers produce Nasanov pheromone, the ‘come hither’ signal, and the alarm pheromone meaning ‘come and help’. Drones produce their own pheromone used in DCAs and worker brood pheromone inhibits development of worker ovaries as well as stimulating pollen collection.

Food Regulation

Collection of nectar, pollen and water needs to be an efficient, coordinated operation with appropriate division of labour between foragers and storers/receivers. Nectar, for example, is supply driven. Ease of unloading back at the hive dictates what happens next. Too long (50 sec+), and the forager will do a tremble dance to recruit more receivers. A very quick response (less than 20 sec) and the forager will perform a waggle dance to recruit more foragers. An intermediate response time will produce a return to foraging.

There is also a stop signal used to decrease recruitment of foragers when it takes too long to unload. The returning bee will head butt waggle dancers and ‘pipe’, causing them to ‘freeze’. Watch out for this behaviour in your hives!

Another interesting behaviour you might see is the dorso-ventral abdominal vibration or DVAV. This signal is used to recruit non-foragers to forage when there is a long period of flow or a new flow after a dearth. New recruits either go to the dance floor to watch waggle dancers or fly direct to the forage if previously visited.

Pollen regulation within the colony is demand driven. Nurse bees consume pollen and produce protein rich food for foragers. A plentiful supply of high protein quality will tend to inhibit pollen collection whereas fewer feeds or lower protein quality will tend to stimulate pollen collection.

Water regulation is also demand driven, for example when temperatures are high. The response is to recruit unemployed foragers to increase water collection without affecting nectar collection.

Communication within swarming

On the day of the swarm the workers are prompted by a piping signal to warm their wing muscles in the last hour before setting off. Just before setting off, the colony is activated into flight by a few bees performing buzzing runs in the hive. The swarm then settles into a cluster nearby to check they still have the queen, detectable by her pheromones. Nest site selection is arrived at by competing waggle dancers and when consensus is reached the colony lifts off with more piping signals and the scout bees guide the mass by buzzing runs through the moving swarm to the new nest. Finally, bees will be seen at the entrance fanning Nasanov pheromone to guide the stragglers in.

There are many more ways in which bees communicate and probably just as many that we have yet to learn about!

Lynne gave two references:
The Super-organism – Bert Hölldobler & E.O.Wilson
The Wisdom of the Hive – Tom Seeley

Report of March Meeting 2019

Report of March meeting 2019 – A talk by Brigit Strawbridge

Bees: Importance of diversity and relationships with flowering plants

Brigit began by saying she intended covering ALL bees, not just honey bees, as well as other pollinators, in order to show the importance of diversity in plant ↔ bee relationships.

To put things in perspective there are roughly:

320,000 flowering plant species worldwide,

more than 300,000 pollinating animal species

and 25,000 bee species.

In the UK our pollinators include:

59 butterfly species,

2,500 moths,

7,000 flies,

9,000 wasps,

4,000 beetles and

270 species of bees.

‘Indicator Species’

Ashy mining bee
Ashy mining bee, Andrena cineraria *

The importance of bees became apparent when Brigit explained that about a third of our food and beverage producing plants are pollinated by bees and that up to 80% of flowering plants are dependent on bees for reproduction. No wonder that bees are regarded as a key ‘indicator species’. The knock on effect of anything affecting bees will soon be felt in the rest of the environment.

What is a bee?

From Brigit’s photos we learned that bees range in size from Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto), about 38mm long, to a tiny solitary bee the size of a midge! Worker bumble bees in the UK can be up to 24mm.

Briefly, the life cycle of a bumble bee starts with the emergence of the fertilised queen in the spring. She feeds on nectar and starts building a nest. She provides pollen and nectar for the developing young workers who will take over the duties of colony maintenance, leaving the queen free to concentrate on egg laying. Later in the year the queen lays drone eggs instead of worker eggs, followed by fertile female eggs. The males leave the nest and move to other areas while the queens mate and find a crevice to hibernate over winter.

Bee decline

Causes of bee decline in recent years can be largely attributed to habitat loss and pesticides. Further damage is being caused by climate change, invasion by non-native species and pollution. All of these effects reduce biodiversity and the ability of ecosystems to survive and thrive.

Cross pollination

Pollen on the scopa
Pollen on the scopa *
Pollen baskets
Pollen baskets *

Cross pollination is the key to diversity of the flowering plants which have been evolving alongside the insect world for the last few tens of millions of years. So we see a range of characteristics in bees enabling them to take advantage of the numerous niches in the plant world. UK bumble bees, for example, have a proboscis length of 15-20mm whereas the honey bee proboscis is only 6mm.

Pollen collection methods vary between species. We are familiar with the pollen baskets of honey bees but red mason bees will ‘buzz’ on a flower to dislodge pollen, which sticks to the hairs on its abdomen, called the scopa. Sometimes, if the proboscis is not long enough, buff tailed bumble bees will cut a hole in the corolla to reach nectar and pollen, a process called larceny.

Biodiversity facts

98% of wild flower meadows have disappeared in the last century.

Neonicotinoids persist in the environment and pass into the soil and water courses. From here they are reabsorbed into plants, pass into nectar and pollen, and end up affecting pollinators. The toxic mix of pesticides and fungicides affects the ability of bees to ferment bee bread which is essential to their existence.

What can we do?

  • Don’t tidy your garden too much. Leave heaps of ‘rubbish’ for bees to nest in.
  • Make or buy ‘Bee Hotels’. Keep them clean.
  • Plant for a succession of flowering plants all through the year. Brigit’s list plus a few extras – mahonia, crocus, aconite, celandine, snowdrops, hellebores, dandelion, flowering currant, pulmonaria, vipers bugloss, nepeta, borage, wild marjoram, Michaelmas daisies, sedum, ivy, heathers.
    Don’t forget the trees and shrubs – viburnum , mimosa, camellias, sarcococca, skimmia.
  • Plant wild flower seed mixes for meadows if you have room.
Male white tailed bumble bee
Male white tailed bumble bee – with moustache *

Recommended reference books:

Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland – Steven Falk

Plants for Bees – Kirk and Howes (available to East Devon members from the branch library)

* All images © Brigit Strawbridge

Report of February Meeting 2019

Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) – A talk by Clare Densley, Manager of Buckfast Abbey Apiaries

What is CBPV?
CBPV mainly attacks adult bees and causes two forms of ‘‘paralysis’’ symptoms. The most common form is characterised by an abnormal trembling of the body and wings, an inability to fly leading to crawling on the ground, bloated abdomens, and dislocated wings. The other form is identified by the presence of hairless, shiny black bees that are attacked and rejected by guard bees at the entrance to the colony. Both forms of symptoms can be seen in bees from the same colony.

Diagnosis of CBPV

Bees infected with CBPV
Bees infected with CBPV  *

The virus multiplies to millions within the bee affecting most organs with little chance of the individual bee surviving. In addition to the signs above you may find, on the top bars, slow, slightly shaky bees which do not react to smoke.
Check all the symptoms before deciding the cause of dead bees inside and/or outside the hive. Do not assume that many dead bees means pesticide poisoning. CBPV is, as its name suggests, a chronic problem. Not all bees will die at once, stress can accelerate the spread of infection or improving conditions can cause it to clear up.

In Clare’s experience queens often seems to remain unaffected and can carry on laying as long as they are well fed. This has also been noted by Giles Budge. Advice from older books and the NBU suggest re-queening with a queen from a less susceptible strain of bee. Clare found that re-queening made no difference to a colony which was suffering badly. Also removing a queen from an infected colony and introducing her to a healthy colony did not cause disease to develop.

What is a virus?

Hairless, shiny bees
Hairless, shiny bees  *

A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms. Viruses are basically parasites. They invade an organism, take over their cells and turn them into factories for producing more viruses. There are 23+ viruses that affect honey bees. Viruses normally range from 30 to 100 nanometres (1 nanometre = 1 millionth of a millimetre).

How does CBPV infect bees?
Infection often initiates when the colony is stressed (overcrowding, nutritional stress, but not via varroa infestation). Usually passed from bee to bee with a few virus particles entering the cuticle where hairs are broken off. By comparison, transmission by feeding requires hundreds of virus particles.

CBPV can also infect some ant species which act as a reservoir in the wild.

Drifting has been implicated in spreading the disease between colonies.

How does the virus act?
Infected bees contain millions of viral particles, half of which concentrate in the head causing the symptoms associated with the nervous system. Many more accumulate in the hind gut adding to viral load inside the hive.

‘Good’ gut bacteria are important in bee health, helping to fight pathogens by blocking entry into bee cells. Good nutrition is therefore essential for fighting the disease.

Treating CBPV

Bee with the virus
Bee with the virus *

The NBU recommends that in strong colonies showing signs of CBPV, beekeepers ensure there is plenty of room by adding supers or an extra brood box and also that colonies are well fed.

Clare doses the bees with Varromed (formally Hive Clean) right from the outset. This seems to activate not only the grooming process but also seems to encourage the bees to clear out their dead.

Infected colonies may be short of readily available food due to a lack of foragers and will benefit from feeding direct to the comb in the brood area. Spray or pour liquid feed onto an empty brood frame and put it next to brood. Dribble syrup onto the bees as well. These methods work better than feeders.

Clare uses garlic powder and probiotic capsule powder added to the syrup which prompts an immediate feeding response. See below for Clare’s recipes for a Fondant Recipe for Bees and a Garlic Syrup for Bees

Clean up dead bees inside and outside the hive.

Don’t overcrowd your apiaries. If hives are badly infected, set up a new apiary and move the affected hives.

Practice good apiary hygiene.

A mixture of normal and affected bees

* Images courtesy of The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Crown Copyright

Clare’s Fondant Recipe for Bees
Ingredients
Icing sugar- 1kg
Water- 100 ml
Garlic powder (optional)- 1tsp
Honey or invert sugar (ambrosia)- a dashMethod
Empty the icing sugar into a clean washing up bowl and add the garlic powder and honey or ambrosia.
Add the water and mix with your hands until you are able to knead the mixture like dough.
Put into a greaseproof wrapping or a plastic bag so that it doesn’t dry out.
Place over the feed hole on the crown board of the hive.
Clare’s Garlic Syrup for BeesMethod
Make up 2:1 sugar syrup (or use Ambrosia)
2 heaped teaspoons of pure garlic powder (not garlic salt) should be placed in a large mixing jug.
Add a tiny bit of syrup so that you can mix it to a paste (as you would cocoa or custard powder).
Then dilute this mixture with a little more syrup.
Stir thoroughly so that it all amalgamates.
Do this again.
Continue this process until the mixture is liquid enough to pour freely.
When you get to this point you can add more syrup until you have 5 litres in all.
Mix thoroughly and pour the solution into bottles or a canister.

With thanks to Clare Densley for sharing her recipes for use in combating CBPV.

 

Report of the January 2019 joint winter meeting with West Dorset

Report of January 2019 joint meeting with West Dorset
The Accidental Apitherapist. A talk by Dr Gerry Brierley

Gerry started off by relating her experiences after suffering from Lyme disease, an infection transmitted by ticks. Standard treatment with antibiotics was not entirely successful. After a chance meeting with an ex BBKA President she attended a bee venom workshop and decided to try the treatment on herself.

3 years and several thousand stings later she is now clear of the disease. This experience has sparked an interested in apitherapy and what bee-related products can do for us.

Apitherapy can be defined as “The use of honeybee hive products for therapeutic and pharmacological purposes”.

Bee Venom.

Nearly 400 compounds have been identified in bee venom, among them many physiologically active compounds such as the hyaluronidase enzyme which breaks down cell structures. Bee venom therapy for desensitization is widely used under medical supervision with standardised doses and is not recommended for home therapy.

The product we as beekeepers are most familiar with is:
Honey

Honey processing
Honey processing

The healing and curative properties of honey have been known for a very long time. The Sumerians prescribed honey in 3000BC and many cultures have used honey for treating wounds and burns. The source of this healing ability is the presence of glucose oxidase, an enzyme secreted by bees, which on contact with skin produces hydrogen peroxide which is a powerful sterilising agent.

In addition, some plants produce nectar containing antimicrobial substances which carry over into the honey. Manuka honey is a good example of this.

Honey has one other property beneficial for healing. The high concentration of sugars is hygroscopic, meaning it will absorb moisture when exposed to atmosphere. When used in wound dressings the honey draws excess fluids from wounds helping to reduce the bacterial load on the immune system.

Gamma irradiated (sterile) honey is used by the medical profession for many wound healing applications, among them control of superbugs such as MRSA.

Pollen and Bee Bread

Pear blossom pollen
Pear blossom pollen

Pollen brought back to the hive is packed into cells in the brood chamber and undergoes changes while stored. It is then called bee bread. Not surprisingly the medicinal properties of honey are reflected by bee bread. It also contains all the essential nutrients for life such as proteins, minerals and vitamins. It is commonly used as a nutritional supplement, either fresh, dried or freeze dried, put in smoothies or sprinkled on food.

Propolis

The 150 or so compounds found in propolis are derived from plant resins and waxes as well as pollen, beeswax and essential oils. It has been known for millennia that propolis has curative properties. This is due to the anti-microbial substances in its composition. It can be ingested or used on the skin. Modern treatments often use tinctures or creams and are effective for burns, oral wounds and gum disorders. Care should be taken when using for the first time as it is possible to invoke an allergic reaction.

Beeswax

Claimed to be antiseptic, beeswax is a collection of hydrocarbons produced in the eight wax glands on the abdomen of worker bees, plus secretions from the bees added during comb building. Today, the most common medicinal use is in skin cream preparations.

Royal Jelly

Queen cell
Queen cell

Royal jelly is only found in queen cells and is a very nutritious secretion made by young worker bee mandibular and hypopharyngeal glands. It also contains some pollen. 185 compounds have been found in Royal jelly including Royalactin which is the agent responsible for the morphological changes of a larva into a fertile queen rather than a worker. As Royal jelly is only found in queen cells this limits the quantity available for use in apitherapy. It is claimed to be an anti-aging compound. Royal jelly should be used fresh, as it degrades quickly, or it can be freeze dried while fresh and used in powder form.

Apilarnil

Drone cells
Drone cells

The term Apilarnil was created by Romanian beekeeper Nicolae V. Ilieşiu in 1980 (Api=bee, Lar=larva, N=Nicolae, Il= Ilieşiu). It is essentially the product obtained from the whole contents of drone larvae comb 10 days after eggs are laid. At this stage of development Apilarnil will contain all the elements and nutrients of the drone larval body but obviously no venom compounds. It is thus a very nutritious material and can be used as extracted or freeze dried and made into capsules. The properties are reputed to be similar to Royal jelly but in a more widely available form.

Use of any honeybee-related substance for apitherapy comes with a warning. Information in this document does not constitute or replace any medical advice. If you are concerned about a medical condition please seek advice from a Medical Doctor. Nothing contained in this document is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice.

Report of the December 2018 winter meeting

 

EDBK Winter Meeting, 6th December 2018
“Here is one I made earlier”

Our last winter meeting of the year usually takes the form of a Social evening. This year we had the added attraction of an exhibition of homemade beekeeping equipment and gadgets. Most of the owners/inventors were available to demonstrate and talk about their exhibits.

Hives and hive parts formed a large part of the display. Of particular interest were the items that could be used to display bees at shows or talks. Tim Purrett’s single frame design could be easily loaded and transported for use in schools where it could be passed round for close inspection without danger. There were two other similar frames on display as well.

An observation hive based on a standard nucleus box was demonstrated by John Badley. Features included double ventilation screening to prevent stings and provision for either one or two frames on display. Observation hives can cost £200 or more but this polycarbonate and plywood construction was a fraction of the price.

Observation hive
Observation hive
Solar wax extractor
Solar wax extractor
Retail packs
Retail packs

Colin Osborne brought along his simplified version of the Asian hornet floor. This robust design could be made from scratch very easily or used to modify an existing floor cheaply.

We had handmade standard hive parts by David Chambers, keeping the cost of beekeeping down. David Wiscombe was demonstrating the simplicity of the Smith hive in both manufacture, which he does himself, and use. Ann Pengelly and Peter Singleton were enthusiastically demonstrating their use of the Warré hive. For comparison, the branch apiary supplied the handmade top bar hive used for demonstrations.

Other large items on display were Nick Silver’s thermostatically controlled honey warming or wax melting cabinet, Keith Bone’s solar wax extractor and Alasdair Bruce’s ingenious hive transporter made from angle iron and bungee elastic.

Two bee vacuums were displayed, one based on a 5 frame nuc hive and the other based on a portable battery pack for picking up small swarms.

Bob Mercer had his apparatus for collecting a sample of bees. A simple adaption of a plastic food container, by making a two inch incision in the lid, inserting a short piece of wire into the flap, thus creating a handle, one is able to drag the box across the bees while holding the flap down with one’s thumb, then pulling the flap up into the closed position. An easily made solution to the Basic Assessment demonstration.

Richard Simpson showed us his homemade swarm catcher on a pole, for knocking swarms out of trees up to 16’ high, and a wax melter made from a steam wall paper stripper. An over-sized dummy board made to fit flush inside the brood box, immediately splits it into two nucleus-sized volumes. One nest uses the existing entrance and a wedge cut from the back of the floor makes a rear entrance. With some filling under the lugs, and, if necessary, completing the closure to the crownboard, two nucs can share a single roof and floor for the winter.

Gerry Humphries, who has been keeping bees for over 60 years, demonstrated queen rearing aids such as his patented tilting frame, a horizontal frame eke and a variety of boards that have been invented over the years for making queen rearing more efficient. He also had public demonstration frames all finished with a typically “Gerry” attention to detail.

 

Finally, Mike Walters, a prize winner at Devon County and Honiton Shows, brought along some of his retail sales packs combining very tasteful (and tasty) pots of honey with lovely beeswax products, clearly demonstrating how a few small changes to presentation can make a big difference to the end products of our craft. Mike and Nick Silver also showed us their much-admired skeps, made at our skep-making classes and frequently used for swarm catching.

The exhibitors of the 28 items are to be congratulated on their ingenuity and DIY skills, as well as their willingness to share their creations and ideas with the rest of our group.

Our thanks to Richard Simpson for organising the displays and to all the East Devon members who brought their equipment along. Several members commented that it was one of the most interesting and well attended meetings they had been to.

 

Report of AGM November 2018

Report of East Devon Beekeepers AGM & Talk

Held at Kilmington Village Hall, 1st November 2018

Our AGM is a chance for members to hear what has been going on in the group over the last year and for them to vote-in Officers and Committee members. The meeting was conducted efficiently as much of the information had been issued beforehand. The new Committee are:

President Hilary Kirkcaldie
Chairman John Badley
Treasurer Keith Bone
Secretary Val Bone
Committee Mary Boulton, Alasdair Bruce, Ralph Cox, Rosemary Maggs, Colin Osborne, Richard Simpson, Peter Weller
Branch delegate to DBKA Executive Committee John Badley

Val Bone will also be Membership Secretary, Alasdair Bruce will act as Vice Chair, Richard Simpson will be Education Officer and Keith Bone will be Apiary Liaison Officer.

Honiton Show Committee members will remain as last year (John Badley, Keith Bone, Ralph Cox, Angela Findlay, Sue Johnston and Mike Walters).

After the elections Hilary Kirkcaldie congratulated Duncan Mackinder and Peter Moran on passing their Basic exam. She also presented Duncan with the Craythorne cup for gaining the highest points of Basic candidates in East Devon.

During the break, tea, coffee and cakes were provided, thanks to Helen Bithrey and her team.

There followed a short talk by Jes and Evelyn Pelham who used to live in Surrey and who moved to East Devon about two years ago. Their mentor in Surrey was John Hamer who is a prominent member of Surrey Beekeepers and owner of Blackhorse Apiaries near Woking (http://blackhorseapiaries.org/).

The talk emphasised some of John’s teachings that they had benefitted from and which might be helpful to East Devon members. These are some of the FAQs.

Q. Can’t find the queen? A. If there are eggs and uncapped larvae then you have a queen.
Q. My bees are demanding. I can’t cope. A. Reduce the number of hives until you are happy.
Q. How long before I open the bees? A. Try not to open too frequently. Spend more time watching the entrance to find out what they are doing.
Q. How can I raise queens? A. Numerous ways to raise queens. More difficult to get them mated properly. Get a mentor.

Other hints and tips:

Always be gentle with bees
As well as watching bees at the entrance you can listen to the hive to find out what is happening
Try to use as little smoke as possible
Use Marigolds, not leather gloves, when inspecting
Practice marking and clipping with drones
Don’t try to make them do what they don’t want to
Give them room to do what they need to do

Jes and Evelyn gave a good account of ‘book matching’ frames when a queen needs to be found.

  • Essentially, frames from the brood chamber are distributed between two or more spare brood boxes in pairs.
  • Each pair is kept at normal spacing and is separated from adjacent pairs by a gap of a few centimetres.
  • Cover all boxes and have a tea break.
  • Flying bees will return to the original box.
  • Remove the covers and gently separate each pair in turn and the queen will be found in the middle of one of the pairs.

Swarms were a problem in Surrey due to the prevalence of EFB in their area. For this reason swarms were not normally given to beginners. Also, it was considered likely that swarms would often produce unpleasant bees. However, provided a knowledgeable beekeeper was mentoring, as in Jes and Evelyn’s case, swarms were a good way to get started.

The Pelhams also described their activities helping out at Shows and Evelyn’s samples of Surrey honey proved to be a popular attraction after the talk.

Our thanks to Jes and Evelyn for an entertaining and instructive talk.

News & Events

Outbreak of EFB reported
An outbreak of EFB has been reported by one of our members about ‘5km east of Hawkchurch’. If you live in the area and are not yet on BeeBase we would recommend you go to the BeeBase website as soon as possible to register. This will ensure you are informed of any threats in your area.
World’s largest bumblebee under threat.
The Patagonian bumblebee, the worlds largest bumblebee, is under threat from the import of species native to Europe.The growth of the bumblebee trade for agricultural pollination since the 1980s has been identified as one of the top emerging environmental issues likely to affect global diversity.Follow this link to read the article.
Best plants for bees: 5 yr study results by RosyBee
Follow the link to see the results of 5 years of monitoring which bees visit a variety of ‘bee-friendly’ plants.
http://www.rosybee.com/research
What’s that Buzz? Plants hear when bees are coming
New research has shown that plants can ‘hear’ sounds around them and flowers respond to the buzz of approaching bees by producing sweeter nectar. The research biologists from Tel Aviv University played recordings of flying bee sounds to evening primrose flowers and found that after a few minutes the sugar concentration in the flower’s nectar had increased by 20% on average when compared with flowers left in silence or submitted to higher pitched sounds.
The authors of the report say that, for the first time, they have shown plants can rapidly respond to pollinator sounds in an ecologically relevant way.
Producing sweeter nectar in response to the sounds of bees can help entice the insects to visit the flowers and increase the chances of its pollen being distributed.
Thanks to Ann P. for spotting this article in the Times.
Scientists sew trackers to Asian Hornets to find and destroy nests before they kill honeybees
Britain’s beekeepers are turning to technology to prevent aggressive Asian hornets destroying their colonies. In a first successful trial, experts at the University of Exeter attached tracking devices to the backs of the voracious hornets and then followed them back to their nests.
Asian hornet information
The June edition of the BBKA News has extensive information about the Asian hornet threat. In particular, pages 209 and 210 have full colour reproductions of the Asian hornet alert document issued by the Non Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) for you to cut out and use as your personal guide to identification of this invasive species.