Feral facts and fallacies

Synopsis : Are feral colonies recently lost swarms or a self-sustaining ‘wild’ honey bee population? The latter must reproduce faster than they perish. Measuring rates of colony loss and nest occupancy provides a good indicator of the likely origin and independence of feral populations. Introduction Most colonies try to swarm every year. Most – not […]

Biological control with Varroa

Synopsis : Honey bees were eradicated on Santa Cruz Island following the introduction of Varroa. This provides some useful lessons for beekeepers on the importance of controlling Varroa. Introduction Honey bees are not native to North America. They were first introduced in March 1622 at Jamestown, Virginia. The bees did well and spread west, following […]

Making a beeline

Synopsis : Honey bees use a range of navigation skills including path integration – to shorten return flights – combined with map-like spatial memories to relocate the hive. Introduction Regular readers will be aware that I’m interested in the origins of words. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a fantastic source of information and produces […]

Is queen clipping cruel?

Synopsis : Is clipping the queen a cruel and barbaric practice? Does it cause pain to the queen? Surely it’s a good way to stop swarming? This is an emotive and sometimes misunderstood topic. What do scientific studies tell us about clipped queens and swarming? Introduction After the contention-free zone of the last couple of […]

Bait hives, evolution & compromise

Synopsis : The features of a successful bait hive are well known. However, they are not absolutes. The more desirable features your bait hives offer the more successful they should be, but both the bees and the beekeeper can make compromises through necessity or preference. Introduction I gave a talk on bait hives to a […]