And, before I start, it’s not that 2023 was average and 2022 was freakishly good. Since returning to Scotland in 2015 the spring and summer honey crops have been reasonably consistent … and generally pretty good.
2022 was a little better than average and 2019 was appreciably worse, but all of them produced enough honey to make extracting (and the interminable cleaning up, jarring, labelling etc. afterwards) very worthwhile.
2023 is the outlier.
Why didn’t I leave the honey for the bees? Because I treat with Apivar and I’d prefer not to have to melt out the super frames that were exposed to miticide.
So, comparing this year with 2022 (and some earlier years), where did it all go wrong?
Since you are reading an internet beekeeping site you are probably aware of the discussion fora like Beesource, BBKA, the Beekeeping Forum and Beemaster Forum.
Several of these have a section for beginners. The idea is that the beginner posts a simple beekeeping question and, hey presto, gets a helpful answer.
Of course, the reality is somewhat different 😉
The question might seem simple (“Should I start colony inspections this week?”), but the answers might well not be.
If there’s more than one answer they will, of course, be contradictory. The standard rule applies …
Opinions expressed = n + 1 (where n is the number of respondents 1)
… but these opinions will be interspersed with petty squabbles, rhetorical questions in return, veiled threats, comments about climate or location, blatant trolling and a long discourse on the benefits of native black bees/Buckfast/Carniolans or Osmia bicornis2
Finally the thread will peter out and the respondents move to another question … “When should I put the first super on my hive?”
Climate and weather
Although it might not seem helpful at the time, the comment about climate and location refers to an important aspect of beekeeping often overlooked by beginners 3.
Climate and weather are related by time. Weather refers to the short term atmospheric conditions, whereas climate is the average of that weather.
Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.
Climate and weather have a profound influence on our beekeeping.
We live on a small island bathed in warm water originating from the Gulf Stream. In addition, we are adjacent to a large land mass. The continent and the sea influence both our weather and climate.
For simplicity I’m going to only consider temperature and rainfall. The former influences the flowering period of plants and trees upon which the bees forage.
Mean annual temperature average 1981-2010
Both temperature and rainfall determine whether the bees can forage – if it’s too cold or wet they stay in the hive.
And adverse weather (strong winds, heavy rain) can make inspections an unpleasant experience for the bees … and the beekeeper 4.
Mean annual average rainfall 1981-2010
The North – South divide (and the East – West divide)
Compare the mean temperature in Fife (marked with the red star) with Plymouth (blue star). The average annual temperature is 8-9°C in Fife and 10-11°C in Plymouth. Although this seems to be a very minor temperature difference it makes a huge difference to the beekeeping season 5.
When I lived in the Midlands I would often start queen rearing in mid/late April 6 whereas here inspections might not begin until May in some years.
The 6° of latitude difference between Plymouth and Fife (~415 miles) is probably equivalent to 3-4 weeks in beekeeping terms.
In contrast to the oft-quoted view that ‘Scotland is wet’, Fife only gets about 66% of the rainfall of Plymouth (800-1000 mm for Fife vs. 1250-1500 mm for Plymouth).
However, there is an East – West divide for rainfall in parts of the country. I’m writing this in Ardnamurchan, the most westerly point of mainland Britain (yellow arrow), where we get about three times the annual rainfall as the arid East coast of Fife.
The rhythm of the seasons
The seasonal duties of the beekeeper are dependent on the weather and the climate. This is because the development of the colony is influenced by how early and how warm the Spring was, how many good foraging days there were in summer, the availability of sunny 20°C days for queen mating and the warmth of the autumn for late brood rearing.
And a host of other weather-related things.
All of which vary depending where your bees live.
And vary from year to year.
Which is why it’s impossible to answer the apparently simple question “When should I put the first super on my hive?” using a calendar.
“Beekeeping by numbers (or dates)” doesn’t work.
You have to learn the rhythm of the seasons.
Make a note of when early pollen (snowdrop, crocus, hazel, willow) becomes available, when the OSR and rosebay willowherb flowers and when migratory birds return7. The obvious ones to record are flowers or trees that generate most honey for you, but early- and late-season cues are also useful.
Most useful are the seasonal occurrences that precede key events in the beekeeping year.
Link these together with the recent weather and the development of your colonies. By doing this you will begin to know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.
If the OSR is just breaking bud 8 start piling the supers on. If cuckoos are first heard a month before the peak of the swarming period in your area make sure you prepare enough new frames for your preferred swarm control method.
And preparation is pretty-much all I’ve been doing so far this year … though I expect to conduct my first full inspections over the Easter weekend.
While doing some background reading on climate when preparing this post I came across the concept of heating and cooling degree days. These are used by engineers involved in calculating the energy costs of heating or cooling buildings.
Heating degree days are a measure of how much (in degrees), and for how long (in days), the outside air temperature was below a certain level.
Conversely, cooling degree days are a measure of how much (in degrees), and for how long (in days), the outside air temperature was above a certain level.
You can read lots more about degree days on the logically-named degreedays.net , which is where the definitions above originated.
From a beekeeping point of view you can use this sort of data to compare seasons or locations.
Most ‘degree days’ calculations use 15.5°C as the certain level in the definitions above. This isn’t particularly relevant to beekeeping (but is if you are heating a building). However, degreedays.net (which have a bee on their BizEE Software Ltd. logo 🙂 ) can generate custom degree day information for any location with suitable weather data and you can define the level above or below which the calculation is based.
For convenience I chose 10°C. Much lower than this and foraging is limited.
The North – South divide (again)
So, let’s return to swarms in Plymouth and the absence of inspections in Fife … how can we explain this if the average annual temperate is only a couple of degrees different?
Heating and cooling degree days for Plymouth and Fife, April 2018 to March 2019
Focus on the dashed lines for the moment. September to November (months 9, 10 and 11) were very similar for both Plymouth (blue) and Fife (red). After that – unsurprisingly – the Fife winter is both colder and longer. From December through to March the Plymouth line rises later, rises less far and falls faster. In Plymouth the winter is less cold, is shorter and – as far as the bees are concerned – the season starts about a month earlier 9.
2018 in Fife was an excellent year for honey. After a cold winter (and the Beast from the East) colonies built up well and I harvested record amounts (for me) of both spring honey (in early June) and summer honey (in late July/early August).
I’ve no idea what 2018 was like for honey yields in Plymouth, but the cooling degree days (solid lines) show that it was warmer earlier, hotter overall and that the season lasted perhaps a month longer (though this tells us nothing about forage availability).
Of course it’s the longer, hotter summers and cooler, shorter winters that – averaged out – mean the average annual temperature difference between Plymouth and Fife is only a couple of degrees Centigrade.
Good years and bad years
As far as honey is concerned the last two years in Fife have been, respectively, sublime and ridiculous.
2018 was great and 2017 was catastrophic.
How do these look when plotted?
The 2017 and 2018 beekeeping season in Fife.
The onset of summer (solid lines – the cooling degree days – months 4-6) and the preceding winter (dashed lines – the heating degree days – months 9-11) were similar – the lines are nearly superimposed.
The 2016-17 winter was milder and shorter than 2017-18. The latter was extended by arrival of the Beast from the East and Storm Emma which brought blizzards in late February and continued unseasonably cold through March.
However, the harsh 2017-18 winter didn’t hold the bees back and the 2018 season brought bumper honey harvests.
In contrast, the 2017 season was hopeless. It was cooler overall, but the duration of the season was similar to the following year 10. Supers remained resolutely empty and my entire honey crop shared a single batch number 🙁
Our new bee shed provides a protective environment for hives, allowing inspections in most weather conditions if needed. The only exception is during extended cold periods when the colonies remain clustered. The shed is south facing and gets whatever sunlight is available from early/mid morning depending upon the season. This warms the shed nicely and, because of the seven 50 x 50cm windows along the side 1, provides light to work the colonies.
A typical sunny day …
But – believe it or not – the East coast of Scotland is not always sunny. Although it is one of the sunniest places in Scotland, with an average of ~1500 hours of sunshine a year 2, it is not always bright when I need to inspect the colonies.
And if it is grey and overcast outside it can be really murky in the bee shed.
This was the only significant drawback of the original bee shed which – due to its orientation – got no direct sunlight through the windows from early/mid-afternoon. Consequently, late afternoon inspections on gloomy days could be a bit testing. There was enough light to find the queen and observe the general state of the colony, but finding eggs or distinguishing the age of larvae – something critical for our research – was very hit and miss. It was usually necessary to take frames to the open door to see things better.
Which, of course, was not ideal if it’s chucking it down or windy outside, the very conditions that justify using a bee shed in the first place.
LED lighting systems
Therefore, in addition to orientating the new bee shed to maximise light throughout the day, I’ve also installed a 12V LED lighting system. These are available in kit form or you can easily purchase the necessary components – battery, solar panel, charge controller, cable, lamps and a switch – individually 3.
For convenience I used a Geo 4 Solar Lighting Kit from the Solar Centre. It’s not the cheapest way to get started, but at least all the components should be compatible and there are some (rather perfunctory) instructions provided. There’s also a useful YouTube video linked from the suppliers website.
The kit includes a single 30W solar panel and six 40W-equivalent LED bulbs. The latter seemed unlikely to be bright enough to help see eggs and developing larvae so I’ve replaced them with 9W LEDs, equivalent to about 120W incandescent bulbs 4.
The Solar Centre also sell suitable batteries for solar power systems … but at daft prices. I therefore sourced one elsewhere, ending up with a 100Ah leisure battery 5. This is probably overkill for lighting the shed … my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest this battery will run the six 9W LED lamps for over 20 hours from a full charge 6. However, there are additional things I want power for in the shed including some hive monitoring equipment, so the excess capacity will come in useful.
The battery is hidden away in the corner of the shed inside a battery box. This includes USB and 12V outlets, enabling additional things to be hooked up in due course.
This was pretty straightforward. It was simply a case of rigidly adhering to red = positive and black = negative cabling, connecting all the bulb holders together, wiring up the switch and the charge controller, hooking up the solar panel and screwing in the bulbs.
The solar panel was fitted to the shed roof. This caused a few problems. Firstly, the roof is at an angle of ~25°. This appeared to be less than optimal for a solar panel at the latitude (56° N) of the shed. The usual way to determine the panel angle is to add 15° to the latitude in winter, or subtract 15° from the latitude in summer – the difference to take account of the angle of the sun in high summer or midwinter.
Since the lighting will be used mostly in summer – during inspections – I sketched a few possible bracket designs to angle the solar panel at about 40°. However, I ran out of time and enthusiasm, so ended up fitting the panel directly to the roof.
Solar panel installation …
I subsequently discovered an alternative way of calculating the optimal angle for a solar panel – multiply the latitude by 0.9 and subtract 23.5 i.e. (56 * 0.9) – 23.5 = 26.9°, which isn’t significantly different from the angle of the roof in the first place 😀
The lighting system has a standard on-off switch. However, I’d wanted to install a simple time switch which would automatically turn the lights off after a fixed period, for example one hour. This would avoid draining the battery should the system be left on inadvertently. The 12V timer I bought came with no comprehendible instructions and I’ve so far failed to get it to do what I want.
As an interim measure I’ve fitted a kitchen cupboard “on when open” circuit breaker in series with the main switch. The lights only turn on when the shed door is open. When working in the shed the door is almost always left open with the smoker left on the step outside. If this isn’t done there’s a tendency to end up getting ‘kippered’ as the shed fills with smoke 😉
Kitchen cupboard switch …
The wiring is spectacularly bad – in true Dr. Bodgit style – but it works just fine.
Bulb holders and reflectors
The bulb holders were fixed to the shed roof, more or less directly above the position of the hives. Due to the angle of the roof this places them above head height – so little chance of hitting them with your head – but it does mean they are rather dazzling.
It’s no use fixing them down the centre of the roof as the light is then behind you when conducting inspections, so negating most of the benefits of installing the lighting system in the first place.
Therefore, to avoid retinal burns (!) I’m investigating simple white Correx ‘reflectors’ nailed to the roof battens near the lamps. These should angle the light better into the hives.
Finally, to allow future changes to the lamp holder positions should they be needed, I allowed additional cable between them, all held in place using lots of cable clamps.
There should be bees in the shed by the time this is posted. However, we’ll need to wait a few weeks until it’s warm enough for routine inspections before we can be sure the lighting system is optimal.
Let there be light is a Biblical phrase from the third verse of the Book of Genesis. Many academic or educational institutions use the phrase in Latin, Fiat lux, as a motto.
Inevitably the phrase is also used as the basis for a large number of quotes, including my particular favourite (from the actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres) “In the beginning there was nothing. God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.“
Not Whether to treat? … to which the answer is yes. Instead, a poor pun on the choice of how I use temperature as an indication of when to treat colonies in midwinter …
Midwinter OA-based treatments
Oxalic acid-based treatments for midwinter Varroa control are most effective when colonies are broodless†. This is because oxalic acid (OA) treatments only kill phoretic mites and are ineffective against mites in sealed cells. They are therefore ideal for use on swarms, packages and broodless colonies in midwinter.
How can you tell whether your colonies are broodless in midwinter?
On a warm, sunny, Spring afternoon this takes just a couple of minutes … remove the roof, crack off the crownboard, gently lift out the dummy board and the adjacent frame, look carefully at the mass of bees covering the top bars, aim for about the middle and gently prise apart those two frames, lift out a frame from one side of the ‘gap’ and – Hey presto – brood.
Just writing that in early December makes me hanker for much warmer days …
Memories of midseason
Actually, you can do exactly the same in midwinter. There are videos on the internet showing an experienced and (in)famous Finnish beekeeper opening his colonies at -10ºC.
I’ve opened and briefly inspected colonies at low temperatures (though not sub-zero). The bees are usually pretty torpid, reluctant to fly – or simply too cold to – and you can be in and out in just a minute or so. Bees cope pretty well with this. It undoubtedly disturbs them a bit and it breaks the propolis seal on the crownboard, but – done carefully and quickly – it’s the only foolproof way to determine whether a colony is broodless in midwinter.
But what if they’ve got brood and it’s therefore not the optimal time to treat? Do you go back and repeat the entire process in 1-2 weeks? What if it’s snowing next time, or there’s a howling gale blowing?
An alternative approach is needed∞.
The annual brood rearing cycle
As the colony moves from summer to autumn the egg laying rate of the queen drops. It goes on dropping, although not necessarily smoothly, as the days shorten further, the temperature drops and the sources of pollen and nectar disappear. If the queen stops laying altogether then the colony will become broodless about 21 days later.
At some point, perhaps early in the New Year, the queen starts laying again. Slowly at first, but at increasing levels as the season starts. Once foraging starts in earnest the egg laying rate increases markedly and peaks sometime in June.
The precise timing of all these changes cannot be predicted. It’s likely to be dependent on a range of factors – nectar and pollen availability, the strain of bee, day length (and whether it’s increasing or decreasing) and temperature.
Of these, temperature probably has the greatest influence.
Generalised annual brood and worker numbers …
Here’s a quick’n’dirty graph put together with BEEHAVE showing a generalised annual cycle of total brood (blue) and adult bee (red) numbers. Under the conditions in this model the colony is broodless for ~30 days at the end if the year.
Part of the problem with being definitive about the annual brood cycle is the temperature variation with latitude. Temperate regions stretch – in Europe – from Northern Finland to Southern Spain. Bees are kept throughout this range, but obviously experience wildly different climates.
And then there’s the year to year variation.
So if you can’t predict when the colony is going to be broodless, perhaps you can observe the weather – and in particular the temperature – and make an educated guess.
Watch the weather
Over the last few years I’ve applied my midwinter treatment soon (<6 days) after the end of the first extended cold period of the season. This is generally earlier than most beekeepers, who often treat between Christmas and New Year, or early in January.
So, how do we reasonably accurately monitor the weather for a suitable time to treat?
Ho ho ho
Most of us live in centrally-heated splendour, protected from the day-to-variation of temperature by heated car seats, air conditioning, hot water bottles, Thinsulate and wood-burning stoves. Do you know what the temperature was today? Rather than trust the wildly-variable (in accuracy) national‡ weather reports for the actual temperature near my apiaries, I instead use very much more local data from Weather Underground.
There are hundreds of ‘amateur’ weather stations across the country that upload data to wunderground.com. Most of these provide current and historic data, including temperature (max, min and average). Here’s one for Auchtermuchty in Fife (on wunderground.com) and directly from the weather station.
Once the weather cools I keep an eye on the average temperature over an extended period of a fortnight or so. If it remains low I wait a bit more … but I then treat as soon as practical after it warms up to 8-10°C or so.
I didn’t open my colonies, but others opened on the same day nearby were all broodless. The 7th was chosen as it was the first warm (relatively!) day after a 19 day window in which the average temperature had barely climbed above 5°C.
These treated colonies went into the New Year with vanishingly low Varroa levels.
And again …
This year appears to be repeating a very similar pattern. We’ve had frosts most nights since the 10th of November. It started to warm up significantly in early December as storm Caroline bore down on Scotland and I treated most of my colonies on the 6th …
… by the light of a head torch, in light rain and strengthening wing at 7pm after work.
No, I didn’t open any of the hives to check if they were broodless 😉
It was over 11°C in the apiary when I treated, the barometer was plummeting and the forecast was for near-zero temperatures within 24 hours and remaining that way for another 10 days.
Some of my hives have perspex crownboards. These allow me to check both the state of the colony and if the vapour from my Sublimox has permeated to every corner of the hive. All the colonies were very loosely clustered, with a few bees even wandering out briefly onto the landing board in the dark as I bumbled around preparing things.
The Varroa trays will now be checked in a week or so to work out the mite infestation levels. In the meantime, I can start planning for the coming season knowing I’ve done the best I can to reduce virus levels in the colonies, so giving them a good start to the year.
A Hi tech solution?
Colonies rearing brood maintain a higher, and stable, broodnest temperature (32-35°C) than colonies without brood. It is therefore possible to determine whether a colony has brood by monitoring the temperature directly, rather than trying to infer it from the ambient temperature.
Brood rearing starts …
Arnia make hive monitors that allow this sort of thing to be measured. It would be interesting to relate the brood temperature to the ambient temperature (described above) to determine how accurate or otherwise simply ‘watching the weather’ is. Of course … what you’d really want to do is monitor when brood rearing stops and treat soon after that.
I treated colonies in our research apiary the following day – the 7th – with dribbled Api-Bioxal. The temperature had dropped almost 7°C since the previous evening and colonies were again beginning to cluster tightly. Under these conditions I’m never confident that the OA vapour penetrates fully, so prefer to trickle treat.
I briefly checked one strong colony in a poly hive for brood.
It was broodless, as I’d hoped 🙂
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee all the others are also broodless, but it does give me some confidence that I’d chosen the correct weather to treat.
† This article, like most on this site, discuss beekeeping issues relevant to temperate climates. It’s important to make this clear now as most of what follows is irrelevant to readers from warmer regions.
∞ Even if there is brood in midwinter, it’s going to be in pretty small amounts. The rate at which this brood emerges is going to be low. The chances of determining what’s going in the colony by ‘reading the tea leaves’ from the debris falling through the mesh floor of the hive is therefore not great. It would probably also require repeated visits to the apiary.
ß This needs qualifying … in midseason, when the temperature varies but it’s not generally cold, the nectar flow is probably the rate-limiting step for brood rearing. The June gap is regularly associated with the queen shutting up shop for a while. However, in late autumn and early winter I’m sure the plummeting temperatures is a major influence on egg laying by the queen.
‡ National … Ha! Most are only national if you live within the M25. Anywhere else and you’re usually much better off accessing some data from closer to home. It’s worth noting that the sort of ‘amateur’ weather stations I discuss do vary in data quality. For example, they’re a bit dodgy recording temperatures in full sun (they tend to over-read). However, if you find a local one, check the temperature in comparison to a thermometer in your apiary, you’ll find it’s a useful way to monitor what might be happening in the hives.
§ I don’t routinely generate these graphs – I have a life (!) – but did specifically to illustrate this post. It’s sufficient to simply monitor the average temperature.
Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.
June in Fife was the wettest year on record. It started in a blaze of glory but very quickly turned exceedingly damp. The photo above was taken on the 7th of June. One of my apiaries is in the trees at the back of the picture. Six queens emerged on the 2nd or 3rd of June to be faced with a week-long deluge. The picture was taken on the first dry morning … by the afternoon it was raining again, so delaying their ability to get out and mate (hence prompting the recent post).
And so it continued …
Early July 2017 …
Here’s the same view on the 1st of July. Almost unchanged … ankle deep water en route to the apiary, the burn in flood and some splits and nucs now being fed fondant to prevent them starving.
A beautiful morning though 😉
Retrospective weather reports
Of course, you shouldn’t really worry about weather that’s been and gone, though comparisons year on year can be interesting. At the very least, knowing that the June monthly rainfall in Eastern Scotland was 223% of the 1961-99 average, I’ll have an excuse why queens took so long to mate and why the June gap was more pronounced than usual. Global warming means summers are getting wetter anyway, but even if you make the comparison with the more recent 1981-2010 average we still got 206% of the June monthly total.
The Met Office publishes retrospective summaries nationally and by region. These include time series graphs of rainfall and temperature since 1910 showing how the climate is getting warmer and wetter. If you prefer, you can also view the data projected on a map, showing the marked discrepancies between the regions.
June 2017 rainfall anomaly cf. 1981-2010 …
Parts of the Midlands and Lewis and Harris were drier than the June long-term average, but Northern England and Central, Southern and Eastern Scotland were very much wetter.
It would be interesting to compare the year-by-year climate changes with the annual cycle of forage plants used by bees. Natural forage, rather than OSR where there is strain variation of flowering time, would be the things to record. As I write this (first week of July) the lime is flowering well and the bees are hammering it. The rosebay willow herb has just started.
Rosebay willow herb
Prospective weather forecasts
Bees are influenced by the weather and so is beekeeping. If the forecast is for lousy weather for a fortnight it might be a good idea to postpone queen rearing and to check colonies have sufficient stores. If rain is forecast all day Saturday then inspections might have to be postponed until Sunday.
If you have a bee shed you can inspect when it’s raining. The bees tolerate the hive being opened much better than if it were out in the open. Obviously, all the bees will be in residence, but their temper is usually better. They exit the shed through the window vents and rapidly re-enter the hive through the entrance.
I don’t think there’s much to choose between the various online weather forecast sites in terms of accuracy, particularly for predictions over 3+ days. They’re all as good or as bad as each other. I cautiously use the BBC site, largely because they have an easy-to-read app for my phone.
Do I need an umbrella?
For shorter-term predictions (hours rather than days) I’ve been using Dark Sky. This can usefully – and reasonably accurately – predict that it will start raining in 30 minutes and continue for an hour, after which it will be dry until 6pm.
The forecast in your area might be different 😉
Dark Sky via web browser
There’s a well designed app for iOS and Android as well that has neat graphics showing just how wet you’re likely to get, how long the rain will last and which direction the clouds will come from.
Dark Sky on iOS
It’s far from perfect, but it’s reasonably good. It might make the difference between getting to the apiary as the rain starts as opposed to having a nice cuppa and then setting off in an hour or two.
Rain stopped play
I’ve posted recently on delays to queen mating caused by the poor weather in June. I’ve now completed inspections of all the splits. Despite both keeping calm and having patience I was disappointed to discover that the last two checked had developed laying workers. Clearly the queen was either lost on her mating flight or – more likely (see the pictures above) – drowned.
I’ve previously posted how I deal with laying workers – I shake the colony out and allow those that can fly to return to a new hive on the original site containing a single frame of eggs and open brood. If they start to draw queen cells in 2-3 days I reckon the colony is saveable and either let them get on with it, or otherwise somehow make them queenright.
One of the laying worker colonies behaved in a textbook manner. A couple of days after shaking them out there were queen cells present. I knocked these back and united the with a spare nuc colony containing a laying queen.
Lime can yield well in July
The second colony behaved very strangely. I didn’t manage to inspect them until a week after shaking them out. There were no queen cells. Nor was there any evidence of laying worker activity in the frames of drawn comb I’d provided them with. Instead, they’d filled the brood box with nectar from the nearby lime trees. Weird. I united them with a queenright colony and I’ll check how they progress over the next week or two.
Apis mellifera aquaticus
My colonies are usually headed by dark local mongrel queens. My queen rearing records show that some are descended from native black bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) from islands off the West coast of Scotland, albeit several generations ago. These bees are renowned for their hardiness, ability to forage in poor weather and general suitability to the climate of Scotland.
Nevertheless, without further natural selection and evolution they will have still needed water wings, a snorkel and flippers to get mated last month 😉
The taxonomic scheme ‘developed’ by Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778) is a rank-based classification approach actually dates back to Plato. In it, organisms are divided into kingdoms (Animals), classes (Insecta), order (Hymenoptera), family (Hymenoptera), genera (Apis) and species (mellifera).
The subspecies is indicated by a further name appended to the end of the species name e.g. Apis mellifera capensis (Cape Honey bees), Apis mellifera mellifera (Black bees)
Apis mellifera aquaticus doesn’t really exist, but might evolve if it remains this wet 😉