Hi, my name is Neil, I'm a product design student in Brighton. I'
looking into possibly doing a home beehive design, and yourselves a
gardeners have probably encountered the odd bee or two. I have a quic
question for you then, are you;
a/ completely unafraid of bees.
b/ very frightened of them - you may even be a confirmed apiphobi
(fear of bees) or cnidophobic (fear of stings).
c/ somewhere in between:
c1/ you are able to keep calm and ignore them, but wont go to
c2/ you'll move away / go indoors until they're gone
c3/ you'll try to get rid of them using bug spray etc.
Any replies will be of great value to me, thankyou for taking the tim
to read and respond.
Ann, did you hear this new theory that bees are somehow effected by
some chemical which is giving them a form of Alzheimers and they are
literally forgetting where their hive is, and also forgetting how to
alert one another with their dance which points them back in the
direction of this hive? I don't recall where I heard this, but have
you heard it in any of your bee keeping journals?
We're being facetious. Chemophobia in garden groups is something that
first pops up. Latest theory is that there is a virus doing this but
cell phones, chemicals, global warming etc were blamed. "You can't
beat Mother Nature" ;)
Nicotinoids were one of the early thought culprits... There is a paper
out there somewhere that came out this past September from Pennsylvania
State University showing common genetic tags from numerous CCD effected
hives across the US and a samples from Australia of a rather new virus
called Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IVAP), first detected in 2002-03.
The US started allowing importation of Australian bees in late
On 11/14/07 10:33 PM, in article firstname.lastname@example.org,
Sometimes you lose the list,
sometimes the list is obsolete before you get to the store
sometimes you get the call telling you DS just finished the milk you needed
But I don't send the whole trip on the phone and certainly not when I'm
checking out. Especially when it's the cute kid that cards me for the
Imidacloprid. Google Gaucho and France. The French banned the stuff.
There has been an exponential increase in the use of it in this
country over the past two or three years. It's in the grub control we
put on our lawns (Merit), and they spray it all over ornamentals like
those huge sunflowers sold in so many markets, for blemish-free
blossoms. It's been shown to make bees 'forget' how to get back to
their hives. I think the link is strong, but it's the 800 pound
gorilla sitting in the middle of the room due to the chemical industry
in this country and how it's so imbedded into our agriculture and
economy. But that's just me.....
The CCD problem seems to have many sources, but the smoking gun seems
to point to too many chemicals in the environment. Remember,
honeycomb is like a sponge, it soaks up all of these toxins, which
include the stuff we're using for agricultural use and the stuff we're
(I'm speaking in the inclusive we here, not all beeks are using these
bad chemicals) using to combat the varroa mites. If you watched the
special PBS did on CCD you'd see the scientists astounded to see how
high the virus level is in our poor bees.
There is a movement to get beekeeping back to a more natural state,
but it's hard. A commercial beekeeper can't afford to let his stock
die off and let natural selection take place (selection for bees that
withstand varroa without treatment). The life of a commercial beek is
very difficult, there are fewer and fewer out there making a living at
it. The salvation may come from the hobbyists like us who keep bees
because we love them and love their byproduct, honey. We'll see how
it all goes. All I know is I'm trying really hard to get our six
hives through the winter. We treated with formic acid pads (formic
acid is naturally present in honey, it's non-toxic, and seems to have
been effective, there were dead mites all over the bottom board when
we removed the pads). I'll let you know in the spring if they make it
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
I saw that program and taped it the second time it was shown later in the
week. One of the most interesting things, I thought, was that the beekeeper
who had his hives on the roof of the building in the middle of Paris(?)
France didn't have any signs of these problems with his bees. The only
difference in their environment was that in the middle of the city there
were no pesticides being used in the parks and small plots of private
gardens and flowers within the city.
People around here are buying loads of Mason bees and making wood block
homes for them to winter over. No honey production but great pollinators.
Unfortunately this is only a band aid on the pollination problem, not a
solution to the demise of our honey bees.
Have you read any of the data out there on changing the size of the
foundation the honeycomb is built on? Supposedly going to smaller
comb helps as there isn't enough room for varroa to stay attached to
the bee and lay eggs in the comb.
Small cell. Right now the standard foundation is 5.4 mm, the bees
naturally make brood comb in 4.9 or smaller, sometimes. It's an
interesting experiment, I know of beeks who have been either using
small cell foundation or foundationless frames (allowing them to build
whatever size they desire) and they've had good success with it. The
smaller cells aren't favorable for the varroa to infest. Another way
of controlling varroa is to use drone cell foundation (much larger, I
forget the size, but it's bigger than 5.4). The varroa prefer the day
or so longer brood time for drones, as well as the extra room. You
allow the drones to almost mature, then pull the frame and stick it in
the freezer. Kills drones and varroa. Just put it back in and the
bees clean it all up to use again. Amazing little girls!
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
Question is how much do you know about bee keeping to fathom the idea of
making a "home beehive" design. It's not like keeping bees is anywhere
near the same as putting up a bird house. You'd have more chance of
being hit in the head with a bird than a swarm moving into an empty box
on its own.
You need to buy a queen and a starter colony, then acclimate them to the
hive. Not exactly a hands off process by any means.
Most home owners will cringe at the idea of having to handle bees to get
the setup done and then for gathering the honey.
Tie that in with the fact that so many people who get started in this
have a tendency of over collecting of the honey and not leaving enough
for the bees to survive the winter, killing off the whole colony.
At any rate: a/
I try to avoid disturbing their nests. That can be painful. Other than
that I ignore them. I do spray in-ground nests of yellow jackets in our
lawn or flower beds since it is impossible to not disturb those nests.
I also spray nests of paper wasps in shrubs that I have to prune.
We have some yellow jackets that come into our house. They are totally
nonaggressive. They are attracted to light. When they bask in the sun
by sitting on a window pane, I crush them so I won't risk stepping on
them in my bare feet at night and get a foot pain.
A 2000 Cornell University study concluded that the direct value of honey
bee pollination to U.S. agriculture is more than $14.6 billion.
Beekeeping is very commercial here. It is about fruit and vegetable
productions, not honey production. Migratory commercial beekeepers
raise humungous numbers of bees and move them to the crops.
For example the blueberries in Maine are pollinated by hives trucked in
from over a 1,000 miles away in South Carolina.
A migratory commercial beekeeper in Washington State with over 13,000
hives transports his hives to California to pollinate almond fields.
There is a list of migratory commercial beekeepers at:
This is one way for farmers to stay in business in areas with colony
collapse disorder. These commercial beekeepers protect their hives from
chemicals that cause CCD. No one is saying the bees are dying, the bees
just aren't finding their way back to their hive. No dead bees are
Pardon my spam deterrent; send email to email@example.com
Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA
Think about that statement for a minute.. If bees are not making it back
to the hive, do you really think they're surviving somewhere without a
Furthermore, the cause of CCD has not been pinpointed yet. It could be
any number of things. Sure, it could be chemicals but it could also be
viral, bacterial, or maybe even those odd suggestions such as cell phone
towers messing with their navigation.
Now, having a traveling hive for hire to pollinate is swell, but those
bees that they are pollinating in place of aren't just wondering around
asking for directions.. I'd say they're toast.
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