Upstate Bee Sanctuary the First of Its Kind

July 3rd, 2015

Upstate Bee Sanctuary the First of Its Kind

A veterinarian and entrepreneur in upstate New York has visions of millions of bees, living safely and doing what they do best, pollinating.

In response to the critical need for bee habitat and all-around support, one man has decided a nature sanctuary is ideal for this endangered friend to mankind.  Without bees, about 90 food crops would cease to exist.  And given the rapid decline in honeybees in the past decade, this nightmare could become a reality.

Guillaume Gauthereau, a part-time beekeeper himself, has envisioned a refuge that would provide much needed habitat.  His plan calls for a 50 to 100-care safe zone to be created within the next year.  Gauthereau’s goal is to place 40,000 to 50,000 beehives on the land, making it a paradise for a few million honeybees.

He also hopes to build a research center on the land, bringing together experts to work on solutions to the species decline and providing public access to educate interested parties – from schoolchildren to farmers to urbanites – about these pollinators.

“As far as I know, there is nothing like this for bees anywhere in the U.S.,” he said. “It will be a place where bees will have safe shelter, food and clean water.”


Life Inside the Hive

July 2nd, 2015

Life Inside the Hive

Honeybees live close together, are considered a social insect, and their home is one giant commune.  The little pockets in the honeycomb, shaped only by the workers, are used as individual cells where eggs are laid.

Bees live and work in the same dark space all year round.  Because no light penetrates, they employ odors, chemicals and dances to communicate.

Life in the hive is strictly hierarchical, much like a military outpost.  Each bee has its role and there is no social mobility or class conflict.  Drones are at the bottom of the ladder – their only job is to fertilize the queen’s eggs.

Next are the worker bees, infertile females who play a variety of roles.

Among workers, there four general jobs: guards, foragers, scouts, and undertakers.  The guards protect the hive from intruders.  Scouts go out and look for food, then come back home and explain where it is.  Foragers gather food and water resources.  And, last, all societies need someone to take care of the dead.  The undertakers remove dead bees from the hive by flying them away.

At the top of this highly structured society is the queen, a much larger female whose only job is to mate and produce eggs.  She flies off to mate with drones from several different colonies.  Unlike workers, who live about four weeks, and drones, who live a bit longer at eight weeks, the queen can have a lifespan of two to five years, and may lay 1500 to 2000 eggs daily throughout her long life.

Indian Coffee Growers Plan for Pest

July 1st, 2015

Indian Coffee Growers Plan for Pest

In India, the Commerce Ministry is getting ready to do battle with a common pest that rides the waves of sporadic rainy seasons and periodic hot weather.

The white stem borer is unique threat to Indian coffee production, and the Ministry has formed a committee, made up of both private sector interests and government officials, to examine scientific research and policies with the end goal of averting crop losses.

Not only is the government interested in saving coffee crops, but also improving the yield, since coffee is a valuable commercial product for this fast-growing nation.

Statistics show that the stem borer contributes to a loss of about half a million coffee plants each year.

Coffee drinkers are not necessarily picky about where they get their coffee, so the market is highly competitive.

The top three countries who consume Indian coffee are Russia, Italy and Germany.  Although India only produces five percent of the total world output, it does export most of its crops, up to 80%.

The committee promises to concentrate on recent research, and to use all scientific and technological resources available to study and eradicate the stem borer from Indian coffee crops.

June News From Bug Busters USA

June 30th, 2015

June News From Bug Busters USA

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Honeybee Drones Make Beer Appear

June 29th, 2015

Honeybee Drones Make Beer Appear

A clever marketing campaign has capitalized on drone technology to take its beer to the next level – literally.  Tired of the same old ways of buying and enjoying your beer?  Ever wanted a more exotic refreshment experience?

Fifteen thousand Taiwanese citizens have signed up in only ten days, with beer delivery by drone.  And the drones aren’t your usual boring flying robots, but giant yellow and black striped honey bees.  They carry with them a nectar prized by humans around the world:  beer.

Not just any beer, but “Honey Beer” brand.  The company, Taiwan Beer, has been making runs to office workers who are especially grateful to have the beverage delivered midday, to lighten up the usual work routine.

The beer drones were sent out after office workers went to the company and signed up for deliver.  The giant bees flew to worker’s windows to hover outside, or entered buildings to find customers at their desks.

Sales of Honey Beer were reported at four times the rate of the nearest competitor for any previous beer launch campaigns.

No word yet on whether these worker bees are having any adverse affect on productivity.

Alabama Woman Sues City Over Pesticide Use

June 26th, 2015

Alabama Woman Sues City Over Pesticide Use

This is not the first time that Annie Birdsong has brought suit to against municipal and federal officials, and it probably won’t be the last.  She has stated that use of herbicides and pesticides to eradicate mosquitoes are also harming the beneficial bugs like butterflies and bees.

Birdsong first filed last July against the City of Birmingham for spraying mosquitoes with Permethrin (Clark’s Biomist), and simultaneously went after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the same issue.

She says that although the chemical is distributed at night and therefore should not, theoretically, harm pollinators like bees, it doesn’t really work that way.  Her argument is that the chemical has a half-life, and therefore lingers in the soil and can become airborne after the initial spray.

Birdsong has a website devoted to the issues of spraying and in support of pollinating insects.

On her website, she states, “The spraying of mosquitoes by cities may prove to be the worst mistake in the entire history of mankind.”

Both the EPA and Birmingham suit, the latter filed in the U.S. District Court, were dismissed due to improperly following the procedures to bring a citizen lawsuit

Crops Benefit From New Spray

June 25th, 2015

Crops Benefit From New Spray

Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are a part of farming life today to control bugs on the scale necessary to produce our food crops. Plants need protection from critters of all kinds, but especially from insect life.

A new type of spray application is helping farmers in the two areas most needed for getting insecticides where they need to be: efficiency of application, and effectiveness of product.

One reason spray pesticides don’t work optimally is lack of proper application.  The improved delivery method, known as the AIM Command spray system, can be used with all Case IH Patriot sprayers.

Chemical bug control does not work well if under or over application occurs.   Although putting too much in the ground or on plants will kill pests, it creates other problems.  Herbicide or insecticide that is over applied wastes money and can lead to injury of the plants.

Under application means the product won’t perform well, and this situation can occur easily with missed areas or improper droplet size.

A number of factors make inconsistent spray application a real problem for farmers who spray.  For example, rolling terrain and obstacles can easily create poor consistency of spray.

The new system is designed to take terrain and speed into account, creating constant pressure depending on the environment.  The system uses a computer to monitor and adjust the sprayer’s control pump.  This means that the AIM Command will function independently of ground speed or application rate.

Bees Can Be Saved with Professional Help

June 24th, 2015

Bees Can Be Saved with Professional Help

When the experts from Honey Bee Rescue Farm arrived, a resident of Albuquerque had already decided she didn’t want to exterminate the colony.  She chose to get educated and take action to save her hive of about 6,000 bees.

Most bees are not aggressive but a large colony in your yard or near your house can cause trouble.  Many homeowners assume extermination is the only solution, but in fact there are beekeepers out there who will help.

When this Albuquerque homeowner discovered the hive, she knew it was too big to handle alone.  So she called Ray Espinoza, a local beekeeper, for assistance in making her porch safe again.

The removal was a delicate, step-by-step operation that involved removing bees from the colony, then cutting a hole in the porch wall to remove the waxen honeycomb.  Any bees still hanging out were vacuumed up and placed back with the hive.  The whole colony was transported about five miles from the home by another beekeeper.

Services for humane bee removal are comparable in cost to extermination, but it behooves homeowners to act fast.  Bee colonies can multiply quickly and involve other houses.

“That colony could’ve easily turned into 40,000 bees in the size of the cavity that they had to live in,” Espinoza said.

History’s Largest Insect Outbreak

June 23rd, 2015

History’s Largest Insect Outbreak

The bark beetle makes its home around the country, but has moved in permanently, it seems, to the state of California.  Drought conditions bring massive numbers of bugs, and California is in its fourth year of suffering from lack of water.

The mortality of trees in California will continue even if the drought ends, due to incredibly high number of bark beetles already infesting forests.  The scope of this problem is quantifiable:  A 2013 survey of forests revealed 4,000 acres with large swaths of dead trees; this year the number of impact acres was 164,000.

In the most recent aerial survey, the estimate of dead trees was around 2 million.

National Forests in California are estimated to have dead trees in the following ranges:

  • Angeles NF – 79,084
  • Cleveland National Forest – 78,054
  • Los Padres National Forest – 1,000,000
  • San Bernardino National Forest – 39,149

Of all these, however, the aerial survey showed that Sequoia National Forest was by far the worst victim, with over four million dead trees due to the bark beetle.

These unprecedented numbers have led forest experts to classify the bark beetle as the most destructive bug known.  Their spread “is the largest insect outbreak in the history of the planet … at least in recorded history,” said Diana L. Six, professor of forest entomology and pathology at The University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.

Take Care When Using Pesticides

June 22nd, 2015

Take Care When Using Pesticides

If you grow food, have a garden, or just generally don’t like bugs around, you’ve probably handled a pesticide.  Many are relatively safe, if used with precautions.  But pesticides, also known as insecticides, can be quite hazardous to humans.

In 2013, the poison control center in Pennsylvania received 1,125 cases of pesticide exposure from pyrethrin (the most common type), resulting in 176 individuals receiving treatment at a health care facility.  Most of these exposures could have been prevented with a few simple and sensible measures

Pyrethrins are easy to apply and typically purchased for quick removal of pests, but the problems with this common pesticide is often in how its stored rather than used.  To minimize exposure to these chemicals, remember the following tips:

Prevention goes a long way to keep pests away, so make sure screens are unblemished and secure and the cracks in your house don’t continue to invite bugs.

Keep standing water out of your yard, and use grout or steel wool to fill cracks that may lead from the outside in.

Remember that ninety-seven percent of insects are not pests, but are beneficial.  Know which bug you are trying to kill, and the best specific method.

Read the label before applying any insecticide and, once used, store in a locked area where children and pets cannot reach.