Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW

Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW
Click on this photo for a video of "Evening in Honor of the Sacred Honey Bee". Photo by Daniel Bahmani

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

National Honey Bee Awareness Day--coming up : August 21, 2010

(link not working, please go to website for more info)

National Honey Bee Awareness Day Proclamation

The National Honey Bee Day program started with a simple concept. Bring together beekeepers, bee associations and clubs, as well as other interested groups and individuals to connect with communities and advance beekeeping. By working together, and harnessing the efforts that so many individuals and groups already accomplish, and using a united effort on one day a year, the returns and message can be magnified.
The primary goals of the National Honey Bee Day program:
1) Promotion and the advancement of beekeeping.

2) Educate the public to honey bees and beekeeping.

3) Make the public aware of environmental concerns. Honey Bee Hive Inspection

The first National Honey Bee Day program was held on August 22, 2009. 16 states and 42 bee association and individual programs were presented to the public. Events consisted of programs such as educational seminars at environmental centers, open houses at apiaries, hosted honey tasting events, as well as displays at county and state fairs.

National Honey Bee Awareness Day (August 22, 2009) was formally recognized and a proclamation (click here to view) announced on the 11th. Day of August, 2009, the two-hundred thirty-fourth year of the Independence of the United States of America. Signed by Thomas J. Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture of the United States of America.

The first event and all the costs were paid out of the pockets of concerned individuals and association budgets. People contributed on so many levels to make this happen. This is what we were striving for when we decided to do a grassroots program. We asked beekeepers to step forward and help in the promotion of the very industry and hobby that they have come to enjoy. And did they ever! Many companies are doing wonderful things to help with solving some of the problems within the bee industry. Many bee groups are raising money for research, and funding other efforts. The National Honey Bee Day program is focused on expanding the beekeeping community, and working to educate the public to industry problems.

We are hard at work planning the next National Honey Bee Day event, which is scheduled for August 21, 2010. This year’s theme, selected by vote from beekeepers across the country is “Local Honey - Good for Bees, You, and the Environment!” We are asking for participating groups to incorporate the overall message into the program this year. The theme can be used in many ways to educate the public about the benefits of local beekeeping, local agriculture, and the overall bee industry in each particular community.

Please read the information on the "Sponsors" page of this website. The National Honey Bee Day is 100% free for bee associations, bee groups, and concerned individuals to participate. (No membership fees, no yearly dues, and no obligations.) But that does not mean we do not need some help.

Whether you are a beekeeper, non-beekeeper, farmer, backyard gardener, a nature lover, a concerned steward of the environment, or anyone else, please consider getting involved on some level. Together, we can make a difference. Thank you.

The National Honey Bee Day program operates and is administered under the registered non-profit listing and status of Pennsylvania Apiculture Inc., adhering to all laws and guidelines of a 501 ( c) and filed in the state of Pennsylvania.

Copyright © 2010 Bjorn Apiaries at Honeycomb Farms. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Webdex

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Children's coloring booklet to help raise pollinator awareness

Marghanita Hughes has put together a children s work/coloring booklet to help raise awareness of the importance of our pollinators:

The little Humbugs are Butterfly Girls and Dragonfly Boys – Eco warriors, half human, half bug book characters on a very special mission.
I created the Little Humbugs to tell a compelling story on how we need to care for the environment and to live in harmony with the Natural World. Through engaging characters, the power of words and images and interactive play, my goal is to connect children to nature and inspire and empower children to create change.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Great site!

Link to a practical guide to introducing the world's most prolific pollinators into your garden.

Principal Researcher - Professor Gordon Frankie

Stayed tuned: this site will have a new URL (easier to access!) in the coming weeks---

Hedgerows help all pollinators...

DAVIS, Calif., May 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- If USDA and the Xerces Society have their way, long rows of native wildflowers, clovers and blooming shrubs could border agricultural fields all across California. Currently the concept is in full bloom at USDA's Plant Materials Center (PMC) near Lockeford, Calif., where the partners hope to demonstrate to farmers and the public both the beauty and the practical benefits of planting forbs such as California poppies, lupines, baby blue eyes, clovers and other flowering plants on the edges of fields, orchards or vineyards.

"It's no secret that honey bees have been having a hard time lately," says Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Program Director for Xerces. "Native bees can work alongside the domesticated honey bees to pollinate the cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in California. Having flowers blooming from February to November will provide food and habitat for native pollinators honey bees alike."

California leads the Nation in adopting the practice of field-side hedgerows and last year accounted for half of all those developed in the United States. In 2009, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and farmers developed 57 miles of hedgerows - enough to string these colorful "bed and breakfasts for pollinators" from Merced to Fresno.

Margaret Smither-Kopperl, the newly-hired manager of the PMC, is originally from England. While California farmers are leading the adoption curve in the U.S., Smither-Kopperl says that hedgerows have been common in England for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. While originally serving as a type of fencing, they also host wildlife and pollinators and include berries and medicinal plants.

"You can even date the age of the hedges by the number of species they host," she says.

U.S. farmers in California and elsewhere have been using hedgerows planted with native species for more than a decade now in order to provide habitat for beneficial insects that can help control crop pests. Thomas Moore, state biologist with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, says that incorporating forbs into the hedgerow mix can create dense plantings that can outcompete field-bordering weeds, while supporting pest management and pollination.

NRCS and Xerces, a non-profit looking out for the well being of invertebrates, are working to design mixes of species that they hope will be grown at NRCS Plant Materials Centers across the Nation.

"Our hope is to develop easy-to-follow prescriptions of species that farmers and ranchers could adapt for their specific needs," says Moore.

Several Resource Conservation Districts and other partners throughout the state are working with NRCS and Xerces to demonstrate how hedgerows are beneficial for different crops and locations throughout California. The NRCS can share the cost of building hedgerows for eligible farmers and ranchers. Field offices statewide can provide more information or go to

To view a short YouTube video on California pollinators, go to

Source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

synopsis of article in French (see below)

The results show that the interplay between Nosema and imidacloprid at concentrations encountered naturally by bees, induces a mortality rate of energy and stress were significantly higher than each agent alone. While Nosema and imidacloprid alone have no effect, their combination results in a significant reduction in the production of glucose oxidase.

This suggests the long-term, more immediate effects of these two agents on bee mortality, increased sensitivity of the hive to pathogens due to the decrease of antiseptic products. Reference :Alaux C., Brunet JL, Dussaubat C., MONDET F., Tchamitchan S., Cousin M., Brillard J., A. Baldy, Belzunces LP, Le Conte Y. Interaction between a Nosema microspores and neonicotinoid Weaken Honeybees (Apis mellifera) Environmental Microbiology , (2009) doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2009.02123.x

L’interaction entre pathogène et insecticide affecte la santé des abeilles

ngestion de Nosema par une abeille.
© INRA / Claudia Dussaubat
Spores de Nosema. © INRA / Claudia Dussaubat
Jusqu'à présent, la majorité des études visant à expliquer les mortalités massives d’abeilles se sont focalisées sur un seul facteur de stress (pesticides, pathogènes…). Plusieurs équipes de chercheurs de l’INRA ont analysé les effets de l’interaction entre un champignon pathogène et un insecticide sur la santé des abeilles. Ils montrent pour la première fois que l’effet combiné induit un taux de mortalité plus élevé que chaque agent seul.

Face aux mortalités massives observées chez les abeilles, les chercheurs de l’INRA ont testé l’hypothèse d’un syndrome multifactoriel en analysant les effets interactifs entre un pathogène et un insecticide sur la santé de ces insectes. Ils ont ainsi démontré pour la première fois que l’interaction entre ces deux agents affecte de manière significative la santé des abeilles.
L’imidaclopride est un insecticide à usage agricole largement utilisé. Malgré un pourcentage élevé de ruches contenant des résidus de ce produit (en France, plus de 50 %), il est souvent difficile d’établir un lien entre son utilisation et le taux de mortalité des abeilles. Le champignon Nosema ceranae a été rendu responsable de pertes massives d’abeilles en Espagne, et associé à des pertes aux Etats-Unis. Nosema altère la nutrition de l’abeille en colonisant l’intestin, et perturbe le comportement alimentaire. Il induit une consommation plus importante de nourriture énergétique chez l'abeille (stress énergétique).

Les chercheurs ont étudié les effets de l’interaction de ces deux agents sur la santé des abeilles en examinant différents éléments : la mortalité individuelle et le stress énergétique (mesuré par la consommation de saccharose), l’immunité individuelle et l’immunité sociale (de la colonie). Comme insectes sociaux, la santé des abeilles n’est en effet pas seulement individuelle, mais elle dépend également du fonctionnement global de la ruche.

Les résultats montrent que l’effet combiné entre Nosema et l’imidaclopride, à des concentrations rencontrées naturellement par les abeilles, induit un taux de mortalité et un stress énergétique significativement plus élevés que chaque agent seul.

Si au niveau des individus, aucun effet sur l’immunité des ouvrières n’a été observé, l’action combinée des deux agents testés affecte l’immunité de la ruche. Pour tester cette immunité au niveau de la colonie, les chercheurs ont mesuré le taux de production de la glucose oxydase. En effet, cette enzyme permet la production d’antiseptiques (H2O2) dans la nourriture de larves et le miel, et donc de prévenir toute contamination de la nourriture. Alors que Nosema et l’imidaclopride seuls n’ont aucun effet, leur combinaison provoque une réduction significative de la production de glucose oxydase. Ceci suggère sur le long-terme, en plus des effets immédiats de ces deux agents sur la mortalité des abeilles, une sensibilité accrue de la ruche aux pathogènes, due à la diminution des antiseptiques produits.

En se focalisant sur les effets des pesticides ou pathogènes seuls, leurs effets synergiques ont longtemps été ignorés. Cette synergie entre agents pathogènes et doses subléthales de pesticides est par ailleurs bien établie en lutte intégrée contre les insectes ravageurs.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe The world may be on the brink of biological disaster

Fears for crops as shock figures from America show scale of bee catastrophe

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

• Alison Benjamin on the prospect of a bee-less world
• In pictures: Why the decline in bees matters

Week in wildlife : A honeybee pollinates a flower in a citrus grove, Israel home
The Observer

Honey bees are vital insect pollinators, responsible for the healthy development of many of the world’s major food crops. Photograph: David Silverman/Getty Images

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country's estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.

Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods. The disappearance of so many colonies has also been dubbed "Mary Celeste syndrome" due to the absence of dead bees in many of the empty hives.

US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. "We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies," said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS's bee research laboratory.

A global review of honeybee deaths by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported last week that there was no one single cause, but pointed the finger at the "irresponsible use" of pesticides that may damage bee health and make them more susceptible to diseases. Bernard Vallat, the OIE's director-general, warned: "Bees contribute to global food security, and their extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster."

Dave Hackenberg of Hackenberg Apiaries, the Pennsylvania-based commercial beekeeper who first raised the alarm about CCD, said that last year had been the worst yet for bee losses, with 62% of his 2,600 hives dying between May 2009 and April 2010. "It's getting worse," he said. "The AIA survey doesn't give you the full picture because it is only measuring losses through the winter. In the summer the bees are exposed to lots of pesticides. Farmers mix them together and no one has any idea what the effects might be."

Pettis agreed that losses in some commercial operations are running at 50% or greater. "Continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable for commercial beekeepers," he said, adding that a solution may be years away. "Look at Aids, they have billions in research dollars and a causative agent and still no cure. Research takes time and beehives are complex organisms."

In the UK it is still too early to judge how Britain's estimated 250,000 honeybee colonies have fared during the long winter. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers' Association, said: "Anecdotally, it is hugely variable. There are reports of some beekeepers losing almost a third of their hives and others losing none." Results from a survey of the association's 15,000 members are expected this month.

John Chapple, chairman of the London Beekeepers' Association, put losses among his 150 members at between a fifth and a quarter. Eight of his 36 hives across the capital did not survive. "There are still a lot of mysterious disappearances," he said. "We are no nearer to knowing what is causing them."

Bee farmers in Scotland have reported losses on the American scale for the past three years. Andrew Scarlett, a Perthshire-based bee farmer and honey packer, lost 80% of his 1,200 hives this winter. But he attributed the massive decline to a virulent bacterial infection that quickly spread because of a lack of bee inspectors, coupled with sustained poor weather that prevented honeybees from building up sufficient pollen and nectar stores.

The government's National Bee Unit has always denied the existence of CCD in Britain, despite honeybee losses of 20% during the winter of 2008-09 and close to a third the previous year. It attributes the demise to the varroa mite – which is found in almost every UK hive – and rainy summers that stop bees foraging for food.

In a hard-hitting report last year, the National Audit Office suggested that amateur beekeepers who failed to spot diseases in bees were a threat to honeybees' survival and called for the National Bee Unit to carry out more inspections and train more beekeepers. Last summer MPs on the influential cross-party public accounts committee called on the government to fund more research into what it called the "alarming" decline of honeybees.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has contributed £2.5m towards a £10m fund for research on pollinators. The public accounts committee has called for a significant proportion of this funding to be "ring-fenced" for honeybees. Decisions on which research projects to back are expected this month.

Flowering plants require insects for pollination. The most effective is the honeybee, which pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide. As well as most fruits and vegetables – including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots – they pollinate nuts, sunflowers and oil-seed rape. Coffee, soya beans, clovers – like alfafa, which is used for cattle feed – and even cotton are all dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields.

In the UK alone, honeybee pollination is valued at £200m. Mankind has been managing and transporting bees for centuries to pollinate food and produce honey, nature's natural sweetener and antiseptic. Their extinction would mean not only a colourless, meatless diet of cereals and rice, and cottonless clothes, but a landscape without orchards, allotments and meadows of wildflowers – and the collapse of the food chain that sustains wild birds and animals.

1 Oct 2009

Call for research into pesticides implicated in deaths of honeybees
16 Jul 2009

Greenwash: Bayer pesticide seal of approval stings Britain's beekeepers
28 Jan 2009

Co-op bans eight pesticides after worldwide beehive collapse
10 Nov 2008

Police inquiry after meat bait with pesticides kills sea eagle

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Bees who would not be left behind

The Bees Who would not be Left Behind (from: Irish Culture and Customs,
by Bridget Haggerty

Before the establishment of the great Irish monasteries, there lived a young man named Modomnoc who was a descendant of the royal line of O'Neil. He wanted to be a priest and so he left Ireland and went to be educated under the great Saint David at Mynyw (Menevia, now Saint David's) Monastery in Wales. All those who resided in the community were expected to share in the manual work as well as the study and worship; Modomnoc was given charge of the bees and he loved it. He cared for them tenderly, keeping them in straw skeps in a special sheltered corner of the garden, where he planted the kinds of flowers the bees loved best.

Every time they swarmed, he captured the swarm very gently and lovingly and set up yet another hive. He talked to the bees as he worked among them and they buzzed around his head in clouds. It was as if they were responding to his soothing words.

At the end of summer, they gave him a surfeit of honey — so much that Modomnoc needed help carrying it into the monastery. Thanks to Modomnoc and his bees, the monks never ran out of honey for their meals or for making mead - their favorite beverage.

The good Modomnoc thanked God for this, and he also thanked the bees. He would walk among the skeps in the evening and talk to them, and the bees would come out to meet him. All the other monks carefully avoided that corner of the monastery garden because they were afraid of being stung. But he bees never stung Modomnoc.

Soon his years of study ended, and Modomnoc had to return to Ireland to begin his priestly ministry. While he was glad to be returning home, he knew he would miss his bees. On the day of his departure, he said good-bye to the Abbot, the monks, and his fellow students. Then he went down to the garden to bid his little friends farewell.

They came out in the hundreds of thousands in answer to his voice and never was there such a buzzing and excitement among the rows and rows of hives. The monks stood at a distance watching the commotion in wonder, "You'd think the bees knew," they said. "You'd think they knew that Modomnoc was going away."

Modomnoc resolutely turned, went down to the shore, and boarded the ship. When they were about three miles from the shore, Modomnoc saw what looked like a little black cloud in the sky in the direction of the Welsh coast. He watched it curiously and as it came closer, he saw to his amazement that it was a swarm of bees. It was a gigantic swarm - all the bees from all the hives in the monastery garden had followed him!

They settled on the boat near Modomnoc who was very unhappy with his friends. "How foolish of you," he scolded them, "you do not belong to me but to the monastery! How do you suppose the monks can do without honey for their meals or honey-wine to drink? Go back at once, you foolish creatures!" But if the bees understood what he said, they did not obey him. They settled down with a sleepy kind of murmur, and there they stayed. The sailors did not like it and demanded of Modomnoc what he intended to do.

He told the sailors to turn the boat back for Wales. It was already too far for the bees to fly back, even if they wanted to obey him. He could not allow his little friends to suffer for their foolishness. But the wind was blowing the boat to Ireland and when they turned back, the sail was useless. The sailors had to furl it and row back to the Welsh coast. They were furious but were too much afraid of the bees to do otherwise.

The abbott and the monks were very surprised to see a somewhat embarrassed Modomnoc coming back. As he explained what happened, the bees made straight for their hives and settled down. "Wait until tomorrow," advised the abbot, "but don't say goodbye to the bees. They will be over the parting by then."

Next morning, the boat was again in readiness for Modomnoc and this time he left hurriedly without any fuss of farewell. But, when they were about three miles from the shore, he was dismayed to see that little black cloud rising up over the Welsh coast The sailors turned back to shore immediately.

Once more, Modomnoc had to seek out the abbot and tell him what happened. "What am I to do?" he pleaded. "I must go home. The bees won't let me go without them - but I can't deprive you of them. They are too valuable to the monastery."

The abbott said, "Modomnoc, I give you the bees. Take them with my blessing. I am certain they would not thrive without you. Take them. We'll get other bees for the monastery."

The abbot went down to the boat and talked with the sailors. "If the bees follow Modomnoc for the third time, take them to Ireland with him and my blessing." But it took a long time and a great deal of persuasion to get the sailors to agree to this arrangement. The abbot assured the sailors that the bees would give them no trouble as long as Modomnoc was on board.

For the third time the boat set sail and Modomnoc prayed fervently that the bees would have the sense to stay in their pleasant garden rather than risk their lives at sea. But, for the third time, he saw the black cloud rise over the coast of Wales. This time the boat did not turn back. Resigned to the will of God and the persistence of his faithful friends, he coaxed the swarm into a sheltered corner of the boat. There, much to the relief of the sailors, they quietly remained throughout the voyage.

When he landed in Ireland, Modomnoc set up a church at Bremore, near Balbriggan in Co.Dublin. Here, he established the bees in a pleasant garden similar to the one in Wales. To this day, the place is known as "the Church of the Beekeeper."

Sources: This story and many others gathered from The Book of Saints ( Macmillan); Twenty Tales of Irish Saints by A. Curtayne (Sheed and Ward); The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, by D.H. Farmer (Oxford University Press); The Glorious Company: Lives of Great Christians for Daily Devotion, vol. I. by F. C. Gill, (Epworth Press); For All the Saints web site; and Celtic Orthodox Christianity web site.

Image: Bee Skep with Frog from All posters and Prints.

Bees and Electrosmog: pdf file booklet, available for download

Please email me if you'd like a copy of BEES, BIRDS AND MANKIND
Destroying Nature by ‘Electrosmog’
Project supported by E.Oppenheimer & Son
and the Diamond Route

Translation by Marlies von Lüttichau*
Written by Ulrich Warnke

This is a 45 page Pdf, written in 2007, a very thoroughly researched paper. I don't know how to post a link to it on the blog (is there a way? anyone know?)

thanks, "bee"

Monday, May 3, 2010

"COLONY": new film on beekeepers, and Colony Collapse Disorder

(Just caught this film today at the S.F.Int.Film Festival. Hope others get a chance to see it!)

We admire some documentaries for their artistry and others for their urgency. Rarely do we see a film that combines both of these qualities as impressively as this debut by directors Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell. Their unlikely topic is the world of beekeepers during the recent (and ongoing) crisis known as colony collapse disorder.

Beautifully photographed by McDonnell and skilfully edited by Gunn, Colony follows several American beekeepers during 2008 and 2009 as the country's economy spiralled downward. Among them is David Hackenberg, who first identified colony collapse disorder when he mysteriously lost eighty million bees from his Florida hives. Many keepers blamed insecticides for killing more than one quarter of the bees in the United States, but no one had any evidence. We see the keepers search for solutions, testify before politicians and confront pesticide manufacturers.

The mystery is like something out of science fiction and has dark implications for the future. Because our agriculture depends on pollination, when bees are in trouble, so is society. The expression “busy as a bee” gains deeper meaning after hearing the quirky entrepreneur David Mendes describe his migratory pattern. Packing thousands of hives onto a tractor-trailer, he travels across the country, renting out his bees to farmers for weeks at a time, following crop cycles from Maine to Florida to California.

At the heart of this film is the Seppi family, newcomers to the beekeeping world who are guided by their deep Christian faith. Based in California, the Seppis contract their bees to almond growers, who require over 1.3 million hives for the world's biggest pollination. As the Seppis face the collapse of their colony and the economy, tensions course through the family.

Gunn and McDonnell carefully compose these scenes, attaining an intimacy without being intrusive. The filmmakers are equally capable at filming on the microcosmic scale, drawing us into the world of bees so that we root for their survival as much as our own.

Thom Powers

Carter GunnCarter Gunn is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Since graduating from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, he has worked as an assistant editor on several films, including I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA (07), James Blunt: Return to Kosovo (07) and Quest for Honor (09). Colony (09) is his feature-length directorial debut.

Ross McDonnellRoss McDonnell was born in Dublin and completed his B.A. in Communication Studies at Dublin City University. Colony (09) is his feature-length directorial debut.