Bees for Development Journal Edition 115 - June 2015

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Bees for Development


115 – June 2015


The Journal for Sustainable Beekeeping 1

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

Dear friends Milan is hosting World Expo 2015 with the theme Feeding the Planet. Visitors to the UK Pavilion walk through an apple orchard and then - raised to their eye level – a wildflower meadow, to perceive the world from the perspective of insect pollinators. Next is a 14 metre high aluminium ‘hive’, connected to a real hive in the UK where, as the bees in the real hive go about their work, they power the 1,000 lights and sounds within the hive in Milan. Using clever technology, visitors can even feel the vibrations within the real hive. The Expo hive is intended as a metaphor for Britain as a hive of innovation and creativity helping to feed the planet. However for bee admirers and indeed all visitors to the Pavilion, the hive provides an inspirational, sensory appreciation of life inside the colony. Indeed it is marvellous to see this monumental appreciation of the vital role of bees within the global food chain. Expo is open until the end of October, and you can see and hear it here too: On the other side of the planet, September brings the 44th Apimondia Congress, the main world bee event that takes place every two years, in Daejeon, South Korea. The Korean hosts are planning a smooth, hightech and fun Congress - and as we go to press there are travel awards still available for beekeepers and scientists from developing countries: do apply if you are interested to attend Nicola Bradbear

Bees for Development

Issue 115: June 2015 In this issue


Practical beekeeping: Healthy bees by natural keeping – Apiary location?........... 3 Recent Research........................... 5 Apis dorsata – champions of defence......................................... 6 Practical beekeeping: Bee suits.......................................11 Look & Learn Ahead............13 & 14

BfD Trust

Works to assist beekeepers in developing countries. (UK Registered Charity1078803)


115 – June 2015


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gratefully acknowledge Marr Munning Trust, E H Thorne (Beehives) Ltd, Size of Wales, The Waterloo Foundation, and the many groups and individuals who support our work. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to help. See page 20 for how to become a Supporter.

News around the World................14 Bookshelf.....................................18 The Journal for Sustainable Beekeeping

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BfD Journal

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Cover picture UK Pavilion by night with visitors. The Pavilion was designed by Wolfgang Buttress, a British artist in collaboration with engineer Tristan Simmonds. Picture courtesy of UKTI © Crown Copyright

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

Practical Beekeeping

Healthy bees by natural keeping APIARY LOCATION Wolfgang Ritter

Keywords: bee density, beekeeping practice, forage, nesting site, Varroa

Honey bees’ desires cannot always be met. Everyone is talking about bee distress. Important causes such as new pathogens, pesticides, and monocultural landscapes have already been identified. But we have not examined our own beekeeping practices. In this new series, we will examine what bees want and how far we can meet their needs by appropriate management techniques.

Beekeepers choose apiary sites and their decision is based on the variety of forage available. This can be in a garden, on a balcony, or even high on a roof. For bees it is different: in the course of their development and evolution over thousands of years, bees have developed specific selection criteria for their nesting sites. They are not always successful, as demonstrated by the mortality rate of wild swarms – although the loss is below 10%. A quorum consisting of a group of bees within a swarm decides where the colony will settle. But what are their criteria? For many years, the American researcher and BfD Trust Patron, Professor Thomas Seeley, has observed honey bees under


In Africa bee hives are often placed in trees


natural conditions in large forested areas. He undertook a series of scientific examinations to answer specific questions. Because of his research we know much more about what is natural for bees.

At a dizzy height If a bee swarm has a choice of different potential nesting places, (the bees in Seeley’s examinations had opportunity to do so), they always prefer a place several metres high. For beekeepers this is rather frustrating - because who likes to climb up a tree to look after their bees? From the bees’ point of view, however, it makes sense: high up they are safe from attacks and robbing. Bears and other mammals

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

are natural enemies, and are not averse to climbing, but the scent of honey and wax does not reach predators if they are walking on the ground.

alarmed they fly everywhere and rob anything smelling like bees.

Not too close together According to Seeley’s examinations, colonies occurred in the forest every 0.85 km. Within this area, gathering nectar and pollen is most economical for them and there is little risk of transferring disease due to drifting and robbing. In closer vicinity, this risk becomes more extreme. Once PHOTO © K NEUMANN

Only healthy bees can reach the entrance hole of a nest at a height. The loss of ill bees strengthens the colony’s self-healing capacity. Climbing aids, or hives placed on the ground are not natural and are therefore a disadvantage for bee health. Bee hives hanging in trees are chosen by a swarm because they are the best nesting place for the bees. Roofs or

balconies provide the height, but have nothing to do with natural surroundings. The best way would be for beekeepers to place hives on a high stand to facilitate easy handling.

Bee density has been regarded as one of the most essential criteria for the occurrence and transfer of diseases. However, beekeepers cannot maintain a distance of several hundred metres between colonies. The standard apiary with several colonies will therefore remain the rule. The ordinary placement of hives in a row offers the best conditions for transfer of disease. The situation is even more extreme in a bee house or a trailer used for migratory beekeeping. Today everything has become even more difficult, because bees tend to drift more often than before due to Varroa, viruses and insidious contamination with certain pesticides. Therefore, old traditions and approved methods have to be re-evaluated. It is better to place colonies separately, or in pairs, or, if in block form, with entrance holes facing different directions.

No mass animal husbandry

When entrance holes are placed above, below and next to each other, it makes orientation difficult for bees. Painting in different colours is a little help only

Depending on the scale of beekeeping, it is important to balance bee health against economy: if you consider only access routes and working time, and place between 60 and 200 colonies in one location, your beekeeping will have reached mass animal husbandry. As for example with cattle and pigs, this has to be firmly rejected, even if the suffering of the bees is not obviously visible. The context, however, is similar, because diseases are transferred: quickly, weak colonies are easily robbed and losses are certain. A maximum of 20 to 30 colonies in one apiary during summer is a reasonable compromise. In times of mass foraging, for example, during honeydew flow, the number may increase. Most critical are the times without forage when the bees have to be fed. At such times even 20 colonies can be too many.

Enough food

If colonies are placed in a row, there is a higher risk of drifting than if they are kept in blocks with the entrance holes facing in four different directions (Graphic: Helmut Flubacher according to a model by Ritter (2014) in Bienen naturgemäß halten (Natural Beekeeping). Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany. In German 4

How many colonies can be kept at one location depends, of course, on available food resources. When there is not enough food, in cold or dry periods, not all the colonies can survive. To place bee colonies somewhere assuming that they will care for themselves is

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

reckless. Statistically, in Germany, there are around two colonies per km2. According to Seeley, with good food supply conditions existing at his location, there were five colonies per km2. But these average numbers say nothing about agglomerations in some areas.

Checklist: Is my apiary location compatible with natural standards? Condition Number of colonies at the location Flight radius (colonies/km2) Placement of the colonies Nest direction Height of the nest entrance Food supply in spring

Solar heat A careful selection of location can also strengthen the self-healing capacity of colonies. Every day in healthy colonies, 100 to 1,000 bees die away from the nest, particularly in regions with long winter periods. Colonies must have the opportunity to fly out to defecate and get rid of ill bees as often as possible. For this purpose, bees must be able to recognise the weather in winter and spring, and when it is good enough for them to fly. If the entrance hole of the hive faces south it is easier for them. Therefore, it is not surprising that wild swarms prefer entrance holes facing that direction.

Food supply in late summer

RECENT RESEARCH Stingless bees help low-income communities









2/4 block


Bee house

South >5 metres

West Stand

Willow/ flowering fruit trees Heather/ Sunflower


East Climbing aids Agrarian area

North On the ground Grassland

Agrarian area



From their choice of location we can learn a lot from the bees. Those beekeepers who want to practise natural beekeeping should try to meet the bees’ requirements as perfectly as possible.

Author details: OIE, Reference Laboratory at CVUA Freiburg, Am Moosweiher 2, D79108 Freiburg, Germany BfD acknowledges as the original source of this article

services, and contribute to the development of rural communities. This work provides guidelines to optimise the activity, make it more attractive to new entrepreneurs, and increase its value as a tool for sustainable development.

Imperatriz-Fonseca,V.L. (2015) Bees for development: Brazilian survey reveals how to optimize stingless beekeeping. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0121157. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0121157

For more information see Jaffé,R.; Pope,N.; Carvalho,A.T.; Maia,U.M.; Blochtein,B.; Carvalho, C.A.L.; Carvalho-Zilse,G.A.; Freitas,B.M.; Menezes,C.; Ribeiro,M.F.; Venturieri,G.C.; PHOTO © RODOLFO JAFFÉ

Brazilian researchers published an article in the April edition of the journal Plos One, concerning how indigenous bees, such as stingless bees, can help low-income communities to earn additional revenues, reduce the need to exploit other natural resources, and create incentives to protect the environment. Stingless bee keeping helps protect many indigenous bees along with their pollination services, which assure crop yields and help to maintain plant biodiversity in many natural ecosystems.


In Brazil and across developing countries, stingless beekeeping remains an informal activity, with a range of different management practices. Stingless beekeeping could help protect the bees, safeguard their pollination 5

One of the stingless bee beekeepers of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, interviewed by the researchers. Colonies of the Jandaira stingless bee Melipona subnitida can be seen hanging below the roof

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

Apis dorsata - champions of defence Nikolaus Koeniger and Gudrun Koeniger Key words: aculeus, alarm pheromone, Apis spp, bee behaviour, bee curtain, dwarf honey bee, giant honey bee, guard bee, honey hunting, migration

branch and form the so-called curtain (see image at foot of next page). In addition to the bees that are clinging to the branch, the bees are holding each other in chains.

Where are all the elephants, rhinos and tigers of the South East Asian rain forest? Visitors from all over the world get a clear answer to this question when they enter rain forests: all these spectacular and great animals are hiding. It is extremely difficult, even cumbersome, to view those beasts in the wild, except in special parks or fenced in places for tourists. But there is a unique and obvious exception: in the open, high up in huge, outstanding trees, it is possible to see many large combs of the giant honey bee Apis dorsata.

The origin of the honey bee sting dates back to the ovipositor of basic insect groups. The ovipositor of a tropical cricket is shown in the image at the foot of this page.

Well prepared defence Schematic of a single comb of Apis dorsata hanging under a large branch. A multiple layer of worker bees hang down from the branch and form a curtain of bees. Colony defence by Apis dorsata is a sophisticated, high achievement of honey bee evolution with a long history of gradual improvements. The natural evolution of honey bees is fundamentally linked to their ability to defend themselves from predators and honey robbers. We can assume that several million PHOTOS © NIKO & GUDRUN KOENIGER

At first glance it seems unbelievable, that while elephants, tigers and even the strong Asian bears are hiding, these nests of giant honey bees demonstrate their presence over a wide range of sight! One might conclude that these combs are empty, and therefore a colony is a worthless prey? However, the contrary is true: a huge amount of honey, brood, pollen and the protein of the (seasonally) over 70,000 worker bees offers a rewarding prey for uncountable numbers of predators, ranging from human honey hunters, bears and birds, to ants, moths, spiders, wasps and many others. In our respect for this demonstration of strength, power and dauntlessness, we understand Apis dorsata’s message which means (translated into our words): “Look, we are here and we are well prepared to defend and ward off any attack!”

Organisation and evolution The single comb of Apis dorsata is constructed under a large horizontal branch - or under any horizontal structure including bridges, buildings or rocks: the comb is totally shielded by a multiple layer of worker bees that hang down from the nesting

years ago the predecessors of our honey bees were living solitarily, like some solitary bees today. Their survival and further development was based on simple but effective defensive behaviour. Already the key for their survival was based on a remarkable and unique development invention: the stinger, or scientifically, the aculeus. Over an even longer period dating back to the expansion of insects, the ovipositor of females of primitive insects like grasshoppers and other orthopterans gradually changed. These insects used the ovipositor to hide their eggs - for example in the soil.

Ovipositor of a tropical cricket 6

At one end the ancient development function of egg laying was lost and an effective weapon for defence originated. This stinger laid the base for the development of all hymenopteran societies of today - from social wasps through ants to the numerous social bees.

Cavity protection Study of the defence situation of bees’ nests reveals a great advantage and its important impact that is rarely fully recognised. Bee species generally

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

nest in cavities and the walls of the cavity offer all around protection. That facilitates defence as it allows the bees to mainly guard the nest entrance. At this opening most intruders or predators are expected - and must be repelled. With further evolution ancestral honey bees gained sociality: colonies became larger and even in those early times - over 70 million years ago, the rules of cost and benefit were valid. This means that ultimately the benefits of any behaviour had to exceed its costs - otherwise the species would go extinct. For example a solitary bee with a small nest can afford only a limited investment in defence. On the other hand the same rule concerns a predator. For a small colony, a small prey, a predator cannot invest too much. This phenomenon is properly named as the arms race of the predator and its prey. Therefore, the large nests of ancestral honey bees were surely targeted by

powerful predators and to survive, a heavy investment was needed by the bees to improve their defence. Considering the cavity nesting honey bees of today is helpful and allows us to address a few important achievements out of a large number of more recent adaptations. When bees defend against mammals (including humans) the sting lodges in the skin as the bee pulls away. This fast separation of the sting is termed autotomy. Without its sting, the bee continues to perform fake stinging flights. They target and hit again and again. Buzzing, biting and fake stinging movements further increase the impact on the intruder. After a short period, often less than one hour after the loss of its sting, the worker bee will die as a result of the large rupture resulting from losing the sting. Stinging a mammal is therefore, a suicidal act by a honey bee worker.

Looking however at a colony with more than 10,000 worker bees, the loss of a few guard bees is a small sacrifice whenever the existence of the whole colony is endangered by attack from a bear or other mammalian predator. Defence against ants, wasps and other insects does not cost the life of the guard bees because the stings can be retracted after hitting the integument of insects. The facts mentioned above are shared by all honey bees (i.e. species of the genus Apis). Apis dorsata builds an exposed nest, visible from far away. So what is the secret of this bee species? To explore this question further, we return to the natural evolution of honey bees.

Out in the open As all related groups of honey bees nest in cavities it is probable that also the first honey bees nested in cavities. We mentioned already that the cavity walls offer good protection. But what were the

A curtain of Apis dorsata that is formed by head-up, hanging worker bees. 70-80% of the colony’s workers are engaged in this task


Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

reasons for bee colonies leaving the cavity and building combs in the open? Let us remember the situation of our honey bees. After leaving the old nest a honey bee swarm sends out scout bees to find a new nesting cavity. Often this is successful within a day or two. Our observations in the southeast Asian rainforest, however, revealed that suitable cavities are often occupied by many other animal species ranging from ants and stingless bees to snakes and small mammals such as mice and squirrels. Therefore swarms will spend much time looking for nest sites during which time the stores carried by the bees might be depleted, and the number of bees will decline because the swarms do not rear young bees. There are many more arguments why honey bees might have adapted to nest in the open. For it is sufficient to realise that open nesting honey bees have free access to uncountable nesting sites and have escaped the dangerous necessity to compete for cavities. The walls of nest cavities offer protection and therefore as soon as colonies started to nest in the open, the exposure to predators became much higher. Furthermore their focus defence area (the nest entrance) disappeared and attacks were to be expected from all directions and at all points of the open nest. Therefore transition to open nesting could be successful only if colony defence At the end of the local honey flow, Apis dorsata colonies leave their huge combs. The dimensions become apparent as the co-author holds it was intensified. Principally there were two alternative possibilities, and both are found within existing honey bees. Concerning the dwarf honey bee species: these bees and their colonies became smaller so that they could hide better. Colonies of Apis andreniformis and Apis florea are often no larger than the leaves of the bushes where they build a single comb around a small twig. In case of an attack from a dominant predator the bees – after having tried in vain to defend –

A stinging guard bee of Apis dorsata 8

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

leave the comb and fly off together with the mother queen. Because of the availability of uncountable nesting sites they start building a new comb nearby – hopefully in a more hidden place.

Size and strength The giant honey bees took the opposite route. The size of the worker bees increased resulting in an increase of defensiveness. Together with the increase in size, the length of the sting increased and defending guards of Apis dorsata have no difficulties penetrating dense beekeeping clothing with their long stings to reach to our skin. We take this as excellent proof of the extreme stinging efficiency of these bees. Also the size of the worker bee mandibles increased and became stronger and more powerful. Regularly we have found decapitated weaver ants and other heavily mutilated insects when we have examined the debris below Apis dorsata colonies. The increased strength of the single worker bee surely contributes to the success of Apis dorsata defence techniques. The main feature and the overwhelming power of defence, however, results from the highly effective communication between the guard bees. Research into Apis dorsata inevitably leads to experiencing the sting of its guard bees and we were surprised that the sting – though considerably larger than the sting of Apis dorsata – is usually no more painful. Many of our colleagues share this impression too. But the vast difference compared to many other honey bee species is the large number of defending bees. Even a good quality bee veil does not help because of the sheer number of bees, biting and buzzing on the screen of the veil, blocking your sight and causing danger amidst the dense vegetation of a forest. How do the guard bees manage to be there in such immense numbers?

Alarmed Any alarmed guard bee will immediately fly back to the nest and perform an alarm run. With an exposed sting this bee will zig

Clusters of guard bees hang at the lower rim of the comb. They will soon become airborne and start searching for aggressors on the ground zag on the ‘curtain’ resulting in its sudden dissolving. With a few hissing sounds the bees will run to the lower rim of the comb and build large thin chains. These clusters all fall down at the same time and the bees will start their stinging flights just before they reach the ground. However it is not just a single colony which will respond this way. Normally many nearby colonies will join the alarm and in case of a heavier attack, there will be over 10,000 guard bees involved. Now, smelling the alarm pheromones which evaporate from stings anchored in our skin or in our protective suits, guard bees will concentrate and focus in large numbers on us or any other stung intruder. This naturally leads to a fast retreat but without much effect. Defending guard bees will follow over great distances and for many hours. The chemical analysis of Apis dorsata’s alarm pheromones gave the answer to this surprising fact. Different from Apis mellifera, Apis dorsata bees possess a longer, more effective component 9

which enables the bees to pursue a stung enemy over several hours. Here we add a personal experience from Sri Lanka. We were staying in a nice guest house and were awoken by

Shooting a climbing rope in a bee tree

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

people shouting in pain in the early morning. We saw Apis dorsata guard bees flying against our windows and a stung guest complained about the “nasty wasps”. We did not say anything, but swiftly dressed and collected our bee suits with stings from the previous day that we had left in the garden and which were being targeted by the defending bees. This had released the colony defence. Thirty minutes later the colonies on a bee tree nearby calmed down and the hazard was over.

At ease But many people in Asia who are passing near Apis dorsata colonies will not agree that these giant honey bees belong to the most dangerous animals of Asia, as the renowned bee researcher the late Professor Roger Morse of Cornell University has written. In the middle of several cities, at water towers and many Dagobas and Minarets are colonies of Apis dorsata and these bees’ behaviour is drastically different. They do not react to people, traffic or to the large crowds worshipping nearby. One reason for this striking difference results from the migratory behaviour of Apis dorsata. When a swarm settles at a location the bees need a few days to explore their surroundings or territory. During these first days, the orientation phase, the bees learn and experience what is ‘normal’ at this place. Normal circumstances are not perceived as a threat to the colony, and as a consequence do not release defence. This was our idea when we started to explore these bees a little further. But how could we prove it by experiment? We constructed a simple cage for our protection using wooden planks, wire screen and some light cloth, all material to which bees cannot anchor a sting. Next we transported this cage close to an Apis dorsata colony in the jungle and during the night one of us would enter the cage. With first daylight in the morning we saw a full alarm reaction of the colony: thousands of guard bees started stinging flights and buzzed at, and bit the screen of the cage. This was continued over the whole

Half way up to the colonies day and only in the darkness of the night were we able to leave the cage. Next day a similar situation – and to make a long story short, after five days the colony had calmed down again and started normal foraging activity. We could leave the protective cage during the day without releasing any defence reaction and we were able to record the dances of foragers from a close distance. This short episode is not scientific proof that

Apis dorsata colonies learn their territory and changes which might occur. It encouraged us, however, to accustom the colonies step by step to our presence and thus pave a way to many research results. Author details Martin–Luther-Universität, Institut für Biologie, Bereich Zoologie, AG Molekulare Ökologie, Hoher Weg 4, 06120 Halle, Germany

Apis dorsata colonies tolerate our close presence 10

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Practical Beekeeping

Bee suits – protection for beekeepers but not for bees? Monica Barlow and Nicola Bradbear Keywords: alarm pheromone, Apis sp, bee friendly management, bee sting, movable-frame hive

Bee-proof clothing is useful in providing confidence for the beginner working with bees. It is important to learn to be gentle with bees, and never to harm or aggravate them.

produces a pheromone recognised by her nest mates as a danger signal. More bees rush to the source of the scent to defend their home, and many stings can result. Beekeepers have known for centuries that the scent of a sting is an alarm call to other bees, and their oldest protection has always been smoke. Smoke hides the scent of the sting and disrupts the

colony’s communication system, thereby giving the beekeeper more time to remove honey or inspect combs. If stung, it is good to blow smoke over the sting as soon as possible to mask the scent. Gentleness is most important when manipulating hives. Bees dislike their nest being knocked, and will interpret rapid or panicky movements as a threat,

Bees sting to protect their brood nest and honey stores. However there are times when no matter how careful the beekeeper, bees sting. Careful handling, good observation and understanding of the need to maintain the scent, heat and humidity within the brood nest, all enable a beekeeper to manage bees without getting stung. Many beekeepers do not wear special protective clothing when visiting their bees. The immediate effect of a sting is sharp pain followed by itching and swelling, the result of histamine being released into human tissues. Most beekeepers develop some immunity and react moderately to stings. Severe results occur only if a person receives dozens of stings at once. Very few people are hypersensitive to bee venom and undergo anaphylactic shock. Stings on the eyes can cause blindness, and in the mouth or nose can impede breathing. For this reason, head covering is the most important type of protection.

Sting and smoke A worker bee uses her sting to defend her colony, and she dies in doing so. When a bee stings, she

These straw hats with veils are made in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia 11

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A effective veil keeps bees away from the head and is essential for beginner beekeepers so all dealings with bees should be quiet, careful and efficient. Clumsy handling kills bees and will provoke defensive behaviour from other workers in the nest. Experienced beekeepers learn not to flinch when stung, to avoid alerting the bees further. It is best to avoid working in conditions when bees are most likely to sting, such as in thundery weather, just after the end of the honey flow, or when bees are under stress from shortage of food.

(such as mosquito netting) over a wide-brimmed hat, and tucked into the shirt collar. Dark mesh fabric is easier to see through than light-coloured mesh. Instructions for making a simple mask and veil, using wire mesh and cotton fabric over a frame made of flexible branches, can be found in BfDJ 23*. A long-sleeved shirt and trousers

provide further protection. It is good to put elastic at the wrists, and tuck trousers into boots, to prevent bees crawling up the arms or legs. Light-coloured clothing will show up bees and enable them to be brushed off without hurting them. Similarly, avoid too many folds or creases in clothes where bees could get caught. Full overalls with veils attached are available from beekeeping equipment suppliers, however these are expensive and increase the cost of your beekeeping enterprise. Whatever clothing is used, it must be washed frequently so that it is free of scents from previous apiary visits or stings. Bees dislike strong scents such as human sweat, perfume, or strong foods such as garlic. Be clean but avoid the use of scented lotions or soaps. Cloth boots can be made from synthetic woven material such as cane sugar sacks, and worn over ordinary sandals or shoes. (BfDJ 22*) Gloves are rarely worn by experienced beekeepers but beginners like to use them. Light, close-fitting rubber gloves are best: they are dextrous and easily cleaned. Large leather gloves are not good: they are too stiff and bulky to handle combs, cannot be washed and will retain the scent

Some species or strains of bee are more defensive than others. Amongst Asian bees the hive bee Apis cerana is rarely provoked, yet as described in the article on pages 6 – 10, Apis dorsata can be highly defensive, and bees from many colonies combine to attack a potential predator. Amongst Apis mellifera, honey bees in Africa and in the Americas are more readily alerted to danger signals than European honey bees. Beekeepers working with some of these bees have a greater need for protective clothing.

Good gear The most useful protection from bee stings is a head covering. This can be as simple as a hat or head cloth to prevent bees getting caught in hair. A veil keeps bees away from the face: the simplest can be made from fine netting

Experienced beekeepers often prefer to work without a veil, but a veil can help beginners to gain confidence 12

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of old stings or squashed bees. Thick gloves may protect hands from stings, but they make the beekeeper clumsy and therefore more likely to be stung. BfDJ 43* included an article on making low-cost gloves from plastic tubes.

Bee friendly In the past, beekeepers have tried to breed more ‘docile’ strains of Apis mellifera, that are less likely to sting, by carrying out selective breeding programmes. However, it is now thought that this may reduce colony resilience and resistance to disease. Understanding that bees sting only when they are defending their brood nest and honey stores from attack is an important attribute of the successful beekeeper. Our aim is to be careful with the bees, and not to harm them: we are benefitting from their production of honey and beeswax, and we can at least be kind to them. *These articles are available at resources-for-beekeepers/ informationportal Author details Bees for Development, 1 Agincourt Street, Monmouth NP25 3DZ, UK

LOOK AHEAD CAMEROON 1st Cameroon Honey Show October 2015, Yaounde Further details DOMINICAN REPUBLIC XII Congreso Centroamericano y del Caribe de Integración y Actualización Apícola 24-26 June 2015, Punta Cana Further details EGYPT 1st Continental Symposium on Honey Production, Bee Health and Pollination Services in Africa 1-3 September 2015, Cairo Further details

Beekeeper at the Kodagu Beekeeping Museum, Karnataka, India, working with the Asian bee Apis cerana: no special clothing necessary!

ETHIOPIA ApiEthiopia Expo December 2015, Ethiopia Further details PHILIPPINES Apimondia Symposium on Indigenous Bee Species 1-4 February 2016, Tagaytay City Further details www. RWANDA 5th ApiTrade Africa Event 2016, Kigali Further details will appear here SAUDI ARABIA 13th AAA Conference 2016 2016 Further details will appear here SLOVENIA 1st Pan-European Honey Breakfast 21 November 2015 Further details 13

SOUTH AFRICA FAO XIV World Forestry Congress 7-11 September 2015, Durban Further details meetings/world-forestry-congress SOUTH KOREA APIMONDIA: 44th International Apicultural Congress 15-20 September 2015, Deajeon Further details see page 20 UGANDA 6th National Honey Week 24-29 August 2015, Kampala Further details UK Scottish BKA Autumn Convention 12 September 2015, Oatridge Further details

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

Conwy Honey Fair 14 September 2015, North Wales Further details National Honey Show 29-31 October 2015, Weybridge Further details ZIMBABWE 1st International Conference African Honeybee Research and Indigenous Knowledge Systems 28-29 July 2015, Ezekiel Guti University Further details

LEARN AHEAD IRELAND FIBKA Beekeeping Summer Course 26-31 July 2015, Gormanston Further details UK Strengthening livelihoods in developing countries through beekeeping 21 August 2015, Monmouth Sustainable beekeeping 22-23 August 2015 Ragman’s Lane Permaculture Farm See www.beesfordevelopment. org/what-we-do/training If you want notice of your conference, workshop or meeting to be included here and on our website send details to Bees for Development, address on page 2

BfD Beekeepers Safaris Vietnam 9-22 November 2015 Trinidad and Tobago 11-21 January 2016 Turkey 23 July – 4 August 2016 More information what-we-do/beekeeping-safaris

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Two hurricanes in October 2014 destroyed most of the nectar producing plants during a major nectar flow period. This meant that 2014 was a poor year for honey production, according to Jean Atherden, Minister of Health, Seniors & Environment. Production had an estimated value of US$43,000 (€38,500), less than half that of 2013’s (also disappointing) harvest. Source:


We invite all beekeepers on the island of Grand Comore to gather for a Workshop in August 2015, to share knowledge and experience, thus building capacity around the island. There is limited technical information available in Comoros about apiculture, and farmers are eager to learn as much as possible. Beekeepers in thirteen villages around the Karthala Volcano started keeping bees in top-bar hives four years ago with the support of the United Nations Development Program. The beekeepers have made their own veils, smokers, and wooden hives. They would like to learn also how beekeepers around the world manage bees, build equipment, process honey, and market their bees’ produce. Ellen Geisler, Peace Corps Volunteer [Workshop participants will receive materials from a Resource Box supplied by BfD Trust. Find out how to apply on page 20]


In sub-Saharan Africa more bee colonies exist than in the rest of the original distribution area of Apis mellifera in Asia and Europe. This figure is related not only to the extensive diversity of flowering plants, shrubs and trees of tropical and subtropical Africa, but also to the abundance of insects in the sub-order Homoptera. Many of these insects, including aphids, soft scales, and mealybugs feed on plants and excrete large quantities of sap which they cannot use: this is known as honeydew. Honeydew can be so abundant that leaves, twigs, branches and even the ground below the plant are covered in a glistening layer. The honeydew is often sweet enough to attract honey bees which gather the drops either from the plants or directly from the insects themselves. They process the honeydew like nectar into honeydew honey or use it to feed brood. Many ants are also attracted to this sweet foodstuff. Ethiopian beekeepers have repeatedly reported that maize and sorghum are important crops for honey production, but do not produce nectar. Farmers have described a sticky, sweet substance on grasses and legumes in the presence of sap-sucking insects. This would indicate that the proportion of honeydew in many honeys must be quite high. In addition, intense honey bee foraging on these plants has been reported by experienced beekeepers when flowering species are scarce. These observations explain why bee colonies are able to survive during long dry periods when flowers are almost absent. There are many families and species of the sub-order Homoptera found throughout the country, some are already known elsewhere as prolific honeydew producers. To what extent the numerous different aphids, mealybugs, psyllids and scale insects present in Ethiopia contribute to mixed honeys is not studied yet. Reinhard Fichtl, Regensburg, Germany 14

Many of these insects feed on plant sap. The large quantities of sap excreted by aphids, soft scales, and mealybugs is known as honeydew


Look Ahead continued

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015



Beekeepers in Turkey have been dealing with the financial burden of bears destroying their hives: “Bears are known to enjoy honey and also will eat the bees and larvae inside a hive. Some beekeepers tried hanging their hives high up in trees, others used electric fencing: nothing worked! However, through the Agricultural Insurance Pool, a government supported scheme, we will now be reimbursed. TRY175 (US$65; €61) for each hive lost to a hungry bear”, said Bahri Yilmaz, President of the Turkish Beekeepers’ Union.

Cashew nut farmers in Wenchi, Brong Ahafo Region participate in a training course emphasising the value of beekeeping and pollination Image provided by Arno Bos, Managing Director, Cashew Trade Centre Ghana

PAKISTAN The Capital Development Authority (CDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) to keep honey bees and market the branded honey of Margalla Hills. PARC would help the CDA in harvesting, extracting, quality testing, packing and labelling of the honey. PARC will provide assistance to build capacity within Margalla community, and a demonstration apiary at Margalla Hills to raise awareness about beekeeping. Source:


Neset Nuhoglu, who works in Ordu on Turkey’s northern coast, said: “Shooting the bears is illegal, leaving beekeepers with few options to protect their livelihoods. Beekeepers will still try to save their hives, but this insurance is important and will provide peace of mind”. Turkey is one of the world’s biggest honey producers, second only to China in 2013 (source: FAO of the UN). Anadolu News Agency at Thanks to Dr Will Clayton for sending the link


Trees support beekeepers – literally! In Chifuwe South, in Zambia, a beekeeper named George Samahongo has to climb a tree to get a signal on his mobile phone so he can tell his buyer that he has honey ready to sell. More reasons to conserve trees! Bob Malichi, Musamba Beekeepers’ Society

Tell us your story resources-for-beekeepers/tellus-your-story We will be delighted to hear from you!

Sponsored subscribers I am working to empower women in my home village of Lake Eyasi where Datoga and Hadzabe people live. The picture shows the women beekeepers from the project at Lake Eyasi Girls Vocational Training Center. Lightness M Bayo 15

If you change your email address or any other contact details remember to let us know If we cannot contact you, we cannot sponsor you!

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

Kutsungirira Beekeeping Society provided beekeeping training for school children, teachers, officials from the Ministry of Youth Gender & Employment Creation, and two chiefs, Madzivire and Shindi

Children are keeping bees and raising money with sales of honey and beeswax to meet their school fees 16

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

ZIMBABWE Beekeeping in Zimbabwe is seen by many people as a source of food, medicine, income and pollination services. This is a result of many things including increasingly high rates of unemployment, food shortages due to drought or flood, and higher educational and medical costs. Demand for training courses for school children, school leavers and adults is on the increase. Instead of paying school fees for these vulnerable children, Kutsungirira Beekeeping Society (KBS) decided to teach productive beekeeping methods and skills in an effort to generate income to meet the costs of fees, stationery and uniforms. With financial support from Stitchting Onamika in The Netherlands, KBS trained 23 school children (from two primary and one secondary school), two teachers, two officials from the Ministry of Youth Gender & Employment Creation, and two chiefs, Madzivire and Shindi, to signify their support for the project. Trainees spent five days at the KBS Centre before returning to their own areas for a further day’s training in apiary siting, hive baiting and attracting colonies, and understanding the local environments where the projects will run. Children at local schools are keeping bees and raising enough money through sales of honey and beeswax to meet their school fees and other social challenges. Consequently there will be no need to drop out of school if they manage their bees well. KBS would like to thank Bees for Development for providing copies of BfDJ for the training. All the participants were interested to read stories on beekeeping and related issues, because they said, many had never before read anything about beekeeping in their lives. Some people are visual learners and therefore the use of pictures is crucial. After the course each trainee received a starter pack of a bee suit, a top-bar hive, a smoker, 100g of beeswax, 50g of propolis and a copy of BfDJ. They were divided into three groups with each group choosing a representative to communicate with KBS. The representatives and ministry officials are providing follow up assistance. The support programme is funded by KBS from its income generating projects. However, speculation based on the current cash inflow is that most of our projects, like honey sales and bookings, have been hard hit by the liquidity crunch - giving us little hope to raise enough money for the programme. If anyone can assist, it is important to give further assistance to these new beekeepers. Michael Hlungwani, Project Co-ordinator, Kutsungirira Beekeeping Society Ed: You can contact KBS via Bees for Development Images (page opposite) © Obert Shiriyapenga and Vicky Moyana

TECA Beekeeping Exchange Group Discussion Veterinary medicines in beekeeping around the world: which active ingredients are in use and do they respond to the needs of beekeepers? 30 June to 7 August 2015 To read, ask questions or join the conversation see

ERRATA On page 21 of BfDJ115 we repeated information in the second pie chart of the page. The title should have read When we send training materials which format do you prefer? The responses were: paper (41.5%), DVD (32.6%), CD (14.8%), data stick (11.1%). 17

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA PROMOTES POLLINATOR HEALTH On 19 May under the leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture the interagency Task Force (initiated in June 2014, following a Presidential Memorandum from Barack Obama) released its Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators with three main goals: 1) Reduce honey bee colony losses to economically sustainable levels; 2) Increase monarch butterfly numbers to protect the annual migration; 3) Restore or enhance millions of acres of land for pollinators through combined public and private action. The Strategy and its accompanying sciencebased Pollinator Research Action Plan outline needs and priority actions to better understand pollinator losses and improve their health. These actions will be supported by co-ordination of existing Federal research efforts and accompanied by a request to Congress for additional resources to respond to the pollinator losses that are being experienced. John P Holdren

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015


Prices in US$ and € are approximate

A buzz in the meadow

Dave Goulson 2014 266 pages £8.99 (US$13.70; €12.40) Published by Vintage Books ISBN 9780099597698 In this highly readable, as well as highly informative book, Goulson makes clear how the lives of every species (some of them insects) are woven together with other animals, plants, fungi, viruses and bacteria. His story focusses mainly on a small area of undamaged meadows in France. Did you know that some flowers offer thermal rewards for bees - providing a cosy place to sleep overnight and warming quickly in the morning? Only in the closing part of the book are the effects of insecticides discussed. Who knew, for example, that here in the UK, urban trees are sometimes injected with neonicotinoids to prevent the aphids whose honeydew might prove unsightly and sticky for parked cars? Keeping urban cars clean surely comes at a great cost for aphid-eating insects and birds. A very well written and enlightening book.

Queen rearing essentials

Lawrence John Connor 2015 (2nd edition) 160 pages £16 (US$25; €22) Published by Wicwas Press ISBN 9781878075413 The first marvellous thing to attract any beekeeper to this book is the abundance of excellent colour photographs, making it very appealing. The author is a great expert in queen rearing as well as in teaching and writing – with the consequence that this is a clear and excellent guide. After ten chapters describing practical aspects, the author discusses inbreeding of bees and wider topics. Whether or not you want to undertake queen rearing, this book is full of up-to-date and interesting details concerning the process.

Garden plants for honey bees

Peter Lindtner 2014 396 pages Hardcover £22 (US$34; €31) Published by Wicwas Press ISBN 9781878075376 Originally from Czechoslovakia and now living and working in Delaware, USA, Peter Lindtner is an accomplished horticulturist, beekeeper and inspired bee friendly gardener. His book is full of beautiful pictures that he uses to explain the wonderful relationship between pollinators and plants. He includes a rating system that shows the importance of each plant to honey bee nutrition (nectar and pollen), ecological and taxonomic information about each plant and electron micrographs of pollen grains. The book relates to the flowering season in the USA (February to November).

Do beekeeping – the secret to happy honeybees

Orren Fox 2015 141 pages £8.99 (US$16.95; €15.25) Published by The Do Book Company ISBN 9781907974205 This pocket size book charts the journey of 18 year old Orren Fox from when he became a beekeeper. He describes the first day he worked with bees, and as a human “finding it hard to fully appreciate the organisation at work in front of him”, the excitement of bottling his first jar of honey, and the relief of discovering that his colony survived the winter. The behaviour of honey bees and life cycle of the colony are covered along with information on equipment, feeding bees, harvesting honey and diseases and pests. The book is part of a series of titles designed to help the reader learn something new and be motivated to “Do” it.

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You are welcome to translate and/or reproduce items appearing in BfDJ as part of our Information Service. Permission is given on the understanding that BfDJ and author(s) are acknowledged, BfD contact details are provided in full, and you send us a copy of the item or the website address where it is used. 18

Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015

NOTICE BOARD FUNDING FROM FAO TeleFood Special Fund Beekeepers’ groups and associations may apply for project funding of up to US$10,000. Request documents should include a brief description of project objectives, proposed food production or income-generating activities, work plan, number of participants, detailed list of inputs with cost estimates and reporting arrangements. See HONEY BEE HEALTH Beekeeping associations are invited to compete for a new Vita Award for honey bee health initiatives that highlight the work of beekeeping groups to combat health threats to honey bees. Closing date 10 July 2015. See SEED FUND SEARCA provides start-up funds to researchers who can make significant contributions to the development of the region but lack funding to carry out projects. Proponents should be south-east Asian nationals and graduates of at least a four year degree course. Submission by 1 August 2015 to HOTSPOT Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot Call. Small grants (maximum US$10,000) in Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – applications only accepted upon invitation. To discuss your project idea with one of our team members first write to cepf-eam-rit@ TRAINING GRANTS Conservation Workshop Grants fund organisations to train communities, stakeholders, park guards, and others on local and regional conservation issues. These grants support training workshops with hands-on learning components that will build capacity for people living in WWF priority places in select countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Organisations must meet all of the eligibility criteria to be considered for a grant of up to US$7,500 See conservation-workshop-grants CONGRATULATIONS Cliff van Eaton, author of Manuka - the biography of an extraordinary honey (reviewed in BfDJ 113) and named as a finalist in the 2015 Royal Society of New Zealand Book Prize. DAY OF THE BEE National Honey Bee Day USA 22 August themed Ban Ignorance - Not Honey Bees. AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL The oldest English language beekeeping publication in the world. See a digital copy and subscribe at  BEE CRAFT UK Beekeeping Journal for beginners and seasoned apiarists. View a digital copy and subscribe on line at BEE CULTURE The magazine of American beekeeping. 140 years experience. Today’s techniques. Tomorrow’s ideas. US$15 for a digital subscription. See ULUDAG BEE JOURNAL News, practical information and research articles. Published quarterly in Turkish with English summaries. See

Bottlingtanks Made of high quality stainless steel. All tanks come with a loose-fitting lid or with an airtight lid as an option. Capacity from 25 kg - 600 kg.

Solar Wax Melter For frames or comb. It has a strong wooden frame, insulating double window and a small tray for collecting the melted wax / honey.

Refractometer Measures water content in honey. Range: 12-25%. With automatic temperature compensation.

Honey Press Easy and effective way to press your honey. Made entirely of stainless steel. Holds approx. 9.5 L.

Honey Extractors Our modern tangential manual extractors. High quality machines at a very affordable price.

Packaging Many different sizes and shapes in both PET plastic and glas. Available with plastic and metal lids.

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Bees for Development Journal 115: June 2015


44TH INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS 15 – 20 September 2015 Daejeon, South Korea For more information see

SUPPORT FOR TRAINING BfD Training Booklets and Training Cards are for use by beekeeper trainers in Africa Each booklet provides one day of training on one topic. The cards provide pictures and plans illustrating techniques discussed in the booklets. These are included in our Resource Boxes for training events and workshops. Projects and associations in developing countries are welcome to apply for a Sponsored Resource Box by filling out an application form on our website, or request the form by email. Projects in other areas can purchase Resource Boxes through our website store.

SUBSCRIPTIONS AVAILABLE This Journal is available for resource-poor beekeepers, projects, schools and groups in developing countries Supported with funds raised by Bees for Development Trust Name................................................................................................. What is your involvement with bees and beekeeping? ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... Organisation ..................................................................................... Postal address................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................... Country............................................................................................. E-mail address................................................................................... Date of application............................................................................. Additional copies of this form are available from our website Email Post to BfD Trust at the address below


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