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Bee Behavior and Biology

I’ve ordered these articles to help you better understand bee behavior.


Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 13d

First published in: American Bee Journal, October 2016

The Impacts of Parasites and CO2 Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Winter is the most stressful time for the honey bee colony, and during times of stress, some parasites find opportunity in the hive. How can a beekeeper help his/her bees? The honey bee is a tropical insect, and can only survive the winter by creating an […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 13c

First published in: American Bee Journal, September 2016

The Winter, and Hive Design Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I begin the process of writing most of my articles thinking that I’ll cover the subject in a single piece. Next thing I know, I’ve got so many notes that I realize that I’ll need to split the article into two installments. Then sometimes (as with this […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 13b

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2016

The Winter Continued Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In the previous article I summarized the basic mechanics and physics of the winter cluster. But I still had some “leftovers” worthy of further discussion… The Optimal Size of the Winter Cluster I showed in Part 12 of this series [1] how colonies appeared to gravitate towards a 9-10–frame […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 13a

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2016

The Physics of the Winter Cluster Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In cold-winter locales, the temperature becomes too cool for workers to forage, and there is no nectar or pollen to be had anyway. In response, the European honey bee superorganism goes into a sort of “hibernation,” in order to conserve its food reserves until better times. […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 12

First published in: American Bee Journal, June 2016

Late Summer Through Autumn Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I took a slight detour in my last article to address the “other bug” that we keep in our hives—the varroa mite. I plan to soon return to the mite. But first, let’s get back to the seasonal progression of the bee colony. Although the colony typically declines […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 11

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2016

Varroa and Late Season Collapse Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I’m writing this article shortly after moving my hives to almond pollination. The supply of strong, healthy hives was short this season, but that came as no surprise. I’d heard reports from all over the country last fall that varroa had gained the upper hand. And when […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 10

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2016

Summer Downsizing And Varroa Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com At this point in time, the desperate intensity of spring buildup has long since passed, swarming season is over, and the colony has had its chance to use the main honey flow to put on winter stores. It’s now difficult to speak generically, since, depending upon latitude and […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 9b

First published in: American Bee Journal, February 2016

The Regulation of Bee Longevity Randy Oliver Scientific Beekeeping In the first part of this article, I looked at the regulation of the lifespan of the long-lived “winter” (diutinus) bees. Now it’s time to turn to the question of why “summer bees” live such short lives. The Last Piece of the Puzzle There yet remains […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 9a

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2016

The Regulation Of Bee Longevity Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS The Business Model Of The European Honey Bee The Phases Of Colony Life Cycle It’s All About Most Efficient Use Of Resources Reversing The Question The Regulation Of Aging The Honey Bee As A Model For Gerontological Research Bee Female Phenotypes The Two Paths Next Acknowledgements […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline: Part 8

First published in: American Bee Journal, October and November 2015

The Main Honey Flow Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com The moment has now arrived for our honey bees to earn their name. Unlike other insects in temperate climates, the honey bee maintains an elevated body temperature throughout the frigid winter. It does so by forming a cluster and metabolically burning honey to produce heat. Thus, survival of […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline – Part 7b

First published in: American Bee Journal, September 2015

Minimizing Swarming Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS The Beekeeper’s Dilemma The Reproductive Urge It’s Not Just Crowding Cues And Thresholds Involved In The Swarming Impulse The Condition Of The Broodnest And Amount Of Open Comb Backfilling Availability Of Empty Drawn Comb Volume Of The Cavity And Crowding THE AGE OF THE QUEEN And Queen Pheromones FAVORABLE […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline – Part 7a

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2015

The Swarming Impulse Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS The Swarming Impulse Terminology Reproductive Swarming And Emergency Swarming The Effect Of Swarming Upon The Colony Predicting Swarming Issuance Of The Swarm Acknowledgements References One of the main challenges of keeping bees for honey production is to manage one’s hives to reach maximum strength by the start of […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline – Part 6

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2015

Hiccups in Colony Linear Buildup Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Return To Playing Catch Up Real World Hiccups The Effect Of Cold Weather The Effect Of Rainy Weather Spring Starvation From Too Little To Too Much Brood Survivorship Adult Survivorship Take Home Message Acknowledgements Citations and Footnotes Under ideal conditions, colonies grow in a linear manner […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline – Part 5

First published in: American Bee Journal, June 2015

Egglaying, Adult Survivorship, and Modeling Colony Growth Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Some Questions Begging For Answers Survivorship Of The Workers A Simplified Mathematical Model Question: Why Does The Population Stop Growing After 10 Weeks? Population Top Out Playing Catch Up Next Acknowledgements Citations and Footnotes I could wax poetic about the wonder of the honey […]

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Understanding Colony Buildup and Decline – Part 4

First published in: American Bee Journal, May 2015

The Linear Growth Phase Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com What got me going on this series is the question of at what rate can I expect my colonies to build up. I’ve now discussed the concepts of “recruitment” and “attrition,” the constraints on the critical “spring turnover,” and pointed out the reason why it is important to […]

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