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Zombie bees

A parasitic fly was recently discovered to be infesting honey bees– the press wildly extrapolated it into being the cause of CCD.  I’ve kept in touch with the researchers in San Francisco, and with beekeepers in the affected areas.  The study is ongoing. The fly is a native parasite that normally parasitizes bumblebees and paper wasps. […]

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The Harvard Study on Neonicotinoids and CCD

A recent press release by the prestigious Harvard School of Public Health claims that one of their researchers has found that Colony Collapse Disorder was caused by a common insecticide used on corn.  As an informed beekeeper and environmentalist, I feel that this study calls for standard scientific scrutiny to see whether their claims actually […]

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The Birds and the Bees

I was greatly concerned when I read that news item that the neonicotinoid seed treatments might be causing the decline of bird populations.  I don’t know whether you read the referred paper (http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/toxins/Neonic_FINAL.pdf), which was earnest and detailed.  Unfortunately, it was mostly speculative, as opposed to being based upon field evidence.  The authors themselves, in […]

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The “Rules” For Successful Beekeeping

Advice for recreational beekeepers Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In my articles I chronicle my own process of self-education in becoming a successful beekeeper—which has been much more difficult since the invasion of varroa.  The learning curve has been brutal—there were times when I thought that I was the worst beekeeper in the world (although that notion […]

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An Early Summer Test of Mite-Away-Quick Strips(tm)

Randy Oliver In the February issue of this Journal, I wrote about a fall trial that I performed with the new formic acid delivery method—Mite-Away Quick Strips (MAQSTM).  I had been impressed by their efficacy and ease of use.  Imagine my surprise and dismay when I received a couple of phone calls from beekeepers in […]

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Sick Bees – Part 12: Varroa Management – Getting Down to Brass Tacks

Randy Oliver Last month I showed how to make a mite shaker bottle, so that you could easily keep track of the actual mite levels in your hives.  So now you may wonder, how do I use those mite counts to better manage my hives? I was recently speaking in New Zealand, where the beekeepers […]

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Managing Varoa: Part 1 – IPM Realities

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2011

I welcome practical, tested tips, methods, and assessments from other beekeepers who are successfully keeping bees with varroa.  I found this article to be a good reality check on certain varroa IPM methods.  It was originally published in the March 2011 ABJ, and I asked the author if I could post it to this website.  […]

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The Economy of the Hive – Part 1

First published in: American Bee Journal January 2010

Inside the hive there functions a vibrant community, with an economy similar to that of any other society. The bee economy is based upon the harvesting and processing of resources, the trade of products, doting care for the youngsters and parents, wise savings, deficit spending, a hierarchy of jobs, national defense, and an exquisite communication […]

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The Economy of the Hive – Part 2

First published in: American Bee Journal February 2010

Last month I described the functions of the main players in the hive economy—the queen, the nurse bees, the foragers, and the “resting” bees. Now let’s look at the main driver for the bee economy—the supply of food. The honey bee economy is based upon the gathering and consumption of four resources (nectar, pollen, propolis, […]

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The Primer Pheromones and Managing the Labor Pool – Part 1

First published in: American Bee Journal April 2010

We humans tend to anthropomorphize animal behavior, which is often just plain silly. The most caring, gentle, nurturing beekeeper can pamper a hive to no end, yet will still have her friendship rewarded with a volley of stings to the face should she move a bit too quickly.

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Sick Bees – Part 8: Time for a Paradigm Shift!

First published in: American Bee Journal April 2011

Bee health issues completely changed with the invasion of the varroa mite. Beekeeping success these days is largely dependent upon managing the mite level in your hives. However, it’s not varroa that actually kills colonies; rather, it is the bee viruses, which is why I’ve been belaboring the subject. Mite management should be considered as […]

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Sick Bees – Part 7: How does immunity to a virus spread throughout the hive? And can we use this mechanism to our advantage?

First published in: American Bee Journal March 2011

Trans Generational Immune Priming The honey bee does not take the insults thrown at them by all these weird recombinant and chimerical viruses lying down, or we simply wouldn’t have any bees left! As I explained in the last installment, bees can “fix” immunity to a certain virus in their genome. This process has been […]

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Sick Bees – Part 6: Infection by Multiple Viruses

First published in: American Bee Journal February 2011

We beekeepers hear from researchers that our sick bees are full of viruses. Understandably, we want to know what we can do about it. But to most of us, virus infections are a “black box”—a generally invisible, mysterious phenomenon about which we can do little other than to control one of the modes of transmission […]

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Sick Bees – Part 5: Multiple Infections

First published in: American Bee Journal January 2011

Table of Contents The Problem of Co-infection1 The Battle of the Brood Pathogens 2 The Cost of Immunity 3 Opportunistic Pathogens 4 Varroa and Nosema 5 References 5 I ended the last installment of this series by asking the question, what happens when there are multiple parasites suppressing the bee immune system simultaneously? In this […]

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Sick Bees – Part 4: Immune Response to Viruses

First published in: American Bee Journal November 2010

Table of Contents Bees vs. Viruses 1 Back to School 2 Practical Application 4 Viruses Fight Back 4 MicroRNA’s 4 Inapparent Virus Infections 5 Acknowledgements 5 References 5 Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites that infect all organisms, from bacteria to humans. Their evolution represents a constant arms race with the host: Viruses need to reprogram […]

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