A nine-year-old beekeeper was astonished to find that the insects in her father's hives had made a peace sign on a honeycomb.
Meesha Benefer, nine, found the symbol made by a colony at her father's bee farm in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Her 38-year-old father Peter, who runs the beekeeping business on the side with the help of his young daughter said he was 'totally taken aback' when Meesha found the peace sign.
Buzz for peace: Meesha Benefer, nine, found a peace symbol in the honeycomb in her bee hive
Keen apiarist Meesha made the astonishing discovery while helping her dad at Benefer's Bee Farm in Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Meesha said: 'Every Saturday me and my dad go to the hives to check on the bees and always hope to see honey building up in the comb.
'It means I have to pull the big heavy frames out and if we are lucky and its the right time of year, we drain it together to collect honey to sell and have it in our porridge for breakfast.
'Last Saturday I was pulling out one of the frames and noticed there was a weird sign on one side.
'I thought it was the Volkswagen sign because I'd seen it before on my Grandad's car. But Dad was really amazed and said the circle with the three lines inside meant world peace.'
'Pollen' their leg: Meesha first associated the sign with that of Volkswagen, but was told of its true meaning by her father while they worked at the family bee farm
The father-daughter team have been running Benefer's Bee Farm for three years, and balance it on the side of schoolwork and Mr Benefer's job in recruitment.
Mr Benefer said: 'I was totally taken aback by the symbol that one of our colonies left in the honeycomb.
'Bees are known to be highly intelligent creatures and have very sophisticated means of communicating to each other.
'Obviously this is an incredible coincidence - but I have to say a little bit of me did wonder if they were trying to leave us a message.'
The avid aphiarist who spends his free time with daughter Meesha reading up on honey bees' behaviour, said: 'I've read all sorts of incredible things bees have been known to do, but never anything like this.
Family buzz-ness: Meesha and father Peter Benefer, 38, found the symbol while working on their apiarist business, Benefer's Bee Farm
'I've read lots of those stories about people seeing Jesus' face in slices of toast and their dead relatives in naan breads and whatnot, and I've always thought they're just a ploy for attention seekers.
'But when I saw this there's no way someone could have created that.
'Bees fill each cell in a piece of comb with honey and cap it off, but sometimes a few holes or large patches will just get missed and left uncapped.
'I'm amazed the they've missed out all the cells to make any sort of picture at all, let alone one which has a deep significance.'
Meesha, who stays with Peter at weekends after her parents separated, said they have kept the honeycomb to put in a frame on her bedroom wall.
Peter added the two would continue to run their farm in the Headingley area of Leeds, which produces honey for the city's Double Tree Hilton hotel.
We haveread a lotabout thedemise of the bee coloniesbut recently the world's oldest
beehive has been found. Located in the medieval Scottish Rosslyn Chapel,which
dates back to 1446, two ancient hives have been found, skillfully carved in the
stone work under the roof's peak. They are thought to be the first man-made
stone hives ever found.
The discovery was made whilst some stone conservation work was
being carried out which involved dismantling the peaks of the roof. Apparently
the hives were still in use until just recently when the chapel was temporarily
covered with a canopy and the bees de-camped.
The only clues to the hives' existence were flowers intricately
carved into the pinnacles -- it is charming that there were holes through which
the bees could enter and exit. These were visible from the outside.
The architects in chargeof the restoration had no idea that
this extra historical treasure existed. One said: "The hives themselves
are the ideal size for bees to inhabit. It was a big hollow about the size of a
gas cylinder and the hive had obviously been abandoned." The inside of the
hive is covered with some coating to protect the stone and stop the wild bees
from eating away at it. Honeycombs were also found in the peak.
Since the hive was so high above the ground, it is clear that no
one would be able to reach it to get the honey. It is thought that the ancient
stone masons who built the chapel simply wanted to provide a safe location for
a wild honeybee hive, protected from bad weather.
The hive has been sent to local beekeepers in an attempt to
identify the type of insect that made them and it is hoped the bees will return
once the renovation works are complete.
Image fromthe Times: Illustration
from 15th century manuscript
featured in the finale of the film of The Da Vinci Code. As a result, tourism
has increased from around 25,000 visitors a year to up to 140,000. Hence it has
been undergoing restoration work. Apparently there have always been bees in the
According to the Times,
reverence for bees dates back to Egyptian times. As depicted in temple
pictures, they kept them in cylindrical hives and sealed pots of honey were
found in Tutankhamun's tomb. In Scotland,
hives are often made of baskets which can be lifted and moved around.
After storing your honey for several months it now appears cloudy. Do not be alarmed, your honey has crystallized. Crystallization is not an indication of your honey worsening or deteriorating. Crystallized honey is not harmful or expired. Crystallization is the natural process of honey when it leaves the hive. Honey can even crystallize in the hive if your colony is unable to sustain hive temperature in honey super.
You will find that some honeys will crystallize faster than others. Honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution with more than 70% sugar and less than 20% water. Fructose and glucose are the two primary sugars found in honey. Glucose will crystallize faster due to its low water solubility. The ratio of these two sugars will determine how quickly your honey will crystallize. This is why some honeys will last months or years without crystallizing while others will crystallize within weeks of extraction.
Other factors which affect how quickly honey crystallizes include:
Temperature. Storage temperature has a huge influence on the crystallization process. Storage temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal temperatures for crystallization. Temperatures below 50 degrees will slow down the crystallization process as the honey becomes thicker. Honey will resist crystallization at higher temperatures above 70 degrees. Crystals will dissolve when temperatures exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Particles. During extraction particles of debris are caught by the honey. Pieces of beeswax or pollen grains will act as a base for the glucose crystals. Unfiltered honey contains a higher number of particles; therefore, it will crystalize faster than finely filtered honey. Also consider the particles in air and be sure to allow your honey to settle before bottling to allow air bubbles to be released.
Honey can be returned to its lucid form if it becomes crystallized. Gently warm the honey by placing the bottle into a water bath or, depending on size of container, a sunny window. Do not heat honey beyond 104 degrees or it will destroy enzymes, begin to caramelize the sugars and alter the flavor. Heat the water bath slowly and bring the temperature of honey up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating must be done with care if the honey is to retain its nutritional value. If you have left your honey in pails, use a melt belt to bring the honey temperature up to a safe range or use a honey bottler & liquefier as a double boiler.
Some honey enthusiasts enjoy honey in its crystalized state. It is easier to use in cooking and will spread better on toast. See what your customers prefer.
This has been one of the best honey flows in the past couple of years. Everyone who we have spoken with has been able to extracted at least one super of honey. In the North Carolina region, many beekeepers have commented that they were able to harvest a sourwood crop. Believe it or not, too much honey can be a problem. What is the best way to store it? What works best when labeling and marketing honey?
What are you going to do with all the excess honey now that you have finished extracting and bottling? Of course you will want to keep some for yourself but how should you sell the rest? The presentation of your honey can generate a demand to help you avoid a surplus. Whether you sell your honey or give it as a gift, presentation is important.
The Right Jar. There are many varieties of jars and everyone will target a specific audience. Classic, Muth and Hexagonal are elegant glass jars that will increase the value of the honey. The Plastic Classic and Flat Panel Bears are more commonly known and tend to be more cost efficient. Consider that the jar is not only for containing your honey but also for display. Ensure it is clean and clearly shows your honey. An embossed design will help your jars stand out from competitors. Check out our newEmbossed Hourglass Jars for a unique design.
The Right Size and Top. Not everyone wants to buy 2lbs. of honey that they have not had before. The 2 oz Mini Bear is a good size sampler that sells great and if they like it enough, they will be back for more! Offer more sizes (1lb, 12oz, 8oz…) so your customers can choose how much they want. Would you prefer a flip top style lid or ahi-flow spout cap when dispensing your honey? Would your customers enjoy the same as you? This may be a test year so that you can better understand what your customers would like next year.
Label It. When you’re not there to talk about your honey, your label will be speaking for you. A label makes your jar look professional! Let your customers know it is pure and natural honey from your hives. Give them the contact information in case they want more next year. Use the correct size label for your jar. A panel bear label does not visually fit on to a 2 lb. jar. Add the tamper proof seal so your customers will be confident in the honey’s integrity.
Most states have labeling requirements when selling honey. They require certain information pertaining to your honey. Honey is sold by weight not volume, such as fluid ounces.
Other Products. Don’t stop with just your honey. You will do better is you have a variety of products. Throw in those bars of soap you made with your soap making kit, light thecandle you made from the wax in your hive, open up the mead you made with your honey. Sell the fruits and vegetables your bees helped pollinate. Offer them more than honey and provide the story behind it!
What should you do if you did not sell all your honey? Will it go bad before next year? Storing honey is easy. Store it at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and in a tightly sealed container. Wipe off any drips or leaks that will attract insects before storing the honey. Do not fret if you return later to find your honey is cloudy. Honey is not a perishable item but it will crystallize. Read Back to the Basics to better understand crystallization.
Another great video from club member Leo Scarnici! Leo partnered with club vice president and Big E fair chair, Tom Flebotte to create a promo video to spread awareness about our beekeeping school, and our presence at The Big E!
I'd like to introduce a new club member who is doing great work trying to save bees. Leo Scarnici officially joined the HCBA just last month at our July BeeBQ. Leo shoots breathtaking photos and videos of bees and uses his work to correct the public's perception of them.
One of the perks of beekeeping is being able to harvest honey. We know that bees store an excess amount and they will continue storing nectar and pollen as long as there is room. At what point should we say ‘that’s enough’ and begin preparing the hive for winter? Your colony can only store what is being provided. As your queen’s laying begins to slow and your colony dwindles down, the population will not be able to accommodate a larger hive. Adding that next super on might not be the best for your colony.
Your queen will continue laying eggs as long as the resources are available to sustain the colony. Once there is a drop in both nectar and pollen, drones will be removed from hive and the queen will begin to reduce the amount she is laying. Any supers that are not filled with honey or brood may become neglected. How do you keep them building?
It is nice to have your bees moving up the hive, working the frames and storing honey but once their food source runs out, what is their incentive? Now is the time to prepare your feeder for the sugar water mixture or corn syrup you will be providing. Honey bees require proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and water. Larvae and queens are fed a diet of royal jelly secreted by young nurse bees’ hypopharyngeal glands. This milky white acidic substance has a high moisture content and is very rich in protiens, lipids, B vitamins, C vitamins, sugars, and minerals that are not fully found in sugar water or corn syrup.There are several nutritional supplements which incorporate these needed nutrients to maintain a healthy colony. Here are some mixtures for your feed:
Honey B Healthy. This feeding supplement is used in spring and winter to stimulate the immune system. This feed stimulant with essential oils prevents mold and fungus in sugar syrup, calms bees when used as a spray, builds colonies when fed during dearth and much more. The scent of spearmint and lemongrass will attract your bees to feed almost immediately.
Amino B Booster. A blend of free amino acids that assimilates rapidly and directly through the mid gut to the bee’s hemolymph and hemocytes, then transported to the sites where protein is needed for bee growth. Amino B Booster provides your bees the nutrients they need when pollen is scarce or lacks the nutrients bees need.
Vitamin B Healthy. Helps provide needed nutrients vital for bee health especially when pollen sources are scarce or the pollen lacks the essential nutrients the bees need. Helps build strong healthy colonies for maximum honey production and pollination or can be used to help build up weak, over-winterized colonies, packages, nucs or swarms.
Hive Alive. A feed to help bees maintain colony strength. Prevents syrup from fermenting and helps bees absorb the nutrients, proteins and sugars needed to increase brood production. Hive Alive strengthens the bees’ immune system to help manage intestinal issues and other diseases.
A colonies health is as essential for winter survival as are the food stores they will need to survive. Providing the necessary feed the will need along with a good supplement will go along way to keep your hive healthy and strong.
Summer is drawing to an end and fall will soon be coloring the trees. Beekeepers are taking off their last supers of honey and preparing their hives for winter. Every year we harp on the importance of treating for Varroa Mites but when is the correct time to treat?
It is best to know your mite count before you begin treating. Mites have been able to develop a resistance to some of the products on the market. If you know your mite count before and after you have treated, you can determine if you were successful. Here are two options to obtain a correct mite count:
Corex Sheet. This is a sheet which slides under a screened bottom board. Spray the corex sheet with cooking oil and as the mites fall from the hive, the mites will stick to the sheet and can be counted easily. Remove sheet after 3 days to get a total count of mites. Divide total by 3 to get the average mite drop in a 24 hour period.
Sugar Shake. Place a few tablespoons of powdered sugar in a mason jar, add ¼ cup of bees and gently "slosh" the bees around ensuring they are fully coated. Replace the lid with #8 hardware cloth and shake the bees down over a white sheet of paper. The sugar will dislodge the mites allowing them to fall through the screen. This will give you an average mite count for your hive.
Below is a very general guide to determine if the colony should be treated.
This is the time of year to begin treating for varroa mites if your count falls above or near the general guide. Treatment in early fall is vital for a healthy winter colony.The virus that persists after the mites have been treated is what poses the real threat for winter loss. It takes a few generations of brood rearing for virus levels to reduce. If you wait until late fall to reduce the Varroa population, due to the viruses, you will still have unhealthy bees going into winter. The best time to deal with the mites is late August/early September depending on your location.
Top Treatments for Varroa Mite:
1. Soft Chemicals: An effective treatment while leaving the least amount of residue. We offer Api Life Var and MiteAway Quick Strips.Both are 95% effective, however, both work through the evaporation of essential oils or organic acids, thus making themweather sensitive.
2. Hard Chemicals: Will kill the Varroa Mites but label instructions must be followed and do not leave on longer than recommended. We supply Apistan Strips, Check Mite Plus and a newer treatment, Apivar. Keep in mind varroa have shown a resistence to Apistan and Check Mite upon continuous use.
3. Non-Chemical: Beekeepers have been using powdered sugar to monitor mites but if heavily dusted with a Dustructor, it can control the mite population. The Varroa reproduction is directly tied to the bee reproduction cycle. Because drones are capped longer as brood, the Varroa are more attracted to drone brood where they can lay more eggs. Using Drone Foundation or a Drone Frame, you can wait until the brood is capped, remove and destroy the foundation. Non-chemical or IPM techniques can be effective to control mites; however, they require dedication and time to be successful.
Where: WillimansetHeights Improvement
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Pizza and beverages will be
Come help out and have some
We’ll be bagging candy in
preparation for the Big E, so while this will not be a regular meeting, we will
have the opportunity to discuss all things bee while we work. Come lend a hand, and get some last minute
tips for harvesting and fall and winter management.
Have you tested for mites yet? Treated?
Do you have honey? Have you
harvested? Getting ready to? Should you?
Can you borrow the extractor? Are
you feeding? Medicating? Are your hives in danger of robbing? When will you put on your entrance
reducers? Are you using a slatted or
screened bottom board? Should you
switch? Come one, come all! Some of us have questions, and other have
answers, new and experienced beekeepers come together and help each other out!
See you there! And don’t forget to volunteer for a shift at
the Big E!
Hot and humid weather is hard on the bees during the summer months. Honey Bees can only do so much to help regulate the hive temperature at 90-95 Degrees Fahrenheit. When the colony is at its max population and internal hive temperatures continue to rise, clusters of bees will try to escape the heat of the hive and hang out at the entrance of the hive. This can be misinterpreted as swarming when in fact it is bearding. Why do bees beard?
When you find bees clustering or hanging at the entrance of the hive, they are bearding. This gives the appearance of the hive having a beard. Some colonies will cover the entrance where others will hang from the bottom board. Colonies will create these beards outside the hive when the inside becomes overcrowded, hive lacks ventilation, or temperatures become too high. Honey Bees typically do this to help maintain the brood nest temperature. Brood requires a certain temperature and will not survive if it becomes too hot or too cold.
How do bees regulate the hive temperature during Summer and how can Beekeepers help?
Have you ever seen a bee at the entrance of the hive beating her wings but not taking flight?She is fanning the hive. Bees will collect water to use for evaporative cooling. Bees will face away from the entrance of the hive and begin fanning. The airflow that is created from the bees beating their wings will evaporate the water droplets throughout the hive. Whenever you find bees fanning at the entrance, know that there are many more inside fanning as well.
Bees can only do so much to reduce the heat in the brood nest. Beekeepers must provide sufficient ventilation for the hive.Here are some tips and tricks for beekeepers to help fight the summer heat:
Nothing can beat a screened bottom board. Airflow is able to move up through bottom board and can significantly help with hive temperature. The screened bottom board is only useful if the screen is left open. Be sure to remove the corrugated sheet used for mite counts.
Ventilate the top as well as the bottom with a ventilated inner cover.Heat rises and the ventilated inner cover offers the space the heat needs to escape. The inner cover props up the hive top allowing airflow to move up and through the hive.
Open up the hive entrance. Larger entrances are better for the summer heat. This provides more fanning space and less congestion for incoming bees.
Allow for more bee space by reducing the number of frames. Consider using 9 frames in your 10 frame hive or 7 in your 8. This will open up space between the frames and better ventilate your hive.
Give your hive some shade. Provide a source of shade especially if the hive is in direct sunlight during the entire day. The sun beating down on the hive makes it difficult for the bees to maintain hive temperature. Open up your upper entrance. This small vent will allow heat to escape the hive and provides an alternate entrance/exit for your bees.
Use light color paint for your hives. Dark colors will absorb heat while lighter colors will reflect the sun’s heat.
Have a reliable source of water near your bee yard. Bees can use up to a quart of water during a hot day to keep the hive cool. Keep the water supply filled and in a shaded area.
Summer heat will keep the bees constantly working to maintain the hive temperature and reduces the number of bees able to forage for nectar and pollen. Help the bees regulate hive temperature and give them a stronger field force to bring in the feed they need. ORIGINAL SOURCE: BRUSHY MOUNTAIN
This is the time of year when beekeepers are pulling off honey supers and uncapping their frames to extract. Beekeepers always want to know the best way to uncap their frames and what size extractor they will need. This deals with many personal decisions that we cannot make for you, however, here is some ‘food for thought’.
Let’s start with uncapping.The number of frames you are uncapping and the time you want to spend during this step is dependent upon the method you should proceed with.
Using a Cappings Scratcher is an easy method to work small sections of capped honey at one time. Slide the forks underneath the comb at a horizontal angle and lift vertically to remove cappings. Many beekeepers will scrap the forks against the comb to open the cells.Please note this damages the comb and requires more cleanup from your bees.
A Cold/Hot Knife will slice away larger sections of capped honey from the frame. Place at a slight angle along the top and move down the frame in a sawing motion. Be careful not to ‘dig’ into the comb or tear apart the frame. The Cold Knife has a serrated blade and can stick if not kept clean. The Hot Knife is temperature sensitive and will melt away the wax. Preheat before use. A Cappings Scratcher may be needed for unevenly drawn out sections of the frame.
The Rolling Uncapper will roll over the capped honey and pierce the cappings. Allow the cappings to be pierced by pulling or pushing the Rolling Uncapper parallel to the frame. Do not push roller into the frame. Clean central bar if roller begins to resist in rotating.
If time is of importance, the Sideliner Uncapper is a quick and easy method. Run your frames through the roller blades and both sides of your frame will be uncapped. This does not require you to hold the frame and all the debris is caught in the container underneath the sideliner uncapper. A Cappings Scratcher may be needed for unevenly drawn out sections of the frame.
Let’s discuss extractors. Beekeepers new to the hobby are always excited about their first extraction but are unsure on how to proceed. Do I need an extractor? What size extractor should I get? Which is better, hand cranked or powered?There are three main questions you need to ask yourself and the answers will point to the extractor that best fits you.
How many hives do intend to have? You do not want to outgrow the extractor. You may have five or ten hives currently but you are expecting to expand your bee yard to thirty hives. By the time you reach your thirty hives you do not want to look back and wish you got the bigger extractor.
What is your budget?<br> Let’s be realistic, an extractor is a large investment. There are different alternatives if an extractor isn’t in your budget. You may be able to borrow/rent an extractor from your local bee association; you can uncap and let the honey drain from the frames; you can strain your comb through cheese cloth; other methods are available.
How do you value your time? Extracting is not a ten minute process that will happen in an afternoon. Each extractor will hold an allotted amount of frames. The more frames an extractor will hold the less cycles you will need to run to extract the honey from the frames. Do you have time to run through thirty extractions on a compact extractor or would it be beneficial for you to run six on an 21-frame extractor.
We have developed a Extracting Chart that shows the amount of time needed to extract with each extractor. The time depicted is for running extractor and does not include time needed for uncapping, loading, unloading, and any other actions needed for extracting.
Time consumption for the extraction depends on the Extractor being tangential or radial. Tangential extractors seat frames parallel to the center and only extract one side during the spin cycle. Radial extractors seat frames perpendicular to the center and will extract both sides at once.
Anticipate the numbers you will have in the future before you purchase the extracting equipment you need.
Where: WillimansetHeights Improvement
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Our first BeeBQ Pot Luck Picnic of 2014!
Beekeepers’ July Meeting
Thursday July 17th
Where: WillimansetHeights Improvement
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Our first BeeBQ Pot Luck Picnic of 2014!
one and all! It’s our first BeeBQ of the
summer! We’ll start earlier than usual
so we can take advantage of maximum daylight.
The club will provide hamburgers and hot dogs, soft drinks and water. The rest of us can pitch in by bringing a
side, salad or dessert. Time to bust out
your favorite summer recipes! Please let
me know what you plan to bring when you RSVP.
will also need a Grill Master! Last
year, club president Jeff Rys handled the grill duty, so this year’s volunteer
will have big shoes to fill! Up for the
challenge? Please let me know right
away. The Grill Master will be
responsible for getting the grill to the hall for the BeeBQ and for cooking our
burgers and dogs.
will be more social event than meeting, but a great time to get together with
your fellow beekeepers and ask questions and share knowledge.
will have use of the parking lot, side yard, and hall so we’re covered even if
it rains. If you’d like to sit outside
in the grass… PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN CHAIRS!