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Beekeeper’s Notes January 2018: ‘Meat Seeking Missiles’

Bee-sieged Bees In Warfare

Bee-sieged – Bees In Warfare.

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon. In the latest of his monthly notes, he talks about launching bee hives at the enemy, the state of play in the apiary and a photographic summary of the year.

Talking about bees in your bonnet, I got a curious book this Christmas; Bee-Sieged – Bees In Warfare.  

In the unlikely event that you ever felt you had to satisify a burning desire to devise new ways to use bees against an enemy, don’t bother. It’s already been thought of.

From hurling a full hive into the enemy hordes or poisoned honey for an unwary foe to consume or even setting up hives as booby-traps, this book records it all in great detail. A surprisingly effective weapon. I don’t think I would be amused if I was a knight in shining armour being hit by an airborne missile full of angry bees.

Certainly an interesting book but one for the specialist, I think.

From the ridiculous to the sublime (or the violent to the peaceful), the bees are very quiet now that the weather is colder. They are clustering in tight packs to keep warm, only moving around their home to eat. Not unlike us humans on Christmas Day.

To see the old year out and whilst the bees are quiet, I thought that I would do a brief and somewhat random (other than chronological) record of the bee year.

Pollen was pouring into the hives in March this year as the queen increased her egg laying. The pollen is the protein food for the bee larvae. Click on the photos to enlarge them in a new window.

March 17 Bees queuing up to get into the hive with their full polln payload

March 2017 Bees queuing up to get into the hive with their full pollen payload.

The pollen sticks to the bee hair

March 2017 The bee has branched hair on its body which captures the pollen. She then brushes it back onto her back legs, compresses it a bit and, hey presto, she is ready for transporting back to the hive.

Spring comes and with it the fantastic tree blossoms that the bees love.

April 17. Bee and a fly share the pear blossom

April 2017 Bee and a fly share the pear blossom.

April 17 The perfect white blossom, the transparent filament of the wings. Nature is incredible

April 2017 The perfect white blossom, the transparent filament of the wings. Nature is incredible.

April is a busy time of the beekeeping year. Moving hives around the apiary can be quite time consuming as if you move the hive more than three foot (one metre) at a time, the bees get lost.

A trolley is useful to move bees.

April 2017 A trolley is useful to move bees.

Summer comes on. The bees are seriously building up the colony and taking every chance to bring in pollen and nectar.

April '17. Just about to land on a blackberry flower already laden with pollen

June 2017 Just about to land on a blackberry flower. She is already laden with pollen. They can carry up to 50% of their body weight in nectar and about a fifth (20%) in pollen.

June 17 Bumble bees as well. Honey bees are not the only pollinators

June 2017 Bumble bees seeking the pollen and nectar as well. Honey bees are not the only pollinators around.

August '18 A well laid frame of brood. You can see the quenn near the top of the frame

August 2017 A well laid frame of brood. You can see the queen near the top of the frame.

August '18. And this is the queen that laid that full frame

August 2017 And this is the queen that laid that full frame

October '18 One of the many strange looking insects that Ivy comes to the rescue of at this time of year

October 2017 One of the many strange looking insects that the ivy plant comes to the rescue of at this time of year. The late flowering ivy looks inconspicuous but it is abundant and full of nutrients.

December '17 Dead bees outside of the hive entrance.

December 2017 Dead bees outside the hive entrance. The colony is steadily decreasing in size now, going from 40,000 to 50,000 at its peak to 10,000 or less. The hygenic bees remove their dead out of the hive, hence the carnage scene on the doorstep.

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