September 5, 2012
Posted by on
Bees sometimes get a bad rap, but unless you are allergic to bee stings, the benefits of these uniquely special creatures far outweigh the risks as they are one of the most important pollinators in the world. Oftentimes honeybees get mistaken for other types of bees or wasps that aren’t as helpful to the human race. Bee identification is not too difficult – just take a closer look and you’ll be able to tell who is buzzing around your home and garden.
honeybee with pollen
The common European Honeybee is fuzzy and compact, and has muted black and yellow striping. These bees are vegetarian – they are not the ones interested in your picnic, but they might want to investigate your brightly colored shirt. They spend most of their time gathering pollen from flowers and are the world’s most efficient pollinators. Honeybees have only one sting and once they use it they die, so they would rather fly away than sting you, although they will typically try to sting if cornered or threatened.
Yellow jackets are most often confused with honeybees but they are much different and are actually a type of wasp. Their bodies are smooth and shiny and their black and yellow stripes are much brighter than honeybees. They eat other insects and fruit and are attracted to meaty and sugary odors. These guys are the ones buzzing around your picnic. They also sometimes hang around honeybee hives and try to steal honey. Unlike the honeybee, yellow jackets are often aggressive and can sting multiple times.
carpenter bee. photo by Jim Gilbert
CARPENTER BEES AND BUMBLEBEES
Bumblebees and Carpenter bees are much larger than honeybees. The Carpenter bee has a shiny black bottom and the bumblebee has a furry, striped one. Carpenter bees like to nest in dead wood, hence their name. Bumblebees can sting multiple times but are usually even less aggressive than honeybees. Drone (male) carpenter bees don’t even have a stinger, and getting stung by a female is quite unlikely and generally very mild.
WASPS AND HORNETS
While there are several types of wasps, most have smooth, shiny bodies and are more compact than bees. They often have longer legs and tiny waists. Most of them eat other insects or bugs like caterpillars. If you come across a hornet nest in your home or garden don’t try to move it. They will become very aggressive when disturbed and can sting a hundred of times each when threatened.
August 27, 2012
Posted by on
Recently we performed a multi-day bee rescue in Malibu where bees had taken over the entire floor of an outdoor sauna. The homeowners wanted to keep the bees, so we removed the bees from beneath the sauna floor, placed them into boxes, and found a perfect location on the property for them. They are doing well and are happy in their new home.
May 24, 2012
Posted by on
Natural beekeeping methods differ from traditional or conventional beekeeping in several important ways. Natural beekeepers see themselves as partners with the bees and strive to be in tune with nature’s cycles and the larger surrounding environment.
hives at peace
photo by attawayjl on flickr
Natural beekeepers believe in the wisdom of the hive, minimal human interference and much time spent in observation of the bees.
Synthetic chemicals are not used, and the bees are not fed any sugar or corn syrup solutions. Natural beekeepers let the bees make their own combs and do not provide pre-formed foundations.
Feral (or wild) bees are preferred over mail order bees as they have never been exposed to the chemicals that raised bees are brought up with.
Natural beekeeping prefers the use of top bar hives which more closely mimic a natural hive.
Natural beekeeping is sustainable and accessible to all, focusing on the benefits of having many small, localized apiaries instead of fewer, large scale, commercial-type beekeeping enterprises. And honey is only extracted in the warmer months when there is a surplus amount in the hive.
Bees are crucial for a healthy environment as well as maintaining our food supply. We have all heard that bee populations are dwindling and bees are dying. Here are a few easy things you can do to help the bees!
bees love lavender
photo courtesy aussiegall on flickr
Create a bee-friendly habitat Do not use pesticides in your garden. The chemicals disrupt the sensitive systems of the bees and are said to be a major reason for colony collapse disorder. Plant bee-friendly flowers. Some great easily-found choices that do great in Southern California are lavender, rosemary, nasturtium, poppy, lupin, sunflowers and geranium. Here’s a more extensive list from buzzaboutbees.com. Also, make sure there’s a fresh water source in your garden for the bees to drink – a birdbath is perfect.
Buy Organic By supporting organic farmers, you are helping promote and expand bee-friendly environments and decrease the use of harmful pesticides in our environment.
Get Involved Ask your state and federal lawmakers to look into the epidemic of colony collapse so more attention and resources can be directed at the problem. Urge them to support legislation that demands the EPA to ban Neonicotinoid pesticides which are some of the most toxic pesticides out there – even more more toxic than DDT, which was banned in 1972.
small batch honey is the best
Avoid Mass Produced Honey When buying honey, make sure to buy from a small operation or better yet, a beekeeper you know. This way, you know the bees health (and not mass profit) is the beekeepers main focus. Farmer’s markets are a great source to find this kind of sustainable honey.
Keep Your Own Bees Get set up with a bee box filled with rescued feral bees and become a backyard beekeeper! It’s easy because the bees don’t need much help from us to thrive, and you will be helping to increase the honeybee population.