Are Antibiotics Good For Honey Bees?

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A collaboration between researchers of three universities in Sweden led to very interesting findings that have been published in the scientific journal called PLoS ONE. What were these findings about and why can there be a link with antibiotics?

In fact, it was discovered that honey bees possess inside their stomachs a lot of healthy lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria may be beneficial for the health of honey bees.

Similarly, a post on the Swedish site slu.se presents the following:

Honey bees possess an abundant, diverse and ancient lactic acid bacteria microbiota in their honey crop with beneficial effects for bee health, defending them against microbial threats.

Furthermore, it seems that this natural defense that honey bees have is already being used in the creation of honey. Effectively, it is believed that when honey bees collect the nectar and the pollen, harmful microorganism are contained in these products from flowers. However, these harmful microorganisms are removed by the bacteria inside the honey bees’ stomachs. Accordingly, a release by the University of Lund mentions:

The researchers have also seen that large quantities of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and fungi are found in the nectar and pollen that the bees collect from flowers to make honey and bee bread. These microorganisms could destroy the food through fermentation and mould in just a couple of hours, but in fact, the healthy bacteria in the honey stomach kill all the microorganisms.

Nevertheless, a very important point derived from the work of the researchers is that honey bees that are treated with antibiotics may have this natural line of defense deteriorated. Effectively, the article quoted earlier also states that:

The bees have their own defense system against disease in the form of cooperative healthy bacteria. However, this system is weakened in commercially farmed bees that are treated with antibiotics, suffer stress, eat synthetic food instead of their own honey and bee bread and are forced to fly in fields sprayed with pesticides.

Consequently, with the need to face, if possible, the colony collapse disorder it may be advantageous for beekeepers to know about the fact that treating bees with antibiotics is not necessarily helping them.

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Did You Know This About Honey Bees?

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Researchers have found that when honey bees are faced with a fungal infection they use propolis to fight the fungus. What is propolis? Propolis is a mixture of plant resign and wax that honey bees may use as lining inside the hive. However, while this substance may not be appreciated by beekeepers because it can make it more difficult to open the hive, researchers have found that propolis has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Effectively, when honey bees are faced with a fungal infection they may significantly increase the amount of propolis brought to the hive. Effectively, Jennifer Welsh of LiveScience writes in an article the following:

The researchers found that when facing a fungal threat the bees brought in 45 percent more of the waxy creation to line their hives, and physically removed fungally-infected larvae from their area.

Nonetheless, the fact that bees brought in more propolis is not the main element proving that this natural product had antifungal properties. In fact, it was remarked that the infection was reduced after the use of propolis. Similarly, Lans in an article published on the site IndiaTimes.com mentioned that:

Researchers know propolis is an effective antifungal agent because they lined some hives with a propolis extract and found that the extract significantly reduced the rate of infection.

Furthermore, honey bees appeared to be able to distinguish sometimes a fungus that was harmful to another one that wasn’t. To illustrate this point, it can be read in an article published on the HuffingtonPots.com by Jennifer Welsh that:

The bees were even aware of which fungi were harmful and which weren’t. When infected with fungus that didn’t cause disease, the bees didn’t ramp up their propolis deposition in response.

This being, the propolis seemed to be limited in defending the colony against pathogenic bacteria as noted on a domain-b.com webpage:

Honey bee colonies infected with pathogenic bacteria did not bring in significantly more propolis – despite the fact that the propolis also has antibacterial properties. ”There was a slight increase, but it was not statistically significant,” Simone-Finstrom says.

Thus here is more information on how interesting honeybees are. It appears that they have very good reflexes against fungal infection that could help us better understand the world more.

 

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Aren’t Bees Identical?

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In general, when we think about honey bees, we may think about them as insects that sacrifice themselves for the hive. The idea of the queen in the hive could reinforce a belief that honey bees are simply workers or slaves. However, a study reported by the journal Science leads to believe that honey bees are more than “programmed” creatures. In fact, the research concluded that all honey bees do not share the same wants and that some of them find it pleasurable to go towards the unknown.

Effectively, when the members of the colony become too numerous for the hive, certain bees go look for a new habitat for the colony.  This situation can help identify  adventure seeker bees. Similarly, Sonia Van Gilder Cooke in her article in newsfeed.time.com wrote:

Instead, some bees are thrill-seekers always looking for a new experience. So how does a bee get a rush? One way is by becoming a nest scout. When the colony outgrows its hive, it has to find a new place to live, and that’s when a vanguard of scout bees takes off in search of new digs. These brave little nest scouts (drawn from less than 5% of the colony) are also much more likely than the average bee to become food scouts.

An element that shows that these types of behavior are not only seen during a period of considerable growth of the hive is the fast that even concerning feeders, the team of the entomologist Gene Robinson found different personality traits in bees. Truly, in an article by Emily Sohn published on MSNBC.MSN.com, one can read the following:

To find out what drives that kind of risk-taking behavior in honeybees, Robinson and colleagues started by using an experiment to classify as scouts those bees that were driven to seek out newly introduced feeders. The majority of bees played it safe and chose to stick with the feeder they were trained on.

However, how can scientist define that what they seeing may actuality be different characters in honey bees? An element of response comes from the fact that by having certain honey bees present in different context the same type of behavior, this type of behavior can be seen as a personality trait. Accordingly, the article by Emily Sohn mentions:

In order to qualify as what we think of as personality traits, certain kinds of behaviors have to apply in different contexts. The researchers were able to demonstrate this kind of consistency in honeybees by showing experimentally that food-scouting bees were more than three times as likely to also scout out new nest sites compared to less adventurous bees.

This belief that some honey bees are more adventurous than others is reinforced by the fact that the gene activity in non scout bees and scout bees were very different. Actually, in an article published on Redorbit.com it can be read that:

Using microarray analysis, the research team studied the brains of the food and nest scouting bees against the non-scouting bees. This research showed that there are thousands of genetic differences between the brains of the scouting bees and the non-scouting bees. The research team was shocked by the results.

Nonetheless, these differences in personality within the colony can be modified. At the core of this modification is the manipulation of the chemicals glutamate, octopamine and dopamine. Pointing out this fact, Cassie Ryan of the Epoch Times wrote:

The researchers used different chemicals to test the relationship between brain signaling and novelty-seeking, and found that non-scouting bees could be induced to become scouts with glutamate and octopamine, while scouting could be suppressed by blocking dopamine.

With these results, it appears that honey bees are very complex creatures that may be driven, for some, by the desire to explore. I don’t know if the results of this study will permit to limit the colony collapse disorder but they are certainly interesting facts about honey bees.

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Are Honey Bees That Important?

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Looking for information about the importance of honey bees can lead to learn that honey bees are important pollinators. However, what is pollination?

honey bees pollination post

A definition I have found to be interesting was mentioned in a document on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ website, fao.org. The definition is the following:

Pollination is transfer of pollen from the anther (the male part of the flower) to the stigma (the female part of the flower). Some plants can pollinate themselves: in this case, the pollen passes from the anther to the stigma inside the same flower, and this is called self-pollination. Other plants need pollen to be transferred between different flowers or different individuals of the plant. This is cross-pollination.

Many plants can be pollinated both ways. Plants can be pollinated by wind or animals.

This being, we can appreciate more the importance of honey bees when we take into consideration the fact that a lot of the food we eat results from their pollination.

As the definition for the term pollination noted, some plants need to be pollinated by animals. Effectively, billions of dollars of food produced yearly in Arizona benefits from the work of honey bees. Accordingly, a document on the University of Arizona’s website states the following:

Some plants, for example grasses, produce light pollen grains that may be carried by the wind or water from plant to plant. Other plants need help from insects, birds, or bats for successful pollination. Without this assistance, fruit and/or seeds would not be formed. In fact, about a third of the food Americans eat is the direct result of pollination by insects.

More than 100 agricultural crops in the United States are pollinated by bees. This means bees are important, if not essential, for the production of nearly $7 billion worth of agricultural crops produced annually in Arizona. Examples of bee pollinated crops include watermelons, cantaloupe, citrus and apples (see story below).

The situation is such that it is not only flowers that profit from bees but also human beings and animals. Nonetheless, because the idea of honey bees pollinating food crops could more understood with a practical example, the next lines from the University of Arizona’s site could help a person better grasp how essential honey bees are to the production of apples:

Did you ever wonder where apples come from or how an apple tree makes apples? Actually, apples start as flowers on the apple tree. Without the help of bees though, the flowers would bloom and then wither and drop without ever having a chance to become an apple. For a flower to become an apple, the pollen that is produced by the flowers on one apple tree must be transferred to the flowers on another tree. The pollen is moved between trees by bees who visit the flowers to collect nectar and pollen. Moving pollen between flowers is called cross-pollination.

It is important that the lives of honey bees be protected. However, I believe that it is vital that the world come back to a more natural way of life.

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The Benefits of Eating Honey?

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It may be known that honey’s sweetness can be used to replace the sugar sold in stores. However, is there more to this honey bee product?

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As a person could guess, the benefits of honey go beyond the fact that it can be used as a substitute for sugar. In fact, the consumption of honey can also be advantageous for one’s health.

Effectively, this product of the bees could be beneficial for our respiratory system. Truly, Christen McGlynn wrote in an article published on the Dailyillini.com the following:

This home remedy actually helps the respiratory system by thinning the mucus build up in a person’s airway.

Nonetheless, because of the sweet nature of honey we could wonder whether eating honey is detrimental for teeth the way sugar can be. In fact, because sucrose is not part of honey, there is not the threat of having more plaque adhesion.

Furthermore, honey has disinfectant capabilities. Thus it can be read in Christen McGlynn’s article who has obtained the opinion of the professor of food science and human nutrition, Nicki Engeseth, that:

According to Engeseth, although honey maintains the characteristics of every dentists’ nightmare with its sticky and sugary aspects, it does not promote tooth decay due to its lack of sucrose. Sucrose, as many may know, promotes plaque adhesion and therefore this sticky, sweet treat is dentist approved.

Not only is this treat plaque problem free, but it also rids the mouth of bacteria.

The article I am currently writing is not enough to talk about all the gains that can be acquired through honey. This being, I would like to share one more benefit of this nectar.

In actuality, honey is also known to have skin healing properties. Similarly, a press release by Larry Oz on PRweb.com, quotes the biochemist Peter Molan:

“There’s more evidence, clinical evidence, by far for honey in wound treatment than for any of the pharmaceutical products.”

Honey is clearly a natural product that can lead to many health benefits. Some of the profits that can be acquired due to honey consumption could be seen in mouth hygiene, skin care as well as in the promotion of a good respiratory system.

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Is Beekeeping Even Worth It?

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With the increased popularity of raising bees a person could ask: what are the advantages of beekeeping? In fact, while I would guess that it is generally known that honey bees produce honey, there are still other advantages to this hobby or activity that may not be as apparent.

Effectively, by keeping bees a beekeeper may collect honey and actually be able to consume raw honey. What is raw honey? Raw honey and liquid honey are not the same. A nice definition is given on the site benefits-of-honey.com when it can be read:

Raw honey is the concentrated nectar of flowers that comes straight from the extractor; it is the only unheated, pure, unpasteurized, unprocessed honey.

However, what I find to be really important concerning the consumption of raw honey is the presence of nutrients in raw honey that may not be there after the honey gets heated. On this same note, Ashley Rittenhouse of The Marietta Times states in an article:

Raw honey is different from liquid honey in that it holds beneficial enzymes and nutrients which usually die when honey is heated.

“They say if you eat honey from within 30 to 50 miles of where you live, it builds up your allergy immunity,” Linscott said. “They’re gathering from plants in your area.”

This being, the benefits of raising bees do not stop here because with beekeeping may come also the pleasure of looking at these creatures. Actually, this point is mentioned by Kent Linscott a beekeeper inside the article quoted earlier, when he says:

Linscott said being able to get honey is one major benefit of being a beekeeper, but working outside and observing the patterns of the bees are also benefits.

“They’re interesting creatures and it’s interesting to see their life cycle throughout the year and see there’s a season for them just like there is everything else,” he said.

Kent is not the only one to find it enjoyable to look at honey bees. Truly, Phil Butta in an article published on TheWesterlySun.com says:

It’s not just honey and beeswax – and the fascination many of us have just watching honeybees – that may be lost.

Thus, getting honey or even selling it does not sum up all the gains that can be gotten out of beekeeping.

As a matter of fact, I believe that one of the most important profits of keeping bees is linked to the pollination. Honey bees have been reported to be responsible for the pollination of a significant portion of the food supply in the United State. Effectively, an article in the MarriettaTimes.com mentions that:

Linscott said the group has grown since he first joined about five years ago, partly because more people are becoming aware of how much of the food supply is pollinated by bees. Bees pollinate about a third of U.S. crops, according to the Associated Press.

If beekeepers are able to provide a greater protection to the honey bee population through beekeeping vis-à-vis the massive use of harmful pesticide, beekeeping should really be encouraged.

Moreover, there are other advantages that could be obtained from this activity as noted earlier. Some of these are the collection of raw honey and its consumption, the pleasure of looking at honey bees, as well as, the fact that honey bees are very important in the pollination process of a large amount of food supply.

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Why Is It Bees Are Disappearing?

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If you have been following bee keeping news for sometime, you may have learned about the disappearance of honey bees not only in the United States but also in other countries. This problem was also called Colony Collapse Disorder.

Paper Wasp Nest

However, reasons had been given for this situation. Among them one could have read about cell phone radiation and pesticides.

Nonetheless, as reported by Reuters, two studies published March 29th in the journal Science by  Mickaël Henry, a biologist at a French agricultural research institute called INRA and David Goulson, a bee biologist at University of Stirling in Scotland appear to point towards one direction.

In fact, what appears to be a cause for the massive death of honey bees is a pesticide named neonicotinoids. A particularity of this pesticide is that it becomes a part of the crop. Consequently it gets into the nectar and the pollen that is eaten by honey bees as explained by Josephine Marcoty in her article published on StarTribune.com where she says:

The pesticide is sprayed on plants and, when used as a seed coating, it grows into all parts of the plant, including the pollen and the nectar that bees eat.

But what are the effects of this pesticide on honey bees? In fact, not only can the neonicotinoids lead honey bees to have navigational and learning difficulties but these chemicals can also lead bumble bees to have a lower weight.

In fact, Brandon Keim states in his article on wired.com that:

In the first study, led by biologist Mickaël Henry of INRA, a French agricultural research institute, free-roaming honeybees were tagged with RFID chips that allowed researchers to track their movements. When dosed with a neonicotinoid, bees were more than twice as likely as non-dosed controls to die outside their hives. They seemed to get lost.

In this same article the authors mentions concerning the second studies from Goulson published in the journal Science the following:

The result dovetailed with the findings of Goulson’s group, who exposed developing bumblebees to varying neonicotinoid levels and set them loose to forage in an enclosed field. Measured after six weeks of growth, pesticide-dosed colonies were stunted, weighing about 10 percent less and producing 85 percent fewer queens.

While these studies help have true data about what could be the cause for the numerous deaths in the bee popuplation, a quote by David Goulson himself explains that neonicotinoids may not be the only cause behind the bee colony collapse disorder when he states:

“I’m sure it’s a combination of things. I’m sure that disease is a part of it, and maybe the two interact.”

Additionally, Mace Vaughn, Xerces Society’s polinator program director says:

“We’ve potentially created a situation where behavioral impacts, compounded with a lack of genetic diversity and the food they eat, results in something like colony collapse disorder,”

Even though pesticides may or may no be the sole cause for the disappearance of honey bees, what is being done about them following these researches?

In March 2012, a petition signed by more than a million has been filled to ban neonicotinoids as reported by Seth Borenstein  in his article for the Associated Press published on MercuryNews.com where it can be read:

Just last week activists filed a petition with more than a million signatures asking the government to ban the class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it is re-evaluating the chemicals and is seeking scientific help.

Even though the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) seems to take into consideration what has been done, the main problem appears to be the use of chemicals in general and the need to go back to a more natural way of growing food.

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Beekeeping Guide | What Are 4 Tips for Backyard Beekeeping

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Are you looking for a beekeeping guide? If you are, in this article I plan to give you some advice from my beekeeping guide. I invite you to read to the end for more information.

Backyard beekeeping is possible

Everyone is perhaps not aware of this fact but keeping honey bees in ones backyard is something possible. Yes, there are certain actions that a beekeeper should take in order to do this activity. Providing that regulations where a person lives, allow beekeeping, let’s go with these 3 tips.

Tip 1: Source of Hydration

The first tips in this very short and topic focused version of my beekeeping guide is about water. Actually, even though honey bees can travel long distances to obtain materials they need, the beekeeper should provide a source of water to his/her bees.

Tip 2: The Fence

Another thing I wanted to mention about backyard beekeeping concerns the fence. A fence of at least 6 ft high should be raised around the hive. This fence could have for effect to hide the hive. Additionally, resulting from the fence, the honey bees could fly higher and the beehive could be more protected against certain strong winds.

Tip 3: Low Profile

Another tip is related to the hive. Effectively, painting the hive in a color that does not make it noticeable could also be useful in hiding the hive.

Tip 4: Neighbors

All neighbors might not be fine with the idea of living near a beekeeper. Consequently adopting certain actions that could help the neighbors change their mind could be advantageous. As a matter of fact, honey could be offered. Moreover, the beekeeper could invite his/her neighbors when he/she is confident about his skills. Everyone should be protected from bee’s stings.

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Beekeeping 101 – Setting Up For Backyard Beekeeping.

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Are you looking for beekeeping 101 tips? If you are beginning beekeeping, getting some beekeeping 101 tips could help you in your journey. I invite you to read this article for more information about certain actions that could be taken to prepare a backyard for beekeeping.

Even though you might be very enthusiastic about beekeeping, this enthusiasm might not necessarily be shared by your neighbors. In fact, because we can’t really assume that they are going to be fine with this activity, here is a first tip that could help draw less attention to your hobby or activity. What is this tip?

One thing that a person could do is to raise a fence. A fence of at least 6ft tall could be raised around the hive. Effectively, a fence could help hide the hive and also lead to some other advantages. In fact, additionally to hiding the hive, a fence could also protect the hive from certain winds and make the bees fly higher. If the honey bees fly higher, there could be a lower probability that they come into collision with people. What is another tip for backyard beekeeping?

Another tip to prepare a backyard for beekeeping is to provide a source of hydration for the bees not far from the hive. This could be done with inverted jars.  In fact, a source of water placed in your backyard might be more appropriate for the bees than another source from a neighbor for example.

While more could be said about beekeeping, I hope that this article about beekeeping 101 tips has been beneficial to you.

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Information about How to Keep Bees.

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Do you want to learn how to keep bees? Many times searches have been done on goggle on the subject of how to keep bees. I invite you to read this article for 3 places where a person could get information about beekeeping.

As classic as they are, books in their physical form can present information about beekeeping. A person who wants to learn how to keep bees could find a lot of books to choose from on Amazon for example. Do you want to wait for the book?

In case you are not willing to wait for a book to arrive at your home, you could look for electronic type books. In fact, there are several websites that give beekeeping information in an electronic format. While you might not have a lot of reviews about these books, they normally have the advantage of being accessible without having to wait for a shipping period. Is that all?

Other places where a person could have information about beekeeping are forums. Forums could give answers to specific questions that relate to beekeeping. A new beekeeper could find there people who have perhaps more experience in keeping bees. A drawback of forums in my opinion is the fact that they do not necessarily organize all the content in a beginner friendly manner.

More could be said about beekeeping. I hope that you have found interesting this article about sources of information on how to keep bees.

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