How Zika Complicated My Beekeeping

My article on Zika and Bee Kills in Bee Culture

Every time a news story covers the Zika, West Nile or some other mosquito-borne virus in the US, phones start ringing at pest and mosquito control companies. In the mind of most homeowners, calling a mosquito control company is the most rational response. A panel truck shows up – at any hour of the 9-5 work day – and workers starts fogging the yard with pyrethrins. If the company is lucky, they will sign a recurring contract that guarantees multiple visits.

Pyrethrins are relatively safe to vertebrates but deadly to invertebrates such as honey bees, native pollinators, aquatic life, and dragonflies (that eat both mosquito larvae and mosquitoes). A cloud of pyrethrins can drift into an apiary or – if sprayed on flowers – toxic nectar and pollen can be carried back to the hive.

That is exactly what happened to me in 2016. It was devastating. I am sure the loss causes some to quit beekeeping altogether. Imaging finding your beloved cat or dog or concubine healthy one day and dead the next from poisoning. I would not wish this on anybody.  But I have heard stories from others. It is not always the mosquito control companies – sometimes it is the county roads department.

So I did what any other red-blooded American beekeeper would do. I waged a one person war on mindless, senseless, uninformed, scorched earth fogging of all insects.

The first thing I did was to assembled a care package to my neighbors. Zika and the mosquitoes the virus are real. No backing away from that fact. But there are better ways to deal with mosquitoes. So I assembled a care package (in a nifty bag) with the following items and gave one to each of my neighbors:

Next, I offered to create an informative bee kill

Continue reading How Zika Complicated My Beekeeping

If I could choose anyone in the world to speak at my bee club…

…it would be Professor Mandyam Srinivasan. Granted, I may be a little unique there but I have enjoyed many of his papers on honey bee neurophysiology. He is Professor of Visual Neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute in Australia. His research focuses on the principles of visual processing, perception and cognition in bees and . . . → Read More: If I could choose anyone in the world to speak at my bee club…

High speed cameras study imprecise bee flight

Drones Make Love Not War

I have two hobbies: beekeeping and building/flying multirotors or drones.  There is rarely any overlap between the two but recently I have noticed a spate of YouTube videos with titles such as (click on the links!):

Continue reading Drones Make Love Not War

Ulster Observation Hive Project

This is a posting stub where readers can comment on the Ulster Observation Hive. Continue reading Ulster Observation Hive Project

Entomologist: Meet Etymologist

I am pleased to report that ‘beehacker’ has been entered into the lexicon of popular culture. WordSpy, “the word lover’s guide to new words”, has identified an emerging new meme: beehacker. A beehacker has been defined as

n. A beekeeper who uses digital tools and technology to help monitor and manage a . . . → Read More: Entomologist: Meet Etymologist