To Spray or Not To Spray: The Infection

Please help me, More Bees! That last article was awesome but I have seen spotting infecting my plants! What is it and what do I do?

 

Well, let us be the first to tell you that helping you is what we love to do. Next, that sounds like you have a diseased plant. Now; the world isn’t going to burn to the ground, there are things that can be done before completely removing the plant. If you have already tossed the infected plants then use this to better equip yourself for the next bout.

 

What Can Cause These Diseases?

Many things from aphids and slugs to the soil getting too wet, too hot, and/or too cold, or simply bacteria and fungi being carried through the water or wind. It all depends on the plants condition when it became infected. Much like we get sick when our immune systems are compromised, plants also run the risks of becoming ill when their defenses are worn down. So, what can infect the plant and what can it do to the rest of the garden?

 

Know the Enemy

No worries; friends, we were just going to get there. Anyone who manages are garden typically does what they can to optimize garden health. From helping remove pests to simply watering and supplying fresh soil and beneficial nutrients. But, beyond what some novice gardeners realize, those yellow spots aren’t necessarily “sun spots” or wilting. We hope the information below helps in combating some of the more common diseases and you can optimize the health of your yard.

 

Blight

What is blight? It is typically characterized by rapid chlorosis -or the sudden decreased ability to produce chlorophyll-  and deterioration resulting in plant death.

There are many types of blight and each typically affects plants in various weather conditions and seasons. Take Early and Late Blight for instance; the names typically correlate to when each occur. Though they can be seen affecting plants at the same time, early blight is more prominent early in the year and when humidity is high and the temperature is warmer. Late blight tends to occur later in the year and favors cool temperatures and moist conditions. Others like bur oak blight, leaf blight, fire blight, chestnut blight, and so on. Being vigilant and understanding the speed and capability of blight can help protect you plants and prevent further spread.

Here is a helpful link to help further understand the many types of common blight and how to deal with them.

https://www.britannica.com/science/blight

Downy Mildew

The next contender that offends our garden is downy mildew; a fungal infection that begins as small yellow blotches on the plants that may be more noticeable after rainfall. They can increase and change in color based on length of infection, plant health, and even the plant infected as fungus has varieties for each plant species it infects.

Downy mildew will infect plants from either air, water, insects,  or even indirect contact from tools used on other infected plants. They will sporulate in cool and moist conditions typically during spring and fall. This disease is rather quick to peak and difficult to control so dealing with it sooner is better.

More information can be found via the links below.

https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/plant-disease/downy-mildew/

https://ag.umass.edu/greenhouse-floriculture/fact-sheets/downy-mildews-of-ornamental-plants

 

Rust

No, not that orange gunk that occurs on your garden tools or car due to alloys reacting to oxygen and moisture. Rust on plants is a fungal parasite disease that infects over 5,000 different plants. The fungus is typically orange to brown specks on the plant as first. White pustules will eventually form and then darken and turn black.

Rust prefers four to eight hours of low light and warm, moist conditions before long exposure to intense light, high temperatures, and dry leaf surfaces. Overwinter the areas will blacken and becomes cork-like. This disease can cause defoliation and deformation and easily infect other nearby plants.

Further information can be gathered with the following links.

https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/plant-disease/common-rust/

https://www.almanac.com/pest/rust-plant-disease

 

Some Helpful Ways to Prevent

Now that we have gone over some common diseases that plague plants, we should give you the pot of gold at the end of this little rainbow. No worries, we aren’t going to say to spend tons of money to resolve these issues as there are simpler ways as well as some pretty good preventive measures to ensure continued health and easy upkeep.

 

  1. One great way to deal with and prevent most ailments is to purchase or even build your own greenhouse. Greenhouses offer the ability to control the temperature and humidity plus they keep many airborne fungi from landing on your plants. You can also adapt your greenhouse to generate air flow to help improve plant health. Regular cleaning in the start of the season can also prevent slugs and other pest infestations.

 

  1. Planning your garden and keeping proper spacing. Both are key in preventing disease spread and allowing proper air circulation. Planning your garden can help promote more better hygiene and easier upkeep so tending to the plants can be easier.

 

  1. Weeding; yes, simple as that. Pulling weeds can reduce the chances of rot and promote healthier soils and more nourishment for your plants.

 

  1. Cleaning your garden tools. Never thought much of that well used gardening shovel or those sheers. But, those trusty tools can very well be what caused the disease to spread. You should regularly clean your tools as to help prevent anything from clinging to them and disinfect them after dealing with an infected or infested plant.

 

  1. Primarily work with local plants from a nearby rather than ordering offline. Local nurseries can assure of the plant health and allow you to chose your own plant rather than ordering plants of unknown origin and health from the internet.

 

  1. Rotate your plants and crops to help thwart bacteria development that can cause root rot and disperse fresh soil to help feed your plants.

 

Always dispose of dead leaves or plants in proper waste reciprocals for making them compost can infect your garden as well as all your compost. Wash your hands or change gloves -and remember to wash them before use- after each interacting with an infected plant. All of these measures can help deal with infected plants and prevent furthering all or any infections.

 

What About Pests?

Oh am I glad you asked, click here for the link to last week’s article where we covered many common pests and really awesome ways to deal with them. As for the next installment of this article series; please hold onto next week where will inform you or various remedies and methods to helping promote garden health as a whole. In the meantime, help us out by sharing this article with your family, friends, and even coworkers to spread the word.

 

Wanna see something else cool? Have you seen our subscriptions? Your garden isn’t the only one you should be fretting over the health of. You also deserve something nice for all the hard work and wear and tear of the day. More Bees offers a lot of wholesome products to help promote beautiful and healthy skin for you. Treat yourself and click the picture below for a reward of a subscription that sees you being happy and healthy with no need to make an online shopping list. Make your list and let us handle the rest. No hassle and no reminders as we can ship them to your door once a month or every three months.

Oh! Did I mention that the quarterly subscription offers FREE SHIPPING?

 

To Spray Or Not To Spray: A Gardeners Helpers

Oh no! My garden has aphids, weeds, and fungus growth! What can I do to save my garden?!  Well, the first line of defense is your fingers. See an unwanted insect? Pick it off. See an unwanted weed? pull it. Notice a leaf that looks sickly? Pinch it off. Make sure you throw any pulled plants or pinched off leaves into the garbage, not your compost. Also, make sure to wash your hands before handling other plants, so you do not transfer disease or insects from plant to plant. However, making life a little easier has been something we love helping you all with- so here we go!

 

Meet Your Allies

For now, let’s calm down and approach garden health one step at a time. Mites, aphids, caterpillars, and other problematic pest insects that are capable of ruining your entire garden if left unattended. We know we are asking you to think twice on pesticides and there are better and more natural solutions that make light work for you and will deal with your backyard intruders.

 

Ladybugs

A well known ally is the ladybug; coccinellidae. Ladybugs are one of many leaf beetles which prefer to prey upon aphids, thrips, scale insects, and many other plant infesting pests. But not all ladybugs actually eat other insects and some are likely to eat fungi like mushrooms. So, knowing which ladybug species you are hosting can help. Click here to see more on the ladybug and their eating habits. Plants that can help encourage these insects are dill, yarrow, fennel, and dandelion. However if you have larger pests there is parasitic mini-wasps.

 

Parasitic Mini-Wasps

Ewe! A wasp?! More Bees what are you thinking, we thought you didn’t like wasps! While all animals have their place, the coolest thing about some of these wasps is they can live off of nectar and simply lay their eggs in their designated prey- whether that be spiders, ants, or caterpillars. They typically don’t harm bees and they aren’t harmful to people either. So whatever you want these wasps to help control just depends on the wasp you can either buy or invite. Check here for more information on what they prey on and what their feeding habits are.

https://harvesttotable.com/parasitic-wasps-beneficial-insects/

 

Green Lacewings

Don’t like either of those/ Well, why not try the lacewing? What is a lacewing?

Well, they are a petite and rather pretty green insect that hang around porch lights and windows. However, the pest destroyer is their larvae. Occasionally called aphid lions they forage gardens in search for insects, larvae, and eggs to eat before they move onto their next life cycle. Here is some more on the green lacewing and their life cycle.

https://www.insectary.com/portfolio-items/green-lacewing/

 

Reinforcements

There are many more insects that can help improve your pest issue within your garden. And so long as you do your research you can find that these natural predators are much more effective than spraying plants down with chemicals. We hope you find this helpful in order to not only save your garden but to provide a safe environment for bees to forage to provide for their hives and continue their amazing service to our world. Remember that these are all still animals and providing safe and shallow water sources will help keep them and ensure their survival and continue aid. Tune in next week as we help you consider some safer ways to aid your garden and even protect it from fungal growth along with insects.

 

https://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/04/plants-attract-beneficial-insects/

https://www.organiclesson.com/beneficial-insects-garden-pest-control/

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/beneficial-insects.htm

Also; to read the first part of this article series on what pesticides and fungicides can do to bees, please click the link below to check that out. Don’t forget to share this with all your friends on facebook and/or instagram and let’s all work to help protect the bees and live happy.

To Spray Or Not To Spray: Pesticides and Bees

To Spray Or Not To Spray: Pesticides and Bees

Spring Showers of… Pesticides

The other day, as I drove down my street, I saw several of our neighbors out doing yard work. Spring is finally and truly here. For many, that means it’s time to start cleaning up the yard from winter, before things really start growing and your yard gets out of control.

Spring brings longer days, rain, and warmer weather. These are prime conditions for growth. Not just growth of the plants you want in your yard and garden, but also growth of insects, weeds, and fungus. For many of you, insects, weeds, and fungus means adding treatments to the plants and soil in your yard and garden.

 

Before you break out the treatments, please take a few moments to consider what you are applying, and how it can affect the bees. Even if you think you only use bee-friendly treatments, take a moment to read this post. You might be surprised by what I learn.

The Buzz Behind the Pesticides

To start with, remember that even if you don’t have bee hives, bees still forage in your yard. Bees routinely search for food (nectar, and pollen) and water up to 2 miles away from their hive. That means that even if you don’t have bees, the treatments you use on your yard can affect bees.

A lot of you have heard about pesticides called neonicotinoids. They’re harmful to the bees, so many of you steer clear of these. That’s a good thing, since at higher concentrations, neonicotinoids kill bees outright. With repeated exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids, bees exhibit a whole host of problems. The problems are both physical and cognitive. Cognitively, the problems include difficulties with disorientation, communication, memory, developmental delays, and learning. Physically, bees experience problems with flight and movement, reduced levels of foraging for food, and a compromised immune system. Chronic exposure to low levels of neonicotinoids weakens the bees, and in this way neonicotinoids can contribute to the eventual death of a hive.

What Science Has Shown

Studies have shown that even when neonicotinoids are applied in a small restricted area, these compounds soon show up in the greater environment around there areas of use. These pesticides are added to the soil, and taken up by the plant you wish to protect. If this is a flowering plant, the nectar and pollen produced will contain low levels of neonicotinoids. But it is even worse than that. It has been discovered that these compounds do not stay in the soil to which they were applied. Runoff carries them out of the soil and allows them to enter the waterways. This water can then go on to contaminate other plants, and animals, including bees.

 

Because bees have been struggling, and because neonicotinoids have been found to be widespread in the greater environments of the areas where they are applied, many countries have passed bans on neonicotinoids. Other countries are working to ban them. It is important to realize that neonicotinoids are only one class of pesticides known to be highly toxic to bees. Other classes of pesticides known to be highly toxic to bees include organophosphates and pyrethroids (both natural and synthetic). You can find more complete lists from OSU, and from Wikipedia.

So, Pesticide or No?

Unfortunately, only a few of the pesticides known to be toxic to bees are banned in the United States. If you feel you must apply pesticides, please try to pick pesticides from the list that are relatively nontoxic to the bees (see Wikipedia and OSU links). Always apply as directed at the concentration specified. Also consider applying the pesticide in the evening or at night. Bees don’t fly or forage at these times. Finally, try not spray any open blossoms or contaminate the water supply used by the bees.

 

Pesticides have gotten a lot of attention lately, but they aren’t the only thing you need to worry about when treating your lawn and garden.

 

A growing body of research is beginning to show that some herbicides and fungicides once believed to be harmless to bees may actually pose serious risks. While not directly fatal to the bees, exposure seem to weaken honeybee to other threats. For example, one group of researchers found that bees exposed to fungicide sprays are 3 times more likely to die, even when the fungicides tested were generally believed to be safe to use around bees.

Can We Combine Low Level Products

Another group of researchers has found that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup weed killer) damages the gut microbiomes of honeybees. It causes them to lose as many as half of the beneficial bacterial species in their guts. This makes it harder for the bees to digest their food, leading to malnourishment. It also makes bees more vulnerable to infection and death from harmful bacteria and viruses, like those carried by varroa and tracheal mites.

To make matters worse, another group of researchers has found that bees not only like, they preferentially seek out food tainted by certain herbicides and fungicides. They discovered this by offering bees the choice two ‘nectar’ drinks. One was sugar-water one of 20 naturally occurring chemicals commonly encountered by bees in plants and/or in their hives. The other was sugar water tainted with one of either 2 herbicides, or three fungicides. The experiment showed that out of all the sugar-water mixtures tested, bees repeatedly showed the most preference for sugar-water tainted with glyphosate (an herbicide) or chlorothalonil (fungicide). And they told the other bees in their hives which drink to collect ‘nectar’ from. Bees are able to communicate with each other this way.

 

By preferentially consuming sugar-water containing these chemicals, bees are getting much higher doses than previously anticipated. This calls into question whether the bees are actually ingesting levels of these compounds that might be toxic, instead of negligible levels as previously assumed.

What is All This?

What do all of these findings mean? It means that we are likely poisoning the bees, contributing to their decline. Fungicides can reduce a bees abilities to metabolize pesticides, like the most common pesticide used to treat varroa mites inside a hive. Or some of the pesticides used to treat agricultural or yard and garden pests. That means that even if you started with a pesticide that was considered safe for use around bees, the fungicides may make the pesticide toxic to bees at much lower than anticipated doses. Adding glyphosate (and possibly other herbicides) into the mix leads to malnourished bees with weakened immune systems. It becomes easy to see how we are contributing to the precipitous and perplexing loss of bees. For these reasons, we ask that you use caution and choose wisely when applying any treatments on your lawn or garden.

 

Thank you for caring enough about the bees to read this post. Next week, We’ll explore some of the green bee-friendly methods being used by many to combat pests, weeds, and fungal infections in the yard and garden.

Referenses

https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/ipm/what-is-a-neonicotinoid/

https://www.gotscience.org/2018/02/honeybees-attracted-common-fungicide-herbicide/.

https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/glyphosate-linked-to-bee-deaths

https://cen.acs.org/environment/pesticides/Glyphosate-disrupts-honey-bee-gut/96/web/2018/09

https://www.gotscience.org/2018/02/honeybees-attracted-common-fungicide-herbicide/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/neonicotinoid-pesticides-slowly-killing-bees

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticide_toxicity_to_bees

https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw591_1.pdf

The Waxes of Skin Care: The Types and the Benefit of Each

Comparison of Some Natural Waxes Used in Body Products:

Waxes are complex mixtures of large organic molecules: alcohols, fatty acids, and esters.

They are insoluble in water, but most of them can be dissolved into organic non-polar liquids, like oils and many organic solvents. They tend to be malleable solid at or near room temperature, and most melt above 104 deg F.

Compared to fats and oils, they are harder, less greasy and more brittle. They are also very resistant to moisture, oxidation and microbial degradation. In general, waxes can help protect the skin (by forming a film and/or acting as an emollient). They also help thicken, emulsify, and stabilize many body products. This can improve their texture, viscosity, and stability.

 

Plant, Animal, or Mineral

Many plants and animals make waxes. The oldest know, and used continuously for thousands of years, is beeswax. Some will even argue that wax also occurs naturally in petroleum. Though we by no means consider it equal to plant or animal waxes. In addition to naturally occurring waxes, there are in also man made waxes. In this post, we will take a look at the following waxes.

Animal: Beeswax, Lanolin

Lanolin
Beeswax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant:Carnauba, Candelilla

Candelilla Wax
Carnauba Wax

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beeswax

Beeswax is a wax secreted by the European honeybee and has been used for thousands of years, for a variety of body product applications: from lotions to salves and balms. It is the oldest known emulsifier for body products. The potential for allergic reaction is low, is not likely to clog pores, and allows the skin to breathe. Include the fact that it’s an emollient, a humectant, and antimicrobial, it’s easy to see why beeswax is well suited to body products.

As with the other natural waxes, beeswax improve emulsions and consistency in a variety of different formulas, can help extend the shelf life of certain ingredients, thicken a formula, and much more. Because beeswax has a tacky consistency on it’s own, adding it to body products produces products with good staying power. Beeswax ranges in color from white to deep amber. It has a melting point of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). Because beeswax isn’t brittle over as large of a temperature range as the plant waxes, solid products that incorporate beeswax are less likely to crack or shear. Because this wax is produced by bees, it is not vegan.

 

Lanolin

Lanolin is wax secreted by wool-bearing animals, and is made up predominantly of long chain waxy esters. It is a greasy thick solid. Studies have shown that lanolin is a long lasting emollient that breathes, and reduces skin roughness. That makes it easy to understand why lanolin, and lanolin derivatives, are used extensively in both the personal care products, as well as many health care products. Lotions, salves, balms, and ointments are where you are most likely to run into lanolin in your medicine cabinet.

Other applications include use in lubricants, rust-preventive coatings, shoe polish, and other commercial products. The melting point of pure lanolin is 38 °C (100 °F). Unfortunately, out of the natural waxes looked at here, it is the most likely to cause allergic reaction. This should be kept in mind when purchasing or formulating body products. This wax is made by wool bearing animals, as such, is not vegan.

 

Carnauba Wax

Carnauba wax comes from the carnauba palm (Copernicia cerifera), which is a native of Brazil. The wax it produced is a hard brittle amber to brown colored solid. Bleaching the wax can lighten the color. It is known as the queen of waxes because it is the hardest wax. Used most commonly to give a glossy protective finish to a variety of products –  car paint, leather, wood, food. Edible – used since 1920 for waxing fruits and veggies, and added to pastries. In cosmetics, carnauba wax is used to add stiffness to mixtures like mascara and lipstick. It is also used in emulsions like liquid and cream lotions. Melting point: 82–86 °C (180–187 °F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E903. This wax is vegan.

 

 

Candelilla Wax

Candelilla Wax is a brittle brownish yellow wax that is made by the Candelilla shrub, native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States. It’s primarily used to harden other waxes without raising their melting point. Additionally, it is used as a glazing agent for foods, a binding agent for gums, in the manufacture of varnish, and as a hardener for lip balms and lotion bars. Melting Point: 68.5–72.5 °C(156-163°F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E902. This wax is vegan.

 

Waxes For All

With the exception of lanolin, which is a thick pasty solid at ambient temperature, the others mentioned are firm, that can be bought in a variety of shapes/sizes: slab, chunks, flake, pellets, powder. Size can have an effect when trying to measure or melt the wax. Which wax you pick, will depend on personal preference, and your desired results.

 

Links giving some basic information on various natural waxes:

Beeswax

Lanolin

Carnauba wax

Candelilla wax

Lanolin allergies

 

A note on Paraffin Wax:

Many of you will say paraffin is not natural, since it is a petroleum product. Others might try arguing that it is natural, because be isolated naturally from crude, simply by distillation. In that respect, it could be argued that it is natural. So, here goes: Paraffin wax is isolated during the petroleum distillation process. It is a bluish-white opaque solid. It was first isolated and used in Germany in 1830. Since then, a long and varied list of uses has come about. As such, most of us got our exposure to paraffin early on –  it is the primary ingredient in crayons, candles, and Vaseline. Most uses make use of the fact that paraffin wax can be used as a protectant, a lubricant, or a sealant. Because of it’s slippery feel, paraffin is added to body products to make them easier to spread around.

Another reason it is used in beauty products is because it is a relatively cheap way to make skin feel moisturized. It’s important to note, that even though the skin feels hydrated after applying paraffin wax containing products, paraffin is not hydrating, and doesn’t do a good job or repairing skin damage. And, it is not necessarily good for the skin for other reasons – It clogs pores, doesn’t let the skin breathe, and can contain trace chemicals from the petroleum distillation process that are harmful. Melting point:37 °C (99 °F). It’s E number (food additive number) is E905. This wax is vegan.

Paraffin wax

Paraffin wax in body products

A Good Direction for Amazing Skin Care

Even if you believe that paraffin is a natural option, it is our opinion that with very few exceptions, a more wholesome, nourishing, natural wax can, and should be used. Our recommendation is Carnauba wax if you are waxing your car or beeswax if you would be using on your skin. When it comes to protecting and keeping your skin hydrated, beeswax is incredible at both. You can try this in our solid lotion bars. Just pop out the puck and rub it where your skin is dry and will notice just a little protects and moisturizes your skin. Beeswax is a humectant and will draw moisture to your skin even in extremely dry climates as well as sealing in the moisture without clogging your pores.

 

More Bees solid lotions are a fantastic choice for natural care for your skin. These lotion bars are great for sensitive or worked skin. Whether you clean, build, sew, file, whatever it is you do our solid lotions are capable in helping repair and protect your skin. You can click the link below to our store and try one of these fantastic products for yourself.

The Buzz on Canandian Artist: Aganetha Dyke

Hauntingly beautiful

That’s what I thought when I looked at images from the “Masked Ball” series of sculptures by Aganetha Dyke.

Aganetha Dyck is a Canadian artist that was born in Manitoba in 1937. She now resides in Winnipeg, Canada. Much of her work centers on, or relates to honey bees. My favorites are the “Masked Ball” series of sculptures. To create these, and other similar sculptures, Ms. Dyck uses found objects (figurines, shoes, sports equipment, etc.).  After finding the pieces she will use, Ms. Dyck paints bee pheromones onto them before placing them into active bee hives, and leaves them there, sometimes for years.

The Art of the Bees

Ms. Dyck has always found the bees to be an incredible architects, who build beautiful 3 dimensional sculptures. Sculpture that she believes to be true art. Ms. Dyke views her art as a collaborative effort between her and the honey bees with which she works. Communication between different species has long been an interest of Ms. Dyck, and she considers the bees co-artists. She believes that works such as hers can remind us of our interconnections with other species, our shared vulnerability, and our fleeting life in the world.

Much of the research she has done on bees has focused on the ramifications of the disappearing honey bee for our world.

“I’m really concerned for them. 95 per cent of wild honey bees have disappeared. When you’re so close to a creature that’s so important to the world and you know how quickly they could disappear, and what that would do to humanity, that’s a relationship that’s pretty precious.”

-Aganetha Dyke

Though many of her works rely directly on the laying down of beeswax by bees, some of her work is in the form of scans and images taken from inside working hives, creations that combine drawings with hive parts or beeswax, and creations made by dipping everyday items into melted beeswax.

 

Her work has been exhibited in many galleries and museums in the past, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Upcoming Exhibit

To see some of Aganetha Dyck’s work up close and personal, consider visiting the upcoming Something More than Nothing exhibit. It will be at the Reach Gallery Museum in Abbotsford, British Columbia (on the US-Canada border very near Vancouver, BC) from 5/23/2019 through 9/15/2019. This exhibit contains work from several artists. It deals with the concept that hidden or ignored work is nevertheless fundamental and necessary in our world.

 

Wikipedia article on Aganetha Dyke

Gibson Gallery

Reach Gallery Museum

Video with Ms. Dyck

 

The Giant Bee of Indonesia Is Back Again

In the midst of an ever growing list of extinct and endangered bee species, there is a bright spot.

In 2018, for the first time in almost four decades, Megachile Pluto (commonly known as Wallace’s Giant Bee) was sited. Even though this bee was once feared extinct, the individual who found the Wallace’s Giant Bee captured and promptly sold it for $9,100 on Ebay.

The killing and sale of the giant bee sparked outrage, and many feared for these reclusive bees. And then last week, another giant bee was sighted. Thankfully, after photographing this specimen, the individual released the bee alive.

Who is Megachile Pluto?

Discovered in 1858 by Alfred Russel Wallace, as he catalogued the flora and fauna of Indonesia, this bee received a mere one sentence entry in Wallace’s journal. This bee lives on three islands of the Indonesian province of North Moluccas: Bacan, Halmahera and Tidore. Oil palm plantations steadily are replacing the lowland forests where these bees live, leading to an ever increasing reduction of habitat.

Many feared that this bee had become extinct, until it was seen again in 1981. It would be 38 years until the next sighting of Megachile Pluto. And you would know if you saw Wallace’s Giant Bee.

This bee is the largest bee in the world. Females measure approximately  1 ½ inches long with a wing span of 2 ½, while males measure 0.9 inches long. (For comparison, a typical honeybee measures in at approximately ½ inches long.) These giant bees live in active tree-dwelling termite nests. The females have large mandibles, capable of gathering, transporting, and manipulating the plant resins that the bees use to fashion their nests. As with all other species of Megachile bees, Wallace’s Giant Bee feeds on nectar and pollen, and carries pollen in the thick hairs on its ventral surface (abdomen).

Looking to the future

People have seen this bee only a handful of times since its discovery. For that reason, there is no accurate estimates of how many of these bees exist. From a conservation standpoint, Megachile Pluto is a vulnerable species. Entomologists are unsure if the sighting is good or bad from a conservation standpoint. The news coverage the sighting has generated is sure to make more people aware of this reclusive bee. The question is, will people go to these Indonesian islands in search of these bees, or will they be encourage to fight for the preservation of this species. Will they invade its territory, or will they lobby for the preservation of it?

The next time someone sees one of these incredible bees, will they sell it on Ebay, or will the let it be?

Further reading

There are many credible sources of information on Wallace’s Giant Bee. Here are a few.

Aussie Bee Post on Wallace’s Bee

National Geographic article on the sale of Megachile Pluto specimen in 2018

Megachile Pluto Wikipedia article

 

When the Daisies Come Up Spring Is Here

“What flowers mean spring to you?” I asked my husband just the other night.

 

“Daisies.” Was his rather interesting and simple response. Intrigued I chose to pry for more information.

 

“Why? Daisies aren’t the first to come up. They aren’t the first to flower.” I didn’t think I would get an answer. So I was surprised when it came.

 

“Steve said to watch for the daisies. That they meant spring.” Steve; Ron’s beekeeping mentor, he told Ron that when the daisies came up, it was time to really gear and grow the bees. There would be a steady flow of nectar from a succession of flowering plants all the way into the fall.

 

“They’re little and white and come up in the grass.” Ron told me.

 

I was curious about the type of daisy Steve might have been talking about, so I jumped onto my computer. Daisy…Kingdom Plantae, order Asterales, family Asteraceae…Wow! Did you know that there are over 4,000 species of daisy!

 

Three possible types of daisy Steve could have been talking about:

Lawn Daisy (also known as Common Daisy and English Daisy)

Bellis perennis is called The lawn daisy because even mowing will not get rid of them in your lawn. This daisy originated in Europe, but is now naturalized across temperate regions of the Americas and Australia as well. It blooms late spring through fall. This plant grows low to the ground, and is considered an invasive weed by most. Though considered a weed, it is also intentionally cultivated in many gardens as a flowering ground cover. A growing number of people are now deciding to grow the lawn daisy intentionally in their yards. This is a good choice if you are going for bee friendly plants for your yard.

 

Fleabane Daisy

Erigeron annuus. Native to North America, this daisy species grows in 43 out of the 48 contiguous states. This daisy has very small flowers, but they can grow quite tall – up to 5 feet. The flowers of this daisy are often white with yellow centers. But sometimes they have pink or purple petals.

 

 

 

Oxeye Daisy

Leucanthemum vulgare. As with the lawn daisy, this daisy originated in europe, and is widespread there. It has naturally spread across temperate regions of Asia, and Turkey, and has been introduced into the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Cattle will not eat it, and once established, it is difficult to get rid of. It is considered an invasive weed by over 40 countries. This daisy blooms spring through fall, and has a very high pollen count. This plant grows up to 20 inches high. Though considered a weed, it is also intentionally cultivated in many gardens as a flowering ground cover. A growing number of people are now deciding to grow the lawn daisy intentionally in their yards. This is a good choice if you are going for bee friendly plants for your yard.

 

There are countless other wildly growing  could be the flowers Steve was referring to. I wish we could ask him, though he probably didn’t know the exact species name. Steve tragically and unexpectedly passed away several years ago. I’m still not sure exactly which species Steve was talking about. I wish he was still with us, so he could tell us. We miss you Steve. This article was in memory of you.

Bellis perennis

Erigeron annuus

Leucanthemum vulgare

Inside the Life of the Bombus: the Bumblebee

Name: Bombus

Alias: The Bumblebee

Super Power: Buzz Pollination

Activity: Early spring through late fall

Favorite plants to pollinate: All of them!

 

What Is The Bombus?

Bombus is the bee genus known by the common name of bumblebee. Bumblebees are in the Apidae family, which contains the western honey bee. Bombus contains over 250 known species of bumblebees. Bees in the Bombus genus are indigenous to the northern hemisphere, as well as South America.

This map indicates the regions of the world that species of the bombus can be found.

 

Just like the leafcutter bee, the mason bee, and the honey bee, bumblebees are long-tongued bees. And similar to these other types of bees, bumble bees feed off of nectar and pollen; making them valuable pollinators. Also like honey bees, they have pollen baskets, where they can carry pollen that they collect. They cover large areas, much as honey bees do, and are not picky about the types of flowers they visit, as some types of bees are.

 

The Buzz Behind The Bombus

But Bumblebees do something that none of the other long-tongued bees can do. They ‘buzz’ pollinate. Buzz pollinating consists of the bee grabbing onto a bloom antlers, disengaging their wings, and then vibrating the muscles that usually control their wings. This has the effect of violently shaking the flower to release pollen, which then coats the bumble bee’s hairy body.That’s why the bumblebee is believed to be so very hairy (See the link showing buzz pollination taking place at the end of this article.).

 

Many plants are most effectively pollinated when buzz pollinated. Buzz pollination of such plants greatly increases size, quality, and quantity of the fruits and vegetables from these plants. Nightshade (including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos, and ground cherries) and many species of the genus vaccinium (blueberry,  cranberries, bilberries, and huckleberries) are a few examples of plants that benefit from buzz pollination.

 

Seasons of the Bombus

Bumblebees are active in their environments from early spring when the queen emerges from the nest, through late fall, when temperature become too cold for them to fly. Bumblebees usually live in small colonies (most often between 50 and 200 bees), and subsist on nectar and pollen. Like honey bees, bumblebees have a queen who will populate the colony and the bees secrete wax, which they use for a variety of reasons. They fashion the wax to cover their eggs and make cocoons where larvae are incubated. They even use this wax to make a place for worker bees to store nectar and pollen to be consumed by developing larva and mature bees, and even use wax to enclose their nest when needed. Nests are often found in the ground, in hollow spaces in wood, and even in grass and other vegetation. A cluster of crudely fashioned cells, bumblebee nests are crude when compared to the regular hexagonal cells constructed by the honeybee. Also, unlike honey bees, bumblebees only store only enough food to last a few days at a time, whereas honey bees need enough food stores to get the queen and a significant amount of the hive through winter and into the spring.

Bumblebee nest
Honey bee nest

 

The Cold and the Bombus

The bumblebees also differ from other bees in that they have the lowest chill-coma temperature. This is the temperature at which a bee can no longer fly. That means that when all the other bees are done for the season, bumblebees keep on flying late into the fall, when a newly formed queen mates with drones and then consume large quantities of food, giving her the resources to hibernate through the winter. Unless the bumble bees are in a very temperate climate, only the new queen will survive until the spring, where she emerges, to start the process all over again.

 

Living With Bombus

If you encounter a bumblebee nest or have one your yard, be aware that bumblebees can sting. But they won’t do so if you leave their nest alone, and don’t swat at them. If you do get stung, breath easy, since the stinger is barbless, and won’t stay in your skin. On the other hand, it also means that the bumble bee does not die when it stings, and it can sting more than once, so move away from them.

 

And finally did you know that their coloring and markings can be used to distinguish different species of bumble bees, and the species seen vary from area to area. Below, we have included links for identification of different bumblebee species, as well as general information about bumble bees. How many have you seen?

 

Classification and identification of bumblebees

Bumblebees of the Western United States

Bumblebees of the Eastern United States

More about bumblebees

video showing buzz pollination

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary with Honey

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary with Honey

Here in our little corner of the world, summer has suddenly been replaced by fall. There is a chill in the air and the blessed rain is falling again. Gone are dreams of grilled hot dogs and watermelon, and in their place are dreams of something a little different. But different doesn’t have to be difficult. The simple addition of a drizzle of honey can make the ordinary become extraordinary.

 

Wildflower, orange, or clover honey is nice and full flavored, but if you want to mix things up, try meadowfoam honey for a marshmallow-like flavor. Or go crazy with the distinctive taste of buckwheat, maple, or lavender honey. If you wanna see an extensive list of honey and how their flavors compare, check out the link at the end of the post.

 

Here are our four favorite foods to top with honey:

 

Oatmeal with Honey

Steel-cut, old fashioned, or quick oats, whichever you prefer. Cook with milk or water, as per the instructions, to the desired consistency, then top with milk and honey. Add fresh or dried fruit, nuts, or cinnamon if you like, for a truly gourmet experience. Our favorite is bananas and walnuts and honey.

Don’t like oatmeal? Honey tastes great on the other cooked cereal as well.

 

Warm bread with butter and honey

Who doesn’t like warm bread? It is soooo good and satisfying! But have you ever tried freshly baked bread (from your kitchen, or the stores) with butter and honey. If you haven’t, give it a try for breakfast, an accompaniment to dinner, or even as a snack or treat.

Vanilla Ice Cream with Honey

The creamy, cold, goodness that is vanilla ice cream is especially good when topped with honey. If you haven’t indulged yet, you should give it a try.

Tea with Honey

Herbal, or leaf tea. Black, green, or white. It doesn’t matter. Try a spoon of honey in place of your usual sugar, and you’re in for a treat. The bonus is that honey in tea is soothing for your throat, making this not only great tasting, but useful during cold and flu season.

Remember, each honey brings a different taste to the party. That means that you can change the experience by changing the honey. Look here extensive list of honey Flavors.

 

Do you have a favorite food that is made even better by drizzling honey on it? We’d love to hear what it is.

A Slice of Bee Life: Bees in the Fall

September is here, and with it, what most see as the start of fall. With the changing of the seasons, comes a changing of activities in a bee yard. Whether you have one hive, or hundreds, the jobs and duties of bee and keeper alike are changing.

 

The Drones

Drones became obsolete after mating with the queens of the various hives and passing on their genetic material. In good times, drones are tolerated and continue to be produced in the hive but once times get trying they are purged from hives. This keeps them from continuing to consume precious resources that are needed for the hive to survive the winter. When the drones are purged, the workers will force all stages of drones from the hives. The immature brood die quickly, and the mature drones soon follow since they do not collect pollen or nectar and quickly starve.

Do not be shocked to see dead drone bees near the entrance to your hives. This is a natural occurrence this time of year.

 

Because drones take resources away from a hive, look for drones and drone brood when evaluating hive health other times of the year. Lots of drones and drone brood is an indication of a hive that has lots of pollen and nectar available.

 

For more information on drones, see our previous post.

 

The Workers

Besides removal of drones from the hive, there are other changes in worker activity. They will begin to scrounge the area around for the last bit of food matter to stock the hive with before the cold hits and most plants begin to die back. Once the plants begin dying back and nectar and pollen dwindle, the focus starts to shift to propolis production. Propolis is like bee glue, and bees use it to seal their hive. It is made out of beeswax, bee saliva, and resinous materials they have collected from plants.

For more information about propolis, see this informative link.

 

Another things workers will do is rob from other hives. Because of this, you may want to close down the hive entrance, making it harder for other bees to try to steal honey and pollen from your hives.

 

The Queen

The queen begins to slow in her egg laying as the temperature cools and she begins to release a new set of pheromones to help encourage her workers to prepare for the cold. From creating the essential stockpiles of resources in places that will be easily attainable during the hive’s time in their winter cluster to their new routines. This will all be carried out and continued through the winter and into spring. Once the warm weather returns the queen bee will trigger the hive back into their more productive routine and typical hive behavior will carry on through the warm seasons until the weather drops the following year.

 More?

Incredible, right? We take for granted the amazing ways animals in the wild adapt to season changes and evolved to handle difficult times. However, this is not the last of the awesome ways bees handle the end of summer and in our next segment we will touch on their behavior and methods of handling the cold of winter and inability to gather food. Stay tuned either through our facebook, instagram, or here on the website for the next Slice of Bee Life. See you then and take care friends!