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5 insightful TED talks on Honey Bees

18 Nov

We have selected 5 insightful TED talks on Honeybees, from beekeepers to scientists, all bee lovers, and all speaking about the importance of the honey bees. By watching these 5 short videos, you will learn about their origins, their relationship with human, why they are disappearing and how you could help them.

John Miller: No bees, No food – March 2014

John Miller is a commercial beekeeper who you might have caught a glimpse of in the documentary ‘More than honey.’ His grandfather was making his living by selling honey, but times have change and Miller makes his living not by selling honey any more but by offering the service of pollination. He travels with his 12,000 colonies all over USA and pollinates fields. This unique approach makes him standout among a crop of commercial American beekeepers. He is telling us more in this TED talk:

 

Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing? – September 2013

This TED talk is led by Marla Spivak, a distinguished McKnight University Professor in Apiculture and Social Insects. She is explaining us how bees are disappearing due to diseases and parasites, pesticides, monoculture and a flowerless landscape devoid of any biodiversity. It’s no secret that the honeybee population is on the decline and the main reason for this is the change in our farming practices. For example, we stopped planting cover crops and start using chemicals fertilizers. Monocultural practice and relentless use of fertilizer and weed killer have ensured that our landscape is gradually turning into a desert for bees.

 

Dino Martins: The human and the honeybees – June 2013

“Both honeybees and humans originated in East Africa and the connection between us has survived the ages.”

Dino Martins, entomologist and teacher at Turkana Basin Field school and explorer at National Geographic gives us a short but really fascinating talk. He shows how insects and in particular honey bees are connected to human beings. Showing examples of bees pollination all over the world and their importance for the livelihoods of people.

 

Noah Wilson Rich: Every city needs healthy honey bees – April 2013

This TED talk is done by Noah Nilson Rich, Doctorant in Biology and founder of Best bees, a company which delivers, installs, and manages honey bee hives for residents and businesses throughout eastern Massachusetts. He promotes urban bee keeping and its benefits. Imagine all roof tops everywhere, creating food crops in the city.The pilot project started in Paris and it is now catching on all over the world.

 

Dennis Vanengelsdorp: Where have the bees gone? – December 2008

Dennis Van Engelsdorp, assistant Professor in the department of entomology at the University of Maryland was one of the early advocates of the health of honey bees and has spoken extensively about bees disappearing and what could be the root cause of this problem. Yearly, around 30% of the population of bees vanish in America.  After spending time with local and commercial beekeepers, he goes through all the possibilities of why and where the bees could have gone.

 

 

 

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Bee in China

15 Oct

Made in China

Did you know copy 60 to 70% of honey found on Chinese supermarket shelves is fake! There are 2 major ways to produce fake honey. The first one is to mix adulterate the honey with chemical substance or liquids and the second is to blend honey with high-fructose corn syrup. Only 2 companies selling honey in China have been  declared safe as per national criteria. Unfortunately honey can also be sold as a bio-agricultural-product or medicinal-product, creating a loophole for these counterfeiters to cash in on.

Is this our future?

In the central province of Sichuan, men, women and children are taking up manual pollination by hand for their apple orchards of apple. But how exactly did they reach this point where bees are not visiting the flowers any more?

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In the 80’s, farmers saw an opportunity in orchard-farming. A few years later, the government introduced a new species of pear – the new variety did not bloom at the same time than the other pears varieties. To increase fruiting, farmers began experimenting with hand pollination and it was successful, the yield increased and the fruits looked better. The government started encouraging hand pollination. More and more of the species were grown (with some areas going up to 90%). Shortly after, this species became the target of pear lice. To resolve the problem, farmers began relying increasingly on pesticides. The regular and intensive spraying killed all insects, including honeybees. Chinese beekeepers saw bees as a honey making machine and not as a pollinator. Beekeepers have deserted this region due to prevalence of pesticides and the abundance of pear flowers (not necessarily great for honey).

In the US, in 2006, over 500,000 honey bee hives were needed to pollinate apple orchards, each hive having an average of 40,000 bees, you can imagine how many “NEWBEE” will be needed to hand pollinate them.

[Photo credit by yndra]

 

Honey and the coffee bean

5 Sep

Coffee bean shapes

In our pristine Araku Valley, the Naandi foundation has been working alongside about 10,000 organic coffee farmers. They are working with the Arabica coffee which is self-pollinated. This mean that to obtain fruit, the plant doesn’t depend on the presence of bees, relying instead on the wind to propagate its pollen. However an independent Indian study reveals that the introduction of bees to Arabica plantations produces a greater proportion of fruit berries (2-seeded fruits) while the exclusion of bees results in higher proportions of pea-berrys (single seeded fruits). The shape of the seeds are being improved due to the presence pollinators. When the coffee is processed, only the perfect shaped beans are selected and roasted for a quality coffee. Therefor bees can play a vital role in improving the coffee quality and assuring better returns for farmers.

copi

Bees get high

Geraldine Wright, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University in England, conducted a study finding bees may actually be benefited  by low concentrations of caffeine in coffee flowers. Caffeine, a compound which is toxic at high dose to pollinators and other animals is  generally produced by the plant as a defense mechanism . However at low doses, caffeine becomes effective for attracting pollinators.  It actually improves the long-term memory of the bees and encourages them to come back to the coffee flowers.The plant is secretly drugging the pollinator to spread its pollen!

b n c

Even if Arabica coffee is self-pollinated, their is a clear co-relation between bees and the plant. It attracts the bees thanks to a small amount of caffeine and the quality of the bean improves thanks to the bee pollination. In my opinion this represents a perfect example of a a symbiotic  pollinator exchange.

Planting species like coffee  amongst crops might improve pollination. The more we know about bee foraging, the better a chance we have at keeping them around and healthy, both for their sake and ours.”- Dr. Wright

[Photo creadit by Ducan]

[Photo credited by USW]

Your guide to Honey hunting

29 Jul

So, which honey should you buy?

The processed, super-market brand that we’ve all become used to is certainly not fit to be our first-choice honey. So  what is fit for our consumption?

water

You  could begin by checking your honey at home. Did you make a good choice? Take a glass of water and pour some honey in it. Pure honey will form a lump at the bottom and wouldn’t mix with water.If it disintegrates and mixes with the water right away, you can be certain that it’s not pure. You should buy raw honey, this honey hasn’t been filtered, heated or processed. Pure raw honey will never be perfectly clear and generally has particles of pollen in the bottom of the jar.

Honey comes from different flowers often presenting an array of diversely coloured nectar. Don’t be afraid to buy honey which is not crystal golden brown. The colours can vary from white when crystallised to dark amber. Unfortunately there is no specific legislation for the labeling of raw honey. First make sure the label says “raw” and not “pasteurised”. I do not recommend buying raw honey which has been pasteurised. Also don’t buy blended raw honey.

3881377113_bb3dfabb19Your best bet for high-quality honey is your local bee farm. The people there would be of great help and will be more than happy to answer all your doubts. Not everyone has access to a local honey farm, so your second best choice is a health food store but I am guessing you’ll have to part with a few more pennies. Raw honey can be bought online, but be careful, try to call the seller and have a bit more information on where the product is from and how it’s been processed.

It’s sad that nowadays it’s becoming increasingly difficult to buy real honey. Once you’re equipped with your research, finding the best bottle in your area becomes all the more easier. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have regarding your local honey in our comments section.

[Photo credit by sk8geek]

[Photo credit by jessicareeder]

Video

5 must-see documentaries about Honey bees

11 Jul

We noticed there was not enough quality Apiculture resource banks on the net. The lack of awareness around Colony Collapse Disorder and the plight of the honey bee is startling. Here’s our list of 5 of the best honey bee documentaries we found out there. Hope everybody enjoys watching them as much as we did, do feel free to leave comments.

More than Honey (2012) by Markus Imhoof

rated 7.6/10 on ImDb

This documentary focuses on the relationship between honeybees and small family beekeepers as well as commercial beekeepers from Australia, China, Switzerland and America. A beautiful film featuring stunning close ups of bees in their natural element. This documentary gives you a lenseye perspective of life in a honey bee colony.

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Queen of the Sun: what are the bees telling us? (2010) by Taggart Siegel

rated 7.6/10 on ImDb

Perhaps one of the most unconventional documentaries on honeybees. This documentary made me laugh and cry. After watching this movie you’ll think twice before munching on an almond. You’ll learn in-depth about the innovative design of the Sun hive. A beautiful biodynamic hive made in rye straw that respects the well-being of the colony. An informative and defining documentary, ‘Queen of the Sun’ is a must for apiculturists across the board.

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Vanishing of the Bees (2009) by George Langworthy and Maryam Henein

rated 6.9/10 on ImDb

The movie highlights the challenges bees are facing in this fast modernizing world. With a special focus on “Colony Collapse Disorder,” it presents us the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honeybee. This documentary follows organic and commercial beekeepers fighting against big corporation and trying to save their bees.

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Who killed the honey bees? (2009) by James Esrkine

rated 7/10 on ImDb

Introduced by Martha Kearney, this BBC documentary, full-length available on YouTube, explores the reasons behind the decline of bee colonies across the globe, investigating the key contributors to the devastation. This simple documentary is a good introduction to Colony Collapse Disorder. A 50-minute documentary explaining tracing the history of commercial beekeepers.

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The Last Beekeeper (2008) by Jeremy Simmons

rated 7.6/10 on ImDb

In 1950, the United States had a work force numbering 200,000 beekeepers, in 2008, there were less than 1,600! One of the eldest professions in the world faces extinction. The movie follows the struggles of three American beekeepers as their colonies are threatened by a mysterious illness. A unique perspective on commercial beekeeping,

Antibiotics ensure that Honey is no longer the nectar of Gods

3 Apr

Collective memory seems to have conveniently omitted the primary functions of honeybees, which is to pollinate and not to produce honey. It is good to remind ourselves that almost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, and a large portion of this on honeybees.

Antibiotic in honey

raw honeyGiven the weakness of Apis mellifera’s immune system, industrial agribusinesses need to constantly replenish the antibiotic stocks to keep business going and bees healthy. This simply means that our honey is also increasingly full of antibiotics. According to a study conducted by CSE, most honey brands being sold in India contain varying amounts of antibiotics. Antibiotics are widely used by commercial beekeepers since the introduction of the Apis mellifera specie to India by Punjab Agriculture University.

In China, illegal antibiotics and heavy metal have been found in the honey.

Fake Honey

winny the pooh  3/4 of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News. Most generic brands of honey are usually ultra-filtrated.  This process removes all impurities such as pollen and wax.   Pollen, removed by the ultra-filtration process, is the only way to determine  the source of the honey.  So when the pollen is removed, it can be from anywhere.  Some countries, especially China, have been known to smuggle honey into the United States.   About 80% of the honey available in the Chinese market is fake and manufactured from cane sugar.

That honey you’ve been buying in the Winnie the Pooh jars, NOT real honey either.

High fructose Corn

nectar of gods

Nowadays bees are fed with artificial nectar such as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) to produce honey faster. Perhaps the problem is the fact that honey is no longer considered a medicinal product. What was dubbed the ‘Nectar of the Gods’ by the ancient Greeks and Romans is fast becoming an any-time sweetener in our day and age. During winter, because its cheaper, beekeepers, like processed food manufacturers, have moved away from supporting the bees and the baby bees (grubs) with high fructose corn syrup  instead of honey.

So, which honey should you buy?

“Raw honey is thought to have many medicinal properties,” says Kathy Egan, dietitian at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.  “Stomach ailments, anemia and allergies are just a few of the conditions that may be improved by consumption of unprocessed honey”.  The processed, super-market brand that we’ve all become used to is certainly not fit to be our first-choice honey. In our next installment I’ll give you a breakdown of the different types of honey and how to choose the right honey for you and your family.

[Photo credit by emilyyanne.]

[Photo credit by Joelk75]

[Photo credit by nsisson]

10 facts you didn’t know about Honey bees {Infographic}

8 Feb

Do bees really die every time they sting you?

How much honey do our tiny friends guzzle for a trip round the globe?

How do Queen bees affect the ‘bee-haviour’ of their hives?

That and more answered by this incredibly well-compiled infographic we found

10 Amazzzzing Bee Facts Infographic
[Source: Today I found out]