Reworked website with new info

Hello dear beekeepers!

I’ve been reworking my old website. not my blogs. The English part became ready enough to be published and I launched it on http://elgon.es

elgon-website

There are quite some new material there. In the article “Resistance breeding” some of the experiences from 2016, very positive and quite important experiences. On that topic there will be more info later on.

This website is so called responsive, which most are these days. It means that it automatically adapt to different screen sizes, down to that of a cell phone. It’s made with and easy working and free app called Rocket Cake.

Honey toe

I have had problems with ingrown toenail on one of my big toes for quite some time. It has been inflamed and very sore. At last I asked my wife to “operate” my toe. She is a chiropodist, though she hasn’t been practising it for many years. But she has all the tools needed.

toe-01-drill She used the drill as kind of a cutter

After she had tortured me using a fine drill as a “milling cutter” at the bad side of the toe for some time, I finally came up with the idea that it would be good to get to the doctor and get anesthetic in the left part of my right toe. So that she good cut the nail freely without me sensing anything.

toe-02-blood Ready with the drill

Ah, she said. I remember now I have an old tube with topical anesthetic. I can try that. The 20 year old ointment worked wonderfully. I suspected she had purposely waited to remember it.:)

toe-03-tamponad1 toe-04-honey Then she put a small piece of a thin gauze bandage under the left part of the nail.

After removing 2-3 mm of the whole left side of the nail down to the root, she put a small thin piece of gauze bandage under the edge of the left part of the nail. She then covered the area with honey and put a pice of adhesive plaster on top.

toe-05-plasterPuh

Wonderful! The toe is healed and I feel like a new man.

My wife says more than once that the feet is more important than the head.

Anecdotal science

The expression ”anecdotal science” may well be a contradiction, as an anecdote can be far from scientific. When we are discussing bees, varroa, varroa resistance, bees behavior and similar things it may be a good thing to think about how we argue, the quality of evidences for different things, how we draw conclusions and what truth is. This is an extensive area for discussion. But I will here restrict myself to discuss little about the difference between anecdotes and science.

If someone has another opoinion than you he may try to dismiss what you say by calling it an anecdote. By that he gives the impression that reports can be either anecdotal or scientific, as if there are just two distinct divisions of accounts, either it is anecdotal and thus not of any real value when drawing correct conclusions. Or it’s scientific and a good help in knowing the truth.

Reality isn’t that simple. There aren’t just two different options when characterizing an account, an anecdotal or a scientific report.

Anecdote

An anecdote is a brief, revealing account of an individual person or an incident. It is used to illustrate a point the author want to make.

Evidence

Evidence is anything presented in support of an assertion. The strongest type of evidence is that which provides direct proof of the truth of an assertion.

Scientific evidence

Scientific evidence consists of observations and experimental results that serve to support, refute, or modify a scientific hyphothesis or theory, proposed explanations for a phenomenon.

Prediction and falsifiability

The best hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested. The strongest tests of hypotheses come from carefully controlled and replicated experiments that gather empirical data. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, implying that it is possible to identify a possible outcome of an experiment that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested.

Reproducibility

Reproducibility is one of the main principles in science. It is the ability of an entire experiment or study to be dublicted, either by the same researcher or by someone else working independently.

Statistics

Often today when you are producing papers of tests, statistics play an important role when presenting results. If you get what is called a statistical significance you are said to have a result that can be trusted when used to draw conclusions. It is a difficult field and discussed in different ways.

The value of a report

There’s not just two options, anecdote and scientific report. There’s a whole range of different characteristics of a report qualifying it to be placed somewhere in between the two ”extremes”. Even these two can be difficult to clearly define.

Example

An anecdote far away from being scientific could be what often is called a testimony, a story of an event, and in this case a conclusion: ”I have a bee colony that is very aggressive. It produced double the amount of honey compared to my other colony. Aggressive colonies are more productive than calm colonies.”

Then you have a scientist that got inspired by this anecdote and formed a hypothesis of the last sentence in the anecdote above: ”Aggressive colonies are more productive than non-aggressive colonies.”

The first important issue is to define ”aggressive”. But let’s say he used a definition that everyone can recognize to be true. The next problem is to decide how many colonies to be used in the test, and the heritage of the queens in the colonies (should they be sisters for example). About half of the colonies should be aggressive and the rest non-aggressive. The colonies should be of the same strength (from when) and have the same health statues. The worker bees should be very much dominated by the queens offspring (when should the queen have been introduced).

These things I mention here are taken in consideration to avoid error sourcesto be able get a correct result. There are surely more error sources to avoid.

In the ideal situation there will be enough obtained data to produce a statistical result that falsify or supports the hypothesis. If it supports the hypothesis you can draw the conclusion that according to the knowledge we have today the most probable conclusion that comes closest to truth is that the hypothesis is true. But the result does not exclude the possibility that future result will anyway falsify the hypothesis. New knowledge may enlighten how to better design a test and avoid an error source not previously known, for example. That’s science. It always leave open for new knowledge to change the conclusions made today, in a minor or major way.

If no statistical significance has been obtained the results may anyway be pointing in a certain direction and a conclusion may be that the hypothesis is correct but more research is needed, probably with better designed tests.

A good pdf-editor I like; maybe you need one too

I’ve been working with computers, Mac and PC, for many years, using them for making journals among other things, using graphic, photo and layout applications primarily. This blog though is dealing with beekeeping issues and normally nothing else. But I’ll make an exception this time.

I and a former colleague with my former employer have made a revision of a book of 350 pages in Swedish about beekeeping, Boken om biodling (The Book about Beekeeping). I helped trying to fix a proper way of updating the pdf printing file for the book.

The original layout file was made with Adobes InDesign. But that file wasn’t available. Only the pdf printing file. We thought that Adobes application Acrobat would do the job.

Some of the fonts in the pdf-file were present in our computers, some were not. Acrobat reflow the text in several places even with the fonts present in the computer, making the text longer. This would make the job unnecessarily laborious. And the fonts not present on the computer made the problem still worse.

I began searching for alternatives and found some, mostly for Windows but also for Mac. Everyone of them had drawbacks when it came to editing the text and/or changing pictures or pricing. It’s common today with pdf type of files. And from time to time it will be a need for small or bigger changes in such a file. I want to give a good alternative. It’s not free, but it’s the best I’ve tried for editing pdf-files, taken in account the different pro and cons.

This application does the job easily, Infix Pro (http://www.iceni.com/). Works with both Mac and PC. It’s like working in a layout application.. Even if the font isn’t on the computer Infix does the job nicely anyway. If you want to replace an inbedded font which is not present on the computer to one that is, it’s easily done, on all places in the document at the same time.

You easily connect text on different pages which all belongs to the same article. This makes the text reflow nicely when needed. You can easily replace or place new pictures. And Iceni has a very good support team which helps you quick eough when you need help.

Pressure washing plastic combs

How do you clean plastic combs and reuse them? Wooden frames you melt the wax from and boil. Try to do that with plastic combs and they woun’t fit in the box or anywhere else.

HögttryckPlast1 After scraping the sides of the dirty combs with a knife they were put in supers.

I got some tips how to do. I scraped the comb sides with a knife. Then I hanged the combs in a box. When the bees had stopped flying in the autumn i put these boxes outside without cover for the rain, snow, frost and sun on work them. It makes the wax and cocoon remnants to decay somewhat.

When the spring and flying time for the bees approach I used the pressure washer and the combs became not as new, but not far from.

HögttryckPlast2 When spring is close, before the bees start flying regularly it’s time for pressure washing, with excellent result.

Wax in the nest

Rüdiger Dietrich made this comment to my recycling post earlier:

I have one question for the wax recycling, but didn’t found a way to post the question in previous contribution. Could you please so kind and arrange this contribution accordingly?
My question is: The goal for the own wax cycle is to have control about the ingredients of the wax, that would be otherwise (if you buy) equivocal as acids or pesticides could be inside the wax or may even come from african feral bee swarms, where these bees have to die just for the wax….
However, if you melt for instance honey combs that had rape honey or even rape pollen insight, then pesticides used from the farmer will be found in your wax as well, woun’t it? How do you control this problem?

Wax in the nest

Your question raises the need for dealing somewhat with this issue. Wax in the nest have a lot of functions for the bees. One of them is to take care of chemicals and even pathogens not so good for the bees and hide them in the wax. With feral bees sooner or later the colony dies for a number of reasons. The Wax moth will deal with the old wax and it will not be recycled as we do, or the bees will finally tear it down and build new wax combs. This is good as when the wax will be too filled with bad stuff it will leak back into honey and brood cells with larvae food and larvae.

We have seen reports of investigations of old wax combs in USA which are holding a lot of residues from agricultural chemicals as well as miticide residues. WIth small amounts in the wax this is not something to be very concerned about, even if we don’t like it. Let me take an example.

Maybe ten years ago foundation wax from organic beekeepes in USA that was recycling their own wax making their own foundation was tested for residues. About 2 mg/kg fluvalinate was found. How could that happen? Not miticieds were used in the operation. Actually the operation was treatment free and still is. But some years before this test a big pack of foundation was bought from a big wax dealer in USA. Of course the most probable explanation is that the Fluvalinate residues came into the operation from the foundation bought.

In spite of these residues the operation has been thriving as a treatment free operation and a big lot of honey that was exported was tested for foreign chemicals and none was found.

What I’m saying is that a small amount of residues is tolerable for the bees and honey. Even if you don’t want it and should do everything you can to avoid it. But you don’t want that wax for making hand cream and lip balm. And probably you don’t want propolis harvested from such colonies. But honey seems to be okey.

Wax for foundation and hand creame

Cappings wax is what you should use for making foundation and hand creame. Cappings wax is a mixture of cappings and the outer part of the cell walls. The bottom part of the cell walls are made with the help of wax from the foundation. The rest is made from newly produced wax by the bees. And the wax is usually clean, if the bees havn’t been contaminated with chemicals from farmland.

Also wax form foundationless frames and Warréhives and TBH is clean  if not contaminated from sprayed farmland.

Old comb’s wax

Wax from recycled old combs you use for foundation if you know it’s clean from pesticide residues. If it’s minor residues you can well use it for foundation as well. If it’s a lot of residues in the old combs you use the wax for making candles. when the wax burns the pesticides in the wax breaks down.

If you’re not sure about the residue content and you really want to know you can have it analyzed. Otherwise you can use it for wax candles.

The Fire Brigade saved my bees

Brand3

Yesterday several agricultural buildings burned down on a farm. Close to one buidling I have some beehives. The closest maybe 6-7 m (20 feet) away.

When I got the telephone call and was on my way in the car I thought it probably was the fan engine in the grain drier that started it – and it was – a worn out bearing probably. The buidling closest to the bees consisted mainly of a plankwall and a roof. The plankwall will burn relatively quickly if it’s on fire, I thought. And the honey will insulate long enough for the bees to make it, I speculated. But if the fire have caught the storage buidling with woodchips the bees are in trouble.

Brand1 The plankwall had been just on the other side of the Fireweed. In the background to the right there are remnants of grain silos.

When I arrived 1.5 hours after the fire had started the biggest building were almost burned down. The plankwall was burned down. The woodchips was saved by The Fire Brigade. The Fire Men were working saving the machine hall, and thus also another buidling behind it.

Brand2 The Fire Men working saving the machine hall.

The hives were somewhat warmer than expected but the bees looked normal. They were saved too. The lemonade in the hornet trap had dried up and the trapped hornets were very dry…The plastic in the trap had began to be deformed, by the heat that it had experienced. I just had to tighten the slit and pour some new lemonade in it.

Brand4 The deformed hornet trap, very effective by the way. The lemonade and the dead hornets had dried up. I just had to refill it and tighten the slit.

The farmer had a much worse time ahead, but a lot was though saved by the Fire Brigade.

Feral swarm

Tonight at half past nine after a telephone call, I took a swarm in a raspberry bush which came from bee colony in a wall in an old house 20 meters away. The house is situated ”in the middle of the forest” in a small village, which 100 years ago was a thriving small industrial environment. For at least 10 years there had been bees in the wall in the old building that had housed four families working in the small industry. The house would be perfect for Bed and Breakfast. And probably it will end up as such.

– This was the most exciting moment in my life said the woman that had made the call, when I went away with the swarm in a box to the car. I promised her a bottle of honey.

The bees in the wall have swarmed almost every year. They are very small and easy to handle. Quite light colored. But thorax was remarkably black, on the worker bees, black hair instead of light brown. The drones were quite dark.

7 km (4.5 miles) away a niece of mine (Rebecka’s mother Regina) have had bees for more than 10 years so the original swarm in the wall may well have come from her bees. More recently there have been established a couple of apiaries about 3 km (2 miles) in another direction, with my type of bees, Elgon bees.

– What should I do with the bees in the wall, the woman asked.

– Let them live their life there, if they don’t bother you, I answered. They pollinate fruit and berries and flowers, being a source for biological diversity. The break in brood due to swarming will help keep them healthy.

Explaining the starter board

When the super is below the starter board, on the bottom board, with the field bees and with the grafted cells, the only connection with the queen is by air through the netting in the starter board. Thus they are in a queenless state as the queen is above the starter board in the first two days.

During the first day the bees in the starter box on the bottom board establish  their queenlessness and collect many field bees.

The next day they are ready to get the grafted queencells in their queenless situation. The field bees trigger a high acceptance of the grafted cells. But they should not stay in this queenless situation with many field bees and few nurse bees.

The nurse bees are with the brood and the queen. The field bees are bad nurse bees and will finish the cells poorly. Therefore the next day after grafting you put the broodbox(-es) with the queen and the nurse bees are back to the bottom board again. Above an excluder on the brood boxes now come the super with grafted cells (and the field bees), the starter box.

The field bees will go down, sense the queen and be happy again and go out and do their field work. The nurse bees will sense the queencells and go nursing them. The excluder is necessary to create a situation where the pheromones of queen have difficulties reach the box with the started queencells as the queen can’t go there. Thus the nurse  bees up there continue to feed the queen larvae as when there they sense the queen is poor as they don’t get as much queen pheromones, due to the excluder.

The nurse bees will finish the cells so they are well fed, which is the important thing, not the size of the queen cells (for example are long cells bad cells as the larvae then gets a long way to feed). If the weather is bad, the bees might eat up a couple of cells. They might even not feed some enough and those will stay open longer, maybe not be capped at all. maybe if the accepted number very high to start with.

Swarm trap in April of May

Weather has turned to April when May arrived. Freezing nights and barely flying weather in days. But solar wax melter works, in the middle of the day. Though development of the bees have begun strong this spring. They have grown in size and they have a lot of capped brood and they are heavy of food. With me, the bees have developed their resistance to the varroa mite and thus the impact of viruses have decreased, of course with the help of the mild winter.

If the weather turn a little better, queen breeding will start in 2-3 weeks, and splitting of hives making new, for increase and selling bees. Up till now 3-4% of the bees were lost during winter-spring, most of them to varroa and virus. 7-8% of the rest are struggling and given some thymol. A few of those will die, or the same as. Some of them will give a crop. Most of them will get a new queen.

I have put up a swarm trap, after learning how to from Tom Seeley.

Swarmcatcher