Foxfighter got honey instead of antibiotics

Our cat had a piece of the neighbour cat’s claw in the groin after a fight about territory dominion. He was young than. Later he had a clash also with the fox about hunting grounds for European watervoles (Arvicola amphibius).

HDRtist Pro Rendering - http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtistpro/

We understood something was wrong as the wound in the groin never really healed so finally we went to the veterinary. She opened him up, cut away the connective tissue that had formed around the piece of claw.

Instead on antibiotics she took a tube of honey, seemed 50 g to me, filled up the cut up wound with honey  and sewed it up. The next day the cat is back to normal almost. After two days you can’t see he’s doing anything else than what he always has. The cat is not licking any extra ordinary around the wound, just somewhat now and then. No swelling. It looks fine.

Interesting veterinary habit.

Feral bees enlarged to 4.9

After varroa mites arrived  5+ years ago feral bees disappeared. Actually around here we heard about a few before that, in the church tower and the old water tower at the railway. And when we heard about them it was in the sense of trouble, swarming every year and fear of foul brood they might spread.

For ferals to survive they must in some way deal with the mite, at least somewhat better than ordinary managed bees that need treatment more than once a year.

Last year reports of feral bees and swarms from them began to be heard of. I took a large one last one coming probably from the wall of the dog training center. It turned out to test high scores for VSH, varroa resistance. Another one was thriving this year in an abandon dead out hive where it had waxed the old dead bee cluster.

Vildbiträd

In July this year my friend got a call from a farm house, sited within range of our Elgon stock area. Bees were swarming from a very old big tree. To able to swarm it had to have been there and survived the winter. It was a small swarm with a laying queen. It covered only three combs. For the bees still in the tree it was good they took good bye to a small swarm. Or if this was half the size of the strength of the bees they had to be extremely hardy to survive the long winter we had.

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And the bees were extremely small in size and flying like flies. They were noticeably smaller than the already small bees of my friend who live on 4.9 mm cell size and looked in color like our Elgon bees. The swarm is now wintered with good strength and have a very good temper.

Next season we will make a VSH test for varroa resistance and see how these bees will perform when they are enlarged to 4.9 mm cellsize.

The art of beekeeping

EccentricHive HIve of eccentricbeekeeper.com

Foundationless

Of course it’s more natural for bees to build their own combs. But is it the best for bees and beekeepers? There’s been a lot of discussion about natural beekeeping. First let us be clear. Natural beekeeping is an unnatural expression. Any kind of beekeeping by a beekeeper is not natural, for bees anyway. When that is said we have to say there are different grades of naturalness in beekeeping.

 

Natural enough

I want, and the eccentric beekeeper wants enough naturalness to be able to call our beekeeping natural, or rather natural enough for the bees and thus also for me as a beekeeper.

Even if a bee colony in a hollow tree never will be beneficial for the commercial beekeeper to make him make a living of beekeeping, it certainly will help us understand how close to its natural way of living we can design our way of keeping bees. I’m convinced such an approach will help the small scale as well as the large scale beekeeper – and the bees.

But where do we meet in design, the bees and me? Well, we have to begin living together and we have to find out by learning to listen to the bees and find out what I really need to make a living, small scale and large scale.

Foundationless frames where the bees draw their own combs may well be a good choice. Before wax foundation was invented all beekeepers used it, one way or the other. Langstroth for example.

 

Today

Today I don’t do it. For a couple of reasons. First, my first goal is to achive bees that can  handle the varroa mite on their own. Until they do, I have decided I want to help them with the cellsize they naturally draw in the core of their broodnest, around 4.9 mm. At my latitude maybe somewhat bigger. I may be wrong, I may be right: whichever It seems my bees may today be developing true resistance, not only tolerance.

The eccentric beekeeper in Indiana, America has decided to arrive at foundationless frames, after taking down his bees to small cellsize. Check out his website: http://eccentricbeekeeper.com/

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Mann Lakes 4.9 plastic foundation(frame) cut to fit into small Warré frames.

 

EccentricEggs

The bees have usually no problems drawing the foundation correct and use it readily, whichever bees you use.

 

He uses the standard plastic frame from Mann Lake Ltd to take whichever bees to small cellsize. http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeeping-supplies/category/page19.html Then he lets them loose. Some of them even draw 4.7.

EccentricFoundationless

Foundationless frames given to the bees, below the other combs, after they have made use of the plastic frames.

 

Eccentric47

Cellsize on the long foundationless frames – 4.7 mm. Pictures supplied by the eccentric beekeeper.

Searching for resistant bees

Kenya

I started long before the mite arrived to focus on increasing the varroa resistance in my stock. 1989 I went to the mountains of Kenya to get genetic material that were more related to the resistant bees in South America than we had in Europe. Today I realize I probably didn’t need to do that. Maybe it made it easier. But it wasn’t easy to go to Africa either and make a new stock from there.

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Anyway here I am with what I call Elgon bees. I don’t want any other bees today. I though try new strains in combination now and then.

 

Sonoran desert

In the ’magic’ year of 2000 I reached the age of 50. I fled the celebrations and went to the Sonoran desert in Arizona together with my family. I had heard of a remarkable woman and her husband, Dee and Ed Lusby, keeping bees there on small cell size, 4.9 mm, instead of the enlarged 5.4 that had come to be kind of standard. Some dismiss the bees of Lusby saying they are resistant because they are Africanized, So what, if that’s the case? African bees are not Apis cerana, the original host of the varroa mite. They are Apis mellifera, just like the bees we are used to. We have something to learn here, don’t we?

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I regressed my bees down to 4.9. I took some years. Probably not entirely everywhere when the mite arrived. Whatever effect small cellsize has, I don’t want to go big again. I got quicker bees, quicker spring build up and very strong colonies. Honey crops are not smaller, maybe bigger. The bees don’t swarm easier when handled with lots of room.

Elgon bee

The name Elgon is inspired by the mountain in western Kenya from where we got breeding material (eggs and semen). I kept track of the theoretical content of the heritage for many years. Today it may hold about 25% Monticola (from Mt Elgon), 5% Sahariensis and the rest ’traditional’ Buckfast. Now when Varroa has reached me the heritage is not of any major concern anymore.

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