Friday, April 22, 2016

Unraveling the myths and mysteries of bees. Uvm Friday Field Walk.

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Unraveling the myths and mysteries of bees. Uvm Friday Field Walk.

The insect order Hymenoptera is massive. Of the 115,000 described species of these membrane-winged insects, 20,000 are bees. Nearly 1/5 of those pollen-eaters live within the borders of Canada and the U.S.

Two bee essentials (two pairs of membranous  wings and vegetarian diets mostly). 

UVM Friday Field Walk was held at the BTV Intervale and Greenmount cemetery.. Field Naturalist, Gabe Andrews helped us explore the  truths and trials of the worlds greatest pollinators. 

Attendees: Gabe, Ellen, Sean, Nancy Wright (SB Methodist pastor), Linda, Glen, Shelby, Sam (local historian), Katherine, Jessie, Glen, Bernie. 

Frame interior is a wax foundation imprinted with octagon shapes to hold the maximum amount and weight of honey, nectar and pollen. 

Nectar comes in as about sixty percent water. Bees expose it to air to dry and transform it to honey. In its' lifetime a honeybee makes about a quarter teaspoon of honey. It takes about 2 million flower visits to create one pound of honey. 

The queen bee lays up to fifteen hundred eggs per day and is queen of a hive for two to three years. The queen only has one mating which provides enough sperm for the duration of her egg laying.  She lays primarily worker bees. 

  Worker bees work their way up the caste system. For example they are responsible for cleaning, feeding, perhaps moving up to guarding the hive, then to harvesting. Drone bees only responsibility is to find a mate. 

Processed honey is heated or run through a pressurized filter. One way to identify un-processed honey is to look for specs of pollen in the honey. 
Unprocessed honey can be used effectively to help heal wounds. The honey acts like hydrogen peroxide - (as a powerful antiseptic) and antibacterial among other benefits.

Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture
that honey bees collect from tree buds or sap flows.
They use it to seal unwanted openings.

Preparing homes for solitary bees, like Mason bees, and Leaf-cutter bees. Common Reed (Phragmites australis) is a Vermont invasive. The woody material makes for quick to install solitary bee home. Face the material south east and ideally block one end of the tubes.

Preparing homes for solitary bees, like Mason bees, and Leaf-cutter bees in wood. Drill 5/16" holes, 6 inches deep, insure some roof type section to keep rain out, hang min 3 feet off the ground facing south east. Critical- they need a source of moist clay nearby.


 See more resource links (at bottom of this posting) about the Mason bee, a Vermont native, a solitary bee which rarely stings, (feels like a mosquito bite) and which is many times more effective pollinator than the European honeybee.

Along with spring flowers, Maple and Willow trees are good sources of early food for bees. 

Bees have been around for as long as flowers. Bees evolved from wasps. 

Bees get protein from pollen, and carbohydrates from nectar. 

Ground nesting bees like well drained soils. The hole above was one of many nearby (aggregation nesting of solitary mining bees).

Bernie publishes short stories and photos reflecting Vermont values of Green and Clean and Community.  

 Uvm's Carse property Friday Field Walk photos

LaPlatte River Marsh Area Friday Field Walk Photos

docile, excellent pollinator, and native Vermont bee. 
Solitary Mason Bees Growing a Greener World. (Video)
Mason bees Micro Documentary. (Video)
Handbook for beekeepers. (170 pages)
Why bees are disappearing  (TED Talk - video)
How to build a mason bee block Audubon - Bring on the Bees
How to construct a wood mason bee house. Penn State Extension
Crown Bees bee company.  Web site has lots of Mason bee info and items for sale. They even buy mason bees. And if you sign up for their newsletter you get periodic timely info. on caring for your mason bees and other mason bee tips.
Managing Alternate Pollinators (PDF handbook) Mason bees - pg 54
The Little World. Video that follows a female Mason Bee through her life as she raises a new generation.