Posts Tagged ‘honeybee’

Oh, honeybees! Forgive me for a moment while I extoll the virtues of the this humble insect. These hard-working ladies accomplish so much to contribute to human well-being. Aside from pollinating our crops and producing the miracle elixir that is honey, scientists have also found that bee venom can contribute to destroying HIV. Yes, that is correct, nanoparticles found in their naturally occurring compound can help to cure one of mankind’s most pressing medical catastrophes. So, in case it wasn’t enough to honor these brilliant bugs for their contributions to health, you may be surprised to learn how honeybees are working towards ensuring our collective safety.

Some very out-of-the-box scientists in Croatia are training honeybees to detect landmines. It may sound ridiculous at first, but upon further reflection, a tiny flying creature with a fantastic sense of smell might just be the perfect tool to identify the location of such destructive and sensitive weapons. Researchers from Zagreb University have developed a method of using a sugar solution laced with TNT to condition the bees to recognize the chemical signatures of the landmines. Nikola Kezic, the lead scientist of the project dubbed “Tiramisu” has high hopes for his hives. Weighing less than rats or dogs who have also been taught to search out the underground explosives. the bees have the potential to find the mines without setting them off.

During the Balkan wars, 750 square kilometers were laced with 90,000 ballistics without a set pattern or legend. Since the beginning of the conflicts in 1991, over 2,500 have perished from landmine explosions. For a country that is set to enter the EU this summer and one that hopes to maintain the safety of its population, any tool in its efforts to rid the country of the scourge of its turbulent past can be seen as nothing if not a step in the right direction. Croatia would like to become a tourist destination, and using the bees to make certain an area is safe for recreation could be an added reassurance. Now, if only we can return the favor to our winged warriors by reversing the colony collapse disorder brought about by climate change, pesticides, mites, and a host of other man made actions.

Walking along a park-side path in Nipomo, my Naturalist brain was cataloging the flora along the side of the walkway. “Oak, lupin, buckwheat, lilac, sage, a gigantic swarm of bees, toyon, mugwart…wait.  Go back.  A giant swarm of bees?!”  About three feet from where I was standing a thrumming, writhing mass of bees had taken over a green-waste bin.  Below the amber mat of wiggling insects read a sign, “STAND BACK-SWARMING BEES”.

Who could have been brave or foolhardy enough to get close enough to this many stinging bugs to post a warning?  As far as I knew, bees were outside of Animal Control’s jurisdiction, and calling Pest Control  for the eradication of these pollinators would be a waste of life, potential revenue, and an added blow to the already long list of adversities facing our country’s hives.  What was going to happen to this newly formed, awkwardly placed colony?  Luckily for these buzzing ladies, San Luis Obispo County is honeybee friendly.

Around spring, hives produce new queens, allowing the old queen to venture forth with a portion of the colony’s population to establish a new group.  This party of drones and queen are collectively known as a swarm, and they can set up shop wherever they feel a hive would be safe and productive.  Humans and bees at times disagree as to where these locations should be, and in the event of an unwanted swarm in your backyard, there are a couple of people in San Luis Obispo Country you can call.

The Humble Bumble: Based in downtown San Luis Obispo, Isaac and Ross from The Humble Bumble will remove swarms and give them a good home.  If you are lucky, you might even have an opportunity to visit your hive and taste some of their honey once they are established in their new, comfortable boxes.

The California Bee Company: Jeremy from the California Bee Company, LLC not only offers free swarm removal, but also breeds bees, trains those interested in starting their own apiary, and sells honey, wax, candles, pollen and propolis straight from the hive.  The company is now selling mite-resistant queens that are specially adapted for the Central Coast.

David’s Blue Ribbon Honey: For residents of Arroyo Grande and the Five Cities area, David Maislen of David’s Blue Ribbon Honey, LLC will take care of your colony.  He will do his utmost to save and transport the bees, but if for whatever reason they need to be euthanized, it is done without poisons.  Keep an eye out for his award-winning line of honeys in fine groceries across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Evergreen Landscaping: Tim Vaughan, founder of Evergreen Landscaping and Bee’s Best can take care of your yard, or the honeybees who use it to make a home.  Removal generally costs between $50-100.  He also sells his honey, wax, propolis, and pollen at farmer’s markets in Arroyo Grande.

With so many allies, I am confident that my Nipomo bees are destined for a good home where they can pollinate the many orchards and farms of San Luis Obispo County.  With any luck, I’ll be able to taste their honey on my next trip to the local farmer’s market.  Have any bees in your neighborhood?  Where do you buy your honey?