Bees

For as long as I can remember dad had bees, for him they were a hobby, my mother never cared for them. When she was carrying me (before I came into this world ) she encountered a swarm of bees, this scared her so until I as a child was afraid to death of them, I outgrew this and wish that I now had bee hives to care for. Have you ever chewed any fresh honey comb filled with honey, I bet not, imagine what a treat this is for a child!

Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera)

Without honey bees we would be in really bad shape, we would not have a lot of the foods we enjoy or cotton and corn even the Rain Forest could not exist with out them. Besides honey is really good for you. If you eat honey that is produced in you area this will help fight allergies.I understand that honey will keep for a very long time. If it turns to sugar just set the glass bottle that contains the honey in a pan of water and heat it and the honey will return back to its natural state.

Bees sense fear, our bodies put off a smell that comes from our breath via the mouth and nose, the same is true with dogs, they also since fear so as a rule if you are not afraid of them they will pretty much leave you alone, just respect them and they will respect you, this seems to be a law of nature most snakes are the same, I know about snakes growing up in the delta.I have a few snake stores but won't bore you with those.

In Japan crows are a problem in the cities, what one exclusive high-end shopping center does, is to have honey bees on the property. The reason is when bees see a black shiny object they will go after it, so they see the crows and go after them. So please don't go around bees wearing black shiny clothes. Maybe this is why bee-keepers dress in white.

In Asia they have this hornet called the asian hornet, it can wreak havoc on a hive of honey bees.

In a beehive colony, you will find 60-80,000 worker bees (all female), several hundred drones, and one queen. The worker bees take care of the baby bees, make the honey, store it, and keep the hive clean and ventilated. The drones mate with the queen. The queen lays the eggs and inhibits the other female bees from egg-laying by emitting a pheromone.

To make one pound of honey, bees must make about 30,000 trips and fly about 50,000 miles. In an hour's trip, a worker bee may visit 50 flowers. Honey comes in different forms, including liquid honey, comb honey, cut comb honey, and creamed or spun honey.

Honey Bee on honeycomb.
(Apis Mellifera)

During the first year of a queen's life the colony has little incentive to swarm, unless the hive is very crowded. During her second spring, however, she seems to be programmed to swarm. Without beekeeper "swarm management" in the second year, the hive will cast a "prime swarm" and may cast one to five "after swarms." The old queen will go with the prime swarm, and other swarms will be accompanied by virgin queens.

Encountering a bee swarm for the first time can be alarming. However, swarms are typically benign, the individual bees are filled with honey, the swarm has no hive to defend and is focused on their task of finding a new location. I wish that my mother had know this before I came in the world, remember she encountered a swarm, as a child. If a bee stung me I thought I would die, outgrew it though.

Bee swarms can almost always be collected alive and relocated by a competent beekeeper. Some people seem to think that a swarm should be exterminated for safety reasons. Please don't do that, love your bees, we cant live without them they are our friends!

Killer Bees

Africanized honey bees, known as "killer bees", are hybrids of the African honey bee with various European honey bees such as the Italian bee. These bees are far more aggressive than the European subspecies. Small swarms of AHBs are capable of taking over European honey beehives by invading the hive and establishing their own queen after killing the European queen

African Honey Bee
(Apis Mellifera)

The Africanized honey bee in the western hemisphere descended from 26 Tanzanian queen bees when they were accidentally released by a replacement bee-keeper in 1957 near Uberlândia, Minas Gerais State in the southeast of Brazil from hives operated by biologist Warwick E. Kerr, who had interbred honey bees from Europe and southern Africa. Hives containing these particular queens were noted to be especially defensive. Kerr was attempting to breed a strain of bees that would produce more honey and be better adapted to tropical conditions (i.e., more productive) than the European bees used in South America and southern North America. The hives from which the bees were released had special excluder grates, which were in place to prevent the larger queen bees and drones from getting out and mating with local (non-African) queens and drones. Unfortunately, following the accidental release, the African queens and drones mated with local queens and drones, and their descendants have since spread throughout the Americas.

As of 2002, the African honeybees had spread from Brazil south to northern Argentina and north to South and Central America, Trinidad (West Indies), Mexico, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Florida and southern California. Their expansion stopped for a time at eastern Texas, possibly due to the large number of European- bee beekeepers in the area. However, discoveries of the bees in southern Louisiana indicate this species of bee has penetrated this barrier, or has come as a swarm aboard a ship. In June 2005, it was discovered that the bees had penetrated the border of Texas and had spread into southwest Arkansas. On September 11, 2007, Commissioner Bob Odom of the Department of Agriculture and Forestry said that African honey bees established themselves in the New Orleans area.

Killer Bee.

African bees are characterized by greater defensiveness in established hives than European honey bees. They are more likely to attack a perceived threat and, when they do so, attack relentlessly in larger numbers. This aggressively protective behavior has been termed by scientists as hyper-defensive behavior. This defensiveness has earned them the nickname "killer bees", the aptness of which is debated. Over the decades, several deaths in the Americas have been attributed to African bees. The venom of an African bee is no more potent than that of a European honey bee, but since the former tends to sting in greater numbers, the number of deaths from them are greater than from the European honey bee. However, allergic reaction to bee venom from any bee can kill a person, and it is difficult to estimate how many more people have died due to the presence of African bees.

Most human incidents with African bees occur within two or three years of the bees' arrival and then subside. Beekeepers can greatly reduce this problem by culling the queens of aggressive strains and breeding gentler stock. Beekeepers keep A. m. scutellata in South Africa using common beekeeping practices without excessive problems.

The African bee is widely feared by the public, a reaction that has been amplified by sensationalist movies and some of the media reports. Stings from African bees kill 1–2 people per year in the United States.

As the bee spreads through Florida, a densely populated state, officials worry that public fear may force misguided efforts to combat them. News reports of mass stinging attacks will promote concern and in some cases panic and anxiety, and cause citizens to demand responsible agencies and organizations to take action to help ensure their safety. We anticipate increased pressure from the public to ban beekeeping in urban and suburban areas. This action would be counter-productive. Beekeepers maintaining managed colonies of domestic European bees are our best defense against an area becoming saturated with AHB. These managed bees are filling an ecological niche that would soon be occupied by less desirable colonies if it were vacant The much smaller and much more aggressive South American stingless bee Trigona spinipes does not interbreed and is known to kill or chase Africanized bees.

The information about the killer bees came form 'WikipediA'.

Asian Giant Hornet

The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), including the subspecies Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia Japonica), colloquially known as the yak-killer hornet, is the world's largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. Its body length is approximately 50 mm (2 in), with a wingspan of about 76 mm (3 in). The stinger of the Asian giant hornet is about 6 mm (¼ in) in length, and injects an especially potent venom that contains, like many bee and wasp venoms, a cytolytic peptide (specifically, a mastoparan) that can damage tissue by stimulating phospholipase action, in addition to its own intrinsic phospholipase. Masato Ono, an entomologist at Tamagawa University near Tokyo, described the sensation as feeling "like a hot nail being driven into his leg."

Asian Hornet.

An allergic human stung by the giant hornet may die from an allergic reaction to the venom, but the venom contains a neurotoxin called mandaratoxin[6] which can be lethal even to people who are not allergic if the dose is sufficient. Each year in Japan, the human death toll caused by Asian giant hornet stings exceeds that of all other venomous and non-venomous wild animals combined, including wild bears and venomous snakes.

The hornets often attack honey bee hives with the goal of obtaining the honey bee larvae. A single scout, sometimes two or three, will cautiously approach the location nest, giving off pheromones which will lead the other hornets to the hive location. they can fly up to 60 miles in single day, at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour (40 km/h)

Some links from YouTube, See the Asion hornets in action.

National Geographic Site

Scienceray Site There is a really good video on this site about the Asian hornet!

National Geographic Site

Adult hornets cannot digest solid protein, so the hornets do not eat their prey, but chew them into a paste and feed them to their larvae. The larvae produce a clear liquid, vespa amino acid mixture, which the adults consume; larvae of social Vespidae produce these secretions, the exact amino acid composition varying considerably among species. The passing of nutrition to adult wasps by larvae is widespread in these wasps, and not restricted to the genus Vespa. The hornets can devastate a colony of honey bees: a single hornet can kill as many as 40 honey bees per minute thanks to their large mandibles which can quickly strike and decapitate a bee. It takes only a few of these hornets a few hours to exterminate the population of a 30,000-member hive, leaving a trail of severed insect heads and limbs.

The European honey bees (Apis mellifera) have small stings which do little damage to hornets that are five times their size and twenty times their weight. The honey bees make futile solo attacks without mounting a collective defense, and are easily killed individually by the hornets. Once a hive is emptied of all defending bees, the hornets feed on the honey and carry the larvae back to feed to their own larvae.

Although a handful of Asian giant hornets can easily defeat the defenses of many individual honey bees, whose small stings cannot inflict much damage against such a large predator, the Japanese honey bee (Apis cerana japonica) possesses a collective defense against them.

When a hornet scout locates and approaches a Japanese honey bee hive it will emit specific pheromonal hunting signals. When the honey bees detect these pheromones, a hundred or so will gather near the entrance of the nest and set up a trap, keeping it open apparently to draw the hornet further into the hive or allow it to enter on its own. As the hornet enters the nest, a large mob of about five hundred honey bees surrounds it, completely covering it and preventing it from moving, and begin quickly vibrating their flight muscles. This has the effect of raising the temperature of the honey bee mass to 47 °C (117 °F). The honey bees can tolerate this temperature, but the hornet cannot survive more than 46 °C (115 °F), so it dies.

Asian Bee defensive strategy,
balling up on an Asian Hornet.

Often several bees perish along with the intruder, but the death of the hornet scout prevents it from summoning reinforcements which would wipe out the colony. More recent research indicates, however, that while the raised temperature of the bee ball contributes to the death of the hornet, it alone is not sufficient to kill the hornet. The bee balls also produce a much higher level of carbon dioxide which contributes to the hornet's death, although whether this is because it reduces the hornet's tolerance for high temperatures or actually suffocates it, is not known.

Beekeepers in Japan attempted to introduce the European honeybee in order to increase productivity. European honeybees, however, have no defense against the hornet and the colonies are rapidly destroyed by these formidable insects.

The Honey Buzzard .

The only danger that the hornet faces comes from humans and Honey Buzzards, Some villages in Japan value these creatures as part of a human diet. They are eaten either as hornet sashimi or deep fried. Despite the risks associated with the capture of hornets, they are said to be delicious and a good source of protein.

Recently, several companies in Asia and Europe have begun to manufacture dietary supplements and energy drinks which contain synthetic versions of secretions of the larvae of Vespa mandarinia, which the adult hornets usually consume. The manufacturers of these products make claims that consuming the larval hornet secretions (marketed as "hornet juice") will enhance human endurance because of the effect it has on adult hornets' performance. Because these products are marketed as dietary supplement rather than pharmaceuticals, they do not have to support their claims. Some studies, however, have suggested that the vespa amino acid mixture itself may influence animal performance in minor ways.

The Honey Buzzard,
feeding on Asian hornets.

Honey Bees

Common Name: Honey bee Scientific Name: Apis mellifera Linnaeus Order: Hymenoptera

Description

Honey bees are somewhat variable in color but are some shade of black, brown or brown intermixed with yellow. They have dense hairs on the pronotum and sparser hair on the abdomen. Microscopically, at least some of the body hairs of bees (Apoidea) are branched (pumose). The abdomen often appears banded. Larvae are legless grubs, white in color.

Honey bees are the only bee in the genus Apis in Texas. Honey bees have several varieties or races and have been bred for honey production, temperament and resistance to disease. These varieties may be recognized to some extent by color and size. However, cross breeding may take place in the wild, so queens from commercial breeders should always be purchased to re-queen colonies.

Africanized honey bees or "killer bees" can not easily be differentiated from commercial varieties and require measuring several bees from a colony and comparing measurements. There are several other bees including bumblebees and leaf cutting bees that also collect pollen and nectar. There is a species of stingless wasp that occurs in South Texas that produces honey much like bees.

A Honey Bee swarm.

Life Cycle

Honey bees are social insects. There are three castes of bees: queens, which produce eggs; drones or males, which mate with the queen; and, workers, which are all non reproducing females. The queen lays eggs singly in hexagonal cells of the comb. Larvae hatch from eggs in 3 to 4 days and are fed by worker bees and develop through several stages (instars) in the cells. Cells are capped by worker bees when the larvae pupates. Queen and drones (that develop from unfertilized eggs) are larger than workers and require enlarged cells to develop.

Queens complete development in 15 ½ days, drones in 24 days and workers in 21 days for larvae and pupae stages. Only one queen is usually present in a hive. New queens develop in enlarged cells by differential feeding by workers when the existing queen ages or dies or the colony becomes very large. Virgin queens fly on a nuptial flight and are mated by drones from their own colony or other colonies. Queens mate with several drones during the nuptial flight.

New colonies are formed when newly mated queens leave the colony with worker bees, a process called "swarming." Swarms of bees are often noticed and sometimes cause concern until they find a suitable nesting location. A queen may live three to five years; drones usually die before winter; and, workers may live for a few months. A colony may typically consists of 20,000 to 90,000 individuals.

Habitat

Complex mouth parts of adults can be used for chewing and sucking. Larvae ingest liquids and have mouthparts reduced. Honey bee workers visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar. During transport to the hive, pollen is held in a structure on each hind leg called the "pollen basket" and nectar is carried in a structure in the front part of the digestive system, called the "honey sac."

They return to the hive, which may be provided by man or located in a hollow tree, wall void, or some other sheltered habitat. Pollen is stored in the cells of the comb within the hive. In other cells ("honeycombs"), nectar is converted into honey when the bee regurgitates the nectar, adding an enzyme (invertase) that facilitates the conversion. Nectar must also be concentrated by evaporation. Worker bees feed the larvae, drones, and queen. I lived in a brick house once in Prattville Alabama that had honey bees in the wall, I found this most interesting, you could put your ear to the wall and hear them.

wax Scales.

The Honey bees consumes the honey and with their wax glands on the sides of there bodies they transfrom the honey into wax scales. Image is form Dr. Zachary Huang at MSU)

Wax is produced between the segments of the worker bees’ body wall in small flakes. It is chewed and reshaped to form honey comb. Worker bees communicate with other worker bees, conveying information about the type of nearby nectar source, distance and direction from the hive using "dances." They also regulate the temperature (thermoregulate) in the colony and collect water to use as an evaporative coolant during hot time of the year. Worker bees are generally not aggressive (defensive) during foraging or swarming activities. However, when the hive contains developing larvae and pupae, they (particularly Africanized honey bees) will aggressively attack intruders to defend their colony. They also communicate with sound, queen pheromone and alarm pheromone.

Pest Status

Mostly considered beneficial because they pollinate many fruits, vegetables and ornamental flowers; they produce honey, beeswax, pollen and royal jelly; adult bees can sting, making them a nuisance to man and animals. They are a hazard only to sensitive individuals. Recently the Africanized honey bee (sometimes called the "killer bee"), a race (some consider it a subspecies) of honey bees has entered Texas; their stings are no more potent that stings of "domesticated" commercially-produced and kept European honey bees, which were originally introduced into North America by early European settlers; the Africanized honey bees also tend to be more aggressive in defending their hives and thus are more inclined to sting in mass. Historically in Texas, an average of one human per year dies from insect stings.

Honey Bee Hives.

When worker honey bees sting they leave the barbed stinger in the skin with the poison sac still attached. Each bee can only sting once, and this is fatal for the bee. Stings should be removed promptly to prevent injection of additional venom. Scrape the sting and poison sac away with a knife or fingernail in such a way as to avoid slapping or pinching the poison sac because this will inject additional poison into the skin.

Management

None, this is a beneficial insect.

 

For additional information, contact your local Texas AgriLife Extension agent or search for other state Extension offices.

Literature: Metcalf et al. 1962. Swan & Papp 1972.

From the book: Field Guide to Texas Insects, Drees, B.M. and John Jackman, Copyright 1999 Gulf Publishing ompany, Houston, Texas A Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, Bastiaan M. Drees and John A. Jackman.

 

Japanese Beekeepers.

Japanese Beekeepers have in recent years tried to introduce European honeybees locally for their increased productivity. This effort has failed repeatedly. The more productive and passive European honeybees lack any collective strategies against the Asian Giant Wasp and their colonies have always been ravaged and totally destroyed by the colossal native wasps.

I suppose it would be a fool’s folly to even consider using the Asian Giant Wasp as some sort of weapon against the Africanized Honeybees here in the Americas. That would be the last thing we need, -another threat to the already dwindling honeybee populations. I would vehemently oppose even the release of sterile Asian Giant Wasps for their efforts to eradicate Africanized Bee colonies. It was this kind of two dimensional thinking that introduced the Africanized bee in the first place, the so- called ‘Killer Bees.’ An effort to alter the natural world to our benefit, which in the case of Africanized bee, backfired in the worst possible way. It would be most unfortunate to have uncontrollable hives of these Godzilla-sized Killer Bees on the loose in a land whose bees are defenseless against them.

The information in Japanese Honeybees Figh Back is from Wikipedia.

Read more: Scienceray Site There is a really good video on this site about the Asian hornet!