On Saturday, March 24 the FLBC and Ontario-Finger Lakes Beekeepers Association sponsored a joint meeting featuring speakers Beth Capaldi-Evans and Tom Seeley. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a snapshot of what you missed.
The many FLBC members in attendance heard Beth speak about bee behavior and how disease may (or may not) change the behavior of bees. She also gave a good bee biology talk on the neurological mechanics of bee learning. Who would have known that you could put a single honey bee in a soda-straw cage to research how they react to odors?
Tom Seeley gave an overview of bees in the wild, beelining (tracking bees back to their hives), and compared his findings in the Arnot Forest with how we manage “domestic” bee hives. A few take-away notes:
- In the approximately 9 square miles of Arnot Forest, he located a mere 15 wild bee colonies. (How many hives do you have on 100 square feet?)
- The mean entrance size of a wild hive: 6 square inches (It’s a lot more for a Langstroth)
- The mean altitude of a wild hive: 31 feet off the ground
- The mean volume of a wild hive: 8-12 gallons (the equivalent of 1 deep)
- Drift in hives in a close-packed apiary is high, if you spread them out, the drift (and, hypothetically, disease transmission) drops drastically (an ongoing study only recently started)
- Bees propolise the inside of wild hives so much that they look polished, which they don’t do in a Langstroth. Tom did not know why; would roughening up the inside of the hive body encourage bees to propolise it (which, theoretically, would increase the health of the hive due to the properties of propolis)?
Here are what other FLBC attendees thought:
Tom Seeley’s talk on bees in the wild was a delight to hear.
I found it interesting to hear how [Tom] found bee trees in a 4,500 acre forest.
I thought the conference was wonderful! It is just fascinating to hear the details of the bee research, and its multiple implications. Much of the information is applicable to my own beekeeping and life, and the speakers were each a joy to listen to. What a wealth of information.
I was again reminded of how little we really know about animal behaviors.
I think my beekeeping will change some. The idea of keeping smaller colonies and setting them in more varied and random places makes more sense than ever.
I’ve found a new sense of amazement learning that these 100 million year old species are constantly involved with the process of learning. Thanks to Beth Capaldi and her own amazing learning.