honey

Atlanta Urban beekeeping on the rise

If it seems that the buzz around bees has picked up volume, that’s because it has. According to the USDA, bees help pollinate one-third of all our food, but recently, a mysterious and destructive honeybee disease called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been wiping out record numbers of hives across the U.S. Although CCD is a common phenomonom, scientists can’t explain why it’s increasing at such a devastating rate.

Coincidentally, headlines about the crisis combined with a dining culture fixed on a farm-to-table philosophy have pushed urban beekeeping into the spotlight. Once a thing of rural countryside farms, bees are now moving to the city in droves.

Cindy Hodges, an urban beekeeper and president of the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association, says she’s witnessed the skyrocketing interest in all things bees. “When I joined the association [in 2006] we had 40 members. We now have more than 200,” Hodges says. “Urban beekeeping is growing.” According to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the vast majority of honey now actually comes from small-scale beekeepers with only a few hives worth of bees.

Atlantans, along with the rest of the country, are installing hives on high-rise rooftop gardens and in their own backyards. Hotels like the Four Seasons Atlanta and the Hyatt Regency’s Polaris keep their own bees and use the honey in their restaurants. Hodges helms the rooftop garden beehives for the Polaris alongside executive chef Martin Pfefferkorn, who calls the bees “his girls.” Pfefferkorn relies on the bees for their honey and for pollinating his herb garden.

Bees at Polaris

Ordinances governing urban beekeeping vary from state to state, but if you want to keep bees here in Atlanta, there’s little standing in your way. “There are no rules restricting it in the metro Atlanta area currently,” says Hodges. While there are no official guidelines governing city bees, the association urges beekeepers to use good practices, such as providing bees with a nearby water supply and setting them as far away from your neighbor’s door as possible.

For first-timers looking to get their start, the director of the University of Georgia’s Honey Bee Program, Keith Delaplane, has penned the hobby beekeeper’s bible, First Lessons in Beekeeping. A popular blog by an Atlanta beekeeper, Linda’s Bees, has additional starter info, and the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association holds educational meetings at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

And if you’re thinking bees might still be better suited to the country life, research actually shows the opposite. Master beekeeper Noah Wilson Rich discussed at a recent Ted Talk that the lack of suburban pesticides in cities makes urban bees heartier and more productive than their rural counterparts.

So really, there’s been no better time to start your own hives. Honey and beekeeping helmets are officially hip. As Hodges point out, “it’s not your grandmother’s beekeeping anymore.”

– See more at: http://www.atlantamagazine.com/covereddish/2014/06/16/urban-beekeeping-on-the-rise#sthash.pTbE2Cf8.dpuf

A New Look For Spring

BH on the hive

Are Honeybees Losing Their Way?

 

By Christy Ullrich for National Geographic News Published February 13, 2013

A single honeybee visits hundreds, sometimes thousands, of flowers a day in search of nectar and pollen. Then it must find its way back to the hive, navigating distances up to five miles (eight kilometers), and perform a “waggle dance” to tell the other bees where the flowers are.

Honeybees learn and remember the locations of flowers, but a new study shows they may be losing their way.

Honeybees learn and remember the locations of flowers, but a new study shows they may be losing their way.

A new study shows that long-term exposure to a combination of certain pesticides might impair the bee’s ability to carry out its pollen mission.

“Any impairment in their ability to do this could have a strong effect on their survival,” said Geraldine Wright, a neuroscientist at Newcastle University in England and co-author of a new study posted online February 7, 2013, in theJournal of Experimental Biology.

Wright’s study adds to the growing body of research that shows that the honeybee’s ability to thrive is being threatened. Scientists are still researching how pesticides may be contributing to colony collapse disorder (CCD), a rapid die-off seen in millions of honeybees throughout the world since 2006.

“Pesticides are very likely to be involved in CCD and also in the loss of other types of pollinators,” Wright said. (See the diversity of pollinating creatures in a photo gallery from National Geographic magazine.)

Bees depend on what’s called “scent memory” to find flowers teeming with nectar and pollen. Their ability to rapidly learn, remember, and communicate with each other has made them highly efficient foragers, using the waggle dance to educate others about the site of the food source.

 

Their pollination of plants is responsible for the existence of nearly a third of the food we eat and has a similar impact on wildlife food supplies.

Previous studies have shown certain types of pesticides affect a bee’s learning and memory. Wright’s team wanted to investigate if the combination of different pesticides had an even greater effect on the learning and memory of honeybees.

“Honeybees learn to associate floral colors and scents with the quality of food rewards,” Wright explained. “The pesticides affect the neurons involved in these behaviors. These [affected] bees are likely to have difficulty communicating with other members of the colony.”

The experiment used a classic procedure with a daunting name: olfactory conditioning of the proboscis extension reflex. In layman’s terms, the bee sticks out its tongue in response to odor and food rewards.

For the experiment, bees were collected from the colony entrance, placed in glass vials, and then transferred into plastic sandwich boxes. For three days the bees were fed a sucrose solution laced with sublethal doses of pesticides. The team measured short-term and long-term memory at 10-minute and 24-hour intervals respectively. (Watch of a video of a similar type of bee experiment.)

This study shows that when pesticides are combined, the impact on bees is far worse than exposure to just one pesticide. “This is particularly important because one of the pesticides we used, coumaphos, is a ‘medicine’ used to treat Varroa mites [pests that have been implicated in CCD] in honeybee colonies throughout the world,” Wright said.

The pesticide, in addition to killing the mites, might also be making honeybees more vulnerable to poisoning and effects from other pesticides.

Stephen Buchmann of the Pollinator Partnership, who was not part of Wright’s study, underscored how critical pollinators are for the world. “The main threat to pollinators is habitat destruction and alteration. We’re rapidly losing pollinator habitats, natural areas, and food-producing agricultural lands that are essential for our survival and well being. Along with habitat destruction, insecticides weaken pollinators and other beneficial insects.”

Good looking honey

 

 

Elle France: 14 November 1988

Elle France: 14 November 1988

 

Funny Honey – blue and green honey makes French beekeepers see red

This article appeared in Reuters.

Bees at a cluster of apiaries in northeastern France have been producing honey in mysterious shades of blue and green, alarming their keepers who now believe residue from containers of M&M’s candy processed at a nearby biogas plant is the cause.

Since August, beekeepers around the town of Ribeauville in the region of Alsace have seen bees returning to their hives carrying unidentified colorful substances that have turned their honey unnatural shades.

Mystified, the beekeepers embarked on an investigation and discovered that a biogas plant 4 km (2.5 miles) away has been processing waste from a Mars plant producing M&M’s, bite-sized candies in bright red, blue, green, yellow and brown shells.

Asked about the issue, Mars had no immediate comment.

The unsellable honey is a new headache for around a dozen affected beekeepers already dealing with high bee mortality rates and dwindling honey supplies following a harsh winter, said Alain Frieh, president of the apiculturists’ union.

Agrivalor, the company operating the biogas plant, said it had tried to address the problem after being notified of it by the beekeepers.

“We discovered the problem at the same time they did. We quickly put in place a procedure to stop it,” Philippe Meinrad, co-manager of Agrivalor, told Reuters.

He said the company had cleaned its containers and incoming waste would now be stored in a covered hall.

Mars operates a chocolate factory near Strasbourg, around 100 km (62 miles) away from the affected apiaries.

Bee numbers have been rapidly declining around the world in the last few years and the French government has banned a widely used pesticide, Cruiser OSR, that one study has linked to high mortality rates.

France is one of the largest producers of honey within the European Union, producing some 18,330 tonnes annually, according to a recent audit conducted for national farm agency FranceAgriMer.

Ribeauville, situated on a scenic wine route southwest of Strasbourg, is best known for its vineyards. But living aside winemakers are about 2,400 beekeepers in Alsace who tend some 35,000 colonies and produce about 1,000 tonnes of honey per year, according to the region’s chamber of agriculture.

As for the M&M’s-infused honey, union head Frieh said it might taste like honey, but there the comparison stopped.

“For me, it’s not honey. It’s not sellable.”

Honey straight from the hives

 

We’re not going to win any accolades from the traditional beekeepers with this one.  Growing up, my mother would prepare a meal for the family.  The smells and spices would fill the air and tempt one to steal just a taste of what was coming.  Well, some things don’t change and the other day we took a spoon to taste some of the Buckhead Honey warm from hive.  Not recommended but still delicious.

 

Buckhead Honey from the Hive

HiHat Honey

 

We were pleasantly surprised the other week to receive a nice note from our friend MM at HiHat Honey.  MM is a multi-generational beekeeper, a writer, and an absurdly talented dancer.  She grew up in the South but found herself in Brooklyn after university and kept her family’s passion for apiculture alive by starting a few hives in the city.  After a few years of urban beekeeping, she was able to find her way back home through a Masters program in Oxford, MS.  It was good timing to  leave the city too.  With reports like this in the Gothamist of 15,000 bees scaring tourists and the most crowded swarm season the city has every known, HiHat did well to hightail out of New York and return to the South.

 

Just this past week, we were excited to see HiHat Honey featured in the New York Times.  The paper published a photo series on beekeepers in the city featuring MM’s photo and description.  “At the end of a hot summer day, my bees like to ‘beard’ on the  face of the hive to cool off, just like me on my front stoop”, MM said.  Here in Hotlanta we know heat and have had to seek council from HiHat on numerous occasions to see if our beards were too big.  In fact, whenever anything looks wrong a picture message is immediately dispatched to HiHat.

 

HiHat Honey writes to Buckhead Honey

A letter from HiHat

 

 

HiHat Honey

HiHat Honey

The Sting

 A rare photograph of a honeybee stinging a man, with its abdominal tissue trailing behind won the first-place gold feature photo award in an Association for Communication Excellence competition.  The international organization includes communicators, educators and information technologists.

UC Davis communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey in the Department of Entomology said she has taken at least 1 million photos of honeybees in her lifetime.

Garvey recognized an opportune time to capture this photo when she was walking with a friend. A bee came close to him and started buzzing at a high pitch. She said that’s normally a telltale sign that a bee is about to sting, so she readied her camera and snapped four photos.

The images shows the progression of the sting, but the most interesting part is that the bee’s abdominal tissue is shown lingering behind.

Note: This story originally appeared in the Sacramento Bee

Breakfast

Breakfast at the Buckhead Honey Headquarters…

 

BumbleBuck enjoys some toast and honey

Nowness

Today’s Nowness post shares some photos and a story of Michael Leung, the founder of HK Honey.  HK Honey operates out of Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.  The presence of the bees in this environment is in itself a triumph of nature surviving in a man-made world.  This is urban beekeeping at it most extreeme.

Nowness, LVMH’s fashion blog, features the full spectrum of luxury and the art of living for millions of viewers around the world.   The presence of HK Honey on Nowness is indicative of the rising fashion of beekeeping.  We are personally looking forward to our next invite to catwalk…

HK Honey Nokia Video

 

Rooftop Hives HK Honey

 

 

Bees on a Hong Kong Roof

 

 

HK Honey Frame

Special thanks to MFC and SMI for the post.