Europe proposes full ban on ‘bee-harming pesticides’

The European Commission has proposed a ban on widely used insecticides from all fields across Europe under draft regulations, and cite them as having “high acute risks to bees”.

The decision by Brussels, in documents seen by The Guardian, could shock the farming industry which is fearful that a ban on the substances could deplete crop yields across Europe.

If proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states, a complete ban could be in place this year.

The European Commission has cited a risk to bees as one of the reasons for the ban proposal.

The latest proposal is based on opinions of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published in 2016.

These opinions concur with independent scientific assessments of the dangers associated with neonicotinoid pesticides.

There is some scientific consensus that bees are exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides in fields and suffer harm from the doses they receive.

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For example, Stirling University researchers have said bees exposed to neonicotinoids fail to learn how to buzz properly and in turn they fail to release the pollen from some flowers, such as those of crops like tomatoes and potatoes.

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said it was good news for the environment but even if the pesticides are banned ‘similar chemicals will still be permitted.’

“The EU must apply the same strict standards to all pesticides and support the transition to ecological methods of pest control.”


However, MEPs in Brussels have been warned against ‘over-zealous’ and ‘ill-considered’ banning of important pesticides in the European Parliament.

UK’s Centre for Applied Crop Science said the EU was not performing well when approving or banning plant protection products.

Chairman John Chinn told a hearing at the European Parliament: “A failure to distinguish between hazard and risk is an essential part of the confusion about perceived threats from or to our environment; in general hazard identification is easy and often speculative; risk evaluation is generally complex and demanding.

“Rational responses are not invariable. There is an extraordinary disregard for well documented risks while others, of marginal significance, distort public and private spending decisions.

“These factors, coupled with a perverse preference for natural toxicity over synthetic safety, lead to an indifferent performance in risk management in the community.”


The National Farmers’ Union said farmers across the country have already suffered heavy losses through oilseed rape crop damage following restrictions to the availability of neonicotinoids.

A recent survey of 400 arable farmers who all grow winter oilseed rape (OSR) reports that 8.3 per cent of the crop this year has failed.

But Paul de Zylva, of Friends of the Earth, said: “The science is catching up with the pesticide industry – the EU and UK government must call time on neonics. Going neonic-free puts farmers more in control of their land instead of having to defer to advice from pesticide companies.”

However, Sarah Mukherjee, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide makers, said: “We are disappointed with this proposal, which seems more of a political judgement than sound science.”

“The proposal is based on an assessment using the unapproved Bee Guidance document and perfectly illustrates the consequences of using this guidance. Most crop protection products, including those used in organic agriculture, would not pass the criteria.”

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Japanese scientists demonstrate ‘drone bee’ prototype

Japanese scientists demonstrate ‘drone bee’ prototype

Japanese scientists demonstrate ‘drone bee’ prototype

A group of Japanese researchers have successfully demonstrated that a small ‘drone bee’ can be used to artificially pollinate flowers.

The team from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) demonstrated that with a few modifications a small commercial drone could be used as an effective pollinator.

The AIST team took a Chinese-made G-Force PXY CAM drone and affixed an array of animal hairs to its underside.

Crucially the team then covered these hairs in an ‘ionic liquid gel’ which would be sticky enough for pollen grains to affix themselves to the hairs.

The drone was then tested flying between flowers of the L. japonicum plant, wherein it managed to successfully pollinate the flowers 41% of the time.

The researchers themselves believe that a similar, but somewhat more advanced implementation of their findings could be used to combat declining bee numbers.

In many parts of the world bee populations are in serious decline due to a phenomenon known as ‘Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)’. This disorder while not fully understood, is thought to be linked to the use of certain pesticides by farmers.

“…it should lead to the development of robotic pollinators and help counter the problems caused by the declining honeybee populations,” the researchers wrote in a paper submitted to the scientific journal ‘Chem’.

“We believe that robotic pollinators will be able to move smartly and learn the optimal pollination path by using GPS and artificial intelligence.”

If a huge number of these artificial drone bees could be created it would indeed serve as a solution to the looming agricultural problems caused by CCD.

However, to actually produce enough of these drones that they could effectively replace the millions if not billions of bees on Earth, would be a gargantuan task.

Humanity would be much better off to try and determine once and for all why bee populations are in decline and take actions to rectify this – bees themselves are a far better and more efficient pollinator than these drones could ever hope to be.

Moreover, as dystopian TV shows like Black Mirror correctly point out, whoever has control over such a large number of drones, would have a disturbingly large amount of power.

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South Africa/Sri Lanka match delayed due to bizarre reason

South Africa/Sri Lanka match delayed due to bizarre reason

A buzz like no other in Johannesburg today as a swarm of bees invaded the One Day International match between South Africa and Sri Lanka.

An unusual invasion took place at the Wanderers Stadium as the stinging swarm of insects dropped players to the floor.

The bees invaded the pitch in the middle of the 26th over, leaving the crowd with more than they bargained for.
Play was temporarily abandoned, however, another battle began.

It was the groundsmen versus the the sea of black and yellow that became the spectacle.
It appears fast bowler Chris Morris is quick thinking too, as he suggested the use of a fire extinguisher to terminate the presence of the bees and continue play.

A temporary strategy from the cricketer with some success being seen, but the bees were not going down without a fight.

The groundsmen were defeated. It was plan ‘bee’ that needed to be taken to bring an end to the madness.

A professional beekeeper was summoned, gaining his claim to fame as he walked out to a packed Wanderers stadium to battle the swarm.
What did the trick? Honeycomb.

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Before long, the bees took the bait and how sweet a victory it was for the man of the hour as play was soon resumed.

It was over 65 minutes that the bees established their presence on the pitch, crashing the party and causing havoc in the international test.

An unusual day for cricket with the attention being diverted from the game and to a comical display of a battle against a sea of insects.

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Pesticides making bumblebees lose their buzz, says new report


Pesticides are causing bees to lose their buzz which vibrates the flower and shakes out the pollen, according to a new study.

Stirling University researchers have said bees exposed to neonicotinoids fail to learn how to buzz properly and in turn they fail to release the pollen from some flowers, such as those of crops like tomatoes and potatoes.

A study this year found a link between oilseed rape crops grown from neonicotinoid-treated seed to the long-term decline in wild bee species across the English countryside.

That research, led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, examined changes in the occurrence of 62 wild bee species with oilseed rape cropping patterns across England between 1994 and 2011 – the time period spanning the introduction of wide-scale commercial use of neonicotinoids.

The scientists found evidence suggesting that neonicotinoid use is linked to large-scale and long-term decline in wild bee species distributions and communities.

‘Serious implications’

Penelope Whitehorn of the University of Stirling in Scotland, who led the study in to the buzzing abilities being harmed by pesticides, said: “So bees produce a vibration – or buzz – to shake pollen out of these anthers like a pepper pot.

“The bee lands on a flower, curls her body around the anther and grips the base with her mandibles. She then rapidly contracts the flight muscles to produce the vibration, without beating her wings.

“The study adds to the now large body of evidence from lab and field-based studies that neonicotinoids reduce learning and memory in bees, impair their communication, foraging efficiency and immune systems and, crucially, reduce their reproductive success as well as the pollination services that they can provide.”

The researchers took two colonies of bumblebees and split them into three groups. One control group was not exposed to the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, but the other two groups were exposed to the pesticide. It turned out that the bees in the control group learned how to buzz more pollen out but those in the other group did not improve at all.

“The implication is the bees take less pollen back to the colonies and the colonies will be less successful, meaning there may be fewer pollinators overall,” she said.

“These chemicals do have serious implications for wild bee populations in agricultural landscapes but some, notably from the agrochemical industry, still promote their use.”


Emma Hockridge, head of policy for farming & land use at the Soil Association said results of recent research was ‘horrifying.’

“It adds to the strong and quickly growing body of overwhelming scientific evidence which points to the damaging impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinating insects, including bumblebees and honey bees,” she said.

“There are a range of methods which farmers can use which do not require the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

“Organic farmers use a system of production which has strong benefits for pollinator populations – for example a meta-analysis from Oxford University showed on average, non-organic farms have 48% more species of pollinators than non-organic farms.”

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Waggle Dance


The waggle dance” is a movement performed by a honeybee at the hive or nest, to indicate to other bees the direction and distance of a source of food.

This little video breaks it down.

How can honeybees communicate the locations of new food sources? Austrian biologist, Karl Von Frisch, devised an experiment to find out!

By pairing the direction of the sun with the flow of gravity, honeybees are able to explain the distant locations of food by dancing.

“The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee” details the design of Von Frisch’s famous experiment and explains the precise grammar of the honeybees dance language with high quality visualizations.

This video is a design documentary, developed by scientists at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing in order to better understand and share with others, the complex behaviors that can arise in social insects.

Their goal at the Multi-Agent Robotics and Systems (MARS) Laboratory is to harness new computer vision techniques to accelerate biologists’ research in animal behavior.

This behavioral research is then used, in turn, to design better systems of autonomous robots.


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Organic honey is a sweet success for Cuba as other bee populations suffer

When the Caribbean state was no longer able to afford pesticides – which have been linked with declining bee populations – it made a virtue out of a necessity


Long known for its cigars and rum, Cuba has added organic honey to its list of key agricultural exports, creating a buzz among farmers as pesticide use has been linked to declining bee populations elsewhere.

Organic honey has become Cuba’s fourth most valuable agricultural export behind fish products, tobacco and drinks, but ahead of the Caribbean island’s more famous sugar and coffee, said Theodor Friedrich, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) representative for Cuba.

“All of [Cuba’s] honey can be certified as organic,” Friedrich told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Its honey has a very specific, typical taste; in monetary value, it’s a high-ranking product.“

After the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main trading partner, the island was unable to afford pesticides due to a lack of foreign currency, coupled with the US trade embargo. By necessity, the government embraced organic agriculture, and the policies have largely stuck.

Now that the United States is easing its embargo following the restoration of diplomatic ties last year, Cuba’s organic honey exporters could see significant growth if the government supports the industry, bee keepers said.

Cuba produced more than 7,200 tonnes of organic honey in 2014, worth about $23.3m, according to government statistics cited by the FAO.

The country’s industry is still tiny compared with honey heavyweights such as China, Turkey and Argentina. But with a commodity worth more per litre than oil, Cuban honey producers believe they could be on the verge of a lucrative era.

With 80 boxes swarming with bees, each producing 45kg (100lb) of honey a year, farm manager Javier Alfonso believes Cuba’s exports could grow markedly in the coming years.

His apiary, down a dirt track in San Antonio de los Baños, a farming town an hour’s drive from the capital, Havana, was built from scratch by employees, Alfonso said.

“There is just a bit of production now, but it can get bigger,” he said, looking at the rows of colourful wooden boxes.


Like other Cuban bee farmers, he sells honey exclusively to the government, which pays him according to the world market price and then takes responsibility for marketing the product overseas.

Most of Cuba’s honey exports go to Europe, he said. He would like to be able to borrow money to expand production, but getting credit is difficult, he said, so for now his team of farmers build their own infrastructure for the bees.

“It’s a very natural environment here,” said Raul Vásquez, a farm employee. “The government is not allowed to sell us chemicals – this could be the reason why the bees aren’t dying here” as they have been in other places.

While Cuba’s small, organic honey industry aims to reap the rewards of increased trade with the United States, honey producers in other regions are under threat, industry officials said.

Bee keepers in the United States, Canada and other regions have long complained that pesticides are responsible for killing their bees and hurting the honey industry more broadly.

The US Environmental Protection Agency released a study in January indicating that a widely used insecticide used on cotton plants and citrus groves can harm bee populations.

“I don’t think there are any doubts that populations of honeybees [in the United States and Europe] have declined … since the second world war,” Norman Carreck, science director of the UK-based International Bee Research Association told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Climate change, fewer places for wild bees to nest, shifts in land use, diseases and pesticides are blamed for the decline, he said.

Because it is pesticide-free, Cuba’s organic bee industry could act as protection from the problems hitting other honey exporters, said the FAO’s Friedrich, and could be a growing income stream for the island’s farmers.

“The overall use of pesticides is fairly controlled, he said. “Cuba has been immune to the bee die-offs [hitting other regions].”


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UN report calls for global action to restore pollinators

A United Nations report on pollinator decline blame loss of habitat, climate change and farming changes, and calls for a range of measures including “bee highways” and tougher controls on new pesticides.


Prepared by an international team of experts including from the Universities of Reading and East Anglia and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, it calls for “bee highways”, reducing so-called green deserts, and helping farmers work with nature.

Simon Potts, Professor of Ecosystem Services at the University of Reading, is co-chair of the UN report and lead author of the latest Nature review. He said: “We conducted the most thorough review of the science ever undertaken, sifting through all the available evidence, to provide governments with the best and latest evidence on pollinator decline.

“The UN report is a good start, but now we need action. We need governments, farmers, industry and the public around the world to act to stop further declines in bees and other pollinating animals. Doing nothing is a big risk that could endanger the global supply of nutritious foods and the livelihoods of millions of people.”

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The report also suggests how safety procedures for new pesticides and GM crops could be tightened to take into account risks to wild insects. Currently, regulators only require manufacturers to assess risks to honeybees.

It also calls for tighter regulation of movements of managed honeybees to reduce the spread of bee pests and diseases.

Pollinator decline will be on the agenda at talks organised by the UN’s Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Cancun, Mexico, later this month.

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Environmental groups order government to keep restrictions on insecticides as renewal date looms


Seventeen of the UK’s leading wildlife, conservation and environment groups are calling for the current EU restrictions on neonicotinoid insecticides to be retained – and extended to all crops – to ‘protect Britain’s bees’.

In an open letter to the UK government, the organisations say “it is clear that there is now more than enough evidence to retain the ban and extend it to all crops, and that this is essential to reverse the decline of bees and other pollinators.”

The EU restrictions, which ban the use of three neonicotinoids on flowering crops, is due to be reviewed next year. The ban was introduced in 2013 after European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the chemicals posed a ‘high acute risk’ to honey bees.

In the letter, the organisations – which include Friends of the Earth, RSPB, Greenpeace, The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation and Bat Conservation Trust – say: “Since 2013 many more independent laboratory and field studies have found neonics impairing the ability of different bee species to feed, navigate and reproduce resulting in declining populations.

“The government says it will not hesitate to act on evidence of harm. The third anniversary of the neonics restrictions is Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s chance to catch up with scientific evidence and public opinion by keeping and extending the ban as part of properly protecting Britain’s bees and pollinating insects.”

Farmers access to right inputs ‘crucial’

In a debate on crop protection at CropTec 2016 this week, National Farmers Union chief crops adviser Guy Gagen said farmers need to be ready to talk to the public about crop protection products, and to emphasise the work farmers to do for the environment and to promote biodiversity on their farm.

The NFU has been meeting with both domestic and European politicians, Defra government officials and stakeholders to deliver the message that it is ‘crucial’ that farmers have access to the right inputs so their farm businesses can be ‘competitive, profitable and progressive’.

Mr Gagen stressed the importance of increasing public awareness around the use of crop protection products, such as pesticides, underlining their importance to farm businesses.

He said: “We still have to deal with regulatory pressures coming through the EU, these are not going away and without key products, the situation for farmers could become very serious, very quickly.

“There are simple, but effective, measures available to promote biodiversity and protect water such as keeping slug pellets and herbicides out of the water and participation in stewardship schemes such as the Campaign for the Farmed Environment.”

Agriculture experts from the University of Hertfordshire have said key crop protection products, such as pesticides, play an important role in ensuring food is safe and healthy for the world’s population. Global food production could fall by as much as 35-40 per cent without them, the scientists warn.

6431985 - farming tractor spraying a field

‘Dozens of new studies’

Three of the UK’s leading bee experts have said that the scientific case against the use of the three pesticides has grown over the past three years, and that the restrictions should continue and be extended to other crops.

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at Sussex University, said that three years ago, EFSA’s analysis of the scientific evidence concluded that neonicotinoids ‘pose an unacceptable risk to bees’.

“Since then dozens of new studies from around the world have been published, including a major Swedish field trial in which neonicotinoids were shown to impact profoundly on bumblebee colonies and solitary bees.

“Work from Italy has showed that even tiny doses of neonicotinoids impair the immune system of honeybees, rendering them susceptible to infections. Perhaps more concerning, it has become clear that neonicotinoids are persistent and pervasive in the environment, so that soils, wildflowers, ponds and rivers commonly contain significant levels.

He said: “This widespread pollution of the environment with these potent neurotoxins has now been linked not just to bee declines but also to declines in butterflies, aquatic insects, and insect-eating birds. With farmland wildlife populations in free fall, it is surely time to extend the moratorium on neonicotinoids to cover other uses.”

Open letter in full

December 1st marks the third anniversary of the introduction of Europe-wide restrictions on three neonicotinoid pesticides – often known as ‘neonics’ – after they were found by scientists to pose a “high acute risk” to honeybees.

It is clear that there is now more than enough evidence to retain the ban and extend it to all crops, and that this is essential to reverse the decline of bees and other pollinators.

Since 2013 many more independent laboratory and field studies have found neonics impairing the ability of different bee species to feed, navigate and reproduce resulting in declining populations.

There is now solid evidence of harm from neonics to wild bumble and solitary bees which are even more sensitive to these pesticides than honeybees. Evidence has also grown of neonics harming the wider environment with studies indicating a link to butterfly population decline, identifying risks to bird species and finding neonics accumulating to dangerous levels in wildflowers surrounding crops.

2017 will be a crucial year for decisions on bees as scientists will publish the official review of the evidence of harm to bees from the three restricted neonicotinoids.

The government says it will not hesitate to act on evidence of harm. The third anniversary of the neonics restrictions is Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom’s chance to catch up with scientific evidence and public opinion by keeping and extending the ban as part of properly protecting Britain’s bees and pollinating insects.

Yours faithfully,

Craig Bennett, Chief Executive, Friends of the Earth
Dr Jeremy Biggs, Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust
Pauline Buchanan Black, Director General, The Tree Council
Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain
Martin Harper, Conservation Director, RSPB
Heidi Herrmann, Co-Founder, Natural Beekeeping Trust
Dr Maggie Keegan, Head of Policy, Scottish Wildlife Trust
Mark Lloyd, Chief Executive, Angling Trust & Fish Legal
Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association
John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
Matt Shardlow, Chief Executive, Buglife
Kit Stoner, Chief Executive, Bat Conservation Trust
Steve Trent, Executive Director, Environmental Justice Foundation
Steve Trotter, Director, The Wildlife Trusts
Dr Keith Tyrell, Director, Pesticides Action Network
Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation
Catherine Weller, Head of Biodiversity Programme, ClientEarth



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An artist is painting 50,000 honey bees in magnificent murals all over the world

An American artist has undertaken an ambitious project to paint thousands of honeybees in a selection of murals at different destinations all around the world.




The Good of The Hive is an artistic initiative set up by mural painter Matthew Willey, with the goal of helping to raise awareness about the importance of honeybees to the environment. The project sees him aiming to personally paint murals that will collectively include 50,000 honeybees in total, the number necessary for a healthy beehive.


As well as highlighting the issue of the declining honeybee population, the project aims to celebrate the incredible and unique behaviour of the insects. Matthew said that the subject of his murals also acts as a metaphor for communities, showing the importance of how people collectively work together and share environments.



“Honeybees within the hive think collectively and their immune system is collective. The health of the individual is based on that of the greater population, whether it’s an actual honeybee hive or a community of human artists, kids in school or military veterans, the health and success of the individual relies heavily on connections within the group,” Matthew explains.


The project began a year and a half ago and, so far, Matthew has done murals in Florida and Washington as well as creating a stunning landscape painting covered in realistic life-sized honeybees for a client in North Carolina. He is planning to travel further afield in the coming months to paint honeybees in other countries around the world.

Matthew Willey has spent twenty-four years painting murals across the United States.


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Inaugural Egyptair Cargo flight delivers an unusual workforce – of 60 million

The inaugural Egyptair Cargo freighter touched down at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport on Sunday (15 October) with some delicate passengers from Cairo – about 60 million of them!


They were honey bees destined for farms across the UAE.

The country’s honey production has seen huge growth over the past five years and more than 1,800 tonnes of honey is now being exported on an annual basis to those with a taste for the world’s original and natural sweetener.

The inaugural flight was welcomed by His Excellency, Engr. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the chairman of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and Department of Civil Aviation.

His Excellency stated: “RAK Airport is ideally positioned to handle this precious cargo and we are grateful to Egyptair Cargo and Al Najeh Honey & Bees Trading to give us the opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities in this regard.  We also appreciate all the support provided by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, RAK Customs and other authorities.”

His Excellency expressed his gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, for his continued support to RAK Airport.

The bees themselves were part of a re-stocking exercise that takes place regularly, and have to be handled with great care. Mohammed Al Najeh, who runs the operation and heads Najeh Honey and Bees Trading explained that the exercise of getting the bees from Egypt is one that has to run like clockwork to avoid disaster. The flight timing is chosen so that the bees arrive after the fierce midday heat and are met immediately by the 30 customers who pick them up and head back to the farms. Inside the aircraft the temperature is set to -15 degrees Celsius in order to offset the high temperatures that the mass of bees create.

Najeh’s operations are so cutting edge within the industry that last week Philip McCabe, President of Apimondia, the world beekeeping federation, visited the UAE in order to learn about the process. McCabe also met with His Excellency Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, whose ministry has given strong support to the UAE’s honey industry.

Egyptair Cargo Country Manager, Mr. Sherif Sabry, said “Egyptair Cargo is a specialist and one of the leading airlines in the transportation of live bees and we are happy to fly them to RAK Airport as a new route on our network from Cairo.”

RAK Airport CEO, Mr. Mohammed Qazi, commented: “We have been planning this operation for many months and our goal is simply to become the leader in the industry to deliver complete operational excellence for handling live bees. Our infrastructure is best suited for such operations and we will ensure we continue to improve and surpass our already established high standards.  We believe what Mr. Al Najeh is doing for the industry is quite revolutionary, and we are pleased to be part of his high ambitions. The UAE could become a regional leader in bee farming and organic honey production, and we believe RAK Airport could play a crucial part in that process.”

RAK Airport recently announced the early start of its winter charters from various countries in Europe, CIS and Russia, and the management has continued to deliver RAK Airport’s growth trajectory amid a challenging economic climate.

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Sweet taste of success for Lyreco’s latest environmental project

Manel Roura and Jamie Mills.

Manel Roura and Jamie Mills.

One of the UK’s biggest providers of workplace supplies is sweetening its environmental credentials at its Shropshire base with a new project to boost Britain’s ailing honey bee population.

Lyreco has introduced three beehives at its national distribution centre in Telford, which caters for around 240,000 bees at their peak, with plans for a fourth.

The move is part of Lyreco’s ongoing commitment towards environmentally friendly and sustainable projects.

The firm has also installed nearly 14,000 solar panels on the roof of its distribution hub. The installation is one of the largest rooftop photovoltaic system in the UK and saves Lyreco more than £53,000 a year on its energy bills, as well as cutting annual carbon emissions by 1,700 tonnes to make the site electrically carbon neutral.

The firm recently scooped the Environment and Sustainability Award at the SHD Logistics Awards 2016, in recognition of its work to minimise its impact on the environment.

Lyreco’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland Peter Hradisky explained the firm’s decision to get involved in the biodiversity project.

“We are firmly committed to playing a positive role in our community and feel that we have a responsibility to lead by example.

“The changing landscape of the UK has contributed to the reduction in bee numbers, which in turn poses a risk to food crops as bees play an important role in pollination. We wanted to help reverse that decline so we installed three hives earlier this year and have plans for another,” he said.

A survey of the 15-acre Lyreco site established the best location for the hives to thrive and they are located in the far corner to ensure that they are at a safe distance from people using the car park but still visible from the office.

Quality, Safety and Sustainability Manager Manel Roura added: “Factors we had to take into consideration were exposure to wind, rain and sun and also levels of human activity within the vicinity.

“The chosen location on the first corner as you enter the car park was perfect for the bees to settle as it had good wind cover due to the surrounding trees, prolonged sun exposure and it was easily accessible. We work with a local beekeeper who visits weekly and maintains the hives.”

The honey produced – 60lbs so far this year – will be sold to raise funds for the Lyreco for Education programme that gives children living in poor conditions better access to schooling.

Beekeeper Darran Hall, who maintains the hives for Lyreco, urged more businesses to follow Lyreco’s example. He said: “The plight of the honey bee has been well documented.

“Honey bees can’t live in the wild and need managed hives to be able to survive so it’s great that an organisation like Lyreco is doing everything it can to reverse the decline in their area.”

Lyreco is a member of The Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford (BESST), a partnership between local private and public sector businesses that aims to help businesses improve their environmental performance.

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Bid to burn wasp nest starts Bletchley garage fire



A garage was destroyed and a house damaged by smoke as two DIY pest controllers attempted to burn a wasp nest.

The blaze took hold in a garage in Oakwood Drive, Bletchley at about 14:20 BST on Sunday.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

Buckinghamshire Fire Service tweeted to urge people not to use fire to tackle wasp nests.

Both men were treated for smoke inhalation as four fire crews tackled the flames.

“We strongly advise people to contact a professional pest controller rather than try to do it themselves,” a fire service spokesman said.

“As far as I can tell, using fire to tackle a wasp nest is the number one thing not to do.”

More news buzzing around Buckinghamshire

He added: “There were plenty of very angry wasps swarming around when we arrived.”

The spokesman said it was the second incident of its kind in the space of a month after a householder previously tried to set fire to a nest in a porch, which was damaged

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Asian Hornet Update

Following the finding of Asian hornets in Gloucestershire last week we have received a large number of suspect Asian hornet reports from members of the public and beekeepers which we are following up. Bee inspectors have now visited over 100 sites. Asian hornets have been seen at just six locations within 500 meters of the original site.

Efforts to track down the nest and destroy it are ongoing. There have been no other substantiated reports of hornets anywhere else in the UK so please be patient while we continue our field work and be assured that when appropriate, national alerts will be sent out via our email alert system. In the meantime, our news feed on BeeBase will be used to keep everyone updated.


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Do you know how honey is produced by the bees


If you don’t know how do bees produce honey until now after reading of this text you will know very well the whole process…

The western, or European honeybee, pollinates three fourths of the fruits, veggies and nuts that we eat. We’d be in trouble without them. Of course, there’s a reason we don’t call them zucchini bees, almond bees, or apple bees. They also give us honey. One healthy hive will make and consume more than 50 kg of honey in a single year, and that takes a lot of work.

Honey is made from nectar, but it doesn’t come out of flowers as that golden, sticky stuff. After finding a suitable food source, bees dive in head first, using their long, specially adapted tongues to slurp tiny sips of nectar into one of two stomachs. A single bee might have to drink from more than a thousand flowers to fill its honey stomach, which can weigh as much as the bee itself when full of nectar. On the way back to the hive, digestive enzymes are already working to turn that nectar into sweet gold. When she returns to the hive, the forager bee will vomit the nectar into the mouth of another worker. That bee will vomit it into another bee’s mouth, and so on.


This game of regurgitation telephone is an important part of the honey making process, since each bee adds more digestive enzymes to turn long chains of complex sugars in the raw nectar into simple monosaccharides like fructose and glucose. At this point, the nectar is still pretty watery, so the bees beat their wings and create an air current inside the hive to evaporate and thicken the nectar, finally capping the cell with beeswax so the enzyme rich bee barf can complete its transformation into honey. Because of its low water content and acidic pH, honey isn’t a very inciting place for bacteria or yeast spoilage, and it has an incredibly long shelf life in the hive or in your pantry. Honey has been found in Egyptian tombs dating back thousands of years, pretty much unspoiled.


For one pound of honey, tens of thousands of foraging bees will together fly more than three times around the world and visit up to 8 million flowers. That takes teamwork and organization, and although they can’t talk they do communicate… with body language. Foragers dance to tell other bees where to find food. A circle dance means flowers are pretty close to the hive, but for food that’s farther away, they get their waggle on. The waggle dance of the honey bee was first decoded by Karl Von Frisch, and it’s definitely one of the coolest examples of animal communication in nature. First the bee walks in a straight line, wagging its body back and forth and vibrating its wings, before repeating in a figure eight. Whatever angle the bee walks while waggling tells the other bees what direction to go. Straight up the line of honeycombs, then the food is in the direction of the sun. If the dance is pointed to the left or right, the other bees know to fly in that angle relative to the sun. The longer the waggle, the farther away the food is, and the food is better, the more excited the bee shakes its body.


If that’s not amazing enough, even if they can’t see the sun itself, they can infer where it is and the time of day by reading the polarization of light in the blue sky. A single bee is a pretty simple creature, but together they create highly complex and social societies. There’s three main classes in a beehive: drones, workers and queens. When a new queen is born, she immediately runs around and kills her sisters, because there can be only one. During mating season, she’ll fly to a distant hive to mate with several males and store away the sperm, which she’ll use back at her home hive to lay more than a thousand eggs a day throughout the rest of her life. Any unfertilized eggs, those that don’t join up with sperm, will mature into male drones, which means they only have one set of chromosomes. But fertilized eggs are all genetically female, destined t become either queens or workers. Queens do the egg laying of course, but worker bees are the backbone of the beehive.

So what makes most females become workers, while just one wears the hive crown? A baby bee’s diet activate genetic programming that shifts its entire destiny. Every bee larva is initially fed a nutrient rich food called royal jelly, but after a few days, worker bee babies are switched to a mixture of pollen and honey called “bee bread”. But queens eat royal jelly their whole life, even as adults. Scientists used to think it was just royal jelly that put queens on the throne, but just last year they discovered one chemical in bee bread, the food that queens don’t get, that keeps worker bees sterile. Being a queen seems to be as much about what bees don’t eat as what they do. Making honey is insect farming on its grandest scale, with intricate societies cooperating to make a food fit for bear tummies bid and small… with the pleasant side effect of pollinating most of the world’s flowering plants.


Posted in Adopt A Beehive, Adopt A Hive, Bees, Honey | Leave a comment

Meet the Jesmond gardener who could be killed by just one wasp sting

Stings have caused deaths in more than 70% of people with anaphylaxis, most of who did not know they had the condition


Keen gardener Steve Fletcher could be killed by just one wasp sting.

The 62 year old, from Jesmond, suffered from a massive allergic reaction when he was stung on the arm after stepping on a wasp nest while working in his garden.

He said: “At first I didn’t think anything of it. It hurt as much as you would expect it to. I had quite a big red welt on my arm but nothing more.

“It didn’t once cross my mind that I was in any difficulty until I noticed that the same red welts started to appear on my other arm, which hadn’t been stung at all. I was quite worried when I realised the reaction was spreading and my breathing was becoming shallower – it was only then that I felt in danger.

“I was alone and knew I needed to get to help fast. Fearing I was about to collapse, I managed to reach the road and decided to head to a friend’s house who lived no more than 200 yards away.

“As I walked up the road I started to feel more and more breathless, my breathing was getting shallower with every step, and despite the short distance, by the time I reached my friend’s house I could barely stand up and feared I was about to collapse.”


After receiving antihistamines from his friend Steve went to a clinic for further treatment and by time he arrived, the reaction had also spread to his torso.

Steve was then prescribed life-saving adrenaline pens to be used if he was stung again.

In the past 10 years the UK has had seven times the amount of allergy hospitalisations and doctors aren’t sure what is causing the alarming increase.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

To spread the word about anaphylaxis, the Bee Resistant campaign was launched to increase awareness about the dangers of venom anaphylaxis from wasp stings and treatment options that are available.

Professor Steve O’Hickey, a specialist allergy consultant, said: “The exact reason for this growing allergy epidemic is unclear.

“Seasonal allergies, especially insect allergies, are becoming increasingly common and as the latter end of the summer approaches we do receive an increase in incidents of anaphylaxis as a result of wasp stings.”

Steve Fletcher added: “What is striking about everyone I meet at the clinic is that none of us realised we might be at risk of anaphylaxis, which is quite a worrying fact.

“Had my friend who helped me after the incident not insisted on taking me to see my GP, my next reaction may have been more severe. I would encourage anyone concerned, or who has had a bad reaction to take note of my story and the experiences of others.“

Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasp nests, Wasps destroyed, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

Pest controllers discover giant nest built by 10,000 wasps in house loft


A giant nest built by up to 10,000 stinging wasps has been discovered in a loft space

The nest was allowed to reach close to its maximum size because the property in question, in the sleepy country village of Pipewell in Northamptonshire, has been unoccupied for several years.

The nest is rare not only because of its size, but because the wasps built an intricate tunnel from the nest to the outside, which is perfectly preserved. It was discovered by pest controllers treating an established woodworm problem prior to the new owners moving in. Pest controller Gary Wilkinson of Pest Professionals, who found the nest, said: “It’s an impressive wasp nest alright – much bigger than a barrel. Normally we get called in at the first sign of wasps causing a problem to people. This community has been allowed to go about its business undisturbed for a whole summer season. Although you wouldn’t want it in your own loft, you have to say it’s a very impressive and in its own way a very beautiful thing.” Carcasses of hundreds of dead wasps found next to the nest indicate that the colony was created by the common wasp (Vespula Vulgaris). However people in the UK have been asked to be on the lookout for the larger Asian Giant Hornet which has been heading north across Europe. The Asian Hornet is even more aggressive than the common wasp, has a darker thorax and its stings have caused a number of deaths in countries as near to the UK as France through anaphylactic shock. Anyone who thinks they have seen an Asian Hornet is asked to report the sighting to the Bee Keepers Association.


Natalie Bungay, British Pest Control Association’s Technical Officer said: “A number of BPCA members are acknowledging the perceived increase in wasp activity this year. The Association has seen its wasp referrals rise from 6565 in 2015 to 7253 in 2016, between the months of May and August. What’s more, BPCA members are also identifying an increase and extension of the wasp season through the Association’s social media channels (#waspwatch).” A spokesman for the British Natural History Museum commented: “Sometimes wasps just build on surfaces around the nest like this. There was a great example doing the rounds a few years ago, of a wasp nest that consumed a wooden statue. The ‘tunnel’ won’t be used for rearing young. I doubt it will be used as an entrance/exit either but it might conceivably be an extension of the original entrance hole.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

Colin Campbell, who is the insect infestation specialist for Pest Professionals, said: “Although not the most loved of our flying insects by a long chalk, for obvious reasons, wasps are fascinating creatures. The nest is built around a single queen and really big nests like this can readily number 6,000 to 10,000 individuals. This one would certainly have been on the higher side of those numbers. “They grow through a complex symbiosis between the worker wasps, which bring food to the grubs produced by the queen, and the grubs themselves, which secrete a sugary substance on which the workers feed. One is dependent on the other. “It’s when the queen stops producing the grubs, usually in the late summer, the workers become a real pest. With no sugar being produced by the nest, the workers go out in search of their own sugar – ice creams, sugary drinks, beer and the like. “The workers die as winter sets in and only the queen wasps survive the winter. In fact we all need to be thankful to spiders, which predate around 95 per cent of hibernating queen wasps over the colder months. Without spiders there would be a plague of wasps every year!”

Only queen wasps survive the winter, and it’s thought that over 90 per cent of them are predated while hibernating by spiders – so the message is, ‘love spiders’! * Wasps prefer sharp seasons so that the queens know when to come out of hibernation. Mild, wet winters confuse them into emerging too soon and before there is enough nectar about to survive. * When wasps find a food source they convey the location to the whole colony a complex ‘dance’. The workers then visit it until it’s exhausted.

Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasp nest, Wasp nests, Wasps destroyed, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

Hornet Nest

Mike Dilger visits the home of naturalist Stephen Powles, to find a hornet’s nest in the spare bedroom. It offers a unique chance to see their world close up.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasp nest, Wasp nests, Wasps destroyed, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

Why are there wasps in my bathroom

Why are there wasps in my bathroom


In the past week there’s been a 1,000% rise in the number of people searching Google to find out when UK wasps will die, while scores of Twitter users have shared tales of emerging from the shower to find themselves surrounded by the pesky buzzers. What’s going on?

Being in the same room as a wasp can be a worrying experience – especially if that room is the bathroom, where you’re often exposing tender flesh all the more susceptible to an unpleasant sting.

It’s one thing to beware of wasps outside the home, as a poor woman from West Sussex found out when she was bombarded after her dog disturbed a nest. But wasps are also keen on building their nests inside, according to Wasp Removal UK.

“Wasps will build nests in wall cavities, loft spaces and just about any other suitable void they find,” the organisation says.

They can enter the house easily through an open door or window – or more cunningly through a vent, such as the type you find in bathrooms.

Householders tend to notice the ones that come through in obvious ways – but the ones which have built a home in a vent often won’t be spotted until they’re flying about.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

Fruity shower gels

Paul Hetherington, from insect charity Buglife, says there are actually fewer wasps around this year compared with last year.

“It was a very bad winter for both wasps and bees, because it didn’t get cold enough for them to hibernate. That means they weren’t able to conserve their energy and died off.

“It’s just this year, we’re noticing them a lot later in the year. It’s usually in the middle of summer when there are a lot of sweet things like blackberries about.

“But wasps which can’t get to blackberries tend to venture into houses where there are sweet things.

The wasps we see in bathrooms are likely to be worker wasps. Their job is to feed nectar to the queen wasps. When they do that, they “get rewarded by the wasp equivalent of honey”, Mr Hetherington explains.

When the queen has had enough sustenance to last the winter, she leaves the nest and goes off to hibernate – leaving the workers both out of a job and addicted to sweet things.

That’s when they venture into bathrooms, lured by the scent of sweet shampoos and soaps. So if you’re busy cleaning yourself with a fruity shower gel, you’re also sending delicious aromas to wasps.

Worker wasps don’t last the winter – they die off every year.

Wasps are also attracted to bright lights, like the ones you get in bathrooms. This means while you’re singing in the shower, the striped marauders could be waking up and buzzing toward the lights.

At this time of year there’s an additional hazard – “drunk” wasps.

Paul Bates, from pest-control firm Cleankill Environmental Services, says wasps become “drunk” on fermenting fruit and tipsy wasps are extra-bold.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

What should you do?

Mr Bates issued a chilling warning – if you try to swat a solitary wasp, it could “call for back-up” (a pheromone is released which attracts nearby wasps) and you could end up being attacked by a swarm.

So try not to swipe at them – like in many aggressive situations, it’s better to walk away.

Often if you close the doors and turn the lights out in a room and leave the window open, the wasps will leave of their own volition – unless there’s a live nest in your vents, of course.

In that case, it’s best to call a pest control specialist.

In the UK, most wasp nests “die” in the autumn. Occasionally a very large nest will continue if the winter is mild and there is a local food source. And wasps are profligate creatures – they won’t reuse a nest the following year, so if you find a dead nest it’s safe to chuck away.

The queen, though, will emerge ready to lead her entourage the following year.

Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasp nest, Wasp nests, Wasps destroyed, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

They’re here! Long-feared UK arrival of honeybee-killing Asian hornet confirmed


The first sighting of an invasive Asian hornet to the UK mainland has been confirmed, with experts warning of dire consequences for honeybees if the new species is not swiftly eradicated.

The hornet, Vespa velutina, has been found in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire. Specialist hornet-killing squads armed with infrared cameras and specialist pesticides are now out in force to find and destroy its nests.

The National Bee Unit has opened a three-mile surveillance zone around Tetbury, where the hornet was found. The unit has also opened a local control center to coordinate the response.

A second Asian hornet has been seen since, which experts say suggests there was a nest of the invasive species.

While the Asian hornet offers no threat to human health, it poses a risk to important pollinating insects such as honeybees and could do serious damage to colonies in Britain, which have been in decline for many years.

The hornet first arrived in France in 2004 and is now common across large areas of Europe. Officials in the UK have been concerned the species would arrive here through imports such as plants or timber, or even by flying across the Channel.

The species was discovered for the first time in Jersey and Alderney this summer.

Diane Roberts, the press officer for the British Bee Keepers Association (BBKA), said the hornets hover outside the entrance to beehives and as the bees fly out, “they kill them by biting off their heads.”

“When enough bees are dead they invade through the entrance of the hive and take the honey. They also eat the baby larvae of the bees too,”she added.

Nicola Spence, the Environment Department’s deputy director for plant and bee health, said: “We have been anticipating the arrival of the Asian hornet for some years and have a well-established protocol in place to eradicate them and control any potential spread.

“It is important to remember they pose no greater risk to human health than a bee, though we recognize the damage they can cause to honeybee colonies.

“That’s why we are taking swift and robust action to identify and destroy any nests.”

It is believed the hornets will not be able to survive in the north of the UK due to the colder winters.

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Bees don’t slack on the job, even when they are ill

Scientists think the insects are ‘hardwired’ to search, no matter how they feel.


Struggle to get into work when you feel under the weather? You should take inspiration from the hard-working honeybee and spring out of bed.

New research has shown that honeybees remain excellent searchers even when they are ill.

The bees are hardwired to search the landscape efficiently, allowing them to continue working for the greater good of their hives.


Scientists in Cornwall used radar technology to track individual bees and were able to show they remained nimble and travelled hundreds or thousands of metres even when they had infections or viruses.

Honeybees tirelessly commute between rewarding flower patches and their hive and their remarkable navigational skills rely on distinct landmarks, such as trees or houses, which they very efficiently find and memorise on orientation flights.

Experts fitted a transponder – a tiny dipole aerial much lighter than the nectar or pollen normally carried by the bee – to the thorax.

Tracking each bee individually allowed them to pick up a radar signal from the transponder showing where and how it was flying. The aerial is harmless to the bee and removable.


Bees, like humans, can fall ill and getting around during periods of sickness can become very challenging.

The study shows that even very sick bees are still able to search their surroundings optimally in so-called Levy flight patterns.

Lead author Dr Stephan Wolf, from Queen Mary University of London, said: “The honeybees we observed had remarkably robust searching abilities, which indicate this might be hardwired in the bees rather than learned, making bees strong enough to withstand pathogens and possibly other stressors, and allowing them to still contribute to their colony by, for example, foraging for food.”

During the study the team monitored 78 bees, some of which were unwell.

The researchers discovered that the unhealthy bees did not fly as far or for as long as the healthy bees but they continued to search in the same manner, suggesting that the pattern was inbuilt.

Posted in Adopt A Beehive, Adopt A Hive, Bees, Honey | Tagged | Leave a comment

WARNING: Swarms of drunk, unemployed and angry German wasps could hit Lancashire

WARNING: Swarms of drunk, unemployed and angry  German wasps could hit Lancashire


“Bored, angry and drunk” German wasps could start attacking and stinging people in Lancashire at random, experts have warned.

People are being warned to watch out for swarms of the insects which are now at their angriest – and most likely to sting for no reason.

Pest control chiefs says the German wasps – called yellowjackets and whose Latin name is Vespula Germanica – can give a much nastier sting than the common wasp.

The worker wasps, which are bigger than normal wasps but smaller than hornets, have now finished their work’supplying the queen wasps with nectar and have nothing to do.

The queens have now finished laying their eggs and have left the nest, meaning the worker wasps are no longer tending to the queen and are instead getting drunk on fermenting fruit.

At this time of the year – especially as the UK continues to enjoy some summer sunshine – worker wasps feast on fermented fruit, meaning they are tipsy and extra bold.

Pest control firm Cleankill Environmental Services say people should be wary of the German wasps – which can sting repeatedly – at the moment, especially when having picnics or barbecues.

Boss Paul Bates said the wasps are now at their “most aggressive and dangerous” and are “particularly active” at the moment – and warned that if you try to swat a solitary wasp, it could “call for back-up” and you could end up being attacked by a swarm.
He said German wasps – which can be distinguished from normal wasps because of their size and three black spots on their face – were “causing the most problems” at the moment.

Speaking recently, he said: “The type of wasp causing most problems is the German wasp which gives a particularly painful sting despite its size. “Worker wasps have finished their life’s work as queen wasps have stopped laying and don’t need food bringing to them.

“This means that the workers are free to go out and enjoy themselves which includes stealing meat from the barbecue.

“There will also be drunk wasps around who have been feasting on fermented fruit and will be extra bold.
“All this means that the wasps are likely to sting for no reason and they are now at their most dangerous.”

He added: “The advice is to stay calm around the wasps.

“If you agitate them, they send messages to other wasps that they are under attack and you can end up dealing with a swarm.

“Be particularly careful if you have small children as we’ve heard some horrific stories involving children being stung.

“It’s bad enough if you are stung as an adult, but wasp stings are even more excruciating for children.”

Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

Stung by a wasp while clearing poppies

Stung by a wasp while clearing poppies


The ladybird poppies, fire-engine red with jet black centres, had flopped in the rain, their flimsy petals scattered across the path. Cutting back the plants, it took me a moment to process what was happening. A flurry of insects was circling my head and arms from a disturbed wasps’ nest. I was shocked by the intensity of pain from a sting on the end of my nose. Swabs of vinegar helped neutralise its alkalinity, but my cheek quickly swelled.

There are a lot of wasps about this year. I know of at least six nests around the garden. The entrance to one is in a stone wall, another under the bargeboard of a shed. One was found when thistle-bashing in the field, a fourth when clipping a box hedge.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston

A colony lives beneath our stone-flagged roof. There’s a resonating noise, audible in an upstairs room, as the wasps use their wings to fan air around the nest, regulating its temperature. The sound they create is like the rising and falling of voices in another room.

Built by the common wasp, Vespula vulgaris, these nests are hidden, tucked away in crevices or filling the chambers of abandoned mouse holes. When a nest is visible it is a beautiful object, a papier mache patchwork of colours from different types of wood.

During its construction, the insects can be seen rasping at wooden surfaces with their mandibles, antennae bobbing as they scritch-scratch while walking backwards. It’s a strange experience to hear this while sitting on a bench. The pulped wood is mixed with saliva and used to make an enclosed honeycomb structure where the queen will lay her eggs.

The emerging larvae are fed insects by female worker wasps. Their prey includes aphids and caterpillars, making wasps helpful to gardeners. They are also important pollinators of fruit and vegetables. In return the larvae secrete a sugary liquid for the adults.

By autumn, with no larvae left to feed, the workers look for a new food source, perhaps fermenting fruit. That’s when I will have to take care not to get stung again.


Posted in Adopt A Hive, Pest Control Lancashire, Pest Control Preston, Wasp nest, Wasp nests, Wasps destroyed, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

Young girl stung 30-40 times by wasps in the Staffordshire Moorlands

A young girl suffered between 30 and 40 wasp stings after she slipped on leaves and disturbed a wasp nest in the Staffordshire Moorlands.


The horrible incident happened in woods near Upper Cotton just before 4.00pm on Thursday afternoon.

An ambulance was sent along with the Derbyshire Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance with a doctor on board.

wasps tree destroyed preston

wasps destroyed preston


Posted in Adopt A Hive, Wasps Destroyed Preston, Lancashire

New Zealand Features Honey Bee on World’s First Silver Hexagonal Coin with Resin Inclusion

New-Zealand-2016 honey-bee

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand has unveiled (August 1) a new coin paying homage to the humble honey bee, or Apis mellifera. The honey bee is an integral part of our lives, providing honey while pollinating flowers and plants that provide the human race with needed sustenance. The life and hierarchy of the honey bee is complicated, with an organized society of three adult castes comprising of the queen, workers, and drones, each with a specific purpose and function.

Queens, who are responsible for producing and laying eggs, live for an average of two-to-three years and sometimes longer. Just one queen can lay thousands of eggs throughout her life.

Worker honey bees comprise the largest number of individuals; between 20,000 to 80,000 workers may live in any hive. They have a life span of only six weeks during the honey production season, when they store nectar, feed larvae, and produce copious amounts of honey.

The life of a drone or a male  honey bee isn’t as fortunate as his counterparts, since they begin life as an unfertilized egg laid by the queen. His primary purpose is simple: to mate with the queen; their life span focuses specifically on this single task. If a mature drone successfully mates with a queen, his life ends soon after the mating flight. If he is unsuccessful, he will be ejected from the hive at the end of the active summer season and eventually die of cold or starvation.


New Zealand has been recognized as one of the most advanced beekeeping countries in the world. Beekeeping was first introduced to Northland in 1839 as a home craft, but it has developed into a progressive and valuable industry. Today, the busy honey bee pollinates roughly one-third of everything we eat, making it essential to agriculture.

In addition to pollinating fruit and vegetable crops, the honey bee produces several varieties of New Zealand honey. From the delicate pöhutukawa through to the stronger flavored kämahi and rewarewa, and the robust jellied mänukahoney, these variations are endless and exclusive to New Zealand.

The natural antibiotic qualities of some mänuka honeys has also led to an international market for health care products. Last year alone, New Zealand exported nearly NZ $300 million worth of local honey. Sadly, honey bees worldwide are under threat as a result of serious pests and diseases, in particular the Varroa mite in New Zealand. This collectible legal tender commemorative coin aims to raise awareness of the crucial role the honey bee plays in food production.

The six-sided coin is produced by the BH Mayer’s Mint GmbH on behalf of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and is designed by Hannah Stancliffe-White. The reverse design incorporates the hexagonal shape as part of the overall motif based on a cell of honeycomb in a hive. In the honey-making process, worker bees build a honeycomb structure of cells where nectar and pollen are stored, and larvae develop. The honey bee is brought to life on the coin with three-dimensional engraving and color printing. It is depicted sitting on the honeycomb, which has been partially filled with translucent amber-colored resin, replicating real honey.


The obverse includes the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which is the work of by Ian Rank-Broadley. The year of issue is also shown on the obverse.

Denomination Metal Weight Dimensions Quality Mintage
1 Dollar .999 Silver  31.1 Grams 46 / 40 mm. Proof, colour & resin 1500 pieces

The honey bee coin will be available from September, and is housed in a unique hexagonal case. Made from colored acrylic, the translucent case allows you to see the coin within and replicates the translucent nature of pure New Zealand honey.

Each coin comes with an individually numbered certificate of authenticity that tells the story of how honey bees were introduced to New Zealand, written by Roger Bray of The Honeybee Society of New Zealand Inc. For more information on this and other coins issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, please visit the Web site of New Zealand Post, official distributors of RBNZ collector coins and currency.

Collectors in New Zealand can visit their local New Zealand Post retail outlet. International sales are dispatched where applicable.

Posted in Bees Around The World | Leave a comment