Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Making Mead (Honey Wine)

If anyone is interested in learning how to make mead (honey wine) here are some resources:
What are the Basics?
Mead is the oldest alcoholic drink known to man. When honey has water added, or if it hasn’t been fully cured, it will ferment. To make mead you basically add water to honey and yeast. Then you add an airlock, or a balloon, remember MASH when Hawkeye would use a surgeons glove? That prevents air coming into the container. The mead ferments for about a month and then your “rack” which is siphoning it into a clean container. The dross is the yeast or any fruit you may have added for flavouring and that gets thrown away. It gets racked a second time a few weeks later and then it’s ready for bottling.
Facebook groups: They are very friendly and very helpful and many really know their stuff
Meadmakers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/meadmakers/?fref=nf
Homemade Wine Making https://www.facebook.com/groups/395689390477976/?fref=nf
Fruit Wine & Mead Making https://www.facebook.com/groups/807348336004726/?fref=nf

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fun Fact: Honey Bee Waggle Dances

How bees talk to each other about flowers.
Fun Fact: A small percentage of older bees will act as scouts and search for new flowers. When she finds a good source of nectar or pollen she'll return to the hive and inform her hive mates where the source is by doing the Waggle Dance to recruit foragers to go and collect this food.
At the hive there will always be a reserve of forager bees that are waiting for this call to duty. Some people have said their bees are lazy because they're sitting around doing nothing but that's not the case. They're waiting for the scouts to come back and dance.
For food sources farther away, the scouts use the sun as a compass and they will do the Waggle Dance. The dance floor is actually chemically signposted by the bees.
She stands on the comb and shakes her body side to side at a rate of about 15 times a second. Then she does a Waggle Run in a circle back to the point where she started waggling, She repeats the waggle phase and again runs a full circle, but this time in the opposite direction to the starting point. The two paths together approximate a figure eight lying on it's side.
For feeding sites that are close by within 50 to 70 m the bees will perform a Round Dance. This dance reveals only some info--mostly about where to look and that it's close by.
Source: The Buzz about Bees and Dr Tom Seeley UTube videos
Note that the author Jurgen Tautz states that there are many more forms of communications that are unknown as yet.
Originally the waggle dancing was discovered by an Austrian biologist Karl Von Frisch in the 1940s.  Here is a video where they have recreated his experiment to learn how the bees communicate through the dances.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fun Fact: Bees Have Pockets

Fun Fact: Bees have pockets.
Bees produce beeswax from their own bodies. On the underside of their abdomen are four pairs of wax glands. Under the wax glands are tiny pockets which hold the wax scales as they are being made.

When a wax scale is ready for use, the bee takes it out of the pocket by spiking it on the strong hairs of her back legs, and then passes it to the jaws.

There it is chewed, and other materials may be mixed with the wax. When it is soft, the worker puts it into place on the comb being built.

Source: Life of the Honey-bee - A Ladybird Natural History Book

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fun Fact: How Bees "see" inside the hive

Fun Fact: When building combs in the darkness of the hive bees don't use visual sense.

They have cushions of sensory hairs at all their joints which are stimulated by gravity to move like a pendulum or lever relative to one another. This aids the bee to detect the in which direction the force of gravity acts.

(taken from Jurgen Tautz book The Buzz about Bees - this book has incredible macro photography of the bees).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fun Fact: Do you know about Filling Stations?

We looked at two types of chores bees do to heat up the wax and assist with keeping the brood temperature consistent.

When a bee dunks into a cell to warm up the adjacent cells, she burns off a tremendous amount of energy.

We look at how the bees will deliberately leave cells without brood in them and that these cells are used by heater bees.

The cells are also used as Filling Stations.  They're filled with nectar so that the heater bee, after exhausting all her resources to heat up the wax, can refuel herself.

See photo with the shine of nectar in the empty cells.

Next time you're inspecting the brood area, look to see if you can find a blank cell with nectar in it.  If you see one, that's a Filling Station.

This info has been taken from a fabulous book called The Buzz About Bees, Biology of a Superorganism.  It's expensive to buy but so worth it from what you can learn.  I haven't found this info in any other book.  The Buzz About Bees

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fun Fact: More about Heater Bees

Fun Fact: Bees will leave about 10 to 15% of brood comb with no eggs.

This is deliberate. Heater bees who are hot from warming up will dunk their bodies into these empty cells and rapidly telescope their bodies for a period of time and then rest.

The pumping bee is heating up the wax and adjacent cells. Previously it was thought these empty cells were missed by the queen.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fun Fact: Did you know about Heater Bees?

Fun Fact: Do you know what the largest organ in the hive is? It's the beeswax. Recent studies have shown that the bees communicate through the wax by vibrations that they make.

Wax also holds the warmth of bees' bodies and acts like an insulator. One chore for workers is to be a heater bee.

A bee may look like she's just standing on a capped cell doing nothing but if you looked at it with infrared you'll see she's pressing her thorax to the cell cap and she's contracting her flight muscles to transfer heat to the wax which will warm up the cell.

They can stay in this squatted position for as long as 30 minutes. The worker will have her antennae resting on the cell which is believed so she can check the temperature through the sensitive antennae.