Himalayan honeybee produces hallucinogenic honey

Deep in the Himalaya Mountains lives a bee that produces what locals call “mad honey.” Mad, or red honey, is produced by Apis dorsata laboriosa, or Himalayan Cliff Bee. It’s the largest bee in the world and they make an unusual hallucinogenic honey.

Apis dorsata makes honey out of Rhododendron flowers. Rhododendron contain grayanotoxins which is poisonous to humans. Honey made from the poisonous nectar of the Rhododendron is a powerful hallucinogen in humans and has been said to have numerous health benefits.

In small amounts, the honey is relaxing, if a bit intoxicating. It’s been described as rather pleasant. In larger doses, mad honey can cause Rhododendron poisoning, or honey intoxication, which causes vomiting, muscle weakness, and heart irregularities.

Even though it’s harmful in high doses, locals will go to remarkable lengths to get their hands on said mad honey. Check out this brief documentary.

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Gold honeybees found in treasure trove

Golden honeybee jewellery found in treasure trove

Childeric’s tomb was discovered in 1653 and contained spectacular gold artifacts, including over 300 beautiful gold and garnet cloisonné bees, as well as a gold and garnet sword hilt.

The find was documented and illustrated by J.J. Chifflet in 1665. The treasure was passed down through the ages, first to Louis XIV, and then to to Napoleon. Finally, Childeric’s hoard had been stored in a back room in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, where it had remained, largely forgotten about. In 1831 thieves broke into the library and stole Childeric’s treasure, along with hundreds of pounds of gold artifacts.

Most of the treasure was eventually recovered, but a significant portion had been melted down, including almost everything from Childeric’s tomb. In the end, all that was left were Childeric’s two little gold honeybees.

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New beehive design

This newly designed beehive looks pretty awesome and I really like the ethical approach that the designers are using to get the product into the market.

 

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Life is the flower…

Life is the flower for which love is the honey.

Victor Hugo

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How to make your own traditional skep

Are you a hands on type of person that keeps honeybees and fancied trying your hand at making your very own traditional skep? Over the centuries skeps were used to house honeybees, Initially they were made from wicker plastered with mud and dung but from the Middle Ages they were made of straw. In northern and western Europe, skeps were made of coils of grass or straw. In its simplest form, there is a single entrance at the bottom of the skep. Again, there is no internal structure provided for the bees and the colony must produce its own honeycomb, which is attached to the inside of the skep. Skeps have two disadvantages; beekeepers cannot inspect the comb for diseases and pests, and honey removal is difficult and often results in the destruction of the entire colony. To get the honey beekeepers either drove the bees out of the skep or, by the use of a bottom extension called an eke or a top extension called a cap, sought to create comb with just honey in it. Quite often the bees were just killed, sometimes using lighted sulfur, to allow the honeycomb to be removed. Skeps could also be squeezed in a vise to extract the honey. As of 1998, most US states prohibited the use of skeps because they can not be inspected for disease and parasites.



Later skep designs included a smaller woven basket (cap) on top over a small hole in the main skep. This cap acted as a crude super, allowing the harvesting of some honey with less destruction of brood and bees. In England such an extension piece consisting of a ring of about 4 or 5 coils of straw placed below a straw beehive to give extra room for brood rearing was called an eke, which was used to give just a bit of extra space.

A person who made such woven beehives was called a “skepper”, a surname that still exists in western countries. In England the thickness of the coil of straw was controlled using a ring of leather or piece of cows horn called a “girth” and the coils of straw could be sewn together using strips of briar. Likenesses of skeps can be found in paintings, carvings and old manuscripts. The skep is often used on signs as an indication of industry (“the busy bee”).

In the late 18th century, more complex skeps appeared with wooden tops with holes in them over which glass jars were placed. The comb was built in the glass jars, making the designs commercially attractive.

Follow this tutorial to learn the art of making a traditional skep here.

Traditional Skep

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Sick honeybees may be nursed by doctors

Article originally published here here
By Richard Gray
22 October 2014

They are among the most industrious creatures on the planet, but honeybees still struggle when they’re ill. Once a disease takes hold inside a hive, the bees can become sluggish and disorientated, and many may die.

Now it seems honeybees may have a way of helping to keep their workforce healthy – by employing bees that feed “medicinal honey” to other members of the hive.

A group of worker bees called “nurse bees”, if they are infected with a parasite, selectively eat honey that has a high antibiotic activity, according to Silvio Erler of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Halle, Germany and his colleagues.



These bees are also responsible for feeding honey to the larvae and distributing it to other members of the colony. So it’s possible they are the hive’s doctors, prescribing different types of honey to other bees depending on their infection. If that is true, it could be a big part of how bees fight disease.

Honey and Herbal tea on wooden background - summer, health and organic food concept

Doctor, I’m sick, could you prescribe me some honey? (Credit: The Picture Pantry / Alamy)

In Erler’s study, nurse bees infected with a gut parasite called Nosema ceranae were given a choice of honeys. Three were made from the nectar of plants – black locust, sunflower and linden trees – while a fourth was honeydew honey made from the secretions of scale insects or aphids. Each of the honeys was known to have antibiotic activity.

Bees with greater levels of infection tended to eat more of the sunflower honey, which had the strongest antimicrobial activity. It reduced the level of infection in the bees that ate it by 7%, compared to the honey from the linden trees.



“Honeys are full of micronutrients, alkaloids and secondary plant compounds that are good for both bees and humans alike,” says Mike Simone-Finstrom of North Carolina State University in Raleigh. One study suggested they can increase the activity of honeybees’ immunity genes, boosting their ability to fight disease.

A separate study from September by Erler’s group suggests that different honeys are effective against different diseases. While sunflower honey is good at preventing the growth of bacteria that cause American foulbrood in bees, it is less effective against bacteria associated with European foulbrood. However, linden honey was more effective against these bacteria.

Disease spreads fast in densely-packed beehives

Disease spreads fast in densely-packed beehives (Credit: Todd Huffman, CC by 2.0)

“The in-hive worker bees might be in an exceptionally important position to distribute honey selectively in the colony that affects their own health but potentially also that of other nestmates,” says Erler.

His team is now investigating whether nurse bees select honeys from different sources depending on the infection they are fighting. If this turns out to be the case, it will reveal a level of medical care within honeybee hives not seen before.

With honeybees under threat from disease, climate change, pollution and new farming techniques, Erler says their medicinal abilities could prove invaluable. “Apiculturists might take advantage of specific honey flows to protect their colonies against specific diseases,” he says.

But we mustn’t overstate the medicinal role of honey, says Francis Ratnieks of the University of Sussex in Brighton. “If after six days of feeding just one type of honey you only get a 7% effect on infection, I would reckon that the effect in a hive would be less. Bees collect honey primarily as a food supply, not as medication.”

Dead honeybees are a source of dangerous infections

Dead honeybees are a source of dangerous infections (Credit: Jannis Tzimopulos / Alamy)

Honeybees do have other sources of medicine besides honey. For example, they collect resin from plants and incorporate it into their nests, where it may help combat fungal parasites. In 2012 Simone-Finstrom and a colleague showed that bees infected with fungal spores collected more of the resin.

Honeybees, along with other insects like ants, also display “hygienic” behaviour: workers carry dead members of the colony far away to avoid an infection spreading. Ratnieks is trying to breed honeybees that do this more often, to produce colonies that are more resistant to disease.

Bees are far from the only animals that can self-medicate. While humans reach for an aspirin to combat a headache, many primates including chimpanzees eat bitter bark and rough leaves that may help kill off parasites in their guts. Goats eat vegetation high in tannins when they are suffering from intestinal worms. Woolly bear caterpillars fight parasitic flies by eating plants rich in toxic chemicals, while wood ants incorporate antimicrobial resin from conifer trees in their nests.

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Saving honeybees in the US

With a workforce of billions, they contribute more than $15bn (£9bn) to the US economy each year – but as populations decline, can the humble honeybee be saved?

A giant inflatable corn on the cob towers over the hundreds of stalls at the Wisconsin State Fair. Food is the main draw, in what’s a showcase for local produce. The unhealthier, it seems, the better.

Families can be seen piling in mouthfuls of everything from sausages dripping in fat, to cheese curds, and sticky cherry pie. Some of the more unusual delicacies include deep-fried cookies and fish and chips on a stick.
Read more

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What’s the worst place to be stung on your body by a honeybee?

One scientist has produced a guide of where on the body the bee stings hurt the most!
bee sting body map

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How do you start keeping bees?

It’s a great hobby and if you’re really lucky you could make some money (and plenty of honey)
read how one lady started this hobby

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How do bees see?

Bees are trichromats like humans. But instead of red, green, and blue, their three types of photoreceptors are sensitive to yellow, blue, and ultraviolet light. The ability to see ultraviolet light lets bees spot patterns on flower petals that guide them to nectar. In fact, Nilsson says, bees perceive so much of the ultraviolet range that “they could potentially see more than one color of ultraviolet.”

Unlike human eyes, which have only one lens, bees have compound eyes composed of thousands of lenses that form a soccer-ball-like surface; each lens produces one “pixel” in bees’ vision. That vision mechanism comes at a price—bees’ eyes have extremely low resolution, so their vision is very blurred. Nilsson calls this design “the most stupid way of using the space available for an eye.” If humans had compound eyes that performed as well as our real ones, he says, they’d each have to be as wide as a hula hoop.

This image doesn’t show the fuzziness of a bee’s eyesight—if it did, there wouldn’t be much for us to look at. But the photograph does capture the ultraviolet vision that we lack.

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