Monday, 29 August 2016

Should we feed honey to our bees?

scout bee (top) comes home and shares her findings with another forager.Credit: Zachary Huang / beetography.com

Honey contains chemicals that could help bees ward off parasites and protect them from pesticide damage, new research suggests.

The findings, published 29 April 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that the immune-boosting chemicals in honey could be a solution to colony-collapse disorder, which has decimated bee populations worldwide.

"The natural honey has components in it that help trigger defenses in the bees," said Jay Evans, a bee pathologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Maryland who was not involved in the study.

Mysterious disappearance

Honeybees have been disappearing mysteriously, in a trend known as colony-collapse disorder. Though no one knows exactly what causes the dramatic die-off, scientists think a range of factors, including parasites and pesticides, may be culprits.

Beekeepers often feed bees to get them safely through the winter. Honey may be ideal, but corn syrup is cheaper, so most beekeepers feed bees artificial sweeteners, Evans said. [On the Hunt: Honeybee Scouts Find Food]

To see whether honey provided any benefit to the bees, May Berenbaum, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues identified several chemicals in honey that could play a role in helping bees fight parasites and pesticides.

The researchers then took those chemicals, added them to bee candy — a combination of sucrose and powdered sugar — and fed them to 15 worker bees. Another group got bee candy without any special compounds added. The team then dissected the mid-gut, or small intestine, of the bees, to see which genes were activated.

Bee immunity
The bees that ate the honey chemicals showed activation in genes that are known to help bees fight parasites and break down pesticides, while those who ate the normal bee candy showed no such activation. One particular chemical, p-Coumaric acid, in particular, was tied to the gene activation.

The findings suggest that honey isn't just providing bees with a quick source of "fast food," but is also giving them compounds that keep them healthy.

It also suggests a potential way to strengthen bee colonies.

The researchers then took those chemicals, added them to bee candy — a combination of sucrose and powdered sugar — and fed them to 15 worker bees. Another group got bee candy without any special compounds added. The team then dissected the mid-gut, or small intestine, of the bees, to see which genes were activated.


"P-Coumaric acid may find use as an additive to honey substitutes to allow beekeepers to maintain colonies during food shortages, without compromising the ability of their bees to defend themselves against the pesticides and pathogens that currently bedevil beekeeping in the United States," the researchers wrote in the paper.

That suggestion seems practical, Evans said.

"I don't think we'll get beekeepers to go back to feeding their bees just honey. But scientists should try supplementing the corn syrup with these compounds, and hoping that replaces the good stuff in the honey," Evans told LiveScience.

Although this change alone may not prevent colony collapses, anything that strengthens the bees could help, Evans said.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter @tiaghose. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

Perfect plants for pollinators

Looking for plants this autumn for the garden. 

Thinking about pollinators

check out this link first:




Great list of plants from the RHS


and here are a few 
solitary bees and bumblebees 
to look out for:

Ashy mining bee - Adrena cineraria (male) - Louise Hislop, BWARS

Ashy mining bee - Adrena cineraria (female) - Louise Hislop, BWARS

Wool Carder Bee - Anthidium manicatum - Tom Thumb Gardens

Beefly - Denise Stretton, BWARS

Buff tail Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris - naturespot.org.uk

Buff Tail Bumblebee - Bombus terrestris - BBCT


Chocolate miner bee - Adrena caratonica -  Steven Falks, BWARS

Hairy footed Flower Bee - Liz Fenn, Buzzaboutbees.net

Harebell Carpenter Bee - Chelostoma campanularum 


 Red Tail Bumblebee - Bombus lapidarius - Graham Callow, BWARS

Solitary mining bee - Megachile centuncularis - Steven Falk, BWARS

Nomad bee - Nomada rufipes - Steven Falk, BWARS 
Mason bee - Osmia bicornis - Louise Hislop, BWARS

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

T shirts

Interested in purchasing our t-shirt 

Call or text Carlie on 07979862952

Front of t-shirt


Back of t-shirt

Choice of colours:  pale blue or dark blue