Early beekeepers assumed that queen bees were male, and called them kings, until it was discovered that the “king” was the one laying all the eggs.
Below is an excerpt from: ”ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ENTOMOLOGY“ by John L. Capinera
“It was not until 1609 that Charles Butler (an English beekeeper) in his famous book titled ‘The Feminine Monarchie,’ challenged the idea of king bees. Thereafter, in 1670, a Dutch scientist (Jan Swammerdam) proved this hypothesis through dissection, accompanied by his full anatomical drawings of queen, drone and worker…
The year 1609 A.D. (i.e., the date of publication of ‘The Feminine Monarchie’) is considered by some to mark the beginning of our knowledge about the sexuality of the ruler of the hive (the Queen). However, the first person to understand the sex of the queen probably was Luis Mendez de Torres in Spain who published a book in 1586 titled ‘Tractado breve de la cultivation y cur de las colmenas.’ In this book, he stated clearly that the leader bee in the hive laid the eggs, from which all workers, drones and future queens developed.
In addition to de Torres, the knowledge of several Persian scientists about the queen bee may be traced back to a much earlier period. Ikhawan-ul-Safa (or The Brethren of Purity), who flourished in A.D. 950-1000 at Basra, composed a series of tracts in Arabic language known as the ‘Epistles of the Brethren of Purity,’ (also reported as ‘Epistles of the Brethren of Sincerity’) in the latter half of the tenth century (A.D. 950-1000). The authors of these series were six encyclopaedists, with at least three of them from Persia. Among their work, the ‘Dispute Between Man and the Animals’ is of zoological interest.
The following citation from their work refers to the sexuality of the ruler of the hive:
‘There, the king of the hasharat [insects], Ja’ sub [i.e., the bee queen], rules over the wasps, the flies, the bugs, the mosquitoes, the dung beetles, the spanish flies, the butterflies and moths and over the locusts, i.e., over all small animals which fly by wings, have no feathers, no bones, no soft hair and no fur.’
The above statement, which uses the Arabic word of Ja’sub [the bee queen], clearly refers to the sexuality of the hive ruler. It is also the first attempt to define an insect.
After about three centuries, al-Qazwini (the author of ‘Aja ib al-Makhluqat,’ composed in A.D. 1263) clearly speaks of the role of the king of honey bees (the queen) in the production of a new king. Despite the report, the sexuality of the queen as well as the definition of the insect were overlooked by other scholars for a long time.
While the sexuality of the ‘King’ remained unnamed until publication of ‘The Feminine Monarchie’ by Charles Butler in 1609 A.D. (or the publication of the book of Luis Mendex de Torres in 1586 A.D.), the definition of the insect was ignored until the seventeenth century. Although the word ‘King’ used in the former sentences may indicate the ignorance of al-Qazwini about the sexuality of the ‘Queen,’ the second phrase (i.e., “since it is the king who produces again a new king”), leaves no doubt on the awareness of this author about the sex of the ‘Queen.’”
“A few days ago I visited a friend of mine who runs a farm on the outskirts of Nairobi. Su Kahumbu is an organic farmer who does amazing work with farmers across Kenya promoting sustainable agriculture and innovation…
One of the crops growing at her beautiful model farm are raspberries.
These delicious fruits are one of my favourite desserts… And of course in order to have raspberries on the table you need to have raspberry bushes. The raspberry bushes have flowers that need to be pollinated in order for the beautiful and yummy fruit to develop…
Raspberry flowers are composite flowers – which means that they are actually made up of many tiny individual flowers all joined together.
In order for a flower to set fruit, it needs to be pollinated. On Su’s farm these free services are provided to her raspberry bushes by several different kinds of bees. One of the most common pollinators is the honeybee…
As these are composite flowers, every single tiny individual flower, called a floret, needs to be visited and gently dusted with pollen by a bee. Otherwise there will be no fruits produced.
…The quality, shape, flavour and size of the raspberry fruit are all directly tied to the efficiency of the pollinators. Too little pollen and the fruit is pale, small and not very sweet. It takes many visits by many bees to make a fruit round and sweet..
It is the actions of all these bees who make the delicious raspberries happen!
Please think of the bees that put the food on your table next time you enjoy some raspberries for breakfast or dessert…”
Now, Mumbai tunes into urban bee-keeping buzz
Soon, Colaba and Capitol Hill could have something in common. The city is the latest to join the elite company of London, Paris, San Francisco, Washington, Toronto and Chicago, among others, by embracing the trend of urban bee-keeping.
For the first time in India, an urban bee-keeping training program is being conducted at different locations in the city by Under The Mango Tree (UTMT), an NGO. “The need for such a program arose when we realized that there is little awareness, especially in urban India, about bees and their crucial role in the environment,” said Sujana Krishnamoorthy, program head, UTMT. “Bees are nature’s most prolific pollinators and a way for plants to continue their lineage. A majority of the fresh fruits and vegetables we eat rely on pollination by bees,” said Gurushabd Khalsa, coordinator for the program.
Technical experts from Uttarakhand have been roped in to conduct the training. “We will use apis cerana indica bees, which are locally available and most suitable for Mumbai’s environment. The bees’ home will be a box made of wood and has frames where the bees build their honey comb,” Khalsa explained.
In Berlin, Bringing Bees Back to the Heart of the City
“…In recent years, paralleling the rise of urban farming in small gardens, keeping thousands of buzzing bees and producing one’s own honey has become very popular in this city of 3.3 million people.
Berlin is just one of many cities worldwide where beekeeping is enjoying a surge in popularity. Globally, a renaissance of beekeeping is underway as urban dwellers seek to reconnect with nature — and earn some money. In Hong Kong last year, expert product designer Michael Leung brought together local beekeepers and artists to form “HK Honey,” a company that markets honey from the city’s rooftops, rare green spots, and suburbs. In Britain, according to a recent report in The Guardian newspaper, membership of the British Beekeeping Association has doubled to 20,000 in just three years “as young, urban dwellers transform a rather staid pastime into a vibrant environmental movement.”
This renaissance taps into a culture of urban beekeeping with particularly deep historical roots in European cities. Paris at the turn of the twentieth century boasted more than 1,000 hives, and after a long decline following World War II, that number has resurged to almost 400. Some hives even claim expensive real estate, like that atop the historic Paris Opéra. For all of Germany, the beekeepers’ association reports the first increase in memberships in years, to over 40,000, following a long decline in both beekeepers and number of colonies.
In the U.S., where the number of colonies decreased from 6 million after World War II to 2.4 million today, thousands of young people are re-discovering this ancient skill. Beekeeping is still banned in many cities by “No Buzz Zones” for fear of people getting stung. But places like Detroit and Chicago are showcases of a movement to make it an integral part of the urban economy and ecology. Chicago’s city hall is home to more than 100,000 bees. With its rich patchwork of urban farms and open lots, Detroit is investigating beekeeping as a new tool for community development and economic growth. New York, where beekeeping fines once topped $2,000, lifted the ban last year, legalizing what many people had been doing for a long time…
“Bees today often fare better in urban environments than in contemporary farmland,” says Matthew Oates, Nature Conservation Adviser at the National Trust. Ecologist Jane Memmott from the University of Bristol, who is involved in a UK research project called the Insect Pollinators Initiative, thinks that the untapped potential of urban beekeeping is huge. “There’s a greater diversity and abundance, probably, of flowers in cities than there are in nature reserves and the countryside,” she told the BBC. Also, the flowering season is longer because cities are heat islands with an average temperature that is 2 to 3 degrees higher than in the countryside. Many city gardeners grow plants that flower very early and very late in the year, “so there is forage over a longer period of time,” says Memmot.
The most serious side of urban beekeeping is that it might sustain the colonies (and the many skills involved in keeping them) while investigators attempt to sort out the causes of so-called “colony collapse disorder,” which wiped out 35 percent of the U.S.’s honeybee population between 2006 and 2009 and has also afflicted hives in the UK and some other European countries…”
When NYC beekeepers were in their battle to legalize urban beekeeping – “JUST FOOD” put out this
BEEKEEPING FACT SHEET (Click here to download the full pdf)
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FACT SHEET:
The most common concern about honeybees is bee stings. Honeybees are not aggressive by nature and are unlikely to sting. Only 0.4% of Americans report an allergy to insect stings in the U.S., and almost none of these are caused by honeybees. In addition, less than 1% of the US population is at risk of systemic reaction to stings by honeybees. Severe reactions from the sting of any one insect in a year are 1 in 5,555,556. The chance that someone will be hit by a car is 59.3% higher.
The inclusion of honeybees as “wild animals” and “venomous insects” in the NYC Health Code is misdirected as they are not wild, and there are fundamental differences between honeybees, a member of the apid family, and other related insects, such as wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets, part of the vespid family. Honeybees are vegetarians who only eat nectar, have been domesticated for millennia for their passivity, and is the only one of these insects which provides life-giving pollination.
Honeybees in Crisis
The survival of honeybees is currently at risk. In the winter 2006-2007, an average colony loss of 38% was reported by U.S. beekeepers. Many of these losses were linked to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has become such a serious issue that Senate passed the Pollinator Habitat Protection Act of 2007, which was co-sponsored by Senator Clinton and designates pollinator protection as a “national priority resource concern.” The Pollinator Protection Act of 2007 also stresses the important role that pollinators, especially honeybees, play in pollinating many important U.S. crops. New York City can be a part of the solution and encourage apiculture in order to mitigate the spread of CCD.
Beekeeping takes flight in primary school
Learning to look after bees has transformed the behavior of unruly pupils, says headteacher
When a swarm of bees descended on Charlton Manor primary school in Greenwich the teachers’ first reaction was concern. Some were afraid they would have to close the school. But what struck headteacher Tim Baker was how calm the pupils were – and how fascinated.
A bee catcher was called in to collect the uninvited swarm. But Baker was sufficiently intrigued by the children’s reaction to arrange for himself and two members of his staff to go on a beekeeping course. A year later, the school got its own hive.
Beekeeping has now been thoroughly integrated into Charlton Manor’s curriculum. In PE, the children study the waggle dance that scout bees do to tell the other bees where nectar is to be found. In cooking lessons, they use honey in their recipes, and in geography, they learn how different parts of the world make use of bees.
Business advisors have helped the children open a shop selling honey in the school playground. The pupils weigh the honey and work out pricing, write ads for the shop and design branding for the jars.
An unexpected benefit has been the effect the bees have had on behavior. Baker says they have had a “massive impact” on challenging pupils:
“One of the big things for me is getting children to think of others, and to be aware of their responsibility to others. With some children, you can’t get them to understand that in relation to other children, but you can show them using bees, chickens or plants.”
One pupil was a regular visitor to the school’s behavioral support house because of his violent outbursts of kicking, punching and throwing furniture around. While he struggled with academic work, he discovered that he excelled at the the practical side of beekeeping: making the wooden frames that go into the hive, and dismantling the hive to access the honey.
When the Guardian’s bees expert, Alison Benjamin, visited the school, the pupil told her: “The bees made me peaceful and calm.”
Jo Sparkes, the school gardener, told Benjamin: “We think it is the scale of the responsibility he has been given that he is responding positively to. He can’t kick off around the hive because we, and the bees, need to trust him.
“It’s not just him, other unruly children have also risen to the challenge. They have finally found something they like to do at school and they are good at.”
Chris Deaves, from the British Beekeepers Association, has helped write a guide for teachers thinking about introducing bees to their schools.
He says: “The first thing teachers always ask is, can we keep bees?. And the answer is, yes. Unless there is a restriction in your tenancy agreement, there is no law against keeping bees.”
The second question tends to be about safety: “Parents and governors worry about the effects of stings. People get over-excited about bee stings: although there are occasional tragedies, these are extremely rare.”
Deaves stresses the importance of consulting an expert about where to put the hive. Bees follow flight paths, and you want to avoid establishing one across the school playground.
Surprisingly, having a hive on site doesn’t mean that there will be more bees around. Bees forage 2-3 km from their hive – and not within 100m of it.
Baker wholeheartedly recommends beekeeping: “When I first looked into it, I was thinking of the curriculum. But it has had unexpected spin-offs – it has given parents and children a common interest, improved the behavior of disaffected pupils, and worked on the two extra ‘r’s’ in the curriculum: respect and responsibility.”
Video from our National Honey Bee Awareness Day Event!!
August 20, 2011 – Los Angeles, California
Winnie the Pooh (2011) - “Everything is Honey”
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