Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Effects of a Solar Eclipse on Honey Bees


     With a solar eclipse scheduled for tomorrow morning (beginning at 9:10 am, reaching it's maximum at 10:21 and ending at 11:37am in Vancouver) and the obvious concern for eye safety I wondered how bees and other critters coped with this phenomena.  It appears that unlike stupid humans animals generally don't stare at the sun so don't suffer from the damaging effects of the sun on eyesight.


       As for honey bees, studies like the one above from HOBOS honey bee research in 2015 show that foraging bee activity is decreased during an eclipse as it would be at the normal setting of the sun.  "The reduction in flight activity commenced as soon as the brightness was lower than 400 watts/m2. Only as the re-emerging sun reached a brightness of 400 watts/m2 did the bees’ flight activities begin to increase once more. The bees also reduced their flying ventures in the evening when the brightness level falls below the 400 watts/m2 mark."  Similar conclusions were drawn in a 1957 study of Apis Dorsata in India (Behaviour of Apis Dorsata during a partial solar eclipse in India).  I'm relieved I don't have to look for solar eclipse glasses for my bees.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fire at our Community Garden

Photos by Mary-Ann Charney
     On Tuesday night we had a fire at our community garden (Cottonwood) in Vancouver.  Unfortunately the fire consumed our greenhouse and beekeeping/tool shed.  Arson is suspected. We lost everything including ladders, pruners, construction tools, weed eater, irrigation supplies and all of our beekeeping equipment which we had accumulated over many years (including my favourite 40 year old smoker). This also includes our community honey extractor and honey harvesting equipment which we lent out to the public and the protective clothing we used for our beekeeping classes.

No AFB there
Our honey extractor
     It is difficult to remain optimistic in the face of continuous vandalism and theft at the garden but it is a reality of gardening and beekeeping in a public space.  It is important to remember that 99% of the folks that come to our garden love and appreciate it and we can't let the acts of a few dictate the future of our beautiful garden.

     Cottonwood Community Garden 25 years ago.
 

     Cottonwood Community Garden today.  Built on a former dump site 25 years ago by a group of guerrilla gardeners this 4 acre oasis is a home to birds, bees, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes, frogs and over a hundred humans.  The city has proposed construction of a freeway through the middle of the garden.  Friends of the garden have proposed alternative sites for the freeway.  The future of the garden is in jeopardy but we are hopeful.  This video was taken on the 20th anniversary. 


We will rebuild and we will persevere.

     Remembering the good times.
Extracting honey in the bee shed
*  We have started a fundraiser to rebuild and restock our greenhouse and bee/tool shed. Any donation no matter how small is appreciated.  To donate by credit card go to "Cottonwood Fire" or you can donate by credit card or paypal on the top of the page on the sidebar.  You can receive a tax receipt with a donation of $25 or more.  Thank you.

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