Girl, 9, takes lemonade stand to new level

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AUSTIN, Texas — Nine-year-old Mikaila Ulmer has raised the bar for kids with lemonade stands everywhere.

Her BeeSweet Lemonade has made that rare jump from neighborhood lemonade stand to the shelves of Whole Foods stores at The Domain and Arbor Hills.

Mikaila added locally harvested honey, fresh mint and flax seed to her great-grandmother’s all-natural recipe. It also comes with a dollop of social conscience as Mikaila donates 20 percent of her profits to organizations that help save honey bees.

“I want to help the bees because they are really important,” she said. “One of every three bites we eat depends on the honey bee.”

Lynda Berrios with Whole Foods Market said adding BeeSweet Lemonade to its product mix was a natural.

“How could you not? She’s absolutely darling,” Berrios said. “She’s the total package.”

Mikaila’s entrepreneurial path started at age 4 with a fear of bees and a need for a project.

Mikaila’s parents, Theophilus and D’Andra Ulmer, are both in business. He works in finance and she is in marketing.

“We wanted to teach our kids about business,” D’Andra Ulmer said.

The family found great-grandmother Helen’s lemonade recipe in a 1940s cookbook.

Mikaila and her father started squeezing lemons and tinkering with the recipe, and her lemonade was a hit at the local Acton Children’s Business Fair.

In 2011 Mikaila’s recipe was judged most creative lemonade at the Austin Lemonade Day contest.

D’Andra Ulmer said her daughter’s big break was when Mike Fried of East Side Pies suggested she should bottle the drink.

Fried said he met the Ulmer family at a community meeting where he was providing the pizza and BeeSweet was being served.

“I thought her focus and drive at such a young age to start a business and her passion about the environment and local issues resonated with me,” he said. “She asked if we would sell her lemonade, and I said ‘bottle it and we’ll carry it.’”

Sisters & Brothers Inc., the maker of SASS salad dressings, bottle the lemonade in South Austin.

“We wanted to keep it in Austin so Mikaila can be involved,” D’Andra Ulmer said.

Mikaila is in charge of quality control: She tastes the lemonade hot to be sure the recipe is consistent.

She also does in-store demonstrations and workshops on saving the bees.

Her mother said Mikaila has learned about marketing and profit as well as practicing her writing and math by filling out deposit slips.

Mikaila said she likes having her own money: “I give some, I save some and I spend some.”

As for her future, Mikaila said, “I want to keep my business going and I also want to be a doctor or a teacher.”

Today BeeSweet Lemonade is available at cafes, food trailers and natural grocery stores, including Max’s Wine Dive, Farmhouse Delivery, Barton Hills Food Mart, Quickie Pickie grocery and East Side Pies.

Fried remains impressed.

“We’ve had Mikaila at the shop a few times, during Lemonade Days, and folks showed up from all over Austin and a few from Round Rock, just for her lemonade,” he said. “We knew she had something special.”

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Honeybees Might be Spreading Disease to Wild Bumblebees

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A new study finds that honeybees managed by beekeepers could be infecting their wild bumblebee cousins with disease.

While honeybees and bumblebees come from the same bee family, the smaller honeybees live in managed hives, which beekeepers move from farm to farm to pollinate crops and produce honey. Bumblebees live in much smaller colonies in the wild. Both get pollen from the same flowers and crops, which is how they come into contact.

Lab experiments show that bumblebees suffer from the same parasites, pathogens and disease as honeybees. Scientists wanted to determine how that would impact bumblebees.

“We infected bees and checked their infection status and their longevity, and we found a significant reduction in their longevity,” said study co-author Matthias Furst of Royal Holloway University of London. “So these pathogens are really infective and really impact our bee population.”

Bumblebees’ lifespans were shortened by one-quarter to one-third, reducing the amount of food they could provide to their colonies. Co-author Mark Brown, also with Royal Holloway University, says that loss is greater for bumblebees because their colonies, or family groups, are much smaller than honeybees’ hives.

“While honeybees may have anywhere up to 50,000 workers in a hive, losing one worker is not a big problem,” Brown said. “Bumblebees, depending upon the species, live in groups of anywhere between a few tens to a few hundreds of workers.  And so every worker you lose, or whose life is shortened, is going to have a much larger impact on the colony, its survival and its reproduction.”

Furst says his team then checked infections in both managed and wild bee populations across England.

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“And what we find here is that the disease or the pathogens are widespread in the landscape, [and] that honeybees have much higher prevalence levels at pretty much all of those sites as compared to bumblebees, which is one of the reasons why we think the transmission is really going in this direction – honeybees to bumblebees – and not the other way around,” he said.

Viral infection is triggered by a common parasite, the Varroa mite, that spreads rapidly in beehives. Brown says methods exist to control the mites to some extent, but they remain a tricky problem.

“Because most of our controls are based on chemicals, and the mites can evolve resistance to those chemicals,” he said. “And so we need coordinated control strategies, but also the development of new control strategies that are going to be effective in the long term.”

Brown hopes their study, published in Nature, focuses greater attention not only on managed pollinators, but also on the services provided by their wild counterparts.

“We need to think about how we manage managed honeybees – not just from perspective of looking after them, but potentially from the perspective of looking after our wild bees, too,” he said.

Brown adds that the sample infection numbers are conservative, so overall infection rates are most likely higher, underscoring the critical need for more work to protect the bees, which pollinate three-quarters of the world’s food crops, contributing some $200 billion to the global economy.

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No sweet end for Boggabri bees

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NELSON’S Honey Factory at Boggabri has been devastated after finding thousands of bees dead in front of their hives during a recent routine inspection.

Marlene Nelson and her son John have been running the factory since the death of Marlene’s husband Michael in 2007.

“We had all our bees in and around Boggabri, so we could keep a close eye on them because of the severe drought that all primary producers are going through,” Marlene said.

“There has been no honey produced anywhere close for some time so we left the hives full of honey gathered months ago for them to survive on.”

Marlene has contacted the NSW Environment Protection Authority to help try and determine the cause of death, and  said it is looking into the matter.

She has also kept a number of bees for testing.

John Nelson said it will be many months before they can build their bee population again, depending on the spring.

The family downsized the operation after Michael’s death but still supply to local outlets in the region, including Gunnedah, Boggabri, Narrabri, Barraba and Tamworth – this will be severely reduced until the hives are built up again.

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Tree trunk with feral bee colony delivered to botanical gardens in Ann Arbor

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens were abuzz with excitement.

A silver maple log containing a feral colony of honey bees was delivered to the garden’s community beekeeping area Thursday morning.

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The bees themselves were kept quiet by the cold, but the gardens’ associate director and amateur beekeeper Karen Sikkenga were eager to welcome the new guests.

“Honey bees are actually domestic animals, but they sometimes swarm off and go live in the wild,” she said. ”

The plan is for the bees to stay in the trunk for the remainder of the winter and then be transferred into a langstroth — box — beehive in the spring.

“It’s actually going to be part of an intermediate beekeeping class that starts Sunday that I’m a part of,” Sikkenga said.

“Our instructor Meghan Milbrath is going to teach us how to get them from their feral environment into the hives. I think the key is to locate the queen and when you move the queen the rest of the hive will follow. I’m not exactly sure how that will happen though.”

Milbrath teaches a number of classes that are collaborations between the gardens and Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers. Beginner and intermediate classes meet weekly and are open to the public but have space limitations. There are also free monthly beekeeping workshops.

The hive that was delivered Thursday came from a tree that had previously been on Berkshire Road near Vinewood Boulevard in Ann Arbor Hills.

“We took most of the tree down at the end of September and the bees started swarming around so that’s how we know we were in there,” Bill Dale of the Ann Arbor Forestry Department said.

“So we left the stub and waited for the temperature to drop to come back and take it away.”

Dale said the department comes across about one feral beehive every year. The trunk that he and Susan Cowling delivered to the botanical gardens was about 10 feet long and three feet in diameter.

“There was actually a squirrel living in the top of it when we cut it down and it jumped right out and ran away,” Dale said.

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Woman jailed for killing 2 million bees

A court has sentenced a woman to four months in prison over the deaths of about 2 million bees in a bungled pest control operation.

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Joanna S. (full name withheld under Polish privacy laws) was hired by local authorities in Biecz, southern Poland, following flooding in the region in 2010.

She was assigned with the job of culling the mosquito population, after a sharp rise in numbers of the insects in connection with the floods.

However, one of the pesticides she used had not been cleared by the Ministry of Health.

Shortly after the operation, beekeepers found that as many as 358 bee colonies had been wiped out.

Lucjan Furmanek, chairman of the Beekeepers’ Association in Biecz, welcomed the verdict, after a three-year battle to bring the case to court.

“We are not motivated by revenge, but this scandalous action could even have led to people being poisoned,” he said.

“I hope that this judgement will prevent any further mindless devastation of the environment.

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Bees bring bounty to rural families

Without a way to earn a living, many young women from Domborutinhira village were tempted to Mutare city and a life of prostitution.

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In 2012, though, the British Embassy got together with a group of young women in the village to start a beekeeping project – with the aim of breaking the cycle of poverty and hopelessness.

Dombo Beekeeping Society was helped with funding from Environment Africa, and the results are plain to see. The 12 members now have a sustainable livelihood through selling processed honey and related products.

Environment Africa provided beekeeping training, equipment and woodland management training to help the group run the project sustainably.

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is also funding Environment Africa under the Protracted Relief Programme, through which Environment Africa is supporting another 1,500 households, mostly women, with beekeeping training and equipment throughout Manicaland.

This UK funding has also enabled the setting up of the Dombo Honey Processing Plant, which has created more jobs for the women in Mutasa South.

Environment Africa director Barnabas Mawire thanked the British Embassy for their help.

“This has vastly improved the income-generating capacity of the rural communities. They are now able to sustain themselves,” he said.

There are extra benefits too. The fruit farmers in the area have realised a 50 per cent increase in their fruit yields when bees are used in pollination. The group’s leader, Beatrice Chiremba, said beekeeping was a fast-growing business in Zimbabwe.

She said: “It is profitable, and the most interesting thing is that we have a ready market and it costs relatively little to start and operate. It also helps to maintain the environment, which is important since it is in our interests to ensure trees and foraging areas are kept intact.”

Chiremba added: “We also received training in honey production and marketing. This training has helped us, as we have customers both within

Zimbabwe and outside the country.”

The group is also giving work to a local tailoring group, who make the clothing they need to protect themselves from bee stings.

The group has been selling by-products, like wax, which other rural families use to make candles and soap, creating an income for them too.

The secretary of the group, Ruth Makombe, said the introduction and manufacture of movable top bar beehives using local materials had also been an important income source.

The treasurer, Cynthia Jafare, said the project had provided them with a new stream of income. “This has helped us alleviate poverty. We share our income equally and provide loans to members. This has changed our lives,” added Jafare.

Chiremba said the project was expanding well and four of the six planned bee-houses had been completed.

Beekeeping has been beneficial for poor rural families becausehoney is subject to fewer price fluctuations than most foods.

Apart from improving their honey production, the group is preparing to build another honey processing plant in Bonda, which will employ local people all year round. The district has already provided a plot for the plant.

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One Stab Of The Apocephalus Borealis Fly Creates ‘Zombie Bees’ Out Of East Coast Honey Bees

ImageA worrisome new threat to beleaguered honey bees has reared its head in Burlington, Vermont, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, after a beekeeper there found evidence of so-called “Zombie bees” among his hives. His bees had been rendered insane by being stabbed by female flies Apocephalus borealis intent on laying their eggs inside the bees’ bodies. Vermont State nApiculturalist Steve Parise has confirmed that theApocephalus borealis has been detected in Vermont and the affected honey bees are undergoing testing at  San Francisco State University. John Hafernik, a researcher and professor of biology there, has started a website tracking the discovery of infected honey bees in the United Stated called “Zombee Watch.

The way the fly goes about killing the bee isn’t pretty. The femaleApocephalus pierces the bee’s abdomen with a sword-like tube and deposits her eggs. The developing larvae have no qualms about attacking the bee’s brains, disorienting it into flying at night; hence the name, zombie bee. Usually the poor bee dies within a few hours of exhibiting zombie bee behavior — fortunate because, about seven days later, up to 13 mature Apocephalus borealis will “hatch” at where the bee’s thorax meets its head, decapitating the bee in the process; hence the name, Apocephalus.

If left unchecked, the parasite could seriously jeapordize U.S. honey bees, whose populations have already taken a nose-dive from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is when worker bees abandon their hives. As if causing insanity and death in the honey bee weren’t enough, theApocephalus borealis may actually be a vector in the spread of pathogens responsible for CCD, according to Dr. Andrew Core, also of San Francisco State University, who wrote about it in 2012. He found that 77 percent of the hives he sampled in the San Francisco Bay Area had been infected by the parasite. He also found the parasites in commercial hives in California’s Central Valley and South Dakota.

Core also found that honey bees from infected hives were often infected with deformed wing virus and Nosema ceranae, a small parasite. “Larvae and adult phorids also tested positive for these pathogens, implicating the fly as a potential vector or reservoir of these honey bee pathogens. Phorid parasitism may affect hive viability,” he wrote, adding that infection by the Apocehalus borealis may shed light on similar hive abandonment behaviors seen in CCD.

The Apocephalus borealis is a species of North American parasitoid fly that typically insert their eggs into wasps and bumble bees, not honey bees. But about a  year ago, the biologists at San Franciso State were alarmed to find that the Apocephalus were attacking honey bees, too. Sure enough, their DNA barcoding of larvae from dead honey bees confirmed that the fly focused its ferocious egg-laying on them as well. In an article in the online journal PLOS1, Core and his co-authors provided the first proof that “the phorid fly, Apocephalus borealis, previously known to parasitize bumble bees, also infects and eventually kills honey bees and may pose an emerging threat to North American apiculture,” or bee-keeping.

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Bees ‘could fly over Mount Everest’

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Bumblebees are capable of buzzing the top of Mount Everest – despite the difficulty of flying in such thin air, research has shown.

Scientists captured a number of insects already foraging at almost 11,000 feet in China, and challenged them to even higher conditions in a simulated flight chamber.

All the bees were able to hover in low-pressure air equivalent to being at an altitude above 7,500 metres (24,606 feet).

Two bee aces made it beyond 9,000 metres (29,527 feet) – high enough to carry them over Mount Everest.

To fly at such extreme altitudes, the bees increased the maximum angle through which they beat their wings.

Flights were recorded by a video camera mounted above the flight chamber.

“After five minutes in the chamber, erratic flights would cease and bees would make repeated, controlled vertical ascents,” the US scientists wrote in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

“We scored a bee as capable of hovering flight if it successfully ascended to the top half of the chamber.”

The researchers, led by Dr Michael Dillon, from the University of California at Berkeley, pointed out that maximum flight altitudes of insects are largely unknown.

Previous research had suggested that most free-flying insects typically ascend no higher than 5,000 metres (16,404 feet).

Altering the angle of their wings, while beating the air at a constant rate, gave the bees a 16% increase in angular velocity and a 35% increase in steady-state aerodynamic forces, said the scientists.

Eventually, flight failure occurred when the bees’ aerodynamic ability was no longer enough to offset their body weight.

“The extreme flight performance under hypobaria (low pressure) documented here is unexpected,” the researchers added.

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Uganda fails honey test

Ugandan honey might be sweet, but the story surrounding the failure to export it to European markets only evokes bitterness.

For more than nine years, the European Union has left an open invitation for Uganda to export honey. That opportunity, however, continues to go begging, with the country failing to harvest honey worth the journey.

At a workshop for traders in honey last week, Felix Kazahura, an advisor to SNV, explained that Uganda’s failure to tap the more lucrative market was down to all the produce being consumed locally and in neighbouring countries.

The West Nile sub-region alone is supposed to produce 600 tonnes but only supplies 120 tonnes. These low amounts, Kazahura said, makes it hard for investors to set up equipment in the country to process the honey.Image

However, Mr Jackson Jurua, the chairman of Uganda National Apiculture Development Organisation (TUNADO), said the demand for honey around the region was high, making it difficult to satisfy the European market. He added that the prices around the region were better than what the EU offers.

Jurua also said traders faced the challenge of exporting to the EU because of the issue of quality, and the requirement to supply regularly, both conditions they cannot meet.

Osman Mwebe, a beekeeper from Masaka, who also attended the workshop, said some of the beekeepers were not aware that the quality of the honey taken to EU markets must meet international standards.

“Some of the farmers are not aware that there is a standard for the honey they produce, and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is not helping them,” he said.

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