Bee Friendly, say Charlton Manor pupils as they march to raise awareness

Charlton Manor Pupils

Up to 60 children from Charlton Manor primary school have marched to save the bees.

The year six Bee Friendly march – organised by the school’s new campaigns group and supported by Friends of the Earth – took place on Friday, October 16 in Charlton Village, Charlton Park and the streets around the Indus Road school.

Campaigns group member Daisy Thackrah, 11, said: “We’re doing it to make people more aware of the threats to bees and what can be done to save them.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

“We interviewed Sion Williams, from Friends of the Earth, on Charlton Manor News and he made it clear how serious the situation is.”

“It’s really great to see children getting together to show how much they care for the bees and it’s a great example of people power, which is what Friends of the Earth is really all about.”

Charlton Manor School keeps bees, and many children and staff are trained as bee keepers to extract honey and sell it from the school’s tuck shop.

In cooking lessons, they use honey in their recipes, and in geography, they learn how different parts of the world make use of bees.

Bees found farming fungus for first time to feed larvae

Brazilian stingless bee

Flowers are not enough, it seems. For the first time, bees have been discovered farming fungus to provide extra food for their larvae.

Though farming is well known in many social insects, such as ants and termites, bees have always been thought to depend solely on pollen and nectar for sustenance.

But for the Brazilian stingless bee, Scaptotrigona depilis, fungus may mean the difference between life and death.

What’s more, if other bees also depend on fungus for survival, the discovery has serious implications for the use of fungicides in agriculture.

Cristiano Menezes of the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, was studying the bees in the lab and originally mistook the white Monascus fungus growing in their hive for contamination.

Integral to the hive

But when he found it in all 30 hives he looked at, he began to suspect it was there for a reason, especially since it was growing inside brood cells – the structures that social bees build to house their growing larvae.

He and his team discovered that the fungus is a key part of the hive. It permeates the cerumen, a material made of wax and resin that the bees use as building material. After the bees have deposited regurgitated food for the larvae inside the cells, and laid an egg, the fungus starts growing.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

Once the egg hatches, the larva feeds on the fungus, and it turns out this food is absolutely crucial. When the team tried to grow the bees in the lab without the fungus, the survival rate of the larvae dropped dramatically – from 72 per cent to just 8 per cent.

The survival difference may be either due to some nutrients provided by the fungus, or due to the fungus protecting the regurgitated food from spoiling, they say.

Portable farm

When bees leave to start a new colony, they take some of the cerumen with them to build the new hive structures, so their fungal farm comes too.

“It is clear that the fungus profits from dispersal with the bees, both to new colonies and within the nest, and is offered a protected environment,” says Duur Aanen of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Menezes calls it “proto-farming”, as the bees don’t seem to actively tend to the fungus. But they do “plant” it, provide stable growing conditions and food, harvest the crop and depend on it – all features of farming seen in other social insects, such as ants and termites. One ant species even farms animals for meat. And some fungi are farmers themselves, of bacteria.

Fungicide concern

“It is an exciting example of the complex connections between insects and microscopic life,” says Cameron Currie of the University of Wisconsin. “And it illustrates the important roles for beneficial symbionts in insects.”

Both Menezes and Currie think there are more farming bees to be found. “Given the substantial diversity of bees, many of which are poorly studied, it is likely that other bees engage in similar associations,” Currie says.

This raises concern about the use of fungicides, which while not directly harmful to bees, may be affecting them by killing off their symbiotic fungi, Menezes’s team concludes.

Argentine Ants Carry Virus Deadly to Honeybees

The Argentine ant, already known as one of the world’s most widespread and damaging pests, may be infecting honeybees with a deadly virus, a new study finds.

Alexandra Sebastien, a biologist at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, Argentine antsanalyzed Argentine ant populations in New Zealand, Australia and Argentina as part of her doctoral research.

She and her colleagues found that ants from all three locations can carry the deformed wing virus, a pathogen linked to colony collapse in honeybees. The new study appears in the current issue of the journal Biology Letters.

Argentine ants have flexible diets that allow them to thrive in many climates and on multiple continents. They eat other ants and insects, but also prey on larger animals like skinks and geckos.

“These ants, when they establish in an area, they become very widespread and they forage in the same places as bees,” said Phil Lester, a biologist at Victoria University of Wellington and a co-author of the new study.

The researchers also discovered that some Argentine ants carry a second virus that could be useful in controlling the ants. “It could save us from utilizing large amounts of pesticides,” Dr. Lester said.

Christmas Presents

Ideal Christmas Presents

merry christmas
Our busy little black and yellow friends are vital to our well-being, as they pollinate the plants that we grow for food, but, our Honey bees are in crisis. Their population is dwindling at an alarming rate, under attack from viruses, pesticides and mites. You can help start a new bee colony, by buying a year long, 1/12 share in a hive for only £29.99.

In return you’ll receive a special shareholder certificate, some wild flower seeds to attract more bees to your garden and 1lb of yummy honey made especially for you, by your bees as a thank you.

Adopt-a-hive makes the perfect gift for nature lovers, keen gardeners and honey lovers everywhere. As well as being a unique present you’ll be helping to pollinate the planet and ensuring the future, not only of our little busy buddies, but also all the essential fruits and vegetables we currently enjoy.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

The cause or causes of the losses are not yet fully understood but it’s believed that a number of factors have contributed. The four most significant are:

Environmental changes such as the extensive use of pesticides, specifically insecticides, in farming.

The loss of the flower-rich habitat on which bees depend for food. Natural habitats such as hedgerows, hay meadows and chalk grassland have all depleted over the past 70 years as a result of the intensification of agricultural systems.

Disease is another serious concern. Varroa is an external parasitic mite that attacks bees and spreads viruses to the bee. A serious mite infestation will lead to the death of an entire bee colony.

Changing climate. Recent wet summers have prevented bees from doing what they do best, searching out pollen.

Our apiaries are situated in various locations, within a mile of the picturesque River Ribble, in the South Ribble area of Preston. This gives our bees the opportunity to feed from the wealth of wild flowers growing along side the river, and everything that grows in the local farmers fields. By situating some of our hives in local authority allotments, our bees help local growers, by pollinating all their produce for the year. Our hives based in our local woodland, benefit from woodland flowers, and also help the local farmers by pollinating their crops.


Adopt modern techniques, local bee farmers urged

Ugandan bee farmers have been urged to seek advice from entomology officers in their districts to help them in the bee-keeping projects.


Entomology involves the studying insects scientifically.

The call was made by an agriculture ministry official during the launch of the directorate of agricultural extension services at the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries in Entebbe.

Vincent Rubarema, who is the permanent secretary at the institution, also said that ministry, through the new directorate, was partnering with organizations like The Hive to help in doubling honey production.

In the modern bee-keeping, various equipment like the CAB hive, bee-keepers protective suit, beeswax, hive brand smoker, bee brush, uncapping forks, honey extractor and many others are used to help harvest honey – without killing bees or destroying combs.

Adopt A Hive

Adopt A Hive

And for that reason, local bee farmers are being encouraged to shift away from the traditional way and adopt more modern techniques of the practice.

During the launch of the new directorate in Entebbe, the above mentioned items were on display.

The new director, Beatrice Byarugaba, said bee farming should cover the whole country if Uganda is to meet the required amount of production.

She said that currently, bee-keeping is booming in areas like West Nile region, Pader, Apac, Lira Mubende and Bushenyi.

Go modern

A while back, news that honey from Uganda had finally been certified for European markets was received with great optimism by local bee farmers.

This would mean doubling the country’s current production of about 500,000 tonnes a year.

Also in many homes across the country, due to health reasons, honey has replaced sugar when it comes to tea time.

Unfortunately, with all such market opportunities, reports from the ministry indicate that the production for honey is still very low. One of the chief factors for this is farmers sticking to tradition ways of bee-keeping instead of using modern bee farming equipment.


Christopher Nzuki, the chief executive of The Hive explains that a single CAB hive produces around nine to 13kg of honey per harvest compared to the tradition one which gives very little while at the same time destroys the colonies.

He adds that with the modern equipment, harvest can be done six times in a year.

“Traditional bee-keeping is wasteful and injures bees while  the modern harvesting  leaves enough honey for bees, and comb frames are put back for refill after honey is extracted,” explains Nzuki.

He advises bee-keepers to increase their production, citing the high demand for not only honey but also its byproducts – which he reveals are even more expensive than honey. They include pollen used in the improvement of malnutrition, wax required in many industries for making soap, candles and many other things.

Others are royal jerry which improves fertility and boosts immunity while also delaying the ageing of cells, while honey is sought by many for various health reasons.

The Hive, an organization promoting bee-keeping, so far has branches in 12 countries around Africa including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and more.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Odoobo, the managing director for The Hive, believes bee farming can also help farmers in bringing more life to their farms.

“For some time in my area around Busia, farmers were complaining of their Mango (commonly known as Doodo) not producing fruits. When I started a bee-keeping project recently, the harvest was overwhelming because of the bees and Mango farmers got cash in their pockets!”

He pointed out that bees are responsible for the pollination of about 80% of the crops that give us food.