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Usurpation: when one colony takes over another

In the December 2010 issue of American Bee Journal, Dr. Wyatt A. Mangum describes the phenomenon of honey bee usurpation, which is the taking over of a healthy colony by a summer swarm. Mangum not only describes this unusual behavior in great detail, but provides photographs as well. Until recently, usurpation sightings have been limited […] Read more

Wednesday wordphile: phoresy

Phoresy is a noun that describes a nonparasitic relationship whereby one species is carried about by another. The relationship is usually commensalistic, meaning one organism benefits from the association but the other organism is unharmed by it. Phoretic is the adjective. Varroa mites that can be seen riding on adult honey bees are often referred […] Read more

Small but mighty: mites in the beehive

So what is a mite anyway? Generally, a mite is an invertebrate animal in the class Arachnida—a name that comes from the Greek word for spider. Like most other arachnids, mites have eight jointed legs. A simple leg count is probably the easiest way to tell an arachnid from an insect. Insects—including bees—have six legs. […] Read more

Monday morning myth: honey bees hibernate

Honey bees do not hibernate. According to Wikipedia, “Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernating animals conserve food, especially during winter when food is short, by tapping energy reserves (body fat) at a slow rate.” Many insects hibernate, especially […] Read more