Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Novel beehive design in Ukraine

A Ukranian beekeeper has come up with a novel beehive design.  This appears to be  mostly for winter protection although it is quite involved.  I did not see it at Apimondia in Kiev.  Beekeepers are notorious for creativity.  This is but one of many examples.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Apimondia 43 Report (Medhat Nasr - Provincial Apiculturist, Alberta Canada)

From Alberta Bee News, November 2013

Apimondia is the International Federation of Beekeepers Associations and other organizations working in the apiculture sector. Apimondia has been holding a biannual International Apiculture Congress since 1895 to promote scientific, technical, ecological, social and economic apicultural developments around the world. This year I attended the 43rd International Apimondia in Ukraine (Kiev) from September 29 till October 4. 2013. About seven thousand visitors from all over the world attended the congress including scientists, beekeepers, apitherapists, and vendors. The program of Apimondia 2013 included scientific, exhibition and tourism activities.

For five days all participants were networking, thinking, breathing, and speaking about bees and honey. The scientific program was lunched with an opening keynote speaker, Professor Robert E. Page Jr., of Arizona State University, USA and the author of new outstanding beekeeping book “The Spirit of the Hive”. He focused his talk on bee genetics and breeding bees. The second keynote speaker was Professor Tom Seeley of Cornell University, USA, author of the recent book “Honeybee Democracy”. He shared his research results on wild honey bee colonies in upstate New York. He showed that European honey bees can survive without chemical treatments for Varroa if they live in an isolated small colony, small cavity size hive with natural swarming and a broodless period. Dr. Seeley ended his presentation with the following statement “The way we keep bees isn't bee friendly”. He was referring to large apiaries where bees can drift and spread diseases.

In the biology section presentations focused on biodiversity, genetics and impacts of diseases and agrochemicals on honey bees. Advances in molecular biology studies and biotechnologies were also discussed. In the honey bee health section presentations included scientific reports to help in solving bee health problems. Many presenters presented results that showed the impact of pesticides’ stress on honey bee health at field relevant doses. This stress was expressed as weakening the immune system of honey bees, effects on gene expression, and decreased development of honey bee populations. Presentations also included results of studies on Varroa virus interaction and impacts on honey bee colony survivorship. Research results were presented on proper use of currently used miticides and efficacy under various conditions. Although too much have been said about the same miticides used for over 25 years, I have not heard of any research on new miticides with different modes of action to be used for management of resistant mites.

There were excellent presentations on pollination and bee flora section. This section also included bumble bees, stingless bees and other bees. Studies to show the impact of bee pollination on yield and productivity of many crops were reported. Presentations at the beekeeping for rural development section focused on how apiculture contributed to the development of sustainable livelihood in many countries around the world.  Several presentations at the beekeeping technology and quality section showed results of studies focused on current issues and trends of honey quality and adulteration in the globe honey market. Advances in technology of breeding bees, production of royal jelly and honey bee bread were also presented. The last section is about the apitherapy. It was full of presentations on honey, royal jelly and venom and the underlying health properties such as antibacterial, antibiofilm, and antioxidants.

Several small roundtable sessions took place during the congress. These roundtable sessions addressed beekeeping in Ukraine, conservation of bee population, organic beekeeping, GMO and global honey market, pesticides and bee health, and honey adulteration. These roundtable sessions were very popular due to that these topics have been of a growing interest around the world.

The 2013 Apimondia exhibition and trade show was spectacular. Many beekeeping, honey and hive products marketing vendors from around the globe brought samples and equipment for display. Participants were able to visit and sample honey, pollen and proplis from various sources and countries.  Many hive, extraction and processing equipment were displayed. The quality of equipment was excellent and prices were comparable to Canadian prices.

One of the most interesting displays was a “Bee Therapy House”. It is a shed with doors that has two benches. Under each bench 5 single bee hives were placed inside with open entrances through the outside wall. Thus, bees can stay active. As described by the exhibitor, a person who is interested in getting the bee relaxing therapy can sit or sleep directly on the benches on the top of bee hives. There is no direct contact with the bees. However, the person is exposed to bee smell, noises, vibrations and heat. To get benefits out of this type of therapy, a person should stay inside for 2 hours or more. A person will pay for this type of therapy service. Who knows what other amazing attributes remain to be discovered about honey bees? Food for thought!

At the end of the congress I stayed few extra days to visit beekeeping operations and the Ukrainian National University of Life and Environmental Sciences – The Honey Bee Research Institute. Visits to beekeeping operations were educational and allowed me to have a better understanding of the beekeeping in Ukraine. There are over 3.5 million hives owned by 700,000 beekeepers in Ukraine. Beekeepers are mostly hobby or small size operations (up to 500 hives per beekeeper). Winterkill is around 6% and not more than 10% in spite of many corn and sunflower fields around honey bees. Most of what they worry about is Varroa mites.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner, Paul Kozak, of Ontario and I visited the Bee Research Institute at the Ukrainian National University of Life and Environmental Sciences. Professor Halatyuk, the head of the institute and   Mr. Ivanov, Head of the Department of Coordination of Scientific Research gave us an excellent idea about the beekeeping, research and regulation activities in Ukraine. The curator of the museum, Professor Kharchuk, also welcomed us and proudly took us to tour the Honey Bee Museum and the outdoor grounds of the institute. In one location you can see the best collection of bee hives and equipment of the last century. On the ground of the institute there were different designs of many traditional log hives, glass observation hives, Ukrainian bee hives full of bees that were active.  It was noted during this visit that Petro Prokopovych was the first creator of a movable-frame hive based on the bee space as early as 1814.  He died in 1850 about the time that Lorenzo Langstroth discovered the bee space and patent his hive in the USA in 1852. The Head of the Institute invited me to come back the next day to give a presentation about beekeeping in Alberta, Canada and the Apiculture Research Program. I went back and gave a presentation to the Institute staff. It was a day of sharing research activities and an invitation to have collaborative activities in the future.

At the end of this trip I would say that one fact of beekeeping in Ukraine that is “No Mead no Deal”.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ukrainian Beekeeping Saints; Protectors of Beekeeping?

Ukrainian beekeepers apparently have two saints that are protectorates of bees and beekeepers.  Here they are photographed on a field day to Barishivka. On the right I think carrying a honey pot is St. Ambrose, but he has another name in the eastern tradition.

These are apparently Savvaty and Zosima (the latter is more famous it seems; is he on the right or left?) 

According to one source, "St. Savvaty and St. Zosima of the Solovetsky Islands became the Patron Saints, together with St. John the Baptist, of beekeepers in Ukraine and Russia.  On the Feast of St Alexius the Man of God (March 30th), Ukrainian beekeepers would begin their chores by hanging small icons of Savvaty and Zosima in little shrines placed among their beehives, an event celebrated in one of the poems of the Ukrainian poet, Ivan Franko.

"Beekeeping was and is so popular a form of agriculture that the Slavonic liturgical 'Book of Needs' or 'Trebnik' which contains blessings for many items has no less than four liturgical blessings of:  New bees (called the 'voiceless ones'), new bee-hives and beekeepers, beekeeping implements and new honey and beeswax to be used in the making of Church candles.

"These blessings were added to the Greek Trebnik by the early Metropolitans of Kyiv as a way to inculcate Christianity into the life of the newly baptized Ukrainian people.  Honey itself was always considered a symbol of Divine Grace and this is why the Church service books often call Saints, like Basil the Great or John Chrysostom, 'Divine Bees' who produced the honey of excellent theology. Honey was often given as a popular gift on St Nicholas' Day to children, not only because it was sweet, but also as a symbol of the Divine Bee, St Nicholas Himself.

My linguistic skills in Ukrainian failed to inform me about how the saints fared as protectors of beekeeping with coming of the mite Varroa destructor.  It looks like the critter created as much havoc in Ukraine as elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Victor Fursov's Contributions to Apimondia 43

Thanks  to Victor Fursov for his contributions to Apimondia 43. In, type in  YouTube: Entomologist in Ukraine

Sunday, October 6, 2013

William Blomsted Reports on Apimondia 43

I was not the only reporter at Apimondia 43.  To get another perspective, take a look at  William Blomstedt's view of the event in Ukraine.  I welcome anyone else to help establish a catalog of activities, many of which I missed.  See more about the press situation in another post.

Regional Beekeeping Event in Barishivka

Today, I was invited to a meeting near a town named Barishivka, north of Kiev. It commemorated the 10th anniversary of this regional beekeeping event.  About 250 beekeepers met in the woods at a "camp" to display their wares, talk about beekeeping, and socialize.  The event also included presentations by dignitaries, including local politicians and visitors.  One Russian woman beekeeper managing around 250 colonies provided a slide show of her operation.  Extremely good looking, she got some "cat calls" from the audience, mostly older men, asking the whereabouts of her husband.

There were presentations of thanks and recognition for beekeepers in nearby countries including Kazakhstan  and Uzbekistan.  It seems this organization  (camp) awarded some scholarships to beekeepers in those countries to attend a beekeeping workshop in Israel.  Few foreigners were present; only myself and a researcher from France, one of the many scientists employed by the French National Research Institute (INRA) , Jean Francois Odoux, who presented posters at Apimondia on topics including Romanian plants important to bee health and the importance of pollen diversity in large-scale plantings of sunflowers and rape in France.  The result are similar to what we know concerning lack of nutritional resources in the corn belt of the midwestern U.S.

The displays included all kinds of beekeeping paraphernalia and was attended by one of the large Polish manufacturers of beekeeping equipment, Lyson, also having a large presence at the Apimondia Congress.  Many of these beekeepers were not in attendance at Apimondia for various reasons, including political conflict with the organizers and the fact that the registration fee was considered too expensive.

My host, Alexander Komissar (right below), is a leading beekeeping scientist, beekeeper and prolific writer.  I am on the left with the broad brimmed hat.  A  French colleague attending the Congress is in the center.

Many of Alexander's books were on display at the camp.  He is one of the pioneers of this event and has a terrific website about Ukrainian beekeeping.  I met him in St. Peterburg Russia in 2005 when we both provided presentations to the IUSSI,  the first meeting of the European section to meet in Russia after collapse of the Soviet Union. Also present was the current head of the prokopvych institute we visited the day before at beekeeping museum of the Ukrainian National University.

Clearly evident at the camp was the presence of mead-like beverages of uniformly great quality.  Also present were both traditional equipment (foundation, beekeeping tool, etc) and several different kinds of hives (enclosures), mostly wood, however, styrofoam of some kind was also apparent. 

It was very cold at the camp.  During the Apimondia congress the weather was unseasonably cold; many places had yet to turn their heating systems on; this usually occurs around 15 October.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Visiting a beekeeping museum in Ukraine

Off today to the Beekeeping Museum of the Ukrainian National University of Life and Environmental Sciences.

In 1945, the Department of Beekeeping V.A. Nestervodsky, named after that prominent scientist was formed at the National University  of Life and Environmental  Sciences of Ukraine.  Dr. Nestervodsky spent many years creating a teaching apiary, beginning in 1922, followed by Vasily Antonovich who turned it into a research program, which was inaugurated in 1961.  In 1988, the beekeeping department museum was created under the leadership of Professor V.P. Polishchuk, who welcomed our small group to the grounds of the museum and department.

 Efforts of the program to help beekeepers include training and teaching in most aspects of the trade.  The main technological accomplishments of the program include using instrumental insemination to produce an unique honey bee (Khmelnystsky) and molecular characterization of the races of bees currently found in Ukraine.  The Department has close ties with the RDAU Moscow Agricultural Academy "K.A. Timiriazieva," and the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra.

Although there was no indication of the Department having hard times, at least one report in 2006 provided information that it might be under fire.  That was seven years ago so perhaps things have turned around.  Dr. Polishchuk did attend the event in Barischevka reported elsewhere in this blog.  He clearly was warmly welcomed by the crowd.

The museum featured displays of equipment and honey.  Notable was the development of bee hives shown here.  Left to right we see a log hive (gum), followed by a tall Prokopvych hive segueing into more modern boxes on the left.

The Prokopvych hive is seen here in some detail.  The frames look almost like Hoffman.  Note the wooden queen excluder separating top from the bottom box.

 Instead of Langstroth being considered the father  of  the movable-frame hive like in the U.S., in  the Ukraine, Petro Prokopovych is credited with developing a movable-frame model as early as 1814.  He died in 1850 about the time that Langstroth began patenting his hive, which was based on the "bee space" still in use (official published date:1852)

It seems that movable frames, employing the bee space, were already in use in Europe by several folks before Langstroth.  Was he really the one who came up with the movable frame or did he just popularize it by developing a patent for a hive using this technology based on the bee  space?   Many scientific developments appeared on the scene together by different people who had minimal contact with each other, but usually only one gets much press. The bottom line is that the Langstroth hive in the U.S. standardized equipment, allowing much more extensive beekeeping to take place, not only in the U.S., but around the world.