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Blue Honey

Posted: October 19th, 2017, 9:13 pm
by BDT123
Did my last inspection/consolidation today in the warm weather.
One hive had an unusual situation; 4 frames of blue/purple honey. That was noteworthy enough, but around each semi-circle of this unusually coloured honey there were were clusters of dead bees.
I am wondering if they got a 'last-blast' of nectar from the blue Monkshood, Aconitum sp.?
The colour was evocative of that delphinin blue.
I never observed honeys at any time on the flowers, just Bumbles.
Ever have bees store 'toxic' nectar. No Ag in the area so not concerned with mass pesticides. That blue colour though...?
Brian

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: October 20th, 2017, 2:32 am
by BadBeeKeeper
BDT123 wrote:
October 19th, 2017, 9:13 pm
Ever have bees store 'toxic' nectar.
It is known to happen, particularly with grayanotoxin when bees collect nectar from certain members of the rhododendron family.

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: October 21st, 2017, 9:19 pm
by BDT123
Thanks BBK, no Rhodos here, maybe a few in June somewhere around. I think its the Aconitums, they bloom late and have that deep blue-purple colour. Also have some toxicity, to all bugs, not just bees.
Does anyone think I should pull that honey or just LeaverB? See what transpires? That would be my default position; the bees collected it, the bees should know...
Brian

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: October 22nd, 2017, 6:08 am
by BadBeeKeeper
I don't think I have seen any examples of nectar and the resultant honey resembling the color of any blooms. I *have* seen bees collect colored sugar syrup used to feed hummingbirds, and the resultant concentration retaining the color- I was a little freaked-out the first time because it was a patch of blood red amongst normal honey. It took a bit of thought to discover the cause.

I would not assume that the bees "know", and if there are dead bees together with the unusual color I would be concerned.

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: October 22nd, 2017, 9:38 pm
by BDT123
Thanks BBK, I have a warm day forecast this next week and will re-assess. I can pull those frames to see if there are more dead bees. All dead bees removed last inspection.
The colour is just a band or arch across the top of the few frames. I feed hummers every year but no colour added.
No county fair with blue candy floss within 5 miles this summer.
Maybe will sample and see if I can get some tests done. How hard could that be? LOL
Brian

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: October 26th, 2017, 8:54 pm
by BDT123
So, the re-assessment of blue honey hasn't happened yet; see my Bears post.
Should be warm tomorrow and Saturday. Will get in and look again.
Brian
53N, 115 W, El.850M

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: November 1st, 2017, 9:44 pm
by BDT123
No more dead bees around the blue honey arc. Maybe they're just leaving it alone. Checked 4 days ago.
Hives are tucked in for Winter. Will find out in Spring if it was "bad".
Done and dusted for this year. Going to serious negative temperatures this week.
Snowed all day, nasty NNW wind, temperature dropping fast now.
Brian

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: March 3rd, 2018, 11:34 pm
by BDT123
So, observations to March 3, 2018. The hive with the 'blue honey' has displayed incredible amounts of dysentary during the 3 'warming' events this Winter. Whenever the temperature got to +3 or better the bees would fly and die.Serious amount of feces on all hive surfaces, the snow, wherever, including my truck.
Fairly significant numbers, my guess is several/ multi thousands, locally. The hive is still active, with bees still flying and dying on days above +2C.
Sugar board on top of hive is still at 70% intact, so some consumption. This is a three deep hive.
Descendants of this hive, one full 10 frame split, 10 over 10, and one 5 over 5 Nuc, also show indications of dysentary, although not as serious.
The 2 hives that were Carni packages this Spring show no signs of dysentary. All quiet on that front.Both of these are 10 over 10 deeps.
Any thoughts?
Brian

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: March 4th, 2018, 5:36 am
by BadBeeKeeper
Well, you have not got enough data to establish a cause/effect relationship with certainty, but I would certainly be concerned as to what the 'blue honey' contained and it would appear to be a likely suspect.

However, one assumes that the split and nuc taken from it were taken quite some time before Winter? As in, long enough before that the populations had turned over (+ 6 weeks) and none of the bees had actually been in the hive with the 'blue honey'?

Or, possible, the split and nuc obtained <some> of the nectar that caused the 'blue honey' but not enough to cause you to be able to observe it.

Another possibility is that it is something to do with the genetics, and the 'blue honey' is merely a curiosity that is not actually involved. I have noticed that when I [try to] keep Italians, they tend toward dysentery, especially if I don't dose them with Fumigilin in the Fall.

Re: Blue Honey

Posted: March 5th, 2018, 12:38 pm
by BDT123
Thanks BBK, for the possibilities.
The split was from the big hive in May, it got a purchased queen. The nuc was made up in June when a lot of queen cells appeared in the big hive. No relationship to the blue honey, but definitely a relationship among the hives. I didn't treat with Fumagilin this Fall, maybe a mistake.
I'm thinking the genetics is playing a significant role. Thanks for that idea. Big hive is supposedly Italian and they are food pigs.
I can foresee some new queens this year.
Best regards,
Brian