Bits of string on Bee's....? ? ? Anyone tried?

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bambodoggy

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 10, 2004
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Surrey
www.stumpandgrind.co.uk
Hey All,

I was unable to sleep the other night (nothing new for me!!!) and so got up and went back down stairs to watch some TV.....I flicked about until I came to the National Geographic channel (seem to be drawn there all the time!!!lol)....
Anyway, I saw this thing on a show (can't remember which one) where an African Tribesman guy was very carefully glueing a little bit of string onto the back of a Bee as it was taking pollen from a flower.... they were then able to follow the bee much more easily back to it's hive in order to get themselves some honey.... Obviously it's easier to follow as it's got a nice dangly tail like that....

Seemed like a really clever idea and I just wondered if any of you had seen it done or knew about it....

I don't see why it wouldn't work over here but I'd not do it as lets face it I can buy honey here and I'm not sure how it affected the bee with the tail in the longer term....

What do you guys and gals think?
 

tomtom

Full Member
Dec 9, 2003
4,282
5
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Sunny South Devon
i have done it.. once successfully.. i didn't do it for any reason other than fun..

any one read Gerald Durrel's(sp) "my family and other animals" i got the idea from there when i was a kid(a younger kid) sept i couldn't find a rose beetle ;) so i jus used a big fat bumble be..

EDIT: i didnt glue it though.. jus tied it to a bit of cotton thread.. then let it go again
 

jakunen

Native
Yeah, heard about that years ago from Doug Scott, the climber when I was helping out with a trade stand when he was giving a lecture at a local school.
Had completely forgotten about it.

I don't think there is too much long term affect on the bee aside from it is obviously more tiring to fly with a load of string hanging from yer back. Obviously its more likely to be caught in a web or such like though...
 

bambodoggy

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 10, 2004
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tomtom said:
so i jus used a big fat bumble be..
As a very Non-bee expert, do you know if bumble bees produce honey? or honey worth collecting? I know that's not why you were following it as you said it was just for fun but I just wondered....I seem to have it in the back of my mind that they don't....can't think why...
 

match

Settler
Sep 29, 2004
707
4
Edinburgh
Bumbles bees live in small colonies, unlike honey bees. Generally a Queen will found a new hive, and lay a few eggs in it (less than 10 usually) which, when they hatched are fed on pollen. These larvae develop into workers, which travel outside the hive and collect pollen and nectar as foodstuffs (but in relatively smll quantities). The queen keeps laying eggs which turn into workers, and once the hive has reached an appropriate size (usually about 200 workers) she begins laying drone (male) eggs and new queen eggs. The males leave the nests and live independent lives, mating with the new queens, who also leave the nest when hatched. The males die off during winter, and the queens hibernate until spring, when they create new hives for themselves and the cycle continues.

In answer to your question, it is likely that although you would find some honey in a bumble bee nest, it would be a very small quantity, since the hive size is much smaller than for honey bees. It is also important to remember that Queens and worker bees have stings, although they are not as aggressive as honey bees, and thus will usually only try to sting if they are at or inside their hive when threatened.

There is a lot more information on Bumble Bees here:

http://www.bumblebee.org

Particularly interesting is the way that the existing queen keeps new queens in check until they leave the hive - by headbutting them and pulling their legs! :lol:
 

Moonraker

Need to contact Admin...
Aug 20, 2004
1,190
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Dorset & France
bambodoggy said:
As a very Non-bee expert, do you know if bumble bees produce honey? or honey worth collecting? I know that's not why you were following it as you said it was just for fun but I just wondered....I seem to have it in the back of my mind that they don't....can't think why...
Bombus sp. or Bumble Bees do produce honey. Like the honey bee, bumble bees have workers and drones. They only store enough honey to last them through rainy days or other days that they can't fly.

Also the Bumble Bee is in decline in Britain so it is best not to disturb them. Some are protected species.

You do get wild swarms or escapee swarms from hives and they do store honey but it is usually not easy to retrieve :wink:

I used to keep bees and my great grandmother wrote a book about it. I still have her hives and plan to restore them and set them up this Spring. There is nothing on earth like tasting your own honey :)

Just have to be aware of the deadly parasites these days and the impact of some chemicals which are now banned in France for decimating some commercial swarms here. :cry: I understand it is still allowed in the UK...
 

bambodoggy

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 10, 2004
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Fantastic....many thanks Match, loved your last line with the headbutting queens!!!! lol... :rolmao: :rolmao: :rolmao:

I kinda thought that but wasn't sure why or how I knew it! :?:

I can tell bumble bee's from anything else as they are distinctive..... but do you know an easy way to spot honey bee's against wasps....they both look similar to me and knowing my luck I'd be following a wasp back to it's nest!!!! :yikes:
 

greg2935

Nomad
Oct 27, 2004
257
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Exeter
I have never heard of that but I do know the honey bird will lead you to honey, it perches on branches a little way off and makes a noise to attract your attention, if you follow it will fly off a little way, eventually leading you to a bee hive. Once you have your honey, you must give some to the bird. Sorry, I cannot remember the western name for the bird.

Greg
 

match

Settler
Sep 29, 2004
707
4
Edinburgh
Two things in one... :)

but do you know an easy way to spot honey bee's against wasps....they both look similar to me and knowing my luck I'd be following a wasp back to it's nest!!!!
Its quite easy to tell the difference, but as with all thigns, its a lot easier when you have them side by side. I guess the best way is to look at 2 pictures:

Honey Bee:



Wasp:



Looking at bees, they tend to be more fuzzy, they are a yellowish orange colour and their flight tends to involve more hovering - as can be seen when they nip from flower to flower on a plant.

Wasps however tend to be a more 'artificial' yellow, they are usually smoother and less fuzzy, and have more pronounced head markings, often with large black 'eyes'. They tend to fly in more direct lines, and often circle round things they are interested in, or do a kind of dipping hover over things they are interested in (like pints of beer in beer gardens on Sunday afternoons :nono:)


I have never heard of that but I do know the honey bird will lead you to honey, it perches on branches a little way off and makes a noise to attract your attention, if you follow it will fly off a little way, eventually leading you to a bee hive. Once you have your honey, you must give some to the bird.
This bird (also known as the Honey Guide) is quite common in Africa, and its latin name is Prodotiscus Insignis. It leads both people and ratels (honey badgers) to bee hives, and feeds on honey that is released when the hive is opened by either people or ratels. However, it is common for people to leave some honey out for the bird once finding a hive. This is due to some stories existing that if you don't, the next time a honey guide meets someone, it will lead them to some kind of danger (snake, predator etc). whether this is true or not is difficult to ascertain, but it is certainly true that the bird only shows the location of hives as it expects some honey out of the deal :eek:):
 

Stuart

Full Member
Sep 12, 2003
4,141
43
**********************
a little more info on the honey bird that i've just found:

THERE are in Africa, Australia, and in South America certain birds, evidently not related ornithologically, that, because of their peculiar habits, are known as "honey birds," the special traits of which afford an interesting study in animal reasoning or instinct, as one may choose.

One of these, the species common to a large area in Central and South Africa, mentioned by many travelers, has been briefly described by that prince of realists, Dr. James Johnston of Brownstown, Jamaica, in his superb work, "Reality vs. Romance in South Central Africa," on page 106. He says: "Our daily meeting with the honey birds served to remove any skepticism I may have had in reference to this cunning little creature. It is not much larger than a canary, and as soon as man makes his appearance hops from branch to branch, making repeated flights toward the traveler and then flying off in the direction in which it appears to wish attention attracted, with a sustained chic-en, chic-en, chic-chur, chur, returning again and again, until its opportunity is awarded by someone accepting its invitation to follow to the spot where is stored the — to it — inaccessible treasure. It makes a great fuss, flying round and round and round, leaving no doubt as to the whereabouts of its find. Sometimes there is no opening to be seen, when the native proceeds to tap upon the trunk with the head of his hatchet until he locates the hive. He then obtains the honey by making a fire at the root of the tree, and, under cover of the smoke, with his hatchet secures the prize. Then is revealed the reason for the excitement of our tiny guide, who now comes in for its share of the pickings."
Several explorers whose good fortunes have taken them well into the interior of the Australian bush have described the somewhat similar actions of a species of bird spoken of as being "nearly as large as a crow" and evidently quite distinct from the African species. In Haiti I have had opportunities of observing the like performances of a bird, shy and elusive for the most part and only at all approachable when the presence of honey renders it bold, which appeared to be closely related to our northern cedar bird. And, if an eye not specially trained in ornithology be not at fault, the same species is to be observed on the mainland, along the middle reaches of the Orinoco, in Venezuela.
 
B

Bob Hurley

Guest
The local folk here would mark a bee by painting a dab of flour/water paste on its behind - they claim you can see the white dot from quite a distance. Bee marking was used to find and rob wild bees.
 

Galemys

Settler
Dec 13, 2004
713
5
49
Zaandam, the Netherlands
One of the african species of honey guides' aptly chosen scientific name is Indicator indicator! I once read this species eats the beeswax and larvae, not the honey. They are even known to enter churches and knibble on the candles! Still puzzled about the australian & south-american species though, never heard of them. Any chance of a short description Stuart?
 

Galemys

Settler
Dec 13, 2004
713
5
49
Zaandam, the Netherlands
Thanks for your quick reply Stuart. I'm gonna check the few bird books on South America that I have at home to see what I can find. I f I come up with any positive ID I will let you know.
 

Lunty

New Member
Jul 22, 2004
8
0
Sevenoaks
I remeber seeing a program many years ago called something like in search of the real Crocidile Dundee. Basically they had a glamours female reporter trailing round the outback trying to find a true blue bushman. They found the chap that they reckoned Paul Hogan based the film on. He claimed that while hunting crocs his boat was hit by a flash flood and got stuck up a tree in the middle of the Northern Territory. He said that he managed to try a thread of cotton to a bee (I think ozzie bees do not sting) and followed it back to its hive. The cotton weighed down the bee so he was able to keep track of it. If I remeber correctly his job was culling wild water buffalo and he live totally off the land. Any one else see it? It must have been at least 10 years ago.
 

Tvividr

Forager
Jan 13, 2004
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0
Norway
www.gjknives.com
Ive seen it done a lot of times (done with a bit of wax, a zebra mane / tail hair and a tiny piece of a leaf), and tried myself a couple of times too. Prefer to do it to the stingless species of the African honeybee :lol:

That real Croc Dundee fellow was Rodney William Ansell, and he survived for two months in the outback in 1977. In addition to the documentary film, a book (To Fight the Wild) was written by him and Rachel Percy. Book is available at Amazon. The bidee episode (or how you spell that thing :?: ) and Croc Dundee sleeping on the floor in the hotel room actually happened when the book was released in Sydney in 1980 or thereabout.
There is a sad end to his story - he was shot dead in a police roadblock a few years back, after having been accused of stealing cattle and / or drug running.