My lands

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Rick Larson, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    I keep native bees. How do the bees survive in the wild in a insulated tree/log if what you say is accurate? I'm not doubting your expertise in this area, I'm genuinely interested.

    I've read the PDM. What's your fascination in asking that question? I've seen you do it a few times now.
     
  2. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    That's for everyone else. We don't have to worry about it - Australians don't read manuals :) ;) :)

    I haven't read all of this thread to the degree that would be wise before throwing in an opinion, however:

    My observations of wild native bees are that they are incredibly particular about where they situate their colonies. There is no way humans could understand & replicate their very specific requirements, & despite my best efforts, I've also lost a couple of hives because they weren't happy enough :(

    Regarding ventilation: I've noticed where I live the bees are often in similar places to stag horns & orchids. And you will find that stag horns & orchids are also susceptible to heat & cold & mould, & therefore very particular about where they grow. All these living things have the ability to find very specific microclimate niches, whose particualrs are not observable to the human eye or mind. We can only try our best to replicate them, & learn from our mistakes. In the mean time, it's a very good idea to support wild populations of all living things, because my experience is that humans are not very good at husbandry for fragile things :(
     
  3. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Native bees use water meter boxes as hives so they aren't that particular. Unfortunately, our native bee husbandry is far behind other tropical climates where they have been doing it for a very long time.

    Always learning though.
     
  4. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    The r-value of wood is not very good. So I would not agree a hollow log is insulation. The PDM has a design for a bee yard which is interesting, it also as a whole will create areas that are warmer in winter and cooler in summer, which would also be of benefit to bees. I am continually learning about bees myself, and am willing to take on what some would think are risks. I have read a lot of books, and there are many strategies, one has to figure out the best one for the area and person, and in the process someone might figure out something not yet discovered. Wait until I show you the hives I have in the shed. And hey, you came on my thread and asked if I was serious. Why would you ask?

    I am asking about the PDM to distinguish who is interested in Permaculture enough to actually read it.

    As to helen, wild bees like to set up in a hollow tree, about two five gallon buckets large, around 15 feet above ground. This must have been a proper survival strategy back in the day. The fact they swarm often is a survival strategy, only takes one of them to find the right spot to double the number of swarms. Also, bees have an open rna, which allows them high adaptability. Bees are like trees, even if out of a particular trees elements, if you throw enough in, 1 or 2 will make it. Then their progeny will have a better chance as well.
     
  5. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Native bee keepers are increasing the nominal wall width of their hives to "insulate" the bees from temperature extremes. This is after inserting temperature probes into the hives and logging the temps.

    So wood does have insulatory properties.
     
  6. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    I didn't type is doesn't. You have no idea how thick the walls of my hives are, do you? Do you have a link to that study?
     
  7. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Yeah I've seen them in some strange places too ... but never an established, long -term hive, & I wondered if there was some factor at work that I wasn't aware of.
     
  8. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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  9. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    All I can go on is your photos, pillows etc. I don't tend to watch your Youtube vids besides the tree cutting ones.

    I'm trying to find the link to the temp graph, it's deep inside a private Yahoo Group called ANBees and I'm really struggling. Below is an excerpt from another keeper, not the one I was after, and it's on a different tangent to what I was after. Interesting read nonetheless.

    Code:
    ...discussions with in regard to hive heating.
    
    I had three main concerns when I initially started heating hives:
    (A) would the bees leave a heated hive when outside conditions were too cold
    and therefore be lost; and or
    (B) would the bees remain too active inside an artificially heated hive and
    consume all their stores before they could resume foraging;
    (C) Do the bees benefit from or actually require a period of dormancy
    brought on by the colder conditions of winter?
    
    Point (C) was discounted early on by Dr Anne Dollin who pointed out that
    bees with a wide distribution range, such as Trigona carbonaria that extend
    into the tropics, do just as well or better without a winter dormancy. She
    was, however, less confident about point (A) as, I think from my memory, she
    had observed bees that were kept in a heated room or glasshouse flying
    outside into very cold conditions to their inevitable doom. However, after
    many years now of observing my own bees (in heated hives rather than heated
    rooms) I have noted that they 'test the water' so to speak by 'dipping their
    toes in' (more likely their antennae) before venturing outside or refusing
    to do so if it's too cold. I would be interested in the observations of
    other beekeepers with heated hives, but I don't believe this aspect to be a
    problem at all.
    
    Point (B) (increased stores consumption) would be an expected outcome of
    maintaining a higher temperature when foraging activity is curtailed but as
    far as I know meaningful data is limited. Marc Newman at Ballandean (a very
    cold place in winter near the Qld/NSW border) did some weight measurements
    of his Trigona carbonaria hive that has one of my early heater designs
    installed on it. Weight loss over winter was considerable, but this was
    recovered reasonably quickly in spring, but please bear in mind that this
    heater design is pretty inefficient and would struggle to keep the hive
    temperature in the high teens - nowhere near the 30 degrees being applied by
    my other mate, Mark near Warwick. Such weight loss figures would need to be
    compared against unheated hives in similar situations to gather any
    worthwhile data. In any case I think this issue can be addressed by the
    acceptance that hives should be very strong and undisturbed (no robbing or
    splitting)in such locations, especially going into winter and supplementary
    feeding may need to be applied (preferably through an 'in house' system of
    feeding).
    
    It's not often I disagree with my good friend Megan, but I'm going to throw
    a few thoughts into the mix that are probably contrary to her comments about
    limiting hive heating to certain times only. However, please bear in mind
    that Megan has the weight of science on her side so you may wish to take
    what I am about to suggest with a 'grain of salt'.
    
    First of all Megan's experiments have concentrated mainly on Austroplebeia
    australis bees. While I have applied heating to this species I must admit
    that I have not observed much benefit. In an unheated artificial hive their
    brood temperature seems to fluctuate pretty much in line with ambient -
    perhaps remaining just a little above it in very well insulated hives.
    However, I don't agree this observation can be applied across the other
    species. My observations of very strong Trigona carbonaria and hockingsi
    hives are that these bees can elevate their brood temperature to a
    considerable degree. I don't have data logging equipment to measure and
    graph temperature fluctuations continuously, but over the years I've had a
    number of Jaycar thermometer probes in the heart of these hives which give
    me the chance to do 'spot' and maximum/minimum readings since last checked.
    Some of these readings are surprising (at least I think so) and I'll need
    some convincing to demonstrate that my observations are just aberrations of
    my chain store quality equipment or my aging neurons.
    
    For example a couple of weeks back we had a series of cold bleak days in
    Brisbane where I have a strong outposted hive of Trigona hockingsi. I
    dropped in to check it out because, while it is in an ideal position for
    summer, it is in total shade all day in winter and being a tropical species
    I figured they might be shivering a little in their unheated hive. They were
    certainly humming when I put my ear to the entrance in the evening. The
    thermometer showed the ambient temperature to be less than 15 degrees and it
    had struggled to get much above the high teens all day (or the preceding
    ones). The 'fridge' probe (because this is the type of thermometer I use -
    because it is affordable - and reliable I believe) which is in the heart of
    the brood, or near to it, read 28 degrees. To double check I removed the lid
    of the hive and the insulating disk beneath and put my cold hand on the
    glass observation panel. The warmth was amazing. Remember, this is an
    unheated hive.
    
    Now I've had it explained to me that these readings are not indicative of
    the hive's ability to maintain its temperature, but rather an incidental
    outcome of the metabolic activity of the brood and young bees. But consider
    this. If this incidental metabolic heat output was the same on a 38 degree
    summer's day we would have every strong Trigona hive melt down each year. I
    must stress here that the same readings will not be found for weak or
    undeveloped hives. So my argument is why not artificially elevate the
    temperature of weak or newly rescued hives to closer to the ideal to assist
    repair activity within the hive or promote the development of new brood; or,
    as Mark and I apply, a chance for early propagation of new hives when the
    Syrphid fly and other pests are not about?
    
    I'll mention just one other example of what I believe is evidence of a
    Trigona carbonaria hive's ability to a least partially maintain its brood
    temperature. Several years ago the young girl next door, during her last
    year of high school, asked me if she could do a science experiment using my
    stingless bees. We worked out a system whereby she could record brood and
    ambient temperatures twice every day and graph out the results. It was in
    the middle of winter and I recall one morning after a very cold night (for
    SE Qld) at 7am the ambient was a chilly 7 degrees. The hive brood
    temperature was something like 22 degrees and it did not drop below 20
    degrees at any time during the week of measurements. Usually it was closer
    to 26 degrees.
    
    I know I've gone on long enough with my argument for hive heating, but I've
    done so many observations and made so many heaters and thermostats over the
    years I feel entitled to press my luck a little bit more with a general
    argument for supporting stingless bees with warmth in artificial hives in
    some circumstances. Austroplebeia australis bees are usually found in skinny
    hollow trees or in the skinny limbs of larger trees. In the Tara area where
    Alan, Megan, Steve and I did some collecting they are commonly found in old
    ring barked Round Leaf Box (sometimes called Poplar Box). The cavity rarely
    exceeds 100mm in diameter. I doubt these hollows offer much in the way of
    temperature insulation compared to the large cavities in bigger trees
    preferred by Trigona carbonaria. I have been told that in the southern part
    of their range tcs are almost exclusively found in large trees, often living
    trees.
    
    I understand that scientists say that the temperature inside living trees is
    marginally higher than in dead trees, but are we overlooking the other
    factors that can raise the temperature inside a large hollow tree trunk, be
    it living or dead. Stingless bee nests can often be found surrounded by or
    adjacent to a termite nest. These insects generate warmth and their detritus
    and the microbial decay of the material within the hollow would, I suggest,
    raise the temperature measurably - much like the forces of decay do in your
    backyard compost bin. How much do stingless bees nests benefit from this
    warmth? I don't know, but I suggest the generation of such warmth is not set
    on a timer.
    
    Yes, there is a risk that thermostats can fail (as Ian has discovered -
    although by overheating rather than freezing his bees), but everyone who
    hatches chickens, keeps tropical fish or tropical plants, reptiles and even
    commercial greenhouse operators are in the same boat. These appliances are
    pretty reliable these days (even my many homemade ones have served me
    reliably in all conditions) and it is possible to put in place back up
    systems or alarms. Even my little Jaycar fridge thermometer can be set so
    that it beeps if the temperature strays outside a preset range...
    
     
  10. Rick Larson

    Rick Larson Junior Member

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    Very interesting read. I would agree with what could be construed as the conclusions. A number of observations:

    1. It takes energy to heat the hives thus reducing the yield.
    2. Heating a weak hive is to weaken the gene pool.
    3. It is interesting to use compost as a heat source. I will have to think about that.
     

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