OF BEES & HONEY NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2008 THE AFRICAN (KILLER) BEE SURVIVAL GUIDE Early on in my life I found myself most trying of situations. On top of quite different, as these were not only With their very keen sense of smell as a conscript in a guerrilla warfare that it just happened that he was one much smaller and placid, but actually the workers not only find food, but situation in the triangle formed by the of the few that had been spared the stingless. also discover intruder bees and other borders of Mozambique, Malawi and attack. Out of the pandemonium his insects, or potential threats from Zambia. voice rang out quite clear, shouting Stingless or not, they could still be larger predators around their hives. at us to stay where we were and to a huge nuisance, especially the tiny Some of the most dramatic events cover ourselves with our blankets. In black ones, which tried to take any According to fairly new research, that the combat group of which I was reality most couldn’t hear him above fluid they could find from our eyes, bees can be trained in ten minutes a member encountered during the the mayhem of shouts and screams, or nose or mouth. Their hive was always to detect explosives in land mines entire time of duty in that area were even worse, our personal panic. underground and the few ounces or bombs in luggage at airports. By actually caused not by man, but by of honey one may encounter there comparison, dogs take no less than enraged swarms of bees. Nothing had Besides shouting instructions, he also was actually quite good. If I am not three months to learn the same job. prepared me, or the other men for led by example in a most laudable wrong, in South Africa they are called the totally murderous intent of these manner and in no time, others “mopane” bees. Not much would happen if my mother sudden and brutal attacks. followed his example. was stung a couple of times while The other type of stingless bees was raiding our hives other than some As a child I used to watch my With outstretched arms holding a a lot bigger, more rare and made their local swelling. The reason for it is mother‘s annual opening of our blanket that was flying over him, he nests in holes in trees. From what I that honey bees are not programmed “kitchen” hives, which was executed ran to another to react to the without much ado or protection. man who was pheromones contained Actually, in all it was a quiet placid being so seriously in their attacking or “civilised” affair. Perhaps a better stung that by weapon. description would be a happy ritual on then had lost his sharing Nature’s magnanimity. self-control, and As you may have wrapped it tightly learned in previous I must mention that those hives were around both of newsletters, normally cylindrical of about 1 x 0.5m and were them. it takes only eight made out of solid pieces of cork oak’s stings for a person to bark (quercus suber). In no time there become immune to bee were pairs of men venom, even if these The story is quite different in Africa. lying about on had occurred over At about noon on a warm winter’s day, the ground while some years. It should one moment we were following in a embracing each be mentioned that single file through miombo forest and other as tight as true serious allergic the next there was chaos resulting they could, so reactions are very rare from what seemed to be a massive that they would make themselves as could gather, its honey was highly and are suffered by less than 1% of grenade that had exploded amongst small as possible. Male bonding at its sought after, not only for its quality, the population. us. The difference between the real best, one might say. but also for the easiness in raiding army weapon and this one was that Most probably this attack may have their hives. Perhaps these facts may The exception is Apis mellifera there was hardly any noise and the been aggravated by the serious body explain their small numbers. scutellata, better known as the African “shrapnel” was made up of swarms of odour that emanated from some yellow bee, or “killer bee” as named by insects from hell. Suddenly we were thirty men that hadn’t been close to the Americans. fighting for sheer survival. water for a week. The world of the bees is a world of smells. As mentioned previously, the theory Our usual technique of fighting it out Some years later on a national of evolutionism may also apply here. in ambushes or even splintering in all conference about bees that I attended, Pheromones, if you like. Basically, the more aggressive the directions did not help us much either, an overseas guest speaker did predators are, the more defensive Queens control all workers’ actions. as most of us had almost immediately mention, to my great amazement, you have to become if your species There is a coterie of bees that follow acquired a personal cloud of enraged about the hyper defensive tendencies is to live on. For a species to survive every queen’s move and whose main bees that were dive bombing our manifested by bees in that same part relentless and brutal depredation, in job seems to be, besides feeding heads. of the world. this particular case of bees by man, it the queen, to spread her smelling has to adapt and ultimately develop (pheromone) instructions throughout Luckily there was a fellow among us What is interesting is that in the its own means of self-protection. the hive. who could make instant decisions and same general area there were two would not lose his composure in the other types of honey bees, although CONTINUED... ...SURVIVAL GUIDE CONTINUED As a beekeeper I do get stung quite can’t stop themselves once aroused to general attack. It will be perceived while trying to remove the sting often and so far do not swell that the same insane moods of a riotous by the bees as an attack by a by lifting it with a finger nail. Putting much anymore. But as soon as the mob. dangerous predator. some saliva on it should help a bit. first sting strike’s home, I not only (When there isn’t an actual beehive notice the bitter almond smell of it There is a proper formula about how • “Hanging” around strong hives in the next 10 or so metres, a sting very clearly in the air, I also can taste many stings per kilo a victim can particularly on hot days should should not cause a major problem it in the mouth. normally withstand. For adult humans be avoided, as bees become quite besides some allergic reactions). it is something like 250 (3 per kg). irritable in these conditions. The For certain the bees can smell it much Considering that the population in a opposite is also true, as bees are • Trying to escape by running away better than I do. Immediately it has good size hive could be around 60.000 unable to fly below 8 degrees through open fields is a no hoper, as the effect of raising their alarm bells, bees, one can arrive at that critical Celsius. African bees may keep the attack up as well as blowing the trumpet call number fairly quickly. for 2 km and even further on for a charge. These acts are not only • Only in exceptional situations occasion. committed by the guards, but by Death of a Beekeeper should one work on hives or others bees as well that happen to be remove strong swarms during the • From personal experience, the best near the hive’s entrance at that given Very recently it appeared in the news day, especially in residential areas or is to seek shelter in a dark room time, and will target anyone in its the very sad story of a beekeeper that whenever there are people or (with close doors if possible). If not proximity. died while trying to remove a swarm animals around. available, try to dodge around and in Pretoria. Some facts about it have through bushes and small trees now come to light. • Perfumes, strong body odours and while keeping a good pace and the smell of freshly cut grass seems following a general direction. Cars - He was still a trainee and without to be offensive to bees and the (with closed windows) have literally a licence. cause of most unprovoked attacks. saved my skin quite a number of - He had health problems. (A times. beekeeper has to be a healthy • After a person spends some time person. A good heart is a must inside the 3 to 4 m radius around • Never jump into a pool trying to to withstand regular or even a hive, a guard may buzz around the escape if there are no reeds or pipes serious bee venom intakes into intruder’s face as a warning to move to breathe through. Bees will just ones system) off (usually twice). Normally, if the hover above the water while waiting - He tried to remove a massive warning has not been heeded by for you to come up. swarm during daylight hours then, the next contact would consist (16H00). of an outright attack. • Applying propolis tincture to stings - Not only that, but in a built up does help. area. • Avoid wearing dark colours around - His protective gear was defective. strong hives. • Anti-histamine is recommended. The more stings they place, the more (Bees were found inside the veil) pheromones concentration in the air - He was probably prone to panic What to do when a • An adrenaline injection is a must for and logically the more mayhem at hand. reactions. (When he was found swarm attacks very allergic sufferers. after the attack his hands were out of the gloves and as expected, • Please remember to keep your wits • If an adrenaline injection cannot be If it happen that cats, dogs, horses, stung on a massive scale) immediately administered, the about you. Panic doesn’t help at all, cows and even humans, lions or patient should be taken to a clinic and I am quite sure that they can elephants for that matter are unable to run away or find shelter in a dark How to avoid also smell fear the same as dogs, or with utmost urgency. place, the prognosis will not be good being stung lions for that matter. Bee venom does have excellent at all. medicinal properties, especially for • Disturbing bees in a strong hive • At the very first sting a person should move quickly away from the auto-immune problems. (See ”Bee by knocking on it, for instance, Literally, and in the same way as Venom” in “Medicine from the Bees” will cause an immediate and proximity of the hive, and if possible humans react in many societies, they in www.thehoneybear.co.za ) KAROO HONEY To understand my great desire in Yes! It does frustrate a Johannesburg with predators (crooked suppliers). ...How else to explain the obtaining some rare honeys from beekeeper quite badly by not being The adaptation of the following story considerations and ethics, both the legendry desert and subsequent able to lay his hands on some of them. serves as a good answer. personal and professional of disappointments, part of a letter to beekeepers that supply me with the beekeepers in the same area is Please guys from the vast expanses After some narrow escapes while honeys from faraway, which are shown underneath. of the Southern part of Africa, could driving on the “wrong” side of the road impossible for me to harvest? you tell me what you do with your in Europe, the following message was “A short while ago there was a honeys? sent to my Swiss friends, knowing that ...The sharks that try the (once off) write up in one of your (Beekeeping it would amuse them. rip-off or con act (sell damaged Association) emails about the Is there any way you can stop my honey), their poor souls can rot in different honeys that can be harvested somewhat insane rumblings of “There must be a God, or at least a hell.” in your part of the world. frustration and find the motivation Saint that looks after fools and bad to send up some buckets of your drivers.” Oh well! Fools luck or an idealistic Not only was there a most incredible treasured nectar?” foolishness? diversity, but I am sure that the Somehow I have the feeling that “bad quality would also be equally superb. I have often been asked how I manage drivers” could be replaced now with Viva Don Quixote! (My hero) Viva! to survive in my profession, which “beekeepers”. But I have to mention that I do my Yes! It does boggle the mind. so often requires swimming in a sea home work. NEW PRODUCTS HONEY & SINUS The new batch of Hazelnut, Honey & The new batch of Almond Honey & “Ottawa University doctors found in honey from New Zealand, and sidr Raw cocoa is absolutely superb. Most Nuts has a fuller nutty flavour, coarser tests that ordinary honey kills bacteria honey from Yemen. probably it has been enhanced by the texture and smoother taste, just like that cause sinus infections, and does it Raw Honey that it is creamed with the Hazelnuts. The raw honey used is better in most cases than antibiotics. The two killed all floating bacteria in this time. also the same. “It’s astonishing,” researcher Joseph liquid, and 63-91 percent of biofilms - Marson said of bees’ unexplained microorganisms that sometimes form The texture is a little coarser and the Almonds are very tasty and the most ability to combine the nectar of a protective layer in sinus cavities, taste is richer and creamier. nutritious tree-nut around. flowers into a seemingly potent urinary tracts, catheters, and heart Contrary to some similar commercial medicine. valves, protecting bacteria from products, there are no sugars*, butters, - They are a healthy energy supplier normal drug treatments and often emulsifiers or preservatives in it. while dieting. The preliminary tests were conducted leading to chronic infections. in laboratory dishes, not in live Hazelnut is rated as the most - An excellent source of magnesium, patients, but included the “superbug” The most effective antibiotic, beneficial nut for heart health, due to manganese and unsaturated fats. methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus rifampin, killed just 18% of the biofilm the highest levels of cardio protective aureus or MRSA, which is highly samples in the tests... mono-unsaturated fatty acids and - Good source of fibre, copper, resistant to antibiotics. lowest in saturated fats. riboflavin and phosphorus, plus There you have it. protein. In upcoming human trials, a “honey - Rated as one of the most rinse” would be used to “flush out Please pass this to chronic sinus nutritious nuts, with significant - Great anti-oxidant with high levels the goo from sinus cavities,” said sufferers. It seems that most SA supply of protein, fibre, vitamin E of alpha tocopherol Vit. E. Marson in an interview with AFP. The doctors could do with it as well. and B, iron, calcium, magnesium researchers have so far tested manuka and potassium. All that this information says is: Now we can experience the goodness - Contains the highest concentration of honey and the energy and health giving properties of the nuts in a most BEE of folate, which reduces the risk Flavonols are the antioxidant property of cancer, heart diseases, delectable and practical way. most associated with grapes’ dietary Alzheimer’s and depression. benefits. Which of the three foods Pure Cocoa seed powder has recently Perhaps to corroborate this statement, Arab warriors food while on campaign POLLEN contain the most quercetin, believed to be the most potent flavonol? HIGH been found to contain high levels of consisted basically of nuts and dates antioxidant polyphenols, oligomeric and/or honey, and they could survive a) red grapes procynanidins and other flavonoids on it for many months in a perfectly b) bee pollen that help boost the immune system and offer significant protection healthy state. IN ANTI- c) apples OXIDANTS against “bad” cholesterol and heart *The body does not treat honey as a The answers: b (bee pollen, 31.78 mg disease. It is also very nutritious, sugar, even in diabetics. quercetin per 100 mg; apples, 7.37; red having a high protein, vitamin and grapes, 3.98) mineral content. BEES AS NEW SECURITY GUARDS HONEYS The following letter was sent by a are housed in a fenced-off enclosure.” The 2008 good honey luck seems to CONTACT DETAILS fellow beekeeper as an explanation of Although I am sure that this carry on. why he couldn’t keep any of my hives particular beekeeper hadn’t done any KIM MORGADO 082 558 6666 on his small holding: specific queen breeding with hyper Now is the turn of Burkea Africana, KIM@THEHONEYBEAR.CO.ZA defensiveness in mind, his excellent or Red Syringa. Exactly like October’s WWW.THEHONEYBEAR.CO.ZA “I have 14 hives on my property “watch dogs” not only were free Combretum. currently and I don’t think that we lodging, but in actual fact paid “rent” can carry any more. 7 are deployed as in honey on top. After careful checking up, it seems part of security (2 as borehole pump that the last time these two were DISCLAIMER protectors - 3 as galv. sheet protectors Nobody would be able to disagree on seen in reasonable quantities was The views expressed in this newsletter on store rooms - 2 as gate guards in what a great deal he got, if ever there some eight years ago, which coincided are those of the author and not the field behind my house). 7 swarms was a better one. with the start of the drier period that necessarily that of other authorities finished recently. on the behaviour of bees. They come mostly from my personal experiences and memories, as well as common The honey is smooth, creamy and FEEDBACK THANKS sense deductions. The only reason for medium to light and a bouquet to the distribution of these newsletters, match. as stated on various occasions is: “To All feedback on these newsletters For all the questions, comments and Spread the Gospel (and Love) of the are welcome. feedback on the newsletters. I would say superb for toast. Bees” to a wider audience.