Bee History

Beehives were transported by the Egyptians in boats to pollinate farm crops grown along the Nile River.

How did European honey bees get to America?  Beehives were brought to America from Europe on some ships by the early settlers of this country.  The skeps were attached to the bow of ships with the entrance facing the open sea.  The journey across the Atlantic Ocean took over 60 days in difficult weather conditions and storms.  This was a dangerous trip.  Some of the new settlers and beehives did not survive the journey.  The hives that did survive spread vigorously in their New World!
Beehives have been used in human warfare by throwing them from catapults or dropping them from high city walls onto the enemy below.  Poison honey has been left for hungry enemy soldiers to find and eat becoming very sick and even left to die.
Mankind has often exploited bees and every resource, possible to exploit with little regard for our fragile environment or future generations!  I was in the Oakland Airport on my way to Phoenix, AZ, from where I am writing this article.  There was a pictorial history of the San Francisco Bay.  This showed today there is still mining pollution flowing into the Bay Estuary from the 1849 Gold Rush in California–167 years later!
If we could only learn and emulate what our honey bees teach us by their example!  Cooperation, humility, consensus, unity, defending one another and protecting their young.  Yes, bees are industrious!  We know honey bees add tremendous value to the environment around them by their pollination work, gathering nectar, propolis and water.  Everything bees produce is non-toxic, health-giving, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal and biodegradable for themselves with gifts to humans and their environment.
It is one of the greatest privileges of my life for me to assist and learn from working with honey bees.  I love my “bee world” along with you, my bee friends, mentors and teachers…we all have the opportunity as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Bee the change you wish to see in the world!”

Trees Expand Into Our Future!

Trees hold your ground!

Trees quietly improve your top soil through leaf, branch and bark shedding and decomposition.

Trees are living fountains, transpiring enormous quantities of water from the soil extracted daily by the roots, cooling your environment on hot days.  A large oak tree can transpire 500+ gallons of water, on a hot day,  into the atmosphere, while only needing 1 gallon for all the leaves to photosynthesize throughout the day.

Trees give you protection from erosion, often absorbing and holding 1 to 2 inches of rain in its branches and leaves before  saturation is reached in the tree canopy.  The root network below the soil surface, with “tree mulch’ produced by the tree on top of the soil, softens the impact that rain has on the landscape. Water absorption by a single tree may even retain up to 100 %  of normal rainfall on site!

Trees are light seeking, gravity opposing, soil stabilizing, cleaning the air while giving you oxygen as a free gift, cleaning, filtering and protecting your water resources in streams and aquifers along with providing  fruit and the stunning beauty all that trees add  to your environment, enriching your life along with wildlife habitat! oak

Trees need to be maintained and cared for to improve health, branch structure, safety and light penetration into the interior.  Inside branches die from not receiving enough light for production of tree “food” by photosynthesis.  Whole branches can die.

Trees provide a host site for myriad numbers of microscopic organisms.  We don’t really see or recognize  much of the complexity and inter-dependent relationships that trees have with the  natural world around us.  As Dr. Alex Shigo so often simply stated, “Touch Trees!”  Then we will connect and appreciate them for their contribution to our lives!

Trees have a limited-life span, but their roots constantly seek to obtain essential minerals (much more than just N. P. K.) and water they need to survive. If you analyze the ash from burning firewood, 50% of the volume of ash is calcium and it is heavily used throughout the tree for cell strength and structure.

Tree “abuse” most often starts in the nursery where small trees are cut to have abnormal fast growth responses and the lower limbs are removed.  This often creates sunburn on the south and west side of the tree when planted, while the roots are trapped inside plastic buckets have no way for the roots to expand naturally.  Bare root trees are best to plant when available or even trees grown from seed where possible.

Construction, human or animal compaction damage, adding hard scape, trenching and raising the soil level is especially damaging. Tree roots need air to breath as much as they need water.  Trees and roots may die of suffocation from lack of air,  if soil is added on top of the root zone,  the original root system can be damaged causing a much weaker secondary root system to grow.  Many trees will also die if roots are kept too wet in flooded soil.  Decline and death is often the result sometimes a few years later.  The damage has been done over time!  Tree bark cannot take soil contact and the root flare needs to be excavated for safety,  to determine root health and to let the tree b r e a t h e!

It takes knowledge and experience knowing what to look  for in tree selection and the best care for trees that need help. As an I.S.A. Certified Arborist, I can assist you in this process with practical guidance.  Unfortunately, there is a point when I am called,  it may be the last resort.  At this point the damage may be too extensive and long-term for treatments that may have worked earlier but cannot have the desired effects and benefits because the tree food storage reserves may have been already depleted.  I will advise and do the best possible work I can to help your trees.

Trees can be reduced in height naturally by crown reduction to lateral branches that can support and re-direct tree growth.  About 25% of the tree can be reduced as a general rule.  More than that can be detrimental, especially on older mature trees.  If you see topping or ugly tree work, leaving only stubs while removing all leaf surface and branches, the tree will never be the same.  The tree roots are still trying to do their job but may be compromised.  While a tree may be re-structured over time, it will not have the same beauty or strength and character as before the “attack”.  Every wound or cut made on the tree stays with the tree for it’s entire life. Topping causes sprouts to grow that  are not structurally attached to the tree and often can fail as the sprouts grow into large upright branches.  This can create a dangerous situation where there is a target below a redwood tree, for example, that has been topped.  This is due to their size, height and being topped.

Our caring for trees contributes to their longevity which will enable them to outlive us and benefit future generations!

See “AVOID TOPPING:  IT COSTS TOO MUCH !”  here–   By Emery Dann

Thank you for reading!


emery-dann-hiveWe know honey bees have age-dependent jobs in the hive.  However, younger bees sometimes fill the “older bee jobs” earlier than normal when not enough bees are doing the work needed by the colony.

For example, if there are not enough foragers, younger bees can become foragers at an earlier age.  This allows for greater hive flexibility.  Bees also somehow know who goes in the swarm and who stays with the mother hive.  Bees do not have to “pick a number”, to decide—like we do!”  Do they read each other’s minds?

Instead of thinking of a single bee job one after another based on a bee’s age, we can expand the concept to a “colony need based model” with some job rotation.  One good example of this are “heater bees”.  These bees are a more recent discovery.  Bees of almost all ages can become “heater bees”.  They do this by detaching their flight wings and the vibrating their bodies while their wings are motionless.  By doing this they can heat their bodies up to 111 degrees Fahrenheit in the brood area.  Scientists have used infrared technology to discover these facts.

Good queens may leave empty brood cells to be used by heater bees to crawl in and keep the surrounding 70 cells at the right temperature.  THIS MAKES IT VERY IMPORTANT TO GIVE THE QUEEN ENOUGH ROOM IN THE BROOD NEST SO SHE DOES NOT HAVE TO LAY IN THE CELLS SHE WANTS TO LEAVE EMPTY.  I am not talking about “spotty brood” which is a problem of queen/hive weakness that may lead to beehive die off.

The normal brood temperature is kept by the nurse and house bees at 93 degrees.  The bees emerging from this temperature have a normal hive job progression. When “heater bees” raise the brood temperature to 95 degrees, the brood that hatches prefers to forage more than to do other hive jobs.  NOT CHILLING THE BROOD IS CRITICAL THROUGHOUT THE YEAR FOR THIS REASON!  “Heater bees” are given food by supplier bees who feed the heater bees so they can keep a consistent temperature where they place themselves in the brood nest.  Then other bees rotate in and become “heater bees” when needed.  Every bee cooperates by doing their part of the work that needs to be done for the good of the hive!

The more we look into the life of bees in our hives, the more we can see bee “multi-job tasking” and job rotation involves complex decision making honey bee-havior!