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My dear bees

This book tells the story of a beekeeper passionate about his profession, living in Castellane, and wanting to do discover the largest number without detour.

Editor's note

In the therapeutic arsenal available to humans, products of the hive, from time immemorial, occupied a significant place. In all countries, countless works have been devoted to honey, Royal Jelly, pollen, propolis, and gifted many properties of bee venom, particularly antirheumatic, hypotensive, vasodilative and poor blood.
The indications of the products of the hive, due to the astonishing richness of their constitution (amino acids, minerals and trace elements, vitamins, enzymes, antibiotics,...), exerted both at the general level - i.e. of the "field", immune defenses that should be, above all, maintain or recover - only locally, in respect of the various devices.
Still need that in our times of insane pollution, these products remain healthy. And it is that in addition to his art, consciousness of the beekeeper must, above all, be exercised.
Jacques MEURANT, I know for twenty-five years, was not wrong, that continues to protect its plantations, therefore his bees, surrounding pesticides, to make his choice and respecting the rules of a good, healthy and fertile transhumance. This book is a beautiful lesson of things. Know and courage to join is to overcome the many easements.
The drive will read with a new look.
Paris, June 1991 Dr. Jean VALNET

My dear bees

The weather is stormy and I just bicker me with my wife. I did not have time to change the defective light bulbs from home, to repair a lock, planing a door that stuck and above all, to write the traditional wishes for happy new year.
«Ah!» If it was for your expensive bees, long time that everything would be done. You'd write even a novel about them,"she said.
This is not new. I mean it has always been. My Word! Would she be jealous?
Calm returned, internally I do my mea culpa sceptique and tell me that it is not entirely wrong.
It is true that my profession of beekeeper is taking and exciting, that work must be planned in advance and without delay, and that negligence is paid.
Despite the constraints of all kinds and the pleasures of which it deprives sometimes, it is true that we end up loving, bees.
And if I took my wife to the word and I slept on the paper what I know as a result of my life passed in the middle of "my dear bees"...

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My first hive

My father, experienced and passionate, beekeeper saw frequently come home beekeepers in the North to ask his advice.
As a child, I attended often these discussions in the context of bees, and unknown to the layperson in beekeeping as words: Queen, brood (part of the nest for breeding containing eggs, larvae, and pupae where the temperature is maintained at 35 °), mortals, remerage, D.B., Langstroth hive, artificial swarming Beehive, etc., were already part of my vocabulary. My father, with passion and patience, telling me about everything related to bees. It is saying that my ears buzzed already wonderful music that made a swarm when it ventilates the night after a big harvest of nectar.
When the beekeeper who had to give all his care to his bees during the year finally arrives at the time of harvest, his heart is big if he does not find much in the hive. But his joy is immense when, by discovering the top of the hive, he sees the new well white wax and stuffed rays to crack a beautiful clear honey crystal. He feels somewhat the same joy as the seeker of treasure in the front of his discovery. It is to say that several bad years, discouraging of course, do not stop the real passion for bees, because he knows that the year will come where he will be paid back and that his joy will be incomparable.

Love of nature and paternal inheritance

I was led to do beekeeping my profession by the paternal environment and my love of nature. I like animals and plants, biology always interests me, but need me material living under the hand. Yet, I've never been attracted by livestock where the death of it be high is the goal, when the subject is beautiful and fat wish are sacrificed. My home a rabbit or a chicken die of old age.
I will always remember my first hive. One day, at the time of natural swarming, in the lovely month of may, I find on the ground under a Bush a small cluster of bees, about the size of a human fist. A small swarm is generally not viable. Rather by game, I enruche this tiny swarm in a hive model Dadant Blatt that my father had deemed too old and in too poor condition. Every night, I was feeding with fervor this grapillon of a tablespoon of syrup of honey, subtracts in hideout in the paternal reserve, and in two months the cluster had increased tenfold its volume. Before winter this swarm was 6 spokes, which was extraordinary. To the amazement of my father, the following spring it was the most strong hive with the Apiary. We had very large hives at this time, the model Dadant Blatt 14 rays.This hive had to receive 3 increases of demi-cadres and made a spectacular crop of 55 Kg of honey of acacia and clover. I had to wait many years before even a such harvest! This fact still stuck with me perennial in mind, as a miracle of the force of nature. Especially when the man helps it somewhat. The man, now commonly helps the nature which often brings high never obtained productions previously. But this aid often also has its negative aspect. I speak a little further.

The colony and the environment

When one observes the bees, can only be amazed by the social behavior of individuals within the cluster. This cluster fluctuate in population according to the time, the length of the days and the flowers present or future. Bees winter with a population of 15 000 to 20 000 individuals, which gives a cluster that can economically live on reservations prepared before winter (10 to 15 Kg of honey). On the other hand, if the conditions are favourable, and a maximum of workers, the population may reach 100 000 individuals during the summer solstice.
Beekeeping, as all farms, is the subject of constant research in laboratories and stations of the State: biological research to fight diseases, selections of biometrics, crosses between different breeds. I attended great crop obtained by hybrid bees, crosses between the bee Caucasian, Italian and French. But also to disasters and mass mortalities famine, when the weather is cold and rainy in the spring. It is the reason main for which here in Provence, I always raise Provencal black bees, well suited to their region, and who have an instinct almost unbelievable to provide themselves the way to ensure their development in function, might say, their weather forecasts. What are bees much more economic, requiring fewer constraints. They are also able to make beautiful crops without however reaching those selected hybrids. The beekeeper raising hybrids is that generally carries his hives bloom in bloom using mostly large bodies of fruit trees, rapeseed and sunflower. For my part, I gave up since a long time this type of beekeeping (that I also practiced for over twenty years) due to the use of insecticides increasingly sophisticated and that the remanence is very long: bees die again two months after their passage on rape fields or fruit trees. Each year whole apiaries are decimated. Yet this year, one of my former students wept bitterly to the heaps of corpses of bees that covered the entrance to his hives installed on rape fields.

Crops and pesticides

Personally, I now flee grand like the plague cultures. There are a dozen years, towards the end of April, the farmers called me telling me: Behold, we have finished treatments, you can bring your hives, and everything looked generally well because three days after the treatment the product was more active. But now, even microencapsulated insecticide used. These are insecticides whose molecules have the same size as a microscopic pollen grain (there are between 200,000 and 2,000,000 grains of pollen in a ball that the bee brings back on its legs). Each molecule is coated with a plastic film. When spraying this product on plants, the plastic films release that small little poison depending on weather and the location of the product on the plant (under a leaf or flower). Consider also that bees which collect pollen and make their balls with a bit of honey, at the same time accumulating poison particles on their hind legs. This mix is stored in the hive and this is the reason why a hive decline sometimes several months after passing on crops, when nurses use reserves.
It is certain that products coming from arable crops are polluted by pesticides that poison our bees. For man, when the products of the hive comes from these cultures, they are as same as apples, pears, grapes, finally all fruits and vegetables, but neither more nor less!As this mode of culture is that now give large yields, we are obliged to do with. But nothing prevents us to fight to return to ways of more organic crops, raising, for example, insect predators such as ladybugs, broken down on crops where they throw the aphids and other pests, and where they will help to rebalance nature.
In the meantime, I will continue to avoid these deadly cultures for my bees in giving preference to forage wild plants such as Rosemary, thyme, lavender, acacia, chestnut, Heather, prairie flowers, etc. My bees had joined the better, the consumer also.

The instinct stronger than the weather

My hives wintering in the hills of the massif des Maures, in the Var, approximately 5 to 6 Km from the Mediterranean Sea. It plays the role of steering wheel heat accumulates the heat of the summer and restoring it little by little, during the winter. This is the reason for which, thanks to the mildness of this particular climate, bees collect nectar actively plants such as Strawberry trees, Rosemary, at a time where in other regions the grapes are wintering and maintain a temperature for survival despite intense cold due to the consumption of honey reserves. Bees, wintering near the coast earn about two months of earliness in their development compared to those wintering within the country.
Every year growers settled in the valleys of the Var ask me what is the prediction of the time of bees. I know that this can make you smile, and yet I have not been able to take them in default. If I see that despite a very good weather, bees are unwilling to increase their livestock and keep a brood ' restricted, I am sure that there will be a return of cold in the next three weeks. On the other hand, with sometimes a mediocre time, they use much of their food reserves to make a maximum of brood. In this case, I do not hesitate to say that there will be no return of cold in the next three weeks. Thus, constantly observed, is only valid for the Provencal bees installed in their region of origin. Foreign, Italian and other bees are wrong constantly and continue to elevate intensely at the threshold of a vigorous return of cold. As also Provencal bees installed on the climate of the North of the France are incapable of making good forecasts.
How is this possible? While our meteorology despite much information given by satellite is unable to make predictions beyond 5 to 6 days? Mystery! No doubt they have an instinct that dates back to the night time.

The hive, an organized society

You should know that the bee is one of the oldest insects on the planet. She has appeared on Earth in conjunction with flowers, in the form of a solitary bee that was to do everything alone. Come out any time to feed it and its larva, employing as cradle that an empty snail shell or a small hole in a rock, etc. While our bee, evolved to a very high degree, lives in organised society where everything seems perfect. The perfection of the construction of the rays, which allows both livestock than storage of reserves, to the problems of life in society, everything seems settled once for all.
Originally, when the solitary bee began to shape itself with clay a more or less round cell to lay his egg, feed of honey and pollen the larvae which is derived, it settled there where good sunlight and lack of wind created a micro climate favourable to the development of its livestock. Several solitary bees, finding the place, built their cells nearby or side by side. No doubt realized attached cells allowed, thanks to living larvae, to keep a favour of a good breeding animal heat. But there was not yet a joint work and a social life itself. Until the day where one of them began to respond in all cells, while others brought food for larvae that were not their own. There was not yet of Queen. This came much later.

The Queen

It is improperly called it the Queen. It should rather be said the mother because she has no title command. What are bees that control and decide.
The Queen has evolved over millions of years, at the same time that bees were improving their construction. They managed to secrete themselves their material, wax, and perfect so their rays that currently men try to imitate to build all frames that must be very strong and light both: supersonic aircraft wings, rocket and space shuttle frames, doors, bridges, radiators and so on. Everything is made with the construction of honeycomb. It was long ago that mathematicians are addressing this construction. Could not put it in default, they were forced to admit that she is practically the only impossible to improve construction. The hexagonal cells each side of others provide the only form approximating the circle without loss of place at the intersections of three cells. But what's great, it's the bottom of the cell which is an inverted pyramid whose edges form the departure of three other cells in the other side of the RADIUS.

Few problems in bees

When my honey is full of honey rays in centrifuges, to extract the honey, the machines turn 300 rotations per minute. They rid first one side of the rays. The honey on the other side, whose weight grows on the bottom of the rays, should explode the bottom of cells. And yet it is nothing. Not a single background is pierced.
This perfection is found almost in the way of life in society. It is thus that, among the bees, many problems are solved by transmission of a type of hormone called pheromones. The Queen by its mandibular glands secretes constantly this product. Bees wax the body of the Queen leaving kinds of gullies where pheromones elapse. Allows lick on virtually the entire body of the Queen, and passing from mouth in the mouth to young emerging bees.
They cause atrophy of the ovaries of the female worker, it becomes an almost asexual individual who does more than think at work. Therefore, there is more loss of time for the reproduction by each individual. Only the Queen knows fertilization and thus ensures the reproduction of millions of workers during his lifetime. In a beehive, no fight no dispute between individuals of the same family. Never a bee kills one of his sisters. The agreement is perfect, thousand times better than in a convent where there still jealousy and discord! Pheromones are constraints that compel to do or not do certain things.

The worker

The organisation of the work in the hive is well-defined. As soon as born, the young workers, for a few days, has a role of brooding. Period during which it is supercharged especially in pollen, which strengthens its fat system. This power supply is particularly extensive in the generation of bees who will have to spend the winter. Current analyses showed a greasy fur much bigger than among the bees of the good season. This no doubt explains much, much greater longevity of winter bees. Pollen-rich food is also designed to prepare the young bee for her role as nurse. After a few days of this regime, it develops its pharyngeal glands producing porridge for breeding. The nurse will specialize in this work and will abandon when it will be replaced by a new nanny. It will become, according to the needs of the hive, cleaner, Maison, Builder of rays, coater (use of propolis), ventileuse, etc.
For about three weeks, the bee does that household work and comes out of the hive to empty and move. Every day, at the time that interferes least foragers (often around 16 hours when the flowers nectarisent least), bees inside make this intense flight before the entrance of the hive. Beekeepers have called him "Sun of Fireworks". Every day, they go a little further, what makes that become foragers, they themselves are already familiar with their environment. Thus, foragers youth become providers of water, nectar, pollen and propolis. The worker usually dies last trip of the flowers to the hive. It is rare that she died inside, and will be released for not giving cleaners additional work.

The guardian

One of the last activities is often that of the guardian, at the entrance of the hive. There are often old babysitters waste-winged. More than a good wine ages, better is it, said. More than a bee ages to the worst is, or if you prefer, nasty, which is well suited to its role of guardian. A same hive bees recognize thanks to the pheromones of the Queen who gives them the same smell. Smell of bees is so subtle that they can detect wavelengths in different smells, there where man does not even feel a difference. If a pillarde foreign bee tries to penetrate into the hive, it is immediately detected by the guards who are repeatedly to put to death.Several cases can occur. In an Apiary, colonies are often near each other and a gust of wind may very well take a forager on the Board of the neighboring hive entrance. If this bee comes back with a load of nectar, it passes and distribute them a little of its nectar. These, seeing that she has no bad intentions, let enter and make it drop its nectar in cells. Then the new Queen pheromones given and it is part of the new colony. But if the forager comes with a load of water, it will be put to death because enter with water could be a tip for highlights with honey. I did experience in Morocco, in mountains where water is completely lacking and where beekeepers must feed waterers with water coming from far. Taking a bee that pumps water and dropping it at the entrance of a hive, it is immediately accepted by the guardians. For bees, as for men, it is almost always a matter of concern.
When they forage, the majority of workers do not butine randomly, but know exactly where they are going and the kinds of flowers that they will visit. For this work, they follow the guidelines of the oldest bee, foragers experienced familiar with the region and which are from the early morning. Call these the Scout bees.

The Scout bees

Thanks to Professor Von Frisch, who also won the Nobel Prize for his discoveries, we now know how information is transmitted. The informant, from flowers, place on a shelf near a group of foragers youth and to interest them, distributes round a little nectar. Which, at the same time gives the kinds of flowers to search.She then starts to dance, followed with interest by the group, running a figure of eight crushed and wriggling following a certain rhythm, always the same. Recall that this ballet takes place on the RADIUS, a vertical plane. The axis of the eight, following his inclination, indicates the direction of the flowers from the position of the Sun. To indicate the position of the Sun in the darkness of the hive and on a vertical plane, bees have a code: it is indicated as if it did not move, always above the bee dancing. Depending on whether the eight axis is tilted to some degree left or right, the bee indicates for example 40 ° to the right of the Sun or 30 ° left of the Sun, etc. The distance is given by the rhythm of the dance. A fast pace indicates a close distance, a slow pace a place away. With a good shows everything simply and by measuring the number of frequencies in a given time, a skilled observer can say: Behold this bee indicates flowers 1 km 200 by 45 ° left of the Sun. It is also clear that here, and again once you have to admire Professor Von Frisch who spent many years before glass ruchettes, and which, by thousand times repeated experiments, could generate and decode the wonderful language of bees.
Found in breeds of bees, less advanced, this same dance in the form of eight but which must be run on a horizontal plane and looking at the Sun. These breeds of bees are also only a single suspended beam. They have not yet found what the rays joined with a passage of bees between them, allowed the colony to remain in the form of spherical cluster, which is ideal for at best maintain the temperature of the nest.

Energy and breeding nest

Honey, bees, is the energy food and caloric that has been prepared so well that they can spend the winter, even in very cold climates such as Alaska, for little that they are protected from the prevailing winds and housed in a comfortable hive.
The breeding nest, which reduces volume during the period from the summer solstice and autumn, is constantly strengthened by intake of honey and pollen.Farming ceased at the end of autumn, these cells being more occupied by brood, will serve as a nest of winter. Cold weather bees will nest in cells and between the spokes a Homogen cluster. System of radii of the bee is a wonder to this point of view and allows the cluster of stick as if it was not split since the double faces of rays with bees in the cells of each side, it is exactly as if there were no walls. Above the rays, and around the nest, are the provisions of honey.
Very cold, there is constantly a movement where bees from the inside of the bunch, little by little, found on the outskirts and back consume honey, source of calories by excellence.
Remember that bees reared fall received a special pollen-rich scheme, and that their fat body is responsible for protein inclusions near the oily inclusions, which change their metabolism and gives them a much greater longevity. This movement of rotation from the inside to the outside, honey consumption and back indoors, allows a majority of bees out of winter and start breeding. It resumed in the middle of January while the bees do not come out yet. These are pollen reserves they find under consumed honey that allow these first farms. Gradually the days are getting longer: outputs with harvest of pollen are more numerous, and everything starts to get the most of population when flowers are abundant. Initially, the laying of the Queen resumes with hundreds of eggs, right in the middle of the cluster.The ponte will intensify as the extension days and the presence of flowers.

The importance of the special food

The Queen is actually a super high specially by the community with exclusive food (Royal Jelly), from an ordinary egg. There is not a special egg, any female egg can give a Queen or a worker, according to the will of the bees. Only food changes.
Royal Jelly, secreted by the nurse bee, accelerates the growth of the individual. It takes 21 days for the egg to make a worker, and only 16 days with the same egg to make a totally different Queen. The Queen does not have tools of the worker, such as pollen, overactive glands wastepaper, and attributes for harvest on flowers. On the other hand, it develops excessive of the reproductive organs and glands with pheromones that will regulate life in society. Therefore, a Queen can lay, thanks to its many ovarian tubes, up to 3,000 eggs per day, choose the sex, lay male or female at will, and through its exclusive food in Royal Jelly, live 40 times longer than the worker.
Which would mean that, to match the bees, should be that man happens to 2,800 years to 70 years. We are not nearly there! Yet some gerontologists claim that human is to live up to 150 years and that it is because we are committing so many food mistakes and way of life, without forgetting our small defects (gluttony, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, drug abuse, etc.) that few of us will reach 80 years.
My father often told me the following story which stood in the 1910s.

There are more than 100 years...

His uncle, who was teacher and beekeeper, had initiated it to beekeeping. Teachers and priests were often people who could have free time to take care of bees.He told my father that if he was always well Gado, despite his great age, it is because since his childhood his breakfasts had composed of bread with honey. He was married three times. The third time at the age of 75 years with a woman 20 years younger than him. At the age of 90, he buries his third wife and ceremony, he said to my father: "this is still one of my wife who never wanted to eat honey". My great-uncle died anyway two years later.
Bees appear to be much more advanced than us in biochemistry. Obviously not by research as with us, but a very long evolution brought these opportunities, through food, play on the acceleration of growth, change the morphology of the individual, to revitalize the work of the Queen and extend its life in amazing proportions.

The importance of the race

Energized by the Royal Jelly, the Queen can lay daily nearly three times its own weight. What are bees which regulate oviposition in function of their own forecasts as to how long it will do and upcoming blooms.
By good forecasts, they still seek to have an optimum population for main flowering in their region. For example, the race carniolan bees, accustomed to big spring blooms, are almost unbeatable to make large populations very early in the season. On the other hand, at the end of summer and in autumn, they reduce maximally their number because, in their region of origin, there is more nothing to forage. Located in an area where the main flowering is Lavender in the summer, like here in Provence, or the Heather like in the Landes, this strain of bees won't practically harvest on these blooms. Our bee of Provence, accustomed to having flowers year-round, accustomed to the wind and the abrupt time changes, seems ideal for developing its population whenever necessary, as well in spring than in summer or autumn. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the pure breed, as many beekeepers import foreign breeds to make tests or crosses.

The nuptial flight

Fertilization takes place in mid-flight and foreign males come often from far away to find a Virgin to fertilize. It must be said that they are deliberately attracted by the Queen.
In my rearing apiaries, I often attended with fertilization. It is said that they occur at high altitude, this is not always true. Ten to fifteen meters at most, and very often only two or three meters of height. A Queen, a few days after his birth, fate itself with other young bees to identify its hive and goes further and further to familiarize themselves with its environment. Males do deal not at all, as if it was a sexless person. But the day chosen by it, the young virgin starts to secrete in flight of the sex pheromones that attract males to hundreds of metres away. Smell of males is not nothing, but there are better because I read in a scientific work that a large female of the Brazil Butterfly sécrétait collected by male moths pheromones to nearly 2 km distance. We are completely degenerate to this point of view. We feel a woman that perfume only a few metres from us. Although some have a very good sense of smell to it!
But truce joke, back to our young Queens in search of love...
It's wonderful to see this air ballet where the Queen, pursued by more and more males, changes direction quickly whenever it will be caught. Probably does tire males to fertilize by the fastest and strongest. Noise that make males fly looks a bit like that are real bees, that is probably why they are called false Bumblebee.
To better understand fertilization, must be that I am speaking somewhat from males. The male is twice as big as the worker, it didn't sting or hive working tools. It begins to emerge from the hive when it is mature. His youth is happening on or near the nest where he is pampered and fed by worker bees. Although not working not at all, by its presence on the brood he helps keep the heat of 35 ° required for farming, and relieves a brooding work young workers who are thus assigned to other work. Once mature, whenever time permits, it is continuously in the ride, not to forage but renta rather lutiner. The male has only this concern in mind, smell constantly wake up to sniff out a young Queen to fertilize.

He died of love!

If there are genital male we note that between the endophallus and the testicles are a bulb. At the time where the Queen leaves fertilize the male climbs on it, flying, mates, and under the effect of pressure of muscles sperm and mucus are ejaculated in the bulb of the penis. Then the male switches on itself as for parting. The bulb is supported with hinge, crushed, and literally explodes. Sometimes distinctly means a dry snap in the air. At this moment the male is ejected, perhaps in seventh heaven, and falls dead. There a beautiful death, it dies of love!
Perhaps this mechanism has some importance as it allows to increase the pressure and inject, with even more force, any seed liqueur that Queen store in a specially designed Pocket called the spermatheca pocket. There, millions of sperm will be stored and fed throughout the life of the Queen. Often, to completely fill this pocket, it must fertilize up to ten consecutive times. The Pocket full of million sperm, she actually becomes the mother of the hive and begins to lay their first eggs three days later. Saving measure, not working males, they do will be raised in times of abundance, rejected the Beehive where bees will discuss the end of blooms or provide drought or a catastrophic weather. Workers do not kill the males with their Stingers but are sometimes two or three to expel them. The guardians don't more let go and poor males die in a night of cold and hunger before the hive. When I see, in midsummer, males from the hive, it is very bad sign for honey (honey harvest) which begins, and it is often very profitable to transport the hives in another place, for example in the high mountains where drought conditions are often lower. I have also always some small apiaries at various elevations, that don't move throughout the year, which allows me to have witnesses and know the favourable moment to bring the polygynous hives.

Males or females on command

When the Queen wants to respond, if the egg falls into the ovarian tube, it passes near the spermatheca pocket. At this time the Queen command a small valve opening, some sperm escape. Fastest fertilizes the egg. The Queen lays as well in a small cell an egg fertilized, that will be always female. If she wants to meet a male, in a large cell, it leaves quite simply without the egg and fertilize. The male is therefore Parthenogenetic someone. He did not father, its chromosome number is half that of the female. It has 16 chromosomes and the worker and the Queen have 32. If he did not father say that he has a grandfather since the Queen has mixed chromosomes of father and mother, and point of view chromosomes it is the exact reflection of his mother. What is quite extraordinary, is that parthenogenesis gives a male and not female. If parthenogenesis was the fact of mammals, a female would make the world a female individual who would be his exact reflection as identical twins.

Laying workers

Sometimes a young Queen lost during her flight from fertilization, caught by a swallow or another enemy. The hive is found then without Queen and possibility to make a new since it has more eggs or larvae of the former Queen at his disposal. Indeed, it takes three days of incubation for eggs, eight days of larval stage followed by pupation. In all 21 days from egg to a worker, 16 days only for the Queen and 24 days for the false Bumblebee. The hive is therefore doomed to a slow death, but bees react in different ways. The pheromones of the Queen's absence, young bees see their ovaries grow and begin to lay eggs. Only the morphology of the worker does not fertilization, its ponte consists only of Parthenogenetic eggs that will give birth to males, and the hive withdraws due to lack of workers.
Laying workers are actually taken to Queens, although they agree between themselves and do not fight. But if the beekeeper, wanting to save his hive, introduced a pre-emergent fertilized Queen of one of his hives for breeding, it will be immediately killed by laying worker bees. I attended some quite extraordinary things about the efforts that make the bees to still save their family.
Sometimes workers are able to enter a weak hive to is steal an egg, which will be carefully cared for a Queen. Some hives do not expect to have hens workers and look for a way to compensate for the absence of the Queen.


At home I have a glazed ruchette which allows you to see all the work of bees. The entrance to this ruchette is outside, across the wall of the room where I am giving explanations. One day, in full explanation, we are witnessing more and more battles between bees. Quantities of bees, dead in battle, litter the bottom of the ruchette and we are witnessing the departure of survivors. Only a few dozen helpless bee still roam the rays. In this ruchette, it marks generally Queen by gluing on his chest a small pellet of polished aluminium, allowing in the middle of a teeming mass of bees to quickly see the Queen. However, we look for more means to find it.
So I had to reinstall a small new colony in my ruchette.
A few days later, working my hives, I get to put in order a colony I had noticed as having more Queen, it having been lost in fertilization. Surprise! I find the population increased, well quiet, headed the Queen marked my ruchette. That's "the abduction from the Seraglio" directed by bees, to which my visitors were able to attend.
Such behaviors are probably more common than people think and still show that among the bee all is not strictly frozen in a system, and that on occasion, it shows a certain intelligence.

Intelligence or instinct?

Regarding intelligence, studies have been undertaken by scientists, including by the Professor Rémy Chauvin, great specialist in animal societies. It appears that a bee compared to us has very little brain cells and one is surprised, still, be with so few cells it capable of initiative and intelligence. Evidence that, compared to humans, a bee individually it is very little in this area. But when submitting a whole colony to decide on putting in a certain unnatural situation, researchers say: "If bees are foolish, they will react no matter how, if they are smart they will be in such and such a way." Sometimes we are surprised because they found an intelligent solution to which men had not thought. It is therefore the bee colony that is intelligent and not bee taken individually.
We note that when the cluster must take a decision, the bees go from mouth to mouth of hormones that can be described as communication. These hormones leave, come back, leave, come back changed, and immediately the colony begins to run what was decided not by a few individuals, but by the entire colony. This means that there are no leaders, engineers, foremen, and that person command as we where this is the case at all stages.

Swarming or multiplication

In the spring, usually, at the time of renewal, bees experience, as all human beings live, the need to multiply. They decided to prepare the spin-off. To do this, the Queen lays in different, much larger cells which have the shape of an Acorn and whose opening is facing down. What are cells of Queens. The birth of small larvae, the nurse bees secrete of royal jelly in large quantities in these special alveoli and the larva will bathe in this phenomenal food that is going to change everything in its development. As I have already explained previously, Queens will be born of this special breeding. The day before the birth, half of the colony flies away, taking with it the old Queen and will establish a new colony more far, sometimes up to 15 km. Formerly Girl Scouts will go find the best places for the installation of the swarm, a hole well exposed in a rock, a hollow tree or an old abandoned hive. When departing workers have a very heavy flight because they carry with them provisions for three or four days. The new swarms will build its rays and will thrive if the weather is favourable.

The song of Queens

In strain, which left the swarm, the young Queens emerge from their cells and are called for to fight. It is the song of the Queens and if, at that time, you put your ear against the wall of the hive, you will hear the Queens who are launching what might be called their war cry: tut tut tut, and those that are still in their alveoli are: quwak, quwak, quwak. Perhaps is - this same sound distorted by the cell wall. The young Queens released immediately come poking these cells no longer have to fight new opponents. If these young Queens were not yet born, is that probably they have had less than royal jelly and did not have as fast growth. Good food always gives good growth. There are therefore selection by eliminating all that is overdue.
The selection takes place also by the struggle of the Queens born at the same time. It is the strongest who wins and who after fertilization will become the new Queen of the strain.
Swarming is like love, and love it a little crazy. Bees do not escape this madness and sometimes swarm up to complete exhaustion of the population. In this case, they provide several series of cells of different age and prevent the young Queens to destroy them by protecting them. Even if the weather is rainy, they keep them prisoners in their cells by preventing them to go out. When the sky clears, they issue the Queens, and half the population spreads again, but this time with young Queens. Every three days can leave of new swarms, the latter are not larger than the fist. They are non-viable within highly attentive care on the part of the beekeeper.

The fate of the old Queens

Sometimes the first spin-off takes place with young virgin Queens. This is the case when the mother is too old. To get rid of, they often a false spin. I.e. they leave full of enthusiasm with the poor old and will lose it a little further. Then, all the bees return to the hive and when the young queens are released cause them with them. The Virgin fight takes place when the swarm is installed in its new home.
I could never observe bees that sting their old Queens. For separating they wear of the scheme I have you explained above, or else make as if the Beehive was attacked by any enemy. Many workers surround the Queen as to protect. In reality they choke it. On the other hand, if a foreign Queen is introduced or is introduced, it will be immediately stung as a vulgar worker.
The natural spin-off is the ruin of the professional beekeeper who cannot be everywhere at the same time in its many apiaries and sees leave its capital in smoke.Personally I select especially hives that have the best performance and that swarm little. These are strains that I choose to make raising Queens and artificial swarming. Renewing Queens every two years and increasing the volume of the hive by the installation of additional elements whenever it is necessary, I have virtually no swarming in my farm.


Yes hear you say me, everything is beautiful, bees us surprised. But bees it stings! We have fear. This fear is often justified when it disturbs the colony, that is not notified and profane in this matter. A beekeeper who knows well the behavior of bees into account and working his hives when the time and the nectar make bees in a good mood; There is generally little bites.
At home, the amount of beehives to work compels my staff, my son and myself to disturb our little world even when the weather does not lend and makes very aggressive people. That is to say that we pick up hundreds of bites these days there, then some days we could visit the hives in a swimsuit. Even when taking all precautions, should take account of the fact that there are breeds of very gentle bees and other very aggressive. Even with the softer on is not protected from inadvertent hybridization that makes these ultra nasty cross-bees.
I will always remember about 35 years ago, I had hives driving tests to several Queens. I had written in a beekeeping magazine an account of my experiences.This had brought me a large correspondence, and some beekeepers visits in my apiaries. This is that one day, I get visited by a man posing as a lecturer and Professor of apiculture. After a few explanations and comments, it asks me to visit some hives with me to realize on the spot.

A good lesson

I accept willingly, prepares material veil, the survey frames and the smoker whose purpose is to repel the attacks of the bees, which helps prevent the bees who are thinking attacked, go to soak up honey. This is in anticipation of having still some reservations, in case the hive would be plundered of its honey. Increased by honey bee hard curved abdomen and usually refrains from stinging.
The Professor shows me his amazement of the presence of a veil of protection for the face. Goes to debit me a litany on how to open a hive and smoke it following the behavior of bees. He concludes by telling me that a real beekeeper does not veil of protection. It undertakes to show me how to do. I reply okay but I prefer when even accompany it with my veil, perhaps not being a real beekeeper according to its criteria. A little annoyed by Professorial tone that this character had adopted, I tell myself: you my old, you need a good lesson in humility. I confess to being a little naughty, because I gave him to visit a hybrid colony from the race the sweetest I know, the bee of the Banat from Yugoslavia but which, unfortunately, had been crossed with the bees in the region, which made them to a stunning wickedness.
So my teacher speaker without a veil, the smoker by hand, who told me: 'see, some shots of smoke at the entrance, expected a few moments before opening the roof. A few good puffs to lower the bees and do not let them take over. »
So far things are going very well, but I knew what was going to happen next. After a few moments, despite the smoke, these bees began to mount, as the foam a paid too quickly, beer and, when the thickness of this multitude reached two fingers, almost all these ferocious guardians of their honey is disposed of, in a single flight, at the bare head of my companion. This was followed by loud cries of pain. It is difficult to describe this show where more than twenty darts are planted, at the same time, at the end of the nose, to the lobes of the ears, eyes and under the pants where the bees climb to sting ankles and buttocks. I understand very well that at this moment he dropped the smoker and is put to run faster than a race walk champion, by literally dipping into his car to escape the buzzing Pack of fury.


For my part, protected by my veil, big socks going back on the pants I could calmly close the hive. In the few minutes that followed everything was normal.
Average out the eminent professor of his car and no need to tell you that I he have ever seen in my life. Information taken from my colleagues, it was a man who had spent a speaker of beekeeping course recently, and who possessed a single hive in his garden. It seems he never wanted to talk about bees subsequently.
This little story, which I guarantee authenticity, clearly shows that we must remain humble and never say 100% of the things that you just read without having experience in the field.
I happen to read books on beekeeping where the author claims also never put veil of protection. I know that this is possible with certain breeds well selected for their sweetness, and under certain weather conditions. Nevertheless, it always makes me smile and I cordially invite them to spend a whole day in my apiaries.When you shall live of beekeeping, there is a world of difference with one that takes only a few tens of hives and has much time to choose his days, and the one who should treat hundreds of hives.
Bees are particularly nasty when flowers are lacking, and it opens a hive. It being discovered, the pillardes bees from the nearby hives come steal a bit of honey on the framework that the beekeeper released this hive. These bees tell their sisters who come more and more numerous, and battles are committed with a ferocity increased to measure that extends the work in the Apiary.

Virtues of the venom of bees

The elders were already talking of the bee venom to treat rheumatism. We know now that the venom of bees is one of the most powerful vasodilators known and it makes the blood more fluid. Which would mean that it can avoid us premature arterial clogging, when we know that diseases of the arteries are those that do the most damage among modern men!
A doctor is often surprised, taking my blood to find low compared to my age. It is true that for my part it is tens of thousands of bites I have accumulated since childhood so far. This is not always pleasant because the pain is still as crushing as for the non-immunized. I happen frequently, pissed too of stings, to treat my dear bees (as my wife says) of dirty rosses! My father told me, laughing even thirty years after it occurred, the following story: he had as a neighbour, a good big farmer crippled from rheumatism that morning very early before milking his cows, came to the Apiary, the painful approach. There, she chose the most populous hive and with his Cowherd's staff gave several strong shots. Once done, she turned, the rear opposite the entrance to the hive and raised her petticoats up to size.The bees came out as of the furies and is gave heart to joy, not confusing what was offered them with the full moon. My father, who stood far away, heard screams and curses. When it considered having his dose, she strongly pulled her petticoats and started running like a rabbit. One day, a furious bee released his womanizing while she milked and attacked the cow which marked his displeasure by sending Leonard suddenly paw the bucket full of milk.
When she had her attacks of rheumatism in the hindquarters, she came often several consecutive days and sometimes said to my father: 'today my husband has removed me 20 darts, this is not enough because my dose is approximately thirty bites.' It seems that after this treatment she was quiet for several months before having new crises of rheumatism.
Still say that it was certainly not allergy and that it had a real beekeeper posterior.


Our beautiful Provence clouds are low in the sky. I relax a little under my Centennial twice Linden, it is necessary to recharge the batteries from time to time. I doze after a tiring night of transhumance in truck where, with a help, I had brought back 120 hives of beyond from Grenoble where they moved the Acacia and chestnut trees. We pick on the wild lavender in the region, at an altitude of 1200 metres, the flowering being imminent. Here drought is rife, and if I took the risk of making this transport, it is that sedentary apiaries bees continue to raise a many brood without worrying about the current time.
At my meditation, I me asleep. The distant rumbling of Thunder gave this morning a mysterious and disturbing atmosphere. Suddenly, a warm, wet, wind from the Mediterranean, whipped up the tops of the trees and made me get out of my torpor. Intense humming of bees rushing to return to the hive accompanied this gust.Five minutes later, heavy rain began to fall. As always the bees had felt it coming and had returned to their home comforter, that I quickly me also to relax well away.
I still remember the transhumance we did thirty years ago. The hives that we had to move were discovered from their roofs. A wire-mesh frame was nailed on top and at the entrance, in order to give maximum ventilation to bees trapped at night in their hive.
The charming sound of engine you hear are bees." "Bees!" replied the man making a withdrawal (at least three meters) jump. Meanwhile, some were closer to see what I was: it intrigued them all these boxes on pallets that were a load of two metres high. The word bees, it was the rout. "Don't be afraid, I say, come them and see there is no danger. '' A few brave believed me and came to enjoy an impressive sight: bees feeling the wind of the speed of the truck, little by little, came out well quietly take to the air, stationed in beautiful shiny beards, and by the thousands suggested to ventilate their home. Say that a few million bees suggested on the 60 million represented by the truck load!
Bees that travel open beehives, in perfect freedom, are not concerned and remain calm. As we travel the night, this is not the time to forage. They simply deal with the interior work and aerate the hive. As that day it was very hot, it is intense aeration that changed the sound of the engine. It must be said that this is not without reason that I leave the engine to the truck stop. Diesel engine vibration, transmitted on any body, contribute to that bees are held in well homogeneous clusters and are not attracted by the lights of the station. If I stopped the engine, I garantirais nothing, it could be a general Stampede. I can imagine what it would be to fall in engine failure, through the centre of a big city. This would be an unforgettable memory for passing revelers there!


It also happened to me, when I was still my hives in Ain, pulling them by the A7 motorway, burst the two rear tires of a twin wheel of the truck 90 km hour. A small pebble was stuck between the wheels up to user and puncture the tires carcasses. Here I am at two o'clock in the morning broke down on the edge of the highway, with six open hives tonnes.
Fortunately, the failure occurred near a service area, which enabled me to park the truck apart from the heavy traffic. With only one spare wheel, nobody paying attention to my failure, one solution: wait. Around five o'clock in the morning, the police stop, we open the service area allowing me to park the vehicle and its buzzing to a hundred meters in nature. Very understanding, the gendarmes left me load in their dispatch rider two wheels exploded and were kind enough to take us, my help and me, to the nearest garage. I had made the decision not to discharge the hives and see what would happen, because we were too edgy and tired.We couldn't start the evening after repair.
Returning with the tires in the van, the mechanic who drove arrives at 100 meters from the truck, plant a great shot of brake seeing the cloud of bees that surrounded my car. He said all net that he would not go farther. Imagine we were fallen down into the great descent of Vienna in the Middle large woods of chestnut trees in full bloom. Bees worked tirelessly, we felt the smell of the nectar of chestnut. My help and I have without a veil, without protection, change the wheels without aggression of bees, so my workers were in a good mood.

The derivative and the harvest

What I dreaded the most, was that in terms of business we call "drift". That is, the bees from hives located inside and at the bottom of the truck lose their foragers for the benefit of the hives from the outside and the top.
Looking at the back of the truck, I was quite amazed to see masses of foragers that arose over the truck and that dived vertically to join their booty at the bottom.When these hives were deposited to their new location, there was virtually no imbalance in populations. I would never have thought that such a thing was possible.
At the entrance, a multitude of ventileuses were active in intense humming. "To temper their homes, bees bring water in peripheral cells of the nest to brood. The ventileuses settled side and constant evaporation sanitizes and refreshes the atmosphere of the hive. The mass of the inactive bees decongests housing in settling outside. If bees were not this way organizing, excessive animal heat would melt the wax and honey would flow in stuck and suffocating the population."
A further observation I was discovering the black water points of bees, which suggested that drought settled and that it might be useful to change altitude or region.
The visit of the hives confirmed me breeding very important (good sign for the future), but virtually no input of nectar.
Lavender bloom began. I took the risk to bring half of my transhumant apiaries. I should still have confidence in my bees because during my transport it began to fall good stormy rains, which allowed us to make this season there a beautiful harvest on wild lavender. In other years, the time is as bad or as dry almost everywhere, and in this case it is necessary to sustain in annoying or praying that the situation changes.


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