Tuesday, 21 February 2017

It's a Trap!

Regular readers (that's all of you, right?!) will remember that a few months ago I started preparing an Asian Hornet trap, based on the instructions helpfully provided the National Bee Unit and DEFRA.

Well, having taken an unnecessarily long time getting my act together, I finally finished it this weekend.  Here's a picture of the assembled and baited trap, hanging from the willow tree in the apiary:

Come and get it!

There are various options for baiting the trap.  The DEFRA guide says: "In the field we have ... found that a protein bait of mashed fish e.g. prawns or trout, diluted to 25% has also proven effective. Other effective baits include sweet mixtures of wine, sugar, cassis, and water."  And this amusing observation:

"French beekeepers often use a mixture of dark beer, strawberry syrup and orange liqueur for this purpose."

Well, of course they do.  How very French...

Anyway, it looks like fishy, sweet and alcoholic are the tastes that really pique the interest of queen asian hornets.  I assume the alcohol is attractive because it replicates the smell of fermenting fruit, which wasps and hornets are certainly attracted to.  Hence fruit-based alcohol such as wine, cassis and orange liqueur.

My own bait of choice is cat food (white fish), mixed with cherry liqueur and a little water.  Many thanks to our cat, Patsy, for sparing part of her lunch yesterday.  Here's the mixture in the trap - I'm sure it looks delicious:

Mmmm... tasty...

OK - that's maybe not so appetising for humans!

If I do trap an asian hornet, then the next step will be to photograph it and then send it off to DEFRA for analysis.  But hopefully, none of them survived the winter - fingers crossed...

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Bees on the Radio

Bees are quite a hot topic on the radio at the moment.  In fact, last summer I was invited to the studios of BCFM Radio in Bristol to do a short interview about bee stuff.  Being somewhat disorganised, I hadn't actually got round to uploading the interview until now...!

Anyway, here it is - some musings on honey bees, hornets, solitary bees and other stuff:

There are also a couple of interesting programmes on BBC iPlayer.  This one is from The Life Scientific (with the always-excellent Jim Al-Khalili):


... and this one takes a look at the social behaviour of honey bees, and compares (and contrasts) it with our own: