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Harvesting honey from a Warre hive
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John B
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gareth,

Me, afraid of the unknown? I got married, didn't I? Laughing Laughing

No, it's DEFRA I'm afraid of. And although I have hive insurance, thanks to the dear old BBKA, I don't want to find out I'm not covered if a honey customer gets a reaction to my honey, and the subsequent enquiry finds the honey is tainted, exotically flavoured, has that added something-extra, or is plain contaminated with bee faeces. Thanks to our national habit of following in our American cousins' footsteps, we're becoming a much more litigeous society, and it would be folly to not bear that in mind.

I had already got the impression that Bernhard was a very experienced Warre beekeeper, and I learn something of value from most of his posts. So I have noted his comments about "have a go yourself and you'll see it's fine", and almost certainly I will take his advice, but if I make a Warre and populate it this Spring, it's going to be Autumn 2010 before I get my first harvest. That's a long time before I can, literally, "suck it and see".

Regards, John
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chaindrivecharlie
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John I dont know if this is the answer you were looking for but. I e-mailed Randy Oliver at Scinetific Beekeeping for an answer to your question. He wrote back quickly with this statement.

Here's what I wrote.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To Randy Oliver.

Dear Sir,

I have a question that I am hoping you could answer. There has been a question raised on bee larva fece's in crushed and strained comb honey. Can you please give me your best answer on this subject? This has to do with keeping bes in WarrE hives. Which require putting box's under the exsisting bottom box. And the bees building down and moving the brood chamber down also. Which leaves the emptying brood cells above to be backfilled with honey. This process has some worried about bee larva poop in their honey. I am hoping for a diffenitive answer to this query, inquiring minds want to know. Thank you for your time and effort.

Sincerely,
A Fellow Beek,
Chaindrivecharlie
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
And this was His responce.

Hi Charlie,

There is a small amount of meconium that leaches from brood combs into the honey. It may darken the honey slightly. There is no threat to humans, as it does not show up as bacterial contamination. It happens with most commercial honey production, since most use dark combs for honey supers.

I can assure your friends that they inhale far more dirt and pathogenic bacteria and fungi in the air that they breathe every day. And in the food that they eat, more than they will get from the honey. Honey comes from the comb danged near sterile.

Randy
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hope this helps answer Your Question John.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Charlie. I think we can conclude from this and the other answers that we have this subject nailed down now, unless and until someone can provide actual analytical data to show otherwise.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norm wrote:
Peter, the reason I transcribed David's answer from the Yahoo group is because no one here seems to have the experience or knowledge to provide a good authoratative answer. You say you read his reply there also! I am wondering why you choose here to direct your point by point analysis of his answer and not on Yahoo!


Hi Norm

We were discussing this topic on this board; I don't see any sense in moving the discussion back and forth between boards do you? I can understand you asking the question on David’s board and copying it back here (although both David and Bernhard post here), but that topic has been discussed there before and I'm not going to keep track of two lines of debate over the same issue; for this reason I replied here.


Norm wrote:

I am beginning to suspect your motives. Confused


Yup, you've caught me, I'm sponsored by agrochemical multinationals and only got myself banned from the BBKA forum as a cover to come here and disrupt.... lol....No, I'm sorry to say, any conspiracy theory over my presence here is baseless.

I'm simply conscious that when we start to look at any subject, with preconceived ideas that it is good or bad, we cherry pick the "facts" to prove our assumptions, rather than creating credible experiment based data with which to make our case. One may well say that "we know it works" or "try it and you will find out", but if we want to make a seed change in the thinking of the beekeeping establishment we need to take an approach which precludes the accusation that we are just crackpots following a feel good, utopian, clique. However, if those type of accusations do not bother you, then I'd challenge your motives, are we here to be self-righteous finger-pointers at traditional methods, or are we seriously working toward a new way forward for both hobby and commercial beekeepers?


Peter
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biobee
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you want to veer off into philosophical discourse, you are welcome to start a new thread.

We have some pretty categorical, fact-based answers to the original question, and unless someone has some evidence that they are inaccurate or incomplete, I think we can consider this thread to have run its course.
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Norm
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Peter,

I wasn't suggesting your were anything of the kind. More like, you just like to argue for arguments sake. Hence the merry-go-round of repeated posts saying more or less the same things over and over!

I was surprised you didn't answer David on his group rather than come here and do so point by point as if you were argueing with me. David only rarely comes here and posts, even though he is a member.

All that said, you have every right to make as many points as you like. You are never discourteous and I like the way you put a lot of thought into your posts but perhaps my irritation is due to the fact that I am in here writing this when I could be outside in the sun watching my bees! Laughing Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norm wrote:
Hello Peter,
I wasn't suggesting your were anything of the kind. More like, you just like to argue for arguments sake. Hence the merry-go-round of repeated posts saying more or less the same things over and over!

Well, I guess I can't refute 'arguing for arguments sake' without confirming your suspicions! ;o)

But, any 'merry-go-round' in the past has, IMHO, been because some replies to my posts completely ignore my main points, or cherry pick minor points to sideline the topic, which I grant can be as frustrating to other readers as I find it myself.

Norm wrote:

All that said, you have every right to make as many points as you like. You are never discourteous and I like the way you put a lot of thought into your posts but perhaps my irritation is due to the fact that I am in here writing this when I could be outside in the sun watching my bees! Laughing Laughing Laughing

Oh good, I do like it when we both agree, and here I share your frustrations, roll on the spring.


Peter
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
If you want to veer off into philosophical discourse, you are welcome to start a new thread.

We have some pretty categorical, fact-based answers to the original question, and unless someone has some evidence that they are inaccurate or incomplete, I think we can consider this thread to have run its course.


Hi Phil

I don't regard my answering Norm’s post to be Veering off into philosophical discourse, sorry, and most of the opinions expressed on this subject here are just that, opinions, not fact based data.

Randy's reply to Charlie is interesting, but as he seems to be referring to honey contamination from old conventional dark supers in the US, I would hazard a guess these combs became dark because they were extracted by centrifuge over years and years and not crushing; and maybe didn't even ever have any brood in them. From that observation I don't think it too far a leap to assume Randy has no direct experience of honey from crushed TBH or Warre comb and at the least his post asks as many questions as it answers.

Bernhard on the other hand has more experience of extracting honey from Warre hives than the whole of the rest of the board put together and while he has said Warre honey is fine, even if you disregard any vested interest (I don't mean to imply you are anything other than honorable and truthful Bernhard, on the contrary I have allot of respect for you) he has also said he gets quite a scum of all sorts of detritus in his jars. Now, I have a few customers that come to the door who like that sort of thing, but will trading standards and my deli outlet?

I'm happy to continue looking at how contaminates from crushed comb can be minimalized, maybe by different extraction methods, and once my Warre has a harvest to deal with I'm happy to try different methods to forward any remaining debate; but I cant agree with you that anything has been proven one way or the other on this thread, so far at least!


Best regards

Peter
Cambridge UK


Last edited by pdcambs on Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gareth
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pdcambs wrote:


But, any 'merry-go-round' in the past has, IMHO, been because some replies to my posts completely ignore my main points, or cherry pick minor points to sideline the topic, which I grant can be as frustrating to other readers as I find it myself.



1) I read recently that if you ask three beekeepers the same question you'll get six answers.

2) Its the nature of any discussion that it goes off topic from time to time and then drifts back. Often with a different slant on the issue.

3) In this manner we make progress in the way we think: new angles on old topics come to mind. This is a collective process and, like all processes has its moments of frustration but also of enlightenment.

4) Personally I am here because I enjoy the chat; I learn new things, see new angles on old things and get confirmation that there are others in the same boat as me.

5) What boat is that? The desire to find a way of keeping bees that works for my bees in my locality with my hives and with me. If I'm really lucky I might get some honey. Failing this I'll have the satisfaction of having and handling bees; creatures which I find endlessly fascinating.

6) Do I want to 'convert' others to our new methods? Frankly, no, but if they wish to join the endeavour they are more than welcome and I, along with many others here will gladly share what knowledge/insights/opinions (yes opinions) we have.

7) Do I think active debate and dialectic is interesting/helpful? Yes, but only up to a point. I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is no one right answer.

Now I'm off to have a cup of tea.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gareth

I broadly agree with you.

But regarding your points 1 and 7, surely it depends on the question. Ask something like how do you do your swarm control and yes you will get a myriad of differing but equally valid answers. However, ask how many legs does a healthy bee have and I'd hope there would only be one (one answer that is!)

The former should and would provide an educational discourse, whereas failing to answer the latter would just build frustration; I'd hope you'd agree.


Best regards


Peter
Cambridge UK


Last edited by pdcambs on Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:18 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gareth
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pdcambs wrote:
However, ask how many legs does a healthy bee have and I'd hope there would only be one!



That's odd: I thought bees generally had six legs rather than only one! Wink Wink

Now, that cup of tea.......
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Stevedore
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I had to look up the word "meconium" myself. I believe what Randy is saying is that the earliest stools of the pupae are what causes the dark coloring in the comb. He is NOT saying that the dark color is the result of repeated use of the same honeycomb. He goes on to say that the honey comes out "danged near sterile".
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John B
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been thinking about Randy's reply for a couple of days now, and I fail to see how honey which is stained by meconium can be "danged near sterile". I was once an operating theatre scrub nurse, and wouldn't have lasted long if I told a surgeon that the instruments were danged near sterile - they either are or they aren't sterile.

Take it one stage further - If you had a flesh wound being treated with a honey dressing (very much in vogue now), you wouldn't want meconium-tainted honey used in it. Or would you?

Whilst I respect the fact that this is your website Phil, I fail to see how you can try to draw this thread to a close when most of the opinion here is speculative. Frankly, only by taking swabs from brood comb, cultivating them and viewing the results under microscopy, will this be settled. And I suspect only someone like a Bee Inspector will have the facility to do this.

John
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John B wrote:

Whilst I respect the fact that this is your website Phil, I fail to see how you can try to draw this thread to a close when most of the opinion here is speculative. Frankly, only by taking swabs from brood comb, cultivating them and viewing the results under microscopy, will this be settled. And I suspect only someone like a Bee Inspector will have the facility to do this.


Opinion is one thing, nit-picking pedantry is another (not that I am accusing you of that) and the argument was going nowhere fast.

But given the difficulty - even impossibility - of growing bacteria on honey, which is bactericidal, it is hard to see how it is possible for anything that has originated from nectar and pollen to cause a bacterial infection. And if we are not talking about bacterial infection, what are we talking about?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What it boils down to is that I'd be much happier selling honey that I know contains no faecal matter at all (from fresh honey comb) than honey from previous brood comb. I aim to find a way to take the first course, and try to avoid the second.

But I agree with you, Phil. There's nowhere else for this to go.

Regards, John
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John B wrote:
What it boils down to is that I'd be much happier selling honey that I know contains no faecal matter at all (from fresh honey comb) than honey from previous brood comb. I aim to find a way to take the first course, and try to avoid the second.


Absolutely agree!

A simple filtration through muslin will remove stray legs and other bits, and there appears to be no evidence that anything that passes through such a filter is at all harmful. It would put all our minds at rest if someone could do the tests to ensure we absolutely cannot pass on anything unpleasant to our friends and customers, but I certainly won't be losing sleep over it. I would be more worried about the risk of pesticide contamination, if I lived in an area where there was any significant spraying or use of systemics.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Different subject altogether, but I went to a lecture last Saturday, by Prof. Keith Delaplane from Georgia. They did some tests by building new hives, shaking in bees that had not been dosed with antibiotics or chemicals, and tested the new wax they produced. The new wax contained very detectable levels of several substances used widely in the States on bees. So is it in the air, or put onto flowers by treated bees? All a big mystery!

John
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Stevedore
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This would make a great research project for a microbiologist. As a former medical laboratory technician with some experience in bacteriology, I can tell you that the mere observation of bacteria under the microscope is only the first step in processing a culture once something has grown. There may be "normal flora" or microbiota associated with bees (if indeed they can survive the antiseptic nature of honey) as there are hundreds of species that live in a symbiotic relationship with man. Man would not be able to digest his food if not for the "normal" bacteria that live in his intestines.

If a culture medium (such as sheep blood agar) grows anything, it is gram stained and observed under a microscope. The individual colonies are classified as either gram positive (blue to purple) or gram negative (pink to red). They are further classified by their morphology or shape as cocci, rods, or spirals. Then there are a whole rank of chemical tests performed to further classify the species of bacteria. Gram positive chains of cocci in a throat culture that exhibit a beta (clear) hemolytic pattern on sheep blood agar and test catalase negative are probably Streptococcus pyogenes - harmful to humans and associated with rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, erysipelas, strep throat, tonsillitis, and other upper respiratory infections. Gram positive clusters of cocci in the same throat culture that exhibit beta hemolysis or no hemolytic pattern (gamma hemolysis) on sheep blood agar and test catalase positive are probably a form of Staphylococcus - usually considered non-pathogenic in the upper respiratory tract.

So even if bacteria exists in honey, further tests would have to be made to determine whether it is harmful to humans if consumed. I would say that in the absence of microbiological testing, the only way to insure honey is 100% bacteria-free is pasteurization. That opens up a whole new debate on pros and cons.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stevedore wrote:

So even if bacteria exists in honey, further tests would have to be made to determine whether it is harmful to humans if consumed. I would say that in the absence of microbiological testing, the only way to insure honey is 100% bacteria-free is pasteurization. That opens up a whole new debate on pros and cons.


Steve

While I can conceive that the gut of a bee larva might well contain a microflora, I can see little reason, from a biological viewpoint, why it would contain microbes that are pathogenic to humans. Why would such pathogens be there? So even if bee larva gut microbes found their way into honey, and survived there as spores, I would not expect this to present a risk to consumers.

I can, however, conceive that honey might be contaminated with general environmental contaminants; insecticides etc (as mentioned by John, above) and, to my mind, this represents a far more important issue.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I am no scientist and don't pretend to totally understand such things but I do see things in a simplistic way! Very Happy

For instance in a standard hive, a young bee may be cleaning out a brood cell one minute with her mouth parts, perhaps carrying out certain substances to dump outside the hive. On the way back in, she meets a forager and takes from her, her nectar which she then takes up to the super to deposit it for evaporation. Isn't this the same kind of so called 'contamination'. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norm wrote:
Well I am no scientist and don't pretend to totally understand such things but I do see things in a simplistic way! Very Happy

For instance in a standard hive, a young bee may be cleaning out a brood cell one minute with her mouth parts, perhaps carrying out certain substances to dump outside the hive. On the way back in, she meets a forager and takes from her, her nectar which she then takes up to the super to deposit it for evaporation. Isn't this the same kind of so called 'contamination'. Wink


Norm

If you're saying that potential contamination of honey with brood materials is not confined to any one type of hive (eg Warre) because of the way bees work, yes, I can completely see the point you are making, and agree with you. And I agree with the inference that over this we have no control whatsoever, regardless of hive type.

I was making a slightly different point and that is that general environmental pollution is something that we, as humans (not just beeks) DO have control over, and is a more worthwhile issue to spend energy on.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I emailed the president of our local beekeeping association who is also the bee inspector for three local counties. I asked whether bee inspectors were equipped to collect cultures from hives and honey.

Quote:

Yes I can take samples from hives and send them in for analysis, but I need to tell them what to look for. I did not get your attachment, it didn't come through. The bees clean out the cells after the brood hatches. I have not heard of bee poop in honey, but I'm sure their is,this could be the reason for the different colors of honey . ha
I will also need way and method to collect the samples, the samples will be sent to government lab.they may or may not have equipment to do your testing.


I then explained that the question was hypothetical, as I have nothing for him to test. Smile
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has been an interesting discussion to follow. Seems like a blind lab test would be the only way to answer this question in a way that would satisfy the inspectors...

John B wrote:
What it boils down to is that I'd be much happier selling honey that I know contains no faecal matter at all (from fresh honey comb) than honey from previous brood comb. I aim to find a way to take the first course, and try to avoid the second.


I would propose adding to the blind test some commercially produced honey from different parts of the world, alongside other "more natural" samples. We could then run the contaminants found through a risk assessment for carcinogenicity, etc.

Also, as Norm mentioned, a bee might touch cell waste and nectar and spread impurities through the hive. We should also consider--in any hive, honey could be moved around, from the brood nest to storage above. So, there's really no way I can see to guarantee that honey in the top super or anywhere else has not been cured / stored / or temporarily deposited in the brood nest.

So, I guess we'll have to see if anyone can run a lab test. For my part, I'm going to have to trust the innate cleanliness of the bees--I'm more worried about my neighbors might add to the honey ( pesticides) than anything the bees themselves will add.

(I'm glad to see all of this discussion!)

Cheers,
Stu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 12:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We're obviously doing it all wrong - we should forthwith install bee-size washbasins with some of that alcohol gel in dispensers as well, so that they can make sure they're hygienic enough for us - perhaps medicated loo roll over little loos would be good, and some signs exhorting them to use it.........
I suspect that a great many problems of "civilisation" are (as is borne out by much recent research) caused by a lack of what my granny called "clean dirt" - we NEED to be exposed to such things to develop and maintain immune systems.
I'm FAR more concerned with "icide" and GM traces than I ever am over something that has naturally always been in honey, ever since man first indulged in the stuff! Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

just think about all those little dirty bee feet walking all over that clean comb, tracking who knows what into the hive. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brosville, very true. Too much cleanliness leads to an awful lot of sickness and leaves people ill-prepared (excuse the pun) to experience different environments and eat different foods.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's been mentioned several times here that honey is antibacterial, but thought it was the low water content that prevented bacteria and 'germs' from multiplying in honey; after all, add just a small amount of water to honey and it ferments nicely without any further help.



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Norm
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought it was yeast that caused fermentation, and isn't yeast an enzyme not a bacteria?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norm wrote:
I thought it was yeast that caused fermentation, and isn't yeast an enzyme not a bacteria?

I thought it was fungal?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh agreed, yeast is the cause of fermentation, poor example on my part yes; but my point is that an antibacterial (to my understanding at least) kills bacteria etc. to produce a sterile microbial environment, but 'nasties' are well known to survive well in honey.

So, is it not the case that bacteria have a hard time in honey due to the low water content, or am I wrong and any bacteria unlucky enough to find their way into honey are quickly killed?


Peter
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Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

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