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20 November 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)      

A Poppleton Hive is a type of long box hive designed and used by O. O. Poppleton of Florida in the first half of the 20th century. A “Long Box Hive” is a single story hive that is arranged horizontally instead of vertically like most modern commercial hives.

You can think of the long box hive as just that — a long box. The top of the box opens or has vertical drawers that may be removed from above. The drawers/frames are arranged sort of like books in a bookcase laying on it back. Each drawer contains a frame to accommodate one comb. The frames are arranged and hive designed to group brood combs toward the center and honeycombs toward either end.

This allows drawers with honeycombs (and, therefore, honey) to be removed, examined or the honey harvested with the least disturbance to the rest of the hive. The broodcombs, in which the queen lays her eggs and the young honeybees are nurtured to maturity, are “doubly undisturbed” by not only being in separate drawers, but in a relatively “distant” and distinct location from the honeycombs.

Poppleton Hive

Poppleton Hive

The Poppleton, like most long box hives, is a deeper hive than the modern vertically stacked commercial hive. So, sometimes, a long box uses proportionally larger frames than the standard commercial hive, but still incorporates the Langstroth dimensions into its frames and drawers to assure one, separate comb to a frame.

A particular advantage was provided by the concentration of the broodcombs in the middle of the long box. During the winter season of honeybee inactivity, the two extreme ends of these hives could be stuffed with insulation materials reducing the total area of hive. This smaller area, limited to the broodcombs, made keeping the hive warm in winter a much easier job for the inactive honeybees.

The Poppleton was particularly popular in the southeastern U.S. in the early part of the 20th century. Then, as now, weight seemed to a primary consideration and the Poppleton was designed with the “older” beekeeper in mind. While a standard commercial Langstroth hive was stacked in vertical modules that could, with combs, reach weights up to 50 pounds per module, the horizontal Poppleton required the beekeeper only to remove individual (and relatively light-weight) drawers from above.

Paradoxically, the light weight and easy access to the drawers did nothing to reduce the weight of the entire long box. As a matter of fact, the greater total volume of the long box made the “whole hive” much heavier and more difficult to move. It was primarily this weight and mobility issue that caused most all long box hives to fall from popularity.

Today, the long box is making a comeback with amateur, if not commercial, beekeepers. Although it remains to be seen whether today’s young amateurs, with the passing of years, will find the weight of the long box an issue, the concern with weight and the (now, the word is) “mature” beekeeper is no less central with light-weight components being a central design feature of both the Dartington modular hive and its manufactured sibling, the partially plastic Beehaus.

SIGNITURE FAKE WITH BLACK BORDER LEFT

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21 August 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)

The “Blue Bee” is a species of carpenter bee formally called xylocopa caerulea (or X. caerulea for short).   Actually, this bee doesn’t seem to have a universally accepted common name.  When I saw it, I thought I would be the first to name it the “Blue Bee.”  But, alas, many others who’ve seen this remarkably bright blue insect have used the same name – even if it isn’t the “accepted” common name — yet.

The blue bee makes its home in Southeast Asia, Southern China, and all of India.  There’s something else, besides its blue color, that makes this bee unusual – its size.  This bee is large measuring almost an inch in length.

Most of the bee population is female.  So, female bees are most often seen and photographed.  Observation of the male bees can be a rather rare thing.  But, with the blue bee, it’s worth the search because of the male’s distinct coloring.  The male blue bee isn’t exactly blue.  Instead, the male sports a some green and teal blue.

The blue bee has been seen most often in forested areas collecting pollen and nectar from local flowers.

There are some beautiful pictures of this particular species.  But I’ll direct the reader to the following links out of respect for possible copyrights on these striking images of the “blue bee.”

What’s That Bug?

Xylocopa caerulea

Tung Kin Foong’s Blog

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21 August 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)

The Peacock Carpenter Bee (formally, Xylocopa bombylans or X. bombylans for short) gets its name because of its colorful metallic-looking “finish.”   I can only describe this bee as having a body that reflects light like an abalone shell. It’s iridescent – the colors seem to change when viewed from different angles.  The male’s white facial markings distinguish the male from the female.

The Peacock is a large and rather rotund bee with a very loud and low buzz.  These bees are lone foragers.  That is, like the bumblebee, they gather honey and pollinate, alone.  These bees favor various flowers in Queensland, Australia.

The Peacock is a “carpenter” bee, which means they build their nests by burrowing tunnels into wood.  The hollow nesting is partitioned into cells into which this bee lays eggs and, then, fills with food to be consumed by the young larvae after the eggs have hatched.

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7 August 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)

            The Vulture bee is one of the oddest members of the bee family.  Discovered in 1902, the Trigona hypogea (or T. hypogea) was found to be a member of a relatively small number of species of “stingless bees.”

New Picture (3)

Stingless bees of all varieties are of great interest these days.  These bees are being carefully examined as candidates for domestication.   Commercial beekeepers are looking for a bee that’s a good pollinator and honey producer.   But beekeepers also want a bee that can’t pose the toxic danger that stinging bees sometimes do.

Although stingless bees are found on several continents, the Vulture bee, along with many other species of stingless bees, live in Central and South America.  But long after its discovery, the Vulture bee was still keeping a big secret.  There was something else about this bee that it made it “one of a kind.”

In 1982, eighty years after its discovery, researchers observing the Vulture bee discovered that this bee doesn’t gather pollen, nectar or honey.  Instead, the Vulture bees diet was from an entirely different “food group.”  Like its namesake, the vulture, the Vulture bee searches for dead animals and, then, eats the meat.

After settling down to a carnivorous meal, The Vulture, like other varieties of bees, reduces a good part of its meal to a food substance that is stored in the colony’s nest.  That food will sometimes be used to feed the nest’s bees in lean times, but regularly used to feed the colony’s developing young bees.

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7 August 2014

The Short Answer (TSA)

            The Sugarbag bee lives in Australia. This bee is one of only a few species of bees that is “stingless.” These bees not only don’t have toxic venom, they can’t sting at all.

Sugarbag Bee

Sugarbag Bee

The Sugarbag bee is also unusual because its name was changed a short time ago. This bee’s formal name used to be “Trigona carbonaria.”  But it has been given the new formal name “Tetragonula carbonaria” – “T. carbonaria” for short.

The Sugarbag bee doesn’t have the yellow and black markings of the well known western honeybee. Instead, this bee is dark black all over. So, the Sugarbag bee looks a bit more bug-like and a bit scarier than the bees we’re used to seeing. Without the ability to sting, its dark color may “put off” would-be attackers.

When the nest of Sugarbag bees is invaded by small beetles, these bees can’t sting the intruders.   So, instead, they coat the unlucky trespassers with beeswax and resin. Then, they add mud and dirt to the coating to make each beetle into a sort of mummy.

Although there is no mention of Sugarbag bees being raised commercially by beekeepers, these bees produce good honey. Indigenous Australians often search for Sugarbag nests. When the hunters find one, they “harvest” the whole nest, consuming not just the honey but the honeycombs as well. The Sugarbag bee also pollinates orchids and cycadS so that these plants will produce seed for their next generation.