The little hornet that shouldn’t

Did you know that wasps are basically drug addicts? Their young secrete something that’s quite like sugar for the protein that their workers provide them. Protein that was gotten by going after caterpillars or aphids and whatnot. But by the end of the summer there’s no more larvae to give protein to, no larvae mean no more sugar.

And by then they’re addicted to it, so they’ll be coming for yours. It’s why at this time they’re not that much of a nuisance yet, but they will be.
At least if they’re just wasps. Hornets are a whole other story, especially the ones known as Asian hornet.

I’m not sure if you, my dear reader, have an issue with these little fuckers, but here in Belgium it’s gotten so big that they are making the news. These things are an invasive species that arrived here a few years ago and are rapidly expanding. Which is a bad thing for the bees, since they’re one of the main targets of this hornet. And that’s not a good thing since our bees are not used to this predator, they don’t have the experience their Asian cousins have with it, so they don’t stand a chance. I had one hover around my hive the other day, did not enjoy seeing that.

Luckily there are a lot of volunteers trying to find the nests to exterminate them. But there’s almost no stopping. The reason for this is because an Asian hornet makes a primary nest, usually somewhere low to the ground. And once they have enough workers they start on the secondary. A secondary nest can spawn 50 to 500 new queen, who each will make their own nests, and so on and so on.

As you can see, that’s not great.
Now, if you were to tell me a few years ago that in the future I would be part of a beekeeping association and be hunting for these hornet nests I’d just find it amusing; “Me a beekeeper? Hah”

Marking an Asian hornet

And yet here we are, a few weeks into my new hobby and I have to admit that it is a new passion of mine. Who knew that I could enjoy the whole beekeeping process so much. I sure didn’t.

I normally am more of a winter than spring/summer man, but now I just can’t wait for spring. Because that would mean more bees.

And I’m already preparing, I have a lot of plans concerning these little ones, and I’ll be doing my utmost best to help them survive.

And right now, that’s by finding ways to get rid of the Asian hornet. The problem with finding them is that it can take a bit. “Why not just poison the fuck out of them” you ask yourself. Well, I would, but there’s a bio diversity too, if I poison these hornets, I will also be poisoning a bunch of wasps and European hornets, and they are quite important too. Despite us seeing them as pests, they are still an important part of nature, they too are pollinators. Their drug addiction is just annoying by the end of august and beginning of September 😉

In order to find and capture Asian hornets you make a jar add some dry white wine, some beer, some wasp attracting fluid, some sugar, stir add a piece of a mop and boom. You hang it up and wait for them to come. They will fill themselves with the delicious liquid that is almost irresistible for them, go to the nest to deposit it, and come back.
So what we do, is we mark them, see how long it takes for them to come back and then we know how close or far the nest is.

The Asian hornet can fly about 40km/h, meaning that’s roughly 600 meter per minute. So if he’s back within a minute, you know the nest is about 300 meters from you as the bird flies.

We had a jar that had 40 seconds, at that point you start searching the trees, or hopefully can follow the flight path. Unfortunately there were houses around.

European hornets

Luckily though, someone found the nest that we were searching for under the roof tiles. This would be a primary one, a secondary is usually high up in the trees and is quite huge.

But this nest is not the one that’s near my hive, no this one was near my buddy’s hive. Mine has yet to be found.

We’ll see what can be done.

Stay tuned o7

The joys of planetary interaction

Despite the fact that I basically only log on to EvE for fleets on a Tuesday and Sunday, I do still play the game. Kind of.

PvP can be expensive, so you need to have somewhat of an income. In the past I used to generate said income by doing market trading, buy low sell even lower. Well, no, I am supposed to sell high but because of how the market works, from time to time you’ll be selling at a loss.

Implants were always good to me though, I was able to station trade them quite well in Jita without having to update my orders all the time and still make a few billion in profit a week.

But I don’t have the patience to play the market games anymore, so nowadays my income comes from the wormhole I live in.
And I’m not talking about how I used to go into C5’s with dreads and murdered the hell out of drifters.

No, it’s all about PI baby. Without PI I’d have no income, I would still be able to coast by for a couple of years but as is the case with money in general, so it is with ISK. I really, really don’t like seeing my wallet go down.

Extracting the liquid gold

My PI brings in a few billion ISK per month, across 3 accounts. And that’s plenty of ISK, seeing that I don’t lose that many ships. I have a bunch of high-priced ships all over the galaxy but the ones I use in the fights we do are quite cheap and yet fun to fly.

Past few weeks we’ve been using Claymores and I’ve been flying links. I trained for them AGES ago but never used them, so it’s nice to do something I actually have skills for.

Come at me

I do miss flying the more blingy stuff, but this way it gives an easier time for all of those who can’t quite afford it. It’s nice.

I still have about 4 months left before all my accounts expire, I’m not sure if I’ll keep three accounts up, but for now, they’ll be paying for themselves by way of extracting the precious goods from planets.

For those of you who want to try out the wormhole life, feel free to come and say hi. We don’t bite unless you want us to.

Stay tuned o7

A search for a queen bee, or did we get an imposter?

Did you know that bees dance in order to communicate where they can find water or good flowers? It’s called the waggle dance.

The other day we went on a search for the queen. As most of you probably know, the queen is at the centre of the colony. No queen, no new bees, no new bees mean nothing will happen, no bees mean sad me.

In general, the queen bee is one of the biggest ones in the colony. She has a larger abdomen; she is surrounded by her workers and she’ll be busy laying. She can lay about 2000 eggs a day when it’s a good day, so she is one busy little bee.

One would think that it’s easy to find the queen. One would be very, very wrong. At least not when you’re new at it and have no idea what you’re doing.

Well, ok no, that’s a lie. I know what I’m doing, I just don’t quite know yet what the correct way to do it is yet. If I didn’t know what I was doing I’d probably feel a lot more stressed when working with these girls but it’s really relaxing, and it’s just fun to watch them at it.

So the other day, before we were going to go out for dinner, my buddy and I decided to look for the queen and mark her. This because that way we’ll have an easier time finding her in the future and in general beekeepers mark their queens to know how old she is.

This would also be the first time I’d open my hive officially. Sure, last week she was opened too to put them in, but this is different. This time it would be the first time opening her up with a purpose, finding the queen.

We started at the back of the hive, these frames had no brood in it but honey and some pollen. Which is good! Means they have a source of food ready for the winter. The next few frames had brood on them, and lots of bees. Seeing that we were basically looking for the biggest of the bunch, it took a bit. Imagine two guys in their beekeeping outfit looking intently at frames. That’s basically what we were doing for a good 20 minutes.

“Can you see her? No, can you? Nop not at all”

Then came the remark “I think I found her!”

I quickly took out the queen clamp I bought the day before and we got her! Put her in the tube to mark her and boom.

Woo! It worked!

My sister was there to take a few pictures too so she took a picture of our newly marked queen. We were happy and after this could go for dinner.

Were we sure that we had the queen? Not at all, hell in the car we were talking about the fact that we probably marked a normal bee, but if that were to be the case, at least we’ll have had some practise.

During dinner my sister who had stayed at home sent me the same thing we had just been talking about in the car “I don’t think you marked the correct bee”

And then she sent me the photo she took. The photo of the “queen” with the yellow mark on it.

“Look at her, the marked beauty”
Now spot the real one.

She then sent me the same picture but also circled another bee. I just laughed and showed it to my buddy, who also started laughing.

So, this happened…

We had indeed, marked a regular bee.

Normally another buddy of us would have joined us for dinner and we would have hung out for the evening but he ended up not being able to make it so we checked what time sundown was and decided we had a bit of light left over to see if we could find the queen in the last rays of the sun.

We did not!

So, we returned in the morning with one thing on our mind, well two actually. The first one was finding the queen, and the second one was taking something out of the brood box.

See the boxes I bought had this metal strip in the bottom of them to make sure the frames would not move much. This is perfect for when you’re moving your hives, but we noticed in putting the frames back that this was making it super difficult to do it whilst trying not to squish any of the girls.

We first tested our little theory on my spare brood box and then decided to move the frames to the spare, do our little feat of engineering on the other one, and then move the frames back. All the while searching for the queen.

Trying hard not to pull too hard or someone would get a black eye

It worked out well, moving the frames to the box without the strip on was a LOT easier to moving them into the one if the strip was on, so after moving most of them and meanwhile looking for the ones with brood on it and new larvae, we spotted what I thought was the queen.

Fun little fact, she’s actually on this one

Lo and behold, I was right. I put the tube around her and a few of her friends but due to how heavy these frames are, my buddy lost balance for a second and she was able to escape from the tube again back onto the frame.

No worries, we now know what frame she was on, I quickly changed the rest back over to the normal box and then we searched again.

When I spotted her the second time around, I’m getting better at this, I used the queen clamp, and then from there deposited her in the tube.
You have no idea how nerve wrecking it is to have one of the most important bees in your hive in a tube while you’re trying so hard not to squish her in between a frame and a piece of sponge so you can mark her.

I however, now do know what it feels like.

After marking her we deposited her back on the frame. Well, not before I almost dropped her on the ground but I was able to catch her on time in my gloved hand. And then everyone was happy again!

“Mother, what’s that on your back?”

We now have a marked queen, marked in such a way that normally she won’t have any issues with it. So hopefully we did it right and the bees can live happily again.

During this inspection I did decide that I’m going to have to switch out a few frames. The beekeeper I got this colony from had used a few old frames and you can definitely see that they’re old. But no worries, this will just be another new experience.

Stay tuned o7