Red House Honey’s two mystery swarms of bees. Or are they?


Red House Honey's two mystery swarms of bees. Or are they?

Red House Honey’s two mystery swarms of bees. Or are they?



Red House Honey was perplexed recently by two swarms of bees which lodged themselves precariously from two rather small branches right beside the apiary.

Bees swarm for several reasons, but most often because there is not enough room in the hive. The queen, having no more space to lay eggs (she lays 1000 a day!), decides to abscond, taking most of the hive with her. Usually a swarm lingers two to three days in a tree, clumped around its queen, as scouts seek a new location. The noise made by the bees is terrific, as they excitedly hum around the cluster, with the queen at its core.  When the cluster does move, often stray bees are left behind, still drinking in the queen’s lovely pheremones, which linger in the area.

But these clusters were eerily silent. Within about two hours, the “swarms” were gone without a trace–before they could be trapped by your intrepid bee wrangler. Yet RHH’s hives, when checked, were brimming with bees.

Could these bees – at least 60,000 of them — have been renegade swarms from some other apiary? Could the bees merely have been “bearding” (a common bee phenomenon wherein hundreds or even thousands gather on the outside wall of their hive to cool down)  because they were too hot in their sun-baked hive? Did the bees swarm, then return to the hive?

Often, bees swarm because workers have created a new queen to replace an aging or inefficient queen–and there’s only room for one queen in a hive, so a return home is out of the question. Queens leave the hive for only two reasons–to mate or in a swarm, seeking a new home. They dislike light and spend their lives inside, laying eggs.

So…if there are no missing bees…and no swarm…just what went on at Red House Honey the other afternoon? Hmmm….it’s a mystery all right. Let us know your thoughts.

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Marry Me!



Is this your marriage proposal? Did she say yes? If so, #Red House Honey has a free jar of honey for the happy couple. Traditionally, the “honey moon” was a month-long period wherein newlyweds were released from many of the traditional duties around the homestead and instead spent their time, uh, getting to know each other and drinking mead — wine made with honey. This is our tribute to you romantics, and a simpler, more intimate time. Contact us with some info on your declaration that only you (and the inimically observant Red House Honey operative who spotted your proposal) can know, just to prove it is really you! Like, is Alena really your lobster? We’ll deliver you a 250g jar of our famous RAW, locally-produced, 100% pure artisanal honey!

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The Flow Hive is Here!



Now why didn’t I think of that? The Flow Hive, developed over several years by Cedar and Stuart Anderson of Broken Head, Australia, has been an unmitigated overnight success. Indeed, their campaign to raise money for developing the idea on the crowdfunding site Indigogo has exceeded all previous fundraising attempts by anyone, ever.
According to the May 31, 2015 New York Times, the son and father needed $70,000 to begin production of the unique hive (retail cost: $600). That goal was met within six seconds of launch; within a day, there were $2.18 million worth of pre-orders and by campaign’s end, $12.2 million worth of hives had been sold.
Traditional Langstroth honey bee hives consist of a box with “frames” or inserts upon which bees build honeycomb, which they then fill with brood and/or honey. The hive must be disassembled and the frames taken out in order to extract the honey, which is done with a centrifuge. It is messy, hot work and often results in angry bees.
The Flow Hive allows beekeepers to simply open a spout and put a jar underneath and wait for it to fill up. By turning a special key, slats on the uniquely designed frames open simultaneously, allowing the honey to slowly flow out…hence the name, “Flow Hive.” Check it out on
The hives haven’t been fully tested yet by a wide range of beekeepers under varying climactic conditions, and may not work for everyone–but any and all contributions to improve or augment beekeeping are welcome, we say.
Thanks, Andersons. Great idea!

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TreeAzin Insecticide label may change..not toxic to bee brood after all


#redhousehoney06BioForest says TreeAzin is not toxic to bee brood and that label changes may be forthcoming.

The following message was received from BioForest in response to Red House Honey’s post about TreeAzin being potentially toxic to bee brood, as stated on the TreeAzin insecticide label. Readers are asked to kindly forward any comments they may have to Red House Honey, the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, and/or BioForest. Anonymous comments will not be published, however others may be excerpted for use in future blogs.

The following is  BioForest’s message, unedited:

“We have been in contact with Mr. Tibor Szabo, President, of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA) since the release of their January newsletter, which addressed the ‘TOXIC to bee brood’ statement on the TreeAzin Systemic Insecticide label. I would like to share the information we have provided to the OBA to date which highlights the environmental fate of azadirachtin products, such as TreeAzin. Our hope is that the OBA shares this information with its members. We would also like to provide some background information on TreeAzin.


“To describe azadirachtin’s environmental fate as it relates to bees we have included a letter prepared by Dr. Eric Mussen, Extension Apiculturist at the University of California, Davis in the Department of Entomology and Nematology [LINK]. In his letter, Dr. Mussen concludes that, “azadirachtin, when used as trunk injections to protect trees from beetle depredation, should pose no significant risk to adult or immature honey bees that consume nectar or pollen from treated trees.”


Azadirachtin is an extract from the seed of the Neem tree (Azadiracta indica) and is the active ingredient of TreeAzin. In 2001, we began our investigations into the potential use of azadirachtin as a pest management alternative because of the positive characteristics of its toxicological profile: biodegrades rapidly in the environment and very low toxicity to mammals and birds.


“Azadirachtin’s minimal impact on the environment is supported by science. Grimalt et al.1 reports that, following injections, azadirachtin essentially dissipates to near undetectable limits in autumn-shed leaves. Kreutzweiser et al.2 showed that azadirachtin in autumn-shed leaves poses no measurable risk of harm to terrestrial or aquatic decomposer invertebrates.


TreeAzin unlike many other pest control products is not a neonicotinoid. We know that residues from neonicotinoids are long lasting and can accumulate in ecosystems. It has been reported that one of the most commonly used neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, is more than 100 times more toxic to bees than azadirachtin. Furlan and Kreutzweiser3 conclude that, of several insecticides tested for efficacy against EAB, translocation efficiency, and environmental safety, azadirachtin is the most promising.


“In 2008, TreeAzin was registered for use against the emerald ash borer (EAB) in the U.S. and is currently the only pesticide in North America listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for use against EAB. In Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), a division of Health Canada, approved TreeAzin for use against EAB under an emergency registration in 2008 and fully registered TreeAzin in 2012. We are in the process of providing PMRA with the most up to date scientific evidence that suggests the “TOXIC to bee brood” statement on the current label should be revised to reflect more accurate details regarding azadirachtin’s effect on bees.

“We are always happy to talk about the science of azadirachtin and listen to the comments and concerns from the public. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.”

Joe Meating  |  PresidentBioForest
59 Industrial Park Crescent, Unit 1, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6B 5P3c. 705-941-8678  |  t. 705-942-5824  |  Toll Free 1-888-236-7378  |  f. 705-942-8829


  1. Grimalt, Susana, et al. “Foliar residue dynamics of azadirachtins following direct stem injection into white and green ash trees for control of emerald ash borer.” Pest management science 67.10 (2011): 1277-1284.
  2. Kreutzweiser, David, et al. “Environmental safety to decomposer invertebrates of azadirachtin (neem) as a systemic insecticide in trees to control emerald ash borer.” Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 74.6 (2011): 1734-1741.
  3. Furlan, Lorenzo, and David Kreutzweiser. “Alternatives to neonicotinoid insecticides for pest control: case studies in agriculture and forestry.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research 22.1 (2014): 135-147.
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