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Posts tagged ‘propolis’

Bees And Water

Water is essential for life. Surprising then, that bees don't store water. Despite their advanced social structures and their ability to stockpile and preserve honey, pollen and propolis in their hives, bees cannot store water. They share this inability with the rest of the animal kingdom. Like fire and wind, water is an element over which only we human beings can exert control. More or less. And for better or worse.

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What is Propolis ? If you cast your mind back to springtime and touching the sticky brown outers of horse chestnut buds, then you have an idea of the adhesive properties of propolis. You also have a clue as to its muddy khaki hue and to its arboreal origins. What you cannot imagine, though, is the pervasive, gloopy, gunkiness of propolis. It is not a uniform, clean-cut precision stickiness like sellotape. It’s more like melted chocolate at a five-year-old’s birthday party; the pancaked slap on a pantomime dame; a mastic gun in the hands of a Sunday DIYer after a pub lunch.

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It's a funny old thing, beespace. At 5/16 of an inch, it shares its awkward mathematics with other constants like pi, attractively packaged at 3.14159, or the speed of light, which clocks on at precisely 299,792,458 metres/second. In a parallel universe, in which Douglas Adams wrote the Beekeeper's Guide to the Galaxy, the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything would be 5/16 of an inch (rather than the correct answer of 42 for our own universe, of course).

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Keeping It Clean

Hive hygiene is important all year round to preserve healthy bee colonies from cross-infection by diseased bees. And even more so as we clean and repair the tools of our beekeeping trade as we prepare to store them away over winter. But all year round, by far the most effective method of controlling the spread of disease is for the beekeeper to exercise a minimal, but crucial cleansing ritual for the kit.

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