This informal bibliography, prepared for the Lovatt Foundation based in Kano Nigeria, aims to place academic research alongside information from and about people who work towards sustainable practices to enhance bee care and production. It includes some beekeepers who provide anecdotal information on Facebook. It is not comprehensive, but provides a series of starting points for further inquiry. I will add to it from time to time and welcome suggestions for additions.
Agricultural practices that result from investment by big business affect many countries in the world and compromise bee health. Big business funding and lobbying, both direct and indirect, can also affect research findings. This list will exclude reports where researchers have a conflict of interest because of funding partners’ commercial interests.
African Beekeeping & Bee Products
Adekoya, A E, A A Ahmed-Akinola, A A Fashola (2002) “Beekeeping as an income generating activity: a case study of honeybee farmers in Ibadan Metropolis, Oyo State” Af J Livestock Extension: 2002 1: 21-27
Aiyeloja, A A & G A Adedeji (2014) “Preliminary Survey of Wood Species Cavities Preferred by Honeybees in Nigeria”, International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 5:2 ISSN 2229-5518
Beekeeping Extension Society Zaria, Kaduna State Nigeria
Comment – founded 1996 and there is a Word doc here that outlines its Proposed Sustainable Business Model as well as a note that says that ‘This project has been retired and is no longer accepting donations’. Nothing added to its Facebook page since April 2013.
Falk, C L (2010) Survey on Feasibility of Sachet-packed Honey in Kaduna State, funded by Winrock International
Comment– Written on research trip that included the Beekeeping Extension Society
Holland, J S (2014) “Honeybees in East Africa resist deadly pathogens: Bees in Kenya stay healthy despite parasites and viruses that collapse U.S. and European hives” National Geographic
Horst Wendorf Video Productions (2014) “Commercial top bar hives in Zambia” Bees for Development
Comment– Info re hive experience– ‘Top-bar hives are usually kept on stands to raise them off the ground, but the bees prefer hives hung in trees so occupancy rate was low and honey production poor. Hanging the top-bar hives in trees (to copy bark hives) proved impractical as a ready to harvest top-bar hive can weigh up to 80 kg and needs several people to lower it to the ground.” Introduces Kafakumba Training Centre which “started a beekeeping venture to commercialise top-bar hive beekeeping and created the private company Bee Sweet Honey Ltd. Five years later the company developed the ‘hybrid’ hive – a shorter top-bar hive that can be suspended in trees with the aid of a pulley and grappling iron. To date 20,000 hybrid hives have been allocated to small-scale farmers: hive occupancy rates are good and honey production is on the increase.’ There is more about Kafakuma here (turn pages with tiny arrow at right, took me a while to realise that was possible) and a Fact Sheet here. It is the only sustainable and scalable African model I’ve found so far.
Igwe, E C, M A Dandago & E N Binga (2012) “Assessment of quality attributes of natural honey from Adamawa State North Eastern Nigeria” African Journal of Food Science 6(18) 449-455 DOI: 10.5897/AJFS12.024
Jiwaji, Aamera (2014) “The money is in the honey” African Business Magazine
Kidd, Andrew D & Berthold Schrimpf (2000) “Bees and Bee-keeping in Africa” Blench, Roger & Kevin C. MacDonald The Origins and Development of African Livestock: Archaeology, Genetics, Linguistics and Ethnography London, University College of London Press.
Comment– written in the mid-nineties, with some historical Nigerian beekeeping description on the pages available at the link.
“Kano Govt gives out N3m nursed plants for bee farming” (2013) Adopt a Hive
Lesster (2009) “Traditional beekeeping in Uganda, Africa”
Comment– This page is full of images and description of beekeeping in traditional hives. Processing it.
And marketing it. Some of it as liquid gold, in nice glass jars.
Some of it in other forms. However, there seems to be no recent news of this enterprise.
Muli, Elliud & Maryann Frazier (2011) “Beekeeping: indigenous knowledge lost and found” Penn State University
Comment– More about log hives, in sub-Saharan East Africa, including info re harvesting– ‘When the bees begin to hang on the outside of the hives or exit at both ends (of traditional log hives) it is a sign that colonies have stored adequate amounts of honey and it is time to harvest. A traditional smoker made of sticks is used to produce smoke. Among the Kamba people, Acacia seyal (local name Kinyua) and Acacia mellifera (common name, Muthiia) is preferred since this wood lights for long periods and produces adequate smoke. In addition to producing smoke, the “smoker” also provides light. Since traditional beekeepers lack protective clothing, honey harvesting is done at night. In some instances, beekeepers prefer to harvest completely naked, since bees caught in the folds of clothing are more likely to sting. A long knife is used during harvesting for two purposes. First, to cut comb in the entire length of the log hive and, second, to kill snakes co-habiting with the bees. (This is critical indigenous knowledge since there are so many poisonous snakes in East Africa.)’
Oluwatusin Femi, Michael (2008) “Costs and Returns in Modern Beekeeping for Honey Production in Nigeria” Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences 5: 310-315
Schrimpf, Berholdt, & Andrew D Kidd [nd] “Diversity and Innovation: Bees and Beekeeping in Africa” FAO Document Depository
Tijani, B A, A L Ala, M A Maikasuwa & N Ganawa (2011) “Economic Analysis of Beekeeping in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State, Nigeria” Nigerian Journal of Basic and Applied Science 19(2): 285-292
Tourneret, Eric [nd] “Le people des abeilles/ The honeygatherers: Cameroun”
Comment– Images which include excellent views of equipment.
Bee Product Research
Premratanachai, Pongsathon & Chanpen Chanchao(2014) “Review of the anticancer activities of bee products” Asian Pac J Trop Biomed May 4(5): 337–344 DOI: 10.12980/APJTB.4.2014C1262
Bee Research – Nutrition Knowledge
Clarke, Dominic J, Whitney, Heather M, Sutton, Gregory P & Robert, Daniel (2013) “Detection and Learning of Floral Electric Fields by Bumblebees”, Science 340:6128, 66-69 DOI: 10.1126/science.1230883
Evans, Marian (2014-5) Bee-Loved Flowers [blog]
Comment– A New Zealand-based micro-experiment in providing plants that local bees can enjoy safely.
Leake, Jonathan (2014) “ ‘Junk food’ wiping out bees” (paywalled)
Article begins– ‘Britain’s bees and other insect pollinators are being starved out of the countryside because farming has destroyed the wild flowers, shrubs and other plants on which they rely for food. Scientists have found that, as native plants are replaced by crops, bees face a double threat. One is that for much of the year they cannot find enough nectar and pollen to survive; the other is that, even when crops such as oilseed rape come into flower, their pollen is often nutritionally deficient — the bee equivalent of junk food — making it harder to raise young or fight infections.’
Spotts, P. (2013) “Bees use the ‘force’ to choose the best flowers, study finds” Christian Science Monitor
Comment– Needs to be placed alongside Kessler et al (2015), below, which found that neonicotinoids also attract bees.
Stabler, Daniel, Pier P Paoli, Susan W Nicholson, Geraldine Wright (2015) “Nutrient balancing of the adult worker bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) depends on its dietary source of essential amino acids” Journal of Experimental Biology DOI: 10.12442/jeb 114249 (avail through ResearchGate)
Vaudo, Anthony D, Harland M Patch, David A Mortensen, Daniel Stabler, Geraldine Wright and Christina Grozinger (2014) “Bee foraging strategies are shaped by pollen nutritional quality” (conference paper) Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting (avail through ResearchGate – anyone can apply to join) To be considered alongside Kessler et al.
Perry, Clint J, Sovik, Eirik, Myerscough, Mary R & Barron, Andrew B (2015) “Rapid behavioural maturation accelerates failure of stressed honey bee colonies” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112:11 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422089112
The researchers write– ‘Significance Honey bee colony death rates are unsustainably high. While many stressors have been identified that contribute to this problem, we do not know why colonies transition so rapidly from a state of apparent health to failure. It is well known that individual bees react to nutritional and pathogen stresses by foraging precociously: our study explains how colony failure arises from the social responses of individual bees to stress. We used radio tracking to monitor performance of bees and found that workers who begin foraging prematurely perform very poorly. This compounds the stresses on the colony and accelerates failure. We suggest how colonies at risk can be identified early, and the most effective interventions to prevent failure.’
Spivak, Marla (2103) “Why bees are disappearing” Ted Global
Comment– A fifteen-minute video and transcript in multiple languages, where Professor Spivak urges us all to grow healthy bee food. The video is the best short explanation of bee loss I’ve seen. Professor Spivak heads the Bee Lab, which ‘fosters creative thought and practical solutions’ in pursuing its goal to promote the health of bee pollinators.
Urlacher, Elodie, Bernard Frances, Martin Giurfa, Jean-Marc Devaud (2010) “An alarm pheromone modulates appetitive olfactory learning in the honeybee (Apis Mellifera)” Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience 2010:4 DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2010.00157 (avail through ResearchGate)
Urlacher, Elodie, Ingrid S Tarr & Alison Mercer (2014) “Social modulation of stress reactivity and learning in young worker honey bees” PLoS ONE 9(12):e113630 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113630 (avail through ResearchGate)
Verlinden, Heleen, Els Lismont, Magdalena Bil, lodie Urlacher, Alison Mercer, Jozef Vanden Broeck, Roger Huybrechts (2103) “Characterisation of a functional allatotropin receptor in the bumblebee, Bomba terrestris (Hymenoptera, Apidae)” General and Comparative Endocrinology DOI: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2013.08.006 (avail through ResearchGate)
Bees & Toxins: Neonicotinoids, Glyphosate, Esfenvalerate, Phosmet &c
Gibbons, David, Christy Morrissey & Pierre Mineau (2014) “A review of the direct and indirect effects of neonicotinoids and fipronil on vertebrate wildlife”, Environ Sci Pollut Res DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3180-5
Herbert L T, D E Vázquez, A Arenas, W M Farina (2014) “Effects of field-realistic doses of glyphosate on honeybee appetitive behaviour” J Exp Biol. 217: 19 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.109520
Comment– see also Parker, below.
Hurst, Victoria, Philip C Stevenson & Geraldine Wright (2015) “Toxins induce ‘malaise’ behaviour in the honeybee (Apis mellifera)” Journal of Comparative Physiology B 200(10):881-890 DOI: 10.1007/s00359-014-0932-0 (avail in ResearchGate)
“Is Roundup killing our honeybees?” (2014) NYR News 11 August
Kessler, Sébastien C. Kessler, Erin Jo Tiedeken, Kerry L. Simcock, Sophie Derveau, Jessica Mitchell, Samantha Softley, Jane C. Stout & Geraldine A. Wright (2015) “Bees prefer foods containing neonicotinoid pesticides”, Nature DOI 10.1038/nature14414
Kurenbach, Brigitta, Delphine Marjoshi, Carlos F Amábile-Cuevas, Gayle C Ferguson, William Godsoe, Paddy Gibson & Jack A Heinemann (2015) “Sublethal exposure to commercial formulations of the herbicides dicamba, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and glyphosate cause changes in antibiotic susceptibility in escherichia coli and salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium” MBio 6(2):e00009-15. DOI:10.1128/mBio.00009-15
Mullin, C A, J Chen, J D Fine, M D Frazier, J L Frazier (2015) “The formulation makes the honey bee poison” Pestic Biochem Physiol May DOI: 10.1016/j.pestbp.2014.12.026
Abstract– Dr. Fumio Matsumura’s legacy embraced a passion for exploring environmental impacts of agrochemicals on non-target species such as bees. Why most formulations are more toxic to bees than respective active ingredients and how pesticides interact to cause pollinator decline cannot be answered without understanding the prevailing environmental chemical background to which bees are exposed. Modern pesticide formulations and seed treatments, particularly when multiple active ingredients are blended, require proprietary adjuvants and inert ingredients to achieve high efficacy for targeted pests. Although we have found over 130 different pesticides and metabolites in beehive samples, no individual pesticide or amount correlates with recent bee declines. Recently we have shown that honey bees are sensitive to organosilicone surfactants, nonylphenol polyethoxylates and the solvent N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), widespread co-formulants used in agrochemicals and frequent pollutants within the beehive. Effects include learning impairment for adult bees and chronic toxicity in larval feeding bioassays. Multi-billion pounds of formulation ingredients like NMP are used and released into US environments. These synthetic organic chemicals are generally recognized as safe, have no mandated tolerances, and residues remain largely unmonitored. In contrast to finding about 70% of the pesticide active ingredients searched for in our pesticide analysis of beehive samples, we have found 100% of the other formulation ingredients targeted for analysis. These ‘inerts’ overwhelm the chemical burden from active pesticide, drug and personal care ingredients with which they are formulated. Honey bees serve as an optimal terrestrial bioindicator to determine if ‘the formulation and not just the dose makes the poison’.
“Neonics hammer wild bees – new evidence proves worst case scenario” (April 2015) buglife
Park, Mia G, E. J. Blitzer, Jason Gibbs, John E. Losey & Bryan N. Danforth (2015) “Negative effects of pesticides on wild bee communities can be buffered by landscape context“ Proc. R. Soc. B DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0299
Comment– This has some excellent links to related research and I especially valued one re evaluating pesticides.
Parker, Judson (2014) “New study shows honeybees harmed by herbicide used on GMO crops” Examiner
“Pennsylvania researchers discover glyphosate herbicide in honey and soy sauce” (2015) Sustainable Pulse (quick read re Rubio et al, below)
Pettis, Jeffery S, Elinor M. Lichtenberg, Michael Andree, Jennie Stitzinger, Robyn Rose & Dennis vanEngelsdorp (2013) “Crop pollination exposes honey bees to pesticides which alters their susceptibility to the gut pathogen Nosema ceranae” Plos One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070182
Rubio, Fernando, Emily Guo & Lisa Kamp (2014) “Survey of Glyphosate Residues in Honey, Corn and Soy Products” J Environ Anal Toxicol 5:249. DOI:10.4172/2161-0525.1000249
Rundlöf, Maj, Georg K. S. Andersson, Riccardo Bommarco, Ingemar Fries, Veronica Hederström, Lina Herbertsson, Ove Jonsson, Björn K. Klatt, Thorsten R. Pedersen, Johanna Yourstone & Henrik G. Smith (2015) “Seed coating with a neonicotinoid insecticide negatively affects wild bees” Nature DOI 10.1038/nature14420
Commentary in response– Liggett, Gary (on Facebook )– ‘While it is not statistically significant, I have some anecdotal evidence that I believe is, nonetheless, worthy of further investigation. My land has been organic for at least 40 years and it is teeming with wild bees of various forms: bumble bees, ground bees, etc. The surrounding farms do no[t] use pesticides, so the foraging areas are free from harmful chemicals. The information above tells us the opposite applies where chemicals [are] used. This past few months, I have been talking about this topic to a number of retired farmers. They used to farm using a seven year rotation, and never used chemicals to achieve good crops. Interestingly,I the[y] poured scorn on modern farming practices, that use harmful chemicals, instead of crop rotation.’
Rahim, Nasuva (April 2015) “‘The bee addiction’ – Bees attracted to pesticides called Neonicotinoid that kill them off” Benchmark Reporter (NB this includes a really interesting brief video from researchers)
Comment– For light relief on Pinterest: I’ve been collecting images and links that I find useful for understanding beekeeping practices around the world.
“Bee-centred vs conventional beekeeping” (April 2015) Natural Beekeeping Trust
Comment– An excellent, straightforward description of current western practices including tree beekeeping in Europe, from the perspective of a well-established group that promotes api-centred and sustainable practices. Includes recommended reading.
Bees for Development website
Comment– This is where I found Kafakumba , but haven’t assessed the website as a whole. There are some African-oriented resources for sale here.
Comment– A hive of information! Lots of good links.
“The deeper message of the flow hive” (2015) Natural Beekeeping Trust
Comment– Full response to a controversial innovation.
Henein, Maryam “3 reasons to go against the flow hive” (2015) Honey Colony
Comment– very useful re plastics in hives.
Powell, Jonathan (2014?) “Tree bee-keeping – reviving a lost tradition” Permaculture
Comment– Jonathan Powell is himself a beekeeper (and author of Beeswing.net) and starting to use log hives. Lots of great images.
Tree Beekeeping (2015) Free the Bees
Comment– Page for renewal of tree beekeeping in Europe in a site with many useful links to e.g. Warre hives and various courses.
Pesticide toxins & humans
Comment– This is the United Nations cancer research organisation’s report that’s often referred to.
Ho, Mae-Wan (2014) “Glyphosate/Roundup & human male infertility” Farm Wars
Mesnage, Robin, Nicola Defarge, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois & Gilles-Eric Séralini (2014) “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles” Biomed Res Int. DOI: 10.1155/2014/179691
Abstract– Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines (HepG2, HEK293, and JEG3). Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides. We measured mitochondrial activities, membrane degradations, and caspases 3/7 activities. Fungicides were the most toxic from concentrations 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides and then insecticides, with very similar profiles in all cell types. Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.
Seneff, S., Swanson, N. and Li, C. (2015) Aluminum and Glyphosate Can Synergistically Induce Pineal Gland Pathology: Connection to Gut Dysbiosis and Neurological Disease. Agricultural Sciences,6, 42-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/as.2015.61005
Abstract Many neurological diseases, including autism, depression, dementia, anxiety disorder and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with abnormal sleep patterns, which are directly linked to pineal gland dysfunction. The pineal gland is highly susceptible to environmental toxicants. Two pervasive substances in modern industrialized nations are aluminum and glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®. In this paper, we show how these two toxicants work synergistically to induce neurological damage.
Wagner-Schuman, Melissa & Jason R Richardson, Peggy Auinger, Joseph M Braun, Bruce P Lanphear, Jeffery N Epstein, Kimberly Yolton, Tanya E Froehlich (2015) “Association of pyrethroid pesticide exposure with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in a nationally representative sample of U.S. children” Environmental Health 14 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12940-015-0030-y
Garibaldi, Lucas A et al (2013) “Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey bee abundance” Science 339: 6127 DOI: 10.1126/science.1230200
from Abstract– ‘Visitation by wild insects and honey bees promoted fruit set independently, so pollination by managed honey bees supplemented, rather than substituted for, pollination by wild insects. Our results suggest that new practices for integrated management of both honey bees and diverse wild insect assemblages will enhance global crop yields.’
Pearson, Gwen (2015) “You’re worrying about the wrong bees” Wired
Comment – Discusses Rundlöff, below, and includes useful reading list which may be very helpful in exploring issues around use of honey bees for pollination and non-domesticated bees in Nigeria.
Carrie (2015) “Chemical manufacturer Bayer loses libel action over pesticide [thiacloprid] claims” Natural Beekeeping Trust
“Mexican beekeepers vs Monsanto” (2014) Adopt A Hive
“Pesticide report was Defra’s [UK government’s environment department] dodgy dossier” (March 2015) buglife
“Monsanto knew of glyphosate / cancer link 35 years ago” (2014) GM-Free Cymru [Wales]
Commentary– Valley Aiofu (on Facebook) – ‘ALERT: One of our Beekeepers has discovered two dead hives just days after widespread spraying on the roads in Gweedore. This is devastating news, like having two dogs poisoned. Nadines’s hives were in robust health last week with full honey stores. It is always a relief to see them healthy after the winter months. Now they are dead and a final hive is greatly weakened. We found out the spraying was done by a Tidy Towns group using Roundup.The purpose of this post is to inform people of the deadly and immediate effects of this type of spraying. Although I knew the stuff was bad I didn’t think it would kill bees so easily and now am concerned for my own bees and all other pollinators. We are pretty sure no one would spray this stuff if they knew the devastating effects of it. Our hope is that these bees have died in order to bring light to this problem. Please share! Please share! Awareness is the only way for this to stop! All pollinators are emerging from hibernation right now. Food sources are scarce. Every roadside verge is a supermarket, every dandelion a store of nectar and pollen that will keep them going til more flowers come along. We can make the choice to either look after the bees and butterflies, or to kill them off. If the insects go, the birds won’t last long and we will have tidied ourselves up into a colourless and silent landscape. Let’s not, eh!’
Philpott, Tom (2012) “On Aid, Obama Sells Out Poor Countries to Big Ag” Mother Jones
Comment– This progress of this initiative needs to be monitored. It was limited at first to Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania.