NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
25 Sep 1996
- SONY TCD-D7
Stereo=1; Decoded MS stereo
NPR/NGS RADIO EXPEDITIONS
CT = Chuck Thompson
SB = Steve Buchmann
Carl Hayden Bee Research Ctr. Tucson, AZ
G 3:08 SB-Out the door of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, out into the blinding desert sun on what is a beautiful nice sunny, warm fall morning, temperature is probably in the mid to upper 70s already. A few clouds, the birds and the bees out and about. I'll just finish zippering myself in my bees suit here, so I am bee proof. Cinch everything up. Ok. We look like the Pilsbury doughboys and we are ready to go. 3:55
4:13 SB-What we have are 5 colonies or managed, some people would call them domesticated -actually we haven't really domesticated honey bees, we just give them a nice place to live. And we are looking at these little white condos -bee hives containing a colony of honeybees. Each of these nest boxes contains anywhere from 30 to 50 thousand bees. And we are looking at the European honeybees, Apis mellifera. Actually these are Italian honeybees so scientifically we know them as Apis mellifera ligustica. ANd these are fairly gentile. These are not the dreaded Africanized or Killer bees. These are the honey bees of commerce -the honey bees that are taking a hit ¬the ones that have gone done from oh 6 million colonies of managed European honey bees in the US since the late '40s, down to perhaps 2 million or even fewer colonies right now. So what we are looking at here is the traffic. Literally the bee traffic. You can think of the bee hive as breathing, inhaling and exhaling bees, 100s per minute. It is a living, breathing super organism. So now, if we sneak around to the side of one of these colonies we are going to hear the sounds, the wing beats, of thousands of foraging honey bees, all females, all sterile workers, as they go about the business of finding food far afield. Collecting nectar and pollen. 5:58
NG 5:58 -6:14
OK 6:15-6:28 bees buzzing
OK 7:13-(9:08 woman talking)-9:24 bees buzzing
G 9:37 SB-To your extreme left are about 5 bees that are fanning their wings. It is bc it is getting hotter, and they are ventilating. If you get in within a few inches of these you ought to be able to hear these bees fanning. 9:47
OK/NG 9:49-bees -jet -12:25 gets better through 15:34
VG 15:35 SB-This is great. We've got really a lot of bee traffic going on here. It is a nice sunny morning. These hives are literally inhaling and exhaling bees. Hundreds of bees per minute. So by the end of the day we could have tens of thousands of foraging trips in and out of this colony. This colony surveying a domain of many many miles. Looking at every nook and cranny, looking at every flower in search of protein rich pollen. And the bees version of classic floral nectar. 16:22 Oh! That's great! That is really nice. We've got incoming bees which have brilliant pollen loads. I just saw a white load, yellow pollen, we've even got two or three loads of bright orange pollen. Each color represents the pollen that worker bee found on a different trip. SO that bright orange pollen is probably from different plants in the sunflower family. The white -boy! I have no idea what that is. Each color signifies a different plant that the bee has visited to gain nectar and pollen, and each individual worker bee is bringing back those pollen loads, packed safely way under the hind legs as if they are carrying little saddle bags full of pollen. So they are very very busy. Oh yeah. Off to the side I can see about 5 bees that are standing up -tail, abdomen way up in the air -head down, way up on their tippy toes. Ventilating. They are literally fanning the colony trying to get rid of the warm air, the warm stagnant air inside the hive, and to circulate the air. 17:44 Inside this honey bee colony is the brood which is maintained at just about human body temperature. The larval bees, the thousands of grubs developing inside the hexagonal combs, the bees wax combs, are kept at a very high temperature, in an extremely high humidity. 18:06 Up! There go some more bees with their bright orange pollen loads. That's great. 18:13 Here we are almost into October and we still have this fall rush of composites, flowers in the sunflower family which are providing lots of nutritious nectar and pollen for these foraging bee colonies. 18:24 This particular bee colony has obviously not been hit by the dreaded veroa or tracheal mites that we have in this area, in this part of AZ, and in much of the US now unfortunately. 18:39
G 18:40 bee ambi
19:21 SB-Oh! There's another fanning bee right in the middle, right on the doorstep -right in the hive entrance, and she is just flapping her wings very very fast. Several hundred times per second to circulate that air around. Ok. She seems to have stopped now. 19:40
G 19:41-20:49 bee ambi
20:50-22:49 LIVE PAUSE
22:50-23:18 ambi -transitional ambi as they go to a new location
24:02 CT-DO you get stung very often?
SB -Hah, hah. Well, they come after me. (car in bg)Working around bees you learn to move slowly, deliberately, wear white coveralls, the white suit and the veil and if you don't squash bees, if you don't hurt them they won't release an alarm pheromone it is literally a scent that smells like bananas and then they will come after you.
24:48 -27:10 ambi before (smoking the hives)
27:23 SB -Alright. We are going to do a little bee inspection here and we are going to use one of the -2 of -the oldest tools of the bees keeper, a metal hive tool which looks kind of like a putty knife, and then a bellows and a tin can which is the bee smoker. Again, kind of Civil War technology, which has the bellows on it. It is pumping air right now (bg: pumping sounds) . So the object of smoking your bees, or actually blowing smoke at them is to calm them down. It causes the bees to run and tank up on honey and basically when that happens they become so full, fat, and sassy bees that they can't curl around and sting. So that is the purpose of the smoke. It also disorients them. SO as smoker fuel we have a little bit of excelsior -let me just load up my smoker here with some excelsior, stuff it in with my fingers and then the hive tool; packing it down in there. That's good. Then we will take another piece of beekeeper's friend ¬just a piece of an old gunny sack and we will light it, get it burning, and then tamp it down to produce a cool white smoke ¬not hot. WE don't want to hurt or burn the bees, we just want to produce a cool, dense white smoke. Clouds and clouds of it. Get the smoker lit here. 29:30-0k. it's burning. get a nice flame on that burlap. Puffing the bellow as I go. We are getting a nice fire. Getting some nice smoke ... (bg bee buzz increase)
30:01 Ah -that's perfect.
bg -blowing smoke on the hive.
SB: Ok, that's what we want, some nice dense white smoke. I am going to puff the smoke right into the hive entrance here, and this causes the bees to run and go get the honey 0 to feed. But it also causes kind of an alarm reaction, and so you should hear with the first smoke bc it really gets inside the colony. You'll hear a change in the intensity, and you should hear a kind of a roar or a hissing sound once the smoke takes effect. Hear it goes.
30:54-31:04 FX: puffing smoke into hives, and bees.
31:05 SB: You see the bees are getting louder and louder, really noisy as I apply the smoke. OK, I am going to stop smoking them now. 31: 17
G 31:18 FX: loud bees, slowly dies die with less intensity.
32:42 SB: OK, I would like to do that again if you don't mind ...
35:06 SB Ok, I've got my handy bee smoker again you can hear it puffing away. I am going to apply some smoke, right into the ¬kneel down here, and put some smoke right into the hive entrance. Calm down the bees.
G 35:21-37:21 FX: puffing into hive, bees
SB -discussing other recording options ... ..
Transition piece: 38:10 SB-Ok. How about let's going another 20 yards or so and look at these other hives. ambi: walking to the next hive (on gravel, bees in bg)
39:00 a "stop down"
CT: narration -description of area (FOR SCRIPT): hives look like vertical stack chest of drawers, about 12 -18 inches wide by 2 feet deep, 3 feet high, all have handles to pullout -like drawers. there is an opening at the bottom, though the bees seem to find other openings. Looks like a major air traffic control nightmare around these things. there are thousands, and thousands and thousands of bees. go in wearing bee suit ¬realize that these bees don't care very much about me, they are very busy. when you are sitting in the middle of them -360 degrees -I guess this is about as close as we could get to becoming a bee as I guess we ever will. the labs here have -as i guess you can hear -cooling air handling, and a variety of instruments that make noise. it is warm here, slightly humid ....wild brush allover the place, mtns. are crystal clear, you look across from the lab -looking at a range -very blue sky. this is remarkable. 41:53
43:33 CT: in what looks like a greenhouse, with netting all around it, a lab space, sitting in the middle of the test chamber, Dr. Buchman has left to get a frame of bees, sitting the equivalent of a cage, but surrounded by bee netting, bee will be shqken loose in the area -I have the sense of being in the electric chair here, this complex is almost industrial, with all these laboratories, greenhouse, sheds, it's amazing that you look outside and see all this wide open space that is being closed in by development fairly quickly. Tucson has grown since last here. This is exciting. I look like an astronaut with a very funny helmet; a soft helmet, with a DAT machine underneath this bee suit. I look like an alien pregnant astronaut ...they (the bees) are going to attack everything that is black including the black cables from the DAT machine ...
48:23 CT-this is the MS group, K2S ...... I CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE REST OF HIS NOTES ...
56:15 SB-What I'm going to do is literally is shake a frame of these off inside the cage, with you ...
56:43 ambi: inside the cage, birds and bees in bg ...
G 57:14 FX -Steven gives the frame a shake, and the bees get very loud
1:00:00 FX -Steve shakes off 2nd frame of bees
1:03:01 SB -We've got about, probably, 3-4 thousand bees that we have shaken off of this frame. This is exactly the same sound of a swarm -a reproductive swarm of honey bees as it is leaving the parental hives. Looking after scouts have gone out. This is the sound of a swarm traversing the landscape -going to it's new home literally thousands of bees, thousands of winged bees filling the air.
1:03:34 -1:04:30 ambi/fx -loud bees
CT: amazing -a lot of bees
1:04:55-1:08:56 -adding another frame, lots of bees
1:08:57 stop down
1:11:54-1:12:35 ambi/fx -bees, not a swarm sound, but single bees flying around (mike on top of hive?)
1:13:25 SB -Ok. we are going to head back to the first hive; now bees will travel ...ambi: walking on gravel to the hive
1:15:32 -puffing smoke into the hives
1:15:45 SB -the smoker is lit, the burlap is starting to burn, generating a bit of bee smoke -not very much bee smoke
G 1:16:43 ambi/FX puffing smoke into hive
1:17:33 SB -ok, smoker is lit, fuel is burning. now, trying to put the bee hive back together. first, i'm going to try and puff a little bit of smoke down inside the top story, what we call the top super of the bee hive.
1:20:28 SB -Ok. We are going to puff some smoke down inside the hive
OK 1:20:32 ambi -puffing of smoke and bees (loud and angry) ¬faint hum of machines in bg
1:21:24 SB -heavy honey frames on top. it's the fall/early summer honey flow
1:22:17 ambi -puffing into hive, faint bees, get a bit louder, not great
1:22:37 SB -That's probably about 60 pounds -all full of honey, lots of honey (this is very faint)
1:22:54 ambi -loud BANG, and then bees, very faint
1:23:38 SB -Ok. Let's walk out to our bee truck, and we will drop off the smoker, and chase off the angry bees away from us
1:24:09 STOP DOWN Ct and SB talking a bit, then official stop down of DAT
CT: the time is approx. 12 noon