Greetings from the President
I hope the holidays have treated you all well. I think the bees should be doing fine if they were heavy, healthy and had a low mite count. This has been one of the mildest winters of the past 25 years so far. Things may change later in the winter but hopefully the trend will continue. With all these warmer late December and early January days, you should be seeing plenty of flight around the entrance of most any live hives. If a hive is in the sun and out of the direct wind on a 50- 55 degree day you should see flight activity at the entrance or you likely have a very weak, starving or already dead hive. It is easy to check these hives with the unusually warm weather. I wouldn’t be afraid to open up hives to check them at these temps. You just need to use good common sense and don’t tear the hive apart but simply check for cluster size and physical weight of the hive or by looking for capped honey at the top of the frames by removing the cover. It may be hard to tell the strength of the hive from the top of the hive because the cluster will be in the lower part in the hive. I feel it is OK to pop the brood chambers apart but only for a short time to see the size and location of the cluster of bees. Most likely, by doing this, you will be splitting the cluster, but at these temps the cluster should have no trouble getting reformed. It is best to do this earlier in the afternoon to allow the bees time to gradually move and tighten up the cluster of bees as the day cools. It is also best to do this if at least another day of warm weather is expected before an extreme cold snap. Sometimes a group of bees will cluster away from the main cluster but will move back to the main cluster if the next day is warm enough for movement. That temp is usually 45-50 degrees and up. An extremely strong hive will have more activity and have an easier time with thermoregulation. The weaker the hive the less activity you will get so these generate less internal heat and it is harder for them to reform their cluster. If you had good strong hives with plenty of food you really don’t need to break into the hives at all but seeing the activity at the entrance can give you at reassurance that they are still there. If you feel some specific hives were lighter and may be in danger of starving if we have a colder late winter and cold spring, then this kind of weather gives the opportunity to get some feed inside of the hive. Many options are available in the 45-50 degree weather. Candy boards, commercial feed patties, or liquid syrup placed directly over or beside the cluster preferably toward the top of the cluster.
Now as I stop and think about it I’m talking about a lot of hypothetical and the bottom line is with the weather we had this fall. If you haven’t dealt with a feed problem by now, it’s probably not going to happen now.
Hopefully this winter will provide us with lots of live colonies and the packages and replacement bees can’t be in less demand this year. You may want to try to think about getting Queens lined up to make splits from the nice strong live hives we will have in the spring. I had one hive that did not make it to California so I will be wintering one hive in Iowa and it is heavy and extremely strong hive so I think it has an excellent chance.
Again I feel like I haven’t talked a lot about IHPA activities and things that have been accomplished on behalf of the IHPA membership but this just seems for me to a “busy time of the year” away from the bees.
One chore that is ongoing is what you are reading. The Buzz still gets out every month “Give or Take a Day or Two”. Alex is trying to get caught up and back on schedule and I’ll have to try and help him by trying to make the deadline.
Bee Prepared and Work Hard
Bees Teach Investors Handy Lessons
Is there a connection between how a honey bee collects its nectar on a summer’s day, and the performance of your investment portfolio?
Bees make investment decisions every day, expending much time and effort searching for returns, which in their case is nectar from flowers. The link between investment and bees was explored by ecologist Leslie Real of Indiana University back in 1991 in a study that monitored honey bees' behaviour to better understand attitudes to risk. This study will be unknown to most investors but offers some valuable insights.
During the experiment bees were given their own investment choice to make: Either feed from blue flowers which always contained 2ml of nectar without fail, or gorge on yellow flowers, which were randomly mixed so that one in three contained a triple payoff with 6ml nectar.
Theoretically, the bees were tempted with the same payoff - either drink from blue flowers with 2ml or from every third yellow flower with 6ml nectar. But the blue flowers paid the same reward each and every time while the yellow flowers only gave the nectar sporadically and were therefore more risky - much the same dilemma regularly faced by investors.
The experiment showed that bees initially "invested" evenly in both colors. But they quickly learned to stick to blue flowers, which always contained 2ml of nectar. In fact, they preferred the reliable blue flowers over the yellow flowers 84 per cent of the time.
For bees the consistency of the gain became more important than the amount of the gain. Bees thus have a strong preference for a reliable supply of nectar over an irregular reward.
Human behavior when investing is vastly more complex but neuroeconomics, a relatively new field which combines economics, neuroscience and psychology, aims to understand what drives investment behavior and decisions. It considers basic biological functions along with the theoretical and practical level of investing revealing the role that emotions play.
Neuroeconomics has found that intangible motives like avoiding regret or achieving a reward influence investment decisions more than you might think. Scientists have discovered that the brain processes a financial loss in the same area where a mortal danger is processed. Perhaps strong emotions related to survival, such as fear and greed, are hard-wired into our investment brains after all.
Similarly, how we experience a gain or loss is relative. Investors must evaluate how a financial gain varies relative to the total amount that is at risk. Our risk tolerance level is not consistent. We don't have a single level of risk tolerance but multiple levels that can change and emotions can easily impact our attitude toward risk. Even small changes in our mood may change how we perceive risk. When the difference is high people generally gravitate away from risk to more certain outcome and most people will prefer a smaller steadier payoff over a highly variable one.
Before investing we should understand something about how we make those decisions and what impacts our decision making. Why not take some time out and think about the bees and the blue flowers before making an investment promising a triple return. There may also be some empty flowers on the way.
Andreas Rosenau is a senior equity analyst for Prime Value Asset Management