Bananas
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Thread: Bananas

  1. #1
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    Default Bananas

    To many people, alarmed bees or bee venom smells like bananas.

    As a consequence, all my life i have been told not to eat or have bananas around beehives, or, aweful things can happen.

    However i usually enjoy a piece of fruit with my packed lunch, and it's often a banana. I can honestly say i have never seen any reaction by the bees after my lunch time banana, so recently i put it to the test. I smeared some banana over my hands before starting work on the bees, and, no reaction from them whatsoever.

    Have we been getting told an old wives tale all our lives?
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Bananas

    I've got bananas and a long day of bee work ahead of me tomorrow. I'm going to run my own test and report back.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Bananas

    The day my bare hand turned gray with stinging bees when I layed a chunk of ripe banana on top bars to supposedly cure chalk brood did not feel like an old wives tale. It seemed like bees enraged by ripe banana layed on the top bars. I see no reason to do it again though I welcome others to repeat my experience for their arthritis if nothing else.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Bananas

    I suspect differing results from this experiment because of the variability of what most people consider a "ripe" bannana. For the ester to develop, the bannana needs to be in the dark speckled to mostly black stage. A bright yellow bannana probably won't do the trick. Heck, it doesnt even taste like a bannana until it gets spots.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Bananas

    From Mexico to South America, beekeepers use ripe bananas for supplemental bee feed. No reactions.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Bananas

    I have been told of the banana smell of venom for many years, but just because it smells of banana to us, doesn't mean their venom smells like banana to them, does it?

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Bananas

    I was told that a ripened banana gave off a volatile (iso amyl acetate if my memory serves me) that was similar to honey bees defensive pheromone. The fellow who told me was a well known entomologist in beekeeping circles. I never felt the need to test it.
    Jim Lyon…please report your ‘trial’.
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Ok, I smeared the back of only one glove with some of my lunch time banana (somewhat blackened and a bit past its prime) and worked the afternoon with lots of juicy banana paste on it while leaving the other "untreated". Worked a lot of hives over the next 4 hours, tore quite a few hives apart and handled a lot of brood. Nothing scientific about my experiment and it was carried out in pretty nice sunny conditions with a gentle honey flow so not exactly the situation where one might expect to have to deal with ornery bees. My conclusion? Drum roll please...........
    I didn't notice one iota of difference in the reaction to the bees between the two gloves.
    Perhaps another day, with different conditions?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Isopentyl acetate (IPA, or isoamyl acetate) is the principal active component of the alarm pheromone blend and is responsible for the majority of sting-releasing activity. Its main functional value seems related to alerting and eliciting defensive responses at the hive entrance.

    It is absent in queens and young workers and increases as a worker bee ages, reaching its highest level when the worker is about 2–3 weeks old, just at the time she begins to perform guarding tasks. The amount then decreases as she becomes a forager (Allan et al. 1987; Boch and Shearer 1966).

    Tests with IPA show that it is effective in alerting bees and inducing them to sting, but not as effective as the complete alarm pheromone blend (Boch et al. 1962; Free and Simpson 1968). Hence, the sting apparatus appears to be a multicomponent gland in which at least some component is specialized for a different function or can be more usefully used in one context than another. The most effective components in alerting bees are IPA and 2-nonanol (Collins and Blum 1982), while many other components stimulate attack and stinging (Free et al. 1983). In laboratory tests, honey bee workers stimulated with an electric shock increased their threshold of responsiveness after the application of IPA (Nuņez et al. 1998)..
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK200983/


    "The disparity between the pleasant and sickening feelings which banana flavoring can invoke lies in the intricacy of banana flavor chemistry. The fruit itself contains a mixture of volatile compounds that are responsible for its characteristic flavor. Up to 42 molecules have been identified to contribute to the aromatic profile of bananas [2]. Each of these molecules, when isolated, has been reported to give off their own unique scent [2,3]. Most of the scents are described as floral, sweet, and generally fruity, which are expected when analyzing aroma compounds derived from bananas. However, there are a few volatile compounds that emit odors not usually associated with bananas. For instance, eugenol, one of the significantly abundant aromatic compounds found in bananas, smells spicy, like cinnamon [2,3].

    Of all the volatile compounds detected in bananas and analyzed, one stands out as the banana flavor molecule: isoamyl acetate. With a scent often described as “over-ripe bananas”, pure solutions of isoamyl acetate are sold as “banana oil”. Isoamyl acetate is widely used as a flavorant to confer that over-ripe banana flavor in foods. Yet, as many can attest, pure “banana flavor” tastes awful, nothing like the actual fruit. Despite its presence in the banana itself, how does the banana-flavor molecule miss the mark so badly in candy?

    Chemical complexity is one explanation, as there are 30-40 other aroma compounds that contribute to natural banana flavor. Additionally, in a ripe banana, although isoamyl acetate is one of the key molecules in banana aromatics, it is found in small amounts compared to the other volatile compounds [2,3]. Yet, even though isoamyl acetate is not the most abundant compound in the aromatic profile of bananas, it is a heady flavor on its own: this molecule can be tasted in concentrations as low as 2 parts per million [4].

    So, maybe a banana-flavored Laffy Taffy contains a higher concentration of isoamyl acetate than an actual banana. Until scientists and flavor chemists figure out how to make banana-flavored foods actually taste like bananas, at least the yellow Laffy Taffy has its small but dedicated fan base
    "
    https://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.../10/21/banana/

    Maby try some laffy taffy?
    It does make me wonder if the bannans of today have a lower amount of IPA then the ones of old

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Good info. I normally eat my bananas before they get to the black, juicy, pheremone emitting stage, perhaps that's why i never had a problem.


    I'll follow Jims lead and run a test, with some nasty old bananas. Gonna be a couple weeks before I'm working bees again though.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Bananas

    I buy ripe bananas at the store in bulk and freeze them. I add two bananas to my breakfast smoothie drink every day. I often eat whole bananas, too, though usually not the black ones. Last year I stopped wearing gloves when inspecting my hives. For the most part, I don't light a smoker, unless the bees tell me it's absolutely necessary. Typically, that's only in the early spring and late fall. I've not found any evidence that eating bananas before working the bees has any effect on them.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    From Mexico to South America, beekeepers use ripe bananas for supplemental bee feed. No reactions.
    That's interesting Michael, ripe bananas can actually be used in lieu of pollen sub?
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Bananas

    It does make me wonder if the bannans of today have a lower amount of IPA then the ones of old
    Ha I may have hit the nail on the head.... But I was going to blame big AG selecting for shelf life and the like..


    But why doesn't isoamyl acetate taste like an actual banana? Actually, it does taste very similar to what used to be the most popular strain of banana in the Western world, known as the Gros Michel, which is also known as Big Mike.

    Yes, the most popular banana used to be known as Big Mike. Big Mike the Banana sounds like the official fruit of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, doesn't it? Although since my pedantry knows no bounds, I also have to tell you that well, actually, bananas are berries.

    During the 20th century, Panama disease (a type of fungus called Fusarium oxysporum) wiped out almost all the Big Mikes. As it turns out, another strain of banana, known as the Cavendish banana. was resistant to Panama disease and thus became the most popular banana strain.
    The Gros Michel banana is still grown by banana enthusiasts (you could say they're... bananimated when discussing their hobby) and is described as having a more monotonous flavor, which is to say they have a very high concentration of isoamyl acetate, much higher than the more familiar Cavendish bananas
    https://underthejenfluence.beer/urco...b-a-n-a-n-a-s-
    Seems what we know as a banana now is VERY different then one would have found on the shelfs pre 60s

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    That's interesting Michael, ripe bananas can actually be used in lieu of pollen sub?
    Sure.
    Maybe more like sugar substitute though?
    Thinking about it, I might as well toss in some rotting peaches this year at a right time.
    Better bees than ants.

    I even posted a video about this exact subject:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...t=banana+video
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Not exactly on track, but in the spirit of the thread...

    I often wear a black t-shirt and a black hat and have never been attack as a bear.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    That's interesting Michael, ripe bananas can actually be used in lieu of pollen sub?
    Some claim they promote brood rearing, but my friend in Mexico says not. Just carbohydrates.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Oldtimer -- almost off-topic, but (as promised) here's my update on the manuka sprig I ordered from England:

    nothing. Its tiny leaves were drying out even when I rec'd it in the mail (it had only been in transit maybe 5 days), and -- despite my treating it exactly as I was supposed to -- it never revived. A waste of $13. Not-to-mention, when I've tried to contact the nursery using their e-mail .... it never goes through. Odd. So far, I haven't been able to locate a manuka sapling anywhere in the US (only seeds), so .... that may be it.

    Mitch

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Mmm. When you told me it had just a few leaves i felt that was a bad sign, they have lots of tightly bunched leaves, just a few means a plant not doing at all well.

    Wonder if the nursery was a bit of a fly by night type thing.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Bananas

    The very next post I read after this one, about aggressive package bees, was also full of advice not to eat bananas.
    Maybe the only time I ever posted here I wanted to know if anyone had ever witnessed bees being enraged by a pail of squeezed, rotting orange peels. Yo dude, you must have had bananas in there was also the response.
    Rotting citrus has a very specific smell and I can attest to the fact that one week, one summer, not so very long ago, I was chased out of my yard by my bees, who then vigorously patrolled the compost bin stinging anything that came close, until that generation had died out.
    Bananas though, I'm willing to suspend disbelief, but I don't buy it much.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Bananas

    Interesting comment Barnaby, to me, alarm pheremone has never smelled more than very vaguely like bananas. But now you mention rotting orange peel, the more astringent smell of that, to my nose anyway, is more similar to bee alarm pheremone. Maybe it's about the various chemicals involved and mix proportions.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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