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Latest ITER Newsline

  • Rendezvous | D and T to meet at JET in 2020

    In 2020, for the first time in more than 20 years, a reaction that only occurs in the core of the stars will be produced on Earth in a man-made machine. In the [...]

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  • On site | MOMENTUM believes in recent graduates

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  • Tokamak Pit | Big steel elbow in place

    A cryostat feedthrough delivered by the Chinese Domestic Agency has become the first metal component of the machine to be installed in the Tokamak Pit, in an op [...]

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  • Neutral beam source | Europe awards EUR 20 million contract

    The contract, awarded to ALSYOM-SEIV (ALCEN group, France), launches the manufacturing phase for the beam source that will come on line in 2022 as part of the f [...]

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  • Image of the week | US Under Secretary of Science tours site

    Five months, almost to the day, after the US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited ITER, his deputy, Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar, stood by the same [...]

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Of Interest

See archived entries

Swarm leaves platform for bee paradise

On Tuesday the colony moved out of the lonely oak to a temporary home next to the APAVE office. (Click to view larger version...)
On Tuesday the colony moved out of the lonely oak to a temporary home next to the APAVE office.
That old wrinkled oak standing on the platform edge is no ordinary oak. In Agence Iter France parlance, it is an "ARB", short for "Arbre Réservoir de Biodiversité", a sort of biological reserve for wildlife. As such, it was preserved and protected when the platform was cleared and levelled.

For more than three years, the lonesome ARB was home to a large colony of bees. Some 15,000 of them lived and worked there, patiently building honeycombs to store their larvae, honey and pollen.

A large colony of bees sitting next to a busy worksite can be perceived as a safety issue. There was talk of removing the colony, but technical—and ethical—considerations prevented further action. "We had the choice between either cutting the tree, or killing the bees," explains Bruno Couturier, an engineer with Agence Iter France and an amateur beekeeper, "and either prospect was very unpleasant."

An amateur beekeeper, Bruno Couturier, of AIF, transferred the swarm to his place on the lavender-covered plateau of Valensole. (Click to view larger version...)
An amateur beekeeper, Bruno Couturier, of AIF, transferred the swarm to his place on the lavender-covered plateau of Valensole.
The bees must have sensed the moral dilemma Bruno and the safety people were facing. They came up with their own solution: on Tuesday, the colony moved out of the lonely oak and gathered on a smaller, younger tree close to the APAVE office in the contractors' area.

When a colony of bees move out of its nest, whether because of lack of space, overpopulation or bad feelings between two rival queens, the colony usually stops at a temporary resting place and sends out scouts to find a more hospitable place to settle. This is when the swarm—that is, the colony on the move—is easiest to catch.
"People had heard about my beekeeping activities," explains Bruno. "I got a phone call from a colleague at APAVE suggesting that I come and pick up the swarm. There's a very simple technique: put a cardboard box under the swarm, shake the tree lightly and as long as the queen falls in the box, the whole swarm will follow."

And so it happened that the ITER bees were transported in a sealed cardboard box all the way to Bruno's place on the lavender-covered plateau of Valensole—the ultimate bee paradise.


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