Meeting Schedule Thursday August 6

Our regular monthly meeting for August will be tonight – Thursday, August 6 @ 6:30 pm – at the usual location in Collegeside Church of Christ 252 East 9th Street Cookeville, TN 38501.

It’s awfully easy for beekeepers to drop the ball in mid summer – it’s hot, swarming season is over, honey season is over, the time for making increase is over.  You might think that your bees are on auto-pilot for at least a few weeks, but the truth is that an awful lot of bees that “freeze” during harsh winter weather really died because their health was compromised months earlier during late summer.   Malnutrition, parasites or disease which take root now are often the roots of winter losses.  Don’t drop the ball now, and blame winter weather for colony losses.

Tonight we will talk about how you can keep your bees healthy now so that they will survive winter.

See you there.

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Beekeeping tasks this month – August

IMG_6085

It’s August, it’s still really hot and nothing is blooming… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: August

• Extract remaining supers.

• Return extracted supers to colony for cleaning just before dark to prevent robbing by colonies.

• Remove cleaned supers from colony, and store under para-di-chloro-benzene fumigation to prevent wax moth damage.

• Check brood nest for diseases and mites. Mite populations tend to peak late in August or early September and can cause death or irreversible damage in this month.

• Treat for varroa mites if necessary. Remove honey for human consumption first. If treating annually, treat in August to control mites in advance of the production of overwintering bees and peak in mite numbers.

• Requeen if desired before or after treating for mites, but not during. Many mite treatments affect queen laying.

• Before placing new caged queen in the colony, remove the old queen. Check the brood chamber and make sure you have adequate brood and adult bee population for survival (e.g. two or more frames of sealed brood). Place the caged queen over the frames of brood, 24 hours later.

• Recheck the requeened colonies in three days for release from the cage and at10 days for a laying queen. If eggs are present, do not disturb the colony.

• Insert entrance reducers to prevent robbing and reduce the hive to the size of overwintering to help the colony manage hive beetles, if not already done.

• Colonies will readily take feed and convert it to brood after the honey flow is over. Feed colonies where it is desired to build their population (e.g. weak colonies and new colonies started late).

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No Apiary sessions Until further notice

Sorry to do this – interest and attendance has been quite satisfying, and I thank everyone who has participated.  But all good things come to an end, and because of robbing issues – every time I do any work in the Bob Lynn rd bee yard I set off horrible robbing – I think it would be best to end the Saturday apiary sessions until conditions improve.  Again, thanks to everyone who has participated.

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When Good Bees go Bad

This article was originally posted in June 2011, but contains seasonally relevant information.

Whenever there isn’t a good flow on (like now and throughout the rest of the summer) strong honey bee hives will often rob weak hives – if it gets bad enough they will completely decimate the hive that is being robbed.

This is the best video that I could find that actually showed robbing going on. Notice 2 things 1) The robber bees are climbing up the hive to get some extra elevation before they take off – this is typical in a robbing frenzy. 2) Groups of bees wrestling on the landing board, and falling off the front in clumps – those distinguish a robbing frenzy from orientation or swarming.

To Prevent Robbing:

  • Don’t let it get started! Much easier to prevent than to correct.
  • Don’t spill syrup or nectar.
  • Don’t drop burr comb and leave it laying.
  • Don’t use entrance feeders.
  • If you feed one hive, feed them all.  A big strong hive that is hungry is highly motivated to rob – and they don’t want to break into next winters stored honey if they don’t have to.
  • Feed late in the evening – an amount small enough to be gone by morning.
  • Restrict all entrances to very small – if there is a traffic jam at the strong hive the robber bees can’t get in to unload and make another run.  If the entrance to the weak hive is small it can be effectively defended be just a few bees.  Think of one Marine blocking a doorway compared to trying to block a whole street.  Very large natural bee hives often go in and out through very small openings.
  • When you need to open hives do what you need to do and close it back up as quickly as possible.
  • Very important – make sure there is only one entrance – including that little hole in the front of the inner cover – block that off.  A hive that is being robbed has a very hard time defending the back door.
  • Don’t open feed close to your hives!  Some people have had success shutting down a robbing frenzy by open feeding 100 yards or so away – thus drawing the robbers off to easier pickings.

 

There will be some robbing.  It’s just what they do.  When it gets out of hand you won’t have to ask anyone if it is robbing or not – it looks violent, and chaotic.  If that happens  what has worked for me  is to suit up and thoroughly smoke  all hives that might be involved – both the criminals and the victims, and completely block up the entrances until about one half hour before dark – don’t suffocate them though. Then apply corrective actions.

Robber screens are my #1 way of preventing robbing – and I have many little bitty weak hives right next to big strong hives.

I would like to encourage anyone with tips, insights, or nasty remarks to leave a comment.

Posted in Honey Bee How to, Learn about Bee Keeping, Seasonal | 4 Comments

Saturday Apiary Session is ON – July 18

The Saturday apiary session for July 17 is ON at this time, but be sure and check back in the morning in case of cancellation.

The time will be tomorrow Saturday morning at 9:30 – These sessions are  open to anyone who is interested – no need to be a club member or have bees.

At tomorrow’s session we will be harvesting honey and treating for varroa mites.  Because of rain cancellations this is the first session we have been able to have since June 27 – which illustrates the point that the opportunities to participate in these hands on sessions is limited.

Please sign up for our email news letter and keep an eye on it or the website concerning these sessions as they are somewhat weather dependant and subject to cancellation.

The location is 5357 Bob Lynn rd. Cookeville TN 38501 – I estimate that they will only last about 45 – 75 minutes. Please be prompt as we will try to start on time. You must bring your own veil and you must wear it – other protective equipment is optional.

 

Directions from North Willow and 12th street (TTU Gym and Hooper Eblen Center basketball arena)  to address 5357 Bob Lynn rd. Cookeville TN 38501

From Intersection of N. Willow and 12th street Head North on Willow.
Continue North on Willow approx 3.1 miles
Turn Right on Bob Lynn rd.
Continue on Bob Lynn rd for approx .4 miles.
Apiary is visible from the road on the Right – vacant wooded lot about 600 ft past Fox Ridge Rd.
Please try to park in a manner which will allow as much parking access as possible for everyone.

See you there.

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Saturday Apiary session called off due to Storms

Sorry for calling this off so late, but we are experiencing thunderstorms right now…

8:45 AM Saturday July 11

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Time to treat for Varroa Mites

After you have harvested honey or determined that you will not be harvesting honey – it is now time (July) to treat your bees for Varroa mites.  If you have not yet obtained your treatments you need to order them right away.

For what it is worth I personally plan to use Apiguard at this time of year – because it is hot, and Apivar works better in hot weather while some other treatments become harmful at high temps.  But any of these will work if used correctly.

One word of caution – Stinky treatments like Apiguard, and Mite-away-quick-strips produce smelly fumes.  Hives need proper amounts of ventilation and must have a strong enough population to fan and ventilate the hives.  Not enough ventilation or not enough bees to fan can result in absconding (apiguard) or queen death (Miteaway) – an interuption in brood production or some brood death is not unusual or cause for alarm.

The main thing is to do something – don’t let confusion or inability to choose keep you from acting.  If you want to go the simplest/easiest route then Apivar – synthetic amatraz – is definitely the silver bullet at this time.  If you want to use naturally occuring treatments then any of the others.

Treatment free – failing to make a choice and then not applying any treatments is not the same as treatment free beekeeping.  Being a treatment free beekeeper requires proactive action, and if anything more knowledge than treating.  If you don’t know what I am referring to then you probably need to treat.

If you don’t do anything about mites there is an excellent chance that your bees will be dead by next spring.  Mites spread viruses – viruses make your hives sick – sick bees can’t feed and care for offspring in good numbers – compromised fall buildup results in weak hives with  health issues because of malnutrition and disease – weakened hives are more subject to robbing which weakens them even more while spreading mites to other hives – normal winter/late spring stress is too much for weakened hives – dead colonies are incorrectly  blamed on winter weather.

There is a fairly extensive article on all of the options for varroa mite treatments available at this link – but at this time (mid summer) the mainstream options for mite treatment are limited to…

EPA regulated naturally occurring mite treatments

  • Miteaway Quick Strips / formic acid ***– can kill mites inside of capped brood as well as phoretic mites – Only 1 treatment required.  Requires careful application with attention to temp and hive strength to avoid bee and brood mortality – can result in queen loss if miss used. Daytime Temp of 50 – 90 F specified on day of treatment, but bee/brood mortality increases with temp. $4.70 per treatment. Miteaway Instructions
  • Apilife Var / Thymol and other EO – Very safe time release delivery.  Requires 3 treatments to be effective if brood is present – Use when average daytime temps are between 59 and 69 F.  About $3.65 per treatment. Apilife Instructions
  • Apiguard / thymol ***– Safe, low bee or brood mortality – but does cause bearding and interruption of brood rearing for a few days.  Requires 2 applications at warm to high temperatures – 60 /100° F.  Requires a spacer – About $3.60 per treatment. Apiguard Instructions
  • Hop Guard / add HopGuard® II to hives at the rate of 2 insert strips per 10 frames.  Strips should be hung between frames. HopGuard® II is most effective when used during the pre-pollination period (before sealed brood), mid-summer, and at the onset of winter brood development. HopGuard® II may be applied up to 3 times per year,

 EPA regulated Synthetic mite treatments 

  • Apivar/amitraz – currently reported to be extremely effective.  One application of 2 strips required. About $6.00 per treatment. No evidence of resistance after more than 15 years – no application temp recommended (that I know of)  Apivar Instructions and Info

Please read and educate yourself to make a choice.

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Saturday Apiary Session is ON

The Saturday apiary session for July 11 is ON at this time, but be sure and check back in case of cancellation.

We will be doing a late season Split on Saturday – and allowing (hoping) the bees to make a new queen.  Other cool stuff is possible if time permits.

The time will be  Saturday morning at 9:30 – These sessions are  open to anyone who is interested – no need to be a club member or have bees.

Please sign up for our email news letter and keep an eye on it or the website concerning these sessions as they are somewhat weather dependant and subject to cancellation.

The location is 5357 Bob Lynn rd. Cookeville TN 38501 – I estimate that they will only last about 45 – 75 minutes. Please be prompt as we will try to start on time. You must bring your own veil and you must wear it – other protective equipment is optional.

 

Directions from North Willow and 12th street (TTU Gym and Hooper Eblen Center basketball arena)  to address 5357 Bob Lynn rd. Cookeville TN 38501

From Intersection of N. Willow and 12th street Head North on Willow.
Continue North on Willow approx 3.1 miles
Turn Right on Bob Lynn rd.
Continue on Bob Lynn rd for approx .4 miles.
Apiary is visible from the road on the Right – vacant wooded lot about 600 ft past Fox Ridge Rd.
Please try to park in a manner which will allow as much parking access as possible for everyone.

See you on Saturday!

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Beekeeping tasks this month – July

Honeybees-27527-1

It’s July, hot hot hot… what should I be doing as a beekeeper this month?

The following list was published by Dr. John A. Skinner (Professor & Apiculture Specialist @ UT) in the Beekeeping in Tennessee publication from UT (PB 1745), and is available at the following URL: https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/PB1745.pdf

Seasonal Management: July

• If moving colonies to sourwood areas, have your bees in their new location before the first week of July.

• Extract any unremoved capped honey to have the supers available for the sourwood honey flow.

• Return extracted supers to the colonies just before dark to prevent robbing.

• Fumigate all supers of extracted combs that will be off the colonies for the remainder of the season with para-di-chloro-benzene. Wax moths can begin destroying them in a matter of days, depending on the situation.

• Pack honey in a quality, attractive package – all new, clean glassware or plastic ware and lids.

• Swarms issuing after mid-June will required constant feeding until they are a full-sized hive. They can be combined with weak colonies.

• Check for varroa mites.

• If your honey flow is over by this month, insert entrance reducers to prevent robbing and reduce the hive to the size of overwintering to help the colony manage hive beetles.

• Colonies will readily take feed and convert it to brood after the honey flow is over. Feed colonies where it is desired to build up their population (e.g. new colonies started late).

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No July Meeting – no Apiary Session on 4th of July

I hope everyone is enjoying a great summer, and having good luck with your bees.  This is just a reminder that there will not be a regular club meeting in July, and that there will not be an apiary session next Saturday July 4th either.

However – weather permitting – at the following Saturday (July 11) apiary session we will attempt to split some hives and allow the bees to make new queens.   Splitting is more difficult at this time of year than it is earlier, but some people are always interested in doing it because their new hives have just now built up the resources – and also honey season is over so not much honey potential is lost by splitting this late.   However July 11 is getting  near the latest date for successful productive splitting – so this demonstration should be very timely for anyone who wants to make increase but has put it off.

If you are interested in repeating this process in your home apiary you should go ahead and get together any woodenware that you will need to do it – IE a nucleus hive or hive setup, maybe just a bottom board and top cover depending on what you hope to do.  You may also need additional frames of foundation, feed, feeders, and robber screens.

Is your hive strong enough to split?  If you have a healthy hive which has at least 10 deep frames or 16 medium frames of drawn comb then you can split it into two hives which will be big enough to survive our winters – if you are willing to feed and care for them.  Personally I would much rather go into winter with two small hives than one big one – my experience has been that the small hives over winter just as well as the big ones, and grow so fast in the spring that by honey season they are very productive.

See you on Saturday July 11.

More information on Saturday Apiary session.

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