The Heartland Apiculture Society will hold their annual conference once again this year on the campus of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville TN - July 11-13.
Many bee keepers will travel long distances to attend this conference – so Cookeville area bee keepers should really plan to attend if at all possible. This is a great opportunity to learn and meet bee keepers from all around our country.
The Registration form is now online! Click here for details. The pre-registration deadline is June 19. We are looking for a lot of Tennessee participation this year. There will be outstanding speakers at the conference - some from Tennessee – so don’t miss this huge event and wonderful opportunity to attend a very educational conference.
Here is just a partial list of scheduled speakers:
Most of the major beekeeping suppliers will be there as well, so it will a good chance to pick up supplies and not have to pay shipping – some vendors will deliver your pre orders to the conference for you, so check with your vendor.
Early Registration Fees: $45.00 per person for the full three-day conference or $20.00 per person per day if attending one or two days. There is no registration fee for children 12 and under.
After June 19, registration rates: full three-day conference $75.00 per person; or $30.00 per person per day.
On-campus parking: A temporary campus parking permit will be provided at the Registration Desk for conference attendees, speakers, volunteers, and vendors.
Mail-in registrations must be postmarked by Wednesday, June 19, 2013 to ensure the discount rates. Please do not mail registrations after that date because they may not be received in sufficient time to be processed.
Pre-registered attendees may pick up their packets and information at the registration table located in the Roaden University Student Center – Thursday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served at the Marketplace Cafeteria / RoadenUniversity Center, 7am to 7pm.
If you have questions, please contact Jim Garrison, President of HAS, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 615-377-7696.
H.A.S. 2013 CONFERENCE CONTACTS:
Program/Speakers: Stu Jacobsen, Conference Coordinator, email@example.com
President/Site Contact: Jim Garrison, 615 330-0105
Registration: Alethia Prettyman, H.A.S. Treasurer, 270-498-4171 (central time, between 2-9pm M-F or Sun), firstname.lastname@example.org
An Inspector Class is being taught by Mike Studer on May 23 and 24 (Thursday and Friday) from 5 – 10 pm both evenings. Thursday will be full time in classroom and Friday will start out in the bee yard and then return to the classroom. It will be at the Ward Ag Center (Wilson County Fair Grounds) in the School Exhibits Building. As you come in through the main gates, there are two buildings in front of you with a roadway between them. Take that road to the back of the grounds and the schoolhouse is directly in front of you. There is no charge for the class, but you are required to have a minimum of three years experience. There are very few places available. To sign up for one of the remaining places contact Petra Mitchell right away - email@example.com
We will be having a field day this Saturday May 18 at 1:00. The location is at the TTU Apiary – we will be meeting at the picnic shelter at the Hyder-Burks Ag Pavilion, Gainesboro Grade, Cookeville 38501. Everyone is welcome – everyone must wear at least a veil.
Soon your bees will finally be here – a most joyous occasion for new bee keepers especially. No doubt you have been studying up on how to get package bees into their hive, and already have some idea how to do it, but just in case…
Of course you already have your hive equipment all ready assembled, painted and hopefully in place in your future bee yard ready to receive your new BFFs.
If you are using a Screened Bottom Board – close it up! Packages or swarms often abscond when installed in hives with open bottoms. Once they have some comb built and brood going open it up if you want to, but keep it shut until then.
Note – I started keeping honey bees using the foundationless method, and while it did work out OK, I have since changed to all plastic foundation – which is another issue. The point is that these pictures show foundationless frames, while you will probably be using foundation of some kind. Don’t worry about that, the only difference is how you release the queen – which will be pointed out when we get to that part.
If it turns out that the weather is foul when your package bees arrive, they can be kept in a cool dark place – like a garage – for several days, but installing them sooner is better than later. Except for this – if you are installing in a top bar hive or other foundationless system, it might be better for the bees to spend a total of at least 3 days caged up in contact with their new queen before you release them.
If there are no other bees already nearby where you are installing your package bees, then you can do it at any time of day – hopefully during nice weather – but if you already have bees in the same location you can help to keep your bees from drifting to existing hives by doing the deed as late as possible in the afternoon so that they will spend the night in the new hive before they look around too much.
How to Install your Package Honey Bees
First take 4 frames out of the hive to make a space for the bees. Next pry the plywood cover off of the package.
The package contains a can of syrup with a few holes in it for the bees to eat during shipping.
Hold the tab that the queen cage is hanging from as you carefully remove the syrup can. Everything will have bees clinging to it so you have to go slow and kind of wiggle things around to keep from injuring them.
After removing the can, and the queen cage keep the bees in the cage by laying the little piece of plywood back over the hole.
Notice the white wax that the workers deposited on the queen cage while they were in route. They really can’t wait to get to work. But, the queen and worker bees were collected from different hives at the commercial apiary where the bees were produced, and don’t immediately accept each other.If those bees hanging onto the queen cage cling tight and feel almost like velcro when you gently brush them off it means that the queen has not yet been accepted. But even if they have accepted the queen already a timed candy release is a tried and true way of minimizing the risk when introducing a queen to a new hive.There should be several attendant bees in the cage with the queen, and some of them might be dead – which is normal – but make sure that the queen is alive.
Compared to the pictures of queens you might have seen on the Internet your new queen might look kind of puny. There are two reasons for that 1) People usually post pictures of particularly big fat queens, not average ones. 2) Your queen has been in a cage – not laying eggs – for several days, and queens get skinny when they are not laying eggs. She will fatten up a lot in a week or two.
Most wooden queen cages have two corks that keep the queen in for the trip, and under one cork there is a plug made out of sugar “candy” that the workers will gnaw away to free the queen. Be sure to remove the correct cork – the one with candy under it – not the one which immediately releases the queen. Immediate direct release of your queen will void the warranty – and may result in her being immediately killed. Don’t do that!
Hang the Queen Cage in the Hive - An easy way to fasten the queen cage in is with a simple rubber band:
Your queen could come in any of several types of queen cage, but whatever kind you get you want to install the cage in the center of the hive with the candy end up so that the exit doesn’t get clogged with dead attendants. You might have to remove one frame from the outside to make room for the queen cage. Make sure that the screen is not obstructed or blocked. If you use a rubber band for this, use a nice fat one so that the bees don’t chew it apart before the queen is released.
Don’t directly release the queen Unless, you are doing foundationless – in which case you MUST directly release the queen. If you don’t know what I mean by “doing foundationless” then this does not apply to you. Rest assured that using foundation is a good way to go – the tried and true way. Those foundationless guys are outlaws, who live on the ragged edge. Direct release is much more risky than a timed candy release.
The reason that you don’t put a queen cage into a foundationless hive is that the bees will start building comb right on the queen cage instead of on your carefully constructed starter strips, and instead of nice straight comb you will get something like this instead:
Crooked chaotic comb which will be likely to fall apart when you do an inspection – Which is something you don’t have to worry about when you use foundation.
When introducing a queen into a foundationless hive without comb. First make sure that the queen has been confined with the package for at least 3 days, and bees are not aggressively clinging to the queen cage like velcro. Then just free the queen and put the queen cage in your pocket – seriously don’t leave the cage laying around or the bees might cluster on it because of the queen pheremones on it. Now hope that she doesn’t immediately fly away, and isn’t killed by the other bees.
If after a candy release the queen is still in the cage in a week you can safely release her then during your first inspection.
Usually in a package bee installation “how to” you are instructed to shake the bees out through the 3 inch hole left by the syrup can – lots of shaking involved which doesn’t look too pleasant for the bees – but it really doesn’t hurt them. You can also take the screen loose on the side of the box to open up the entire side as instructed in this beemaster video on installing a package of bees. But really, that’s a lot of extra work, and shaking them out through the can hole works fine.
Before you shake in the bees Install the entrance reducer on the smallest opening.
When you are ready to install the bees, take a deep breath and rap the package down sharply to get all of the bees in a confused pile on the bottom. Now just dump them right into the hive with the queen. After you shake most all of them out, set the empty package near the entrance of the hive so that any holdouts can walk in on their own.
You might be worried that at this point they will either all just fly away or swarm all over you and try to sting you to death, but they won’t. Actually they will probably just about ignore you. Experienced bee keepers might not wear any equipment at all. Smart bee keepers will wear a veil, because getting stung in the eye can cause blindness. Beginners should suit up to the point that they are confident and don’t have to worry about it at all. No shame in that.
After pouring the bees into the hive carefully replace all of the frames – slowly wiggle them in to give the bees a chance to get out of the way. If you have 10 frame equipment you might want to leave one frame out until you remove the queen cage in a few days – just even out the extra space on each end. It seems impossible from the way this picture looks, but I don’t think I killed a single bee.
Now carefully replace the inner cover.
A Quart jar with some holes punched in the lid makes a great feeder – a push pin type thumb tack makes perfect sized holes. Install whatever kind of feeder you plan to use and fill it with 1/1 sugar syrup. Check on it and keep it filled as long as they will take it and don’t start back filling the brood nest.
Cover the jar feeder with an empty hive body, and the outer cover.
If I had been on the ball I would have placed the entrance reducer before I started.
In just a few minutes the bees were all moving inside and flying around the yard orienting themselves. In a few hours they were already bringing in pollen from the blackberry flowers.
Now the hardest part – leave them alone for at least a week. The bees need time to build comb for the queen to lay in and to accept her before you bother them – premature inspection could cause them to kill or supercede the queen. Keep them fed, and admire how cool they look going in and out, but don’t open the hive.
This process might look intimidating, but after all of the waiting you will probably really enjoy it. When I got my first package I worried that when I dumped all of those bees out they would just rise up and fly away if I didn’t do everything exactly right. But the thing is they don’t seem to want to fly away. It’s almost like if you had been cooped up in a greyhound bus for 3 days and then you were deposited right into a five star hotel with an open buffet – what they really seemed to want to do was settle in and make their selves at home.
Get your hive equipment ready – don’t forget to install the entrance reducer. Close the screened bottom board if you are using one.
Remove 4 frames from the middle of the hive to make a hole to pour the bees into.
Rap the cage down to shake the bees down to the bottom.
Pry out the feed can, remove the queen cage, and cover the hole.
Verify that the queen is alive. If she is not alive – call me, I have a few spares.
Remove the cork from the candy end of the queen cage.
Fasten the queen cage into the hive with the candy end up and the screen unobstructed.
Rap the package down again to shake the bees to the bottom.
Dump them in there.
Replace the frames – push them all together to the center of the hive!
Install your feeder and close the hive.
Keep them fed.
Leave them alone for a whole week.
If when you inspect after one week the queen is still in the cage – remove the other cork and release her into the hive – by now she will be well accepted. And by the way, an otherwise queenless hive like this will feed the caged queen through the cage for a long time – that is exactly how commercial producers “bank” queens until they are ready to ship.
Don’t get excited if you don’t see either the queen or brood the first time you inspect – both are hard for new bee keepers to spot.
A great video on installing package bees
Photography by my lovely and fearless wife Shirley – who was not wearing a bee suit.
I have removed all entries from the Swarm Removal page from before 2013 – so if you want to get swarm calls you need to update your entry sometime soon.
Free Bees just waiting to be Collected!
Swarming is the way that honey bee colonies make more honey bee colonies when they don’t have a bee keeper to help out. To anyone who doesn’t know about swarm removals – In our area bees can swarm as early as February – but usually the months of April and May are peak times for swarms. Earlier (spring) swarms are much more valuable to bee keepers because they are healthier, and have a better chance of thriving.
Swarms can be a source of free bees for the prepared bee keeper – Preparation is the key though:
People who find swarms have to know how to get in touch with you – So prepare by getting on swarm lists and telling people that you’re a bee keeper.
You have to be prepared to go collect them – there is often only a few hours window of opportunity. Don’t wait for the call to get your kit together.
You have to be prepared to house them. Swarms will start building comb right away – inside of the cardboard box that you collect them in even – and comb building is one of the most valuable things swarms can do for you. So you want to “hive them up” as soon as possible. Don’t wait to put your extra equipment together and set on hive stands – have it ready.
Free Bees! Who doesn’t love free? So, think about getting yourself and your equipment ready and getting on the Honey Bee Removal List.
Now that you are a bee keeper you are required by law to register your bee yard. Don’t worry – it’s free, easy and it (probably) isn’t a government plot to take away your stuff.
If you’ve been a bee keeper for a while you might want to take this opportunity to update your information.
The Apiary Act of 1995 includes a section on registration of apiaries. In the Apiary Act, new apiaries are required to be registered with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. These apiaries are required to be re-registered every 3 years. The list of registered beekeepers and apiaries is maintained by the State Apiarist and upon registration, the beekeeper receives a unique registration number. This number is the beekeeper’s personal registration number and can be used to brand hives and equipment. Registration cards are available from this office, County Extension Agent offices, your local beekeeper association or this website.
There are a number of benefits to registering your apiary:
E-mail notification of disease outbreaks and updates from the State Apiarist.
E-mail and postal notification of aerial spraying of pesticides in your area when we are notified of the spraying projects.
Free inspection of your colonies if you are selling them, moving them or you feel you may have a bee health problem.
Registering your bees helps to protect your bees and your neighbor’s bees in the case of an American Foulbrood (AFB) outbreak or other regulatory pest.
If your colonies have to be destroyed due to American Foulbrood or other regulated pest or disease you will be compensated if they are registered. There is no indemnity paid for the loss of unregistered bee colonies.
What can happen if you do not register your bees or your apiary?
Failure to register you bees or comply with the provisions of “The Apiary Act of 1995” may result in the confiscation your bees, beekeeping equipment and a $500.00 fine.
If your colonies have to be destroyed due to American Foulbrood or other regulated pest or disease you will not be compensated if they are not registered.
Please remember that by law all honey bee colonies in the state of Tennessee are required to be registered with this office. All honey bees and used equipment transported into, out of, within or through the state of Tennessee are required by law to be inspected.
Package Bee Orders - If you have not already ordered bees or paid in full for the bees that you have reserved Please send a Check ($85/order total) to the following address – you can still order package bees. Make checks payable to Cookeville Bee Keepers and mail to:
Cookeville Bee Keepers
453 E. Whitehall rd.
I will be finalizing our order soon and any orders which are not paid in full will not be placed.
From the TBA – I represented our club at the Tennessee Bee Keepers Association Executive meeting yesterday, and I made a few notes of things that I thought you might find interesting:
I picked up our hive grant kits, and noticed that each kit contains two 8 frame medium hive bodies and accessories. I personally use all 8 frame mediums and have not regretted starting out that way. We are all set now to award kits to 3 lucky beginning bee keepers at our next meeting.
In a floor conversation between Mike Studer (TN state apiarist / apiary inspector) and Dr. John Skinner (TN State Apiculturist, - UT Entomology & Plant Pathology Dept)
It was recommended that treatments for varroa mites be applied asap – during the spring build up – as soon as weather permits. The reasoned opinion being that hives treated in the spring are more likely to survive the following winter. Reducing mite loads now, reduces virus build ups in the hive population for the entire season more effectively than treating at any other time. Keeping colonies healthy early and throughout the season is key to long term survival.
The only commercial mite treatment which Mike Skinner recommends at this time is Apiguard – here’s why:
Apiguard uses thymol which is a naturally occurring substance – and not particularly dangerous.
He prefers that we avoid “hard” chemicals such as coumaphos (check mite) – even though they can be effective if used correctly. Coumaphos in particular is dangerous to people if mishandled and can not be used when honey supers are on the hive.
Formic acid treatments can be safe and effective, but the only commercially available formic acid product available at this time is mite away quick strips, and they have apparently experienced quality control problems during the past year – some shipments being too weak to be effective, while others were so concentrated that they cause very high bee mortality.
It was also recommended that formic acid treatments only be used during cool conditions – 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit - to limit bee mortality.
High winter losses have been reported in TN – most dead out hives which have been examined were highly infected with Nosema Cerana – the “new” variety of nosema – which is not well controlled by use of Fumagillin. N-cerana does not cause streaking on hives like N-apis and is therefore likely to be un-diagnosed.
Mike recommends that using Honey-Bee-Healthy whenever feeding syrup results in healthier colonies that are less likely to succumb to nosema, and other pathogens.
At Our Last Meeting:
Maples are already or about to be in bloom throughout the region, and on fair days bees are foraging both pollen and nectar – queens are starting to lay, and brood will increase quickly.
All that brood has to be kept warm and fed – during bad weather the cluster will not move off of the brood – even if food is close by, but just out of reach.
David Young made the observation that more bees will Starve to death between now and April than at any other time.
Make sure that your bees have food Within Reach of the brood area.
If the cluster is already to the top of the hive it is likely that they have used up most of the food lower down – you should consider feeding. Bees generally will not take syrup unless it’s relatively warm, so alternatively to feeding syrup during winter/spring you might want to try “Mountain Camp” feeding using dry sugar. This method can put the food in contact with the cluster no matter how the weather turns.
Inspections can be done when the temps are in the high 50s as long as it is sunny and with little or no wind – even then try to be as non invasive as possible to avoid chilling brood.
When he addressed our club last year Mr. Ed Holcomb recommended that you reverse hive bodies only when 3 or more days of fair weather are forecast. He also had this insight: When you reverse hive bodies you disrupt the arrangement of resources in the hive, so the bees go to work to re-arrange things back the way they want them. Since bees move honey within the hive by eating it, reversing hive bodies forces the nurse bees to eat more than they normally might – simulating a nectar flow and stimulating brood production. Reversing hive bodies might not be as fashionable as it once was, but it’s part of the system that Mr. Holcomb uses to produce 100 pounds of honey per hive.
During the discussion of Top Bar Hives I heard the comment that this method sounds like more trouble than it’s worth. And it might be – depending on what you want out of bee keeping and are willing / able to put into it.
Top bar hives may require a bit more hands on involvement than Langstroth hives, but then again beginners often crave more hands on experience than is good for the bees anyway. So that might not really be a point against them.
You probably won’t make much money top bar bee keeping – but the truth is that most hobby bee keepers don’t make much money no matter what method they use. Although I would speculate that it might be easier to make money sooner with top bar hives and collected swarms than it would be using expensive equipment and bees. If you don’t have much invested you don’t have to make much revenue to show a profit.
If a would-be bee keeper is short on funds (or you just don’t WANT to spend a lot of money if you don’t have to) then top bar hives are a good way to get into the hobby with little or no outlay of cash. You still get to practice bee keeping, and enjoy working with the bees – and you can still get a little bit of honey out of it. You just don’t need a lot of money to get started. So, if you really want to start keeping bees don’t use (the lack of) money as an excuse to stop you.
I’m not really recommending that anyone start top bar bee keeping unless they just want to – just saying that it does have merits.
Why Should I join the TBA? You might ask. Well, for one thing if you are a new Honey bee keeper and you would like to participate in the drawing for a complete beginning bee keepers kit (Hive setup, gloves, veil, smoker, etc…) They you MUST be a member of the TN Bee Keepers Association.
A somewhat less self serving reason to Join the Tennessee Bee Keepers Association is that the TBA works with the state to educate bee keepers and promote bee keeping as both a hobby and an industry in our state.
Mail it along with a Check to the address on the form.
It’s That simple.
Also – don’t forget our February meeting – next Thursday (February 7 2013 – 6:00 - Department of agriculture located at 900 South Walnut Avenue, Cookeville, TN) You MUST pay for your bee orders in full by that meeting – and you can still order package bees – $85 per order. If you won’t be attending the Feb Meeting you can also mail me a check payable to
Cookeville Bee Keepers
453 E. Whitehall rd.
The Thursday February 7, 2013 meeting of the Cookeville Bee Keepers will be held at the Cookeville office of the Department of agriculture located at 900 South Walnut Avenue, Cookeville, TN 38501 – Right behind the Putnam county fairgrounds – the same place as the October and November meetings - at 6:30 PM – arrive early to chat and mingle (and buy bees!) at 6 if you like.
If you are handy with woodworking I found this site to make screened bottom boards. I went to Highland hardware and got a roll of screen for about $20. This roll looks like it will make 100 screened bottom boards. Using scrap wood these were easy to make. Other than the screen, there was not cost. You will need 2 scrap 2 ft. 2×4′s . On cold snowy days this was easy breezy. the web site is
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Our regular Meetings are usually held on the first Thursday night in every month at 6:30 at a location which has recently changed from month to month since TTU evicted us for excessive exuberance. Please subscribe to our email newsletter for up to date information.