September 2016 Meeting

honey_jars

Monthly Meeting: Our Regular monthly meeting will be on Thursday September 1st – as usual the meeting will be at Collegeside Church beginning at 6:30PM – the doors will be open at 6:00PM, so come early to discuss bees and how your bees are doing, and what’s happening next!

This month we’ve got Arlis Swafford who will be teaching us some tips and tricks on processing, packaging, and showing honey – particularly for competitions and/or fairs.  Arlis has won many blue ribbons over the years, so come on out and join us and learn.

Varroa Mite Management Options for Honey Bees

 

Life Cycle of Varroa Mites – Thanks to Tony Linka for permission to use this excellent illustration.

This article was originally published in November 2013, but contains seasonally relevant information.  In other words – It is time to treat your bees for varroa mites.

“You need to be doing something proactive to deal with mites whether you treat or not.”  (paraphrased) Kaymon Reynolds – treatment free beekeeper for 10 years.

This post is intended to present the available options for varroa mite management in as factual and unvarnished form as is possible – and is not intended as an endorsement of any particular technique.   This information is only intended to inform.  Any apparent bias or spin is unintentional – but probably inevitable what with me being human and all.  I highly recommend that you educate yourself on whatever path you choose to take – and don’t be too quick to completely believe anything you hear from any one source.

  • Varroa infestation is a major factor in many hive failures.
  • Hives which seem to have failed from queenlessness, wax moths, hive beetles, robbing, absconding, or even starvation may actually have mites as a root cause of their eventual demise.
  • Beekeepers often do not detect mites or spot symptoms of Parasitic Mite Syndrome until it is extremely advanced.
  • Varroa mites vector viral diseases while also sapping the strength of the parasitized individual bees – resulting in “sick hives” which fail to thrive and often eventually collapse.  Collapsing hives are usually robbed out which can spread both mites and associated diseases to the robbing colonies.
  • Queens are not immune to these viral diseases – non-lethal viral infections of queens can be a cause of poor brood production and supersedure – either of which may result in colony failure.
  • Ignoring the varroa mite problem and failing to manage it in some way will almost always result in catastrophic colony loss.
  • Treatment Free beekeeping and just hoping for the best while doing nothing are NOT the same things.
Queens are not immune to varroa infestation and the diseases that mites carry.

Timing of Treatments

  • If you are going to treat for varroa mites timing is important.
  • You should not treat when honey supers are on hives – April-July.  Some treatments are actually approved for use when supers are on, but in order to preserve the public faith in our product, it is important that beekeepers avoid the very appearance of evil.  Don’t treat or feed your hives when honey supers are on.
  • It is important that mite populations be low before and during the fall brood build up – September – Mid November.  Without management, this is when mite levels usually peak.
  • Hives which have large mite loads going into winter are likely to fail before spring.
  • TN State Apiary experts recommend a late winter / early spring treatment – Late Feb – Early March.
  • It is often recommended by treatment manufacturers that only strong hives be treated (some treatments can be stressful) so it is important to treat before hive health is in decline.
  • Hives are generally broodless during Late November – Early December.  Treating during this period will be maximally effective.
  • If you wait until symptoms of varroa infestation become apparent colony health will already be compromised.
  • Effective treatments which are properly applied during the correct times and conditions will greatly improve colony survival and performance.  Improperly applied treatments performed at the wrong time on weakened colonies may be worse than doing nothing.
  • In summary, the key times to treat are: July/August before the fall brood build up starts.  November/December during the broodless period before winter.  February/March before the honey season starts.
Is your skin crawling yet?

The Hard/Soft chemical fallacy

  • People often refer to synthetic miticides as “Hard” chemicals and naturally occurring ones as “Soft.”  In some ways, this characterization is the opposite of the truth.
  • During the treatment period ,synthetic treatments are often less likely to cause bee mortality or queen loss. Care must be taken with some so-called “Soft” treatments to prevent killing bees or causing hives to abscond. Some of the “Soft” treatments are extremely temperature dependent – too cool and it doesn’t work, too warm and it kills bees.
  • The effective synthetics are able to kill a high percentage of mites in the hive because they are time released or remain effective long enough to kill mites which are inside of capped brood at the initial treatment time.  Naturally occurring treatments do not all have this advantage – some require repeated applications at specific time periods to be effective.
  • Any treatment is most effective if used when hives are broodless.
  • Synthetics may leave long-lasting / permanent residues in the hive – especially in wax.  These residues seem to cause fertility problems for both queens and drones, and detractors speculate that they may be factors in long-term hive health problems.  ** Naturally occurring miticides such as formic acid or thymol do not leave long-lasting residues in hives – but if not carefully applied they can kill bees during treatment.
  • Mites have developed a resistance to some synthetics which has made them ineffective in most cases – Apistan for example – but because they have fallen out of favor and are used much less frequently now, there are some reports that low and behold they sometimes work well for occasional use.  They are however still implicated in health compromising long lasting hive residues.

Rotate Treatments

No matter which treatments you decide to use to prevent mites from developing resistance  it is probably best if you don’t get in the habit of always using the same one all the time.

 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
  • Apistan/fluvalinate – Mites have developed a resistance to this treatment in many areas – but it may be effective for limited use because it has widely fallen out of favor.
  • Checkmite/coumaphos – Mites have developed a resistance to this treatment in many areas – but it may be effective for limited use because it has widely fallen out of favor.
  • Randy Oliver on Synthetic Treatments

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 – Not approved in TN.

 Treatments which are effectively not regulated by the EPA but which are known to be work

  • Powdered Sugar Dusting – 30 / 50% effective only on phoretic mites, can cause death of open brood by simply gumming it up. Scientific Beekeeping
  • Essential Oils – EO of Thyme and  EO of Spearmint are known to be effective as miticides – appropriate dosages and methods of application have been widely experimented with by beekeepers but are difficult to specify. Several commercial products such as Honey-bee-healthy and Mann Lake Pro Health contain these ingredients, but because of EPA guidelines can not be labeled or specifically recommended for varroa management.  ******Drenching with Honey-bee-healthy as per label directions is probably the varroa treatment method that the researchers would like to recommend if they could.
  • ****** Oxalic Acid – Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring organic acid which quickly breaks down and leaves no residue in hives. OA is a widely used government approved mite treatment in the rest of the world, and now in the U.S.  OA is safe, effective, cheap and not temperature dependant.  OA causes little if any bee / brood mortality. OA does not kill mites inside of capped brood, so it is most effective when used on broodless hives.  Since OA is widely used abroad dosages and application methods are well established.  3-4 Pennies per treatment.

 Treatment free

  • “Treatment Free” beekeeping is an often misunderstood and controversial subject on the Internet.
  • Treatment free beekeeping apparently IS possible. More beekeepers report successfully practicing treatment free beekeeping every year.
  • Essential oils and powdered sugar dusting are mite treatments – if you use these then you are not treatment free.
  • The essence of the treatment free philosophy is to not treat, let the hives which can’t hack it die, and then make increase from the remaining “Survivor” bees – the so-called Bond method.   In practice, it is much harder than it sounds, and many beginners who take this overly simplistic approach fail utterly and lose interest in beekeeping.
  • Successful treatment free beekeeping requires bees which have the ability to survive to begin with.  There is apparently no reliable source of such bees.  You can get bees which are more resistant than others (****USDA VSH or Minnesota Hygenic queens for example) but based upon my personal experience it is quite difficult to just buy “Survivor” bees.
  • However,  BeeWeaver Apiaries in Texas have been producing treatment free queens, bees and honey  for more than 10 years now.  There are mixed reports from consumers – including some reports of aggressive bees – but that is typical for any queen producer, and apparently BeeWeaver will replace aggressive queens.   So, while this is not an endorsement they might be worth checking out if you are interested in going treatment free.
  • Making increase is probably an absolutely essential part of treatment free beekeeping.
  • If you want to try treatment free you should probably prepare for high colony losses – 50% or more in some cases.  Hopefully less, but don’t fail to plan.
  • You can probably not reasonably expect to be successful with very few colonies – larger numbers give more fault tolerance and a better gene pool.
  • Treatment free does not mean doing nothing – if anything treatment free beekeepers need to be more competent and diligent beekeepers to meet the challenges.
  • There does not seem to be a very large number of treatment free beekeepers who are able to report success beyond being able to keep their bees alive from year to year.   This  statement is not based on any kind of scientific data collection, but rather from an informal Q+A thread on beesource forum.
  • It is possible (and likely in my opinion) that some locations may not be conducive to treatment free beekeeping. Or at least that some areas may be much better than others.
  • Randy Oliver on varroa resistant bees.

Footnotes

* Outlaw Treatments – The use of any EPA-regulated insecticide in a manner or form other than that which is approved “and specified on label” by the EPA is a violation of federal law.  For example in the past commercial apiaries have been (heavily) fined for using paper towels soaked with  Mavrik (fluvalinate which is labeled for use  as an outdoor pesticide) as a mite treatment.  Even though fluvalinate is EPA approved for apiary use in the much more expensive form of Apistan (no longer effective on Varroa mites BTW) the off-label apiary use of the same chemical when packaged as Mavrik is a violation.  Non-regulated substances such as essential oils, powdered sugar, and either fall through one loophole or another or exist in something of a gray area depending on how you describe their use.

** The makers of Apivar (amitraz) claim that their product “Leaves no significant residues in hive honey or wax.”  And that mites are showing no signs of resistance after 15 years of field use. The source should be taken into account when considering these claims.

*** When stinky treatments like formic acid or thymol are applied the bees will start fanning to ventilate the hive.  Weak hives may not have enough bees to do the job and may abscond or suffer losses.  Generally, these treatments are not recommended for weak hives.

**** VSH, and other breeds with hygienic behavior are not the elusive “Survivor Bees” that you might hear being mentioned – Because these traits are quickly watered down in open mating environments.  The true “survivor bees” apparently breed true enough for the trait to accumulate in the local gene pool to a useful degree during open mating.  Nonetheless, VSH is a good place to start until you can acquire some of the magic bees.

***** Other Key Management Practices for keeping Hives Healthy

  • Healthy hives are more resistant to mites and disease and more resilient when they are effected, so strive to maintain good practices.
  • Do your inspections – until you have a good bit of experience the only way to tell what your hives need is to inspect at least every 2 weeks during the season.  If you can not make time for this during your first few years you might want to reconsider your choice of hobbies.
  • Prevent Queenlessness – this is probably the number one cause of hive loss. If you don’t inspect at least every 2 weeks you often won’t have time to correct queenlessness before it is too late.
  • Don’t let your bees go hungry – bees which are suffering from malnutrition will never be healthy.  Any time that hives do not contain Plenty of both capped honey and open nectar they should be fed.  Ideally, hives would never run short of natural food, but we do not live in an ideal region for that – most years here in mid-TN bees need to be fed.
  • Prevent robbing – Robbing cause’s malnutrition, stress, and queenlessness. I highly recommend the use of robber screens.
  • Extra colonies – One hive is absolutely not sustainable – two is marginal – four or five (including nucs) is probably the minimal number of hives for a reasonably sustainable apiary.  Besides, nucleus colonies are a lot more fun than big honkin’ honey hives – everyone should keep a few nucs.
  • Having extra colonies will allow you to be more objective when deciding between cutting your losses and trying to save a failing hive.
  • Split and make increase every spring – Combine in the fall – It will make you a better beekeeper and will give you the resources that you need to recover from setbacks, and to improve your stocks.
  • Always keep some empty extra equipment on hand – assembled and ready to use – nucs, frames with foundation, supers, robber screens etc.
  • Be Prepared – procure supplies such as feed, medication, equipment before you need it.
  • Integrated Pest Management  – IPM is more or less the use of cultural practices to manage pests and minimize the use of treatments.  Key to varroa IPM is measuring mite loads on a regular and timely basis so that you know when something needs to be done instead of simply treating prophylactically on a seasonal basis.  Randy Oliver on IPM

****** Oxalic acid along with some essential oils exist in something of a limbo regarding EPA enforcement – they may be (and probably are) technically not legal to use,  but for some reason the EPA does not seem to be interested in enforcing a broad moratorium on them.  Possibly because they have bigger fish to fry, or maybe because they are taking the completely reasonable position of looking the other way for now when it comes to safe, effective treatments that don’t seem to hurt the environment, users,  or consumers.  Perhaps they have an internal  interpretation of the rules which allow their use in some cases.  Maybe they just haven’t noticed yet.  But I’m no expert so Caveat Emptor.

*******Honey-Bee-Healthy  Drench: one cup, 8 ozs (237 ml) of 1:1 Sugar Syrup with 4 tsp of HBH/qt (20 ml/l), applied 3 times, 7 days apart. We fed  bees at the same time with 10 ml of HBH per liter of 1:1 sucrose syrup.

Oxalic Acid Trickle/Dribble Treatment

Caution:  Read this – it is NOT the usual yadda yadda! – Do not mix solution until right before you are ready to apply it.  Because of a chemical reaction which takes place over the course of several days it will become poisonous to bees – use immediately and discard any unused solution by pouring it down a drain (and rinsing the container) so that neither bees or anything else can accidentally ingest it.   This sweet solution is poisonous and should be kept securely out of the reach of children and pets!

The treatment material is 3.2% oxalic acid in a 1:1 sugar solution.

  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 L of water
  • 75 gm of oxalic acid dihydrate – wood bleach

This will make 1.67 L of treatment material – enough for 33 colonies! Obviously, with a little bit of math it can be adjusted appropriately for your needs. Accurate measurement of ingredients is essential!

If you absolutely don’t want to use a postal scale, or a cheap digital scale (plenty on the web for under $10), then an approximate dilution would be 3 tsp oxalic crystals to 5 fl. oz each of water and granulated sugar.  This will give you a bit over a cup of treated syrup, or enough to treat about 4 colonies (or 3 really strong ones).  Don’t try to mix any less, just discard the excess! – Thanks to Randy Oliver – http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-treatment-table/

  1. Open the hive and remove supers if needed to get to the main cluster of bees.
  2. Fill the 50 ml syringe with solution (oxalic acid).
  3. Dribble solution on the seams of bees between the frames – distributing it as evenly as possible.

The treatment will seem very scant and you will not wet all of the bees in most cases, but that is OK and as it is supposed to be.  The bees will all work together to clean their selves, each other, and the other hive contents, and they will all get the correct oral dosage.

The 50 ML dosage is the correct size for a 10 frame deep single box colony which is of a healthy strength – if the population is smaller than this the dosage will be too high and should be adjusted accordingly.

This procedure usually takes less than a minute/hive. It is safe to carry out the treatment in cold conditions with the temperature down to 0°C. You can use warm water to make the mixture if it makes you feel better.

It is advised that this is only done when colonies are broodless for best effect and that it not be repeated.

Oxalic Acid Vaporizer

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle of Varroa Mites – Thanks to Tony Linka for permission to use this excellent illustration.

This article was originally published in November 2013, but contains seasonally relevant information.  In other words – It is time to treat your bees for varroa mites.

“You need to be doing something proactive to deal with mites whether you treat or not.”  (paraphrased) Kaymon Reynolds – treatment free beekeeper for 10 years.

This post is intended to present the available options for varroa mite management in as factual and unvarnished form as is possible – and is not intended as an endorsement of any particular technique.   This information is only intended to inform.  Any apparent bias or spin is unintentional – but probably inevitable what with me being human and all.  I highly recommend that you educate yourself on whatever path you choose to take – and don’t be too quick to completely believe anything you hear from any one source.

  • Varroa infestation is a major factor in many hive failures.
  • Hives which seem to have failed from queenlessness, wax moths, hive beetles, robbing, absconding, or even starvation may actually have mites as a root cause of their eventual demise.
  • Beekeepers often do not detect mites or spot symptoms of Parasitic Mite Syndrome until it is extremely advanced.
  • Varroa mites vector viral diseases while also sapping the strength of the parasitized individual bees – resulting in “sick hives” which fail to thrive and often eventually collapse.  Collapsing hives are usually robbed out which can spread both mites and associated diseases to the robbing colonies.
  • Queens are not immune to these viral diseases – non-lethal viral infections of queens can be a cause of poor brood production and supersedure – either of which may result in colony failure.
  • Ignoring the varroa mite problem and failing to manage it in some way will almost always result in catastrophic colony loss.
  • Treatment Free beekeeping and just hoping for the best while doing nothing are NOT the same things.
Queens are not immune to varroa infestation and the diseases that mites carry.

Timing of Treatments

  • If you are going to treat for varroa mites timing is important.
  • You should not treat when honey supers are on hives – April-July.  Some treatments are actually approved for use when supers are on, but in order to preserve the public faith in our product, it is important that beekeepers avoid the very appearance of evil.  Don’t treat or feed your hives when honey supers are on.
  • It is important that mite populations be low before and during the fall brood build up – September – Mid November.  Without management, this is when mite levels usually peak.
  • Hives which have large mite loads going into winter are likely to fail before spring.
  • TN State Apiary experts recommend a late winter / early spring treatment – Late Feb – Early March.
  • It is often recommended by treatment manufacturers that only strong hives be treated (some treatments can be stressful) so it is important to treat before hive health is in decline.
  • Hives are generally broodless during Late November – Early December.  Treating during this period will be maximally effective.
  • If you wait until symptoms of varroa infestation become apparent colony health will already be compromised.
  • Effective treatments which are properly applied during the correct times and conditions will greatly improve colony survival and performance.  Improperly applied treatments performed at the wrong time on weakened colonies may be worse than doing nothing.
  • In summary, the key times to treat are: July/August before the fall brood build up starts.  November/December during the broodless period before winter.  February/March before the honey season starts.
Is your skin crawling yet?

The Hard/Soft chemical fallacy

  • People often refer to synthetic miticides as “Hard” chemicals and naturally occurring ones as “Soft.”  In some ways, this characterization is the opposite of the truth.
  • During the treatment period ,synthetic treatments are often less likely to cause bee mortality or queen loss. Care must be taken with some so-called “Soft” treatments to prevent killing bees or causing hives to abscond. Some of the “Soft” treatments are extremely temperature dependent – too cool and it doesn’t work, too warm and it kills bees.
  • The effective synthetics are able to kill a high percentage of mites in the hive because they are time released or remain effective long enough to kill mites which are inside of capped brood at the initial treatment time.  Naturally occurring treatments do not all have this advantage – some require repeated applications at specific time periods to be effective.
  • Any treatment is most effective if used when hives are broodless.
  • Synthetics may leave long-lasting / permanent residues in the hive – especially in wax.  These residues seem to cause fertility problems for both queens and drones, and detractors speculate that they may be factors in long-term hive health problems.  ** Naturally occurring miticides such as formic acid or thymol do not leave long-lasting residues in hives – but if not carefully applied they can kill bees during treatment.
  • Mites have developed a resistance to some synthetics which has made them ineffective in most cases – Apistan for example – but because they have fallen out of favor and are used much less frequently now, there are some reports that low and behold they sometimes work well for occasional use.  They are however still implicated in health compromising long lasting hive residues.

Rotate Treatments

No matter which treatments you decide to use to prevent mites from developing resistance  it is probably best if you don’t get in the habit of always using the same one all the time.

 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
  • Apistan/fluvalinate – Mites have developed a resistance to this treatment in many areas – but it may be effective for limited use because it has widely fallen out of favor.
  • Checkmite/coumaphos – Mites have developed a resistance to this treatment in many areas – but it may be effective for limited use because it has widely fallen out of favor.
  • Randy Oliver on Synthetic Treatments

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 – Not approved in TN.

 Treatments which are effectively not regulated by the EPA but which are known to be work

  • Powdered Sugar Dusting – 30 / 50% effective only on phoretic mites, can cause death of open brood by simply gumming it up. Scientific Beekeeping
  • Essential Oils – EO of Thyme and  EO of Spearmint are known to be effective as miticides – appropriate dosages and methods of application have been widely experimented with by beekeepers but are difficult to specify. Several commercial products such as Honey-bee-healthy and Mann Lake Pro Health contain these ingredients, but because of EPA guidelines can not be labeled or specifically recommended for varroa management.  ******Drenching with Honey-bee-healthy as per label directions is probably the varroa treatment method that the researchers would like to recommend if they could.
  • ****** Oxalic Acid – Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring organic acid which quickly breaks down and leaves no residue in hives. OA is a widely used government approved mite treatment in the rest of the world, and now in the U.S.  OA is safe, effective, cheap and not temperature dependant.  OA causes little if any bee / brood mortality. OA does not kill mites inside of capped brood, so it is most effective when used on broodless hives.  Since OA is widely used abroad dosages and application methods are well established.  3-4 Pennies per treatment.

 Treatment free

  • “Treatment Free” beekeeping is an often misunderstood and controversial subject on the Internet.
  • Treatment free beekeeping apparently IS possible. More beekeepers report successfully practicing treatment free beekeeping every year.
  • Essential oils and powdered sugar dusting are mite treatments – if you use these then you are not treatment free.
  • The essence of the treatment free philosophy is to not treat, let the hives which can’t hack it die, and then make increase from the remaining “Survivor” bees – the so-called Bond method.   In practice, it is much harder than it sounds, and many beginners who take this overly simplistic approach fail utterly and lose interest in beekeeping.
  • Successful treatment free beekeeping requires bees which have the ability to survive to begin with.  There is apparently no reliable source of such bees.  You can get bees which are more resistant than others (****USDA VSH or Minnesota Hygenic queens for example) but based upon my personal experience it is quite difficult to just buy “Survivor” bees.
  • However,  BeeWeaver Apiaries in Texas have been producing treatment free queens, bees and honey  for more than 10 years now.  There are mixed reports from consumers – including some reports of aggressive bees – but that is typical for any queen producer, and apparently BeeWeaver will replace aggressive queens.   So, while this is not an endorsement they might be worth checking out if you are interested in going treatment free.
  • Making increase is probably an absolutely essential part of treatment free beekeeping.
  • If you want to try treatment free you should probably prepare for high colony losses – 50% or more in some cases.  Hopefully less, but don’t fail to plan.
  • You can probably not reasonably expect to be successful with very few colonies – larger numbers give more fault tolerance and a better gene pool.
  • Treatment free does not mean doing nothing – if anything treatment free beekeepers need to be more competent and diligent beekeepers to meet the challenges.
  • There does not seem to be a very large number of treatment free beekeepers who are able to report success beyond being able to keep their bees alive from year to year.   This  statement is not based on any kind of scientific data collection, but rather from an informal Q+A thread on beesource forum.
  • It is possible (and likely in my opinion) that some locations may not be conducive to treatment free beekeeping. Or at least that some areas may be much better than others.
  • Randy Oliver on varroa resistant bees.

Footnotes

* Outlaw Treatments – The use of any EPA-regulated insecticide in a manner or form other than that which is approved “and specified on label” by the EPA is a violation of federal law.  For example in the past commercial apiaries have been (heavily) fined for using paper towels soaked with  Mavrik (fluvalinate which is labeled for use  as an outdoor pesticide) as a mite treatment.  Even though fluvalinate is EPA approved for apiary use in the much more expensive form of Apistan (no longer effective on Varroa mites BTW) the off-label apiary use of the same chemical when packaged as Mavrik is a violation.  Non-regulated substances such as essential oils, powdered sugar, and either fall through one loophole or another or exist in something of a gray area depending on how you describe their use.

** The makers of Apivar (amitraz) claim that their product “Leaves no significant residues in hive honey or wax.”  And that mites are showing no signs of resistance after 15 years of field use. The source should be taken into account when considering these claims.

*** When stinky treatments like formic acid or thymol are applied the bees will start fanning to ventilate the hive.  Weak hives may not have enough bees to do the job and may abscond or suffer losses.  Generally, these treatments are not recommended for weak hives.

**** VSH, and other breeds with hygienic behavior are not the elusive “Survivor Bees” that you might hear being mentioned – Because these traits are quickly watered down in open mating environments.  The true “survivor bees” apparently breed true enough for the trait to accumulate in the local gene pool to a useful degree during open mating.  Nonetheless, VSH is a good place to start until you can acquire some of the magic bees.

***** Other Key Management Practices for keeping Hives Healthy

  • Healthy hives are more resistant to mites and disease and more resilient when they are effected, so strive to maintain good practices.
  • Do your inspections – until you have a good bit of experience the only way to tell what your hives need is to inspect at least every 2 weeks during the season.  If you can not make time for this during your first few years you might want to reconsider your choice of hobbies.
  • Prevent Queenlessness – this is probably the number one cause of hive loss. If you don’t inspect at least every 2 weeks you often won’t have time to correct queenlessness before it is too late.
  • Don’t let your bees go hungry – bees which are suffering from malnutrition will never be healthy.  Any time that hives do not contain Plenty of both capped honey and open nectar they should be fed.  Ideally, hives would never run short of natural food, but we do not live in an ideal region for that – most years here in mid-TN bees need to be fed.
  • Prevent robbing – Robbing cause’s malnutrition, stress, and queenlessness. I highly recommend the use of robber screens.
  • Extra colonies – One hive is absolutely not sustainable – two is marginal – four or five (including nucs) is probably the minimal number of hives for a reasonably sustainable apiary.  Besides, nucleus colonies are a lot more fun than big honkin’ honey hives – everyone should keep a few nucs.
  • Having extra colonies will allow you to be more objective when deciding between cutting your losses and trying to save a failing hive.
  • Split and make increase every spring – Combine in the fall – It will make you a better beekeeper and will give you the resources that you need to recover from setbacks, and to improve your stocks.
  • Always keep some empty extra equipment on hand – assembled and ready to use – nucs, frames with foundation, supers, robber screens etc.
  • Be Prepared – procure supplies such as feed, medication, equipment before you need it.
  • Integrated Pest Management  – IPM is more or less the use of cultural practices to manage pests and minimize the use of treatments.  Key to varroa IPM is measuring mite loads on a regular and timely basis so that you know when something needs to be done instead of simply treating prophylactically on a seasonal basis.  Randy Oliver on IPM

****** Oxalic acid along with some essential oils exist in something of a limbo regarding EPA enforcement – they may be (and probably are) technically not legal to use,  but for some reason the EPA does not seem to be interested in enforcing a broad moratorium on them.  Possibly because they have bigger fish to fry, or maybe because they are taking the completely reasonable position of looking the other way for now when it comes to safe, effective treatments that don’t seem to hurt the environment, users,  or consumers.  Perhaps they have an internal  interpretation of the rules which allow their use in some cases.  Maybe they just haven’t noticed yet.  But I’m no expert so Caveat Emptor.

*******Honey-Bee-Healthy  Drench: one cup, 8 ozs (237 ml) of 1:1 Sugar Syrup with 4 tsp of HBH/qt (20 ml/l), applied 3 times, 7 days apart. We fed  bees at the same time with 10 ml of HBH per liter of 1:1 sucrose syrup.

Oxalic Acid Trickle/Dribble Treatment

Caution:  Read this – it is NOT the usual yadda yadda! – Do not mix solution until right before you are ready to apply it.  Because of a chemical reaction which takes place over the course of several days it will become poisonous to bees – use immediately and discard any unused solution by pouring it down a drain (and rinsing the container) so that neither bees or anything else can accidentally ingest it.   This sweet solution is poisonous and should be kept securely out of the reach of children and pets!

The treatment material is 3.2% oxalic acid in a 1:1 sugar solution.

  • 1 kg sugar
  • 1 L of water
  • 75 gm of oxalic acid dihydrate – wood bleach

This will make 1.67 L of treatment material – enough for 33 colonies! Obviously, with a little bit of math it can be adjusted appropriately for your needs. Accurate measurement of ingredients is essential!

If you absolutely don’t want to use a postal scale, or a cheap digital scale (plenty on the web for under $10), then an approximate dilution would be 3 tsp oxalic crystals to 5 fl. oz each of water and granulated sugar.  This will give you a bit over a cup of treated syrup, or enough to treat about 4 colonies (or 3 really strong ones).  Don’t try to mix any less, just discard the excess! – Thanks to Randy Oliver – http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-treatment-table/

  1. Open the hive and remove supers if needed to get to the main cluster of bees.
  2. Fill the 50 ml syringe with solution (oxalic acid).
  3. Dribble solution on the seams of bees between the frames – distributing it as evenly as possible.

The treatment will seem very scant and you will not wet all of the bees in most cases, but that is OK and as it is supposed to be.  The bees will all work together to clean their selves, each other, and the other hive contents, and they will all get the correct oral dosage.

The 50 ML dosage is the correct size for a 10 frame deep single box colony which is of a healthy strength – if the population is smaller than this the dosage will be too high and should be adjusted accordingly.

This procedure usually takes less than a minute/hive. It is safe to carry out the treatment in cold conditions with the temperature down to 0°C. You can use warm water to make the mixture if it makes you feel better.

It is advised that this is only done when colonies are broodless for best effect and that it not be repeated.

Oxalic Acid Vaporizer

 

 

 

Thursday August 4 meeting tonight at 6:30

Just a quick reminder that there shall be a meeting tonight at the usual time and place (Collegeside Church – 6:30) as usual come early to hang out and talk bees.  The subject duJour is treating for varroa mites.

See you tonight…

Just a quick reminder that there shall be a meeting tonight at the usual time and place (Collegeside Church – 6:30) as usual come early to hang out and talk bees.  The subject duJour is treating for varroa mites.

See you tonight…

Jennifer Berry Beekeeping Seminar – Saturday July 16th

“Keeping Honey Bees Alive and the Impact of Industry on Bees”

Cookeville, TN:  The Mountain Valley, Cookeville, and Overton Beekeepers Associations are pleased to invite their members and the public to a joint beekeeping association gathering on Saturday July 16, 2016 at the Collegeside Church of Christ, 252 E. 9th Street, Cookeville, TN Auditorium in Cookeville, TN from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm.  Ms. Jennifer Berry will be the guest speaker and will be presenting two sessions on “Keeping Honey Bees Alive” and a session on “The Impact of Industry on Bees.

Jennifer Berry
Jennifer Berry

Ms. Berry is presently the Agricultural Research Coordinator and Lab Manager for the University of Georgia Honey Bee Program and a regular columnist for the Bee Culture Magazine. She writes occasionally for other publications, including Bee World. She also travels extensively to speak to local, state, national and international beekeeping associations.

Jennifer Berry
Jennifer Berry

The fee for non-members of the host associations is $5.00 per person payable at the door. A break for lunch will be from 11:45 until 1:00 pm, however lunch will not be provided.

July 2016 Meeting

Monthly Meeting: Our Regular monthly meeting will be on Thursday July 7th – as usual the meeting will be at Collegeside Church beginning at 6:30PM – the doors will be open at 6:00PM, so come early to discuss bees and how much honey your bees made!

This month we’ll be doing a live demonstration of honey extraction.  There are lots of options when it comes to extracting your honey, and we’ll be exploring one of those ways (the system I use).  So come on out and join us and learn.

Beekeeping Seminar:  Remember, coming up on Saturday July 16th, we’re having a seminar presented by Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia.  More details are available here.

No Open Apiary Session this Sat June 25

There will not be an apiary session this week at the Bob Lynn rd Apiary, because I am going to be helping with the apiary sessions for the TN Master Beekeeper basic course which is being held at the Hyder Burks Center on Gainesboro grade.  The classes cost $100 and start on Thursday night and run through Saturday Afternoon, and It looks like (based on the website) that you can still register to get in on it.

What to do when you are Queenless

This article was originally published in May 2013, but this issue comes up like clockwork every year…

You think your hive is queenless – you can’t spot the queen, and you don’t see any eggs.  What now?

First, don’t panic – unless you have been pretty negligent in your inspections you have plenty of time to address this issue without any real negative effects on the hive.  There is at least a 3-1 chance that your hive is not actually queenless, and even if it is you can get it queenright all by yourself if you have at least one other hive.    Give the “queenless” hive a frame from another hive that has at least a few eggs or very young brood on it – aren’t you glad you have more than one hive?  Mark that frame (a child’s crayon works great for this) and make a note of what you have done and the date.   If the hive really is queenless, then it will start queen cells on that frame of brood right away, and they will be easy for even a novice to spot within 3-5 days.  The only real exception is that a hive which has been actually queenless for more than about 30 days may be so weak or have so many laying workers already that they won’t start queen cells. By that time though the hive will not only be queenless, but will be completely broodless and probably very weak – many of the foragers will abandon a queenless hive. But if you do inspections at least every other week to confirm that your hives are queenright that will never happen.

If they don’t try to start queen cells on a fresh frame of brood (during Spring through Fall) then they already have a queen – it might be a virgin queen, or a recently mated queen that is not yet laying.   If they do already have a queen (of any kind) they WILL NOT accept a new queen – no matter how much you pay for it.

Just about the only ways to be sure that a hive is really and truly queenless is to do the frame-of-brood thing or to actually remove the queen yourself.  Looking for the queen doesn’t do it – even an experienced queen spotter can fail when it really matters.

Also, giving an actually queenless hive a frame of open brood will help to prevent it from developing a laying worker, and will help to keep the population demographics healthier.

Any hive will benefit from a donated frame of brood.

There are a few reason why a hive might appear to be queenless when it really isn’t.   Brood production is cyclical – a hive can be full of brood one day and have very little only a few days later.  This usually involves an influx of nectar that leaves the queen with few places to lay eggs – at which point the hive may appear to be without a queen.   Depending on the exact circumstances this may or may not result in the hive issuing a swarm.   A hive which has swarmed may be queenless for a few days, and may be broodless for up to 3 weeks or so while it makes a new queen – also appearing to be queenless.  Or you could accidentally squish the queen during an inspection.  None of these circumstances make a hive hopelessly queenless – they all will make a new queen most of the time without beekeeper intervention.   Sometimes (10-30% of the time) something goes wrong though – If a virgin queen fails to return from mating for any reason the hive will then be hopelessly queenless – lacking the resources to make a new queen without help from a beekeeper.   While a queenless hive will pretty much always try to make a new queen it takes about 24 days more or less for that new queen to develop, get mated, and start laying eggs.  For many people – myself and my 50 yr old eyes included – it will be another week before there is brood which is easy to spot.  So about a month between becoming queenless and easily spotting brood.  During that time all of the eggs that the previous queen laid will emerge leaving the hive completely broodless after 24 days – all of the worker brood emerges in 21 days leaving only capped Drone brood.  This can make you think that you have a laying worker or drone laying queen.

Whenever in doubt – give any possibly queenless hive a frame of open brood.  Buying a queen without running this test first is going to be a waste of money about 3 out of 4 times.

Timeline of Queenlessness

No brood of any kind, population weak, laying workers, SHB, robbers, or wax worms taking over – queenless too long to save in my opinion. Shake it out – it’s a lost cause.

No brood of any kind but population strong– hive has been queenless for over three weeks – at least 24 days. If the population is still strong and you can see where they have cleaned out comb for a queen to lay eggs, there is probably a queen that either hasn’t started laying yet or has laid eggs that you are not spotting. Giving it a frame of brood is good luck anyway.

Capped Drone brood only – hive has been queenless for just about 3 weeks.

Lots of capped worker brood, but no open brood at all – queenless for about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 weeks.

Open larva but no eggs or young brood – Queenless 6-8 days. You should find capped queen cells in a hive like this.

If I Made a hive queenless then I usually try to leave it alone for about 3-4 weeks if I can remember exactly when I did it. I need to keep better records I know. If I find one that looks like it has been queenless for only a couple of weeks or less I look for cells and then leave it alone for a couple of weeks. I always give a hive which has been queenless for over 3 weeks (little if any worker brood)  a frame of young brood from another hive to see if it builds new cells or so as to confirm if it is still queenless – and to ward off laying worker.

Remember – it takes a hive about 12 days to raise a queen, but it takes that queen another week to harden up and get mated, and then another week to start laying.  Then it might be another week before you can spot any brood.  About a whole month from start to finish to produce an easy to find laying queen.

But it only takes a few minutes to give a hive a frame of brood – and avoid disaster.

And by the way – you will not hurt the donating hive by stealing one frame of brood from it – even if you do it every week for a while.  Fear of harming a hive by taking brood from it is very common but almost completely baseless.  Don’t let this imaginary harm cause you to needlessly lose another hive.  If it bothers you then plan back the donation once you get the other hive queenright and healthy again.  But most likely you will see then that there is no need to do so because stealing a frame of brood here and there does little to set back a hive.

Shake it out!

Caution – if a hive has really been queenless for a whole month it is only a few days from a total meltdown which often results in the loss (due to wax moths and hive beetles) of all hive resources – including comb.   There is a point (little or no brood) when the best thing to do is to shake out the hive (carry it 15 yards away and shake all of the bees off of every frame onto the ground – then remove all of the woodenware from the original spot where it sat) and freeze the frames to kill any hive beetle or wax moth eggs which may be present.  If you have to shake out a hive it is not at all a loss, but rather more like a reboot – no bees (except laying workers – all others will beg into other hives) are killed, and no comb, honey, or brood is lost.  After you freeze the frames you can redistribute them and start a new nuc in the same spot using resources from your other hives, and many of the old foragers will even return to it.

Do your inspections!

This article was originally published in May 2013, but this issue comes up like clockwork every year…

You think your hive is queenless – you can’t spot the queen, and you don’t see any eggs.  What now?

First, don’t panic – unless you have been pretty negligent in your inspections you have plenty of time to address this issue without any real negative effects on the hive.  There is at least a 3-1 chance that your hive is not actually queenless, and even if it is you can get it queenright all by yourself if you have at least one other hive.    Give the “queenless” hive a frame from another hive that has at least a few eggs or very young brood on it – aren’t you glad you have more than one hive?  Mark that frame (a child’s crayon works great for this) and make a note of what you have done and the date.   If the hive really is queenless, then it will start queen cells on that frame of brood right away, and they will be easy for even a novice to spot within 3-5 days.  The only real exception is that a hive which has been actually queenless for more than about 30 days may be so weak or have so many laying workers already that they won’t start queen cells. By that time though the hive will not only be queenless, but will be completely broodless and probably very weak – many of the foragers will abandon a queenless hive. But if you do inspections at least every other week to confirm that your hives are queenright that will never happen.

If they don’t try to start queen cells on a fresh frame of brood (during Spring through Fall) then they already have a queen – it might be a virgin queen, or a recently mated queen that is not yet laying.   If they do already have a queen (of any kind) they WILL NOT accept a new queen – no matter how much you pay for it.

Just about the only ways to be sure that a hive is really and truly queenless is to do the frame-of-brood thing or to actually remove the queen yourself.  Looking for the queen doesn’t do it – even an experienced queen spotter can fail when it really matters.

Also, giving an actually queenless hive a frame of open brood will help to prevent it from developing a laying worker, and will help to keep the population demographics healthier.

Any hive will benefit from a donated frame of brood.

There are a few reason why a hive might appear to be queenless when it really isn’t.   Brood production is cyclical – a hive can be full of brood one day and have very little only a few days later.  This usually involves an influx of nectar that leaves the queen with few places to lay eggs – at which point the hive may appear to be without a queen.   Depending on the exact circumstances this may or may not result in the hive issuing a swarm.   A hive which has swarmed may be queenless for a few days, and may be broodless for up to 3 weeks or so while it makes a new queen – also appearing to be queenless.  Or you could accidentally squish the queen during an inspection.  None of these circumstances make a hive hopelessly queenless – they all will make a new queen most of the time without beekeeper intervention.   Sometimes (10-30% of the time) something goes wrong though – If a virgin queen fails to return from mating for any reason the hive will then be hopelessly queenless – lacking the resources to make a new queen without help from a beekeeper.   While a queenless hive will pretty much always try to make a new queen it takes about 24 days more or less for that new queen to develop, get mated, and start laying eggs.  For many people – myself and my 50 yr old eyes included – it will be another week before there is brood which is easy to spot.  So about a month between becoming queenless and easily spotting brood.  During that time all of the eggs that the previous queen laid will emerge leaving the hive completely broodless after 24 days – all of the worker brood emerges in 21 days leaving only capped Drone brood.  This can make you think that you have a laying worker or drone laying queen.

Whenever in doubt – give any possibly queenless hive a frame of open brood.  Buying a queen without running this test first is going to be a waste of money about 3 out of 4 times.

Timeline of Queenlessness

No brood of any kind, population weak, laying workers, SHB, robbers, or wax worms taking over – queenless too long to save in my opinion. Shake it out – it’s a lost cause.

No brood of any kind but population strong– hive has been queenless for over three weeks – at least 24 days. If the population is still strong and you can see where they have cleaned out comb for a queen to lay eggs, there is probably a queen that either hasn’t started laying yet or has laid eggs that you are not spotting. Giving it a frame of brood is good luck anyway.

Capped Drone brood only – hive has been queenless for just about 3 weeks.

Lots of capped worker brood, but no open brood at all – queenless for about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 weeks.

Open larva but no eggs or young brood – Queenless 6-8 days. You should find capped queen cells in a hive like this.

If I Made a hive queenless then I usually try to leave it alone for about 3-4 weeks if I can remember exactly when I did it. I need to keep better records I know. If I find one that looks like it has been queenless for only a couple of weeks or less I look for cells and then leave it alone for a couple of weeks. I always give a hive which has been queenless for over 3 weeks (little if any worker brood)  a frame of young brood from another hive to see if it builds new cells or so as to confirm if it is still queenless – and to ward off laying worker.

Remember – it takes a hive about 12 days to raise a queen, but it takes that queen another week to harden up and get mated, and then another week to start laying.  Then it might be another week before you can spot any brood.  About a whole month from start to finish to produce an easy to find laying queen.

But it only takes a few minutes to give a hive a frame of brood – and avoid disaster.

And by the way – you will not hurt the donating hive by stealing one frame of brood from it – even if you do it every week for a while.  Fear of harming a hive by taking brood from it is very common but almost completely baseless.  Don’t let this imaginary harm cause you to needlessly lose another hive.  If it bothers you then plan back the donation once you get the other hive queenright and healthy again.  But most likely you will see then that there is no need to do so because stealing a frame of brood here and there does little to set back a hive.

Shake it out!

Caution – if a hive has really been queenless for a whole month it is only a few days from a total meltdown which often results in the loss (due to wax moths and hive beetles) of all hive resources – including comb.   There is a point (little or no brood) when the best thing to do is to shake out the hive (carry it 15 yards away and shake all of the bees off of every frame onto the ground – then remove all of the woodenware from the original spot where it sat) and freeze the frames to kill any hive beetle or wax moth eggs which may be present.  If you have to shake out a hive it is not at all a loss, but rather more like a reboot – no bees (except laying workers – all others will beg into other hives) are killed, and no comb, honey, or brood is lost.  After you freeze the frames you can redistribute them and start a new nuc in the same spot using resources from your other hives, and many of the old foragers will even return to it.

Do your inspections!

How to Make a Simple Robber Screen

 

As the nectar flows taper off at this time of year robbing sets in.   If you only have one hive and you know that there are no others nearby then you don’t need to worry about robbing – but the rest of us do.  Robbing is especially a problem when you have strong hives near small, weak or queenless hives – such as splits or mating nucs.  Especially if you are feeding those weaker hives.  There are lots of ways to manage robbing, but in my opinion, except for robber screens they all just nibble around the edges of the problem.  Robber screens work when nothing else will.  Even so, robber screens work much better if deployed before robbing sets in, so don’t wait.  BTW, if you want to you can leave robber screens on all year long – they won’t hinder a strong hive from making a honey crop, and they make excellent mouse guards in winter.

You may not realize that when nectar forage gets scarce robbing goes on all the time – it is stealthy and at a low level most of the time.  It only turns into the classic robbing frenzy under certain conditions – but even the stealth robbing that is much harder to spot can starve a nuc to death and add unnecessary stress to any hive.  I am convinced that it is a much bigger issue than most people think it is – and often why one hive does so well (expert thieves) and another fails to thrive (docile victims) – and is almost inevitable if you have Italian bees (notorious for robbing) in the same yard as Carniolians (famously docile.)

Robber screens work by separating the entrance to the hive from the smell which comes out of it – and since robbers find the entrance by homing in on the smell they go to the wrong place and are kept out by the screen, even though they can smell it.  The home bees will always be confused when you first add a robber screen (unless you do it when you first establish a hive in a new location) but they will figure it out if you give them about a week.  For a few days they will look pretty pathetic, so just try not to look.

Get Started Building a Robber Screen

As woodworking projects go they don’t get much easier than this – almost anyone should be able to build a robber screen like this with a bare minimum of tools.  A hammer and nails, any kind of saw, and a stapler are really all you need.

You can use pretty much any kind of scrap lumber for robber screens, but if you only have hand tools 1×2 furring strips ($3.14 / 8′)  from Lowe’s are really easy to work with.

A robber screen only has 2 critical dimensions – the width…

A robber screen needs to fit fairly tight between the sides of the bottom board – in this example that is about 12 5/16″ but yours will almost certainly differ.

and the height…

A robber screen needs to be lower than the bottom edge of the lid on a single box hive – or the hand hold cleat on a homemade hive body. In this example 5 -5 1/4″ would be about right.
Robber screens can be fitted to any size hive. In this picture the actual entrance is a round hole, and the home bees go in and out over the top of the screen. The bees on the outside of the screen near the entrance hole are robbers.

You don’t even need a tape measure you can just hold your material up to a hive and mark it…

These dimensions will vary depending on what size equipment you have.  Cut two sticks to your width, and 2 sticks the height that you want your screen to be.  You want to be able to use your screen on a single hive body – and don’t forget to take into account cleats that may be on home made hive bodies – your bees will go in and out over the top of the screen so give them enough room for that.  In other words, make them at least 1/2″ short of the lid or cleats when used with a single hive body.

Now that you have your sticks cut to length you will need a piece of screen – I am using aluminum screen wire for this example because it is easy to get and easy to cut with plain old scissors.  Hardware cloth or any kind of mesh will work as long as bees can’t go through it.  Cut your screen a little bit smaller than the finished size of your robber screen.

Staple the screen to one of the long sticks…

Use the side sticks to get the other long stick in position and staple the screen to it.  Now attach the sides.  A dab of exterior grade wood glue will make it more durable, but is not at all required…

Drive only one nail in each corner, and then check the frame for square…

Then finish nailing the corners and stapling the screen.  I suggest that you go ahead and drill two holes (if you have a drill) in the sides so that you can attach your screen with screws if needed…

And that is all there is to it.  Now you can get all the way through until winter without worrying about robbing.

 

Beekeeping tasks this month – June

IMG_8928

It’s June, it’s officially the summer season… 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: June

• Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies or feed them constantly until they are a full-sized hive.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Continue to add supers as needed until the honey flow ends.

• Remove the capped honey after June 15. Or after Aug. 15 if in sourwood honey producing areas (usually higher elevations).

• Uncapped honey should be checked for moisture content before extracting.

• Prepare and move your bees to the mountains or the second honey flow (sourwood areas) if you want maximum production.

• Extract the honey immediately to prevent destruction by small hive beetles.

IMG_8928

It’s June, it’s officially the summer season… 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: June

• Combine all swarms issuing after June 1 with weak colonies or feed them constantly until they are a full-sized hive.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every 14 days. Raise the super just above the brood chamber and check for swarm cells along the bottom bars of the frames. If developing cells (not empty cups) are present, a swarm is imminent. Either split the hive to artificially swarm it, or watch for an issuing swarm in coming days.

• Continue to add supers as needed until the honey flow ends.

• Remove the capped honey after June 15. Or after Aug. 15 if in sourwood honey producing areas (usually higher elevations).

• Uncapped honey should be checked for moisture content before extracting.

• Prepare and move your bees to the mountains or the second honey flow (sourwood areas) if you want maximum production.

• Extract the honey immediately to prevent destruction by small hive beetles.

June 2016 Meeting

bee-bearding

Monthly Meeting: Our Regular monthly meeting will be on Thursday June 2nd – as usual the meeting will be at Collegeside Church beginning at 6:30PM – the doors will be open at 6:00PM, so come early to discuss bees and how much honey your bees are making!

This month, we’ll be having a guest speaker – Jeff Herel – president of the White County beekeepers club, and our TBA regional VP for middle-Tennessee.  He’ll be presenting to us on a mite treatment method using formic acid.  So come on out and join us and learn.