Apiary Session Canceled due to rain

Today’s apiary session – Saturday June 27 is OFF. Sorry for the very late cancellation, but it looked a bit more promising earlier.

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Apiary Session is ON – Saturday June 27

The Saturday apiary session for June 27 is ON at this time, but be sure and check back in the morning in case of cancellation – rain is a possibility.

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.

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.

If you had planned to attend these sessions but have put it off so far you have missed out on a lot of stuff that happens during the most active part of the beekeeping season up until now, but there are still good topics that will be covered – but nothing lasts forever and soon the beekeeping season will wind down to little more than winter prep.

With only a couple of exceptions we have had a session almost every Saturday since early April when the weather has been at all suitable.   Some of you may be under the impression that you can only work bees in the middle of a sunny day, but actually as long as the temp is not too cold, rainy or windy commercial beekeepers work bees under a wide range of conditions – they have to in order to make a living.  So even though the conditions may not be perfect we are going to proceed as planned whenever possible beginning at 9:30 AM so that everyone can go on to their regularly scheduled Saturday activities.

Some of the actions which will be covered during the season:

Smoker lighting
Inspections
Mite counting
Treating for mites
Feeding
Queen finding
Transferring brood between hives
Splitting hives
Use of the queen excluder
Honey harvesting
Requeening
Swarm prevention

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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No Saturday Apiary Session – June 20

Because of a conflicting obligation I will not be hosting a Saturday Apiary Session this week. I hope everyone will plan to come out next week to continue this series.

Just a reminder – there will not be a July meeting of Cookeville Beekeepers Association.

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Queenless!!

Queenlessness is probably the main cause of hive death during the beekeeping season – but it doesn’t have to be.  A hive can lose its  queen for several reasons – swarming, supersedure, beekeeper error,  etc.  Any time a new queen flies out to mate there is a significant chance that she won’t make it back.

When a strong hive becomes queenless for any reason you have about 4-5 weeks to take action to save the hive, but the sooner you do something the better it will be.  This is one reason that we do inspections.

What to do when you are queenless.

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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.

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Beekeeping tasks this month – May

Tulip Poplar - one of our main nectar producing plants - just began blooming in our area.

Tulip Poplar – one of our main nectar producing plants – just began blooming in our area.

It’s May, the poplars are popping and the nectar is flowing… 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: May

• It is time to add another super when the honey super on a colony is one-half to two-thirds filled (six to seven frames). A few drawn frames can be moved up into an empty foundation super to encourage the bees to move up.

• Supers of cut comb honey foundation should be added on top of the honey super, which is on top of the brood chamber, to reduce the amount of pollen in the cut comb honey.

• Continue to check for swarm cells every seven to 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.

• Keep empty storage space in the supers on all colonies until the honey flow has ended.

• Remove and extract capped supers from your colonies if you need additional supers.

 

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Beekeeping tasks this month – April

027LR Bee Eggs

It’s April, and spring (and brood-rearing) are definitely moving along full-steam-ahead… 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: April

• Super colonies for honey production with drawn comb or foundation early in April. Multiple boxes of drawn comb can be used, but only one foundation box at a time is needed.

• Strong colonies will consume large amounts of honey stores in April. If all reserves have been used up, the colonies will starve just prior to the honey flow if prolonged rainy weather sets in. Check stores and feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey, remove honey supers first. Feeding with honey supers on will contaminate your honey with syrup.

• Check brood chamber for diseases and mites.

• Install package bees in April. Package bees will do well when installed on all new foundation in the hive. When drawn comb and two frames of brood are available, packages get off to a better start.

• Add new foundation for drawing comb in upper hive body during a honey flow.

• Colonies with prolific queens and ample food will be strong in population and may need room. Add a super of drawn comb to relieve crowding.

• By April, you should have developed colony strength to 80,000 worker bees to produce a maximum honey crop.

• Check for the development of the swarming instinct. 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. Recheck for swarm cells every seven to 14 days.

• April is a good month to divide colonies in advance of swarming instinct.

• Feed package bees 2 gallons of a 1:1 sugar syrup containing Fumidol-B. Package bees often suffer from nosema disease.

• Prepare supers with cut comb foundation just prior to using them.

• Remove entrance reducer from overwintered strong colonies by mid-April.

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Beekeeping tasks this month – March

spring_honeybee

It’s March and spring is here, 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: March

• Check brood chambers. If all of the brood is in the upper part of the brood chamber, reverse the upper and lower brood chamber units. Do not split the brood by reversing when brood is present in both boxes. Reversing the chambers will cause the queen to use both units for egg laying. However, expanding the brood nest too early may cause chilled brood if cold weather reappears.

• Check the brood for diseases and mites each time you open the colony. Check the honey stores. Feed all colonies that have less than 15 pounds of honey stores to prevent starvation. Syrup, not candy boards, should be used at this time.

• Super colonies with drawn comb if available. It’s a little early to super with foundation.

• March is a good time to find queens and mark them with paint and a clipped wing since the population of adult bees will be smaller at this time.

 

 

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Package Bees or Nucleus Hive?

a package of bees

a package of bees

This article was previously published in January 2011, but contains seasonally relevant information.

If you are new to beekeeping and have yet to get bees you are probably wondering whether you should get a package of bees or a nucleus hive (nuc) to start with – what is the difference?

A nucleus hive is a complete hive with, comb,  eggs, open brood, capped brood, newly emerged nurse bees, foraging field bees, and a mature queen who is already busy laying eggs.

A “package” contains 2-3 pounds of field bees (shaken from a lot of different production hives) and a very young queen in her own cage, which has probably laid only a few hundred eggs – enough to prove that she can.  No comb,  eggs, brood, none of that. Oh yeah, a package contains a can of syrup to keep the bees fed for a few days.  A package is very like an artificial swarm.

Cost – nucs are about twice as expensive as a package.

Queens – When you get a nuc it comes with a queen which is already a part of the hive, and is already laying eggs.  With a package you have to “install” the queen and there is always a chance that she won’t be accepted by the hive.

Comb – a nuc comes with about 5 frames of drawn comb where a package has none to start with – unless you have some to give it.  This means that a package has no where to put stores, and the queen has no where to lay.  However a package will usually draw a few frames of comb very quickly because they’ve been confined and drinking syrup.

Build up – A nuc is a complete hive and should start building population as soon as you get it.  A package has no brood yet, and the population will actually decline for about 4-6 weeks until the first eggs that are laid emerge as adults.  So a nuc has about that much of a head start on the season when compared to a package.

Honey production – If you have drawn comb to work with and get your bees early enough either a nuc or package has potential to build up and perhaps produce a honey crop.  If you don’t have comb – and as a beginner you probably don’t – then probably neither one (IMO) is going to produce excess honey in the first year – at least not in our area.  With luck either one should be able to do so in its second year.

Either a nuc or package should build up enough during it’s first year to a sufficient size to over winter and get a good start next year.  You might even be able to split during your first season and successfully go into your first winter with twice as many hives – I did.

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Package Bee demographics

As you are probably aware one of the disadvantages of a package (or swarm) of honey bees as compared to a nuc is that while a nuc should be growing in population from the very first day, a package actually loses population until eggs laid after it is installed begin to emerge.   Here is an estimate of how the population of a package falls and rises after installation day…

  • Day one – package installed in hive.
  • Day 23 or 24 shows lowest bee population.
  • Day 30 shows return to package initial population.
    Growth continues.
  • Day 40 shows twice initial package population.
  • Day 42 marks the point when all bees in hive are truly your bees.
  • Day 50 shows three times initial bee population.
  • Day 59 marks beginning of population stabilization as deaths offset births.

So, as you can see a package takes about a month before its population grows past the initial size – while a nuc grows from day one.

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