Monday, July 2, 2012

Preventing Swarms successfully season after season

All of us beekeepers strongly desire to keep our bees and hopefully not lose any to swarming.  As i have recently discovered, there is a highly successful means to prevent any more swarms from occurring and has been wrought with great success by a beekeeper from the Michigan area for over thirty years.

This is done by knowing the swarming season for your locale and by creating artificial swarms one week prior to this swarm season.  Sounds like common sense i understand but please follow me through.   It is typically known by the beekeepers in your area, so ask around and determine the time frame of the swarming season of the area.  One week before that time, go through your hives and remove the older queen and the frame she is on along with another frame of capped brood with younger nurser bees upon these frames.

Insert these frames into a new hive body alongside two frames of honey reserves.  Do not place the frames in the dead center of the hive but rather make these two newly removed frames be your 3rd and 4th frames from one of the outside edges, in a 10 frame hive body.

So in essence from left to right you have frames 1-4:
  1. frame of capped honey reserves
  2. frame of capped honey reserves and some pollen
  3. frame with Queen located upon it with fresh eggs and larva
  4. freshly capped frame of brood
You have just created an artificial swarm by the removal of that older queen from her original hive and the fact that you did it prior to swarming in that region, this queen will not have the instinct to leave this new home.  She has been artificially swarmed.

Now, you may shake a few more bees from her old hive into the new hive.   The frame of sealed brood will give birth to greater numbers within the hive as these nurser bees will be hatching soon and will tend to the larvae on the adjacent frame.

Now that you have that aspect covered, now it is time to focus on the old hive you removed that Queen from.  Go through the frames ever so gently and look for 1-2 day old larva in a few of the cells.  Once you have found about 5-6 cells with 1-2 day old larva, use your hive tool and make a depression into the bottom 1/3 of those individual cells.  This manipulation to the wax in the region of those 1-2 day old larva will cause the honeybees in that hive to turn those larvae into queen cells.

This will almost always work if you indent the bottom 1/3 of the cells.

In about 4-5 days check to ensure they are drawing out queen cells, and reinsert the frames gently back into their respective places.

Do not tilt or turn the frames upside down that contain these Queen cells as that could potentially kill the larva.  Once you have placed the frames back into the hive and installed the cover, do not open the hive for at the least.-20 days from that date.

- Chris
keep all of your bees that rightfully belong to you and grow your apiary, not lose it

Grease Patty Recipe for Fighting Varroa Mites

Grease Patty for dealing with Varroa Mites

Combine 2 parts saturated fat - Crisco vegetable oil
1 part white sugar
small amounts of honey may be added

2-3 tablespoons of tea tree oil or either wintergreen oil

MIX these ingredients together thoroughly and form patties about 3.5" in diameter and store them in ziploc bags separated by pieces of wax paper to prevent them from clinging to one another.  When ready to use, place one patty upon the top bars of your lower deep brood box.

The grease clings to the bees and as others are attempting to groom one another to remove that element from the hive, the varroa mites are introduced to the essential oil that is resident in the grease.

Sourwood Trees are flowering - Bees should love this!

I am excited to express that the Sourwood Trees around the house are flowering their little inverted flower cups.  The honeybees are sure to find these trees due to such a healthy array of flowers hanging from each petiole.  I know most of the honey that is collected from our hives is wildflower honey which is derived from a myriad of nectar sources. 

There simply is not enough of the Sourwood Trees in this region to be able to obtain strictly Sourwood Honey as do our fellow beekeepers that reside in the western part of our state.  Western North Carolina Sourwood Honey is sought by people abroad, stating it is the best honey would could ever consume.  And those beekeepers in that region get to take advantage of the strong population of Sourwood Trees in that community by bottling that honey which sells for upwards of $9-$12 a pint.

But ,I am happy that I have at least a few Sourwood Trees for the bees to enjoy if nothing else.  These nectars will be mixed in with a host of other nectar sources which will provide a tasty honey, none the less.

Sourwood tree bearing flowering petioles

 I will have to be on the lookout within the next few days to a week to ascertain if the bees are visiting the tree or not?  That will be interesting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Build your own Medium Honey Supers

If you are handy with power tools, love bees and enjoy working with wood why not make your own medium sized, wooden honey supers.  These boxes are not that difficult to make, really they aren't, and you can save a bunch of money when making your own.

Although it does take a little time to make the boxes it does not take more than an hour to make several.  I did not time myself but i recently made 5 and i think it may have taken me a total of one hour in total.

The pictorial below is for making your own 10 frame medium sized honey supers.

Purchase some 1x8x8' pine boards from your nearest lumber supplier.  One 8' board will leave you with just enough scrap that you can use the excess on a side or end panel for another box, later on. Buy four boards like I did and you have enough scrap cut offs to make a 5th box.  This way you waste no material.

I have 5 Honey Supers now that i have a total of $32.00 in.

Purchase 1x8x8' pine boards

---to be continued, work in progress ---

Monday, February 20, 2012

Powdered Sugar Shake Recipe

This recipe is great for targeting Varroa Mites as well as killing fungi and/or bacteria that could be possibly living within your honey bee hives.

(4:1)  Four parts Confectioner's powdered sugar to One part garlic powder

The powdered sugar's very small microscopic particulate size aids in the dislodging of the Varroa Mites from the thorax of the Honey Bees by dislodging their footing.
(how this works)

The garlic powder fights fungi and bacteria.

How to apply

- chris

Varroa Mite Control using the Powered Sugar shake

Varroa Mites can be detrimental to a hive if they are not proactively dealt with.  Although a large percentage of commercial beekeepers are using various miticides or other types of pesticides which are USDA approved for usage within beehives, I choose not to use any types of miticides within any of my hives.

I pursue the destructive varroa mites with mechanical approaches, natural integrations of essential oils, powdered sugar shakes and other non-miticide approaches.  I am of the belief that in order for any strain of bee to evolve into possessing Varroa Sensitive Hygiene traits, than beekeepers must not introduce chemicals into their hives, which hinder natural selection.  Natural essential oils, mechanical controls and powdered sugar shakes are not going to hinder this progression simply because these methods are more in-line with the realms of the natural world in which the bee is associating with on a daily basis.

Chemicals and Miticides have never really been in the order of natural and organic trains of thought.

A good quality powered sugar mixed at a ratio of 4:1 with garlic powder will target three organisms at once:  mites, fungi and bacteria.

Mix:  (4:1): Four parts Confectioners' Powered Sugar to One part Garlic Powder

The powdered sugar with its microscopic five-fifteen microns particulate size will make it very difficult for the mites to maintain their grasp upon the thorax of the bee.  After dusting the majority of the bees throughout the hive a large percentage will dislodge and fall to the bottom of the hive body. One more reason to keep screened bottom boards on your hives year round.

The Garlic powder in the mix will aid in killing any unhealthy bacteria and fungi that might be lurking within a hive.

Mix the ratios as mentioned prior and starting towards the bottom of the hive, shake some of the powder sugar upon the top of the frames, brush the sugar so that it will fall between the frames covering the bees with a good dusting throughout the box.  Approximately 2 handfuls per 10 frame hive body seems to be sufficient. Do this for each box of the hive reassembling the hive as you progress.  This method should be done before honey supers for human consumption are upon the hives. 

This is the method that i have utilized and with great success, not having any significant losses that i could link to the Varroa mites using the combination of the screened bottom board in consolidation with the powdered sugar shake. 

It is only when we are continually seeking greater understanding and knowledge to become more in line with the natural elements are we ever going to really battle Varroa.

Using chemicals and miticides in honey bee hives is one method that will surely impact the honey bee population in overwhelming negative measures that may make it next to impossible to retreat from.  At some point, we must wean ourselves off of relying on chemicals and miticides, this is the one crutch that will certainly hinder the evolution of select traits that we desire for honey bees to develop.

Only, by living more in sync with the natural world order will we benefit the honey bee to gain through natural selection, the ability to develop a strong Varroa Sensitive Hygiene or to be able to reside with them without any negative impact to their health.    

Let us strive together to gain this understanding and in the meantime maintain the health of the golden girls through natural solutions in agreement with nature.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Small Hive Beetle Trap Paste

Beetle Trap Bait Paste
 Making the bait paste for use in the CD, DVD-ROM traps include the following ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Boric Acid - buy "Roach Away" - it contains 99% boric acid and works fine in the mixture
  • 3 tbsp. Peanut Oil
  • 1/4 cup Soy Flour
  • 1/8 cup Water
Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a glass type mason jar (4-6oz jar minimal) until a 'peanut butter' type consistency.  Put a little inside the traps and store at room temperature with closed lid.  Please mark the jar so your children do not get the mixture and place it out of harm's way.  It could be mistaken for peanut butter by children for it possesses a sweet, edible type smell.

A little goes a long way inside the traps and i have had great success with it killing the beetles in the hives.

Take care, Chris

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