Apiary Report for 2018

December 2018 Report

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November 2018 Report

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Bee Report:  Check you hives in the next day or so.  A lot of my hives were froze shut today and entrances needed to be clear so when the weather gets nice the bees can fly.Here is an update on my oxalic acid dribble treatments.  Here is what I find interesting.  The treatments seem to give you a kill for 4 to 5 days and then settle out to a natural drop.  If you look close at hive number 5 in my backyard you will see 2 treatments and both flushed a significant amount of mites; to date over 3000.  The drop was 22 mites today and that is still is indicating a 3% mite count which is still high.  If you look at the right hand column you can see that their average drop has gone down after each treatment from 75 to 35.  I will keep monitoring them and hopefully their average drop will get down to about 10 or less.  The other 4 hives look good as their daily drops are near nothing.

October 2018 Report

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This is a mite board from the bottom of the hive.  Each dark spec is a mite.  This one had over 300 in 24 hour period.

Bee Report October 30, 2019  

I feel like I am doing battle.  I feel like I am in a FIGHT with MITES!

So life as a beekeeper has been good this fall.  I was able to get my mite treatments on for the most part in August and the goldenrod flow has been fantastic and the best I have seen in this area since 2010 and the hives filled up with honey.  Which is great because I have talked to people in other parts of the state that did not fare as well.  The Grassbaugh dairy planted some buckwheat and the hives in Gambier were .9 miles away but close enough to get a super full.   My girls made me proud when they had kill and laid out 5 yellowjackets on the landing board as a warning to others. (see photo).  I have filled most of my vent boxes and installed most of my entrance reducers.  So what's my problem?  

Here it is:  I so happened to clean one of my screen bottom board pans a couple of weeks ago and by chance was back in the apiary the next day.  I found 84 mites in a natural 24-hour drop.  That can't be right, I had just treated this colony 6 weeks earlier with Formic Pro and it looked like the strongest hive in the apiary and had produced 4 supers of honey.  Let's do this again.  So, I cleaned the pan and came back the next day and found 96 mites.  If this is right, then this hive has a 10% infestation of mites. (see the first page of the attached) Its dead and it doesn't know it, many would say.   You can see at the bottom count totals per seam.

So I treated:  I am not done counting but so far 3620 mites have dropped from this hive and they are still dropping over 100 per day.  Even at 3600 mites if I had 36,000 bees in this hive that is a 10% infestation.  But my guess is that there are more mites to fall and less bees than 36,000 which would make the infestation even higher than 10%.  See the results below so far.   More than 2 or 3 percent make the experts nervous going into winter.   And I didn't and couldn't see it; but the pan did.  Use the pan!!!  People say the pan is not accurate but when your hive is dropping 80 or 90 mites a day you have to believe your hive is in trouble.

My treatment were made with formic acid and oxalic acid which are naturally occuring acids.

This section is for BEE GEEKS: 

Attached is an article explaining fat bodies and their critical role in overwintering bees.

This is a discussion that has fascinated me for a long time and with new research available my understanding is beginning to come together.  It is about winter bees (we call fat bees) and fat bodies.  I used to think "fat bees" were just fatter than their sisters but the "fat body" is an organ that stores protein for times when there is a lack of pollen/bee bread available.  Winter bees are physiologically different from their sisters in that they have developed fat bodies, laden with excess protein.  This allows them the ability to draw on these extra stores for use in winter and to make royal jelly if they don't have the proper food available.  Bees eat 2 things: nectar/honey for their carbohydrate, and pollen for their protein.  It is the protein that helps them develop fat bodies. This is why it may not be a bad idea to give your colonies a pollen patty in the fall to help them build stores of protein in their fat body.

  • How do fat bees become fat bees?:  Fat bees are produced in the fall and in our area probably in September.  They are fed well and usually don't take on any brood rearing duties because this will reduce their protein level in the fat body.  This is why it is so important to have healthy nurse bees in September to raise winter bees.  Healthy nurse bees in September come from good brood production in August.  So, there you have it.  For healthy and numerous winter bees we need to think about what is going on in August not September or October, by then it is too late.  We need to make sure our mites are under control and fed a little if needed to boost brood production. 

September 2018 Report

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If you look at the bee to the right facing up you will see it has 3 mites clinging to it back.  Also notice its wings which are symptoms of Deformed Wing Virus.  Sadly this bee will never fly.

Bee Report September 6, 2018

Just a quick note to let you know what I have been hearing, seeing and smelling.  Oh the sweet smell of dirty gym socks.  If you are smelling this around your hives you are smelling goldenrod.  There seems to be a good goldenrod flow happening now and if it continues with favorable weather, strong hives could put up a couple of honey supers in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

One of my scale hives has put on 30 pounds in the last week and a half.  My advice is to get into your hives and see if they are full.  I have gotten more calls about swarms in the last 2 weeks than I have all year.  The problem is if they don't have enough space they will swarm here in September on a good goldenrod flow and it is iffy if the queens can get mated properly at this time of the year.  A swarm now could spell doom for the colony. 

For hives that are strong and running out of room, I am putting on drawn honey supers above a queen exclude for the next 3 weeks.  Goldenrod and aster honey is not considered to be great tasting honey and it sugars fast but after 3 weeks I plan on taking the suppers off and harvesting these supers.  Then if needed, feed the hives at the end of September.  

Bee Report: September 21, 2018

I have been in about 30 hives over the past week and I am in trouble. LOL😊  Most hives are just out of room and it just seems that I cannot get honey supers on them fast enough.  They have been bringing in so much goldenrod nectar they have filled the brood chambers and there are very few eggs being laid because there are no open cells.  I have been putting honey supers back on as many hives as I can get to just to add more room.  One hive in particular that I added a honey super, after 2 days I took a look and the super was 80% full.  Now I don't think that they brought that much nectar in in 2 day but were moving honey up from the brood chamber.

I have talked to a few beekeepers that have been feeding at this time to get their hives ready for winter.  I would guess this is hurting their hives more than helping.  Feeding during a flow like this just increases the brood nest congestion.  By now all your comb should be drawn.  In another week or so, look and see if they are full enough for winter.  If not, then feed to fill the hives in the first full week of October.  Right now, we want to keep the queen laying eggs to develop winter bees and if we feed that can shut her down.  My guess is we will not need to feed much this fall.

Small hive beetle:

I have seen a few SHBs this summer, but my solution is to physically smash them as I see them.  If I see more than a few I will look frame by frame in search of them with the goal of smashing them.  SHB will over winter with the hive and just puts added stress on colonies so try and clean them up ASAP.  I have been hearing reports from Columbus South with hives having more than 300 SHB.

August 2018 Report

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Bee Report August 5, 2018  

What I am seeing is a lot of dry hives.  Hives that just do not have any excess honey or nectar.  Hives that were building in June that stopped expanding much in July and have eaten most of their stores.  I have been feeding some that have run out of stores.  They have a lot of bees but have come close to shutting down brood productions because they are not bringing in any nectar.  Hives that have no honey; it seems counter-intuitive when we look around and sees a lot of flowers in bloom.  Experience has shown this year after year, July and the first half of August just lack good natural sources of nectar in our area.  The Goldenrod is about to bloom, and this may help turn things around.

Bee Feeding: I have been feeding a lot of colonies since the first of July with the goal to get them to keep drawing comb so that I can split them. At this time of year, there are 2 reasons to feed; one is to draw comb and the second is to help them with stores and keep them raising brood. I have been feeding 1-part sugar to 2 parts water to draw comb. Look before you feed. If you over feed and just fill up the brood chamber you can shut down brood production and slow the hives growth. There are about 30 days left to draw comb. After Labor Day you can feed but they are unlikely to draw comb. 

July 2018 Report

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Bee Report:  July 18, 2018

I am getting reports that there are still natural flows coming into hives and some reports that beekeepers are feeding because their hives don't have enough stores to survive.  Also this would be a good time to feed if your hive still needs to draw comb. The hive in my back yard put on 15 pounds in 5 days so something is coming in locally.  

Go look at your hives and see what is happening.  Below are 2 honey frames, What's the difference?   The one on the left is bringing in honey and the one on the right is most likely not and is eating it stores.  How can I tell?  The left has liquid nectar which is what the bees have just bought in the hive and the one on the right has no liquid nectar and only capped honey.  Bees eat the liquid nectar first and only eat capped honey as a last resort.

My goal for July and August may be different than a lot of beekeepers.  Mine is to draw comb and expand by spliting hives in the next 2 months.  I would like to double my colonies by fall.  Selling bees is great but at this time I have less than half the colonies I started the year with and need to make increases.

Apiary Report

June 2018 Report

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Bee Report June 1, 2018  

Package BEES:  Simpsons package bees were delivered on April 21st and I got my one package installed that day.  I put a marshmallow in the cage, so I assume she was out by the 22nd.  I only saw a few eggs on April 27th, but they had a lot of comb drawn.  I like to start packages in 5 frame nucs and this one built comb very fast and by the middle of May I gave them their second box of 5 frames.  I only fed on the day of installation and about a week later, but with the good weather they didn’t seem very hungry for sugar syrup.  This past weekend was 5 weeks after they were installed, and I had to put them in a 10-frame box and add an empty 10 frame box on top.  Fast forward 4 days and they were drawing comb on 7 of the 10 new frames I added on top.  I would say this is one of the fastest build up I have seen from a 3-pound package.  There were no eggs in the second super yet so I might get a change to harvest some honey from that second brood chamber if they keep going.

Our April Speaker was Dave Noble who is Head Apiarist from the Stratford Ecological Center in Delaware, OH and during his talk he mentioned that one could look at their winter dead outs and count mites.  I had never given this any consideration in the past and all my dead outs were long gone and cleared out.  But then opportunity arose from my aunt Mary who recently moved to Georgia and had kept bees for a long time.  She moved in the middle of winter and told me I could have her hive.  Time went by and last weekend I finally got a chance to go take a look.  What I found was one old hive and one a little nicer.  The one a little nicer was an 8 frame deep with 2 mediums that upon opening had 2 full medium supers of honey.  It was heavily crystalized, so I assume it had been there a long time.  There was an empty brood chamber and on the bottom board were all the dead bees; but they must have died late in the winter because they were perfectly preserved without mold or being all matted together.  Just nice fresh dead bees all fluffy and in a considerable large pile (see photo).  JACKPOT.  Now I get to test Dave’s comments about counting mites.  At least the trip to Aunt Mary’s was good for 2 supers of old honey and some dead bees.  Never thought I could be so excited about dead bees.  So I carefully transported home the bottom board as it was along with the 2 supers of honey.  The honey went into my stack heater/hot box (see photo below) to de-crystallize and the bees went to the dissection table.

The dissecting table turns out to be my dining room table and a file folder.  I took my hive tool and gently scooped up a load of bees and put them on the folder.  I counted all the bees and randomly removed 10 from the group to as Dave put it, “rub on their bellies/abdomens” to dislodge mites.  It didn’t take me long to see why this colony died.  Just by moving and separating the bees I found 12 mites initially from 86 bees. 12 mites in 86 bees is a 14% infestation.  We get worried when we see a 3% infestation.  But that’s not all!  From the 10 separated out I found 2 after working their abdomens.  If I just look at the 10 bees with 2 mites that is a 20% infestation.  Now take the 12 mites initially found add the 2 found in the 10 and you get 14 mites.  Then extrapolate out 20% in the bees not dissected (76 X 20% = 15 mites).  Now add 15 + 14 and you come up with 29 mites in 86 bees which is a whopping 34% infestation.  Thanks for the tip Dave, this will help us evaluate our dead out in a more purposeful way in the future.

May 2018 Report

There are 3 mites on this doomed bee which is also showing symptoms of deformed wing virus.

 

Bee Report May 9, 2018  

Swarms:  I have heard reports of swarm cells in hives and swarming.  My top bar hive has swarm cells right now.  I will be clearing the 2017 swarm list on www.knoxbees.com so if you want back on the list for 2018, hit reply to this email and give me your information.

New Bee packages.  Here are the answers to the most common questions that I have been getting.

-Feeders go directly on top of the box not on top of the inner covers.

          -Feed only the amount they will take in 3 to 4 days.  Fresh feed is critical.  Sugar water ferments quickly and is bad for bees.  Usually only need a half to one gallon to start.

          -Only feed a small 1 to 2-inch strip of pollen patty at a time.  Freeze the rest to keep it fresh.  If they eat the small amount give them more.  After 2 to 3 weeks they probably have enough pollen stored to get by without.

          -Yes you can over feed.  If your colony has a lot of cells filled with nectar don’t worry about backing off the feed by removing the feeder for a week or two.  Sometimes we feed so much on a new colony that nectar cells compete with brood cells.

Brood pattern in April were pretty ratty and inconsistent.  They have started to improve with the warmer weather.  We are about 2 to 3 weeks behind in bloom times.  We are at 259 Growing Degree Days on May 8th 2018, vs 412 GDD in 2017. www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/gdd/default.asp  This means the bees are just about that much behind also.

Below is a typical photo of what I have been seeing in a lot of hives.  The center of the frame (and brood pattern) is the original brood pattern that was in March and April, it is a little scattered and ratty.  But as of late the colony grew and with warmer weather you can make out the solid brood pattern in the outer edges of brood pattern (circled in red).  At first glance you might think that this queen was not very good but if you look at her latest work, mainly in the right side of the brood pattern you can see she is laying a solid pattern.  

April 2018 Report

Showing a frame with liquid honey and a frame without meaning they are consuming theri stores.

  

THE BEES:  The bees have been out foraging on the warm days but there have not been enough warm days to make a substantial difference in their stored food.  I don’t see a lot of great warm weather in the next week to really kick start nectar collection but if you get a warm day, make sure there is enough room for them to lay brood and if the dandelions start to bloom don’t be afraid to add a honey supper.  I usually target adding honey supers by April 15th.  I have seen a few strong hives that have 2 deeps full of bees.

I have taken up a new hobby, feeding bees dry pollen substitute. LOL  There are substitute pollen patties that you place in the hive, and there is also dry pollen substitute powder that you can place outside the hive in feeders that the bees will collect and take back to the hive and store just like pollen.  The difference is, pollen patties are consumed as they eat them and dry pollen they will store for later use.  Although the jury is out as to how beneficial this is long term for the colony, it sure is a lot of fun watching the bees roll in the dust and collect it in their pollen baskets and haul it off to their hive.  I made a make-shift feeder out of an empty deep super with some shims under the inner cover to give them plenty of room to enter and exit the feeder from the top and bottom of the super.  Below is a photo of the feeder and bees covered in dust foraging inside.

March 2018 Report

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Here is a makeshift pollen feeder.  The bees really go for it.

  

Bee Report:  I am hearing varying reports of winter survival.  Some have had significant losses while other are seeing losses in the 10 to 20 percent range.  There seems to be a correlation between good mite treatment programs last fall and the survival of colonies.  I have seen some very strong colonies and others that are just hanging on.  Richard Shoots reported that he is seeing fresh nectar in his hives on the one warm Tuesday in mid-March.  I have been seeing significant pollen loads coming in over the past 2 weeks on days warm enough to fly.

Please consider the weather before getting into your hives.  You can open up the tops and look at 50 to 60 degrees but do not pull frames until we get a good day above 70.  If we get a nice day you might consider moving frames of honey closer t the brood nest.  Do not split the brood nest with honey but just put it next to.

February 2018 Report

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Bee Report:  Cold without much opportunity to fly.   This winter so far has been much colder that the past 2 winters but if the bees stay cozy in their cluster and can get to food they should make it through in good shape.

January 2018 Report

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Here is a new toy I got for Christmas called a flir which allows my Iphone to take IR photos.  This one shows the bees are alive and clustering in the bottom box.  Pretty cool.


Bee Report:  Cold and not much flying weather.  Bee remain in their clusters generally below 40 degrees but if they can get a worm winter day they will fly and take an elimination flight and return quickly to they hive.  After all the are cold blooded and only create heat by vibrating their wing muscles.