Monday, February 19, 2007

Beekeeping Tips

  • Treat for Tracheal mites with menthol in August
  • Treat for Varroa mites on October 1st
  • Treat for Nosema in late October or November
  • Prevent robbing before it starts, equalize your colony populations
  • Feed 2:1 sugar syrup to provide 70 pounds of winter stores
  • Requeen your colonies in late August or September 1st
  • You will have NO DEAD BEES IN THE WINTER, and big, strong, HEALTHY colonies ready to make a record crop in the spring.

Sugar Syrup Ratios

Sugar syrup can be made up into three different strengths, and you use different strengths for different purposes and at different times of the year, as follows:

1:2 -1 pound of sugar dissolved in 2 pints of water is primarily used as a egg laying
stimulant for the queen in late winter and early spring

1:1 -1 pound of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of water is primarily used as an artificial
nectar to get bees to build comb and feed brood larvae in spring and summer

2:1 - 2 pounds of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of water is a winter feed substituting
for honey in the fall or early winter

How to Make a Split

How to Make a Split

A split is made to either increase colony numbers or to prevent swarming. In either case, a colony is NOT split unless it is strong in numbers of worker bees, has a prolific queen, and is healthy. Although sometimes desirable to be done in very early spring, a split should NOT be made until decent flight weather for pollen or nectar collecting in the spring. In Maryland, because our total honey crop is made in April and May, and little, if any, is collected during the rest of the year, the new split is NOT going to produce any honey in its first year. This might be dramatically different in states that have nectar collection during the summer and/or fall.

Order a new queen, preferably MARKED, and upon its arrival, give the queen a drink of water and put her in a cool, dark place until the next day. Go to the colony you want to split, find the queen and ISOLATE the frame she is on and the adhering bees in a spare hive body while you select the frames you want to remove and move them to the new split. I select 2 frames of honey, 2 frames of CAPPED brood, 1 frame of OPEN brood, and 1 frame of nectar and pollen ALL WITH ADHERING BEES which is a total of 6 frames.

Put these 6 frames in a new hive body and add 3 more frames of drawn comb, totaling 9 frames, put the new queen cage in place between the frame of OPEN BROOD and the frame of nectar, and then SHAKE the adhering bees off 2 BROOD frames from the old colony. Add a bottle of 1:1 sugar syrup and do not touch for at least 3 days and if the queen is out of her queen cage, remove it, and put the 10th frame of drawn comb in place. Going back to the original colony, return the old queen on her frame to the colony and replace the 6 frames you have removed for the split with 6 frames of drawn comb. YOU HAVE A SPLIT!

If you do NOT have drawn comb frames, if you are LUCKY, you might get by using foundation, but there MUST BE A STRONG NECTAR FLOW PRESENT and/or a CONTINUOUS FEED OF 1:1 SUGAR SYRUP to get that foundation drawn and drawn properly. As I have repeatedly said for over 40 years FOUNDATION IS NOT DRAWN COMB.

Making Fondant

Bring a quart of water to a boil in a medium to large pot. Turn off the heat and add five pounds granulated sugar, stirring constantly. When dissolved, bring water back to a boil and keep stirring. Use a candy thermometer and bring the mixture to 260-270 degrees (hard ball candy state). Do not burn the sugar. Pour the mixture into molds (cookie sheet lined with wax paper works well). When cooled and set, break into convenient-sized pieces and store in freezer, between wax paper sheets until needed (Adapted from Beekeeping, A Practical Guide, by Dick Bonney).

A Larger Recipe:

15 pounds granulated sugar
3 pounds corn syrup
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Prepare in the same manner as the smaller recipe only use a larger pot.

Simply place a cake of fondant on the top of the frames closest to the main cluster of bees. A super or a one-inch wooden rim should be put in place to allow room for the fondant and bees. A six-pound cake may last 10-15 days if the colony is large.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Treating for Varroa, Small Hive Beetles & American Foulbrood Disease

Brian came by to give me a hand on Saturday. We needed to treat against American/European Foulbrood disease, Small Hive Beetles & Varroa Mites. I'm not too concerned about "organic" beekeeping at this time. I'm more worried about protecting my investment and keeping the hives alive & strong. Perhaps as I gain more knowledge & experience I will work my way towards all natural or organic hives. Until then, I will use the recommended chemicals to treat for disease. We installed Apistan & Check-Mite strips for the SHB & Varroa Mites and used Terramycin powder for the AFB. Note in the picture the pollen patty I added last week. They really seem to eat this up fairly quickly. I would guess there's about 30-40% of this patty left. I removed it and discarded what was left because the SHB will lay eggs in the patty and this causes the SHB populations to explode. Overall all 3 hives seem to be thriving. We are expecting the weather to be well in to the 70's by mid-week and I'm hoping this will last for several weeks. I want to split all 3 hives and some warm weather will make this possible.

Brian & I now have a game plan for his future beekeeping. I'm going to place an order for enough equipment for 5 hives. I'll order this from Mann Lake. Once this arrives, I'll do a split to fill 3 of the hives and the other 2 hive we'll use the packaged bees I ordered from Rossman Apiaries. I will still need another package of bees for the Top Bar Hive that I have.

Sting Count:

Chris - 7
Brian - 3

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mystery ailment strikes honeybees

By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer
Sun Feb 11, 6:12 PM ET

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A mysterious illness is killing tens of thousands of honeybee colonies across the country, threatening honey production, the livelihood of beekeepers and possibly crops that need bees for pollination.

Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called Colony Collapse Disorder.

Reports of unusual colony deaths have come from at least 22 states. Some affected commercial beekeepers — who often keep thousands of colonies — have reported losing more than 50 percent of their bees. A colony can have roughly 20,000 bees in the winter, and up to 60,000 in the summer.

Read the rest of the article: Mystery ailment strikes honeybees

February inspection - getting ready for Spring...

I did a very thorough inspection of my 3 hives today. I also did a quick inventory of my extra tools, supers, frames, etc...I'm getting ready for the upcoming season!

I found all 3 hives to be in really great shape! I found eggs, larvae & capped brood along with plenty of pollen, nectar & capped honey. I was worried that with the mild temperatures and increased activity in November & December this would have a negative effect on the colonies. So far I have been proven wrong! I did remove the hive top feeders that are used to give supplemental sugar syrup. I also added a 9 5/8" deep hive body to one of the colonies. It was busting at the seems and needed the extra room. I also took this opportunity to add 1 pollen pattie to each colony. This is done to give the hives a "kick-start" and the Queen should start laying pretty heavy. This will allow for a fast Spring population build up. More bees = more honey, right?

You may remember from an October post that I had a 4th hive that "diappeared" on me! I'm going to order (2) 10lb packages of bees w/Queens. One will replace the hive that absconded & the other will be used for my Top Bar Hive.

I've also put together a list of items I will need to order from Mann Lake. I will need to medicate for Varroa mites, tracheal mites, American Foulbrood & Small Hive Beetles. I also need (3) 9 5/8" hive bodies for brood boxes, (30) plastic rite-cell frames & (1) swarm trap.

Sting Count:

Chris - 7
Brian - 3

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Astronaut Lisa Nowak

You can only imagine how stunned I was to hear "Astronaut Lisa Nowak has been arrested in Orlando, Florida....."..blah-blah-blah! The words hung in the air for several moments as I tried to place the name I was certain that I knew. I was assigned to VAQ-34 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California in the early 90's. Although I don't specifically remember Captain Nowak, I have verified we were attached to the squadron at the same time. I have been following her career closely for several years and have been waiting for her 1st shuttle flight. Oh Well! It looks like her first flight will also be her last.

Other VAQ-34 notables:

  • U.S. Navy Commander Rosemary Mariner. 1990 - Commander Mariner becomes first woman to command an operational aviation squadron (VAQ-34).
  • Chuck Palumbo - now a professional wrestler
  • CW03 Chris Palumbo - Army helicopter pilot awarded a Silver Star. (Chuck Palumbo's brother). Chris was stationed at NAS Lemoore. He was also assigned to an F/A-18 Hornet squadron.