Sunday, August 25, 2013

ECWBA Newsletter - August 2013

1.  Here is the information for the final meeting of 2013:  

·         September 14, 2013, Saturday morning at 9:30 am.  Meet at the Ripon Public Library (Silver Creek Room).  Address is 120 Jefferson Street, Ripon, WI.  See note below about the guest speaker scheduled for a presentation.

2.  September Meeting.  The September 14, 2013, meeting of the ECWBA will be at the Ripon Public Library.  Meeting start time is 9:30 am.  The special guest speaker will be Ann Marie Ames from the Wisconsin DATCP.  Ann Marie will give a presentation about the Drift Watch program that she oversees at the DATCP.  Drift Watch is a registration program for beekeepers and organic producers to help against pesticide damage and contamination.  It sounds like Ann Marie has a great program lined up for us.  This will be a timely and important presentation, so ECWBA members are encourage to bring a guest that is involved with beekeeping or organic production.

3.   The year 2014 is a few months away, but let’s plan ahead for the next year.  At the September meeting, we will try to establish a committee for a beginner’s beekeeping class for early 2014.  Also, please give some consideration to volunteering or seeking a nomination for one of the two officer positions that will be up for election in January 2014.  That will be the offices of secretary and of president.  The ECWBA needs to vary its leadership with new and different ideas in order to keep it a thriving organization.  If we cannot fill the officer board, an alternative would be to close the association.

4.  The ECWBA maintains a library from which members can check out beekeeping books.  Andy Krueger has been doing a great job as our association librarian. If you have ECWBA books, please bring them back so we can keep those books circulating.  If you are exploring something new in beekeeping, the library probably has a book or DVD for you to check out.  This is a valuable resource – use it to your advantage!!!

5.  Special request from an ECWBA member:  Larry Beuthin, with the assistance of Mary Montag, has located a house with a colony of honeybees in it. Larry would like some help with removing the bees and invites our membership to participate in the removal process.  He would also like to possibly video the process for a future presentation.  The house is located just north of Markesan.  Larry would like to get this accomplished sometime around Labor Day.  If you are interested in helping Larry and Mary with this colony removal project, please contact Larry at 920-398-3580.

Beekeeping Notes:

·         It looks like the honey crop is a good one this year.  We will take a quick and informal survey of members in attendance at the September meeting about honey crop yields.

·         If you have not developed a plan for honey extracting yet, you’re running a bit behind.  Either buy an extracting unit (or system) or team up with an existing beekeeper that can provide you with an extracting service.

·         Also, plan how you will store the honey harvest.  There can sometimes be a shortage of jars at this time of the year as everyone scrambles to obtain containers.

·         Don’t forget – The ECWBA has two refractometers for measuring the moisture content of honey.  One refractometer is kept with the library for check out.  The other one is in Fond du Lac with Denise Palkovich.  Contact Denise at 920-922-7487 or see her note on the ECWBA website for use of the refractometer.

I look forward to seeing you all at the last meeting of 2013, on September 14, at the Ripon Library.

Best of Beekeeping,

Jeff Champeau

Thursday, August 22, 2013

use a refractometer to be sure...

Use a refractometer to be sure where your moisture content is in your honey harvest.  Honey that has too much moisture (over 20%) will ferment.  Fermentation is fine if you're going to make honey wine...but it's not appealing for your customer.

FOR CLUB MEMBERS - you have the privilege of using one of the two club refractometers.  One is located at: D'Signs Unlimited, W4559 Lakepark Drive, Fond du Lac.  M-F 8am-5pm (call ahead: 920-922-7487).  and one circulates with the library.

To ready your batch for sampling - you probably want to give your bucket a stir so you get an average...when you feel it's combined, you only need to bring in about 1/8 tsp.  The test takes SECONDS.

phenomenal numbers

For me...this was the best harvest EVER.  I harvested on the 18th - it was an all day affair.  (and still have to go back for the cleanup) I'll be labeling 300# of honey - from 4 hives.

I REALLY TAKE A GOOD LOOK after harvest - "evaluating" hives for winter.  Check mite loads!  My mite loads all spring and summer were very "light" (I use the sticky board/screened bottom board)  Though I don't actually take a COUNT - I look at the sticky boards comparatively.  AFTER HARVEST...I checked my mite load.....HEAVY!!!!! did I say HEAVY!!!???  wow - I've not seen a load like this before in the hives.  For the FIRST TIME EVER - I've applied API-GUARD (the thymol tray)

After they settle down from harvest - I need to get back in there and make sure each deep has a SHALLOW frame for the drone cut-out (which I also did this year) - but the hives weren't real consistent as to where and when I had a "short" in the box.  I also need to LABEL THEM (mark them)  I'm happy with the drone cutout method.

WHOOFDA...are there BEES!!!  The populations of the hives are PHENOMENAL.  I requeened 5 hives in July (bred and tested queens)...that probably helped.  Even though the nights have been chilly at times...the hives are ready for another population boom (capped brood).  Probably their last big batch before they start decreasing.

I'm going to be overwintering as 2 deeps and a super this year.  I've overwintered them with 3 deeps in the past - but then in the spring - I end up with too many honey frames.  I prefer giving them a little extra space after harvest to fill (the super) means less feeding for me come spring.  I often found that come spring - in a two deep system - the bees were AT THE INNER cover when I took my first peeks.  I bought a whole set of "separate" supers for this purpose - they'll be marked as HIVE SUPERS - they won't be used for harvest-able honey.

so - What have I heard out there?  I've been hearing "LAZY CARNIES".  More than a couple beekeepers got a package of Italians and a package of Carnies for comparison.  The Italians are "going to town" - producing honey for first year hives....and the Carnies....lazy, going nowhere. ...we could all be deceived by the lazy carnies - they tend to overwinter as smaller populations - and require less resources over winter.  This is "farming" - of course we'll cross our fingers, hoping all the hives make it through - but you might be surprised by the outcomes.  (don't make any bets on bees!)

I've also heard it's "SWARM YEAR".  I think we've had enough rain at the right time to keep nectar in the flowers and keep resources spread out.  Divide and Go Forth - Resources are Abundant. (unfortunately - its the loss of NATURAL BEE HABITAT (old trees/holes) for the swarm to settle into....means their destination is a house, barn, GROCERY STORE.....mailbox....

I've also heard "POOR PACKAGE QUEENS".  As probably everyone heard or experienced - packages were late again this year - and in short supply.  Many complained that packages were "duds".  A dud package = dud queen (perhaps a poorly bred queen).  IT'S ALL ABOUT THE QUEEN.  This is a frustrating topic for a first year beekeeper who just wants to get a hive started - and has NOTHING to compare to.  ....we might have to look more into getting BRED and TESTED queens into our hives via requeening.  (a tested queen - is one that is allowed by the producer to lay a pattern - if this queen doesn't fill a decent amount of cells....she's not sold.)

In closing - I don't know if anyone else sees it....but it seems like the year end flowers - are here...and it seems like it's crashing fast.  It's drying up out there.