Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Here are a few article and papers about the Saskatraz bee line developed in Canada.  It appears this beeline is varroa mite tolerant without use of any chemicals.  Reading of the second paper below seems to indicate this beeline is similar to the Purdue Ankle Biter beeline in that the bees bite off varroa legs.


I see that Olivarez Honey Bee, Inc. is now selling this variety for $32 each plus shipping.  After trying to order a few I was informed that their website for ordering queens via the web is not yet operational, but should be in a few weeks.  They are NOT accepting phone orders yet.  

Monday, January 30, 2017


In the past I have referred you to the website of Randy Oliver.  I have just received notification he has added five articles to the website.  These article have been previously published in the two bee magazines.  But if you don't subscribe to the magazines you haven't been able to read them.  The articles are about:

Probiotics and Colony Productivity
A Test of Late-Summer Varroa Treatments
Is There A Multiplier Effect From The Feeding Of Sugar Syrup?
Light or Heavy Syrup For Drawing Foundation?
Beyond Taktic--Oxalic/glycerin shop towels

To read them go to his website.  ScientificBeekeeping.com

Sometimes it takes a little frustrating searching to find a particular article.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Here is a new service that will allow beekeepers to identify the actual cause of the decline in a hive.  This article did not provide information as to the cost of the service or how to contact them.  This blog will try to find out and then publish this info.  


Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Although not present in quantity, black bears are beginning to frequent this area of Wisconsin.  See the link for advice on a bear fence.


Monday, January 23, 2017


Today I went out and added feed to the last two of my hives.  Its now the January thaw.  In these two hives the cluster in Hive J was at the top.  In Hive N the bees were still 2 to 3 inches below the top.  Both hives appeared to have adequate capped honey still available.  But to both hives I added a sugar block and a portion of a winter patty to insure against starvation later in the winter.  I will probably be checking all hives again in mid February.  At this point 85% of the hives are still humming in the apiary.

                                     The bees are right below the inner cover in Hive J.
                                               Hive J with inner cover removed.
                               3 inch spacer added to make room for sugar and winter patty.
               Spacer gets sealed with duck tape since bees won't be able to propolize the crack.
                            Bees in Hive N were still 3 inches down in upper brood chamber.

BEE VACCINATIONS submitted by beekeeper Gerard

Here is an article that reports that scientists now understand how bees protect themselves against viruses and other diseases.  This research may lead the way to combating bee viruses such as Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).


Thursday, January 19, 2017


This link provides three (3) short videos on ankle biter bee behavior.  It also describes another bee strain that exhibits mite biting behavior.  It has been nicknamed "Mite Mauler".   Have fun watching the videos.  ECWBA  does not endorse any supplier or product.

The videos are under the titles of:


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

PLANTING FOR THE BEES by beekeeper Fred

At the past club meeting Gerard started giving his initial thoughts on doing plantings for the bees.  Here are a few pointers from my experience.

-Trees won't really bloom in quantity until they mature, which can take up to 8 years.  However, trees have the potential of providing much more nectar and pollen due to their vertical rise for a given area of land. 

-It takes acres of plants to supply an apiary.  An acre of sweet clover has the potential of about 160 pounds of honey.  That's really only enough for one hive if you consider both their consumption during summer and storage for winter.  

-Select plants that tend to bloom in dearth periods when the bees need the most help.  

-Although I plant trees and flowers to help I have come to realize the impact I can make is really minimal.  A few hundred flowering plants is only a drop in the bucket when you consider the foraging range of a bee colony; roughly 3 miles radius or 28 square miles.   If you do plant flowers try to select some that a self-spreading; such as asters or obedient plant. 

-I've also tried some pollinator mixes.  Although they give a good mix of flowers it’s still expensive if you are planting a large area.  Something like $1000 per acre!

Seed and Plant Suppliers: American Meadows, Prairie Nursery by Westfield, Prairie Moon Nursery  

-You will find using seed the cheapest, but buying flats of started plants is probably the most successful.  Using seeds requires a lot of site preparation and be prepared for low germination rates.    A flat of asters (36) is about $100.  You can easily drop $500 on seed and plants and initially wonder why you did it.  It takes time (several years) for perennials to establish themselves and still they don't cover a lot of area.  

-Asters and obedient plant are self-spreading via rhizomes.  If you have more time than money you can establish a stand of these and then after several years begin transplanting.  Asters and sedum are good plants for your yard or along buildings or fence lines.

So if you want to plant for the bees do it out of your good intentions, rather than expecting your colonies to significantly strengthen or become more productive.  

High Nectar/Pollen Trees and Flowers
(listed in approx. bloom date)

                -Basswood (tree)
                -Little leaf linden (tree)
                -Sweet clover (needs large areas)
                -Alsike (needs large areas)

                -BeeBee Tree (tree)
                -Sourwood (tree)

                -Shiny sumac (bush)
                -Japanese Pagoda Tree (tree)
                -Obedient plant-good for wet areas-slightly invasive

                -English Ivy
                -Chinese Sumac (bush)


                -BUSH CLOVER

Wisconsin Honey Museum

A little east of Watertown there is a honey museum.  See the link below.  Have any club members seen it?


Friday, January 13, 2017


This link shows the design of an easy to make bee yard feeders.  All that is required is a 5 gallon (with lid) and a hand drill.  If you don't have a clean pail a food grade pail can be bought at Menard's, Lowe's, Fleet Farm, etc. for under $5.

Gerard made the comment that this feeder could also be used as a water source during dry spells.


Thursday, January 12, 2017


It looks like that during next week Wisconsin will be having it's traditional January thaw.  We have experienced a number of below zero nights.  That cold weather immobilizes the bees and they can't or won't move in the hive to an area still with honey stores.  They will NEVER move down to the honey in the outside frames of the bottom brood box.  Also, the bee cluster in most hives has by this time moved into the top brood box and many, if not most, are bumping into the inner cover.  Next week's temporary warm up is an opportune time to provide a little emergency food.

For ease of handling I put in a sugar disc.  Candy boards are another possibility.

This is a 2 1/2 pound sugar disc.  It is made by mixing 2 1/2 pounds of sugar with 7/16 cup of water.  Through stir the mixture and then place in some type of mold and tamp it down firmly.  Allow it to remain in the mold for several days and it will set up solidly.  The sugar to water ratio is critical.  Too little water and the sugar grains will not bond.  Too much and you will have runny mess.  Of course if you get the ratio slightly wrong it is easily corrected by added more water or sugar as needed.

Do be afraid to open the hive, but don't lollygag.Get in,get out. The inside hive temperature is the same as the outside air temperature. It is the cluster that is warm.

You can also add chunks of winter patties or pollen substitute to the sugar while making the discs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Not many outdoor beekeeping tasks to perform in January.  An occasional check of your hive's food situation is all that is required.  With all your free time you can attend a bee club meeting.  Remember we have a club meeting this Saturday at 9:30 AM.  It is in the Silver Creek Room in the basement of the Ripon Public Library.

Or you can be building items for beekeeping.  Assembling hives and frames is a typical winter task.  I chose to make a solar powered wax melter to keep busy.  I already had the sheet of plexiglass and the other components cost less than $20.

Side View
                                                                      Front view
Cover removed to show roasting pan-note triangular hole cut in roasting pan to allow melted wax to drip into collection pan.  Inside painted black to maximize heat collection

Friday, January 6, 2017


Club member and past ECWBA Vice President Denise will be hosting a beginners beekeeping class on January 28th.  This class is a good way to get educated about beekeeping before your bees arrive.  This is a two part class. The first session will be held at the Fond du Lac County airport on February 4th.  The second session will be at Denise's apiary outside of Fond du Lac in July for some hands on experience including hive inspection.  About the only thing Denise won't be able to demonstrate is the loading of a package of bees into a new hive when they arrive this spring.  However, you can readily see this on various YouTube videos or you can get the help of a mentor for your first time.   Here are the details of the class.

BEEKEEPING 101 - 3 parts
part 1 & 2 - classroom - FEB 4, 2017
location: Fond du Lac SKYPORT CLASSROOM
260 S Rolling Meadows Dr
check-in: 8:30 am
class part one: 9 - 12
lunch break (on your own) 12 - 1
class part two: 1-3

part 3 - RURAL/FIELD classroom - JULY 8, 2017
location: dsbees apiary N7928 cty road WH, Fond du Lac
check-in: 10:00
class: 10:30 - 11:30
field: 11:30....(open)

FEES: $72/each or $50*/additional person (*see qualifications)

INCLUDES - all three classes....
-6 + hours of "classroom" education plus 2 + hours "hands-on" in the field
  (this book or a book of equal reference base is REQUIRED)
  (*$50/each if you BRING your own copy of dummies or equal beekeeping reference)
  (*additional person will not receive their OWN copies of reference material - they will share with the primary person)
-REFERENCE material: handouts, catalogs, resources
-Free 2017 MEMBERSHIP in the East Central Wisconsin Beekeepers Association - ECWBA
coffee/tea onsite - classroom

PART ONE: "SOFTWARE" (morning of February 4th)
-bee biology, lifecycle
-queens, breeds
-THE HIVE, functions of the hive
-honey, wax, propolis
-ORDERING BEES - packages, nucs, etc - making choices

PART TWO: HARDWARE (afternoon of February4th)
-Beekeeping equipment, tools, material
-THE HIVE - the BOX - frames - making choices
-putting the two together - getting the bees into the boxes
and STARTING - sugar syrup - the growth of the hive
-An entire LANGSTROTH system will be on hand and demonstrated
-Problems - things to watch out for

-Classroom: sharing our "experiences" so far
-What the expectations are - where there may be problems
-Getting ready for winter
and looking to year #2
-Then we'll move out to a hive.
-The state bee inspector has also scheduled time to be present. 


You can sign up by going to dsbees.com and clicking on the "beekeeping 101" button

Payments to:
D's Bees
W4559 Lakepark Drive
Fond du Lac, WI  54937
(920) 922-7487
if you'd like to pay online - send an email to: dsbees.honey@gmail.com
and i will send you a payment link

This class WILL QUALIFY you for the Fond du Lac permit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Varroa, Varroa, Varroa

Here is a nice short video.  It shows two things.  1) Workers of the Purdue Ankle Biter strain attacking a varroa mite.  2)  The ease with which a varroa mite appears to attach itself to a bee.