Sunday, August 6, 2017

OBSERVATION HIVE REPORT by beekeeper Grandpa Jack

Workers at the fair had fun discussing the goings on in the club's observation hive that had been stocked by Grandpa Jack.  Here is his report about the hive after he took it back to his apiary.

The ECWBA observation hive has been at the Green Lake County fair since Thursday and many have enjoyed watching the new hatch come out of their cells.  While members and fair goers were watching through the looking glass of the observation hive, what was going on in the inside ?

Sunday was the last day of the fair and the hive made the trip back to the original hive of beekeeper Jack's.  The hive was stocked with two  frames of capped brood and one frame of honey-nectar-pollen and a shake of a frame of bees for added population.

We thought we might of gotten the queen in the lower box, since from the sound of the hive that the bees came from, indicated that they were not happy with the frames that were removed.  Also we found newly laid eggs on the frame that was placed in the observation panel.  Beekeeper Fred is one of our resident queen raiser's, and spotted  the eggs while looking at the frame with a flash light.

Sunday, the last fair day, it was noted that there were queen cells started at the bottom of the observation frame. 

The bottom line of this story is - there was no queen in the observation hive.   

What do bees do when they don't have a queen and they have all the ingredients to make one ? 

On the observation frame by the window, there were four queen cells with larva and royal jelly.  On the frame that  had brood,  that was located in the body of the hive, there were six more queen cells.  All the cells had larva that was floating in royal jelly.  

The decision was made at the fair to not make splits this late in the season.  The queen cells were destroyed since the original hive has been re-queened and has a strong working queen.


After off and on again sprinkles the fair concluded and the ECWBA teardown crew moved in and disassembled our display.  We noted that the observation hive started 3 queen cells during their 4 days of captivity.

                                         Small children really enjoyed the observation hive.
 Future beekeepers?
Cleanup crew talking bees while waitng to the bitter end.

CCD Waning?

Beginning to see reports that the CCD (colony collapse disorder)portion of the bee crisis may be waning, but varroa is still the main problem facing the bees.   Of course, it may just be that beekeepers are getting more educated about CCD and are no longer mistakenly blaming CCD for thier bee losses.

Friday, August 4, 2017


Club members are at the Green Lake County Free Fair this weekend doing a little public outreach.  Intermittent rain has so far kept the attendance down, but things look better for the weekend.  Here are a few photos from Thursday.  Any help to man the booth is apprecaited.  You can always just talk bees with other club members.

 Overall setup
The well populated observation hive was a hit with all visitors. 
Club members Jack and Al searching for the queen, eggs and emerging bees prior to arrival of visitors.
 Old time beekeeper stops by for a chat.
Observation hive

Thursday, August 3, 2017

AUGUST IN MY APIARY by beekeeper Fred

Here is what I do.  I feel that dabbling with bees for more 5 years in no way makes me an expert.   Also remember that my methods are influenced by my local conditions, equipment limitations and choice of mite control.  Using these methods I luckily got greater than 80% survival last winter.  I hope some of that good survival was due to my methods and not just the warmer than usual winter.  These techniques may help you in your apiary.

August is the time for a lot of beekeeping activity in my apiary.  Since early July I usually do not need to add any additional honey supers because nectar availability has fallen off.  This year, despite all the rain, has been no different.   

Beginning the first week of August I start feeding this year’s startup hives with 2 to 1 sugar syrup to ensure these new hives have sufficient food stores for winter.  These startup hives have usually not completed filling the two brood chambers with honey and would likely not survive their first winter without this aid.  I continue feeding these hives until I see they have filled out the outer honey frames.  I then stop feeding so that they won’t fill the brood nest area.  For new beekeepers, either cane sugar or GMO beet sugar is considered OK for feeding.  Note:  I reserve this supplemental feeding for hives started in late May or June that I started with a new queen and a few frames of bees.  Hives started with a package of bees in April or early May usually do not need this supplemental feeding. 

I plan to remove my honey supers beginning about August 15th.  I remove the supers at this time for two reasons.  One, the honey flow in my area is basically complete by this time.  If any honey is being brought in it is usually immediately consumed.  If by chance the bees are getting a little surplus I would like them to store it in the upper brood nest area.  Two, it’s time to treat for varroa mites.  I use formic acid vapor (MAQS) which must be applied between the two brood chamber boxes.  Installing and removing the MAQS pads is much easier to accomplish if the honey supers are not present.

Watching the weather forecast I schedule the MAQS application during a week where the temperature won’t exceed 85F.  You have to be flexible to not apply the treatment when it is too hot;  ie above 85F.  Above 85F the formic acid vaporizes too quickly and could actually harm the bees in addition to the mites.  At the end of the one week period I remove the spent MAQS pads, because you don’t want there to any obstruction to movement of the bees or to cause the cluster to get separated during the winter.

Those of you that use other mite control products should follow the application instructions closely.   

Why am I treating in late August?  I want a big mite knockdown now so that the “winter” bees, which are being raised a month from now, won’t be exposed to varroa mites and associated viruses in the brood stage.  The winter bees must be in tip-top health in order to survive the 6 months to spring. 

In late August or early September I then move the feeders from the startup hives to other hives that seem light. Its best to feed when the weather is warm.  As cooler fall temperatures arrive the bees may not feed on cold syrup or break cluster to go to the feeder.  I also do a last inspection to verify all hives are queenright.  This is also a good time to replace any old queens, to replace queens in hives that have performed poorly or to incorporate improved genetics.  Young queens tend to overwinter better. 

Once the honey supers are removed you must also plan on extracting.  Have you lined up an extractor?  Do you have sufficient bottles?  This time of year the bee equipment suppliers frequently run short of bottles.  Don’t get caught short.