Thursday, April 19, 2018

SPRING BUILD-UP


This post is primarily directed at new beekeepers as an aid to monitoring the progress of a newly installed package of bees. 

Congratulations you have received and installed your new package of bees.  A 3 pound package is usually composed of one queen and about 10,000 worker bees with a few drones thrown in.   The new queen will usually begin laying within one to two days.  Factors limiting the queen’s laying are: 1) Availability of drawn cells,  2) Availability of pollen, 3) Availability of honey or nectar, 4) And, of course, the weather. 

Three of these four factors can be positively influenced by the beekeeper.  Placing the new package on drawn comb eliminates the need for the bees to expend their limited food resources to draw new comb.

 Adding a pollen or pollen substitute patty lessens the need for the bees to forage for pollen.  In the spring the availability of natural pollen can be limited due to poor weather (cold, snow, or rain).  Without sufficient protein the brood will not develop and then be cannibalized by the nurse bees.  If sufficient natural pollen is available the bees will probably leave the pollen patty untouched.

In a new hive there usually is not a supply of capped honey.  If possible provide a several frames of capped honey from another hive or deadout.  Nectar may not be available do to poor weather or the fact that few plants bloom in early spring.   Therefore, a sugar water (1 part sugar to 1 part water) substitute should always be provided.    This will keep the hive growing even during poor weather.  Renew this food supply during the entire time the bees are filling the 2 brood boxes.  Stop feeding when the honey supers are installed. 

It takes roughly 21 days between when the first egg is laid and a worker bee emerges.   The average life of a worker bee is roughly 6 weeks or 42 days.  Also, the bees in your new package of bees are not all young bees, but rather a mixture ranging from new nurse bees to old worn out field bees.  After installation the aging of the bees in the package will naturally result in the hive population slowly declining.  In fact, by the time new replacement bees are emerging (21 days) the hive population will have declined by roughly 50%; from 10,000 to 5000 bees.  So, do not be overly concerned if you notice the hive population is declining.  By the fourth week the population will begin to recover.  It will take roughly 3 months for the hive population to reach its maximum of 50,000 bees if your new queen is performing properly.  

 After two weeks it is a good idea to verify the queen is laying.  By that time there should be both eggs, developing brood and even a few capped brood.   If you don’t see eggs or brood your hive may not have accepted their queen or possibly she is sterile or did not successfully mate. 

Start your hive with a single brood chamber box or even a 5 frame nuc.  This lessens the volume that the bees need to heat.  This single brood chamber box provides the colony with sufficient room for at least one month.  Remember their population is declining for the first three to four weeks.  After a month and after the bees have drawn out 8 of the 10 frames ( 6 of 8 for those of you using 8 frame boxes) its time to add a second brood chamber. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

FINALLY!!!!

Finally a little sustained warm weather is predicted for central Wisconsin!  Next week looks to have several days with mid-60's temperatures and sunshine at the same time!  Hopefully you are done with cleaning out your deadouts.   With this warm weather it will be time to do a little upkeep on your survivor colonies.  Three tasks come to mind.

1) Clean each hive's bottom board.  Try to do this cleaning without removing the brood chambers.  A hooked rod can be used to pull out the dead bees on the bottom board.  You may need to do this several times since some dead bees may be lodged between the frames, but will fall down to the bottom board later.
2) Do a very quick check of the brood chamber and verify that the queen is laying.  Don't lollygag because even the mid 60s temperature will be detrimental to the open brood.  If you see eggs or brood, even on one only one frame, immediately close the hive.  If there are no eggs that means you either have no queen or the work force is not large enough to support her.  In either case remedial action is required.
3) Consider a mite treatment.

USE THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD WHILE BEEKEEPING

Its back to basics.  Most beekeepers are simply "bee havers".  Their only interest is in getting their yearly honey harvest with almost no thought beyond that.  If beekeepers are to help the bees out of their current difficulties the beekeepers need to get more involved and approach their beekeeping on a more scientific basis.  The following article may help you on this quest.

https://www.keepingbackyardbees.com/why-does-personal-beekeeping-need-a-scientific-approach/

Monday, April 16, 2018

APRIL CLUB MEETING, APRIL 21st

There will be a club meeting on Saturday, April 21st.  Time: 9:30AM to approx. 11:30AM  Location: Caestecker Library in Green Lake, Wi.

I am sure one topic of discussion will be member's experiences while installing bee packages during a snow storm.   However, the main theme of the meeting will be oriented towards new beekeepers; tools, tips, feeding, mites control, etc.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

WISCONSIN MITE CONTROL

If you are like most Wisconsin beekeepers you have just realized that you have had significant or catastrophic winter losses.  Here is a paper describing an effective control strategy specifically tailored for Wisconsin.   Club member Liz Walsh, the state bee inspector Dan Ziehli and a few others combined to write this plan.  Remember that effective mite control is the key to successful beekeeping.

https://wihoney.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/WHPA-BMP-for-Mite-Control-in-Wisconsin.pdf

Saturday, April 7, 2018

EUROPEAN NEONICTINOID BAN??

It appears the European Union is getting closer to a total ban on neonictinoid pesticides.  But it takes a long time for governmental bureaucracies to act.   Whether the same will happen in the US is open to question.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/28/total-ban-on-bee-harming-pesticides-likely-after-major-new-eu-analysis

Monday, April 2, 2018

Bee Informed Partnership by beekeeper Fred

Yesterday I received an email inviting me to submit 2017-2018 winter loss data to BIP.  I have put a link to this request below.  You may wish to submit your data. 

Prior to providing my data I took a closer look at their analysis of data submitted for prior years.  Surprisingly their data shows Wisconsin winter losses running at about 19% in the 2016-2017 winter season.  To me this seemed out of touch with the reality experienced by hobbyist Wisconsin beekeepers.  Looking a little deeper into the results it appears their analysis is driven by submittals by commercial beekeepers that do NOT winter their bees in Wisconsin.  Their data showed 85% of hives were wintered elsewhere; definitely not something a hobbyist beekeeper does.

Even if a lot of hobbyist beekeepers were to submit data I feel the commercial beekeeper data will always swamp our small numbers.

Other links show the prevalence of the various bee viruses in Wisconsin.  It appears that 8 out of 10 viruses are present in Wisconsin.

For the winter loss map use this link:
https://research.beeinformed.org/loss-map/

For viral prevalence use this link:
https://research.beeinformed.org/state_reports/viruses

To supply data for their survey use this link:
http://26.selectsurvey.net/beeinformed/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=LMS2018