Monday, February 18, 2019

EATING HONEY IN PERU--submitted by Grandpa Jack

Grandpa Jack received this photo from friends visiting Peru.  The honey in the restaurant was fresh and directly from the comb.  

Editor's note:  Unlike our extracted and filtered honey this honey is being served with the wax particles still in the honey.  



Sunday, February 10, 2019

BETTER WEATHER OR MITE CONTROL??? by beekeeper Fred




On this cold day with snow flurries I spent a little time thinking about the greatly improved hive survival experienced by beekeepers Fred, Gerard and Jon this winter.   Was it our concentration on mite control last summer and fall or some other factor such as more benign weather?  We had been preaching the necessity and benefits of good mite control all last year.  Do we have enough evidence to draw a conclusion that it was the mite control and not the weather?     So, I took a little time to review my notes from this winter and last winter.

This winter was milder than last winter through the end of December.  Last year the below zero nights began in December, while this year they held off to January.    By my count, last winter there were 15 below zero nights.  This winter there have been 11 below zero nights so far.  That could make one think last winter was worse than this winter.



But last winter the coldest night was -14F, while this winter we hit -30F.  From this standpoint this winter was the worse of the two.  Just looking at the below zero nights last winter had a total of 106 degrees below zero over the 15 days or a -7F average.  This year a total of 121 degrees below zero over 11 days or   -11F average.    Again, this winter was again worse.   



Last winter had seven below zero nights in a row.  This year had only five below zero nights in a row.  Repeated cold nights and days inhibit the cluster from moving to food and can result in starvation.  Last winter was worse from this perspective.



Last winter the cold nights started earlier (December) in the winter, when the bee clusters should have been larger and better able to handle the cold. From this perspective this winter was worse because by January natural attrition within each hive would result in smaller clusters less able to withstand cold. 



From my viewpoint the two winters were about the same with a slight edge to this winter being worse.  Also our survival rates are significantly higher this winter.    



Therefore, I feel the better mite control each of us practiced is the major factor in our better survival to date.  It is also interesting that hives with either local or package queens are having the same excellent survival.  



February is the time for the hives to start brood rearing.  This makes a big demand on food resources within the hive.  More food is needed because there is now brood to feed and also because the bees increase the brood nest temperature to 92F to ensure survival of the brood.  Late winter starvation may occur if the hive runs short of food for these two functions. Now good beekeepers need to follow through and make a late February and mid-March feedings.  Both sugar and pollen or a pollen substitute are recommended.  Don’t be lazy and lose your hive at this late point.  Get out there and either verify there is plenty of honey or by adding emergency feed.



We can discuss this at our February 16th club meeting:  9:30AM at the Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake.  See you there.  


Monday, February 4, 2019

LOCAL QUEENS VERSUS ????

There are frequently discussions about local versus imported queens.  The following article seems to say that local versus imported queens have about the same winter survival.  It also states that colony strength, hive weight, and varroa control are far more important factors in winter survival.

https://entomologytoday.org/2019/01/09/colony-size-drives-honey-bees-overwinter-survival/

Friday, February 1, 2019

END OF JANUARY APIARY REPORTS FROM THE THREE AMIGOS by beekeeper Fred




Well the polar express has come and gone; hopefully there will be no recurrences for the remainder of the winter.  By my count we have now had 9 below zero F nights this winter; the worst being -30F.   On the positive side the amount of daylight has increased more than an hour since the winter solstice back in December. 

They say healthy, well fed, bees can survive extreme low temperatures.  I’ve worked hard at both aspects with a strong varroa control program, fall feeding and adding emergency food stores to all hives.  Just prior to those two nights of -30F temperatures I went out and surveyed my hives.  At that point I was still holding at the 97% survival level.  But it was with more than a little trepidation that I went out today, February 1st, to check on my hives again.    We can say that these extremely cold temperatures are acting to biologically winnow the weak from the strong.   I guess the survivors can be truly called survivor stock. 

The three amigos shared their varroa control programs from last summer during our December club meeting.  All three programs were shown to be effective based on Randy Oliver’s varroa model.   The results we are seeing this winter seem to agree.  

So here are my results.  Over the past 9 below zero nights I lost NO hives.  To date 97% of my hives are still surviving!  So far, I am a happy beekeeper.  At this time last year my survival was only 60%.  Even all 12 nucs are still alive, which totally surprised me.  Beekeeper Gerard reported yesterday that all of his home hives are still alive.  He also reported -36F.  Wow!  Beekeeper Jon has reported that 94% of his home hives are alive.  So, the increased focus on mite control by all of us appears to be improving winter survival and also confirms the prediction of Randy Oliver’s varroa model.     

 After a brief early February thaw, I see the weather forecast has another short bout of below zero nights about a week from now, but this time for only three days and only down to -4F.   There are still 2 months of winter to go, so tomorrow we will all be checking the emergency food supply in our hives.