Friday, June 11, 2021
Swarm Catching Fiasco!
On Sunday, 5/30: I was walking my dog, Casey, around 6 p.m. and spotted this swarm about 60 feet away from the home apiary. At the apiary they had a deep with drawn comb available for occupancy but apparently decided not to use it.
Monday, June 7, 2021
HONEY FLOW IS ON!!
Call it the main honey flow or the main nectar flow, this is the time when the greatest number of nectar and pollen producing plants are blooming, and will continue to bloom heavily until around mid-July.
Black locust and basswood trees are two of the major producers blooming now, and wild rose, birdsfoot trefoil, clover, and catmint are blooming with them.
In the next couple of weeks I expect to see acres of raspberry, mint, motherwort, milkweed, and a host of other blossoms.
The locally adapted honey bees knew when this was going to occur and that's why they started swarming 3 - 4 weeks ago. The main flow gives them their best chance to have the resources available that they need to reproduce and start new colonies that have a chance of being ready for winter.
The Colony after a Swarm/Split
Food for the Bees
Water for Air Conditioning
Single or Double Deep?
First Year HONEY or Not
Don't run short of Honey frames or Storage jars!
Club Pressure Washer
Next Club Meeting
Friday, May 28, 2021
Strong ColoniesBetween swarms and after-swarms a colony can lose 60% of its population, perhaps more. A strong, healthy, overwintered colony is diminished instantly when the swarm(s) takes off. After a colony swarms, we need to inspect the hive to determine the remaining population size in light of the available real estate. Bees constantly patrol the comb to guard against invasions by wax moths, small hive beetles (SHB), wasps, and other pests, and if the bees are spread too thin our hives are likely to become infested with these pests. We may need to condense the population by shaking and/or brushing the bees into one or two hive bodies, and removing any others, until they build back up so they can keep the pests in check.
Wax moths and SHBs are the pests of concern now, wasps won't be a major menace until fall when the goldenrod starts to pass its peak. There are no in-hive treatments for either pest, but strong colonies can keep them in check. Strong is a relative term, and in this case it has to do with the number of frames of bees per hive body. The same colony can be weak if it's in a 20-frame hive, or strong if it's in a 10-frame hive. The more bees per frame, and frames of bees per hive, the better their control of pests. We also want our colonies to have enough room to expand the broodnest and store honey, so it's a matter of staying ahead of the bees with real estate, just not too far ahead.
Wax moths and SHBs will make a mess in a hive, but they aren't a real threat to a colony unless it's weak and suffering from disease. Then they could be the last straw. If you find frames (typically brood frames) with larvae from either of these pests, freezing the frames for a day or two will kill the larvae and the frames can be reused, depending on the extent of the damage. If it's not too bad, the bees will clean them up.
We also need to check our colonies to make sure they're queenright. A colony that has swarmed will have left behind virgin queens about to emerge, and after emergence they need three or four days to mature before they go on their mating flight(s). Upon a successful return to the colony, it will be another several days before they start laying eggs.
Eggs should be present after two weeks following a swarming event (three - four weeks following a split). If not queenright at that time, add a frame with worker eggs, larvae, and capped cells from another colony in case the queen got picked off by a predator. The brood will keep the colony unified, workers will be inhibited from laying, and the bees will have the resources to produce a new queen. Add brood frames weekly until there's a laying queen, or purchase a queen from a local queen producer if you don't want to watch the season pass with no laying queen in the hive and the population dwindling.
These are things we need to watch for throughout the season. We need to maintain strong, queenright colonies, and if a colony isn't thriving it should be requeened, combined with another colony, or euthanized if it is overwhelmingly diseased. We beekeepers need to be as pragmatic as our bees are.
I haven't seen SHBs in my hives, but some years ago I had a small Wax Moth infestation. After I found two frames that looked like the photo above, I inspected the hive and found about a 1/8" gap between part of the upper deep and the lower deep. The wood hadn't been cut straight on the upper deep. That's all it would have taken for a wax moth to gain entry, although they usually come in the entrances at night, But since the damage was right inside of that gap, I figured that was the entryway. The colony was relatively strong and had sequestered the moths to those two frames, which I removed and froze (and replaced the upper deep). Honey bees will kill wax moths but they didn't that time for some reason, instead living side-by-side with them..
Wax moths are important in the natural world because they eat the comb of hives that have died out, eliminating the pathogens and pesticides that the comb contains. They prefer brood comb because of the bits of pollen and pupal casings that are in it, but we don't want them messing up our brood comb and making it unavailable to our bees. The best defense is strong colonies.
Since I don't have any experience with SHBs, I could only repeat what I've heard and read, and who knows of what practical value that would be? I have also seen a number of gadgets available to trap the beetles, but again, I have no experience with them. Hopefully it stays that way, but I know they're around and prefer sandy soil, which I have an abundance of. I expect it won't be long before I will be learning more about them. Any member that has had dealings with the Small Hive Beetle, please share your experiences with us at an upcoming meeting.
I'm hoping the weather will be good for checking hives this weekend as I have several splits that weren't queenright last weekend, and should be by this weekend. I also captured two swarms at my home apiary and I need to see if I can determine which colonies swarmed, and if they need to have some of their furniture put into storage for awhile. I did find a queen in one of my splits and she was humongous, and laying like a machine, with lots of eggs and larvae in a very tight pattern. That's one.
I hope everyone's splits are successful, and that everyone caught some swarms. For me the season is starting out well, and I'm interested in what will be in my apiaries on October 1. And just as interested in what will be in my honey buckets before then.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
There's nothing better than watching your own bees pollinate your flower and/or vegetable gardens. So if you're new to gardening, or just need a refresher, you'll enjoy our latest guest blog from Emma Croft. Happy gardening and beekeeping! And don't forget about the April 17 meeting at Rushford Meadery and Winery. Fun starts at 9:30 and be ready for club hive inspections!
Image via Unsplash
Gardening for Beginners: How to Start and Maintain Your First Garden
According to Eartheasy, the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of gardening range from stress relief and immune regulation to a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Since vegetable gardening encourages you to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, backyard gardening can also lead to a healthier diet and lifestyle.
While there are many wonderful benefits of starting your own backyard garden, you may not know where to start if you’re new to this type of activity. Here’s how to begin!
Interested in harvesting honey and helping declining bee populations? Join the East Central Wisconsin Beekeepers Association today!
As you get ready to start your first garden, you’ll first need to determine whether you’d like to plant a vegetable or flower garden — or a combination of the two. Some of the best crops for beginner gardeners include lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, onions, and radishes, while several of the easiest flowers to grow include sunflowers, marigolds, impatiens, and sweet peas.
You’ll need to choose a spot in your yard that offers enough sunlight for your garden to flourish. If you’re unsure of your property lines and your budget allows, it’s often worthwhile to hire a property surveyor to identify your property’s boundaries so you can avoid planting on your neighbor’s land.
After planning your garden and deciding which types of flowers and vegetables you’re going to plant, it’s time to purchase your plants and gardening supplies. As a beginner gardener, you’ll need a few basic tools and supplies:
● Hand trowel
● Leaf rake
● Watering can and hose
● Hand pruner
● Garden gloves
● Kneeling cushion
● Home soil test kit (to test your soil before planting)
Once you’ve purchased your gardening supplies and gathered your fruits, vegetables, flowers, and seeds, it’s time to start planting! Your flowers, seeds, and transplants should come with basic planting instructions, but you’ll typically need to dig your garden bed, make holes in the soil for your plants, and space each item at least two to three feet apart. And if you’d like to help ailing bee populations in your area, try to plant flowers that bloom at times when bees need the most help.
When you’re done, water your plants and seeds to help them settle into the soil — and cover the garden bed with a layer of mulch shortly after you finish planting. Mulching your garden helps it to retain moisture and suppress weeds, but it’s important to note that not all mulches are created equal. Straw mulch is an excellent option for vegetable gardens, while composted mulch or manure can be used just about anywhere.
For your plants to grow and flourish, you’ll need to maintain your garden by watering it regularly, weeding it each week, and removing any dried or dead flowers as needed. As a rule, most plants require about an inch or two of water each week during the growing season.
Moreover, it’s usually best to water your garden in the morning if possible, as this will give your plants time to dry before evening. If you’ve been getting a lot of rain in your area or you’re unsure about whether to water your garden, however, simply use your hands to check the soil for moisture. If the soil feels dry and cannot be rolled into a ball, it likely needs to be watered.
Whether you plant vegetables, flowers, or a combination of the two, a backyard garden enhances the look of your yard and improves your overall health and well-being — especially if you take some time out of your week to tend to your garden and give it the care it needs to flourish. However, try not to be discouraged if your first garden isn’t a success. Even if it fails, you can keep on trying until you finally get it right!