Thursday, September 25, 2014


I noted two "small" hives this morning.  Small enough that I'm questioning their survivability over winter.  They're NOT packing away the sugar syrup either!  I so far have always "kicked myself" IN THE SPRING for not trying overwintering small hives TOGETHER (yes - stacked on top of one another).  I'm going to tear into them and see what 'das going on...and combine them.  They're small enough that I might be able to franken-hive the frames to one box each hive - then newspaper combine them with a queen excluder.  They may not really like me and it might fail miserably....but if they're DOOMED anyway - I guess they could get it over with more quickly.  (see UPDATE in comment area)  my 150# producing hive has dwindled to NOTHING....she's being incorporated to another hive.

mite treatments for RUSSIANS

a note from FRED - russian beekeeper...
I contacted two of the Russian queen suppliers on their recommendations on treating Russian for varroa before winter.   
Coy's Honey Farms recommended treating for varroa if above the 5% infestation level.  Coy is the current President of the Russian Bee Breeders Association.  Unfortunately I don't know what 5% infestation means or how to test for it. 
Foley's recommended treating if ANY sign of varroa is present.   He stated that up to now he had never treated Russians for varroa, but mentioned that hive losses during last winter has made him want to err on the side of caution.  Foley's is located in Iowa and had similar winter conditions as ours. 
This seems to indicate a little backsliding on the excellent varroa resistance to which the Primorsky Russians have been attributed.  Think I will treat all my Russian hives with a 1/2 dose of formic acid (MAQS) as a precaution.    


i like early morning beekeeping - the bees don't.  (2 stings - both crawled up the pant leg...totally preventable!)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Preparations

Once the honey supers are's time to get the hives in shape for WINTER.  Get mite treatments on the hives as soon as possible - because the sooner it's DONE / OFF - the more time they have to "recover" from whatever you decide to put in there.  Of course all these treatments claim to be "bee safe"...but ANYTHING you put in the hives makes an impact on their cycle.  My treatment choice has been the APIGUARD / THYMOL again.  It requires temps over 59 degrees!  hmmm? the past couple of days haven't been there....and this treatment requires (2) trays over 4 - if the temp goes bad - quick - I'll be OUT OF TEMP before you know it.

I notice some transparent bee debris on the sticky board (bee parts) with the thymol treatment - so I know it's hard on them.  I'm assuming it's dead young brood that they're pulling out.  And I also note some "behavioral" distress outside the hive....they seem a little "nasty" with each other outside.  I also noted - it did a JOB ON the hive beetle larvae...dried them right up.  I still see some remnant ADULT hive beetles - but it must get into the soft bodied larvae.  GOOD! 'cause my big hive was INFESTED with hive beetle!

As the populations are headed in the downward direction once again - think about getting ENTRANCE REDUCERS on them.  For three reasons: (1) when population is down - there are not as many guarding the entrances for wax moth or wasps, etc  (2) ms. mouse is looking for a warm place to hole-up for winter.  I've caught 5 mice in traps already.....they weren't INSIDE the hive - but they have a nice little nesting spot under the bottomboard. (3) helps keep a little warmth in the hive when it cools down.  Once again - I have a hive (the same hive as last year) MAKING THEIR OWN entrance reducer.  Someone please tell me HOW this works.  I KNOW FOR A FACT it is not the same queen aka genetics in this hive.....but once again they're propolising the ENTIRE BOTTOM ENTRANCE SHUT except for a half dozen holes.  bee memory?  hive memory?  surely there's not one bee in there that existed last year....and NO - there's not any propolis ledge to remind them (it's a different box)

SUGAR SYRUP BUCKET season!  My "mark" for when to put buckets on....40-something degree nights.  When it starts getting into that temperature zone....they start to cluster - and CONSUME FOOD rather than bring it in.

Monday, September 8, 2014

we're talking RUSSIANS....

At the beeclub meeting Saturday - we were discussing as a group - RUSSIANS (bees).  Club member Fred offered some good information - as he's familiar with them.

The Russian Bee seminar is October 25-26 in Medina, Ohio. A good description on Russian bees can be found at:   then click on "Info" in header and then click on "Primorsky Russians" in side column. Club members should read this prior to purchasing Russian Queens. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Swarm in September is worth.... fill in the blank?  "To hive or not to hive" that swarm in September....?  I grabbed 'em.  My thinking is their chances (though EXTREMELY SLIM)...are better with me than in the wild...or wherever they decided to take up residence.  Besides the fact that they're probably a swarm from one of my hives anyway. ?!?!

Late swarms like this are EXTREMELY PRECARIOUS for both mother and daughter!  There's so little time for either of them to get their home in order and pantry filled before winter.  I cross my fingers and hope they know best....

Honey harvest was down from last year in overall quantity - however UP considering only TWO HIVES were producing!!!  last year, 4 hives made about 100# each.  this year, 2 hives made 150# each.

Supers are cleaned up and off the hives.  MEDICATION is in!  APIGUARD was my choice again this year.  (I have screened bottom boards with "sticky" boards for monitoring).  All year long, the varroa mite load was LOW - until about 30 days ago....the two big hives producing had the MOST (probably because of the most population) Keep in mind when the bee inspector came and did the mite test this summer - one of these very hives got a big old ZERO MITES in the check.  I think this shows that...the mites become an "issue" in the fall - so again - very important to get mite loads down before winter.  I'm also noting "comparatively" (from sticky board debris)....THE RUSSIAN hive is "naturally" very low in mites.

ALSO - the two biggest hives have a HIVE BEETLE PROBLEM.  The strongest hive is the worst.  PERHAPS another good reason to keep a screened bottom board and REMOVABLE sticky board....I can slide out the sticky board and scrape off hive beetle larvae.  It's so bad - I should probably clean every other day.  I don't know if the larvae just "naturally" falls to the bottom?  or they like all the debris that settles to the bottom?  I can't even imagine what it would be like in a regular non-screened bottom board'd have to dismantle the hive to get them out....  (and you wouldn't know until it's a real mess)

so I'll be "monitoring" the apiguard for two weeks.  I noticed last year that "it's hard on the bees".  There were some dead adults being removed this morning.  AND...translucent bee parts will start appearing in the debris.  I really HATE putting "things" into the hives, but equally - they can't carry that mite load into winter.   ...which brings me to a potential topic for discussion: FALL REQUEENING.  any time you get a break in the brood cycle - you get a break in the mite cycle....