Monday, November 18, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019


Here is a link to an article about how probiotics reduced levels of American Foulbrood infections.  However, before you go buy some consider the following.

 1) Standard practice is to KILL and BURN hives with American Foulbrood (AF).  Since the probiotic did not eradiate the AF you may still need to KILL and burn your hive.
2) In 10 years I have only heard of one (1) case of AF among all ECWBA members and in only in one hive.  The state inspector required this hive be killed and burned.  I don't believe this alternate approach is approved for use in treating AF.  
3) Before you go to expense of using probiotics prophylactically you should consider the expense of the probiotics and the small probability of catching AF.  In other words you should do a cost benefit calculation.
4) The study said probiotics "significantly" increased hive survival.  The value of the term "significantly" was not defined.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Here is an article describing the chewing behavior developed by feral bees.  Purdue Mite Biter, Mite Mailer, etc. designer bees are also exhibiting this behavior.  There is a better future for the honey bee!  Also note that the article expressly recommends against package bees.

Saturday, November 9, 2019


Here's a nifty gadget.  Only thing is it doesn't determine varroa levels.


THE ECWBA monthly meeting will be held on November 16th at the Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake.  Start time I 9:30AM, but many members arrive early for off topic discussions.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Follow the link to information on two classes in early November at Capital Bee Supply in Columbus.    Honey Grading & Labeling and Making Balms and Salves.  Please note the link shows the Honey Grading class to be on September 9th; whereas the actual date is November 9th.


Beekeeping is primarily an outdoor summer activity.  But here in central Wisconsin winter holds sway for roughly 5 months of the year.  What is an enthused beekeeper to do during this long dormant period?


1)      Attend your local bee club meetings.  The other local beekeepers can provide a lot of information to improve your beekeeping in the coming year.

2)      Review the events of the previous year and identify things you can do differently to improve your outcome in the upcoming year. 

3)      Read about beekeeping.  There are two beekeeping magazines; American Bee Journal and Bee Culture.  In addition, there are numerous beekeeping books.  NOTE: The ECWBA donated to the local WiNNEFOX library system about 30 different beekeeping books.  These should all be available through your local library.  See the RESOURCE section of this blog for a list of the titles.

4)      Make a personal beekeeping plan for 2020.

5)      Inspect equipment that is in storage.  Conduct repairs as required.  Replace old brood foundation that is more than 10 years old.  Over time the brood cocoons built up inside the cell and the result is a smaller worker bee.

6)      Assemble and paint new equipment if you will be expanding your apiary in 2020.

7)      Consider building a nuc box or swarm box.

8)      Build a supply of spare frames with new foundation.  

9)      Make up sugar patties for use as a winter emergency food supply for your hives.  


1)      Periodically monitor the status of your hives.  Listening for the hum of the bees with a stethoscope will let you know if they are dead or alive.

2)      Add emergency sugar patties to the top of hives to prevent starvation. 

Friday, November 1, 2019


November is starting out with snow on the ground; which is a bit early even for central Wisconsin.  Looking at the long range forecast it looks like flying days for the bees won’t occur again until spring.  Yesterday I listened to each hive for activity and brushed snow away from the entrances.  Brrr!

The snow will trigger field mice to look for warm winter quarters.  Don’t let that place bee your hives.  Get the entrance reducer switched to the one (1) inch opening.  Use of mouse guards is optional.  

Temperature will be low enough that hive wraps can now be installed if you are inclined in that direction.  As I have stated previously, I saw no difference in survival rates for either wrapped or unwrapped hives over a period of 5 years.  However, I did put wraps on 4 hives that are next to open water and totally unprotected from the winter winds.  

In my apiary one (1) hive has already bit the dust.  It was totally robbed out.  No honey in either of the deeps.  I suspect it had gone queenless back in September.  According to my notes when I had graded my hives on October 1st this hive was still well populated, but I graded as medium strength, not strong.  Any mites in this hive probably hitched a ride on the robber bees and moved to a new hive.  Luckily, I had treated this hive with oxalic vapor in both September and October.   I guess I am already out of the running for the ECWBA winter survival trophy. 

I did peek in 5 hives.  In four (4) hives the cluster was in the top brood box and in one (1) it was in the bottom box. 

With the shortening daylight and colder temperatures all queens should have stopped laying.  Also, by this time most brood should have emerged.  All mites should therefore now be phoretic (not hidden inside the brood cells).  Therefore, next week I am planning on one last oxalic acid vapor treatment.  Based on most recommendations I have seen I will wait to the air temperature reaches 40F.  Above this temperature the cluster expands and lets the oxalic acid vapor reach the inner bees in the cluster.  Mite-free equals virus-free and bodes well for good hive winter survival.

My next and final task will be to add a spacer to the top of al hives to provide space for emergency sugar provisions.  I do this in December when I am sure the bees will be in a tight cluster.   After this last action I can only stand back and watch things unfold.   I try to not to get my expectations too high.  Back in the “good old days” (pre-varroa), winter hive losses averaged around 15% (85% survival), so if I get close to that I will be a happy beekeeper.