Friday, January 31, 2020


The amount of daylight is lengthening every day and has now reached 10 hours per day.   Temperatures have remained mild throughout January and the forecast for the next several weeks does not predict any brutal weather.  We beekeepers count this as a blessing.

If your bees are alive you can congratulate yourself on doing a good job of mite control last summer and fall.  If not, then you need to figure out ways to improve your mite control plan for next summer.

At this time of year, the bees are eating one to two pounds of honey per week and maintain the core of the cluster at about 64 degrees F.   The queen will soon begin laying to start the spring population buildup.  When this happens, the bees will increase the core temperature to 92 degrees F to allow development of the brood.  This will result in the bees doubling their consumption of honey to two to four pounds per week.  To put things in perspective a full deep frame holds about 10 pounds of honey.  

Once the queen starts laying the main danger for the hive is starvation.  The cluster will absolutely not abandon the brood.  Keeping the core temperature at 92F for the brood is job ONE.   If there is no honey in the immediate area of the cluster the bees will not move over to eat it if moving affects their ability to maintain the brood temperature. 

The cluster is usually in the upper brood box at this time of year.  A smart beekeeper can minimize chances of starvation by placing emergency sugar directly above the cluster.  Simply lay the sugar disc on the top of the frames.  I check on the status of this emergency sugar at about a three (3) week interval until spring.  This check also provides an opportunity to add pollen or pollen substitute to the hive.  A full patty is not required; ¼ of the patty will do just fine.  

I just completed my end of January hive survival check.  This is done partly out of curiosity and partly to determine if I need to order bees for spring.  Presently hive survival is down slightly to 96%, while winter nuc survival is down to 95%.  This is about where I was at last year after those two -30F nights.  While greatly encouraged by these results I will continue to be vigilant and add emergency sugar to all hives and nucs as needed in addition to keeping my fingers and toes crossed for good luck.  As reported earlier I went into winter concerned that many hives did not have sufficient food stores.   Hence my efforts to keep the hives fed through the winter.

Other club members are reporting good survival rates also.  

In January I finished assembly of several additional honey supers and their frames after running short last summer.  In February my plan is to assemble several more nuc boxes.  These nuc boxes will be made of rough sawn pine.  According to Thomas Seely (The Lives of Bees) the bees will propolize the rough wood, which in turn acts as an anti-microbial agent and results in healthier bees.  I will compare the nucs with rough sawn pine with others with smooth planed pine to see if the bees actually propolize the rough swan boards.

Only about 8 more weeks of winter to survive!

Friday, January 17, 2020


Received the following from Gerard. 

The meeting for tomorrow, January 18, is cancelled due to the weather forecast.  I don’t usually put much stock in weather forecasts, but with ice, 6 – 8” of snow, and 25 mph winds in the mix, something is probably going to happen.
 Hopefully we can do what we were going to do tomorrow in February.   Shane said we’re welcome to hold our February 15 meeting at the Rushford Meadery and Winery, and hopefully Pam and Leanne will be able to make it for their sharing of knowledge using beeswax. 

 I hope that tonight’s and tomorrow’s weather is not as treacherous as is being predicted, but if it is, stay safe.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Winter is progressing and we are now more than half way to glorious spring.  I have kept busy assembling frames and making sugar discs for feeding the hives this winter.  The good news is that both my hives and winter nucs are still at 98% survival!  Its reassuring to hear the hum emanating from the hive in mid-January.  Also, if the nuc survival continues to be high I might just attain my goal of NOT having to buy any package bees this year!

There is still a lot of winter yet to go, but why is my hive survival surpassing all past years?
-After a rough start in October this winter has been milder (at least so far), which is helpful.
-Is it just blind luck or have my beekeeping inputs been a factor?
-I have kept the hives and nucs well stocked with emergency sugar.  They have definitely been consuming it.  There were no signs of starvation is the lost hive and nuc.
-Is my mite control process of the summer and fall playing a significant role?
-Is the fact that most all my hives and all nucs have mite resistant queens (primarily Purdue Mite Biters) a factor?
-Is the low average age of my queens a factor?

I will be spending the remaining two months of winter keeping my hives stocked with emergency sugar, keeping my fingers crossed and pondering the above questions.  I wish I knew the answer.

Sunday, January 12, 2020


Next Saturday, January 18th, is the annual ECWBA election of officers.  In addition Pam and Leanne will discuss various uses of beeswax.  The making of wax impregnated food wraps will be demonstrated.   The process of making lip balm and soap will also be discussed.

The positions of President, Vice President, Secretary/Treasurer and Blogmaster will be open for filling.  .

This monthly meeting will be at the Rushford Meadery and Winery outside of Omro; NOT at the Caestecker Library in Green Lake.  See the events section of the blog for the address of the Meadery.  The meeting will start at 9:30AM.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

St. Mary's Springs Academy

As part of ECWBA's public outreach club member Nick Teifke made a presentation to the 5th grade class of St. Mary's Springs Academy in Fond du Lac.  Here are a few photos of the event.  Nick reported he had a good time with the class.  ECWBA thanks you Nick.
Nick answering questions. 
Bee suit modeling. 
Thrilled to be getting hands on experience.  

Monday, January 6, 2020


See the reason by following this link.

Another reason for becoming a sustainable beekeeper and overwintering your own nucs?

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

GIANT BEE-EATING HORNETS INVADE US submitted by beekeeper Gerard

Happy New Year!

The Asian Giant Hornet has been confirmed in Washington State.  I had read that they were confirmed on the East Coast a couple of years ago, but the people there "found and destroyed all the nests".  Guess we have to start learning about them and looking at defenses.  See link below.