Helping The Honeybees --- 4

Discussion in 'The Village Square' started by Sjoerd, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Back at the end of january I was sweating out when I could do the winter varroa treatment. It was actually past time, because the weather had not been right. That is to say, it was not freezing yet. I had been waiting and waiting for a cold snap, but it just did not come. You see, here the normal time is from the middle of november to the middle of december, but it was way past that. I could not just simply do the treatment even though the weather was not freezing because the method that I use is the "dripping method".

    In order to do the dripping method, the outside temp needs to be around freezing, or a tad below that. The reason for this is that when it is that cold all the bees are gathered together in a tight clump, and you can pretty much be sure that the temp drop has induced the queen to stop laying.

    So, the mites will get onto the adult worksters or crawl over the comb, and this is the ideal situation to apply the solution. It is far less effective to do this if the bees are spread out over the frames or even out looking for nectar or making a sanitary flight.

    The way that this treatment works is that the solution is dripped onto as many bees as possible, and when they are in a compact clump they will get this solution on other bees as they move about in, out and over the clump. The solution has some oxalic acid in it and it will kill mites on contact. There is also some sugar syrup in the mixture and the bees will normally groom each other to remove the solution and at the same time will remove any mites that they come in contact with.

    I did a few spot checks to give me an idea of how many mites my colonies might have during the days leading up to the treatment. I did this by placing a solid "tray" under the hive so that the mites who lost their footing or died would fall onto it and I could count them. My trays are painted white, making a visual identification of the mites easier.

    Right then, that is the theory and now to the practical:

    Step 1-- Make one liter sugar and water solution (1:1)
    Step 2-- Add 35g oxalic acid crystals (depending on how many hives and bees one has). Bring the temp of the solution up to ± 25°C before the application so that the bees will not become under-cooled.
    Step 3-- Draw up the solution into a syringe. Figure 5cc per "street"(the space between frames that are occupied by the bees)
    Step 4-- Spurt the solution onto the bees quickly and close them back up. The idea here is to prevent loss of accumulated heat generated by the clump.
    Step 5-- I place a white tray under the hive so that I can count the mite fall after the treatment.

    The foto's:
    Setting up.
    [​IMG]

    Drawing-up the solution.
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    Checking the level and flicking out the air bubble.
    [​IMG]

    Spurting the drops onto the smallest colony. You can see that it is very small. I wonder if it will make it through the winter.
    [​IMG]

    Here is my strongest hive...looking good.
    [​IMG]

    Applying the solution to them quickly.
    [​IMG]

    I did the treatment as fast as I could, as the outside temp was -2°C.
    Perhaps you can see the water surface of the canal in a couple of the foto's...it is beginning to freeze.

    Whew! I am glad that I was finally able to get this done. It was a bit late, but in the end Mother Nature gave us a period of coldness that stretched out for a few weeks. Now it is fingers crossed and hoping that all three come through the winter alright. The average of colony loss for a beekeeper here is ~1/3 of his colonies. We shall see how it goes in the lottie.
     
    Frank, Jewell and Donna S like this.
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  3. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    S, That is interesting. We don't do that here. We use mite strips (which I don't) and sometimes there is the menthol method, but must be very warm to apply. I have started planting mint in front of all my hives. I am becoming a "hands off" bee keeper. I have a friend who is "majorly hands into every hive" and I get more honey every year from my few than he gets from his MANY hives. They have been being bees for far longer than I have been a bee keeper so I am guessing they can do it without my "help". Really, I am trying to stay away from "chemical" solutions. I have a colony in my bee tree in the woods that throws the nicest swarms in the spring so I keep hoping I am building up a mite resistant apiary. If they survive winter after winter without any interference there must be something about them that is "working" better than we are at dealing with the mites. This is my theory anyway. I haven't been out to look at my bees lately and I should today but am leaving here shortly for the weekend....there was bee poop on my car the other day so there must be bees out there.
     
  4. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Interesting stuff. I know practically nothing about bees and bee-keeping. And while reading Sjoerd's post, I was wondering if everyone had to do this to their hives. I was thinking "that's alot of work to this bee-keeing".
    But reading Carolyn's follow-up I see that you can be as hands-on/off as you prefer (or need to).
     
  5. marlingardener

    marlingardener Mighty Oak

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    So far we haven't had any mites. The first indication is the deformed wings on bees caused by the mites. My husband does put a board under the hive to make sure mites haven't moved in.
    Our queens are from untreated stock, and may be genetically stronger and more resistant to varroa mites.
    We are fairly "hands-off" too. When we first got our bees we were fascinated by their social structure and architectural abilities, and fussed the hives too often. We have grown calmer, and our bees have become more productive!
     



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  6. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Hiya C--Thanks for your posting. I enjoyed reading it and this idea of not too much intervention is appealing to me. I guess that I will find some sort of middle road. Interesting that you mentioned planting some mint in front of your hives...so did I.

    CHERYL--Well, not everyone does a lot of bee care here, but most do some sort. There are beekeepers practice all levels of intervention. The teachers have all said that it is important to learn the basics and then develop my own routine. That is what I intend to do. I correspond with several beekeepers and I ask them their ideas on this or that. I am still learning.

    Thanks for your posting here, MG-- It is interesting to see that your and Carolyn's bees have become more productive with less hands-on care.
    Is there anything specific that you do to prevent them from swarming?
     
  7. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    I love your bee-keeping posts Sjoerd and this one is filed away with your others for, hopefully, future reference when I set up hives of my own. Our next door neighbour keeps bees so hecan advise me where's the best place to buy equipment and the bees themselves when the time comes.
     
  8. marlingardener

    marlingardener Mighty Oak

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    Sjoerd, if there is more activity than usual outside the hive, my husband goes in to check for swarm cells. I have no idea what a swarm cell looks like, but he does!
    So far our hives haven't swarmed, but we are about due and expect to split another hive this spring. Splitting also prevents swarming, or at least it has for us.
     
  9. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    I am chuffed that you liked the posting EILEEN--I am really excited to hear that you may actually begin keeping bees of your own one day. I think that you would be successful at it.
    BTW I just got a couple of DVD's in from a chap in the U.S. and he covers how to keep bees. It goes through the course of a year. My bride found it so interesting that she watch them both all the way through with me. Wasn't that nice?
    Anyway, thanks again for your nice words. Keep me posted on your bee endeavours please.

    MG--I see how you do it. It is good that your bees do not have the genetic propensity to swarm. Two of my hives do, but I plan to combine the smaller one (if it makes it through the winter), and the other one I will just keep an eye out for the signs of fullness and try and correct conditions before the colony gets the urge to take to the air.
    BTW, speaking of swarm cells--I have some fairly good pics of swarm cells in this first "bee posting". Have a look. They look like peanut shells to me.

    http://www.gardenstew.com/about27557.html

    The instructor had a box full of frames that illustrated different things that one could encounter on a hive inspection.
     
  10. Tooty2shoes

    Tooty2shoes Hardy Maple

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    I do not keep bee's but love seeing them in my garden. We have quite a lot of honey bee's that come and feed on and pollinate out raspberries. Not sure if they are wild or if someone withing a 3 mile radius has bee's. But I love seeing them. :stew1:
     
  11. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Isn't it great that those bees visit your garden? I reckon that they know a good restaurant when they see one. ;)
    I know that bees really like those raspberry blossoms.
     
  12. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    I actually don't do anything to keep them from swarming. I don't think there is anything you can do to prevent it. It is a natural occurrence in the apiary. It also helps replenish the empty hive or two that didn't make it through the winter without making a split. A swarm is much more productive than a split. It probably makes a difference if you have your supers on early enough to give them room to spread out their nectar and have brood in there too.
     
  13. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Mighty Oak

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    Thanks for those words, C-- Little gems of knowledge in there. I'm making notes.
     
  14. AAnightowl

    AAnightowl Young Pine

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    I have wild honey bees here, plus bumble bees and other kinds of bees and wasps.

    I do not like the wasps or yellow jackets much, but if they stay away from the house, I try to leave them alone. We also have bald faced hornets and those giant brown hornets. We never used to have giant brown hornets until a few years ago. The giant brown hornets live in the bark of some of my trees, unfortunately. I have a trap for them come warmer weather to see if we can get rid of some. I only get rid of the bald faced ones if they build a hive too close to my house. Once they built one on the wall right next to where the power comes into the house. They seemed to do it overnight. If you have to destroy a hornet nest, be sure to burn the remains of it so birds do not get poisoned. I am not sure which birds, but they do like to destroy hornet nests.
     
  15. glendann

    glendann Official Garden Angel

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    Sjoerd,I know nothing about honey bees,except my dad always had hives of bees.He loved raising them.If a hive swarmed on him .He would take an empty hive out near the swarm and start tapping on it and they would move into the empty one.I'm not sure why the tapping on it but it always worked for him.
     
  16. gardenelf

    gardenelf In Flower

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    Wow, Sjoerd, the bees keep you very busy! I think there are far too few people who love & nurture bees these days, they are under-appreciated little creatures.
    Maybe one needs to be a fanatic gardener like here on the Stew in order to like them, I don't know.
    A while ago I heard someone mention that it is not just disease & pesticides that affect bees, but also a lack of variety in their diet. When bees have a wider choice of flowers/nectar, their immune system is stronger, making them more resistant to disease. Sounds logical, but I'd never thought about that before.
    I know the UK has all sorts of pollinator awareness schemes to make people and farmers grow more wild flowers, an example I think more countries (including The Netherlands) should follow.
    Makes me feel kind of guilty seeing how hard you bee keepers work, because as a simple gardener I get to benefit from it without doing anything, except growing a few nice plants :stew1:
     

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