MB2-703In This Issue;
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  >Beekeeping Days Gone By

 Your Host:  A couple 400-101  of weeks ago, I found myself in need of some more equipment because I picked up more swarms than I had expected already this season. I emailed the members asking if they had any equipment for sale because I was in dyer need. I was short brood boxes and supers to capture the flow that was going on and will be going on in May. One of our members: "Costa Kouzounis" from Houston contacted me immediately and came to the rescue. I would like to publicly thank you for helping me out of a tight spot. Members helping members is what this club is all about. Many thanks. Dennis
                                                       
                                                     Club News 

    Here we are in our third month and we have already found a few chemical free beekeepers out there. If you know of any beekeepers that are chemical free or want to be, round them up and have them join us. Put your name on our growing list of members that want to say "No" to the chemical  companies out there. Help us grow.  
        The month of May is now here. April proved to be a very good month for 050-SEPROAUTH-02  the bees. Here in the Bryan area, we had a good flow from yaupon. We had lots of new comb foundation drawn out and a little extra surplus tucked away inside. We hope that May will prove to be as rewarding for both the bees and the beekeeper.

        If you wirer you frames for wax foundation like we do here at Lone Star Farms, I want to share a tool that really works well. It is the new "wire crimper". This tool makes getting the frame wire just tight enough. No more tugging on the wire to make it tight enough. Great invention.

                                                                                                Dennis 

 

                                                                Bee Talk
Mr. Brown, 
   I am a neophyte living in Austin.  I brought home my first package of bees on Saturday!  My purpose in this adventure is not to produce commercial volumes of honey.  I am an organic gardener who simply wants to add a hive to the mix.   
   I am interested in natural beekeeping and have explored a number of sites.  I am particularly struck by the thought that there are residual miticides and pesticides in all foundation since it is made from recycled wax.  I am also quite struck by the notion that artificially large worker cell sizes in modern foundation is causing the larger bees to be susceptible to Varroa mites.  
   Having read a bit, I am hanging my head in shame about feeding sugar instead of honey, which has a ph of 6.0 to honey's 3.2-4.5, which apparently fosters the reproduction of brood diseases and Nosema.  Then I read about not re-queening from commercial sources as this narrows the gene pool.  Instead, we should let the bees re-queen, because then the natural death of weak or unsuitable queens will result in a gene set that works best in my neighborhood with the pests that thrive there.  Again, this is the sort of thing I was reading when I went to grow my own vegetables.   
   The bees I installed are apparently a hygienic strain of Carniolan bred by Walker Apiaries in Rogers, Texas.  I joined the Williamson County Area Beekeepers Ass’n, which is where I got my bees.  
   I intend to keep only one or two hives.  My purpose is more for pollinating and generally promoting a healthy ecosystem for my garden.  The honey is really just C_TADM51_731  a side benefit.  Like the eggs we get from our 8 chickens, there will soon be more than we know what to do with, and we don’t intend to go commercial.  
   Any advice you have would be most welcome.  For example, surely there is a market for clean wax.  Isn’t anyone producing foundation one can trust?  There ought to be.  Clean wax and a natural variety of cell sizes.  
   But my big question is where would someone in Central Texas go to practice natural beekeeping?  Thank you for any advice you can give me.  
   Jim Thompson 
  
Hello Jim,
   First of all I would like to thank you for joining the first Chemical free club. There are so few beekeepers out there that don't use chemicals. Let me answer your questions. You are correct in your thought about chemicals in the foundation. Because there are so few chemical free beekeepers around, the foundation manufactures do not get in enough chemical free wax from the beekeepers to make their foundation from. It is real expensive to purchase the foundation presses and cutter machines. Until such a time when we can convince other beekeepers to go chemical free, we will be stuck with the foundation available to us. Some day we will change the tide. That is why it is so important to get as many beekeepers as possible to get on board with what we are doing here at Lone Star Farms. There have been many scientific studies over the years about cell size. There is no proven data to date that I am aware of, that the smaller 4.9mm cell helps with preventing mites from entering and having offspring. The reason we use the cell size that we do is because over the years many kinds have been tried and they always come back to what most beekeepers use today. There have been many hive types developed over the years and yet we always return to the Standard Lanstroth Hive. If it's not broken, don't fix it. Using a mixture of 2/3 sugar to 1/3 water for a bee feed is perfectly ok. Beekeepers have been using this mixture for 150 years without any problems. You should not feed sugar water when there is a honey flow going on or let it 70-462  mix with honey you intend to extract. Sugar water does not cause bee diseases. Nosema is not a real problem in Texas. It is mainly up North where the Winters are long and the bees can't get out to go to the bathroom. Here in Texas I would say that it is better to purchase a hygienic queen from a breeder. We have too many African bees around to take that chance. To practice a totally natural beekeeping system in today’s world is impossible. Even though you do what you can to produce your products chemical free, your neighbor down the street could use some kind of chemical on their garden. You never know for sure unless you turn samples into a lab for confirmation. 
  I hope that I have answered your questions. Again thanks for joining. You will be one more beekeeper that is producing chemical free wax. Once we get everyone else to get on board, we all can purchase chemical free wax. That day will come with your help and all the help from our members. Spread the word and they will come. I am only an email away.      Dennis

Dennis; 
I am asking for an opinion.  If and when I catch a new swarm of bees and put them in a regular hive with wired wax and I don't wish for the queen and her sisters to leave the new box.  Would it be possible to put a queen exclude r between the main box and the bottom board?  This would let the sisters go out to work but wouldn't let the queen and the drones out.

Robert

Robert;
A queen will stop laying a week or so before leaving with a swarm so that she can fly. Her body mass will be greatly reduced. Sometimes the queens body is so reduced that she will be able to get through a queen excluder. I would rather see you give a comb of brood to the new swarm than use a queen excluder. The queen and the bees will normally stay put if there is existing brood. I hope this info helped you. Dennis

Hi Robert, Michael from Hillsborough out side Belfasthope you don't mind me adding a few words to the theory. 
What we are looking at then is the primary swarm. 
I have put what I think happens in red to your queries below and maybe some one can add their own words of experience.

I am Robert Nelson from Midlothian, Texas USA.In reply to what you are asking about the queen excluder.  My understanding is in the spring time when the queen lays lots of eggs and thousands of young bees emerge.  The queen decides to leave with lots of her sisters.

The queen/swarm should not leave at all really. The reason for them leaving are many congestion, is the main reason in spring with a honey flow coming in or it could be an old or failed queen, superseded, or an emergency queen has been developed.  It is always best to have an empty hive with a couple of old frames in just to entice the scouts 50yds away and about 10ft high.
Sometimes the queen will not stay in this box and will leave.  So what I am saying is to put an excluder between the main hive body and the bottom board to keep her from leaving.  After a short time then take the excluder off after the workers have built up some comb and she is laying. 
Most of the time Robert the swarm goes only a short distance and will settle on a tree limb.  Before they move on, They have made there minds on their chosen home, if you hive them it may be a good idea to close them in and move them away at least 5 miles and this will disorient them they will have lost there tracking memory. Once they have that new site in their heads wild horses will not hold them back. If you have an empty hive lying around they probably would have chosen that one.
Last week I lost 2 swarms because the queen did not stay and one of them had an excluder on the front.  The queen had to have a small body.  Tuesday I captured a swam and they are still there.  Last evening just a t dark I captured 2 more swarms.
 Robert I wish you lived near me?
Robert check the hives at least every 8 days I am sorry to say there is a problem if your having all these swarms make sure your queen cells are sorted, i.e. are the superseder, emergency or real swarm cells. I hope you don't think I am trying to teach your granny to suck eggs, I have attached a presentation that may help I have posted it to Dennis he may have sent it to you. 
I just wish I had swarms.  Take care Michael

Hey guys,
 Very interesting conversation you have going on here. Sounds like the learning process is working. If know one minds here I would like to interject something. I agree with most of what Michael has said. The one thing I would like to add is that honeybees have a built in survival button. It is in their nature to build up and divide/swarm to increase the survival of the species. I agree that they swarm for all the reasons Michael pointed out. However, their nature to divide is sometimes so strong that they will swarm just to keep the species alive. Case in point. I have seen single story hives with 7 frames of drawn comb, brood and honey, 3 frames of foundation left to be drawn out and the bees swarmed. It is not uncommon in the bee’s nature to swarm under any condition if that natural instinct takes over. These odd ball situations usually happen when there is a flow going on and the colony is healthy. Good sharing of information. This is how we all learn and grow. Thanks, Dennis

Your really making me work tonight Dennis and co, but your right on the button. I am jumping  between stove an pc to answer you.
Dr Dewey Carron from Delaware University a great friend and with out doubt a brilliant mind on Honey bees plus once said to me *the bees are planning to swarm in the winter months for next year and you will not stop them unless you make spits* 
I will never argue with a guy like dewey. Cheers M

Dennis,
Thank you for forming such a worthy organization.
I have been beekeeping since about 1980, but with some breaks here and there.  I currently have 25 hives and hope to build up to about 100 hives. I have just converted to screened bottom boards for all hives and at this point I do not have any mite infestations. I have done no chemical treatments for mites -- just the screened bottom boards and the powder sugar treatment from time to time. I also use a hive stand that elevates the hives about 14 inches off the ground.
The main problem that I am having is with hive beetles -- lost several hives to them last year before I knew what hit me. I now understand that they generally will not decimate a strong hive, and the ones I lost last year were weakened by the drought and heat. I also use an antibiotic for foulbrood, though I haven't seen any foulbrood in at least 20 years.
Here are a couple of questions:
How do queen breeders keep the africanized bee genetics out of their queens?  Any non-chemical methods for keeping out hive beetles?
When do you like to split your hives?
Thanks again. I look forward to participating in your organization.
 Mark

Mark,
Hive beetles can be a real pain. Keeping strong hives is priority # 1. Removing hiding places like frame spaces/holders. Not leaving top feeders on for long periods.  Old equipment with cracks and holes should be replaced. I buy the Kelly bottom board that has the slide in screen and the slide in tray/board. From about December to 1st of March I put the board in place. I take a paint brush and paint some inexpensive vegetable oil on the board and slide it into place. This does two things. First it provides better insulation from the winter and it provides a trap for the beetles. About every 2 or 3 weeks I take a 4 inch putty knife and scrape the board off. I first look the board over for mite loads and any other stress signs. The bees will run the beetles through the screen and they fall onto the oil. In my part of Texas we get some warm days so I can easily pull the boards off and give them some fresh air flow.
All naturally mated queens will come into contact with bee lines that are not desirable. There is no way to avoid that with this type of mating system. The queen breeder will try to flood the mating area with the drone race of their choice. Most of the queens mate with the preferred drones. Requeen the small number of aggressive ones.
I usually decide if I want to make a split or not around the 1st of April in my area. By then I can tell if a hive is going to be strong enough later to swarm by looking at the brood pattern of the     queen. If I think the hive will swarm then I will plan on spliting it soon. Sometimes if I have alot of hives that will probably swarm, then I take brood from these hives and make up more hives that way. For me, I prefer to have strong hives for the main honey flow. By removing brood from several hives you will limit bee numbers enough to end up with a strong hive at the right time for the flow without a swarm. Better to have fewer strong hives than alot of weaker hives at flow time. My main split time is not long after the main flow. That way I can cash in on the honey flow and and give my splits enough time to build up for winter.

I hope that this information helps you and again I want to thank you for supporting the club. Pass our club info around. I am only an email away. Thanks, Dennis

                                          Beekeeping Days Gone By
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