Your Host---Club News---Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Your Host

Hello everyone---What a great year this has been so far for most of us here in Texas. Our bees have prospered and are healthy. We have had good rains this year to provide an abundance of flora for the bees. If the condition can hold out, then we can hope for a good fall crop that will take our bees through the winter months.

During this month we should be making sure that our hives are strong. We should also be taking a mite count to ensure that the hives are healthy. If need be, powdered sugar dusting should be done once a week for a minimum of 3 weeks to cover the entire brood cycle. If done during the first week of this month, you will be completed by the start of the fall flow. Have a great month and be sure to contact me if you have any questions or any "good" news you would like me too share with the other members. Dennis

Club News

We have a special treat this month for all the members. "Michael Young" who is one of our members and is located in "Northern Ireland" has written a brief history of beekeeping in his country and in his bee yard. He has also sent us a few pictures which have been posted below. Enjoy the presentation and if you have any questions or comments about the contents please email Michael. His info is listed on the club membership list. Give him a big "Thank You" for all his efforts.

Michael Young  

“Top of the Morning to You”

Well Dennis I had a great day today with my bees this afternoon dodging between showers under the trees, what weather we have had these last few days. There is an old English custom “if it rains on the 15th July we will have showers for 40 days, so far it has. My humblest and greetings to you all my chemical free beekeeper friends this is coming from Michael across the big pond, up here in the North of Ireland. As I write to you my bees are foraging for nectar from the lime trees and some are working the Himalayan Balsam. I know you have Lime (Linden) or is it known as bass wood in your parts. I am not sure if you have Himalayan Balsam though. Both excellent honeys we all know how good the Lime is it would be one of my favourites the Balsam is truly another great honey tastes a little like vanilla ice cream. This plant is an invasive species nick name (Policeman’s Helmet or poor mans orchid) introduced many, many years ago in the United Kingdomand Irelandby those Victorian travellers. Grows everywhere, mind you it’s not as bad as your Kudzu that stuff is worse than Orson Welles traffics that grows everywhere even in your hair!, I do believe the horses are fed up with eating the stuff there so much of it. I have had the pleasure of tasting the honey given to me from a beekeeper Jimmy Carmack who lives in Alabama. Kudzu is another of my favourite flavours and a stunning colour at the edges.

Ireland has not many commercial beekeepers I think two only the rest are all hobbyists. Around 1500 beekeepers in the North of Ireland and you could easily double that number in the South. The last few years we have been averaging 50lb per hive maximum due to the awful wet weather we have had. The dominated bee is black and as wicked as my mother in law. The Irish Native bee was not always wicked I believe its only happened this last 25 years or so possible for reasons of in breeding purely just to the fact that that this island is very small and over the years its only natural that the bees have become to close over a matter of time. It’s also my belief that we don’t have many beekeepers who breed queens and with only just one serious queen breeder.  Unfortunately the island has been saturated with this line for over 30 years and we all know what happens to a line of species that is bred after 20 yrs don’t we!  Bobs your Uncle you guessed it “to close of a family and a very weak gene pool”. It is most interesting to see that one of the side effects of a weak gene pool  is chalk brood and it is in strong evidence.  Imports have started coming in to Irelandand again once we get the Native Irish bee crossed with a Carnolian or such “wow you better hide”. On the brighter side I do believe the best bees in Ireland are from Donegal right at the North end of Ireland. Know they are really good bees, I am lucky to have a blood line from them.

I keep my bees chemical free however most beekeepers are using Apistan, Bavoral and Apivar for medication and control of the mite. Some are using essential oils and oxalic acid you can actually smell the Apistan, Bavoral when you enter an apiary that these medications are being used. Quite a number of mites are resistance to these chemicals anyhow so they don’t really have too much effect on the mite.

 

We have the usual diseases AFB, EFB, Varroasis. Varroa Jacobonsi as it was known then arrived in the early 90’s. There is not so much of the CCD like you have the closest to that is when the Varroa arrived we had lots of the Marie Celeste syndrome. Varroa Destructor as it is known today is still hard on our heels and the bees seem to be able to tolerate it a little better than at first but still our number one threat.

 

AFB these past few years has popped up more than usual. I truly believe that this is due to a weakness in our bees’ small genetic gene pool. This will certainly add to the bees inability of being more resistant to fighting off diseases. Plus the fact that there are a few beekeepers out there who still think they can cure AFB with a magic wand or asking the fairies to do it by putting a cauldron of milk under the hive!.

My apiary is situated at the Malone Golf Club were I work in the evening and most weekends as the Executive Chef for my sins or my four lovely daughters. I teach Hospitality in the day at the Belfast Metropolitan College.  The apiary is in a prime location for nectar with beautiful surroundings. I kept them in the open field perfectly set and disciplined like a regiment of soldiers the way I like it. The apiary was near the tow path of the local river where many people walk up and down waving as they passed and shouting “how are the bees”. A beautiful spot where the sun warms the hives up every morning and stays with them all day.   

For a year they were fine there minding there own business living in pure harmony, until one day they were vandalised by being kicked over,I managed to get them back together but after that mishap I moved them into a wooden glen 600 yards away, mind you I had to take them home for a week and back. Well I must say they are in there under the trees in this beautiful setting rough, rugged and pure nature. Nothing is the way it is supposed to be. Nothing is the way we are told how to keep bees. If you walk without care you will trip over a root or something and break your neck. Turn around to quick and you get snacked in the face by a branch.  Yet it is the first time in my beekeeping career that I have noticed the bees are truly happy in amongst all those trees.   

It’s the strangest feeling. I can sit and watch them for hours “oh only if I had time”.

I keep my bees in Langstroth hives I do prefer the eight frames Langstroth hives though. Incidentally so do the bees. I have tried every hive available and the Langstroth wins thumbs up. Unfortunately if you want a fight at any beekeeping club talk over here just whisper that the Langstroth hive being the best, its unlikely you will get out alive, in fact my advice would be to make your will before you do. I think there are only ten of us beekeepers in Irelandusing the Langstroth hives, and very few in UK. So it just shows you who the real beekeepers are doesn’t it. The rest use the National Bee Hive. A horrid little hive, I used them for four years until I wised up. It is worth having AFB in one of these hives just to burn them. I can’t stand these hives, cumbersome small and horrible to work with, yet 90% of UKbeekeepers use them, so sad.

I will be at the Eastern Apicultural Society conference held in Boone in August. The greatest beekeeping show on earth well worth a visit the programme is stunning. The programme boasts some of the finest speakers in the world on the latest and up to date topics on apiculture. See http://www.easternapiculture.org/ I will be talking on mead. I love mead so much that I am addicted to the stuff at the moment I have about 300 gallons I can’t stop making it. Today I made 20 litres of Coffee mead and 20ltrs of Kiwi, one of my best mead I made was liquorice, a real cracker I had the pleasure to be invited to His Royal Highness Prince Charles Banquet where one of my students poached some rhubarb in the liquorice mead and it tasted just like heaven.  

The Institute of Northern Ireland Beekeepers conference is held in October we always have a wonderful time and all of you are more than welcome to join us, so come on and put your feet up, but I must warn you bring your wellies and umbrellas, see inibeekeepers.com

Michael

Me working my bees.

Me preparing to move the bees.

 Bee Talk

Dennis,

   I was wondering what you all do to get rid of wax moth.  I cleaned the super/brood chamber & frames with hot water with a very small amount of Clorox.  Will this be enough or is there something else that needs to be done. we are hoping to rescue a local bee hive and need to use these components for the hive to place the rescued hive into, but did not want to endanger rescued hive. 

Thanks for you input. 

Terria Schmidt

Corpus Christi, Tx 

Hello Terria, 

The easiest and safest way to take care of wax moths in a few frames would be to place the hive parts in a freezer for 24 hours. This will kill the larva and eggs. Then you can place these parts into a hive and the bees will clean it out for you. How did you find us here at Lone Star Farms?    Dennis  

Costa, 

I pulled my sticky boards this morning to get a final mite count. My conclusion is this;

For the powdered sugar dusting to be most effective, you should dust once a week for 3 weeks instead of every 2 weeks for 6 weeks like the books tell you to do. When you dust once a week for 3 weeks you are able to cover all the hatching brood during that period. This will catch most of the new mites before they move into a ready to cap cell. If the queen laid eggs for a couple of days and then stopped for a few days, then the dusting every 2 week period would be more effective. But as we all know, the queen lays all day every day so dusting once a week for 3 weeks will cover the whole brood cycle thus eliminating more of the mite population.  

My experiment was too find out if powdered sugar was really effective and I found that if it is applied once a week for 3 weeks then it is effective. However, here at Lone Star Farms we are all about raising bees that can take care of themselves without any chemical treatments or any extra work. So we are convinced that using a hygienic queen from the start and making sure that the queens are marked so that we know the queen we placed into the hive is the right queen is the way to go. If the bees replace the queen or if the hive swarms then we replace the new queen with a hygienic queen. Dennis

Hey Dennis, 

How are your bees?  

I got booted off the organic beekeeping discussion group for insisting that AHB is real and not invented by the media.  For what it’s worth, this group informs me that the second generation of Russian hybrids are known to be highly defensive when open mated with any bee, not just AHB.  It infuriated me that most of these people raised bees in areas that never have and never will see AHB, yet they kept insisting that AHB was either made up by a conspiracy or otherwise not a factor.  They are dogmatic about feral breeding and don’t want to know anything that would make that incompatible with reality.  

Well I took the shallow back off a week or so ago.  They seemed to have stopped drawing, and they were continuing to mine the foundation from the shallow.  I dug through and found several frames they had not drawn out in the deeps.  Something like two frames undrawn in the bottom deep and another in the top deep.  Lots of honey in the top deep, lots of pollen, and lots of older brood.  Also lots of empty cells in the central brood frames.  I didn’t have enough light to check for eggs but I’m sure those cells have eggs.  But it has been a while since I’ve seen my queen.  

I need to conduct a thorough search because they have really changed temperament.  Their movements are fast and jittery, just itching to sting.  That put me in mind to start back with the sugar water.  Despite the rain from Alex and now this next depression, we are not in a real flow at this point.  I still see plenty of pollen going in, but I think nectar is less prevalent with the heat and humidity.  According to the NASA web site, there is plenty of forage—alfalfa May-September, Bee Balm May-August, Mesquite May-July, Tamarisk May-August, clover through October, vetch through September, mimosa, etc.   But my eyes tell me either the bees aren’t finding much or they are cranky for another reason.  

So anyway, yesterday I cooked up a new batch of sugar syrup and attempted to put the feeder on.  As has been my practice lately, I did not fire up the smoker,  I just put on the suit and cracked it open.  I was only taking the outer cover off and adding the hive-top feeder, and thought surely I didn’t need to smoke for that.  The bees thought differently.  I wasn’t wearing gloves, and as soon as I opened the cover (before I could even set it down) I had three stings on my hands.  I actually ran, and I was chased.  I lost them about 300 yards away and came back.  Then I put on gloves and finished the job.  My hands are really swollen and itchy today.  

Something else is that I saw the same watery brown cells in the honey comb.  Looks like cola with little maggots in it.  Will try to take a picture.  I think it could be SHB larvae but don’t know what that looks like.  Do you have a good picture of their larval stage?  

Will report what I find.  Hope you are doing well…  --Jim  

Hello Jim, 

Good to hear from you. My bees are doing very well. I have been doing some requeening. That African hive was broken down into 3 parts each given a new queen. Two parts stuck but one part didn't so I stacked it on top of a hive that needed a little boost. I used the newspaper system. Did you see the picture of the stingers in my boots? Sorry you got booted off the organic beekeeping club. There is a lot of diversity in the beekeeping world and people should learn too be more open minded and not try to make everyone conform to their way of thinking and their bad habits. If you want to believe that there are African bees in the USA, it's ok with me because for one thing, I believe it as well. If I didn't believe it then that should be ok to. 

Sounds like your hive has requeened itself. Right now in mid July would be a great time to requeen your hive. You would have a young queen that would take the hive through winter and spring. 

It is somewhat unusual that you would have to feed your bees at this time. You didn't remove any honey from the hive this season. Sounds more like to me that your location is short on good foliage for the bees. They should have filled up several boxes with brood and honey by now. 

Have you seen any SHB running around in your hive? You should not be seeing the condition you are seeing if the hive was strong.   Dennis 

Hi Dennis,   

  I just took down my swarm traps and only 1 had a very small swarm (less than 100 bees)   I moved them to a hive reduced in size inside but the left anyway.  I did not even see any swarms this year the drought in the spring I guess.   A Brazilian beekeeper  I know has moved to CA  but, he was telling me that in Brazil some beekeepers  add egg yolk (good source of protein) to their sugar syrup when starting a new hive,  have you heard of that and do you know anyone who does this?    I haven't extracted yet this year I'm still waiting for at least a week with  no chance of rain.      Stephen Magyar 

Hello Stephen, 

I picked up several swarms this year. Several more than past years. I think the feral bees are finally making a return. I have not heard of using an egg yoke. I either leave on or feed honey back to my bees. My location also offers the bees a lot of pollen sources. How did your bees do this year as far as honey surplus goes? How are your honey sales going?            Dennis  

  Hi Dennis:     

  I have been really surprised by the number of “help me” emails that various beekeeping clubs I belong to have been getting this June and July.  Some are for swarms, but most are for colonies found in hollow trees and structures.  I helped a neighbor remove a hive from a hollow inside his eaves last week.  It was filled with beautiful comb, healthy bees and tons of honey.    Unfortunately, I was unable to save the bees – though I got most of them out, they did not survive the move and I never did find the queen.  Mostly, the drones survived to the very end!    Do you know of any way to use such bees and messed up comb to start a new hive?    

The homeowner did extract some honey by essentially draining the comb. 

  This is obviously not a priority, though I got two calls today from friends who have natural hives they want removed.  I’m hesitant to help them try to save the bees when I really don’t know how.    

Thanks,    Molly     

Hello Molly,   

I received your class registration a moment ago. You will enjoy this class. It is good to hear that so many people are seeing or finding feral bees. I think that the feral bee population is slowly coming back. That is a good sign. 

I would always advise and agree for you to pick up swarms but I won't agree with picking up established hives. ( colonies with comb. ) There is always a risk of bringing diseases home to your hives. Most bee diseases are associated with brood comb. I personally don't bring any brood comb into my bee yard unless I am absolutely sure that the comb is disease free. That is the most likely way a beekeeper can spread bee diseases into and around their yard. 

My advise to you would be to stick with swarms and leave the established hive out of your bee yard. If you ever work anybody else’s/feral hives with your hive tool or gloves, you should shove your hive tool into your hot smoker and scorch it real good. Your gloves should be at the very least cleaned with soap/bleach water solution. It is best to have an extra set of tools/equipment that you use outside your own yard.     Dennis   

 Dennis,   

  Thank you for asking. I had a new package I installed the 1st of May. I ran into a wax moth issue about a month ago. I did everything I could, from freezing frames and checking the hive every other day to get rid of moths and larvae. A week ago they completely left the hive and took all the honey with them. I understand what happened and realize now what not to do the next time. Still on a learning curve and looking for a new hive. 

 SincerelyLinda    

Linda,

Sorry to hear that. Any time you have a problem or a question please contact me. I will help you if I can. It sounds like your hive got weak for some reason. If you can, try to make it to some of my classes. I have a real important class coming up on August 7 if you can make it. Check the website often for information. Dennis

Dennis

Where are you located and again what is the web site? Yes it did get weak. I misunderstood a group of beekeepers talking about moving frames around in the hive. Being a new bee keeper I moved the brood frames (thinking they were honey only) to the outside of the hive placing the center with empty. It was right after that I saw wax moths. I think I stressed them out and they could not protect the entrance as well, thus leaving it vulnerable to predators. I also had a 2 supers that were with frames in them so a lot of the bees were up there patrolling. I was feeding my bees so I know starvation was not a problem. I guess, I had to learn the hard way, but none the less, a lesson well learned. May this lesson may help another new one like me. Do you know anyone that wants bees removed? I will do a cut out. I do so not want to do a trap because I do not know how to do that.  Thank you,    Linda 

Linda, 

The website is www.lonestarfarms.net. The classes and the directions are all listed. I would recommend that you buy an established hive from someone that you can trust not to have disease. Whenever you remove bees you never know weather or not they have disease. The best way is to buy a package because it doesn't contain any comb. Most diseases are located in the comb and not on the bees themselves. It is too late to start a hive this way at this time of the year.

I would recommend that you spend the rest of this year learning as much as you can about beekeeping and getting your hives and equipment ready for the spring. If at any time you have questions or concerns, you should contact me. That is why I started this club of which you are a member. Members helping members. Take a look at the membership list and locate other members in your area and contact them. They will be agood resource. Dennis 

Hey Guy's, 

How are those Magnolia bees doing? Did they make any honey for you this year?     Dennis 

Hi Dennis

 Yes, our bees did us proud. For our first honey extraction ever, we were able to garner about 45 lbs from two honey supers. We were so pleased. The honey is delicious and we can't give it to our friends fast enough - they LOVE it.  

It was a lot of work, but we worked together and got it done in an afternoon. I don't know that we would have wanted to do any more than two honey supers with our two-frame extractor . . . But our capping tank served us well; everything worked splendidly. 

We are SOO grateful that we came across your class and that Stephen was able to attend. He came home with so much useful knowledge that truly eased our extracting experience

 Thank you so much for checking in. I am sure Stephen will see you again. He mentioned wanting to eventually attend your ReQueening class.   Take care,       Jennifer and Stephen Richardson  

Jennifer, 

You did do well on your first time. I am real happy that your bees are doing so good. Keep enjoying those bees. Dennis 

Hey Dennis,   

I just wanted to show you some bees that I went to get last night from a bird house that someone had called in. I decided to leave them in the bird house and build a box around them later with a hive and frames on top. Any way they decided that they wanted to come out on the porch and see what was going on. I hope that they are not trying to swarm on me. They have been like this all day. They are on top of a 3" circle hole. No telling how many are inside. The box weighed about 40-50 lbs.
Check out the attached pictures. What is your opinion? Are they trying to swarm? They were balled up about a third this size before I pulled them out of the tree and moved them
. I smoked them to get them to go back inside and moved them after dark hoping all would be home. 

   Mark Hunt    

 Mark, 

This is a great picture. I am not sure if the bird house is sitting in the chair or if the chair is sitting on the bird house. I guess it depends on which end you put up. I will post this one on the "Cub News" tomorrow evening.

You will know if they like this arrangement in a couple of days. Thanks for sharing.     Dennis

Beekeeping Days gone by

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