It has been too long since I did one of these. After a promising start to spring in February, things have slowed to a stop. This past Sunday (4/22) I was able to inspect several of my hives. I was expecting to find them ready to swarm or past that stage, but was ready to make nucs from all of them just in case. To my dismay, none of the 8 hives I inspected were even close to ready for a split. A couple show promise of being ready in a couple of weeks and one that had a sad little fist size cluster of bees back in February is doing great. On the flip side, another that had a small cluster back then did not survive. All the survivors have a fair amount of nectar stored, so we may have a good chance ata honey harvest this year.
I hope you all can attend this months meeting, where C. E. Harris will discuss honey harvesting. C.E. has been keeping bees longer than many of us have bee alive and is a wealth of knowledge.
It was nice to get back into a beehive again after several months. I got home about five o’clock and it was calm and 70 degrees out. I raced into my Jacket and fired up the smoker for a peak into an overwintered Nuc. This sole survivor of five hives in my backyard looks great! Three boxes of good-looking bees (2 Med with a Deep on top). Brood in all three boxes, drones being raised, open nectar, new comb being drawn, everything a happy beekeeper could hope for.
So what does all this information mean? Brood in all three boxes means a rapid expansion of bees is coming. Open nectar means that the bees are getting new food from somewhere, AKA the flow has started. New comb being drawn means they are planning for the future, but not seriously thinking about swarming yet (a big YET). Drones being raised is a sign of a healthy colony, but there were no Drones hatched out yet. This tells me that there is no way they can swarm for a minimum of two weeks, probably longer. Why? Drones need at least two weeks after hatching to become sexually mature. I added another box and closed them back up with a smile.
If you look closely, the trees are getting ready and some of them have budded out. It is time to get your supers on to stay ahead of the flow. This will help prevent or delay swarming and increase honey production. Fuzzy trees lead to full bees! Pollen is coming in and nectar is not far behind.
Are you wondering what your bees are doing during the extreme cold we are experiencing? Join the Beekeepers Guild of Southeast Virginia, Monday, January 8th, and find out! Dr. Wyatt Mangum, bee scientist and author, will share how he uses FLIR imaging in his apiary to determine if a colony is alive, where it is located in the hive, whether they have sufficient food stores, and if they have initiated brood rearing. Learn more about this non-intrusive colony management tool and how you can integrate it into your own operation. Dr. Mangum will have copies of his book, Top Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom & Pleasure Combined, for sale and autograph.
7:00 PM in the auditorium of Blocker Hall located on the campus of Virginia Wesleyan University, 5817 Wesleyan Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455 (click here for directions). The public is invited to join them for socializing and the meeting.
Thanks for participating in past BIP surveys. In past survey efforts you let us know if we could contact you if we had other surveys. Well we do!
We would like to encourage you to complete a short survey developed by collaborators from University of Liege in Belgium. The objective of their study is to better understand beekeepers’ perception of risk regarding Varroa, pesticides, and other factors. The survey also strives to understand how beekeepers make decisions when it comes to adopting or not adopting certain management practices.
The results will help BIP as it will help us encourage best management practices adoption in US. By taking this survey, you would also support a young scientist’s PhD project!
If you are willing to participate in this survey, please follow this link: http://limesurvey.aesa-epid.be/index.php/677317?lang=en
The survey is composed on 19 questions and takes approximately 15 minutes to fill.
Please don’t hesitate to share this email invitation with other beekeepers. Thank you for your contribution to research and bee health!
Happy New Year, from all of us at the very merry team of BIP
The most important thing that bees do is pollinate. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce, and so many plants depend on bees or other insects as pollinators.
When a bee collects nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens—the male reproductive organ of the flower—sticks to the hairs of her body. When she visits the next flower, some of this pollen is rubbed off onto the stigma, or tip of the pistil—the female reproductive organ of the flower. When this happens, fertilization is possible, and a fruit, carrying seeds, can develop.
How Do Plants Attract Bees?
Plants rely on bees and other insects to reproduce and so they have adapted, over time, to become more attractive to them. Bees are drawn to plants with open or flat tubular flowers with lots of pollen and nectar. A flower's scent can have particular appeal to bees, and its bright colors may lure the bees in.
After her mating flights, the queen will start her long life of egg-laying in earnest. In a typical Langstroth hive, she will start in the lower box, which is on top of the bottom board. Workers will have started constructing comb, either free-standing in foundationless frames or over artificial cells in regular frames. Below we will look in further detail at the ways in which brood is created around the hive.
The creation and storage of honey is an essential function of the colony. Beyond the obvious nutritional benefits, honey is the essential lifeline that allows the colony, in the form of the winter cluster, to make it through the winter.
Bees work in extraordinary ways to create the reserve of honey and, as a beekeeper, you will learn over time to assess whether a colony is on track. The lighter-colored capped cell is the sign of stored honey.
Pollen is also essential to the colony, providing protein and fats. After collection, pollen is mixed with nectar and water, to form "bee bred". This is then stored in comb within the hive. As well as the nutritional value, this also helps with the structural integrity of the comb.
Pollen is often placed immediately adjacent to the brood nest, since it is used heavily as the source of protein.
A lot of honey found in the supermarket is not raw honey but "commercial" regular honey, some of which has been pasteurized (heated at 158°F or 70°Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling) for easy filtering and bottling so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package.
Pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation, which is a concern for commercial honey producers because many extract uncapped honey that has a high moisture content. So storing honey with high moisture content over a long period, especially in warm weather, will cause the honey ferment and affects the rawl taste of honey.
When honey is heated, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes which are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body system are partially destroyed. Among manufacturers there exists no uniform code of using the term "raw honey". There are no strict legal requirements for claiming and labelling honey as "raw."
Raw honey is unprocessed, but at times may need to be slightly warmed to retard granulation for a short period of time and allow light straining and packing into containers for sale. Using as little heat as possible is a sign of careful handling by raw honey suppliers.
Usually raw, unfiltered honey can only be purchased directly from an Apiary. Characterised by fine textured crystals, it looks cloudier and contains particles and flecks made of bee pollen, honeycomb bits, and propolis.
Raw and unfiltered honey and has a high antioxidant level and will usually granulate and crystallize to a thick consistency after a few months. It is usually preferred as a spread on bread and waffles, or dissolved in hot coffee or tea. However, as most consumers are naturally attracted to buying and eating crystal clear and clean honey, unfiltered honey which looks cloudy and unappealing, is not commercially available on supermarket shelves.
Raising bees has been an extremely rewarding experience.
It is funny and not so funny of the false facts that come out of people's mouths when I have initial conversations with the public as well as potential beekeepers.
Many of the questions I'm asked are grounded in myths that have existed for generations. Unfortunately, these myths have stopped many individuals from becoming involved in beekeeping. While bees are one of the most beneficial agricultural insects, the following myths make bees one of the most feared and misunderstood insects. Don't let myths stop you from learning about bees.
MYTH #1: ALL BEES STING.
Not all bees can sting. For example, male bees cannot sting. The stinger, or sting, is a modified egg-laying device. Therefore, only females have them. However, despite having a stinger, the females of many bee species actually cannot sting. Bees tend to sting to defend their nest, so most bees won't sting unless they are provoked or feel threatened.
MYTH #2: HONEY BEES CAN STING THEIR VICTIM REPEATEDLY.
Honey bee workers can sting other insects repeatedly. However, barbs in their stingers get caught in the skin of the animals they sting, especially mammals with thick skin such as humans. Removing the stinger is fatal to the bee, so it dies afterward.
MYTH #3: WASPS ARE BEES.
Although wasps belong to the same order of insects, they are not bees. Bees are vegetarians, collecting pollen and nectar for their young. Wasps are carnivores. Some species can be very aggressive, especially if you disturb their nests. Bees are usually nonaggressive. The exception is Africanized bees, a species not commonly found in the United States.
MYTH #4: YOU CAN AVOID BEE STINGS BY SPRAYING THE NEST WITH WATER.
Do not try this. Water will not affect a bee nest. Likely, you'll just irritate the bees inside and increase your chance of getting stung.
MYTH #5: ALL BEES PRODUCE HONEY.
Less than 5 percent of bee species make honey. Only honey bees and stingless bees produce enough honey to make it worth harvesting. Bumble bee hives may have a small amount, about one to two teaspoons. Bumble bees are annual, not perennial. They don't need to produce a lot of honey to survive the winter.
MYTH #6: ALL BEES ARE HARD WORKERS.
Honey bee, bumble bee and stingless worker bees (females) work very hard. However, many males don't do any work in the nest. Females of the solitary bee species may only work for a couple weeks.
MYTH #7: ADULT BEES LIVE A LONG TIME.
Solitary bees live only a few weeks, just long enough to mate, build nests and produce offspring. Honey and bumble bee workers and males live about six weeks. The workers spend half their time working on the hive and the other half foraging for pollen and nectar. The queens live longer. Bumble bee queens live up to one year, and honey bee queens can live up to four years.
MYTH #8: BEES WON'T STING AT NIGHT.
A long-believed myth about bees is that they do not sting at night, which in fact is incorrect. Bees will sting at any time for protection.
MYTH #9: MOST BEES LIVE IN HIVES.
Only social bees live in hives. Ten percent of bee species are social, and only a small percentage of them build hives. Most bees are solitary, living in individual nests tunneled in the soil or tree trunks.
MYTH #10: IF YOU RID YOUR LAWN OF DANDELIONS AND FLOWERS, IT KEEPS BEES AWAY.
Though bees are pollinators, they will build nests miles away from flowers and other plants they pollinate. Whether or not you have flowers in your yard makes no difference if a bee scout spots a good place to create nest.
MYTH #11: SEALING UP THE HOLE IN A WALL WHERE BEES ARE NESTING WILL KILL THE BEES INSIDE.
If you seal up the entrance to a bee nest, you risk angering them. They may burrow into unwanted places such as the interior of your house. Bees have been known to tunnel through wood and drywall. Your best bet to is to contact your local bee professionals.
The National Honey Bee Day program is held one day each year. But that does not mean the public cannot help the bees the rest of the year. Awareness of the environment around you is a yearlong effort. Just as beekeepers reach out to the public beyond the festivities and events associated with National Honey Bee Day, the public can also get involved daily with helping the bees.
Here are a few ways non-beekeepers can support,
help, and save the honey bee.
1. Consider beekeeping as a worthwhile hobby and seek information to get started. The more beekeepers there are translates into more voices being heard.
2. Support local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey and other beehive products. Honey is the best "green" sweetener you can buy.
3. Attend and support beekeeper association events held in places throughout the year in most communities such as environmental centers, schools, and state parks.
4. Educate yourself on the dangers and risks of homeowner pesticides and chemicals. Whenever possible, choose non-damaging and non-chemical treatments in and around the home. Most garden and backyard pests can be dealt with without harsh chemicals, which many times are not healthy for the pets, the kids, or the environment.
5. Get to know the honey bee. Unlike other stinging insects, honey bees are manageable and are non-aggressive. Don't blame every stinging event on the honey bees. Many times, stinging events are from hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps.
6. Plant a bee friendly garden with native and nectar producing flowers. Use plants that can grow without extra water and chemicals. Native plants are the best to grow in any region. Backyard gardens benefit from the neighborhood beehive. Here is a link where you can read more about bee friendly backyard gardens http://www.pennapic.org/beesanctuary.html
7. Understand that backyard plants such as dandelions and clover are pollen and nectar sources for a wide variety of beneficial insects, including the honey bee. Dandelions and clover are an unwarranted nuisance for many homeowners. The desire to rid yards of these unwanted plants and have the "perfect" yard, are sources of chemical runoff and environmental damage from lawn treatments. A perfect lawn is not worth poisoning the earth.
8. Consider allowing a beekeeper to maintain beehives on your property. In some areas, beekeepers need additional apiary locations due to restrictive zoning or other issues. Having a beekeeper maintain hives on your property adds to the overall quality and appeal of any country farm or estate.
9. Know that beekeepers are at the forefront in helping communities deal with wild bee colonies in unwanted situations. Every township and community should welcome beekeepers. It is not the managed colonies that beekeepers maintain that cause the problems, it is unmanaged colonies. Every community should be able to rely on beekeepers and bee associations for dealing with honey bee related issues. Communities should not pass restrictive measures or ban beekeeping. Banning beekeepers will only hurt the honey bees because nobody may be around to help when help is needed.
10. Get involved with your community with such events as offered at the local environmental center, volunteer programs at the county garden center, and other agriculture and nature based programs. No doubt you will meet a beekeeper. Beekeepers are not just people who keep bees. They are part of your community and many love nature on all levels. Beekeepers give generously to affiliated organizations, as they are all connected within the communities in which we all live.