The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, January 14 in Room 118 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by a public presentation by Paula and Pete Schlax titled “One Year in our Beeyard Through Pictures” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Paula and Pete Schlax are a team of hobbyist beekeepers with two hives they have maintained for nearly 4 years. They are also active members of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club. Pete pretends he has a short memory, Paula is an amateur photographer and both love spending time with their bees. Put all of that together and you have a recipe for a large collection of photos of spanning four years of beekeeping in a small Maine bee yard. Paula and Pete will tell an illustrated story of how they manage their bees in a typical Maine year.
Pete and Paula’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.
The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, December 10 in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by a public presentation by Rick Cooper titled “Mites, Germs, and Other Critters: Keeping the Bad Guys Out of Our Hives” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Rick Cooper has been teaching people about bees since the 1980’s.
He became Maine’s first EAS certified Master Beekeeper in the summer of 1994. Since 1980, Rick has grown his one hive of bees into almost 100 and has educated more than 500 potential beekeepers. He has also talked to many groups about bees and their value to agriculture. He retired from the sale of beekeeping supplies in 2012, but continues to speak to beekeepers and the general public about bees when the opportunity arises. In his 18 years of selling honey and talking bees at Fryeburg Fair, Rick figures he has talked to over 500,000 people.
Rick’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.
Here is a recap of some of the tips and information provided by Karen Thurlow-Kimball in her excellent presentation to the Androscoggin Beekeeper’s Club from November 12, 2014.
Reasons to Re-queen a hive:
- Queen has a depleted supply of viable sperm.
- Beekeeper wants to change the race of bees (e.g. European, Caucasian, Carniolan, Russian, Buckfast and Minnesota Hygienic).
Fun Aside: The journal article “Gramacho, K. P., and L. S. Gonçalves. 2009. Sequential hygienic behavior in carniolan honey bees (apis mellifera carnica). Genetics and molecular research : GMR 8, (2): 655-663.” does a nice job of describing hygienic behavior and how it is “considered the primary defense of honey bees against American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood, and Varroa infestations”.
- Queen is infected with European foulbrood.
- Can reduce swarm impulse by creating a break in the brood cycle.
- Queen is physically damaged.
- Sometimes you have no choice (i.e. the hive is queenless, the hive has a virgin queen that is too old to be fertilized).
Many options for re-queening a hive:
- Introduce a mated queen to the hive
- Introduce a young, virgin queen that will (you hope) get mated and begin laying in your hive
- Introduce queen cells
- Allow hive to raise a queen from fertilized eggs within the hive (i.e. a “walk away split”)
Fun Fact: If you introduce a mated queen using a queen cage with a candy plug and the the hive bees are not eating out the candy plug, there is probably another queen (or queen cell(s)) in the hive!
The practical results of re-queening with a mated queen versus generating a queen from a walk away split:
Karen notes that it will take a minimum of 24-28 days before a mated queen introduced to the hive will result in the emergence of new bees. Time required to produce new bees from either a virgin queen, a queen cell or production of a queen from fertilized eggs is approximately 31 days, 37 days or 49 days, respectively. This will factor into your choice of re-queening method.
- A good laying queen can lay between 1,200 – 2,800 eggs per day.
- About 21 egg laying days are lost to a hive with a queen produced in a walk away split versus a hive re-queened with a mated queen (i.e. [49 days before a queen produced in a walk away split produces new bees] – [28 days before emergence of new bees from introduction of a mated queen] = 21 days).
- Assuming that 1,200 eggs laid over 21 days results in the emergence of a baby bee, the hive re-queened with a mated queen would have ~25,000 more new bees than the hive re-queened as a walk away split.
- A 3 pound package of bees with a mated queen contains about 12,000 bees and costs approximately $110.
- A mated queen costs approximately $25.
- So 12,000 worker bees/drones costs approximately $110 – $25 = $85.
- You are paying about $85 / 3 pounds = $28 per pound of bees.
- If 12,000 bees are ~ 3 pounds, then 25,000 bees are ~6.25 pounds of bees.
- By introducing a $25 mated queen into your hive instead of waiting for the hive to produce a queen, you produced (~6.25 pounds of bees) x $28/pound = $175 worth of bees!
Tips for finding your queen:
- Look on a sunny day
- Look on a day with good nectar flow when most of the field bees will be out
- Don’t use smoke, as this can induce the queen to run around in the hive. Use a spray bottle of water to move the bees.
- Make things easier for yourself and mark your queen.
Karen’s choice for best time to re-queen:
Re-queen just after the summer solstice (i.e. June 21st for 2015). Karen believes this will result in a smaller chance of swarming the year following re-queening as you are going into winter with a young queen.
If you missed this year’s MSBA meeting and are still looking to attend a good meeting about honey bees, you might consider the Pollinator Health and Safety Conference (PHSC) being held on Thursday November 20, 2014 at the Portland Marriott at Sable Oaks (200 Sable Oaks Drive, South Portland, ME 04106).
Presentation topics include:
- Factors Affecting Bee Mortality In the US (John Skinner)
- Factors Affecting Bee Mortality In Maine Agriculture (Tony Jadczak)
- Status of Native ME Pollinators (Frank Drummond*)
- Pesticide Risks (Nancy Ostiguy)
- Use Patterns for Neonicotinoids and Other Pesticides in Maine (Henry Jennings)
- Best Management Practices For Pollinator Safety (David Epstein)
Note that Frank Drummond will also be the guest speaker at the February 11, 2015 meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club. Dr. Drummond will describe a four year study he conducted on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
Conference registration cost is $50/person on or before October 31 and $75/person after October 31.
For a listing of the tentative schedule and presenter biographies, you can visit the official PHSC webpage here.
The next meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, November 12 in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. Club business will be conducted from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM followed by the public presentation “Re-queening a Honey Bee Colony” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
Karen Thurlow-Kimball started beekeeping on her farm in the 70’s. She is the owner of New Moon Apiary and manages 60 hives of her own in Cumberland County, Maine, along with helping/teaching other beekeepers. She sells package bees, nucleus hives, and queen bees during the beekeeping season. She also sells raw honey and products she makes from her hives such as lotions, salves and lip balms. Karen has worked with “Increase Essentials” author DR Larry Connor learning and assisting queen grafting. She also has been a student of University of Montana professor DR Jerry Bromenshank with whom she studied honey bee anatomy and the effects of pesticides on pollinators.
Karen will speak about re-queening a honey bee colony. Re-queening is an important part of maintaining a colony of bees. A good quality queen means a strong and productive hive. Without a queen a colony cannot survive. You may want to replace a failing queen, calm down a defensive hive, or change the strain of your bees. Karen will cover techniques used to find and replace the queen within the hive as well as methods of queen introduction that result in the greatest acceptance. Her talk will also cover topics such as: When should you let the bees re-queen themselves, use a queen cell or a bred queen? When is the ideal time to re-queen? How do you know you need a new queen?
Karen’s ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.
The first 2014 Fall regular meeting of the Androscoggin Bee Club we be held on Wednesday, October 8th at 7:00 PM in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn. This year’s first get together will be an open discussion meeting with a honey tasting to follow. Because this is an open meeting, we WILL NOT HAVE our usual meeting for club business from 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM.
Last year we noticed that at the end of our meetings members frequently wanted to talk about their own experiences and their own hives, but because of the late hour didn’t have a lot of time to do it. Our hope for this first meeting is that we could provide an opportunity for everyone to talk and to get to know each other a little better by sharing stories about our experiences from the past summer.
One of President Bill’s girls watches the ABC members open his hives.
ABC Members looking at Bill’s hives.
Members can come with any topic or situation from the last year that they would like to bring up to share or ask for comments from the members. If a prop from the bee yard would be helpful in telling your tale of victory or woe, please bring it along. Bill, Charlie and Pete will start off with an account of a temporary hive relocation project they directed this summer.
If you are new to beekeeping and want to come to ask questions or listen to others stories, that’s great too!
If you are an active beekeeper and were fortunate enough to harvest some honey this year, please bring a little to share with everyone and we can compare and contrast with other local honey. One idea here is that it might be fun to trade a pint or so with someone else from the club. Club officers will bring spoons, crackers and breads.
We hope to see everyone this Wednesday. As we move forward with the meeting season, you can expect to see announcements about 2 weeks before each meeting. I’ll also start updating the website again with meeting announcements and meeting summaries.
There are some interesting things going on in hives around Maine in early summer 2014.
We have seen evidence of a lot of hives that have recently swarmed. The queen cell below recently opened, and the hive has capped brood, but no eggs or young larvae. It is likely that a new queen has emerged below, but hasn’t yet mated or started laying eggs. In a week, there should be brood. Some good insurance would be to add a frame with eggs or open brood from another hive, just in case the virgin queen doesn’t return from her mating flight.
We have seen a lot of girls emerge.
And frames are full of honey and pollen. (Pollen below.)
Sometimes though, there are problems. One package lost its queen early on. The workers didn’t have an egg to raise an emergency queen, so one or more workers started laying eggs. Laying workers are a problem. The worker bees were never inseminated, so they can only lay unfertilized eggs (that become drones). They also don’t have a good laying pattern and will =often (usually) put multiple eggs in a single cell. Pictures below show only drone brood and multiple eggs in the many cells. Michael Bush has some good ideas on trying to solve this problem at this LINK.
We were privileged to have Carol Cottrill give a presentation on Spring management and swarm prevention. Carol introduced basic biological reasons that bees swarm and described several of the steps that can be used to reduce the probability of swarming, and general good practices. The talk was organized, and Carol’s enthusiasm was infectious.
Carol spent considerable time describing methods to maximize honey production. An idea that was new to many members of the club was taht of placing an additional entrance between the brood boxes and the supers to reduce congestion in the hive and make it easier for field bees to fill the supers.
Carol also described methods for adding supers. When adding additional supers to the top of the hive during a nectar flow, it is important to put at least one frame with some honey in the new super (position 3 or 8) to “bait” the bees to start working it. This approach has the advantage that the queen is unlikely to move up into the supers (past the honey barrier) and enter the supers. After the bees start filling the first super, an alternative approach is to place a new super in between the brood box and the partially filled super. No honey needs to be added to this super because the top super will draw the bees up. Carol mentioned that as the season goes on and the bees start capping the honey, that the capped honey should be moved to the outside frame positions of the box and unfilled or partially filled frames should be placed in the center.
Another great tip for increasing honey production was the idea that placing 2-3 supers on at the start of a good honey flow can increase honey production. According to Carol, the increased internal hive volume makes evaporation of excess water from the ripening nectar/honey more efficient. Also, during a good flow, those supers can fill up pretty fast. So having enough space for the bee to put all of that nectar is always a plus!
Carol graciously shared her expertise and answered MANY audience questions. It was a very lively and engaging presentation. We hope that she will return!
Carol Cottrill, Secretary of the Western Maine Beekeepers Association, President of the Maine State Beekeepers Association and Board Member of the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS), will be the speaker for the Androscoggin Bee Club in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn on Wednesday, May 14th 2014 at 7:00 PM. Her talk “Swarm Management” will be presented following a short club business meeting at 6:30 PM.
Carol has attended many beekeeping seminars to learn more about the art and science of keeping bees. In 2005 she took the EAS examination to become a Master Beekeeper and became the first female Master Beekeeper in Maine.
Each spring she coordinates and helps teach the Bee School offered by the Western Maine Beekeepers Association. She has given presentations to gardening groups, social organizations and children’s groups. Each fall she can be found at the Farmington and Fryeburg Fairs with other WMBA members promoting beekeeping and offering honey samples.
Carol is now “the Queen Bee” of the family’s Fox Run Farm and thoroughly enjoys sharing her knowledge of bees, bee products and honey with anyone who will listen.