January 2016 ABC Digest

mitesondrone_14-05-08_0053_cropYouth Scholarship Available for Attending 2016 EAS Meeting

We have been asked to forward the following information regarding and application for a youth scholarship to support cost associated with attending the 2016 EAS conference being held in Gallway, NJ.

The Mann Lake Scholarship was established to encourage a worthy young individual to pursue an interest in honey bees and beekeeping.  The Scholarship will provide financial assistance for the selected candidate to attend an annual EAS conference.  In addition to the waiver of registration fees by EAS for the short course and the main conference, the Scholarship will provide up to $1,000 to the successful candidate to offset other conference expenses.

This year the annual EAS conference is at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ, July 25 – 29.

You can access the application form for this scholarship from the following link:

Please contact Peggy McLaughlin (peggy@apidoro.com) with questions.

It’s Time to Sign Up for Your Beginning Beekeeping Class

If you or someone you know is interested in taking a beginning beekeeping class (aka  attending a “bee school”), now is the time to find one and to register.  Most beginning bee schools are taught in late winter to allow new beekeepers to prepare for the upcoming bee season.

Several bee schools are listed on the Maine State Beekeepers Association (MSBA) Web Site which you can access from the following link:

MSBA Bee School Listing

In addition to the many bee schools listed on the MSBA site, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) is also offering a short beginner’s course in Unity, Maine at their Common Ground Education Center. For information about fees and registration openings, please consult the MOFGA events page.

Some Winter Reading About Oxalic Acid Mite Treatment

At our January 2016 ABC meeting, we spoke briefly about the fact that the EPA recently registered oxalic acid for use as an anti-mite treatment in honey bee hives. You can read about that here:

EPA Registers New Miticide to Combat Varroa Mites in Bees

As you begin your research on OA as a miticide, you will probably have a lot of questions. One thing that you will see is that 100% OA is available as an inexpensive wood bleach and some beekeepers have been using this for years. It’s important to be aware that the OA you might purchase from a beekeeping supplier (like Brushy Mountain) will be SIGNIFICANTLY less concentrated. If you decide to go the OA route, be sure you know exactly how to proceed to keep yourself and your bees safe. For some great information about this, I’d recommend the article “OXALIC ACID: EFFECTIVE & EASY ON BEES, BUT . . .” by Jennifer Berry published March 2015 in Bee Culture Magazine.  You can access the article online from the Bee Culture website.

If you are interested in a longer (but still freely available) read, I’d recommend the following Doctoral dissertation:
An Investigation of Techniques for Using Oxalic Acid to Reduce Varroa Mite Populations in Honey Bee Colonies and Package Bees” by Nicholas Aliano in 2008.

Don’t let the fact that its a doctoral dissertation put you off. This thing is very readable and contains some real data. To dig into the part(s) that interest you the most, just scan the table of contents after downloading the pdf.

During our group discussion at the January ABC meeting, I mentioned that Randy Oliver (writer of the popular beekeeping web site “Scientific Beekeeping: Beekeeping Through the Eyes of a Biologist“) has posted at length about his use of oxalic acid in his hives.

Randy recently updated a Powerpoint presentation he created about the use of oxalic acid. You can access the file and read some interesting information regarding OA treatments from his ScientificBeekeeping website.

If you’ve never visited the Scientific Beekeeping site, I highly recommend it. Note that this is not an endorsement of everything on the site, but I will say that there is a lot of interesting information and discussion about honey bees on the site.

Androscoggin Beekeepers Club Winter Hive Losses 2014-2015

The numbers for ABC members’ hives surviving the winter of 2014-2015 have been tabulated.  Thanks to everyone who participated by sending their hive information.  We had a pretty solid number of hives to track through the winter and, as many would have guessed, our losses were pretty high.

With 84 live hives going into the winter, only 42 (i.e. 50%) survived until early spring.

ABC Winter Hive Loss 2014_2015


Here’s a map showing the relative locations of the Maine towns represented in our 2014-2015 survey:


ABC Hive Los 2014-2015

Flow Frames Information

2015-02-17_1515ABC members have expressed a lot of interest in the recent announcement of the forthcoming (February 23)  Kickstarter campaign for Flow™ Honey frames.  The basic idea is that you can collect honey from your supers without removing the honey frames from the hive.  Sounds too good to be true, but I guess we get at least one of those in a lifetime.

If you are not familiar with this purported revolution in beekeeping, you can check out the company’s web site here:


As I searched for more information about the technology behind this new method of honey collection, I came across a posting of a letter from the company to an interested beekeeper.  If valid, the letter appears to be a part of their ongoing marketing campaign.  It provides some believable details about how this technology might work.  I’m not so sure about collecting the honey in an open container, though!

Here’s the text from the letter (as copied from the Beesource.com Forums):


Thanks so much for your interest in the Flow hive. We (Cedar, Stu and our whole beekeeping family) are so excited to be letting you and the world know about the invention we have been working on for over a decade. The response has been quite overwhelming, thanks for all the amazing comments. We are working as fast as we can to complete a video that will show you all the details about the technology.

We want to tell you a little more about the Flow frames/hives, how they work, what we think this will mean for beekeeping and where we are at with producing them.

How do the Flow™ frames work?

Continue reading

November 2014 ABC Meeting Recap

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:

  1. Queen has a depleted supply of viable sperm.
  2. 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”.

  3. Queen is infected with European foulbrood.
  4. Can reduce swarm impulse by creating a break in the brood cycle.
  5. Queen is physically damaged.
  6. 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:

  1. Introduce a mated queen to the hive
  2. Introduce a young, virgin queen that will (you hope) get mated and begin laying in your hive
  3. Introduce queen cells
  4. 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.

  1. A good laying queen can lay between 1,200 – 2,800 eggs per day.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. A 3 pound package of bees with a mated queen contains about 12,000 bees and costs approximately $110.
  5. A mated queen costs approximately $25.
  6. So 12,000 worker bees/drones costs approximately $110 – $25 = $85.
  7. You are paying about $85 / 3 pounds = $28 per pound of bees.
  8. If 12,000 bees are ~ 3 pounds, then 25,000 bees are ~6.25 pounds of bees.
  9. 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:

  1. Look on a sunny day
  2. Look on a day with good nectar flow when most of the field bees will be out
  3. 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.
  4. 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.