Pics from the June 20, 2015 Open Hive at the Hiss Apiary

Thanks to Mary Jane Dillingham for these great pictures from the ABC June 2015 hive opening at club president Bill Hiss’ apiary.  The day way beautiful and turn out for the opening was great.019

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Notice the eggs in this frame below.

 

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Bringing in nectar on new comb.

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A good queen laying pattern.

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Look at the honey!

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The bees were covering up the drone comb with honey comb.

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These queen cells were chewed open. It looks like the hive probably swarmed  or was superceded. A lot of drone comb too!.

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Beautiful spring honey.

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These girls are filling every space that they can.

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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.

 

 

May 2014 ABC Meeting Recap

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.

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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!

April Meeting with Kenny Record

April 2014 Club Meeting:

As is usually the case, the club meeting was proceeded with informal discussion about the state of our bees and what we should/could expect in the near future.  Club President Bill Hiss prompted brief introductions from attendees.  He asked everyone who was interested to leave us with their names, email addresses and whether or not they wanted to be or needed a mentor for the upcoming bee keeping season.

It was great to see so many members of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club in attendance.  There was the typical sense of good will between bee keepers which led to a discussion of future combined events for the two clubs.  The OHHB club has a nice web site with some great information and a listing of upcoming events.

For those who missed Kenny Record speak at the ABC (or to see him speak again), you have another chance on May 11at the University of Maine Cooperative, 9 Olson Road in South Paris.  Here’s the description from the OHHB club site:

Kenny Record generously shares his unequaled knowledge on bee – havior when it comes to splitting hives. Making your own nucs will also be discussed. Plan on an afternoon of learning, humor and a whole lot of good old common sense delivered in an
uncommon way.

Vice President Pete Schlax noted that the Androscoggin beekeepers club website has a functional calendar indicating dates for club events, flower blooms and bee keeping activities.  He asked members with suggestions for additional calendar items to pass them along (worker@androscogginbeekeepers.org).

Club treasurer Charlie Armstrong provided the Treasure’s report, indicating that our modest balance is sufficient to provide our speakers with a modest honorarium and to maintain our club website.  Thanks to all our dues paying members!

Attendance for April 2014:

Attendance was 28 people including our speaker.  Although this increase was definitely helped with the turnout from members of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club, our “spring increase” continues.  As we move into open hive season, it would be great to stabilize at 30-40.  That seems like a healthy and sustainable number for Androscoggin County.  Tell your friends!

March 2014 Speaker Presentation:

The March 2014 ABC meeting presentation was given by Kenny Record. Interesting, informative and entertaining, Kenny began his talk with the story of how he started beekeeping.

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Kenny Record describes his early experiences in bee keeping at the April 2014 ABC meeting.

Five year old Kenny had been bee-lining with his father. One day, while his father was at work, Kenny used a glass jar to trap a bee on a flower.  He watched the bee sip nectar from the flower and, after a while, he released it and watched it fly up a bit and straight away.  A few minutes later, the bee returned, took up nectar, and flew away again.  The bee returned a third time, bringing a friend.  Kenny told us he watched the bees coming and going from the flower for hours.

When his Dad came home from work, he asked Kenny whether he’d timed the bees. He hadn’t.  So Kenny and his Dad used a small stick to dab a little bit of chalk, mixed with water, on the back of one of the bees for identification. They timed the bee’s round trip from the flower, away and back. Three and a half minutes. Kenny told us that it normally takes a bee about a minute and a half to unload at the hive, so it was about a minute flight each way to and from the “swarm” (as colonies were called at the time). The next day, his father took him to the swarm, and Kenny became a beekeeper. Continue reading

March 2014 Meeting Summary

March 2014 Club Meeting:

After several useful moments of informal discussion among attendees, club President Bill Hiss prompted members to introduce themselves to provide everyone an opportunity to get to know each other.  During the introductions, club member Dan Carrey shared an excellent treat of two year old cut comb honey.  Dan even provided spoons!  Thanks Dan!

Vice President Pete Schlax briefly described the changes made to the Androscoggin beekeepers club website as follow up to the agreed upon proposal to make these changes at the February 2014 meeting.  The site is now running as a WordPress site.

Pete noted that the website now contains a calendar that indicates days for club meetings, open hive meetings (not scheduled yet) and recommended hive management activities.  If you have things you’d like to see added to the calendar, please contact the website manager at: worker@androscogginbeekeepers.org

Club treasurer Charlie Armstrong was unable to attend for professional reasons.  In Charlie’s stead, Club President Bill Hiss noted that club dues have been priced to allow us to provide our speakers with a small honorarium for presenting  along with a modest contribution to travel expenses.  [I’d also like to add that dues pay for domain registration and web hosting for the club site.  — Pete].

Attendance for March 2014:

Attendance was 12 people including our speaker.  Not bad for a meeting rescheduled on such short notice.  We’ve been slowly trending upwards and, given then new faces in attendance at this meeting and the fact that other members were not able to attend, are looking to enter the 15-20 range.  That would be terrific and would move us into a range with sufficient critical mass to sustain the club.

March 2014 Speaker Presentation:

The March 2014 ABC meeting presentation was given by EAS master beekeeper Chris Rogers of Backwoods Bee Farm in Windham, Maine.  Brian confidently provided an excellent and practical talk on what club members should be thinking about in terms of spring hive management in southern Maine.

For those unable to attend, here are some great tips Chris gave us.  Where appropriate, I’ve added some estimated dates [Brackets]:

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February 2014 Meeting Summary

2/12/2014

Preparing the must.

February 2014 Club Meeting:

Club President Bill Hiss provided a summary of speakers for upcoming meetings.  Bill also noted that he received and is storing lumber from former ABC president Blaine Richarson.  This lumber can be used by club members for construction of hive equipment during a future club event.

Vice President Pete Schlax presented a proposal for changes to the Androscoggin beekeepers club website.  He suggested moving from a hard coded HTML site to a WordPress instance.  Members in attendance supported the proposed change.

Club treasurer Charlie Armstrong presented a treasurer’s report which included a statement of the club’s current bank balance.  Charlie also noted that former club president Blaine Richardson had several items (coffee cups, tee shirts, etc) with ABC labels which were purchased from Blaine with club funds.  These items will either be sold to interested club members or will be provided to speakers as tokens of appreciation.

February 2014 Speaker Presentation:

At our February (2014) meeting, Brian Pride of Bee Pride in Lebanon, Maine gave an excellent presentation about mead making, bee’s wax processing and candle making.  Brian, along with his wife Peggy, treated the audience with a well balanced talk that mixed Brian’s “tell” with plenty of “show”.

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