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Notice the eggs in this frame below.
Bringing in nectar on new comb.
A good queen laying pattern.
Look at the honey!
The bees were covering up the drone comb with honey comb.
These queen cells were chewed open. It looks like the hive probably swarmed or was superceded. A lot of drone comb too!.
Beautiful spring honey.
These girls are filling every space that they can.
At the May Meeting, several club members asked about possible sources for more bees this Spring/Summer. We were contacted by someone at Stone Corner Farm in New Sharon, Maine about hives and nucs for sale. None of the regular club members have experience with bees from Stone Corner Farm, but we wanted to pass this along for interested members. Here’s the message we received:
Nuc’s for sale for mid June pick up. $140 with a $35 box deposit which you get back when you return the nuc box.
Hives for sale – top, bottom board and 1 deep and the bees and queen. $225.
Also used equipment including: deeps with frames, supers, bottom boards, candy boards, shims, tops, inner covers.
All of our hives have been inspected by Tony Jadzack.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 (email@example.com).
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.
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
Ken Record, vice-president of the Oxford Hills Honey Bee Club, will be the speaker for the Androscoggin Bee Club in Room 116 of Edward Little High School in Auburn on Wednesday, April 9th 2014 at 7:00 PM. His talk “Hive Division and Re-queening” will be presented following a short club business meeting at 6:30 PM.
Ken Record is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced bee-keepers in Maine. He started helping his father at age 5, and has kept bees for over 70 years. In his first year, he split 10 hives to create 97 nucleus hives, and lost half of them to wax moths, in the years well before mites were a bee-keeping problem. Ken is an expert at the delicate craft of “grafting” queens, but is an expert in all forms of splitting hives and re-queening them, as a way to forestall bee swarms. He has seen every facet of bee-keeping, from taking hives to far northern Maine for commercial pollination, to taking 400 hives to be wintered in Florida, to selling hundreds of pounds of honey and bee candy each year at the Fryeburg Fair.
The public is invited to hear a very entertaining speaker whose personal experience includes most of modern bee-keeping. In what turned out to be excellent preparation for handling hundreds of heavy hives each year, Ken as a young man was a 3-time bantamweight weightlifting champion in Maine, and has dealt with bears with literally hundreds of his hives over the decades.