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.

 

 

A few observations from early summer 2014

There are some interesting things going on in hives around Maine in early summer 2014.

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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.

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We have seen a lot of girls emerge.
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And frames are full of honey and pollen. (Pollen below.)

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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.

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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!

May 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

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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 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

April 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

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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.

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]:

Continue reading

March 12, 2014 Meeting Cancellation

March 2014 Meeting Cancellation Due to Predicted Snow Storm


Because of the predicted snow storm, we must cancel the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 12. Anticipated levels of snowfall vary, but because some to the higher estimates (up to 12″) are worrying and because some of our club members travel to the meeting directly from work, we think the responsible choice here is to cancel tomorrow’s meeting. We are working with Chris Rogers to see whether we can reschedule. We all love our bees, but it’s important that no one gets hurt traveling to or from a meeting.

If we can entice Chris to give it another go, I’ll send out information about the new time. Any announcements regarding meeting changes will also be posted on the club website.

With the onset of warmer days, remember it’s a good time to check your bee’s food stores and make sure that they have enough to carry them through until the dandelion blooms.

March 2014 ABC Meeting Announcement

EAS Master Beekeeper Chris Rogers

EAS Master Beekeeper Chris Rogers

The March 2014 meeting of the Androscoggin Beekeepers Club (ABC) will be held Wednesday, March 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 presentation “Spring Hive Management” from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Our speaker for March will be Chris Rogers of Backwoods Bee Farm in Windham, Maine.  Certified as an Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS) master beekeeper in 2013, Chris is currently showing his dedication to Beekeeping instruction by teaching a five week beginners bee class through Auburn Adult Education. During his presentation “Spring Hive Management”, Chris will describe the necessary activities beekeepers in southern Maine must consider as we enter Spring.  Chris’ ABC sponsored presentation is open to the public.