This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Checking Bees Today

A warm winter day, perfect for a quick check.

A nice strong colony covering 6 frames.
Photos by Tom Driggers

Tom D. checked his bees today. The weather was perfect. He did a quick check. Pulled off the winter cover. Lifting the top box slightly he said they felt heavy. This was a great observation. A lot of food for the masses. The bees will start rearing brood anytime now. His hives are in good shape for late winter getting ready for the spring build up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More Cold Weather, is Starvation Lurking in the Colony?

Our second cold blast is here. The nice break from the last one gave the bees a chance to reposition in the hive to hopefully be on more honey. Starvation occurs if the bees get caught on frames that the honey has been consumed. Cold weather keeps the bees from moving to other frames of honey. So starvation can occur with honey near the cluster of bees.
Bees in winter use about 12 - 14 lbs of honey per month about 1-1/4 frames. As we get into Feb. this consumption of food will rise. Starvation in Feb is very common if there is subzero temps for more than 2 - 3 days. At this time brood is being raised and the bees will not abandon the brood. Honey is consumed around the brood to keep it warm, around 95 degrees F. The subzero temps increase the honey use. The cold keeps the cluster of bees tight and prevents the bees from retrieving honey from nearby frames leading to starvation.
As a beekeeper there is not much that can be done. Feeding is difficult in Feb. Sugar put on top of the colony can keep a hive from starving but frames of honey is better.
On a warm day temps in the 20's a hive can be opened, a quick glance. If there is no capped honey near the cluster a frame can be added or moved next to the cluster. Do not disrupt the cluster.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Package bee pricing

California Package Bees
Your choice of Italian, Carniolan, or MN - Hyg Queens
2 lb
1 - 10 - $59.00
11 - 24 - $58.00
25 - 49 -$57.00
50 - 99 - $56.00
100 + $54.00

3 lb
1 - 10 - $73.00
11 - 24 - $72.00
25 - 49 - $71.00
50 - 99 - $70.00
100 + - $69.00
e-mail me if you want me to send you an order form.
I can't leave my e-mail here as spammers will pick it up.
E-mail me through this link http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M6137

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Package Bees

I am still waiting on 2009 pricing on package bees. I am hoping to have pricing soon.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Other hints to tell if your hive is alive from Jerry Linser

A couple of things I look for this time of year when checking for colonies dead or alive:
1. Evidence of bees flight from the colony on sunny days like dead bees in fresh snow cover in front of hive.
2. Check for the presence of a frost ring around the top entrance of the colony. Frost ring present means hive is alive.
Thanks Jerry

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A dead hive

I got a e-mail today from someone that had two dead colonies. Some questions come to mind.
  • Did you look deep enough into the hive to make sure they are dead? This time of year bees are still below the top box. Looking deep is required. In a 3 box colony that has alot of food the bees may be in the bottom box.
  • If the hive is really dead the question is why. On a sunny day a hive can be taken apart and cleaned out if it is dead. Look for the cluster of bees. Did they starve? No honey around the cluster and bee bodies stuck in the cells with their butts looking at you is the sign of starvation. Even if there was frames of honey nearby they couldn't get there and starved.
  • Nosema Ceranae. This is a newer disease and could be part of the CCD problem. We are mostly familiar with Nosema Apis. Nosema Apis is predictable, it would surface in March and or April then go away. It wouldn't always kill a colony. Nosema Ceranae can happen at any time of year. It affects the ability of older bees to feed. The colony will start to dwindle and eventually will perish. Both Nosemas' respond well to a treatment regimen of fumigillan. In this gentleman's case he had one weak colony going into winter. This could have been dwindling from Nosema Cerane and the other colony got infected as well.
  • Varroa Destructor. This mite has caused headache since its arrival. Failure to treat for Varroa in early fall can weaken the colony as the Varroa level builds up. With the increased mite load, viruses can come out that would normally lay dormant in the bees.
What to do is simple. Beekeeping runs on a calender for the most part. Doing treatments at certain times of the year is the key for success. Treating at the wrong time many times does very little for colony survival.
Strong colonies, ample food, proper hive location, winter covers with moisture release boards are the basic things needed for wintering.
Fumigilan and Varroa Treatment in late August is the key to successful wintering. Doing these simple tasks at the right time will help assure of bees buzzing in the spring.