Mite Busters! How to avoid colony loss this winter.

To avoid colony loss this winter you MUST act now!

Mite bustersOur August Program featured the dynamic honey bee expert and Green River College Professor Danny Najera sharing his latest knowledge and information.

Download: The Mite Busters Handout (PDF 10.5MB)

More links for Danny's work;

See GRCC honeybees on Facebook here!
Make donations to his honeybee program here.
Tracking our Native Blooms here.

Keeping Bees Alive and Healthy – Proactive or Reactive Management?

In the American dictionary the definition of health is “ the state of being free from illness or injury”. For the sake of discussion in this column I want to establish that managing health and treating for illness as two different aspects of management. There is a difference between treating illness and optimizing health. When a treatment of some kind is required it indicates an unhealthy condition. Treating is a reactionary management after an illness or pest has been detected. In managing health there are specific things we can do to maintain health and prevent illness, which is the proactive management of health. Reactive or proactive is not a right or wrong thing. In today’s beekeeping it is imperative to understand about and always be on alert for aliments that are or might affect our colonies and manage our hives appropriately. We can be proactive, applying a concept of working on creating conditions to enhance health before there is an indication sickness. That being said, let me confuse the issue. There is also a gray area called ”preventive maintenance treatment”. An example of that is a treatment for Varroa mites before the mites reach a critical level. I equate this management to humans receiving flu vaccine shots. Technically it’s a treatment, but a proactive treatment of a healthy organism to maintain health. In Alternative beekeeping there is a management concept that- if given the chance, the bees themselves can be both proactive and reactive in their own colony’s health. Michael Bush puts it very well in his book- “The Practical Beekeeper” when he says, “Give them the resources to resolve the problem and let them. If you can’t give them the resources, then limit the need for the resources”. An example he gives for giving resources and letting them resolve the problem is a queen-less hive. Give the colony a frame of brood once a week for 3 weeks and they will resolve the problem by making their own new queen. An example of limiting resources is one we all know- how we help the bees resolve the problem of hive robbing for themselves. We reduce or limit the size of one of their resources, the entrance.

In my opinion;
The strongest proactive form of maintaining Alternative healthy bees is starting with the strongest, healthiest bees we can. There is a growing realization that much of what we try to do as keepers to keep bees healthy and alive is exacerbated by poor or weak genetics, commercially narrowed gene pool, relocated genetics, (southern queens born and bred in the south and shipped to northern states). Starting with the strongest stock we can obtain helps immensely in keeping bees using Alternative methods of management.

In colonies started with a package- replace the package queen as soon as possible with a regional queen. There are some methods of breeding your own queen on a small scale. I find it far more convenient to purchase my regional queens from local breeders. We have some good queen breeders here in Western Washington state.

Catch swarms. There is no guarantee that the swarm you are catching isn’t someone else’s commercial genetics hive that swarmed. However the odds are far better that a swarm has stronger genetics than a package.

I do catch some grief from beekeepers when I talk about this last subject. Don’t worry if your colony swarms. I’m not saying “try” to get them to swarm, just don’t think it is a bad thing. Realize that it’s the colony’s proactive method of a healthy hive. Many of the aliments of the hive are brood related. The temporary reduction and lack of brood during the swarming period helps control these issues. Also the new virgin queen in your hive will breed with local drones and become your first generation regionally bred queen.

“It’s all about the bees” Ernie

Workshop with Dr. Dewey Caron

Just Announced by the Pierce County Beekeepers Association

This is a special opportunity to learn specific tricks and techniques to get your bee colonies ready for winter.

Fall Management Techniques

With Dr. Dewey Caron

Sponsored by the Pierce County Beekeepers Association

September 17, 2016

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Allmendinger Center, WSU Puyallup Campus, 2606 West Pioneer, Puyallup, WA.

With lecture, Q & A, hands-on at the apiary (weather permitting), and afternoon breakout sessions.

Lunch and break snacks are included.

$30 for PCBA members; $70 for non PCBA members.

Limited to 60 participants.

http://pcbeekeepers.org/fall-management-techniques-with-dr-dewey-caron

If you have questions, or would like more information, please contact:

Marge Pearson, programs@pcbeekeepers.org

Invitation to members: Washington State Fair Honey Show & Competition

All are invited to enter exhibits for the Washington State Fair Honey Show & Competition in Puyallup, WA.
Attached you will find the Honey Show Premium List showing you all the details and rules of the show.
Also attached is a flyer you can print and share with all beekeepers.
Our honey show is statewide.    If you have a honey item you want to enter, please bring it to the fair on August 30 or August 31.   Please remember to register online before you bring you exhibits into the fair.   There is no charge for entering exhibits.
For all those who would like to send in their exhibits, please register online and you can send the exhibits to me at the address below (please include all contact information).    Ribbons can be picked up at the fair during the fair.   If you are out of the area, I will send you your ribbons.   Checks for winners will be mailed out by the fair.   Please only send perishable items (honey, wax, pollen, etc.)--no baked goods or items that can not withstand mailing.   All items sent in through the mail will not be returned unless you pick them up at the fair on Sept 25th or Sept 26th or you make prior arrangements.
Judging will take place on Sept 1st.    The fair opens on Sept 2nd and runs through to Sept 25th(closed on Tuesdays).    Ribbons:   Best of Show (Open & Novice), 5 Best of Categories (see premium list for details).
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or Bob Bennett, the Honey Show Coordinator (pse@oz.net).
Thank you
----
Louis Matej
Superintendent, Ag/Hort
Washington State Fair
445 S. 96th St.
Tacoma, WA  98444
PDF: WSF16_Honey_Flier

Hives of Cedar

Does it make a difference what you build your hives out of? Depends on who you ask and the answer will depend on why and how they keep bees. It is generally accepted that commercial hives serve a different purpose then Alternative hives.

The wood and other materials used to construct commercial hives are excellent for the purpose they serve. Many times a keeper wants to make the hive itself- a symbol of statement. Neat rows of bright white Lang hives have a beauty showing a pride of ownership. Some keepers of Lang hives make their hives yard art by decoratively painting them with bright colors and designs. The bee hive can be a piece of art that just happens to house honey bees.
Western Red Cedar hives are very attractive in the Alternative beekeeping circles. They do make an attractive piece of yard art that houses bees. A hive of any style made of Western Red Cedar has a natural level of unique aesthetic beauty. The wood has the quality of not being uniform in appearance. Every piece of cedar will have a different design of color, grain, and knot pattern. When I build with it, I organize the pieces of wood out on the work bench. I will move them around, turn them over, study the wood, looking to maximize that uniqueness. I make a deliberate effort to accent the beauty of the wood. Then build it into the bee homes I am making. When I build hives for other keepers I guarantee them their hive will be “one of a kind”.
Western Red Cedar is more then just a beautiful wood to look at. It has several physical qualities making it an excellent material to make bee homes with. Cedar is a wood with a very low density. Low density means a high proportion of air spaces, which makes Cedar the best thermal insulator of all our common building wood. It has a 1 ½ to 2 times better insulating value then other woods. A hive with a higher insulated value assists the bees in managing the warming and cooling duties preformed by the bees in the hive. A low density also makes Cedar more dimensionally stable, shrinking and swelling less in a wet climate. That’s not to say that it doesn’t shrink or swell at all, it just doesn’t do it as much as other woods. Another property of Cedar that makes it a good hive building material is that it is hygroscopic. Meaning that the wood will absorb and expel moisture trying to balance with its surrounding environment. When I talk about this I say, “Cedar can breath”.
The natural preservative properties in Cedar wood means it can also absorb high levels of moisture without developing mold and fungus growth. Being hygroscopic and resistant to mold and fungus is a good quality to have inside a bee hive because of the high levels of humidity and condensation the bees can produce.

One thing I did find out, well I should say, I could not find- Evidence that building a hive out of Cedar will deter Wax moths. The Cedar wood appears to not have any properties that has any effect on any of the pest and diseases that affect honey bees. In my mind it would stand to reason that if there were substances in Cedar wood irritating or harmful to other insects it would have an adverse affect on the bees. Through it does make for lively debate in the social media beekeeping sites, I can not find any scientific study or verifiable evidence showing any adverse effects on bees kept in cedar hives.

My experience building and using Cedar hives is that they do take bee housing to different level for both the keeper and the bees. Personally I refer to Cedar hives as “Bee Homes”.

It’s all about the bees,

Ernie