Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Meeting...


Hampden County Beekeepers Association
BIG E REVIEW & PAY OUT

When: Thursday October 16th at 7pm

Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Chicopee, MA 01013



The Big E is over, time to review!  Everyone who worked at our Big E booths is encouraged to attend.  We will review our experience at the fair, share stories and hand out checks to our sellers.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

World's Oldest Beehive Discovered in Scotland...

World's Oldest Beehive Discovered in Scottish Chapel

                              Image from scotsman.com

We have read a lot about the demise of the bee colonies but recently the world's oldest beehive has been found. Located in the medieval Scottish Rosslyn Chapel, which dates back to 1446, two ancient hives have been found, skillfully carved in the stone work under the roof's peak. They are thought to be the first man-made stone hives ever found.
The discovery was made whilst some stone conservation work was being carried out which involved dismantling the peaks of the roof. Apparently the hives were still in use until just recently when the chapel was temporarily covered with a canopy and the bees de-camped.


Image from the BBC

The only clues to the hives' existence were flowers intricately carved into the pinnacles -- it is charming that there were holes through which the bees could enter and exit. These were visible from the outside.

The architects in charge of the restoration had no idea that this extra historical treasure existed. One said: "The hives themselves are the ideal size for bees to inhabit. It was a big hollow about the size of a gas cylinder and the hive had obviously been abandoned." The inside of the hive is covered with some coating to protect the stone and stop the wild bees from eating away at it. Honeycombs were also found in the peak.

Since the hive was so high above the ground, it is clear that no one would be able to reach it to get the honey. It is thought that the ancient stone masons who built the chapel simply wanted to provide a safe location for a wild honeybee hive, protected from bad weather.

The hive has been sent to local beekeepers in an attempt to identify the type of insect that made them and it is hoped the bees will return once the renovation works are complete.

Image from the Times: Illustration from 15th century manuscript

The Chapel was featured in the finale of the film of The Da Vinci Code. As a result, tourism has increased from around 25,000 visitors a year to up to 140,000. Hence it has been undergoing restoration work. Apparently there have always been bees in the roof.


According to the Times, reverence for bees dates back to Egyptian times. As depicted in temple pictures, they kept them in cylindrical hives and sealed pots of honey were found in Tutankhamun's tomb. In Scotland, hives are often made of baskets which can be lifted and moved around.

Original Source:  Treehugger.com

Monday, September 22, 2014

Big E Observation Hive Drama...

It seems someone doesn't like honeybees!  I worked in the MA building at the Big E last night, and we discovered that some had blocked our observation hive entrance!
 Here we have club member Leo Scarnici to the rescue!  Leo is a tall guy, so you can see that someone had to work to get that entrance blocked.  Who would do such a thing?  It's a mystery.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to Basics" September

After storing your honey for several months it now appears cloudy. Do not be alarmed, your honey has crystallized. Crystallization is not an indication of your honey worsening or deteriorating. Crystallized honey is not harmful or expired. Crystallization is the natural process of honey when it leaves the hive. Honey can even crystallize in the hive if your colony is unable to sustain hive temperature in honey super.

You will find that some honeys will crystallize faster than others. Honey is a highly concentrated sugar solution with more than 70% sugar and less than 20% water. Fructose and glucose are the two primary sugars found in honey. Glucose will crystallize faster due to its low water solubility. The ratio of these two sugars will determine how quickly your honey will crystallize. This is why some honeys will last months or years without crystallizing while others will crystallize within weeks of extraction. 

Other factors which affect how quickly honey crystallizes include:
  • Temperature. Storage temperature has a huge influence on the crystallization process. Storage temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal temperatures for crystallization. Temperatures below 50 degrees will slow down the crystallization process as the honey becomes thicker. Honey will resist crystallization at higher temperatures above 70 degrees. Crystals will dissolve when temperatures exceed 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Particles. During extraction particles of debris are caught by the honey. Pieces of beeswax or pollen grains will act as a base for the glucose crystals. Unfiltered honey contains a higher number of particles; therefore, it will crystalize faster than finely filtered honey. Also consider the particles in air and be sure to allow your honey to settle before bottling to allow air bubbles to be released.

Honey can be returned to its lucid form if it becomes crystallized. Gently warm the honey by placing the bottle into a water bath or, depending on size of container, a sunny window. Do not heat honey beyond 104 degrees or it will destroy enzymes, begin to caramelize the sugars and alter the flavor. Heat the water bath slowly and bring the temperature of honey up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Heating must be done with care if the honey is to retain its nutritional value. If you have left your honey in pails, use a melt belt to bring the honey temperature up to a safe range or use a honey bottler & liquefier as a double boiler.

Some honey enthusiasts enjoy honey in its crystalized state. It is easier to use in cooking and will spread better on toast. See what your customers prefer.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Brushy Mountain's Question of the Month: September

This has been one of the best honey flows in the past couple of years. Everyone who we have spoken with has been able to extracted at least one super of honey. In the North Carolina region, many beekeepers have commented that they were able to harvest a sourwood crop. Believe it or not, too much honey can be a problem. What is the best way to store it? What works best when labeling and marketing honey?

What are you going to do with all the excess honey now that you have finished extracting and bottling? Of course you will want to keep some for yourself but how should you sell the rest? The presentation of your honey can generate a demand to help you avoid a surplus. Whether you sell your honey or give it as a gift, presentation is important.
  • The Right Jar. There are many varieties of jars and everyone will target a specific audience. ClassicMuth and Hexagonal are elegant glass jars that will increase the value of the honey. The Plastic Classic and Flat Panel Bears are more commonly known and tend to be more cost efficient. Consider that the jar is not only for containing your honey but also for display. Ensure it is clean and clearly shows your honey. An embossed design will help your jars stand out from competitors. Check out our newEmbossed Hourglass Jars for a unique design.

  • The Right Size and Top. Not everyone wants to buy 2lbs. of honey that they have not had before. The 2 oz Mini Bear is a good size sampler that sells great and if they like it enough, they will be back for more! Offer more sizes (1lb, 12oz, 8oz…) so your customers can choose how much they want. Would you prefer a flip top style lid or ahi-flow spout cap when dispensing your honey? Would your customers enjoy the same as you? This may be a test year so that you can better understand what your customers would like next year.

  • Label It. When you’re not there to talk about your honey, your label will be speaking for you. A label makes your jar look professional! Let your customers know it is pure and natural honey from your hives. Give them the contact information in case they want more next year. Use the correct size label for your jar. A panel bear label does not visually fit on to a 2 lb. jar. Add the tamper proof seal so your customers will be confident in the honey’s integrity.

    Most states have labeling requirements when selling honey. They require certain information pertaining to your honey. Honey is sold by weight not volume, such as fluid ounces.

  • Other Products. Don’t stop with just your honey. You will do better is you have a variety of products. Throw in those bars of soap you made with your soap making kit, light thecandle you made from the wax in your hive, open up the mead you made with your honey. Sell the fruits and vegetables your bees helped pollinate. Offer them more than honey and provide the story behind it!
What should you do if you did not sell all your honey? Will it go bad before next year? Storing honey is easy. Store it at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and in a tightly sealed container. Wipe off any drips or leaks that will attract insects before storing the honey. Do not fret if you return later to find your honey is cloudy. Honey is not a perishable item but it will crystallize. Read Back to the Basics to better understand crystallization.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Big E Promo Video...



Another great video from club member Leo Scarnici!  Leo partnered with club vice president and Big E fair chair, Tom Flebotte to create a promo video to spread awareness about our beekeeping school, and our presence at The Big E! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Big E!

We're so excited for the Big E!  It starts Friday, September 12th! Our bees are already buzzing in and out of our booths in the MA Building and in Farmarama.

MA Building
 MA Building
Farmarama
 Farmarama
Come see us and the bees at the Big E!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Member Spotlight... Leo Scarnici

I'd like to introduce a new club member who is doing great work trying to save bees.  Leo Scarnici officially joined the HCBA just last month at our July BeeBQ.  Leo shoots breathtaking photos and videos of bees and uses his work to correct the public's perception of them.

Check out this recent video...

About Bees: Flight Modes from isavebees on Vimeo.

You can learn more about Leo and his mission on his website I SAVE BEES

Welcome, Leo!  We're so glad to have you as part of the club and we look forward to seeing more great projects from you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to the Basics" August

Back to the Basics: Fall Management Prep

One of the perks of beekeeping is being able to harvest honey. We know that bees store an excess amount and they will continue storing nectar and pollen as long as there is room. At what point should we say ‘that’s enough’ and begin preparing the hive for winter? Your colony can only store what is being provided. As your queen’s laying begins to slow and your colony dwindles down, the population will not be able to accommodate a larger hive. Adding that next super on might not be the best for your colony. 

Your queen will continue laying eggs as long as the resources are available to sustain the colony. Once there is a drop in both nectar and pollen, drones will be removed from hive and the queen will begin to reduce the amount she is laying. Any supers that are not filled with honey or brood may become neglected. How do you keep them building? 

It is nice to have your bees moving up the hive, working the frames and storing honey but once their food source runs out, what is their incentive? Now is the time to prepare your feeder for the sugar water mixture or corn syrup you will be providing. Honey bees require proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and water. Larvae and queens are fed a diet of royal jelly secreted by young nurse bees’ hypopharyngeal glands. This milky white acidic substance has a high moisture content and is very rich in protiens, lipids, B vitamins, C vitamins, sugars, and minerals that are not fully found in sugar water or corn syrup. There are several nutritional supplements which incorporate these needed nutrients to maintain a healthy colony. Here are some mixtures for your feed: 
  • Honey B Healthy. This feeding supplement is used in spring and winter to stimulate the immune system. This feed stimulant with essential oils prevents mold and fungus in sugar syrup, calms bees when used as a spray, builds colonies when fed during dearth and much more. The scent of spearmint and lemongrass will attract your bees to feed almost immediately.
  • Amino B Booster. A blend of free amino acids that assimilates rapidly and directly through the mid gut to the bee’s hemolymph and hemocytes, then transported to the sites where protein is needed for bee growth. Amino B Booster provides your bees the nutrients they need when pollen is scarce or lacks the nutrients bees need.
  • Vitamin B Healthy. Helps provide needed nutrients vital for bee health especially when pollen sources are scarce or the pollen lacks the essential nutrients the bees need. Helps build strong healthy colonies for maximum honey production and pollination or can be used to help build up weak, over-winterized colonies, packages, nucs or swarms.
  • Hive Alive. A feed to help bees maintain colony strength. Prevents syrup from fermenting and helps bees absorb the nutrients, proteins and sugars needed to increase brood production. Hive Alive strengthens the bees’ immune system to help manage intestinal issues and other diseases.

A colonies health is as essential for winter survival as are the food stores they will need to survive. Providing the necessary feed the will need along with a good supplement will go along way to keep your hive healthy and strong.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Brushy Mountain's Question of the Month: August

Question of the Month: Mites

Summer is drawing to an end and fall will soon be coloring the trees. Beekeepers are taking off their last supers of honey and preparing their hives for winter. Every year we harp on the importance of treating for Varroa Mites but when is the correct time to treat? 

It is best to know your mite count before you begin treating. Mites have been able to develop a resistance to some of the products on the market. If you know your mite count before and after you have treated, you can determine if you were successful. Here are two options to obtain a correct mite count:
  • Corex Sheet. This is a sheet which slides under a screened bottom board. Spray the corex sheet with cooking oil and as the mites fall from the hive, the mites will stick to the sheet and can be counted easily. Remove sheet after 3 days to get a total count of mites. Divide total by 3 to get the average mite drop in a 24 hour period.

  • Sugar Shake. Place a few tablespoons of powdered sugar in a mason jar, add ¼ cup of bees and gently "slosh" the bees around ensuring they are fully coated. Replace the lid with #8 hardware cloth and shake the bees down over a white sheet of paper. The sugar will dislodge the mites allowing them to fall through the screen. This will give you an average mite count for your hive.

Below is a very general guide to determine if the colony should be treated.

Sampling MethodSpringFall
Corex Sheet5-10 mites50-60 mites
Sugar Shake3-4 mites10-12 mites

This is the time of year to begin treating for varroa mites if your count falls above or near the general guide. Treatment in early fall is vital for a healthy winter colony. The virus that persists after the mites have been treated is what poses the real threat for winter loss. It takes a few generations of brood rearing for virus levels to reduce. If you wait until late fall to reduce the Varroa population, due to the viruses, you will still have unhealthy bees going into winter. The best time to deal with the mites is late August/early September depending on your location. 

Top Treatments for Varroa Mite:

  • 1. Soft Chemicals: An effective treatment while leaving the least amount of residue. We offer Api Life Var and MiteAway Quick Strips. Both are 95% effective, however, both work through the evaporation of essential oils or organic acids, thus making themweather sensitive.

  • 2. Hard Chemicals: Will kill the Varroa Mites but label instructions must be followed and do not leave on longer than recommended. We supply Apistan StripsCheck Mite Plus and a newer treatment, ApivarKeep in mind varroa have shown a resistence to Apistan and Check Mite upon continuous use.

  • 3. Non-Chemical: Beekeepers have been using powdered sugar to monitor mites but if heavily dusted with a Dustructor, it can control the mite population. The Varroa reproduction is directly tied to the bee reproduction cycle. Because drones are capped longer as brood, the Varroa are more attracted to drone brood where they can lay more eggs. Using Drone Foundation or a Drone Frame, you can wait until the brood is capped, remove and destroy the foundation. Non-chemical or IPM techniques can be effective to control mites; however, they require dedication and time to be successful.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Meeting...


         Hampden County Beekeepers Candy Bagging Party!

               When: Thursday, August 21st at 7:00pm

           Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
                       118 Mount Vernon Rd.
                       Chicopee, MA 01013

                Pizza and beverages will be served! 
                 Come help out and have some fun!

We’ll be bagging candy in preparation for the Big E, so while this will not be a regular meeting, we will have the opportunity to discuss all things bee while we work.  Come lend a hand, and get some last minute tips for harvesting and fall and winter management. 

Have you tested for mites yet?  Treated?  Do you have honey?  Have you harvested?  Getting ready to?  Should you?  Can you borrow the extractor?  Are you feeding?  Medicating?  Are your hives in danger of robbing?  When will you put on your entrance reducers?  Are you using a slatted or screened bottom board?  Should you switch?  Come one, come all!  Some of us have questions, and other have answers, new and experienced beekeepers come together and help each other out! 


 See you there!   And don’t forget to volunteer for a shift at the Big E! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to the Basics" July

Back to the Basics: Bearding

Hot and humid weather is hard on the bees during the summer months. Honey Bees can only do so much to help regulate the hive temperature at 90-95 Degrees Fahrenheit. When the colony is at its max population and internal hive temperatures continue to rise, clusters of bees will try to escape the heat of the hive and hang out at the entrance of the hive. This can be misinterpreted as swarming when in fact it is bearding.
Why do bees beard?

When you find bees clustering or hanging at the entrance of the hive, they are bearding. This gives the appearance of the hive having a beard. Some colonies will cover the entrance where others will hang from the bottom board. Colonies will create these beards outside the hive when the inside becomes overcrowded, hive lacks ventilation, or temperatures become too high. Honey Bees typically do this to help maintain the brood nest temperature. Brood requires a certain temperature and will not survive if it becomes too hot or too cold.

How do bees regulate the hive temperature during Summer and how can Beekeepers help?

Have you ever seen a bee at the entrance of the hive beating her wings but not taking flight?She is fanning the hive. Bees will collect water to use for evaporative cooling. Bees will face away from the entrance of the hive and begin fanning. The airflow that is created from the bees beating their wings will evaporate the water droplets throughout the hive. Whenever you find bees fanning at the entrance, know that there are many more inside fanning as well.

Bees can only do so much to reduce the heat in the brood nest. Beekeepers must provide sufficient ventilation for the hive. Here are some tips and tricks for beekeepers to help fight the summer heat:

Nothing can beat a screened bottom board. Airflow is able to move up through bottom board and can significantly help with hive temperature. The screened bottom board is only useful if the screen is left open. Be sure to remove the corrugated sheet used for mite counts.

Ventilate the top as well as the bottom with a ventilated inner cover.Heat rises and the ventilated inner cover offers the space the heat needs to escape. The inner cover props up the hive top allowing airflow to move up and through the hive.

Open up the hive entrance. Larger entrances are better for the summer heat. This provides more fanning space and less congestion for incoming bees.

Allow for more bee space by reducing the number of frames. Consider using 9 frames in your 10 frame hive or 7 in your 8. This will open up space between the frames and better ventilate your hive.

Give your hive some shade. Provide a source of shade especially if the hive is in direct sunlight during the entire day. The sun beating down on the hive makes it difficult for the bees to maintain hive temperature. Open up your upper entrance. This small vent will allow heat to escape the hive and provides an alternate entrance/exit for your bees.

Use light color paint for your hives. Dark colors will absorb heat while lighter colors will reflect the sun’s heat.

Have a reliable source of water near your bee yard. Bees can use up to a quart of water during a hot day to keep the hive cool. Keep the water supply filled and in a shaded area.

Summer heat will keep the bees constantly working to maintain the hive temperature and reduces the number of bees able to forage for nectar and pollen. Help the bees regulate hive temperature and give them a stronger field force to bring in the feed they need. 


ORIGINAL SOURCE:  BRUSHY MOUNTAIN

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brushy Mountain's Question of the Month: July

Question of the Month: Extracting 

This is the time of year when beekeepers are pulling off honey supers and uncapping their frames to extract. Beekeepers always want to know the best way to uncap their frames and what size extractor they will need. This deals with many personal decisions that we cannot make for you, however, here is some ‘food for thought’.

Let’s start with uncapping. The number of frames you are uncapping and the time you want to spend during this step is dependent upon the method you should proceed with. 

Using a Cappings Scratcher is an easy method to work small sections of capped honey at one time. Slide the forks underneath the comb at a horizontal angle and lift vertically to remove cappings. Many beekeepers will scrap the forks against the comb to open the cells.Please note this damages the comb and requires more cleanup from your bees.

A Cold/Hot Knife will slice away larger sections of capped honey from the frame. Place at a slight angle along the top and move down the frame in a sawing motion. Be careful not to ‘dig’ into the comb or tear apart the frame. The Cold Knife has a serrated blade and can stick if not kept clean. The Hot Knife is temperature sensitive and will melt away the wax. Preheat before use. A Cappings Scratcher may be needed for unevenly drawn out sections of the frame.

The Rolling Uncapper will roll over the capped honey and pierce the cappings. Allow the cappings to be pierced by pulling or pushing the Rolling Uncapper parallel to the frame. Do not push roller into the frame. Clean central bar if roller begins to resist in rotating.

If time is of importance, the Sideliner Uncapper is a quick and easy method. Run your frames through the roller blades and both sides of your frame will be uncapped. This does not require you to hold the frame and all the debris is caught in the container underneath the sideliner uncapper. A Cappings Scratcher may be needed for unevenly drawn out sections of the frame.

Let’s discuss extractors. Beekeepers new to the hobby are always excited about their first extraction but are unsure on how to proceed. Do I need an extractor? What size extractor should I get? Which is better, hand cranked or powered? There are three main questions you need to ask yourself and the answers will point to the extractor that best fits you.

How many hives do intend to have?
You do not want to outgrow the extractor. You may have five or ten hives currently but you are expecting to expand your bee yard to thirty hives. By the time you reach your thirty hives you do not want to look back and wish you got the bigger extractor.

What is your budget?<br> Let’s be realistic, an extractor is a large investment. There are different alternatives if an extractor isn’t in your budget. You may be able to borrow/rent an extractor from your local bee association; you can uncap and let the honey drain from the frames; you can strain your comb through cheese cloth; other methods are available. 

How do you value your time?
Extracting is not a ten minute process that will happen in an afternoon. Each extractor will hold an allotted amount of frames. The more frames an extractor will hold the less cycles you will need to run to extract the honey from the frames. Do you have time to run through thirty extractions on a compact extractor or would it be beneficial for you to run six on an 21-frame extractor.

We have developed a Extracting Chart that shows the amount of time needed to extract with each extractor. The time depicted is for running extractor and does not include time needed for uncapping, loading, unloading, and any other actions needed for extracting.

Time consumption for the extraction depends on the Extractor being tangential or radial. Tangential extractors seat frames parallel to the center and only extract one side during the spin cycle. Radial extractors seat frames perpendicular to the center and will extract both sides at once.

Anticipate the numbers you will have in the future before you purchase the extracting equipment you need. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Meeting BeeBQ...

Hampden County Beekeepers’ July Meeting

When: Thursday July 17th
Starting at 5:30pm

Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Chicopee, MA 01013

Our first BeeBQ Pot Luck Picnic of 2014!



Hampden County Beekeepers’ July Meeting

When: Thursday July 17th
Starting at 5:30pm

Where:  Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
Chicopee, MA 01013

Our first BeeBQ Pot Luck Picnic of 2014!

Come one and all!  It’s our first BeeBQ of the summer!  We’ll start earlier than usual so we can take advantage of maximum daylight.  The club will provide hamburgers and hot dogs, soft drinks and water.  The rest of us can pitch in by bringing a side, salad or dessert.  Time to bust out your favorite summer recipes!  Please let me know what you plan to bring when you RSVP.

We will also need a Grill Master!  Last year, club president Jeff Rys handled the grill duty, so this year’s volunteer will have big shoes to fill!  Up for the challenge?  Please let me know right away.  The Grill Master will be responsible for getting the grill to the hall for the BeeBQ and for cooking our burgers and dogs.

This will be more social event than meeting, but a great time to get together with your fellow beekeepers and ask questions and share knowledge.

We will have use of the parking lot, side yard, and hall so we’re covered even if it rains.  If you’d like to sit outside in the grass… PLEASE BRING YOUR OWN CHAIRS!

Feel free to… BYOB

If you plan to attend, please RSVP by July 10th
RSVP to Jessica Martin by email jessicapulse@gmail.com or

Phone 860-978-5388.  Texts are OK too.  Include your name, the number of people attending, and if you plan to bring a side.

Friday, June 27, 2014

US Retailers Look to Limit Pesticides...


U.S. retailers look to limit pesticides to help honeybees

Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:36pm EDT

Shoppers look at appliances at a Home Depot store in New York in this December 23, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

(Reuters) - Home Depot (HD.N) and other U.S. companies are working to eliminate or limit use of a type of pesticide suspected of helping cause dramatic declines in honeybee populations needed to pollinate key American crops, officials said on Wednesday.
The moves include requiring suppliers to label any plants treated with neonicotinoid, or neonic, pesticides sold through home and garden stores.
Atlanta-based Home Depot, the world's largest home improvement retailer, is requiring its suppliers to start such labeling by the fourth quarter of this year, said Ron Jarvis, the company's vice president of merchandising/sustainability. Home Depot is also running tests in several states to see if suppliers can eliminate neonics in their plant production without hurting plant health, he said.
"The Home Depot is deeply engaged in understanding the relationship of the use of certain insecticides on our live goods and the decline in the honeybee population," Jarvis said in an email.
Also on Wednesday, BJ's Wholesale Club [BJ.UL], a warehouse retailer with more than 200 locations along the East Coast, said it was asking all of its vendors to provide plants free of neonics by the end of 2014 or to label such products as requiring "caution around pollinators" like bees.
At least 10 other smaller retailers, with locations in Minnesota, Colorado, Maryland and California, have announced plans to limit or eliminate neonics from plant products.
The class of pesticides known as neonics are sold by agrichemical companies to boost yields of staple crops such as corn, but are also used widely on annual and perennial plants used in lawns and gardens.
A report issued on Wednesday by the environmental group Friends of the Earth said that 36 out of 71, or 51 percent, of garden plant samples purchased at top garden retailers in 18 cities in the United States and Canada contained neonic pesticides.
Scientists, consumer groups, beekeepers and others say bee deaths are linked to the neonic pesticides. But Monsanto, (MON.N), Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and other agrichemical companies say a mix of factors such as mites are killing the bees.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates total losses of managed honeybee colonies at 23 percent over the winter of 2013-14, the latest in a series of annual declines.
Last week, the White House announced a plan to fund new honeybee habitats and to form a task force to study how to reverse the honeybee declines. The bee die-off is worrisome for agriculture because honeybees pollinate plants that produce about a fourth of the food consumed by Americans.
An analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies released this week by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, a group of scientists from several countries, concluded that neonics were a key factor in bee declines and had other harmful effects on the environment.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
ORIGINAL SOURCE:  REUTERS

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Swarm Rescue Update...

The swarm  I rescued a few weeks ago, is now kicking some serious butt!  The swarm queen, who I am now calling Catherine II or Catherine the Great is an egg laying machine!  Look at this brood pattern!
 And the rest of the girls are working hard and putting up some honey!  I can't wait to try it!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Swarm Rescue...

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to rescue a swarm from a small apple tree in Northampton.  It was a good sized swarm, and lucky for me I could reach it with both feet on the ground!  The bees have since been moved from my swarm catching nuc box to two 8 frame deeps.  I plan to peek in and check the progress of the swarm queen this weekend.  Let's cross our fingers and hope she's a good layer!







Friday, June 6, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to Basics" June

Back to the Basics:  Moving Your Hive
Beekeepers will get their hives all setup and painted in a certain location, but sometimes it is not the desired location or they want to move their bees to a different area with a better honey flow.
Either way, sometimes it is necessary to move your hive.

Once bees become established in a certain location, they will go on orientation flights. They start off in small circle, flying back to the hive, and grow the circle until they are set on the location of the hive. Moving a hive will disrupt where the bees are oriented to and beekeepers can lose many foraging bees (Beekeepers hate losing bees!). If you intend to move your hive, we suggest following the rule of 3 (up to 3 feet or over 3 miles). If you move a hive across your 10 foot yard, the bees will return to where the hive was originally located.

If you are intending to move your hive, no matter how far, screen off the entrance the night before with hardware cloth. Your foraging bees will come back to the hive at night and will be leaving when the sun comes up. Screen off the entrance at night so you will be transporting all your bees (inevitably there will be a few stragglers left behind). Don't strain when moving your hive, use a hive carrier or a hive strap to make moving easier.

If you intend to move your hive across your yard or a short distance away from its original location, you must move it off site (over 3 miles away) for a week and then move it back to where you find more suitable. If you intend to move it to a separate location for a better/different honey flow, ensure that you are moving it further than 3 miles from its original location.

Honey Frame

Wait... there is another way?
Sometimes it is difficult to continuously move your hive

If your desired location happens to be further than 3 feet and less than 3 miles (a.k.a. across the yard), you can use a different method. To trigger the bee’s orientation flight, the environment outside of the hive must be significantly different. Obstruct or impede the entrance to the hive with brush (grass, tree branches, straw, etc.) so that when the foraging bees leave the hive, they must crawl through the “brush” before they can fly. After a day, remove part of the brush and continue this process until all the brush is removed after three days. They will see the disturbance in the environment and reorient themselves.

It is best to leave the hive in its initial location. Moving the hive will hinder the bee’s production for days and cause stress within the colony. Also note that 10% of queens are lost when moving a hive. Set up the hive in an ideal location that will suit their needs as well as yours.