Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bee School Session 8...

Hampden County Beekeepers Bee School 2014

 Thursday, April 24th

Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
ChicopeeMA 01013

All Bee School sessions start at 7pm

Topics:  Beeswax Products & First Aid
Graduation & Raffle 

Speakers:  TBD

All members are welcome to attend.  We will have our usual break between the first and second hour of each bee school meeting and anyone who would like to bring food/snacks to share with the group is encouraged to do so.  See you at bee school!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Honey Bees... LIVE!!

Take an intimate look a life of a beehive. This infrared view of the inside of the hive shows the complex inner workings of the colony as they build combs, produce honey, protect the queen, and raise a new generation of workers and drones. Building their communal home inside a large hollow log, the colony is located in the town of Waal in Bavaria, Germany.

Watch them HERE

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beekeeper Wears 100 Pounds of Bees!

Don't sneeze! Beekeeper wears 100 pounds of bees!

She Ping covered with a swarm of bees in southwest China (AFP)
Whatever you do, don't sneeze.
Beekeeper She Ping of Chongqing, China, managed to stand still while 100 pounds of bees (approximately 460,000 stingers) swarmed and crawled over his body, according to local media reports cited by Reuters andAgence France-Presse.
And, yes, he did it on purpose. What can we say? The man loves bees.
The feat was accomplished with queen bees. The queens drew hundreds of thousands of worker bees toward the intrepid She. Helpers used incense and smoke to keep the bees away from the beekeeper's face until he was ready. We're willing to bet She buys his aloe by the gallon.
Assistants use burning incense and cigarettes to drive bees away from the face of She Ping. (Reuters/China Daily)
As for why She subjected himself to hundreds of thousands of swarming bees with the potential to leave marks, it was all done in the name of commerce. He told AFP that although he was "very nervous," he did it to promote his honey.
"It hurt but I didn't dare to move," She told AFP.  "The main preparation is avoiding taking a shower, especially avoiding using soap because it can excite the bees," he said.
Beekeeper She Ping (AFP)
Here he is after the 40 minute endeavor. He told AFP he was stung more than 20 times. Not fun. But 20 stings from 460,000 bees? That's not a bad ratio.
Beekeeper She Ping shows his body after it was covered in bees. (AFP)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Brushy Mountain's "Back to Basics" April

Back to the Basics

You have set up your hives and installed your bees with the queen cage attached to a frame. We know that you are eager to check on them to see how they are doing but disrupting the colony will hinder them. Give them time to acclimate to the new queen and release her on their own (will typically take 5 to 7 days). Once you have given them time to release the queen on their own, you can open up your hive and see your bees hard at work!

When you first open your hive to remove the queen cage, you may notice no substantial changes. Your bees are working frantically to draw out comb, giving space for your queen to lay her eggs and room to store their nectar. There will be some foraging bees sent out to bring in nectar and pollen but the majority of the force will be building up the frames. Providing feed during this time is vital. As the bees work the frames, they will be consuming feed almost as fast as you are providing it for them. Ensure they have the feed they need!
Other things to be aware of:
  • Don’t be frightened to find that your colony seems smaller then when you installed it. This is a new colony and it will take them time before they will grow in population. The population will begin to decrease before it starts increasing because the newly laid eggs must be raised out to replace the older bees.
  • As the bees begin to work the frames, drawing out foundation, they may draw out a queen cup. There is no reason to fret. A queen cup does not mean your hive is queen-less, but is a precautionary measure your worker bees take to ensure they can raise a new queen quickly if something were to happen with the current queen. A queen cup is a single cup which is located in the middle of the frame, and will not have an or larva inside.
  • When you begin working your hive, your first instincts are to look for the queen. The queen is one of thousands of bees throughout the hive. Although she is much larger than the worker bee, she will be extremely hard if not impossible to find. An alternative is to check the frames for eggs. Eggs signify that the queen has been released and is laying. Eggs are also difficult to see (less difficult than finding the queen) but they appear as small white kernels that are similar to rice.
Installing your package is just one of the first steps into this exciting hobby. Once your queen has been released and starts laying eggs, you will begin to see a large field force in your garden, buzzing from flower to flower.
Here are some helpful hints to help you in these beginning months:
  • Even though you see that your bees are bringing in nectar and pollen, feed still needs to be provided for the colony. They are still trying to build their honey stores and if there are days when it is rainy, your bees will need that feed. However, you should remove the feeder once you add the first honey super. We want to harvest honey, not sugar water!
  • A great looking brood frame will have a central section of brood in different stages. You should find eggs, larvae and capped brood. If you find that your brood frames are spotty (small patches of brood with many empty cells around the brood patches) you could have an under-productive queen. This can happen with a newly installed package, as the queen gets settled into her new environment. If the problem persists, she may need to be replaced.
  • Once you find that your outer frames are being worked and comb is beginning to be drawn out on them, it is time to add on the next brood chamber. The rule of thumb is that if 6 to 7 of your frames are drawn out, add the next super. Adding the next story will give your queen the space she needs to lay and can alleviate congestion in the hive.
With the first steps behind you, you will begin to see the true joy of beekeeping. Keep feeding your bees and let them build up in population.  


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Brushy Mountain's Question of the Month: April...

Question of the Month

Your hives have made it through winter and are now busting at the seams with bees. Do you continue to add hive bodies and build up your hive? Can you create a split? Should you worry about swarming?

An overwintered hive will begin brood production before winter comes to an end. By the time spring gets here, they will be high in population and ready for the nectar flow. This can lead to the possibility of swarming and requires attention from the beekeeper.
You have two options to help prevent overcrowding in the hive:
  • You may continue to build up your hive by adding on the next story. This is an easy option and will build up your hive fast. If the queen is not in the bottom brood chamber, reverse the brood chambers and place honey supers above the brood chambers. Reduce the congestion by giving your bees room to move up into the hive and space for your queen to lay. You still must be cautious of swarm cells and dealing with a honey bound hive.
  • Create a split. A split in its simplest form, is the transfer of several frames with mixed brood and frames capped with honey from your mother hive into a new hive. You would replace the transferred frames with empty frames, giving your mother hive space to continue growing. Splitting a colony gives you another hive with a more bees to help pollinate your garden and harvest honey.
Creating a split seems simple, but there are different variations (below is just one example how to create a split) and challenges involved. This is however, a great and convenient way to establish a new colony in your bee yard.

When making a split, you will want to have your equipment setup and ready for the transfer of frames. It is best to grab 4 or 5 frames of mixed brood in various stages of development. This will keep the population going as new bees are hatched and as larvae continues to develop. The hive's survival will be dependent upon the newly hatched bees and developing larvae. Frames of nectar and pollen will be essential in feeding the colony until they are able to increase in population.

When transferring the frames into the split, you do not want to brush off the nurse bees. The nurse bees will be beneficial to help feed and raise out the brood. The bees that are transferred from your mother hive are orientated to the mother hive. Once they fly from the split, they will return to the mother hive. You will want to transfer a good number of nurse bees over to the split because the majority of them will return to the mother hive. This may require you to shake a few extra frames of bees into the split. The bees that hatch out will become orientated to the split colony and will replace the nurse bees that returned to the mother hive.

Right now your split is queenless. You have the option of purchasing a fertilized queen (before you create the split) and introducing her to your split colony. It will take 5 to 7 days before your colony will become acclimated to her, but once she is released, she will begin laying. If you know that you transferred over frames of brood with eggs that are less than 3 days old, your split hive will realize that it is queenless and will begin to raise out their own queen from the fertilized eggs. There are numerous risks in allowing a colony to raise out their own queen.Dangers in raising out a new queen: low drone population, rainy weather, birds, car windshields, ect. Aside from these threats, it can take 2 to 3 weeks before the queen is able to begin laying (if she is properly fertilized). 

After transferring your frames and ensuring your split is queen right, they will continue to grow. The split is a new colony and should be treated as such. Add a feeder to the split and give them time to grow before checking on them. Your mother hive will need to be monitored to ensure it does not become overcrowded. Some beekeepers can create multiple splits from one hive, depending upon the strength of that colony. 


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bee School Session 7...

Hampden County Beekeepers Bee School 2014

 Thursday, April 10th

Willimanset Heights Improvement League (WHIL)
118 Mount Vernon Rd.
ChicopeeMA 01013

All Bee School sessions start at 7pm

Topics: Fall & Winter Management
Extracting Honey

Speakers: Jeff Rys & Bill Romito

All members are welcome to attend.  We will have our usual break between the first and second hour of each bee school meeting and anyone who would like to bring food/snacks to share with the group is encouraged to do so.  See you at bee school!