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!