Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bees History and being in this country

Many times i have been told "the bees know better" i don't disagree, but along with this comment usually comes "they have been doing it for millions of years". I have to disagree to a point. Yes honey bees have been around for millions of years, but NOT in North America.

First the German Black Bee was brought over by the settlers in the or so in the 1600's. However, the bee we keep is based off the Italian Honeybee which was not brought over until the mid to late 1800's. which means they have only had a chance to adapt for about 150 years, and of course we have constantly meddled with them as well, which i am sure has slowed their adaptations. As nothing "Man" does ever really works well. Keep in mind 150 years is NOTHING in the life cycle of evolution. Not to mention we keep bees in un-natural boxes. there is NOTHING natural about keeping bees in boxes, topbar hives OR Langs.

So what i am getting at is YES our bees AT TIMES do need our help. After all don't we have an obligation to them since we removed them from their home country and brought them here?

Here is an article that was posted on Bee-L i found an interesting read...


During the early part of last year the Commissioner of Patents at Washington authorized Mr. S. B. Parsons, of Long Island, N. Y., to proceed to Italy, and inquire into the habits of Italian bees, and if, upon investigation, he found them possessing qualities of value which our native bees do not possess, to procure a certain number of swarms and send them to the Patent Office.

He entered upon the duties assigned him, and arrived in the country of the Italian Lakes in April, 1859. After wandering about among the hills of that delightful region for some months, his researches were arrested by the approach of hostile armies, and he was not able to resume them until the following September, when he met an intelligent Bavarian who had established himself in the Grisons, and had devoted himself to the culture of pure Italian bees.
The result of his researches convinced him that these bees possess qualities superior to those of our own, and he ordered for the Department to the full amount which he was authorized to expend, and directed them to be sent by the Arago on the 18th of October from Havre, but by some unaccountable delay they were not shipped until December 28th, from Genoa.

In his investigations, Mr. Parsons says he came to the following conclusions in relation to the Italian bees:

1. That they will endure the cold better than ours.
2. That they swarm twice as often.
3. That they are abundantly more prolific.
4. That the working bees begin to forage earlier, and are more industrious.
5. That they are less apt to sting, and may be easily tamed by kind treatment.
6. That the queen may be so educated as to lay her eggs in any hive in which she is placed, while the bees of such a hive, deprived of their ownqueen, will readily receive her.
7. That its proboscis is longer, and it can reach the depths of flowers which are entirely beyond the efforts of the common bee.
8. That a young queen, once impregnated, will continue fertile during her life—from four to seven years. This quality will insure pure broods, till the whole country is fllled with them.
9. That they are far more brave and active than the common bee; will fight with great fierceness, and more effectually keep the moth out of the hive.

Having read the statement of Mr. Parsons, and learning that Mr. Brackett, of Winchester, in this State, a gentleman who has gained some celebrity as a'skillful cultivator of several varieties of grapes,—had introduced the Italian bee into his colonies, we visited his place a few days since, and examined both bees and grapes for ourselves. In the midst of his delightful retreat, surrounded on all sides but the south by the natural forest, he nestles on the hillside with his pleasant family, his forcing houses, grapes, and other plants, and his twenty odd swarms of bees! He is full of zeal in regard to them all,—and that zeal is so admirably tempered with knowledge, that one cannot fail to gather valuable suggestions upon any of his favorite topics. Mr. Brackett was early called into consultation with Mr. Parsons, and one or two other distinguished apiarians, in regard to the course to be pursued with the Italian bees, and as a part of the policy he has introduced eight pure queens into his colonies, having first by a most ingenious device driven all the drones, or males, of the common bee from his hives. The queen of the common bee and the drone brood being taken away, and a new Italian queen introduced, the natural work was at once entered upon of forming new queen and brood cells, so that the eggs deposited by the new queen would produce the pure Italian bee!

From the experience thus far gained, Mr. Brackett is inclined to confirm the statements made by Mr. Parsons. He thinks their merits have not been overrated, and states that they are more easily managed, and less sensitive to cold than our bees.

From a little work by H. C. Hermann, the Bavarian referred to above, we learn tjiat the yellow, Italian bee is a mountain insect; it is found between two mountain chains, to the right and left of Lombardy and the Rhetian Alps, and comprises the whole territory of Tessir, Veltlin and South Graubunden. It thrives up to the height of 4500 feet above the level of the sea, and appears to prefer the northern clime to the warmer, for in the south of Italy it is not found.
It differs from our common black bee in its longer, slender form, and light chrome-yellow color, with brimstone-colored wings, and two orangered girths, each one-sixth of an inch wide. Working bees as well as drones have this mark. The drones are further distinguished by the girths being scolloped, like the spotted water-serpent, and attain an astonishing size; almost half as corpulent again as the black drones. The queen has the same marks as the working bees, but much more conspicuous, and lighter; she is much larger than the black queen, and easy to be singled out of the swarm on account of her remarkable bodily size and light color.

We engaged with Mr. Brackett in some manipulations, such as taking out the queen bee and a drone or two for examination, and peeping into some of the nuclei which he is forming.

The New England farmer, Volume 12. September 1860

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ramblings in this heat

Well its over 100 deg today and i have a ton of work to do this weekend. Currently have 15 hives bodies, 10 bottoms, and 150 frames to build. Add this to the fact i have 12 hives to feed initially and I'm sure more have used their syrup... i also need to inspect a multitude of hives to see if they are doing well, accepted queens, etc.

Far too much work in this heat, but it will have to get done. I have 13 queens coming possibly Tuesday or Wednesday, i will be selling 3 of those to a friend so that leaves me with 10 splits i will have to make next week.

This will be my last round of splits and will set me at 60 hives assuming everything has been and will be accepted and does well. I have been doing 50/50 splits and this seems to work very well. In fact the parent hives when left in place to receive the foragers have been building out 10 deep frames of foundation within 4-5.5 gallons of syrup which isn't too shabby this time of year. This means that the split will be not far behind them once they build up the difference of bees to account for the foragers they don't have. So basically i have a month from the time the splits are made to be in full double deeps.

This is a little different from my original plan of overwintering all nucs, but this will also give me allot of drawn comb. Essentially what i have when i make the splits is a nuc ready for winter as originally planed, but i have a hard time sitting watching bees do nothing when i know they could be drawing me some wax.

At first i thought wax was the only thing i was receiving for my sugar i am spending, but after thinking and watching i am also having a chance to see how a queen preforms in a larger colony prior to sale in the spring. A true test of performance. It also helps weed out the "junk" early on as the poor queens will not be able to build up like the others, while in a nuc arrangement both a good and poor queen will be restricted possibly falsely equaling the judging. Of course winter will tell who does well and also who is frugal or not.

I will say the queens i have made this year are preforming well, not only for me but for others as well. So alot of my worry and concern have been put to rest when it comes to selling nucs as i have personally worked and seen these other hives out of my control and they look wonderful.

These are my thoughts anyway...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bees Running Off the Comb

well today I recieved my Purvis queens and went to make my splits.

The first went ok, found the queen etc, but I noticed the bees would
run off the comb out of the hive body and pile up on the top edge and
sides like a swarm would. They would do this in both the queenless and
queen right portion. Basically empting the hive of bees and leaving
brood frames. I was able to finish the first split and eventually they
all went back in amd settled down.

Moved on to the second hive and started making the split. This hive was worse. Eventually it got to the point there was no need to continue since every frame I pulled had no bees on it, so I couldn’t find the queen anyway. So I had two boxes with basically swarms of bees festooning on the outside of the boxes. While working this hive I started hearing thunder in the background behind me. Since everything was so bad and no chance of finding the queen, I put the boxes back together, scooped the bees into the hive and closed it up and went inside. In about 30 minutes or less the storm came which had heavy lightening, thunder, and rains for about an hour.

All I can figure is the bees acted this way due to the approaching storm.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Queen Installation and Acceptance?

Well i recieved 3 VP Open Mated Queens yesterday and installed them in my previously made 10 frame splits that had been queenless for 24 hours. They were solid strong splits made via a 50/50 split process. Pretty simple,place two empty bottoms and boxes on the ground beside you, find the queen and remember which box you put her in and basically one frame in that box and one frame in this box. A 50/50 split.

I then feed the QUEEN-RIGHT hive a pollen pattie and syrup while adding an upper deep of foundation. I take the QUEEN-LESS split and place another deep of 8 frames foundation leaving the center two frames out. This gives me room to place the queen cage on top of the bottom frames as seen in the picture below. Once the queen is released in about 3-4 days i simple remove the cage, add a pollen pattie, install a in-hive feeder or install 2 frames and a hive top feeder, depending on the feeder im using.

Anyway, below is a picture after about 15 seconds of laying the queen cage down in the hive. you can see the bees welling up around her passing around her pheromone! They were truley excited to have a queen. The top of the frames where empty of bees prior to laying the queen down...

Pretty neat!!!

BTW, my Dann Purvis queens arrived this afternoon and will be installed them this evening or tommorow depending on how much of this heat i can handle...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hive Updates and Safety

So I returned from vacation on Friday and instantly went to work. I must say I really enjoyed not having anything to do for 7 days! But I have 9 queens coming from VP Queens and Purvis Brothers and I needed 130 frames assembled, hives inspected, hives fed, etc. So I went to work upon my return.

I wanted to mention a few things I noticed this weekend. First the Goldenrod is starting to bloom across the state, and with this rain we have been having it should produce useful nectar and pollen so I am glad to see it. The hives are using it too, they are loading the pollen in. This will help brood rearing this time of year. I have been feeding ½ patties of Bee Pro for three weeks now and it seems the bees are eating it up, all but one hive out of 41 eat everything and remove the paper in 7 days… I wont feed too much right now with good pollen coming in, but I have 22 more splits to make and need the brood.

I notice a few large hives having trouble fighting varroa, a lot of deformed wing virus (DWV), but these hives recently swarmed and maybe and hopefully this is caused by the break in the brood cycle and the varroa crowding all in the last remaining larva to be capped prior to the new queen laying, so maybe its just a short term issue, one hive in particular has been keeping the mites in check since last summer. But who knows. This is the time of year to think about treatments in the fall. I am looking at Oxalic Acid Vaporization along with testing the Api-Guard Thymol gel and Formic Acid Mite Away Quick Strips I have. I have never tried any of it, but don’t want to lose bees either. I won’t treat across the board as I do want to select breeders, but there is no reason to lose hives if I don’t have to. I can always requeen the “losers” after treatment.

One thing I learned yesterday was BEE CAREFUL when working bee hives. I am 29 years old and although not competing in the World’s Strongest Man competition, I can hold my own when working outside. However, I must be getting old. While feeding bees (yes feeding) I hurt my back. Folks at work are saying my Cyanic Nerve or maybe a compressed disc. I was lifting multiple 5 gallon pails of syrup at about 50lbs each one at a time and using an oil pump for a 5 gallon bucket I bought at Agri Supply to pump syrup into my in-hive frame feeders. Well I noticed my back beginning to hurt while leaning over and pumping etc. Well yesterday afternoon I could barely do anything (but of course had 150 frames in front of me to be assembled). This morning nothing was better and could barly put on my socks. At times it takes my breath away.

So BEE Careful, lift with your knees, and build a syrup truck with a gasoline pump so you don’t have to lean over and pump…LOL I sure hopes this gets better, I have 3 splits to make tonight and 6 tomorrow night, im sure that wont be any fun with this back… But a farm must go on.

After all that’s done, this weekend and next week I have to make 10 bottoms, 15 deep boxes, 150 more frames, not too mention the feeding… oh well I do it to myself.

Maybe I need another vacation? The other bad thing is I have these two $125 queens in hives I was going to use for grafting and have barely had a chance to graft, and when I do I don’t use the queens… I guess it’s a waste of money. I need to get back on the band wagon and go to grafting again.

Here is a picture of my dining room (now my bee room), thanks to my wonderful wife understanding my addiction to bees...LOL this is 150 frames in a pile with another 50 stacked to the left behind the pile...along with queen rearing items, and other bee stuff... i even have a air compressor and staple gun in there to assemble them...LOL My poor wife... if i wasnt such a good husband id feel sorry for her...LOL