Greetings from the President
I’m writing this late again, it is March 24th as I write this and I just unloaded my first load of bees coming home from California. They are very light this year because the almond trees didn’t seem to yield much nectar. Possibly, it was the extremely dry weather in California, because the conditions seemed to be much better this past season giving the bees more of a chance to get out and forage. Overall the strength of the colonies is very good and while looking through the drone larvae that pop out as I break the two brood chambers apart we have not found one mite, yet. We haven’t done any ether rolls or alcohol washes yet, but not seeing any mites on the thousands of drone larvae we checked, is a good sign anyway.
Starvation and robbing was a big problem in my hives out there this year. A little over 10 percent of the hives on my first load were dead. That’s about 50 out of the load of 448 colonies. Probably 15-20 were queenless or drone layers but the rest were starved or robbed out. One big problem with having hives on pallets is that if a weaker hive starts getting robbed out, the hive on the pallet next to it usually gets robbed out also. This happens because when a robbing frenzy starts it’s hard to stop and the two entrances on a pallet are so close that the robber bees move right over and will overpower even a strong colony many times.
I should take a moment to explain my usage of the terms “hive” and colony. I was emailed and also read Glen’s article about the differences of a “hive” or colony. Technically a hive is the equipment housing a colony of bees. A hive can get robbed out because it’s the equipment containing the honey or syrup that is getting robbed. The colony in the hive is however, getting robbed of its honey or syrup. Most people understand that a Kleenex is actually is a tissue and a soda is the same as a pop. Anyway, I don’t like to split hairs and will probably use the two terms, hive and colony interchangeably. Please don’t take offence Glen, I see your point.
I didn’t go back and look at the last Buzz to see if I had promised to include anything specific in my next article, so I am just going to talk about bees, package bees to be specific. I read an article a while back, probably a long while back. Anyway I think Delmar Nelson wrote it, and it talked about how much Queen supersedure occurs in package bees. Queen supersedure is Queen replacement or at least raising queen cells to possibly replace the Queen. This is something the bees do because the bees have recognized any one of the many cues that cause them to think the Queen is failing or not doing a good enough job. Now back to package Queen supersedure. In a package the queen is confined with a group of bees, usually 2 or 3 pounds, and a mix of younger and older bees. They are off of comb for about 2-5 days before. They are released and start comb construction or are provided with drawn comb. In the article that I previously read it talked about the imbalance that occurs in the package because no new bees will hatch for 21 days. These bees naturally would be the nurse bees. The imbalance seems to be a good reason for the bees to think something is wrong. This fact made a lot of sense to me and I was questioning the desirability of packages. On the other hand, package bees have been used for over a hundred years and can’t be completely flawed and I remembered how I had always described how packages “Seemed to just explode and build up better than you expect, very similar to a swarm. A package seems to mimic a swarm”. In nature a swarm leaves the hives with a few pounds of bees and the laying queen. It hangs around for a couple of days then relocates to a new cavity or hive, builds comb for the queen to lay eggs which won’t hatch for 21 days. Bees have dealt with imbalance for thousands of years.
The weather in the spring has not been ideal for many of the past half dozen years and this year seems to be about three weeks ahead of schedule. I am not sure how this will play out but I think the bees are going to have a good year.
Have Fun, Work Hard,
June 9th CIBA Meeting
Due to a scheduling conflict the June CIBA meeting will be June 9th. We will eat at 6:30. The meeting will start at 7:30 followed by the program which will include a question and answer session.
“Master Class Twilight Meeting”
By Larry Connor, Ph. D. www.wicwas.com
Larry Connor will be holding a meeting/class Friday night, June 15th for a limited class size of 20 people on a first register basis. Requirements of 2 years beekeeping experience a must to register please. This meeting/class will be held at Spring Valley Honey Farms, 14405 Hull Ave, Perry Iowa, 50220. The registration will be at 4:00 pm, meeting will start at 4:30 pm until 8:30pm, with a meal. Topics: “Field” colony evaluation (bring your bee suit), making nucs, presentation report of the traveling beekeeper, and time for Q & A.
An autographed copy of Larry’s new book, “Bee-sentials” for each person registered. Wow, what an exciting opportunity for learning!!
Cost is $75.00
To register, please call or e-mail