Greetings from the President
I am writing this late again and I won’t dwell on that point but will just try harder to get this in on time next month. I’m writing as lf June 23 and we’re in a terrible cool spell and the rain just won’t seem to let up. With this kind of exceptionally cool, wet weather it makes a big difference where you’re located. If you are lucky enough to miss a few of the heavy rains your bees have probably built up better and maybe even stored some surplus honey. I have got a 6 5/8 super on most all my hives and about 60 % also have a deep honey super on also. These supers don’t have much honey at this point but they are needed to give the bees plenty of empty comb to spread out on and if the weather straightens out, I think the bees are really ready to go to town. With the wet conditions nectar will likely be coming in fairly high in moisture, so the bees need plenty of space to spread out the nectar to dry it. By the time you read this I will have made another round supering, where I will give a super of foundation to the stronger hives and drawn comb to the shorter hives that may be a little behind on their buildup.
At this point the year seems to be setting up a lot like last year. The wet, cool weather has seemed to delay the main honey flow. I am very hopeful and actually the odds are very good that the hot weather will return, so don’t be shy about adding extra supers so the bees have more storage area than they need. With drawn comb it is much better to have a little or even a lot to much available comb storage space than to crowd them and have them be short on honey storage space.
The new queens seem to be holding up pretty well. I have seen some locations that have a higher percentage of queens that were accepted and laying but then seem to be fizzling out. I haven’t noticed it as problems from one particular breeder but more likely just certain batches of queens came from an area or a time that didn’t have good mating weather.
I hope to see you all at the field day in July, it is a great time to see and visit with your friends and fellow beekeepers. Also please remember the State Fair coming up in August. Try to find the time to volunteer and help out with the IHPA sales booth. The State Fair is our main money making event plus it provides the IHPA great opportunities for promotion of the great product that we as beekeepers strive to produce.
Work Hard But Take Time to Have Some Fun,
Just a quick note from me this month… I enjoy writing for The Buzz, but so often sitting down to write becomes that task that gets pushed back and pushed back in the midst of “everything else” each month. Here’s hoping your bees are doing at least as well as mine. I’ve been doing my best to keep them at home and happy while we wait for the weather to level out and come into a honey flow. Some have filled a couple supers, but they’re the exception to the rule. (This is being written on June 16th, with hopes to be included in this month’s newsletter even though the deadline was yesterday). Maybe by the time you read this, luck will be with us, and we’ll all be stretching to lift those top supers on – we’ll see…
Around the state, we’ve been seeing “healthier” colonies this springtime compared to last year – smaller numbers of bacterial and fungal diseases have been found in our inspections. Wintering success also seems to have been a bit better than in the last couple years. Swarming has been among the biggest concerns for many of us as we wait and wait for the bees to get busy enough collecting mass quantities of nectar that they forget all about the urge to divide & leave. Varroa is the same major pest it always is. There are a couple new products available for us here in IA for combating Varroa in our hives – Hopguard and Mite Away Quick Strips. Both of these treatments fall into the more-natural approach to killing mites and can even be safely used while honey supers are on the hives.
One final thought – we’re in a somewhat unique time period here as beekeepers. A number of long time beekeepers are getting out of the “bee business” due to the fact that it’s harder and more expensive to keep healthy hives of bees which can make a honey crop and then make it through the winter. At the same time, there are so many people just starting out with bees, very passionate about their new adventures. I’d like to put a word in for our apiary inspection program. One service we provide is the inspection of used bee equipment. If you’re selling or giving away any equipment containing combs and / or bees, inspection for evidence of disease is required by IA law. Please contact us at the IA Department of Ag Apiary Program (515 725 1481) to request the inspection. There is no direct charge for the inspection (any associated costs up to the $200 mark annually are billed to the County). And if you’re buying or receiving the “gift” of used equipment, please ask that it be inspected.
Thanks. Here’s to a great summer with the bees.