Greetings from the President
We had a very nice spell of nice weather the 2nd and 3rd week of February. This has given the bees excellent opportunity to get out and take those cleansing flights so badly needed. I hope that most of you got a chance to at least take a look at your hives to see if you had flight activity or at least some house cleaning activity at the entrances. If you don't see any activity at all you should check further to see if you have lost the hive. If the hive has died it is best to clear out the dead bees and move the equipment inside to a storage area. If the equipment sits around outside with dead bees packed in between and in the comb, the comb will become soggy, smelly, and moldy. I don't always practice what I preach and have had plenty of experience in the part with soggy, wet, and moldy dead beehives. It is best to avoid this situation but if and when it happens the equipment can be saved fairly easily. Simply pull out a few frames and brush off all the loose bees parked between the comb and move the equipment to a dry area preferably a warm area with some air movement through the comb. If the comb is in good shape you may be ready for some new bees and a queen to replace the hive. Oh, wait, not so fast. When you first discover a dead hive, try to analyze why it died. Was there any honey left in the hive and if there was how far away from the cluster of the dead bees was that honey? How large was the cluster of dead bees? Do you see any signs of dysentery (spotting of fecal matter) around any entrance areas of the hive or inside the hive on top bars or actually on the comb? Do you see any dead capped brood? Is that dead capped brood away from the cluster of bees? Is the dead capped brood spotty with just a few capped cells here and there? Is there a patch of capped brood in the middle of the dead cluster of bees? If there is any brood, is it showing any signs of American Foul Brood? Is there no sign of brood at all? Are there many cells without honey full of dead bees stuck in the cell head first? Is there a mouse nest in the hive? Does the comb show evidence of a mouse or shrew chewing out the pollen and honey? Is the capped brood large and protruding out above the cells (indicating a drone laying queen)? Is there spotty capped brood scattered around an area much bigger than the cluster would have been able to cover? (Indicating a likely high varroa mite infestation causing to shrink earlier in the fall.) I've just asked a lot of questions about your dead hive and provided only a few possible reasons for the questions. You will have to analyze your own specific situation to come up with a best guess at cause of death. The more you know about why your hive died the more you can do to prevent it from happening again. If you are a new bee keeper you can better describe the situation to another beekeeper who may be able to help you analyze it.
I have spent a lot of time on dead hives, hopefully you are able to concentrate more time on live hives. Honey stores are critical this time of year as the queen starts ramping up her egg laying. It takes a frame of honey to feed and incubate a frame of brood (probably more if the weather turns cold and windy). There are many easy ways of getting feed to the bees, take your pick but don't neglect you bees in the spring after they have made it this far. Depending on Mother Nature, if the weather seems normal to good I think a protein supplement will do a great deal to help the bees build and avoid spring dwindling.
Remember to be thinking of ideas for the 2012 100th Anniversary celebration. Donna has met with her committee and they have come up with some great ideas. The suggestions that came up at the business meeting at the annual meeting were helpful in getting started and any suggestions you have for this committee or any other part of our organization can be directed to the committee chairs. If you don't know exactly where to direct your suggestions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact me. We are planning to get a new cookbook out as soon as possible, so get those honey recipes gathered up to share with others who can enjoy them.
Have Fun but Work Hard,
Iowa Honey Queen
I hope this letter finds you well. Life has been a little hectic at home for me so I am a little behind on things and I do apologize. Please remember to keep me in mind if you have anything I could help with. I am excited that spring is just around the corner so things will hopefully start picking up. I can’t wait for the 50 degree temperatures again haha. It will soon be parade season and I am excited for all the opportunities that I might have there.
Have a wonderful month,
The Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa
The Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa ("FBI") has changed our monthly meeting location. The club will meet the 4th Thursday of each month at the Annette Nature Center, 555 118th Ave, Indianola, Iowa.
The contact information for Friendly Beekeepers of Iowa ("FBI") is: