Honeybees and Beekeeping

Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:22 am

Hi everyone,

I was out at the hive the other day and noticed that the workers (all girls) were removing the drones (all male) from the hives. Mostly the girls drive them from the hive and won't let them back in but those that are left in the hive are starved or meet an unpleasant death and removed. They do this before winter because the drones do not add any positives to the colony over winter but are a drain on the colonies resources. Seriously, the drones do nothing in the winter but eat. In a short period of time drones go from being a quarter of the population to just a handful. The queen will not lay drone eggs until the spring when the hive will have an abundance of resources and they are needed as "sperm delivery systems."

If you're wondering about the the number 8 metal fabric I have over the entrances, that's there to keep robbers bees and other pests out while allowing for ventilation. Bees from other hives can clean out a hive in a very short time. The metal fabric on the entrance on the right is bent in a way that only the bees from that colony can figure out. It also keeps mice out.

It's getting late in the year so I'll be closing the hives up this week. After this week we may be subject to quick changes in the weather and I don't want to be caught unprepared. Hopefully, I will be able to apply enough of what I've learned to help the bees make it through the winter.

Winter to a beekeeper is like the coal burner's summer. Cleaning your equipment and planning how you can tweak your beekeeping to maximize your results.

Take care, Lisa
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The workers can carry more then their body weight.
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They usually carry the drones 15 or 20 feet from the hive.
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The drone has not been allowed back in and has died on the landing pad.
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lowfog01
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 12:51 pm

I just came across something referred to as a "Warre Hive". Have any of the beekeepers here on our forum used this type of hive, and if so, what is your opinion of this hive option?
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:40 pm

I know a couple of beekeepers who have Warre Hives. You either love them or wouldn't even consider having one. I'm in the second category.

First let me say that these hives do produce enough of honey for family and friend and do so for seeming less effort on your part. You don't go into a Warre Hive for management like you do a classic square hive. People with Warre Hives go into them in the spring if needed and late summer to harvest. A Warre Hive is a top bar hive in that it doesn't use frames and foundation to force the bees to build straight comb.

Instead you lay "bars" across the top of the top box and the bees build their comb downward any which way they want. The brood nest is in the top one or two boxes. Not using frames to get straight combs most often results in "cross combs" that intertwine and make it next to impossible to remove the comb to inspect it. The lack of frames also means that you can not use a extractor to harvest the honey and have to destroy the comb to harvest.

Here in VA they are barely legal. By law you have to be able to remove to inspect and return the comb without destroying it if you intend to sell the products of the hive. Having top bars you can technically do that but the state Apiarist (one who keeps bees) frowns on you having to cut the comb out due to the cross combing. He has to bless your hives if you plan to sell anything. He won't come looking for illegal hives and doesn't really care if you aren't selling anything. I've never had my hives inspected but I don't sell anything from the hives.

I have several concerns with Warre Hives. 1) the brood nest is on the top of the tower. Those boxes can be very heavy. That means you have to move the brood nest in order to put on empty honey boxes for the surplus honey. Remember the brood nest is growing down and in any direction so may extend into two or three lower boxes. How do you remove that without damaging the comb. On a square hive you never have to bother the brood nest to harvest and there is minor disruption for inspections. 2) the issue of cross combing does not allow you to thoroughly inspect the hive for pests and if you do spot something wrong, treatment can be more complicated. This is serious because your Warre Bees are interacting with my square hives and spreading whatever diseases or pests they may have to my bees.

This happens through "drift" when a bee may go to the wrong hive or though robbing activities. American Foul brood is so deadly that you have to kill all the bees and burn the equipment. It can spread through neighboring hives in no time. Fortunately, it's very rare.

All that being said I know people who wouldn't have any other style hive. They like that they almost never have to go into the hive but once or twice a year. This hands off approach means that they practice organic beekeeping and typically don't treat for pests or diseases anyway. Survival of the fittest. If the colony dies they buy more bees in the spring.

Over all if you are looking for having a hive that produces just enough honey for your family and friends and don't want to have to mess with the hive very often or the lifting isn't an issue for you a Warre Hive maybe the way to go.
lowfog01
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lsayre On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 2:51 pm

Wow! Thank you kindly Lisa for taking the time to detail all of the great content above. How about wintering? It's well colder here than where you live. Would a Warre hive have issues in that area that it would not share with the Langstroth?
lsayre
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: KLook On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 3:49 pm

Same issue wintering and maybe worse. As she said, it is more difficult to treat and problems of many sorts can make wintering difficult. It is already difficult.

Kevin
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:13 pm

Like Kevin said wintering bees is a challenge no matter what style hive you use.

In a square hive or Langstroff hive the brood box is on the bottom and the stored honey is over that. The cluster of bees move up in the structure as they eat through the honey. If you need to add additional food before winter's over, you can crack the lid and slide some "bee candy" in relatively easily without exposing the brood nest to the cold. In the spring you reverse the positions of the boxes and the brood box and bees are back on the bottom.

Given the Warre hive's brood nest is on the top of the tower, the bees may not move down to the stored honey. Bees naturally move up. They are so hard wired to do so that they may starve while there is food within inches of the cluster. That happened in one of my Top Bar hives last year. The bees face a darned if you do and darned if you don't situation. If they left the cluster to look for the food nearby, they froze. If they didn't explore for food they starved. My hive chose to starve. I can't think of a way to slide additional food into a Warre hive if they needed it in late winter.

Another concern with bee hives is ventilation. A Langstroff hive acts as a chimney because the entrance is on the bottom and the inner cover has a second opening. This air movement helps control the moisture in the hive during the winter. Nothing is worse then having moisture condense on the inner cover and drip back onto the bees. I don't think the Warre has that same ventilation since the entrance is at the top. If fact, I've read that Warre users have to make a "blanket" out of wood chips and placed it on the top of the hive to soak up excess moisture. Beekeepers also do that for square hives in more northern climates.

So as you can see winter can be a challenge in any style hive. Some style of hives make it easier to overcome those challenges. I don't think the Warre hive is one of them. My goal is to have sustainable bees. That means I manage my bees in a manner that will allow the colony to survive from year to year. From what I've seen of Warre hives that's not going to happen.

I noticed that you are from the Medina area. Do you realize that Medina is the home of Bee Culture Magazine and has a strong Beekeeper Association? They would be able to answer any question you may have about keeping bees in that area. Just ask. As you can tell by my responses, beekeepers love to talk about bees. :D
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Sat Feb 06, 2016 10:20 am

Figured I would pass this on to the Beekeepers:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/virus-killi ... the-world/
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sat May 14, 2016 8:13 am

Holy Moly did I have a major setback with one of my top bar hives! It was a couple of weeks ago but I just now got around to sharing.

That hive, for reasons I beyond me, decided to get a virus - Sacbrood. I equate it to the flu. This virus is the least destructive of the brood diseases but it's still bad. It attacks the larva and reduces it to a white, jelly like blob. Like the flu, there isn't anything you can do to cure it. It has to run its course.

Let me set this up for you. In the hive the bees have set jobs they are responsible for depending on their age. They start off as house bees and their job is to clean the cells of the comb and prepare them for the queen to lay an egg in. Next they are nurse bees who feed the larva and developing brood. This is where the Sacbrood virus attacks.

The house bees become infected from who knows what or where. Seriously, all my research would have me believe someone snaps their fingers and the hive is infected.

Anyway, the house bees become infected while cleaning the cells and when they become nurses they infect the developing larva and it dies. It isn’t pretty. No larva, no brood and ultimately no hive. If by chance some brood does develop they hatch as house bees and become infected when cleaning infected cells. Then they become nurse bees who infect new larva and the cycle continues. As the hive weakens it becomes susceptible to other diseases and being overrun by other pests, like Varroa mites. Infected nurse bees have a shorter lifespan, too. It’s not a good situation.

So what to do... not much. “They” say that the only thing to do is requeen, thereby creating a break in the brood cycle. No queen to lay eggs for a while so there’s no larva to become infected and eventually the infected nurse bees will move on to be being foragers and not spreading the virus. But replacing the queen made no sense to me. The queen isn’t involved with spreading the virus. Why replace her?

What I did was capture the existing queen so that she couldn’t lay eggs. I held her captive for 10 days. At seven days the existing brood was either larva and healthy and capped or it had developed Sacbrood and died. By day 10 the infected house/nurse bees cleaned the infected cells one more time before moving on as foragers. I hoped this would let the virus run its course without doing too much damage. I also removed any comb which held infected larva. I didn’t throw it away though. It’s in the garage for now. Maybe I can reuse it if I can determine it to be safe.

To complete my treatment I added an additional package of 3lbs of house bees I brought. They will replace the lost brood.

When I looked in the hive earlier in the week that’s exactly what happened. I only saw one comb cell with an infected larva. There was no capped brood and the cells were cleaned and ready for the queen to do her thing. All infected house bees should have moved on to other chores. It appears the virus has run its course.

I swear there’s always something to new to learn with the bees.

Hey, did you hear that last year beekeepers lost 44% of managed hives. That number includes backyard beekeepers and commercial beekeepers. That appears to be due to pesticides, diseases and pests, including the Varroa mite. How can anyone shoulder such a loss and stay in business? Get ready for an increase in the cost of honey.
lowfog01
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: McGiever On: Sat May 14, 2016 8:59 am

Cost of honey yes, cost for pollination service contracts provided by the large scale commercial migratory beekeepers...fruits, berries, nuts and vegetables etc, those higher fees are passed on ultimately to the consumer as always too.
That is if even enough hives can be had and moved and rented at the critical time of crop bloom.

:idea: Large scale Mono culture is not always wise. :idea: Think water and bees. :o

Worse yet is little to no pollination and crop to market shortages will drive up prices of whatever little bit of crop did get produced. :roll:

To the migratory beekeeper honey is a liability not an asset as too much hinders both pollination effect and beekeeper has to continually move the collective weight from region to region through the migratory seasonal blooms moving ever Northward.

FYI: Honey weighs 12 pounds per gallon alone. Pollination hives stacked 11 foot high on a tractor trailer will add up fast. :o
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: KLook On: Sat May 14, 2016 9:13 pm

Ouch, never had that one Lisa, hope I don't. I have struggled also as my queen died and I waited for them to make a replacement but it did not seem to work. finally requeened and it seems they are doing will now. Got to find some time this coming week to open them up and look at the progress. I put a second hive body on the top and closed off the venting to help them keep heat on cool nights. That seemed to settle them down a whole bunch. Been reading a lot about venting and such lately. Still lots to learn!

Kevin
KLook
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Sun May 15, 2016 6:59 am

A way to kill varroa mites without chemicals. I'll let this here for all you beekeepers: https://www.yahoo.com/news/brilliant-be ... 55133.html

SWPaDon
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1600M
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: KLook On: Sun May 15, 2016 8:37 pm

Well, thats another one I'll wait to see about. Like the new extractor method that just pours into jars.... But why not just heat your bees up with an electric element? Hell, up in Maine you can't get enough sun to heat one up to 116. Like the idea, gonna research it a bit.

Kevin
KLook
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: SWPaDon On: Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:04 pm

‘Like it’s been nuked’: Millions of bees dead after South Carolina sprays for Zika mosquitoes



https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/mor ... osquitoes/
SWPaDon
 
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: KLook On: Thu Sep 01, 2016 9:13 pm

So pretty soon we make the decision to eat (bees) or have defective children and other diseases. The 3rd world is coming closer every day.....

Kevin
KLook
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Harman VF 3000
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Re: Honeybees and Beekeeping

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Sun Oct 02, 2016 9:06 am

Hi,

I'll plan on taking just a minute to bring everyone up to speed on the queens I installed in the hives last spring. ;) You may remember they were "ankle biter" bees bred to seek out and bite the legs off the Varroa mites. Those mites are responsible for most of the health issues facing honey bees today.

Last week I did a mite count and found that 2 of my hives had mite counts of 5 per 300 bees (1/2 cup.) That is considered low. That count means I do not have to treat those hives with chemicals or take any action. The other hive had a mite count of 9 per 300 bees. That is the point most beekeepers think about treating the hive.

Rather then treat that hive with chemicals, I'm going to create a break in the brood cycle. The mites reproduce in the capped brood cells. Take away the capped cells and the Varroa can't reproduce. I will capture the queen and store her in a "queen catcher". She will remain in the hive and the bees will be able to move in and out of the "queen catcher" to feed her and spread her pheromone. That access will stop the bees from starting a new queen. In 21 days, I'll release her, the mite count will have gone down and hopefully the queen will resume laying brood.

If I can get in the hive tomorrow there should be just enough time for new brood to hatch after the break before the queen slows down her laying for the winter. There is a concern that the break in brood will weaken the hive before the cold but after considering that, I'm going ahead with the plan. This is my strongest hive and if necessary, I can move some bees from my other hive to strengthen it.

Overall, I'm very happy with the "ankle biter" queens. Once they got established they each have great laying patterns and make for strong hives. With so many ways for beekeepers to spend their money, this was a good purchase. Take care, Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I
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