March 2, 2017

The unreliability of sticky boards and the dead bee effect of an alcohol wash has beekeepers doing the sugar shake. It works by tossing a half cup of bees (approx. 300) in a jar of powdered sugar to dislodge mites. Then you count them. This is supposed to give the beekeeper a fairly accurate estimate of the infestation level so a decision can be made on treatment. There’s b...

December 1, 2016

Ask ten beekeepers how to ventilate the hive in winter, get one answer. Something’s not right. Does adding ventilation holes at the top of the hive overcompensate for moisture? Having evolved in the warm, wet hollows of a tree cavity equipped with a single, small entrance at the bottom (Seeley 1976), apis mellifera is likely not a stranger to mold. Its presence in the hive...

November 8, 2016

Some wrap their hives for winter, some don’t. Bees can survive either way, but there may be a difference in honey consumed, brood reared and bees lost (Owens 1971). It’s been said that cold doesn’t kill honey bees, but they’re actually very vulnerable.


Below about 60F, honey bees begin clustering together to trap the heat produced by their metabolism. The compact outer shel...

October 28, 2016

How much honey does your colony need to survive winter? This question is asked often, and the answer typically falls in the range of 80-100 pounds. This is a safe answer, because it will satisfy the needs of a large colony during a cold winter. But it may not be accurate enough for your particular situation. For example, you may be tight on reserves after the harvest, or ha...

October 5, 2016

Lost in the epic battle against Varroa is another deadly parasite of honey bees with a global distribution and high occurrence in local apiaries. Nosema apis has largely given way to Nosema ceranae, a spore-producing parasite that recently jumped from the Asian bee to the Western bee (as did the Varroa mite). These unevolved relationships between host and parasite often res...

September 16, 2016

Not surprisingly, the bees that carry the colony to spring are called “winter” bees. Their longevity is due to differences in their physiology, such as a higher fat content and lower hormone levels. Winter bees are not reared all at once, but rather added gradually starting in late summer. The probability of a colony overwintering successfully is largely dependent on the he...

August 12, 2016

It’s the middle of summer, and if your bees aren’t filling the honey super, it’s probably not because they hate plastic or prefer yellow over black foundation. They probably just aren’t finding enough flowers. If you’re fortunate enough to have healthy bees in a localized area of considerable nectar flow, and they’re still not moving up, maybe it’s just too hot outside.


Som...

December 25, 2015

Some of my hives got a late start last season, and some of them I started late. Despite fall feeding, many were a little light going into winter. It's been cold lately, but temperatures are forecast to be above average in January and February. I wasn't sure how that would impact colony food reserves. For those with similar concerns, what follows is a summary of the research...

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