For new beekeepers with new hives started this year from packages: Most beekeepers who are getting started in the spring will have installed their packages in April, but others more recently. It may take a week or two for the bees to get a frame or two of comb drawn out, and several weeks to get a good part of the foundation in the first box drawn.
All photos in this post by Mary Parnell Carney
You’ll first see fresh nectar (which may actually be the sugar syrup you’re feeding) in the drawn cells and fresh pollen. Continue reading
It is the time of year when new beekeepers are getting started!
Package bees waiting beekeepers!
Below are links to several posts I wrote in 2012, that new beekeepers may find helpful.
Installing package bees
Newly installed package of bees – 3 days later
Here is a post I often get from new beekeepers – 9 frames or 10 in the brood boxes?
This is also right up on the top of questions from new beekeepers (and sometimes from not so new beekeepers) – how do I keep that smoker lit?
I recently ran across a publication of results from an interesting study by a number of honey bee researchers including: Dennis vanEnglesdorp, University of Maryland; David R. Tarpy, North Carolina State University; Eugene J. Lengerich, Pennsylvania State University; and Jeffery S. Pettis, USDA-ARS Bee Research Laboratory. The study involved tracking 80 hives of honey bees in three different migratory beekeeping operations, as the hives traveled up and down the east coast of the United States providing pollination services. The purpose of the study was to asset the hives for various health and colony risk factors which may impact the health of bees in the hives and contribute to colony loss of the hives and to attempt to determine which of these may be associated with the death of the bees in the hives (colony loss). Continue reading
It is now mid-March here in Kentucky and temperatures are starting to get warm enough to inspect hives after the long sleep of winter. What do we look for? What should we want to see on the frames and what are our concerns? We should be looking for brood, food and bees.
First, check for brood, both larvae (uncapped brood) and pupae (capped brood). If it has been warm where you live (extended temperatures above 60°F) and the bees have been carrying in pollen, your colonies should be rearing brood. Look for larvae (uncapped brood) and pupae (capped brood).
Photo by Mary Parnell Carney – click, hover over photo and click to enlarge
If you are seeing pollen being brought into the hive and frames of brood this will tell you that Continue reading
We are now seeing warmer, spring like weather, throughout the upper south and moving into the mid-west. Those further north are going to have to wait for a while longer. I’m hearing beekeepers say they are reversing hive bodies and conducting other hive manipulations involving the moving of brood frames. A word of warning, there is still cold weather, especially at night, ahead and manipulations that involve movement of brood frames in and out of the brood nest must be done with caution.
The brood nest is the area where the queen is laying eggs, the bees are raising brood, and the colony is clustering in order to keep warm during cold days and colder nights. During frigid spells, the cluster must contract in order to maintain the temperature required to prevent damage to brood. Moving brood comb around or inserting frames with new foundation (or even empty comb) into the middle of the brood area may force bees to spread out over too large an area in an effort to keep the brood warm. Continue reading
This music video was uploaded to YouTube in 2009, but I just became aware of it. It is by the Canadian band Beast and the song is called Mr. Hurricane. The video was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Short Form Music Video in 2010. You must take a look!
How was it made? Well, I hate to disappoint beekeepers, but I think it was entirely created in a video studio. I still think it is pretty neat. You can view or read an interview with the video producer.
Daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths – the big, colorful blossoms that we associate with spring – may not have made their annual appearance yet, but spring is gradually moving north. Beekeepers know it because their bees are carrying more and more pollen back to the hives. This activity has been going on for some time further south, and is now reaching Tennessee and Kentucky. Though not the first photos I’ve received of pollen laden bees this year, the two I’m sharing with you here are particularly nice. They were sent to me by my Tennessee friend Fred Sloop.
Click photo to enlarge – a Sloop Family photo
Lots of pollen collection not only signifies blooming in the bees’ foraging range, but also means that brood rearing is underway in earnest in the hives. Pollen consumption is integral to the rearing of new bees and, in the process, stimulates the bees to collect more pollen, which in turn ….. Hence the frenzied activity we are beginning to see.
Maybe there is a beekeeper on staff at National Public Radio, or maybe it’s something in the air. At any rate, a few days ago NPR ran a story about how the collection of pollen by bees is facilitated by a slight, negative electrical charge in flowers. As bees fly they gain a slight positive charge from friction with the air. When they visit a flower, the pollen is literally electrically attracted to the hairs on their bodies. Honey bees actively collecting pollen will work purposefully to free it from the flower, but electrostatic attraction ensures that the flower’s needs are met whether or not the bee is interested in pollen on given flight. (The NPR spot also sights a recent study at the University of Bristol which demonstrates that bumble bees, at least, can sense the flower’s electrical field and use it to guide themselves to nectar sources and to avoid those which have just been visited by another bee.)
But wait, even more remarkable things happen after the pollen is on the honey bee’s body. NPR left out the most interesting parts. The bee uses her forelegs, which have hairs Continue reading
As beekeepers, one of the questions we hear most often is, “Why is the honey different colors?”
And of course, we know the answer and are quick to give it; the color depends on the floral source. This article from Western Farm Press expands on that response and provides details which may make us appreciate anew the uniqueness and complexity of each batch of honey, and the incredible amount of work which goes into producing every ounce. Beekeepers may want to forward it to friends. It starts off with an interview with my friend Jon Zawislak, apiculture specialist with the University of Arkansas.
As a follow up to my post on California almond pollination and a possible shortage of bees this year, here is a link to a video on YouTube. I say possible shortage, because this video was put up very recently and indicates that there MAY be sufficient bees. I think they really won’t know until the bloom gets under way, which is likely occurring about now.
Watch this short video, and you’ll see and hear from an almond grower who spends $100,000 a year to rent bees, and from an inspector with a business called Scientific Ag Company. Scientific Ag brokers contracts between growers needing hives for pollination and beekeepers with available hives. The video shows the inspector checking brood frames and describing the characteristics he looks for to ensure that the grower gets good hives for the fees he pays. Among other things, the inspecter points out that the presence of drones is an indication of a healthy hive – something I often tell beekeepers.
New beekeepers may benefit from seeing some of the traits which a strong colony of honey bees should exhibit. All of us might be interested in a glimpse into a world of professional beekeeping on a scale few of us will ever see.
Every year since 2006 when Colony Collapse Disorder was officially recognized, there has been speculation in the national media that there would not be enough honey bees to pollinate agricultural crops in the United States. Each year the ominous predictions have failed to come true. This year, though, it appears that it may really be happening – at least in the California almond groves. Migratory beekeepers have been busy moving their hives to California for the last month and the word is that, this year, there truly is a shortage of bees.
If you are not familiar with the California almond/beekeeping/honey bee connection, it truly has a fascinating history. Almonds are native to Asia, but have been grown in the Middle East for thousands of years. Brought to California from Spain in the 1700s, they were part of the early farming of Franciscan missions. By 2000, the almond groves of California’s Great Valley had grown to a half a million acres. Each acre of almonds requires two hives of honey bees for pollination; a little math will tell you that in 2000, a million hives were required. Today however, there are 800,000 acres of almond trees, producing 80% of the world’s supply. They will need 1.6 million hives of honey bees, with 1.1 million of them coming from outside of California! Continue reading