Beekeeper’s Corner, September 2017

By Gerald Przybylski

Jerry has been an East-Oakland beekeeper since 2011; local bees preferred.

Do participate in the National Varroa Survey… the Mite-A-Thon (Sep 9-16)
What to do?
Do your Sugar-Rolls…
Count your Varroa…
Record your results…  Then go to
https://bip2.beeinformed.org/mitecheck
and click the “Take The Survey” tab in the middle of the page.

Fill in the form, and submit your data!

It’s no more trouble than ordering oxalic acid from Amazon, and the survey doesn’t cost anything.

What does our Varroa data tell us to do?

Based on: the numbers; personal treatment threshold; microclimate, where your bees came from (package or swarm of local feral bees), your philosophy/style… you take action, or you don’t.

Beekeepers span the universe from believing bees have no capacity whatsoever for resisting Varroa (so treatment is the only option) – to – the belief that bees can only evolve resistance/tolerance to Varroa by our NOT treating for Varroa.

Beekeepers who have bees die out in their equipment ever year are likely to be driven to treatment by the frustration. (You can’t learn bees if you have no bees)

On the other hand, the year-to-year success of feral colonies in bee trees in our communities strongly asserts that local feral bees can control Varroa quite well when left on their own.

The truth for each of us is somewhere along that spectrum.

Non-treatment beekeepers can
– cull drone to hinder Varroa reproduction
– artificially induce a brood brake
– let nature take its course. If the bees have enough Varroa controlling traits, they will make it.

September is probably a little late in the season to consider splitting to induce a brood break.

Beekeepers who treat for Varroa can
– treat their over threshold hives according to the instructions distributed with their product of choice.

For news on Oxalic Acid treatments under development, visit Randy Oliver’s website http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

The “bible” for treatment beekeeping is found at the Honeybee Health Coalition’s web site http://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/

The conventional wisdom is that comb is valuable.
The more nuanced view is that healthy drawn comb is valuable, and suspicious, smelly comb can harbor diseases or viruses.

As the season draws to a close, it’s time to clean up and groom our gear.

Suspicious comb should be rendered in the wax-melter, or sent to a landfill. Send wax melter residue to the landfill too.

Never compost suspicious comb for the garden where the spores can become airborne next year.

Treat your dead-out hives as you would treat hand-me-down woodware and frames.

Don’t intermix that suspicious gear with your other healthy gear until you successfully raise a colony of bees in it…
Success is defined as having a healthy strong colony build up in it.

Alternately, strip out all the wax from the suspect woodware, and recycle it. Replace the plastic foundations too.

Yup… the books say the bees will just clean it all up, so don’t worry… but why risk it?

Healthy colonies still bringing in pollen should be OK for now.  Colonies not bringing in pollen and with skimpy pollen stores may benefit by offering them pollen supplement now to build them up before winter. Don’t offer too much at a time since the small hive beetle and

Australian sap beetle larva just love to eat it up.
Some reduction of hive weight should be expected now during the dearth, and the hot weather. The bees will turn some of their honey to wax cappings on hot days.  Keep water sources filled. Small entrances enhance hive defense against robbing and yellow jackets.

Evaluate your inventory, and consider buying new equipment in time to assemble it during winter.