March 2018 ACBA Meeting Notes

Bee Chat:

  1. What do about a hive that was doing well, then became more defensive with 2 full supers, mites on the bottom board and mites on bees.

Answer: Catherine Edwards:  This winter was mild with bees foraging so much honey production.  A sugar roll test needs to be done for a mite count.  If mites on bees implies a 40 + count.  Need to treat urgently.

2. What is a sugar roll test and what is the best way to remove mites? Answer: Refer to Randy Oliver’s Scientific Beekeeping website.

3. Do power lines affect a hive? No.  To move a hive, it must be less than 2 feet or more than 2 miles.

SPEAKER:  Jennifer Radke, Spring Beekeeping in the East Bay

Her influences have been Randy Oliver and Michael Bush.  Has had no swarming of her hives after first year in 14 years of beekeeping here.

Phases of Colony Life Cycle: 1) Growth Phase in Feb/March with increase in Brood.

2) Reproductive Phase in late Mar/April with swarms around the Spring Equinox 3/21

3) Food Storage Phase April-June.

4) Conservation Mode Aug- October,  Nov- Jan

A colony grows 2 deep frames of bees per week or 4000 bees at peak growth.  Should be adding a box once a month during that time.

Swarm Prevention:

Goal is to make space for the queen to lay.  12-16 deep frames or 6 deep and 12 super frames.  If there is honey at the top and sides of a frame there is no room for brood.  Place that frame to outside of box and empty frames in the middle of the brood to create space.  If colony is not growing in the spring, it is either a problem with the queen or mites (will see dying brood or pupae).

Food Supply:  Feb/March: pollen.  April/May: pollen and nectar. Pollen is necessary to feed brood, honey feeds the adult bees.  Length of day affects amount of time to forage; Feb/March have shorter days and cold nights; April/May 12 hours of daylight.  Brood needs to stay at 95 degrees.  When it rains the number of nurse bees is decreased by half.  After 3 days of rain, the nurse bees eat larvae.  If possible, feed a pollen patty before it rains.

Spring Mite Management: mite levels rise during the winter from robbing bees who are infected.   Test for mites using sugar roll test in early February.  If mite count is > 15, treat for mites.  Usually uses Miteaway Strips (formic acid). Cannot use it if weather is rainy or cold.

Spring Mite Management:

Other methods for mite management include drone trapping, oxalic acid preps (don’t affect mites in brood) and splitting a hive for a brood less period.  Recommends splits.

Drone trapping: put frame in 2nd or 3rd from the outside, 3 weeks later remove drone brood which harbors more mites than worker brood.  Can feed to chickens.

Recommends sugar roll test for mites every two weeks from Aug-Oct.  Then test in early Feb, then monthly in the spring.  So about 10 times throughout the year.