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Larry tells us how it is

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945), Pan American Day address, April 15, 1939

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Saturday August 1st, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Aaron and I went tubing below the dam on the Sacandaga, at Hadley, near Lake Lucerne, then returned to Round Lake in time for a party at a neighbour's.  It was a lot of fun and the fireworks went on and on...  Really nice folks.

Aaron floating down a calm stretch of the Sacandaga  Rapids ahead Fireworks and a bonfire

Sunday August 2nd, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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EAS starts tomorrow and I have reserved a room at the Kelly House Lodge in Ellicottville for tonight, so I have to leave by four or so to get there at a reasonable hour.

We had a break in the rain and went out to look at some of Aaron's bees.  The season has been very wet and the bees are slow.  He has bees from several sources. One seems pretty good, but the other is a bit odd.  The bees that hang out form a little cluster hanging from the corner of the landing board, rather than a beard. His bees -- the ones we looked at in one yard -- are behind mine, and mine have been split twice.  Not a good year for bees in that part of NY state.  Floods were making the  news and everyone was excited to experience 36 hours without rain while I was there.

After looking at the bees, we had an early supper and I hit the road.  I used the GPS and it took me by the thruway all the way to Buffalo, then down the 219 to Ellicottville .  I suspect there was actually a faster, shorter route, leaving  the thruway around Rochester, but planning on a small screen, even on the largest model like the XL is not easy.  Details are hard to figure out, even though the unit knows all the speed limits and other details of all the various roads.

It has a speed limit warning tone and I found that very handy.

I arrived in Ellicottville around ten and found my room.  I was alone in a bunkhouse style room in the basement. It was clean, but smelled of mould.  Bathroom down the hall.

Monday August 3rd, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Short Course sessions began at nine.  I found that the lectures -- even level two -- were aimed pretty low, but beeyard sessions are always good.

Who can go to a beeyard without learning something--especially considering all the talent on hand?  Many are old friends and acquaintances, and it is a great deal of fun to open hives together.  The bees were gentle, and I did not need a veil.  That was a good thing, since I had forgotten that I carry several in my van.  I did not remember that until days later.

Dave Tarpy ran a grafting session, and it inspired me to think I may actually do some grafting.  Grafting  is dead simple.  Although I ran 400 queen mating nucs at one time, I never have grafted even one larva as far as I can recall.  My wife, Ellen, did that job and did it well. 

I have some reservations about grafting, though, since as a hobbyist and an idealist I do not wish to narrow our genetics, and usually grafting is done from a small number of queens.

Larry Connor www.wicwas.com ran a session that was very enlightening.  He showed us how to easily calculate the laying rate of queens, and indicated that the 3,000 egg per day rate many seek is unlikely, with good real-world numbers coming in between 1200 and 2000 as I recall.

Here is how it is done:

  1. Go thru the hive and estimate the area of sealed worker brood in square inches

  2. Multiply by 25 (the number of cells per square inch) to get the total

  3. Divide by 12 (the number of days that workers are sealed)

The result is your average number of eggs laid during that twelve days.  Our group estimated 1800.

Nancy Trout demonstrated queen marking.  It is something that I have seldom done, but may make sense in my present situation.  She mentioned that this year's colour is green and that she uses a fluorescent green for visibility, and also a Day-Glo pink for red years.  She mentioned the marker she uses, available at Wal-Mart.  I forget the name of the specific paint marker, and will have to buy one and report back.

There was much, much more going on.  Too much to relate.

Here is an interesting link that relates to the splitting and feeding I am doing these days, and my interest in protein feeding. Dwindling pollen resources trigger the transition to broodless populations of long-lived honeybees each autumn


1. Each autumn in northern regions, honeybee colonies shift from populations of short-lived workers that actively rear brood to broodless populations of long-lived winter bees. To determine if dwindling pollen resources trigger this transition, the natural disappearance of external pollen resources was artificially accelerated or delayed and colonies were monitored for effects on the decline in brood-rearing activity and the development of populations of long-lived winter bees.

2. Delaying the disappearance of pollen resources postponed the decline in brood rearing in colonies. Colonies with an extended supply of pollen reared workers longer into October before brood rearing ended than control colonies or colonies for which pollen supply was cut short artificially in autumn.

3. Colonies with extended pollen supply produced more workers throughout autumn than colonies with less pollen, but the development of the population of long-lived winter bees was delayed until relatively later in autumn. Colonies produced similar numbers of winter bees, regardless of the timing of the disappearance of pollen resources.

4. Mean longevity of autumn-reared workers was inversely related to the amount of brood remaining to be reared in colonies when workers eclosed. Consequently, long-lived workers did not appear in colonies until brood rearing declined, which in turn was controlled by the availability of pollen.

5. Dwindling pollen resources provide a powerful cue that initiates the transition to populations of broodless winter bees because it directly affects the brood-rearing capacity of colonies and indirectly indicates deteriorating environmental conditions associated with the approach of winter.

Keywords: Annual cycle; brood-rearing activity; environmental cues; nursing load; pollen supply; population shift; resource availability; winter bees; worker longevity

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2007.00904.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

The full text electronic article is available for purchase. You will be able to download the full text electronic article after payment.

$50.16 plus tax

Personally, I consider it a shame that these studies, which are generally carried on at publicly funded institutions are sold by such websites at ridiculous prices.  Usually, reprints can be had for free by writing the researcher.  I see no possible justification for these prices and the restriction of information that results.  "Information  just wants to be free".

Also, see Manipulating pollen supply in honey bee colonies during the fall does not affect the performance of winter bees

I decided that I would entertain myself tonight and drove up 219 to Springville to the Wal-Mart superstore and did some shopping.  Frankly, I was getting really tired of my laptop and its shenanigans and I had a plan to replace it with a netbook.  Being a inveterate road warrior, I was also finding my Acer 5630 increasingly bulky and heavy.  Now that it is getting bitchy, I have had enough.  I don't owe it a thing.

At Wal-Mart, I headed for Electronics with a plan firmly in mind.  I had been looking at a netbook with an Atom processor, XP Home, 1 GB or RAM, and 160 GB of disk for ages now, and was finally ready to buy.  Imagine my confusion and shock when, beside my target and for only $100 more was a netbook with a 11.6" screen, 2GB RAM, and 250 GB of disk!  Plus it had Vista Basic.  Perfect.  I like Vista, but Aeroglass and the media centre, to me, are things I hate.  They are left out of Basic. Bonus!!

I hesitated a bit, then bought it, booted it up in the parking lot, and discovered it has a crisp high resolution screen, 1366 x 768, that makes my other units look fuzzy in comparison!.  Hallelujah!

Of course, most days I need to use reading glasses to see it, but it is really fine resolution and has as much screen real estate as my previous units.  Reading glasses are much lighter to carry around than a bulky laptop.  (I am writing this on this very unit).

It is also as light as a paperback and guess what?  Vista sleep function works flawlessly!  I love it.  (I discovered later that this unit is not yet offered at Wal-Mart in Canada).

At first it appeared that battery life would be two hours.  Darn.  However, it turns out to be four, and a twelve-hour battery can be had for well under $100.

I returned to my fetid cell in the basement of the Kelly House Lodge and slept.

Tuesday August 4th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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We took a road trip to to Merimack Apiaries.  It was a highlight of the meeting.

Touring the bottling area Going out to look at the bees Andy showing us his bees
Bob Danka explaining the USDA project -- following migratory hives all around the USA A chat in the extracting area Looking down the Dakota conveyor

I had doubts about the "Short Courses".  I rushed to 'level two' talks and discovered they were very basic.

OK.  whatever.  The field trip was not so basic, though.  We got to meet highly qualified people doing what they do best, and talk to them while they did it.

Andy Carr opened his operation to us at a busy time of year and answered all and any questions while showing us what he does.  His family and crew were equally helpful.  Bob Danka was present and outlined the USDA's work in following migratory bees around America to understand the effects of the stresses to which we subject our bees.  Maybe I heard wrong but did I hear 8,000 miles?

Wednesday August 5th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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This is an interesting uncapper from Italy that I saw in the display area.  It needs no heat and should be quite quick.  At over $1200, though, I figure it is overpriced.

Still, the principal looks very good and it might be something a person could adapt.  The sharp disks should score the cappings very effectively, much like a scraper.  We used scrapers most of the time, except when we experimented with various uncapping machines.  Of all the uncappers, I liked the Dakota as well as any.  Hint: if you buy a Dakota, change the bearings to a higher quality version of the same bearing.  The machine will be much quieter.

Thursday August 6th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Tom Seeley puts on a good show.  He set up an artificial swarm, with a confined queen and invited us to watch the dances and predict the departure.  After a few false starts, due to changes in weather, they lifted off.

Discussing what we will see The swarm getting ready to go We have liftoff!

 Minutes later, missing their queen, they came back. 
Of course, beekeepers being beekeepers, we had to fool around.

The queen was left behind in her cage.  A few bees try desperately to make her fly Five minutes later the bees realise they have no queen and return Demonstrating how gentle the swarming bees are.  No one was stung.

Friday August 7th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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Kirk Webster gave a splitting demo.

This feeder is divided across the centre.
A small hole in each side give access to one end or the other.

These are mating nucs.  Four to the standard box. 
The standard size allows stacking on hives for overwintering and other purposes.

Kirk has a system and specialized saw horses for the job.
He adds a frame or two of brood, some honey and bees, and a frame of foundation on the side.

The conference ended tonight.  I had intended to cut the banquet, but at the last moment decided to stay.  Tom Rinderer and Charlie Harper were at my table, so I had a chance to catch up on things.  Tom mentioned that the Baton Rouge lab will be having an open house October 3rd.  It is a long ways from here, but it is tempting.  I really enjoyed my last vist.

Saturday August 8th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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I woke up early and drove north, headed for Pearson International. 

Wal-Mart was open 24/7 in Springville and I had a few items to return.  First and foremost was the Tomtom GPS, and there were some other small items.  Shopping at 5:30 AM is great, except for the racket made by the floor polishers.  There are no line-ups at the cashier.  I noticed that in the few days since I bought the computer the price had dropped from $398 to $348.  Apparently there are several look-alike models, too.  I later discovered I had lucked onto one of the better ones.  The only option that would have been better was the seven-hour battery instead of the four.

The border crossing was uneventful, although I think I sold the border guard on the computer I bought, I was so enthused.

I arrived in Toronto and went to the parking lot where I was reserved.  They apparently were running a bait and switch.  I wanted self-park and they were offering only valet parking.  They really stack in the cars.  Jerks.  No way I am giving my van keys to anyone.  That is how I am.

I went to my favourite lot and got an even better deal.  I had thought that I had reserved with them, but another company with a similar name was front running them on the Internet and capturing their hits.

Shortly after, I was in the air, watching the latest Star Trek movie.  It wasn't bad, at least it is no worse than any of the original TV series and the movies or their sequels.

I arrived in Calgary and had to hunt for my car which a friend had dropped off.  An hour later, I was home in bed.

Sunday August 9th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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Today is Ellen's 65th birthday. Jean and Chris are coming and then a bunch of friends will be here for supper.

Subject: Re: Queen size vs age of larvae selection
From: allen dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 08:39:29 -0600

> - In every instance I checked I found leftover royal jelly-a good sign.

Did I quote this here before? It is from Michael Bush's site --http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenrearing.htm

If I didn't I should have.

--- begin quote ---


Emergency queens:

"It has been stated by a number of beekeepers who should know better (including myself) that the bees are in such a hurry to rear a queen that they choose larvae too old for best results. later observation has shown the fallacy of this statement and has convinced me that bees do the very best that can be done under existing circumstances.

"The inferior queens caused by using the emergency method is because the bees cannot tear down the tough cells in the old combs lined with cocoons. The result is that the bees fill the worker cells with bee milk floating the larvae out the opening of the cells, then they build a little queen cell pointing downward. The larvae cannot eat the bee milk back in the bottom of the cells with the result that they are not well fed. However, if the colony is strong in bees, are well fed and have new combs, they can rear the best of queens. And please note-- they will never make such a blunder as choosing larvae too old."

--Jay Smith

C.C. Miller's view of emergency queens

"If it were true, as formerly believed, that queenless bees are in such haste to rear a queen that they will select a larva too old for the purpose, then it would hardly do to wait even nine days. A queen is matured in fifteen days from the time the egg is laid, and is fed throughout her larval lifetime on the same food that is given to a worker-larva during the first three days of its larval existence. So a worker-larva more than three days old, or more than six days from the laying of the egg would be too old for a good queen. If, now, the bees should select a larva more than three days old, the queen would emerge in less than nine days. I think no one has ever known this to occur. Bees do not prefer too old larvae. As a matter of fact bees do not use such poor judgment as to select larvae too old when larvae sufficiently young are present, as I have proven by direct experiment and many observations."

--Fifty Years Among the Bees, C.C. Miller

--- end quote ---

> My scepticism of growing good queens from "walk away splits has lessened > considerably..

Thanks for the feedback.

I just returned from EAS and had a few chats with Larry Connor, plus lots of beeyard sessions with Dave Tarpy, Kirk Webster, Jennifer Berry, Tom Seely and others. I also picked up Larry's book, "Increase Essentials", (since splitting like crazy is the extent of my beekeeping these days -- splitting to prevent honey production, since I have no extractor). He has a lot of respect for the wisdom of the bees and very few concerns about emergency queens. He does not, however, recommend them, though, simply due to the time it takes to get new bees emerged -- 42 days, approx, and the fact that the only selection taking place is for bees which thrive on being split this way.

Other methods can get a queen laying sooner resulting in a shorter period without new bees emerging -- when the methods work out, after all, walk-away is the unspoken backup plan.

( I am halfway through the book, but recommend it as a good and easy read that will be a good primer for newbees and a good review for the advanced beekeeper).

Everyone is different. Personally, I don't really want to be the one who decides which queen or queens become mother to all my hives and prefer to let the work it out themselves with minimal guidance from myself if they get outside my parameters, but I a a hobbyist these days and keep bees strictly for fun.

Thus, I recommend the walk-away method principally for the lazy beekeeper (me) or the time or resource-short beekeeper who cannot get queens or cells or make multiple trips to the yard and who would otherwise not split and have swarming or crowding as the only alternative -- or anyone else who recognises its limitations and is OK with them.

It is also a dead-simple, non-difficult way to spilt hives for the newbee who might otherwise find the task too daunting. The only challenges are choosing the right time and being certain there are eggs and very young larvae in both top and bottom boxes before splitting. Apparently eggs alone are not as good, since the bees may remove them rather than feeding them? I've heard murmurs of this. Anyone know for sure? I have always put in eggs when encountering a queenless hive, but never actually observed a.) whether there were larvae too, and b.) what really happened.

I have, however, run several thousand hives using a mix of this technique, ripe cells, plus some batches of mated queens when handy. In truth, I am sure that a good percentage of all but the most intensively managed operations is effectively headed by emergency queens which are raised unknown ti the beekeeper after an 'inspection', rejection of an introduced queen or other such accidental dequeening event..

 Walk-Away is another tool in the kit, and a good one in the right hands and that the appropriate time.



Subject: Re: Queen size vs age of larvae selection
From: allen dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 09:49:07 -0600

> Everyone is different. Personally, I don't really want to be the one > who decides which queen or queens become mother to all my hives and > prefer to let the work it out themselves with minimal guidance from > myself if they get outside my parameters, but I a a hobbyist these > days and keep bees strictly for fun.

I really should add to this. There are assumptions in any such simplistic statements that are apparent to practised beekeepers, but maybe not to all.

I am assuming that we are starting with good stock and can tell when we are about to go off the rails should we go too far with not selecting.

It is also assumed that we are also doing some other things to add qualities we like by buying or begging queens from people with superior stock, doing some hygienic tests, eliminating any stock that shows any chalkbrood and encouraging them to requeen with better stock, and generally biasing our assistance towards hives that exhibit desirable qualities.

This taken for granted when we have more than a few hives and are long-time beekeepers -- it is so natural we can't help but do it -- but is less obvious or assumed when the beekeeper is a newbee and has only a few hives. Nonetheless the pitfalls are not too serious and if the bees become degenerate or won't cooperate, which can happen with some beginning stock, the alternatives are still there.

Something else. I find that some people still regard AFB as a scourge. All I have to say is this: Do NOT propagate any stock that breaks down with AFB and does not clean up a few cells pronto if you see them. And DO NOT buy stock from that source again. There is no need. There are a number of strains that handle AFB quite well and will fight off anything but the strongest challenges with or without a little help from the beekeeper.

I address this to the non-commercial group. The commercial group will  do what they will do, but don't underestimate them either. Four days ago, I was in a yard with a beekeeper who has 27,00 hives some of which are untreated for a year or more and which are in the USDA project under which the USDA is following the bees around the country.  I had a chance to talk to him about it and to Dr. Danka and his crew right on the spot and examine the hives -- along with a throng of other beekeepers.

What I am starting just now to realise as I write is how much I saw at EAS. At the time I took it for granted, but there was a lot packed into a few days. What distinguished this event from others was the amount of beeyard time we got and the breadth of the topics covered, as well as the talent on hand to discuss ideas.

I plan to write more about it, but that will be a huge job.

Anyhow, there ARE people running bees which seldom exhibit AFB, and which can deal with it if it appears. I asked Tom Rinderer (also at EAS) about the Russians and he says he has seldom seen any in his stock over the years and they take no special precautions. Equipment is swapped within the lab and with other beekeepers, yet no medication  is necessary. There are many others, but I like to be sure that if I name them that I have the details right and their permission. In this case, Tom stated this publicly in his talk and also confirmed in private conversation.

The future is here. It is just not evenly distributed.

Subject: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 14:03:06 -0400

Everyone knows about IPM. It is the new buzz on how to manage pests and diseases.

The underlying concept is -- basically -- that we are not likely to eradicate most pests, and that when the levels are low, the costs of fighting them outweigh the benefits, plus we risk breeding superpests by knocking out the weaker versions and leaving only the strongest to carry on.

There are levels of pest presence below which the costs of tolerating pests are less than the costs of trying to fight them, so we should watch outbreaks and only play "Whack-a-Mole" with them when we see that the cost of letting things go on as they are is getting to be more than the cost of the bullet it will take to set back the pest's progress.

Most of our 'solutions' to pests either cost us in cash, in time and effort, in collateral damage, or in contamination of our products and damage to our bees, so we need to think before we act and only act when we have to do so to save our investment and income.

The IPM concepts have achieved very good acceptance, except, apparently with AFB, where the laws and standard advice require an all-or-nothing attitude. Not only does this defy logic, but it sets up a situation where openness and honesty can be counterproductive for the beekeeper involved.

Having written a course which included a section on IPM, I have had to dig into the concepts and to reflect deeply on them, and I guess they have taken over my approach in dealing with all pests, and that includes AFB.

Apparently IPM thinking has not propagated throughout the industry yet and I was quite surprised to find that quite a few people are strongly attached to the idea that the only way to deal with AFB is to burn the hive, the contents and the bees (and perhaps the beekeeper for good measure).

What happened, and it gave me a jolt, was that in a meeting, I ventured that AFB should no longer be a problem. Not thnking I was being controversial, I ventured the opinion that if people are seeing any more than the occasional cell or two of AFB, they have the wrong bees. They need to change their stock.

I further ventured to state that when I saw a few cells in one stock I have, I don't worry. I know that when I go back it will be gone. One the other hand, with another stock, I know there will be a lot more a while later and I had better act -- stat.

Well, that got a strong reaction from some of the bee inspectors in the crowd.

"Are you saying that you leave cells of foulbrood in your hives", I was asked.

"Er, well..., yes, I replied", a bit stunned at the tone. It seemed obvious to me that from what I said, that I must do that -- ignore a few cells of AFB if I see them. I do recall where they are though and I do check back.

You see, I was a bee inspector a long time back, and have a fairly close acquaintance with AFB. In fact, following Phillips' advice, I deliberately bought scaly equipment and cleaned it up. It was cheap and often just about new. With proper medicating, after a few years, it was as clean as any commercial equipment in the region.

That was back before we had 'resistant bees' available commercially from numerous sources and the bees needed an antibiotic backup in their cleanup work.

Of course there are spores even after cleanup, but the bees cover them up, coat them with wax and propolis, carry them out, and, moreover the spores lose virulence with time. Besides it takes a lot of virulaent spores in the right place at the right instant in time to break down more than the occasional cell of good bees, and good bees will get it out the door right away before it can cause more grief.

Thus I take it for granted that we can tolerate a bit of AFB if we monitor and make sure it is not running away on us. We have the tools to deal with it. Good bees, drugs occasionally if necessary, and gamma ray radiation.

IPM. It works with other pests, Why not AFB?


Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 14:49:33 -0600

> I think that I will stick with the situation in the UK - sixty-odd years > of a burn policy has resulted in very, very little AFB. No drugs, no > gamma rays, no problem!

True, perhaps, but Britain, AFAIK, have no large scale migratory beekeeping nor an agriculture system that depends on it. Each country is different.

Also, having some challenge from disease ensures that the bees maintain defense mechanisms.

Apparently Britain is having some other sorts of problems presently. Who knows if better immunity might have helped.

As for gamma rays, the benefits are mire than merely saving equipment from destruction. Even without the need to sterilize after AFB, the brood boxes coming out of sterilization reportedly perform far better in many ways. Beekeepers report "Brood patterns like I haven't seen for years".

Burning definitely has its place, but even ignoring the destruction of valuable comb and the air pollution it causes, especially where plastic comb and hive parts are employed, there are many other downsides.

IMO, burning is soooo yesterday.


Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 23:47:48 -0600

>I think the AFB problem confuses a lot of people who don't have a lot of >experience with it. Basically, if there is no AFB in your area, you don’t >need to use antibiotics (for it) on a regular basis. and >If you are thorough in your inspections, you will be able to detect AFB at >a very early stage where it can be contained with antibiotics.

I understand this point of view. It was what I was taught and practiced decades ago, but it seems the the times have changed and some are in the future, but many are still in the past.

That includes many queen suppliers and their unwitting customers. I often trot out a nice piece of work from Baton Rouge to illustrate. It is in regard to tracheal susceptibility, but it could as easily refer to AFB and hygiene. See http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/tracheal.htm . Although the study is a bit old now, I have recently been reassured that nothing has changed.

The upshot is that, although methods of producing strongly resistant queens are known, and have been for a long time, some queen producers are still selling queens that are WORSE than bees that Baton Rouge deliberately selected to be terrible at handling tracheal! Are you buying from these suppliers? Nobody knows, since the names are secret. Otherwise nobody would have agreed to participate in the test.

Ergo, each of us has to determine how good their supplier is on their own. What is true for tracheal is equally true of hygienic traits.

In spite of major progress in AFB resistance in the past decade, inspection services and some extension personnel still assume that AFB is a dangerous disease with few options other than burning or medicating, rather than an indicator of a genetic weakness in any stock that exhibits an escalating AFB breakdown, instead of a spontaneous recovery from infection by AFB.

I speak to numerous breeders, researchers and commercial migratory beekeepers who tell me that they have very low incidence of AFB and normally use NO medication.

In fact, it happened that we had dinner guests tonight who run around 6,000 hives and I asked them if I am wrong. They confirm what I say. So do many others, but old ideas die hard, and, moreover, there are many who depend on AFB and fear of AFB for a living or sideline income, and also for credibility and power.

Some beekeepers inspect regularly, especially researchers. Some, especially commercial migratory, do very little detailed inspection and unless they encounter an obvious case or encounter difficulty with inspection services, just pick up dead outs in the fall.

Many in this latter group typically report around 1% average over time, WITHOUT TREATMENTS, and some have had AFB that has proven resistant to OTC.

What do they do with the infected hives? Around here, they simply send *all* dead outs (most do not have any AFB) to gamma radiation because that process eliminates any pathogen that might be lurking -- sackbrood, chalkbrood, EFB -- whatever. The improved survival and brood patterns -- and rapid build-up -- in irradiated equipment compared to normal experience in dead out equipment more than compensate for the cost.

In fact, good bees could probably clean up any scale, with or without assistance from chemicals, but what is the point? Bees are expensive and the cleanup process involves the sacrifice of many larvae until the infection is eventually cleared. Moreover, hygienic bees vary in their ability and some that can easily fight off small amounts of AFB might be marginal in cleaning up a hive that died after a major breakdown. That would be a waste of good bees, even if they succeeded, since production would be lost.

What we have to remember is that genetic solutions are more variable than chemical solutions. 100 hives dusted with OTC will likely have uniform response. 100 hives with hygienic queens installed, will be less so, since we can expect a distribution of the characteristic and the odds are that there may be some that are more susceptible than others. We must understand that and not panic. It is just how nature works. The occasional failure does not indicate the process is not valid. Different thinking is required to use genetic methods.

Assuming an outfit with known hygienic bees has a breakdown in an occasional hive, perhaps burning or melting affected combs is in order, or maybe simply scraping off the scale might suffice. Removing the scale somehow is definitely a good idea, since that is the major reservoir of contamination. Forget the hive boxes and floors, etc. As for the bees, when a breakdown is encountered, obviously that bunch are not measuring up for handling AFB. Should they be killed? I doubt it, if bees are valuable, but they need requiring and medication to assist until they are replaced by young hygienic bees, or to be spread into better hives that do have hygienic stock. ---

In a non-hygienic outfit, any breakdown is a potential disaster. If you and your your bees are living in the past, then the old ideas apply. Burn, melt, medicate, panic, but whatever you do, get a new queen supplier with known hygienic stock so it does not repeat.

Those who already have -- by accident or design -- hygienic bees probably wonder what all the fuss is about.

--- As for radiation in the treated equipment, suggested in a previous post, with gamma rays there is no residue of radiation. The rays pass thru and are gone. The word radiation confuses many people since it is used for many various things. Gamma radiation leaves no more residue than the UV in sunlight, also referred to as radiation. This sort of radiation should not be confused with contamination with radioactive substances which radiate rays of various sorts for a long time. There are none involved here.

The gang came late in the afternoon and stayed for supper.  We had a good time. 

Of course the beekeepers in the group had to open some hives.  On discovering that the patties had again mostly disappeared, they added more.

Ellen is now officially 65, and an old age pensioner.

Monday August 10th, 2009
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Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 10:38:18 -0400

It seems that the solution to the problem is too complex for many and gets confused in the details of any long discussion.

Let me boil what many smart and capable researchers and commercial operators tell me down to three very simple sentences.

1.) Get proven hygienic bee stock.

2.) Monitor to verify that your bees are truly hygienic

3.) Requeen any that prove to be exceptions.

The end

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 10:51:04 -0400

>So, Allen, what is your opinion on NYS spending $200,000 a year policing beekeepers to make sure they don't still have the AFB scourge, and -- requiring them to destroy colonies with even a couple of rotten larvae?

Hehehe. Thanks, Peter, for that nice slow, easy pitch. You know what I think.

If that money were spent on beekeeper education and cooperation, and identifying the problem stocks and the quailty ones that should be used instead, everyone except a few old-school queen producers would be far happier.

Unfortunately it is always easier to appropriate money to fight a perceived scourge than it is to get the same amount of money to do something more constructive.

Unfortunately, it is risky to point fingers and name a source of the problem, given the tendency to sue and lobby these days, but it is not risky to identify superior suppliers, so let me start.

I think, in my area, that Kona queens are sufficiently hygienic to resist AFB, even though there are sources nearby. On the other hand, side by side, some Australian packages I had seemed to break down easily.

Australia is a huge country and there are many excellent breeders and producers there, so please don't take my comments as a condemnation. It is merely a one-time observation of one specific lot of bees.

Has anyone on the list ever seen more than a few cells of AFB in Kona carniolan stock in recent years?

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 21:39:46 -0600

Interesting that this topic brings out differing viewpoints.

Those with susceptible bees see one thing and the rest of us see something else.

> Consider a million AFB spores will fit on a pin. Also researchers have > said bees can not clean up all the spores from a heavy AFB infection.

Absolutely true, but irrelevant, Cleaning up all the spores is not at all necessary. Simply reducing them to the level where the bees are seldom challenged is all that it takes -- if you have good bees.

> Rothenbuler said a bee could be bred to survive AFB and clean up AFB and > started the issue. > A waste of researcher time in my opinion. Burn or treat I say.

Many would differ, including some of the best and brightest. That solution is maybe the best for those who can't or won't take the easy way out, though, and get with the hygienic bee program.

 Hygienic stock is here, it costs no more than susceptible stock, and it is powerful.

I have a confession here, folks. I have confessed before but maybe nobody was listening.

Here goes:

In the past, I *intentionally* bought scaly AFB contaminated equipment (dirt cheap) and cleaned it up with OTC (sulfa before that) in accordance with Phillips` advice. I simply bent down the scale cells a bit to detach the scale so the bees could it out (scale is hard to remove otherwise) and let them go at it.

After a few years without breakdown, my incidence of AFB was very low, even with the susceptible stock of that time. Of course, I was treating prophylacticly as documented in my diary back as far as 2000. At that time, after cleaning up the scale, any scale I found was removed and stored for melting (never happened - I still have that stack somewhere) but I have to admit was not particularly kept out of the reach of my bees (I have no beekeeping neighbours). For all I know there is some scale and honey with AFB spores stacked somewhere within reach of my bees now.

Here is the interesting part.

I entirely quit medicating a few years back, and the last AFB I saw was in some Australian packages a few years ago. The Kona stock in the same yards was clean other than the occasional suspicious cell or two. Most people would not notice. I ignored the AFB and the Australians, along with some various other hives died of neglect, but not of AFB. If nothing else, that loss proved that all the work I had put into my bees over the years had not been a waste, since many hives died within a year after I stopped giving them my normal attention. Previously my losses were small.

At any rate, Some of the hives did not die and I finally got around to caring for the bees again. I started socking the pollen patties to them and checked for varroa. I even gave them one dose of oxalic syrup last fall. I hadn't seen many mites, but figured at that late date, simply running some oxalic syrup on them was easier and more likely to get done than mite drops and shakes, etc. (I travel a lot). FWIW, I really did not enjoy drizzling the syrup. It seemed unnatural, somehow. Maybe it did some good. Who knows.

As for tracheal and nosema, I never seem to have a problem, but then again, I don't manipulate or move hives much and I do feed protein, even now. My hives -- all except two -- ate two pounds of Global 15% patties since the last time I looked about two weeks ago, before EAS. My hives are also kept very heavy all the time. I don`t extract. I just keep splitting.

(Another confession: I have had to give up splitting as planned, and start supering. I had hoped to make one more split this year, but after listening to Larry Connor, and calculating, I realize that the first emerging brood would now be in mid-September (42 days). I think that is too late for good wintering.

With three brood chambers on the splits, I was planning to add more deadout broods to get them cleaned up for next year, but the bees are making so much honey that I am afraid there would be no room for bees in the broods and I have had to stack on supers with a few frames of foundation interspersed to keep the bees busy. Amazingly, these bees are drawing sheets of ten-year-old unwaxed plastic foundation quite well! Of course sometimes they get the wrong notion and make a mess, but nine out of ten are worker comb, built properly. I see they are borrowing wax, since the new cells are sometimes a bit brown. Any that are messy, I just scrape off and put back in somewhere else.

Just now, I went through 21 hives, looking at brood, since we have been discussing AFB, and I am curious to see if I am just blowing smoke. Apparently not. I see no AFB, and I cannot remember when I last added an antibiotic. It has been years.

Don't forget that some of these frames had been riddled with AFB at some time in the past, and never burned, melted or irradiated -- merely cleaned up by the bees. The hives were never scorched or boiled in lye. Most have not even been properly scraped. (I am a slob). I did see one hive with a spotty pattern, but no signs of any disease. You never know. Hygienic queens can have spotty patterns when challenged, and new queens sometime inherit a bad pattern from their predecessor for a while.

Anyhow, if what Bob and many many others say is true, and if anyone should get AFB from stopping treatment, it should be me. Why am I not, I can only assume that it is the bees I have. I get my stock from my friends and they are smart beekeepers with a European background. They use Buckfast, Kona, Saskatraz, Russian, and other bees with a good reputation for hygiene.

There are lots of hygienic bees for sale these days.

Get some and you'll miss all the fun.

No bonfires, and day after day of heavy extracting.


Tuesday August 11th, 2009
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OK.  I went out and checked the rest of the bees -- 12 hives at Elliotts' -- this afternoon.  They are all fine.  In the 36 hives I now have two or three that may be queenless, or they may have a new queen about to lay.  I added young larvae just in case.

The queenless hives were very obvious.  Not only did they buzz, textbook style, but they had hardly touched their supper. .  I saw one of the new queens.  She looks good.  Not fully swelled up yet -- she is in a smaller hive --but feisty just the same.

I notice that the bees out at Elliotts' have been more thorough in cleaning up their patties.  Many had three on the 28th of last month and no trace remains, except a bit of paper (right).  There is little except alfalfa out there and alfalfa provides little, if any, pollen.  The hives at home have more variety. 

The yards are only separated by 0.7 of a mile and I also think that some bees may have drifted back when  I moved the hives out there.  The hives at Elliotts' are mostly smaller, but some are in four or five boxes.  These have been split twice, remember?

With all the honey I see in the hives, I have arranged to borrow a 24-frame extractor.  I guess I'll be making more mead.

How many boxes should I put on?  The hives have fattened the frames in the ones they have, but now comes the hard decision.  Many years, we have had a killer frost on August 20th -- a mere 9 days away.  Other years, the flows have continued until late October.

I think I'll super.  That way the boxes get cleaned up and if there is a flow, I win.  I'm not using excluders, so maybe they will not take all the honey down when things cool down.  If I super too much, though they will.  I'll take that chance, since I may be gone until some time in October.

Still no sign of AFB!

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 09:24:31 -0600

> For once I seem to be standing on the side of conventional wisdom on the > subject of AFB over the last century. <snip> The issue of a bee which can > tolerate a strong AFB issue comes up often. I think all agree the bees can > handle a light problem. Still researchers I have spoke with are very > divided on the subject.

I have to admit that I wake up wondering if I am crazy, going against such a formidable preponderance of opinion and history, but I have to go by the evidence before me.

I think the times have changed and I get confirmation from many experienced beekeepers and researchers with whom I discuss this. There are some here lurking, and I would love to hear their opinion, even if it is opposite to mine, but I won't put anyone on the spot. This is, as I recently found out, a politically explosive issue and many wish to avoid public controversy.

I recall that Marla Spivak, speaking in a session at Niagara Falls in 2002, suggested that beekeepers leave a yard or two without treatment and see what happens. It was a shocking idea at the time and seemed like heresy, even to me, being a commercial operator running thousands of hives at the time.

In truth, I am not sure that she was speaking in the context of AFB, so much as in the context of another pest, but she did not say otherwise, and I have not forgotten; I have pondered those words ever since.

In mentioning that one thing, BTW, I not suggesting that she takes any side in this question. I simply do not know what her present position is on the matter, if any.

Marla is one who has quietly put years of sweat and brainpower into the problem of hygiene, with amazing results. Currently, I have heard that she is working to get the fruit of her efforts out to the public by consulting with many of the largest queen producers in the Southwest. Anyone have recent details? Gary Reuter spoke at EAS, and was available at various times for chat, but I did not think to ask him. Duh!

>> As for tracheal and nosema, > These are the microscope issues. Without checks the symptoms are only seen > in the late stage. I kept nosema apis in check because the foragers died > two weeks early.

I don't know about nosema. I never see it, and I've looked (touch wood) but Tracheal mite problems should be relegated to the dustbin of history if bees are purchased from a good supplier. I made reference in a recent post to a link to a Baton Rouge study showing that some producers sell consistently resistant stock.

> I believe in good stock also but I am willing to put up with the problems > of AFB and tracheal mites etc. to run what I consider are superior bees > *for my purposes.* When queen breeders are selecting for certain traits it > means many times the traits I demand in my bees go by the wayside! Only > my opinion but a prolific bee which flies and hour earlier and later than > a hygienic bee suits my needs better. I have Australian bees which fly in > Light rain!

Indeed, each must make a decision as to what is important, but some commercials' refusal to consider their neighbours makes them public enemies, especially to those many beekeepers who are trying to improve the health of bees without constant treatment.

Harbouring or propagating susceptible bees is IMO, every bit as criminal as harbouring AFB -- and probably more so -- if we are to legislate and criminalize beekeeping, which some jurisdictions do. (I am mostly against that and believe in education and moral suasion over legislation)

> To find the hygienic or varroa tolerant bee I need I would need to do the > selection and breeding myself and i simply do not have the time these > days.

Bob, I really have no idea how you find time to do everything you seem to be doing.

> I really do not buy into the idea that a bee breeder in Hawaii has a > better idea of the kind of bee I need as i do.

That is the point. I don't consider Gus to be so much a queen breeder as a queen producer who has an enlightened approach, but I do not know what he is doing in terms of actual selection on site. He is pretty humble and hates to make any claims, but when I ask, I find that he is quietly improving his stock by obtaining the best genetics he can from a variety of sources and by paying careful attention to any feedback. Whatever he is doing, his queens are quite consistent. It has been a while since I have had a chat with him, but he is at every meeting, listening.

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 2009 13:11:27 -0600

>> I recall that Marla Spivak, speaking in a session at Niagara Falls in >> 2002, suggested that beekeepers leave a yard or two without treatment and >> see what happens. > > Myself , Dann Purvis & Bell Honey in Florida have been doing exactly the > above long before 2002. I can not speak for the others but in my case the > last of the last "leave alone " yards died last spring.

Well, I reported what happened when I did that same thing, but I carried it to an extreme. I did not wrap, either. Most of the sixty or so died, but a few lasted over a year and some are still alive -- the base of my current outfit, along with three queens acquired from friends.

I am thinking that with the rapid improvements, though, what we saw several years ago may not apply. With new techniques in genetic analysis and the rapid communication between widely separated breeders and researchers that have come along in the last decade, we may have some big changes that we are not yet aware of.

>> Marla is one who has quietly put years of sweat and brainpower into the >> problem of hygiene, with amazing results.

> I am home today looking after my wife home from a week in the hospital > which gives me time for BEE-L while she is sleeping. <snip> Due to health > issues i may have to sell most of the hives before long but as long as I > can find help like I have right now I will not. My new companion is a > small bottle of nitro-glycerine tablets.

We all wish you and your wife good health.

> I certainly do not have all the answers to today's tough beekeeping > questions but with forums like BEE-L and others beekeepers from all over > the world can discuss today's problems and compare notes.

This is having a huge an unseen impact on everything around us.

> One aspect of many national meetings I dislike is there is not always > time for many questions after presentations and the researcher says he > will be around the meeting all weekend to answer questions but many never > seem to be.

Hmmm. Maybe you ask too many tough questions.

As much as I enjoyed EAS and the wide array of names and experience, I think back to the special sessions at the AFB or one of the associated meetings where they trot out the new talent.

We often forget that have a cohort of upcoming young people we never hear about with knowledge that will change our world many times in the coming decades. They are working to back up the current crop of seasoned and experienced scientists with new tests and insights and accelerating understanding and progress into overdrive.


Wednesday August 12th, 2009
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I organised the beeyard at home a bit. The hives were all in a bunch and getting hard to work.  I just moved the into a line of sorts late in  the day.  Here is hoping I haven't disoriented them too much or stressed them.

Medhat phoned today and mentioned that he is recommending protein feeding due to the drought.  I think this is wise.

Subject: How 10,000 bees (and beekeepers?) decide where to go...
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 09:05:57 -0600

At EAS we had a chance to watch an actual (artificial) swarm up close and personal with Tom Seeley as the bees decided where to move from their clustering place. We also heard several talks on how bees make group decisions. I have some pictures at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/thursday_august_6th.htm

I think the process applies to beekeepers, too. Some dance more boldly and more often, others dance less and less. When a critical number of recruits are convinced, the whole group moves. BEE-L, and other such list and forums are like the comb where the dancing takes place.


Also, see http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0707/feature5/text2.html (about halfway down the page)

and http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/211/23/i


Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 10:22:13 -0600

As always, Yoon has some interesting thoughts and he is not shy about expressing them in strong and often hyperbolic words, nor is he shy about making sweeping generalizations and condemnations in words bordering on the abusive. That's just Yoon and we enjoy his rant for what it is.

Although, perhaps a bit extreme, his opinions help balance the debate, and represent a valid and defensible position that needs to be expressed. That is not to say that I agree with him on all points, but am aware of that perspective and have some considerable respect for it and the underlying principles.

I am not sure, however that idealism is always a good basis for pragmatic thinking. I try to be pragmatic. I have to live in the real world and appreciate that others do too and I assume that all the other good people around us are doing their best with what they have in terms of materials and in terms of understanding.

> I have known Allen and Peter long enough to be able to say that they too > have modified and changed their stance over the years. Read the archive. > They too were the champions of commercial beekeeping; they too were the > mouthpiece for the industrial and scientific beekeeping that allows > migratory beekeeping as Peter still does to some extent. Yet they have > now become pro-bee thinkers, having transformed themselves from their old clothes.

Thanks for noticing. My circumstances and priorities have changed, and so have my practices. They will change again, I am sure. As you point out, those of us who try to understand our world do change our stance. We change it daily, as new information comes in, and as we digest and examine our ideas.

I don't know about Peter -- I am sure he may wish to speak for himself -- but I still am still as much a champion of commercial beekeeping and beekeeping science as I ever was. I am also a critic, where criticism seems due in my view. Right Bob?

I practiced commercial beekeeping and make no apologies. Commercial beekeepers are some of the finest people I have ever met and there is no group of people with whom I have more fun. Add in some scientists and some hobbyists, and let's party! I'm just not a fanatic, and I like to think I can have friends in all camps and learn from everyone. A mouthpiece? I hope not.

Also, importantly, I think the beekeeping environment has changed vastly in the last decade, unnoticed by many, and what may have been pretty risky back then may well be prudent and good practice today. Think back ten years. Human scientific knowledge has more than doubled in that time.

Communication capability and information access have mushroomed, too. Have a tough technical question that would have taken weeks to answer a decade back? Get out your pocket device and ask your question. Thousands of opinions, facts and references pop up in fractions of a second. We now have the honeybee genome and some know how to read and employ it to better understand our attempts at breeding livestock.

As for the assault on commercial beekeepers and the sweeping accusations made against the lot, I have to say that commercial beekeepers I know run the gamut from those who have little respect for their bees to those love them dearly, so I think it is unfair to generalize. Most are in the latter group. One thing is for sure: commercial beekeepers provide and essential service in today's world and provide many more opportunities for many more bees that nature would. We must recall that bees are an imported and invasive species in the Americas which has displaced, in some areas, important native pollinators.

The genie is out of the bottle, and barring some experiments at extinction on island parks they are here to stay. They are escaped and feral livestock. Humans brought them here.

The scientists, too, deserve our respect and not our abuse. Regardless of what some think should be, human activity is making things difficult for all wild creatures. Given the real world around us, and the challenges it presents to honeybees, our scientists help mitigate the problems.

Thursday August 13th, 2009
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Today was cooler.  We went grocery shopping in the morning.  I had a nap after lunch -- for two hours and THEN organised paperwork. BEE-L is quiet today, after Yoon's rant.

I've been thinking, too that I have now stuck my neck out in public, both at EAS and on BEE-L.  Considering that I am stacking old equipment onto 36 hives, the odds are increasing that I may see some AFB, assuming that I don't treat prophyacticly in any way.  What will I do then?  Watch it, I suppose, but this should be interesting.  My faith may be tested.

At this point, I am also realising that I may have to extract.  The boxes I am putting on are largely brood comb and I had figured to get them cleaned up and polished and that the contents would be bee feed next year. I am not particularly worried about extracting the honey, though, since I have never used more than a little Apistan (1 strip occasionally) and never used coumaphos.

I'll likely make mead from the honey, anyhow, assuming I get some.  A day ago, the bees were working full bore and a crop seemed immanent.  With the cool weather predicted for the next while, things look more iffy.

Along the lines of what I have been talking about -- resistant bees -- I came across the ad (right) in the Alberta Beekeepers newsletter.  Here is another Canadian source for resistant stock.  Click on the picture to visit the website.

Speaking of the Alberta Beekeepers, the convention is coming up Nov 2-4 at the West Edmonton Mall.

BTW, Here is a really good look at what EAS was like. (PDF)

Friday August 14th, 2009
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Minnesota bee experts launch pilot certification program for hygienic queens

Matt Bewley,Agweek
Published: 07/06/2009

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — She really doesn’t care whether they are Western, Russian, Caucasian or Golden Italian honeybees. Their behavior is what interests University of Minnesota bee researcher Marla Spivak. If they are exceptional housekeepers, then she wants to be able to certify their queens and put them to work breeding more like them in hives around the country.

Sound odd? Not in the least, when you consider the worker bees these queens produce work hard to rid their colonies of disease and parasites — all serious threats to bee colonies and considered by some experts to be contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious anomaly that is killing off colonies all over the world.

“This is a totally new and innovative project — never been done,” the researcher says. “People have tried to certify races of bees. This is not about that. I don’t care what the race of bees is, I just want to see if it has certain characteristics.”

Hygienic bees

In beekeeping vernacular, those characteristics are called “hygienic behavior” and are something of a marvel of nature.

About 10 percent of all honeybees, regardless of race or lineage, carry the genetic trait that compels the worker bees to maintain clean broods, the honeycombed cells in which bee eggs grow until they are mature enough to emerge and go to work as nurses, workers, drones or pollen gatherers.

Pathogens like American foul brood, a bacterial disease, and chalk brood, a fungal disease, take hold of and feed on the larval bees while they are growing inside the brood cells. Parasitic mites, aptly named “Varroa destructors,” also attack the larvae, feeding on them and growing to reproductive maturity in the brood cells.

Chemical treatment of colonies became accepted practice for the diseases and mites, but even those were suspected as adding to the stress within colonies that may have been con-tributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, besides costing more time and expense to beekeepers.

But the hygienic worker bees take care of their colonies by themselves. They sense diseased and parasitized larvae in the brood cells and immediately open the cells, remove and discard the larvae, effectively cleaning out the diseases and parasites with them...

Excerpted from this Agweek page

Wouldn't you know it?  I supered the hives right before a cool, rainy spell.  That is not ideal, since supering adds additional, unfamiliar space for the bees to warm and they will likely prefer to contract down to the brood chamber.

Heat in the supers is important in our country.  Lots of folks, mostly hobbyists and southerners, recommend top ventilation during summer.  I don't.  I recommend that all hive entrances be in the brood chambers or below.  (We have a 1" auger hole in each brood box, and a full open bottom entrance).

Heat rises, and we need to conserve heat in our supers to keep the bees up and storing there.  Bees naturally remove honey from any areas that cool and pack it into the warmest area -- the brood chamber -- and we do not want that happening this early.  In fall, packing the brood area can be a good thing, but right now, we want the honey up top and the brood comb open for pollen and egg laying.

The literature indicates that the bees do not heat the hive and heat only the cluster.  This confuses many people.  The statement is true in winter, while bees are clustered most or all the time, but not in  summer -- at least as long as the cluster is normally broken and the bees occupy the entire hive.  When the bees are not clustered, they generate heat throughout the hive by their activity.  Naturally, they prefer to work and rest where the temperatures are most comfortable for them and that is around 90 degrees F.

There is a toggle point -- about 57 degrees F -- at which the ambient temperature drops sufficiently that the bees are forced to abandon the further regions of the hive and cluster to conserve heat.  Clustering happens sooner with small populations, in larger hives, and in cool drafty hives. 

When the bees cluster, they cease most work outside that small sphere, and go into a conservation mode, so we want them to be able to maintain hive warmth and stay spread out through the hive as long as possible on cool days and nights during the honey producing months.

Thus, in summer, and particularly with small populations, we want to maintain the minimum hive volume that will not crowd them, and to provide entrances only where the bees can control the flow of air easily without being chilled, and where their heat is not lost to uncontrolled natural convection when they must retreat closer to the others for warmth.

In contrast, during spring, , before the flow, and before swarming, and while the brood area is expanding it is wise to err on the side of larger volumes, to prevent swarming and to allow space for expansion in advance of need.  During that build-up period, it seems that honey bees gauge the adequacy of their space by how crowded they are on the hottest day.

Nonetheless, bees do best when they are on the verge of being crowded and many good beekeepers who know their bees and area and who are often in their yards are able to crowd them a bit even in spring.  I never was, though, and always stacked on lots of boxes as soon as the weather settled and the hives were big enough to cover their brood easily, and not to be stressed.

The problem is that a colony which appears very comfortable in a hive can suddenly become crowded and swarm shortly after a large area of brood hatches.  Thus, in spring, it is important to be aware of warm spells that allow for sudden brood expansion and expect to have to super two to three weeks after, since the brood will hatch three weeks after the hot spell.

After swarming season is over, the hive volume can be reduced a bit, and even crowded without triggering swarming.  This depends on region, though, since some areas have a second swarming season.

The rain is welcome, and the reduced bee flight in the last two days is probably a good thing after I rearranged the yard. 

Bees memory of their home location fades over three days of confinement and after three days, they don't drift much, since they reorient before flying.  During a flow though, they fly straight out and will  be confused on returning if the yard has changed much and the hives have been moved.

Subject: Re: Breaking the Silence
From: allen dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 20:10:56 -0600

> Upper entrance in winter is separate issue. I don't really like auger holes but I think they are useful to the colony in winter to allow air circulation. A notch in the inner cover may not really be adequate for the type of 6 or 7 month winters we have in the north.

 Yeah. Auger holes are less than optimal for winter ventilation. Nonetheless, we have use them for convenience, and our wintering success is about as good as one could ask for.

We love auger holes for spring and summer work. Bees just seem to relate to them, and we do not need floors and lids when splitting. A sheet of plastic or a chunk of plywood will do just fine.

Since we already have these holes, we use them for winter flight and ventilation holes. They work. No complaints here.

In my mind, one of the main reasons for upper entrances is to prevent loss from entrance icing (see Larry Connor's book) .

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 14 Aug 2009 16:05:43 -0400

In response to a message that did not appear on BEE-L, but came direct to me: ---

> I think it must be noted, considering the fast developing recovery of the feral population as well as breeding for resistance in commercial stock, that the 10 percent estimate is perhaps an extremely out-dated factoid. The 10% number was proposed years ago, during the early investigations into hygienic behaviour for resistance to mites.

Yes. I agree, but although the future is here, it is still not evenly distributed. And, moreover, there are those among us who knowingly or unknowingly maintain and propagate non-hygienic stock and are thus keeping the problem from resolving.

Since there is no visible indication of the lethal genetic weakness (lack of hygienic qualities) -- at least, that is until the colony or colonies break down with various maladies -- for as long as they are treated constantly, and not requeened, they can continue present a hazard to other beekeepers. They are a manage to both their neighbours, and to the people who believe them when they claim that their inferior bees are superior in some way that justifies them.

Some of those who maintain non-hygienic stock do so out of ignorance or long habit. Others simply lack the skills or persistence or the scruples to make sure they are not propagating bad stock. There are many to which both excuses apply. It has been proven now that that proper hygienic selection does eliminate other good properties in a strain of bees, and the time has come to get the message across. That is IMO why Dr. Spivak is going to the source of the problem and working with the queen producers.

Some think hygienic bees in every outfit is a pipe dream or a luxury, but it is not. We are not going to have the luxury of using chemicals much longer. If the authorities don't act to say, "Enough", then the customers and insurance companies will. Besides, the cost and the difficulty of constantly working with non-hardy bees and replacing losses when the latest chemical fails is wearing beekeepers down. Imagine not having to worry about mite counts and AFB. Someday we will get there. Who knows, maybe we can breed for bees that are resistant to nosema, too.

> A test of all my colonies consisting of ferals in 2004, and before I started selecting for hygienic behaviour indicated 60% carried the trait, I only counted those expressing above 90% as hygienic. Below 90% hygienic were all eliminated.

I'd be interested in knowing what test you are using. Is it the multiple circle nitrogen test, counting removed brood percentage after 48 hrs?

I guess that is the message I am announcing to the unbelievers and the Rip van Winkles in the group. <G>

I hope I am right.

Peter Smith, his wife and sister came up to see an art show at Carbon and then came over for supper.  We had a good visit.

Saturday August 15th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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It is rainy again this morning, and about 8 degrees.  I emptied the rain gauge, noting that we received exactly 2" since this rainy spell began.  Bees cluster at 14 degrees C, although some claim their bees fly down to 8 degrees.  It is going down to 6 tonight and 4 the next, if the weatherguessers are right.

Hello Allen -

Been following your discussions on BEE-L. Interesting stuff, always. I hope you are having enjoyable times and travels this summer.

Quick question, in many words: I have been harvesting what amounts to be a much more substantial crop than I expected, considering all the rain here throughout June and early July. That is the good news.

Many of the deep honey supers are crammed full, and heavy. I am experiencing some difficulty in even loosening them and getting them apart. This, while the bees are in a very defensive mood, and downright nasty, quite unlike their disposition in the spring and early summer. I don't recall having this much of an issue before. (Many are new Russians, installed this spring, so that could be a factor.)

AD: Although Russians have a rep for being a bit hot, when I was at Baton Rouge, we were all working them without any protection at all.  I wonder if some sources are worse than others.  Not all who claim to have Russian stock have pure Russian stock, and the hybrids can be all over the map.

Anyway, while trying to get some of the 4th or 5th boxes loose I have practically been bending the hive tool, and despite smoke, the bees boil out and light into me. I have even damaged some of the corners of the boxes -- some new boxes -- trying to apply enough leverage to try and loosen the connections to the boxes and frames underneath.

So...since you liked to leave ladder and burr comb, etc,. how did you manage? Any tips or trick you can offer? I loosen them best I can and then twist the boxes laterally, but even to get to that point I had some trouble yesterday. And the bees were not appreciating it one bit. It was taking way, way longer than it should, just to get the supers off the stack.

AD: I always insert the hive tool about 1 to 1-1/2 inches to start.  I enter from the side of the hive, so that the tool enters right at the front or the back of the boxes, and I pry the handle down, so the blade pries up on the full 3/4" of the box above.  I do not pry the handle up, where the blade would be prying on the rabbet, which is weaker, thus dog-earing the boxes over time.

By not pushing in too far at first, I get more leverage and crack the boxes a bit.  Then the tool can be pressed in further for an larger range of motion.

A wooden wedge in one hand can be handy at this point, since pressing it into the opening gap leaves hands free if needed, and the gap is not opening and closing, annoying the bees.

Next, a smoker, with plenty of cool, dense smoke is employed to drift a strong puff or two of smoke into the crack that has been opened, ensuring all bees in the vicinity get the message.  Don't oversmoke, though.

With the crack wedged open, any frames that came up with top box can be pried down without a hassle or damage to boxes and bees. 

If necessary, the entire process can be repeated at the rear.  Extra wedges are a good thing to have handy.

Now the top box should be loose enough to be lifted off.  Try not to drag it across the top of the remaining box.

Fortunately, I have most of the crop off, except for half a dozen colonies, on which I put my Canadian style escape boards yesterday. We have a bit of a heat wave on right now, which is supposed to last through Tuesday. Got to get the supers off those last ones tomorrow and put in the Thymomite strips, if it isn't too hot. The rest have had it in the hives for a week already. Colonies are strong.

Sounds like you should be in the BEE (selling) business, with all those divides. ;-) There always seems to be a ready market for spring nucs. Plus there wouldn't ever be too much honey to have to deal with. (That sticky, gooey stuff...).

Best to you, and thanks for any advice.

AD: I do plan to sell bees.  In fact, I have a customer for five hives right now.  I am having trouble convincing myself to part with any, though, since, even at $225 for a double, there is probably that value in the honey (100lbs x $1.50 + 2 x $25 = $200) and hive alone, since they are so heavy.

I am also thinking that I have a lot of equipment to fill with bees and if I sell five hives now, that means I won't have fifteen or twenty next year.

Subject:     Re: Top Entrances
From:        allen
Reply-To:   Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date:         Sat, 15 Aug 2009 13:10:03 -0600

> However, I can feel the intense heat load under the hive cover, and on the > sides of the hives facing the sun. Weak colonies definitely benefit from > shade, but I don't know whether there is actual benefit to strong colonies > by giving them top ventilation. I've seen that it is common in Australia > to > use ventilated covers.

I have insulated pillows under the lids year-round.

> This is one of those cases where it makes perfect sense to provide ventilation to allow the hot air to naturally thermosiphon. However, I've > learned not to trust *common sense* in bee management.

I think that top ventilation can be very helpful some times and some places, but knowing in advance exactly when and for how long is difficult in the north. In the south, summer temperatures are usually less changeable.

For example, we are told that we will have nights as cold as 4 degrees C over the next few days. Some years, we have 35 degree weather on these same days, and sometimes we might have frost.

Bees cluster at 14 degrees, so we can be sure that in a drafty hive, the bees will cease all work in the supers, while they might be able to continue or at least occupy more comb in a tighter hive.

A hobbyist with a few hives in the back yard (me?) might be able to run out and open and close vents daily with predicted weather changes, but when I was commercial it took a week to visit all my yards -- assuming the creeks didn't rise.

I have not done controlled experiments, but I have had lids blown off, and that is the ultimate in top ventilation. Needless to say, I put them back on, and so would most beekeepers.

My opinion, formed when producing comb honey, is that once bees are driven out of an area in a hive by cold, they are more reluctant to store there in future. My goal has always been to keep the supers area warm and dark.

Subject: Re: IPM - Is AFB an Exception?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 15 Aug 2009 18:57:32 -0600

> "It has been proven now that that (sic) proper hygienic selection does > eliminate...

> I guess this is a typo.

Yup. A typo.

> As far as I understand the process, one have to select before for those > other properties one wants in its bees (productivity, calmness, wintering, > etc) and them from that stock do the hygienic test to end up with > productive, clam, good wintering, etc AND hygienic bees.

Yup. That is how I understand it. Apparently as the prevalence of hygienic behaviour increases in the bee populations, more and more hives pass the test.

In my opinion, it is less important to select drastically for very high levels of hygienic behaviour than to be certain to set a minimum standard and eliminate any hives that are seriously non-hygienic.

Susceptible hives are a menace, since they break down and become reservoirs of disease or pests.

With all the rain soaking everything, it proved a perfect day to burn all the brush and trash that had accumulated without burning up the neighbourhood.  Lighting the pile of brush was not easy and took several tries.  A half-gallon of gasoline finally did the trick.  The view to the south is now considerably improved.

Sunday August 16th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World ForumHoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Subject: Re: Breaking the Silence
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 08:28:22 -0600

> *If* the nectar was all passed as the books and peter suggests then why > would the bees completely plug the brood nest forcing the queen to stop > laying or at least find it hard to find cells to lay in. A common issue in > strong hives especially early in a strong major honey flow.

Bees are often reluctant to go up into newly placed supers. That is one reason I super early. Migratories don't always have that luxury. After the bees get used to the idea there is prime real estate above and have confidence that it will not flood or get too cold, they will go into *anything* placed there if the original box(es) are removed and replaced, and they will then go through anything (excluders, a hole in a divider board, a crack, etc.).

> Thus through observation I observed in a *strong* honey flow the orderly > system *described in books* fell apart.

I personally think that the normal division of labour breaks down in a strong flow and that *all* bees fly. I think that, because when hives are disassembled and the boxes scattered for abandonment, *all* the bees of all ages find their way home, pronto -- often in minutes.

I assume they all know the way, regardless of age. Maybe scent and other factors are involved, but, watching, the process appears straightforward as the bees individually lift off, circle a bit and fly directly to the mother hive.

When the flows are much less, bees don't abandon well, and the younger ones don't seem to be able to find home -- or even know about it as a separate location.

> I then opened entrances above the queen excluder. House bees moved up > (above the brood nest and excluder) to collect the nectar from the forager > bees and place in the super cells.

How big are your bottom entrances? Also, how long were the suers on the hive? It takes a week or weeks for the bees to gain confidence in them early in the season. They adopt stickies and brood boxes placed up there better than dry white comb, though.

> I do not want nectar stored in the brood nest during a honey flow. Agreed, although that is usually very transitory if there are adequate supers above.

> Hygienic bees = shotgun brood pattern and all stages of brood. That can be the case, and why people seeking hygienic bees should not be overly fussy about empty cells without examining the reasons. In fact, due to this fetish for solid brood, we have been breeding *against* hygiene for a century! That said, good queens will fill empty cells quickly and too many empty cells can indicate something very wrong.

> I almost did not write the above because so contrary to what some say. Why should that stop anyone? Disagreements lead to learning as long, as they remain civil.

> Others will say "How dare Bob say a con about our beloved hygienic bees" . > I will treat and kill varroa before I watch half the brood pulled in late > stage and tossed 20 feet out the entrance.

I think you are making an extreme cases and exaggerating a bit. For one thing, one has to ask, how did things get so bad?

Did some headstrong commercial beekeeper with susceptible bees move close by
and not get around to doing his fourth toxic treatment for the year because
he lives half a continent away -- or forgot? <G>

Subject: Re: Walk Away Splits
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sun, 16 Aug 2009 14:39:16 -0400

Now that this topic is about done and we have established that the technique is a valid one and can make as good a queen as any other method given the right conditions and the right beekeeper, I should point out why this technique is not for everyone, be not even me -- all the time.

I have been aware that it takes longer to get a laying queen using the walk-away method, but have been quite content with that, since I was not wanting to make honey or even a lot more splits.  Moreover, I was seldom home, and did not have a source of queens or the time or patience to raise cells.

Walk-away was perfect, since it takes no resources and can be done by someone with no real beekeeping interest if the time and place and date are specified by a knowledgeable beekeeper. It amounts to boxkeeping.  Materials handling. A no-brainer.

I.e. I could phone and plead for some reluctant and uninterested someone to just bust my hives in half onto new floors, lid them and be pretty sure that most would turn out pretty darn good even if nobody looked again for two months. (I also requested a brood box be put under each half to allow for emerging brood and provide space, and later asked for some supers to go on top).

That said, my success has inspired me and now I want more.

More bees, more hives, and maybe even some of that damned sticky heavy nuisance -- honey.

So, having been to EAS and having gotten Larry's book about increase (highly recommended), I see that he has quantized the various methods of splitting and requeening. Although a valid split, walk-away comes dead last for getting populations up in time for early crops or a second (late) split.

The other methods are significantly faster unless the hives being walk-awayed happen to have cells in progress, two queens, or even virgins. (That happens more often than one might think if the timing is right and/or the stock is Russian)

I still like walk-aways for the fact that all queens reproduce, not just the chosen ones, and the simplicity, however, if I am going to be around home more, and if I want to make more splits per hive, per year, I may have to consider the alternatives.

Raising nucs in my mind is a very good business, and quite forgiving as to timing, if one does not try to get too intensive (greedy?). It is also a good way to get rid of the stacks of brood boxes and supers around the place.

So, I'm saying walk-away is a perfectly valid method and one that does a good job with minimum requirements in terms of time and talent, and a good Plan B, however for a commercial enterprise, there are some fairly simple ways to increase the output, and theoretically, profits.

For the hobbyist with a few hives, particularly one with an aversion to opening hives, and little interest in honey it is a perfect way to make up for normal hive loss.  (Note: start with hygienic stock if you don't want to be always inspecting your hives like Bob).

We had company for supper.  The usual suspects +/-.

Monday August 17th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World ForumHoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

We have sunny weather again.  Apparently we got less rain than neighbouring areas, but 2" is just fine by me.  I worked on websites today and tried to get caught up with various tasks.
Subject: Rushing up into the Supers
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 08:18:53 -0600

> Allen, after my first honey crop, I shake my colonies down to a single > box, and then move them to alfalfa, and place a deep of new frames with > foundation on top of each. The bees generally just sit there for several > days before they start to pay any attention whatsoever to the boxes of > foundation (no Q exluder).

Have you tried putting the box on as soon as you pull the top boxes, and before moving? My experience is that if they were occupying top boxes, they will rush into the super of comb. At least that was my experience when raising comb honey.

I would pull a five-high or taller production hive down to a single brood and add several (2 or 3) Ross Rounds boxes. The bees would immediately rush into the supers, with the encouragement of a little smoke, and cluster there.

They all fit in that much smaller volume since there was no comb yet and the space was mostly empty. As soon as they drew that foundation, though, they needed more boxes. Those additional boxes we added on the bottom of the stack of supers, though, since otherwise, we would see what you report.

Of course these hives were so strong there is no way the bees could all fit into one brood box, and nobody in his right mind would try to move a hive with a beard like those would have, so I am assuming that your singles are not too crowded, and that could account for the delay you report.

Subject: Re: Breaking the Silence
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 12:07:11 -0400

>We put a piece of old comb (1"x1") as a bridge between broodbox and new super. It is funny how that bridge works.

That is why I no longer scrape all the ladder comb off the top bars. Bees like a continuous comb.

Subject: Re: Real impact of nosema is debatable
From: Allen Dick
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 12:04:25 -0400

>> Nosema infection can lead to poor colony growth and poor winter survivorship. Nevertheless, N. ceranae is widespread in both healthy and declining honey bee colonies and its overall contribution to honey bee losses is debatable.

This article seems consistent with what I have believed for decades now. Nosema shows up as a serious threat mostly when other things set the stage for it. Nosema IMO is mostly a stress disease, and as such can be a handy indicator of flaws in management.

I think that, these days, many if not most hives have nutritional deficiences most of the time for various reasons, and that is one reason that supplementary feeding seems to relieve nosema symptoms in some studies.

Unfortunately, although there are good supplements and even commercial pollen patties on the market which are proven to work, there is quite a bit of misinformation out there, often spread by some who should know better. These individuals present flawed arguments `proving` that using these beneficial feeds somehow will lead to a vaguely defined perdition, in spite of evidence that those who do use the supplements so maligned are doing very nicely, thanks.

There is a traditional and popular style of beekeeping writing that presents obvious and recognizable truths interspersed with misinformation, flawed logic, conjecture and unsupported conclusions. Typically such writing rejects simple, proven, scientifically valid methods in favour of idealistic and unnecessarily difficult approaches.   Here is a classic example which Google emails me every so often in response to an alert I set up to seek out `honey bee diet` articles (Grrrr):

http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/index.cfm? cat=Story&recordID=649

(or http://tinyurl.com/pth7c9 )

The article is IMO pure wind, but, unfortunately, newbees Hoover this fanciful stuff up and then wonder how come their bees are so sad looking and/or dead, when they could have followed easy mainstream advice, supplemented their bees`feed when indicated and prosper.

I think that we will be seeing more and more nutritional deficiencies and more nosema as time passes, due to increasing monoculture and continuing predation by mites.


Subject: Re: Breaking the Silence
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 11:35:34 -0600

> What about natural indications to start spring feeding?

I figure the time to stimulate with pollen patties is about a month to three weeks before reliable pollen starts coming in. That is mid-March around here, since crocus starts around April 20th.

Beekeepers here are using patties that include as much as 15% pollen, so concerns about supplements being incomplete diets are less. I suppose that means we could start sooner, but IMO, pushing too early results in more expense, work, more bees, perhaps, but less profit since there is nothing for the bees to do, unless splitting is the goal. Even then, encouraging overexpansion in unsettled weather may result in damage to overall health and setbacks if the temperatures drop and the wind picks up.

IMO, many of our problems are a direct result of trying to get too much out of our bees.

Subject: Re: Breaking the Silence
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 12:23:56 -0600

> > IMO, many of our problems are a direct result of trying to get too much
> > out of our bees.

> That is a lifetime question : How much is enough?

That is a moving target, IMO, and also a personal decision.

The more conservative beekeepers will avoid wrecks at cost of marginal

More gung-ho individuals will push the limits and crash over and over.

Both may average out the same in the end.

The former may have a more tranquil life, but the latter group will have a
more exciting time of it.

It is a question of style.

Subject: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Mon, 17 Aug 2009 18:57:37 -0600

> We have found levels of fungicides in incoming pollen that exceed 20,000 > parts per billion (PPB). Some samples of incoming pollen contained 3-4 > different types of fungicides. Fungicides are found so commonly in pollen > because they often are sprayed while the crop being pollinated by bees is > in bloom. In addition to fungicides, antibiotics such as streptomycin are > registered for use on apple and pear for fireblight and are sprayed > *during bloom*.

It is surprising who believes that HFCS and soy contain chemical residues when actually, the 'natural" food is much more questionable as to quality and content.

Just the other day, I was talking to a prominent commercial beekeeper and he seems convinced of just that and that significant amounts of pesticides are present in the finished food products too. In my experience, food ingredients are subject to stringent analysis and carry certifications of purity and freedom from contaminants. Moreover, they have been through processes that are certified and guarantee safety.

No sense arguing with the believers, though, since many cannot tell the difference between fractions of a ppb from several ppm. It is all the same to them. Certificates of purity are not likely to sway them either.

Sadly, the purity and safety of the feeds we supply, whether syrups or patties is sometimes better -- and always more consistent -- than the pollens and nectars found in the field.

I spent quite a bit of time this afternoon and evening working on the Global Patties website.  I host and maintain their site, and it was due for an overhaul.

I am a huge fan of Global.  My main two hobbyhorses over the years have been nutrition and hygiene.  Global made commercial patties practical and affordable.  Up until they came on the market, the only patties offered were sold in individual awkward wraps and were far too expensive.  Global designed the rectangular patty and the paper sandwich design that all the other suppliers have adopted.  As for the formulations, our group in Southern Alberta stimulated several competitive start-ups and the USDA effort to develop a superior protein feed.

In my opinion, Global still makes the best patties, with the best bang for the buck.  Their high-pollen version is getting quite popular and I have been trying it out.  The bees really like it and the build-up is amazing.

Tuesday August 18th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Honey Bee World ForumHoneyBeeWorld List | Diary Home | Write me

Subject: Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 11:29:01 -0600

> Who conducted and sponsored those studies? Were they well designed and were the results properly interpreted.

I guess we have to ask that about all the various tests and studies we hear about. Also, we have to consider the sample sizes on each side of the comparison and possible bias in selection, inadvertent or deliberate.

>Peaches typically top the list of USDA's dirty dozen fruits and vegetables. On commercial peaches, they have found 50 plus pesticides, some of them illegal, while organic peaches showed 1-3 in the same testing.

That is a good example of what I mentioned above. While the results are interesting, it is quite obvious that the organic samples wre cherry-picked, while the non-organic samples were more numerous and from a far wider range of locations, even outside the country. The (fortunate) results of a few samples were compared to the worst (I assume) of the very much larger and very diverse sampling. No mention was made of *any* non-organic samples having surprisingly low levels, which I assume must have occurred, so, using what I know and comparing it to the report, I can only conclude that the observations reported are probably biased. I'll file it under, "Interesting, but non-definitive".

>My personal preference is for eating from the group with fewer pesticides. Minimize the damage. Growing your own is best. It can ensure ripeness for the full complement of enzymes, flavanoids etc. and you can grow disease resistant variants plus employ IMP. It also minimizes the carbon foot print.

Sure, and my Mom's Apple Pie is best. One thing that people often ignore, occasionally to their peril is that eating exclusively from a small patch of ground and drinking from one specific well can be a crapshoot compared to eating and drinking from a variety of sources if your ground or well happens to be poisoned with some element or compound that is not immediately obvious to our senses, or deficient in some essential mineral.

I happen to agree with you, though. Organic and home-grown is the ideal and very nice. I love to eat from my garden for the few weeks that each item is in season, and when it is not under snow, but here we are considering the the real world and what most people experience, not Shangri La. Unfortunately, it seems most of us don't always get "the ideal" for many good reasons, so dwelling on it distracts us from reality.

At any rate, I think we are off-topic here and muddying the water. We are discussing, or attempting to discuss, *bee* feeds, not going back into the organic logical and semantic quagmire.

Please, people don't hijack this thread.

We're talking bees here, not humans, and it is well documented that in many instances, the food available to the bees in their immediate environment is tainted -- lethally tainted -- sometimes and that properly chosen and prepared supplements are likely to have a far lower level of toxins -- vanishingly low -- than many of the 'natural' foods available to them in the field in this modern world. That is particularly true when the beekeeper *knows* that there is spraying going on nearby.

That's what we are talking about.

The argument often raised that there are places and some times when bees find themselves in perfect conditions and they have optimal conditions. That is a most disingenuous red herring. Comparing some rare and distant ideal with a real and present solution is specious. It amazes me how often people fool themselves and others with such a transparent fallacy.

We are talking the real world here and most bees are suffering from nutritional deficiencies periodically, and all bees experience nutritional deficiencies seasonally for certain.

Is nutritional deficiency a bad thing? Is it a necessary trigger for the bees to prepare for winter? That has been suggested. I don't know, but when supplement were fed in California, it was learned that the bees prospered and wintered so well that they made superior pollination units that could subsequently be split.

The popular, but specious argument that any local pollen has to be the perfect, natural and sufficient feed turns out to be entirely ridiculous when we think for even a second or two. Maybe the bees evolved entirely on pollens, but what pollens, and where?

Did they thrive, or merely eke out an existence, thriving some years and verging on extinction another? To use one of the less questionable analogies people so love; humans can live on potatoes or gruel for years on end, but few believe that this is optimal, or even healthy. We all are aware of how much larger and healthier succeeding generations become when populations are able to get off their subsistence diet (some local exceptions and the damage from excess eating and unfortunate choices being duly noted in advance, and discounted).

Our bees are far from their mythical ancestral homes and many are maintained far north of their natural latitudes. Moreover, the plants they encounter are in all probability not much like the plants of that theoretical and apocryphal 'home', either in species or seasonality.

Some of the flowering plants our bees visit cover acres or hundreds of acres, but are effectively only one plant, replicated many times. Moreover, what we see blooming in an area varies vastly from year to year, both because of weather and climate, and because of tractors and seeders -- and sprayers. Spraying, crop rotating and monoculture are making things much harder for bees, by narrowing the variety of food, while predation by mites ups the bees' nutritional requirements.

Let's face it. Bees can usually survive on nothing but what they can find outside the hive, *however*, most of us want out bees to do more than merely survive. (The rest can stop reading here). We want our bees to thrive, and make a surplus for us. We don't want to fight to keep up our numbers.

For us, we consider feeding our bees as natural as feeding our children, our dog or our horse.

Anyone can see when a large mammal is starving: their ribs start to show.

How many can see that an insect is starving?

Subject: Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Tue, 18 Aug 2009 13:43:49 -0600

> Putting more pressure on the comparison with mammals. one have to consider that depending on the depth of starvation it maybe irreversible or with serious problems after.

I guess that is my point. People underestimate the long-term effects of even temporary starvation or malnutrition on the development and disease profile of a hive.

The legacies of shortage episodes are not easily demonstrated, and because periods of malnutrition are so nearly universal in our hives, and part of our natural seasonal cycle, beekeepers assume that they are normal -- and harmless.

These shortages are, indeed, natural and bees seem to live through them, but if we are managing the bees, rather than simply exploiting them, maybe we need to start to think of the bees as livestock that benefit from supplementation on a more regular basis than what is necessary to overcome drastic and obvious temporary or seasonal shortages.

Those managing other livestock provide supplements and extra feed anytime they see a shortage developing, without thinking twice about it, and the specific nutritional needs are well defined and taught -- but not for bees.

I have now started feeding patties constantly over the summer to see what happens. So far, the results are amazing to me.

I recall when I started spring supplementation with a good supplement. I was surprised to se that the 'normal' spring problems diminished drastically, and so did the problems later in the season. I wonder if this effort will see similar results.

> How is the krebs cycle in insects?

What are you thinking?

Better weather ahead.

OK.  Here it comes.  Stay tuned.  I reported that I have had a stack of AFB scaled up combs somewhere in the yard.  I found it today.  A swarm has apparently moved in.  They had  a lot of other choices, but this was their choice.   Poor them!  It is obvious that they are NOT hygienic.  The bees are small, and they have a bit of scattered brood at the older larva stage, but it sure looks to me that they are doomed.

Hold the phone.  I'm looking for some drugs...

Wednesday August 19th, 2009
August past: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
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It is Jonathan's birthday.  I spent much of the day lining up a  trip to Ontario for myself, Jon and Jean to visit my Mom, and to take in a David Wilcox concert at the Kee to Bala.  We have talked about this for years and never done it.  Maybe this time we will.  We have tickets. 


Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds




Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 09:04:53 -0600

Bob has suggested that maize pollen is not much good. In fact it is less > than useless, but it is not alone in that. It amazes me that the USA > industry has not done the research on their pollens. The five secrets of > beekeeping- pollen, pollen, pollen, young queens, shift on time.

I have been thinking about this lately. The problem seems to be that every location and every season is unique, and that therefore, the bulk of the interest is in problem pollens, like toxic types. There is less interest in the nutritional value of each specific pollen and the variation in nutritional values within each, partly because applying much of that knowledge is not easy or simple.

Pollens are unpredictable in timing and quantity and the mix of pollens coming in is variable as well. Pollens also do vary considerably, even for one type of plant, due to variations in genotype and phenotype and region, climate, soil, weather, etc.

Some pollen work has been done. Justin Schmidt, among others, did some research on pollens, http://tinyurl.com/m5vgmj but the problem has been in applying that knowledge.

As a result, the USDA has again started to emphasize nutritional supplements because they apply in almost every situation and a re an easy workaround for most situations.

The problem is that the work being done with public money has been kept secret and proprietary. Details which should belong to everyone are sold or leased to monopolistic marketers, rather than being published freely for use by the people who paid for them.

This is an abuse IMO. This practice runs contrary to what should be expected from publicly funded research, and retards the progress of the entire industry and prevents other work that could be based on those results.


Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds




Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 18:27:09 -0600

> I have been using 15% pollen patties simply because that is what Global had on hand.

> Chinese pollen?

In Canada, it could be, or Spanish, although they use all the Canadian pollen they can get. In theUS, though, all Global's pollen is US-produced and they work with the FDA on that to ensure total legality and food safety. They only use ingredients that are approved and known to the customer and the authorities.

> I would never have guessed would happen but Dave H. said was what he was  seeing. I tried and once the hives pollen needs are being met with the  patty you see less and less bees coming in with pollen loads. I admit I was a bit amazed also but does two important things in my opinion.

I had a good chat with Dave the other day at Andy's during EAS. He is a huge convert to the feeding persuasion. I'm not sure I think all the various things he adds are necessary (eggs, minerals, etc.) but what the heck. If it works for him, then that is a good thing. We really need some good research, since so much of this is guesswork. I know that yeast and soy with pollen work. As for all the other stuff, I wonder if some of it might be slightly harmful.

>At times I have had pallets of perfectly good frames plugged with pollen I have pulled from hives in fall and in spring. Bees will freeze to death in winter clustered over frames of pollen. Many times the bees place those frames in the center of the brood nest.

We used to have that here in Alberta. Northern beekeepers would trade full pollen frames straight across for empty frames from southern (prairie) beekeepers.

> > Do you see any supplement in the frames?

> sure! And will get hard as a rock over time.

I'll have to look closer. Have not seen that here.

>> By the time wrapping time comes at the end of October, all hives are quite uniform in weight.

> uniform is the key. Hardly ever worked for in hobby beekeepers hives but > what we are always striving for in commercial hives!

I always grind my sideliner friends about that.

There is always an excuse why they cannot get the weights up in time, but winter losses keep them behind the curve.

It is like surfing. The ride is great on the front of the wave if you time things right and can ride it, but if you are even a little slow, miss the crest and try to catch it... not so much.


Thursday August 20th, 2009
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I did a bit of work outside, tidying, and got started on getting the books up to date.  We have been watching a hornet nest grow outside our north door.  We always have one or two, and quite enjoy having them around.

I also wasted a lot of time chasing down an unknown process on my computer.  It turned out to be the Acer video enhancer.

Friday August 21st, 2009
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Here are some typical-looking hives in my home yard. 

They are the result of splitting 9 overwintered hives (2 were weak) into 35 hives over the summer and feeding Global 15% pollen patties constantly. You will notice that I have some styrofoam hives.  they are described earlier, when i got them for a trial.

I found several problems.  1.) the development rate is different in these hives, but the end result seems not different from wooden hives and 2.) mixing wood and styro brood boxes makes the hives impossible to wrap using our method.  That is the primary reason that I did not warp them a few years ago, resulting in losses.  I have now learned to keep them separate.

I also finally, after all these years, drilled auger holes into them so that all the hives are similar and so that they have more air.

These boxes were never glued.  I merely pressed them together and filled them with frames.  As you can see, most are tight, but the occasional corner is a bit open.  That does not seem to matter to the bees, or to me.  The boxes are strong.  I have both Swienty and Betterbee versions and both seem to function equally well.  They are interchangeable.  I have never painted either and they are just fine.  In Europe, they paint them dark colours.  That is probably a good idea, but I like all my boxes to be similar in tone.  FWIW, I like the lids, but have little affection for the floors.  I think any wood floor is better.  The screens are a pain and won't stay in place, plus they plug up.

On one of the rainy days, we burned a lot of junk. 

There were tree limbs, old boxes and pallets, etc.  The result was a small pile of ash, full of old tin, spacers, and 10 lbs of nails.  I shovelled most of it up, but then cleaned up with a nail rake.  They are the handiest think to have around for driveways and burning areas.  Saves on flat tires.  Oh, it is magnetic.


Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds




Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>


Fri, 21 Aug 2009 11:02:19 -0600

> The mantra is oft repeated here that 'all beekeeping is local'.

It is, and it is true, but we are going beyond that discussion, from "local" to "specific to each hive and each day"..

The issue here is that each and every hive, every location and every day is different, with different needs and different resources, and, moreover, the environment and weather are unpredictable.

Simply put, achieving an exact and perfect match to the nutritional needs of each and every hive, everywhere -- whatever that might be -- is not likely to happen naturally in any consistent or continuous fashion. We should give up that idea.

Can we manage that artificially? Good question.

I know, nature is wonderful,, and our bugs have marvelous capabilities that are beyond our comprehension to buffer, adapt and make do, BUT, we come back to the fact that we are -- for our own selfish reasons -- looking for a way to ensure the best continuous nutritional result possible.

It seems obvious to me that the only way to ensure that is not to try to merely match minimal needs, but to provide a continuous *surplus*. We look for that in queen cells -- *excess* feed at all times -- so why do we not look for and provide excess feed for the hive itself? Because we are cheap and want to believe that we don't need to, that is why.

It seems we're prepared top believe in magic if necessary, and love to quote those who wrote and write romantically about bees being perfectly adapted superbeings and eschew direct scientific examination of the question.

It also appears that many would rather pay hundreds of dollars for packages every year and waste time and effort cleaning up dead-outs than pay a few dollars for feed.

Feeding used to be a pain, and subject to many errors in content and application, but it is not that hard now that good pre-made paties are available cheaply everywhere. It takes minutes to just slap some on the hives every few weeks all year (except winter) and watch. Once hives get striong, it seems that the bees will eat the patties even off the top bars of supers and from the floors. Of course, the centre of the hive is still best.

Back to the question of what to feed? A technical and synthesized expensive product designed to replace pollen, or a simple supplement with or without pollen. I suppose there are several answers, depending on circumstance.

Some targets require a sharpshooter with a rifle, and some require a shotgun.

The rifle approach is to try to determine the nutritional needs of a 'typical' (non-existent) colony and try to match it exactly. Then find how to synthesize that diet, and feed. This is the idealist's approach. The problems with this approach become quickly obvious after even a little thought.

There are far too many variables. Too many assumptions must be made for any one solution to be found and feed synthesis is complex and expensive. Highly processes and unstated ingredients may be called in. 'Intuitively", as my linear algebra prof used to say, here is virtually no likelihood that such an approach would be a closer fit for many situations than a shotgun approach -- cheap and plentiful -- produces.

Here is the shotgun approach. Rather than trying to provide an ideal, perfectly matched diet. We know already which nutrients are most likely to be deficient in a hive and which are most important to have on hand at all times, so we find a cheap, palatable, non-spoiling way to deliver it, feed plenty and often, and are done. Some beekeepers have been doing just that.

> Get the nutrition right. Sure there are other problems, but get the > nutrition right and half of them disappear, or, are, at least reduced.

That is the message. However, the doubt and confusion arise in deciding what is "right"?. Perfectionists wait around for the ideal while practical beekeepers feed. what is at hand.

Many small beekeepers and some idealistic, simplistic writers think, that they can somehow rely on nature to supply that nutrition 24/7/365 and everywhere. It is *possible* that some can, but frankly I doubt it. The successful commercials have been increasingly catching on and I doubt that there are many in North America who do not use at least some supplementation.

> With respect it seems simple to me. Avoid locations with poor or > deficient pollens (toxic), seek out those with good pollens.

I find it strange, having been around awhile, that this idea seems obvious to some writers. Personally, I am having problems imagining circumstances for that to be true. For what you seem to be suggesting to be a complete and adequate solution to the problems presented, I have to assume that you find yourself in

1.) a large region where predicable, stable weather, reliable rainfall and where plantings and blooming flora do not change and

2.) where toxic sprays are never used. Moreover you must

3.) be free from competition from other beekeepers who can crowd an area, and you must

4.) be free of the mites that suck the 'blood' of North American bees and increase their nutritional needs.

If so, I can understand why you don't see a problem.

Beekeepers, both large and small, where I have been , at least, often have to choose or settle for locations -- temporary or longer term -- that are less than desireable nutritionally for considerations other than the pollen availability. I am not going to spell out the details, because 'most any commercial beekeeper will understand, and we have been over that before.

The underlying assumption of the idealists' line of thinking is that all these things can somehow be known in advance, with some certainty, and without a great deal of research. To put it baldly, in my life3, I have learned that they cannot or with any degree of certainty.

Beekkeepers may know after a year or two on a location what things were like there the previous years, but crops rotate, spraying takes place, and without an airplane, it is often difficult to scout the surrounding territory for current conditions. The flowering natural flora and timing in a region may vary widely from year to year due to rainfall or lack of it.

> On this side of the pond, eastern side of the country, our two most > consistent honey trees are pollen deficient. So it is necessary to choose > sites that have a quality pollen source from other flora. Particularly as > these two flower at the beginning of the season, and hopefully there will > be other flows later. The research has been done, we now can look up the > protein quality of virtually any plant that is likely to be significant.

If so, the option to supplement is there, if the locations have other compelling advantages.

>> Pollens are unpredictable in timing > > That's interesting. I would have thought with your defined seasons they > would have been pretty regular.

We have defined seasons? Snow on August the first. Frost on record every month of the year, but many years with 5 continuous months frost-free. Hottest day of the year comes in May, or maybe August. Who knows from one year to the next?

> Yes one would expect some variation, but our experience is that the > quality of a specific pollen does not vary all that much.

The quantity and availability can be variable, as can each colony's ability to forage.

> I am a great believer in feeding an artificial diet. Or at least I would > be if we had a good one ;-). Some time ago I convinced our research mob > that such a diet was needed. They agreed but couldn't find a competent > nutritionist to do the work, so we still wait.

Yeah. I think we have been talking about that on honeybeeworld. I actually think we do have a pretty good one. Actually, we probably have many.

There are two approaches: bottom up and top down. Starting at the top seems ideal, but there are logical flaws. (pointed out above). We keep thinking the top down approach is best and that government or some company will step in and make some science magic and come up with siome ideal feed for us, but the fact is that cut and try is a very valid method of doing research and beekeepers are doing it.

I've had an inside look on the inside of some technical diet research, and frankly, I think a lot of it is voodoo practiced by grad students with impure motives who are not quite grown up and ready for the real world.

We stimulated quite a bit of interest in bee diets from our efforts here in Southern Alberta a decade back and several proprietary startups are a direct result of my queries along that line. Everyone thinks they can get rich off beekeepers, especially if they can get a shot of government money upfront. I think that one such diet may be better than a simple diet (I don't know by how much, though), but I know another highly touted one simply does not work. Period.

After that experience, I tend to go with the beekeepers opinions over current researchers turned promoters. Fundamental research was done a long time ago and we know that soy, yeast, casein, eggs, and other cheap products. can provide a pretty close match to the bees needs when combined with pollen. Some others think we need to add oils, minerals, etc., but then we get into other, more esoteric and theoretical additives... In Southern Alberta, we pretty much use yeast and soy and pollen. Works for us.

Hack was going to send me his formula, and I'm looking forward to try it. I love it when beekeepers get together and share their experience (Empirical data). I get worried, though when we start theorizing. Theorizing gets too weird, too fast for me.

For me, yeast, soy, and pollen seems to work. My first rule is "do no harm", and I don't know about all the extras that some advocate.

FWIW, I've been thinking of doing a large, co-operative, net-based widely distributed beekeeper project, testing various products on the market against a number of benchmarks in real commercial hives, but the job would be huge and I can't figure out how to get paid. I know how to do it, but the details are a killer: getting fresh, representative product is one. Keeping track of the activities and results as well as interpreting them is another.

That is another subject.

I'm going to hit, "send". I usually poofread everting, but this is getting too long for me to read.

Wonder if anyone makes it to the bottom.

Speaking of long and windy, this month's diary has to take the cake.

Saturday August 22nd, 2009
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Subject: Re: Rushing up into the Supers
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Sat, 22 Aug 2009 10:11:42 -0600

> Sometimes we add the supers of foundation immediately. Other times, as soon as we get them off the truck. It appears to me that bees must "learn" alfalfa blooms, and that the process takes a few days, but I could easily be in error. I only notice the delay specifically in alfalfa.

I am still surprised that the bees cluster out from instead of moving promptly into the supers to cluster. I can't recall having seen that after driving bees down from three or four boxes into one and then adding a box of foundation. Seems to me that they always went up quite well. Of course, some tended to crowd the entrance for a while, but no huge beard.

Are the temperatures hot when you do this? What frames and foundation do you use? Always the same?

Also, our Ross Rounds frames were used frames reloaded with new foundation, and had been in hives before. Some had a bit of wax ladder. All the same, I also seem to recall the bees going up into whole boxes of new Pierco standards, and on alfalfa.

Is all your foundation in new frames? Does it matter whether you add the supers before or after trucking? Does it help to wait a day or two before trucking, or do you have to do it all in one trip? Are you using tons of smoke?


Re: Natural vs. Supplied Bee Feeds




Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>


Sat, 22 Aug 2009 17:24:42 -0600

> I would have to say there's more parts per million in your food than you > think.... don't fool yourself,we're being low dosed to death in the name > of production, and big brother is not going to tell you that ,you would > have to pay for private testing.

I don't think you are nuts. I think we all know that quality control is done on a probability basis and that there have to be problems that slip through. Nonetheless, emphasis has changed from simple inspection after production to using preventative procedures *as well as* the traditional follow-up sampling. You may recall the debate here on BEE-L about HACCP a decade back. Then it was the future, and now it is the present. It is still coming to US beekeeping, but it is well accepted by the advanced honey exporting nations as being essential for credibility.

Personally, I am sure there are borderline case where the inspectors look the other way, but I would be interested in knowing where to look for the contamination you suggest, because I know there 1,000 investigative reporters who could find the cash for the tests.

Many question the allowable limits in foods. Are they too high? Are they too low? Obviously some gets into our diet. Do we know enough about these substances to know how much is too much?

There is a problem with testing, too. At least in the past, has been not only that tests are expensive and variable in reliability, but one has to know in advance what to look for and to recognize it when found.

An example would be a test for tylosin. Suppose a test finds zero or almost zero tylosin. Does it discover the metabolites, which happen to be much longer-lived and possibly more potent?

At any rate the discussion here is not whether there are poisons in our food and the food our bees eat, but rather whether the dose is lower and more predictable in man-made diets than in natural forage. --- Note: when at EAS, I ventured into a Wal-Mart and bought a new computer. I had my eye on the netbooks, and went to buy the basic Acer One, but found they now have a 2GB.250GB Vista Basic model for $348. That is what I am using. I am very impressed. It is as fast as a bigger unit, has very bright and detailed screen -- 1366x768, wireless, and all that we expect. (no DVD or CD, tho'). It is the size and weight of a medium-sized book,

The reason I mention this is that the keyboard is good, but a little small, and the spellchecker is not 100%. That is my excuse for the bad spelling lately. Rating in the unit 10 out of 10, tough. My other machines are history.

I noticed on BEE-L that Charlie mentioned that he has has a scale hive for years, and that the data is available on the web.  I checked it out.  Interesting!

Hi Allen

I have a scale hive set up to record the weight every minute of the day it also records temperature, dew point, and amount of sunshine. These 3 things will affect amount and % sugar in nectar will surprise the beekeeper it only takes a few days of good honey flow to fill up a super.  A cloudy over cast hot day 80+F on the tallow flow will add 15# over a normal sun shiny day in the 90s. The data is in coma delimited text format and I will freely share it I have about five years of old data. Look at http://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sites/ScaleHiveSite.php?SiteID=LA001

The new program I wrote takes readings every  sixty seconds 24/7 with 7 data points. The scale is not cheap I put it together with components 3 load cells one serial interface card and a computer dedicated  to this task and of course software written by me as none is available elsewhere.

I do not have a list but here is a partial 3ea 500 pound load cells $750.00 each 1 HBM AED interface card $450.00 each The card needs to run a calibration at least every five min. to cancel out electronic errors it is a rs232 interface. The load cell errors are ignored (mainly creep) If you have a old platform scale you can put a small load cell on the arm 25# or so and not need the other load cells as the scale divides the weight 100 to one. Load cells can be found on Ebay the interface card is not have only seen one listing and that was for 10 for $3200.00.

AD: I can see the need for constant updating for the satellite work, but once an hour would likely be good enough for most of us -- unless we want to see the bees coming and going, and the swarms leave.

Once every hour of 15 min. is fine for me but hard drive space is cheap and you never know when you might want the extra data, you cant go back and get it. It is easier to ignore  the extra data away you might want it next year.

Harper's Honey Farm
Charles Harper
(337) 298 6261

AD: Thanks. I actually do actually have a platform scale that will take a pallet of hives. I may just put one on it. As for the rest, it sounds a little pricey and challenging for the time I can give it right now, but I will keep it in mind for when I have more time.

People may know Charlie as the CREDA co-operator in the Russian project who manages the stock for the Baton Rouge lab at his place at Carencro.

He also was along when we went to Lusbys' in 2005.

30 lbs weight gain in one day is not uncommon up here where the days are long.

I managed to get the books almost up date.  It was a hassle, problems with the old laptop caused me some grief with versions of the file, but it is done and done right.  I'm glad it is done.

After supper, I went to town for groceries.  Must be absent-minded.  I left my bank card in the bank machine, I suspect.  I noticed that after I got home.  I recall, thinking about taking it out and folding the receipt, but I guess I didn't.  I was distracted by some kids horsing around outside the window.

Distractions are deadly.  It is easy to be distracted when doing something important and that is always when trouble happens.  I try to avoid being distracted, but then something distracts me.

I took a look at the old laptop and discovered that in spite of being blown out from time to time, the blower was blocked by lint.  I suspected that heat was the problem since the fan ran constantly, and I figured the processor was being throttled back to prevent damage.  While it was open, I pulled the HD and hooked up an external 6GB USB drive and installed Ubuntu on it.  Wow, the machine rocks, and the fan never runs.  So, I'm guessing it was blocked cooling, or else the internal HD, which I took out for the moment.  We'll see when I set it back together.  No matter what, tho', I can boot now from either the USB HD (Ubuntu) if I plug it in, or the internal drive, to Vista.  I wonder what would happen if I try to boot this little guy from that USB drive.  Should work, but I wonder if the installation was customized to the other machine.

Sunday August 23rd, 2009
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Charlie got me thinking.  I have had a scale just sitting around, so I moved it under a four-pack.

 I then weighed the hives as they are now and got 874 lbs.

We'll see how they gain and lose weight.

874 divided by four gives 219 lbs per hive. The pallet must weigh about 60 lbs, and the bees weigh, probably about 7 lbs average per hive (splits), so that lowers the weight per hive without bees to about 200 lbs.

If there are four boxes per hive and one has five, then that adds up to 21 boxes.  (874-60-28)/21=33 lbs per box.  If a box, empty, weighs 20 lbs average, then that means the average net content weight per box is currently 38 lbs.  I'd normally pull supers art that weight, but these are brood boxes and my plan is to use the combs for feed.

We have a dog again.  We've been borrowing a friend's dog, Zip.  Zip likes it here and refuses to go home.

I went out before supper and see the pallet weight is up three pounds since noon.  I also see that one hive has a cluster below the frames at the entrance.  I lifted the lid and can see they need another box.  I added boxes to two other hives and checked the patties.  They are all gone in most cases and I am out of patties.  Global has some, but it is a one hour drive each way and I have only tomorrow until I leave for the week.

I notice my camera has developed a mark or two on the clear lens cover and that the deformity is causing flares

Monday August 24th, 2009
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This was a long day.  Ellen & I worked on tightening up the Quonset again.  The wind seems to catch the SW end and we need to guy it to keep it straight.  I decided to go back to taping it, rather than using cable, and we got that done.  While we were working -- and hour or two, the scale hives nearby put on four pounds.

Jean and Mckenzie showed up at five-thirty and we had supper.

I cleaned up my deskwork and packed, then, at 7 PM, went out to super the hives.  I had decided that some might not have enough room for the next week, or maybe two before the season is over.  I put 10 boxes on the home yard and five or so on Elliotts'.  That latter yard was not doing nearly as well as the home yard, and I noticed a skunk leaving as I drove up.

I put boxes in the scale hives, too, noting that the weight was 888 before I did.  That is a gain of 14 lbs since the start, a day and a half ago, for the four hives or 3-1/2 lbs per hive.

The scale reads 1028 after supering.

At times I get really optimistic about all these hives, then I get more sober.  The fact is that maybe a quarter are great -- four to six standards high -- and as many are poor -- two to three standards high.  The rest are in between.  How will they do?  Will I have to extract, or can I use all the honey for feed next year in splits?  Will I see some AFB?  Are the mite levels getting up there?  These things will be found out in time.  My current guess is that of the 35 or so hives I have now, that three will be dead by  fall, and that a further 20% -- six will be lost over winter, assuming I do my part and check for mites, remove the extra boxes, and wrap.  I'll probably give them all an oxalic drizzle, but I will do some checks first.

I finished supering at 9:30 and caught a quick nap, then at 10:15, Jean and I headed to YYC.  At midnight, we boarded the Westjet red-eye for Toronto.

Tuesday August 25th, 2009
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We arrived in Toronto at 6:15, caught the shuttle, and we were in our van, eating a breakfast sandwich at a drive-thru a half-hour later.  By nine, we were at Pine Hill.  We got to the driveway and started down, just in time to see Mom ahead of us.  She had driven from Sudbury, and we had flown from Calgary then driven from Toronto, and without communicating we all arrived at the same instant in time.

We visited, took naps, then went for a boat ride.

Ellen says:


Hope you are recovering from the all-nighter getting there.

I don't quite remember what you said you had on the large weights on the scale after you changed them from the 750 lb. weights, but the top reading this evening around 7:30 was 40 lbs.  I was followed over by both dog and cat.  I took a picture of the scale.

My pictures of the scale were a bit blurry the other night, since it was getting dark after I supered, but I read 1028.  If it now is 1040, then that is another 12 lb gain in one day, or 3 lbs per hive in 24 hours.

This is a picture El took last night.  It is nice and sharp.

Digital cameras are a great boon for many things.  I photograph my computer screen, any notes or pages of books I want to carry along, and also any frames in beehives that I might want to examine in more detail later.  It is a great way to measure brood area.  I have thought to build a jig to hold a frame and camera in the same position each time and avoid getting the camera sticky.

Wednesday August 26th, 2009
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The scale reads
47 pounds today.

14+12+7=33 lbs
33/4 = 8 lbs/hive

in 3-1/2 days

I slept 'til 8 and would have slept longer, but we had a visitor. 

Mid-morning, we went down to the dock and sat around for a while. 

In the afternoon, Jean and Mom went shopping, then we went out for supper.

The weather is sunny, but cool.  The forecast is for rain the next few days.
Subject: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 09:22:24 -0400

>> >In any case, if there truly is a 1:1 correlation with virus, then we have had CCD around for a long time and Tony was right, again.

> Yes, perhaps a long time: Disappearing disease time and again - Bee Cholera, Fall dwindling disease, Isle of Wight disease, Marie-Celeste Syndrome, Tracheal mite introduction. Varroa introduction

--- From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse#Symptoms  ---


A colony which has collapsed from CCD is generally characterized by all of these conditions occurring simultaneously[18]:

  • Complete absence of adult bees in colonies, with little or no build-up of dead bees in or around the colonies.
  • Presence of capped brood in colonies. Bees normally will not abandon a hive until the capped brood have all hatched.
  • Presence of food stores, both honey and bee pollen:

    i. which are not immediately robbed by other bees

    ii. which when attacked by hive pests such as wax moth and small hive beetle, the attack is noticeably delayed.

Precursor symptoms that may arise before the final colony collapse are:

  • Insufficient workforce to maintain the brood that is present
  • Workforce seems to be made up of young adult bees
  • The Queen is present
  • The colony members are reluctant to consume provided feed, such as sugar syrup and protein supplement.

--- end quote ---

Well, assuming that all conditions must be present for diagnosis, the confounding issue in this particular case is the third condition listed. Without that one stipulation, we would have been justified all along in saying (as some of us have) this is just more of the same old thing. This same old thing is seen every year, somewhere, and has good years and bad years. How bad a bad year turns out to be partly appears dependant on how influential and vocal the beekeepers affected happen to be.

The observation and stipulation of this one criterion has made CCD seem new and unique -- and thus a greater mystery and concern than it would otherwise have been.

If this essential requirement is withdrawn or downplayed (in the future), we can justifiably assume that we have been kidding ourselves (quite profitably for many) that this is something new, and not just the same old, same old.

Maybe long-term (not Band-Aid or proprietary) answers will come from a lab, but, it seems that they seldom have in the past, so I guess, it comes back to the same old question:

Do we have any survivors from CCD episodes to form the basis for a permanent solution?

Subject: Re: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 11:45:40 -0400

> Allen, I must be a bit slow. Can you tell me how to make money from ccd?

--- cynicism on ---

Go into research or journalism, or if so unlucky as to be a beekeeper, get some public sympathy and, if possible, compensation. If that fails, CCD is a good story for the banker. Much better than, "Ooops! I forgot to monitor and treat for mites".

--- cynicism off ---

(Sorry about that. Back to our regularly scheduled programming).

> By the 3rd condition I think you must mean unrobbed stores. This symptom seems to be true mostly. Wax moth much delayed, when they come much fewer then expected.

I have no idea how one can make a scientific observation on this point, and I have been mystified by this report from the start.

It is the only thing that justifies flagging this as a new phenomenon, in my opinion.

Subject: Re: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 16:48:58 -0400

>> I have no idea how one can make a scientific observation on this point >> (regarding lack of robbing), and I have been mystified by this report >> from the start. It is the only thing that justifies flagging this as a >> new phenomenon, in my opinion.

<numerous observations detailed here>

> Don't need statistics for these types of response. It seems that when > bees begin to rob CCD hives, then you are safe to re-populate the > equipment. Force bees on to it, and ~50% of those colonies are likely to > fail... And yes, I agree - this is the one unique symptom that I've not > seen before. Very odd.

Thanks for the details, Jerry.

Agreed, you had controls and multiple observations at diverse locations, so this one puzzling and almost anomalous aspect seems proven.

Odd then that this one point is not the prime focus of the investigation and the funding. I should think whatever is learned should have far-reaching importance, and far beyond beekeeping.

Subject: Re: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2009 20:08:23 -0400

Noting these statements,

> In CCD beeyards in FL in Dec, 2007 - we had collapsed hives, failing > hives, and always a few better hives...


> ...In the same field, there was the yard with the heavy collapse and the > piles of boxes (about 80% of the colonies perished), a yard of failing > colonies, and a yard of very good colonies - all within 200 yards of each > other (points of a triangle).

takes us back to the subject line.

Apparently there are survivors.

How much of that is luck and how much might be some sort of resistance?

Also, does CCD seem to hit all strains and colours of bees?

Have we seen it in the Russian bees?

There was also some hint about AHB being less or unaffected, or is that due to lack of observations....

Are there any particularly susceptible strains?

Specific suppliers?

Thursday August 27th, 2009
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The weight at about
5 P.M. was 59 lbs
That is another
12 lbs or 3lbs/hive today

14+12+7+12=45 lbs
45/4 = 11 lb/hive
in 4-1/2 days

Forecast notwithstanding, the day dawned sunny and clear.  Around ten, Mom, Jean and I left Pine Hill and drove to Sudbury. 

We arrived after lunch and I launched my boat.  It is filthy from sitting under the trees.  Jonathan arrives at eleven.  I motored over to Linda's and had a visit.

I signed up today for a project back in Alberta, so will stay east another week or a bit more.

Subject: Re: The history of honey bee "domestication"
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 08:32:27 -0400

> I have heard it said that todays racehorse industry can trace the ancestry > of most of the succesful horses to a single sire. I have no idea if this > is true but maybe it is close? Is beekeeping in the western world any > different?

Both Australian and American stocks are imports, and as such must be limited genetically to the imported genes, I should think. Efforts have been made in recent years, both legally and surreptitiously, to augment that perceived deficiency.

Subject: Re: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 09:36:44 -0400

>> But this symptom is unique. If you haven't seen it, you probably aren't >> looking at CCD... One caveat, this symptom may disappear in the summer >> when bees are most active.

> Which seems to say that something else is at play here, since if it is the > definitive marker it should be there no matter what... But then there is > Peter's comment- "Sometimes the hive will just sit there empty of bees but > with lots of stores, depite the presence of the other 95 hives in the > apiary."which is for a non-CCD event, yet it is the definitive marker for > CCD... As far as not seeing the definitive marker before, since the marker > is not consistent, you can easily argue that CCD was in fact present and > either not observed (since who was looking for it then?) or under > conditions when it "may disappear".

Here, stated most baldly, is the real question we have been skating around. This is the exact reason many of us, no matter how hard we try to believe, have doubts about the CCD story.

Plainly, this one symptom, we are told, is the only unique marker and the sine qua non -- except, apparently, when it isn't. Sure sounds like doubletalk. We try to keep an open mind, but under any other circumstances we would expect such statements to indicate a con.

Given, however the reputations and credentials of those investigating, and the fact that they are our friends, we suspend our disbelief, pending further evidence, which we are assured is forthcoming.

Nothing is ever as simple as it may seem, and it could very well be that that which defies reason is exactly as reported. In the meantime, we are privy to the best information available, thanks to Jerry.

As for robbing, it is an odd and somewhat unpredictable phenomenon. Inasmuch as it tends to provoke panic in beekeepers and bystanders, I am not sure it has been studied very scientifically.

I personally have stacks of boxes with honey that the bees could have robbed sitting within their reach for years with little interest while other boxes and fresh honey spills are licked clean in moments.

The fact that other insects seem to leave the empty or weak hives alone is interesting, too.

As for the summer effect, perhaps temperature or sunlight are factors that reverse the effect.

We are keeping our minds open.

Subject: Re: CCD Survivor Stock?
From: allen
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology <BEE-L@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 14:50:55 -0400

> P.S. Allen, this disorder does not look like anything you've ever seen - was new to me; and if I hadn't seen hundreds of colonies all across the > U.S. doing the same thing, then got it in my colonies in MT and watched it for two years - including an observation hive with CCD, I'd have been just as sceptical.

Well, Jerry, as I said further down, we respect the observers so even if the story does look fishy, and we amuse ourselves by pointing that out, we do actually have faith in the people and the process.

I think we understand that summer temperatures could easily have an effect on what residues remain in the colonies and for how long, as can many other seasonal factors. Residues, though? What residues?

We're waiting patiently for the proof.

I personally, though, find it surprising and noteworthy how this story has been exploited and packaged as a money-maker and by whom. Of course it was a great excuse to funnel more badly needed $$$ into bee research, but even an ice cream manufacturer managed to hitch a ride, and journalists have been eating out on it for ages. Nothing like a good emergency and a well primed hype machine to get people reaching for their wallets to help an normally obscure and somewhat boring (for the population) cause.

We know you and the others will get to the bottom of it. We're just giving you a hard time, pending further releases of your findings so you will tell us more about your findings. At least I am.

Can't be sure about Bill.

Friday August 28th, 2009
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Reading is at 69 lbs today.
10 lb. gain since last night at about the same time -- 5:00 P.M.

That is another 10 lbs or 2-1/2 lbs/hive today
14+12+7+12+10=55 lbs
55/4 = 14 lb/hive in 5-1/2 days

The weather looks promising for a continued flow.

Jon and I visited Linda while Jean and Mom went to the hairdresser and grocery shopping. Then we all had lunch at Eddy's.

In the afternoon, we took a walk around my old haunts and I showed the kids some of my favourite spots and my old paper route.  There are changes in the old neighbourhood, but not as many as some places.

After supper, I motored my boat back across to Linda's to tie up for the next several days.  It is sheltered there, and seems much safer than anchoring on the North Shore -- even with two anchors.  I had a mess, though, since the lake bottom is clay at Mom's and the chains and anchors brought up clay and were hard to clean. The foredeck is a mess and the scupper from the chain locker plugged with debris.  Anyhow, I got tied up.  The rain the next day or two may help wash the boat off.

Alberta (right) looks dry and sunny, but it is cool and damp here in Sudbury (left).  The coming days should be much better, though.

Saturday August 29th, 2009
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I woke up early to find that it is raining heavily here.  The forecast is for more of the same.  Muskoka is wet, too and cool.  Jon is sleeping in, but Jean and I are ready to roll.  He is still on West Coast time, California is three hours behind us here.

When I got into my van in  Ottawa last month, I noticed some water inside on the passenger side floor.  I ignored it at the time -- the van had been parked on a tilt, nose up and I wondered if the windshield leaked at the top, but had no more trouble.

I noticed sloshing coming from the dash area when I got in in Toronto, and today I took a look.  The sloshing traced back to the same problem I had once before: the scuppers from the air intake screen in front of the windshield plug with spruce needles and the cavity fills up. 

In winter that water freezes, and one time I found my windshield wipers would not work and discovered that the mechanism was frozen in a block of ice under the screen.  It took Bill and me an hour to open the screen and chip it out that time. 

This time, I was able to open the hood, pull the drain hoses off and poke a stick up to clear the blockage.  I'll flush it out well when the rain stops and I have a chance.

Jon, Jean & I drove to Pine Hill in the afternoon.  We drove thru rain, but it was sunny when we arrived, so had a boat ride, then went to Bala for the concert.  We had supper at a bar at 7:30, then lined up.  We got prime seats and waited. 

David Wilcox did not come onto stage until 11:22, after a long and painful warm-up performance by a solo warm-up act was done.  When he did come on stage he went non-stop for an hour and half.  He and his backup -- a very competent bass guitarist and a manic, but precise drummer -- put on a very tight, high-energy performance of all his familiar tunes, ranging from rock to blues, to a sort of rap he has done since long before rap and hip-hop came on the scene.  I was surprised to find that he does not seem to have much new material.  Was it worth flying from Alberta and California and driving 500 miles?  Probably.  That was not the only purpose of the trip.

Sunday August 30th, 2009
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We got in at 1:15 and turned in for the night.  It was not cold, and the unheated cottage was quite comfortable in the morning.  Forecasts had predicted otherwise.

The scale reading is 88 lbs today. That's 18.5 lbs/hive in one week

At 11, we headed north for the Sudbury airport to send Jean back home.  Her daughter starts grade one tomorrow, and it is a Big Day.

Jon and I then returned to Mom's, had a nap, ate supper, then took a long walk around Minnow Lake.

I notice that our scale hives averaged 18.5 lbs each over the past seven days.  Not bad for splits at the end of August.  Some years we have had a killer frost by now. 

The tend on the graph is down. I expect we will continue to put on weight on for the next two weeks and right until frost if the weather is clear.  Starting now, daily temperatures drop on average, and flying time comes later in the day.  Many plants will soon finish up flowering for the year, although sometimes and some places, fields in full flower can be found right until a killer frost.  At this time of year, the days grow shorter quickly, and it is late in the day that the nectar has been coming in.  Shorter days mean less time to gather nectar due to the earlier cut-off and cool nights.  The bees start taking honey down to the brood chambers as soon as the flows diminish.

After the second week of September, even if there is no serious frost and a bit of nectar and pollen continues to come in, any gain will be balanced by the loss of water and brood as the bees evaporate and cap honey and reduce brood area.

There are occasional exceptional years, though when the bees bring in a super of honey the third week.  That is hard on the bees, though and can result in wintering losses, since the supposed 'winter bees' wear themselves out, rather than  settling down and saving themselves for spring.

Moreover, unless hives are heavy, bees will continue to fly after the frost and lose a lot of weight and bees from the effort to find food to get up to weight.  Heavy hives settle in early and lose less weight.  That is counterintuitive, but if you want to conserve feed, feed heavily and early!

I ran out of patties when supering and so the hives will be without supplement until I get back.  I'll be back in another week or so, though, since I took on a project in Alberta for the last two weeks of September.

As I write this, I hear something and realise that Colin James is playing in Sudbury tonight.  This a concert that I would like to see, too, and we considered going, but last night was enough for a while.  This concert is outdoors in the park, near the water, so I went outside just now, and sure enough, I can hear it quite clearly across the lake.  It is loud enough to listen, but I can listen anytime on CD inside where it is warm.  Also, there is something about being there and seeing the show that is different from just listening.  The Edgar Winter Band was here last night.

Monday August 31st, 2009
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Weather at home (right) looks good for a continued flow.  Moisture could be running low, though.  The weather here looks good, too, with sun and temps in the 20s and 30s for the week.
  Of course, since I said that the trend is down, the gain today is the best since I began recording weights.  Ellen says it was a hot day. 30 degrees, apparently, and that is right in the optimal range, at least until the ground moisture gives out.

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