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Archive for August, 2009

I did a mite count about a week and a half ago and hive “A” had a count of 4 while hive “B” had a count of 19. I repeated the count this past Thursday and hive “A” had a count of 5 while hive “B” had a count of 45. I decided to move forward with treating both hives using the Dowda method(see under “Control or preventive measures and treatment->Behavioral Methods”). I’m using a slight modification that I read in Ross Conrad‘s book “Natural Beekeeping” which involves mixed a 4:1 mixture of powdered sugar along with granulated garlic. I mixed everything up and went to the hives.

I opened the hive “B” first since it was in the most need to treatment at this time. Isaac and I took off the hive top feeder as well as the honey super that contains the honey that the bees made with the sugar syrup I’ve been feeding them (I have no intention of using that honey for myself or giving it to anyone else. It’s strictly for the bees). We then took out a couple of frames and inspected them. Everything looks good. We did uncap one drone cell and saw two mites on the drone brood in the cell. We started by dusting the powdered sugar/garlic mixture on the top bars of the hive and then brushing them to fall in between (I’ve ordered a blower that will allow me to blow this mixture into the hive from the opening of the landing board to make this easier — it should also make the mixture finer as it blows into the hive). We then put the second hive body back on and added the dust to it. We then put the hive back together and refilled the hive top feeder. I put the mite board underneath the hive (and got stung in the process) and then we went to hive “A”. I’ve posted the video on Facebook.

Hive “A” is a bigger colony and they are more defensive than hive “B” (it’s all about temperament). I got stung twice here (I forgot to smoke my left hand after it was stung when I put the mite board on hive “B”) and then realized my mistake. I didn’t bother making a video of this as I wanted to get it done quickly. We got the hive dusted (although the mite count is only 5 at this time — based on the 24-hour mite count) and fed and then called it a night. Just in case this doesn’t do the job I plan on using Apiguard or Api Life Var. The other thing I need to get are some essential oils for the bees — things like spearmint, peppermint, etc. — and add that to the sugar syrup to help control Varroa.

Right now I’m treating the three stings I got today. One is on the middle finger of my left hand, on is at the base of the middle finger of my right hand (right in the meat of the palm at the base of the finger) and one is on the top of my right hand near the thumb (not too far from where I got stung a few weeks ago). This time, however, I have applied Benadryl cream to all three sites as well as taken two Benadryl capsules and applying ice to the sting sites (actually ice packs). Hopefully I’ll avoid the large local reactions that I normally have when I get stung. We shall see. Last time it took 48 hours for my hand to return to normal…that’s the risk I take (and I still need to bring my tools in).

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I just checked the hives again (as well as refilled the hive top feeders) and in one of the hives, hive “A”, I only saw two small hive beetles (SHB) in the feeder this time (and I squished them). I opened the hive to check the frames for any sign of problems but everything looks good. I went down all the way to the bottom hive body and checked the brood pattern. Some of the frames are completely full of honey/sugar syrup in capped cells, there’s still lots of brood in the hive and and the bees are very active and busy. I didn’t see the queen but I couldn’t dig around so much as the bees began to get defensive and agitated that I was messing with the hive. While putting the hive back together I added a couple of SHB traps in the super above the queen excluder in order to try and trap any SHB that may be in the hive.

In hive “B” (the one on the left or the south side) I did not see any SHB in the hive top feeders and things are looking good. I didn’t see as much brood as there was in hive “A” but I did find a frame that was packed with brood in uncapped cells. One thing that bothers me is that almost all of the frames that I added to this hive — using Duragilt as the foundation — have comb on them that is incomplete. Rather than build comb on the entire frame the bees have built it only on part of the foundation. In the spring, assuming all goes well, I will be replacing these frames with new ones where the foundation is beeswax only with wire support. The hive has no problems with the frames in the super above the excluder (which is made with beeswax only).

I am waiting until this evening to go back out to spray the ground with nematodes who will burrow into the ground and feed on SHB larva. Once that’s done I’m going to wait a couple of days before putting down the diatomaceous earth around the hives. I’m going to install mite boards to determine varroa mite levels as well as Boardman feeders with water either tomorrow or the day after.

On the whole I’m pleased with the status of hives.

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Kim Flottum, the editor of Bee Culture magazine, recently wrote an article detailing where the money in a grant from the US Department of Agriculture is going into researching Colony Collapse Disorder as well as a variety of other items for honey bee health.

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I just refilled the hive top feeders of both hives and noticed about 4 or 5 adult small hive beetles (about 2 in one and 3 in the other) plus one larva. I’d rather not use Checkmite+ as I’d like to keep the beekeeping as organic as possible. The hives both look strong and they don’t appear to be having problems at the moment but I’d rather deal with this now rather than later (for obvious reasons). I would have assumed that the bees would deal with the small hive beetle themselves by removing the little pests from the hives but that wouldn’t explain why I saw a few in the hive top feeders today.

I’m going to put in an order to Brushy Mountain for a bunch of stuff but for the moment I’m investigating other possibilities such as using diatomaceous earth (from a study by the Australia’s New South Wales Department of Primary Industries found here as well as this discussion here) and Heterorhabditis Bacteriophora (commercially found here). I really want to avoid the possibility of using Checkmite+ if I can as it sounds like a really nasty product.

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