Monday, August 25, 2014

More Mite Counts - Bee Vlog - Aug 23, 2014

Dr Dewey Caron is joining me today to demonstrate how to do 2 other methods for counting mites: an alcohol wash, and a sugar roll.

Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Dewey M Caron & Lawrence John Connor can be purchased at

Unlike the sticky boards, these other 2 methods give you a percent mite load. This is a more meaningful number, as hive population can affect mite drop counts. But a sugar roll or alcohol wash is independent from population size.

However, it is important to get the bees from inside the hive and off brood frames. Taking samples from outside bearding bees, or from bees in a honey super will not be an accurate indicator because the mites hang out in the brood nest and are more likely to be found on the nurse bees tending the brood.

You'll notice that we got 2 different results from 2 different frames within the same hive. Both frames were side-by-side in the brood nest, but the first was capped brood while the second had open brood and eggs. In the sugar roll we got 52 mites out of 304 bees (or 17%) but on the alcohol wash we got 26 out of 346 bees (or 8%). Could this be simply a difference of the brood frames, or is it due to differences in the 2 methods?

Personally, I think I prefer the sugar roll method. This doesn't kill bees, so it suits me better. It also looks much easier to do with more simple, and easy to make equipment.

Video Link

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Varroa Mite Counts - Bee Vlog - Aug 15, 2014

Getting some mite counts on 6 of my hives: 3 survivors from last year and 3 new swarms from this year. I'll be joining other beekeepers in my local community on a "citizen science experiment/survey" to try to better understand how to help the bees in our area. It's a long term study that will take the next 6-8 months to complete, since winter survival is the final judging criteria for success.

In this video I show the first stage of getting a baseline mite reading with a sticky board. I coated the corrugated plastic boards with petroleum jelly then let them sit under the screen for 24 hours.

Mite count results:
Elizabeth: 14
Helen: 69 (50 is considered to be the treatment threshold here)
Jezebel: 21
Karma: 7
Louise: 3
Natalia: 0

Queen Helen origin video
Finding Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus

Video Link

Varroa Destructor

Immature Varroa mite

Bee compound eye

Bee ocelli (simple eye)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Laying workers - Bee Vlog - Aug 2, 2014

When I was reviewing video footage I found a segment where we actually get to see a worker entering a cell to lay an egg.

Video Link

There are a few ways of dealing with laying workers. Due to the season it's too late to have them try to raise another queen. There just isn't enough time remaining where drones will be available to mate. So, it seems the only other option is to shake them out. Most of the bees will reintegrate into one or both of the other hives.

Video Link

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Small Honey Harvest - Bee Vlog - Aug 2, 2014

Queen Elizabeth swarmed during the peak of the nectar flow, so the harvest wasn't very great. I reduced the hive in preparation for winter. They were left with plenty of honey and the new queen looked like she was doing great.

Queen Elizabeth's Origin

Video Link

Monday, August 4, 2014

Checking on the new queens - Bee Vlog - Aug 2, 2014

The nucs should have had enough time now to raise a new queen and for that queen to mate and begin laying eggs. By now I should expect to see capped brood if all went well.

During the inspection I found that nucs #1 & #3 had been successful, but nuc #2 was queenless and the workers began to lay eggs. I'll provide another video soon showing what I did about the laying workers.

Previous videos -
Making the splits
Checking the queen cells

Follow up video -
Laying workers

Video Link

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Feeding Queen Natalia - Bee Vlog - Jul 26, 2014

I normally prefer not to feed my bees, except in times of emergency. I think this is one of those times for Queen Natalia: a swarm I caught in late June, at the end of our big nectar flow. I'm a firm believer in following your instincts and "gut feelings" when it comes to managing bees. This is one of those times where my gut is telling me to feed them instead of following my typical methods. They don't have any honey stores saved up, so I gave them a quart of honey to see if it helps them get through the dearth and get better prepared for winter.

Video Link