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[personal profile] doodlemaier
Much to my surprise, today I discovered eggs in one of the two comb failure hives I've been nursing through life all summer! It had been more than a month since attempting to remove them and I hadn't been able to find any vacated queen cells in either trap-out attempt and so naturally I feared the worst. My intention today was merely to clean all the putrid honey and SHB maggots out of the comb failure hive, reclaim the wax and combine the two colonies in order to free up some woodenware to house the trap-out that I've been ignoring at my in-laws. At any rate, I'm back in the business of feeding bees (if for no other reason, I wanted to test my cheap n'easy sheet cake tin hive top feeder on bees that I figured were as good as dead anyway).

I cooked up a gallon of 1-to-1 syrup and, per a friend's suggestion, I used some Honey-B-Healthy in the mix despite Mike Bush's warning about any non-native scents in the hive having the potential to disrupt communication within the brood nest, even those that are considered safe and "natural". I think it helped cover the scent a few hundred sudden new arrivals (only a couple frames of bees were left of the queenless cluster) and otherwise kept the colony with the laying queen busy enough to not want to fight about it.

I added a second box underneath - empty of frames - hoping the bees will draw nice double-deep uninterrupted combs from the open-bottom frames for winter optimization (more comb area with fewer gaps) and so didn't separate the two boxes with a sheet of newspaper with slices in it, as is customary when combining colonies. This technique creates considerable lag time between the bees of disparate colonies having to deal with each other and by the time they do everyone's pretty well taken on the scent of the hive and adapted. Luckily everyone seemed to get along okay right off the bat. Although the honey from the comb failure's ruined from the standpoint of human consumption, the bees were busy cleaning up all the little details I spilled. Everything out if the dead hive went into a large plastic trash bag and into the chest freezer to eliminate the SHB infestation, and after a week I plan to let that thaw and drain further and feed it back to them throughout the remainder of the season if they'll take it.

In the mean time I'm hoping they'll make good use of the extra space to ramp up the population a bit in case there's a secondary nectar flow later, as there often is here in the mid-atlantic toward the onset of autumn; the fantasy being that I'll transfer combs containing the survivor stock to a frame bearing variant of the Perone hive in the spring.
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[personal profile] doodlemaier
a Warre hive wears a thick coat of honeybees Thursday and Friday were considerably warm enough to cause the comb to fail in hive #2, Brigid's first swarm of the season. It didn't help in the least that I left the catchment drawer in place all week, which might've prevented the bees from supplying adequate ventilation which might've mitigated the impact of direct sunlight had I the foresight to leave it open. The original hive, Brigid, is only a few feet away and doesn't appear to have been affected at all, but also doesn't get quite the exposure as this one.

The coverage on the front of the hive is obvious from across the yard, like a thick rustling fur coat, but on closer inspection there is a significant amount of uncured honey oozing out from underneath the hive, and as the weekend progressed the carnage started to become more apparent as dead bees and contents of ruined brood cells were emptied onto the front porch. This is a pretty major set-back for this colony and not something I feel I can do anything to remedy, even if it were conventional woodenware. Hopefully, it's a result of my negligence and not a design flaw that prevents these hives from being placed in direct sunlight. I love the weathered look from a completely aesthetic point of view and figured that the inch and a half thick walls would offer enough R-value to guard against overheating as much as it prevents freezing but it's time to consider giving these hives a coat of white paint, too.


Aug. 22nd, 2009 12:41 pm
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[personal profile] doodlemaier
Small hive beetles

Since last week I've been discovering small hive beetles in my top feeder. First one, now three. What next? These eat brood, wax and honey, in addition to shitting in honey causing it ferment and ooze out of the cells. How do they get in to a hive? A small hive beetle trap should keep populations of these things in check but an infestation may require medication with coumaphos, sold under the band CheckMite+. They seem to be more prevalent in southern states. Yay! The South.

Tracheal Mites

Here's a recipe for grease sugar patties that inhibit the growth of tracheal mites:

• 1½ lbs of solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco™)
• 4 lbs granulated sugar
• ½ lb honey
• Optional: add ⅓ cup of mineral salt sold at Southern States or farm supply store.
• Also a 1½ oz shot of wintergreen oil may be added for patties that are not to be used while honey supers in use.

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and form into a dozen or so hamburger-size patties. Keep frozen until ready for use.

Varroa Mites

Sugar shake test: Prepare a wide mouth pint canning jar by removing the lid and adding a tablespoon of confectioners sugar. Replace lid with a small piece of screen keeping the metal tightening ring handy. Using a makeshift paper funnel inserted into the mouth of the open jar shake about a ½ cup of sample bees from a couple frames from the brood nest into the jar, tighten the lid over the screen. Away from the hive vigorously shake the sugar, along with the mite sample, onto a piece of clean white paper. Use the count to determine the level of infestation (<12 mites per 200-300 bees requires immediate action.) Dowda method is a treatment to control the mite population.

The Dowda Method: Give the bees on each frame a light dusting of confectioners sugar, through a sifter or an adapted baby powder bottle. Sprinkle a rather heavier dusting on the top bars of the brood box which will allow the bees to sprinkle themselves as they move about in the hive. The dusting of sugar triggers grooming behavior which causes the mites to fall off. A screened bottom board prevents the mites from climbing back into the brood nest, although there is some speculation that mites are unable to climb back into the nest on their own. Repeat this process once a week, using a sticky board beneath the screen to hold mites for counting and determining that the mites infestations is dropping to an "acceptable" level (<12 mites per 200-300 bees.)


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