In and Out of Bee Time

 

I recently finished the book Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, by Mark Winston, and thought a short summary might be appropriate. We’ve been riding a roller coaster of temperatures lately, with 60 F one day and a chance of snow the next. The weather is trying to settle into a normal spring pattern this week, so hopefully the snow and freezing temperatures have come to an end. Continue reading

The more mites change, the more bees stay the same

In 1519, Spanish forces arrived in Mexico with weapons both seen and unseen. Between 1545 and 1550, up to 80 percent of the native Aztec population is believed to have been wiped out by disease, possibly a deadly form of salmonella.

In 1987, the varroa mite arrived in the United States with weapons both seen and unseen. In the most recent beekeeping season from 2015 to 2016, beekeepers lost an estimated 44 percent of their bees.

Coincidence? Maybe not. Some thoughts on the evolution of honey bees and varroa mites. Continue reading

A clover and one bee

Red Dead-nettle about to bloom in the bee yard. (c) Erik Brown

Red Dead-nettle about to bloom in the bee yard on February 24, 2017.  ©Erik Brown

Spring is in the air, though winter made a visit this week. The plants are gearing up for full bloom, with yellow daffodils and red quince bushes starting the show. The maple trees are in bloom as well, so there is nectar and pollen for the taking if the weather would warm up. I have been updating my bloom date log for 2017, and thought is was worth a quick mention as a new post. Continue reading

Every hive has its own law

W170226-marsell, it’s official, or at least I am official. After an inspection this past week, I am legally permitted to sell bees in the state of Virginia. I have the stickers to prove it.

In our weather, we had three days over 70 F (21 C) this past week, and the hives are starting to raise brood in earnest to prepare for springtime.

The photo here shows Mars reduced to one medium with some extra stores on top, with Ganymede (the Lang) and Venus (the top bar) in the back. Continue reading

Our Hives They Are a-Changin’

Aside from a single white morning this winter, we have had very little snow in Virginia. The weather is unusually warm and the bees seem to get a flying day once a week or so. I suspect the insect population will be robust this year, from small hive beetles to other assorted insects, due to our lack of cold weather. Soon the bees will start ramping up for spring, and I have been keeping an eye on the mite populations in Mars and Jupiter.

170202-graph

Average mite drop per day in Mars and Jupiter. The count spiked in early December after I applied an oxalic acid dribble.

Continue reading

A world without nucleus hives would be less stable and more dangerous

After my success at reducing a standard deep nuc to a medium one (see Busy beeks are always metaling), I decided to take on the more daunting task of building a top bar hive nuc. After an adventure with hardware stores (yes, plural) and some minor angst on my part, I deem the effort a success.

170115e-tbh-nuc Continue reading