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

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Busy beeks are always metaling

A quick post about a small project this past weekend. If you are following along, you know I am interested in making some nucleus colonies this spring, or nucs for short. Our local beekeeping club (PWRBA) coordinates sales for new beekeepers and this should be a good way to help prevent swarming in my existing hives.

One problem for me is that the standard wax cardboard nuc box is only available for deep frames, while I am trying to move to medium frames. So I kind of want to fit medium frames into a deep nuc box. I found a solution this weekend. Continue reading

Beekeeping comes but once a year

It is time for the much-anticipated annual post on my plans for the coming year. I did one for 2016, so this will be my second such post.

There is a difference between knowing something and experiencing something, perhaps theory versus practice. Agriculture, including livestock, is seasonal. There is a time for planting, a time to feed the cows hay, a time to keep the horses in the barn overnight, and a time for all the other activities that happen around a farm. We know this. Continue reading

Don’t throw good money after bad beekeeping

miksha-bad-beekeepingContinuing with the winter theme, another recent read was Ron Miksha’s book Bad Beekeeping. Miksha maintains a blog of a similar name for sharing his thoughts on the world of bees and beekeeping. He mentioned the book in a post so I thought I would pick up a copy in support of his ongoing efforts. Here is a short review.

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There’s always room at the top bar hive

 

160904b Saturn Queen

My lovely queen in my top bar hive “Saturn” on September 4, 2016.

As you may recall, I two top bar hives. My original TBH I purchased last year, which has 14 inch top bars and has overwintered. Then I caught a swarm in a new TBH my dad and I built, which has 19 inch top bars. Thus both are top bar hives, but they are somewhat incompatible. Here is an update of their status. Continue reading