WVBA Minutes 

May 22, 2023 


Rich called the meeting to order and passed around attendance. 

Brownsville has banned beekeeping in the city limits starting in May. He passed around a newspaper with an article regarding the ban in it. Jeremy said he heard the ban is on ALL bees, even mason bees. 

Todd recommended catch swarms and release in Brownsville. 

Rich said the swarm list is in order and all squared away. He passed the swarm list around to see if anyone needed revision. 

Rich mentioned Amiflex, an amitraz gel flash treatment. It has no withdrawal period for adding super. Andony said it is a restricted use product requiring a pesticide applicator license. Rich passed around a handout. Dewey said also due to a manufacturing issue it is not available until September. 

Rich passed around a handout for a laundry style/mesh swarm bag and scion “swarm magnets.” This is a branch with beeswax and propolis to attract bees from their temporary bivouac point. Paul asked if many people had gotten swarm calls, and how the season was so far.. Rich said there had been two. One he passed on, the other he took himself due to safety reasons because it was on the overpass. He has had 11 calls for bumblebees in birdfeeders. Andony said we have one bumble bee species that nests above ground. It has an orange band. 

Rich thinks swarm season will roll over into June and July. 

There was a club member with three “Layens” hives to give away to a new beekeeper. Tom asked about swarm prevention and making splits. 

Andony said he would discuss that as part of his presentation. 

Paul asked for general impressions of the bee season so far. Rich said the brood was not as strong as wanted early on, but things had started to catch up as the weather warmed. He says things look GOOD right now. He said Black locust and scotch broom and meadow foam are in bloom. Anna supposes Blackberries in her area within the next 10 days. Anna said she was contacted by a beekeeper with 10 frame equipment for sale, and she has two nucs for sale. Contact her if interested. 

Agnes wanted to know why her drone frames did not get drawn out properly. Todd asked if they had been coated with wax. Rich mentioned the possibility of bee space not being right. Rich said some bees just don’t like to draw comb. Todd says rewax and try again during the blackberry flow. 

Another member switched from warre to langstroth and is interested in giving away the warre equipment. 

Dewey says if a colony has a lot of drones in a lot of frames then they will not draw the drone frames. 

Dewey thanked members for filling out survey our group had a loss rate of 21% which is a lower loss level than commercial colonies and that 8 frame colonies had a better loss rate at 14% vs 22% for ten frames. 

He is working on the full report with graphics and it will be available soon. Before going on a swarm call it is recommended to ask what size, for example bigger or smaller than a basketball, to ask for a picture, to ask if they are on the ground, or how high they are, or

how long have they been there. It is recommended to wear a suit when catching swarms, even though they are oftentimes docile, better safe than sorry. 

Old frames, a bucket on a stick, swarm commander, plenty of boxes are all good to have. Jeremy said good swarm etiquette is to leave the box overnight to catch the stragglers in the morning. Anna said use the spray used on fume boards to disperse any few remaining bees. 8:00 Break time 

8:10 Meeting Resumed 

Rich announced that club member Linda put together a swarm questionnaire. Andony Melathopoulos 

License Plate update, tentative rollout November 1st. The plate set a DMV record for plate presales. 

Plate highlights red clover because that is primarily bumblebee bee pollinated. There are hidden bees on the plate. 

Plate was designed by 13 year old Marek Stanton, the youngest OSU Master Melittologist. Keeping your Bees out of the Trees so you can Make More Honey 

Can’t have a mammoth honey crop if your colony has swarmed. 

Swarming is inevitable. 

Theory from Elmer Zumwalt is the more room above the brood nest the more honey the bees will make. 

The power of a well managed brood nest. Biweekly weight gain of 40 to 80 lbs in a well managed colony in Alberta. 80 percent of honey crop was brought in over 5 days. Colony transformation from March to now. 

By the end of May half of winter bees are gone, two months later the entire population has turned over. 

Two months from hiving of a package the age structure is more normalized. Package hived ideally three months before the main honeyflow. 

January to April, the colony is losing weight. Population structure of bees is very young now, there are lots of resources and they are primed to swarm. 

Factors of swarming 

A lot of young bees in a small place. 

Capped swarm cell colonies are VERY likely to swarm. 

What to do if a colony has “gotten away.” 

1.Checkerboard–mix in brood frames with foundation, scrape swarm cells. Make into a four deep tower 

  1. Make a walkaway split 

Can take 6-8 frames out of brood nest if swarm is imminent to relieve congestion Cooling down your bees 

  1. Even out–Pull out frames with ready to emerge brood from a strong colony and give to aweak colony. 
  2. Reverse/supering–Break the honey barrier–how many supers and when to add more. Add aggressively, half full, add one super, ¾ full, add 2 supers, up until July or august. A full super can act as a queen excluder. 

Space your frames out after placement, get more honey per frame putting 8 frames in rather than 10.

  1. split/nuc take the pressure off, make two colonies from one. 

Pays off to have new queens in the spring. 

Harry’s Hard Divide 

Make divides over and over to replace any winter losses. Divide one time, then two to three weeks later divide again, three times. 

Candy plug down with cheap masking tape. 

The natural form of a northern apiary by Kirk Webster. Split 20 frame colonies into 4 five frame colonies. 

See “overwintered honey bee nucleus colonies:Big solutions in small packages.” 

  1. No increase options 

Give colonies to bee buddies 

Two queen colonies for honey production