April 2015

WVBA Meeting – April 27, 2015

  1. General Minutes
    1. Rich welcomed everyone and passed around an article with a picture of bee hives in Scotland. They have rain covers over the entrance and bottom board, and have a different, very distinct shape.
    2. There are 5 frame Nucs for sale for $95 from members of the Linn-Benton Group. Call Tim or Mary at (541) 908-6662.
    3. Old Sol also has Nucs available still (located in the Rogue Valley). At some point they were $150.
    4. House Bill 2653 update:
      1. Currently in Ways and Means committee
      2. Under this bill, a local government (county/city) could charge a “reasonable fee” for registration of hives for residential beekeeping.
      3. Local governments may also adopt their own rules within 3 years. The regulations set down in the bill are intended to be state recommendations for the local governments to adopt or adapt, as they see fit.
      4. Cities are motivated to have rules on the books so that they have a formal place to address any future problems.
      5. In Dayton, the mayor wants a rule to limit bees and other livestock to lots that are at least 1.5 acres. Very few 1.5 acre lots in Dayton (if any).
      6. Dayton is also looking at “good practices”. Good practices have yet to be defined.
      7. Also uncertain as to who would inspect hives in general, and for good practices.
    5. Bayer and Monsanto are trying to improve their public image.
      1. Bayer has donated $100,000 to plant more cover crops that are good for foraging.
      2. Monsanto is trying to save the Monarch Butterfly.
      3. Monsanto is also buying up seed companies, so do your research if you want to shop local.
    6. In England, they are trying to develop an insect repellent that uses a bad smell to deter them. This would get rid of pesticides and insecticides. Only problem is if the weather is too hot, the spray evaporates.
    7.  Swarms!
      1. Q: What is a good swarm attractant?
      2. A:  A nuc box/8 frame box with old frames in it and nasty comb.  The box does not need to be full of frames.  Do NOT put any sugar/pollen/essential oils in there, it will only cause robbing.
      3. Q:  Is Lemon Pledge an attractant?
      4. A:  No!  It has been tested and been proved as a repellent.
      5. Q: Can you add a bottom board to a box after you have caught a swarm?
      6. A:  Yes.  Anything will do when you catch a swarm – plywood, old boards, etc.  Later you can come back with a real bottom board.
      7. Q:  When a hive replaces a queen/supersedes, will the bees keep the old queen until the new one hatches?
      8. A:  No, they will usually kill the old one 1-4 days before the new queen emerges.
      9. Q:  How long can a hive go without a queen?
      10. A:  1 week if the beekeeper replaces the queen with an already mated queen.  1 month if the bees replace the queen themselves.  If your hive is queen-less, give them a frame of eggs/young brood and they will immediately make a queen cell (or 10!).
      11. Tons of swarms already, watch your hives!!  Some bees may be genetically prone to swarming.
      12. False Swarms: Sometimes a mating queen can cause a ‘false swarm’.  A group of bees occasionally flies out with a virgin queen and then wait while the queen mates, then flies back with her.  This is usually a smaller group and will land/fly higher.
    8. Bee Day:
      1. Great Bee Day! There were about 50 people there, which is one of the biggest ever!
      2. A suggestion was to split off into smaller groups, next year, and rotate through stations.
      3. If you have any suggestions, let Rich know.
    9. If you have something you want on the website, let Rich know/email it to Rich and he can put it on the website (within reason).
    10. Recent study, reported in the New York Times, found that bees are actually attracted to neonicotinoids. Sugar syrups with neonics preferred to those without.
    11. Another article stated that neonics by themselves will not hurt bees, but neonics with another chemical can be harmful.
    12. A third article said that sprays could be causing sterility in humans now too.
    13. Rich wonders why no one studies spray effects on drones. A weak queen could be the result of a faulty drone.
    14. Rich is also thinking of making the hard candy stoppers for queen cages, because Ruhl has been giving out marshmallows, which don’t work well.
    15. If you have a swarm in the crook of a tree, do not use a brush, instead, take an old frame with wax in it and set it in the crook. The bees will smell the wax and walk on.  Take the frame and put it in a box.  Repeat the process until you get most of the swarm.
  2. Swarming! (Rich’s handout, plus additional notes)
    1. Problems from swarming
      1. Reduces worker force
      2. Hive that swarms may not make surplus honey – therefore, kills your honey crop for that year.
      3. Sometimes the swarm is not recovered – you can’t always catch them, or your neighbors call a different beekeeper.
      4. Valuable queens may be lost
      5. There may be after-swarms which will further reduce the worker force. Some hives are genetically more likely to swarm.  Each swarm gets smaller and reduces the hive size, and hives may not make it through the winter.
    2. Factors that may lead to swarming (“Suggested” – no one really knows the exact reason why)
      1. Overcrowded hive
        1. Congestion of the brood area or lack of egg laying space
        2. Increased adult bee numbers, creating more heat
        3. Fewer queen pheromones (less concentrated) – slatted racks: Go above bottom board.  Slats give young bees a place to hang out, and the solid front bit shades the entrance for the queen.  She can lay in the corners of frames with the shade.  These do not prevent swarms.  You can use these even with screened bottom boards, and it does not matter which way the slats go.
        4. Note: Screened bottom boards also do not solve mite problems.
        5. Also, if you have full boxes of honey now (or earlier than extracting time), extract hem now so that you have enough supers for blackberry flow.
        6. Colonies with an older queen (more than 2 years old)
        7. Genetics (requeen)
      2. Indications of swarming
        1. Laying drone eggs in spring – bad news! (They are thinking about swarming!  Be ready…)
        2. Drawing queen cup cells
        3. Rearing larva in the queen cups (This is a MAJOR step in swarming!)
        4. Early spring and a mild winter – like this year!
        5. Plenty of food stores and a good honey flow – Maple was really good this year.
      3. Timing of hive inspections
        1. A queen emerges from her cell ~ 16 days after being an egg. (During a warm summer, queen emerges less than 16 days after, workers are less than 21, and drones are less than 24 days.)  Weather permitting, the swarm will issue before the virgin queens emerge (you can hear her piping in her cell before she hatches).  If you inspect your hives every 7-9 days, a swarm would not have a chance to issue.  Hives can always have a second (or third, etc.) queen, especially if they are mother and daughter.  10-20% of hives can have multiple queens.
      4. Swarm Prevention – the best policy!
        1. Reverse the brood boxes – if the top box if full and the bottom is empty, it is a good time to switch your brood area. The queen will move up, less frequently move down.  After swarm season, however, do NOT switch boxes, you do not want to split the brood nest.  During swarm season, do not worry about splitting the brood nest.
        2. Reorganize the frames in the brood area to provide more egg-laying room.
          1. Place the empty frames in the center of the box
          2. Add another brood box if your hive only has one.
          3. If you have frames with empty patches, switch them around. The workers will probably try to rearrange everything (because they don’t like your organization strategies), but it will occupy them for a few days and probably delay a swarm.
        3. Make a split or nuc
        4. Equalize colonies – commercial beekeepers doe this more often than hobbyists.
        5. Bees and brood, make sure you do not move queens.
        6. This keeps a strong hive from swarming (reduces brood and work force), and helps a weak hive (more brood and larger work force).
        7. Replace the old queen – this will knock down brood numbers, and a younger queen is generally less likely to swarm (not a guarantee, but generally).
        8. Add honey supers (sooner rather than later!) – This adds area and makes the hive less congested.
        9. Extract the honey (this encourages more foraging)
        10. Clip one of the queen’s wings (some beekeepers are strongly against this).
          1. You have to read up before doing this, because you could really injure the queen.
          2. She will not crawl out and die. If they do swarm, still, you can either catch the queen and swarm off the ground, or she will go back in the hive by herself when she cannot fly.  This way, you will always have a laying queen – a returned old queen, mother and daughter, or new queen.
        11. Switch colonies to equalize the population.
          1. The location of a weak colony and a strong colony can be switched.
          2. The strong colony’s field force will return to where they were originally and will increase the population of the weak colony.
      5. For last minute prevention
        1. Destroy all the queen cells (you have to check every frame and not miss a single cell) – Make sure you do NOT cut out a supercedure cell. This would be very bad.  They would not be able to make a new queen, and would be queen-less.
        2. Get rid of double comb frames. These can hide queens and queen cells.
        3. Cage the queen temporarily.
        4. Shaking Technique –
          1. Catch swarm in nuc
          2. Cut out all queen cells from original hive
          3. Shake out bees from frames of original hive onto the ground at the front of the hive.
          4. Then shake the swarm out onto the ground in front too. They will think they have swarmed, will go back into the hive, and everyone will be happy.
          5. Make sure you check them later! Very important.
  3. Survey Details
    1. So far, losses look below 30% again.
    2. You can still fill out the northwest survey! It is due May 9th.
    3. Online: http://pnwhoneybeesurvey.com/annual-surveys/ , or http://Bit.ly/2015PUBSurvey
    4. Or scan and email the survey to survey@portlandurbanbeekeepers.org
    5. Mail to –

Dr. Dewey Caron

Dept. of Horticulture, OSU, ALSO 4017

Corvallis, OR 97331

4.  Ag in the Classroom

  1. Literacy project using a book called “The Beeman”. Every year they use a different book with a different type of agriculture.  This year, it is beekeeping!
  2. Volunteer! You can download the materials online, and AITC will mail you the book and honey straws.  Website:  http://aitc.oregonstate.edu/index.htm
  3. The book is good for kindergarten through 4th There is also a different activity for 5th and 6th graders.
  4. The kit will still be available after school gets out, but the program runs from mid-March until June 8 in Oregon.
  5. A great opportunity to fill service hours for journeyman level of Master Beekeepers.

5. Next Month:

  1. Our meeting will be the 3RD MONDAY OF MAY!!!!