June Minutes by Lucy and Robin Cross

WVBA Meeting – June 22, 2015

  1. General Minutes
    1. Meeting was held in Building 9, Room 111 and will be held in this room for the August meeting.
    2. No meeting on July 27 -> picnic on July 26.  Details to follow later in notes.
    3. There was a discussion of which rooms at Chemeketa are big enough for this group to hold meetings in. Future meeting room will be announced.
    4. Need a place to put your beehives? Laura and Peter Woodworth would like to host them on their acreage near Salem.  They have woods, fields and a pond.  (503) 560-0322.
    5. Rich is wondering if there is anyone who would remove bees in the Eugene area.
    6. A mentor is needed in the South Salem, River Road area. Contact Rich if you can help.
    7. Honey flow – It seems to be very good in many areas and poorer in other areas. Should perhaps have two supers on by now.  Blackberry is almost finished in Salem area and just beginning in Grand Rhonde.  Pumpkin fields are good sources for honey.  Mint and onion don’t taste as good.  Buckwheat is very dark honey.  Carrot can be good.  Queen Anne’s lace is not a good flavored honey.  Sunflower honey is liked by the French; it has a bold flavor.  Hazelnut is only pollen.  Lavender and dahlias are good.
    8. Question/Answer section
      1. Q: Does it matter if the bees aren’t using secondary entrance holes?
      2. A:  Often bees use them, sometimes they don’t.
      3. Q: Can you scoot the upper supers back to make additional entrances?
      4. A:  This only works until robbing begins.  Then the hive will only last about 5 hours.
      5. Q: I can’t see a queen or any eggs, should I requeen?
      6. A:  Yes, not too late to requeen.  You should check the supers for a queen because a virgin queen can sometimes return from being mated and can fit through the queen excluder or go into the upper boxes.
      7. Comment: Create your own queen now that queens are $40 apiece.  Shipping (~$25) on queens is the same whether you buy one queen or go in with your neighbors and buy 100 queens.  Two members noted that they have had good luck with their new Koehen queen.
  2. Presentation on removing (full) honey supers for harvest, by Rich.
    1. How does a person know when to take off honey frames?
      1. The honey frames must be capped by the bees before you take them out of the hive.  In China they don’t wait for this but, instead they dehumidify the “honey” or sugar syrup.  If they don’t dehumidify the “honey” it will ferment as it will be greater than 19% moisture.  Honey should be less than or equal to 18%.  Uncontrolled fermenting like this is not good.  To make sure enough of the cells are capped, or that the uncapped cells meet the moisture requirement, you can shake the frame.  If nectar comes out, it is not ready for honey.  Return that frame to the hive for capping or food for the bees.
      2. One may use a refractometer to measure the amount of water in honey. They can be purchased for about $75, $300-$400 for a digital one.  Mann Lake sells them.
      3. Honey color checking guides may be purchased to help identify honey types.
    2. How do you get the supers off?
      1. Mechanical methods:
        1. The Porter bee escape has a hole in an inner cover that allows bees only an exit, no return. There can be problems with this escape method when a bee is trapped in the one way spring.  This trapped bee may then prevent others from leaving.
        2. There is also a double triangle bee escape. Bees can find their way out but, not back in.
        3. Break your boxes apart when you put the escapes on or at least one day in advance. This allows the bees to clean up any comb/honey that you had to break to get the boxes apart.  With both bee escape methods, make sure you have plugged any additional entrances to the honey box, for instance, where the wood joins together there may be a small hole.
        4. There is a red conical escape which works well. Also a yellow 8-way escape that works.
      2. Chemical methods:
        1. There are chemical bee removers. Smoke helps these products.  Advantage is that robbing bees will also stay away while you have the hive opened up.  Temperatures in the 70’s are ok but, 80’s are better.
        2. Honey Robber and Bee-Go. Older product that smells strongly of dog poop.
        3. Fisher’s Bee-Quick. Smells like almonds.  Good product.
        4. Honey Bee Gone. All natural oils.
        5. Honey Bandit. Food grade.
        6. It does work to brush the bees off each individual frame. But, this method can be slow.
        7. Using a leaf blower. You remove the super, tilt it, and blow from below upwards.  The bees don’t mind!  They treat it like a windy day.
        8. Robbing – If you notice robbing beginning while you are taking the honey supers off, you can throw a soaking wet sheet or towel over the supers. You can also save a whole hive that is being robbed out using this method.
        9. Put the bottom super you are removing on a flat smooth board.
        10. If there is some brood in the frames you want to take honey from, the nurse bees won’t leave. One can take this frame with the nurse bees and give it to a hive that needs them.  The honey can be taken 21 days later after the brood leaves.
    3. What to do with the frames after extraction…
      1. The extracted box or frames can be given back to the bees to clean up.  One may then decide to leave the super on if the honey is still flowing or put it away for the winter.
        1. Don’t set any supers or frames nearby for every hive to clean up. This creates robbing (sort of like sharks in a feeding frenzy) and hives can be lost quickly.
        2. Q: It was asked how long it takes to fill a super.
        3. A: This depends on what time of year it is and what plants are blooming in your area.  It also depends on the state the frames are in.  If the comb is already drawn out, or if the bees only have minor repairs to the comb, it will be a shorter time.
        4. Wax moths – If you have wax moths, put them in the freezer to kill them. One day in the freezer should kill them.  You can also use Paramoth or paradiclorabenzene.  Do NOT use paradinapthalene.  This is toxic to bees.  You should check on the status of the moth balls every month as they evaporate.  Wax moths will infect frames that have wax and honey in them; they don’t have to have brood.  Store frames out in the open, under cover, where there is bright light and air.  A picture of a rack to store frames in was passed around.  Moths don’t like bright light.
    4. Why extract now?
      1. Empty supers now and this will encourage them to forage more.
      2. You may need empty supers elsewhere. If you aren’t going to extract the supers you took off right away, store them in the freezer.
      3. Empty them now so you are ready to treat for mites. Rich is guessing that it could be a bad year for mites.
    5. A few comments on mites.
      1. This could be a bad year for mites, because we didn’t have much of a winter. No freezing means the queen never really stopped laying — plenty of fodder for the mites.  Spring was early so brood was early, and the mites started in earlier too.
      2. 100 degrees kills mites. Remember though, there is a fine line between the temperature that it takes to kill mites and the temperature to kill bees.  The Russians have done research on these thresholds.  Papers are available on the web.
    6. Extracting
      1. Lost extractor! The club owned an extractor that was worth $600.  It is missing.  Could be someplace near Dallas.  If you have any information on this please let Rich know.  The association is considering replacing it.  A show of hands was in favor of this.  The association would implement a better system of checking out the extractor with a check that could be cashed in the event that it doesn’t return.
      2. How to remove cappings.
        1. A scratcher can be used, but the cappings will have to be filtered out of the honey.
        2. A roller works to puncture the caps. You really need two rollers, so that one can be draining the honey off while you use the second one.  It looks like a cultipacker used in farming.
        3. A hot plane can be used, but it is easy to go too deep. This item plugs in.
        4. A heat gun can be used, but the melted wax tends to plug up your honey filter or sieve.
        5. A common method is the hot knife. The nicer models have a variable heat control.  It can be difficult when the surface is uneven.  You can use the tip for the low spots.
        6. There are other mechanical methods.
      3. Ways to extract.
      4. Remove caps and then let the frame sit for two days and the honey will drip out. Flip the frame and repeat.  There are obvious down sides to this.
      5. There are two main types of extractors.
        1. A tangential extractor holds 4 frames. It has a basket which holds the frames.  You spin one side then you flip the frames over and spin the second side.  It takes a few flips to remove all the honey without damaging the foundation.
        2. A radial extractor holds six frames. It removes the honey from both sides at the same time without damaging the comb.
      6. Sieve the honey to remove wax and wings etc. It can be very helpful to have a coarse sieve and then a fine sieve.
      7. Five gallon buckets work well for storage of honey.
    7. Robbing troubles!
      1. Make sure to put on robbing screens BEFORE you have trouble.
      2. You can order robbing screens from Dadant for $30-40.
      3. Making your own robbing screens is quite easy and much cheaper. Buy hardware cloth 1/8th  Cut a piece that is 5” X 16 ¼”.  These measurements are for a 10 frame hive.  Bend it three times lengthwise in alternating directions.  Use 4 thumb tacks to secure to hive.
      4. If robbing is severe, block one end and use an entrance reducer (as well as the screen). If it is very warm out you will want to use a ventilation screen on top and can also use a screened bottom board.
      5. For real robbing emergencies – throw a wet sheet or towel over the entire hive. It stops robbing immediately.
      6. You will know there are robbing bees because of the huge activity level. Like a swarm but not a swarm.  Bees can be grumpy and are prone to stinging.  The bees sound and act mad.  Looks like a war zone.  If robbing is in full swing, use wet towels or wet sheets over the hive.
      7. Use smoke if you are trying to get a super off.
      8. Robbing should end in the fall when the temperature drops.
  3. Bee picnic/potluck!!
    1. Time:         July 26th from 1:00-4:00.  (No regular meeting on July 27th).
    2. Place:         It is at the Oregon State University Urban Horticultural Center Bee Lab on SW 35th St.  (same place as last year).
    3. Bring:        A dish to share, your chairs, and your family.  The association provides water, soda, silverware, plates, napkins and yummy chicken.  Spouse and children welcome.  Dogs not suggested.  Bees will be flying around, but we will not do any work in hives.
    4. Linn Benton Bee Association is invited.  Great fun, we hope you can bee there!