Meeting Minutes April 26, 2021


APRIL 26, 2021

Once again the club met in the horse arena of Jim and Debbie Blando. Spring weather brought out the most beekeepers that we’ve seen together in a year. It was great to see and hear from so many folks.

President Rich Farrier opened the meeting at 7:05. The first item of note was beekeeper Joe Fazio wanted to donate some beekeeping equipment to a beekeeper who needed it. It is 10 frame equipment, 12 deep boxes, 10 Western boxes. All of them have drawn comb which is about 10 years old. A beginning beekeeper at the meeting has agreed to contact Mr. Fazio and take the equipment.

We all agreed that we would like a return of the annual picnic in June. Most likely we will hold it at the Blando’s place, June 28th.

A recent study illumined the fact that the inert ingredients in the typical formulations containing glyphosate (Round-Up) are what is causing problems for honey bees. Read the article in Bee Culture’s Catch the Buzz, “”It’s not the glyphosate, it’s the inert ingredients”.

A new beekeeper asked about dead bees in front of the hive. This time of year, it is an indicator that older bees have lived out their lives and bad weather kept the graveyard bees from flying very far before dropping their cargo. Or perhaps it could be bees dying early from a virus. Hard to tell without actually examining the colony.

There was a question about using essential oils to help a colony suffering from Varroa induced viruses. First step is to aggressively treat for Varroa, then check afterwards that you indeed have them at acceptable levels. Another step could be some sort of essential oil misting/spraying. This is not research based but rather anecdotal. In 2010, in the midst of Colony Collapse Disorder, when beekeepers were scrambling and willing to try anything, Bee Culture published an article by Ross Conrad, “Essential Oils and the Beekeeping Industry’s Survival”. This is food for thought as a possible additional action. The most important thing is to keep Varroa levels down at all times. At this time of year it is best to keep mite infestation at 1% or less. Check the Honey Bee Health Coalition for complete information regarding control of Varroa mites.

Terry Holm gave us an excellent presentation on testing and control of Varroa mites.

  • Timeline = test, treat, retest, re-treat if necessary. August – October are the most critical months.

  • If you do not treat for Varroa mites, your bees will die. Mostly likely that will be by November.

  • Hygienic bees do not remove mites from drone brood, only worker brood. (Don’t they care about their brothers?)

  • The sugar shake method of testing is not as accurate as an alcohol/Dawn wash.

  • It’s necessary to use accurate test methods in order to receive accurate infestation rate numbers so the appropriate actions can be taken, rather than being “a day late and a dollar short”.

  • 91% or greater alcohol is best, 70% is less accurate, 50% is worthless. Currently 91% alcohol, 2 pack quarts is $8 on Amazon.

  • If you can’t find higher proof alcohol, use Dawn Ultra dish washing liquid.

  • Dawn Ultra concentration is 2 Tablespoons per 1 gallon of water. Add the bees to the testing cup, let them sit for 1-2 minutes while you finish inspection and closing up the hive. Then swirl the cup a few times, count the resulting mites at the bottom of the cup.

  • Be sure to double check for the queen after shaking bees into the wash tub. Again see the above mentioned link to the Honey Bee Health Coalition “Tools for Varroa Management”.

  • Drone frame removal is effective in reducing the mite load so you don’t have to treat as frequently. Randy Oliver’s website, Scientific Beekeeping, has an older article by Randy in which he talks about drone brood frames, how to make ones from a regular brood frame. The article is “Biotechnical Tactics 2: The one-two punch”. This well worth reading and incorporating into your beekeeping operation. However, be warned. Timing is everything. If you decide to go on vacation and are late removing drone frames, you have just increased the problem rather than decreasing it.

  • It was also noted that Randy Oliver is currently battling tongue/throat tumorous cancer. They have asked folks to pray.

Rich then talked about marking queens. He handed out copies of an April 2021 American Bee Journal article, “Marking Queens-Building Beginner Beekeeping Skills”. There is an accepted international code for the colors for marking queens. The color for this year is white. (I, Anna, was skeptical about this color, but is is super easy to see on the queen in a bustling colony.) However, you can mark them whatever color your little heart desires. Here’s a good article from Rusty Burlew’s website, Honey Bee Suite, “Marking Queens”. It is helpful to practice on drones first to gain confidence. Just use a different color.

Anyway, queens can be marked on their thorax with a paint pen, or if you have nimble fingers and excellent eyesight, glue a tiny number on her thorax. Finally, an older practice is to clip one of the queen’s wing. It was thought to keep them from swarming.

The steps to marking any bee is to 1) find the bee to be marked, 2)restrain said bee, 3)mark the bee, 4) finally to release the bee. All of this without doing any harm, which is why it is good to practice with expendable drones.

Rich handed out an article copied from the April edition of Bee Culture by Dan Wyns, “Horizontal two Queen System”. This method employees two side by side deep boxes covered with a queen excluder over which is stacked a tower of honey supers. “A pair of nuc lids cover the outer portion of each broodnest while a single queen excluder allows bees from both broodnests to access the supers.” A member brought up that the January 4, 2021 podcast of Beekeeping Today, addresses this very topic.

Rich talked about yet another way to make a split which does not involve finding the queen. It takes an extra deep box. 1. Shake most the bees off 3 brood frames. Make sure the queen is not on them. Place these frames into the new box, add some pollen and honey frames as well as foundation or drawn comb to fill the rest of the space. 2. Place a queen excluder over the original deep boxes, then place the newly made box with de-populated frames on top. Cover with inner and outer cover. The bees will migrate up to cover the brood frames. 3. The next day remove the split to its own hive stand. Or alternatively, move the original colony and leave the split in the original location. This allows the split to gain all the forager bees and reduces the population of the original colony which, of course, lessens the swarming tendency!

Meeting adjourned around 8:30.

Respectfully submitted, May 2, 2021

Anna Ashby, Secretary WVBA