Oregon State Sentinel Apiary

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Spring has come early to western Oregon and it means that monitoring and sampling of colonies in the newly established sentinel apiary is already underway. The sentinel apiary is located at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture (OCCUH) on the western edge of the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis.  The location provides a diversity of forage including natural, agricultural and low density urban areas.

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The OCCUH is located at the western edge of OSU campus in the central Willamette Valley providing the sentinel apiary colonies with a diversity of agricultural, natural and low density urban environments within foraging range.

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OCCUH in Corvallis, OR is home to the BIP-PNW Tech Transfer Team and the newly established sentinel apiary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OCCUH apiary is maintained for research and teaching purposes as part of the OSU Honeybee Lab and Oregon Master Beekeeper program. The apiary consists of colonies in a variety of configurations including Langstroth, Top Bar, Warre, and bee trees which show a bit of the history and diversity of keeping bees.

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Traditional 10 Frame Langstroth colonies with pollen trap and hive scale in background.

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8 frame and 6 frame Langstroth towers with a Juniper ‘bee tree’ in background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sentinel apiary consists of 8 colonies that all successfully overwintered from the 2014 season. Each Colony will be formally evaluated for strength (frames of bees, frames of stores), and queen quality (pattern and frames of brood) on a monthly basis as well as being sampled monthly for Varroa and Nosema levels. The initial colony evaluation and sampling took place on 3/24 and subsequent samples will be collected on the 3rd Friday of each month as part of the Master Beekeeper Friday in the Apiary program. In addition to routine colony evaluation and sampling, pollen will also be collected on a semimonthly basis to provide pollen abundance and diversity data throughout the season.

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Pollen trap from Brushy Mountain used to collect pollen semimonthly throughout season (shown disengaged).

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Pollen collected by 1 colony on 3/30/15 showing a good diversity of forage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The hive scale from Solution Bee used to collect weight, temperature and humidity data.

A hive scale is also being used on one colony to monitor nectar flow and environmental conditions by recording colony weight as well as temperature and humidity data at 15 minute increments. The dry and mild winter in the Willamette Valley has meant that vegetation and the condition of the colonies is about a month ahead of schedule for a typical season. Colonies were able to take advantage of some the warm March weather and early blooms to capture some of the maple flow which they miss many years due to cold and wet conditions. They were also able to get out and find good amounts of pollen from a variety of sources which has led to strong brood rearing and an early desire to swarm.

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Graph showing weight fluctuations for the month of March with an overall increas of 2.5 kg during the month.

 

Written By: Dan Wyns

Dan Wyns has written 16 post in this blog.

I was introduced to honey bees over a decade ago while in New Zealand on a working holiday and have been consumed with caring for and learning about them ever since. Prior to joining BIP I was a commercial beekeeper in New Zealand and western Canada where I was fortunate to gain a diversity of beekeeping experience across a variety of climates and agricultural landscapes. I joined BIP in 2014 as a member of the PNW tech transfer team and spent 3 years working with beekeepers across OR, WA and ID. The addition of a Tech Transfer position in Michigan has allowed me to carry on working with bees and beekeepers while relocating to my home state.  I was born in Grand Rapids, raised in Grand Haven, and studied in Ann Arbor so the opportunity to serve the beekeeping community here is especially satisfying. My family roots run deep in Michigan horticulture and I look forward to continuing that tradition by working to promote colony health and support local agriculture.

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