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Empty Calories

Somewhere early on in a “Beekeeping 101” class you’ll learn that honey bees forage for 4 things: nectar, pollen, propolis, and water. The nectar and pollen become honey and bee bread to provide sustenance. Propolis is used as a structural component and also contributes to colony health through immunological activity. Previous blog posts about propolis here and here provide more information. Water is necessary for a variety of purposes including preparation of brood food and evaporative cooling. So in addition to water, bees need 3 substances produced by plants. But do they collect anything else? Of course they do. If you’ve ever seen open syrup…

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Sentinel Apiary Monthly Memo: June Issue

  I don’t know about you, but my back hurts, which must mean the peak beekeeping season is officially well underway. The honey is flowing and supers are filling up. Do you know what your mite loads are? If not, Sentinel Apiaries are here to help. Sentinel Apiary participants sample 4 or 8 colonies for Varroa every month during the peak beekeeping season. This year marks the largest year of the Sentinel Apiary Program to date with 102 registered Sentinel Apiaries! If there’s a Sentinel Apiary near you, check their mite loads at bip2.beeinformed.org/sentinel. This can help show you what mites are doing in your…

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Latest Loss Survey Results 2018-2019

Dear BIP Survey participants, You might have been wondering when the preliminary results of the 2018-2019 Bee Informed Partnership Colony Loss and Management Survey will be posted. Well, today is the day. Thanks for your patience! The “traditional” abstract is now posted on the BIP webpage here, while the Press Release issued by the University of Maryland can be read here. We want to thank all of you – whether you are a long-term respondent or a new-Bee to the survey – for participating this year. The information you provided is critical to building a long-term data set that we can now use to develop…

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2019 California Spring Update

Many California beekeepers reported that the start of this year was the worst in 20+ years. Several factors contributed to this year’s issues, starting with the numerous fires last year causing nearly 3 months of smoke in the area. Once the days got longer, queens started laying but the temperatures dropped again and egg laying stopped once more resulting in smaller colonies after almonds. In fact, most colonies were 2-3 weeks or even a month behind, which delayed the start of queen production. Many producers had to source bulk bees from beekeepers further south to begin starters, builders and nucs. Once queen producers started generating…

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Honey Bee Caste Systems: Part 2 – How Genetics and the Environment Shape Honey Bee Workers and Queens

Author: Garett Slater, Former Midwest Tech Transfer Team In part 1 of my blog series, I wrote about how genetics can shape reproductive males (drones) and both reproductive (queens) and non-reproductive (workers) females within a colony. However, genetics only explains part of the story. I will describe why that is in the second installment of my 3-part series: Part 1: The Genetic Book of Life-The basics to honey bee genetics (for Part 1 click here) Part 2: How Genetics and the Environment Shape Honey Bee Workers and Queens Part 3: The Differences Between Queens and Workers Queen determination has always fascinated researchers and beekeepers. This…

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Flame in the Bee Yard: Relighting a Smoker the Easy Way

The Scenario We’ve all experienced a smoker going out just when we need it. Sometimes we may simply forget to pump the bellows for too long while we are getting some other things ready; sometimes we may make the mistake of stuffing the fire chamber too tightly with fuel before the fire has a good chance to catch. At other times our smoker may go out during travel between bee yards. Any of these scenarios sound familiar? The Traditional Method So, when your smoker goes out for the umpteenth time, what do you typically do? You could re-open the smoker, dig in there, take out…

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Lazy bees?

Honey bees have long been admired by humankind for their industriousness. The beehive has served as a symbol of organization and hard work throughout history, and common sayings like “busy as a bee” that persist today indicate we still perceive bees to be hard workers. The state of Utah has been particularly fond of the beehive analogy. It officially adopted the beehive as the state emblem in 1959, although it featured the beehive on its seal as early as  the 1850s when it was still a territory.  The city of Manchester, England adopted the worker bee as an emblem during the industrial revolution, and a…

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Colony Loss Survey, Closing Soon!

The end is near; now hear how we got here! April is about to end, and with that the Bee Informed National Colony Loss and Management survey will be hibernating (or summering) for another year. If you haven’t participated yet, we kindly ask you to do so here before the survey closes. This is our final advertising push, in the hopes that we can get another bump in participation! We are trying to beat last year’s number of submissions! It has been an exciting month for the Bee Informed Partnership! Participation rates of the Survey increased, reached a plateau, then rose again after a bit…

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Waxing Poetic – A reminder of the BIP survey

Bee Informed Partnership’s Easter Basket By Selina Bruckner, Auburn University Dear beekeepers of America, Easter Sunday is so close; but before celebrating we would propose, For you to read this piece of poetry; which is much more than pure pleasantry. April is almost coming to an end; most of which our bees have spent Foraging on blooming flowers; while you invested all your powers In adding boxes and catching swarms; because now that the weather warms Bees get busy and buzz around; making their beekeepers really proud. The question is: Have those bees, survived last winters’ freeze? Or did you lose a colony? What an…

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Observations of Forager Deaths in Almonds this past February

This February while traveling around the almond orchards in central California, I observed many instances of dead pollen foragers at the entrances of colonies. In addition, many beekeepers reported being approached by their growers, who were concerned by the number of dead bees they were seeing along with the lack of flight activity in the orchards. Because of past issues with bees getting sprayed, some beekeepers suspected pesticide poisoning. However, after observing a number of these cases first hand, I concluded that most of the time environmental conditions were the main factor causing bee death. In many cases, I noticed that North-facing colonies on each…

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