Detecting Wax Moth Larvae in Frames of Sealed Brood

As a honeybee health field specialist, when I am assessing a colony's health I look for irregularities in the sealed or open brood (Image 1 & 2). These irregularities may indicate the presence of diseases or pests. One common pest that can cause brood irregularities is the wax moth. Wax moth larvae develop underneath the honey bee colony's brood cappings. The wax moth larvae often bind a honey bee pupa’s feet to the midline of the of frame, resulting in pupae that are not able to molt properly and therefore die in the capped cell before emergence. When identifying and locating wax moth larvae in…

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Bee Blown Away

Late summer is the time of year I start hearing about good honey crops. What most non-beekeepers do not realize is how much work goes into harvesting that honey. The first big step is to remove the bees from the honey supers. Beekeepers have several good choices for doing this task. Shaking/Brushing For hobbyists with a just few honey supers it may be easiest to shake and brush the bees off each frame back into the hive. Bring an empty super with a bee tight lid to put the brushed off frames in as you go along. You probably have a bee brush and an…

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The Great (Bee) Escape

Honey harvest is a point in the year that many beekeepers look forward to, as it is a chance to enjoy some of the tangible rewards of their (and their bees) hard work throughout the season. There are several methods of harvesting honey, but the common thread is they all involve separating the bees from the combs and supers containing the surplus honey to be taken. The most prevalent methods for large-scale operations are fume boards or leaf blowers, which allow many supers to be cleared of bees quickly. At a smaller scale, many beekeepers will remove bees from individual frames by shaking or brushing…

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Feeding Bees – Gravity Feeders

The best method for feeding bees is a topic that most beekeepers have an opinion about, and of course they are all right. In this previous post I discussed the pros and cons of frame feeders for in-hive feeding. In this post we’ll go through gravity feeders, which are the other type of commonly used feeders. Hopefully the information in these posts will give you confirmation that you are using the right method for you and your bees or inspire you to try something different. Gravity style feeders are placed on top of hives and as you may have guessed, use gravity (in balance with…

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Feeding Bees – Frame Feeders

Like most beekeeping topics, beekeepers tend to have their preferences when it comes to how they feed their bees. The two most common types of feeders used in hives are the frame feeder and the bucket or can (gravity) feeder. Both types of feeders have their merits and potential pitfalls, and beekeepers who elect to use one over the other often feel strongly about the choice. By looking at some of the arguments for and against each type, beekeepers can make a more informed choice on what type will best meet their needs and their bees’ needs. This post will run through the good and…

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A roof over their heads

A colony of bees is fairly loose in their requirements of a cavity to live in. Basically they need a space of a suitable volume with a defensible entrance and enough protection from the elements so they can maintain an internal environment to survive in good health. A lid for the hive helps meet this last requirement by helping to retain heat and exclude precipitation. At its simplest, a lid can just be a piece of plywood or other material that provides coverage to the top of a hive. Beyond meeting the basic needs of the colony, beekeepers have added modifications to lid and cover…

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Look Down

Separating a hive from the bottom board and tilting it forward is a useful first step before proceeding further with a colony inspections for several reasons. A tilt allows you to assess the overall weight of a hive while letting the bottom board carry the weight. Tilting also facilitates looking at the bottom bars to assess the coverage and density of bees allowing for a population estimate to be made. These are both valuable pieces of information that allow broad inferences about colony health to be made, but tilting the hive forward before proceeding further also allows you to examine the state of the bottom…

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Nitrile Gloves and You

When asked "Besides a hive tool, a smoker and a veil, what is your favorite tool in the beekeeper's toolbox?" fellow BIP field specialist Dan Aurell replied with NITRILE GLOVES! There are a lot of situations where a beekeeper (especially a BIP field specialist) might want to pull on some nitrile gloves. The most obvious benefit gained using nitrile gloves is that they can help prevent honey bee stings (or just make them less severe).  This fact assumes that you are already going gloveless and not using thick leather gloves.  They do not prevent stings outright but they can help prevent the stinger becoming embedded…

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What Robbing Looks Like

Most new beekeepers find out about robbing the hard way when they either spend a little too long poking around in colonies at the wrong time of year, arrive in a bee yard already to find a frenzy of activity around hive entrances, or encounter the aftermath in the form of dead colonies and empty hives. Robbing can be particularly bad in the late summer and fall when several conditions align, leading to high potential for robbing. These triggering conditions include nectar dearth after a main flow, large colony populations with a high proportion of foragers, temperatures suitable for intense flight activity, and potential for…

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The NEW Honey Bee Discovery Center in Orland

A few weeks ago, I was invited to the Honey Bee Discovery Center Kick-off and Exhibit Preview in Orland, California. This event was followed by the Queen Bee Festival the day after. The Honey Bee Discovery Center is ‘the first interactive exhibit and museum of its kind’. It highlights the history of beekeeping from hobbyists, sideliners and commercial operators’ perspectives, and features the evolution and breakthroughs in equipment, pollination and art inspired by bees. Inside the center, one can find multiple showcases of vintage bee equipment related to all apicultural activities, complete with an observation hive near the center of the room. All around the new…

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