Long-term or short-term lease?

It was a couple weeks ago that Heather, Jennie and I were talking about using drone comb as Varroa management in a colony. Drone larvae are particularly attractive to Varroa mites. By adding drone comb to a hive, a beekeeper is creating a lure for the mites in the hope that they will go to the drone larvae instead of infecting precious worker larvae.  Once the drone brood is capped, the beekeeper removes the frame and freezes it, thoroughly killing the pesky mites. While it is apparent that Varroa are attracted to drone larvae, it occurred to me, why is this so? What makes drone…

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Honey Bee Worker vs. Varroa Mite

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew2NTu1gdII The holidays are over and it’s time for us to gear up for another round of sampling that will most likely begin the last full week in January. Holding yards are popping up all over Butte County and the weather has been much more enjoyable then I am used to. The bees seem to be enjoying it as well. Last week it was dry and in the upper 50’s during the day, lending an opportunity for them to forage and clean house before being moved into almonds February 1st. It also gave us another opportunity to go through our roof-top hive. The hive is…

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Hive Beetles in Paradise

My primary purpose for going to Hawaii was to share and show Hawaiian bee breeders the type of work we are doing with the California bee breeders, and to see if they would be interested in participating in the future. It was also to train the two women I talked about in my last post, Danielle Downey Lauren Rusert, to assess colonies and take samples the same way we do in CA. This way, they will be able to work with the bee breeders in the future and be a part of the BIP. I visited a total of four beekeepers during my visit and…

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Nosema in the Lab

Looking into the eyepiece of my microscope at the water-mount slides I have prepared, hardly anything I see resembles honey bees.  Coincidentally, everything appears a monochromatic amber-gold very close to the color scheme of the inside of a hive.  But that is really where the similarity stops.  Instead of seeing a humming colony of busy, hard-working bees, my eyes sift through a collection of stationary debris, microbes, and pollen. I am Anna Wallis and I work with Heather Eversole in a lab processing samples taken from hives from all over the United States for honeybee diseases.  I am a part of the fantastic team at…

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Beekeeping Video Game to Identify Brood Stages

OK, so maybe its not technically a video game, but Reed Johnson at Ohio State has developed an online program called Broodmapper.com  to inspect brood frames. Citizen science is a term used describe similar projects, where the general public participates in the collection and analysis of data. Often the tasks include an educational component. In Broodmapper.com, you can learn or hone your skills in identifying eggs, brood age, diseased larvae, and other states you are likely to need to know when inspecting honey bee colonies. Once you complete a tutorial that shows you how to do these things, you can then apply your skills to…

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Wax Moth

I would like to talk about a pest previously mentioned in these blogs called the “Wax Moth.” This pest can be a problem all year round especially with stored equipment. Here are some ways to store comb, if you have any other ways to store your equipment please post in the comments. You can use PDB crystals (Dichlorobenzene) or moth balls as fumigants, be sure to air out a day or two before using them. A good friend of mine Tracy Alsedek from "Main Line Honey" keeps his equipment in a room with the light on 24/7 365 and he has no wax moth issues.…

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Inhabitants when the colony dies or is clustered for the winter

Going into the winter, beekeepers place an entrance reducer on colonies to reduce robbing and also prevent other animals and insects from entering the hive. The entrance reducer is used to decrease the size of the entrance; it also gives the bees a smaller area to defend. Two common pests to deadout colonies are mice and chipmunks (in Pennsylvania). A mouse can chew drawn comb to nothing but bits and pull debris into the hive to make nests. The chipmunks use hive bodies as storage places to protect their food from the weather as shown in the image below. Using an entrance reducer can limit…

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Dead out pests and more inhabitants of the hive.

  When a honey bee colony dies there a number of insects that will invade the hive and take advantage of the resources left over. Often, the first insect to move in is the wax moth and they can be a pest before the colony is even completely dead. These moths usually move into colonies at night when colonies are weak and take advantage of wax from the brood nest. I have pointed out these tunnels in the image below. Also found in dead out colonies are black ants. They use comb as egg storage and shelter from the elements. There is an image above…

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Test for Varroa

I am going to save my original topic of propolis and bee health for a later weeks since it seems more apt to talk about Varroa this time of year. Late summer and early fall is the time when many beekeepers treat for Varroa. Treating now reduces the number of mites feeding on the bees that will become winter bees. One symptom of a mite feeding on a worker pupa is a shortened life span for that adult bee. So, if too many winter bees are exposed to mites during their development, then the population of adult bees can die off over the long winter.…

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Battles at the Entrance

As fall approaches and forage becomes scarce, honey bees become more aggressive to protecting their honey crop. The honey crop is collected throughout the spring and summer. They use the stored honey throughout the winter to fuel their survival by beating their flight muscles to generate heat to warm the colony. The honey becomes very attractive to other insects this time of year; this is often when you see battles at the entrance. There is a video below to show the aftermath of one of these battles. There are also some other pictures of insect pests trying to get into the hives for honey below.

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