The 2017-2018 Colony Loss and Management Survey – NOW LIVE!

And no, this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke! You’re busy! We know that. You’re out catching swarms, picking up packages, and checking your colonies! So grab a coffee or tea, sit down, relax, AND… …take the Survey Today! The information that you provide will be invaluable to our understanding of honey bee health around the country. As background, the BIP’s National Loss Survey was launched for the first time in 2006, and thanks to the many thousands of beekeepers who have participated since then, we have been able to document and better understand long-term honey bee colony loss trends. Check out the interactive state…

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Pros and Cons of Feeding Dry Pollen Sub

Most beekeepers have come to realize that due to lack of natural forage in our urban and agricultural landscapes, feeding pollen substitute has become necessary to keep bees healthy in most parts of the country. Last summer was an especially challenging season in the West due to extremely hot and dry conditions. Despite a wet spring in California and Oregon last year, the spigot was shut off abruptly early in the summer and what little forage was available quickly shriveled. Beekeepers who had not been providing supplemental feed saw their colonies dwindle as the summer went on. Although it’s still early, this year is looking…

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The Long Haul

The changing agricultural landscape and current economic conditions of the bee industry have led most commercial beekeepers to undertake significant migrations to pollinate crops, access better forage, and seek favorable wintering conditions. General beekeeping activities and short distance moves are generally accomplished with a variety of light and medium duty flat-deck trucks, but long haul moves typically involve moving bees on semis. Colony carrying capacity of a semi is limited by both weight and space. The maximum legal gross weight is 80,000 pounds. A truck + trailer unit generally weighs around 30,000 pounds leaving approximately 50,000 for cargo. The number of colonies that can be…

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Honey Bee Viral Prevalence Map

Honey bee viruses have been widely surveyed and sampled for through the USDA APHIS Honey Bee Survey, BIP Tech Team samples, Emergency Response Kits, and other samples processed through joint co-operations through the University of Maryland bee lab. To share the results of these surveys through an openly accessible visualization, we have released a dynamically explorable map of viral results in the Bee Informed Database. This map will continually be updated as new and old data is uploaded to the database.   Viruses are clearly implicated as a major driver of colony losses and economic impacts. A number of viruses are spread by varroa mites. Direct treatments…

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SolutionBee delivers new NFC-enabled hive monitoring product

SolutionBee, widely known within the beekeeping community for its HM-20 Hive Monitor introduced several years ago, has now made its next generation Hive Monitor product, the HM-5 available.   The form factor and functionality of the new HM-5 is very similar to the earlier HM-20.  It collects both the weight, external temperature and humidity every 15 minutes.  The beekeeper uses a mobile phone or tablet to collect the data periodically to transmit to the SolutionBee cloud portal, and optionally on to the Bee Informed Partnership.  The unit uses four load cells and consists of a robustly manufactured scale platform with a weather proof enclosure for the…

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Wintering Sheds: Why are more North American beekeepers overwintering their bees in cold storage?

More and more US beekeepers are starting to place their bees in sheds for the fall, for indoor wintering. While beekeepers in Canada have done this for decades, the popularity of the practice in the US is more recent. Beekeepers began by using structures already built for onion and potato storage in Idaho to house their bees in the fall. These beekeepers then remove the bees in January, and bring them to California for almond tree pollination. Many beekeepers are still using old potato and onion sheds in Idaho, but as the popularity of this practice has increased, some beekeepers have built sheds just for…

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What’s in a name?

Naming yards isn’t complicated but it’s an important aspect of managing a large commercial operation in order to facilitate communication between staff. Many states require apiary sites to be registered which requires filing paperwork that names the yard in addition to providing some basic information about location (latitude, longitude or nearest intersection), property ownership, and contact details. More importantly having yard names that are known to all of the staff in an operation allows management schedules and work plans to be made so crews can accomplish assigned tasks in appropriate places. Selecting names is seemingly simple, the most common method is naming yards based on…

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A time of Thanks and Giving – 2017

IT IS GIVING TUESDAY! The Bee Informed Partnership’s – our friends call us BIP – mission is to help beekeepers keep colonies alive using real world data.  We have come a long way in the last 5 years, and we couldn’t have done it without beekeeper participation.  But running BIP costs money, and while we have been successful in grants and beekeeping pay for services – we also rely on beekeepers not only to supply data – but also to help keep us funded through donations. For those of you who have supported us in the past – either by supplying data or financially -…

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Blister Beetle on Honey Bees

As a Technical Transfer Team member, I have a unique perspective of beekeeping. We get to see operations of all different sizes and styles, and we see bees of varying degrees of health, strength, and occasionally odd situations. One day this fall, we noticed a particularly odd occurrence: strange orange larvae on the thorax of some bees.   We took samples back to the lab and carefully inspected the larvae under a microscope. Using a dichotomous key, I was able to name the organisms down to genus. They were first instar larvae of the blister beetle (Meloe sp.). Now what on earth is a blister…

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Comb Management Part 2: Comb size

  Artificial foundation was developed shortly after the invention of the removable frames. The first foundation frame was invented by Johannes Mehring in Germany (Graham, 1992). But as more people began producing artificial foundation for Langstroth hives, beekeepers began experimenting with different sized cells.  Fast forward to today; we see both small cell and standard comb, but why is that? Well, that is the topic of part 2 of this 4-part blog series. History of comb management- https://beeinformed.org/2017/09/14/comb-management-part-1/ Cell size: why so much variation between producers? Management strategies of foundation Benefits of replacing old comb In part 1, I wrote about the history of comb…

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