Moisture Control

In some locations in the United States moisture can kill honey bee colonies over the winter months. This moisture is caused by the condensation of the water vapor as it rises from the cluster and cools at the interface between the warmer and colder air. This interface is usually at the inner cover in most hives. Bees can be killed by moisture if it builds on the inner cover and rains down onto the bees when clustered. The bees can tolerate the cold but not when they are wet. Many beekeepers will place an empty hive body above the inner cover for added protection against…

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Convergent Lady Beetle Congregation

A few weeks ago in December, Mike and I ventured into the woods to fish the Butte Creek. After a few hours of fishing and hiking rough terrain we stumbled onto a Ladybug congregation area. There is an image above of the convergent ladybugs. After a few minutes of photographing the beetles, we noticed that they started to rise from the leaf-litter. Ladybugs or Ladybird beetles usually overwinter in leaf-litter, crevices in rocks, tall grass areas, cracks and crevices in trees and many other locations including nearby homes. The leaf-litter is most desirable for the beetles since it insulates and protects them from the elements.…

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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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How to catch a swarm

When someone informs you of a swarm, it is critical that you ask some important questions and take down some information before heading out to catch it. These important items include the following: • You need to know the height of the swarm to determine if you can reach it by standing or if a ladder will be required. • It is also important to determine that they are actual honey bees; the best way to do this is ask questions. Many calls come in but in fact, are for wasp nests or some other insect. • Are they on a branch you can cut…

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Coconuts

I ended my day last Thursday by using a hive tool to break into a fresh coconut with Lauren Rusert on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. From  December 4-18, I was in Hawaii working with the queen breeders to introduce them to the BIP program. Lauren and her boss Danielle Downey run an apiary program for the beekeepers across the Hawaiian Islands. They run tests for beekeepers, certify for shipping queens, teach classes, take samples for the National Survey, monitor for swarms, along with a host of other tasks. The program has been in operation for just over a year, and they have really established…

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The Cost of Freedom

Rob and I tore this hive apart today to have a look at what was going on inside. If you listen closely you may be able to catch parts of our conversation. The video tells the story of these bees and its struggle to survive...It can be viewed at the link below: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdSnVxtQSUo

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Entrance Reducers

What is the purpose of an entrance reducer? Entrance reducers can be used for different things at different times of the year. Entrance reducers are most commonly used in the fall when forage becomes limited and bee traffic slows down. It is also important to seal up any other holes in the colony around this time of the year to prevent robbing or access for pests. Beekeepers will decrease the size of hive entrances to limit the space that the bees have to protect. They also change the temperature and ventilation unless using screen bottom boards. Reducers can keep unwanted pest like chipmunks and mice…

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How to store soft bodied insects

In my last blog I explained how to pin and label bees. In this blog I am going to talk about another way to store and preserve soft bodied insects or larvae. This is particularly useful when you want to store the larvae or pupae of bees. There is an image above of different bee caste I found in clay soil over the summer of 2010. For larvae, I like to use Pampel’s solution, a general purpose preservative. Two other common fixatives are KAAD larval fixative and Peterson’s solution. They are available from Bioquip.com. These are a bit more expensive than what we store common…

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