Author Topic: Spring fever and planning  (Read 213 times)

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Offline Grandma Bear

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Spring fever and planning
« on: February 18, 2021, 11:33:34 am »
We have nothing but snow and ice and single digit temps if that high at the moment, so I have spring fever. Spring fever around here leads to conversations about what we want to do differently with our bees this year and then inevitably one of us gets a notebook and starts writing down plans and changes we want to implement.

One of the things we want to do this year is set up feeding stations that are located centrally between the colonies and open feed pollen in the early spring. We also are wanting to do something different about mite control...I'm open to suggestions on that one. We don't use unnatural things in our hives so I know that we are somewhat limited in options. We haven't had big problems with mites here but don't want to wait until we do to make sure the bees stay healthy.

We have big plans to expand, and hopefully sell some nucs this year. What new things are y'all planning for this season?

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2021, 04:50:56 pm »
We are seeing, in the last couple of years, beekeepers that are experiencing fall absconding and winter die offs due to Varroa mites.  Some are waiting until Nov.-Dec. to do oxalic acid treatments.  That appears to be too late.  My goal is to do repeated powdered sugar rolls throughout the flying season.  That way I will know when the mite levels have reached the threshold of 3 mites per 300 bees.  Some suggest that the threshold is 5 mites per 300 bees.  When the threshold is reached it will be time to coordinate the proper treatment with air temperature, etc. 
Research is showing that the bees that emerge in Sept. are 2 generations from your winter bees. (NE Kansas time frame) In order for  your bees to be healthy going into winter, you need to knock the mite counts prior to Sept.
I always try to pull supers as soon as the nectar flow is over so that I can start mite treatments.  My mite counts are always high then, especially on the colonies that brought in the most honey.

Grandma Bear, are talking about feeding stations for sugar syrup, pollen sub, or both?
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Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2021, 09:35:16 pm »
We are seeing, in the last couple of years, beekeepers that are experiencing fall absconding and winter die offs due to Varroa mites.  Some are waiting until Nov.-Dec. to do oxalic acid treatments.  That appears to be too late.  My goal is to do repeated powdered sugar rolls throughout the flying season.  That way I will know when the mite levels have reached the threshold of 3 mites per 300 bees.  Some suggest that the threshold is 5 mites per 300 bees.  When the threshold is reached it will be time to coordinate the proper treatment with air temperature, etc. 
Research is showing that the bees that emerge in Sept. are 2 generations from your winter bees. (NE Kansas time frame) In order for  your bees to be healthy going into winter, you need to knock the mite counts prior to Sept.
I always try to pull supers as soon as the nectar flow is over so that I can start mite treatments.  My mite counts are always high then, especially on the colonies that brought in the most honey.

Grandma Bear, are talking about feeding stations for sugar syrup, pollen sub, or both?

We do powdered sugar rolls every few weeks, and every other month we run the alcohol test. I gave up on the white sticky drop count boards years ago. We have yet to reach the threshold for treatment with the exception of 2013. Last year my last check hit the 3 per threshold, we planned to be more prepared and educated about OA treatment methods...but we got a baby, DD spent some extra time in the hospital, and a couple of serious family tragedies occurred that took me completely away from here and the bees until September...so rolling into fall this past year was the worst we've ever done as far as preparing the bees for the winter and upcoming season. I really need to study more on the oxalic acid methods and see what we end up deciding on.

We have open feeding stations...5 gallon buckets for syrup in the spring until a good flow starts, but would like to add some pollen as well. We don't feed in our hives except during winter...sugar bricks. I saw some pictures somewhere of pollen stations made of pvc hanging out for the bees and seem to remember folks saying that it worked well. Since we plan to expand as much as possible this year I'm thinking the extra pollen will help increase our populations more quickly. Swarms are so common for us that expanding numbers shouldn't be an issue, but the swarms always show up HUNGRY.

Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2021, 09:40:38 pm »
All of that having been said...we think that maybe some of the things we use in the smoker and grow near our colonies may be helping to keep our varroa populations down a bit. There is a TON of wild bee balm here, we read that it is high in thymol and we use it in smokers because it doesn't smell awful, the stems burn slow and long and like I said we have tons of it. We also use staghorn sumac in our smokers and have since we lived in NC, it seems to really calm the bees and we noticed a drop in our mite counts the first season that we did that. In NC we struggled with the mites for a couple of seasons, but haven't had much trouble with them here.

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2021, 10:12:11 am »
Life happens when you are trying pursue other things. 
Sounds like you are on top of the mite checks. That's great!
NE KS is rich in pollen.  As a rule, we don't provide pollen sub unless we want to do splits or chase swarms.
I find it interesting that you mention burning sumac in the smoker.  I learned about 12 years ago, from a beekeeper down around Nevada, MO, that burning sumac is pleasant and is calming to the bees.  He also thought that is why he didn't have problems with mites.  He learned to keep bees, and that trick, from "an old lady".  Things may have changed since then.
It's been about 3 years since OA treatments were legalized in KS.  This fall I decided that the drizzle method works best for me.  One treatment and your done as apposed to 3 sublimations.  I don't want to have to haul a battery around.  I have lost 2 of the expensive power packs.  They have both died.  Last fall I was in the middle of doing sublimation treatments when the second one  died.  Too expensive!  Drizzle is dirt cheap. 
A friend of mine is a Master Beekeeper X2.  Seriously.  She has developed a method of using a spray bottle to apply the proper amount of OA instead of a syringe.  It's easier to handle with one hand while you balance the top hive body on it's edge.
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Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2021, 12:41:27 pm »
Life happens when you are trying pursue other things. 
Sounds like you are on top of the mite checks. That's great!
NE KS is rich in pollen.  As a rule, we don't provide pollen sub unless we want to do splits or chase swarms.
I find it interesting that you mention burning sumac in the smoker.  I learned about 12 years ago, from a beekeeper down around Nevada, MO, that burning sumac is pleasant and is calming to the bees.  He also thought that is why he didn't have problems with mites.  He learned to keep bees, and that trick, from "an old lady".  Things may have changed since then.
It's been about 3 years since OA treatments were legalized in KS.  This fall I decided that the drizzle method works best for me.  One treatment and your done as apposed to 3 sublimations.  I don't want to have to haul a battery around.  I have lost 2 of the expensive power packs.  They have both died.  Last fall I was in the middle of doing sublimation treatments when the second one  died.  Too expensive!  Drizzle is dirt cheap. 
A friend of mine is a Master Beekeeper X2.  Seriously.  She has developed a method of using a spray bottle to apply the proper amount of OA instead of a syringe.  It's easier to handle with one hand while you balance the top hive body on it's edge.

If I'm not mistaken it was Iddee who told us all those years back to use sumac in our smokers. We developed the habit of harvesting and drying it along with the wild monarda, we chop the stems fine and leave the leaves, flowers and berries whole.  Between that and the wild bee balm the bees seem almost grateful for the smoke and are calm and happy while we work them the majority of the time.

I would really love more information on how your friend is using OA in a spray bottle! We often have tiny people with us in the bee yards and don't want to take any chances with fumes or anything that could harm them if we make a mistake or they decide to get too close.

As far as the pollen feeders...there is plenty of pollen nearly all year for established colonies, but we LOVE catching swarms, and plan to make quite a few splits this season so I thought it would be a beneficial addition to what we do. As I said the swarms always show up HUNGRY, as soon as we hive them they guzzle down syrup for the first couple of weeks despite the abundant forage here. I also suspect that a couple of the late swarms we caught last season came with a mite overload, possibly absconded as you said others are observing.


Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2021, 04:24:26 pm »
It is my understanding that swarms can carry a heavy mite load.
My friend, the Master Beekeeper, said that she did some trial and error with several spray bottles until she found one that produced 5cc with each spray.  So I assume she sprayed into a metric measuring cup until she found one that sprayed 5cc with each pump.  She said it was very easy to lift this top brood box with one hand and spray with the other.  I think you would want to put it on the stream setting so it performs like a syringe.
With little ones in the bee yard, there is no way I would do OA sublimation.
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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2021, 06:55:04 pm »
I forgot to mention that the word around here is that beekeepers are seeing very poor results from Apivar treatments.
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Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2021, 08:19:22 pm »
The tiny folk in the bee yards are my main reason for wanting to avoid sublimation...and lots of other things too. I'm wondering if a 5cc syringe may work? I need to make the time to do more reading. We've never used Apivar and have heard nothing great about it so never even considered it.

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2021, 09:24:24 am »
Tractor Supply Store sells larger syringes.  Big enough to do a whole colony at one time. 
This page explains how to mix with sugar water and apply.
https://www.betterbee.com/instructions-and-resources/how-to-do-an-oxalic-acid-dribble-treatment.asp If you scroll down to about half way, there is a picture of the syringe that I use.  They are very inexpensive.
Randy Oliver shows a syringe holding gun here.  Looks kind of like a caulking gun. http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-dribble-tips/ This would allow for a little more accuracy, but it's a little more expensive. 
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Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2021, 03:44:19 pm »
Tractor Supply Store sells larger syringes.  Big enough to do a whole colony at one time. 
This page explains how to mix with sugar water and apply.
https://www.betterbee.com/instructions-and-resources/how-to-do-an-oxalic-acid-dribble-treatment.asp If you scroll down to about half way, there is a picture of the syringe that I use.  They are very inexpensive.
Randy Oliver shows a syringe holding gun here.  Looks kind of like a caulking gun. http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-dribble-tips/ This would allow for a little more accuracy, but it's a little more expensive.

Thank you so much!!

Offline Gypsi

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2021, 06:36:06 pm »
My spring planting day is probably tomorrow. May give the hives each a jar of syrup to celebrate.  I'll just plant flower seed probably. Onions are in, at  least half of them are, broccoli is in chard is in, and all came thru the freeze with flying colors.  I may start a few tomato seeds or I may cheat and buy plants march 1st
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Offline Grandma Bear

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2021, 08:41:27 pm »
My spring planting day is probably tomorrow. May give the hives each a jar of syrup to celebrate.  I'll just plant flower seed probably. Onions are in, at  least half of them are, broccoli is in chard is in, and all came thru the freeze with flying colors.  I may start a few tomato seeds or I may cheat and buy plants march 1st

We are quite a way from being able to plant much yet...but hopefully our garden plans will all go well once the thaw and super mud season are overwith.

Offline Gypsi

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Re: Spring fever and planning
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2021, 10:57:22 pm »
I'm going into pond season, the odds on me doing any extensive garden planning are zip. And I didn't get my seeds in today, but I did watch 3 grandchildren while their moms dealt with work and plumbing
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