February 2018
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Living on the Virginia Peninsula means that, as a beekeeper, you will be subject to flyover insecticide spraying by Air Force C-130 aircraft during the summer months. This is a mosquito abatement procedure, but the insecticide used is toxic to honey bees as well as the intended mosquitos.  The CBA will try to keep  you informed of the location and occurrence of these flights by email announcements to club members.  If you are a new beekeeper, you may wonder what kind of protection is necessary or practical for your beehives.

It usuallys takes the Air Force three days to cover the Peninsula area. Their schedule has _generally_ been the following:

First day - Hampton, Buckroe, Fox Hill, Poquoson, Langley and southern Newport Newport News

Second day - Southern York County and Mid Newport News

Third day - Northern York County, Northern Newport News and Fort Eustis

 

But the Air Force is not able to determine exact boundaries of counties and cities as they fly along at 150 feet, and the bottom line for beekeepers is that protection must be taken for all three days, to keep your hives safe.

 

The current best thinking from experienced club members is that it not really practical to keep your bees locked up in their hives for the whole three-day time period.  They will need a lot of water inside the hive if you decide to try this.

Instead, there are now two recommended protections. One is basic while the other requires some fabricating skills.

The first and best method of protection is to fabricate a misting wand. Water is sprayed over the hive and accomplishes three objectives. First is that many of the bees will remain in the colony as bees don't like to fly in rainy weather. Second is that the hive is cooled which is necessary with a crowded colony. Third is that the water mist will prevent the pesticide spray from contacting the hive as well as diluting and washing the spray away from the colony. The following links to plans are for a misting wand that will protect one or two colonies that were submitted by Andy Westrich of Hampton and Maywood Wilson of York County. Click on either name to get instructions on how to make these items.

Dale Williams has used a similar system but installed spray heads in lengths of pipe which he connects together to protect a string of colonies.

The second, simplest but less effective method is to cover or tent your hives with a white cover to keep the chemicals off the hive. White or light covers will limit the heat build up on the hive but any cover is better than none. Since the spraying _generally_ occurs between 6:30 and 8 pm at night, when the winds have died down, most of your field bees should be back at the hive, although some will be lost.

The following pictures show how some members have rigged these coverings.



 

 

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February Meetings
and Events

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February 3rd
Queen Rearing Class

 

February 20th
Monthly Meeting

 

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March Meetings
and Events

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March 3rd
Horticultural Extravaganza

 

March 8th
HR Horticultural Society

 

March 20th
Monthly Meeting

 

March 24th
CNU Gardening Symposium

 

 

 

Follow the "Upcoming Events" or "Latest News" link under the Main Menu for more information.

 

 

 

NewBees Corner

 

Information listed here is for the new beekeepers looking for new information and guidance on beekeeping and beekeeping chores:

 

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Now is the time to be watching the 10 day weather forecasts! Plan on making up some fresh, warm, syrup to feed to your survivors this next week. You need to feed in winter but winter feeding is different. Mix your syrup 2:1 (2 sugars to 1 water). Best to feed liquid on the warm days and then have sugar feed on for the colder days. You can put sugar feed on and then feed liquid when the weatherman calls for a warm spell. Take the liquid off once the temperature drops again as the bees might not take it and a leaking container would be the end of the colony.

Did you know an inner cover has two sides? A shallow summer side that mainatins bee space and a deeper winter side that allows for fondant or sugar candy to be placed on the top bars available to the cluster. Here are some links to follow for making winter feed for your colonies. This first method requires cooking and I have used it with great success. To use it, follow this link. Something I've read is that the vinegar is essential to add in the heating process as it aids in breaking down the cane sugar into the sugars that are in honey, fructose and glucose as well as raising the acidity level closer to natural honey.

A second method requires no cooking. I have not used this recipe as yet but plan to this winter. To use it, follow this link. There is also information on this site for using the "Mountain Camp" method of feeding dry sugar. I prefer to make my feed in advance and then apply it to the hive but that's beekeeping, each of us has our own preference.

 

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So you were able to harvest some honey but now what do you do with those frames? There are three things that can be done. 1-you could just leave the frames as they are and store them in a freezer or refrigerator. Not very practical for most folks and storing them wet in the garage or house is an invitation to disaster, don't do it! 2-you can let the bees dry them out outside of the hive. This works very well but you must take precautions to prevent a robbing frenzy in your apiary. Put the frames some distance from the hives, the farther the better, and additionally have some objects between, like trees or a building. This also pertains to letting the bees clean up your extracting equipment. There will be some damage to the comb but nothing too drastic. 3-lastly you can put the frames back into the hive they were harvested from or on another colony that may need the stores. If you just want the bees to dry the frames and move the residual honey down into the colony you can place the frames in a super above the inner cover. To keep the bees from moving up add a spacer or an empty super between the inner cover and the frames. Adding the frames back into or on top of a colony may also create a robbing situation if there are any gaps, cracks or openings. Take precautions!

Once dry these frames are a valuable resource and you HAVE to protect them until freezing weather arrives and wax moth activity ceases for the year. There are some choices that can be made here as well. Hanging under a eave allowing plenty of air and light can usually prevent wax moth damage if the combs never held brood or pollen. Follow this link to see some examples. Another way is to protect your frames with Para Dichlorobenzene, Moth crystals. Supers are stacked and sealed with a spacer at the top. Place the moth crystals on a paper plate on top in the space as the fumes will go down. Follow this link to read an article about wax moths and their control. Lastly combs can be protected with a natural microbial bacteria Bacillus thuringenisis (Certan®). It was once available for sale by bee supply companies but is no longer manufactured in the US but is available from Canada. Some beeks use alternative products that contain the same bacteria but are sold under a different name for the similar purpose of larva control. Here is a lnk to a video about the use of Certan.

Have you done your check for varroa mites? Now is a great time to do a sugar roll or alcohol wash to determine the percentage of mites within your colonies. Doesn't matter if you treat or not but to know your colonies health, it is important to monitor the varroa mite infestation level. Follow this link to learn how to do a sugar roll or this link to learn how to do an alcohol wash. Once you have your numbers then you can follow this link to determine a course of action. Just looking at your bees is not enough to know how they are coping with varroa. I just recently, with the help of a club member, did an alcohol wash on a colony that appeared to be in good shape. Weren't we both surprised when there were so many mites we had to dump them out on a rag to make an accurate count. 158 mites in 1/2 cup (300) of bees! Do I have a colony that is surviving with varroa or a colony that is on the brink of collapse? Without monitoring I wouldn't know why they perished or the importance of breeding this queen.

 

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The summer dirth has started and foraging bees are all looking for stores to bring back to their home hive. Don't let your hive become a source of stores for a neighboring colony! Use a robbing screen if you have a small colony or are feeding to grow your colony. Products like Honey B Healthy or added essential oils can drive foraging bees wild. They want that stuff! Know that a honey bee colony's worst enemy is a stronger honey bee colony, fact.

For information on Robbing Screens check out these links:
1. Robbing Screen article on the CBA website
2. Images for different varieties of robbing screens
A few video links on making robbing screens. (Something to remember is if you use an entrance reducer the width doesn't need to exactly match the bottom board, example: an 8 frame robbing screen will work on a ten frame hive with an entrance reducer!).
1. Northwest New Jersey Beekeepers(NWNJBA)
2. Country Rubes Beekeeping Supplies
3. Another Country Rubes Video
A Google search brings up plenty more videos!
Robbing Screen Videos

 

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