Friday, August 31, 2012

Treating My Girls For Mites

Now that the Honey Harvest is finished for my hive, I am beginning to prepare for fall. I had previously reduced the main entrance and closed off the upper entrance to help prevent robbing bees from entering my hive. Using a wooden hive top feeder, I have begun to feed my bees sugar water (2:1 ratio of sugar to water) mixed with the feeding stimulant Honey-B-Healthy. They have taken to the feed and I am checking on it every week ( so far I have added 3 gallons).

Looking into a Hive

Last time I was in my hive, I went through all the brood chamber, checking for eggs and making sure there was a decent brood pattern. I was somewhat disappointed to find that only the bottom two brood chambers had larva and eggs. I have a third brood chamber, mostly filled with honey, and above that, lays a honey super below my hive top feeder. While feeding my bees, I was hoping that the added food would implement laying from my queen.

I rotated my upper two supers, thinking that she might not have room to lay with the frames in the third brood chamber being mostly honey. While I was in my hive, I was thoroughly inspecting my bees for any deformity in their wings or visible mites. During my inspection I noticed some of my bees had smaller spread wings where as the normal bee would have their wings flat against their back. My next task was to check my mite count and see if I needed to treat.

Photo By: Lazy B Farm
My bees were not to this extent but you could see a slight difference between them and the norm.

After using a corex sheet in my IPM bottom board, I was relieved to have a mite count below the average 40 to 50 mites but I thought it best to still treat. The recommended treatment from other beekeepers was Api life Var. This treatment comes in a pack of two wafers (strong odor and should be handled with gloves), with one wafer being used per hive. 

Api life Var Package

After opening the package, I took one wafer and broke it up into four separate pieces to go on the four corners of my brood chamber. For the treatment to work properly, I needed to place these four pieces on top of my bottom brood chamber and close up my hive so that the vapors would not escape. I ensured that my entrance was reduced and my corex sheet was in place beneath my IPM bottom board.

Wafer Pieces on the Corners

Closed up my hive and now I am waiting 7 to 10 days to repeat the treatment (2 more times). I was told that if I were to see a vast majority of my bees outside of my hive, the vapors are to overpowering and I need to reduce the amount of wafer pieces I am treating with. I need my girls to be mite free ( or close to it) going into to winter.

Cleaning out the pests!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Closing Up for the Fall

I was very proud of my girls and all the surplus honey they collected. I walked around my hive the other day to get a feel for what was happening with the nectar flow. Clovers were present upon the ground but no bees were foraging from them. I still had some flowering plants in the garden, yet again, no bees were found. I decided it was time to reduce my hive entrance and let the bees have the rest of the honey frames.

Now that the nectar flow has finished, it is time to begin feeding and checking for mites. I will not begin mite treatments until the end of August/ beginning of September but with the cease of the nectar flow, it is very important that I supply my bees with food as soon as possible. I will also want to prevent robbing as best I can by closing off any upper entrances and reducing the main entrance.

Entrance Reducer

I will be using a hive top feeder and a sugar water feed for the fall that will consist of a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Other suitable methods of feeding your bees would be: pollen patties, fondant or high fructose corn syrup. I want to include a feeding stimulant to insure my bees will be healthy going into the winter months, therefore, I need a liquid solution for feeding my bees.

Combined ingredients together and mixed in a 1 gallon jug. Added 4 tbsp of Honey B Healthy and ensured that all the sugar had dissolved.

Bees at Entrance

Out at my hive, the entrance appeared very crowded but nothing threatening was happening. No signs of robbing was a relief but I was intrigued at all the activity that was happening at the entrance. When discussing the issue with another beekeeper, she said that newer bees will need to go on a navigation flight in order to orient themselves with their hive. They will fly out making loops back toward the hive and after every pass, they will extend their distance a little further.

Opened my hive and started to do a quick pass through my supers. I pulled out one of the outside frames in order to work toward the middle frames, and as I was checking the frame, I notice a small hive beetle crawling along the edge. I know that a strong colony will send them into hiding but every hive is bound to have one or two slip out and roam around, right? That was the only downside while going through my hive. Everything seemed normal and none of my bees appeared to be deformed or had bad wings.

Small Hive Beetle

After working my hive, I added the wooden hive top feeder and filled each side with my healthy sugar water mixture. Placed one end of the float down into the mixture and slowly lowered the other end. Floats fit perfectly and were floating properly.

Pouring Sugar Water Mixture

Dropping Float

Dropping Float

I know its not sweet nectar but I hope my girls enjoy their new diet. Having this hive top feeder will allow me to easily check and make sure the feed is topped off and add more if needed. 

Just taking care of my Girls!