April 25, 2013
Entombed pollen is identified as having sunken, wax-covered cells amidst 'normal', uncapped cells of bee bread (A). Unlike capped honey and brood cells, the entombed cells are capped below the comb surface, appearing to be sunken into the cell (B). At least some of the pollen contained within these cells is brick red in color, and this pollen does not fluoresce under ultraviolet light like most non-red colored pollen (C.)
Submitted by J. Morgan
Pollen, an often misunderstood resource in the hive. I'm just as guilty as the next person on possibly not fully appreciating the value of a healthy mixture of pollen in the hive. Last season, I was pulling out some of the pollen frames thinking that it was not going to be used, or that it was old and the bees were done with it. I was focused on making sure the bees perceived there was enough room for doing their work... both to manage swarming, and also to facilitate empty space for whatever the bees needed next.
I had some discussion with Garry Reeves recently on the topic of pollen, and we both agreed that last season, we both possibly removed pollen we assumed the bees were done with, but likely weren't. First, how would we identify such old pollen? Can we? There's many types of pollen we see in the hive. There's new (dull/matte finish) pollen, glossy pollen, pollen with necter or honey on top ot it, and even entombed pollen, that is coated over and sealed off, behind a layer of propolis. We hope not to see emtombed pollen in our hives, and more on that in a moment.
We already know the value of pollen in late winter, early spring. The queen needs it to fire up her egg-laying, but the bees need a healthly mixture of pollen from different sources on-going. It's their primary protein and they mix it many ways to create the concoction they need next. Nurse, or "fat" bees need it to produce Vitellogenin (Vg) which is as much a miracle as royal jelly. There is good-quality and poor-quality pollen, so a variety of pollen is suggested to be a well-balanced diet.
This gets back to us pulling out frames of pollen. Is it possible the bees really would have used what we maybe thought was spent pollen? You can bet I'll be leaving things alone this year to see. Our original intent was the thought of keeping the brood chamber open and available for needed resources. The decline I experienced last fall could have been varroa, but what about that one that made it through the mites? This spring, I had a marked queen with only a handful of bees. Not even enough to care for the eggs the queen started laying.
Bee hives have an ebb and flow too. When we do something, it's safe to say we likely caused an affect on that hive that may not be seen for months, or maybe even the next season. Beekeepers should have a goal for each hive. Which will be used for honey, and which will be used for increasing? Those goals will dictate how you manage that hive and the changes we make do have an affect. Just like Tim Ives describes the ecology of the hive. Adding pollen substitute, feeding sugar, and even regular hive inspections have a big affect on the hive. Our actions must be timely and exact... as best we can :)
This year, I plan to let the bees keep their pollen and if that means sacrificing some space for more bees or honey, then so be it.
Entombed pollen, and interesting phenomenon
The entombed pollen phenomenon is described in a paper by Dennis vanEngelsdorp and published in the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology (2009). A quick abstract of that article is:
Entombed pollen is highly associated with increased colony mortality. Entombed pollen is sunken, capped cells amidst 'normal', uncapped cells of stored pollen, and some of the pollen contained within these cells is brick red in color. The increased incidence of entombed pollen in reused wax comb suggests that there is a transmittable factor common to the phenomenon and colony mortality. In addition, there were elevated pesticide levels, notably of the fungicide chlorothalonil, in entombed pollen. Additional studies are needed to determine if there is a causal relationship between entombed pollen, chemical residues, and colony mortality.
VanEngelsdorp and his group suggested that the worker bees sensed bad pollen in these cells and entombed it in propolis so it would not be consumed. Bees often cover offensive things with propolis i.e. hive beetles and other dead things to keep them from contaminating the hive, so this is consistent with other well-documented behavior.
Entombed pollen cells have been found to contain various types of chemicals, including those used to combat Varroa. It has been suggested that colonies containing entombed pollen are usually in the process of dying and entombing contaminated pollen may be a last effort made by a colony to save itself.
Current theories suggest that the accumulation of pesticides in a the smaller space of a hive could be more apparent to the bees than the same pesticide in a field, or perhgaps the pesticides undergo chemical changes while stored in the hive, or mixed with other things. Nonetheless, this adds more chaos to the already challenging mystery of bee hive dead outs.
April 19, 2013
This is the Jim Farmer Small Hive Beetle trap. You might call it the prototype and I am proud to be the beta tester for this contraption. My full report will follow later this season.
Submitted by J. Morgan
During the winter workshops at Garry's over the 2011-12 season (that's right, the winter before this last winter) I attended a workshop that fellow SIBA member Jim Farmer was at. He was laboriously pounding away at the most peculiar thing. I asked what he was working on and he proudly showed me his idea for a small hive beetle trap.
At first glance, it was a bottom board. But this one was special. It is an entire bottom board with the trap built in. Jim's idea was simple, get the beetles as they come in to the hive. Jim Farmer has been keeping bees since the 70's. We consider him the senior beekeeper in our club. No conversation is complete without his input. I admire Jim immensely. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the table, yet is modest and humble in every way.
What took me by surprise, was after he finished putting all his thought and effort in to crafting this thing, he brought to it back to me and said "here, put this under your hive and let me know how it works."
I'm honored, to say the least. So, here it is, ready to go under my hive first opportunity. Let me describe it, and remember, you heard it here first :) You can click the picture above and see a number of detailed pictures of the trap. Notice there is a tray that slides in through the side under the entrance. Oil is to be filled on either side, and right in the small area in the middle should be a honey/pollen mixture. This of course is the lure. Beetles are going to find their way in your hive regardless if they are nearby so we felt the honey/pollen lure at the entrance wasnt adding to the attractiveness of the hive for the beetle. Slide the tray in and set your hive on top.
Jim and I discussed how it should be painted. If you look close at the pictures, you will see it's white like most bee equipment, but around the entrance it's painted black... since hive beetles like to seek out the dark places to hide. There is a slightly raised panel as bees and beetles go into the entrance, just high enough for the bees to go over, but possibly lure the hive beetle under. If the beetle goes under, then in to the oil drink they go. If the beetles do make it over, then you might also notice two more additional slots cut in the floor. That's two more opportunities for the beetles to go down in to a dark area... that conveniently smells of honey and pollen!
Well, that's it for now. I'll get it set up and plan to provide a full report back on how it does. Small Hive Beetle was a big issue for me last year, so I suspect they'll be back, even despite my soil drenches I did beneath the hives. Stop back soon!
April 08, 2013
An alcohol wash container (could maybe be used with powdered sugar, will have to try) to shake mites off bees. I found this idea on Randy Olivers site at www.scientificbeekeeping.com
Submitted by J. Morgan
When I lost what I considered my best hive this winter, I sent a sample of these bees to the Beltsville bee lab. It came back with a mite count of 10.7 per 100 bees. That's a high count for most people, and certainly for any of my hives. There were no problems with tracheal mites or nosema. Click here to see a video of a deadout similar to the one that these bees were sampled from.
I wanted to better understand how the bee lab ran these tests so I didn't have to rely on shipping bees to the lab to do this. It turns out, it's not too difficult to do accurate mite counts yourself using either an alcohol wash (that kills the bees you will use for your sample) or a powdered sugar method (that doesn't kill your bees, but coats them in powdered sugar and allows you to dump them back in your hive.)
Broken down to its simplest form, we want to take 100 (about 1/3 cup) nurse bees (shaken off a frame from the center of the brood) into a jar for testing. Make sure your queen is not in this sample. The idea is, when mites emerge from a cell, they will either crawl in to another cell to start the process over, or they will crawl on to the nearest bee and find a tender spot on them to suck on the bees hemolymph. Since the nurse bees are the ones that are taking care of the brood and usually always near the center of the brood nest, these are the bees that would most likely have the most mites on them. Therefore, these are the bees we need to sample.
In the video below, I use alcohol because the bees are already dead and I'm just trying to dislodge the mites from the bees in order to count them. Also, I upped the sample to 300 (about a cup of bees) so that I could take a larger sampling of bees, and I divided the results by 3. Again, keep in mind that when you get your number, you have to take in to consideration what a high mite count is for you. That number is going to differ from one beekeeper to another based on the general strengh of the hive. I am just taking note of this kind of data so that I can understand over time what a high mite count is for me personally. I hope this is helpful and would like to hear your comments.
March 25, 2013
Fred and Jeff pound out some new equipment on a cold winter day during Garry's Workshop Days.
Submitted by J. Morgan
This is what was submitted to the IBA for the quarterly newsletter. It just summarizes what SIBA has been up to since December.
Here in Southeast Indiana, we prepared for our winter slumber by setting up a couple practical meetings that included some topics that usually couldn't be accommodated during the regular season. Particularly, mead-making, pollen collection and processing, and soapmaking. There has been much interest in all of these topics so we managed to pull it together. First, Jason Morgan has presented a “Mead-making for beginners” session for the last three seasons, usually after the fall season is wrapped up. We couple it with a tasting, and other winemakers in the club bring their latest creations. It has become very popular to kick off the holiday season.
Larry Kemmerly came and spoke at the December meeting about pollen collection and processing. We made a video of his presentation and it can be viewed here. Many of us may try our hand at pollen collection this season.
Jan Jackson came and showed us how she makes soap at the January meeting. She brought an extensive selection of her creations that feature goats milk soap. We also made a video of this one and you can read all about it and watch the video here.
Thanks to both Jan and Larry for making the trip out and lugging things out to run their presentations. We encourage everyone to watch the videos and spread them around for anyone to learn something new.
On Jan. 5, 2013, SIBA presented its first bee school for beginners. We called it 'Beekeeping 101,' and it was a great success. Garry's workshop was full and there was just enough room for everyone. Over four sessions, we covered the basics and answered any questions posed by attendees. Jim Orem and Jason Morgan conducted the morning sessions, and around noon, lunch was served. Then, we finished the two afternoon sessions with Cecile Parrish and Garry Reeves. Everything was recorded and we're still working on getting the final videos posted. Find more information as well as the videos as they are posted here.
Many of us in SIBA have been preparing for spring most of the winter by building and repairing equipment. Garry Reeves hosted three workshops dubbed "Garry's Winter Workshops" that allows any of our members to come and build the equipment they have been wanting to. Many people never find the time, and many others just don’t know how. These workshop’s have been getting bigger and bigger in attendance and it turns out to be an assembly line of people all playing a part and just cranking out all the equipment that’s needed. When it's clear what equipment we'll build that day, Garry sets up the shop and everyone mans a station. We're truly lucky to have someone like Garry providing this guidance and his resources. It helps beekeepers see how they could possibly set up at home to make their own equipment. You can find updates and pictures to all these workshops here. I myself couldn't get enough after all three workshops and so I returned to make a much-needed solar melter with Garry.
The winter hit a lot of us pretty hard. There were many deadouts and so this made me personally take a closer look at the inside of the winter hive. So much plays a part in a deadout. A hive that is going to die starts off much earlier than we think. Everything from nutrition, to the population of bees, the quality and vigor of the queen, and the current mite population all play a part. We as beekeepers seek to find that balance that carries the bees through the winter. I sent the first round of bees from a deadout to the Beltsville Bee Lab to confirm mite deaths... and while I waited on those results, I immersed myself in reading and talking to others in the club about mites. I also attended a state spring meeting with fellow beekeepers where we brought home a lot of information to digest. We've put up many videos from the experiences for anyone to see.
First, watch this video to go through a deadout hive with Jason Morgan and Jeff Ginn.
The following two videos presented by Dr. Keith Delaplane are pretty in-depth. "The honey bee superorganism," brings to light how the beehive is a very complex "organism" with all bees working towards a common goal. "Honeybee breeding: Fact or Fiction" challenges many existing ideas and beliefs related to queen rearing and breeding bees. These videos are superb presentations from Keith Delaplane who did a series "Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary" in the 90's (Find this series here)
Dr. Greg Hunt came to our February meeting and brought microscopes to allow us to see mites that were bitten by honeybees. We did a video here too and you can see these bitten mites up close in this video.
During my rigorous focus on mites, I was introduced to Tim Ives, and his method of beekeeping. I collaborated with Tim on an article called "Real world beekeeping in the corn belt" and it's about how Tim's bees have been able to thrive among pesticide-laden fields and challenging conditions using all-natural techniques. That's right, Tim does not feed any sugar or pollen, but rather, capitalizes on the honey bees natural biology. Young nurse bees (called FAT bees) produce a valuable substance called Vitellogenin (Vg) and store it in the hypopharyngeal gland in their head. It is considered the "fountain of youth" to the bees. Nurse bees feed Vg to the queen and other bees to delegate the tasks of the hive, and to also prolong their lives. Having a lot of nurse bees in the hive is the key to a strong hive that can overcome many of the challenges in modern day beekeeping. Tim keeps and overwinters booming populations of young bees in three deep bodies. The key is "young/nurse" bees. Tim has reported having 16 frames of brood at one time. This of course means one large generation of bees emerging at once. This takes a really good queen, and access to good, natural forage outside. Tim would also argue that leaving the bees alone to do their thing is required. We've also incorporated research conducted by Randy Oliver, who visited Tim in 2012.
Fellow members of SIBA also put together a local bloom chart for our area to help our newer beekeepers keep track of the major things in bloom during the season. It includes pictures as well. This is something we plan to update as necessary and while there's many more things the bees forage on, this chart helps point out the primary providers of nectar and pollen. Well, that's about all from this neck of the woods! Hope everyone has a great 2013 season!
February 26, 2013
Varroa destructor is an external parasitic mite that attacks the honey bee and can only reproduce in a honey bee colony. It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking hemolymph. The Varroa mite is the parasite with the most pronounced economic impact on the beekeeping industry and may be a contributing factor to CCD, (colony collapse disorder)
Submitted by J. Morgan
This is the video from February's meeting. Dr. Greg Hunt of Purdue University visited us to lead a discussion on the affects of pesticides on bees. He is also studying mite-biting bees. While mites feed on bees and their larva, RNA viruses such as the deformed wing virus (DWV) spread to bees. A significant mite infestation will lead to the death of a honey bee colony, usually in the late autumn through early spring. Hunt's bees have some of the VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) trait, but also have bitten the legs off many of the mites. See these mites under a microscope for yourself in the video.
Notice the timecodes below? You can jump to that time in the video to hear more about that topic. If you actually view this video on YouTube, you can click the time codes to automatically jump there. Click here to jump to the video on YouTube.
Highlights of the Clothianidin pesticide
- What's the fastest route from the pesticide to the bee?
- 4ppb Clothianidin in the bees, highly contaminated (toxic to bees)
- Clothianidin is water soluble. When it rains, problem goes away for a while
- 99% of the corn is treated. 70-80% of soybeans are treated
- Growers don't have many choices in buying untreated seed
- Sub-lethal affects still in investigation
- Air-powered planters are a problem in that they blow the talc all over
- Morale of the story... if you are around agricultural, this is a very real problem for you
- Talk to the farmer to get a heads up and you can try to keep your bees inside
- You can put sprinklers out top make the bees think it's raining
- 12:35 during pollen season bees cycle pollen rapidly
- 12:56 Pollen feeding experiment
- 13:36 Neonicotinoids, good for us, bad for the bees
Highlights of Mites, and bees that bite them! 16:57
- Two traits in bees that are important to mite resistence (Grooming behavior, and VSH "Varroa Sensitive Hygiene)
- 18:13 The proportion of chewed mites is a reliable measure of grooming behavior
- 19:46 Look at these chewed mites under a microscope!
- Not sure yet how repeatable this is based on current data
- 26:39 Can you do this yourself in your own apiary?
- 26:58 The front legs on a mite are called pedipalps.
- Generally, Italians make a lot of brood... so they have a lot of mites :(
- 30:40 If mites are out of hand, Dr. Hunt's group treats with Api-Gard (syntehtic Thymol) and they re-queen.
- 33:52 Look for the VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) trait in your bees! (low mite reproduction)
- 37:12 Before mites, typical failure rate of hives was around 10%, now we're losing about 30%
- 37:50 How to use Oxalic acid, a naturally occuring acid in plants, effective for mite control when bees are broodless.
- 43:34 Deformed wing virus and the interaction with bees
- 45:20 Using drone frames to deal with mites
- 47:26 Last look at various mites under a microscope
Find out more about Dr. Hunt and his work at: http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/beehive
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