Quarterly update for IBA Newsletter

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.

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. 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!

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