Spring is springing into action and the girls are busy taking advantage of it. Locally the word is that winter losses are similar to last year. 30-60% losses. Some more some less. Across the pond, the bees in Europe have fared about as well as here, other than England where statistics aren’t out yet but their hundred year(or longer) flooding had to have severe impacts on their hives. I got word of a major die off in Southern Italy, 500 + hives in an area known to be an area low on pesticides. Wasn’t able to get any specifics but it happened quick like CCD. (in Europe, 200-300 hives is the average size of a commercial beekeeping business). Two departments over from where I was in France, major losses were reported, whole outfits losing everything. Apparently they believe this situation is tied in with pesticides being used to fight some other critter. The battle continues… France is following suit to other European efforts to elevating people’s awareness and sensitivity to pollinators by introducing its new “Bee Friendly” program. www.certifiedbeefriendly.org
SOBA Bee School is April 19th for those interested being involved with the Bee’s. Info at www.southernoregonbeekeepers.org
If you haven’t already taken advantage of the warmer weather we’ve been having, now is the time to check out your winged friends. For those with winter survivors, the following is a few things you should attend to, to help the girls along as much as possible.
1. Its typical for the hive to move up to the upper supers over the winter. When taking the lid off the hive you may see that the super is completely full of bees and brood. The first thought people make is, (oh, I need to add a super already). However when we take the top super off to check out the lower one we will find that the bees may actually only be occupying the upper fringes of that lower super. Bees have a natural tendency to work upwards. Rather than adding another super above them, switch the full super to the bottom, and the more empty super to the top. With our current conditions they will fill that box up in a hurry. In a couple weeks ‘B ready’ to add another super, ‘BEFORE’ its full, to avoid swarming. It will be during this time while adding the third super that you can ‘manipulate frames’ in the hive to further decrease the swarming tendencies of the bee’s.
2. Feeding time. Even though there is a lot of good bloom now, one should still verify the hive has plenty of food. It is not uncommon for the queens to get over excited this time of year and lay more eggs than what the bees can safely protect from cold nights and mornings. Its for this reason I suggest waiting to do any frame manipulations until the second box starts to get full. In addition all this new brood needs to be fed. And they need a lot. Don’t forget, there is a difference between a ‘skinny bee’ and a ‘fat bee’. Things are drying out pretty good now so its safe to switch from dry feed over to a 2/1 syrup. Also suggested is keeping your pollen and nutrient sub’s going. Rule of thumb, if they’re eating it, keep feeding it. Unless you know there is a good necter flow going (yes, bees can be lazy and get used to feeding at the ‘trough’ rather than getting outside and working as they should be) reduce the syrup but keep the pollen sub going.
2. If you had any winter losses, now is the time to dismantle and clean those hives. If you have frames that still have honey and pollen, add them to the surviving hives. If you have more frames like this available and are planning on starting more nucs this spring, save those frames to add with them when you get them. Babies always need all the help they can get.
3. If you failed to get your first mite treatments done back in January, its time to decide what (if anything, poor things) you’re going to do. As the bees build up, the mites are there to follow.
BUG’S Last summer I’d posted about Beneficial Bugs. A friend had gotten his hands on whats called a predatory mite. These bugs are reputed to focus strictly on the varroa mites in the hive and not the bee brood or bees.We never got any proven results, my one winter survivor which had received the treatment got lost in the California almond shuffle so we’re not able to follow up on it. Meanwhile though Dr. Sagili with OSU received a grant to do a full study on the predatory mites. It will be interesting to hear the results. Would be great to have a good mite that kills the bad ones.
Over the winter more bad news about our bee problems. ABJ put out news of new research finding that pathogens are being spread across the pollinator board from the flowers they are all visiting/sharing. There will be a lot more to follow on this new discovery, but apparently they feel its having particular bad effects on our Bubble bees.
Haven’t heard anymore on the predatory fly that switched from Bumble bees to honey bees. There was a lot of talk last spring about it, it was being found particularly around the bay area.
Chemical bugs. More and more coming out how what was once considered ‘benign’ is now being found to be toxic. And water is a carrier… Not aware of any research being done on the possible effects our radioactive fallout from Fukashima may be having on our pollinators. Disappointing there isn’t more world focus on getting something done over there to stem the continuing ‘tides’ of air/water radiation/pollution we’re receiving…
As it becomes more and more apparent we need to be focusing on our environment, unfortunately the valiant and noble individuals that are, continue to be oppressed by the ‘chemical oligarchs’. Stateside we have an organic grower who’s taken the battle on against them to try and save his organic farm. While in France I became involved with doing my part by voting to save an organic grape producer from going to jail. His crime, not using the pesticides the state ordered all grape growers(organic or not) to use whether they were having problems or not. This guy has been an organic farmer for years and has all the (organic) answers to fight any of the problems his vines could face. Even though he has the science validating his methods, the state is condemning him (to prison) because he refused to contaminate his soils as they ordered him and all others to do. The state sent people out to verify everyone had done it…if you would like to ‘B involved’ in helping this guy out, here is the website (in French but you can still fill in the lines).Emmanuel Giboulot is his name The site is l’Institut pour la Protection de la Santé Naturelle http,www.ipsn.eu/ or go direct to the page here, fill out name and email and click the the green ‘soutien’ button. http://ipsn.eu/petition/viticulteur/index.php
I’m happy to say there are a half million already on his side, but he needs a million to stay out of jail…
BUD’S Word is the weather was great in the almonds and the bee’s are doing well. Good mating season been going on so the first nuc’s and queens are soon to arrive. Much earlier than previous years, in principle should have better early queens also. Got bloom going on everywhere here now and hopefully all the current plums blooming are loaded with nectar besides their needed pollen. Pears are starting and even seen some apples and peaches getting an early start. Our wild brush and trees will be starting soon now.
Sainfoin Drought resistant, meaning ‘Climatic Change’ resistant, this plant truly has within it the values attributed to it by its name. Translation for Sainfoin is “Holy Hay” or “Healthy Hay”. Believing I was already fairly well versed with the plant from all the information the universities stateside have, across the pond I found out much more about it. More importantly, scientific info further substantiating its wonderful qualities. Europe is recognizing these qualities at a large scale now and the European Union is financing many research projects around it in different countries there. It is recognized as a plant with qualities that are needed to resist climate change not just as a forage product but directly assisting in reducing green house gases, water conservation, besides soil conservation. It is a fantastic food source for pollinators, birds besides animals. England has two major projects going. http://sainfoin.eu/ and http://legumeplus.eu/ both within departments of the University of Reading, coordinated by Dr Irene Mueller-Harvey who has graciously sent and consented to me using their materials. Dr. Islam with the University of Wyoming has also contributed their material concerning Sainfoin Please go to the Sainfoin section of the website for all the detailed information. I’m unable to put all the information I have, at present, up on the site. More can be furnished by email. Checkout this Utube link to listen to one sainfoin grower whose family has been growing it for generations. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6J7CWuK3R4