Beneficial Bugs

Everyone is familiar with our beautiful little Lady Bugs, and the fascinating alien looking predator  Praying Mantis. There are so many other bugs that are beneficial to us, our gardens, and our environment. The vast majority unknown by the common person. My oldest ‘mentee”, showed up one day with one I was unfamiliar with. A Mite, that eats Mites! (or so purported). But heh, he bought them, and so why not try them out? He administered three of his hives, and we did the same with two of my demonstration hives, both which had yet to have any mite control done.

predatory mite2IMG_0276mite application1IMG_0280I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated over the fact there could be a critter, that lives off of eating the beekeepers worst nightmare Varroa.  This is the link to the people working with this Beneficial Bug. www.niagarabeeway.com

Meantime, our seasons are turning. The bees are working diligently to prepare for it. Propolis is being made in profusion, and now is a great time to collect this beneficial  product.

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VICTORY for Ashland Beekeepers! RANDY’S PRESENTATION

In a world where our pollinators are disappearing, its a great relief to hear that a proposed TAX on beekeepers has been stood down. Its hoped that a solution can be found between all parties  surrounding this issue. As the national magazine states, our bees are in peril, as is our children’s future.

IMG_0268IMG_0270Randy’s presentation is the following, “The Biology of Bee Husbandry”.
His evolving presentation on the biology of the colony over the course of the year, explaining the dynamics of nutrition, age structure, colony growth, swarming, pathogen and parasite levels, and their relationship to colony health and optimum bee husbandry.

Don’t miss out on Southern Oregon’s biggest beekeeping event ever!

Pollinator Dearth plants, Randy Oliver

!WARNING! There are companies selling pretreated plants that will KILL the pollinators they attract! If you are planting a pollinator garden, VERIFY the plants you buy are safe. We are in the process of building a list of Dearth Period plants. We are in the most important part of the season right now to ensure the bees have their needed stores and are healthy to survive the winter. Feeding is important this time of year, especially Pollen Patties. Now available at the Oregon Bee Store.  Here are just a few of the first important Dearth Period plants that can be planted in your garden helping ensure some forage is available during this time of year where forage is minimal.

This Tulip plant excretes nectar from the outside of the flower besides inside and furnishes pollen also. All pollinators love it! Tulip 1Tulip Here’s another blooming now that everything loves.IMG_0266 Here’s another beauty,

IMG_0267Find more in the Dearth Plant section.

Time magazine cover, “A World Without Bees” has quotes from Randy Oliver. We are fortunate to have him coming next month, don’t miss it! It will sell out.

 

Heat and Dearth, Instructional hives, Bee Garden, Sainfoin

Ooff, never thought 90 would be nice until after all this time of 100’s. Hopefully your girls got water nearby to aid them in cooling their hive. Two weeks of very cool weather and then jumping into the high heat turned what was hoped to be a good Blackberry crop into a low producer again this year. This high heat is continuing to affect the nectar flows. Now its time to work on removing any extra honey you may have and verify stores and pollen are in abundance. Many beekeepers are feeding their hives sugar and pollen patties already.  Its also the time to start worrying about other issues typical this time of year with your hive.Once removing your honey its mite treatment time, helping to ensure maintaining your bees in a healthy state for the upcoming winter. The hive is at its near peak of bees, and also, mites. Unfortunately these high temps prevent utilizing most mite treatments. B prepared though for when that cooler trend hits. In truth, we are at the end of the bee year. If a hive isn’t in good condition by October, it will not likely survive the winter. As such, the bee year starts in August/September. Its our last opportunity to ensure the health of our bees. We’re entering robbing and yellow jacket season also. Reducing your entrances is important, use screen if you don’t have a screen bottom board to allow continued air flow. Reduce to 2″ opening. Its also the last chance to replace a bad queen. Verify your brood patterns and brood health.

IMG_0231IMG_0234IMG_0232Healthy brood pattern with good honey/pollen stores

The two instructional hives are 4 and 3 boxes of bees. The 4 story hive is in excellent health, with full honey and pollen stores. Solid brood patterns both capped and fresh.

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The three story hive when taken apart seemed to be fine. However with closer inspection it was found to have several problems. Light on all stores, spotty brood patterns, 5-6 day old queen cells. The hive had an extra super besides there being a minimal nectar flow at this time so none of the normal swarm inducing factors are there. Further close  inspection revealed hatching workers with some dead at the point of emerging from their cells. Continued inspection found some dead larvae that was stringy when pulled out of the capped cell with a hole in it. Although the hive smelled fine, the stringy brood is an indicator of foul brood. In short there are many things to be attended to with this hive, medication to be the first thing addressed since the disease appears to have just started. We’ll try and save it.

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Initial looks can be deceiving, that’s why close inspection is always a requirement.

The survivor colony has filled its two supers. It is doing well.

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We got started on a Bee Garden on the farm. Still under construction, but we got the stump from Tou Velle cleaned out and set into place. The introduced swarm has established itself inside.

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We are anxiously awaiting the results of the viability of growing Sainfoin here in the valley.  Dr. Islam Phd., from the University of Wyoming, is a leading expert on Sainfoin already in charge of 6 different research units. He’s been given the primary soil surveys of our area to analyze, and report his conclusions. Meantime, we’re preparing a plot here on the farm to grow it.

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We leave the milkweed where possible for our Monarch’s.

 

 

 

Nectar Flowing

A welcome Spring is producing lots of nectar and the bees are busy collecting it. The Madrone is starting to bloom and if you live in an area where there is a lot of it you will need to add supers. A strong hive can fill two westerns in a week, so B aware. Hopefully there is spring honey on the way, the best for spring allergies.

Our survivor colony is now on the farm and we got a super added. Once we get the new queen upstairs we’ll put an excluder on to work the hive out of the original comb. We’ll be looking for her to mark at one of the bee classes shortly. Beginner class this Saturday 10-12, go to Bee Class on the site for more info.

An old friend in Bordeaux emailed me very distressed. Walking in a 20 acre park near his home, on a warm spring day, trees, shrubs, and plants all in bloom. He could not find ONE kind of bee pollinating.

Report: Deadly Human-Made ‘Cocktail’ Threatening World’s Pollinators

Decline of ‘unsung heroes’ will have drastic impacts on world’s ecosystems, food supply

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

A “cocktail” of human-made “pressures” are threatening insect pollinators across the world, whose decline will have “profound environmental, human health and economic consequences,” according to a new report released Monday by the Insect Pollinators Initiative.

According to the study Threats to an Ecosystem Service: Pressures on Pollinators, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the steady disappearance of these essential creatures cannot be tied to one factor, but to a multitude of anthropogenic reasons such as “the loss of food resources in intensively-farmed landscapes,” pesticides, climate change, and “the spread of alien species and diseases.”

Dr. Adam Vanbergen from the UK’s Center for Ecology & Hydrology and science coordinator of the IPI led the review and stated:

There is no single smoking gun behind pollinator declines, instead there is a cocktail of multiple pressures that can combine to threaten these insects. For example, the loss of food resources in intensively-farmed landscapes, pesticides and diseases are individually important threats, but are also likely to combine and exacerbate the negative impacts on pollinators.

“Pollinators are the unsung heroes of the insect world and ensure our crops are properly pollinated so we have a secure supply of nutritious food in our shops,” said co-author Professor Simon Potts from the University of Reading. “The costs of taking action now to tackle the multiple threats to pollinators is much smaller than the long-term costs to our food security and ecosystem stability. Failure by governments to take decisive steps now only sets us up for bigger problems in the future.”

Join WBI, and join in to work towards finding solutions. Upper Rogue Pollinator Project.

Survivor II

Our survivor hive had grown dramatically in the last two weeks. Having already added on two new large slabs of honeycomb filled with brood besides nectar and pollen.

Feral Survivor II

We prepared the workplace.

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Once set up we began to measure and cut the comb to fit into the prepared frames. The smaller pieces being carefully placed in an empty 3/4 box below the frames to maintain the cluster together.

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Before placing the pieces of comb we looked to find the queen, however failed to find her. Our cameraman failed to show so we quickly became too covered with honey to continue taking more pictures. The colony was in full swarm mode, multiple queen cells both capped and uncapped were everywhere. Drones were prolific and hatching as well as workers. It turned out the hive did go into the wall. As such, our queen may have been there at this time. Due to the fragile frame makeup, we left the hive there to collect the outer bees besides give the queen cells time to hatch and mate. During this time the bees will stabilize all the inserted comb allowing to move the hive without risking damage at a later date. 5 frames were filled and we added undrawn frames to fill the super, allowing for continued growth. The bees were incredibly calm, and non-defensive.

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In two weeks there should be another new laying queen (if we didn’t get her already) and we will bring the colony to the farm for all to enjoy and monitor. Meanwhile, the hives within the wall will be monitored also. A fascinating example of a survivor species.

The Southern Oregon Beekeepers Association, SOBA BeeDay was a huge success and had a great turnout. Sarah the Beegirl gave a fantastic beginner presentation, followed by OSU professor Ramesh Sagili presenting about Nutrients and Health. Weather could have been better, however we did get to play with the girls a bit showing our beginners some hands on basics about the bees. It was a Beeutiful day for all.

If you haven’t heard, RCC- Earth Day is April 25 at the Redwood Campus (free entry)  This link gives all the details. http://www.roguecc.edu/psa/2012/N12-46%20Earth%20Day%20extravaganza%20planned%20at%20RCC%20Redwood%20Campus.pdf

Beginner Bee class dates are posted on the site under Bee Classes.

Hope you will B come involved!

 

 

SURVIVOR

 

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This is what WBI is all about! When beekeepers are having such a hard time keeping bees alive INSIDE the box. How does a colony like this survive a winter OUTSIDE?!!  This colony is on the Northside of the building, fully exposed to wind and everything else (including others helping themselves to the colony’s food reserves). Indicators show its been there at least a full year! Feral hives are documented as being smaller than normal hives. There is nothing small about this one, especially not yet into Spring. This wild hive is HUGE! This is the type of Genetically advanced bee the Upper Rogue Pollinator Project is interested in developing to take all us beekeepers back to the ‘Pre-Mite’ era. An era where keeping bees alive was EASY!

If you look closely there is a knot hole, which is the entrance to the sister/mother hive from where the exposed colony originated from.

We are preparing to make a video of the removal of the exposed hive to bring and add it to the Bee Garden at Wild Bee Honey Farm/Oregon Bee Store, where we can observe and graft Queens from it.

‘B’ involved, ‘B’ a WBI member.

Spring has sprung! The Queens are laying heavily now in preparation for it. It’s time for you to ‘B’ prepared also. In the next weeks lots of new baby bees are going to hatch and fill the nest. We need to have our supers ready to add to prevent swarming. Currently the weather has allowed plenty of flying time for the bees to collect what they need for their growth. However weather can change, and prevent the bees from collecting everything they need. We should have pollen patties and sugar at the ready besides verifying we have all our tools and other materials prepared to shorten the time the hive is opened up and minimizing the stress to the bees. ‘B’ aware of the temperature, pick the warm part of the day, always above 55 degrees (65-80 best). The shorter amount of time the hive is opened up the better. Avoid breaking up the cluster to find the Queen. Start from the side and work your way into the side of the cluster until you get to the brood area to inspect the queens laying/brood pattern. This will give you the information you need how the hive is doing, without actually seeing the Queen. There should be bands of pollen stored above the brood in an arc. If not, add your Pollen Pattie. Keep feeding if there isn’t noticeable honey stores. Although there is lots of bloom, nectar flow depends on temperatures and the time available for the bees to collect it. They require a lot of energy this time of year and can starve.

Mites/Disease- Unless your going organic, chemical treatment free, Todd Balsiger has a great article concerning mite treatments in the March section of  ‘this month in the hive’ on the OSBA website. There is a lot of other good information on the site for all. Smell your hive, it should smell sweet. If there is a sour smell, use Fumagil-B, if bad rotty smell include Terramycin (always follow directions). We’ve had better than average weather so most health issues have been reduced due to it. Everyone agrees, keeping your hive healthy with good nutrients is the best defense against all inner hive problems.

If your getting ready to buy nuc’s, checkout the Beekeeping section on WBI’s website for information regarding what you should be considering when buying a nuc.

Wild Bee Beekeeping Classes

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Wild Bee Beekeeping classes are starting with a free presentation to the public March 23rd at 1:00pm. The presentation will cover the school itself, aspects of the Upper Rogue Pollinator Project, followed by a Power Point Presentation ‘Beekeeping and Environments’ followed by general discussion. The presentation is being held at the Eagle Point Community center, 17 S. Buchanan St. . Go to the School Events section of the site for map details.

I’m also happy to announce that my ebook, ‘So, You Want to B a Beekeeper’, is now available online at Smashwords.com for $2.99. The audio-visual version will soon be available for $4.99.

Cevennes

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A weekend get away from the computer. The Cevennes Mountains resemble a lot like S. Oregon.

While with family friends we stopped by to talk with Sylvian and checkout his new Honey House.

Everything brand new.

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Sylvian with his Dad run around 200 hives, some seen here. They never leave the mountain areas. They focus on raising Honey, Pollen, and Royal Jelly. Still with their own difficulties, they manage to keep their hive losses in an acceptable range. Honey production has dropped over the years, and they’re changing over to Buckfast Queens hoping to increase honey yields. He noted the Buckfast aren’t as mean as the Germanic black bees they were using. Next I’ll be visiting with Daniel, Port des Cevennes.

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