• February 2017 – Paul’s Newsletter

    Date: 2017.03.01 | Category: Newsletter | Tags:

    It’s late February  and things are beginning to bloom all over.  Azalea’s and Red Buds are looking like they will bust out all over any day now.  The bees are foraging with a vengeance.  I left my shop door open Sunday with some old dead-outs stacked up near the entrance and the bees found them.  Hundreds, if not thousands of my girls were in my shop so thick there was no room for me.  I turned off all the lights and covered the windows with tarps so that the only light they could see was the open door.  That got most of them out, but I still had hundreds of dead bees on my shop floor yesterday and today.  Note to self:  don’t leave the shop door open again.
    All of you missed a wonderful Georgia Beekeepers Association meeting in Griffin last weekend.  I know all of you missed it because Jim Ellis and I were the only CVBA members there.  You missed a great chance to learn from the professors and chat with fellow beekeepers.  I encourage all of you to consider joining the GBA.  It is well worth your time and money.
    I finished inspecting the rest of my hives this past week (5 or 6 is all I can handle without a break).  While inspecting, I did my hive body reversals and continued to treat with the oxalic/glycerin shop towels I wrote about earlier (credit Randy Oliver from California).  I really like that method because it doesn’t seem to bother the bees at all.  No sooner do I lay the moist towel over the brood than bees begin to crawl all over the towel.  I had a few hives in which the bees had not moved up or were all scattered around the hive bodies (which I left alone), but most were all in the top brood box, which I reversed to give them room to continue moving up in the hive.
    I found a few drone cells in a couple of my hives but I’m waiting now for warm sunny days to start at the beginning again, looking for drone and swarm cells.  Do remember it takes a drone 24 days to hatch (from egg to bee) and an additional 10 days for him to sexually mature.  It only takes a new queen 18 days to hatch (from egg to bee) and a few days after that to mature.  It is NOT too early to look for swarm cells.  Beekeepers in Savannah reported active swarms already and Jim Ellis told me Saturday he had already had a swarm call.
    Finding swarm cells really is a gift if you have any desire to split some hives (which also serves as a swarm deterrent).   When you find a swarm cell, locate the old queen and move her to a NUC box along with half the honey/pollen and brood, leaving the frame with the swarm cell(s) in the original hive along with half the honey/pollen and brood.  Move that NUC with half the bees/honey/pollen/brood and the old queen 2 miles away.  Fill up the old hive with frames and foundation and now you have two colonies of bees.  After a few weeks when the new queen has hatched and mated, you can move your NUC back to your yard and put them into a full size hive.  One hive is now two.  Couldn’t be easier.
    My hives were all full of honey and pollen, so I have stopped all feeding, but you need to make that determination for your own hives.  Inspect.  Try to lift them from behind.  If they’re heavy, you’re probably good but better to pop the top and inspect.  When I inspect my hives, I remove and inspect every frame in the top box, then move it aside and do the same with the bottom box.  You should be doing this now.
    If It seems light or if you do not see a good amount of food, keep feeding.  From now until the honey flow begins in earnest around April 1st, your bees are in danger of starving.  Two or three cold days or two or three rainy days and they can starve if they don’t have sufficient stores.
    A quick word about pesticides.  In our area of the state, we really don’t have heavy agriculture and that’s where the greatest danger from which pesticides come.   Pesticides can be a problem, but we are not at great risk from agricultural spraying.  Although I’ve read about and seen pictures of pesticide kills, I’ve never actually seen one in real life.  If you spray pesticides for any reason or can influence a neighbor who does, make sure to spray late in the afternoon around dusk and never, ever spray blooms the bees visit during the day.  Spray only after the blooms have dropped.
    As I listen to lectures and attend classes at state meetings, I have noticed the “experts” are now spending a lot of time on Varroa and less and less time on Neonicotinoids (a pesticide infused in seeds).  I’ve even seen a couple of studies that discount Neonics as a problem.  A real turn-around from a few years ago when everything from Colony Collapse Disorder to Global Warming was being blamed on neonics.  The jury is still out, I guess.
    – Paul Berry, member CVBA