**a bee in the sky**

December 27, 2008, 12:12 pm
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Again! I have a new username in BioBees too if anyone is interested… Silentbuzz. Had some issues signing in as Beesilly. Link will be posted soon…

How Mite Counts are affected by Open SBBs.
August 14, 2008, 10:26 pm
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This was posted in the BioBee Fourms…

Experimentation of an Anti-Varroa Screened Bottom Board in the Context of Developing an Integrated Pest Management Strategy for Varroa Infested Honeybees in the Province of Quebec

 accomplished within the framework of the program: “Appui au développement de l’agriculture et de l’agroalimentaire en region 2000-2003” of the “Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentaiton du Québec, Canada (Regional district of l’Estrie)

Final Report
Jean Pierre Chapleau,
March 2002
translated and revised
March 2003


Validation of the function principle of the anti-varroa bottom board

The principle of the AV bottom board hinges on the hypothesis that some varroa mites are alive when they fall naturally off of adult bees. We wanted to verify the validity of this hypothesis. By sampling six hives for natural mortality during a period of 24 hours, we observed that 16% of fallen varroa mites were alive (figure 11). In his study, C. Webster (4) concluded that the percentage of live fallen varroa mites varied from 39% to 50%. The proportion of living fallen varroa mites seems to vary according to different conditions. The confirmation that a part of the falling varroa mites are still alive validates the principle behind the use of the AV bottom board and explains the positive results obtained during the 2001 trials.

The thermal factor and the anti-varroa bottom board


The important difference in the global results obtained in 2000 (29.2% more varroa mites) and 2001 (37% less varroa mites) for sub group AV suggest a confirmation of the negative thermal influence assumed in the 2000 trials. In 2000, all of the anti-varroa bottom boards were operated with the bottom opened while in 2001, with the exception of the YBO group, the bottom boards were operated with the bottom closed. To our knowledge, this is the only operational factor that was systematically different between the 2000 and 2001 trials. The results strongly suggest a connection between this factor and the negative results obtained with the use of anti-varroa bottom boards during the 2000 trials. We can legitimately assume that the brood cluster temperature was lowered with the use of the opened anti-varroa bottom board. Numerous references can be found in scientific literature confirming that lower temperature conditions enhance the development of varroa populations. Ingemar Fries (12) states: “(…) mite population seems to grow faster in cooler climates than in warmer areas (…) it has been suggested that climatic factors are decisive in determining the mite population growth although the mechanism remains unclear.” We can believe that a longer period of time in the capped brood stage resulting from a lower temperature favors an increase in the reproductive rate of the varroa mite’s population. An increase of time in the capped brood stage enables the young female varroa mites to reach maturity before the bee emerges from its cell. Kraus and Velthuis (14) found that artificially reducing the brood temperature of colonies had the effect of doubling the mite population in comparison with control groups. Their laboratory tests allowed them to determine that 33 C was the optimal temperature for varroa mite reproduction. Kraus and Velthuis (14) suggest that beekeepers adopt practices that aid colonies in maintaining brood temperature at 35 C. The results obtained by Kraus and Velthuis were not available when planning for the 2000 trials as they were published in October of the same year. Reference to the influence of temperature on the rhythm of natural varroa drop can also be found in recent scientific literature. Thomas C. Webster (4) found that this drop is correlated to the average outdoor daytime temperature. J.T. Ambrose (13) also found (2001) that when infested adult bees were exposed to variable temperatures in laboratory conditions, the percentage of varroa mites falling from the bees increased with the elevation of the ambient temperature. Here again we can deduce that the brood chamber temperature should not be lowered.

To see what others have said about this… look at this link… http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1284.

For more information… check out these 2 other links… http://hirschbachapiary.com/Ventilation.aspx and http://hirschbachapiary.com/Screened_Bottom_Boards.aspx.

Today’s Inspections.
August 14, 2008, 10:08 pm
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Well, it has been about 2 weeks and 4 days since I last inspected my hives and I decided to check up on them today. I inspected them pretty late in the day, about 5:30 in the afternoon. It was the perfect temperature to go into a beehive, not too hot or too cold.

I first went into Hive Anne – and oh my! – have they been doing better! I was half expecting to go in with bees pouring out since it’s been so long since I last checked on them. But no, they weren’t as packed as I was hoping for, but they had lots of comb in all of the frames (2 frames were mediums so I could move them up when I put a super on). This was enough for me to decide to put a empty super with foundation less frames on. I moved one medium frame up to help convince the bees to start moving upwards, and put a empty deep frame in it’s spot. And then I lifted the deep off it’s bottom board, and put it aside. I placed a brand new slatted rack, that I recently just got, on top of the bottom board, and put the deep back on top. Super went on top, and then half of a Global Patty was placed on top of the frames. I carefully placed a new inner cover on top, and closed them all the way up. I may give them more sugar syrup tomarrow, to see if Anne still needs it to help build up more.

I moved on to Hive Bella, and opened the window before taking the roof off. I saw what looked like some cross combing issues, so I thought that i would just scrape it off. But I did not know that they bees had a surprise for me inside. So after carefully moving some top bars aside, I found a quite interesting piece of collapsed comb. It was too big to have just fallen and make a big mess on the bottom. So it was basically wedged in the walls, with a piece folding over the window. If you have no idea on what I might be possibly talking about, look down at the gallery and click on the pictures to get a clear idea of what I’m describing. I was wondering how I would get the comb out, but I decided to leave it until I had the appropriate cut-out tools with me.

I closed up that side of the hive, and decided to just quick open the other side to see if the queen was laying or not. On the third bar I saw the queen herself, and was quite relived that she wasn’t injured in the collapse. Then I couldn’t help myself, I went further in. The saying, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’, went well with me today. But instead, curiosity killed my confidence that I won’t get stung. The bees got angrier at me when I went further into their hive. They started to buzz loudly around my face and sting my suit. I ignored them, thinking they would calm down. But no, they got angry enough that one bee stung my right pinky, and after that I decided to put gloves on, but I could only find one. I put it on and covered my other hand with my suit’s sleeve. They kept stinging my glove and suit, and I started to smell their alarm scent.


I started to carefully but quickly close up, but they didn’t feel much better when I accidentally crushed some of their bee friends between the bars. I finally finished, and slid the other half of the Global Patty under the follower board. Put the roof on, and got out of there. I think they may have been angry because of the stress of the collapse, and because it was so late in the day. It was probably 6 in the evening by then. I don’t think that I have ever received a sting from this colony, so I was a bit bummed out by that. But when I was in the hive, I ignored all their warning signs and continued on. Lesson Learned: When bees start getting angry at you, close up right away before you find yourself in deep trouble!

I picked my new inner cover, slatted rack and Global Patties from BetterBee. I also got a plastic vaorra tray to go underneath my screened bottom board. But they were out of SBBs, so they will ship it in 2 weeks.

I need to do sugar dustings in both hives ASAP! I’ve been delaying too much. I’m going to try to do them every 3 weeks, but doing them every week will get rid of more mites faster. I also need to get a hinged bottom board under Hive Bella. It seems that after all having an open bottom board isn’t helping much with ventilation or mites. I will talk about this more in another post. But for now enjoy the pictures.

Sunday’s Inspection
July 31, 2008, 11:21 pm
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On Sunday I inspected both of my colonies. It was cloudy out, and 74 degrees F. I inspected both of them right before a thunderstorm, not the best time to inspect a colony of bees! But they were both relatively calm, and I received no stings! I took a TON of pictures of Hive Anne, you will see all 10 frames below. They have been doing a lot better, they are building more comb more quickly. After staying of 7 frames of comb for the past 11 weeks, they now have 9 frames with comb! Six of them are filled from top to bottom with comb, three of them are either 1/2 way filled or barely started and the tenth one is empty, but hopefully to be filled soon. So it seems that more hours in the sun can help with nosema! I am a bit worried about the queen. It seems to me that the brood is very spotty[pictures below], but perhaps Anne is still recovering. I will let the bees be! If they think they need a new queen, so be it! These honeybees have lived for thousands of years without the intervention of man, so why are they so suddenly dependent on us to provide them with excellent queens? I want my bees to survive in mother nature’s way, not in man’s way. And I will let them bee.

I have started to feed my bees, Bella has been sucking it all down so fast that I can’t seem to keep up with them! Anne is taking their time, I think because they already have some stores. I also came up with a great way to feed bees without punching holes in lids or having dead, drowned bees. Just get a bag of cheap plastic beads and float them on top of the syrup. Ta-da!

Here are some pictures of queen cells, the queen herself, brood, crazy comb and many other things. In the dark picture, if you click it to enlarge it and look closely, you will see the queen towards the bottom of the frame. Enjoy!

Hive Anne’s Inspection
July 17, 2008, 10:53 pm
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I decided to quickly inspect Anne today. It was 95 degrees F, late afternoon and a very nice day out. I’m planning on moving this hive to a sunnier location, and I picked and readied a spot for it. I placed cinder blocks on level ground, and then put on it, an old 4-feet long I-beam that I found behind my shed. The I-beam limits contact with wet wood/cinder blocks, and slows the rotting of the bottom board. And they provide more ventilation. I inspected the hive quickly, and found a nice fat and golden queen! I wanted to find the queen, so I know that I do have one. I’m worried about her because of nosema. Maybe she’s the replaced queen? If so, she is laying lots of eggs!

This is Hive Anne right now. This picture was taken in the morning. The colony is currently on 7 frames of comb in the white box. I built the medium long hive that is underneath it [the green box]. I was hoping that they would get crowded in the deep, and then move down into the long hive. But no, Anne still hasn’t grown after 9 weeks being there! So what I did today, was lift the colony up and off the long hive, and placed it on a bottom board. I replaced the top entrance/cover with an inner cover and outer cover. The bees were confused that there was no top entrance anymore, but once the fanning started, the girls started marching into the bottom entrance one by one. Then at night, I snuck out and got a piece of foam and put it in the entrance, so no bees would leave to forage tomorrow morning. Then tomorrow morning I’m going to move it and cover the entrance with branches to get the bees to reorient themselves, then quickly take foam off and make a run for it. The girls might be a bit angry about the move.

Hive Bella

Hive Bella

This is Hive Bella. This hive is doing great, it just needs some pollen and sugar syrup, for they have no stores. I hope to check in on them tomorrow, after ‘the move’. I will need to make some sugar syrup and order some pollen patties from BetterBee soon. The little blue thing you see sticking out is the top bar holder. It hold the bar with comb so I can closely observe it with my hands free. Or snap a picture of it. But I have this unusual habit of forgetting the camera whenever it’s time to inspect one of the hives. I will try to take pictures tomorrow… but I cannot promise anything!

I hope that ‘the move’ is successful, and chases away the nosema bug. And I hope that Bella won’t catch the bug! Have a good night all!

July 17, 2008, 3:05 pm
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I believe that Hive Anne has nosema. Nosema is a quiet killer and it infects the digestive system of honeybees. It’s spread from bee to bee by spores, and it limits the ability of bees to digest food. Once a hive has Nosema, the workers replace the infected queen within 3 weeks. I do remember seeing around 10 queen cells last month. Some symptoms are: bees build up slowly and bees appear weak and may shiver and crawl aimlessly around the from of the hive. I know that Hive Anne has built up very slowly, but I have not seen weak, crawling bees in front of the hive. Hive sites that have damp, cold conditions can encourage nosema. Hive Anne is located with early morning sun, and shade all afternoon and evening. It’s damp too. I do not want to treat the hive, because I want to stay away from chemicals. So for now I will move the hive to higher ground, that is less damp and more sunny. It has full sun probably from about 8am to 6pm. I’m not exactly sure, but I will check to see how long the sun is on them for. I am a bit worried that it’s too much sun for them, and that it would cause comb collapse, so I may put some large plants/bushes around it to give it some shade. I’m going to move it either today or tomorrow. I hope that the bees to weather nosema off. We shall see!

The Beeginning.
July 15, 2008, 1:54 pm
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I am a new beekeeper with only 9 weeks worth of experience so far.  I have 2 colonies of bees, both from the same beekeeper. The beekeeper that I got my bees from, raises small/natural cell bees without harsh chemicals of any kind. He also is starting to use only foundation-less frames, instead of forking over money for small-cell foundation. These bees are hybrids that were breed locally to withstand winter better than package bees shipped up from Georgia. 

First, I got a 7 deep-frame nuc on May 11th. I named it Hive Anne, to limit confusion for myself. After inspecting it, I discovered that Anne had 2 frames filled, from top-to-bottom, with honey/nectar. The other five frames contained brood, pollen and some honey. With all this honey, I didn’t bother to feed them. Now I am worried that Hive Anne has nosema. I will go more in depth about this concern in another post.

Second, I went back to the beekeeper three weeks after having Hive Ann and bought a 3 1/2 frame nuc. The forthframe was only 1/2 way filled with comb. So on June 1st, that was the arrival of Hive Bella! I first put it in a 5 frame observation hive, but they got overcrowded quickly, so I decided to cut the comb to fit into my TBH(Top Bar Hive). I ended up with 11 bars that had comb from the cut-out on them. I love TBHs! The bees are noticeably calmer and less stressed out in Hive Bella. Hive Anne is the only hive that has given me stings, so far. These are the 2 hives I have now, and I do hope for more!