On Sept 7, LCBA members met at mentorship coordinator Gary Stelzner's apiary to discuss fall management concerns.
Starting over donuts & coffee, we discussed what to look for in an inspection and had a lively debate: "to treat or not to treat" for Varroa mites and Nosema? Should beekeepers treat in hope of protecting bees ~ & risk mites' building up resistance to those treatments? Or should we avoid resistance by not treating & hope for the strongest colonies to survive & breed our next bee generations? For details on this question, see the meeting notes from our September 2013 newsletter: click here.
Next, out in the apiary, we looked at colonies & saw how Mite-Away Quick Strips are administered. Below, scenes from the workshop...
Above, longtime member Don Hershey & Mentorship Coordinator Gary Stelzner prep the smoker; below, smoking the first hive prior to inspection:
Above, many bees clustered on a honey frame. Beneath the bees you can see empty cells, which the bees were busy filling with nectar. Below, smoking a gap where the frame above was pulled: on this frame, we inserted the first Mite-Away Quick Strip, which targets Varroa mites, found in this colony through an earlier inspection. MAQS fumes are intense, pervasive, & penetrate capped brood - thus killing Varroa mites infesting larvae - however, they can also kill queens. In discussion before cracking hives, we judged it best for overall colony health not to place the strips directly on brood cells, but rather to put them between brood boxes on one side of each hive.
Below, LCBA President Norm Switzler tries to maintain a nose-friendly distance as he holds up a pungent Mite-Away Quick Strip:
Below, Norm's expression says no distance is enough:
Above, a MAQS nestled atop side frames in the bottom brood box; below, close-up with several masochistic bees crawling on the MAQS:
Above & below, spotty brood pattern on a hive previously identified as struggling with Nosema (at our June 22 workshop on diagnosing bee disease); despite being treated with an infusion of Fumagillin in sugar water solution, this colony's fate hangs in the balance:
Above, members look on as Norm & Melanie put the inner cover back on our last hive of the day; below, Gary leads a post-workshop discussion over coffee:
Oh, also donuts & banana bread; hefting all those hive boxes works up an appetite ;)
Above, Dahlia displays a frame exhibiting exactly what beekeepers want to see: a frame with an arch of honey and pollen arcing over the top over a thick healthy brood pattern.
Ideally, a western Washington hive should have 50 to 65 pounds of stored honey to over-winter successfully: according to WSBA's apprentice beekeeping text, "this amounts to 8 full deep combs of honey in the 2nd brood box ... & 2 - 4 frames in the lower brood chamber." These supplies may weigh up to 120 pounds.
Below, LCBA members cluster around a hive prior to inserting Mite-Away Quick Strips to combat Varroa:
Below, Mentorship Coordinator Gary Stelzner, flanked by member Gordon Bellevue, holding frame:
Below, Dahlia holds up a black jacket - a color variant of yellow jackets (sometimes confused with the larger bald faced hornet because of its black & white coloration). Many of these honey bee enemies were present: a strong colony can resist their attacks, but putting up yellow jacket traps is a worthwhile precaution. For more about yellow jacket management, click here.
Below, Dahlia holds up 2 yellow jackets, stuck together when they stung her glove:
Above, Gary & Norm show first year beekeeper Melanie some hive inspection tips; below, Norm & Melanie gently remove burr comb from frame tops to make frames easier to remove & replace:
Below, Melanie holds up a frame for inspection. Note that this is a super frame: Gary let one of his colonies build brood comb in supers rather than deeps ~ lighter & easier for a beekeeper to lift, & bees were thriving:
Below, member Kent Yates gently pulls a frame bare-handed; many beekeepers advocate suitless, gloveless beekeeping since it promotes our being more slow & careful in working our bees:
Below, after the workshop, Gary showed samples of wax moth larvae & other pests under his dissecting microscope:
Below, Gary readies a slide:
Below, member Mike Helms views wax moth larvae:
Below, President Norm looks at a prehistoric bee encapsulated in amber through the microscope: