LCBA's June 14 & 21st Mentor Workshops focused on getting new (or nearly-new) beekeepers hands-on practice pulling frames & assessing brood patterns, then deciding on frame manipulations. At these 2 workshops, 33 beekeepers worked with 6 mentors. Scroll down for photos. . . .
Above, LCBA mentor Kevin Reichert talking hive management with a group of our June 14 workshop participants. Each of 3 mentors worked with a group of 6 or 7 attendees. Below, host Dan Maughan administers powdered sugar to knock down phoretic ("hitchhiker") Varroa mites on bees in one colony.
Below, workshop attendees watch Dan brushing sugar into frames:
Below, Dan replaces inner cover after sugar dusting:
Below, carefully sliding inner cover back into place to avoid crushing bees:
Below, bees look like little ghosts after being dusted with powdered sugar:
Below, slider board from beneath a hive is examined to find mites among normal hive debris after several days' natural drop. 50 mites on a board is often viewed as the threshold at which a beekeeper should take action. To treat or not to treat is an ongoing debate (to try to save a colony - or to let the strongest bees survive to breed?). For a good overview of how to use sticky boards, visit Randy Oliver's Scientificbeekeeping.org, or click here:
In a different part of host Dan's apiary, mentor Grant Inmon walks attendees through a hive inspection. Note the shelter Dan built to shield bees from drenching downpours; this lets bees to make "cleansing flights" in inclement weather, as bees will not normally eliminate waste inside their hives (photo, Larissa Maughan)
Below, LCBA mentor Susanne Weil & member Amanda Cooke (bare-handed beekeeper) examine a frame with other workshop participants. Trained by Gunther Hauk (see film Queen of the Sun), Amanda prefers gloveless beekeeping to remind her how important it is to move slowly, gently, & respectfully when inspecting bees (photo, Larissa Maughan).
Above, more inspecting (photo, Larissa Maughan); below, mentors Kevin Reichert & Grant Inmon with host Dan Maughan (photo by webmistress):
Below, a couple of Dan's 30+ colonies: thanks again to Dan & Larissa for being great hosts!
Below, at our June 21 workshop, mentor Tomme Trikosko points to a hatching drone with her hive tool - note the drone's characteristically large eyes, the better to see queens on their mating flights:
Above, LCBA President Norm Switzler guides new member Kevin in gently removing frames during our June 21 hive inspection. The frame holder at the right of the hive box lets beekeepers place non-brood frames outside the hive so that more of the interior of the hive can be viewed. One wouldn't normally place brood frames on the rack outside the hive to avoid shaking out eggs or larvae - or potentially damaging the queen.
Above, our host Bob's bees on the move - they settled down quickly as the inspection continued. Below, a frame with brood - the straw-colored capped cells, left & middle - and honey arch, upper right - the white cells:
Below, member "Grubby" Marnel holds frame as Norm and workshop participants assess brood pattern:
Above, supersedure cells - the peanut-shaped protrusions on the middle of the frame - suggest that the colony's queen is failing or has died, & the colony seeks to replace her with a new queen; below, Norm holds the frame up to look to see whether there are larvae inside these open cells:
As it turned out, the queen cells here contained no larvae. In this hive, outer frames with a spotty brood pattern gave way to inner frames dense with capped brood & larvae, and plenty of bees. The verdict: this hive had re-queened itself successfully, and the new queen was busily repopulating the hive, whose congested frames signaled the need to add a 2nd hive body, as our host did that afternoon.
Above, mentor Tomme Trikosko holds up a frame for assessment: if you enable zoom, you can see the mottled pale-gold look of capped honey cells.
Above, empty comb in a hive that had swarmed. Note the reddish tinge to the lower left comb - this coloration is a sign that the comb has been used for multiple generations of bees. It's good practice to rotate out comb every three years to prevent buildup of possible toxin in the wax. Rotation is often done during spring management of over-wintered hives.
Below, Tomme & workshop attendee find swarm cells:
Above, swarm cells closer up - note holes in the sides of several, indicating that the first queen out had slashed them open to kill her sisters & eliminate them as competition to rule. Below, President Norm carefully cuts out queen cells that were potentially viable to place in members' queenless hives.
Below, cutting carefully to ensure that as much of the cell as possible remains intact:
Below, several workshop participants discussing findings in the welcome shade. . . .