Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Article May2000
Nectar Flow "Must Do"
The NECTAR FLOW IS ON! You should have
put about 5 supers of drawn comb on your colonies before the first of May, but
if you did not, and if your bees HAVE NOT ALREADY SWARMED, you should do it
tomorrow rain or shine, or give up beeHAVING because you certainly don't assist
your bees when they need assistance. With no super space or INADEQUATE super
space, those bees are going to swarm and find a new home. If you think your
bees can produce 2-3 supers of honey in May, that means that you must have 4-5
supers of drawn comb in place to store all that thin watery nectar until the
bees can evaporate the water and convert the nectar into honey.
Some members do not have drawn comb (the
most valuable possession of a beekeeper), and, have to use foundation, which
is a whole "new story", because you can NOT use foundation as if it were drawn
comb. TEN frames of foundation (never nine) must be inn a super to get the foundation
properly drawn, and only ONE super of foundation on a colony at one time. When
the bees have drawn 6-7 frames and partially filled them with .nectar, move
the untouched foundation to the center of the super and the partially filled
frames to the outside, and THEN add a second super of 10 frames of foundation,
and repeat the process for the 3rd super, etc..
There is a true old saying: A good beekeeper
has Too Many Supers in place when a nectar flow begins, and Too Few Supers in
place when the nectar flow begins to end. As a nectar flow starts to end (about
May 31 st in Montgomery County), remove some frames (about 10) that are empty
or slightly filled with nectar, and move your fully capped frames to the outside
positions of a super and the uncapped frames to the center of the super. This
encourages capping of all super frames. More important however, if there is
no room in the supers left for any more nectar storage, the bees will push the
queen towards the bottom brood chamber, so they can store the ending nectar
down in the brood chamber. THAT is GOOD, because you really don't need any more
bees until next year, plus food in the brood chamber prevents the bees from
starving in the nectar dearth of July and August. Further, with little or no
nectar flow, the worker bees stop feeding the queen so she won't lay very much
brood that uses up winter stores. Most new and novice beekeepers have never
realized the importance of getting some stores into the brood chamber area for
the dearth of late summer.
Lastly, many beekeepers lose much of their
honey crop because they inspected their colonies T00 MUCH during the nectar
flow! When you blow just a little bit of smoke in a colony to "see how they
are doing", essentially you have stopped most of their work of foraging, evaporating
nectar, ripening honey, and comb building for 12-24 hours as they blow away
the smoke, repair comb that you damaged, reseal seams with propolis, and regurgitate
honey that they had swallowed in preparation for finding a new home. If you
had done the many jobs necessary ON TIME prior to the nectar flow, there is
little need of inspection during the flow.
UGH! it is DUES Time!
Even though stamps, copying costs, paper,
etc have gone up in price since we started 16 years ago, the dues are still
$10/year. I know of no group that holds 1 1 meetings per year, sends out at
least 12 HoneyPot News Bulletins per year plus you get maybe 14-15 groups of
George's PINK PAGES for a measly $10 per year. It is a pain in the fanny to
write, print, address, fold, staple and stamp those 160 "parcels" each and every
month, but if they help you be a more knowledgeable beekeeper,- it is worth
every ache and pain. I hope you are enjoying the writings of Susie Robinson's
dry wit, and Bill Miller's Hive Works and the fattening Yum-Yum or the month.
I have received many compliments and THANKS for the PINK PAGES,and they are
much in demand over the internet; and now most of the nation's beekeepers know
where Montgomery County, MD is located. Each year, I ask each member to add
something extra to the $10 dues to help pay for the cost of all of our mailings.
I have received all kinds of different amounts from $1 to $50, and all of it
goes in the Association bank account, none in my pocket.
This year we now have THREE club colonies
in our apiary for you to work with as a learning experience under the supervision
of one of our NINE MASTER BEEKEEPERS. All you have to do is ASK, and you will
get personal tutoring FREE. No money was spent to provide the hives. I had plenty
of equipment no longer in use because of the d--- strokes, so I just donated
them to the MCBA. The bees are Wiibanks Italians, not my Carniolans.
Our dues period is from May to next May.
I am not a bank clerk or accountant. I get the mailings out on time, we always
have our monthly meeting on the second Wednesday of each month, so I would hope
that you act promptly and pay your dues in the month of MAY - PLEASE! Make a
check out to MCBA and mail it to me at 12705 Circle Drive, Rockville, MD 20850-3714
SOURCE of INFORMATION
Often I am asked "Where do you get your
information about bees, equipment, management techniques and other things?"
Other times, people in the audience reveal in their eyes or questioning voice
that they think some of my "teaching" is derived from some place "out in space"
and they are just going to continue doing "what Daddy did" or listen to Cousin
Bill or Mr. Sheetz who has had some bees on his farm off and on for some years.
Then, come next year, and I hear that they lost their bees and are getting new
packages. Meanwhile, I either sell bees or give them away because I don't lose
any. As much as I have suggested that you buy the 1992 Edition of the HIVE and
HONEY BEE as your "bible" for beekeeping, many of you have not. Even though
I have read all 1300+ pages of it several times, I refer to it constantly. Because
our nectar flow has begun and bees will be extremely busy for the ensuing 80
days converting that nectar into honey, I thought I would read the 55 pages
of Chapter 14, authored by Dr. John Ambrose of North Carolina entitled "MANAGEMENT
FOR HONEY PRODUCTION", just to make sure that I had not forgotten anything.
In so doing, the very first 5 paragraphs of the chapter covers so much of what
I have tried to impart to you, I thought it worthwhile to present it here in
my PINK PAGES hoping that the writings of one of the select 31 authors of the
book would give you justifiable reason to practice the honey bee management
philosophies that I teach. Here they are: ***************************
Beekeeping and bee management for honey
production is an art, not a science. It may be a science on day when bee researchers
and beekeepers have a more complete understanding of bee biology and bee behavior
and the environment in which bee live, but this is not yet the case.
The honey bee is not a domesticated animal
and most of the "bee management" practiced by beekeepers is really just a matter
of accommodating the natural biology and behavior of the bee. F. E. Moeller,
in the 1980 issue of the USDA Beekeeping Handbook #335, stated: "Beekeepers,
in managing or manipulating colonies, are merely facilitating normal biological
colony changes to suit their purposes." Management for honey production definitely
fits into his description.
Honey bees naturally collect nectar and
store surplus honey. Management for honey production by the beekeeper is in
reality a system that assists the bees in the process. By providing adequate
storage space for the honey surplus, by assuring that the colony have young
viable queens, by minimizing bee losses due to diseases, pests, and pesticides,
and by other similar activities, the beekeeper is enhancing the honey bee colony's
ability to make surplus honey. This necessitates the beekeeper having some knowledge
of bee biology and bee behavior as well as some understanding of local plant
(floral) sources in order to be a really successful honey producer.
The more the beekeeper knows about his
bees, the better he will be in "managing" his bees. For example, swarm prevention
is an essential part of good beekeeping management, and the successful beekeeper
will develop an understanding of what conditions lead to swarming. Time of year,
nectar and pollen availability, and congestion in the hive are just some of
the factors contributing to swarming. Unsuccessful swarm prevention management
results in decreased honey production because of the decrease in colony size.
This can be minimized with a good management system and an understanding of
There is no set formula or recipe for good
bee management, but there are general procedures that should be considered and
understood. One consideration is that nectar- and pollen-producing flora vary
considerably from area to area and even within area due to elevation and other
factors. However, in order for the bees to make surplus honey they must be able
to take advantage of the nectar and pollen flows that do occur. Each beekeeper
must take these flows into consideration in developing a management system.
Everyone who has ever listened to me for
just a short while or those who have watched me work bees knows of the importance
I attach to understanding bee behavior. Now, you note that Dr. Ambrose stresses
this also. The "keynote" speaker at EAS 2000 in Salisbury, Maryland just 3 months
from now is Dr. Norm Gary, author of Chapter 8 in The Hive and Honey Bee (the
most important chapter in the book by my standards), and he is the nation's
principal exponent of bee behavior, making him one of my "hero's". If you come
to EAS (as you should), you can sit down with Dr. Gary and. "quiz him" yourself.
It can only result in you becoming a BETTER beeKEEPER or "graduating" from the
status of beeHaver; plus you will begin to find the real JOYS OF BEEKEEPING!
Again, I want to say, when we consider
all of the NEW problems, NEW chemicals, NEW management techniques that have
appeared in just the past 15 years; e. g., mites, Apistan, Menthol, Checkmite,
Apicure, grease patties, parasitic mite syndrome, Africanized bees entering
the U. S., small hive beetle, resistant American Foul Brood, the FEAR of being
stung by most of the American Public, and more knowledge about pheromones: older
books, magazine articles or publications are of little value because they do
not cover the items above. Hence, irrespective of the fame of an author or the
great acceptance of his book or articles, unless a new addition has been written
in the last 8-10 years, the writing is obsolete as far as bee management is
concerned in this new 21 st century. Further, because of the complexities particularly
regarding legal use of treatment material, it is not wise to pay much heed to
the sayings of those who are not bee scientists, researchers, or professional
apiculturists. I feel that if all beekeepers have a copy of the 3rd Edition
(April 1998) of the Beekeepers Handbook by Dr. Diana Sammaturo plus the 1992
Revised Edition of the Hive and the Honey Bee and thoroughly read both, you
will be a successful beekeeper. My PINK PAGES will no longer be needed, and
the book that I am writing will be my waste of time.
At least, I hope that you would not bother
to read Ralph Nader's famous book, Unsafe at Any Speed, written in 1963 about
the Chevrolet Corvair to determine how to fix the brake system on your 1998
Chevrolet Monte Carlo which has both power brakes and disc pads rather than
the drums, shoes and lack of power brake of the Corvair. Kiplinger's CHANGING
TIMES is not confined to the money market, but is apropos to communication by
computer, heating your sandwich by micro wave, organ transplants, successful
beekeeping, and my travels and beekeeping on an electric scooter rather than
remaining home on crutches. TIMES CHANGE - ARE YOU?