Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Article May2000 ARTICLES May2000


May 2000

Nectar Flow "Must Do" Items

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 the bees.

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?