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2019 North American Mite-A-Thon

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationDATE EXTENSION - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7 TO SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

Mite-A-Thon is a tri-national effort to collect mite infestation data and to visualize Varroa infestations in honey bee colonies across North America. All beekeepers can participate, creating a rich distribution of sampling sites in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Their Varroa monitoring data will be uploaded to www.mitecheck.com.

Members of Hardin County Beekeepers Association are encouraged to submit their data. It's easy and valuable information to fight the Varroa mite and diseases.

Last year's report included data from over 1,500 beekeepers managing over 5,000 colonies.  Less than 15 beekeepers across the state participated.  Hardin County can double that number easily.  Let's make sure Hardin County is represented!

August 2019 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationThe high temperatures in the 90”s and dry weather are of concern at this time. The queens will slow down laying; hive populations will mostly start to reduce somewhat; there is little to no nectar flow until late August - early September and hive beetles, wax moths and Varroa mites are on the increase.

Beekeeping Note #1

One the primary ways to determine if a hive is doing well is whether the bees in the hive are calm when you initially open it up. If they are very aggressive close the hive up and wait and hour or so and go back and take another look. ALWAYS lightly smoke the entrance and under the top outer cover before opening up the hive. If the hive is still very aggressive, then the hive may be queen less. See Beekeeping Note #2. Another indication of the health of the hive is how many frames of bees are there? When you first look into the top of the open hive box, you can see how many frames of bees there are. This is bees filling in between the frames. An established hive will have 9 to 10 frames of bees in both brood boxes.

Beekeeping Note #2

Another way to determine if a hive is healthy is the brood pattern and the amount of eggs and larvae. There should at least 3 to 4 frames of brood in the hive. The normal brood pattern is in the center of the frame and can cover from 50% to the whole side of a frame. Capped brood should be present. There should be some eggs and new larvae on several of the brood frames. All this means that there is a healthy queen in the hive. You do not necessarily have to see the queen. If you do not fine capped brood, new larvae or eggs, then the hive is most likely queen less.

Beekeeping Note #3

Varroa Mite counts should be checked/tested for some time between now and the first of September on several of your hives. All hives will need to be treated sometime between now and mid-September depending on the mite count. Remember there are numerous considerations on treatments; temperature, honey supers being on, last time treated and last type of treatment, potential bee mortality and etc. Refer to the Honey Bee Health Coalition website as a very good reference.

Beekeeping Note #4

If you need to requeen a hive or have to do a hive split, I would recommend the following process: Check to make sure there are no queen cells, if there are, remove them. Place the new queen cage screen side up flat on top of the top brood box without removing the cork—leave closed. Wait 4 days and back into the hive, Check to make sure there are no queen cells, if there are, remove them. Then go ahead and very carefully direct release the queen out of the cage down into the hive. Close up the hive and leave it alone for at least a week before checking the hive again. It may take up to 10 days or more for a new queen to start laying this time of year.

I have pulled all my honey supers, treated all my hives with Apivar, removed all queen excluders, closed up all holes and entrances to all hive boxes and placed entrance reducers on all hives with the 2 inch opening. I am feeding once a week – no more often than that - with two one quart feeder bags 1:1 sugar syrup on each hive. I’ve also placed two Swiffer pads on all hives. I am slowing removing extra hive boxes so as to limit any excess space in the hives. I’d like to get all my hives down to double deeps or single deeps with one or two mediums going into later fall and winter. This also reduces space available for hive beetles and wax moths to invade. I “DO NOT” recommend feeding outside the hives or with area feeders. I “DO NOT” recommend feeding with any kind of patties—they attract hive beetles and wax moths. I will start doing mite checks and conducting complete inspections of all my hives right after Labor Day to evaluate each of them at that time.

July 2019 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationNeed to be checking the hives at least once a week to make sure that the queen has room to lay—may need to rotate frames in the brood box or add new frames. It’s also a time when the Varroa mites will be increasing although it is not a good time to treating during the nectar flow. Pulling and inspecting drone larvae is a good way to check for Varroa mites. Allow for adequate ventilation of the hives. Also watch out for those hive beetles moving in ---- take action to keep them under control. The use of Swiffer no-scent pads laid on the top of the frames in the top boxes can help. There are a lot of folks starting to harvest honey. By placing the cleaned extracted frames back on the hives is a good way to keep the bees stimulated during the latter part of the nectar flow. Sometimes they will immediately start refilling those frames. Some hives may go queen less and it may be necessary to re-queen them. There are ways to do this without too much disruption—such as the use of a 3, 4 or 5 frame Nuc with a new laying queen transitioned into the hive—only takes about 3 or 4 days and the hive is back in operation. Some use direct introduction of queens into a queen less hive. In either case, all queen cells of any kind should be removed if you are re-queening.

If the queen has moved up into the supers and have laid eggs and there’s larvae, move those frames with eggs and larvae to the outside of the super and place frames full of nectar and honey to the center. This will help slow the queen down because normally she will not come back up over the frames of nectar and honey. You can also use queen excluders but you must make sure that the queen is down in the deep hive boxes. Having 5/8” entry holes in the front of each super also helps with bee access and ventilation.

If you are harvesting honey, it is recommended that you use a dehumidifier and fans to help reduce the moisture content of your honey down to around 18% or less before starting extraction. Normally if you can get the humidity in the room down to around 30%, then the honey will be close to the desired moisture contend. This usually takes about 24 to 48 hours. KEEP the dehumidifier running during the bottling? It is also recommended that you only pull frames for harvesting honey that are at least 75% fully capped. It’s still early in the year and there is no reason to get into a hurry to harvest honey. Most years folks don’t start harvesting until after the 4th of July and many wait until later July or even early August. Good Luck- Good Honey Season

After honey harvest is a good time to consider summer splits of healthy hives or making up of summer Nuc’s with new queens for use in re-queening some hives later in August or September.

Varroa Mite sampling and treatment should be considered because the Varroa Mite population is generally on the increase during July through August and the beehive populations generally is decreasing. Refer to the Honey Bee Health Coalition website for information on possible treatments and recommended applications.