Just want to remind folks who are buying bees this time of year of that old adage, “buyer beware.” Nucs should have relatively new equipment (frames should not be broken, woodenware relatively new, wax foundation should not be black). A nuc should have this year’s mated queen and her brood, nice patterns of worker brood, a good population of workers, and no diseases. Typically, there will be four frames with a less-developed fifth frame to give the bees room to work. There are variances to this approach to nucs. Some beekeepers sell 3-frame nucs, for instance, rather than 5-frame. These variances should be communicated to customers well in advance of transaction, and customers should inspect their purchases before leaving the yard (i.e., take your veil).
This "buyer beware" advice applies to packages too. Package bees should have this year’s mated queen, good population of worker bees, and a relatively-full feeder can. If there are a lot of dead bees on the bottom, reconsider buying the package.
Also, Fumigilan-B, a control for nosema, is being taken off the market. Although there are no alternatives at the moment, Project Apis m. and National Honey Board Research has funded a project to innovate another avenue to drug development as treatments for Nosema. The project is led by Dr. Jonathan Snow, at Barnard College, who is approaching Nosema by targeting the molecular pathways unique to microsporidian parasites. Using cage trials, one compound is as effective at killing Nosema as Fumagilin-B, without increased toxicity to bees. Dr. Snow will be consulting with the USDA to determine what could ‘fast track’ this treatment to market, if trials are successful. Stay tuned for news on this front in future Beelines.
Swarm season is well-underway. Stay safe out there.