By John A. Gaut
Winter is coming and it’s time to ready the colonies for the cold months.
Adequate Honey Stores, 60 pounds or more
Good pollen reserves, 4 + frames of mostly pollen
Large population of young healthy bees
Low Mite levels
Reduced and mouse guarded bottom entrance
Minimize Air Infiltration
Close Bottom Board on Screened Bottoms
Tape any gaps in boxes
Insulate the top of the hive between between the inner cover and the outer cover
Insulate the hive sides
Click below to learn more about your bees and the winter months, and how to properly insulate the hives
Winter Biology and Insulation of Hives 2016
A special lecture “The Mystery of the Hive: Whispers in the Dark” will be presented by Peter Loring Borst Friday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m. at Ramapo College, Mahwah. The lecture will take place in the H-Wing Auditorium. The Northeast NJ Beekeepers and the Ramapo College Beekeeping Club are pleased to invite all New Jersey Beekeepers to this special presentation.
Peter L Borst has worked in the beekeeping industry since his first job in 1974 working as a beekeeper’s helper in Wolcott, NY. Peter was the Senior Apiarist at Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Research for seven years, and he was an apiary inspector for New York State from 2006 to 2008. He is currently employed at Cornell doing biomedical research, and he is President of the Finger Lakes Bee Club.
Peter is a regular contributor to the American Bee Journal, writing on topics as diverse as beekeeping techniques, the composition and value of pollen for bees, and the history of bee breeding.
The lecture is open to all and is free, but donations at the door will be welcomed.
The Northeast New Jersey Beekeepers Association is hosting its annual honey-tasting competition at 1p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at Ramapo College in Mahwah and we are looking for your best honey of the year. Members are invited to submit their honey from this year’s harvest. This year there will be 2 categories – light and dark. The board will decide which category to place your entry. Only 1 entry per a family is allowed. Honey must be in a 1 pound bottle with name, address and phone number. Honey should be handed in by 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 either by dropping off at an officer’s house or at the college the night before the competition.
A label contest will also take place.
We are also looking for members to sell their honey. Both pound and half pound jars can be sold. Prices will be consistent – $10 for half pound, $20 for full, with $2 and $4 respectively going back to the club. If you would like to sell your honey please email Jaimie Winters firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list. Honey must be in by noon the day of the festival. Sellers will also have to work the table for part of the day.
Members are invited to sell bee-related items by emailing Jaimie Winters email@example.com.
We are also in need of volunteers to run the vendor tables, handle food, t-shirt sales, honey tasting tables and education table and set up and clean up. We need a lot of volunteers for this bigger event. Please email Jaimie Winters to volunteer.
Please invite family and friends to this free event. We will need as many tasters as possible. We will also have an educational table, and honey, plants and bee products for sale and live music.
We will talk about dearth and feeding and mite control this Friday. Dearth can be hard on your bees, but we have had rain and a somewhat mild summer this year. Find out how this has impacted this year’s dearth. Should you be feeding? Got other questions? Bring them to the meeting. Our team is here to help you succeed! We will also be discussing the Honey Festival set for Saturday Sept. 16 and the Meadery Trip on Oct. 21.
Our meetings are always the third Friday of every month, beginning at 7:30 pm. We meet at Ramapo College 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ in the Anisfield School of Business, Room 135S.
By Frank Mortimer
1) Pulling honey frames:
A) Always Smoke Your Bees: This should be a no-brainer. Bees release a pheromone when they are afraid/fear the hive is under attack. Smoke blocks this pheromone from being detected by the bees. If bees can’t smell it, they don’t get defensive, therefore always use smoke.
B) Pull early morning and before the dearth. Bees are more protective of their honey when there is no nectar flow. It’s always best to pull your honey supers off in the morning, and never mid-day when every forager is out looking for food.
C) When pulling honey use bee escapes and fuming boards with bee gone (a bee friendly almond spray). Do not bang frames to remove the bees. Place the bee escapes two days in advance and block off inner cover entrance. When pulling the boxes use a fume board with the bee gone spray or just a dish rag sprayed with it. Let it sit for 5 minutes and remove the super.
D) Don’t pull frame by frame. Remove the entire super and immediately get into a covered box or wrap in a damp sheet. Always have hive covered with bee escape or inner cover. When you are pulling your honey supers, you want to always minimize how long your honey supers are exposed and out in the open. When there’s no other food available and you have frames of honey lying out in the open, you have created a recipe for a sure-fire disaster. When you pull your supers, get them out of your apiary and inside as quickly as you can.
E) Never have several hives opened at once, and never leave frames of honey sitting out where they will activate the bees’ instinct to start robbing everything in sight.
F) Spin indoors
G) Do not let bees clean up equipment. Wash all tools and extractor immediately following extraction.
H) If your colony gets defensive at any time close it up and call it a day.
2) If Your Hive Is Overly Defensive Tell Someone: If
something does not seem right with your bees, tell an officer of the club or your mentor. If your bees seem like they are always buzzing, or stinging you or others, then you need to speak with someone on how to find a solution. In this month’s Bee Culture Magazine, James Tew wrote about an overly defensive hive in his backyard apiary and how he moved it to a remote location for the sake of his neighbors. If you are keeping bees, then it is your responsibility to always be a good neighbor.
4) Be Careful Where You Get Your Queens: If you’re ordering queens through suppliers from other parts of the country, you need to make sure your source is not too far south where bees with Africanized traits are more common. It is important to always think about the likelihood of introducing bees that are overly defensive into our area, so always be diligent about where you are sourcing your bees.
3) Maintain a water source so your bees don’t seek out a neighbor’s pool or pond. Once they find another source it’s almost impossible to stop them from using it.
It’s time to reap the rewards of keeping bees – honey! Frank, Rich and John will take us from frame removal to bottling. Get tips from the experts on how to calmly remove bees from frames, uncapping, spinning, filtering and bottling. They will also give advice on how to care for your bees during the dearth, feeding and robbing. Our meetings are always the third Friday of every month, beginning at 7:30 pm. We meet at Ramapo College 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ in the Anisfield School of Business, Room 135S.
John A. Gaut
One topic that seems to be a concern to many beekeepers is laying workers in a colony that appears queenless. Basic Beekeeping classes teach that once a colony is queenless and broodless, laying workers will develop. Once laying workers develop, it is very difficult to requeen the colony and it becomes “hopelessly queenless.” The colony will raise drones from the unfertilized eggs of the laying workers as long as they have resources and the nurse bees. (This is the only way a queenless colony can pass along its genes to the next generation.) The colony will continue to dwindle until it dies. Beekeepers want to prevent this scenario!
If a colony swarms or supercedes the queen, the new queen must mature and mate before laying eggs. In the meantime any brood is maturing and emerging. The colony could be broodless for a few days to over a week until a new queen starts to lay. It is during this time a beekeeper may think the colony is queenless and believes they need to introduce a new queen. They should wait for a few days though. If a new laying queen (with her big abdomen) is introduced, the younger more agile queen will very likely kill her.
If the beekeeper has a “resource nuc” or another strong colony, they could take a frame of brood with eggs, larva and capped brood (but no queen!) and put it in the suspected queenless colony. If the colony is truly queenless, the colony will raise a queen from a young larva. Otherwise the frame of brood helps reinforce the colony population. Every beekeeper should have a nuc or two to support the honey producing colonies.
So how long can a colony be queenless and broodless before laying workers develop?
Actually, there are always a few (1 in 10,000) laying workers in a colony. There are other workers that “police” the egg laying of these laying workers by removing most of the eggs. (Some eggs do survive in queen right colonies in the drone cells!)
All workers have ovaries. Most are not developed or very underdeveloped. Workers cannot mate so any eggs they lay are unfertilized and will be male drones. Both the queen pheromones and the pheromones from the brood suppress the development of ovaries in the workers. (Based on my observations with queen rearing, the brood pheromone seems like it is the major factor in suppressing the ovary development.) As the brood pheromone decreases due to decreasing brood population, more young workers (4 to 8 days old) develop functional ovaries. Also, less policing occurs. Once a colony is queenless and broodless for a few weeks, there could be a hundred or more laying workers in a colony! They look like any other worker though. (Laying workers may have a slightly larger abdomen; so do workers with a large nectar load in the honey stomach.)
How do you deal with laying workers?
The method of shaking the bees off the frames over 100 feet from the hive has never worked for me (or many other beekeepers). All the bees including the laying workers seem to be able to fly back to the hive. (Most of the bees are back at the hive location before I can get back there with the empty frames!)
Another option is to put frames of brood in the colony. If the laying workers have not developed too much, frames of brood (3 or more) often “shuts down” the laying workers. The colony may raise a queen from young larva on the frame. Or a queen can be introduced a few days later in between these frames of brood; that is still risky for the new queen though. Laying workers produce pheromones similar to a queen, making the colony think they have a queen resulting in the death of any introduced queens.
Many beekeepers place the laying worker colony over a strong queen right colony with a queen excluder in between and maybe a sheet of newspaper too. The pheromones from the queen and brood below the queen excluder help shut down the laying workers and increase policing. After a week or two, the queen excluder can be removed and the combined colony can be inspected to verify it is still queen right. (There is a small risk to this queen too!)
Some beekeepers say the workers move eggs or larva! The beekeepers did not actually witness the event, they only observed eggs above a queen excluder for example. A much more likely explanation for eggs in an area of the hive where there is no queen is laying workers. Laying workers will lay in any cell; drone cells, worker cells and even queen cells. Typically, there are multiple eggs; extra larva is “culled” once the eggs hatch. All these eggs will develop into drones, including the eggs in worker cells and queen cells. The queen cells with drones will look small and not shaped like a normal queen cell.
Most colonies successfully requeen themselves and do not develop laying workers. The few days before the new queen begins laying can challenge the beekeeper’s skills to be patient! Once the new queen has been laying, evaluate the brood pattern. If the new queen is not laying well or the colony becomes too defensive with her new genetics (she may have mated with some very defensive drones), consider requeening. Requeening is much more successful in a colony that has brood and is queen right.
Confused by the myriad of mite treatments? Please join us Friday, June 16, when Tim Schuler, NJ State Apiarist will speak on treatments such as Apivar, Oxalic Acid and MAQs and how and when to use them. He will also show us how to use the mite alcohol tester. Mite control is one of the most important issues facing beekeepers today. Tim will share his experiences with successful mite control. We will also have a limited number of Apivar and MAQ treatments for sale. Our meetings are always the third Friday of every month, beginning at 7:30 pm. We meet at Ramapo College 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ in the Anisfield School of Business, Room 135S.
By John Gaut
We had a lot of swarms again this year. I have had a lot of questions about “queenless” colonies. Often, I suggested the colony was not really queenless, the new queen just had not started laying yet.
Also, a colony that supercedes the queen will look queenless for several weeks.
I use an Excel spreadsheet to manage my queen rearing schedule. I simplified the Excel sheet so it could be used to predict the dates a new queen would begin laying eggs after a swarming or supercedure event. While the predicted dates may vary due to several factors, you can see it really takes about 3 to 4 weeks before the new queen starts laying! This means the colony will be broodless for a while; a few days or a week.
Here is an example: June 1 entered into the YELLOW area and the rest of the dates were calculated in the spreadsheet.
Download the spreadsheet from below and try it!
Queen Schedule After Swarming
Our officers will be answer the question what’s going on in my hive? with a discussion on hive inspections and summer management.
We will also be hosting our first ever Sell It or Swap It. Do you have bee equipment that you never use, just sitting in your garage taking up space? Have you ever bought some bee equipment that you never use and you’d like to get rid of? Grab any equipment you’d like to sell or trade and bring it to our monthly meeting. Since the club is sponsoring this event, we ask that you donate 10% of the money you make from the items you sell to the club.
So, if you sell something for $10, that’s only $1 to the club. (And if you sell something for $1 million dollars, then that’s a mere $100,000 to the club!)
So dust off all your stuff, and bring it and your cash to our regular monthly meeting at Ramapo College on May 19 at 7:30 p.m.