May ’24 in the Apiary

How are your bees doing? It has been a difficult time this Spring for the bees. Queens can’t fly to get mated in the rain and cold temperatures and if they can’t do it in 2 weeks, they will be drone layers and the hive will fail.  It can be counted on that in between the wet weather when we have a dry sunny day, swarms will issue! Just ask Tracy Klein (by the way, she can get the ones that are too high for most of us, so refer those calls to her). She has been catching swarms on a regular basis down in Renton. Make sure to get into your colonies every 7-9 days to check for swarm cells. They are peanut shaped and hang at the bottom of the frames in the second box. If you can’t open the hive to check when the weather is rainy, you can tip the second box up on the short side and peek at what is going on at the frame bottoms.  If you haven’t taken a split class, it is a good thing to learn. It keeps you sustainable.
If you missed the April meeting, Dawn Beck, our president, did a great job of talking about mites and their treatments. It is on the web, so if you weren’t there check it out!  She let us know how important treatments are because the mites affect the bee’s immune system. Things to look for in the hive are DWV- deformed wing virus. Sacbrood- is found in spring and during a dearth and is easily spread bee to bee. ABPV- acute bee paralysis virus affects both brood  and adults. Dark hairless bees tremble and can’t fly. PMS-Parasitic mite syndrome, where you find cells ripped open. This is caused by multiple viruses.
Natural treatments are Apigard, which is used in the fall when the honey supers have been removed. It only treats the phoretic mites (on adults). It takes 2 treatments 2 weeks apart. It must be at least 60 degrees. It is smelly and may cause bearding. Api Life Var is a natural thymol product requiring 64 degree temps and 2 treatments 7-10 days apart. MAQS- are mite away quick strips. Formic Pro is natural and requires 50 degrees+, gets phoretic mites and capped cells. Must have at least 6 frames of bees and use ventilation. Oxalic Vape, which is naturally found in spinach and rhubarb gets the phoretic mites, so is used when there is no brood. Apistan was being used when I started 23 years ago and was already seeing resistance. It also accumulates in the wax. There are more, but this is a brief introduction.
We have been seeing hives that have exhausted all the stored nectar and syrup so make sure to monitor the feed and pollen in your hives. It is not good when this is happening as the hives are building up for the blackberry flow. The queen will stop laying and you don’t want that.
Swarm season is still happening for a few more weeks. If you get a call and can’t help the caller, please refer the call to another beekeeper. We strive to help the public and want a good reputation regarding responding properly to all calls.
I like to do quicky tests for mites. It is easy. I use a tweezer to pull out drone pupae and look for mites. It only works on well developed drone pupae. The younger ones are too soft and fall apart! I look at 10 from different areas on the comb. It is not scientific, but it only kills 10 and is super quick to check.
Lots of hives are dying right now. Don’t let yours be one of them. The problem is weather. It is just too wet and has been for too long. Bees are starving, so make sure to feed, feed, feed. The bees can consume what you give them in one day when the weather is like this. Check your hive after one day of feeding and see what amount they are consuming. Then you will know exactly how much and how often you need to be in that hive. If you neglect this the bees will eat the larvae and cannibalize the pupae for protein. Rain washes away the pollen and nectar and takes a day or so to replenish.
If any of you are interested in taking a splits class on Saturday June 8th, taught by 2 Master Beekeepers, Myself and Tracy Klein please text me at                   206-465-1464 for more information. You can choose to take just the zoom class or if you take that, you can sign up for the in person class in Woodinville, too. Limit 10 students.
Keep your fingers crossed that we have had the last of the rain after this atmospheric river passes.
Bee Kind,
Kathy Cox Master Beekeeper U of Montana
Text: 206-465-1464