Archives for posts with tag: beekeeping

I’ve caught my fair share of bee swarms and I’ve learned to watch for signs that a capture was successful. A typical honeybee swarm contains between 10,000 to 30,000 bees. When you shake the swarm into a box or container, there is a really good chance that you’ll get the queen (the odds are in your favour). However, if the queen takes flight before you seal up your box, then the rest of the swarm will know within minutes that she is not there.

The above video shows what happens if you don’t manage to capture the queen. We had to try four times before successfully capturing her in the box. The moment that she was inside, the rest of the bees stopped around the entrance and created a fanning chain, distributing her pheromones into the air for the rest of the bees to follow.

If you see a swarm of honeybees in your area, contact me through the form at the bottom of my swarm page and I’ll help put you in touch with a beekeeper who will remove them.

Dan Davidson – president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association – released a letter today informing beekeepers that the Province of Ontario has decided to give money to beekeepers who suffer losses this year. The letter says:

Dear Beekeeper,

On Tuesday afternoon, OBA board members were informed at a meeting with senior OMAF officials that the Province has developed a one-time compensation package for beekeepers experiencing higher than normal mortality rates. Compensation includes $105 per hive to beekeepers with more than ten hives who experience hive mortality of over 40% of their colonies between Jan. 1st and October 31, 2014. OBA has been advocating for over a year for beekeeper compensation related to extraordinary bee deaths. The amount per hive provided under this program is significantly less than we were proposing; however, we feel it is a good first step and shows awareness of the hardships many Ontario beekeepers are experiencing. We are pleased, as well, that losses will include those occurring over the summer and early fall, and not just winter. This is significant. Ontario is the first province to compensate beekeepers for losses likely caused by pesticides as well as other causes. We will be getting back to everyone with further information as it becomes available.

OBA is preparing a press release for later today. Watch the website and future newsletters for new developments.

All the best,
Dan
Dan Davidson, President

This is great news for anyone that has lost a significant portion of their colonies this past winter and heading into the rest of the year. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify myself, because I have fewer than 10 hives. Still, I’m sure this will come as a great help to many beekeepers.

Forms to apply for this compensation will be available by mid-May, 2014.

I recently discovered that my Langstroth hives have both died over this past winter. In the video above, I perform an autopsy on the hives to try and determine what killed them.

In the first hive, it looks like the bees may have starved after a really long and cold winter. I believe I missed an opportunity to feed them in early spring. They only had a tiny bit of honey left and it was on the opposite side of the hive. In the second colony, I actually removed 10 full frames of honey from the two deep boxes – more than enough to survive the winter. I suspect the chalkbrood that had plagued them in the fall didn’t allow them to build up their colony to a size that was necessary to survive the winter.

I’ll be on the lookout for swarms this spring to get new bees to populate these sad, empty hives.

Chris InchA quick announcement: I will be participating in a talk on beekeeping next week in Kitchener, ON. The Kitchener Horticultural Society is putting on the seminar at the Country Hills Branch of the Kitchener Public Library.

This event is open to the public and free of charge, so if you’re in the area, come hear me talk about hobbyist beekeeping.

For more information, visit the KPL’s event page or the Horticultural Society’s info page.

Speakers: Chris Inch, Tom Epplett
Date: February 11, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM (2 hours in length)
Location: Kitchener Public Library – Country Hills Branch
St. Mary’s High School
1500 Block Line Road (near Homer Watson & Block Line)
Kitchener, ON

Chalkbrood at entrance

Yesterday was a beautiful day and I headed out to the hives to check up on them before the weather gets cool again and we head into winter. One of my Langstroth hives (which I’ve named L1) hasn’t really been doing so great recently. It hasn’t been “bubbling with bees” the way it was last year, nor has it been very productive. Also, the bees have been pretty irritable for the last month or so. All that being said, there was no obvious sign of problems (at least not to me). The queen has been laying, and there have always “enough” workers.

Yesterday I noticed some interesting “mummified” bees near the entrance and on the bottom board. I took some pictures of the bees and when I got home, I went through some of my reference books and of course, the Internet. My best guess is that this hive has a fungal disease called Chalkbrood.

Chalkbrood is a disease that affects honeybee larvae. It’s caused by a fungus called Ascosphaera Apis. I’m not sure how this colony would have gotten infected with Chalkbrood, but now I will be exploring treatments. This is a fungus and it thrives in damp locations, so my first order of business will be to add more ventilation to this hive. I will also reduce the size of this hive from 3 deep boxes to 2, removing some of the now-empty frames before the winter.

It’s a bit unnerving seeing the state of this hive so close to winter, and I fear they won’t survive the cold season. Luckily this does not seem to have spread to my other hives though. Fingers crossed.