After her mating flights, the queen will start her long life of egg-laying in earnest. In a typical Langstroth hive, she will start in the lower box, which is on top of the bottom board. Workers will have started constructing comb, either free-standing in foundationless frames or over artificial cells in regular frames. Below we will look in further detail at the ways in which brood is created around the hive.
The creation and storage of honey is an essential function of the colony. Beyond the obvious nutritional benefits, honey is the essential lifeline that allows the colony, in the form of the winter cluster, to make it through the winter.
Bees work in extraordinary ways to create the reserve of honey and, as a beekeeper, you will learn over time to assess whether a colony is on track. The lighter-colored capped cell is the sign of stored honey.
Pollen is also essential to the colony, providing protein and fats. After collection, pollen is mixed with nectar and water, to form "bee bred". This is then stored in comb within the hive. As well as the nutritional value, this also helps with the structural integrity of the comb.
Pollen is often placed immediately adjacent to the brood nest, since it is used heavily as the source of protein.
A lot of honey found in the supermarket is not raw honey but "commercial" regular honey, some of which has been pasteurized (heated at 158°F or 70°Celsius or more, followed by rapid cooling) for easy filtering and bottling so that it looks cleaner and smoother, more appealing on the shelf, and easier to handle and package.
Pasteurization kills any yeast cell in the honey and prevents fermentation, which is a concern for commercial honey producers because many extract uncapped honey that has a high moisture content. So storing honey with high moisture content over a long period, especially in warm weather, will cause the honey ferment and affects the rawl taste of honey.
When honey is heated, its delicate aromas, yeast and enzymes which are responsible for activating vitamins and minerals in the body system are partially destroyed. Among manufacturers there exists no uniform code of using the term "raw honey". There are no strict legal requirements for claiming and labelling honey as "raw."
Raw honey is unprocessed, but at times may need to be slightly warmed to retard granulation for a short period of time and allow light straining and packing into containers for sale. Using as little heat as possible is a sign of careful handling by raw honey suppliers.
Usually raw, unfiltered honey can only be purchased directly from an Apiary. Characterised by fine textured crystals, it looks cloudier and contains particles and flecks made of bee pollen, honeycomb bits, and propolis.
Raw and unfiltered honey and has a high antioxidant level and will usually granulate and crystallize to a thick consistency after a few months. It is usually preferred as a spread on bread and waffles, or dissolved in hot coffee or tea. However, as most consumers are naturally attracted to buying and eating crystal clear and clean honey, unfiltered honey which looks cloudy and unappealing, is not commercially available on supermarket shelves.
Raising bees has been an extremely rewarding experience.
It is funny and not so funny of the false facts that come out of people's mouths when I have initial conversations with the public as well as potential beekeepers.
Many of the questions I'm asked are grounded in myths that have existed for generations. Unfortunately, these myths have stopped many individuals from becoming involved in beekeeping. While bees are one of the most beneficial agricultural insects, the following myths make bees one of the most feared and misunderstood insects. Don't let myths stop you from learning about bees.
MYTH #1: ALL BEES STING.
Not all bees can sting. For example, male bees cannot sting. The stinger, or sting, is a modified egg-laying device. Therefore, only females have them. However, despite having a stinger, the females of many bee species actually cannot sting. Bees tend to sting to defend their nest, so most bees won't sting unless they are provoked or feel threatened.
MYTH #2: HONEY BEES CAN STING THEIR VICTIM REPEATEDLY.
Honey bee workers can sting other insects repeatedly. However, barbs in their stingers get caught in the skin of the animals they sting, especially mammals with thick skin such as humans. Removing the stinger is fatal to the bee, so it dies afterward.
MYTH #3: WASPS ARE BEES.
Although wasps belong to the same order of insects, they are not bees. Bees are vegetarians, collecting pollen and nectar for their young. Wasps are carnivores. Some species can be very aggressive, especially if you disturb their nests. Bees are usually nonaggressive. The exception is Africanized bees, a species not commonly found in the United States.
MYTH #4: YOU CAN AVOID BEE STINGS BY SPRAYING THE NEST WITH WATER.
Do not try this. Water will not affect a bee nest. Likely, you'll just irritate the bees inside and increase your chance of getting stung.
MYTH #5: ALL BEES PRODUCE HONEY.
Less than 5 percent of bee species make honey. Only honey bees and stingless bees produce enough honey to make it worth harvesting. Bumble bee hives may have a small amount, about one to two teaspoons. Bumble bees are annual, not perennial. They don't need to produce a lot of honey to survive the winter.
MYTH #6: ALL BEES ARE HARD WORKERS.
Honey bee, bumble bee and stingless worker bees (females) work very hard. However, many males don't do any work in the nest. Females of the solitary bee species may only work for a couple weeks.
MYTH #7: ADULT BEES LIVE A LONG TIME.
Solitary bees live only a few weeks, just long enough to mate, build nests and produce offspring. Honey and bumble bee workers and males live about six weeks. The workers spend half their time working on the hive and the other half foraging for pollen and nectar. The queens live longer. Bumble bee queens live up to one year, and honey bee queens can live up to four years.
MYTH #8: BEES WON'T STING AT NIGHT.
A long-believed myth about bees is that they do not sting at night, which in fact is incorrect. Bees will sting at any time for protection.
MYTH #9: MOST BEES LIVE IN HIVES.
Only social bees live in hives. Ten percent of bee species are social, and only a small percentage of them build hives. Most bees are solitary, living in individual nests tunneled in the soil or tree trunks.
MYTH #10: IF YOU RID YOUR LAWN OF DANDELIONS AND FLOWERS, IT KEEPS BEES AWAY.
Though bees are pollinators, they will build nests miles away from flowers and other plants they pollinate. Whether or not you have flowers in your yard makes no difference if a bee scout spots a good place to create nest.
MYTH #11: SEALING UP THE HOLE IN A WALL WHERE BEES ARE NESTING WILL KILL THE BEES INSIDE.
If you seal up the entrance to a bee nest, you risk angering them. They may burrow into unwanted places such as the interior of your house. Bees have been known to tunnel through wood and drywall. Your best bet to is to contact your local bee professionals.
The National Honey Bee Day program is held one day each year. But that does not mean the public cannot help the bees the rest of the year. Awareness of the environment around you is a yearlong effort. Just as beekeepers reach out to the public beyond the festivities and events associated with National Honey Bee Day, the public can also get involved daily with helping the bees.
Here are a few ways non-beekeepers can support,
help, and save the honey bee.
1. Consider beekeeping as a worthwhile hobby and seek information to get started. The more beekeepers there are translates into more voices being heard.
2. Support local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey and other beehive products. Honey is the best "green" sweetener you can buy.
3. Attend and support beekeeper association events held in places throughout the year in most communities such as environmental centers, schools, and state parks.
4. Educate yourself on the dangers and risks of homeowner pesticides and chemicals. Whenever possible, choose non-damaging and non-chemical treatments in and around the home. Most garden and backyard pests can be dealt with without harsh chemicals, which many times are not healthy for the pets, the kids, or the environment.
5. Get to know the honey bee. Unlike other stinging insects, honey bees are manageable and are non-aggressive. Don't blame every stinging event on the honey bees. Many times, stinging events are from hornets, yellow jackets, and wasps.
6. Plant a bee friendly garden with native and nectar producing flowers. Use plants that can grow without extra water and chemicals. Native plants are the best to grow in any region. Backyard gardens benefit from the neighborhood beehive. Here is a link where you can read more about bee friendly backyard gardens http://www.pennapic.org/beesanctuary.html
7. Understand that backyard plants such as dandelions and clover are pollen and nectar sources for a wide variety of beneficial insects, including the honey bee. Dandelions and clover are an unwarranted nuisance for many homeowners. The desire to rid yards of these unwanted plants and have the "perfect" yard, are sources of chemical runoff and environmental damage from lawn treatments. A perfect lawn is not worth poisoning the earth.
8. Consider allowing a beekeeper to maintain beehives on your property. In some areas, beekeepers need additional apiary locations due to restrictive zoning or other issues. Having a beekeeper maintain hives on your property adds to the overall quality and appeal of any country farm or estate.
9. Know that beekeepers are at the forefront in helping communities deal with wild bee colonies in unwanted situations. Every township and community should welcome beekeepers. It is not the managed colonies that beekeepers maintain that cause the problems, it is unmanaged colonies. Every community should be able to rely on beekeepers and bee associations for dealing with honey bee related issues. Communities should not pass restrictive measures or ban beekeeping. Banning beekeepers will only hurt the honey bees because nobody may be around to help when help is needed.
10. Get involved with your community with such events as offered at the local environmental center, volunteer programs at the county garden center, and other agriculture and nature based programs. No doubt you will meet a beekeeper. Beekeepers are not just people who keep bees. They are part of your community and many love nature on all levels. Beekeepers give generously to affiliated organizations, as they are all connected within the communities in which we all live.
I’m sure you all have heard of the “healthy honeybee” essential oil blend available through many of the bee retailers. This concentrated bottle costs a pretty penny, yet many beekeepers use and swear by it. Instead of buying it, why not make it yourself? With a few simple ingredients, you’ll be able to make your own money saving, healthy honeybee concentrate!
Why should you use the Healthy Honeybees concentrate? The concentrated mix can be added to sugar syrup mixtures to prevent mold and fungus growth, boosts immune systems, builds colonies, and can be used as a smokeless way to calm bees.
The commercially available product is about $30 for 16 oz. A full batch of DIY Healthy Honeybee concentrate yields about 45 oz and cost $4 to make. The half batch yields about 22 oz and cost about $2 to make! So, here is the recipe:
Healthy Honeybee Concentrate
5 cups water
2 ½ pounds sugar
1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (use as emulsifier)
15 drops spearmint oil
15 drops lemongrass oil
Mix the lecithin granules in a little water until dissolved before adding to mixture.
For syrup feed- use 1 tsp per quart
For smoke substitute- use 4 tsp per quart
Healthy Honeybee Concentrate- Half Batch
2 ½ cups water
2 ½ cups sugar
A good pinch of lecithin granules (use as emulsifier)
8 drops spearmint oil
8 drops lemongrass oil
Mix the lecithin granules in a little water until dissolved before adding to mixture.
For syrup feed- use 1 tsp per quart
For smoke substitute- use 4 tsp per quart
White sugar -$5
1 lb Non-GMO Lecithin- $14
15ml 100% Pure Lemongrass Essential Oil- $14 ($10 wholesale*)
15ml 100% Pure Spearmint Essential Oil- $39 ($29 wholesale*)
Honey bee colonies store nectar and pollen to use in times of dearth. To a honey bee, a dearth is a shortage of nectar-producing flowers. The most obvious nectar dearth occurs during the winter, but many places also experience a summer nectar dearth, a hot and dry period between spring flowers and autumn flowers.
This time of shortage may escape a new beekeeper’s notice because, after all, it is summer and the world is green. Sometimes flowers are clearly visible and it’s easy to assume that if flowers are present, the bees are happy. But not all flowers produce nectar accessible to honey bees. And among those that do, the amount of nectar can be reduced by low rainfall, excessive heat, or other less-than-ideal growing conditions.
A summer dearth can be worse than winter
The summer nectar dearth can be devastating to a honey bee colony. At times, it can destroy a colony faster than a cold winter. Whereas a bee colony has time to prepare for winter by increasing storage and decreasing population, a summer dearth hits when populations are very high. Large numbers of bees—especially active bees—require a lot of food. A large colony can wipe out its warehouse very quickly, and if the beekeeper has already harvested, the problem is worse.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and a severe summer nectar dearth can cause many types of unwanted behavior. Simply put, idle bees get into trouble.
A dearth causes nectar robbing
One of the most common problems is nectar robbing. Strong colonies will attempt to rob weaker colonies of their nectar stores. Once robbing begins, a colony can be stripped of its food supply, fighting and dying become rampant, and the queen may be killed. Worse, the smell of open honey soon draws other predators to the scene of the crime. Yellowjackets, bald-faced hornets, and other undesirables will soon finish off the job the robbers began.
Even a strong colony can be destroyed if the workers of another strong colony get a foot in the door. Then, too, bees from multiple hives may arrive and take down the strongest among them. Don’t assume. Look carefully.
Part of the aftermath of a robbing frenzy is the transfer of Varroa mites from the vanquished colony back to the marauding colony. In some cases, colonies with no previous mite problems are suddenly overwhelmed with mites brought back with the stolen honey. This phenomenon is one reason very strong hives can collapse quickly in late fall. As I mentioned in a recent post, the strength of a Varroa mite infestation is strongly influenced by the number of mites brought in from the outside, and robbing is a major source.
So what’s a beekeeper to do?
The first thing a beekeeper needs to do is recognize a dearth when it happens. My previous post, “How to recognize a nectar death” contains a list of things to look for in addition to observing your local flora.
Once you recognize a dearth, you may want to take actions to minimize the damage a dearth can cause. Listed below are some considerations for colony management.
Feeding syrup during a summer dearth is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, if your colony is low on stores, feeding may keep them from starving. On the other hand, the presence of feed can quickly alert robbers to a feast. If you decide to feed, resist using an entrance feeder because the odor will bring robbers right to the front door. Instead, use an internal or enclosed hive-top feeder and avoid drips and spills.If you have a strong nectar flow in autumn, feeding bees during the summer dearth has advantages. Normally, the hive population drops during a dearth because when nectar stops coming in, the queen restricts her egg laying. A good supply of syrup keeps the colony population higher, and a bigger colony going into autumn will be better able to harvest the late nectar flows.If you decide to feed colonies during a dearth, do not use essential oils or Honey-B-Healthy. At this time of year, these products can entice bees from miles around. Don’t worry, your bees will have no trouble finding the syrup in their hive.Reduce entrances. Robbing is always a possibility even if you are not feeding. Reduce your entrances and, for small or weak colonies, consider using a robbing screen.Close upper entrances. It is harder for your bees to defend two or more entrances. If you are using upper entrances, close them off during the dearth. If you need upper ventilation use a screened inner cover or an eke (two- or three-inch super) with screened ventilation ports.Do not put community feeders or wet frames near your apiary. Either one can start a frenzy that invites robbers to your area. If you want your wet frames cleaned by your bees, put the frames in a super inside the hive.If possible, schedule hive manipulations for late in the day. Bees go home at night, so opening hives late in the day allows time for the odors to dissipate before morning. It also gives nighttime scavengers an opportunity to clean up any drips and spills.
One of the challenges that beekeepers face is protecting hives from pests. We find that in August/September the number of pests tends to really ramp up.
Wax Moth (Galleria melonella)
How to recognize Wax moths: wax moth larvae can do considerable damage in a very short time. They tunnel through comb eating everything in their path. They leave silken threads wherever they go covering the entire frame in days. Once they pupate, their cocoons can easily be seen and they will tunnel into the wood slightly to build them. Typically, wax moths will attack empty supers that are unprotected or weak colonies.
How to eliminate wax moths: once a super/frame is covered in moth larvae you can try to scrape them back down to foundation. The only approved chemical treatment is paradichlorobenzene (PBD) crystals (urinal cakes). Place them only in empty supers and remove them to air out for several weeks before putting back on a hive. PBD crystals DO NOT kill the eggs to you will need to keep the treatment up for a couple weeks to eliminate them all. NEVER use mothballs - the chemical in moth balls remains in your wax and will transfer to your honey.
How to prevent wax moths: Keep empty supers in a dry cold location (winter) and when the temperatures are warm, keep empty supers/frames in a freezer. Another method is to lay supers with frames on their side and put a fan at one end to blow air through them constantly until temperature drop. For in colony, maintain a strong colony; combine weak colonies to prevent outbreaks. A strong colony will eliminate wax moths on their own; a weak hive is defenseless.
Small Hive Beetle (Athina tumida)
Small Hive Beetle larvae consume everything in the comb. They also defecate everywhere they go and this causes the stored honey to ferment and ooze out of the comb causing quite a mess. Eventually, the colony may abscond from the hive entirely.
How to eliminate SHB: Fortunately, SHB is currently restricted to the southeastern United States. However, it is probably just a matter of time until it finds its way across the country. The only chemical currently approved for the treatment of SHB is coumaphos (Checkmite+ strips). However, some beekeepers feel that treatments with mineral oil foggers and/or ascetic acid may also control this pest.
How to prevent SHB: The larvae of the SHB need to come outside of the hive and burrow into the ground to pupate. Keep your hive on top of a hard packed earth or possibly a concrete pad to prevent re-introduction into the hive. A strong colony will be able to keep the SHB under control; watch weak colonies. Kill any and all SHB that you encounter during routine inspections.
Varroa Mite (Varroa jacobsoni)
How to recognize Varroa mites: Varroa mites are small reddish/brown colored insects that feed off of the body fluids of adult bees as well as larvae. They are visible to the naked eye and are most easily seen on brood (especially drone brood). Another symptom of Varroa is the presence of "crawlers", bees whose wings are deformed and cannot fly (hence they crawl around). Varroa does not cause this disfigurement directly, instead they are a carrier for a virus that affects the bee while it is a larvae.
How to treat against Varroa: there are several methods to treat for varroa mites; a short list follows but you should research what other beekeepers are doing in your area to treat. You must learn to apply these correctly to prevent contamination of honey, and resistance development by the mites.
Vaporized mineral oil
How to prevent Varroa: just as there are several ways to treat for mites, there are several ways to prevent them. In some cases, the treatment and prevention methods are the same.
Screened bottom boards
Powdered sugar treatments
Drone brood removal
Small cell foundation
Queen bees with genetic behaviors to
reduce mite numbers.
Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Just think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetables, oilseeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. And the livestock that are dependent upon bee-pollinated forage plants, such as clover. No human activity or ingenuity could ever replace the work of bees and yet it is largely taken for granted. It is often not realized just how easy it is to help or hinder their effectiveness as crop pollinators nor how much is lost by their loss.
Fall Season- Sept-Oct-Nov
2:1 this formula is a very heavy syrup, it is made using two parts of sugar to one part of water. For example, 2 pound of sugar to 1 pound of water. This is used in fall or early winter as a honey substitute to feed your bees. The bees should add weight and will use these stores throughout winter.
Winter Season- Dec-Jan-Feb
Simple syrup may not be the best ootion for winter feeding, as it can freeze.
It is recommended to make candy boards for winter feeding.
Candy Board Recipe:
15-16 lb. of sugar
3 cups water
1 tbsp. plain white vinegar
1 Pollen patty (optional)
Derivative of antibiotic apidaecin, naturally produced by bees, wasps and hornets, can block production of proteins in potentially harmful bacteria.
An antimicrobial compound made by honeybees could become the basis for new antibiotics, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).
No new antibiotics have been discovered for more than 30 years, and some bacteria are becoming immune to the drugs used to treat or prevent infections, UIC said.
Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.
In a new study published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, UIC researchers, led by co-investigators Alexander Mankin and Nora Vázquez-Laslop of the College of Pharmacy’s Center for Biomolecular Sciences, explained how a derivative of the antibiotic apidaec in — Api137 — can block the production of proteins in potentially harmful bacteria.
Many antibiotics kill bacteria by targeting the ribosome, which makes all the proteins in the cell. Protein production can be halted by interfering with different stages of translation — the process by which DNA is “translated” into protein molecules, Mankin said. Api137 is the first known inhibitor of translation termination, he said.
Api137 is a natural product produced by bees, wasps or hornets. In nature, many organisms defend themselves from infection by making antibacterial peptides, which can be used as antibiotics if “we understand how they work,” said Tanja Florin, a UIC doctoral student who served as one of the lead authors on the paper.
“This project was a result of an excellent collaboration of our team,” said Vázquez-Laslop, who worked with two research groups in Germany. “We can now harness the knowledge of how Api137 works in order to make new drugs that would kill bad bacteria using a similar mechanism of action.”
Co-authors include Dorota Klepacki of UIC; Marina Rodnina, Cristina Maracci and Prajwal Karki with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany, and Daniel Wilson, Michael Graf, Otto Berninghausen and Roland Beckmann with the University of Munich in Germany.