February 2016 – Presidency Message

Presidency Message – February 2016

By: Owen Parry

We have had a few nice days here in February and there’s a few things to remember.

First, drawn out comb needs to be indoors. It is a good common practice and required by the dept of agriculture.
Frames older than 3 to 5 years should be melted down. Unless its really clean as in year one you had a hive and years two and three you didn’t, making a frame three years old, melt it down.
Second, time to do hive autopsy(s) if needed. About 80% will be from weak hives caused from diseases like varroa mite; some can be from starvation some from dysentery and nosema.
What does starvation look like? Starvation looks like a dead cluster of bees with many bees stuck in the cells on the frames, with their butts looking out at you. They were trying to get the last scraps of food.
If you have a dead hive clean it out and close up the entrances. Don’t try to clean out the bees out of the cells, the new bees will do this.
Clear bottom entrances of dead bees and other debris.
Mid March Is the best time to start varroa counts and treatments, to allow the instructed 4 weeks to pass before adding honey supers. So start thinking about what treatments to use. Because backyard beekeeping is taking off and we all share, if you or your neighbor has varroa then everyone in the area does including you.
The queen can start laying eggs in February and pollen will be needed as a brood food source. Be careful about feeding pollen too early though. In addition to stimulating brood production which might exhaust food supplies prematurely, pollen causes bees to defecate. Late winter weather may be inappropriate for cleansing flights, increasing the likelihood of dysentery which can quickly convert to a nosema infection.
Fun fact about bees:
Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 °C to 64 °C (144 °F to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash point of beeswax is 204.4 °C (400 °F)
In the temperate zones, winter temperatures dip below 54 °F (12 °C) for extended periods. All brood rearing stops for some period during the winter. In early spring, brood rearing resumes inside the winter cluster when the queens starts to lay eggs again. Once a broodnest is established, the cluster must maintain a steady temperature between 94.1 to 98.0 °F (34.5 – 36.7 °C) inside the cluster.
For some local Pollen times and colors check this link
Also can be put in the news letter
An alcohol wash can be used to estimate Varroa populations with or without the presence of brood. A mite count is simply a ratio of the number of mites per given number of bees multiplied by the total estimated bee population, and then factoring in the Varroa population hidden in the brood. An estimated ⅔ of the mites are within the capped brood. An example: brood is present, and there are 30,000 adult bees. You find 5 mites in a ¼ cup alcohol wash (about 150 bees). This is equivalent to one mite per 30 bees, or 1000 mites total on the adult bee population. Add the 2/3 hidden in the brood, and you have roughly 3,000 mites, which is close to the economic threshold number of 3,200.
Wax moth starts up as the weather gets warmer
The queen can start laying eggs in February and pollen will be needed as a brood food source. Be careful about feeding pollen too early though. In addition to stimulating brood production which might exhaust food supplies prematurely, pollen causes bees to defecate. Late winter weather may be inappropriate for cleansing flights, increasing the likelihood of dysentery which can quickly convert to a nosema infection.