Friday, March 29, 2013


2013 Beekeeper’s Calendar

For Alaska’s Interior

By Dawn Cogan of Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC


Below is a tentative schedule for beekeeping in Interior Alaska for 2013.  These dates and activities are subject to change depending on the weather and unforeseen circumstances.  Regardless, I will be posting weekly updates on my blog: 

DO NOT USE QUEEN EXCLUDERS WITH SUPERS THAT HAVE BARE FOUNDATION!  The bees will treat the excluder as a “ceiling” and will rarely if ever draw-out the honeycomb. 

Add queen excluder(s) three weeks prior to extraction so all the brood will hatch out before harvesting and extracting.

April 13th: Honeybees arrive at Monroe Catholic School parking lot on the gym side of the school.

April 18th - 20th: 1st Queen check (50* or warmer) Looking for eggs & larva (Do not look for queen because it is probably too cold) If you find no eggs, check again in three days.

May 4th : You should see brood in all stages (eggs, larva, and pupa) If you still do not find eggs, either call an experienced beekeeper or if you are absolutely positive there are no eggs or larva present, purchase a new queen and slowly release her (using a marshmallow like the original hiving).  If you find cells with several eggs on the cell wall – dump your colony & kill your bees.  If you find several eggs at the bottom of cells, it is o.k.

May 15 -16th: You should have several frames of brood (eggs, larva & pupa) and few cells should be empty.  If the brood pattern is “spotty”, or you find many empty cells, something is wrong!  You should either re-queen or unite your colony with another colony - (After killing the “spotty” queen).  Your bees are not getting enough food if they have no stored sugar water or no pollen in cells.  One good indication of this is if your bees are running over the frames, “shaking.”  If this is the case, feed them sugar water as well as frames with stored honey.  If you find eggs and emerging adult bees (being born) but no larva, then your hive is suffering from a lack of pollen stores.  In this case, give your bees a pollen patty (room temperature).  We may need to remove sugar feeders.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

May 26th - 28th: Regular hive check – Look for sugar water and pollen stores.  Look for all stages of brood.  Remove sugar water feeders as long as local plants are blooming and sugar stores are well-stored! Swarm prevention time!! – If you know your queen is healthy & laying from the evidence of eggs, larva and pupa, kill any “swarm cells/queen cells.”  If your queen is “honeybound” (has very little empty cells to lay in) then you need to reverse your hive bodies and add a super.  Depending on the weather, you may need to turn or take your entrance reducer out completely by now.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

*Remember: Queen cells are usually on the sides and bottom of frames – take your time, move slowly as you check for queen cells.  Sometimes it’s easy to miss them!  If you miss one, your hive is in danger of swarming!! Keep removing queen cells every 10-12 days.  Demaree handout is a good tool at this time. 

June 6th – 8th: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

June 16th – 18th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

June 28th – 30th: Perform a regular hive check.  Add supers Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

July 10th – 12th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

July 22nd- 24th: Perform a regular hive check.   Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

August 3rd-5th: Perform a regular hive check.   You could add your excluder now if you plan on harvesting and extracting honey on or after August 26th.  Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!

August 11th – 13th: Cage queens on hive(s) not being wintered-over! Make sure the cork is well secured and hang the queen between two frames.  (Make sure queen can be fed through the screen of the little queen box).

Sept. 3rd – 6th: Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees. 

September – To the end: Give bees sugar water so they will draw out any frames with bare foundation.

Sept. 10th – 12th:  In early morning or later afternoon (cool temps 35*-40*), Shop-vacuum bees and dump in compost.

Finally- Store your equipment by putting your queen excluder on top of your bottom board to discourage mice from entering and eating any left-over honey, pollen stores, or destroying next season’s wax!!  Cover up any holes in the hive with fine, mesh screen (staple).  Leave your hive outside on foundation bricks or some sort of elevated surface to discourage spring water damage.  Ratchet-strap hive together from top to bottom. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Syngenta and Bayer

CropScience Propose a

Comprehensive Action Plan

to Help Unlock EU Stalemate

on Bee Health

Syngenta News Release

Syngenta and Bayer CropScience today proposed an action plan to help unlock the EU stalemate on bee health. This follows the failure of the European Commission to reach agreement with Member States on an appropriate response to EFSA’s report on the theoretical risk to bee health from neonicotinoid pesticides.

John Atkin, Syngenta’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “This comprehensive plan will bring valuable insights into the area of bee health, whereas a ban on neonicotinoids would simply close the door to understanding the problem. Banning these products would not save a single hive and it is time that everyone focused on addressing the real causes of declining bee populations. The plan is based on our confidence in the safety of our products and on our historical commitment to improving the environment for bees.”

Dr. RĂ¼diger Scheitza, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience and Head of Strategy & Business Management, said: ”Even though all the evidence points to various parasites and diseases being the true cause of poor bee health, we are keen to do everything in our power to give consumers confidence in our products. The significant lack of agreement between the European Commission and the Member States needs a bold plan so that farmers in Europe can continue to produce the high quality affordable food, in a way that promotes the health of bees and other pollinators. We believe that such a plan as this can be delivered.”

The key features of the action plan are:

1. Significantly scale up the creation of pollen rich, flowering field margins across the EU to provide essential habitat and nutrition for bees.

2. Support for the establishment of a comprehensive field monitoring program for bee health including the detection of neonicotinoid crop protection products – particularly in maize, oilseed rape, sunflower and cotton.

3. Mandatory implementation of strict measures to mitigate the exposure risk to bees; these are currently already recommended by the manufacturers and effectively applied by most farmers as good agricultural practice.

4. Investment in and implementation, at the earliest opportunity, of new technologies which further reduce dust emissions from the planting of seed treated with neonicotinoid crop protection products.

5. Further investment in the research and development of new solutions for the main factors impacting bee health, which include parasites and viruses, and establishment of area-wide long-term pilot studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.

In further detail, the key features of the action plan are:

Significantly scale up the provision of pollen rich flowering field margins across the EU to be sown alongside bee attractive crops treated with neonicotinoids to provide habitat and nutrition.

  • This would build on Syngenta’s 10-year Operation Pollinator program which has demonstrated that these margins dramatically increase pollinator populations, including honeybees.
  • This would address one of the main factors identified by the European Commission in the decline in bee health.
Support for the establishment of a comprehensive field monitoring program for bee health including the detection of crop protection chemicals

  • A comprehensive program, following the guidelines for surveillance projects by the EU Reference Laboratory for honey bee health, shall be established.
  • The current monitoring work of the EU reference laboratories on bee health, supported by national bee institutes, should be reinforced and extended.
  • Within this new scope the detection of chemicals from crop protection, particularly neonicotinoids, and veterinary products should be included.
Mandatory implementation of strict measures to mitigate the exposure risk to bees
  • High quality treatment of seed to take place only in certified production sites which participate in a Quality Assurance Scheme.
  • Strict rules governing the use of treated seed, such as the mandatory use of deflectors in planting machinery, application only by professional and certified users, and improved information exchange between farmers and beekeepers.
  • Bayer Crop Science recently developed “SweepAir”, a new air-cleaning technology for maize sowing equipment offering a significant improvement in comparison to standard technology; first field tests with the prototype indicate a dust reduction well above 95%.
Invest in and roll out new technologies which further reduce the dust emissions from the planting of seed treated with neonicotinoid crop protection chemicals

  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta are both working on new solutions to further improve the coating of seeds treated with crop protection chemicals and the way they are planted to ensure that dust emissions are minimized.
  • Some of these solutions are ready to be deployed and we commit to continuing our investment in the research and development of these risk mitigation measures.
Further invest in the research and development of new solutions for the main factors impacting bee health

  • The European Commission identifies disease and viruses such as Varroa destructor, American foulbrood, European foulbrood, Nosema spp., and honey bee viruses as the main cause of the decline in bee health.
  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta have both invested in the research and development of new solutions to these parasites, diseases and viruses and commit to stepping up our activities in this area.
  • Bayer CropScience and Syngenta commit to supporting area-wide long-term pilot studies which demonstrate their effectiveness.
Pesticide Combination

Affects Bees' Ability to Learn

Two new studies have highlighted a negative impact on bees' ability to learn following exposure to a combination of pesticides commonly used in agriculture. The researchers found that the pesticides, used in the research at levels shown to occur in the wild, could interfere with the learning circuits in the bee's brain. They also found that bees exposed to combined pesticides were slower to learn or completely forgot important associations between floral scent and food rewards.

In the study published today (27th March 2013) in Nature Communications, the University of Dundee's Dr. Christopher Connolly and his team investigated the impact on bees' brains of two common pesticides: pesticides used on crops called neonicotinoid pesticides, and another type of pesticide, coumaphos, that is used in honeybee hives to kill the Varroa mite, a parasitic mite that attacks the honey bee.

The intact bees' brains were exposed to pesticides in the lab at levels predicted to occur following exposure in the wild and brain activity was recorded. They found that both types of pesticide target the same area of the bee brain involved in learning, causing a loss of function. If both pesticides were used in combination, the effect was greater.

The study is the first to show that these pesticides have a direct impact on pollinator brain physiology. It was prompted by the work of collaborators Dr. Geraldine Wright and Dr. Sally Williamson at Newcastle University who found that combinations of these same pesticides affected learning and memory in bees. Their studies established that when bees had been exposed to combinations of these pesticides for 4 days, as many as 30% of honeybees failed to learn or performed poorly in memory tests. Again, the experiments mimicked levels that could be seen in the wild, this time by feeding a sugar solution mixed with appropriate levels of pesticides.

Dr. Geraldine Wright said: "Pollinators perform sophisticated behaviours while foraging that require them to learn and remember floral traits associated with food. Disruption in this important function has profound implications for honeybee colony survival, because bees that cannot learn will not be able to find food."

Together the researchers expressed concerns about the use of pesticides that target the same area of the brain of insects and the potential risk of toxicity to non-target insects. Moreover, they said that exposure to different combinations of pesticides that act at this site may increase this risk.

Dr. Christopher Connolly said: "Much discussion of the risks posed by the neonicotinoid insecticides has raised important questions of their suitability for use in our environment. However, little consideration has been given to the miticidal pesticides introduced directly into honeybee hives to protect the bees from the Varroa mite. We find that both have negative impact on honeybee brain function."

"Together, these studies highlight potential dangers to pollinators of continued exposure to pesticides that target the insect nervous system and the importance of identifying combinations of pesticides that could profoundly impact pollinator survival."

This research is part of the Insect Pollinators Initiative, joint-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Defra, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust under the auspices of the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) partnership.

Click here to see a digital sample of the American Bee Journal.

To subscribe to the American Bee Journal click here and
choose digital or the printed version.

For a calendar of scheduled beekeeping short courses and meetings, check our Events section of our website:

Friday, March 15, 2013

FOR SALE Multi-Purpose Water Jacketed Tank

Below is a link to Dadant's photo of their 25 gallon multi-purpose water jacketed tank.  This is a great tool for keeping honey from sugaring while you are extracting and bottling.  Dadant's price is over $1000 not including shipping.  I am asking $900.00.  Please email me at if you are interested.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Honeybees Arrive One Month From Today!!

Beekeepers who have ordered from Steve Victors of Alaska Wildflower Honey will receive their beloved honey-producers exactly one month from today on 4/13/13 or 11 days later on 4/24/13.  Preparations:  Be sure you have a beesuit and it wouldn't hurt to purchase your sugar at this time.  I buy 25 or 50 lb. bags from Costco in Anchorage or Sam's in Fairbanks.  Remember the ratio is 1:1.  Sugar water will mold if you mix it too far in advance so wait to mix it.  You could also purchase a spray bottle for your hiving.  They are $0.99 at Home Depot (standard) - You don't need a Catalac for a spray bottle!  Pollen patties will be available for sale when you pick-up your bees.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bayer, the global chemical company, is manufacturing a chemical that new evidence
 shows is killing off bees.

Click here to tell Bayer to take this product off the market.

30% of our crops -- and 90% of wild plants -- rely on bees to thrive.

Bayer has paid for biased research that "proves" its chemical isn't a problem.
But now independent scientists in Europe have discovered that Bayer's chemical
is a high risk to bees.

Bayer makes everything from Alka-Seltzer to Berocca to flea treatments for pets.
Bayer knows that it needs to keep its customers happy. If it realizes that its
customers are outraged, it will have to pull its bee-poisoning pesticide off the market.

Join RootsAction and SumOfUs in signing this petition to Bayer now.

The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid. Neonicotonoids are
     soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping
for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by different chemicals that
 don't soak so deeply into our crops. But companies like Bayer make a fortune
 from selling neonicotinoids - so they'll do everything they can to protect their profit.

It's not just bees that are hurt by these chemicals. Research on rats found that
neonicotinoids may also hurt human health, especially the developing brain. But as
with the bees, we don't know as much as we should about the health hazards, because
 companies like Bayer spend millions on research which muddies the water with
biased studies. For Bayer, people's health plays a distant second to their huge profits.

Bayer will feel the pinch if you join RootsAction and SumOfUs in demanding
an end to its bee killing by clicking here.

Please forward this email widely to like-minded friends.

-- The team

P.S. Our small staff is supported by contributions from people like you; your donations
are greatly appreciated.

P.P.S. RootsAction is an independent online force endorsed by Jim Hightower, Barbara
Ehrenreich, Cornel West, Daniel Ellsberg, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Klein, Bill Fletcher
Jr., Laura Flanders, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, Coleen Rowley, Frances Fox
Piven, and many others.

Wired: Controversial Pesticide Linked to Bee Collapse

Friday, March 8, 2013

Last Chance for a Bee Class this Spring!!

Sat. 3/16/13 & 3/23/13 (4 hrs. each Sat. for a total of 8 hrs.)
Monroe Catholic School Multi-Purpose Room
Cost: $150.00 per family

• How I got involved in beekeeping. What is beekeeping? How much honey will I get? How much  will this all cost me?
• Equipment necessary to keep bees in Alaska
• Biology and races of honeybees
• Members of the hive and their duties
• Where can I get bee equipment? Should I get new, used or build my own?
• Getting equipment ready for arrival of bees.
• Insulation, feeding bees properly
• What to do when the bees arrive
• Is my queen marked? (queen marking tool)
• Management of honeybee colonies in Alaska, the beekeepers calendar
• Running 2-Queen Hives
• Swarming and how to prevent it
• Honeybee diseases
• Extracting your Alaska honey
• What to do at the end of the season/Wintering Over
• Storing your equipment
• Beeswax candle making
• Wrap up questions and discussion