Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring Bees and Miracles. . .

Steve and Donna Victors delivered yet another beautiful shipment of honeybees to the Interior yesterday afternoon. I'm so impressed with the brand new packages, very few dead bees in the bottom of the boxes and it's been over two weeks since the first shipment arrived and I haven't gotten any calls for replacement queens. In my opinion, we have the best supplier in the state of Alaska!! People who got their bees on April 12th should be seeing all four stages of the metamorphosis of our honeybees now. The pupal stage should present itself in a full oval pattern without empty or "spotty" cells. If you are seeing a lot of drones (several hundred or thousand) there's something wrong. For people who hived their colonies onto bare foundation, keep feeding sugar water and don't let it run out as this is mandatory for comb build-up. The bees are bringing in plenty of pollen so no need for pollen patties until we have cold or rainy weather in the forecast for more than a day or two. Make sure you have a water source near by! People with drawn-out comb can add a second box anytime now (underneath the first box). Entrances can be increased during the day and reduced before it gets below 40* at night. I did a hive check at the Ekblad home last weekend and their new hives look so nice out in their back yard. We found lots of queen evidence in both hives, watched the bees bringing in lots of willow pollen and heard their peaceful hum. All the while, we were discussing how great a Creator we have to be able to participate in such miracles!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finding Eggs and Larva!

So how do I get all the bees off the frame so I can see into the back of the cells to hopefully find eggs and larva? The most gentle way is to blow air from your mouth onto the bees and its like magic! They will willingly scurry away from the cells you are trying to see inside of. By now, everyone should have at least one frame with a healthy brood pattern. If the brood is spotty then you may have a queen problem. If you can't find any queen evidence then you may need to try using a magnifying device. If you still think you have queen trouble after checking again, don't hesitate to call me and I will do a hive check alongside you. If you have a queenless hive the bees will attempt to make other queens but this process is impossible without an existing egg laid by the original queen. Catching queenless colonies early is the key to success because if not re-queened within a couple weeks, the colony population drops to dangerous levels. Remember, the bees only live for up to 45 days and it takes 21 days for each new generation to be born. Also, remember not to leave any extra space between your frames (1/4 inch is the perfect amount). Frames should be snug up against each other with any extra space left to one side or the other of the brood box. Keep feeding sugar water as this is the only source of nourishment and comb building resources the bees have at this time.

2014 Beekeeper's Calendar

2014 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 12th: Honeybees arrive in 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. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

First Hive Check of the Season

By Friday, 4/18/14 or Sat. 4/19/14, we will perform our first hive checks of the season. (We never open the hive when the outside temperatures are below 50*)

Below is a list of what we are doing/looking for:

Filling up the sugar water (don't let your bees run out of sugar syrup!!)
An empty queen cage (which should be removed from the hive and stored for the fall queen caging event)
Eggs (1/4 the size and about the same shape as a grain of white rice)
Larva (plump worm-like)
Queen (If you do not find your queen but you do have eggs and/or larva, then you more than likely have a queen, BUT. . . if you do not find the queen and there is no "royal evidence" (i.e. eggs/larva) then your hive may be queenless. I do have several back-up queens on hand. They are $25 a piece in the case you need to re-queen.

Stay tuned for updates. Pretty soon the bees will be hauling in willow pollen! Watch for those pussy willows!!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Estimated Arrival of our Bees tonight.

I just spoke with Steve and Donna Victors and we estimate they will arrive about 8PM tonight with our honeybees.

Live Hiving Demonstration 4/12/14

I will be hiving four colonies tomorrow afternoon at 3PM. One colony will be hived into a top bar and the other three will be hived in to Langstroths.
Location 1709 Carr Avenue off Aurora Drive. (East Side) 
For directions, call me on my cell: 460-6050

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Live Hiving Demonstration for Science-Based Art Beekeeping Students

Families who attended my beekeeping class in February are invited to a live hiving demonstration either Sat evening or Sunday afternoon when temperatures reach 50* or warmer. Location 1709 Carr Avenue off Aurora Drive. (East Side) Talk with me on Sat. if you have any questions.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Message from Steve and Donna Victors

Bees for Fairbanks will be distributed from the Monroe High School parking lot on the side that borders Betty Street.  We will update the home answering machine from several points along the Parks Highway as we progress northward.  This will allow the beekeepers from Delta Junction to have the time to travel to Fairbanks and arrive close to the same time that we do with the bees.
As of yet we do not have a beekeeper who has let us know that they are willing to carry bees for others from Fairbanks to the Delta area.  When one lets us know, we will send that information out.

Steve and Donna

April 12th Honeybee Shipment

I just spoke with Steve Victors tonight. He is currently in Seattle and heading down to Sacramento, CA tomorrow morning. He will assist in getting our honeybees packaged and delivered to the airport there around 3PM on Friday 4/11/14. Our bees will arrive in Anchorage on Sat. morning. Steve and Donna estimate their arrival at Monroe Catholic School (Gym Parking Lot) will be 6PM . Stay tuned for updates. . .

Monday, April 7, 2014

Science-Based Art Classes for Fall 2014 Are Posted!!

Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC will be offering more classes in the Fall, 2014!
To see syllabus information, just click on the links above.
Dates and times will be posted very soon!

Honeybees Arrive this Saturday!

This coming Saturday, April 12th is the expected arrival of Steve Victors first delivery of honeybees.
Pollen patties will be available for sale on Sat. for $5.00 each.