Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Science-Based Art
Instructor: Dawn Cogan 
To register, email Dawn at sciencebasedart@yahoo.com or call Dawn at (907)460-6050.

This workshop/course can be taken for 1 college credit through the University of Alaska, Bristol Bay https://www.uaf.edu/bbc/

To register for the accredited course, call Toll Free: 1-800-478-5109

3/3/17 6-9PM
3/4/17 10AM -5PM
3/5/17 11AM - 2PM

Monroe Catholic School - 615 Monroe Street, Fairbanks, AK 99701

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 the arrival of bees
Hands-on Project: Construct a beehive in class
• 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 Beekeeper's 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

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017 Beekeeper's Calendar for Alaska's Interior

2017 Beekeeper’s Calendar - Alaska’s Interior
By Dawn Cogan of Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC
Below is a tentative schedule for beekeeping in Interior Alaska for 2017.  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: http://sciencebasedart.blogspot.com/ 
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) below honey supers three weeks prior to extraction, ensuring the queen is in the brood boxes, so all the brood will hatch out before harvesting and extracting.
April 15th: Honeybees arrive in Monroe Catholic School parking lot on the gym side of the school, usually in the early evening (between 5:00 and 8:00pm).
April 20th – April 22nd: First 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.
Do not let sugar water run out!
Keep filling feeder(s) every 3-5 days without doing a full hive check.
April 30th  - May 1st: Perform a complete hive check (50* or warmer). 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.
Do not let sugar water run out!
Keep filling feeder(s) every 3-5 days without doing a full hive check.
May 9th – 11th: Perform a complete hive check. You should have several frames of brood (eggs, larva & pupa) and some 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 at this time.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.

May 19th – 21st: Perform a complete 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 and laying from evidence of eggs, larva and pupa, kill any “swarm cells/queen cells.”  If your queen is “honey-bound” (has very little empty cells to lay eggs 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. 
May 29th – June 1st: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
June 10th – June 13th: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance. Add two honey supers now.
June 20th – June 23rd: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
June 30th – July 2nd: Perform a regular hive check.  Make sure to keep any grasses, etc. cut short in front of hive entrance.
July 12th – 14th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
July 22nd  – 23rd : Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 2nd – 4th: Perform a regular hive check.  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).  If wintering over, add your excluder now to harvest and extract honey on or after August 25th. If you add the excluder make double sure your highness is below the excluder. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 12th – 14th: Perform a regular hive check. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
August 22nd  – 24th : Rob honey and/or perform regular hive check. Extract honey and give “sticky” frames back to bees. Keep entrance free of weeds and grass!
September – To the end: After robbing most to all honey, give bees sugar water so they will draw out any bare foundation frames and have nourishment to clean up drawn-out wax. Give them back the extracted, “sticky” frames to clean up.
September (a few days to 1 week after giving bees sticky frames):  If you are not wintering over, in early morning or early evening (cool temps 35*-40*), Shop-vacuum bees and dump in compost.
Finally- Store your equipment by putting your queen excluder between the bottom board and the bottom brood box 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 mold, mildew, and spring water damage.  Ratchet-strap hive bodies together from top to bottom.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Honeybee Shipments from Steve and Donna Victors

Steve Victors

12:40 PM (3 hours ago)
to me
Hi Dawn,

Just sent this out to the group.

Just so that you know.

At this point we have 292 packages for the Interior on the 15th.


Good Afternoon Beekeepers,

We opened up bee orders when we returned from California two weeks ago after setting up the details of this April's shipment with our supplier.  I sent out a note to all of you to let you know that we were accepting orders through our website.  In the last two weeks we sold 80% of our available bees.  If this rate continues I predict that we will have sold out of our supply by this time next week.  As of this writing we have 49 packages left on the Interior/Peninsula day (the 15th) and 194 left on the 22nd.

If you want bees for this year, I would encourage you to order soon.

I am sure that there are some beekeepers who are waiting to see how well their wintering colony is doing before committing to buying a replacement package. Finding a replacement package in April is a bit difficult to do.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

After we sell out of bees we still have two potential supplies of bees.  We classify them into two groups - Insurance Bees and Canceled Orders.

When we sell out of our supply, we take names of customers who are looking for bees and those who missed out on the order because they were too late or they were waiting to see how their colony made it out of winter.  These "Wait Listed" customers always seem to exceed the supply of available packages.

Insurance Bees:

Each time we travel to bring in a load of bees we know that we are taking a risk.  Transporting bees is a difficult thing to do. Things can, and will go wrong.  Our goal is to show up at the appointed place on the appointed hour with all of the bees in great shape.  It is not always possible to do.  All it takes is a package in the middle of the stack that didn't get enough fresh air or cooling and somebody's day is less than what it could be. To avoid this, when we bring a load of bees up, there are several packages in that load that have not been sold that are ready to replace any package that did not travel well.  If all of the packages travel well (and most years they do,) these bees go to beekeepers who are signed up for the following delivery and want their bees a week early.

Using hypothetical numbers...  assuming that we carry eight extra packages per load, in the first shipment we are able to replace up to eight packages.  If all packages travel well, eight packages go to the "Second Shipment" beekeepers who get them a week earlier than they expected.  On the second shipment there are already 8 packages that were delivered early and if the second shipment goes well there are now an additional 8 packages from this load added to the previous 8.    A total 16 packages can go early to beekeepers from the third shipment.  They also get them a week earlier than they planned.  When it comes to the third shipment there are 16 packages already delivered a week early and if this third shipment goes well there are now 24 packages surplus.

Because we distribute these Insurance packages on the same day that the shipment comes in nobody gets old packages.   They get a fresh package a week early.  We also roll all packages forward to the last day because if the first load exceeds eight replacement packages, the replacement package comes in the following week and is taken out of the extras for that day.  Under this plan we can cover a loss of an average of 8 packages per shipment.  So it is only on the last day, on the last load, on the last location, that we are able to determine how many extra packages we truly have. We then call down our "Wait List."

Canceled Orders:

A number of beekeepers who winter their colonies order a package of bees for the colonies that they think might not make it through the winter.  Sometimes assessing these colonies in very early spring is a tough thing to do.

Many times the colony that goes into winter with the beekeeper in doubt about its potential success  wind up failing.  Those questions that you had asked yourself in the fall should be reviewed... Did they store enough food?  How were the mites?  Do I have the right kind of queen?  Is the hive sheltered or insulated enough?  Is there enough airflow through the hive?  If the answers to these questions is unsure the odds are against you...

If you think that the hive is not likely to make it but just might... order a package.

It is relatively easy for us to cancel an order and refund a credit card.  Although we do not store the credit card data, we can log into the credit card processor's website and reverse charges up to 90 days without having to ask for your card details again.  All it requires is to know the client's name.

If you choose this option we ask you to do a couple of things for us:

Please mark the order in the notes section upon checkout as "Potential Cancel".

If you cancel please do so by March 15th.  This allows us enough time to make the package available to our "Wait List" beekeepers.

Steve and Donna

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Healthy Colony Checklist by Dick Rogers

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