Spring 2014 shapshot

ExposedHBSurvival through spring brood up was hard this year.  Most of my bees made it through January, but then died off as the weather warmed.

As of May 1st, 2014:

7 hives are under the Rausch family jurisdiction (28% survival).
(5 Langstroth, 2 Warre)

18 hives have died since September (72% loss)
(9 Langstroth, 5 Warre, 2 Top Bar, 2 Bee gum, 1 exposed hive placed in a box)

Reasons for losses:
1 – Splitting
2 – Starvation
4 – Too small
1 – Yellow Jacket predation
10 – Uncertain (i.e. not an obvious management error)

 

 

 

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Fall 2013 snapshot

An Exposed nest in Des Moines, WA

An Exposed nest in Des Moines, WA

As of September 23rd, 2013:

25 hives are under the Rausch family jurisdiction (official ownership of Nathan, Abigail, or Joel)
11 different locations

Ages:
4 from 2011
4 from 2012
17 from 2013 (11 from swarms; 3 from splits; 1 bee gum log; 2 exposed nest re-locations)

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Why honey bees are dying for commercial beekeepers

Workers are bringing in Cedar & Hazelnut pollen

Workers are bringing in Cedar & Hazelnut pollen

Thank you, Bill, for sending me this article:

Scientists discover what’s killing the bees and it’s worse than you thought

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite.

Most disturbing, bees that ate pollen contaminated with fungicides were three times as likely to be infected by the parasite. Widely used, fungicides had been thought to be harmless for bees as they’re designed to kill fungus, not insects, on crops like apples.

This makes perfect sense to me.

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2013 Wasp Collections

20130716_191956

Here I am, removing aerial yellow jackets in Renton

 

My usual approach is to collect the airborne foragers first, and then remove the nest at the end.  This gives the returning wasps the visual feedback to fly to their usual entrance, where the vacuum captures them.

Aerial Yellow Jackets in Bellevue

Aerial Yellow Jackets in Renton Highlands

in-ground yellow jacket nest

in-ground yellow jacket nest in Sommerset

More photos of this year’s work: Continue reading

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Collecting a swarm from a tree

Watch me collect a swarm from 15 ft up a tree with a bucket and extension pole.  All the remaining bees moved to the box in order to follow the queen.

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A swarm on the grass? No problem!

 

The bamboo was not strong enough to hold the bees above the grass

The main cluster went into the box from the top, the rest walked in from below.  I closed up the bottom after they were done walking in.  Watch these bees march off the grass into their hive:

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The first swarm of 2013

There is a stand of old trees behind the hotel where this swarm was collected.  Many of the trees look like they could host feral bees.  The queen had already laid eggs in the small piece of comb drawn where the cluster formed.

 

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2013 March status

Mason Bees and Honey Bees at backyard host in Renton

Mason Bees and Honey Bees (the Lisa Hive) at backyard host in Renton

9 Overwintered hives hosted in other backyards.

5 bait hives placed with my backyard hosts with hives named: Emily, Emma, Jackie, Lisa, & Lucy.

8 Mason bee blocks & cocoons placed for spring (7 backyard hosts + my own home)

7 Overwintered hives & nucs at my home place (2 are Abigail’s, 4 are nucs too small to place out, 1 is a Top Bar Hive populated in 2011).

4 on waiting list for hives to be populated with 2013 swarms.

 

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2012 year in review

1 hive overwintered

First swarm of 2013

First swarm of 2013

3 cut-outs collected

1 trap out collected to support a split w/capped queen cell

1 successful bait hive

12 swarms collected for my apiary

2 swarms collected for Abigail’s birthday present

2 swarms collected for others

3 dwindling hives combined with others in early fall

1 dead-out prior to January 1st, 2013

7 swarm calls were unsuccessful (the bees had left before I got there, or were too high for me to reach)

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Nice Varroa not Resistant Bees

Varroa destructor mite on a bee pupaI was given this article last weekend (August 11 & 12, 2012) at a honeybee workshop hosted by Jacqueline Freeman and Michael Thiele.  It fundamentally challenges the perspective of raising and breeding resistant or hygienic bees.

“Honey bees of the Arnot Forest: a population of feral colonies persisting with Varroa destructor in the northeastern United States”; Thomas D. Seeley 2007

Seeley_Arnot_feral.pdf

Continue reading

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