Monthly Archives: December 2014

Dec 24 2014

Christmas eve... oh the excitement!  Sandy put a digital clock down stairs...not allowed up stairs til 7:00am! :)

Christmas eve… oh the excitement!  The kids setting out milk and cookies, and the little ones were claiming their gifts.  Sandy put a digital clock down stairs…not allowed up stairs til 7:00am! 🙂

Rain rain freezing rain.  Heavy on the trees.  Starting to lose branches.  And now after a bit of snow, it will make for an amazing Christmas morning!

Rain rain freezing rain. Heavy on the trees. Starting to lose branches. And now after a bit of snow, it will make for an amazing sight on Christmas morning!

Dec 22 2014

As our farm continues to sit in this freezing fog the Hoar frost display continues to

As our farm continues to sit in this freezing fog the Hoar frost  continues to display its spectacular beauty.  Yesterday the sun peeked through for an hour.  This does prove old man winter has a soft side.

Inches of Hoar frost growth on everything.  A rare sight to be appreciated.

Inches of Hoar frost growth on everything. A rare sight to be appreciated.

IMG_2917

SuperDFM – Honeybee

DFM honeybees

“SuperDFM – HoneyBee contains a combination of LAB’s as well as beneficial
Bacillus spp., and yeast used to diminish disease in bees and brood.
Feed both Spring and Fall for Healthier Hives – 10 grams (one table spoon) per hive.

Establish Beneficial Microflora
✔ Helps Increase Bee Colony Health
✔ May help inhibit chalkbrood (Ascophera apis)
✔ Microflora have a positive effect on Vitellogenin (fat body) formation
(The health of honey bee colony is dependent upon
vitellogenin reserves of the nurse bees)
✔ Yeasts help synthesize B-vitamins needed for bee health
✔ Quick and easy to use
✔ Sold in heat sealed and moisture proof pack”

I have been in conversation with beekeeper in Michigan who is currently involved in research trial’s with Strong Microbial Inc out of Milwaukee Wisconsin.  They have developed a product which inoculates the hive with beneficial bacteria along with over thirteen active agents (all listed) to increase the health of the honeybees digestive tract.  beesource.com

On my farm we have available pollen from April right though September. Supplemental feeding has not been a focus. But I think the issue we are starting to face up here is the amount of nutrition bees are actually able to extract from all this available pollen. A substantial part of this diet has been treated with fungicide and that is what the bees are using to build the winter populations. This is the point of time prairie beekeepers, who make a living on the yellow country side, need to focus our attention.  Not only from negative effects fungicide MAYBE having on the bees ability to process food, but also stresses from diseases like noseama that ARE having huge negative implication on how the bees are utilizing nutrition.  Treatments to control noseama may also be negatively affecting the living organisms in the bees gut further adding to the entire problem.  Secondary infections like Chalkbrood set in and take the edge off a growing colony.  

fatbees1-2My objective as a beekeeper is to create a healthier bee digestive tract.  This product has hooked my interest. Inoculation of the hive with beneficial bacteria along with micro flora builder agents ensure the bees digestive tract has a thriving micro flora population.  In cooperation with Strong Microbial’s field agent, I will be running an independent 50 hive test trial of this product.  As recommended by the field agent, I will give the test hives one treatment in the spring as the bees build their summer populations, and one treatment late summer as the bees prepare winter bees.  These hives will be managed exactly the same as the rest of the hives in my apiary except I plan on also running micro trials using and not using fumagillin with none inoculated and inoculated hives.  It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.  Strong Microbial test trials have already shown a 10 fold decrease on the bees intestinal microbes from using fumagillin.  Im looking at seeing if treatments with fumagillin followed up with a treatment of DFM will show signs of improved hive performance.  

Unlike the microbiologists at Strong Microbial, I will not be analyzing the bees microbial populations in their digestive tract unless they request samples.  I will be merely measuring the efficacy from the beekeepers perspective, observing actual hive performance.

Dec 21 2014

Oh the wonder This is why I get big Christmas trees and load on the lights

Oh the wonder
This is why I get big Christmas trees and load on the lights..  The electric train set up with a little lite up village topped off the Christmas tree excitement!! 

When old man winter is in a good mood, he can sit back and display some spectacular beauty.

When old man winter is in a good mood, he can sit back and display some spectacular beauty.

Nov 30 2014

IMG_2707

Today I spent some time in the wintering shed sweeping the floor, removing the entrance reducers and playing around with the Thermal Image Gun.  It was nice to have a motivating factor (the Thermal Gun) to help me push through the entrance work, 900 times over…  I had to use pliers as the entrances were glued and many hives were clustered up against them.  I had swept a wheel barrel of bees which seemed like lots to me but I noticed looking back years into this blog I say the exact same thing every time I sweep!  lol

IMG_2755

I finally figured how to use the Thermal Image gun.  I locked the temperature scale to keep the heat signatures consistent as I walked around the isles.  Most importantly I found the focus, which helped define my picture.  As you can see this device will be very useful for the Crop Insurance agent determine if there are actually live hives stored away in the boxes.  There is no way a beekeeper can mis represent the condition of his stock even to an agent who knows nothing about beekeeping.  My purpose of renting this gun was to see if I could read the heat signature of the hives to be able to assess the strength and condition of the hives while stacked in the shed.

IMG_2751

The application of this unit did show some usefulness in assessing the hives girth.  There were a few variable which prevented me from being able to accurately and quickly measure the size of each hive.  One being cluster position.  This picture show hives at the end of the row, which shows the front and side of the hives.  To get an accurate measurement of the hives size I would need to be able to look at more than just the front of each hive.

IMG_2757

The other huge variable I had not considered was the activity differences between hives.  As seen in this picture, the two top left hives show a large heat signature, while the hives around them show little.  Four out of the six hives around these two hot hives hold an identical cluster size….

So… all in all, this gun was neat to play around with in the shed and it did prove my hives are in good shape but using it to assess hive strength proved to variable to accurately measure.  Useful for the Insuracne agent who knows nothing about bees but not so useful for the beekeeper who can get just as much information out of the hive by looking in the front entrance.