Monthly Archives: March 2017

March 30 2017 – 2

Originally though as house cleaning, actually is dead bees walking out to die…

For what it’s worth; After running my nosema samples through Sequential Sampling to determine my apiarie’s 10% infection rate (safe zone), I gathered the remaining bees from each sample into a composite sample and sent them away for couunts at the NBDC. My counts have returned.
Of the 10% infected bees, my non treatment infected bees held a lower count (2m counts) as compared to my fumagillin treated infected bees (10m spore counts). Also my Thymol control group infected bees counted 7m spores. So to summarize from this, my apiary holds a low nosema infection rate (6-10% across the ALL test groups), but of those infected bees the non treatment group held lower actual counts than the treated groups.  The low infection rate but higher counts per infected bee is why my samples come back so high yet my apiary seems to perform well.  I need to watch my Infection rate, if it starts to climb up past 30% my apiary performance may suffer.  But I don’t know what I would do about it.  If my fumagillin trial tells me anything, treatment only makes Infection worst…

I’m going to give these bees a good week of flying and then run samples again to see how things change.


March 30 2017

The clouds stayed away throughout the day yesterday and the sun brought my bee yards to life. The amount of bee activity was simply fantastic. About 5:00 the clouds rolled over and rain came with it. Nevertheless I forged ahead with my rain jacket and hauled out the last 600 hives. Hauling bees out of the wintershed in pouring rain in March will be marked down as my first. I placed my entire apiary in an old reclaimed gravel pit. Typically I set a couple hundred hives in there, this year I set out nearly 1500 hives. With very little frost this gravel pit yard is the only yard I can travel. I just about got stuck in that yard a couple times too thanks to this heavy rain. It feels good to have the bees out again.  Spot checks throughout the move looked good.  Sandy says I don’t ever post pics of myself, below is a 2:30 at night,wet, cold and tired pic of me moving hives in pouring rain.  🙂

March 29 2017

6:00 start yesterday and I was back and loaded with my second load before dark. I don’t like moving too early in the day because of bee drift but the sun hid behind the clouds early in the day and it was cool enough I did not get many bees in my face. 600 hives out last night, the other half will go out tonight.  I moved hives out last night on a double digit sunny forecast.  After my last load last night the forecast changed to single digit cloudy rainy and wind…but this morning I woke up to sun with a clear forecast again.  March weather forecasting at its finest.

March 28 2017 – 2

Nucs are out, the singles will be taken out over the next two nights. A round trip takes me 2 1/2 hours, so 16-20hrs of work is ahead of me. I want to catch the next two days of double digits before possible rain on Friday, which looks like could lead to a fantastic weekend and week ahead. The truck is loaded and sitting inside the shed ready to go. 6:00 I’m moving.

Mixing up some supplement. Patties go on next week.

March 28 2017

I set all the nucs out last night, two truck loads. Basically set them all out on ice…first time I’ve ever done that. I took a peak, the nucs look good but some are quite light.

March 26 2017

6″ of ice on my loading dock and in my spring yards. I brought out the big flame to help quicken the thaw on my loading dock. The days sun helped rot that hard packed snow in my yards And I was able to blow a layer of slush off the ice.  I might actually be setting hives out on ice this spring,…I’ll see if another day of sun will help.

Frustrated with my continual over heated wintershed I decided to rearrange my vent air intake.  I striped all my light trap baffles to allow for more unrestricted air flow. Just a bit of light shines through now but the bees don’t seem to bother. Today I was able to keep the shed at exactly the outdoor temp and my hive bearding disappeared. I think I know what my problem was.  I don’t think the warm shed caused the issue, I think the extreme low pressure my fans created trying to suck through my light trap restrictions caused the bees to beard. My windows are not whistling anymore and my bees are not bearding.  Adequate air exchange.  Who knows!  What made me think of this was I noticed my teeth hurt when I would work in my office while mild weather Forced my fans on high.  Whistling window, aching teeth, bearding bees,…

March 24 2017

  1. Yesterday it was Ag in the Classroom at the Manitou Elementary school and I was invited to speak to represent the honey bee industry!  It was quite a day, 12 groups moved through my pavilion, these kids were bubbling with questions.  I brought a power point presentation which walked through what honey bees are, why honey bees are important, and exactly what I do as a beekeeper.  It was an interesting day and I was happy to participate.   Reoccurring comment, “why are honey bees important?”…”because they make chocolate,..”.   Lol

March 22 2017

Minus 10 and the ditches ran all day yesterday. The sun has its power back and the forecast looks awesome. Time to set out hives once again. I scouted my spring yards yesterday and found banks of ice and hard snow…too hard to blow and too deep to push. I think I am forced to wait through a few warm melting days to clear my yards.  One factor in my favour this spring is the ease within my shed. My hives sit contently clustered and motionless. Unlike years past where my hives literally start bearding and running as if in a panic…which induces a panic in me to get them out. I think I’ll use this state of ease and hold them inside until sometime next week and start moving when my yards clear…and muddy, lol.  Oh how every year is never the same!

March 20 2017

This slide, diluted with distilled water, is packed with nosema.
The other 9 bees from this hive tested zero for spores. I focused through this sample top to bottom, packed with spores.

For what it’s worth, here are the results of my nosema analysis project.  Last fall I sampled the hives as they went in for winter and sent a few composite samples away to the National Bee Diagnosis Centre.  I had separated my Sampling into test groups and the results came back all over the map with group results between 0.45m to over 10m counts.  Recommendation to treat immediately.  No action taken because no stress symptoms were being observed.

Lately I’ve adopted the Sequential Sampling nosema analysis technique found on Randy Oliver’s website  It requires a lot of individual analysis so I bought an Omani compound microscope magnification to 400x, to conduct the testing.  This technique simply measures severity.  Every hive has 10 bees simply analyzed for a field view of nosema infection and then ranked according to the number of bees found infected;

Sequential Sampling, “safe zone (under 20%) danger zone (over 40%)” ;

0 positive bees out of 5, or no more than 1 positive out of 10 indicates < 10% infection

3 positive bees out of 5, or at least 4 positives out of 10 indicates > 30% infection

None of my test groups showed any difference in infection rates.  Over all, 25 hives randomly sampled from 1500 hives, 250 bees analyzed; 235 bees showing zero infection and 14 bees showing heavy infection.  An overall infection rate of roughly 6% which easily falls into the safe zone.  Only one hive in the bunch showed moderate nosema infection with 40% testing positive.   I have gathered bees from my samples to send to the NBDC to be further tested in a composite sample.  I’m curious at what count the samples will come back at.  It will be interesting to see how these infected bees packed full of spores will influence the composite sample.  I don’t have a grid otherwise I’d run the test myself.

This has been an Interesting project and if anything it has provided me with ease of mind knowing that this lingering background level of infection does not represent the bulk of my stock.  Last year counts ran as high as 25-75m spore counts yet I had one of the most productive springs on record. I’m going to carry out Sequential counts throughout the spring.

March 19 2017

400x magnification, sample of a bee gut full of partially digested pollen

Peering into the guts of my bees has been an interesting project. Not only have I gained a different level of understanding of nosema infection but I’ve also observed an interesting occurrence. Roughly 40-50% of the bees analyzed from each hive have their guts packed full of partially digested pollen, the other bees much less and less dense. After digging around I found this quote from;
“Winter bees, where they stop brewing brood completely, and they just load up their abdomens with all the protein that they can hold. And they just hunker down, and they wait for things to get better”
A few suggestions around my Facebook beekeeping groups is that the Empty gut bees were the last to emerge…nothing to gourge on.
The slide below caught my attention.  Through my analysis I kept running into these yellow egg looking objects in a few of my bee samples.  I again took my pic to the Facebook beekeeping groups which ended up identifying the objects as rust yeast.  Harmful or not, not quite sure.

In the hour between things today I pulled a sample from three hives and run them through. Out of the 30 bees I looked at I found only one bee with a severe nosema infection. My samples being fresh allowed me to view a live shot of microbial activity in the bees gut. Very interesting, and at that moment I realized how out of depth I am was as I peered into this vibrant micro ecosystem.

A slide full of microbial life