Monday, November 5, 2007

Another Learning Week

1st, check out fellow beekeeper and co worker Mike. Early November and he's extracting honey. I'm so jealous I may rob one frame from mine next weekend.

Anyway, seems like there is something to learn every week. This weekend I took half a day on Saturday to attend the Florida State Beekeepers Association 87th convention in Winter Haven.

I took a couple of classes on the proper methods of doing a hive inspection. It was kind of neat to have the inspector pull out a frame loaded with bees, point out the queen, and pass the frame around to everyone. When it was handed to me all I could think was: "Lord, please don't let me drop this frame in front of everyone, look like a fool, and make the bees angry". The time we all took to make sure we had a good grip during the hand off makes me think we all felt the same way. I learned that I shouldn't inspect the hive as I dismantle it. Instead, it should first be dismantle down to the brood chamber, inspect it and then inspect the suppers as the hive is reassembled.

I also took classroom classes on Nucs and splits . Follow link for the best paper on The Advantages of Using Nucs, by Jamie Ellis, PhD. Also took his class on how to wisely use the Florida Management Calendar, and finally a class on the Migration of Africanized Bees in Florida.

The agricultural dept of Florida recommends that beekeepers not catch swarms of feral bees. The explanation is long and I don't think I could do it justice, but I'm a convert. Africanized bees are slowly diluting the feral honey bee population and slowly converting it over. They are completely adapted to do it.

Only disappointing thing from the convention was the lack of interest every one seems to have in organic beekeeping methods. Not that I want to be Mr. Organic. After all, I use plastic foundation instead of natural comb and BeeMax Polystyrene Hives instead of wooden hives. I just think a balance between the two methods would be more advantageous for hobbyist.

Speaking of organic treatments, yesterday (Sunday) I went ahead with the last of my tobacco smoke outs. Before smoking the hive I cleaned out the collection drawer and the mite average was still one/day, but the Small Hive Beetle number jumped up again. Below is the four day catch (Wed -> Saturday). From top to bottom: Four Mites, looks like seven but after zooming in three of the spots turned out to be just debris like the toothpick I left there, I used it to moved things around.Fifty Small Hive Beetle, give or take a few. That was a normal number during the summer and luckily they never seemed to get up in the hive.They are laying on some left over window screen that I use as a filter.

I checked the trap today, and after two days the SMH are down to normal (just 3). Since the weather has turned cooler I'm not sure if that has affected their reproduction cycle, or the tobacco smoke sort of camouflages the smell of the hive and they can't find it. That’s something to keep in mind and investigate later.The Mite count from Sunday night to Monday afternoon was 6. So obviously the tobacco has some effect on the mites. Below is a close up of one. I have gotten pretty good at spotting them in the tray, but I still use the macro lens to confirm.

Next week, inspection, and powder sugar shake (last step of treatment for Varroa Mite ).

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