Sunday, August 29, 2010
Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we are David & Sheri Burns, beekeepers, husband and wife team, here to bring you another lesson in beekeeping. Today, we’ll look at the greater wax moth that slips into our hives this time of the year and can be a challenge.
Before we begin our lesson, let me remind you that Sheri and I posted a new podcast. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.
LESSON 81: Pests & Diseases Part 2 The Great Wax Moth
Wax Moth: Friend or Foe?
David Burns, EAS Certified Master Beekeeper
Finally you have some time to fire up the smoker, put on your hat and veil and inspect your hive. It has been over a month since your last inspection. You are hoping to find lots of bees, lots of stored honey and a laying queen. But as soon as you lift up the inner cover, much to your surprise you find this strange looking webbing, like condensed spider webbing, all throughout your comb. The bee population is greatly reduced. And you notice these small 3/4" grubs in the comb and cocoons everywhere. You panic!
To a new beekeeper, seeing this for the first time is overwhelming. Everything was going so well and now your hive appears to be lost. What's going on? All beekeepers will experience this from time to time. What is it? It is Galleria mellonia L. Sounds terrible, doesn't it? The more common name is wax moth.
It is known as the greater wax moth and yes, there is a lesser wax moth, but typically it is the great wax moth that attacks our hives. Wax moth larvae are friends to fisherman, but to the beekeeper they are our foes.
In this article I want to describe the wax moth's activity in the hive, what to do when your hive is attacked and how to keep it from happening.
WAX MOTHS IN THE HIVE
Almost all beekeepers have experienced wax moths in the hive. It happens to the best of us. Wax moths can destroy colonies but typically only colonies that have become weak due to other issues. A strong colony does well to kill the adult wax moth if she enters the hive. A strong colony is quick to destroy wax moth eggs and larvae, preventing their take over. This is not the case when a hive is weak or if a strong colony has too much unprotected comb.
Let's sneak out into the apiary and figure out how the wax moth can take over a hive. Let's choose mid August to do our investigation. It was a hot and humid day and now it is a warm August night. The adult wax moth is flying around dodging car headlights and finally flies into our apiary, attracted to the smell of wax. The adult wax moth only lives a few days (at summer temperatures) and does not eat or drink. She flies into our test colony and slips past the guard bees and finds her way to a vacant corner inside the hive. There she begins to lay her eggs. She lays her eggs about 4-10 days after she emerges as an adult moth and lays around 300-600 eggs. Wax moth Larvae can crawl and enter surrounding hives as well.
Once in the larva stage the wax moth tunnels its way through the comb eating honey, pollen and sometimes beeswax, preferring darker comb, and finally spins its cocoon about 19 days later. These cocoons burrow into the wood slightly and once removed will leave small, striped indentations in the wood. As the population of wax moths grow, the remaining bees will finally abscond.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE WAX MOTHS IN YOUR HIVE
The damage can be mild to severe. It looks worse than it is. You can see wax moth droppings in the webbing and the webbing will sometimes make the frames difficult to separate. When you first saw wax moths in your hive it was because your hive became weak and could not defend itself from the wax moths. Perhaps you hive became queenless and bee population dropped. Little can be done once the wax moths have taken over your colony. The bees will eventually leave and you'll be left with bad looking comb. But don't despair. Fortunately you can kill all the larvae and eggs by freezing your combs and reusing them. 20 degrees (f) for 5 hours will kill all stages of wax moths in comb. Or only two hours at 5 degrees (f). Here in Illinois we have winter working with us to kill all left over wax moths in our stored comb. Stack your hive bodies and supers on a queen excluder to keep out mice and set them in an unheated out building for the winter. Your problems are solved. No more wax moths until next summer when new ones fly back into your hives.
HOW TO PREVENT WAX MOTHS
Your best control against wax moths is to have a strong colony. Be careful not to place more hive boxes on than what is necessary to control swarming. Too much empty space will give small hive beetles and wax moths room to spread. Weak colonies in large hives are very inviting to wax moths. Keep your colonies tight and strong.
When selling comb honey, the comb can contain eggs and small wax moth larvae, which can grow in a warm environment. This can be very alarming to a customer. Comb honey should be frozen to kill any potentially unseen wax moth eggs or small larvae.
· Wax moths occur around the world wherever bees are kept.
· Bees will not rebuild comb on plastic foundation where there has been wax moth damage unless the foundation is recoated with beeswax.
· Wax moth larvae can travel over 150 feet to a new hive.
· Sealed bee brood can become trapped by wax moth silken threads of webbing and die from not being able to emerge.
· Moth balls (Naphthalene) can no longer be used to protect stored comb not on the hive. Para-moth (paradichlorobenzen) is a more acceptable fumigant for use with comb stored off the hive.
I hope you have enjoyed our lesson today and Sheri and I want to thank you for viewing our beekeeping lessons and hope they are helpful to you. Please consider sending your beekeeping business our way. We know you can go to much bigger beekeeping companies so we appreciate you keeping us in mind.
Check out our complete teaching video on wax moths at:
http://www.honeybeesonline.com/video.html or view it below:
Until next time, BEE-have yourself!
Long Laney Honey Bee Farms
David & Sheri Burns
14556 N 1020 E Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841
Posted by Long Lane Honey Bee Farms at 11:49 PM
Friday, August 20, 2010
Hello friend, we are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois (where it has been very hot lately)!
The bees have been working hard to keep their hives cool by hauling in water. They use water in the hive by evaporating it as a cooling mechanism. We can’t complain…it’s August.
We live in an old farm house built in 1876, so it doesn’t have central air. A window unit here and there has kept things tolerable. When our house was built, a 4 lb bag of sugar cost 28 cents. A dozen oranges were 50 cents. A house of our size sold for $700. Honey was 10 cents a pound. In Wayne County Tennessee 168 farms produced 13,000 pounds of honey. Ten years earlier in 1860, 150 farms produced 17,000 pounds of honey. But enough reminiscing.
We are slowly adding a new feature to our basic beekeeping lessons by making them available as a PDF file, available for download or to print. CLICK HERE
Sheri and I produce STUDIO BEE LIVE, a beekeeping podcast. In addition to this podcast, I am now hosting a nation wide (world wide) beekeeping podcast called “Save The Bees”. This podcast has existed for some time through the Wild Life Pro Network and I just recently became the new host. What’s so fun about this podcast is that it is recorded LIVE on the internet. You can actually call in to the live recording and ask me questions or just shoot the breeze about bees. It’s low-key, home spun fun. If fact, I really need you to call in to make the show interesting! You can call in with any question you’d like to ask. They are recorded live each third Thursday of the month. Our next one is coming up September 16 at 7pm Central Time. I will be talking about equipment used in beekeeping, specifically about specialized equipment, like queen castles, slatted bottom racks, cloake boards, smokers, hive tools and more!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR FEEDERS & CANDY BOARDS For Purchase
It is difficult to fully understand the complexity of the nutritional requirements of the honey bee. While we know bees require nectar and pollen as their main food source, it is important to understand that a variety of pollen and nectar sources is essential. Bees lacking a variety of pollen and nectar may have insufficient amounts of important minerals needed for hives to reach their full potential.
Bees live on the combination of carbohydrates (nectar/honey) and protein (pollen). While bees are quite capable of meeting the day to day demands of the colony as well as providing stored resources for periods of dearths and overwintering, sometimes bees can benefit greatly by having additional food.
Here are some of the reasons for feeding bees:
1) Installing packages in the spring. New packages have no comb and consequently no stored resources. If it rains for 3 days the bees will be unable to fly out to gather food.
2) To assist colonies in drawing out comb. As young bees consume nectar their wax glands are more able to produce wax for drawing out the frames.
3) To add to the total of stored food going into the winter.
4) To add medication to a hive. Some medications are added to sugar water such as Fumagilin-b.
5) To build up smaller colonies such as swarms or nucs.
6) For queen rearing starter and finishing colonies.
There are several types of feeders used to feed bees.
The entrance feeder has been used throughout the decades as a good spring feeding system. A small tip of the feeder slides into the entrance of the hive and a mason jar screws down into the cap with holes in it. Vacuum prevents the contents from leaking out, allowing the bee to use its proboscis to draw out the sugar water. Normally, spring sugar mixture is 1:1, which is one part water and one part sugar by weight. If you use a 4 lb bag of sugar, then you’ll add 4 pounds of water.
Usually refilling these entrance feeders is not a problem, but occasionally guard bees will show their disapproval. Entrance feeders used during a dearth or in the fall can cause bees from other nearby colonies to rob.
Top Feeders are also used. Sometimes referred to as Miller feeders because it was invented by Dr. C.C. Miller. It is placed on top of the hive and is a large reservoir that holds 1-2 gallons of liquid. The bees can access the feed by staying on the underside of the white panels in the photo, or some use screen. This keeps the bees out of the liquid to prevent drowning. The benefit is that it holds more. Disadvantage is that it can leak or mold.
Division Board Feeder, sometimes called a frame feeder, is similar in size to a large frame but made of wood, metal or plastic. As in the photo, the center is a reservoir which holds the liquid. It is placed in the brood nest in place of a frame. Usually it is important to add material that can float on top of the liquid to prevent drowning. The frame feeder will not promote robbing and can be used in colder climates as the cluster temperature can keep the liquid from freezing.
A pail Feeder is when you place a feeder over your inner cover hole or directly on the frames. The feeder can be a large plastic pail or a smaller mason canning jar as shown in the picture. It is important to experiment outside the hive and poke holes in the pail so that when it is upside-down the syrup does not run out. It is best to mix a heavy syrup such as 2 parts sugar and 1 part water and wait until the syrup has cooled. Warm syrup can flow too quickly. The ideal pail feeder does not allow the syrup to drip out, but the bees use their proboscis to draw out the syrup.
When you place a pail feeder in your hive you then surround it with an empty deep hive body and place your top cover on top. The empty deep hive body simply gives the spacing you need for the pail feeder. It is best to feed through the inner cover hole so that the inner cover can help hold the heat down. CAUTION: Your empty deep spacer can easily be blown or knocked off. Use heavy rocks to keep it down.
Open Feeding. Commercial beekeepers often feed bees in large 55 gallon barrels with sticks placed in the barrel to reduce drowning. Some fear that open feeding bees can prompt robbing. However, I have discovered that open feeding is very good in the fall and actually prevents robbing, provided that the feeding station is placed well away from hives. When beekeepers are entertaining guests out of doors, they can worry about their bees bothering their guests, and sometimes during a fall dearth the bees will be scouting around for food. By open feeding, the bees find the location and are quickly drawn to it and stop searching and robbing. I use entrance feeders or chicken waterers with screens in the mouth of the jar to prevent the bees from crawling up into the feed. These work great for me during the fall. There is no need to open feed when there are flowers.
Last year we discovered candy boards. They have been around for a long time, but have lost popularity with beekeepers over the last 50 years, probably due to the fact that it is time consuming to make. However, I believe they are one of the most effective feed sources for overwintering colonies. You can also add pollen patties into the candy boards as seen in the picture above. The board is placed on top of whichever hive body box the cluster is located in.
In a previous lesson I provided the exact receipt for making candy boards, but we do sell them and now would be a good time to stock up. You should have them on your hives no later than December 22. CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR FEEDERS & CANDY BOARDS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE
We’ve discussed several liquid feeding methods, but what about protein? Honey bees desperately need pollen. It is from pollen that bees obtain minerals, vitamins and other important nutrients. There are several ways we can feed bees pollen.
1) Pollen trapping. This is a piece of beekeeping equipment that we sell which captures a percentage of pollen from the bee’s pollen basket as they fly into the hive. Once the pollen trap is filled, simply freeze and store it to feed later. One disadvantage is that you don’t really know what’s in the pollen. It could be laced with insecticides from sprayed crops. Also, when you are capturing it, you are reducing your hive’s ability to store what you are trapping. Pollen trapping is usually used to trap pollen that is used for human consumption.
2) Pollen Substitute. This is the most preferred method and is accomplished by either making your own pollen patties or purchasing prepared patties. Most pollen patties no longer contain pollen but a soy based substitute. They have proven to be very beneficial to bees, especially for overwintering colonies or for colonies in early spring prior to when natural pollen occurs. You can see in this photo how the bees have consumed over one half of the pollen patty.
QUICK TIP SUMMARY:
- Entrance (boardman) feeders are most effective in the spring or in open feeding locations away from the hives in the fall. Cannot be used when the temperature drops below 50 because the bees will not break cluster to go to the feeder.
- Top Feeders can be used any time until the temperature drops below 50 because the hive begins to cluster and cannot go up to feed.
- Frame (division) Feeders can be used all year, but keep in mind that you will have to open the hive to re-fill it. This can be a problem during the winter.
- Open feeding can work well during a dearth to help reduce robbing and to prevent bees from bothering crowds. Use feeders that will not allow bees to drown. Can only be used when temperatures are warm enough for bees to forage.
- Candy boards are a huge benefit to overwintering colonies.
- Pollen patties are beneficial to add protein and other important nutrients when pollen sources are low.
QUICK TIP FOOD SUMMARY:
Feed bees 1:1 sugar water in the spring. This stimulates laying and causes foragers to bring in more pollen.
Feed bees 2:1 sugar water in the fall. This makes it easier for the bees to increase their winter honey stores.
Thanks for joining us today, and we’d like to ask you to share these teachings with a friend. Also, you can sign up to have these sent directly to your email, FREE.
As we near the 2011 bee season, it’s time to start thinking about increasing your supplies on hand. Thank you for keeping us in mind when it’s time to purchase more hives, and other beekeeping equipment. Check us out online: www.honeybeesonline.com or call us at: 217-427-2678
Until next time, remember to BEE-have yourself!
EAS certified Master Beekeeper
Posted by Long Lane Honey Bee Farms at 5:21 PM
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Sheri and I have been in Boone, North Carolina in the Appalachian mountains, over 3,000 feet above the heat wave across America. We’ve had pleasant highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. Jealous? :)
We are attending the annual EAS (Eastern Apicultural Society) conference where beekeepers from all over gather to listen to the brightest minds talk about bees. The most qualified researchers show up to tell us what they have found even before the information is released in publications (but don’t tell anyone). Speakers included: Keith Delaplaine, Clarence Collison, John Skinner, Ann Harman, David DeJong, Medhat Nasr, Zachary Huang, David Tarpy, Gary Reuter, Debbie Delaney, Jeff Harris, Jon Zawislak, Kim Flottum, Dennis vanEngelsdorp and so many more!
We enjoyed the conference and took in some sights around the mountains too. Our youngest son Christian, who is almost 3, is a great lover of trains. Lucky for him, just outside of Boone there is an old western park, with a real steam locomotive that you can ride through the mountains. He loved it!
At the Tweetsie Railroad there is a chair lift to carry folks up the mountain to another level of the park. Just after we made it up and got off, the electricity went out, stranding others on the chair lift. It was only out for less than 10 minutes, but many of us were starting to wonder how all those people were going to get down. Christian loved the chair lift too.
My focus, however, was to take two more tests for the master beekeeping certification. So at night I was studying hard, memorizing and cramming! On Thursday I took the written and lab tests. The written test took me 3 hours to take and the lab test took 3 hours as well. Thursday night through Friday the suspense was thick! Did I pass? Finally late Friday, after all the tests were graded, I found out I had passed and I’m now an EAS certified Master Beekeeper. 4 of us were certified this year. There are about 127 EAS certified master beekeepers.
Here I am at the awards banquet with Dr. Clarence Collison who is head of the master beekeeping program. I would encourage beekeepers who teach classes or speak often on bees or are state inspectors to consider this certification. Click here for more information.
I met some more great people at EAS, made new friends and caught up on news from old friends. I want to tell you about two people in particular. I met a Mike Church. He introduced himself to me having identified me from these lessons online. He was just the nicest man. Though I didn’t get to spend much time with Mike, the little times we did exchange conversation I always walked away encouraged. Mike will definitely be someone I will want to spend more time with next year when the conference is in Rhode Island. Pleasure to meet you, Mike.
The second person I always enjoy hanging around with is a fellow master beekeeper, Jon Zawislak. I met Jon last year at EAS in New York. Jon works for the cooperative extension service, division of agriculture in Arkansas. He has a much more impressive title but I can’t remember it. He’s basically Arkansas’ best bee guy in my opinion. Jon is lots of fun to be with and he knows his bugs!
Speaking of bugs, let’s talk about bees.
Who wants to talk about disease and pest? No one wants to see problems in the hive. But let me say that most of the time hives do not experience most of these problems that we’ll examine. If it happens to you, do not despair. Most of these problems can be adequately handled. Sometimes they can be prevented through proper management skills. Other times they can be remedied with intervention from the beekeeper but if the hive perishes, the beekeeper can always try it again next year with greater knowledge and wisdom.
So, do not take the information from this lesson and become a hypochondriac on behalf of your bees, fearing that your bees have everything I’ve mentioned. Maybe you’ll never see these problems. So relax. But, I do want to help you hone your beekeeping skills so you’ll be on the look out so that you can either prevent most problems or quickly remedy them once you see a problem.
LESSON 79: PESTS & DISEASES PART 1: European Foul Brood
First, let’s talk about European Foul Brood or EFB. It’s called this not because it is from Europe but because most of the early research identifying the disease was conducted in Europe.
I’m excited about teaching on EFB because it is on the increase. Why? Inquiring minds want to know.
In our state of Illinois there have been more reports this year. EFB is not the most serious of brood disease. American Foul Brood is the most serious and that teaching is coming later. For now, realize that if you get EFB you do not have to burn your hive. You can solve this problem and I have a few tricks up my sleeve that you won’t believe are so easy to resolve. They are proven!
So let’s talk about EFB:
WHAT IS IT?
HOW TO DIAGNOSE YOUR HIVE? (WHAT TO LOOK FOR)
HOW DOES A COLONY DEVELOPE EFB?
EFFECTS OF EFB ON YOUR HIVE
HOW TO REMEMDY THE HIVE OF EFB
What is it? It is a disease of the brood known as a bacerium called Melissococcus Pluton. It’s more common during the moist conditions of spring. Minimal cases of EFB are usually unknown to the beekeeper because it can clear up once conditions are dryer and a nectar flow starts. So it can come and go between inspections.
However, often EFB worsens and the first red flag to the beekeeper is spotty brood (because brood is not being sealed) and much of the larvae is twisted, discolored.
By discolored I mean off-white to brown. Click on these images for a closer look. Healthy larva is very moist and pearly white. However, EFB infected larva can be off-white to brown.
Another identifier is that the trachea (breathing tubes) of the bee are much more predominant looking. This picture shows how visible the breathing tubes are.
To most beekeepers the most obvious and noticeable characteristic besides spotty brood is twisted larva.
Twisted larva is not normal. Normal larva remains flat on the bottom of the cell as it matures to the point of the cell being sealed. But notice in this picture how the larva is twisted.
Years ago, I place some hives in a wooded area not realizing it flooded in the spring. Some hives had water touching the bottom boards for weeks at a time. All of these hives developed EFB. This year, I placed a hive in a perennial garden that had a thick bed of mulch. Mulch is put in gardens to hold moisture. I knew this, but didn’t think it’d affect the hive. But in the spring it developed a slight case of EFB. Moisture is an enemy to the hive. So how does a hive develop EFB? By being placed in an air stagnant area where there is too much moisture or the genetics of the hives are not all that resistant to EFB.
Prior to the 1850s, beekeepers in America kept Apis Mellifera Mellifera, better known as the German Black Bee. But, many felt it was too aggressive, and susceptible to EFB. In 1859 the Italian Bee (Apis Mellifera Ligustica) was imported into the US. Beekeepers loved the Italian bee because it was more resistant to EFB but more importantly, it was much more gentle than the black bee.
However, even Italian bees can get EFB when conditions favor it’s growth, which brings us to our next question…
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF EFB ON YOUR HIVE? The larva starts to die, thus greatly reducing population build up, especially in the spring when you need it most.
What do you do when you see EFB in your colony? Send a sample to the Beltsville, MD bee lab for a proper diagnosis or be very confident in your own diagnosis. Ready for a trick up my sleeve? One of the fastest ways I’ve knocked it out is by collecting a swarm, and simply shaking the swarm into the EFB hive after killing the “EFB queen.” This huge surplus of young bees from the swarm go to work cleaning up the disease, and within a few weeks there is no signs of EFB. Of course you do not have to have a swarm. Simply remove the queen and replace her. The break in the brood cycle usually gives the house cleaning bees time to clean things up, unless the hive is extremely weak in numbers. Remember, the more you hone your beekeeping skills, the more value you’ll place on collecting swarms.
Another option is to treat your EFB hive with an antibiotic, but since I am opposed to using chemicals in the hive, and since I fear EFB developing a resistance to antibiotics I would not suggest this option, but it is usually effective.
Do not think that you can treat American Foul Brood with an antibiotic. You cannot and should not. But you can treat EFB. Keep this difference clear in your mind. Requeening and moving the hive out of a moist area and into a drier one is your best approach.
I’ll be talking more about pests and diseases, but I’ll be breaking them up into future lessons. Now, in our next lesson, we’ll be looking at various feeders, and their pros and cons. Fall and winter is coming, so we’ll be looking over the best ways to give your colonies the nutrition they need. That’s our next lesson!
Thanks for joining us today, and remember when you purchase your beekeeping equipment, bees and queens from us, it keeps food on our table, so we appreciate your business. To place an order, check out our website at http://www.honeybeesonline.com/.
Be sure to listen to our Beekeeping Podcasts by clicking here. Until next time, remember to bee-have yourself!
David & Sheri Burns, 14556 N. 1020 E. Rd, Fairmount, IL 61841
(A special thank you for the EFB pictures from eXtension.org)
Posted by Long Lane Honey Bee Farms at 6:32 PM
Monday, August 2, 2010
Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Hello, we are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in Central Illinois, not too far from Champaign, IL.
When I study my Bible and read the verse above about honey, I cannot help but believe honey sweetens our soul and is good for our health. Like Pastor Langstroth, who invented the current hive that beekeepers use, I too am a pastor/beekeeper. If you’d like to read our life testimony CLICK HERE.
We’re beekeepers helping others get into beekeeping too. We are a Christian family working hard to operate our family business, making beekeeping equipment, selling packages of bees, nucs, queens and everything else related to bees. We also offer these FREE online beekeeping lessons and personal classes from our beekeeping farm all year long.
Posted by Long Lane Honey Bee Farms at 10:15 PM