Thursday, September 6, 2007

Beekeeping In September

There is a lot of work to be done in the month of September. Over the last few weeks, we have been sprinkling powdered sugar in the hives. The bees become covered with this dusty sugar, and so in an effort to clean themselves up, they also clean off the mites. Mites to a bee are like fleas on a dog. Only the mites do more damage to the overall health of a hive if they get out of control. There is research being conducted that may suggest that mites contribute to the cause of CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder. So, to keep them under control, we dust our hives with powdered sugar.

The Procedure We Use To Dust For Mites

Sometimes we grind our own powdered sugar. This can be accomplished either in a coffee grinder or a blender. You can only grind a small amount at a time, so we find it easier to go to the local grocery store and buy the powdered sugar. Even though it contains some corn starch, this small amount isn't suppose to bother the bees.

It is important to pour at least 1 cup of powdered sugar over the top of the frames of each hive body full of bees. Then, we use a bee brush or our gloves to sweep the sugar down between the frames. Some people dust each side of the individual frames, but I don't like putting sugar down into the cells that are uncapped. 1 cup per hive body is plenty, though some people use two cups.

If you noticed in the picture above, we've made a framed screen so that we can lay the screen onto the top of a hive body, then pour sugar onto the screen. This holds the bees down while we spread the powdered sugar around. Then we remove the screen and sweep the remaining sugar down between the frames. We then add the next hive body on top and repeat the process.

Speaking of repeating the process, this "sugar drop" has to be repeated on exact day, in three consecutive weeks. In other words, for three Monday in row, or three Saturdays in a row...whatever day you did the first drop. This consecutive treatment allows you to break the mite cycle and kill those which may have been in the sealed brood chambers.

Some good advice is to use LOTS OF SMOKE! Especially if the weather is adverse or your bees are adverse!

Tomorrow, we'll go inside the honey room and show the progress we've made here, and continue the work, now that the honey production is over for the year.