Monday, July 27, 2009


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, and welcome to today's lesson in Beekeeping on hygienic behavior and testing for mites using a powder sugar roll.

But before we get started, let me say thank you to so many of you who email us or call in and offer kind words and thank us for providing these free online lessons. We hope our efforts are making a dent in the beekeeping community in helping more people get started keeping bees as well as beekeepers becoming more successful.

I recently removed a colony of honeybees from a home in Campaign, Illinois and the TV crew came out and put it on the news.
Click here to what the news video.
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Sunday, our local beekeeping club, of which I am president of, met at our honey bee farm in the afternoon. Dr. Stu Jacobson was our guest speaker. Dr. Jacobson spoke on the importance of raising and providing beekeepers with hygienic queens, bees that can detect reproducing mites and some disease below sealed brood, and carry it outside the hive before it has time to spread and cause problems.
In Lesson 45, I explained more of the details and history behind using hygienic bees, but for today we will examine more about performing the test and evaluating the results.
I'll make comments under each picture below walking you through the process. The liquid nitrogen is very cold and therefore, must be handled with care. Protective clothing and eye wear is a must to against accidental spillage. Please be careful. Liquid nitrogen can be purchased from most welding supply shops.

First, select a frame of sealed brood from one of your hives that you want to test. Make sure to choose a frame where most cells are sealed. (Images in this lesson can be enlarged by clicking on the image)

Shake the bees off and push a 3 inch diameter can down into the comb until it reaches the middle of the comb. Keep track of how many cells are not sealed. In this case, there are 18 unsealed cells within the inside of the can area.
Pour in 2 ounces of LN to prime the area. Then, pour in about 7 ounces to freeze kill the brood within the can.

Here, Dr. Jacobson demonstrates how to pour the LN, using tongs and a paper cup.
Now that the brood is killed, place the frame back in the hive and wait 24 hours. Then, pull out the same frame. If they show hygienic behavior, the dead brood will all be removed.
As in this picture you can see the circle where the brood has been cleaned out. It is not a perfect circle at the bottom due to some of the LN spilling out on to the adjacent area. This is an hygienic hive.
If we are to move away from over medicating our hives, we must make these efforts to tap into the bee's own defense against pests and diseases.
Next, Dr. Jacobson demonstrated how to conduct a varrora mite test on your hive. This will be very helpful for those of you who are concerned about v. mites. Dr. Jacobson supports what I've said for years about how the mite drop count method may not give accurate readings. In other words, if bees are good at picking the mites off and dropping them, they may have less mites on the bees but the drop board might show alot.
A better method is to capture 200 bees in a small jar with a screen lid. Put in several spoonfuls of powder sugar and roll the bees around in the powder sugar. The mites can no longer cling to the bees due to the sugar and you then shake the jar so that the mites fall though the top screen.
In our test, we used a paper plate to shake out the mites. As a result of our study, about 3 mites were visible as noted in the photo below.

Some people use various chemicals to kill the bees and the mites stick to the side of the jar for counting. Chemicals like ether or starter fluid is often used. This works, but if you have accidentally shaken the queen into the jar, she will perish along with the bees. Therefore, powder sugar will not hurt the bees but allow the mites to drop off.

I want to take this time to encourage other local bee clubs to raise the educational bar higher within the meetings. Beekeepers will have greater success the more education on beekeeping they receive. Having guest speakers or well informed and experienced local beekeepers share at the meetings on predetermined topics can really help the beekeepers in your local club enjoy keeping bees.

In our club, we meet at a different member's home each time.

Also, be sensitive toward the new beekeeper who will feel intimidated by the more experienced beekeepers and their opinionated attitudes. We are opinionated. Try to encourage the more outspoken beekeepers to be more encouraging to the newer beekeepers.
Also, our club offers a list of mentor, a list of people who are willing to work along side new beekeepers.
That's it for today! We appreciate you joining us today!

Remember, register for our upcoming courses as soon as possible as these classes fill up fast!
BEE-have yourself!

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
PHONE: 217-427-2678