Hive Management | Buzz Beekeeping Supplies

Hive Management

Varroa Mite

The Varroa Mite has become well known and has been a big pest of honeybees since they were first introduced in Florida in the mid-1980’s.varroa-mite

Varroa mites are outside parasites that bother both brood and honey bees. The Varroa mites suck their blood from both adults and developing brood, and particularly drone brood. This will shorten and weakens the bee’s life span. Emerging brood may be abnormal with missing wings and legs.

If left untreated, infestations of varroa mites will increase and may kill more colonies. If the colonies are not looked at for mites, losses may sometimes be mistaken for queenlessness or winter mortality.

The adult female mites have reddish brown oval bodies that are flat. They are about 1 to 1.5mm across. They also have eight legs. They are big enough to notice with the unaided eye on the bee’s stomach or thorax.

The varroa mites flat shape can cause them to fit in between the bee’s abdominal section. This mite is usually confused with the bee louse. Nonetheless, the bee louse, which is an insect that has only six legs. Its body is slightly bigger and more circular.
Mites grow on the bee brood. A female mite will come in a brood cell a day before it is capped so it can be sealed with larva. Immature mites that come out from the eggs that she lays develops and feeds on the maturing bee larva.

When it becomes time for the adult bees to come out from the cell, many of the mites will have become adults; they would have mated, and they arevarroa-mites ready to begin looking for other larvae or bees to parasitize.

Examination of the drone brood in their capped cells will most likely tell whether or not a colony has been infested. The dark mites are easy to see when they are on the white pupae when the comb is broken, or the pupae are released from their cells.

Mites move from colony to colony by drifting drones and workers. Honeybees can also get a hold of these mites when robbing little colonies.

It is best to separate captured swarms, package bees, and different new colonies from older colonies and inspect them for mites before you place them in an apiary.

Early discovery of low levels of mite infestation is the main key to successful management. It is simpler to spot infestations that are more developed than those that are just beginning.

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Small Hive Beetle

Small Hive Beetle – Aethina tumida (SHB), which is the small hive beetle, is a native to sub-Saharan Africa. The small hive beetle can be found around honeybees. Although they are often found around the honeybee colonies there has not been much known about what threat or damage to the honeybee colonies they have caused.Small Hive Beetle

In 1998 the small hive beetle made its way into the United States. How the small hive beetle made its way into the country is unknown.

Currently the small hive beetle can be found in more than 30 states and these beetles can definitely be found in the Southeastern states.

It is speculated that these beetles may have been transported throughout the United States from certain packaging. These beetles may have also been brought in by migrant beekeepers. Also since the beetles are capable of flying they have been able to travel on their own. A small hive beetle can fly for several miles, which makes it easier for them to travel freely throughout the states.

The small hive beetle is considered to be a pest but at a secondary level. They are a pest that seeks opportunity.

In Georgia they have become a problem as they have caused damage with the bee colonies there. Since the beetles are in abundance in that area they have caused problems for the honeybee colonies.

The beetles bring varroa mites and other hard conditions for the honeybees. With the arrival of the small hive beetles they create a stressful situation for the honeybees.

Although the small hive beetle can create a stressful situation for the honeybees they are able to hold their ground to a point.

Unless the small hive beetles are massive. In this case it can create a problem because they are able to lay eggs and reproduce their numbers rapidly.

The survival of the honeybee colony will depend on various factors. The amount of small hive beetles compared to the honeybees. The strength of the honeybee colony compared to the small hive beetles. If the honeybees are healthy and if the population can out power the small hive beetles while making them obsolete.

small hive beetlesUnfortunately even with the honeybees’ ability to sting its opponent it is no match for the small hive beetle. The small hive beetle is built with an armor that is tough and the stingers will not penetrate through their shells. Often the honeybee will try to strategically remove the small hive beetle by simply moving them.

The beetles are masters at hiding in small crevices and cracks so that they can escape the honeybees. In retaliation the honeybees use this as a way to trap the small hive beetles where they are.

Although, the small hive beetles have learned some skills to survive when they are put into this situation. They have learned to become adaptable and can trick the honeybees into feeding them from stimulating their antennas.

This survival skill keeps the small hive beetle thriving. They will often stay with the honeybees until they are released by the beekeepers upon inspection.

Detection of the Small Hive Beetle

Detection of the small hive beetle is an easy task. They can be found throughout the bee colony hive. They can often be seen as an infestation and will be on various parts of the combs as well as the layers of the hive.

When looking for small hive beetles in the top area of the hive they are easy to find by opening up the hive, placing the top hivehive beetle cover in the sun, and placing that top hive on top of the cover.

The small hive beetles do not like the sunlight and you will be able to see them trying to hide from the sun. This will take a small amount of time but once they have removed themselves from the area you will be able to pick up the hive and remove the rest of them in this fashion.

In the event that the small hive beetles become over populated they will make it hard for the honeybees to maintain a viable hive. This could happen if the colony is already weak or the population of the honeybees has decreased.

It may happen if the beekeeper is not taking certain actions to protect the honeybees. If any of those predicaments occur the honeybees will become defenseless by the overpopulated small hive beetles. This can cause the colonies to split, form smaller colonies; which results in the colony being less powerful.

With over supering hives it can cause problems for the honeybee colony. They may not be able to handle the abundance of small hive beetles.

Control of the Hive Beetle

Controlling the colony by prevention would be the best way to deal with the small hive beetle.

If this is not possible there is an actual chemical to help control the infestation of these beetles. There are various avenues that can be taken in order to protect the honeybees.

One of the most effective ways to protect the honeybees from infestation is to keep their hives in sunny areas since the small hive beetle is not a fan of sunlight.

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Top Bar Hive

Top Bar Hive

Installing Bees in a Top-Bar Hive – Mother Earth News

Mother Earth NewsInstalling Bees in a Top-Bar Hive Mother Earth News

Top-bar hives are becoming increasingly popular with beekeepers as they help encourage bees to colonize in a more natural way than Langstroth beehives. The horizontal top-bar hives have bars across the tops for the bees to build their comb off of and more accurately mimic the tree hollows and nooks that bees would inhabit in the wild.

If you have decided to go with a top-bar beehive, you may be eagerly awaiting your first colony of spring bees. Installing them in the top bar frame is a little different than the process with an upright hive, and has some unique requirements.

While it may seem unlikely, bees are commonly purchased from apiaries and then sent to you through the US Mail. Your post office will give you an urgent call upon the arrival of the hive, and you can go pick up a wire-covered box filled with honeybees. Bees are sold by the pound, and a new colony is usually a three pound package.

There are many different kinds of bees, and you should research your area and the bees most hardy to your weather conditions before making your purchase. Once you’ve determined the breed of bees you want, you’ll either get a hive with a marked or unmarked queen.

When you pick up your colony at the Post Office, or at a local beekeeper’s, the queen will be in a small cell separated from the rest of the hive by a cork.

Occasionally, apiaries will block the queen’s cell only with a sugary substance that the worker bees can chew through, but usually you will have to remove a cork between the queen and her bees.

The queen is not immediately released into the colony, but should spend her first few days in the compartment while they adjust to her scent.

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