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Varroa Mite Control

Varroa Mite Control – Dealing with Varroa mites at some stage becomes unavoidable if you are considering being a beekeeper or are one already.

Varroa mites also called Varroa destructors owe their origin to the United States where they first showed up in the western honey bees, biological named Apis mellifera, in the late 1980s.

Varroa mites are invasive and relatively harmless since the eastern honey bees, biological named Apis cerana, evolved so Varroa mites can be better handled through improved grooming practices.

The species Varroa mites are parasitic in nature and can easily damage any hive in more than one way.

In the United States, Varroa mites are famous for eradicating many feral bee colonies and have become a big problem form beekeepers who keep hives.

Their working model is very simple. A Varroa mite first latches on to a bee, then feeds on its blood like a parasite and transmits viruses through the blood. When it leaves the bee’s body, it leaves open wounds on the bee and moves to find more bees to feed upon.

Many a time, as a beekeeper you may not be aware whether your hives have a Varroa mite problem or not.

It is safe to say that most hives have at least some Verroa mites living in them. As such they do not cause a threat until their population is below a certain number. This safe population level is called the action or the economic threshold.

One of the ways you can reduce the population of Verroa mites in your hives is through sugar dusting. This process makes the surface dusty temporarily, which makes it difficult for the mites’ feet to move.

In an attempt to clean them of the dust, some mites dislodge themselves and fall loose.

This eventually helps them to fall into a trap that you have set for them to successfully remove them from your hive and never damage it again.

Sugar dusting is a very simple yet effective method. All you need to do is fill a baby powder bottle with powdered sugar and dust both sides of your hive’s frame fully.

Using this method, Verroa mites are not killed fully but when this method is used in combination with others such as drone foundation, it is found to drastically decrease the population of Verroa mites in your hive.

However, prevention is always better than cure. As a beekeeper, your aim should always be to be vigilant and perform regular hive inspections to look for potential Verroa mites’ threats.

  • Has anything changed since the last inspection?
  • Are the bees more active now?
  • Is there still a queen in your hive?
  • How does your hive smell?

Answers to all these questions will prevent your hive from a possible attack from Verroa mites.

Bee researchers have also found out that bees from certain hives are hygienic and better in cleaning dead cells from the hive.

When buying queens for your hive, always look for the hygienic queens that have been selectively bred from good hives to exhibit hygienic behaviors.

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Color of Bee Combs

In natural comb building, bees build for the immediate present, with no evidence of a plan for the needs of the future.

When comb building begins, worker cells are built so long as the queen continues promptly to lay eggs in the new cells.

When first built, combs are light yellow or almost white in color, but after brood is reared in the cells the comb is darkened by the “cocoons” left by the brood.

The color varies with the sources of honey and pollen at the time the comb is being built.

It is also known that waxes vary similarly in certain physical properties.

These so-called cocoons consist of larval skins and excreta, with the possible addition of a portion of the delicate silken cocoon.

These deposits increase with successive rearings of brood until the bases of the cells are appreciably thickened while the outer parts of the side walls remain practically unmodified in size.

If an old comb is soaked in water the layers of deposits may be readily separated.

The combs are also darkened by deposits of propolis on the cappings of honey cells and the tops of combs are often strengthened by deposits of this substance, especially when the combs are attached to rough wood, as in a hollow log.

 

Excerpted and edited from:

Beekeeping; a discussion of the life of the honeybee … 1915. Phillips, Everett Franklin, 1878-1951.

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Health Benefits of Eucalyptus Honey

 

Amid the wide range of honey products, you should try the Eucalyptus honey.

What makes this product stand out apart from the distinctive taste and scent is its host of health benefits.

The Eucalyptus tree is also known as a blue gum tree, stringy bark tree and fever tree bears the botanical name globally.

The Eucalyptus honey has health benefits such as antiseptic, stimulating, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, deodorant, antispasmodic and as a decongestant.

Apart from being the best natural remedy for respiratory issues, it is also an antiseptic due to its germicidal properties.

The ozone formed after its exposure to the air is the one known as antiseptic. Eucalyptus honey can as well be used to heal burns, ulcers, sores, abrasions, cuts and wounds.

Also ideal for insect bites, and is normally suggested for patients suffering from stiff muscles, aches, tendons, fibrosis, nerve pain, lumbago, sprained ligaments and rheumatism.

It is done by massaging the skin in spherical movement to help ease the muscle joint and pains.

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Importance of Keeping Bees

Bees are considered to be among the most hardworking insects in the world. They play a great role in our ecosystem besides pollinating and making honey.

There are more than 20,000 known species of bees in 7 recognized families in every continent except Antarctica. Extreme cold importance-of-keeping-beesclimate is the main reason why there are no bees in Antarctica.

If we are to understand the importance of keeping bees, we need to educate ourselves and others about bees to protect them and their ecological niches.

There is a famous quote from Albert Einstein which states that, ‘if bees disappeared from the face of earth, man would only have to live for 4 years’. This might be true because all bees are pollinators of crops. In fact, about 84% of crops grown for human consumption rely on bees and a few other insects to pollinate them.

Pollination of crops increases yields and quality through cross pollination which facilitates exchange of genes. When plants from the same species are cross pollinated, they mix traits bringing about variations which help in better sustainability and viability of the species.

Bees are also known to make honey which has numerous benefits to man. Honey is mainly made from nectar collected from different species of plants. People have started keeping bees in beehives (apiculture), providing them with water and planting flowers around the hives to determine the type of nectar these bees collect to make their honey.

This has been a source of income to a lot of people who have kept bees specifically to produce honey. Honey is in high demand nowadays due to its numerous benefits making bee keeping a reliable source of income.

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Royal Jelly Health Benefits

Royal Jelly Health Benefits include the ability to lower blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, protect your liver, reduce cholesterol levels, relieve sexual fertility, and help in weight loss efforts.

It increases blood circulation, prevents early aging, reduces inflammation and heals digestive disorders in the body.

You may know bees produce honey; however, what most people may not be aware of is that this insect produces another fantastic and beneficial type of food, which is the Royal Jelly. It’s excreted from the top of the bee head and is then collected in a queen cell that is a unique honeycomb.

Royal Jelly Health Benefits

This jelly has many benefits to your body. They include:

Regulating Blood Pressure

According to studies, royal jelly contains some proteins which have a direct impact on humans’ blood pressure levels, for example, the protein, hydrolysate.

This protein has a long-lasting effect on blood pressure. When it’s combined with the potassium present in it, it acts as a validator. It means that it reduces stress on the heart and blood vessels.

The result is that royal jelly is becoming one of the best ways to prevent or minimize heart conditions.

Balances the Body’s Cholesterol Levels

Many individuals link delicious sweet foods with unhealthy cholesterol, which is not the case with royal jelly.

Research has shown that by adding it to your diet, your bad cholesterol levels can drop. It means that royal jelly helps you to prevent cardiovascular and atherosclerosis issues such as strokes and heart attacks.

Treatment of Infertility Issues

Although how royal jelly performs its functions is unclear, some experts suspect that its link to human fertility is connected to royalactin. It’s the protein that affects the queen bee’s morphology, which enables her to become sexually viable. Whatever the cause, this jelly increases sperm motility in men, which improves their fertility. It means that it enhances the chances of their partners becoming pregnant.

Prevents Cancer

Royal jelly contains some antioxidants; however, it has been shown to have the ability to inhibit bisphenol A, also referred to as BPA. It’s an environmental estrogen, which studies have linked to the increase in levels of breast cancer.

By adding royal jelly to your diet, you may reduce chances of getting this cancer.

Reduces Inflammation

Royal jelly contains an impressive amount of active enzymes and vitamins, which makes it a possible anti-inflammatory agent. However, excessive heat may reduce these enzymatic properties, which means that you can’t ingest this jelly to get these benefits.

The best way is to apply it topically on the affected areas of the body, which will relieve the inflammation pain.

Prevents Early Aging

Remember that royal jelly increases the queen’s lifespan in a significant way. It contains some antioxidants, which reduces the number of free radicals that are the cause of early aging.

The antioxidant reduces wrinkles, makes your skin look healthy and prevents hair loss. Another of their function is preventing hair loss and macular degeneration. The result is that they extend your life and stop some types of chronic illnesses.

Weight Loss

One of the components of royal jelly is Lecithin, which helps to lower cholesterol, improve your liver function and ensure healthy digestion levels.

These factors assist you in the weight loss efforts. When combined with increased metabolism, which is another royal jelly health benefits and the protein content present in this nutrient supplement, what you get is the best weight loss booster!

Improves Metabolism

Royal jelly contains all the eight necessary amino acids which humans can’t produce by themselves. It’s an important food source for your body.

The eight amino acids are hard to get, but are needed for the formation of new proteins in your body and ensuring metabolism runs appropriately.

Royal jelly can, in fact, enhance cellular regeneration, increase bone strength, boost muscle growth and development and enhance the hormonal/enzymatic processes in our bodies. It results in several health benefits to our bodies.

You may be allergic to bee pollen, honey or royal jelly. This allergic reaction may be severe, and can even result in anaphylaxis. It means that you should consult your allergist or doctor before adding it to your diet.

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Sandy Creek Nature Center

We recently visited the Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, GA. This nature preserve has 225 acres of woodlands a

nd wetlands,in addition to over 4 miles of trails.

The Education & Visitor Center has marine and freshwater aquariums, live reptiles, amphibians and interactive natural history exhibits.

In this eco-friendly building sits a demonstration beehive.

This plastic pipe in the photo shows the entrance to the hive. It is placed right next to a sculpture of a bee.

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Beekeeping Supplies

Beekeeping Supplies – Beekeeping is an adventurous venture. However, you need to do some research before you get started to identify yourself with necessities and knowledge about beekeeping. To help you get started, the following are supplies and equipment you will need.

  1. Hives

Hives are bee homes. The market offers different types of hives to suit different environments and preferences. With a little research, you will meet your needs and wants.

  1. Frames

Frames act as a filling system, they are placed inside the beehive, and they are rectangular shaped. Bee combs are built in the frames and it serves three major purposes. Bees will make honey there, they will lay brood, as well as prepare for winter.

When considering frames, you will also have to decide on whether to include plastic foundation as well. A foundation will reduce the bees’ workload leaving them to produce more honey.

  1. Smoker

A smoker plays the key role of keeping the bees away from you. This way, anytime you need to get close to the hive, you will not have to worry so much of being stung. The smoker releases smoke of which the bees shy away.

  1. Hive tool

A hive tool is necessary because the bees will need it to line the hive with propolis. Propolis is similar to glue as it plays the role of holding everything together and also serves as an insulator.

In addition, a hive tool contributes towards making the hive sturdier as the frames will not easily pull apart.

  1. Queen catcher

A queen catcher will hold your queen in the event you need her separate from the rest of the bees for a while. This will prevent losing her especially when you are visiting your hives or inspecting them.

  1. Bee suit

A bee suit is a protective armor for you. When shopping around for one, ensure that you invest in a high quality one for better protection.

7.Bee gloves

Bee gloves are protective gear for your hands. You are bound to use your hands when cleaning or harvesting honey and you need to protect your hands from bee stings.

When choosing a pair of gloves, ensure that it is made from a sturdy material with a firm structure. In addition, ensure that it covers your arms as well to ensure that you do not expose any part of your skin even after wearing a suit. This will also ensure that even when you are in motion, your hands are well protected.

  1. Feeders

Feeders come in handy during seasons when bees need supplements other than the natural feeding system. There are seasons when blooming is on the low or when plants are waiting to bloom and there is nothing much the bees can feed on.

Providing a supplement is not as complicated as you can simply mix water and sugar in equal parts after which you place it in your feeder. While you have the option of leaving the mixture in the open for the bees to find, it is recommended that you use a feeder.

You have the option of using an entrance feeder or a hive top feeder to ensure that the supplement is fully serving your bees rather than other creatures. This is because these feeders are placed in the hive.

  1. Queen excluder

A queen excluder is an important tool if you will not be practicing natural beekeeping. Though it is all about preference it helps to separate where the queen lays her eggs rather than allowing her lay them in the honey supers.

It also comes in handy when you are moving your bees. Though they will have a new location, they will not stray away because they can sense the presence of their queen. This equipment keeps the bee around and the rest of the bees as well.

Overall, place a queen excluder where you do not want her to go. You do not have to worry about production as the worker bees will still be able to maneuver through a queen excluder.

  1. Queen marker

Important especially for beginner beekeepers, you need to be able to identify your queen. A queen marker is used to mark the hindquarters of a queen bee so you can always identify her with ease.

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Splitting a Hive

Splitting Your Beehive – BeekeepeSplitting a HIvers are responsible for a wide range of different duties and responsibilities. Many of which will need to be done with the utmost care and basic strategies.

One of the more commonly known in this field is called splitting a beehive.

Splitting a beehive does not have to be complicated if the person knows what is involved.

So, for those of you who are interested in learning more about this topic, here’s some basic information that will guide you and others through this process.

What is Splitting Your Beehive?

Basically, in the simplest terms, splitting a beehive is dividing a colony that already exists in at least 2 different parts.

Also, because there are several methods that this splits can be performed, there are variations documented along with the multiple reasons why they are done.

Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons why these splits may be needed.

  • Prevent Swarms
  • Produce Nucs
  • Create More Colonies
  • Raise Queens
  • Control Mites

The Basics of Splits

If a beekeeper wants to increase their chances of success in performing this job correctly, it is important that they follow the guidelines closely.

So, here are a few of the guidelines that can make this job easier:

Brand new colonies that come from a package or a nuc are not equipped with the resources required for a good split. So, the beekeeper will need to utilize overwinter colonies instead.

A queen is also needed in this situation or the colony will need to have the capability of producing a queen. It is also important to note that the production of a queen requires lots of drones. In fact, the more drones available, it makes the chances of queen production much better.

Fresh eggs, plenty of nurse bees, pollen and honey, and newly hatched larvae are also a winning formula for producing a queen, specifically if the beekeeper is expecting to create a spilt.

Normal nest structures are also required to create a split.

This means the beekeeper will need to ensure the conditions are as follows: honey must be on both side of the pollen, the worker brood in the center, pollen on both sides of the nest and the drone brood on the outer edges of the worker brood.

A robbing screen or a reduced entrance is needed for protection since robbers can affect the split.

Splits Do Not Always Work

Even if all of the conditions are right for a good split, they do not always work. Therefore, the split may need to be monitored for a while to see how it progresses.

First, give it a few days to see if there are signs of a queen rearing within its structure. If not, more fresh eggs and newly hatched larvae is needed.

If this does not work, the next step in this process is to recombine the first potential split with another hive.

Creating a Split

There are also simple ways to create a split. One of the most basic and easiest to do involves creating a doubled chambered hive.

This method will allow the brood nest to span into 2 different brood boxes. Once this part of the split is complete, all the beekeeper has to do is take off the top box. This top box should then be placed on its own bottom board along with a adding a lid. When this is complete, the beekeeper can simply walk away.

However, even though the simplest methods may be easier, it does require a little extra attention for complete success with the split.

Specifically, if the beekeeper cannot identify the location of the queen bee.

To get around these issues, there are several things that the beekeeper can do.

Some of the more notable are as follows:

  • Provide a liberal supply of newly hatched larvae and fresh eggs.
  • Ensure both boxes contain a lot of nurse bees, honey and pollen
  • Entrances should be reduced

Additional Considerations

Regardless to the type of method used for the split, here are some additional considerations that should be reviewed.

Beekeeper should not focus their efforts on the number of foragers but on the number of nurse bees.

Because the foragers will automatically return to its original location, they are not the primary problem. Instead, the time and effort should be placed on monitoring the number of nurses since they are the key to the splits success.

The primary focus in a split is on raising the queen. So, the number of foragers created in a side-by-side split should not be a big issue.

So, the beeper does not have to freak out if they see nurses beginning to multiply as foragers.

Extra supplies are often needed when raising the fist batch of brood so it is important that an adequate amount of honey and pollen is available. Specifically, when there are foragers in the hive.

While the process of bee splits may appear to be complex, beekeepers do not have to fear being unsuccessful. Specifically, because the methods mentioned above work amazingly well.

 

 

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Honey Bee Feeders

When natural sources of feeding are not available for the honeybees, the honey bee feeders help the beekeepers provide the honey bees appropriate nutrition they need to produce honey.

There are various types of honeybee feeders around, each with its own perks and some drawbacks.

Beekeepers, too, become quite opinionated on the subject, depending on the ones that have worked for them, the longest time.

Honeybee Feeders

I got similar kind of responses about these feeders from the different hobbyists I know, as each one of them uses a different one.

However, I went out and tried all of them, and then, decided later on which one worked the best for me.

Thus, to make the choice of a honey bee feeder easier for you, I’ve listed down all the ones I’ve used, along with their pros and cons. I’ll also tell you about my most favorite one of all and the reason for that.

Open air feeders

An open air feeder is constructed in the open, and is easily accessible to anyone. But, this property makes it the worst of all as not only does it attract bees but also wasps, birds, raccoons, and many more.

The feeder is also a carrier of diseases as it is shared amongst them. Apart from that, the bees also end up fighting, thus, weakening the hives.

Entrance feeders

The entrance feeders, as their name, are fit at the entrance of any hive.

A fitting tray is inserted into the hive and the inverted syrup container is fixed onto the tray outside the hive.

The feeder makes it easier for the bees to feed upon and is safer in comparison to the open air feeder.

The container on the outside also makes it easier to watch out when it needs to be refilled.

However, being too close to the hive, it becomes hard to defend the food against getting stolen.

They may also freeze during the winters, or bees may not be able to get to the feeder at all. 

Division Board feeders

The division board frames are the same size as a brood frame and are inserted into the bee hives in place of one of the frames.

The feeders come in two types, one in black and the other in yellow. The feeders are highly functional as they’re completely inside the hives, thus reducing the chances of robbing.

They’re also very easy to fill and hold a lot of amount in them. But despite of the space given to the bees to crawl out, many of them still drown out.

Apart from that, if the feeder ever goes empty, it is highly plausible that bees may build a comb inside or propolize the floats to the sides or the bottoms of the container.

The black division board feeder faces an issue of becoming wide every time you fill it up, making it difficult for the other feeders to move whereas the yellow ones have leakage issues.

Internal hive-top feeders

These feeders are designed to fit on the top of the brood boxes, beneath the cover. They’re easy to fill and can hold a lot of syrup in them at once.

They’re also crafted to keep the bees from drowning and thus, are very useful. But, the feeder becomes really heavy and doesn’t allow for much movement of the same when filled with syrup.

It is also not immune to dead bees and therefore, you might see a few of them time and again. They can also be difficult to clean as the syrup may keep falling out of it at times. A mold inhibitor like an essential oil can be used in such cases to wear off the stickiness.

External hive-top feeders

Able to hold large amount of syrup, the external hive-top feeders are big in size and sit inverted on top of the container.

They can be left either uncovered or covered, however, the latter is a preferred option. These feeders do not let the syrup mold, as the feeder isn’t exposed to any kind of air.

The only negative that stands in its way is that the feeders are extremely heavy and are better used in plastic form than in glass form. Their ability to hold a lot of syrup makes them a perfect choice for commercial beekeepers.

Baggie feeders

A baggie feeder involves a plastic zipper bag filled with syrup. The bag is then, cut with a knife and is allowed by the bees to run.

Not only is it easier for the visitors, it also saves up a lot of time. Their only drawback is that once opened, they can’t be moved anywhere else as the bag has opened. The bags are also expensive and not environment-friendly.

Out of all, the entrance feeder is your best choice in case you are hobbyist. However, external hive-top feeders are most suited for the professional beekeepers only.

 

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Why Wear Ventilated Bee Gloves?

What is a ventilated bee glove?

A ventilated bee glove is used for beekeeping. Most beekeeping activities are done during the spring and summer, when the bees are active.

During the spring you are typically:

  • Installing nucs
  • Catching and installing swarms
  • Splitting hives
  • Checking for mites and wax moths
  • Feeding your bees

During the summer your tasks include:

  • Checking for mites and wax moths
  • Feeding your bees
  • Harvesting your honey

The bee glove is ventilated above the wrist, to keep your hands and arms cool and comfortable, especially during those hot summer months. Sweaty hands make it difficult to work with your bees.

Types of Ventilated Bee Gloves

Leather

Beekeeping gloves are usually made of either goatskin or cow leather. There are advantages to each.

Goatskin gloves are a lighter weight and provide more dexterity than cowhide. Goatskin allows you to handle more intricate

Glove on left is Goatskin
Glove on right is Cow Leather

tasks easier than cow leather.

Cow leather is thicker leather and offers more protection than goatskin. Cowhide also stretches more than goatskin.

I have both goatskin and cow leather beekeeping gloves and prefer the latter, due to the better protection they offer.

Cuff Length

The cuff length, also called sleeve length or gauntlet can be standard, which ranges from 9 – 12 inches or extra long, ranging from 15 – 18 inches.

Lightweight or Heavy Duty Sleeves

The thickness of the sleeve is a personal preference. Light duty sleeves are made of cotton and heavy-duty sleeves are made of thick canvas.

The light duty sleeves are more comfortable in the hot summer months, while the heavy-duty sleeves offer more protection when the bees are angry.

Ventilation

Better quality bee gloves have ventilated sleeves that are full circle, or 360 degrees around the wrist. The ventilation should also be double-walled to add further protection against bee stings.

Bee Gloves as an Investment

So, no matter what type of bee glove you choose, it should be ventilated for added comfort. The price difference between a cheap bee glove and a better bee glove is not that much, so consider a better quality beekeeping glove an investment.

 

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Slideshow

This jacket was recommended to me by a bee exterminator for handling bee and wasp issues as they arose. I have not needed to use the jacket in battle yet but did try it on to make sure it fit and did not leave any areas exposed. I was pleasantly surprised by how well made it felt. Lots of pockets too.

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Customer Feedback

Very nice gloves.

Suit fits wonderfully. Delivery was prompt. Will buy from this vendor again.

Item received promptly and just as described. Very happy with purchase. Good quality. Fits nicely and material is good fabric.