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Bees on the bottom bars of an overwintered triple

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Saturday March 20th, 2010
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This is the first day of spring and nobody seems to notice.

I'm noticing that the bee hive weight loss has not increased a lot with the increased brood rearing.  I suppose it could be that the feed is being transformed, rather than metabolized and that increased water, retained in the brood is compensating for honey consumed.  Weight change is not directly related to feed consumption in the short run, at least.

Tonight, we watched Cyrano de Bergerac

Sunday March 21st, 2010
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Ellen and I are still tired today, but we got some vacuuming done and a little work outdoors. 

The afternoon was warm, so I went through the hives to check for condition.

I have 27 alive.  Of those, two are weak, leaving the 25 I predicted.  I notice the Styrofoam hives are not cleaning out the bottom entrance, whereas almost all the wood box hives are.  I put on another box of patties -- 40 lbs between 27 hives.

Shots below show how the bees eat out the middle of the patties near the brood.  I stacked on more feed.

I have recommended against feeding early, but when the bees decide it is time, it is time.  I added the first patties on the 10th and now, eleven days later, some have eaten four pounds!  I have  a tiger by the tail.  What choice do I have but keep piling it on?  The latest weight loss chart is at right.

I see little signs of AFB, but there are few dead larvae in one hive.  They are able to control it, but I suspect a little medication would help them get ahead of the curve.  I don't want to see another breakdown.

44 lbs fed today on 27 hives after 11 days.  That is 0.15 lbs per day per hive.

27 hives x 0.15 x 35 more days means 140 lbs more patties.  That is 140/40= 3.5 more boxes to get me through to the last week of April when pollen starts coming in reliably.  I'll continue after that, though, so 3.5 boxes is the minimum.  I'll actually need more like 8, since the weather can be bad for a week right when the bees are most vulnerable in late April and early May.  You never know.  Sometimes the hottest day of our year has been in early May.  Other times, we have had three feet of snow.

OH, BTW, these were Global 15% pollen patties.  I used some 4% this round as well as the 15% ones.  We'll see if there is a difference.

The following are all thumbnails.  Click on each for a better view.





Monday March 22nd, 2010
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> Are you only feeding patties to your hives? No syrup at all?

Yes. The patties do contain sugar, but I'm going to have to feed syrup, I know, since they are building up fast.

All the syrup I have on hand is HFCS from 2002 and I was thinking that it is no good, so I sent a sample to the University for testing. I won't hear back for a few weeks. In the meantime, I will have to borrow some syrup from friends, I think. I've had the flu and been too tired to do much. I want to get all my old honey feed frames used up, but also do not wish to risk starvation. Syrup is superior in its availability compared to granulated frames and also good syrup dilutes the HMF that develops in older honey. Some of the frames may contain honey that is six or more years old, and I seem to recall, having learned on BEE-L, that by that age, the HMF is usually getting up there.

Slapping on patties is easy and the consumption is around 0.15 lbs per day per colony, so now I have to keep going. I can't believe how many beekeepers just order a few patties per hive. It stuns me.

I have to figure one patty per hive per week on average. That means six patties per hive just to get from now to the reliable pollen flows in late April and May. Moreover, last year I proved to myself that quitting then is not necessarily optimal.

My best hives already inhaled four pounds of these Globals in eleven days and all that is left is a few scraps of paper and a tiny corner or two.

Most of my hives still have enough weight for the present, and I don't want to stimulate the hives yet any more than I can help, but a few are light.

I added frames of honey to them a few days back and yesterday I went through and noticed one of those hives had all eggs and no brood, but otherwise looked fine, so I gather that the previous brood all hatched and that they were near starving until I moved the feed in and they were able to mobilize it.

I've been experimenting with let-alone beekeeping. Last year I fed no syrup, did not medicating, and put on patties in April. The bees did well, but I ran into some AFB. I may write an article...

Anyhow, this year, encouraged by a good year last year, I decided to be more active. Usually I don't like to put on patties early, but when I saw the brood underway already, and some small bees, I figured I had better assist, so I slapped on patties and now have slabs of brood. It is still almost exactly a month to reliable pollen comes in. They are going to eat me out of house and home, but they should be ready to swarm or split by May 10th, and I plan to split, then split again.

There are pictures in my current diary.

>Might you speculate how patty consumption will progress after reliable pollen and forage weather arrives (roughly a month away in these parts)? Do you anticipate the bees will continue to "inhale" once natural pollen and pleasant weather arrives? I fed my first patties on 3/14-15 and checked again this past weekend. I was surprised to find that at least half of my hives were in need of another pattie. I don't expect I'll be splitting until the third week in April and am wondering how to budget my provisions.

Well, the pictures on yesterday's diary explain best what I am seeing, but here is a summary and a wild guess...

A few hives ate less than one whole patty, but I was expecting to be going away for a month and I had put four or five patties on the best ones to make sure they did not run out.

I did not go away as expected -- something came up -- and I checked back yesterday. On several of the best hives -- eleven days after putting patties on -- all that remained of the four or five pounds was an ounce or so at two outer corners, and a little paper.

Now, I have seen hives slurp up syrup in outside feeders in March, then taper back in April as the populations changed over, so just extrapolating the current consumption is risky, but that is my best guess -- that the current trend will continue.

Thus, I'm guessing an average consumption of a pound a week per hive, average as long as I feed the patties

I figure that is pretty safe bet, even if pollen starts coming in.

Last summer, my splits averaged a pound of patty a week all August, even in the midst of a honey flow. Granted, they were on alfalfa, though, and perhaps a little pollen short, but they kept on eating even with pollen coming in.

My policy is to always keep one more patty on each hive than they seem to need. It does not go bad, and actually softens up a bit -- and I am often surprised at what part of the patties gets eaten. I expect the consumption to be directly above the brood, but it can be hard to guess where the brood will be an a week or two.

Personally, I don't conserve the patties. I feed all they will take plus some and then just go for more.

Patties are so much cheaper than buying nucs and packages, and splitting strong hives of healthy bees is more certain to work out than relying on bee suppliers who may run into problems delivering quality stock on time.

The money I save on buying bees I plan to spend on buying premium queens, although I may have to raise some queens, too.

Let me add, too, that the best place to store the extra patties is on the top bars of the brood chamber, close to the brood. That way the bees can get them if they need them.

I know beekeepers who keep supers back in the honey house during the early flows, saving them for later and waiting to see if the bees will need them. By the time it is obvious, it is too late IMO. Bees -- unless they are going nuts on a super flow when the usual rules don't apply -- adjust their activities to suit the space they had last week and often are slow to respond to new space.

I always put on every super I own for the main flow, except one truckload which I save back to use as replacements when pulling honey. Later in the season, I am more conservative, but always give them at least one extra box until all hope of a flow has past.

People think they are being conservative and since the bees may not use it all the space, all the food, whatever, they are saving effort and resources.

The joke is on the beekeeper, though. The bees 'think' the same way and they often hold back, too as they reach the limits, and nobody will ever know how much honey the beekeeper could have had if only all the supers were on.

In the same vein, nobody will know how much patty the bees will eat if the bees are always on the verge of running out. Not only that, letting the bees ruin out of patty is a sure way to sabotage their build up. They underfeed brood or tear it out if they run short of protein and also scant their own bodies to try to keep going.

I had no intention of feeding patties this early or feeding syrup, either. Last year I started a month later with patties and did not feed syrup at all, but this year, the bees insisted. I looked into the hives and what I saw said, "Feed Now!".

They are now loaded down with patties, I have more on order, and syrup is on the way. My bosses have spoken. Their wish is my command.

> Allen, what are your current temps? Here in Maine we had a long warm spell - generally in the 50s and was up to 70F on Saturday. But we will see some low temps this next week and weekend, low 40s and 30s during the day. Nights in the teens or lower... Last time this sort of thing happened in Maine, some beekeepers lost their bees to starvation because bees were keeping brood warm and did not venture a few inches to honey. Which is when I learned all about candy.

The temperatures are shown graphically at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/images/2009/ac20.h6.jpg

And, you are very right. A cold snap could be bad for hives on the edge.

One thing about the patties is that they have both sugar and protein. They are not candy, but act a bit like it in that the sugar is slow-release and very close-by. The difference is that the sugar is bound up with the protein food, so they have to take both -- or neither. That has always been something I have wondered about. Personally I don't think that protein food is a stimulant so much as it allows the bees to actually successfully raise the brood they are always trying to raise, but which is either stunted or eaten when proteins in the colony runs short.

The most vulnerable stage in the spring is when there is a large amount of open brood and the bees are most exposed to sudden changes in the environment. After they have laid all the brood their population allows and are sitting on sealed brood, they are much less vulnerable, so long as the adult bees do not start to die off too quickly leaving the brood exposed.

With my hives' total average weight loss currently running at about 0.4 pounds a day (see the URL) a few patties in the cluster provide some insurance against quick starvation, but starvation is always a possibility if the combs are nearly empty, granulated and far away and the patties run out.

It is for this very reason that I plan to get some syrup into them tomorrow -- my friends are bringing a drum of 2/1 sucrose over -- and I have already moved feed closer to some which were short.

The syrup, assuming that there are a few good days to allow access, will be moved quickly into position near brood by the bees and then they should be good for a cold spell, but you are very right: I am a little worried, and appreciate your concern. I have seen this movie before but am working for a better outcome. The hives are still well-wrapped.

Good clusters of healthy bees are much less likely to starve, since such bees have some reserve energy, and good bees can increase metabolism greatly when necessary, but the weakest hives are vulnerable.

I have always figured that good hives do not starve if there is still feed in the top box, and that such starvation is usually or maybe always a sign of bees which are somehow deficient or just plain worn out.

> Allen, have you check your nosema levels / spore counts? do you know which is your sporulation curve? Be careful of a rainy spring and a nosema build up.

Call me crazy, but nosema has not been a problem for me. Years ago, I initiated a nosema project on the web, but was embarrassed when I had to borrow bees to verify that I had none after doing many smears and starting to doubt myself.

When I quit, I gave away two big bottles of Fumagillin that were getting stale-dated because I had no use for it. I hate to feed drugs unnecessarily.

So far, we have no rainy spring. In fact, we had no run-off from snow melt for the first time in years. I have the scope and haemacytometer at the ready and I actually had some samples for the one hive I wondered about, but it seems to have cleared up so I did not get around to it.

The crazy thing is that I go around checking for nosema in others' hives and advising the use of Apivar and Fumigillan-B and use neither myself.

Maybe some time soon my insouciance will catch up to me, especially since I plan to manage the bees more intensively this °year and also scrape frames. I suspect scraping frames <put on tin hat> liberates a lot of disease. To compensate, I plan to hunt down some superior stock and upgrade my bee genetics.

Good points, guys. Thanks. Keep 'em coming.

Tuesday March 23rd, 2010
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Coolish weather is predicted for the next few days, hovering around freezing then warming considerably.  Our normals are Max: 6°C and Min: -6°C, so we are right in  the zone.  The historical extremes can be seen on the chart below.  Minus thirty has been experienced at least once on this date, as has plus 22 degrees C.

Minus thirty with strong winds could be very hard on hives which have just started new brood, and that is why wrapping and shelter which did not matter so much in winter will really pay off right about now.  These events happen unexpectedly, and that is why we wrap.  Even though in what we are experiencing so far is not a challenge, a sudden change could spell disaster.

The weather station data I use is from Three Hills weather station at 51° 42.000' N   113° 13.800' W Elevation: 915.00 m, 10.15 miles NNE of us.

The climate chart is from a Trochu station which is 19.1 miles NNE from here.  This distance matters, since we are on the upper edge of the Chinook zone and there can be a difference of several degrees in our favour at any given time.

Micro-climates matter, and are a prime consideration in choosing a bee yard location.  In winter, being a few degrees warmer, drier, and having shelter from prevailing winds can make a large difference in survival and condition.  MY current spot on the south of the quonset spares the hives the nasty NNW winds which tear through here periodically at up to 100 KPH.

These killer winds always seem to come from the same point on the compass.  We sometimes get cold strong SE winds, but I have found that shelter from one or the other is better than no shelter at all.  That being said, I have had sites on top of a bald hill which did very well.

> Agree. The problem usually encountered is they have moved up and are near the top but have plenty of weight. If you do not look but assume they are fine by weight, they eat everything above them and then the cold hits. They will not move the few inches in any direction to get stores because of the brood and cold.

Yes, I understood the point you made, and I still submit that bees that cannot or will not expand enough to get feed off to one side are either exhausted, too few in number, on new white comb, already partly starved due to the condition of the stores (granulated?), badly wrapped, or diseased. Szabo showed that healthy bees can expand their cluster at any temperature to get to food, but prolific bees with lots of early brood may be already fully extended.

For that reason, I wonder about the more conservative strains and how they manage. They have less brood, but also fewer bees at this time of year.

That being said, many otherwise good hives are in that weakened or compromised condition come spring and they would otherwise survive, so a bit of fondant above can make a huge difference. Once they begin to starve for whatever reason, they are weakened, so there is a feedback loop. They cannot get to food because they have not got enough food in them to generate the necessary heat. Medhat will probably step in here and mention tracheal mites, the unseen cause of limited metabolism response in old bees.

Syrup supplied in a manner they can get to it, dry sugar above or simply good combs of feed moved closer to the cluster can achieve the same job, but not as handily.

Your earlier comments got me thinking, so I wrote an illustrated article in today's diary which I will summarize here by saying that the coldest temperature recorded for this day is minus thirty degrees C. The normals are plus 6° and minus 6°. The record high is in the twenties, and we have been running right around freezing (0°C) lately with expected temps into the teens coming soon and no cold snap in sight. That is according to the weather guessers and they are as often wrong as right except when they are looking out the window.

Minus thirty, especially with a wind right now would wreak havoc on unwrapped and unprotected hives and certainly not do any good for those well-wrapped and sheltered.

No matter what the small details, you are very right Bill. Colonies which should survive in normal weather can and will be killed this spring if we get a cold snap.

People put a few patties on their hives, then they quit feeding patties.  The bees have patties and get going, then they run out and tear out larvae, sometimes more than once.  I decided to write pamphlet, call "Don't Stop Now", included below.

Don't Stop Now!
We're just getting started.
During build-up and brood raising periods, a good hive needs almost a half a pound a day
of  honey and pollen!  A few pounds of protein fed one or twice is just not enough.

Here is a hive loaded with patties on March 10 , 2010

Here is the same hive eleven days later

Some hives, the best ones, eat even more. 
This one had four patties only eleven days ago


In spring, honey and pollen are converted into brood and young bees to replace the old, overwintered adults which are quickly nearing the end of their lives.

This brood is the future of the colony and the surviving adult bees invest everything they have into that brood, including -- if they must -- using up the protein from their own bodies.

If these new young bees receive adequate nourishment, they will be healthy and well-nourished and the colony will build up fully and quickly.

Each developing bee needs a constant protein supply for almost six weeks in order to develop properly. The developing larvae receive protein in their jelly feed for 6 days. Then,12 days later when they emerge as adults they must eat protein during the next 18 days to complete their growth into strong adults -- and to feed more larvae.

If protein is available when needed, your bees will be strong and long-lived and raise good brood, but if protein is lacking at any point during that six weeks, some brood will either fail to develop or become weaker, stunted adults. If they suffer from mite predation, the outlook is even worse.

In a protein-starved colony we see eggs and some small larvae, but that brood is torn out again and again because it is underfed, leaving only small amounts of patchy sealed brood.  When protein is provided, we soon see a good brood pattern.

Feeding a patty or two and then stopping before natural pollen is available in the field every day means taking big chances with the future of the colony. It makes a promise that is not kept and can weaken your bees by making them invest in new brood that needs feeding.

The best plan is to put on more patties than the bees will need immediately, and make sure the bees never come even close to running out until the flowers are blooming and the weather is settled -- and you see an arc of fresh pollen around each patch of brood.

Check queens the easy way, without pulling frames and examining brood!

Simply smoke the bees down lightly and place patties in the centre of the cluster, within two inches of the brood. A week or more later, the amount of patty which has been eaten is a good indication of how much brood is being raised & colony condition!

Feeding your bees generously is the cheapest, most reliable way to be sure of having enough bees and good bees.  Why go through the worries of buying package bees or nucs as replacements when you could be splitting your own bees?  Feeding does not cost. It pays off in more bees and healthier bees.  Too many hives?  Just double up the extra colonies in fall.  The resulting hives winter really well.

Tests show that bees continue to eat Global patties and benefit even after natural pollen is available.  On cold, rainy and windy days and at night bees still need their protein.

 ~ Visit www.globalpatties.com for more information and ideas ~

Open just the above article in a new window for printing

My friends dropped by twice today, once on the way to Global in Airdrie to pick up some patties, and again on the way home again to drop off some supplies Mike sent me.  I have a few feeding ideas and plan to work on them this week.  I'll report back.

They also dropped off a drum of syrup, so I went out and fed.  I still have a frame feeder in every brood box, so I just took a pail and poured.  I had to put a feeder into several hives, though, since they had somehow gotten pulled, and although I wore no veil, the bees were OK.  I left one of the scale hives without a feeder for now since I did not have a veil and the hives are quite tall. I set up one drum as an open feeder with dry grass inside as a float and some brood combs thrown in as bait.

I don't see as much patty consumption as I had expected, but the tunneling is always invisible at first with new patties, since the bees eat on the bottom and the patties look like new until they are half-eaten or more.  This can fool one into thinking nothing is happening until suddenly they disappear.  In fact, I saw no change in the hive weights today.  Why?  I do not know.  Did they gather water or rob honey from supers in the shed?

The syrup I added to the three feeders weighed 21  lbs.  That is around 7 lbs. per feeder.  Each feeder should hold a US gallon or around 10 lbs., but my feeders have comb in them and some of the plastic ones are collapsed a bit.

The skunk is back and we are going to have a confrontation about who own the hives.

So, at this point, I'm feeding gung-ho, just like I said I wouldn't.  Why?  It just feels right.  Here's hoping we don't have a cold, windy April.  What am I feeding?  Global 15% and 4% patties, (and no, I have not marked them) plus 67% sucrose syrup, plus honey in frames.

Right now, I think that we need a good fondant in a commercial form that beekeepers can buy by the pallet and just drop onto hives.  I'm working on the idea right now.

Also, I think that we need to standardize on a quilt (pillow) design and mass-produce them.  I am very happy with my pillows, nut notice another beekeeper adapted the idea and uses a slightly larger design which is sewed out of tarp material.  The larger quilt allows for less careful placement and when the telescoping lid is forced down over it, there is a friction fit that helps keep the lid on.  There can be an inch of patties and fondant on the top bars, and yet we have a good seal.  A good seal is important in cold, windy southern Alberta in  March and April.

Wednesday March 24th, 2010
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> When I got there, one of the workers told me that just about every other year or so a swarm would move in to the night deposit box. This time the call was made prior to the swarm's arrival. However, there were from fifty to one hundred scout bees flying in and out of the mail slot.

I don't know if you wish to eliminate an excellent magnet for free bees, but if so, it would make sense to suggest that the city should install a flap with a spring on the slot to keep it closed when nobody is using it. These are readily available AFAIK. I have several nice brass ones in a junk drawer off doors from old buildings.

It will be interesting to see if the bees switch their attention to the hive you moved in. I suspect they may not. Bees make decisions over time, and it seems that moving in bait hives any later than two weeks before the actual swarming is not very successful. That may even be a bit late.

Beekeepers wanting to bait swarms should get their bait hives out early, and preferably with a little old comb and a little honey or syrup for surrounding hives to discover and rob. One or at most two standards with some combs is ideal.

Does anyone know if filling the bait hives with frames of foundation increases or reduces the attraction? I have had bees swarm into equipment stacks often, but never in my recollection into boxes of foundation in the same storage.

Please keep us informed.

My understanding is that bees conserve protein by various methods, one of which is the consumption (eating) of larvae which turn out to develop unsuccessfully for various reasons including malnutrition.

This idea seems to be pretty well accepted by beekeepers. What I am wondering is if it is true, and what is known about the process -- and its efficiency.

When hives are starved for protein, but would otherwise be brood rearing, they will often have eggs and some small larvae, but little older brood. I am assuming that the developing brood simply could not be fed and were aborted, and in the process, eaten. The same colony, when given adequate protein will then develop a normal brood pattern.

So, I am wondering if the protein in the cannibalized larvae is actually conserved, and if so, how efficiently? We often see pupae thrown out the door, so apparently there are limits.

This is of interest to me since my belief is that the reason we see less brood in protein-short colonies is that they are constantly trying to raise brood, failing and repeating the process and that protein feeding merely allows attempted brood rearing to proceed to completion, rather than initiating increased attempts.

The nutritional state of the queen is also likely to affect the number and quantity of eggs laid, methinks, so I suspect there is some additional stimulation fro having adequate protein in the hive, but I wonder how much of the increased brood observed is due to increased starts and how much is merely increased success of an already occurring activity.

Does anyone have any further information or references on this topic?

Convert Celsius to Fahrenheit > Chart  Calculator

Hi Allen,

Bees will cannibalize eggs and larvae during protein deficits.

First to go are eggs, then young larvae and drone larvae/pupae. They will save older worker larvae.

Brood protein is recycled into jelly, and they are able to rear brood entirely on jelly produced from recycled brood (carnivorous diet!). Don't have figure of efficacy of feed conversion.

And yes, a vigorous queen, given adequate jelly, will continue to lay eggs, only to have them eaten by the nurses if there is not enough protein available.

Best ref is likely Schmickel and Crailsheim (on my site, Fat Bees articles). Also,

Moritz, RFA (1994) Nourishment and sociality in honeybees. Pp 345-390 in Hunt, JH and CA Nalepa, eds. *Nourishment and Evolution in Insect Societies. * Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

Randy Oliver

> Why worry? In spite of the likely higher pesticide residue levels in > California's Central Valley, vertebrate animals continue to be abundant > even within the pesticide treated crops.

Although question this may stray from bees and beekeeping, there is a commonality.

The problem is that we know these pesticide compounds are novel, or as some would say simplistically, 'unnatural'. As such, we have no idea of the long-term effects on life or if they are steering evolution.

Mere abundance of surviving life is only one consideration, albeit a reassuring one. How the various organisms, including bees and man, may have been altered and how evolution may have been affected and 'steered' may seem today to be a rather obscure and distant worries, but the fact remains that all we have are guesses.

The effects of novel compounds, or even 'unnatural' concentrations of 'natural' ones, as we are now finding out now, may be delayed generations and be so subtle that they puzzle observers and elude strong proofs of cause and effect.

The hormone-like behaviour of some 'harmless' common industrial and domestic chemicals has recently come to light as have the potential and real effects of their widespread distribution.

These pesticides, on the other hand are not, 'harmless', compounds intended to be beneficial or at least neutral in their effects on life, but rather compounds specifically designed to eliminate or pervert important biological processes, some of which all life -- including the esteemed members of this list -- hold in common.

I've been playing with new feeding ideas. My inside (frame) feeders have always served me well, except perhaps in really cold weather or when clusters were tiny.  They don't really work well until the bees have had them a few years and they look ugly by our standards, but very nice to a bee.  I suppose it is like anything else in beekeeping: we don't know much until the bees teach us. 

Anyhow, I have been trying to dream up a good winter feeding method that does not involve dry sugar (messy, lossy and too dry) or fondant (expensive and hard), so I have been playing with bags of sugar with some water added.  I was hoping to get something fairly firm to handle with the same water concentration as honey and which could be stabbed with a knife and placed over the cluster without seeping or running out.  So far, I have various bags of sugar with various degrees of floppiness which would be hard to handle.  They would be OK for a hobbyist, but I would like something that could be boxed or palletized.  Maybe there is no way around using candying techniques to get a fudge-like consistency that will hold up and be easy to handle by both humans and bees.

I walked over to the scale and weighed the hives this afternoon.  The day was supposed to be nicer than it turned out.  We had snow in the morning and cool breezes and overcast all day.  While there, I took a shot down into the open feeder.  Yes, that is a little snow in there and that is not brood; it is capped honey in the frame.

I also pulled back a hive-top pillow to show the bees lined up around the frame feeder inside.  In the process of peeling it back, several fell in as well as a little debris.  As you can see, bees float well on the thick syrup and will get back out.  Thin syrup, however requires floats and even then will drown bees.  You can also see comb down inside the feeder under the syrup.  If the hives get at all crowded, they build there.  I usually do not bother to clean it out unless I am reconditioning the brood box.  Yes, it reduces the volume, but if it is full of syrup or honey, well, that is feed, isn't it?  If not, it is a good ladder.

I notice that the weight loss shot away up today.  I suppose that is to be expected, since the hives now have patties and syrup.  Not only does that combination have to be stimulating, it takes heat to expand the cluster to get to the feed, and energy to move and process the syrup, since it is sucrose and also higher moisture than bees like in stores. 

I have now put one foot on a treadmill.  I can't stop feeding either now until the weather settles. I made a decision that led me here by accident when I went inspecting last fall and threw on some boxes at the last minute since the flow was still on.  I stuck in some foundation for space insurance -- one sheet of foundation can keep a lot of bees busy for a while --and although some was drawn, some was not and by Halloween I decided the boxes had to come off.  I hate to pull top boxes that late, since it disrupts the wintering plans and preparations the bees made earlier with no time left to re-do before cold weather sets in.  Most hives were OK, since they had plenty of feed, but a few turned out to be short, so here I am feeding syrup.

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Thursday March 25th, 2010
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9 more months until Christmas!


Today Cloudy with sunny periods. Clearing near noon. Wind south 30 km/h. High 10. UV index 3 or moderate.

Increasing cloudiness near midnight. Wind south 30 km/h becoming light this evening. Low minus 3.

> You mentioned on your blog recently, that you had put some thought into pillows. I was wondering what you considered the appropriate amount of batting for them (R4-16)?

One or two layers of Kodel. Might add up to R10. I use several, stacked in winter and am now down to two per hive. One in the lid and one on the frames.

> I was wondering if it would be better to make them with Inland's tarping material instead of 6 mil black plastic.

Yes, a big beekeeper has started doing that and making them bigger. I think we may need to consider if any plastic we use might be toxic and look for food-approved material if it is not expensive. The white plastic used for tarping silage would probably work. I wonder if black is better, though.

If they are too thick and bigger than the hive, then there could be a problem putting the lid on.  Perhaps just padding the middle or doubling only the middle 20" x 16"  area and having only a skirt or single thickness extend might be an idea. 

Another thought i to cut off the corners.  The tabs would make for a friction fit that would help hold the telescoping lids on.
> I am interested because I need to make some. Do you plan on manufacturing?

It has crossed my mind to either manufacture or pool orders.

How many do you need?

(See below, too for update)

The weather has turned cooler and windy, and we are getting wind from the one direction from which my apiary is unsheltered

Here I am, still at home.  I still plan to visit my Mom soon, but I have almost forgotten about Florida and California since the weather has been so nice here.

My wife's fall changed my plans abruptly, as have the planning meetings for the San Juan Islands cruise upcoming in late May and consideration of my inspection duties starting in late April and extending into May.

The flu also figures into my being home-bound.  I have been under the weather and not too ambitious.  I did some work around the place the other day, but my back started acting up.  I suspect that the episode has to do with the virus.  Usually my back does not give me grief, but it locked up and was so painful that I could hardly straighten up without assistance from a sitting position or stoop at all.  Such incidents really help me appreciate good health.

We are promised good weather later this week and I have to get some work done on the brood chambers and other equipment before I travel too much, so that I am ready to split without days of preparation when the time comes. 

One thing I would like to do at some point is alter my floor pallets so that there is enough room under the brood chambers for drop boards.  This is not pressing, but would make monitoring easier.  My current floors are sloped from zero clearance at back to an inch at the front.  I figure to just add a 3/4" strip under the three sides.

My pallets are also four-hive pallets with bees facing two directions.  I tend to think that facing south is best, but notice that the ones facing north do just as well.  I have thought of cutting them in half, so all can face south but have not decided.

I also need to select the lids I am using. I have some with inner rims and some without.  Pillows work best when the telescoping lid has a 1" rim around the inside that rides on the edges of the pillow, forcing it down for a good seal.  The raised centre allows for quite a bit of patty and/or fondant.  These lids also can be used for the Mite-Away II treatments or formic or...

> Bob, I am very happy with the incubators that I have build from salvaged upright freezers. Use a salvaged mercury wall thermostat, a simple Radio Shack low-voltage relay, a thrift store warming tray as a heat source, and a salvaged computer fan. Cheap and extremely accurate.

A bar fridge would work well, too. Maybe even those coolers that warm or cool.  I've used a chicken egg incubator which are for sale anywhere you buy hatching eggs.

If you build one, the thing is that you do not want to have too strong an element that heats up fast then overshoots from inertia.

The ideal is to have just enough heater power that it runs about half the time. That way, the swings are minimal. Just because the thermostat cuts off the power does not mean that some heaters will not still give off heat. Personally, I used rough service light bulbs painted black, two in fact to ensure against failure of one.

All this is assuming the room where you keep the incubator is stable at a constant temperature and does not get over 90 degrees.

If it isn't, that will affect your regulation of the incubator.

For example, if the incubator is in an outside shed that goes form freezing to 110 degrees, you will have big problems.

For one thing, heating the incubator will be only half your problem, obviously. Keeping from over heating will be a bigger problem.

Get a high/low recording thermometer and run the incubator a while before you commit cells to it. If it ranges more than a degree total after stabilizing, IMO, it won't do.

I fed the two soupier bags of sugar.  The drier one, I added a little more water to and kept.  We'll see how this feeding works.  It does not hold much promise from the bulk handling point of view, since the bags are floppy and cannot be stacked.  I suppose they could be made up on the spot, but in a commercial operation, time in the field is expensive.

 To get work done in the bee yards, a beekeeper pays employees to drive typically around three hours a day to and between sites -- after they have spent an hour or two in the shop or home yard loading, so the time they actually are doing the jobs on site costs twice what their time in the shop is worth.  Moreover, the actual bee yard time may only amount to four hours in an eight-hour day. 

Therefore everything should be ready ahead of time to maximize the effect of the yard time, and preparatory jobs should not be done in the yard if it can be done by cheaper labour elsewhere, like the shop, or even a factory.  That is one reason why pre-made patties are popular.  Another is the convenience and lack of mess and waste.

Cut a hole in the pollen patties Take the (floppy) bag of sugar and cut an "x" in it The "X"
Palce the "x" down over the hole (Use smoke) Put on a lid with a rim Done!

Above, I am placing a sugar bag over the pollen patties. The sugar is wetted to the point where it will not run out of the bag easily (dry), but not to the point where it runs out of the bag easily (syrup).  I used a honey-house pallet as a lid to allow for the raised height of the patties under the quilt.  Many of my wooden lids have outer rims, but this is a styrofoam hive and they do not fit.

My goal has been to find something better, easier, and less simulative than a baggie feeder using syrup, which requires the bees to climb up top and for the top to be exposed. Ideally the product could be prepared ahead and stacked and handles easily.  So far what I have is not very transportable or easy to handle in bulk.  Fondant is ideal, but it is hard to get, and expensive.  Making bee candy involves heat and serious intent.

So far, I have concluded that, while this idea is not perfect yet, 2000 ml sugar plus 200 ml water in a gallon Ziploc bag, stored a day or so to soak or kneaded to get the water distributed makes an acceptable feeder.  It is not as simulative as syrup or as messy as dry sugar if you want to move it around to inspect or work the hive.  It is cheaper and more available than fondant.

Some use a kilo paper retail package of sugar soaked in water until it is soaked through then punctured and placed on the top bars.  That can work, but if it is cold, the area around it must be packed/sealed with burlap or a plastic sheet should be tucked around it to keep the heat down in the cluster so the bees will not have to cluster tightly.  Open space above them at this time of year can be deadly to marginal colonies and will handicap the strong ones.

The other alternative is a sheet of newspaper with white sugar poured on it and a hole or two made for bee access.  A little water can be sprinkled on, too to keep the sugar in place.  As with any of these methods, the problem is not putting the feed on, but rather it is:

    1.) sealing the top of the hive after so the bees are warm enough to use it,
                          and then
    2.) dealing with any feed that is not eaten when you want to open the hive.

I keep coming back to using quilts and telescoping lids with a three-quarter inch-wide rim at least one inch deep, around the inside top edge to make a seal an hold the lid up off the feed as the secret to being able to do many tricks.  In the south, this approach would be unnecessary, but in the north, good heat conservation can be a matter of life and death for a colony in spring.

The quilt, pillow or blanket -- whatever it is called -- when shaped down over the patties and other items on top, provides that very important seal.  If an upper entrance is desired, some have a slit in the quilt and other use auger holes or fold back a corner of the quilt.  I have done all those things, and they all work.

I have no use for wooden inner covers at this time of year.  They simply are too cold and do not seal.  A mere 1/16" gap all around under a lid is equal to a hole 2 inches square , and it is all around so the wind blows right through, rather than just venting like a chimney.

1/16" x (20" + 16") x 2 = 4.5 square inches

I updated my tracheal mite page today after hearing from Jose and getting some recent data from his presentation in 2008.

I got into a wrangle here (BEE-L) a few years back when I reported that there has been no improvement in resistance to tracheal mites in US commercial stocks over the past decade. This was in the context of the campaign against importing Australian stock. The argument was being made about how the US stock had developed resistance to various things (including tracheal mites) and how could offshore bees from a protected environment be expected to measure up?

I said, "Hold on there, the evidence is to the contrary. Baton Rouge has been tracking this characteristic", and then I came under some considerable calumny -- to the extent that I left the list for a year or so.

Again, recently, I mentioned this same observation in a similar context and immediately received some supporting evidence which I present in detail at http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/tracheal.htm . (See "March 2010" at the bottom).

Shame! On average, to my eye, things are worse, not better than in 1999 and much worse than 2002.

For those who just want the cartoon version, just click here --> http://www.honeybeeworld.com/diary/articles/images/trache1.gif 

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Friday March 26th, 2010
March 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

It occurs to me that a lot of my focus these days is south, to the US.  Perhaps I should focus more on Canada?  I know more about the US and US beekeeping in many ways that I do about Canadian beekeeping.  Odd.

Not only is my beekeeping focus south, but I have been spending time in the US.  I spent at least a week each in California, Florida, and New York State this past year.

>Those beekeepers using Apiguard for varroa are also getting some protection for tracheal... I hear of more and more beekeepers using thymol in syrup for preventative varroa treatment. This more recent study below gives some credence to this practice. While the study did not look at tracheal one could infer from the apiguard claims that feeding thymol in syrup may also be beneficial to prevent tracheal infestations.

Interesting points.

In private discussion with a noted researcher, I am told,

"...tracheal mites have become rather rare here, even in documented highly susceptible colonies. The reason for this rarity is a bit puzzling. Some of us think that the use of amitraz (and to a lesser degree oxalic and formic acid) for varroa may have something to do with it. I still think I can generate a good infection if I have exposure to mites, miticide-free equipment, susceptible bees and favorable (formites) climate and weather."

>These treatments though would just prolong the susceptible lines and I like Mike Palmers approach of grafting from survivors as a better solution.

Yes. That is true and is a an excellent option where it is practical, but that option is dependant on location, skill, and other factors.

However, where bees are in commercial service and will be requeened regularly from commercial stocks produced elsewhere -- which is the case for the vast majority of hives -- the only benefit of forgoing treatment would be to neighbours, if any, who are attempting to raise their own stock.

On the other hand the consequences of forgoing treatments can be immediate and negative for the owner of the bees and the resulting ballooning of pest populations can also be a nuisance to neighbours as well.

Some might argue against the movement of bees or commercial beekeeping, but that is not going to happen soon. We have to deal with reality however it may happen to be.

Although many beekeepers, including some of the very largest, do raise some or all their own stock, this is not the rule, and often stock is purchased on the spur of the moment, so the best solution for that case is to make sure the mass queen producers are paying attention to the need for resistance to multiple problems.

Apparently -- for whatever reasons -- many are not.


Ellen & I went to Drumheller  this afternoon to get groceries and for the doctor to look at my head.  He concluded I should continue the treatment for two more weeks.

The recording thermometer shows a max of 11 degrees C (51.8 Degrees F) at home today, but the bees were active in the feed drum when we got home from Drum around 5:30

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Saturday March 27th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I started off with some phone calls, then reserved a flight to Ontario.  It is definite.  I am headed east for a while in April.

It's a beautiful day, too beautiful to spend inside.  More good weather is coming.  I have a bag of sugar I plan to try feeding, so I have it soaking in water.

Ooops!  Should have re-read the following first.  A few minutes and the bags come unglued and the paper falls apart.  A few moments is all it takes, I guess.  This obviously is not something you do at home then deliver to the bees.  You take a bucket of water and your bags of sugar to the hives and dunk them a few moments before putting them on.  Now I have 4 kg of soggy sugar.

> I have dug around looking in the listserv about ways for a small hobby >beekeeper to feed his bees in the winter.

Feeding fondant is as easy as falling off a log and i would recommend that first.

However, if you must use granulated the long established method is thus:-

Take your bag(s) of sugar (paper type bag) and place them, still sealed and closed as you bought them in the shop, into a bucket of water. Watch them floating there, and at the moment they start to sink they have absorbed enough water.

Quickly remove and place them, still closed, on the top bars immediately over the cluster. Use enough bags to allow all seams of bees to have contact with the underside of the bags. Cover them up and go away. They eat in through the bottom of the bags and in time empty the bags out completely. 2lb/1kg is not a lot of feed to keep them going and you can find you need to replenish them quite frequently.

The brakes faded out on the forklift the last time I used it.  I guess the brake fluid leaked out a bit over winter and needs refilling.  I should have acted as soon as I noticed the problem, since I knocked two hives off their pallets before deciding enough is enough.  I miss my Swinger forklifts.

So, that is job one this afternoon: fix the brakes!

OK.  They are fixed, for now.  I like to say they are self-flushing.  What that means is that the rubbers in the wheel cylinders leak a bit, so I have to add fluid once in a while.  Fortunately they are self-bleeding by the same action.

The activity in the feed drum has heated up and the bees are really toting feed.  On left is s shot down into the drum, then a shot of the hives, flying freely from several holes. Next is a shot down into an empty frame feeder,.  A few bees are licking out the bottom. On right is the same hive, showing the patty consumption this week.

I moved some hives and junk around and restacked some pallets of bricks to get the yard ready for the season.


The scale hives are off the chart, literally, having gained 7 lbs total or almost two pounds each from the open feeder.  In fact, they gained two pounds on the slider in the two hours I was out there.

I notice one hive shows some dysentery and is not eating its syrup.  Nosema?  I was going to get some samples, but my back is acting up again and it was suppertime.  Maybe later.

I went out after supper for a while.  The scale had added another 3 lb.  That goes on tomorrow's measurement, though, since I try to weigh at the same time each day.

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Sunday March 28th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We had visitors this morning.  A beekeeper came by to get some empty supers. 

We had a good visit.  The day was dull and breezy, culminating in strong gusts in late afternoon.  I notice that the bees were flying, but the hives were not gaining.  In fact they lost a bit since last night, but netted a gain of one pound from the same time in the afternoon, yesterday.

Well, here I am again, jumping the gun.  I'm feeding both patties and syrup, and I know better.  Last year, I did not start until a month later.  OF course, this year everything appears to be three weeks early, and last year it was the opposite: everything was late.  We'll see.

John and Mavis came for supper.  Everyone else seemed to be busy or unreachable, but sometimes it is nice to have a small group for supper.

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Monday March 29th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

This morning, I got a break in my pillow project.  Folkert called me back and told me a supplier who makes wraps and pillows.  I called here up and she was glad to tell me what she does.  Here it is.

Joan Durand near Onoway, Alberta, makes pillows sized 22-3/4" x 19" (approx).  They are sewn together using tarp material, black on one side and silver on the other, with a single layer of bonded poly (Kodel) batting which ranges from 1/2 to 1" thick for $3.25 each.

The stitching is in 1/4" from the edge, then another round of stitching is in 1/4" from the first.  The batting is loose, but does not move, since it is only slightly smaller than the stitching.  Apparently if it is sewn in, then the pillow does not flex and putting on lids is difficult.  She will make double layers or any other design on special order.

She also makes wraps, sized 7'6" square to wrap 4 hives and they cost $57.65 each.

You can reach her at 1-780-967-5984 or fax to 1-780-0380.  Her email is unreliable she says.

I've seen the pillows and they seem to me to be pretty good.  They are larger than mine, but also tougher and should take heavy use quite well. They extend about an inch and a half beyond the box on each end and on each side.

Why use pillows, also called quilts, instead of inner covers, etc? 

  • They seal well against wind

  • They insulate well and can be doubled or tripled for winter

  • They are neither warm or cold, since thin plastic has little thermal mass

  • They are flexible

  • They crush fewer bees than wood

  • The bees like them

  • They can be lifted slightly to inspect without 'cracking' the seal

  • They can be pulled back or folded to provide a top entrance

  • They do not get glued down the same way as wood

  • They can accommodate patties or fondant underneath and still seal well

  • They are easy to stack and handle

  • They are inexpensive and long-lasting

A lid with inner rim. A 3/4" wide rim is sufficient to seal.  This one is 1" wide. Height should be at least an inch

A lid with an inner rim.
A 3/4" wide rim is sufficient to seal. This one is 1" wide. Height should be at least an inch

Pillows are best used with telescoping lids equipped with a 1 to 1-1/2" high rim of wood mailed inside the top edge to press down on the quilt at the outer edge while allowing the pillow to lift in the middle if there are patties underneath.

These lids, if made deep enough, will work fine with a Mite-Away II or similar mite treatment if the pillows are left off for the treatment duration, eliminating the need for separate 'rims' which are a huge PITA. 

When adding a 1 or 1-1/2" lift to many telescoping lids already in service, though, there is likely to be very little 'lip' since many such lids are only 2" or so deep.  I suppose a strip could be added to deepen them, though.

It's noon and I'm dying to get outside, but the wind is gusting out there, but from the west, thankfully, not the north.  Maybe it won't be as bad as it sounds, but the wind is very tiring.

I wound up staying in due to the wind and various things coming up.

Finally I did go outside and I found it most refreshing.  There is something about being inside on a windy day that is tiring.  Going outside woke me right up, and the wind was not actually that bad.

There are about 400 useable boxes here (above)

These are close-ups of the above stack

This a pile of mostly unsorted boxes

The rest of the pile of unsorted boxes

The bee yard is actually somehow out of the wind and the bees are flying.  They had only gained a 1/4 lb each, though and when I looked I could see why.  The sugar syrup has crusted over (Above picture).  That happens when it is really dry.  I poured a few cups of water in and imagine that should get them back to work. 

I should mention that there is an opposite problem that happens when it rains heavily and the syrup is in the open.  If there is more than a little precipitation, since water is lighter than syrup it will sit on top.  Unless the bees want water, they may then ignore the syrup.  I should also mention that HFCS does not crust when open-fed.

I mentioned that I sold some boxes the other day and today my phone rang.  A beekeeper read that and is wondering about the rest, so I promised some pictures.  Here they are.  I have about 400 boxes which are in good shape and which were just tossed outside when we broke frames extracting.  They are not the best, but will hold frames.  The dimensions and the condition may be a bit variable.

The bottom two pictures are of those ones.  Then there are 500 or more along the building. (Last two pictures).

I think they are somewhat unsorted and vary from new to firewood as I recall.

This not the fanciest woodenware, but it will make money for someone and that is why I kept it around.  Somebody will put it to good use.  The bees don't care about paint or dimensions.

I started a new chart as of March 21st for spring scale hive performance.  Seeing as I am now feeding, the weight loss data is being overwhelmed by the weight gains from feeding.

The old chart continues from the same data and I suppose I will post it here from time time to time as well.  For the sake of completeness, here is the final version to date on the right. 

(Regular readers will know to click on all images to enlarge them  There are, of course, exceptions).


We are discussing essential oils again on BEE-L.  I have been somewhat of a skeptic, especially in early years when the weak effects of the oils were insufficient to overcome the mites.  Recently I received a copy of a study on the effects of thymol on nosema from a reader and I enquired further.

Yes, I use thymol crystals in all my sugar syrup. This will be my 3 rd year. I have tried various dosages,. up to one gram per gallon ,usually .5 or 3/4 gram per gallon.

Certainly think it helps with nosema and mite levels, of course it is only legal for mould in syrup, I have done no studies on thymol's affects on mites or nosema but my winter losses are getting lower, only 7% THIS SPRING. Mite counts taken last sept were less than 3% and mostly lower, we did have to treat 100 nucs bought from BC in spring of 09, they were 5-10%

We also feed fumidil-B and from previous experience we were getting mixed results with year to year comparisons, since the thymol we seem to be more consistent results with wintering and spring build up.

Nice to see your diary running again, I read it often

Palce the "x" down over the hole (Use smoke)This afternoon, I checked the bag of sugar I placed on the hives a few days back on the 25th. I lifted it a little and looked under.  So far the bees seem to have ignored it.

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Tuesday March 30th, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

My back is still acting up and I am wondering if it somehow is related to the Aldera (more) I have been using to treat and hopefully cure actinic keratosis, pre-cancerous spots, on my head.  Beekeepers spend time in the sun and must be aware of the risks and watch for skin problems.

Aldara seems to be doing a good job.  At first, when the treatment began, there were angry red spots on my head that looked really awful and crusted over. Lately they have healed and don't seem to flare up much, but my back is killing me and my gut was feeling weird.  I have been putting the cream on at night lately and I will switch to daytime -- and be sure to wash it off before the night.  I was a bit casual about that at first, but have learned what a powerful drug it is.

From Wikipedia: "Other side effects include headaches, back pain, muscle aches, tiredness, flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, and fungal infections".

I have been experiencing some of these and others listed on the drug side-effect sites 1  2.  Having had the actual flu at the same time exacerbated and confused the issue, too. Ellen had the same flu and was sick enough she passed out on the stairs and hit her head. She was not taking the Aldera treatment, obviously, so we assume that the flu was pretty bad by itself, without a drug side-effect added on.

At any rate, my back is worst after I lie down -- I can hardly get up after a few hours -- and then gets better as the day wears on and so I got outside and moved some things around the yard, tidying up in the afternoon.

That reminds me that my back used to act up after I drove the forklift a lot sometimes.  I suspect it has as much to do with stepping off the forklift as driving it.  There can be a jolt stepping down.

The bees lost weight again today.  The combination of crusting on the feed drum, and the cooler and windy weather are my prime suspects for that.  We are expecting warm weather, but nothing like the hot day I lucked onto when I first opened the drum.

Open feeding is a real crapshoot.  If the timing is lucky, the bees will take the syrup right away.  Miss by a day or two and the drum will sit there and either crust over or accumulate rain water.  I prefer HFCS for spring feeding because it does not crust.  Our best year ever was the year we fed HFCS in the spring.

Ruth came for supper. She is driving back and forth to Calgary for treatment these days and comes by often.  We don't get a lot of company and enjoy what company we do get.  Look us up if you are going by.  We are 10 miles south of Three Hills, off highway 21.

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Wednesday March 31st, 2010
March past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I have been a skeptic when it comes to "Essential oils", but am starting to think differently.  My complaint has been that there are too many uncontrolled and anecdotal accounts and people indiscriminately adding all sorts of things to beehives.  Beehives are food factories, and I am reluctant to add anything that is not food-approved or not to have a distinct purpose for which it has been proven effective.

Various studies have been made over the years and most of the emphasis has been mite control.  Recently, though, a reader send me the following and a copy of a study showing efficacy against nosema apis.

Yes, I use thymol crystals crystals in all my sugar syrup.  This will be my 3rd year.  I have tried various dosages,up to one gram per gallon, usually 0.5 or 3/4 gram per gallon.

Certainly think it helps with nosema and mite levels, of course it is only legal for mould in syrup, I have done no studies on thymol's affects on mites or nosema but my winter losses are getting lower, only 7% THIS SPRING.

Mite counts taken last sept were less than 3% and mostly lower, we did have to treat 100 nucs bought from BC in spring of 09, they were 5-10%.

We also feed fumidil-B and from previous experience we were getting mixed results with year to year comparisons, since the thymol we seem to be more consistent results with wintering and spring build up.

Nice to see your diary running again, I read it often

I buy 10 lbs at a time. Another study below.  This is maybe how it works,


Abstract: The aim of this study was to determine the natural occurrence of Nosema apis in honey bee colonies and evaluated of N. apis presence in colonies after medical treatment with fumagillin and thymol in consecutive 3 years period. For this purpose, 208 honey bee colonies randomly selected for detection of N. apis infection from Aegean ecotype of Apis mellifera anatolica, 1 years old queen in April, 2002. The colony development performances and honey yields were evaluated through the years from 2002 to 2004.

Yücel, B. and D.L. Muhsin, 2005. The impact of Nosema apis Z. infestation of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies after using different treatment methods and their effects on the population levels of workers and honey production on consecutive years. Pak. J. Biol. Sci., 8: 1142-1145.

DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2005.1142.1145
URL: http://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=pjbs.2005.1142.1145 

Summary of results.  Click to enlarge.  Be sure to read the whole study.
[Abstract]   [Fulltext PDF]

That works out to me (Allen) to be 0.25 grams of crystals per U.S. gallon
0.000066g x 1000mL/L x 3.78 L/Gal = 0.25 g/Gal
or 0.3 g per Imperial Gallon

I am definitely not a scientist only a beekeeper who wants healthy bees.............maybe I am selecting for thymol resistant mites

Thymol crystals are dissolved in isopropyl alcohol,99%, THEN ADDED TO SYRUP AND MIXED

(Randy discusses mixing on his site) More...

----- Original Message -----
From: "kurt" <allerslev@GMAIL.COM>
To: <BEE-L@listserv.albany.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:54 AM
Subject: [BEE-L] β-Cyclodextrins as Carriers of Monoterpenes for v arroa IPM

β-Cyclodextrins as Carriers of Monoterpenes into the Hemolymph of the
Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) for Integrated Pest Management

Blaise W. LeBlanc, Stephen Boué, Gloria De-Grandi Hoffman, Thomas
Deeby, Holly McCready, and Kevin Loeffelmann

Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, USDA ARS, 2000 East Allen Road,
Tucson, Arizona 85719; Southern Regional Research Center, USDA ARS,
New Orleans, Louisiana 70179; and Southwest Watershed Research, USDA
ARS, 2000 East Allen Road, Tucson, Arizona 85719

J. Agric. Food Chem., 56 (18), 8565–8573, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/

from the abstract: The Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is becoming ubiquitous worldwide and is a serious threat to honey bees. The cultivation of certain food crops are at risk. The most noted acaricides against Varroa mites are tau-fluvaninate and coumaphos, but the mites are showing resistance. Since these insecticides are used in the proximity of honey, it is desirable to use natural alternatives. Monoterpenoids such as thymol and carvacrol, that are constituents of oil of thyme and oil of origanum, show promise as acaricides against the Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), but the delivery of these compounds remains a challenge due to the low water solubility and uncontrolled release into the colony. β-cyclodextrin (β-CD) inclusion complexes of thymol, oil of origanum, and carvacrol were prepared on a preparative scale. ... The toxicity of β-CD and the prepared complexes in enriched sucrose syrup was studied by conducting caged honey bee (Apis mellifera) feeding trials. After the first and second weeks of feeding, hemolymph and gut tissue samples were acquired from the caged bee study. The levels of thymol and carvacrol were quantified by solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography mass spectroscopy, using an optimized procedure we developed. High (mM) levels of thymol and carvacrol were detected in bee tissues without any imposed toxicity to the bees, in an effort to deter Varroa mites from feeding on honey bee hemolymph.

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From Beesource (Same guy as above)

I use alcohol, the higher strength stuff purchased at a vet clinic.  I'm mixing 750 grams of thymol crystals in appox 1/2 gallon alcohol , to dissolve all the crystals and to put in 1000 gallons of syrup ( 3/4 gram per gallon)

I would be cautious at first on feeding anything to bees, There seems to be lots of variables involved in everything ones does with bees, maybe trying on only a few colonies at first, and not all of them and maybe a smaller dosage.

I notice I get a build up of thymol in my syrup tank, maybe from several years usage in the same tank, never completely emptying the tank and not washing out my tank, It does seem to precipitate out over several weeks by floating on top of the syrup, depending on concentration and temperature and remixing does dissolve it again,  We have a by pass on our pump that re-circulates while pumping, so mixes as well as pumps.

Noticed in June on a warm day while feeder pails were on with thymol syrup and dosage was one gram per gallon, bees were hanging on the outside.  Other than that no other bad side effects.

It does seem to help in controlling my mite population, I have not done any studies on this, it does definitely prevent syrup fermentation. I have seen a European study showing thymol fed over 3 years with fumidil-B showed there was no nosema spores present after 3 years, while those colonies just fed fumidil B still had spores after 3 years.

Have not see this study duplicated anywhere. Haven't tested my bees for nosema levels lately ,but feed fumidil-B, sometimes both spring and fall

More resources:

Dave Cushman's Site

Screening of natural compounds for the control of nosema disease in honeybees (Apis mellifera)

Thymol Properties:

Appearance: Small colorless granules.
Odor: Thyme-like odor.
Solubility: 0.1g/100g water.
Specific Gravity: 0.97 @ 25C/4C
pH: No information found.
% Volatiles by volume @ 21C (70F): 0
Boiling Point: 233C (451F )
Melting Point: 48 - 51C (118 - 124F)
Vapor Density (Air=1): No information found.
Vapor Pressure (mm Hg): 1 @ 64C (147F)
Evaporation Rate (BuAc=1): No information found.

Subject: Effect of thymol and resveratrol
From: Peter L Borst
Reply-To: Informed Discussion of Beekeeping Issues and Bee Biology
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 13:53:18 -0500

This is new

> The presence of thymol or resveratrol in syrup caused nosema-infected bees to live significantly longer than control bees or bees fed with treated candies. In the case of thymol, higher survival might be related to the lower spore load, whereas in the case of resveratrol (where spore loads were not different from control bees), higher survival might be explained by specific life-prolonging antioxidant properties of this substance.

Effect of thymol and resveratrol administered with candy or syrup on the development of Nosema ceranae (Apis mellifera) artificially infected honey bees Cecilia Cost1, Marco Lodesani, Lara Maistrello

Ingmar Fries said, at Niagara Falls, that the thymol taste threshold in honey is 2ppm (parts per million). Dogs smell down to 500 ppt (parts per trillion) and bees down to 5 ppt!

Thymomite Strips

There is much more discussion in the BEE-L Archives. Go to the BEE-L website and type "thymol" into the search box.

The geese are back.  I think they expected water, bit the pond is still frozen.  They stood around a bit, honked a few times and flew on.

Tomorrow is April 1st.  It has been a long March.  Most years we have been in Victoria for two weeks about now.  This year we decided to skip it. Maybe next year.

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