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A queen in an overwintered hive

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Thursday April 1st 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
April Fools Day.

Here are our normals for this time of year: Max: 9C Min: -4C.  Sunrise: 7:08 / Sunset: 20:05.  We're running a bit above normal lately.

March was a big month and there were many topics covered in the past few days.  Here's the link: March 2010.  Feeding, syrup, patties, scale hive data, pillows, boxes for sale, cleanup, HFCS, splitting schedule, Styrofoam hives, accuracy of beekeeper reports, to treat or not to treat and with what, stock selection, Aldera --and more...

What was happening about now last year in 2009?  How about 20052004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999?

Let's take a look at 2009.  On April 11th, 2009, I had just gotten home from Victoria and put on the first patties.  That was about it.   Sometimes I get on a writing jag and sometimes not.  Lately, I have been somewhat house-bound with the flu and, as I am discovering, this Aldera treatment is affecting my activities.

OK. Let's try 2005.  Oh! That is along ways back.  3GB a month bandwidth cap?  I sometimes use 3 GB a day now.  Actual measurement is about 4 GB/week unless I am downloading operating systems.  Geocaching?  Haven't been geocaching for a while.  Must get going again.  I see I got certified in SCUBA in 2005.

In 2004, Bert and I went skiing on this day, and I was working selling my last Swingers and Trucks.  Sad!

In 2003 I was yarding bees for sale.  I had just changed my site to the new servers from a directory on Internode.  I was looking at motor homes.  I bought one and it just sits...

As for today, my back is better, we skipped the Victoria trip for the first time in five or more years,  I am considering buying a Swinger again, and the Orams and I plan to go skiing Easter Sunday.  It's a family religious tradition to go skiing on religious holidays.  I worked as a part-time bee inspector last fall, and expect to put in three weeks or so in late April and early May this year, so I am back in the industry a bit anyhow.

To recap, after years of being skeptical about essential oils, I am starting to think that they may have their place and have spent several days looking over literature. (See March 2010)

I also find that simply relying on the bees to handle AFB is not a good idea if there is any residual spore count in hives.  Inspection, and management measures like medication, re-queening or culling are necessary.  I see that AFB cost me 10% of my hives last year and winter due to my being away and not bothering to check.  It seems that I may have actually seeded some hives with scale, since I just had the hives split while I was away and deadouts were used as-is without inspection.  There is a lesson learned -- again.

I'm managing my hives more intensively this year and have arranged my plans to be here for splitting on several occasions a month or five weeks apart.

The word is that bees increase their feed consumption when rearing brood compared to the consumption during winter, but my scale hive numbers do not bear that out, yet at least.  Any increase I can see is very small --assuming that the weight changes reflect consumption.  Of course, if the bees are converting fed into brood of the same weight or adding water, since brood is mostly water, then maybe the scale numbers do not reflect the actual consumption of feed.  Perhaps increased consumption is balanced by the brood produced, when viewed by an external measure.

Another consideration is that the scale hives are in Styrofoam boxes and I have observed that the colonies in this type of boxes tend to be later brooding up than the hives in wooden boxes, although they catch up by the time splitting is over. (see 2003)

I have turned the chart right-side-up to show weight gain as positive and loss as negative.  Loss is now negative. The winter chart (left - click to enlarge) is the opposite. The bump on the spring chart at right is from outside feeding on a warm day which resulted in weight gain.  Both charts are from the same ongoing data stream.

The winter chart shows the long-term trend and a slight change in trend seems to have started around the end of January, with a slight upslope, but it is not as drastic a slope as I expected.

By now, I am thinking the hives have several frames of sealed brood. I'll find out when I go through the hives again one of these days, soon. There was a frame or two with brood in most hives a week back.

Well, I just got off the phone.  I bought three 4-lb packages with two queens each.  I pick them up tomorrow.  The cost is $230 each.  (Wow!).  Two are for Mike and one is for me to play with. 

I want to compare the package hives with the overwintered ones.  The queens are from Australia and from Hawaii - Big Island, I think.  I am not too eager to have these blond bees, but it will give me something to compare.  Also, if I buy superior queens, which I intend to do, and am not raising many myself, the drones will not matter.

I went out to check the hives this afternoon and found they have all eaten their patties down to scraps, with a few exceptions.  I put patties on until I ran out about halfway though, then panicked.  Then I remembered two more boxes in the basement and put most of them on as well.  I have about a half-box left.

I did not shoot pix of the good brood, but just shot examples of problems.  I typically found hives has three frames with good sealed brood areas, but the hives which ate less of the patties had less brood.  In one case, the hive is fighting AFB and has an occasional cell.  I think I'll have to medicate.

One brood picture is presented to show that drones are underway and at the capped stage, so that queen mating will be possible as early as a month from now.

Taking pictures while working bees is a bit awkward, but the Fuji waterproof model I have stands up to the job, even if the pictures are just so-so.

The patties I have added are Global 15% and 4%.  I don't see any difference in consumption between the two.

At this point, I have not seen on single pollen load coming in and there is almost zero pollen in the hives.  What there is is buried in outside frames.

As you can see, I don't fool around when feeding the patties.  I go away for several weeks from time to time and I don't want them to run out.  I last fed on March 21st and this is eleven days later.  Interesting.  Last time I checked on the 21st, it was eleven days after the first feeding.  Clearly, for some of the hives I did not get back fast enough or put enough on last time.  They had eaten everything I gave them.

A commercial beekeeper asked me today if I figure that, given the price of patties, it pays on a commercial scale operation to feed like I am, since the cost adds up fast. It can amount to $10 per colony on average.  Oddly, nobody asks that about syrup, which is not cheap, either.  People do not hesitate to pay for Apivar, and it is not cheap. 

Labour adds up fast, too.  Checking queens in spring is an arduous job that can be eliminated largely by just slapping on patties.  As you can see from my pictures, what you see on top is an x-ray picture of what is happening below.  the only frames I will bother to pull are the ones in the 20% or so of the hives which are not eating.  These hives are3 candidates for new queens as soon as I have some.

My answer was this:  If you are buying packages, then you are paying $115 for each starter hive, and the 90% of the original number which survive to summer often not up to pollination standards in time.  On the other hand, properly made splits can make the grade, and cost just the price of patties and a queen.  Not only that, saving even one hive from winter or spring loss buys a lot of patties.

I normally do not swell when stung, but in the spring, sometimes I do.  Today, I was working on one particular hive and it became a bit jumpy.  A bee flew straight for my eye and nicked me.  I persevered, then another and another did the same.  I ignored that except for removing the stingers.  Guess what, I swelled.

Meijers came over in the afternoon for as visit around four, then we all went to Three Hills for Bill's 76th birthday celebration.

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Friday April 2nd 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
Good Friday

Today, I have a drive down to High River to pick up some packages and then a stop in Airdrie to help Mike install them into his new Bee Villas.  I'll bring one home to install here as a project.

The day began with a phone call from a beekeeper who needed boxes.  Mike said he could be down before lunch, so I said, "OK".  He and his crew came down and loaded up some boxes, had lunch, then they were off.  While they were loading, I was making up brood chambers.  I need six, four for Mike and two for me.

I had a quick nap, then loaded the brood boxes for (another) Mike and headed to High River, leaving around three.  I met Sid at his place at five, got the packages and some frames, then drove to Airdrie.  I had estimated well -- seven PM -- and arrived twenty minutes early.

This was my first excursion in a long time without a cell phone.  I have had cell phones ever since they became available, probably fifteen years or more, but got disgusted with Bell Mobility and their terrible exploitation and bad customer service.   I told them to cancel my account!

Some companies threat their customers with respect.  Bell, intentionally or not, gives an impression that customers are suckers to manipulate and fleece.  They played tricks and regularly overbilled me, dropped features or tried to charge for included features.  Sometimes I reached people who fixed things easily and gladly.  Most of the time, just got people who were either unable or unwilling to do anything to make things right.

When my contract expired, I enquired well in advance and the day after, and although they assured me that my features and billing would not change, they dropped my long distance plan and started billing for promo items.  Every time there was a change in my plan or billing, they emailed me except when my contract expired and they screwed me.  At that point I only got an email saying I was eligible for a phone upgrade.  No mention of doubling my bill.

For me everywhere is long distance and fringe coverage and a phone is not use without cheap long distance and included voicemail and caller ID.  My plan had included all that for three years.  I have spent at least eight or ten hours calling and talking with Bell over the three years of the lapsed contract.  I should bill them for it.

Coordinating without a cell phone to confirm and touch base seemed strange, but I arrived in High River within minutes of when I promised and in Airdrie early, and I met up with everyone, so life without Bell is possible!

Stand Alone bee villaIn Airdrie, Mike, a friend of his and I drove to his location and installed the four colonies into his Bee Villas, loaded another three boxes of patties and then I headed home.

I got home around 8:30, had a snack, then went out and installed my two swarms.  I have to say, that beside overwintered hives, packages look pretty sad.  We'll see how they look in a day or so.  I have to release one queen from each package, since they were four-pounders and came with one queen and the second one was from Hawaii and not inside the package with the bees.  Since they might reject the strange queen, a cage into is appropriate, so I have open them in a day or so.  I'll be adding syrup, too, although they have lots of honey in the combs I chose.

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Saturday April 3rd 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Ellen needed the van first thing, so when I was over at the quonset, unloading, I took a quick glance into the two new hives.  Seems I did not divide the bees very equally, judging by the number of frames covered.  I'll have to equalize them.   One queen is released already and probably laying.  The other is waiting for acceptance and release.

The stuff on the top bars is the foam 'floats' from the packages.  Packages carried on airplanes cannot use the atmospheric cans that are used for ground transport.  Unfortunately, these feeders drown bees even if we rip the screens off and remove them carefully, then cut the bottles in half.

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Sunday April 4th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

We were up early, had breakfast and were off to Nakiska for a day of skiing.  Conditions were great and we were back in good time for a family Easter dinner.


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Monday April 5th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

> Hi Allen I liked your graphs of weight changes of a beehive and would like to set up a hive on scales myself. Could you please tell me what equipment you have used for this setup? I am in the UK but am hopeful that I can get something similar here.

I just use an old platform scale which I had sitting around. You should be able to find something like it if you ask around.

Actually some of my Hutterite friends showed up here with it one day on the back of their pickup truck and said I needed it.  They only wanted $100, so I took it.  I used it to weigh barrels and propane bottles over the years, but then it sat unused.  When I read about my friend, Charlie's involvement with NASA, (his hive is at Carencro, LA on the map) it got me thinking...

There are companies which sell scales in every large city. Tell them you want an old mechanical one (beam scale) that need not be accurate, certified, or good-looking. They may have one in their junk.

Jean & Chris, Mckenzie, Ellen & I went out and checked our geocaches.  Some time back, they were all stolen, and we replaced some, but gave up on others.  We found the first one, but are going to have to hunt for the second.  I think I know where it is supposed to be, but have to check the coordinates.

I looked at my hives this afternoon.  The queen needed releasing in the second package and I let her out.  I then gave the others a quick check, filled some feeders and medicated.

 Yup, no more fooling around.  I'll let the queen breeders do the selection and take the losses due to stock evaluation, and I'll buy their output.  That's their job and why we pay them the big bucks -- or should.  Too bad it is so hard to know who is doing a good job.

I marked two more hives as looking a little less than great and that brings the total up to 5 out of 29 on the watch list.  These tow are OK, but not eating as well as they could.  I really should pull frames, examine them again to verify that the queens are failing and re-queen, but I am leaving Thursday early.  Of the others, one is weak, but is brooding up since I added bees, and one has serious AFB, but should clear up now.  These two I marked today may just be conservative bees.  I hope, but maybe the queen is failing...

I also took one of the baggies of sugar out of the hive and dumped the sugar on top of the patties.  I give up.  That was not a good idea, at least for hives which are not starving.  See Wednesday March 24th, 2010 and Thursday March 25th, 2010


> Are you taking into account the tonnage of pollen patties you've added in  the past few weeks?

Yes, of course. I reset the scale whenever I load them up. Odd that they are not consuming more. Now that I am feeding outside in a drum, though, all attempts at calculating consumption are past.

To this point, I estimate the bees have actually eaten about four pounds per hive, average, as opposed to the eight or so I have put on them.

> Regarding back problems (every beekeeper's fear), the solution I use is in > the book "Somatics" by Hanna.

I see it is out of stock at Amazon.  Looks interesting.  In my case, my problem is apparently degeneration in the lower back, probably due to macho canoe carrying in my early youth and other heavy lifting, and my application of Aldera.  I plan to write further about that latter item.  I discontinued its use for a few days prior to yesterday's ski trip and the back symptoms cleared up 99%.

> This is a crazy spring and I only have time for an occasional peek at your diary. I have no time for Bee-L.

Too bad, the topic lately has been thymol in syrup.

> One more comment, on the philosophical side. For the past few years, I've been trying to figure out what is the essential difference between a small commercial operation and a large sideliner or hobbyist operation. Your diary was one of the sources I used to hunt for the answer. Interestingly, I think your recent postings have confirmed the answer. The main difference, IMO, is the commercial guy does not take any chances that are not necessary, or at least he has calculated the implications and is prepared to live with them. We see the effect of this attitude in feeding, disease treatment, and culling of dinks.

Exactly.  Most perceptive.  I'm crossing back over that line again.

> Your approach to your bees over the past year has not been with a commercial mindset (an observation, not a criticism), and I think that explains why your AFB problem got out of hand.

Not caring, and a little overconfidence in the bees abilities to handle it entered in, too.

I split simply to avoid making honey. (Didn't work). The reason IMO AFB got out of hand was very simply that I did not look. If I had seen it getting away, I would have dealt with it, possibly by re-queening and maybe by drugs.

Of course, there is a cost to monitoring, and a cost to not monitoring.

Additionally, relying on the bees to keep AFB in check and not assisting with drugs means more brood torn out and a load on the bees which results in lost production -- again, the difference between commercial and hobby.

I'm off again Thursday to visit Mom and Linda, then, after that, a few weeks on the road for Medhat here in Alberta, and at the end of May, a cruise in the San Juans.

After that it is back to Ontario to open Pine Hill and sail in Carpe Diem.  I am hoping to get to Georgian Bay with the boat this summer.   In between, I have to take care of my beloved bees, with a split in mid-May and one again in June and the last in July, so I'll be bouncing home a time or two to take care of those tasks.

Speaking of bees, the new packages are not nearly as nice to me as most of my overwintered hives.  I got nailed in the eyelid (again) while releasing that queen.  Ingrates!

> I personally am confused about the whole top entrance question--both summer and winter. Reports are often contradictory. So much appears to depend upon local humidity and temperatures.

Top entrances ensure that there is an entrance. Lower entrances can get blocked by ice storms, dead bees, etc, resulting is suffocation.

They also allow bees to fly more easily if they feel the need, possibly reducing disease loads. They also tend to allow even weak colonies to maintain entrance activity. Colonies without entrance activity tend to lose bees to hives with active entrances.

That is one reason we use an auger hole in every brood chamber. Even with boxes of different colours, bees seem to love and recognise those round holes and drift less.

As for the question of humidity, bees enjoy high humidity. I think the confusion is due to differing hive materials and configurations. Each combination requires different entrance, ventilation and insulation measures.

Although humidity is good, a problem arises when temperatures change faster than the air exchange in the hive and precipitation or condensation occurs inside the hive. This precipitation is usually from a lid which is uninsulated and cool enough to condense the humidity into water or ice, which then melts and drips. Some hive setups need far more ventilation than others.

It seems that water outside the cluster, but inside the hive is not a problem, as long as it does not cause stinky decomposition of junk on the floor or in frame feeders (creating a bee repellant) but water above or in the cluster can be deadly.

At one time, we made the mistake of building floors which were watertight, thinking to save any syrup which spilled down, but found that, unless tipped forward (thus defeating the purpose), they accumulated water. Over time, that water encouraged a fermentation which turned the floor junk into a close approximation to Bee-Go. That drove bees out of the weaker hives into nearby hives and caused dwindling.

Tuesday April 6th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
The last of the ice is disappearing from our pond today.  I hear the ice is out of Lake Ramsey.

"Generally, Albertans receive their biggest dumps of snow in April and May (and occasionally June)" - Environment Canada

Our weather has been marvelous so far, but somehow I got to reading the diary from April 2003. What I read there is a good reminder of what can happen right up until the end of May in this country. I think the biggest dump I recall hearing about was 30" in Southern Alberta May 1st 1967. That storm killed calves and was a disaster for many.

Blizzards in Southern Alberta - April 17-20 and 27-29, 1967. A series of intense winter storms dropped a record 175 cm (~ 6 feet) of snow on southern Alberta. Thousands of cattle, unable to forage for food in the deep snow, perished on the open range. Army units were dispatched to assist in snow clearing, while food, fuel and feed were airlifted into the province. The good news? The Revenue Minister announced that the income tax deadline for residents of southern Alberta was extended two weeks to May 15.

From my April 26, 2003 Diary:

Yesterday, the Environment Canada forecast promised: "Saturday :   Showers. Wind increasing to west 30. High 9."   Boy, were they wrong about that forecast.  We had a dandy storm that broke trees, put the power out for 24 hours, and left us with a foot or more of wet snow.  This morning, when I got up, our electricity was off, and we had over an inch of snow; the rain had changed to snow.  By mid-day, we had a foot and drifts of up to three feet, temperatures right around the freezing mark, and high gusting winds. 

The power stayed off all day, and the power company kept moving back the time for restoring service by two hours every time a previous deadline passed...

For those who wonder about feeding patties after first pollen appears, consider the stress on strong hives with plenty of larvae to feed and emerging bees needing protein when there is snow on the ground for days. From The Weather Doctor's Diary:
  • 4-5 May 2003, Alberta: Spring snow is not uncommon, but rarely so heavy across the province. This storm buries the Iddesleigh area under an astounding 55 cm (22 inches). Other totals include Brooks, Suffield and Jenner areas receiving 20 to 35 cm (8-14 inches) of snow. Medicine Hat have received 22 cm (8.7 inches), Lethbridge 11 cm (4.3 inches), Red Deer 12 cm (5 inches) and Edmonton 7 cm (3 inches).
  • 6 May 2002, Calgary, Alberta: A spring blizzard dumps nearly 30 cm (12 inches) of snow on Alberta's heartland, snarling the morning commute and forcing airlines to cancel flights due to whiteout conditions.
  • 14-15 May 1986, Southern Alberta: Late season blizzard whips knee-deep snow on 80 km/h (50 mph) winds. Considered worst Spring snowstorm in Alberta history.
  • 24 May 2007, Calgary, Alberta: Calgarians awake to trees bending and breaking under the weight of a heavy, wet snow that measured 10 cm (4 inches) at the Calgary International Airport to 15-20 cm (6-8 inches) in surrounding areas.


Good article, and a useful insight.

> On a semi technical note, even if the standard deviation for same stock  queen performance is fairly "high" (which I suspect it is),

Agreed, and we are not just dealing with one population, so the math may be impossible and we may have to rely on intuition.

Using just one batch of queens introduces a great deal of uncertainty if the goal is to evaluate the stock as a whole for reasons that most of us will find obvious, so we usually stagger purchase. That one thing will make batch problems stick out like a sore thumb, and batch problems are not that unusual.

Then there is the variation year to year due to breeder selection. Things happen. I hear for example, that in the Saskatraz project most if not all the 'original' queens were winter killed recently. Winter kill can happen for many reasons, not all related to the stock in question, but it will definitely steer a program in subsequent years. I have friends who purchase stock form that rather variable pool and do their own selection from it -- and are quite happy. Others are just spooked by the lack of uniformity.

Another major breeder was shipping queens infected with nosema, unbeknownst to the operator or customers until someone decide to sacrifice some $20 queens on arrival to discover that fact after performance issues were discovered to be widespread.

> Finally, I offer the two step process for judging queens as a practical  workable approach for the vast vast majority of beeks who are simply  unable to study large numbers to gain hard statistical info. I feel this is  especially needed for testing queens from producers who breed for varroa  resistance. Queen breeders have been known to exhibit irrationally  defensive behavior in response to certain stimuli (such as criticism of > our stock). I think if buyers would use this test it would help to calm  our beehavior:)

Fortunately we have sideliners and hobbyists who rush in where commercial beekeepers fear to tread and who actually new stocks and will try to work without a chemical safety net. As survivors emerge, others get bolder in trying these things.

One of my regular diary readers wrote this the other day:

> One more comment, on the philosophical side. For the past few years, I've been trying to figure out what is the essential difference between a small  commercial operation and a large sideliner or hobbyist operation. Your diary was one of the sources I used to hunt for the answer. Interestingly, I think your recent postings have confirmed the answer. The main difference, IMO, is the commercial guy does not take any chances that are not necessary, or at least he has calculated the implications and is prepared to live with them. We see the effect of this attitude in feeding, disease treatment, and culling of dinks.

I cross back and forth across that line. Some regard these ideas like religion, but to my mind, a beekeeper who wishes to remain a beekeeper, rather than become an armchair beekeeper and theorist, must be pragmatic not dogmatic.

Personally, I wrote a course which included an IPM section a half-decade back. It is amazing how writing a course forces one to learn the topic. It forced me to research and examine the concept, then condense it to simple practices.

IPM works and is the best approach I know. It is the middle ground between "Dose everything all the time" and "Let Nature take its course", and maximizes economic productivity and sustainability (whatever that may be).

Using selected stocks (ideally more than one) with known resistance or tolerance to various pests and challenges is an IPM cornerstone. Monitoring is another.

In IPM, no one aspect can be expected to prevent economic damage for the many reasons constantly discussed here. Stock, management, nutrition, monitoring and treatment are all links in a chain. With luck we seldom get to the treatment option, although our hand is on our holster. The treatment option is always there, but we get to know our enemies intimately, since we practice restraint and wait until we see the whites of their eyes before we shoot..

Maybe someday the SD you ponder will drop, the susceptible tail will be truncated and stock alone will be robust enough that we can concentrate less on the other inputs, but at this point, we -- as commercials -- need to always be on guard against and mitigate the damage and loss that can come from the tail of the curve, even with superior stock.

Hobbyists have the luxury of taking the hits as they come and their reports will be the first harbingers of the new day when stock alone can be trusted to eliminate many of the treatments. Until then, those of us who are attempting to maximize profit from our bees will have treatments at the ready and be quick to intervene when we see a situation developing.

Finally! Some pollen.  April 6, 2010, and I see bees in the poplars outside the window.

It will be two more weeks until there is anything reliable.  Crocuses usually get going around then.

I went over to weight the hives and watched for a few minutes.  I did not see one pollen load, so maybe the bees are getting propolis from the buds, not pollen.  (Click thumbnails to enlarge).

Wednesday April 7th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Meijers came by for coffee on their way south to get some supplies.  They report pollen coming in an crocuses blooming.

I went out and checked the bees and I see many pollen loads coming.  The loads are tiny, but it is pollen, I am pretty sure.

> I called and they have a $150 minimum at your supplier.
> That is a lot of thymol. Do you buy the minimum and split it up?
> My friends are getting interested.

I buy 10 lbs at a time, with delivery by courier its about $200 ,including the brokerage,  Usually here in a week or less -- Purolator courier.

I am currently feeding 4000 gal of syrup spring plus another 4000 in the fall- last year, - 800 hives ALL of this syrup is (with) thymol, 

Bees are eating me out of house and home, have put on 3000 patties plus and syrup out of tanks is over 1600 gal, but we put out 400 gal today in drums.

We were using inside feeders, and one gallon pails on top, very time consuming.

I see pollen coming in today, so patty consumption will slow down,  Pails sitting on top ,they warm up and are poured in the inside feeders and it disappears quickly.

As you know as soon as you unwrap it usually snows and things can go backwards.

We drum feed in the fall, its quick, it works but I would not call it good beekeeping practice

For convenience, here are the same beekeeper's earlier comments.

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 effects 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.

Ycel, 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 Bou, 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), 85658573, 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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Thursday April 8th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999
I was up before three, packed and in Airdrie by 5:30.  My flight left at 7:10, and I spent an hour or two in Regina, then on to Toronto.  I watched most of Avatar on the flight and landed in Toronto, where I learned the flight to Sudbury was late.  Then the flight to Timmins, just north od Sudbury was canceled.  However, the Sudbury flight did take off, a half-hour late and Bill picked me up.  The roads re slushy, but driving is OK. We has supper and visited Harri, and that was it.  It is good to be back in Sudbury.
Friday April 9th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

I visited Linda this morning.  In the evening, Bill and I went shopping for a SPOT 2 Satellite GPS Messenger.  I found some Personal Trackers around town, but prefer the Messenger, since it can send a short non-emergency message as well as doing the routine tracking and emergency messaging.  It seems that they are not yet shipping in Canada. 

I intend to use a Messenger for sailing trips, but beekeepers might find it handy to know where their trucks are at any moment in time.  The unit sends a position every ten minutes and can put a series of pushpins (breadcrumbs) onto a custom Google Map.  If the user pushes the emergency button, the unit will email and phone for help, giving the position automatically.  More details here.

We also found out more about the Rogers Rocket Hub.  Apparently the phone service offered with it is like cellular and has roaming and incoming long distance charges when it is taken out of the home district.  If used strictly for data, though, the hub can work with VOIP and Skype (SkypeOut), Vonage, Magic Jack or other such services which include long distance in a nominal fee.

How much data bandwidth is used when using Skype?  The best estimate I've seen is 40 hours per GB.  That is a lot of talking -- or listening.  It appears that Vonage uses anywhere from 30 to 90 Kps or 3 to 9 times as much.

Saturday April 10th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999


Edited from a series of emails:

>... you mention a large queen supplier that was supplying queens with nosema, don't expect to to say who, but were the queens carniolans from Slovenia by any chance.

No. Although that is possible, too. I have no knowledge of that one. I was referring to a supplier more local to North America.

> ...there was a lot of problems with queens from Slovenia last season, many hundreds, i believe they could well of had the same probs, definitely one's i had were nosemic, and reports from one large importer of queens disappearing, not building up, failing soon after introduction suggests many were like mine.

I think this is a problem that has suddenly appeared worldwide and taken many by surprise. I have not treated for nosema for decades, but am now on the watch. I'm thinking thymol may be my solution.

> ps, keep up your diary, it's both, interesting and informative.

Keeps me on my toes.

> Pleased to hear you say that about the thymol, don't know if you remember my over long pm on the forum about feeding thymol in syrup,

I can't recall. I think I had to empty my inbox there, too. You don't happen to have a copy?

> well have been doing this for years pre 2002,then the nosema levels rose slowly for the past 7 years, had probs over a year ago in spring and went back to using thymol syrup, this spring nosema no problems at all, R.O.B Manley was using thymol back in the 40's,

So I have been hearing. What was his purpose, do you recall?

> Manley's main reason was to stop syrup from fermenting ,especially when late feeding of colonies is carried out like when they return from the heather in autumn. don't know if you have seen this link about thymol on Dave Cushman's site.....  http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/thymolx1.html

That's where I saw the reference to Manley.

> i use 3 times Manley dose emulsified with lecithin to give a very stable suspension of the thymol throughout the syrup mix, just under 1g per gallon which is 5ml of the thymol pre mix,

How do you make the pre-mix?

> My recipe is same quantities, but not so much surgical spirit, this being replaced by water to emulsify, else the oil tends to just float on top, or a proportion of it.

  • 30g thymol crystals. placed in honey jar,
  • add 5ml of surgical spirit/isopropyl alc/meths any one of these works,
  • place this jar in water bath of boiling water to help dissolve.
    honey jar....140ml of boiling water,
  • add 1 teaspoon of lecithin granules,
  • place jar in hot  water bath to keep hot and help dissolve the lecithin,
  • takes about 10/15 minutes,
  • strain out any undissolved lecithin through tea strainer or such like,
  • then add the dissolved thymol to the water lecithin,
  • shake well, several times.

> this you can then add at 6ml to 1 gallon of syrup, which would be 1g per gallon of thymol, i use 5ml for nosema per gallon, or 5ml per 3 gallons to prevent any fermentation, even if unsealed in hive by bee's.

> lecithin granules are easily obtained from health food shops, very cheap.

> also helps with varroa control, apart from the 7 years of not using thymol i have always used it in autumn syrup feed since the late 70's,i currently have 240 colonies and 75 nuc's, did go to 300, heading that way again, and higher, now sons can help me some. nothing on your kind of scale though Allen, this is the uk, would not hold as many as you used to run...l

> i currently have 240 colonys and 75 nuc's,did go to 300,heading that way again,and higher, now sons can help me some. nothing on your kind of scale though Allen, this is the uk, would not hold as many as you used to run

> That, for me, is now a distant memory.

> ps...i believe since varroa the diseases like nosema have been well overlooked, everyone so pre-occupied with varroa that they thought nosema had gone away, when levels have become much worse, then of course there is ceranae.

I really do not know what to make of all that.

> Makes perfect sense really, thymol is a fungicide, nosema is a fungi, so thymol is bound to have a good effect in clearing up, or preventing nosema. plus i believe when the bee's are fanning within the hive to reduce the moisture content of the thymolised syrup, the vapour has has a detrimental effect on varroa ,plus can work in a systemic way within the bee's when the mites feed from them, and the larvae within the cells. And the bee's love the stuff, seems to keep them very healthy.

Do you mind if I use some of this conversation in my diary?

> No Allen i don't mind at all,.

Univar gave me a thymol quote today.  A 25 kilo bag is $1,125.00.  2 week delivery.  Irwin's source (right) looks much more reasonable.  Maybe there is a purity difference?  Click and go...

I brought my Ham radio walkie-talkie along and spent the afternoon playing with batteries.  There is a lot to know.  I have some old rechargeables, and was working on rehabilitating them.  Although they are a little more work, rechargeables can save a lot of money.  I'm looking at getting a Spot and it will eat batteries, too.  Add to that my GPS...

Check out the presentation at left.  Click and go...



Sunday April 11th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

Bill and I went to the Sportsmans Show, and I found the Spot unit I have been looking for, so I bought it.  After activating it, I went to Bill's for his birthday supper.

I activated the tracking feature before driving over and back.  The map at left shows the plots.  The unit sends a 'breadcrum' every ten minutes, amrking my path. I also sent an 'OK' message which shows on the chart, too.  So far this looks promising.  I got the unit for when I am sailing so people can track my progress.  The unit also provides emergency SOS capability.

I updated the scale hive charts and they are presented below.  Ellen continues to send me daily readings. 

The continuous chart from October 17th through now is below and the spring chart at right.  Click the thumbnails to enlarge.



Monday April 12th 2010
April past: 2009, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999

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