Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Minutes from September 14, 2015 Meeting

60+ members attended.  16 New members:  Scott & Nicole Breese, Stephen Borkholder, Kevin Callahan, Don Combs, Scott Green, Brenda Hamilton, Mary Horn, Joel Johnson,  Megan Jones, Libby Kestel, Christian Nigon, Mike O’Leary, John Prineas, Courtney Olmsted, Ben Winborn,

Iowa Honey Producers Association: Annual Meeting, Fri/Sat November 13-14, Clarion Inn, 525 33rd Ave SW, Cedar Rapids.  Speakers: Meghan Milbrath, Greg Haniford, Mary Harris, Michelle Colopy, Adam Dolezal.

Oxalic Acid Applicator: Paul Gardner (bowhtnlover@aol.com) makes units that vaporize oxalic acid powder to treat for varroa mites. They have a 2-inch-square heater on the end of a shaft which you stick in the lower entrance of the hive; no blower needed.  It takes about 2 minutes per hive, not counting time to close off vents to keep the vapor in.  The applicators are powered by standard 12-volt car batteries, and are offered for ~$120 each.
Paul Gardner demonstrating a two jar method for counting mites.

State Apiarist Andy Joseph: State inspections are going forward.  Bees look good over most of Iowa.  Honey production seems to be up in the state this year.  There was lots of swarming, and inspectors are seeing small hive beetles and varroa mites.  Now is time to treat for varroa; Andy recommends Apiguard.

State apiarist Andy Joseph gave a very informative talk on winter preparation.

Preparing hives for winter (Andy, with additional comments from audience). Equalize hives in the fall; distribute honey frames and combine or shake out weak hives that won’t make it anyhow. Start feeding if needed (sugar water in a feeder or sugar on a newspaper under the top cover--not sugar patties, which are good for winter/spring, but not now).  You want 11-12 honey frames per hive.  Check pollen stores, too—pollen makes for brood and young bees that will survive the winter.  A good general rule is that 10-frame two-deeps must weigh at least 110 lbs to survive an Iowa winter. Glen Stanley used to actually weigh his hives, one side at a time, though most beekeepers just heft and make sure each hive feels about right. Hives need insulation, at least on top: 2” styrofoam is good.  Wrap hives with black insulating material, tar paper or builders wrap.  Ventilation is important to remove moisture: Floyd drills a hole in the top hive body and inserts a drain pipe a few inches long to make the condensed vapor drip outside. Dave uses a thickened inner cover with a front vent hole located low enough to clear the outer cover.  Winter clusters tend to move up, not sideways, and so may fail to access honey frames along the sides; for that reason, Floyd replaces his outside frames with extra insulation blanks. 
ECIBA secretary Dave Campbell shows how to provide ventilation in the hive.
By fall, the bee population is down to less than half of summer maximums, meaning: (a) it is time to reduce lower entrances, to help guard against robbing, and (b) even if mites haven’t built up (though they have!), there will now be at least twice as many mites per bee as you had in high summer. So, test for mites and treat if needed.  A standard test is the ether roll test—scrape nurse bees into a mason jar. Be careful—don’t get the queen.  One inch of bees in the bottom of the jar is about 300 bees, but do an actual count if you don’t have too many hives to make counting impractical.  Give it a 2-second blast of ether (the stuff you used to squirt in the carburetors of really old cars to start them on a cold morning) and shake 30 seconds.  Dump the dead bees and count mites.  An alternate, non-lethal test uses powdered sugar (see last newsletter).  If you have more than ~3 mites per 100 bees, think about treating.  There are many possible treatments; stagger them, so as to not build up mite resistance to any single one.  Good practice is to treat for mites a few times a year to keep them from building up. Pay attention to recommended temperature ranges for the various treatments; Mite-Away strips if it is not too hot, Apivar or Apiguard when warmer.  HopGuard is especially gentle, good to use in the early spring.  Beware of some older products, like CheckMite or Apistan, which use coumaphos (a human carcinogen).  Remove honey supers before doing your final fall treatment.  Note that pesticide residuals will accumulate in comb wax, so that it is good practice to retire old frames with discolored comb.  A way to do that is to take out the 2 darkest frames from each 10-frame box each year.  Put them in the lower hive body; in spring the bees will be in the upper hive body, and you can easily discard them then. 

==Dave Campbell, ECIBA Secretary