Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Minutes from December 11, 2017

Attendance:  27

President Dave Irvin called the meeting to order at 6:40.  He welcomed and   asked new attendees  to identify themselves and  tell a bit about themselves and  where they  are with beekeeping.

Floyd Otdoerfer:

Floyd began the  meeting with a review of the  annual meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, held in Oskaloosa November 10 and 11.  The meeting was well attended, with a number  of vendors present.

Much discussion from various speakers focused on the varroa mite, its effects and control strategies.  State apiarist Andy Joseph talked about the importance  off making splits, which helps limit the number of mites per hive.   He suggests doing splits about  the  3rd week of April.  Be sure to feed hives mid-March, as  that is a prime time for  hive starvation.  Mites may begin slowly in the spring but 1 mite in April can become 150 mites in August, according to Pat Ennis and Adam Ebert, who spoke  at  the meeting.  1000 mites can doom a hive.  Though mites are often seen in photos  located on the  upper thorax of  the  bee, they actually feed on the bees underside.

There was considerable discussion of mite control, with oxalic acid listed as a favorite treatment, since it does not significantly harm the bees, being a natural substance even found in honey.  Most  seemed to favor  the dribble method, but local beekeepers such as Paul Gardner prefers the  vapor method.  Paul said he treats after Thanksgiving, with one of the benefits of using vapor is it can be applied in cold weather, and in fact  is  better  applied when it  is colder.  It was mentioned that Randy Oliver has said that the duration of contact of the bees with the oxalic acid is an important factor in its efficacy.

Dennis VanEnglesdorp indicated that summer  losses have now become as serious as  winter losses.  He says hives should be treated for varroa 3 to 4 times per  year.  He also suggests keeping  colonies young.  If you have a rob-out, take care of the hive  right away so bees do  not  pick  up and spread mites and diseases.  Again, making splits and having  young, vigorous queens can help keep a colony strong.  Keeping hives spread  out instead of sitting immediately next to  each other can  help minimize disease and pests.

Adam Ebert talked about  queen rearing.  He says grafting late afternoon is the prime time.  If a queen cell becomes damaged, adding a small amount of beeswax can help save the cell.  Adam says 25% of  queens being  developed do not survive.  Middle May is a prime time for queen production.  Adam likes to run about 25 hives at a site.  Marian Ellis,  from Nebraska, says that feeding bees before introducing a new queen can help with acceptance.  Keep the queen in her cage for 4 days.  Give the bees something to do to help distract so  they are not  focusing solely on the new queen, even so much as adding a bit  of honey to the cage.

Thanks to Patty Stewart for bringing in some  tasty honey from Cuba and Italy to sample.


Floyd began a discussion of winterization  methods.  Some members wrap,  some do not.  Protect hives from wind on the north and west sides.  Moisture is a big  concern.  The  use of  quilt boxes,  stuffed  pillows or  even, as Floyd uses, having  pipes lead out from  inside the hive  can help with excessive moisture  in  the hive in the winter.  Even placing bags of  leaves  around the hive  can help insulate.  It was mentioned that the Mountain Camp method of putting a pile of sugar on newspaper on top of the frames can absorb moisture.

Other Items

--Using ultraviolet light to treat frames from a deadout was discussed.  Those interested may  help participate in an informal study to see how effective the treatment is.  Contact Will Swain for more  information.

--Paul Gardner  will be  selling packages April 16 and May 12.  Contact Paul at 319-400-4228.

--Floyd said  we will try to get a speaker for the March meeting.  There will be others at the next meeting who also will be offering packages for sale.

--Tim Willbanks suggests having cotton balls  or some kind of  fluffy material on the hive floor  can help trap mites.

--if you hold a frame up to the light and seee small crystals, it is not crystallized honey but mite defecation

--small hive beetles are now in our area.  Minimizing the  amount of  space bees have to cover to control  the beetles is important. 

--In April, a joint study between the  US Geological Surveyand the University of Iowa found traces of neonicotinoids in the Iowa River and even in local tap water.

--Sneeze weed (helenium annarum) , also known as bitterweed, can be found in roadside flower  mixes.  It  can produce a bitter honey and should be avoided if possible.


Thanks again to Floyd for providing items for a raffle to end the meeting.

Submitted by Jim Davis, Secretary
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