MARCH 2014 – click on the title of the talk to see the video
Ken Outten’s talk on Raising Local Bees and Queens
FEBRUARY 2014 – click on the title of the talk to see the video
JANUARY 2014 – click on the title of the talk to see the powerpoint presentation.
Click the link below to see a video of the meeting in which Guild member, Dave Harrod describes what you might see in your hive and how to interpret it.
Swarms, Cut-Outs, and Bait Hives
Presented by: Daniel Duffy
Hive Crawl will be June 9th with rain date June 10. Help with coordination and set-up needed.
We are looking for a location for our annual Natural Beekeeping Seminar on Feb 10, 2013. Requirements: We need seating, parking, and a cafeteria for 200+ and a large lobby area for vendors. If you think of a space that is suitable, please contact the board.
HoneyFest is looking for a marketing intern. Please see our web site for details if interested. We are also looking for volunteers for HoneyFest to assist with organization, set-up, honey sales, etc.
Please contact the board if you would like to contribute your efforts or ideas by contacting us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DANIEL DUFFY was our speaker for the evening. He has 3 years of experience keeping bees, and now has several hives at the Woodlands Cemetery. While he is now quite knowledgeable about bees, he didn’t start off that way.
ROOKIE YEAR: Not knowing where to acquire woodenware, Daniel first tried making the boxes himself, but found the task of dovetailing, etc. rather daunting. He was then directed to find wooden ware suppliers online. Online shopping for all things beekeeping was an eye-opening experience for Daniel, and after acquiring bees from Jim Bob in Montgomery County he was on his way.
His first Kensington rooftop hive issued a swarm and was the cause of curiosity and a bit of concern among his wary neighbors. Never having dealt with a swarm before, the rookie beekeeper used a shovel and a cardboard box to pick up the clustering “puddle” of bees from the ground, drove the cluster to an unoccupied factory and threw the bees over the fence.
Since that time, Daniel has become much more sensitive to the bees and their needs. He has lost more than one hive to Varroa. This experience has influenced his decision to manage his bees organically, with the intention of capturing feral swarms whenever possible, and to thusly create hives from survivor stock that has a better chance to naturally withstand disease and parasites. This intention led Daniel to learn more about swarms, feral bees, bait hives, and swarm capture. He shared some insights with us:
SWARMS: Swarms issue from overpopulated hives in the spring season. Approximately half of the original hive leaves with the old queen, while a new queen is reared by the remaining half of the colony.
The bees that will swarm first gorge on honey to prepare for their flight. Bees in a swarm cluster are very docile, and will be very, very slow to show any sign of aggression.
Scouts are sent out from the swarm to find a suitable new nesting site, and will communicate their findings to the swarm by way of waggle dances. The more times a waggle dance is repeated, the better the location. The longer the dance, the farther the location is from the cluster. More on waggle dances can be learned by reading about the work of Karl Von Frisch and Martin Lindauer.
WHY CAPTURE SWARMS:
Meet your neighbors and build community and conversation, advocate and educate about honeybees.
Learn Honeybee behavior
Save bees. Most swarms will not survive unless housed by beekeepers. They do not have enough time, numbers, or resources to prepare adequately for making it through their first winter.
Catch survivor bees: This is Daniel’s method of developing stock that will be more resistant to disease and parasites. Also, swarms have naturally broken the brood cycle, thus completing one step towards ridding themselves of oppressive mite loads.
1.) Use your head: REMAIN CONSCIOUS OF SAFETY AT ALL TIMES. Carefully consider your plan when using a ladder or climbing. Think things through all the way before you begin!
2.) Bucket or Box
3.) Loppers (long handled pole saw if the swarm is high off the ground)
Other useful tools: Duct tape, veil, ladder, bee vac, sheet or tarp, spray bottle with syrup water, brush.
DANIEL’S SWARM ROUTINE:
Spray the swarm with syrup water. Shake gently into box or use a brush if you must. Add a couple of frames of brood and honey.
It is optional to find and cage the queen to discourage the hive from absconding. This way, the queen cannot leave, and the swarm will not leave without her.
Jeff Eckel added that it is wise to use foundation instead of comb from other hives to prevent the possibility of foulbrood being stored along with regurgitated honey from the feral colony. This way, the bees will have to digest all the honey from the old hive before comb is sufficiently drawn in the new hive. No old honey will pass spores into the new comb.
A cut-out is the activity of removing an existing hive from inside walls of a building. Anywhere that the bees must be gotten to by cutting or removing parts of a structure. This is much more difficult than simple swarm capture for obvious reasons, and also because the bees are established and protective of their hive.
The two big goals are minimizing damage to the structure and minimizing bee aggression. It can be difficult to determine the exact location of a swarm within a wall and the amount of demolition may be more substantial than anticipated. Consider a contract with your client that will protect you from being held responsible for damage.
Daniel was an entertaining, humorous and informative speaker. We enjoyed his presentation which included photos and great stories of his experiences. Others joined in with their own adventures in swarm capture. It was a fun evening. Thanks to all who participated and especially to our speaker. -bjp
Our host for the evening, Trey Flemming, started us off with a talk about his collaboration with Milk and Honey Market in West Philadelphia. Trey manages hives on the rooftop of the market, as well as in other locations throughout the city.
Barbara Patrizzi spoke about some of the types of pollen that have been available for honey bees to forage in our area so far this season. Siberian Squill is in bloom now, and several Guild members are seeing their bees return with packets of vibrant blue pollen that appears to be from this plant.
Anna Herman shared some great photos of her foundationless frame hives, and welcomed folks to come see the observation hive that she maintains at Project Learn in Mount Airy. She shared a story about the time she once mistakenly offered her bees a feeder full of salt water instead of sugar syrup.
Mike Reilly told of how his visit to the Insectarium inspired him to become a beekeeper. In his first year, he harvested enough honey to give it as Christmas gifts to friends and family. The joy of the harvest was balanced with the trials of mice, wax moths, and beetles.
Jeff Eckel spoke about his long term goal of developing a queen rearing program in the Philadelphia area. Through careful breeding practices, and in partnership with other area queen breeders, Jeff would like to select for traits such as good honey production, early build-up, and hygienic behavior. There was also a discussion about the creation of a Philadelphia area Hive Map which could aid in the effort to record the health, successes and failures of colonies throughout the city.
Suzanne Matlock presented the work of Arcadia University student L. DiLorenzo . Ms. DiLorenzo studied hygienic behavior in three colonies of honey bees. Her study protocol included placing frames of dead brood into the hives and then determining what percentage of that brood was removed from each hive after 48 hours. Significant differences in behavior were recorded between the three hives: 83%, 88%, and 96% removal rates.
Don Shump met with Dr. Jeff Pettis, Research Leader at the US Honey Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Maryland. Still no good leads on CCD. Current bee losses have eliminated any buffer we had in terms of our ability to produce food that requires pollination. Pollination prices will increase, thereby causing the cost of fruits and vegetables to rise.
Daniel Duffy initiated the formation of a Swarm Removal List for the Guild Web site. Names and contact information of those interested in being placed on the list were gathered, and will be posted on the Guild web site.
Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild Meeting Minutes
19-Jan-2012 7:30 pm
Smith Mansion; Oxford St.
Approximately 25 people were in attendance.
Adam Schreiber, president, called the meeting to order and announced the following:
- · February 5, 2012 will be our 2nd annual natural beekeeping symposium 10 am – 4pm at Penn Charter High School, Germantown – more details on our website and emails we’ve sent.
- · February 18, 2012 will be our Beginner Beekeeper course 10am-4pm at Circle of Hope, Broad St. Additional Queen Rearing class may be offered same day; to be announced shortly – more details on our website.
- · A combined order for woodenware will be organized by the Guild, from Forest Hill Woodworking in Lancaster Co. Negotiations for low or no cost deliver are underway; stay tuned for more details
- · Don’t forget to renew your membership for 2012
Adam introduced Rachel Barnes an art student at Temple U who stood to ask the group for any dead bees they might have. She will use them in her senior art exhibit to raise the awareness of colony collapse disorder.
Adam thanked outgoing officers of the Executive Board:
- · Daniel Duffy, Vice President and
- · Matt Feldman, Treasurer
who are unable to continue serving in these offices. Their efforts to get the Guild started and keep in going are appreciated. A slate of new officers were named and voted upon by members in attendance. The vote was unanimous for:
- · President – Adam Schreiber
- · VP – Suzanne Matlock
- · Secretary – Barbara Patrizzi
- · Treasurer – Anna Herman
- · Webmistress – Abby Eckel
- · Past President (“and Founder,” Adam added) – Joel Eckel
- · Member Representatives – Trey Flemming
– Jeff Eckel
– Chad Carnahan
If anyone else has a desire to be on the Board, let one of us know.
Tonight’s speaker is Ben Brown of Chestnut Hill who has been keeping bees for about 15 years and also kept bees as a teenager in the 70s. He spoke about his adventure with the City of Philadelphia, as he got his kitchen certified as a honey extraction site.
The PA Dept. of Agriculture certifies food processing facilities; their certification is world recognized. On their website is an application for a certified kitchen – and section 2 requests proof from your municipality that your house is zoned for the food processing activity. Thus the adventure begins.
The City zones are single use, like residential. So you first petition the City for a zoning variance for $100. They WILL turn you down so you next appeal their decision for $250. Ben hired an “expeditor” to do all the legwork with the City.
He next sought the support of his neighborhood civic group, the Chestnut Hill Community Association. You will have to find a like group in your own neighborhood to give their written support for your zoning hearing. Near neighbors must sign a petition that they do not object to your honey extraction activities! You must post a big orange sign in your yard for a specified length of time, describing the zoning variance and inviting people to attend your zoning hearing.
Don’t be surprised if you go before the zoning board and they ask you for “plans” because they think you might have to modify your house for the extraction of honey. They are not very familiar with the activity! Ben’s story had people laughing out loud at the City procedures. Finally he got the zoning variance but it restricted his sales to wholesale – no retail from his home.
Then he could fill out the remaining sections of the Dept. of Agriculture forms, submitting a very short business plan (2 paragraphs) and a copy of his label. Specifications for honey labeling are described in “Beekeeping Basics” published by Penn State. This booklet is free to download from the Penn State website.
Honey is not considered “prepared food” so you do not need a sales tax license. The last hurdle is an inspection by the Region 7 Sanitarian, who actually lives in Philadelphia, although his office is in Creamery, PA. Ben was unaware that the Sanitarian would expect him to have “test strips” to prove that his extractor was cleaned properly. Although the lack of “test strips” was a finding in the inspection, Ben passed anyway and now experiences the sheer joy of selling his honey at the Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill in jars he imported from Italy.
People asked a lot of questions, including how quickly he made back all the money he spent to go through this process. Ben’s advice: Don’t quit your day job!
After the speaker, the attendees stayed to enjoy conversations with each other and make plans for the coming beekeeping year.
The first, a one day workshop sponsored by the Phila Beekeeping Guild will be at Wyck on March 12, $40 members, $60 non-members (includes Guild membership). Registration and questions can be directed through our web-site.The second are two 4 part Intro to Beekeeping offered at Temple Ambler, Wednesdays, and then Wednesday and Saturdays in March and April for more info 267-468-8500, orhttp://www.temple.edu/ambler/tufwScott Bartow and Jim Bobb will again be offering a 5 session course which takes place over several months for beginner through intermediate beekeepers.Scott also reported on a new program, the PA Queen Bee Breeding Project, that he and Jim Bobb are participating in which will work to breed Minnesota Hygienic bees with Pennsylvania stock, to breed best (hygienic, over-wintering, docile, honey production, mite resistance etc.) More info about this will be available as the project gets going.Contact information for Scott & Jim can be found on the ‘Buying Bees‘ page.7. Vince Alloyo, long time beekeeper and currently one of the PA State Bee Inspectors for our part of the state, was to speak about some of what he saw inspecting this last season. He was unable to attend, but Daniel had printed out some of his report (available on our site?). Two key points were that many new beekeepers seemed ignorant of basic bee needs and could use the support of a guild such as ours, or of bee keeping members to mentor and advise. Also Vince noted that mites are resistant to terramycin and he no longer recommends this as part of mite treatment protocol.8. The meeting concluded with a general exchange of information and open discussion on questions.There will be no meeting in February â€“ rather we are all invited to attend the Ross Conrad event.
My Ross Conrad bee lecture summary
In case anyone is interested
CCD â€“ pesticides maybe the cause. New pesticides are long lasting.
Varroa mite is the biggest problem with beekeeping.
Screened bottom board mandatory â€“ he keeps them open in winter.
Need bees tolerant of varroa – Russian, Minnesota Hygenic, VHS- varroa resistant hygene
Make Nucs to break brood cycle.
Powdered sugar works â€“once a week for 5 weeks. Need to treat in fall before winter also.
Drone comb works, remove it when capped and you will remove mites.
Could make traps â€“ see his book
Natural Treatments â€“ Sucrocide spray, Api Guard, Api life, organic acids formic and oxalic, Mite away
Small cell foundation- note sure if it works for mite treatment, but getting rid of old comb is a good idea so go foundationless.
Sugar syrup recipe- sugar, a pinch of sea salt, honey bee healthy and chamomile tea for nutrition for 1 gallon of syrup.
Make sure full super of honey above brood nest going into winter to prevent starvation.
We had a great meeting on Thursday October 21st.Â Seth Belson, current president of the NJ State Beekeepers group, spoke on winterizing your hives.Â There was a nice turnout of some new and some familiar faces, aboutÂ 30 people in all.Â The following summary of Seth’s talk does not necessarily represent the views of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild.Â If you were at the meeting and we left out any important information, let us know.
- In the Philadelphia/South Jersey region, preparation for winter should begin around the middle of July to early August, after our major honey flow has ended
- Seth has noticed that the weather patterns have begun to change and that things seem to happen 2-3 weeks earlier than they used to
- Losing bees over winter is often the beekeeper’s fault due to poor management/preparation.
- General advice – don’t baby your hives – we spend 80% of our time caring for 10% of our hives (the weak ones) – combine weak hives with stronger ones, cut your losses and begin the process of building stronger genetics in your apiary
- Nectar dearths are stressful and hard on the bees – feed light syrup in August to keep the queen laying in order to maintain good population levels heading into fall (feed only 1-2x/week to mimic a light nectar flow).Â
- In September you can feed a thicker syrup because the bees will not have time to evaporate enough liquid.
- If you need to feed in winter (February, March) can use fondant and maybe a pollen patty – just make sure there is no excessÂ moisture in the feed.
- Understanding bee math and the cycles of growth of the colony can help you better manage and prepare for winter
- Important to ensure that the queen is laying and productive in September – she is making the bees that will carry the hive through winter
- Fall can bring on a combination of a slow down in the queen’s laying and an increase in varroa which can be a deadly combination. Can do a sugar roll in August to test mite levels.
- Mites can shorten the lifespan of a bee by 2/3.Â Mites also affect the bees ability to properly feed the next generation of bees
- If need to treat for mites, Seth uses Apigard.Â Any hives that are treated are removed from honey production and from his queen rearing operation. You can also treat mites by breaking the brood cycle and thus depriving the mites of their food (this is not an easy technique for beginners).
- Get into the habit of lifting your hive (just a half-inch or so) to gauge the weight of the hive and to determine if the hive is getting heavier or lighter.Â At this time of the year in our region, hives should weigh 80-100 lbs including all woodenware.
- Other important considerations: put on a mouseguard for winter, prop the outer cover (Seth uses push pins between inner and outer cover) to allow for ventilation and reduction of condensation, don’t open the hive frequently in winter – if you feel like you must open it, try to do it on a warm day, by March Seth likes to see at the very least a baseball-sized cluster of bees (grapefruit-sized is better), expect to see some dead bees outside of the hive during winter – this is normal housekeeping for the bees
So there you have it, tips for winter from Seth Belson.Â May your hives survive the winter and make a ton of honey next year!Â See you at our November meeting.
PBG General Meeting – 5-20-2010
Approximately 42 people in attendanceVince Aloyo is a long time beekeeper, Phd in chemistry and currently a PA State Bee Inspector.The Pennsylvania State Apiary Registration form is here. Fill this bad boy out, send it in, and Vince or someone like him will come look at your bees (assuming you live in PA).He spoke to an overflow audience at the Philadelphia Beekeeper’s Guild meeting at 7pm the evening of May 20, 2010. Vince took questions during the talk, which was well received and universally appreciated.After Vince spoke Matt Feldman the Guild treasurer conducted a raffle for Guild members and awarded a Mann Lake bee brush to a lucky guild member. (If anyone knows the name of the member please send it to info at phillybeekeepers dot org.
A good time was had by all.
Vince Aloyo Talk – Spring Management and Swarm Prevention
Vince Aloyo is a long time beekeeper, Phd in chemistry and currently a PA State Bee Inspector. He spoke to an overflow audience at the Philadelphia Beekeeper’s Guild meeting at 7pm the evening of May 20, 2010. Vince took questions during the talk, which was well received and universally appreciated.
Spring feeding to stimulate growth of colony and prevent spring starvation
Feed for at least 4 weeks in spring
Feed new colony to help support metabolic requirements of building comb – it’s a lot of work!
Feed overwintered colonies to allow for population build up when nectar flow starts.
Nectar Flow -
Spring nectar flow in the Southeastern PA region starts when you see widespread dandelion bloom.
Every year is slightly different. We had heat early this year so we have had a VERY strong and early spring nectar flow.
Lots of beekeepers are collecting lots of honey.
Think of the hive as a “super-organism” and not just a group of individual organisms
Keep in mind that you will lose your honey crop if the bees swarm
In terms of catching swarms, the earlier you get them (in May hopefully) the more valuable they are in terms of honey production and overwintering
What causes swarming? overcrowding, decline of queen pheromone as queen ages
Prevention of Swarming
Requeen in July or August
Reverse supers – move empty supers up on top of broodnest in Spring
Keep broodnest open – give queen plenty of room to lay
Add your supers BEFORE it is too late (i.e. before you see signs of imminent swarming) – should add supers at dandelion and/or fruit tree bloom
HOWEVER, reproductive swarms are can not be prevented by adding supers. You have to keep the brood nest open. What is open? Open means comb that doesn’t have brood, honey or pollen in it so the queen can lay. If you see the bees storing nectar or pollen between capped brood then your brood nest is getting crowded.
Can donate frames of sealed brood with adhering bees from strong colonies to weak colonies
Can swap locations in order to redistribute the field forces of the hives – place the weak hive in the location of the strong hive and the field force from the strong hive will now call the weaker hive home
It is important to be able to recognize the different types of queen cells
Supersedure or emergency cells – typically built on the face of the comb
Swarm cells – typically built on the bottoms of frames – you can flip up an entire box in order to quickly and easily look at the bottoms of all frames
Watch for queen cups – their presence is normal in all hives, just watch for the cups to be filled
Watch for presence of swarm cells
Watch the behavior of the workers – less foraging, more “resting” (slackers!), gorging on honey (up to one week before they leave), the queen is fed less (she needs to slim down for her flight) and she lays fewer eggs
Day 1 – eggs in queen cups
Day 8 – queen cell is sealed
Day 8+ – primary swarm issues (before new queen emerges)
Day 16 – virgin queen emerges and may destroy other queen cells or workers may prevent her from destroying other cells if they know they want to issue multiple swarms.
Day 16+ – virgin queen mates and begins laying eggs
It usually takes the queen about 5 days to get ready, make her mating flight and start laying eggs
Destroying swarm cells will only delay (not prevent) swarming
The idea with swarm prevention is trying to mimic the effects of a natural swarm – make the hive think they swarmed
Split strong colonies – make nucs – try to do this before you see swarm cells
Move to a new location and/or keep the entrance reduced to 1″x3/8″ until the new colony builds up its population
Other swarm prevention methods are Pagden method, Snelgrove Method, Demaree, Shook swarm
An aside – two good books for comb honey production – The Comb Honey Book – by Taylor and Honey in the Comb – by Killion
Used to try to catch swarms
The following is based on research by Tom Seeley, et.al
Bait hives should be elevated off of the ground – 10 feet is best
Use a small box with a small entrance (volume of box is ideally 40 liters – can use one deep or two mediums)
Place some old comb or foundation in the bait hive to attract the bees
Can use commercial swarm lures (or lemongrass oil – Adam’s addition)
Requeening – Aloyo Method
Young bees will more easily accept a new queen – use this to your advantage
Vince uses a double screen board for requeening
Take 3-5 frames of sealed brood with adhering nurse bees and place in a new box, above the original colony, with the double screen board in between the two colonies. You may want to face the entrance to the new box in the opposite direction to the entrance of the original hive
Place new queen in top box (new hive) and colony will grow from the sealed brood that was placed in the new box. New bees will accept new queen as their own.
Field bees will return to the bottom box (the original colony)
You can keep the new colony over the original colony for the winter. In the spring you can combine the two colonies with the newspaper method (remove double screen board and place a sheet of newspaper between the two colonies to join them).
When the two colonies recombine, typically the new queen will win out over the old queen by killing her.
This method creates a nice backup plan – if new queen does not work out, you still have the old queen.
Summary of Talk -
1) Early spring feed colonies
2) Give queen plenty of room to lay in the spring
3) Be alert for swarm preparations4) Be prepared to perform some type of swarm controlThese notes were provided by Guild member Ed Hotham from the meeting on March 18th and from an earlier lecture that Ed attended. Thanks Ed!
March 18, 2010
Bjorn apiary lecture
Four important items of beekeeping.
1) get off the package bandwagon
2) power of the first year queen
3) comb rotation
4) the importance of fall brood
Packages are bad because of the rate of die off is very high during the winter.
It is best to produce your own queens in nucs (local bees survival rate is better).
For every two hives you should then have one nuc.
Make nucs during May or June when you find swarm cells.
Nucs provide new queens for your beehives.
1/9 swarms survive in the wild.
A beehive will swarm then 30 to 40 days later will swarm again for five out of nine hives.
So nature seems to prefer a one year old queen for a hive.
The importance of comb rotation.
It is found that comb collects chemicals and pesticides that could be damaging to your bees.
Comb rotation should be performed every five years.
Remove the outside comb and put to new ones in the center each spring.
Brood in September will last through winter and helps the hive survive.
August 15 (dearth) use a boardman feeder outside of the hive to feed sugar water and also for any treatments you want to use. Also treat for mites.
This keeps the queen laying eggs and producing brood.
A large amount of bees going into winter helps keep the hive warm.
If a dead hive has plenty of food but bees with their bodies in the cells they might have died from the cold and lacked a large cluster.
Last week of June take off the honey supers then split and requeen.
Help your Spring hive survive by adding pollen patties and feed.
One paddy per hive and stop using pollen patties when you see dandelions.
Take three frames out of the hive with one containing a swarm cell and create a nuc.
When you add supers to the hive put a three-quarter inch hole in the same spot in each super.
When you add a new super plug the hole in the lower super and the bees will go into the upper super.
This also keeps the field bees from crowding the hive and prevents swarming.
Famous beekeepers you should look up:
May 23, 2009 – lecture
Sugar shake for mites count.
Three shallows/mediums are better because pass through is better in winter than deeps.
90% of feral bees swarm in spring 40% of bees leave.
Mother nature prefers young queens, small cavity, swarms and young comb.
Feral colonies that swarm have 90% die off.
Swarm queens don’t often lay because of injuries and they are old.
Swarm between 10 AM and 4 PM first of May until the end of June.
Capped Queen cells means a swarm will occur and you can’t stop it.
Remove four or five frames to prevent swarming.
In swarm season, inspect your hive once a week.
Swarms like to move 900 m away or half a mile away.
Fondite is a solid sugar better than liquid sugar in winter.
Top entrances are good.
10 mites for a sugar count is okay every two weeks.
Smoke is good for the hive because it induces cleaning.
In July/August don’t collect any honey, let the bees save it.
Sun is better for the hive’s then shade.
Southern bee breeders are using check mite and affecting the queen badly.
Small hive beetle problems in the South.
Chemicals in the hive seemed to come back and hurt the bees.
Use comb rotation for chemicals.
Three mediums for a hive provides more movement.
A clean bottom board means clean bees or good bees.
First-year queens survive better, swarm less, and bees want a new queen every year.
Collect honey at the end of June and the rest is for the bees.
Two hive tower colony is great.
No notch on inner cover bees use it for an entrance and it interferes with inspections and you want a dead air space.
Top bar is simple and inexpensive.
Eight frame plus a medium super is lighter and easier to move.
Trench hive is two hive bodies connected and the middle are cut out.
Swarm catcher- is 10 feet high in the shade has old comb.
Best location- no wind, full sun, gets the bees started earlier and working later.
Shade is bad, higher mite levels.
Feed the bees August 1 to August 15 with a 1 to 1 sugar water external feeder.
September 1 stop inspections.