The Arctic Blast and Snow Storm known as Elliott has come and gone. It brought below zero temperatures along with snow for a few days. Prior to the blast I installed three Govee temperature and humidity sensors. They were placed in hives with smaller colonies. The sensors are near the cluster in the medium super above the single deep. (Currently most of my hives are singles with a medium on top). The sensors are not in the center of the cluster. They are merely reading the ambient temperature inside the top of the hive. You can image my surprise when the outside temperature was reading 0 F while the ambient temperature inside the hives was 32-35 F! In the center of the cluster the queen is kept at a cozy 90 degrees. Amazing.
With the break in the weather comes the opportunity to get my colonies treated for phoretic (adult) varroa mites. My set up isn’t fancy and takes roughly 15 minutes per hive to do an OAV treatment.
Treating this time of year maintains low levels of mites so come late February-March, when the queen begins to lay eggs again, there will not be adult female mites to crawl into the cells where the developing honeybee eggs are and reproduce and fed on the honeybee larvae.
Since varroa mites are very small the phoretic mites can be hidden from our eyes. One can have a false sense of confidence thinking there are no varroa mites in the colony. Varroa mites bring with their parasitic nature disease and viruses with debilitating affects. Varroa can totally decimate a colony of bees and some to abscond. A prudent beekeeper tries to stay one step ahead of the varroa mite life cycle within their colonies. This Spring alcohol washes will be done to test and monitor the colonies for mite levels and treat accordingly.
Here I am now approaching my third year in beekeeping. I’m amazed at what these little creatures have taught me. They helped me rehabilitate from surgery, got me off my duff and moving. They engaged my mind through observation, reading and listening. The amazing people met has been a joy.
In summary of 2021, a swarm from one of my big Spring hives was retrieved. The other two robust hives were split multiple times. The colonies raised new queens and I had to only purchase a couple. A virgin queen I was given was successfully introduced into a hive and accepted, the colonies were treated for varroa mite control and fed to help enable them to get through Winter. It wasn’t a good year for gathering honey but 2022 should be much better.
I have attended beekeeping classes and rubbed elbows with fellow area beekeepers I have met. YouTube has been a helpful resource for learning and being introduced to reputable teachers in the field. Learning to do Oxalic Acid treatments for the control of varroa mites was an experience. I have the smaller wand vaporizer. It has to be hooked up to a battery. Thankfully two batteries were on hand because it takes a lot of ‘juice’ to get the powered oxalic acid to vaporize. After treating 14 hives I can now say I have mastered the technique. ha,ha,ha
Now I find myself giving back to my community by helping to restart a beekeeping association from the ground up in our county and surrounding area.
Sights are set on queen grafting to make my apiary more self-sustaining and perhaps produce enough extra to help out local beekeepers who are considering re-queening their hives. A new friend has offered a location to place a couple of hives on. This will allow for more hive management options. Starting nucleus colonies are in the plans as well. Then there is the honey!
If you are willing to develop your dreams and visions and take the action upon them, it truly is amazing what doors open as you take the steps to walk through them. It’s scary at first because you haven’t proved anything. The proof comes in the doing. Sometimes in the form of tripping and tumbling but that just means you are learning. In the end the reward outweighs the stutter steps.
Spring 2022 will take on a whole new meaning! Thanks for following and supporting my adventure.
Wow, we are enjoying 75+ degrees here for the next few days before the temperatures get more seasonal. Last week we had a frost two mornings in a row, followed by two days of rain.
I installed 1/2” insulation board in the inner cover over the weekend because of the colder temps and then we have had this up tick of heat. The insulation addresses the tendency for condensation to develop on the underside of the inner cover which will then drip down onto the cluster of bees freezing them out. Honeybees can manage the cold but not the cold moisture on their bodies. The insulation is a buffer between the outside and inside temperature of the hive. Thus heat radiating upward from the cluster of bees when it hits the inner board will not condense.
I had concern the bees would get too hot since I have the entrances reduced and the insulated inner cover. But they are managing just fine. I still need to cut some quarter inch wire screen to use as a mouse guard. Nothing fancy but will work. When the temperatures get consistently cold I will wrap with black roof paper.
The Ohio State bee Inspector was here two days ago. All three of my hives are doing well. Healthy, well feed bees and a good queen have a better shot at making it through the Winter.
The apivar strips were removed yesterday. All the hives should be good until February when an alcohol test will be done and possibly do an oxalic acid vapor treatment if needed.