Saturday, March 20, 2010

Field Day at the apiary

Inspector explains what you are looking at.

Checking out the brood.

Look closely and you can see the eggs and larva.

Tastes like honey

Lifting out the frames.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Sugar Shake"

This is a test to see how many varroa mites your bees have. First you scoop up bees into a jar.

This should be enough, about 300 bees.

Add some powdered sugar and roll around. The bees are not happy now. but the mites are even less happy and they will release their hold on the bees and fall off. Now you can shake the jar with the screen wire on the top. The mites will fall out and you can count them.
After counting the mites you can determine if the infestation is bad enough to treat.

The bees are now released from the jar in front of the hive entrance. They are covered with powdered sugar which they will clean off. They are busy fanning their pheromones so everyone can find their way home.

This one landed on my jacket, still covered with sugar.


We have always entertained the idea of bee keeping. Even bought some supplies a couple of years ago but never ordered the bees to go with it. Recently there was a class offered in Hillsborough and we signed up. The local chapter of beekeepers (OCBA) offered a class at the local senior center. You did not have to be a senior to attend, thank goodness, because I am far from there.
OCBA did a great job on this class and it was their first attempt. They had speakers from NC State University including some of the inspectors. The speakers were great and they passed around tools for us to touch and look at including the queen cage, bottom trays with varroa mites, package boxes, etc.

The best part came the day of the Field Trip. We all car pooled to a local farm, piled into the back of pickups and SUVs and traveled over the bumpy path through the field to the apiary. Some of us were apprehensive and wore the veils, jackets, and gloves. Most were braver and did not use any protective gear.

At the first hive Jack opened it using his smoker and removed a frame with lots of bees on it. He stated with confidence, we will pass this around. I thought this was a joke. My beloved husband with no protective gear took the frame and began examining it. We really did pass frames with live bees on them around and I even got brave enough to hold them. WOW up close with the girls. What fun.

We were lucky at the field trip to see hives that had problems and some that were healthy. We got to do the "sugar shake" and test for varroa mites and found a hive that needs treatment.
We saw lots of pollen and it is only March in NC. Saw quite a bit of honey, brood in all stages, eggs, larva, and capped cells.

This experience gave me a lot more confidence.