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Hands-on Mentoring and Events

We have created a new section on our website to keep track of upcoming events where BeeManiacs staff will participate, as well as to list some relevant past events.

You can find this new section by clicking on “Education” in the main menu of our website, or by following this link.

Also, if you are within driving distance of our BeeManiacs store, you can take advantage of the free, hands-on mentoring we offer almost every Saturday, as weather permits. The new section on our website will keep you informed on any cancellations due to weather or any other issues. For example, today’s weather is less than ideal for opening beehives, so the hands-on mentoring is cancelled.

We will keep the Education page updated, listing what the next event will be about, and events where you will have a chance to see a BeeManiacs presentation, or even just stop by and and talk bees with us.

At the bottom of the page we will share a list of relevant past events.

The new page also contains the link to our Wiki repository of educational material and presentation files. You can always find the link to the Wiki from the Education section or just by following this link.

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Package day 2016

20160409_094102This season we run out of live bees very early, so we enlisted the help of Will Olson, a local beekeeper, to bring more honey bee packages to our area.
Will’s package day at BeeManiacs was on April 9th, on a nice and sunny day.

Tomorrow, April 16th, we will have our own package day at BeeManiacs. If you ordered bees from us, you received an email with detailed information that we’re going to repeat in this post.

If for any reason you cannot make it to pick up your live bees, please contact us at livebees@beemaniacs.com so we can coordinate with you.

We will have package installation demonstrations in Langstroth and top bar hives at 1:30 pm. Please note that the hands-on activities are optional and you are required to have and wear your protective gear (veil or jacket) and sign a liability release form. Demonstrations are free, with the only requirements of wearing the protective equipment and signing the liability release form.

This Saturday we will open the store from 8 am to 5 pm. Package pickup time is from noon to 5 pm. If you are buying material from the store, we recommend you to arrive earlier. If you are only picking up bees, we streamlined the process so you can get in and out with your bees ready to go home.

1- Start at the main store building with Maria. She will have a printout of your invoice with package release voucher/s.
2- Bring the voucher to Ari Jr at the pickup tent in the parking lot and he will give you your package/s.

img-160413194721-001

If you are in the waiting list, we recommend you to come to our store around 4:30 pm, so you could get a package from any cancellations we received during the day.

20160409_094054 20160409_120049 20160409_120029 20160409_110240 20160409_105750

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Promoting Beekeeping

The BeeManiacs staff has been busy promoting beekeeping in the Inland Northwest.

We were part of the Backyard Beekeepers Association Field Trip on Saturday, September 12, where we were able to show some standard hives but also the activity in some top bar hives (including Warre).

Field-Trip-BBA

On Sunday, September 13 we presented at the Inland Northwest Permaculture Convergence.

For the West Plains October meeting we presented about Apimondia 2015, which was in Korea this year.

And finally, Saturday, October 3 was the first class for the 2015 Apprentice Beekeeping class for the Backyard Beekeepers Association.

You can download the presentations from our educational website:

http://beemaniacs.com/learn/

If you have an event, class, or congress in the Inland Northwest and would like to have us present/teach about bees or beekeeping, please contact us at education@beemaniacs.com. There is no charge for having BeeManiacs staff talk about bees since this is part of our education outreach program.

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BeeManiacs Against Bullying

Beekeeping is a profession that attracts people with a wide variety of backgrounds. Some become beekeepers after they retire, some do it on the side of a main occupation (sideliners) and others do it in their backyard as a hobby.

Some are young, most are not. Most are men but that doesn’t keep the ladies out.

Some new beekeepers prefer to learn from a book while most rather follow the steps of an experienced beekeeper (mentor).

Some beekeepers use chemicals trying to keep their bees alive, in the same way we use drugs and vaccines for humans. Other beekeepers will not add any chemical to their hives.

Langstroth? Top-bar? Warre?

Plastic? Wood?

10-frame? 8-frame?

Italian? Carniolan?

In beekeeping there are so many options available that making a decision may be overwhelming.

In BeeManiacs we believe that anyone keeping bees is a beekeeper and we love to see a wide diversity of techniques and equipments being used. Not only do we tolerate diversity, but we encourage it.

Did you hear about a new technique? Let’s try it and see how it works for you.

There is always something to learn from beekeepers that do things differently.

Over the last couple of years we have seen or have received reports of some beekeepers engaging in censorship and bullying against other beekeepers that do things differently or even against newsletter editors that just transmit information not to their liking.

In BeeManiacs we do not tolerate bullying or censorship from single-minded, biased beekeepers that believe their way is the only way. They bully editors to prevent the information they don’t like to be distributed and always recommend against reading information that would contradict their position or ideology.

To wrap this post we would like to share an extract from a commentary written by a couple of beekeeping newsletter editors that was posted in the May 2014 Washington State Beekeepers Association Newsletter. They received harsh comments from beekeepers that opposed whatever information they were communicating at the time.

From WASBA Newsletter, May 2014, page 8, by Fran Bach and Clare McQueen:
“Barring legitimate information from others is, very literally, CENSORSHIP! It is a form of bulling, engaged in by a small minority, in an effort to keep only their own point of view available for consideration. It is discourteous and counter-productive.”

You can read the complete editorials “Let’s talk about … censorship!” and “Don’t shoot the messenger…” in the May WASBA newsletter, following this link:
http://washingtonbeekeepersonline.advanced-pub.com?shareKey=ap7MMS

Dealing with this issue is not different than dealing with bullying in other settings. If you show fear, the bullying is going to get worse. Just ignore those comments/insults and keep moving forward. Remember that a bully is actually an insecure individual and he attacks anything he doesn’t know because he’s afraid of knowledge or change.

To become the best beekeeper you can be, you need to find your own approach on how to manage your hives. Keep moving and pushing forward; learning from anyone you come in contact with, from any book or magazine you can get your hands on, and from any website you can access.

You will be able to find your own path to make beekeeping as enjoyable as you thought it would be when you decided to get started.

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Nurse Bees on Duty

Nurse bees are usually about a week old (age after they emerge from their cells). Their job during this stage of their life is to feed larvae. For the first three days of a bee’s larvae stage, it is fed with royal jelly by nurse bees. Once a larvae is three days old, the nurse bees will feed it with a mixture of royal jelly, nectar, and pollen, until the cell is capped. In the pictures below, we can clearly see the difference in size of the worker and drone cells. We can see that when the nurse bee is attending a worker larva, she barely fits inside the cell. But when she is feeding a drone larva, she is almost completely inside the cell, since drone cells are much bigger and wider than worker cells.

nurse bees feeding worker larvaenurse bees feeding drone larvae

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Package Installation Video

We are getting our training on producing videos started with this Package Installation video. Hopefully it will be the first of many videos we will be developing this year.

We often teach beekeeping classes during winter time or inside school classrooms or public places where bees are not allowed in, so there are no bees around at class time. Pictures and videos help us developing educational material that is more engaging and easier to follow.

httpv://youtu.be/Yh_zQkQQvPk

We added caption in English (automatic English caption doesn’t work really well on beekeeping subjects) and in Spanish.

The first one being released right now is about installing a 3# package of honey bees in a hive made of 8-frame (instead of 10-frame) Western size boxes (in this area we call Western the boxes that are 6 5/8” tall).

Because the boxes are smaller than a Deep box (9 5/8”) and have 8 frames instead of 10, we recommend starting the package on two boxes instead of just one.

The hive used in this video had a solid bottom board and an entrance feeder. On the same day we installed packages on different hives and took pictures to show queen placement when using an inline feeder, for example. To keep this video simple we stick with one kind of hive from beginning to end and left other details to be addressed through the educational website with the extra pictures from the other hives.

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How to mark a queen

WHY ?

There are basically two reasons for which you would like to mark your queens:

  1. Sometimes it’s really hard to see the queen in your hive if she is not marked. Marking her will help you to see her faster and you will be sure that she is in the frame and not “walking in the garden”
  2. Each year the color of the mark changes, so you know exactly how old your queen is.

The queen is marked with a dot of paint on her thorax (the part of the body between the head and the abdomen), and to be able to mark the queen, you will need to use a device that will help you in this task.

There are different varieties of queen marking paints in the market. We bought some time ago a pack of 5 pen type markers and these are the ones we use every year.

Below is the International Color Code you can follow to mark your queens

White For year ending in  1 or 6
White
For year ending in
1 or 6
Yellow For year ending in 2 or 7
Yellow
For year ending in
2 or 7
Red For year ending in 3 or 8
Red
For year ending in
3 or 8

 

 

Green For year ending in 4 or 9
Green
For year ending in
4 or 9
Blue For year ending in 5 or 0
Blue
For year ending in
5 or 0

The mark should be small, in this way will not cover any other part of the queen body.

Many times, the queen that comes in a package comes already marked. But this is not always in this way. If you are a new beekeeper and bought an unmarked queen we can    help you a little by showing the way we do this task.

We hope the images are helpful for you 🙂

HOW ?

First step is to “catch the queen”. For that, you can use a helpful tool called “queen catcher”, it’s a

small plastic tool that opens when you squeeze the handle. Once the catcher is totally open put it over the queen and very carefully close it.

1 Queen catcher

Second step is to introduce the queen in another tool called “tube marking”. It is a clear tube with a plastic mesh in the end. The tube is were you will literally (and again, carefully) drop the queen in.

2 Tube queen marking tool

Once you have the queen inside the tube, is time to use the “plunger” which is a little stick with a sponge in the end. Slowly you will start “pushing” the queen with the sponge until she is barely touching the plastic mesh. Be careful in this step and don’t squeeze so hard.

3 plunger tool

Now you have the queen in the correct position. You have her thorax on the top and she can’t move at all, but don’t worry, these tools are specially design for this task, so, if you work with care, the queen will not be hurt at all.

5 against the mesh

It’s time now to finally mark the queen. For this just need to use the pen with the correct color for the present year, and make a dot in her thorax.

6 marking

Wait a few seconds to allow the ink to dry completely and then you can release the queen in the hive again. While you wait for the ink to dry, you can take a look and verifying that she is doing OK.

7 verifying

To release the queen inside the hive, we just open the tube and lye it on top of the hive, you will see the queen walking to the end of the tube and quickly she will go inside her hive.

7 releasing

8 introducing

And now the queen is “on duty” again ! Now you will always (or almost always) see you queen while she is working in the frames and…….bad for her…….you will know exactly how old she is 🙂

9 in the hive

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Package Day

It’s the time of year again, when you check your hives after winter and you realize that you may be need some new packages for your bee yard or……. if you are a new beekeeper you will need a bee package to start your first beehive.

If the latter is your case, maybe you are wondering what a “package day” is all about.

Well, we can help you here showing a few pictures of our experience in this matter. By clicking in each image, it will enlarge.

We hope that they illustrate well and give you an idea of how to start.

Enjoy!

Package day is always a fun day full of excitement since you finally get your own bees
And this is the way the bees arrive. There are about 10,000 bees in a package plus a can full of syrup and the queen cage. This will be the “starter kit” for your hive.
To open the package what you need to do is remove the syrup can. Keep it aside since you will use it later.

 

Since the queen that comes in the package is not the mother of the bees that come with her, she needs to be protected from them. This is why the queen comes in what is called “queen cage” and you will need to keep her inside that cage until the bees accept her in the hive.
The queen cage comes with a little piece of cork, which is keeping an opening on the queen cage closed, you will need to remove it very carefully so the queen doesn’t escape from the cage, and switch it with a little piece of marshmallow. The bees will start removing the marshmallow, this will take a couple of days and by the time they finish and the cage is open; they already accept the queen as “their own queen”.
Set aside the queen cage for a few minutes and then drop the whole package inside the deep. Since the bees were inside the box for several days, they will be very happy to be free and they will be all over the place, so even if they are nice at this time since they don’t recognize the new hive as their home yet, always is a good idea to wear your beekeeping suit.
Once the bees are in their new hive, you can add some more frames in the deep but not all of them, because you will need space to place the queen cage on place.
Now is time to introduce the queen in the hive. You will notice in the queen cage a metal part that will help you to hang the cage in one of the frames.

 

Once the queen cage is on place, you can finish loading the deep with the frames
The bees will need some syrup to start building comb in the empty frames, and now is the time when you add to the hive the syrup can that come with the package. For this, you can add for a few days an extra empty box on top of the hive so the syrup can stay inside the hive. After a couple of days the bees will finished the syrup and you can remove the can definitely.
To finish the whole process, close the hive with the inner cover and the top cover and since some bees will stay in the package box for a while, is a good idea to leave it near the entrance of the hive for a few days, so all the bees that came in the package go inside the new hive

 

 

 

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The Importance of Honeybees

The sign in the picture below says:…..” Please do not disturb the honeybees. Their pollinating work ensures your food supply”. 

That’s truth. Honeybees are a inestimable value as agents of cross-pollination, and so many plants are dependent of honeybees for their reproduction.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, workers honeybees pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops which constitute 1/3 of everything we eat. Losing them will affect the  production of strawberries, almonds, apples and many other plants like alfalfa, which will develop in threaten our beef and dairy industries.

Did you know that……?

  • There are three types of bees in each colony: the queen bee, the worker bee and the drone.
  • There is only one queen per hive?
  • The queen and the worker bees are all female.
  • The drones are all male.
  • The practice of beekeeping dates back to the stone-age. There are several cave paintings that shows this activity.
  • A queen bee can live for 3 to 5 years.