Maintain Bee Health
This is the time of year when the bees go into a time called the dearth, or lack of food. Most beekeepers are feeding their colonies sugar water and pollen patties.
We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.
It is all about the soil!
The Industry of Beekeeping Agriculture
by David Proctor
July 30, 2020
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
I have not had bees for the last year since I have been traveling.
I try to observe how bees live and work in nature and follow that path if possible.
In the years that I have worked with bees, I didn’t tend to follow the norm, such as using the common Langstroth hive.
I tried to use different hives such as the Warre Hive and the Horizontal Hive.
Top Bar, Horizontal, & Warre Hive
These are considered Top Bar hives.
I used frames in all my hives that didn’t have an artificial comb. The artificial comb is used so the frames are built out quicker and honey production starts sooner.
Frame With Wire Supports
I used these type hives since they were built with how bees build their hives in nature versus the Langstroth hive is built mainly for honey production.
With that being said, I would not probably use the Warre hive again since it is really hard to keep the comb from being built to the edges and the frames are open.
I would use a closed frame with wire supports as I used in the Horizontal hive.
The horizontal hive I think is the best design since you do not have to stack boxes or supers as you do in the Langstroth and Warre Hives.
With all that being said I still had problems with bee health. My colonies would get hive beetles really bad and in some cases wax moth.
I think if I had used diatomaceous earth under the hive and incorporated an oil pan for the larva to fall into, the problem would have been reduced.
I did see some mite problems but not that bad.
I was not the only person in our club with these problems. I couldn’t get out of my mind why is it that beekeepers have so many problems with their bees.
In the wild, the bees are not treated for varroa mites, hive beetles, and wax moths. Yet somehow, they seem to do well.
I think that I have had a couple of problems.
One is that I let the hive beetles get out of control.
I thought that the bees would take care of the problem, but they didn’t.
The bees may have been too weak even though I did feed them some sugar water, I didn’t feed them a lot.
Feeding Sugar Water
They just didn’t seem to really want it. They preferred to go after nectar.
I think one of the biggest problems I had was with genetics.
I don’t think the queens were adapted to the Virginia latitude. I never did have a colony make it through the winter. I always had to buy new packages of bees (a colony of about 30,000 bees and one queen).
The bees were brought up from somewhere out of Georgia from a large bee operation.
This operation sold bees to professional bee companies for pollination of crops and to bee distributors around the country.
They feed their bees with high fructose sugar by the tanker truckload. High fructose sugar is much cheaper than regular sugar.
I think this is one of the problems, the high fructose sugar comes from GMO corn that is grown with Roundup as an herbicide.
I believe that the bees, even though they appear healthy when first brought up from Georgia, are in a weakened state.
Even though the colony goes like gangbusters when first put in the hives, I do not think they have strong genetics and health to keep them going, they run out of gas!
Another problem I see is that most beekeepers have multiple colonies side by side.
I believe this exacerbates the problems mentioned already. If one colony is weak, that can have an effect on the other colonies.
This takes on the look and feel of industrial farming and ranching. The same mentality is used; production, and chemicals.
When I was working in southern Georgia, I was in a pretty rural area the was mainly being farmed.
I could not believe how much Roundup as part of the farming practice is used.
This is the first time I have been around growing of nut trees like pecans and where peanuts are grown on a large scale along with corn and soybeans.
Everything is doused with a full chemical arsenal, pecans especially. How often do you see organic pecans and for that matter organic peanuts?
With that being said, why would the bees have anything to eat that was natural? They are given chemicals all through their lifecycle.
If the drones and queens are weakened then they are not passing on genetic material that is at its best.
Last but not least, bees need to be local like our farming. To have bees as healthy and productive as ones in the wild, then they need to come from there or at least have lived through a couple of generations to the latitude being kept in.
This can be accomplished by putting out bait hives and swarm traps. You will not be guaranteed that the bees have not come from a local beekeeper’s hive but at least you will not have the money put out for buying packages of bees.
When I start back up with bees again, I want to start raising my own queens from colonies that are acclimated to the region I’m in.
This can be done easily by producing spits and or raising queens in hives and frames built specifically for that.
I believe that bee health can also be improved by raising them in an urban area, away from all the industrial agriculture chemicals, and raising them no closer than 300 feet between hives.
When hives are kept apart, by at least 200 to 300 feet, then they tend to not have cross-contamination from another hive, plus robbing of food stores is reduced.
In conclusion, to improve the bee health of any bee colony, keep “social distance” to 300 feet, try to requeen with a local queen if a package is from out of state, and lastly, try to give the bees the food they need by encouraging weeds such as clover, dandelions, and another naturally occurring plant that need pollination in your area.
Check It Out!
Dr. Leo Sharashkin on Treatment-Free Beekeeping. Interview by Solomon Parker (1 hr)
1. Safe “Social Distancing” for bees is 200′-300′
2. Keep away from industrial agriculture
3. Do not imitate industrial agriculture with your apiary
4. Use local bees or develop your own local livestock of bees
5. Follow nature, don’t try to fight nature when beekeeping