Thursday, January 23, 2014

Another New Virus

Researchers have discovered a new virus affecting honey bees that is a cross-over from plants to insects.  It is called the Tobacco Ringspot Virus, previously not known to infect insects.  To read about it, click on Tobacco Ringspot Virus.

How much this virus will impact the bee population and to what extent it may contribute to CCD will likely be the focus of further research.

In a more positive vein, my daughter, Jessica, our "resident" entomologist,  sent a link about what sounds like a very good program for beekeepers in Ethiopia, a country in an area that has been involved in beekeeping since the earliest times.  Read about WEEMA.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January Deep Freeze

"Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter."  Here Comes the Sun, the Beatles from Abbey Road.
Ok, at least it's definitely been a long, cold one so far with much more yet to come.  I did get out and check on the bees a couple days ago when the temps were in the upper 30's, a rarity this winter.  Bees are alive in all 3 hives.  The two bigger hives still felt pretty heavy, so I left them alone for now but the 8 framer seemed on the light side and the bees were clustered right at the top.  I loaded up another medium box with honey frames from the fall and put it on top.  Hopefully that won't be too much space for them to have to deal with.  I also made 3 inch spacers to put on the other two hives so I can do a sugar feed once the temperatures rise again to where I can take the lids off briefly.  Today with a high in the single digits is just too cold.

With nothing much more to do about the bees, reading blogs, message boards and other information about bees and beekeeping keeps me entertained.  One very entertaining and informative bit of information I came across as I was getting prepared to give a talk about bees to a local rotary club.  We forget in today's world of processed carbohydrates how important honey was in earlier times.  It was so  important to early settlers in the midwest that a war was almost fought between the folks living in the Iowa territory and the state of Missouri in the late 1830's.  Called the Honey War, what began as a border dispute between the two entities resulted in hundreds of militia lining up on both sides of the disputed territory, armed with rifles, pitchforks and knives, when some folks from Missouri cut down 3 honey trees in the disputed area claimed by Iowa.  It took a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1851 to settle the issue in Iowa's favor.  For some enjoyable reading about this event, check out Honey War.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Twenty-Fourteen is coming in with a wintry blast.  Snow today, with temps dipping to the minus 20 degree range tomorrow night.  Good luck, bees!  They were flying last Saturday with 40 degree temps, getting drinks from the melted snow on top of the hive.  Hopefully they are snuggled in nice and warm now.

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope this isn't going to be a winter like last, when nationwide we saw 40% hive losses.  The extreme cold temps early on we're experiencing don't bode well, and this may be the coldest we've experienced with our bees in the 6 years we've been fortunate enough to be working with them.  It will be interesting to see what the spring brings.

I had news this morning from Mike White, the ISU extension viticulture expert, about a free publication from ISU on how to keep your bees safe from pesticides.
 Here is a link where you can download the publication.



We wish everyone a very happy new year.  May it be one of the best.