Saturday, January 30, 2010

7 Days to 95% Kill Rate of Varroa Mites

Below is an article forwarded by my bee club regarding a new 7 day formic acid gel treatment which gives 95% control of Varroa Mites. It looks like it'll be available in the spring. Yahoo!!!

PRESS RELEASE, January 26, 2010

A New Formic Acid Tool in the Varroa Mite Battle NOD Apiary Products Ltd., Frankford, Ontario, has developed a new, versatile form of treatment for the varroa mite in honey bee colonies. This treatment is called Mite-Away Quick-Strips™ (MAQS) and uses Formic Acid as the active ingredient. Formic acid is found naturally in honey and in the environment, so is considered an organic treatment. There are no residue issues in the honey or in the wax.

Easy to use and versatile, MAQS is only a 7 day treatment and requires no extra equipment.

MAQS is placed in the brood area of the hive, between the brood chambers. It uses the heat from within the hive to fumigate rather than the outside daytime temperature. This gives the treatment more direct action in the brood, therefore resulting in 95% mite kill both of the adult mites and the mites under the capped brood. The spent MAQS strips are biodegradable, the bees will remove them from the hive, or the strips can be removed and composted or thrown away. This is a definite step forward in varroa mite treatment. This product was tested in 2009 in Ontario, Hawaii, France, Texas and Florida with positive results.

The beekeepers of Hawaii obtained a Special Local Needs pesticide registration. Varroa have arrived only recently in Hawaii and due to the large number of queen breeders, soft chemical treatments, like formic acid are the preferred method of varroa control. The Hawaii Department of Agriculture purchased the product for their beekeepers and distributed it in late 2009. MAQS is proving to be a success and beekeepers are happy with the results. It is hopeful that most of Canada and the US will be able to use MAQS in time for spring treatment this year.

David VanderDussen, NOD’s CEO will give a Power Point presentation about the Mite-Away Quick Strips™ on Monday, February 8, 2010, 7:00 p.m. at the Fairfield Marriott Hotel, 407 N. Front St., Belleville, located directly off Hwy 401. Take the Highway 62 South exit. This meeting is hosted by the Quinte Beekeepers’ Association. For more information please call 613-398-8422 or email Everyone is welcome.

Read more about the release of this product on NOD's website at:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Latest Research: Affects of Monoculture on Bees

Usually I write the story but since this one is already posted on-line I thought it'd be more effective to bring it to your attention and link to it.

The article on the BBC News, UK web site talks about how scientists are discovering that bees' immune systems don't do well when they forage from just a single pollen source. They need diversity.

It makes sense. We know that our health is usually better when we consume a variety of foods - it's part of good nutrition.

Anyway, here's the article.

What are your impressions? In North America especially we've gone monoculture crazy.... Can you imagine what it would take for us to switch and diversify?

In my area, southwestern Ontario, most farmers are sowing corn to make ethanol and bees don't forage that corn - so all those fields that used to have other types of pollen plants are now put to corn.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beauty Treatment: Rich Milk & Honey Body Mask

Rich Milk & Honey Body Mask


½ cup Warmed unpasteurized Ontario Honey
¼ cup Cream or Half and Half
1 raw egg
4 Vitamin E Caplets
20 drops Vanilla Extract (Optional)
20 drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil (Optional

The honey, cream and eggs in this recipe are rich in vitamins, protein and minerals. The Vanilla and Sweet Orange provide an exquisite rich aroma to this body mask


Warm the honey by placing it in a heat proof glass in a pot of boiled water or heat for a few seconds in the microwave. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Snip the vitamin E caplets and squeeze out the oil. Mix well. Apply to your whole body with a paint brush. Use a sheet (which can be washed later) to cover yourself and relax 30 minutes while the body mask dries. Shower to remove the mask and pat dry with a towel.

(Confession: This one is so good, I drank half of it before I used it. Mmmm delicious!).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Celebrating Rev. L. L. Langstroth 1810 to 1895

If you've hovered around the topic of beekeeping it won't be long until you hear this man's name: The Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth.

He was born two hundred years ago in Pennsylvania, P.A., USA. He is recognized for designing and creating the hive boxes that we use today all over the world. That's why the deep and medium hive boxes are referred to as Langstroth hives.

He took up beekeeping mostly to distract himself from the dog days of depression that he suffered from time to time.

Mr. Langstroth is often also credited with the discovery of the bee space, that precise 1 cm measurement (3/8 of an inch) that bees like to have around the edges of their combs and the top of the hive.
Actually, the bee space had already been previously reported on in Europe at the time and bee boxes were already being invented but what Langstroth did was come up with the concept of the top opening hive and that was totally new.

Keeping bees in boxes or containers was not new. At that time bees were kept in skeps, bee gum trees and various types of boxes.
No matter the design, if the bees had any gaps in their hive that were greater than the precise bee space, they would glue everything together by filling those spaces with comb.
It made beekeeping practises often unpleasant as the bees' home was torn apart when collecting honey or if inspecting the hive, resulting in angry bees and lots of stings for the beekeeper. It was more common than not that hives were never inspected.

The top opening hive that honoured the bee space may not seem such a big deal, but it was. With the top cover leaving the bee space above the frames, the cover was no longer glued down by the bees and could be easily lifted off. Langstroth also used removable frames.
This resulted in bees remaining very calm when the hive was opened. That in turn led to further observation of the life and the habits of bees. As well, it allowed for full inspections of the health of the hive and our knowledge of the honey bee grew exponentially. The secret life of bees was no longer so secret.

In time the new hive design was accepted and bee skeps were used less and less. Eventually it became law that all hives must have removable frames in order to conduct inspections. The Langstroth hive became the standard bee hive that is used all over the world and Rev. Langstroth became known as the Father of American Beekeeping.

He also shared his knowledge, publishing a book called The Hive and the Honey Bee. The photos on this page were taken from the book which was first published in 1878, and is still in print today.

His epitaph reads as follows:

Inscribed to the memory of Rev. L. L. Langstroth, "Father of American Beekeeping", by his affectionate beneficiaries who, in the remembrance of the services rendered by his persistent and painstaking observations and experiments with the honey bee, his improvements in the hive, and the literary ability shown in the first scientific and popular book on the subject of beekeeping in the United States, gratefully erect this monument.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How Snow Melts around the Hive

I'm curious about how and why snow melts around a hive.

We've had a pretty big dump of snow lately--enough to make my nephew rather be up the slopes, snowboarding than doing anything else.

I've been busy the last couple weeks and didn't find time to visit the hives. I wanted to check the bottom entrances. Would they be covered in snow, keeping the bees inside?
There was snow all around the hive but surprisingly, the bottom entrances on both hives were clear. There were piles of dead bees too.

Hive #2 (pictured at left) had a lot more dead bees than Hive #1 (pictured above). It looks worrying to see so many. Being my first year, I don't have experience to rely on but I feel that Hive #2 has more dead bees out front than it should have.

When I did my Lazarus routine and a handful of bees came back to life, I had time to look them over. Their bodies looked to be in perfect health and I didn't see any signs of mites on them. I also didn't see any deformed bodies or deformed wings so that's a relief too.

I'm presuming that the queen has probably stopped laying eggs about now. I hope that Hive #2 has enough honey in the 1 1/2 boxes that they call home (a deep and a medium).

I wondered if the heat from the hive melted the snow away from the entrance. It's possible, even though the bees don't warm the whole hive--just their cluster.
Then I noticed that the tree trunks of the apple trees and the cut up stumps on the ground close by all had the snow melted away from the surface by a 1/2 inch or less.

It must be that the sun warms up the object and then the snow melts away from it and then freezes, once the sun goes down which would explain why the edges of the snow look like ice.

(See this photo of a stump at left, complete with a rabbit pellet and dead bee laying in the snow.)

I remember making igloos as a child. What always strikes me funny is how very warm it is inside a snow cave. Snow is very insulating and is great to block out breezes and cold drafts. Even my home is warmer on cold winter days when there's snow up against the foundation.

All these things should benefit the hive in retaining warmth and preventing drafts.

I did see some bees flying, not just the Lazarus bees flying from my hand. Hive #2 had a couple bees come out and circle around. I didn't see any action on Hive #1 but they always seem to be quieter than Hive #2.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lazarus Come Forth!

I did it again.

I didn't mean to but I couldn't help myself.

It was that I'd just come from a death and I needed to see some life.

I'd been at the vet that morning. One of our foster cats had to be put to sleep. It was difficult but the right decision. Nevertheless, it was sad.

The plan was to visit the bee yard after. I knew just seeing the hives would be a pick-me-up.

As I expected, there were dead bees in the snow. I'd certainly read enough about it in my research. They say it's normal in winter to have dead bees out front. What they forget to point out is how it tugs at a beekeeper's heart to see bees that have perished in the cold.

It's poop that's to blame. They have to hold their poop in the really cold weather but when it warms up a bit they fly out to defecate. Sometimes they just get too cold to make it back.

From the photos you'll see how many of them look very freshly dead, posed on the cold snow as if they were flash-frozen. That was what surprised me. They didn't look like mushed up frozen (truly) dead bodies.

It was interesting to see how much melted snow surrounded their bodies. They must certainly have been generating a fair bit of heat to melt that much snow away.

I did what any obsessive beekeeper would do. I picked them up and warmed them up in my hands just to see what would happen. After all, I had nothing to lose.

At first they felt cold. Then after about 5 minutes the heat in my hand began to increase exponentially. I could tell that it was warming their bodies and in turn generating more heat. I knew we had life coming back at that point because surely, dead bees can't do that can they?---generate heat.

Shortly after that I could feel little movements, twitches of life as they stirred and came to life.

After about 2o minutes almost all the bees were moving and active. A few still looked dead but if I watched I'd see a twitch of a leg or an antennae moving slightly, showing that given more time they'd all resurrect, just like the biblical Lazarus.

It was an overcast day with temperatures around -1 but the snow certainly helped to give a feeling of brightness to the area.

Our colder temperatures have dropped off the last few days and our last dump of snow is slowly melting.

I wanted to check the bottom entrances to see if they were blocked by snow and I was surprised to find them clear of it.

There's also a top entrance that they could use if the bottom was blocked but I'm not sure if they're aware it's there. It's there more for ventilation or an emergency exit than anything else.

Watch how the dead bees in the center of my hand start to move and twitch as their cold bodies are warmed up and they come back to life.

Beekeepers out there have you ever tried this??? What happened?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Honey Bee Blog - For Children

I'm very pleased to announce that my other bee blog, called the Bee-Magic Chronicles for Kids is now up and running.

Of course, it's about honey bees. It's a blog for enthusiasts, educators and nature lovers and it'll be geared to children. I hope it covers topics that they will find interesting.

I've been planning to have this blog all along but first needed to finish my children's novel about honey bees--I'm working on finding a literary agent who will help me to get published. Hopefully in the near future I'll have info to share on that front.

Next I had to get through my first very busy summer of keeping bees--reading back through my 2009 summer of blogging is a whirlwind of experience. Oh yes, lots happened!

This winter I'll tackle candle making, lip balm making, beauty treatments with honey, do some bee book reviews, attend some lectures if I can and paint my new hives for spring. I'll keep reading up on the beekeeping yahoo groups and any new information out there about CCD and pests. I'll also be keeping an eye out for a 4 frame stainless steel electric extractor.... know anyone selling one???? Just thought I'd ask.

And, I'm increasing in the spring from 2 hives to 4. That should end the family comment "is that all I get?" when I gave them their jars of honey last fall. I don't think 4 hives will be that much more work than 2 since I have to go to the bee yard anyway.

I love letting loose my crazy creative mind to explain bees to kids in what I hope is a fun and wacky way. That's where you can help. Can you drag your kids to the computer and force them--I mean ask them nicely--to read some of the blog?

I'd be awesome if you could ask your children, nieces and nephews or kids at heart that you know to give it a read. I'd love some feedback on it, especially from kids. Is it interesting, boring, too wordy??? Let me know! Feel free to leave your comments.

I also have a web site which you can view at The focus of this site is to provide information to children, educators, beekeepers, enthusiasts and future beekeepers about honey bees, pollinators and beekeeping.

I do love winter. I really do. But I sure wish spring would hurry up and get here. This time I'm not going to break my arm!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Get Some Bee TV

Since it's winter, hopefully you'll have some time free to watch a little Bee TV. Of course the show should be about our favourite topic: Bees.

Airing tonight is CBC-TV's documentary, narrated by David Suzuki, called To Bee or Not To Bee.

You can view an article on-line about the program at: CBC-TV.

The program will air again on 14 Jan 2010 on CTV-News or you can watch it online. On the link above, look to the right menu for "watch online" or click this link.

They cover beekeeping, focusing first on transport pollination done by commercial beekeepers in California for the almond crops. Also discussed is beekeeping in Europe (France) and neonicitinoids and various bans on this insecticide.

What's really cool is that many people I know were also interviewed for this program, one of them being Dr. Eugene Guzman who taught the introduction to beekeeping course that I took at Guelph University, Ontario. He discusses the research being done here on controlling varroa mites and other diseases. (I blogged previously on how they have created a new delivery system for a Thymol Treatment using the essential oil to kill Voarroa without killing the bees. They hope to have this available in future for commercial use).

The documentary is global, talking to beekeepers and researchers in the USA, Europe, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Wow. All I can say is that you will totally understand 90 year old "Bill" when he shows you his hives in the spring. Beekeepers sure love their bees. No question about it.

Don't miss this program bee lovers!