Beekeeping with slatted racks.

Looking at the extended 3-4 month weather forecasts, and I’m wondering what I can be doing to be prepared for an anticipated cooler than average fall.

I’ve decided to give slatted racks a try. They have been around since the 1970’s. I’ve been doing some research. I have a pretty good base in the screened bottom boards that I use. Rather than going back to solid bottom boards and making that investment for the winter weather, I decided to use a sampling for the racks on a few hives.

Here is some of the research that I’ve come across so far re slatted racks:

“The original idea for a slatted resting place below the brood chamber was developed by Dr. C. C. Miller in 1900 and refined by Carl Killion in 1950.  The wide board in the front of the hive directs any incoming air to go up through the cluster so reducing cold air going up past the cluster. Bees cluster in the 3/8″ spaces thus controlling air movement up through the cluster resulting in a larger cluster going into winter and a warmer colony in the spring – if the bee colony is large enough. The extra space produced by the slatted rack is said to keep a beehive warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer by creating dead air space. The rack allows the bees to control air movement, and swarm queen cells can be found on the bottom bars of the bottom brood nest because it is warmer above the rack. This results in larger colonies and faster buildup in the spring provided the queens and colony size is optimal for other reasons.”

http://www.honeybeesuite.com/how-to-use-a-slatted-rack/

I will let you know how they work out. For now, it’s getting them primed, painted, and on a the hives.

http://www.beesource.com/build-it-yourself/slatted-bottom-rack/

CHARLES J. KOOVER
Altadena, Calif.
GLEANINGS IN BEE CULTURE – June, 1968

“To the late Dr. C. C. Miller belongs the credit of realizing that bees need more room under the bottom bars. Sound as it was, the idea was never accepted by the beekeeping industry. He made two-inch-deep bottom boards and used them as long as he kept bees. Soon he discovered that bees build comb underneath the bottom bars, so the idea of a slatted rack under the frames was conceived. This served the purpose very well.

Carl E. Killion, one of his successors in comb honey production, discovered the principle of the four-inch-wide solid board instead of slats near the entrance. This was a most important improvement and it did away with bees chewing the combs along the bottom bars.

Still the deep bottom board and rack did not become the accepted standard of the industry. The reasons are easy to see. It takes two special pieces of equipment. The rack is fragile and is time-consuming to make. Furthermore, spacers have to be attached to prevent the bees from propolizing it to the bottom board.

In a moment of ingenious thinking, Richard F. Bovard of Honolulu, Hawaii, has eliminated all these objections and has created the ideal entrance to the hive without changing in any way the equipment now in use. He has come up with the idea of a two-inch-deep frame of the same dimensions as the hive body, 16-1/4 x 20 inches. In this are fitted the four-inch-wide board and a number of 3/4-inch-wide slats. Proper space of 5/16th inch is maintained between bottom bars and slats and between the slats themselves. That’s all there is to it. It is simplicity itself. It fits under the brood chamber on top of the bottom board. It is strong and asks no favors. It can be easily attached to the brood chamber and bottom board for migratory purposes. The Western beekeeper with his standard 3/8th inch entrance can use it and so can the Eastern beekeeper with his choice of a 3/8th or 7/8th inch entrance. This rack provides a single wide entrance clear across the front of the hive instead of three separate entrances as with the Miller rack. It protects the combs four inches back from the front entrance against robbers, wax moths and winds. There is nothing to be propolized onto the bottom board. And it is free from any objections, even the most critical beekeeper might raise. It adds but little weight to the hive, three pounds to be exact.

Here is a piece of equipment that should be universally accepted, just as the inner cover and telescope cover are part of a hive. It is easy to manufacture and simple in its assembly. It can be sold in the flat unassembled or factory assembled. It is hoped that hive manufacturers will add it to their line of bee supplies.

Beekeepers are notoriously slow in accepting new ideas, they still live in the horse and buggy days as far as their bee equipment goes, yet for their personal comfort they expect the latest gimmicks in their automobiles and trucks.

This-easy-to-use slatted rack ends once and for all poor ventilation and excess moisture. It is up to the beekeepers now to discover for themselves a whole new phase in beekeeping.”

 

Understanding the Beekeeping Cycle

It’s important for new beekeepers to understand the beekeeping cycle. This topic came about as I had been perusing a book on cattle and came across a paragraph on the subject of ‘the cattle cycle’. The book is a gift for a family member, who has been raising cattle now for several decades now.

Beekeeping follows the cycles of the season. This is especially important for new beekeepers to learn and understand. The cycles differ from region to region in the country. I will only be talking about how the cycle runs for our region in NE Kansas.

Fall/Winter Activity

September to January can be considered the beginning of the new beekeeping year for the colony. The prosperity of hive depends greatly on the condition of the colony during this time of year. Diminishing colony population, beginning in late summer, along with the reduction of food sources – incoming nectar (carbo-hydrates) & pollen (protein) causes a reduction in brood-rearing. Bees born during this time of year will be the younger, longer-lived bees to carry the colony through to the next year.

I like to call this reduction the ‘period of decline’ in the beekeeping season.

As the temperatures begin to lower, the bees come together and form a cluster. They will break and fly on days of sun and when the temperature climbs to the lower 50’s (F) and  higher.  The more the temps drop, the tighter the cluster will form with the outer layer of bees in the cluster becoming tightly compressed, insulating the bees on the inside of the cluster. Clusters expand and contract with the rise and fall of day and night-time temperatures. In warming periods, when possible, the colony cluster will break and shift positions to maintain contact with combs containing honey and food resources.

Colony strength in winter usually depends on the amount of food stores and the population of younger bees that would have been produced in the fall. An ample supple of pollen & honey for winter with a healthy population of younger bees produced in the fall generally means a higher spring population.

Spring Activity

The “period of growth” for the colony starts in mid-January in our area with the lengthening of the daylight, which I’ve seen by an increase in egg-laying by the queen. The new brood is not significant at first but aids in the beginning of the replacement of bees that have already died during the winter. Older bees will continue to die off but the younger bees from the new brood rearing cycle will begin their replacement.

New sources of food from the Maples, which usually bloom in mid- to late February will kick the colony into higher gear for the stimulation of rearing brood.

 

Updates on this discussion will follow in the near future (posted 1*21*2014)

Thoughts on 2013-2014 Over-wintering in 3 deeps…

Overland Park, KS and surrounding area..

This year, I am over-wintering each of my bee colonies in 3 deeps or 2 deeps and a medium honey super. I decided to do this earlier in the summer of 2013. I will post pictures and blog on the progress. So far, I’m grateful for not having the worry to need to look after for feed. All hives were treated organically for mites in July/August 2013 and populations looked great in October 2013.

The issues of honey bee survival are complex. The weather from year to year is not exact nor consistent. Rather than continue to worry about the volume of colony size going into fall/winter and amount of honey stores, I decided to treat for mites in a timely manner-at their peak population and let the colonies hive with additional resources of naturally stored honey and pollen, as well as space for a larger colony population.

Only time will tell me next early spring as winter losses are not really discernible until after the fact. The presence of mites is certainly a factor as a stressor. The survivors should come out with lots of bees, left over stores of honey and pollen so I won’t have to worry about checking for feed and stimulation. Colonies with large populations will be ready for splitting in early April when I should be able to get queen cell production in high gear.

This was my plan for 2013 and those are my hopes for 2014.

3 Deep Langstroth colonies 2013

On a side note, it appears that I will be accepting 6-8 colonies for the Kansas Honey Producers’ Association state hives. The honey production from these colonies is used to supply our honey sales and promotion at the Kansas State Fair each September.

Stay tuned for updates regarding the KHPA state hives.

Mother Earth News Fair in Kansas

Community Spotlight

This is a Big Event!

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Each year the MOTHER EARTH NEWS brings their magazine to life with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS. For the first time ever, the fair will be coming to our region – October 12 and 13 in Lawrence, KS. The weekend features dozens of hands on workshops and demonstrations.

Lawrence, Kan. | Watson Park | Oct. 12-13, 2013

Letter from the Mayor of Lawrence
Map
Hours
Tickets
Directions
About the Venue
List of Exhibitors
List of Workshops and Speakers
Workshop Schedule
Apply to Exhibit
Help Out at the FAIR
FAQ

 Lawrence, Kan.

Events Calendar

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR  |  Saturday & Sunday |  October 12 & 13  |  9 a.m. – 7 p.m.  |  Watson Park  |  727 Kentucky St., Lawrence, KS  | The MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIRS are family-oriented, sustainable lifestyle events, packed with hands-on workshops and demonstrations on renewable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening and more!  |  Learn more

 

Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farm Tours

In the excitement leading up to our own Cultivate Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farms & Gardens Tour this June 2013, I’d like to post this information on:

Urban Garden Beekeeping

         Urban gardens are great locations for keeping honeybees as they increase the opportunity for the number of beneficial garden pollinators. They also provide and additional source of local whole food.

Small-scale urban beekeeping contributes to the protection of our vital ecosystem. Keeping bees in an urban garden setting is a small but hugely significant way for a community garden to contribute to the diversity, health, and sustainability of our food growing system. It’s a huge way for a small group of people to make a difference on a big environmental issue. If your community garden wants to host honeybees, you can either (1) Arrange with a local beekeeper to place and maintain a hive or two in the garden, or (2) Start a hive to be maintained by the gardeners themselves.

If you are considering beekeeping for your community garden, may I suggest the following guidelines for starting a honeybee hive:

  • Maintain good relations within the garden and with the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Research any beekeeping ordinance that might apply to your garden.
  • Meet the owner of the property where your garden is located in order to get approval to place a hive there.
  • Determine if your garden is a good place for a beehive
  • Decide the best place to put the hive in the community garden.

One or more gardeners should be selected to manage the beehives in the community garden. They are responsible for making sure the hive is maintained properly and for removing the hive, if necessary.  When in doubt, review other Municipalities as a guideline. Some are actually pretty good.

http://www.opkansas.org/city-government/overland-park-municipal-code/

 TITLE 06 – Animals

6.14 Beekeeping

Breeding

It’s a simple goal: to improve stock for local conditions in the North-eastern Kansas area.

What is needed is to teach how to raise queens; how to graft larvae; learn the principals of selecting stock breeding.

All that we are attempting is to trick the bees in making new queens.

What I do afterwards is transporting ripe queen cells and placing them where I intend to use and need them.

Record keeping is an important part of queen rearing and for the distribution of queens. Not least among the problems in this, is in actually getting information on the queens afterwards. Notes on introduction, colony behavior and performance with the new queens are the basics of what are required to allow meaningful assessment to be made. From past experience many beekeepers just don’t observe their colonies with a view to recording what they see, and it is difficult to see where you’re going if you are not looking. We live in hope.

In our craft it is the norm for us beekeepers to work alone with their bees. In this project, where the planning and practical work is shared with others, one has the feeling we are participating in something really worthwhile and of real value to beekeeping in the area, that we are doing rather than talking. The enthusiasm of everyone involved in this project has been excellent, and I know I am not alone in looking forward to the next beekeeping season with keen anticipation.

Italian Honey Bee

Italian beesApis mellifera ligustica – Originally from Italy, this is by far the most popular honey bee and is the default bee that most beekeepers use. Italian bees are yellow in color, relatively gentle, overwinter well and build up quickly in spring. They are easily provoked to rob weaker neighboring colonies and sometimes exhaust honey stores rapidly in winter.

Pros and Cons of the Italian Honey Bee honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Good beginner bee
  • Excellent comb builders
  • Only moderate tendency to swarm
  • Relatively easy and calm to work with
  • Resistant to European Foul Brood
  • Strong cleaning behavior
  • Lower range propolis producer
  • Great comb bulders
  • Continous brood rearing continues after honey flow ceases
  • More likely to starve during long winters as they tend to exhaust honey stores
  • Poor flight orientation, highly prone to drifting
  • Aggressive foragers, causing tendency to rob

Carniolan Honey Bee

Carniolan beesApis mellifera carnica – These bees originated in the Austrian Alps, northern Yugoslavia and the Danube valley. Gray/brown in color, they are extremely gentle, conserve winter food stores well and build up quickly in spring. Carniolan bees construct new comb slowly and swarm frequently.

Pros and Cons of the Carniolan honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Earlier morning forager
  • Forages on colder and wetter days than most other bees
  • Overwinters well on small stores, as queen stops laying in the fall
  • Explosive build up in early spring
  • Exceptionally gentle and easy to work
  • May interrupt brood rearing during times of drought
  • Does not typically propolize heavily
  • Creates less brace and burr comb
  • Crosses well with other varieties
  • Likely to swarm unless carefully managed
  • If pollen is scarce brood rearing greatly diminishes

 

Buckfast Honey Bee

Apis Mellifera: hybrid
Brother Adam at the Buckfast Abbey in England crossed a great many races of bees with the British bee in hopes of creating a superior breed. The results are what is now know as the Buckfast Bee.

Pros and Cons of the Buckfast honey bee
Pros Cons
  • Highly Tracheal Mite Tolerant
  • Extremely gentle, with low sting instinct
  • Resistant to Chalkbrood
  • Low swarm instinct
  • Overwinters exceptionally well
  • Well suited to cool, wet climates
  • Not widely available
  • Builds up slowly in spring
  • Poor early spring pollinators

Africanized Honey Bee

Africanized honey beeApis mellifera scutellata and its hybrids
This bee originated from Africa.

Pros Cons
  • Resistant to Mites
  • Low swarm instinct
  • Well suited to warm, dry
  • Very defensive
  • High swarm instinct
  • Does not overwinter well

NEKBA Annual Bee Fun Day

Upcoming Activities

 June 2013 Fun day Meeting

Saturday, June 1st  2013, 8:45 am until 5:00 pm

Douglas County Fairgrounds – just north on Harper Street and K-10 Hwy

Northeastern Kansas Beekeeper’s Funday

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 Registration: 7:45-8:45, Program 8:45-5:00

Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper, Lawrence KS

Fee includes lunch, beverages, snacks, homemade honey ice cream, and a full day of fun!

Bring your hat & veil—we’ll be working through some hives

Cost: $30.00 per person for those pre-registered, $35.00 at the door.                           Walk-ins are welcome! We do appreciate pre-registrations as this helps with our planning for lunch and seating availability. For those pre-registered, by May 25th, there will be a drawing at the end of the event to reimburse 1 (one) pre-registered person for their registration!    Children ages 6-18, $15.00 for those pre-registered, $17.50 at the door.

For those pre-registered (post marked), by May 25th, there will be a drawing at the end of the event to reimburse 1 (one) pre-registered person for their registration!

Click the following links (below) for information and registration. You can mail, if there is time. If not, print, complete, and bring it with you. See you in Lawrence, KS!

NEKBA Fun Day Flyer 2013     NEKBA Fun Day Registration 2013  

NEKBA Fun Day 2013 Schedule * Subject to change

Visit our website at nekba.org for other club information