Honey Bee Swarm Season 2017 April/May

Swarms are exciting! It is the birth of a new colony.

Before leaving the original colony, honey bees gorge on honey for the journey to move to a new home. They are generally not very defensive but can be enticed to sting. Please, do NOT spray with poisons or try to kill. Swarms are only in a temporary resting place until they rest enough to move on to their final destination. This activity is a very common occurrence in April and May. Many people find them in their yards or around their homes. Swarms can be harmed by high winds, hail, and heavy rains as well as cold, freezing weather.
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Mating biology of honey bees – Book Review

Mating biology of honey bees (Apis mellifera), by Gudrun Koeniger and Nikolaus Koeniger with Jamie Ellis and Lawrence Connor  

Wicwas Press

1 edition (December 22, 2014) Hardcover: 155 pages.

51fvsy1vcdl-_sx312_bo1204203200_Review by Robert Burns

I just finished reading the book on honey bee mating biology. Wow! Although sex is usually a ‘hot’ topic, I can really appreciate the research and science that has gone into this work. The book has some excellent photographs and charts and diagrams. There’s lots of great science here that explains the bee mating biology in simple terms.

I don’t believe I have read any other book that is a better culmination of the works on the mating happenstances of our wonderfully under-appreciated honey bees. I have my other queen books Bee Sex and Queen Rearing and other guides. However, there hasn’t been quite any other that is more descriptive, especially of the 3rd caste –Drones. The male bees seem to never get enough attention and respect.

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Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farm Tours

Cultivate Kansas City’s biennial Urban Grown Tour is slated for June 27-28, 2015 to showcase the good food that is growing our city’s neighborhoods and will celebrate 10 years of growth sinDSC00808ce the first tour in 2005!

In the excitement leading up to our own Cultivate Kansas City’s Urban Grown Farms & Gardens Tour this June 27-28, 2015, 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.

Below is a link to the City of Overland Park, Kansas, which is where I am from. It’s not the best but it is pretty good. There is a requirement for water for bees, which should stipulate that water should be supplied from March thru October.

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

 TITLE 06 – Animals

6.14 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)