Bee Problems

By uthus2000 | uthus2000 | 19 Aug 2019

Honey bee problems worldwide may or may not be at least partially due to neonicotinoid-based pesticides. The debate is ongoing. I will not address either side of that in this article.

I don't have any bees this year. I'd been keeping bees for probably five years but lost my last hive last spring. I was going to get some more this spring but moved to town and don't know their take on the subject just yet. I'm planning on getting a few packages next spring and if I have to I'll set up my bee yard somewhere else.

A few years back I went to visit my dad. He had one hive of bees. At first I was terrified. I had gotten stung in the corner of the eye by a carpenter bee when I was in school. I had to go to school the next day with my eye swollen shut. I took a fair amount of ribbing for it.

Over the next few months I was able to go to my dad's bee yard several times and eventually stopped wearing a veil.

I decided that I wanted some bees too and started looking at plans for hives. I found WranglerStar on YouTube and saw that he had built a top bar hive. I took some notes and built one for myself. 

I paid a visit to Weeks Honey to get some first hand information on raising bees. I forget the name of guy who owns the place, but he took about a half hour to talk with me. He said that he didn't have time to mentor me but suggested a book. He said that he'd read hundreds of books on the subject and the best hands down for a beginner was Beekeeping for Dummies. It had everything you needed to know without a lot of extraneous filler. 

It tells you how to tell drones from workers from queens. It has chapters on hive construction. It has chapters on one or two illness that bees commonly contract as well as  natural pests. I'll cover a few of these in the next few days in order to keep the article from being overly lengthy.

Fire ants

Fire ants were not covered in the book, but I soon found they could be troublesome.

We noticed one day that there was no activity around my dad's hive. Upon opening that hive we found that it was infested with fire ants! 

They had killed or driven off the healthy bees. They were meticulously going through the hive and removing capped and uncapped larvae. They had even started uncapping the honey and were transporting that back to their nest.

We were unable to recover any honey from the hive. We did, however, get a few pounds of wax.

I realized that day that if I needed frames cleaned out that I could put them near a fire ant bed and let them take a few days and take care of it for me.

With a little research I discovered that if powdered cinnamon is sprinkled in and around hives ants will not bother it. They apparently do not like the smell of the spice. I also found that if the hive is on a table, the legs can be placed in cans or buckets where a little water or light oil is poured in to make a barrier the ants can't cross.

I have not had a real problem with ants since.

Next time I'll cover Wax moths.

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I'm a beekeeper electrician in a great small town in a terrible state.


Small town life and observations in the mid-west.

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