Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mites and Nutrition

At this time of year beekeepers should be concerned about two things - mites and nutrition.

Hopefully you have already begun managing the mite population. The mites transmit viruses which remain after your mite treatment. With time the virus levels drop but you need to have time after the treatment, under low mite and virus conditions, for the colony to raise young, healthy wintering bees.

Varroa Mite Treatment

It's no surprise, nutrition can either help or hinder a colony. If the colony is diseased, poor nutrition can amplify the symptoms, but good nutrition can be the elixir needed to get them through.

 Beekeepers presume that their bees have enough honey stored for winter and do not supply the feed the bees need to build up their honey stores. We have been receiving many reports of starvation in hives. Do not assume your bees are bringing in nectar. Place a feeder on your hives so that your bees may build up their honey stores.

Flowering plants produce nectar to attract pollinators like the honey bee. Pollen is easily seen in the pollen baskets of the honey bee, whereas, nectar is not as visible. Pollen is needed for growth and brood rearing; nectar is a sweet treat that is fed to the matured bees.

Here is a great resource to find the region in which bees are foraging for specific flowering plants:

Forage Species within Region

As you can see in the map, nectar flows exhibit a broad regional trend but there can be substantial differences within a region. Heat, drought,and many other factors play into effect with nectar producing flowers. Beekeepers must always be cautious of a dearth and weather that will prevent bees from foraging for pollen/nectar.

Hive Top Feeder

3 Things to do When the Nectar Flow Begins to Wane:

1.  Leave on the honey supers. Honey bees will store an excessive amount of honey, ranging between 100 - 150 lbs. Beekeepers reap the benefit of excess nectar stores that have been capped and cured into honey. Beekeepers must be cautious of how much they harvest from their hives. Bees are dependent upon the honey they have stored and require, depending on location and harshness of winter, 60 - 80 lbs of honey to survive winter.

2.  Beekeepers must feed, feed, feed. Not only do beekeepers need to provide a food supply, but they also need to include a feeding stimulant to increase the health of the hive. Feeding with sugar water or corn syrup is great, but adding a stimulant like Honey B Healthy (there are others on the market) will help improve their immune system, prevent mold and fungus in feed, increases brood rearing and much more. Feeding your bees now will help them build up their honey stores for winter!

3.  Be aware of robbing bees. Bees will fly the shortest distance to acquire the resources they need. If you have weak colonies in your bee yard, they will be prone to robbing attacks. Reduce entrances, add a robbing screen and help protect your hive from robbing bees. 

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