April 2013 Minutes

Date:  April 18, 2013
Location: Person County Office Building, Room 165

MINUTES.  Mary opened the meeting and March minutes were approved as e-mailed.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT.  Mary thanked Todd and Inge for the successful field day in their bee yard.   Several people took the practical part of the “certified beekeeping” test with only a couple of stings reported.  Mary said more volunteers to help with the April 20 beekeeping demonstration for Person County students at Huck Sansbury. would be welcome to join Mac and Amanda Blanks, Ray Moore and herself. at 9 AM.  Come prepared for cooler weather.   Mary will bring the equipment.

Mary asked members to plan to work a shift at the Personality Festival on August 23 and 24.  The group voted to apply for an information-only booth this year.  Todd sold 13 jars last year and two jars were stolen.  He felt the location was not good for sales.

Mary said the state beekeeper’s summer conference will be in Pinehurst, July 11-13.

SPLITS WORKSHOP will be held in Mary Dietz’ beeyard beginning at 10 AM on Saturday, May 18.  Mary’s address is 3625 Denny’s Store Road.   (Notes from Google Maps: From the intersection of South Main and Depot Streets in Roxboro, drive East on Depot Street which becomes Mountain Road, then Allensville Road, then Denny’s Store Road.  CAUTION:   At 5.1 miles, bear LEFT to stay on Allensville Road.   At 10.4 miles, Mary’s house will be on the left.  LSW)

STATE FAIR ideas, anyone?   Donna reminded that the Club gets points, for having a booth and for individual entries in State Fair competitions.  Mary said that Inge will apply as though we will have entries in all categories so start planning your entry.

DEBBIE HARRELSON requested contributions for door prizes for a conference of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Administrative Professionals Association.   Todd may have some candles and a jar of Randall’s honey.  Calvin Hester has a pint of honey.  Cecil suggested and the group voted that the Club buy the honey from these individuals so that the gift comes from the Club.

Donna Steen would like to give up the Treasurer’s post.   If you have some ability with spreadsheets, please review the job description on the website and let Donna or Mary know if you can do it.   The bank account is at Roxboro Savings Bank.

FUNDRAISER IDEAS, anyone?   Michelle suggested “Honey of the Month” campaign.

VISITOR–Ted Slaughter was welcomed.

TREASURER’S REPORT.  Donna Steen reported that the treasury stood at $801.03 when she took the post on 1-19-12 and PCBA now has a treasury of $2392.00.   Some State Membership Cards may be picked up tonight.

HIVE OBSERVATIONS.  Donna brought in “finger-licking good” wax from a frameless super that she’d used to feed the bees during the winter, now full of drone brood.   Four members reported losing a total of 13 hives in the past few weeks.   Todd and Lewis found 2 queens in one hive.

Lewis asked and PCBA responded with applause for Mary Dietz for her hard work as President.

Hearing members summarize colony losses, Lewis said:  “Varroa is a big part of the problem.”  He summarized five MUST-READ journal articles.   Older articles may refer to Varroa destructor as Varroa jacobsoni, but scientists now see V. destructor as a different mite.

Scientists first realized Varroa mites had hopped from Apis ceranae (eastern honeybee) to Apis melifera in Russia in 1952.  It was reported in Pakistan in 1955, in Japan in1958, then outside its original range in Paraguay in 1971 and in Germany in 1977.  Varroa was found in Florida and Wisconsin in 1987 and in NC in 1990.  Tracheal mites were also found in the 80s and beekeeping totally changed.   No Varroa AND no Colony Collapse Disorder has been reported in Australia.  When the mite jumped from one host to a different species, it also changed its reproductive cycle.  On Apis ceranae, the mite reproduced only on drone brood but on European honeybees, they also reproduce on worker brood (though drone is preferred).    If you have bees, even a new package, you have mites.   The question is, how many?

Just one foundress mite can launch a Varroa infestation.  In Phoretic stage, the adult Varroa travels on an adult bee until she hops into a brood cell just before it’s capped.   She first lays a male egg, then every 30 hours she lays a female egg.  The male mite fertilizes his sister mites and on average, one or two sister mites emerge with the foundress when the drone or worker emerges., in 24 days for the drone brood (allowing mite to reproduce longer) and in 21 days with the worker.   The foundress may go through 3 reproductive cycles, though up to 7 cycles have been observed in labs.

FOUNDRESS MITES AFFECT BEES by chewing a hole in larvae and sucking the hemolymph.  Results?

  • Significantly reduced weight
  • Decreased flight performance
  • Earlier foraging which shortens bee life by 10-15 days
  • Decreased ability to learn
  • Prolonged absence from colony
  • Lower rate of return to colony
  • Decreased ability to navigate
  • AND Mites carry viruses such as Deformed Wing Virus

FIVE of 18 viruses that affect honeybees are vectored by Varroa.  Getting rid of the mites doesn’t get rid of the viruses so they may still take down the hive, especially if there are other stressors … such as nosema, poor forage, or pesticides.   Watch for upcoming Dave Tarpy webinar on viruses.

One study followed bees for four years and found Varroa were the common factor in hive losses.  Conclusion:   Varroa destructor and DWV are strong predictive markers of winter colony collapse.

Everyone participating in Field Day witnessed demo and got a sugar shake jar.  Todd Walker brought a bucketful of sugar shake jars for meeting participants and friends.   Lewis reported a contest in which three beekeepers were challenged to collect 100 milliliters of bees, then bees were counted … with results from 302 to 380 bees in samples.

Remember that when you count mites from your sample, you are only seeing half the mites because the rest are in the capped brood.   Also consider that the ratio of bees to capped brood changes with the season.  Do a sugar shake to know if you need to treat and two weeks later check another sample to know whether your treatment was effective.  Lewis does not treat if he sees fewer than 4 mites from sample, but if 10 or more he definitely treats.

Lewis mostly refrained from advocating one treatment over another., except to say that screened bottom boards aren’t an effective preventative.  He noted that drone brood removal may be effective but it’s also labor intensive and if you don’t remove the brood frame before drones emerge you are adding to your mite problem.  Drone removal can’t be done in the fall.   Bees build mostly drone cells on foundationless frames.  Other treatments are temperature-dependent.   He recommended that Varroa monitoring for new packages installed in April or May begin in July or August.   Treating is up to you, he said, just know your mite load.

PROGRAM FOLLOW UP.  David Bailey of Bailey’s Bees, Hillsborough, gives FREE hardware screen for sugar shake jars.

David suggested that PCBA members report back to the group in a year on their monitoring efforts and treatment results.    Lynn suggested that we report our next monitoring results at the July meeting.

Todd will forward links to the articles to everyone on the listserve:

“Biology and control of Varroa destructor”, Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, by Peter Rosencrantz, et als

“Varroa Mite Reproductive Biology”, by Zachary Huang et als

“The German bee monitoring project:  a longterm study to undertand peridically high winter losses of honeybees,” by Elke Genersch, et als

“Managing Varroa Mies in Honey Bee Colonies”,  NCSU website

“Standard Sampling Plan to Detect Varroa Density in Colonies and Apiaries,” by Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota), et als

POST-MEETING:   Lewis Cauble provided the following links and notes:

Biology and Control of Varroa Mites Technical details about varroa (where they came from, how they work, damage they do)

Varroa Mite Reproductive Biology Easier to read version of how they reproduce.

German Bee Project What to look for to identify colonies

Predictive Markers of Honey Bee Collapse

Managing Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Colonies NCSU document on varroa.  Easy to read.  Good info.

Practical Sampling Plans For Varroa Destructor (technical version)

Standardized Sampling Plan to Detect Varroa Density in Colonies and Apiaries (easy version)

Extension Varroa Page

LATE PACKAGES.  Dave Bailey updated earlier e-mails.  His second delivery of bees will be May 11.

NEXT PCBA MEETING.  May 16, 7 PM, Room 165, Person Co. Office Bldg., with refreshments by Tom and Linda Savage.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED by Lynn S. Wilson, 4/19/13

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