March 4

The Queen Extruder…What should I do?

Decisions, Decisions…

It is said that if you ask 6 bee keepers what to do or how to do…you will probably get 12 answers to your question.  Should I get a bee suit for my dog?   All things are possible I suppose

The question today is should I use a Queen Extruder?   

The queen excluder is a metal or plastic grid that covers the surface of an entire box. The grid is spaced such that workers can pass through the empty space but larger drones and the queen cannot. It is used to make sure the queen stays in the area of your colony used as a brood chamber and does not allow her to get into and lay eggs in the area of your colony used to store surplus honey. When the bees allow brood to be produced in honey frames it darkens the wax in those frames, which darkens any honey stored there later. Plus, if there is brood in frames in the surplus honey storage supers, nurse bees won’t leave the brood when you go to remove the honey with an escape board. Moreover, when examining the colony to judge the quality of the queen you’ll know where to look, reducing the number of frames you will have to examine. For reasons known only to the workers, sometimes they will not pass through the excluder, severely limiting the volume of the colony. The colony begins to think of itself as crowded and may swarm or they may stop collecting nectar because they perceive there is no place to store it. Sometimes it is said that queen excluders are instead honey excluders. This problem can be remedied by moving a comb or two with some honey from the box below to the box above the excluder, essentially telling the bees that it’s okay to go up there.

A queen excluder in place on a colony: Nearly every model available violates bee space, so there is always a buildup of burr comb on it. Do not scrape the wires with your hive tool because you may bend the wires, enlarging the space and allowing the queen to sneak through. Place your excluder in a wax melter to remove the wax instead.

Lesson 20 will give you more information on the Queen Extruder controversy.  I suggest you all take time to read this lesson.

March 4

March can be worse than a BEAR for our bees.

I know I say it all the time, but be careful this month. March can be tough on bees as they are trying to raise brood with limited resources. In addition, the weather can be highly variable – 70’s one day, subfreezing the next. These swings stress the colony as they try to maintain the environment of the brood nest.

On those 70 degree days, for that matter anything over 40 degrees, open the hive to add provide some form of feed, whether it be pollen substitute and syrup. The last thing you want is a colony that was healthy enough to survive winter die of starvation, and if it made it to March you did a good job of getting it healthy. The feeding is cheap insurance.

This past weekend I checked and treated and treated them a second time with Oxilic Acid.  All hives were in good shape and should survive if we take care of them.  It is now your responsibility to check your hive at a minimum of every two weeks.  Make sure they still have plenty of stores of honey.  If you are concerned, feed them 1:1 sugar .  I have two hives I am now feeding sugar water and may add the one at the Apiary as well.  This is NO time to lose your bees.  The hardest part is over….and yet we are right now at the place where bees may simply starve .  Of course you may call on me to asssit you at anytime…BUT…your hive is now your responsibility.  You must ask.  I am going to make the assumption you care enough for your bees to make your inspections, feeed them, and ask me for help at any point you feel you need my asssitance.   Soon the new hives of Bee Team Two will be joining you.  If you are willing to mentor a new beekeeper, please let me know.  Teaching is the best way to learn!


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