Natural Beekeeping

Top Bar ApiRevolution has begun! Lets make some Top Bar Hives and let them be pesticide free on their own natural comb! Che Guebee is a rebel bee fighting for the survival of the Biodiversity we all depend on and which is seriously endangered by deforestation and mono-crop agriculture!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Magnificent Autumn day

Today is 18'C and the bees are flying busy bringing in lots of pollen. The winter is just around the corner so make sure my dear beeks to spend as much time with your ladies because this coming winter might be long and cold and we will not be able to enjoy their busy flight for a long while. So out to the Apiary we go :)

 Heavy pollen load, very likely from Solidago
Observing the bees through special wax comb glasses ;)

Feral bees in a hollow tree with lots of Stratiolaelaps mites on the combs

Authors of this video do not discuss the Stratiolaelaps sp. mites on these feral combs since they have not paid attention to it. If you look carefully at 3:50 of this video you will see whiteish almost see through small mites walking over the wax combs. Stratiolaelaps mites are not Varroa (which is brown-reddish). Stratiolaelaps mites are known to be feeding on Varroa mites as you can see in THIS post of mine. Feral colonies are not being treated by beekeepers and therefore Stratiolaelaps mites can establish them selves in such a colony. All Varroa treatments (except sugar dusting) are strong enough to knock off Varroa mites, and since Stratiolaelaps is also a mite it most defenetly get hammered by it. This alone is already a good enough reason for me not to treat bees. Bee colony (aka Super Organism) is a delicate and most complex system depending not only on the live bees but also on all sorts of micro-organisms, fungi and yeast within the hollow. As a matter of fact the hollow it self is the organism and combs are parts of it too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stratiolaelaps scimitus mite as Varroa bio-control

Soil dwelling predatory mite Stratiolaelaps scimitus
This mite is known to feed on the Varroa mite which creates lots of issues in Honeybee colonies around the globe. Most beekeepers treat their colonies against Varroa mites and by doing so they are very likely killing off all the other beneficial mites, microbes and yeasts within the colony. One thing is sure, treatments are not efficient because varroa is still a huge issue in the world.

This video pretty much sums up that treated hives dont do well in comparison to the hives where Stratiolaelaps scimitus was introduced. Is it possible that this mite or other native mites can actually control Varroa much better than our conventional Varroa treatments? I feel it is, but we must understand that the bee colony is not just made of Workers, Drones and a Queen but also of micro-organisms and that treatments (even soft ones) will cause unbalanced conditions.

Bio Control for Varroa Mite from Electric Dreams Video on Vimeo.

Phil Chandler the author of The Barefoot Beekeeper is experimenting with the so called Eco-Floors in his hives. These are simply deep floors under the bees filled with aged wood chips which contain all sorts of micro-organisms. This is still work in progress but it seems that such eco-floor can provide proper environment for other micro-organisms which could start feeding on Varroa.

New pollen, winter feeding and varroa

Im am still feeding the bees 5:3 sugar syrup for the winter. Some of the colonies have slowed down with taking the sugar syrup. I would usually re-fill up the glass jars every day but now it can go 3 days before re-filling. That said, some of the hives are still emptying it daily.
 I see bees with white line on their backs which is a sure sign that they have been pollinating Himalayan Balsam.
 For the first time I see bees bringing in Purple pollen. Note the flying bee in the center of the photo (click to enlarge)
There is also yellow (Solidago) and orange as well as Brown pollen coming in (probably White Clover)
I am seeing every so often a bee with deformed wing virus (DWV). This bee has deformed wings due to Varroa and one can clearly see a Varroa mite on this bees back (the light brown button) I have decided not to treat so to be able to breed only survivor stock. I have never seen so many bees with DWV while living in Sweden. It seems to me that even though all Danish beekeepers treat against Varroa they simply can't get rid of it that way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I know where the olive-yellow pollen comes from!

I have mentioned in my previous post that my bees are bringing in olive-yellow pollen and I was not sure from which plant that is. Today the bees revealed its source to me  :)
 To my surprise I have seen a few Honeybees on the Potentilla fruticosa bush working its flowers. I have never ever seen Honeybees on these flowers before and I have been observing it for the last 3 seasons. I never even saw a Bumblebee on it. Only flies and syrphid flies. If you look carefully you will see the pollen basket containing olive-yellow pollen. So thats where it comes from! :)
Honeybee gathering late pollen from Potentilla fruticosa
Sedum is also in the bloom

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bees getting ready for the winter

It is sunny today and the ladies are flying in search for pollen and nectar. 4 of the hives are full with stores and the other 6 hives are getting there very soon.
 The bees have found a new pollen source which is olive-mustard color.
There is lots of ti coming in but I'm not sure what it is?
I have spotted a very black worker bee. Probably a very old forager since it has no hairs left on her body.