Thunder Bay Beekeepers' Association Newsletter – February 2010

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Catch the BUZZ

TBBA Public Presentation 7:00 - Tues., Feb. 23rd
Waverley Public Library Auditorium
(downstairs, past the Children's Section)
This is a general overview of bees & northern beekeeping. Any friends or neighbours who have expressed an interest in the past about your beekeeping? Let them know. Thanks.

General Meeting

Tuesday , March 2nd, 7 pm Stanley Hotel, Stanley on Highway 588
Driving from Hwy 11/17 go to Stanley turn-off and approx. one kilometre by the Kam. River.
(Early start 6:00 pm if you would like dinner - great burgers !!)

March Meeting Agenda:

  1. Spring Feeding - The WHY & the HOW
  2. TBBA - Web site COMING- It's different & we want it to be useful. Tell us what you want to see.
  3. Bee Inspector's Late-Winter Report & News
  4. Other topics of interest - Wintering Basics.
  5. Potential Group Purchases

TBBA Housekeeping Hint

Check your top & bottom hive entrances periodically during the winter.
Small, upper entrances can become clogged with frozen condensation & expired bees. If your wrapping technique allows, use a straightened coat-hanger to clean the bottom board, hooking out the natural die-off of older, late summer bees. Their bodies can block the bottom entrance. This maintenance also gives you a chance to see if the hive interior is dry or not. Scrapping out more than a cup of wet bees every few weeks tells you the hive is not venting properly and the cluster is damp, reducing warmth & stressing the bees. When you will start to pull out some live bees, then stop. (Depending on the cluster position - if low in the bottom box or if you need multiple sweeps across the bottom board, the bees will break cluster to check the disturbance.)

TBBA Meeting Schedule

Meetings are on the first Tuesday of every other month.
No meeting in January & February.
July meeting is dedicated to a workshop.

Questions on regulations?

Please remember our local Bee Inspectors.
Valerie - 767-0582 & Rob - 767-7806, Only a phone call away.

The Power of the Collective

Eastern honey bee, Apis Ceranae, cook a giant Japanese hornet using a unique, collective hive defence.
This is a wonderful object lesson in the evolutionary power of social insects.
Watch the National Geographic three minute video
(following the 20 sec. commercial.)

Honey Plants: Alder

Tag Alder catkinsAlder leaves

Tag alder - male catkins on the right, smaller female catkins on left. Alders, a relative of the birch family are short, scrubby trees with the unique property of fixing nitrogen from their roots, serving as a "pioneer species" by improving the soil. They are mainly wind-pollinated, but also visited by bees to a small extent - helping to carry the hive during the spring.

Genetic Diversity

We have it - It's a Good Thing !!
(Adapted - Gleanings in Bee Culture / Oct '09)
Thanks to the queen mating with multiple drones, each colony is made up of sub families - creating a genetically diverse workforce.
(A study in Germany of 142 drones captured in a 'congregation' area found one group of 4 brothers - six groups of 3 brothers - twenty groups of 2 and 80 singletons. Researchers calculated the whole congregation area had drones from 240 colonies - in effect, all the area's hives were equally represented.)
This genetic diversity increases colony fitness by generating a more stable division of labour and greater resilient to disease. (Workers bees among a sub-family tend to perform one trait of bee behaviour better than other families, such as wax building or water gathering so that more members of that sub-family will specialize or perform better during their life on that chore. Workers from a sub-family also show preferential attention to their younger sisters as larvae, visiting more often.)

What's in it for us?
As one measure of their fitness, genetically diverse colonies produce 30% more comb !!. And: Our need over the past 15 years to supply queens from among ourselves, avoiding importing the awful mites & other diseases, has created a local Thunder Bay mash-up hybrid of Italian, Carniolan and Buckfast strains. Check any hive for your bee's colour and the mixed parental influence can be seen - bright yellow across the abdomen is the Italian influence while Carniolan is much darker. Intermediate are the Buckfast with several prominent black bands on the front half the abdomen and a dark tail.

Take Home Message - We need to work at keeping our own Thunder Bay bees with as diverse as possible local gene pool. When buying local queens see if you can mix-up the source. One year some from Slate River area and another time look to sellers from Rosslyn or Pass Lake. You will be doing both yourself and your neighbouring beekeepers a favour. Remember the drones will travel quite a distance to mate, similar to worker's foraging, so we will all benefit.

Assoc Gossip

  • TBBA member, Ean Hays has measured one hive's internal temperature and created a Wintering Temperature Chart for the period from Dec 19, 2009 through Feb 7, 2010. The temperatures are stored in a data logger, at one hour intervals. His hive has a two brood chamber stack, and the cluster probe is down into the top chamber, center frame, by about 5 inches., The outdoor probe is on the north side of the hive, out of the sun. Ean has found a slow drift of temperature from 20 deg C in December to 30 deg C in January. He suspects this is because the bees where clustered in the lower brood chamber in Dec, and moved upwards in January, closer to the probe. So far, Ean's colony seems healthy. At least it is snuggly and warm in there. Feb. 8th they were at 32 deg C at noon hour.Next year, Ean wants to repeat these measurements, with several more probes distributed throughout the hive.
    (Ean has already mailed off his 2010 TBBA dues. An inspiration to us all !!)

  • TBBA has been invited back to the Thunder Bay Farmer's Market for an Earth Day Display, April 22nd. Last year was the first occasion. Lots of interest and a range of questions from the general public. Very good opportunity to promote our Healthy LOCAL BEES AND USING HONEY.
    Volunteers take one ~ two hour slots.

  • TBBA member, Barry Taber, Lakeshore Drive, offers a hands-on evening of building "Bee Condos". A small group, drills in hand, prepare wooden blocks as a home for native, solitary bees. Feb. 20th is booked up but if more members are interested another date can be arranged.

  • Brian Biesenthal has created a very nice poster for the Waverley "Catch the Buzz" public presentation. Thanks Brian. !!

Canadian Honey Council

Nearly 200 Canadians and 800 Americans attended the North American Beekeeping Convention
the industry's trade show in Orlando Florida, 12-16 January, 2010.
CHC's four strategic priorities:
  • Hive Health (Save Our Bees)
  • Food Safety (C-BISQT)
  • Market Access/Share (Pure Honey 100% Canadian and its Health benefits).
  • Labour and Succession (Education, Kids and Honey) for the producer's view

Do bees recognize human faces?

Recent news exaggerated honey bee's facial recognition abilities.
Yes, researchers could train bees to "see" the pattern of human face - one slash for eyebrows, two eyes, nose & mouth but not to recognize one person's face from another. So this summer when receiving a sting, it's not because they hate you personally - it a generic hive protection response. Don't you feel better? (Bees can remember up to two weeks and count to four. Still pretty smart,!!)

Featured Article

Beekeeping in Yemen
The small country of Yemen has recently been in the news. The quality of Yemen honey is known across the Arab world. The prized crop, the flowers of 'ilb' (Ziziphus spina Christi,) and 'sumar' (Acacia tortillas), is sold for $100 to $150 per kilo... Read More

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