Welcome to hot weather! Luckily, the excessive ground moisture paid off to some extent this season, and we got decent honey crops in some yards. Oddly, we’ve also observed two plant species – manzanita and coffeeberry – that have come back into bloom a second time, after already setting green fruit! We’ve never noticed that happening before. All that I can say, is that we are now in a “new normal.”
We’re busy now performing mite washes on all of our hives to identify any mite-resistant potential breeders, as well as to identify the “mite bombs” about to go off. This is the time to get mite counts down, so that your colonies can rear virus-free bees in September and October.
This week I spent a lot of time in helpful criticism of a research proposal by a U.C. pollinator biologist who wanted to study competition between native bees and honey bees. Such studies often tend to reflect strong bias by the researcher against honey bees. But this particular researcher was well aware of such bias and was appreciative of my suggestions. I’m all for protecting native pollinators, and in some areas with endangered
species restrictions upon commercial apiary locations make sense. But in many areas, much of the pollen and/or nectar during intense blooms goes to waste – I often see expanses of flowers as far as I can see, yet hardly a single pollinator. In such cases, it makes sense to keep those areas open to honey bees.
I’m currently testing a new method for applying formic acid – preliminary results look really good. The method avoids the initial flash of vapors that causes queen death. I’m also running experiments upon queen death following formic application – preliminary results support that it may be the bees that kill their queen, rather than the fumes themselves. More to follow…
You may recall that I’m working with another researcher who is studying the effect of honey bees upon pollination of a native camas lily in the High Sierra. I included photos last issue. I returned a week after setting up the three apiaries, and found that the hives were full of pollen, but hadn’t added any nectar (much to our disappointment). But then we returned again two weeks later, and there was a full nectar flow on (although the honey was bitter). Below is a photo of one of the meadows, with asters in full bloom. But no honey bees on them – the nectar flow was apparently from something else, although I couldn’t identify it.
Back here in Grass Valley, when we visited one of our yards early this month (just as blackberry was finishing up), there was a large patch of foot-tall yellow-flowered sedum in full bloom, with bees all over it. I’m expanding my garden of bee-friendly perennials – focusing upon locally-adapted plants that bloom during our dearth from July through the end of October. Please shoot me an email if you notice any plants that the bees are paying a lot of attention to from now ‘til winter, and I’ll compile a list to distribute to our membership.
...see full article in the current Newsletter
Grass Valley, CA