Be sure to check it frequently as the featured information will change from time to time.
This list gives you an overview of what's going on each month in the hive. It also suggests some important tasks for the beekeeper and provides a rough estimate of the amount of time you might spend with your bees during a given month. Note that weather, climate, neighborhood and even the type of bees you have will influence such activities. Check this site frequently for additional details and special notes.
The Bees : The queen is surrounded by thousands of her workers. She is in the midst of their winter cluster. There is little activity, except on a warm day (about 45-50 degrees) when the workers will take the opportunity to make cleansing flights. There are no drones in the hive, but some worker brood will begin to appear in the hive. The bees will consume about 25 pounds of stored honey this month.
The Beekeeper : Little work is required from you at the hives. If there is heavy snow, make certain the entrance to the hive is cleared to allow for proper ventilation. This is a great time to catch up on reading about bees, to attend bee club meetings, and to build and repair equipment for next season. Order package bees (if needed) from a reputable supplier.
Time Spent : Estimate less than an hour.
What's the buzz with new honey rules?
One Saturday at the end of February I had what I called a 'B' day. At 9 a.m., I spoke to The SC Beekeepers Association Annual Spring Meeting in Columbia. At noon I spoke to the Beef Farmers meeting at the Farmers Market. At 2:00 I did a couple of radio interviews at the USC-Clemson baseball game. Then that night Blanche and I went to a wedding because the parents of the bride are good friends of ours. But back to the bees. One major topic of discussion at their meeting was the new amendment to the SC Food and Cosmetic Act which affects beekeeping. Luckily, Angie Culler from the Department was there to explain the nuances of the changes. Interestingly enough that ninety five percent of the beekeepers in South Carolina are hobbyists who sell their local honey from their homes, at farmers markets, or in retail stores. So there has been an amendment to the SC Food and Cosmetic law that is beneficial to small-scale beekeepers. The amendment defines honey and the labeling requirements, but it also exempts beekeepers from inspections and regulations requiring honey to be processed, extracted and packaged in an inspected food processing establishment if they
produce no more than 400 gallons or 4,800 pounds of honey annually
and only sell directly to the end consumer.
If they meet these requirements, they are not required to obtain a registration verification certificate (RVC) from the SCDA. But labels are different. All containers of honey that are sold in South Carolina must meet labeling requirements. Also, to be exempt, beekeepers must file for the exemption on form provided by the SCDA. They can get these forms by calling our Food Safety and Compliance Office which is listed on our web site (www.agriculture.sc.gov) or by calling 803-737-9700. Now you understand why I was glad that Angie Culler spoke to the beekeepers to explain the details. Agribusiness, agriculture and forestry, is the number one driver of our state's economy with a $34 billion a year impact and nearly 200,000 jobs. Beekeeping is a small, but important part of that agribusiness cluster. But, large or small, main street or mainstream, dairying or beekeeping - it's all part of the bigger picture of agribusiness in this state. I told the beekeepers they were in the livestock business the same as me, just a few thousand pounds differences per animal. SC beekeepers manage an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 colonies. But the sweetest value of honeybees is that honeybees help farmers produce fruits and vegetables with cash receipts of $25 million a year. Not included in this amount are the other crops that need pollination and the many vegetables, fruits, and flowers cultivated in home gardens that depend on or benefit from honeybee pollination. Eighty percent of the pollination of the fruits, vegetables and seed crops in the U.S. is accomplished by honeybees. I can't imagine our farmers painstakingly going from flower to flower in the field with a cotton swab and manually pollinating every blossom on the squash plants. We all leave it up to the experts - the honeybees. We encourage homeowners to plant a lot of different native flowers to provide food for the honeybees and other beneficial insects. You can find plants that are beneficial for our native pollinators at any of our Plant and Flower Festivals going on at the State Farmers Markets.
Hugh E. Weathers, Commissioner
Reprinted from the S o u t h C a r o l i n a MARKET BULLETIN South Carolina Department of Agriculture Volume 86 April 19, 2012 Number 8
At the certified level the individual should be familiar with the basic skills and knowledge necessary for the beginning hobby beekeeper. The individual must pass a written and practical test.
The Hive and The Honey Bee
American Bee Journal
Honey Bee Diseases and Pest
Symptoms, causative agent, treatments
Small Hive Beetle
Africanized Honey Bee
How bees produce
Nectar and Pollen sources
Conversion into honey-sugars
Conversion from nectar to honey
Types in S.C.
Bees/Races and Subspecies
Basic anatomy; Queen/worker/drone
Seasonal hive transformation/evolution and management
Poisoning signs & symptoms
Parts and uses of a beehive
Traits of a good bee yard
Products of the hive
Wax moth larvae
Package Bee and Queens
Key people in beekeeping; past and present
Hive Manipulation & Honey Bee Management
Rather than sitting around waiting for someone to call you about a swarm this Spring, why not set up a few bait hives to see if you can entice swarms to take up residence? Some beekeepers also like to keep a bait hive near their own apiary just in case one of their own hives casts a swarm. You can also place a bait hive in an area where you already know there's a feral hive or near a "bee tree" where a feral colony resides. Below are some tips from Dr. Seeley's book, Honeybee Democracy. These are based on extensive research conducted over many years by Dr. Seeley, one of the leading experts on swarm behavior.
1. Place your bait hive about 15-16 feet off the ground
2. Face the entrance SOUTH
3. Be sure the volume of your box is at least 40 liters but not a lot bigger
4. Put some comb in your box, either foundation or drawn comb.
Following these tips won't guarantee you any "freebees" but it'll definitely improve your chances!
GREASE PATTY FORMULA
Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Note: If the mixture is too thin, add more sugar, and if too thick, add honey until it is like the dough of canned biscuits from the grocery store. It should be easily molded into patties.
NOTE: The colonies must be treated using this system BEFORE mite populations reach injury level to the colony. Once the colonies reach parasitic mite syndrome (deformed wings), they will not consume enough of the patties to do any good, however, we are showing an increase in housecleaning debris so we think the fumes from this concentration of wintergreen may be killing mites inside the cells through the caps and the bees are attempting to remove everything related to the smell. The bees themselves are apparently not affected.
When feeding the patties, use two (2) five (5) ounce patties between the supers. Separate them so they overlap the normal ends of the cluster. This allows normal movement above the center of the brood cluster. This strength Wintergreen Oil has been found to kill small hive beetles en masse. However, beetle populations are directly related to varroa-mite infestation so controlling varroa is the dominant requirement. In summer, we are using a screened bottom board (8 mesh h’dware cloth) AND a screened top in place of an inner cover. The hives are placed in full sun to discourage SHB. When using a top screen, be sure that the outer cover gives % inch unrestricted (visible from side) air flow (dose not reach down to the level of the super or the bees may propolize the screen.) Colony populations explode when they have enough ventilation. A nice experience is to lift the outer cover of a hive and look in on totally calm bees in the top of the super. If you then see any hive beetles on the top of the screen trying to enter the hive, you need to accept that you have some varroa build-up in progress and monitoring varroa is necessary.
NOTE: Wintergreen Oil in excess pf 500 parts per millions gives a 50% kill of the bees. (50 LD) is the term used to signify 50% toxicity. The above mix is approximately 225 ppm.
Reprinted with permission of:
RAYMOND E. CROCKER
2786 CANNONS CMP/GRND.RD
SPARTANBURG, SC 29307-2825