Crushing bees weakens colony strength

Another article worth reading from Randy Oliver’s


He poses the question, found in the URL above, “Since I couldn’t find a single controlled study in which the effects of the crushing of bees in the hive was clearly determined, I decided to use some of your donations to run a trial…”  and the short answer to his bit of direct research is ‘yes, in winter’.

Control colonies with no crushed bees were stronger after the study ended than colonies where bees were crushed.  Colony strength only diverged in the winter however…

A few links regarding pesticides and bees.

When French Beekeepers first saw evidence of insecticide poisoning immediately after the release of neonicotinoid insecticides in the 1990’s (what we now call CCD in the US), rumor has it that the beekeepers took their empty hives to Bayer Crop Science headquarters in Lyon, threw them over the locked gate, and set them on fire (I was unable to quickly find news supporting this online, but was told the story by a friend from France).

This got the attention of France’s environmental minister and the neonicotinoid class of pesticides are now on track to be permanently banned in France by 2018, thanks in part to their more sensible precautionary based risk assessment system which contrasts the US EPA’s ‘wait and see’ approach (

This isn’t rocket science, “Pesticides” are created to kill insects.  How would the health of pollinators in the U. S. look at this point if American beekeepers were as outspoken and pro-active about their livestock as our counterparts in France?

The links below are more ‘popular press’ light reading, most with references.  For some more scientific data, search around on  We also have a smattering of scientific papers listed on the ‘bee‘ page of this site.

It’s time to stop the madness.




Insecticides at undetectable levels impact Honey Bee health

The take home message in the article linked below:

“The finding that individual bees with undetectable levels of the target pesticide, after being reared in a sub-lethal pesticide environment within the colony, had higher Nosema is significant.”

Pesticide exposure in honey bees results in increased levels of the gut pathogen Nosema



Mid Summer Queen Rearing

We’ve got one hive with a queen that’s not nearly as strong as we’d like–spotty brood pattern, no VHS traits, progeny susceptible to deformed wing virus, etc…  Sticking with our chemical free, strong genetics, beekeeping plan we’ve started rearing queens from our strongest hive to replace her, and get a few nuc’s going to over-winter for making new colonies next spring.

Our strongest hive sits right next door to our weakest one, yet it shows no signs of disease or mites!  So we didn’t even bother to test for hygienic behavior in those bees, we just know, ‘it’s the one’.

Here’s what we did:

Pulled four frames from the strongest hive.  These frames primarily contained (in order from the entrance of the top bar hive):

  • Honey, Nectar, Pollen
  • Eggs, very young larvae
  • Sealed Brood
  • Honey, Nectar

To encourage the workers to make larger queen cells in convenient locations, the bottom edge of cells containing eggs in three areas near the bottom of the ‘egg and larvae’ comb were ‘pulled down’ to make building larger queen cells easier for the workers.  The workers only chose to use one of these locations, but built ’emergency queen cells’ in other locations of the comb as well, interestingly, grouped together (see below)…

One week later we had a frame with eight capped queen cells and two uncapped.


Queen Cells


On day eleven, just to be safe, we’ll pull some of the extra queen cells and put them in mating nuc’s, cross our fingers and hope the new queens ‘get lucky’ with some regional drones with hygienic traits.

For all the images from this starter nuc, and of the other combs from our other hives, see the photo albums linked from our google+ page