Hi, all!
Just a reminder that our beekeeping meeting for August is Tuesday,  August 26th at 7:30 pm at the extension office on South 36th street in Quincy. NOTE:  Sue Kivikko, apiary inspector for the Northern Region of Illinois, is going to attend our meeting to speak on CCD and other issues that may go on in the hive.  She will also take any questions regarding honeybee health.  Have your questions ready.  This will be a meeting you will really want to attend.  If you would like to bring a small snack, that is always welcome.  See you there!

Bernie and Gay are having their annual open house soon. You don’t want to miss this! See the flyers below for details.



Don’t forget to join us for our monthly meeting this Tuesday, June 24th, at 7:30 p.m. We’ll be in the basement of the Adams County Farm Bureau building on South 36th Street, Quincy, IL.

See ya there!

Don’t forget to join us for the meeting Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.

We will be in basement of the Adams County Farm Bureau building on South 36th Street in Quincy.

See ya there!

The April 29, 2014 meeting of the Mississippi Valley Beekeepers Association held at the Illinois Extension Office Basement was called to order by President Guy Spoonmore at 7:35 PM.

Dale reported a Treasure’s balance of $1867.89 and that the banking has been changed to First Bankers Trust in Quincy from the Palmyra State Bank.  In a further review of the bank receipts from the transfer of funds to the First Bankers Trust after the meeting, $2107.89 is the correct balance.  The minutes of the previous meeting had been emailed to those with email addresses on file.  There were no corrections or additions to the March minutes.  Minutes of meetings will be emailed to those with email addresses on file with MVBA.

Diane will put the list of those interested in being notified for swarm capture opportunities on the MVBA website along with general location of each person on the list and their contact information, but only if you let Diane know that it is OK.  Anything on the website becomes public information for spammers.  It was suggested that you may want to consider setting up a separate (vague identity) email address just for this purpose.

Bee packages from Albert Hilty arrived last Monday with very short advance notice of package arrivals in Hannibal.  It was reported that 3 packages had dead queens, but otherwise good so far for these packages.

LeAnn will be in charge of the Bee Buddy program again this year.  If you are a new beekeeper and want someone to help and mentor you, contact LeAnn.

There is a new Farmers Market in Palmyra this year.  Keep this in mind if you happen to have honey to sell this summer.

Jessalyn, our mentored beekeeper for last year, said that her bees are in good shape, but she accidentally started a small grass fire with her smoker.  No injuries other than a little smoke inhalation in the process of putting the fire out.   Always keep fire safety in mind when using smokers around dry grasses and weeds.

There is an Illinois Queen Initiative meeting near Peoria on Saturday May 3rd.  Emphasis of this group is raising queens that are best suited for winter survival in Illinois winters.  The meeting is also a training class on raising queens.   Go to www.illinoisqueeninitiate.com for more information.  Cost is $75 per person.

The Illinois State Beekeepers Association summer meeting is Saturday June 7 at Illinois Valley College in Oglesby, IL (north of Bloomington).

2014 dues need to paid as Dale needs to pay the ILSBA dues by May 1.  For the new beekeepers who paid for the new beekeepers course in February, the fees include the $16.00 for annual dues for the Mississippi Valley Beekeepers Association (MVBA).  All who have paid dues will have the $10.00 dues for Illinois State Beekeepers Association paid by our Association.  All new beekeepers with a Missouri address at time of course registration that attended the course in February are members of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association for their first year (Bernie has sent the names to the MO State Association).  After the first year, MO residents will need to pay State Association dues separate from MVBA dues.  MO state association dues are currently $15 individual or $20 family.

There was a general discussion of the package bees and a couple of methods for queen release.

Guy talked about pollen flow this spring, but suggested that syrup feeding be continued using a 50-50 sugar-water syrup as needed.  You may want to use pollen patties as well on new hives.  Watch for swarm cells, reverse brood boxes if needed if you have not already done so.

Mike talked about making hive splits when you see swarm cells, and set the new hive box near the original box.  Mike also suggested switching brood box locations after 4-7 days.

Diane asked how to move a mean hive – recommendations included screening or blocking the opening after dark, making sure that the straps are in place before attempting to move the hive, and move the hive after dark.

We have most of the equipment for the 2014 mentored beekeeper program.  Bernie will have a nuc available in about 2 weeks.  Dale will need to purchase a bee suit and hive tool.  We have a smoker, so should have everything needed.

There was a short break with cookies and coffee.  Thanks to those who brought the cookies.  Always lots of good discussions during the break.

Cindy did a presentation on plants for bees.  Plants that bee prefer include honeysuckle(but not Japanese honeysuckle as it is very invasive), raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, most fruit trees including persimmon, chives, borage, milkweed, marigolds, cholinga, tansi, lungwort, basil, catnip, oregano, sage, thyme, pineapple sage, most vegetables, dogbane, sunflowers, lavender (varroa mites don’t like lavender), Russian sage, wildflower mix, bee balm, peppermint, crocus, and hyacinthe (this is the list that I could keep up with anyway).  See www.lincolnlandbeekeepers.com.  (Purdue University extension also has a very good list of plants for bees).  Fresh water is needed by bees; don’t use garden pesticides or herbicides near bees; neonicotinoids are often found in big box stores (see www.foe.org/beeaction for more information).   There was additional discussion on planting Dutch white clover or sweet clover for bees, but not red clovers.  Clovers can be planted in grassy areas at the rate of 1 – 1 ½ lbs per acre – seed cost is around $5.00 per pound.

Bernie did a short demonstration of the use of a queen “mitt” for use when releasing new queen bees.  Use a small wire cage to cover the queen and press this cage into established foundation.  Always room for bees to feed the caged queen, this will usually help get the new queen laying eggs a few days earlier than traditional new queen release techniques.

Paul mentioned that there is a flea market at the Adams County Fairgrounds on May 17-18.  Opportunity to sell honey if you have any.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:10PM.

Respectfully submitted.

Dale Hill, MVBA Secretary

Don’t forget this month’s meeting on Tuesday evening.  We’ll see you at 7:30 p.m. at the Farm Bureau building at 330 South 36th Street.

For those who have not already paid, don’t forget to bring your annual dues!


A Few Tidbits

April 21, 2014 — 1 Comment

First, a warning:  Jessalyn, our 2013 Youth Sponsorship recipient, went out to check her bees this past weekend.  Her smoker lit a sudden grass fire, feeding on the dry winterkill grasses.  She’s not sure if a spark jumped out or what happened but it erupted in mere seconds.  She peeled off her bee jacket as she fled to call 911.

Jessalyn is fine, other than smoke inhalation and the expected shock.  Her bees were spared as they reside in a low spot where the grass was moister.  The fire went right around them.  Her bee suit was burned up; however, the rest of her tools were fine.  The bees had been left open during the chaos and, by the time I got her message, it was an hour or two after the event.  I have loaned her my bee suit for the time being so she can tend her bees.

We are hoping that her bees will not fly off.  Between the surrounding fire, whatever the firefighters used to extinguish it, all of the commotion, and having been left open for an hour or two during it all, the bees may decide that their hive is not the place they want to be.  Does anyone have any advice for her?

Moral of the story:  Be wary!  Even if you are cautious, as I know Jessalyn is, things can happen and happen quickly.

In other news, here are a few tidbits from Dale, in case you did not receive his recent emails:

Reminder re: dues:

Just a quick reminder that we need to have dues paid at our next meeting on Tuesday April 29 as I have to pay state dues for Illinois and Missouri by May 1.  I also need to verify mailing address and email address for each of you.  If you will not be at the meeting, please send a $16.00 check to me at the address below.

If you wish to no longer maintain your membership, please let me know by return email and I will drop you off the membership list.

A webinar tomorrow (a link to get you started):

The North Central Regional Center for Rural Development at Michigan State University is delighted to host a FREE 45-min webinar on April 22 featuring Professor Marla Spivak (University of Minnesota) on the topic of “Responding to an S..O.S from the Commercial Beekeeping Industry.”

Help shape new honey label guidelines (see link here):

US Food and Drug Administration is finally proposing enforcement of regulations regarding labeling of honey.  It is currently in the comment period, so if you have an interest in making any comments or proposing and changes to the proposed rules to make to FDA, please send them to me not later than May 15 and I will write up a response to FDA.  Keep in mind that Guidance Documents are NOT the actual regulations, but is guidance for industry and FDA inspectors on how to approach enforcement of the regulations .

Dale Hill, ISBA Central Region Director

Participate in the Bee Informed Survey (link here):

Have You Filled Out the Bee Informed Survey?

We need your help!  The Bee Informed Partnership is conducting our annual National Honey Bee Loss and Management survey, now open through the end of April. Please take 30 minutes out of your busy day to complete the surveys. 

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend!  This week, I’ll get back to typing up notes from the MO state conference.  Thanks for your patience.

“Bee Math – How Bee Biology Can Enhance Your Operation” with Trevor Qualls

Biology of the honeybee — three main structures:  head, thorax, abdomen.

“Pollen press” — a muscle that packs pollen into the “bags”

Drones:  It takes 38 days to sexual maturity.  Will mate with virgin queens in DCAs (Drone Congregation Areas) in flight and then die.

Workers:  female, do not reproduce, 20,000-60,000 workers in a colony, live 4-6 weeks in the summer and 406 months in the winter.  If the bees are white and/or fuzzy, they are not hardened, are new hatches.

Queens:  One queen per hive usually, lays 1,500-2,000 eggs per day, lives 2-5 years (lives much longer if there are no chemicals present, natural hives = longer-lived queens), brood season is kicked off by the nectar flow.

He then presented a chart of the honeybees’ life cycles but I’ll just refer you to a similar chart here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee_life_cycle with one additional note:  Once queen cells are capped on the 8th day, the colony will split/swarm.  Also, the warmer it is, the quicker the progression and, the cooler it is, the slower the progression.

Eggs – larvae:  Fresh = standing up, older = lays over, C-shaped = larvae, C-shaped with segmented rings = older larvae.

Pupae:  Lighter body, lighter eyes = not capped.  Darker body, darker eyes = capped.  Darker cappings = older pupae.

Adult bees – workers – duties:  1-3 days old:  clean, generate heat.  3-10 days:  nurse.  11-18 days:  nectar ripening and packing pollen.  Day 15:  starts secreting wax.  19-21 days:  guarding, ventilation, trash removal.

On Day 15, the bees will start secreting wax and really want to use it.  If you checkerboard at this time, you can help prevent swarming because you are giving the newly-secreting workers space to get their comb-building urges out.

Field bees:  Forage for protein (pollen) and carbs (nectar).  Much of the propolis (used for “caulking”) has been bred out of bees.  This is helping to cause more disease as propolis has many healthy qualities for the hive.  It takes 850 bees, 50 trips each, to bring back enough water to cool the hive in the heat of summer.  Place fresh water near the hives to make it quicker/easier on the bees so they can spend more time on nectar/pollen missions.

Differentiation of Sexes:  Workers — get royal jelly x 3 days, fertilized, light feeding of brood food, honey, & pollen.  Drones — get royal jelly x 3 days, unfertilized, heavy feeding of brood food, honey, & pollen.  Queens — get royal jelly x 3 days, fertilized, heavy feeding of royal jelly until capped.

Where do bees live, homes made of what, in nature?  Wood (plastic bodies and plasticell foundation is not natural, bees don’t like it — they have approximately 150 smell receptors), 1/4 to 3/8″ bee space in nature.  Combs have the rainbow pattern of brood in the middle, layer of pollen arched over that, and another layer of honey arched over the pollen.

Watch the layout of the frames/combs as you inspect your hives.  Be certain to replace them exactly the same way, facing the same way.

Know how to identify cells:  worker brood vs drone brood vs honey.  Once honey is capped, it’s ready for harvest.  If you have a high number of drone cells, that makes for a crowded hive & more mites.  Pull those out and replace with empties.

Drone cells are an early indicator of a new queen & swarm.  Take it as a sign to checkerboard the hive, use no foundation or just starter strips.

Don’t needlessly requeen, especially if you are chemical free.

2:1 sugar syrup does not stimulate laying.  In nature, 1:1.25 is what is found in nature so, in order to stimulate the queen to being laying, provide 1:1 syrup.

The queen has limited pheromone quantities.  That limits the size of the population as it can only go so far/long.  Once her pheromones begin “wearing out”, the workers will replace her.

In nature, bees prefer keeping 6-8 combs.  So what happens when we raise bees in 10-frame hives?  Frames 1 and 10 are usually left empty or rarely used.  Hive beetles, then lay their eggs in those areas undisturbed.  Keep bees in 8-frame hives and the bees will better protect against hive beetles and other pests.

Position of queen cells:  Swarm cells are made on the bottoms of the frames.  Supersedure cells are made in the upper half of the frame, when the queen is failing or has failed.  A hole in the side means she was destroyed.  A hole/flap in the bottom tells the workers to heavily feed royal jelly.

Bees have a three-day memory, then it “resets”.  Use this to your advantage when moving hives.  Screen the hive at night and move.  Be sure to feed (in the hive) & cool/vent them.  On the evening of the fourth day, unscreen the hive/let them go.

Comb is hexagonal.  Cells are built at 4-5 degree angle.  There are left and right sides to the combs.  Housel Position:  Each cell has a “Y” — either upside down or right side up.  The right-side-up Ys should face to the outsides of the hive.  The upside-down Ys should face to the middle of the hive.  The center frames will have upside-down Ys facing each other.

When inspecting your hives, be very careful to not roll the queen.  If you roll her, her ovaries can easily be damaged enough to no longer lay eggs, yet her pheromone levels are still high enough that the workers don’t always sense the need to replace her.

When brushing bees off of frames, hold the frame upside down and brush.  If you brush them with the frames as they are in the hives, you will be breaking bee backs against the upward angle of the cells.  Work with that natural angle, not against it, and you’ll lose far less bees.

Communication:  Bees have two dances — round and waggle.  The waggle communicates distance & direction — the longer the waggle, the farther the distance.  Pheromones are spread by touching.  Also, the Nasanov pheromone, used by exposing the gland and fanning, which is visible when installing packages and swarms.

My apologies for being tardy in getting my notes up.  The blog software has been giving me fits.  Also, I cannot embed links as usual so look for the corresponding websites scattered throughout.  You will have to copy & paste the URLs until the problem is resolved.)

The Missouri State Beekeepers Association held their spring conference March 21-22 in Lake Ozark.  John Timmons, president of the MSBA, and all of his henchmen/women kept things running smoothly throughout.

The program lineup:

“Bee Math – How Bee Biology Can Enhance Your Operation” with Trevor Qualls

Breakout Sessions:

  • “Managing Small Hive Beetles” with Jon Zawislak
  • “Natural Beekeeping in Horizontal Hives” with Leo Sharashkin
  • “Hive Management for Swarm Control” with Bruce Snavely

“Drones – The Forgotten Step to Better Queens” with John Seaborn

“The ABCs of Bee DNA: Understanding Honey Bee Genetics” with Jon Zawislak

Breakout Sessions:

  • “An Introduction to Small Cell Beekeeping for the Large Cell Skeptic” with Trevor Qualls
  • “Pollen as the Perfect Food” with Jane Sueme

“Natural Treatments for Hive Pests” with John Seaborn

“Advanced Hive Management … Beyond the First Year” with Trevor Qualls & John Seaborn

  • Jane Sueme:  http://isabees.com/
  • Bruce Snavely:  http://www.beekeepingadventure.com/
  • Leo Sharashkin:  http://www.horizontalhive.com/
  • Jon Zawislak:  http://entomology.uark.edu/JZ_-_CV.pdf
  • John Seaborn:  http://wolfcreekbees.com/
  • Trevor Qualls:  http://basprings.com/

During the breakout sessions, I attended Leo Sharashkin’s “Natural Beekeeping in Horizontal Hives” and Trevor Qualls’ “An Introduction to Small Cell Beekeeping for the Large Cell Skeptic”.  I’ll cover those presentations later on.  First, a few scattered general notes from the meeting.

All new beekeepers, having completed that year’s beginning beekeeping class anywhere in a MSBA-affiliated club will get one free year of membership in the MSBA.  Contact the MSBA and let them know — they should have a lists (or can obtain) of those who have completed the classes.

Throughout the state of Missouri, beekeepers are reporting upwards of 50% losses on average.  Due to both high losses both regionally and nationally this year, we are having a bit of a bee shortage.  Some are having to cancel orders for nucs and packages.

http://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/FSA-7075.pdf is a publication authored by John Zawislak, maybe similar to the presentation he gave during one of the breakout sessions?

Some changes are taking place at the state level.  Mainly, they are working to streamline memberships.  In the near future, they will be easier to manage and can be handled online for those who wish to do so.  The MSBA secretary is now the treasurer as well.  Bruce Snively, who was the interim director of the southwest region, is now officially appointed.

There were 152 attendees at the MSBA spring conference.


March 25, 2014

The March meeting of the Mississippi Valley Beekeepers Assn was called to order at 7:30PM by President Guy Spoonmore at the Farm Bureau basement in Quincy, IL.

Mia gave the Treasurer’s report of $1261.89 as current balance.  If you have not yet paid your 2014 dues, please do so at the next meeting.

Dale Hill is taking over the Secretary-Treasurer job from Mia.  Mia – Thanks for your years of serving our Association.

Dale reported on the Tri-State Local Food Network event at Quincy mall last Saturday.  We could have sold honey if we would have had it.  Dale made a presentation on honey bees to the group and talked to several people looking for honey and looking for people to put bees on their farms.  Contact Dale if you are interested.

Guy expressed congratulations to Dale on being appointed as Central Region Director of the Illinois State Beekeepers Association to fill an unexpired term until November 2014.

Diane discussed mentor program – if you need more info on this program, contact Guy.  Jessylyn, our sponsored new beekeeper from 2013, reported that her bees survived the winter and are active since it started warming up.

Russ discussed a program for tracking hives.  Keep notes on each hive yard and each hive.  Also use Dadant’s checklist for hive inspections.

Question was asked about mite treatment – treat if needed based on mite counts and hive exam.  Paul suggested checking drone cells in about a month and if there are more than 2-3 mites in several drone cells, then you need to treat.  Switch top and bottom boxes when there is plenty of brood and pollen in the top box.

There are several opportunities for pollination services near Durham, MO – pumpkins 5-10 acres.  Contact Bernie for more information.

Guy asked for volunteers to do short programs for our meetings.  Guy also passed around a list to sign up for swarm capture call list.  Diane can put those who want to be listed on the website.  Mike suggested that you make sure that you have swarm boxes ready if you sign up.

The Northeast Missouri Beekeepers meeting in Saturday March 29 at the Clark Center Courthouse 8AM-4PM, contact Randy Yort at 573-248-5561.

The Missouri State Beekeepers Spring meeting was last weekend.  Bernie reported there were speakers on small hive beetles and swarms.

Check MVBA website for equipment and management ideas.

Mike did a short program on feeders:  1) top feeder holds 2 ½ gallon, but too many bees drown even with the floats – can also use top feeders for bagged liquids and patties; 2) frame feeders hold about 1 gallon but also see a lots of drown bees, putting screens in feeders helps reduce drown bees; 3) front or entrance feeders – need to make smaller entrance restrictors; 4) feeder jars made from plastic peanut butter jars put on top of frames (a few very small holes drilled in lid, be careful not to have too many holes or holes too big or syrup will drip on bees), put empty super on top to protect jar, then inner and top cover.  There is also a commercial plastic feeder that looks like a small chicken waterer that holds 1 gallon of syrup that is also place inside an empty super.  Start feeding syrup once chance of freezing the syrup is past (or use feeders inside the hive).

Russ suggested using washing soda mixed with HOT water, then soak hive tools and equipment 15-20 minutes to clean propolis off equipment.  Rinse with hot water and dry with compressed air.

Question was asked about using pollen traps – Bernie said he does not use them and lets the bees store pollen as it is collected.  Bernie also mentioned a recent report of apple pollen being contaminated with 300 ppm neonicotenoids, and the LD50 for bees is around 3.5 ppm (dose at which 50% of exposed bees die).

There was discussion about our $16 dues – for Illinois residents, $10 goes to Illinois State Beekeepers Association dues; for Missouri residents, $15 goes to Missouri State Beekeepers Association ($20 for family).   It was suggested that our dues increase to $20/yr but no decision by the Association was made.

There was a question about hive location – need to block the Northwest wind in winter, face entrances South to get morning sun.  There needs to be a top vent to allow moisture to escape hive in winter.

Bee packages are scheduled to arrive the second week of April.

The next meeting is Tuesday April 28.

Meeting adjourned at 9:15 PM.

Submitted by

Dale Hill


P.S. – I plan to send out minutes as soon after the meetings as I can to those who have provided the Association with an email address.  If you no longer are a beekeeper and want to be removed from the mailing list, please let me know.  If dues are not paid by the April meeting, I will take your name off the mailing list of active members.