President’s Message – June 2019

From the President: 2019 Summer Solstice Edition

I just had the pleasure of attending the 66th Field Day at Beaverlodge Research Station:  as always I really enjoyed it. Dr. Steve Pernal seems to have a harmonious and very productive team of researchers. The morning had field stations detailing research on AFB, “treatment-free” Varroa management (lots of monitoring), a visit to the newly expanded facility of the National Bee Diagnostic Centre, and a nice demonstration of making food-wrap cloths with beeswax, as well as other hobbyist topics.  Dr. Penal briefly reviewed the research projects underway, and some of the results: Colony winter survival is highly correlated to larger cluster size and low Varroa.  Nosema can clearly be damaging, but other bee gut biota (Trypanosomes, etc) seem to have a complicated effect, still not well understood. Dr. Marta Guarna continues to analyze the data gathered last year in the BCHPA-initiated bee health in blueberry pollination study. It’s clear that EFB-like brood disease is higher in colonies after blueberry pollination.  The cause (nutrition perhaps) and resolution is not yet clear but is still being worked on.  The guest speaker Kirsten Traynor, is also scheduled for BCHPA’s education day October 3 in Prince George. I found her a very engaging and energetic speaker with perspectives new to me.  Our speaker coordinator Jeff Lee has a good choice of topics for Kirsten to present.  Beaverlodge day had several other presenters including Shelly Hoover who continues detailed work on canola pollination, definitely of great interest to that industry and the beekeepers engaged with them. BC’s CHC rep Stan Reist reminded us of the Apimondia event Sept 8-12 in Montreal. BCHPA’s participation is developing well with the team lead by Jenn Dilfer and Dan Mawson.  Paul vanWestendorp gave a good review of BC bee industry conditions.

I have been engaged in a BeeBC project in the BC Peace region: several hive scales, some with temperature sensors inside the hive, have been installed and are giving, almost daily, results posted on web pages: view the map on and (hopefully soon) all through  Bee Informed Partnership. Being able to see daily and seasonal weight fluctuations can give very interesting insights into local nectar flows and the development of a honey bee colony.

Some observations from my back yard: dandelion bloom has ended. The brief increase in hive weight: about one kg per day for a week or so, has changed to ups and downs with little net change, as spring forage is converted to bees that will harvest the main nectar flow expected in July. Wild rose is quite a prolific bloomer after dandelion, and a lot of very pale pollen is being gathered, but apparently not enough nectar to increase much in weight. My hives stored some dandelion honey while other beekeepers choose to not gather it because of the stronger taste. Just around  June 21 solstice, we had a few days of cool weather down to 4 C and some showers.  I have feeders frequented by tiny calliope hummingbirds. The feeders have “bee guard” grids on each spout to allow sipping only by birds with tongues longer than a bee. A couple of weeks ago an oriole (bright almost fluorescent orange feathers) came and removed one plastic guard to sip some syrup. Although that gave bee access to the syrup, the bees weren’t taking it until June 22: then over a couple of hours, about 20 of them became regular users at the one available spout. I waited until late evening to replace the guard, but when I went at 10 PM, there were still a couple of bees coming to the feeder. Next morning at 7 a.m. there were bees again ready to take some syrup, and as I write this at 9 they are still coming to check if it may become accessible again. That’s a pretty long foraging day! Clover is blooming in spots warmer than my shady hillside, so I expect there will soon be flowers to occupy these eager foragers.

For all of us beekeepers, I’m sure, we’re entering perhaps the busiest month of the year. Good Luck to us all, let’s not forget to check Varroa levels to avoid a late summer mite population explosion. I’ll be seeing some of you in Montreal at Apimondia and hope to see many of you in October in Prince George.

Bees Be With You,

Kerry Clark, President, BCHPA

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