BERT’S BEE BLOG – November 2022
Welcome to the November Blog.
In my last blog I mentioned SHB traps and my ongoing experimentation process so I will report my findings to date and discuss Honey/it’s properties and humidity.
Small Hive Beetle Pest Management Update
On Friday 14 Oct 22 I attempted to perform some hive management and inspected the situation regarding honey stores. I have today removed my hive entrance reducers where in place and to my horror SHB were present at the entrance of one of the hives and in fact ran back into the safety of the hive before I could invite them to leave. Now the forecast for 14 Oct was 10% chance of rain with temps up to 28 degrees C, so I had planned to spend the morning in the apiary. Now visual inspection of my two-flow hives via the viewing windows and entrances of all the additional hives suggest that the bee populations are strong, and nectar and pollen are resources are in increasing supply.
Anyhow, on inspecting the hives opened on 14 Oct it was clear that the best results for SHB reduction were the reusable SHB Traps with Apple Cider Vinegar as an attractant and Dematiaceous Earth (DE) that trapped the SHB. Examination of all in hive traps revealed that the one-use beetle blaster with DE had very few or no SHB in the traps, however a few SHB were located between the top of the trap border and the frames. This is clearly my error in not ensuring the traps were flat with no gaps between the top of the frames and the edges of the traps. Reusable traps accounted for numerous SHB in each of the hive traps, however the bees had also waxed closed some of the SHB points of entry on the top of those traps. In summary my vote goes to the reusable traps, and I will continue with this control method for SHB. I have not inspected the flow hives now, but I hope to find similar results.
Honey, it’s properties and humidity
Some time ago you may recall a blog on Honey and in fact Honey has been a topic for discussion on our webpage on a few occasions. Well worth a read if you missed those blogs. Now I intended to inspect the honey supers and if possible, remove fully capped frames, if any in preparation for eventual extraction and packing. However, on checking my humidity app reading of 60% moisture I may be forced to reconsider this course of action. So why should this be a consideration and why not just get in there and remove the honey as planned. Moisture is a significant consideration for me due to the hygroscopic property of honey and how the quality of honey can be adversely affected due to high humidity and moisture levels. Now at 60 % humidity given enough time the honey may balance out at around 18.3% and this could be considered an acceptable level being under the reported 20% moisture level. I would prefer a humidity level of 50% where the moisture content could be as low as 15.9% and ideally in processing my honey, I like to have the moisture level at around 16 to 16.5%. Honey at this level will not ferment and may have a thicker texture, more character and richer flavour. (B. Binnie, 2018)
It's worth remembering and according to B. Binnie (2018), that the general handling of honey in transport, storage, uncapping and extracting in a high humidity environment will add moisture to your honey. So, I decided to remove 2 frames of capped honey and extract to compare the moisture content. Given the limited honey frames removed I conducted a crush and strain extraction method. Utilising my refractometer, I determined that the moisture content of the extracted honey was 17.5% which given the circumstance I would consider quite reasonable.
In my location I am still awaiting a decent honey flow with the local flora in significant bud and just waiting to burst into bloom. Today, Tuesday 1 Nov it is raining steadily and unfortunately this will impact the nectar in the recent flowering Melaleuca.
Bees and Electrical Charge
An article written by John Elder in The NewDaily advised that results of a recent study in the UK indicated that when swarming bees can produce “as much atmospheric electric charge as a thunderstorm cloud”. It is argued that this type of charge helps shape weather events, including cloud formations.
Researchers discovered that swarms change the atmospheric electricity by 100 to 1000 volts per metre, “increasing the electric field force normally experienced at ground level”. Interesting Stuff!
Happy Beekeeping as we head towards Christmas 2022 and the New Year.
I will take a break during Dec/Jan and look forward to a busy summer season.
B. Binnie, Processing Honey: A Closer Look, Bee Culture Magazine, March 27, 2018.
J. Elder Is this why bees buzz? When swarming they produce a storm-sized electric charge. The NewDaily 01 Nov 22.
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