Summer has been speeding by and the bees are busy! We have been monitoring them weekly and providing a second story and supers as needed. Our strongest hive has 2 supers on it. Our goal is to raise strong local bees that will survive a Michigan winter. Our goal is not to harvest as much honey as possible, but rather make splits and encourage the colonies that will have the strongest genes. Ultimately, we like the bees for pollination on our grounds.

This week I had a guest beekeeper visiting from a neighboring non-profit organization. Andrea Foster from Little Forks Conservancy visited and helped us work out a system for sampling varroa mites. Remember, we treated all our hives this spring with Hoppguard II, and therefore we hope to see minimal mite population in any of the hives!

We are using this (pdf) method, as outlined by a lab at the University of Minnesota.

Andrea and I have a system down! We had one limiting factor, we used the wrong screen size in hardware cloth and the bees fell through the screen as we shook off the powdered sugar. Easy to fix!

I showed Andrea some basics of beekeeping. We looked at brood: eggs, larvae of all ages, capped brood and emerging workers. We dissected a few drone cells, and found a varroa mite in one by happenstance! The bees are busy, filling their cells with honey. We did see one queen today too! The hives seems to be growing well and were very active today!

Next week the interns and I will officially sample the hives and determine the varroa mite populations! Stay tuned!