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Rahmlow, H. J. (ed.) / Wisconsin horticulture
Vol. XXX (September 1939/July-August 1940)

Wisconsin horticulture, vol. 30, no. 11: July-August, 1940,   pp. [305]-328

Page 313

                    President ..N. E. France, Platteville 
                  S. P. Elliott, Menomonie,     Louise Diehnelt, Box 60,
Menomonee Falls,  C. C. Meyer, Appleton 
                    Vice-president                 Recording Secretary-Treasurer
      Ivan Whiting, Rockford 
Why So Many Weak Colonies This Year? 
B   Y July 4th Wisconsin beekeepers 
    had very little honey, but miany 
 weak colonies. Reports froti lmany 
 states in the middle-West indicate that 
 beekeepers elsewhere were int mitch 
 tihe same situation. 
 Why so many weak colonies this 
 year ? The usual answer is that we had 
 so  much cold, rainy   weather this 
 spring, hut that doesn't satisfy. Cold, 
 rainy weather in itself would not cause 
 weak colonies. In fact, coloties were 
 seen in June that were weaker than 
 they were in April. 
 After considerable discussioin with 
 beekeepers and Dr. C. L. Farrar, we 
 have come to the conclusion that there 
 are two main reason.s for weak colo- 
 nies: First, there bay be sonie noseota 
 disease present. Nosema is spread by 
 the nosema spores getting into stag- 
 nant pools of water from the feces of 
 bees, or from dead bees. 
 A letter front Mr. Jas. I. Hatobleton 
 of the U. S. Bee Culture Laboratory 
   "Undoubtedly a wide difference exists 
as to the damage done to individual 
colonies in an apiary. Whether or not 
this is a matter of resistance has not 
been tested. It may possibly be ex- 
plained by differences in the behavior 
of colonies. Within the same apiary, 
colonies differ greatly as to the sources 
from which they obtain pollen, nectar 
and water. Watering places are not 
only suspected, but are known to be 
sources of contamination. Colonies side 
by side will at times be working on en- 
tirely different sources of pollen. The 
same is true of nectar; consequently, 
it is not unlikely that there might be 
just enough difference in the stores 
and in the sources of water to account 
for the great variation found in an 
  Colonies were observed in May that 
were very weak. Sometimes there 
were fewer old bees than necessary to 
cover the brood, showing heavy dying 
    Unfortunattly there is now no ktntwn 
 cure, althotlgh Dr. Hatnibleton stated: 
   "There have been a few accounts in 
 the foreign journals of feeding a sus- 
 pension of colloidal sulphur in sugar 
 syrup with good results but the data 
 have betin fragnientare, and we our- 
 selwvs have not tried this nmthod. 
   "With our present tinaticial conldi- 
 titi it is not likely that we could car- 
 ry oin a. Major investigatiot of this 
            Lack of Pollen 
  The lack of pollen mnay le the see- 
  ond cause for weak colonies. Not only 
  was there a lack ,f pollen early it the 
  spring, but at tities due to the cold, 
  rainy weather, bees are unable to get 
  pollet from the fields, and with heavy 
broodrearing they used more than they 
coultd bring in. Cottsequently, three 
weeks after such a period, there was 
a definite decrease in population be- 
cause old bees were dying off faster 
than Young bees were bteittg hatched 
out. There is no question lut that in 
the future we nlust watch the pollen 
question more closel y. Dr. Farrar re- 
ports feeding cakes of soy bean flour 
during May, at a litte when there was 
to pollen in the hives. The bees used 
as tiuch as one lpountl of flour per col- 
D ON'T let the "increase bug" get 
     you. August is really too late to 
ttake any increase it the nunmber of 
our colonies. It is far better to use 
extra queens to replace old and failing 
queens. We have noticed that beekeep- 
ers who make a lot of increase each 
year have many small, weak colonies 
which never produce much honey. 
After all, we keep bees to produce 
honey, not to make increase. 
  This year is a good one to remember 
as an illustration of what happens 
when we winter weak colonies. 
   Fromt what we know of the value 
 of pollen at this titne, it  is  important 
 that we do not retmove any pollen from 
 the brood nest during extracting. 
 tCtmbs Iieavy with pollen found in the 
 extractor should lie placed in a sepa- 
 rate hive lody and should le given 
 back to the bees in the fall. This  will 
 enable theti to raise young hiees during 
 litle winter so that there tie more 
 Young bees for iroodrearimg in the 
   Now is a good time to look for 
 failing queens. Many atniateur beekeep- 
 ers on finding queen cells at this time 
 suspect that the colony is going to 
 swarm  and imnuediately kill such  cells. 
 That tnay le a mistake. If only a few 
 large queen cells are found it is prob- 
 ably atn indication that the colony is 
 superseding a failing queen, which is 
 a very desirable thing for them to do. 
 Supersedure cells may be excellent for 
 requecening another colony with  a 
 queen not too good. Simply kill the old 
 queen and after a few hours give the 
 colony one or two of the cells. 
 The Schaefer tinme savers or Tratie 
 spacers are proving to le very help- 
 fuil in the rush of adding supers, es- 
 pecially where nine-frames are used in 
 a ten-fraine hive body. As soon as one 
 becoties accustomed to using them, it 
 is difficult to get along without them. 
H AVE you ever extracted hon- 
     ey during a damp or rainy 
period, left the honey exposed in 
an open tank and then found that 
the top layer in the tank became 
very   thin   after a   few   days? 
Many beekeepers have had this 
experience. One beekeeper had 
the idea that the heavy honey 
settles to the bottom and the 
thin honey came to the top, but 
Juily-August, 1940 

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