Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DID YOU KNOW, BEES GET SICK TOO

It has been a while since I talked about my bees so I thought I'd share something new about my awesome girls.

MITES.

Honeybees get mites. The actual term is Varroa Mites.

What are they?

They are itty bitty insects that attach to and weaken honeybees by sucking hemolymph from their bodies, which serves as both blood and intestinal fluid. Once the honeybee has been weakened they become susceptible to certain viruses.

Varroa are destructive and can destroy an entire hive. If infestation is caught early the hive can be saved. Treatments vary depending on the preference of the beekeeper. Some treatments are more effective than others.

We were told in class that ALL bee hives get varroa mites and research has shown that some types of honeybee are better at protecting themselves from infestation than others. Example: Africanized bees tend to protect themselves better than Italian bees. MN Hygienic bees have been raised to defend themselves better against certain illnesses, diseases, etc... including mites.

The key to controlling the mite population is #1 testing your hives mite count and #2 checking for hygienic behavior

(there are other ways to check for mites)

If you know how many bees were in your sample, you can
estimate the number of mites per 100 bees. If there is
brood in the colony when you sample, you should double
this number to factor in the amount of mites in worker
brood. For example, if there are 5 mites / 100 bees, the
total infestation is probably 10 mites/100 bees. If your
colony has over 10-12 mites/100 bees, you should consider treatment. ~University of Minnesota


So... that is the mini scoop on varroa mite.

I have not treated my bees for mites and yes, I may live to regret it. My first year keeping bees I decided to see how well they'd do "naturally" over the winter. They survived and flourished. I have a new hive that I did not treat but I believe it won't do quite as well. Ya see, we were told something in class that makes me worry. Marla Spivak said "if you can see mites with the naked eye then you have a serious problem." Well, I scraped some brood from between hive bodies and this is what I found:



Now, I know not treating the bees probably isn't the best choice I've made as a beekeeper but I have two issues with treatment. #1 is I would only use a natural treatment like Thymol but the problem has been getting the thymol and the weather (beekeepers will know what I mean about the weather). #2 I've wanted to see how well my bees do (or how long they live) without treatment. Is that wrong? I've read where other beeks have had hives survive years without treatment and I'm hoping mine do the same. Although the 2nd hive being so obviously infested has me worried.

The only option now would be a treatment I'm not comfortable with so I'll wait out another winter and see how they do.

SOAP SWAP REPORT

I received the most awesome bars of soap and a bag of natural laundry soap in the latest swap. There was no theme, just a deadline. We swapped out on Sept. 1st. After years of smelling EO's and FO's I must say that this latest swap was full of the most fabulous scents EVER! Thank you ladies for your friendship and continuing to share your creativity year to year :) I can't wait to use everything!!



THANK YOU AMBER

THANK YOU NATALIE

THANK YOU CARRIE

THANK YOU HEIDI

THANK YOU DENISE

Sunday, October 9, 2011

ELY LIVING ON HOLD... INDEFINITELY

I spent my entire life dreaming about a life in the country. We finally found the ideal location for us in the north woods of Minnesota. Bears, wolves, moose, small town, friendly people, beautiful scenery. We couldn't ask for a better spot, or so it seemed.

Turns out all that driving north to house hunt and countless hours on the internet sifting through properties was in vain. Ya see, Ely has a little secret. Well, Minnesota has a secret. Home & land owners own their "surface" property but not the minerals underneath, which is all fine and dandy if you live in the twin cities like we do. There isn't a real chance in hell that miners will come through here looking for iron or taconite but drive a few hours north and you have a real problem. Why? Because Ely and the surrounding areas like Grand Marais, Isabella, etc... are prime spots for mining. Northern MN is known for its mining. In fact, Minnesota has a long mining history dating back to the 1800's and since nickel, copper and platinum have become hot commodities the mining companies want to move back in. Problem is, Ely is no longer a mining town. Ely is a tourist town. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, known for its pristine forests and abundant wildlife draw in countless tourists every year and Ely sits right at the edge of the BWCA.

So... back to the mining issue. Although the state of Minnesota owns the right to the minerals much of the land with valuable minerals beneath is privately owned and most of those land owners had no clue that the minerals didn't belong to them. This would be a non-issue if it weren't for miners sniffing in the area.

The DNR, mining supporters (whoever those crazy people are) and state law claim mineral exploration leases are going to create a boom in our slagging economy. (I'll skip the part where I'm tired of our government (local and beyond) claiming that all these political decisions like removing protections of our water, air and land are necessary to create jobs).

The law in Minnesota states: Companies that explore for minerals on private property are required to negotiate with the landowner, and put the property back to its original condition. But if they cannot agree on access, the company can legally condemn the land.

According to Rebecca Otto, our state auditor, none of the residents should worry. There is a very SLIM chance that valuable minerals would be found on their property.

Well, as far as my husband and I are concerned, and it seems the many residents up north feel the same, a slim chance is just one chance too many. Our governor has delayed the mining leases for six months to give the property owners time to appeal to our state legislature which the odds are not stacked in favor of the owners. So for now, we are holding off until something equally as awesome presents itself. *sigh.

I FEEL LIKE I AM LIVING IN CHINA. READ THIS ARTICLE TO LEARN MORE

UPDATE: I checked my deed and I own the mineral rights on my current property. People who live in the twin cities and the communities surrounding the twin cities either own their mineral rights or partially own. Seems this is solely a Northern Minnesota issue afterall. Is it time to country home hunt in Central or Southern MN?