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Monday, July 27, 2009

Yet Another New Queen at Blue Heron and Powdered Sugar Shake

When I was last at Blue Heron, our third hive, the one the supplier gave us to replace the queenless nuc we got from him, didn't look good. The hive was not bustling with activity or bees and the numbers seemed small.

I was disappointed to find that the bees I saw on the tops of the frames had many shriveled and deformed wings, indicative of Deformed Wing Virus vectored by the varroa mite. I decided that I would return this week to do a powdered sugar shake.

Before shaking the powdered sugar, I pulled each frame to see how things are going in this weak hive. On the second frame I saw this opened queen cell. This is at least the third queen for this hive. Their first one failed and I don't think the second one was doing anything. Now they apparently have created yet another queen. Hopefully she'll be a good one.

I found two frames full of eggs and brood which was reassuring. The hive had good honey stores in the deep in which they live. The box above was completely empty and I removed it to give them more security (less space to defend).

The powdered sugar shake was quite an event. Here are the bees, covered with sugar clinging to the frame.

Here's how the whole box looked!

I took off the inner cover and put it on the ground and I removed the top box before doing this. When I lifted up the inner cover to set it back on the hive, the bees who had not experienced the powdered sugar shake surrounded one of their sisters to see what was going on with her and all this white powder!
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  1. Anonymous11:00 AM

    Linda: How did they like the sugar shake? I've never done it but plan to do it just to be sure to nip any mites in the bud. I've read they're not too crazy about it. How did they react?

  2. That's a hard question to answer - they don't rise up in revolt when I do it, but then their little bodies are all covered (including their eyes) with powdered sugar. I do find that a number of bees fly out of the hive covered with sugar, but then I think they would anyway during an inspection - I just notice them more covered with sugar!

  3. Anonymous11:29 PM

    Linda: I did a sugar shake today. I may have picked a really bad day to do it though. After putting in a new screened bottom board, having to put the frames in a new deep, accidentally BANGING the old deep against the hive (it wasn't pretty) - I figured 'what the heck' and did the sugar shake anyway. It was amazing to see hundreds of little white bee ghosts flying all around and on the hive. I detailed the event on my blog, but I just wanted you to know that I followed your lead and shook the sugar! Mark

  4. When I took an IPM course earlier this year we did a sugar shake. I didn't like it. I could tell the bees were in real distress having trouble breathing but I believe the problem was they were too covered in sugar so the issue may have been that too much sugar was put on the bees. We were taught to do it with a frame shake into a container and then to scoop 1/4 cup (150 bees) into a screened jar that the sugar is pushed through. Then the jar is shaken and the bees poured onto a paper towel where a mite count can be done. By measuring the bees it's supposed to be easier to get an idea of the level of infestation.


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