From your newsletter editor

As of May 20, 2018 I’m not too impressed with the nectar harvesting being carried out by my bees.  It looked to be a good year back in March but with April I had my doubts.  Lots of swarm captures and cut-outs and the splits and nucs I’d made did well.  I’ve three hives at the home yard that I use to make splits and nucs and they are also doing well.  But the hives in the two yards in the field just aren’t laying down the additional supers I’d hoped for.  The disparity between new queens and old queens from last fall’s replacements don’t seem to show much difference in nectar returns.  I’m about to retire four of them where the new queens just didn’t take hold or the old queens are failing.  I often pull the old darker brood frames in such hives replace them with new foundation/frames.  I carry out this procedure in the spring and fall months rather than limp through the summer or winter with weaker hives.  It is easier to replace them with younger stronger hives.  This is where I utilize the nucs I’d made earlier in the spring.

One or two other beekeepers in the CENLA Beekeeping Club seem to be experiencing the loss of honey returns in their hives as well.  I hope most of you out there are doing better.  I’d hate to see the dearth of honey returns experienced last fall throughout Louisiana carry over into this spring.

Though the CENLA Beekeeping club created hundreds of oxalic acid towels this last March 14th [see the last newsletter] I chose not to make any for myself and am still using the fumigation method in the spring and summer months.  I’m into the second week of fumigation and will finish up this next week, two weeks before I harvest what little honey I can from the hives in June.

With this letter, I don’t have much to present.  I do have a short follow-up message from the CENLA Beekeeping Club’s March oxalic acid field day and May meeting.  I’d like to recommend that you to return to last year’s BBB’s archival section and review my “A Year in the Life of a Beekeeper, an annual synopsis by the month of what I do throughout the year in my apiaries.”  The section on Internet Sites You Might Find Useful is material that I receive from Keith Hawkins, Nola Decote and/or the Lake Area Beekeeper’s Club’s membership – they are real go-getters and seem to fill the internet waves with lots of great information.  [I usually never make the time to go search out this stuff on my own.  What with fixing lawnmowers, rebuilding hot tubs, building a bee house, and dying of heat stroke I don’t get around much anymore.]  Enjoy.

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May’s Ramblings of a Bee Bumbler, from your President

Spring rains have brought the spring flowers and the flow is on. Summer is fast approaching, and the Tallow flow is next in line. Swarms have been hived. Colonies have been split. Queens have been raised and introduced to their new families. Honey supers are on and some harvesting has begun. There was a good privet and clover bloom but cool nights hurt the daytime nectar flows. The rains have slowed down, temperatures are rising and the work in the apiary goes on. Here’s to a safe and plentiful harvest for all. And if it does not happen, well there is always next year.

The LBA conducted their first spring field day at the Cades Farm just south of Lafayette and was a huge success. Thanks to all those that helped and to ULL for allowing the use of their facility. Thank you, Mark, for your help and support in making it possible. The day was a little stormy, but we continued on as scheduled. We even put on a make-up field day a couple weeks later for those that did not make the first one. Thanks to Jennifer Brown for spearheading this and seeing that everything went as planned. The doughnuts were a hit as well.

The Bee Lab Field Day committee has met and started planning this year’s fall meet. Tentative date is October 27. We are looking for suggestions on topics of interest to our members and ask that you send them to myself or Jennifer Brown. You can email them to me at or, or Jennifer Brown at We look forward to the suggestions as this day is for you to learn more about bees and beekeeping.

The annual LBA convention committee is also hard at work putting together this year’s convention to be held in December. Look for future updates on this and other activities on your web site and Facebook page. Nola Ducote is doing a great job keeping us informed about the latest bee news on our Facebook page. Check us out.

The LBA, in conjunction with the American Honey Producers, state bee keeping organizations, government offices are working on the “Flea Beetle” issue. For those that are not familiar with this insect, it will be imported from China, turned loose in Louisiana, in an effort to stop the spread of the Chinese Tallow Tree. As you all do know, the tallow tree is one of the major honey producers in the south and the removal will affect not only commercial beekeeping operations but small-scale producers as well. We will keep you informed as more news is available. In the meantime, it would not hurt if you let your local, state and federal representatives know how you feel about this issue.

On a final note, remember to register your colonies according to state regulations. Also inform your mosquito control officer about those locations. We need to do everything we can to keep our bees in good health. Chemical spraying too close to your hives can be, will be, devastating. In closing, may your supers be heavy, honey prices rising and your bee’s health. Watch out for the hot summer time, drink plenty of fluids and take breaks when needed. Have a safe summer.

Randy Fair, LBA President

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Internet Sites You Might Find Useful

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Oxalic Acid Field Day and the CENLA Beekeeping Club Q&A

I missed the last club meeting this May but I did hear from some of the members the following:

Question #1:  “How long should we keep the oxalic acid-treated towels in the hive.”

Answer #1:  From my notes of the talk I gave November 2017 at the club and from the information I presented at the March field day, the answer is:  “Within three to four weeks after placement, the bees should have removed most of the towels.  After four weeks, any remaining towels can be removed.

Question #2: “Where should we place the towels?”

Answer #2: One towel per nuc/brood box.  If there are two brood boxes, then place one towel on top of each brood box.

Questions #3 and #4 that should have been asked are, have you sampled for mites prior to and following treatment?  If you haven’t then you really can’t know what the consequences of your treatments are accomplishing!

I’d ask the readers to reference Randy Oliver’s website, for additional information.

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March’s Ramblings of a Bee Bumbler, from your President

Spring has sprung. Flowers are blooming and pollen is coming in by the basket load. Queens are laying, colonies are brooding up and drones are hatching. Swarming season is here and the nectar flow can’t be far behind. ARE YOU READY?

Spring is one of the busiest times of year for the beekeeper. If you haven’t completed your treatments for varroa there is still time before the nectar flow starts. Of course, different parts of the state have different nectar flow starts so knowing your area is important. This is where a mentor really comes in handy. A local beekeeper as a mentor, will know flowering sources, swarm season and when the nectar flow begins.

So, what do I need to be watching out for you may ask? A week of rainy weather can cause the rapidly building colony to run out of stores so checking the colony for stores is first on the list. Know the colony varroa count through sampling is next. There are several treatments available to help with this. Be sure and follow manufacturers recommendations on treatment amounts and exposure times. There are IPM methods to deal with the varroa mites such as breaking the brood cycle through queen manipulations, splitting colonies for increases and introducing new queens. Brood build-up, while advantageous for the nectar flow and honey production, can also lead to overcrowding and swarming. Adding addition brood boxes and/or honey supers can help curb the urge to swarm. Depending on where your colonies are located within the state and nectar sources, the addition of honey supers may also be in order. Some beekeepers place supers on the first day of spring, April 1st or when they see white wax being added to the outside of the frames in the top box. Again, having a mentor, if you are a beginner beekeeper, has its advantages.

Your Board of Directors are busy finalizing plans for this year’s First Annual 2018 Spring Field Day. This event will be by pre-registration only with a limit of 100 students. The event will be held at the Cade’s Farm south of Lafayette. There will be no registrations available at the door. Check out the LBA website for further information.  2018 Annual LBA Convention will be in the Lake Charles area this year the first weekend in December. The LBA, in conjunction with the USDA bee Lab in Baton Rouge, is still in the planning stages with dates to be announced at a later date. The LBA is your organization and the Board is here to serve you. If you have suggestions for us to make the organization better or ways to better serve our members, please feel free to contact us. Also, there are several bee clubs scattered throughout the state. Join your local club and get involved. Help us help our fellow beekeepers be the best stewards of this valuable resource and produce the best honey in the world. Randy Fair,, 1-318-588-2899

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From your newsletter editor

At this writing, it is Tuesday, March 20, 2018, the first day of spring in the U.S.A.  This March is more like the March’s we used to have:  windy days interspersed with scattered thunderstorms and more and more sunny days.  Nights are cool and the days often make it into the 60’s and 70”s.  One of the best times of the year!  Floral sources are popping up everywhere.  The bees have been actively bringing in pollen since mid-February and now they are starting to bring in nectar.  I can’t say that the honey flow is on just yet but if we start getting warmer nights I imagine the flow will kick in.  There are an awful lot of floral sources coming on line.

In my hives the drones have been popping up since early March.  The last three weeks I’ve had queen cell development in a few of my hives so I’ve initiated spits and nuc development.  One of my hives gave me four new queens!  Then I reared an additional 5 from that hive once more!  I need to create several more as I’ve a half dozen orders for nucs and I need to plan on replacing many of my queens sometime in June.  At least two hives will need new queens within the next month as their queens are showing signs of failing.

Last Saturday, March 14, the CENLA Bee Club held a field day where we came together to create about 600+ oxalic acid/glycerin treated blue shop towels.  Please see the article below for my comments regarding what needed improvement and what worked well for us, the recipe used and photos.

With this letter,

  • The CENLA Bee Club’s Oxalic Acid Field Day
  • A letter to the editor – Comments regarding Neonicotinoids
  • Ideas for Beekeeping Meetings – by Keith Hawkins
  • Internet Sites You Might Find Useful
  • Commercial Business Advertisements


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CENLA Bee Club’s Oxalic Acid Field Day

The CENLA Bee Club’s Oxalic Acid Field Day – Held Saturday, March 14

I’d given a talk back in November to the club membership on the various methods used to treat hives with oxalic and formic acids.  From that we programmed a day in March when the membership would get together and make oxalic acid (o.a.) treatment pads using glycerin, o.a. and blue shop towels (one of the methods I’d spoken about).  We began taking orders from the membership and whoever wanted the treated towels at the February meeting and by early March we had orders for something like 600+ towels!

Utilizing videos from You Tube, articles from the internet and Randy Oliver’s website, Scientific, I came up with a menu for creating 80 treated towels at a time.  I’m going to present that menu below but it is important to state a few things we discovered during the carrying out of the program.  Understand that this was a Beta Testing Program in which we knew there would be some rough edges that needed adjustment.  Overall, we came out learning a lot and everyone involved worked well together and had a swell time doing it.

Photos of the Event {All photos provided by Stacy Blomquist}

Lessons Learned

  • It was known that the use of a microwave to heat the glycerin and then again heat the glycerin + o. a. mixture would be the funnel that everything had to go through to make a towel. What we discovered was that it took “way too long” to heat the mixtures where the o.a. mixture would be completely dissolved and become clear (not milky).  For one batch mixture it took nearly 20 minutes in a 1250 watt microwave!  Next time we will use a burner to heat things up more quickly!
  • Decide up front whether you’d like to make full-sized towels or ½ sized towels (towellettes – these are towels cut in half).
  • Have an Action and Safety Plan in place and a good location where to hold the event. Ours was in an open bay of a warehouse with lots of room to work, fresh water and electricity available.
  • Order all your supplies and lay out what will be needed days/if not weeks in advance.
  • When taking orders, decide how much to charge/per towel, collect your monies up front and decide how you will package and distribute the treated towels.
  • Should everyone who orders be obligated to attend the field day?  This last point was a no-brainer in that many who ordered couldn’t/didn’t show.  However, the adage “5-10 % of the people of an organization will do 90-100% of the work”, did not apply at our event!  We have 32 paid members in our club and we had 26 people show up to help out.  Of those, 21 were members and five were visiting from other clubs or were friends/spouses.  Everyone helped and actively participated.  We had a blast!
  • We’d originally planned the event would last two hours but it actually took about 3 hours (see number 1 above).
  • NOTE: it was discovered that our recipe for 80 towels actually made 100!(*See Below)

Here then is the Action Plan and Menu we used:

Action Plan

The layout in the bay

  • Paul will be responsible for setting up some sort of signs directing people to the workshop area.
  • I [Tim] will be bring “everything” but the tables and microwave. These items include a weighing scale, volumetric measurement devices, jars, trays, cleaning rags, blue shop towels, glycerin, oxalic acid, stirring rods, 9 ml. Vinyl gloves (box of 50), 5-gallon buckets, tape, plastic to cover the tables, rolls of shop towels cut in half
  • Those responsible for setting up and laying out the tables and materials should show up an hour early. In other words, by 9 a.m.  [These people are the CENLA Board and Tim].
  • Any additional monies to be collected need to be done before the program starts. [Stacy]
  • We should probably start the Oxalic Acid part of the program exactly at 10 a.m. as planned. Late-comers can be filled in whenever during the two hours planned for the program.  The M-C welcoming everyone to the site will/should be    He will be the one to get the ball rolling, not only for the tours but the o.a. portion of the program.
  • There will be an easel describing the recipe to make the treated towels. The procedure for making the towels will be gone over with the attendees prior to their beginning work.  The layout setup will be shown everyone at this time. [Tim]
  • A SAFETY TALK will be necessary before beginning. [Paul and Tim].
    • Each attendee should have been instructed via a group emailing/Facebook announcement that they should/could bring their own safety glasses and work bib – [Stacey to take care of this.]
  • There will be two rows of tables; each row will be comprised of one 8 foot table. These will be covered with plastic (the plastic will be taped below the tables).
  • At an end of each table will be a 2 gallon plastic bucket, several green trays (~4), a paint stirring stick, rags for wiping up (located in a plastic 5-gallon bucket marked “clean rags” a 5-gallon bucket marked “dirty rags” both of which will be on the floor), plastic bags for packaging the completed towellettes and at one table a box of black 9 ml. gloves – to be shared as needed between the tables.
  • Following the program, all the gloves, mixing ware, trays, table top coverings, stirring rods, rags, buckets, weight scale, measuring devices, etc. are to be gathered up (DON”T THROW ANYTHING AWAY – it can all be used again!).

I’m sure there is a lot more we need to do/talk about but this is a beginning.  Your input here before the weeks is out and we are at the hatchery will be welcome.  Take note of your duties and what might need to be done.  Each of us must not take over doing all the “hands on”.  Leave that to the members.  I for one will be more than happy to watch.  Thanks, Tim.


This method of application can be used to apply oxalic acid (o.a.) via absorbent materials repetitively as needed throughout the year.

For making one treated towel ( a towellette is a full-sized towel cut in half)

Materials needed:  blue shop towels, food grade glycerin, o.a., and scale,

protective gloves, zip lock plastic bags and containers for mixing and measuring.

Steps (for creating one application of one towellette):

  1. Measure 25 ml (~31 grams) of glycerin
  2. Microwave the glycerin for 10-15 seconds (keep under 160 degrees Fahrenheit)
  3. Measure 25 grams o.a.
  4. Mix o.a. into glycerin and stir for 2 minutes or until well-mixed.
  5. Reheat mixture for 10 additional seconds (keep under 160 oF). Stir until dissolved.
  6. Place one towel in tray with mixture and stir until saturated.
  7. Squeeze excess solution from towel then weighing, make sure it weighs 31 grams.
  8. Store in zip lock bag in refrigerator until applied in hive on top bars of single brood box or between brood boxes if two are present.
    1. Bees will take 4-6 weeks to remove it – more than enough time to overlap the varroa mite’s life cycle and bring their population titer levels to < 5%. Reapplications can be carried out as needed throughout the seasons.

Recipe for making 583 treated shop towelsx x (1,166 towellettes)


  • A roll of blue shop towels has 55 full-sized towels. Three rolls have (3 x 55 = 165 towels).  Cutting a package of 3 rolls in half will produce 330 towellettes.  Two packages of three rolls each of towels will provide 330 towels or 660 towellettes.
  • We have an order in for 600 towels so 11 rolls will be needed: (600/55 = 10.9 rolls).  A hive can be treated using one towel placed on the top bars of the second brood box or by placing one towellette on the top bars of each of the two brood boxes.  I have cut 6 rolls in half and left another 8 rolls intact.  These can be cut in half on site if desired.  We can discuss with the membership at the get-together.
  • Glycerin
    • 25 ml. per towel = 0.0066 gal. = 0.1 cup
    • One gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 16 cups = 4,000 milliliters
    • ¼ gallon = 1 quart = 2 pints = 4 cups = 1,000 milliliters
    • (1,000ml / 25 ml) = 40
    • Therefore, 1/4 gallon will treat 40 towels (80 towellettes)
  • Oxalic acid
  • 25 grams per towel = 0.06 lb. or 0.9 oz. by weight
  • (40 towels x 0.06 lb.) = 2.4 lbs. of o.a.
  • Mixing 1/2 gallon of glycerin with 4.8 lbs. o.a. will treat 80 towels*[See Above Note – Item #8] (160 towellettes).
  • The CENLA Beekeeping Club has an order in for 600 towels (treatments)
    • We have 35 lbs. of o.a. and 5 gallons of glycerin.
    • Thirty-five lbs. o.a. will provide for 583 treated towelsx x. Five gallons glycerin will provide for 640 treated towels.


  • Because we will be using a microwave with limited space within it to heat the glycerin, we will only heat 2 gallon (8 cups or 2,000 ml of glycerin) at a time. This will allow for the treatment of 80 towels.


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A Letter to the Editor

“After being questioned by a beekeeper who apparently likes to keep a colorful pristine yard, The BBB needs to mention briefly about not purchasing neonics treated plants as precautionary and why. I know a wholesale nursery that voluntarily switched over because of the detrimental effects on pollinators. There is some research to back if necessary.”

Neonics refers to neonicotinoids which are a type of pesticide used to treat various plants to protect them from insects that might feed on them. For more detailed information on these pesticides I refer the reader to Wikipedia (  In a nutshell, Wikipedia states:

Neonicotinoids (sometimes shortened to neonics /ˈniːoʊnɪks/) are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. In the 1980s Shell and in the 1990s Bayer started work on their development.[1] The neonicotinoid family includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Imidacloprid is the most widely used insecticide in the world.[2] Compared to organophosphate and carbamate insecticides, neonicotinoids cause less toxicity in birds and mammals than insects. Some breakdown products are also toxic to insects.[3]

In the late 1990s neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impact.[4] Neonicotinoid use was linked in a range of studies to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) and loss of birds due to a reduction in insect populations; however, the findings have been controversial.[5] In 2013, the European Union and a few non EU countries restricted the use of certain neonicotinoids.[6][7][8]

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Ideas for Beekeeping Meetings

Ideas for Beekeeping Meetings – by Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter Extension Agent

One of the challenges of preparing for the monthly meetings of the SW Louisiana Beekeepers is presenting fresh, timely, relevant topics. SWLA Beeks has an advisory group to help with ideas for these meeting. This group has a mix of experienced and beginning beekeepers. After seven years of bee meetings, SWLA Beeks has covered these topics and wants to share these ideas with fellow beeks in Louisiana:

  • A Primer on Beekeeping and the Law, Mr. Erik Fain, Attorney & Beekeeper
  • A Year in the Life of a Beekeeper, Tim Haley, Cenla Beekeepers
  • Africanized Bees, Dr. Dennis Ring, LSU AgCenter
  • Apitherapy and Medicinal Benefits of Honey, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Australian Flow hive, Mr. Harvey Kieffer, Lake Area Beekeepers
  • Basic Beehive Set-up, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beekeepers
  • Bee Biology, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks & Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Bee Botany, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Bee Box Set-up: Langstroth & Top Bar Hive
  • Beehive Maintenance, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Beekeeping 101, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Beekeeping as a Sideline Business, Dr. Steve Payne, LBA
  • Beekeeping Basics, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Beekeeping Equipment, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Bee yard Field Trip, Hebert Honey Farm
  • Brood Box Management, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Building a Swarm Trap, David & Kenny McReynolds, SW LA Beekeepers
  • Club wide Equipment Order
  • Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
  • Common Mistakes of a Beginning Beekeeper & How to Avoid Them, Mr. James Laughlin, East Texas Beekeepers
  • Communications between Farmers & Beekeepers, LSU AgCenter slideshow
  • Construction of Top bar Hives
  • Fall Maintenance, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Feeding the Bees, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Gardening for Pollinators, Dr. Allen Owens LSU AgCenter
  • Getting Started in Beekeeping, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks & Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Handy Resources and References for Beeks, Keith Hawkins LSU AgCenter
  • Hive & Accessories for Beginners, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks & Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Hive Inspection, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Hive Pests, Dr. Dennis Ring, LSU AgCenter
  • Hive Products and Packaging, Paula Hebert, Hebert Honey Farm
  • Honey & Biscuits, Annual Honey Extraction at Hebert Honey Farm
  • Honey Bee Squares Game, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Honey Grading & Nutrition, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Horizontal Langstroth Hive, David & Kenny McReynolds, SW LA Beekeepers
  • How to Have a Safe Bee yard Visit, Dr. Dora Hatch, LSU AgCenter
  • How to Order Package Bees, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Income Taxes, Mr. Leonard Wilfert, CPA & Beekeeper
  • Inspection & Preparation for the Nectar Flow, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Louisiana Beekeeping Association, Mr. Jimmy Dunkley, LBA
  • Louisiana Honey Plants, LSU AgCenter Slideshow
  • Louisiana Pollinator Cooperative Conservation Program, Mr. Randy Fair, LBA
  • Louisiana State Rules & Regulations, Mr. Allen Fabre, State Apiarist, LDAF
  • Master Beekeeper Program, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Planning for Honey Bee Nuisance Calls & Emergencies, LSU AgCenter Slideshow
  • Processing Honey & Wax, Richard Paula Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Queen Night: Raising Queens & Requeening, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Raising Queen Bees, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Removing Bees from Walls and Structures
  • Splits and Swarming, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Splitting Hives, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Supering, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • Swarming and Capture, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks
  • The New Flow hive: Fad or For Real? Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Why Bees Abscond & How to Prevent Absconding, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks & Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Why Pollinators Matter, Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter
  • Winterizing, Richard Hebert, SW LA Beeks

If this article helped with your bee meetings, please contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006 or . Also, feel free to share your ideas with Keith.

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Internet Sites You Might Find Useful

A different Dimension of Loss – the great insect die-off.  A article worth reading.

7 Plants to Help Honey Production – Blains Farm and Fleet Website Article:

The seven plants are:  Sunflowers, Goldenrod, Cosmos, Coriander, Mint, Lavender and Coneflowers.  For more information regarding honeybees at their site, follow these links:

For more beekeeping tips, you can visit the beekeeping section of our blog.

Posted in: Beekeeping, Gardening Tagged: Beekeeping, Bees, Flower Gardening,

Gardening, Honey, Planting Flowers, Plants and Flowers

A new publication on How the Urban Heat Island Effect and Flowers Affect Wild Bee Communities provided by Steven Frank” (; Associate Professor, North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology ( has some great articles such at the one below.  In addition, check out additional article located on the right side of the page.

Honey Bee Viral Prevalence Map


From the Lake Area Beekeepers, here are links to various articles/publications:


(1)  For those that find it too hard to handle heavy brood or honey supers. Something to consider.
The Valhalla hive: long, low, and sleek – Honey Bee Suite
Bee Friendly: 10 Ways to Bee Friendly

(2)  Check out this short video about helping all bees.

  • A good article on “overwintering success”:

The ultimate guide to overwintering success – Honey Bee Suite


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