The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861

The Classroom

The Classroom – December 2017

- December 1, 2017 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)

ABJ The Classroom
Q Ventilation

I’ve made a Lang hive ventilator.  I stapled a plastic queen excluder to prevent the hardware cloth from sagging. I then put a layer of thin burlap, then shavings. The frame has holes drilled with screen on them.  I’m having a tough decision on one thing. Do I put my ventilator on top of the inner cover, or should I put it directly on the frames. I’ve always struggled with this choice. What do you suggest?

Thank you


First, in true Jerry fashion. Why this device? Why do you want to trap moisture in burlap and shavings inside the beehive?

Why not just prop up one corner of your lid with a pencil diameter size stick laid on its side to create a small ¼ inch vent opening? Creates a small opening so the chimney like effect of our vertical Langstroth hive hardware can move warm moist air up and out. Warm moist air is removed, keeps mold and fungus from growing in a warm humid environment and can’t freeze because it isn’t there. And when ambient (outside) temp goes up the frozen water that might be on the underside of the lid without upper ventilation can’t melt and rain on colony.

If you really think you want to use the device I would put it on top of frames.

Mark’s Comment

OK, I understand your comment. That makes a lot of sense. But what about wasps and robbers. If I put a stick under the lid, they can fly in and get into the inner cover hole?

Thank you for the discussion



If your colony is so weak it can’t defend itself and a relatively tiny entrance you have created on one corner of the hive lid against robber honey bees or other insects then you need to condense the colony into 1 box so there is 1 bee on every inch of comb. Then determine why they were so weak that you had to do this management.

I am assuming you treated for Varroa back in August. Just about every bad thing with honey bee health in 2017 cascades down from high levels of Varroa parasitism.

Q Honey Bee Sample Analysis

Hi, we bought two packages of bees this year (we had bought nucs in years past and wanted to try something different this time). They were doing great, we got them in April, but all of a sudden about a month ago we started to have dead bees in the front of the hive. We don’t have a Varroa problem, as a matter of fact we have very few, and we don’t see anything wrong externally. We are trying to find a lab to have them analyzed but we don’t seem able to find one. We are in southern California. The problem is getting worse and the pile of and the pile of dying bees is getting larger. Help! What could it bee?

Thank you.
Sofia Okolowicz


Hello Sofia,

I would cut to the chase and contact your ‘Great’ Apiculture Research and Extension representative, Dr. Elina Niño, She can suggest and advise on how to handle this in California to get the answer you need.

Q Stored Honey in Frame

In the fall of 2016 I applied ApiGuard to my hives after I had pulled the honey I planned to extract. Last year was my best year after six years of working with bees. Over the winter they died out even though they had a lot of honey and appeared to be healthy.

I had 14 frames of capped honey left in these hives. I have kept them in plastic tubs in the basement where it is cool since February and now I need to decide what to do with the honey.

Is it OK to extract and use for humans??? If not then I’ll use it to feed future hive start ups.

Jim Marshall


Jim you certainly can extract them and use the use the honey to feed bees for sure. After the months and months of it sitting around the active ingredient, which is simply the essential oil thymol possibly has become less of a flavoring.

If you take a look at the Vita website and ApiGuard FAQ’s, Sept 2017, #7 specifically, the last sentence says, “Honey collected during ApiGuard treatment can be fed back to the bees”. I did not see any restrictions on feeding honey to bees or humans in 2014 EPA registration but let’s just stay with feeding it back to bees.

Some honeys will …