The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom April 2016

- April 1, 2016 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)


I need some input on from you. The magazine is assembled two months in advanced so there is a delay at times with some things like this that happened in January.

We had some official winter weather in my area in January. The forecast for the evening of Jan. 17th and the morning of the 18th was a low of 5 F and a wind chill of -10. I had some smaller weaker colonies and took a loop around the apiary on the afternoon of the 17th as a concerned parent. It was as cold as advertised on the morning of the 18th. I stayed inside because it didn’t make any difference at that point. That afternoon temperature warmed (right) to 18 F. So I went out and saw something I have never ever seen before. Take a look at photo. Those are dead small hive beetles (SHB) on the landing board of just one of my colonies. They couldn’t have been caught and brought there and left by the bees because the bees had been clustered for days. And even if they had, the bees wouldn’t have just left them at the entrance and gone back inside. So that is out. If the small hive beetles were caught in the cold as the cluster contracted and were exposed and died in the hive, they would have died in place in a cell or fallen to the bottom where I certainly wouldn’t have seen them. It looks like they tried to escape and only made it so far before they froze to death. Darwin in action. But, I am making most of this up. I don’t know, what you think?


Classroom Question Titled: “Are farmers to blame for lack of bee forage?”

I clapped when I read your response. I am a beekeeper and a farmer so I experience finger pointing from well-meaning yet extremely uneducated people/groups. Agriculture often gets vilified with no thought as to how we can continue to feed the world’s growing population as agriculture lands disappear at an alarming rate due to urban sprawl. ‎I always find it funny that it never occurs to some urbanites that they could be living in a town/city that was built upon a former bee foraging oasis. But now I’m finger pointing, so I digress.

Farmers take care of the soil that takes care of them and being a good steward of the land and environment is always of the utmost importance. Thank you for politely and succinctly asking her what she (urbanites) can do instead of passing the buck.  Your answer absolutely warmed my heart and I will use it to stay classy.

Thank you,



Hi Jerry,

I know when making splits it is advised to place the new split in another bee yard a good 2 miles or so away from the original colony to prevent the bees from just going back to the hive they came from. What if you don’t have that luxury of another place to move them? Can you make a split in the same bee yard? If so, any tips and tricks as to how?

Thank you,



There are a couple of things to consider in making splits in one location. These are based on the reality (not the assumption) that the original colony that the split is made from is healthy and that the original queen is active and laying well and there are a lot of food reserves, no disease issues and Varroa is below 3 mites per 100 bees. You want the split to be able to stabilize and grow quickly and not be …