Monday, February 22, 2010
Bee Log #13: February 22, 2010
We lost 40% of our beehives to CCD (colony collapse disorder). We are trying to think what that would mean if we were chicken farmers. Nearly half of our chickens would die. If we were ranchers, 40 of 100 cows would die. When you start the winter with 5 live bee hives (had a swarm in July) and loose two that does not seem like too many but if you think in terms of scale, it is a lot.
One of our conclusions is that we need to treat bee maladies more aggressively. I don't mean going after every chemical on the market. We are trying to use herbal remedies that have scientific backing. Thymol is an extract from the thyme herb. We had a dose for solid crystals but were not able to find them so we purchased thymol as an essential oil steam distilled from the herb. The literature described dissolving thymol in rubbing alcohol but that is either isopropol alcohol which is a poison to humans or ethanol which has been denatured with something nasty to humans. We purchased a small amount of vodka to use as a solvent. It did not work as well as hoped. There was still an oily film on top of the vodka and then on top of the sugar syrup. We will try to remove the feeders before the bees take all of the sugar syrup so that the bees don't get a concentrated last sip of essential oil. (I used 1 ml ((scant 1/4 teaspoon)) in 1 oz vodka to put in 3 quarts 1:1 sugar syrup)
I think it might work better to put the thymol in grease patties either with or without the wintergreen oil. The essential oils should easily dissolve in the Crisco. I will repeat the recipe that I used last fall with wintergreen oil only.
Grease patties: wintergreen oil (1 tbsp) Crisco (2 cups), white sugar (3 cups), honey (1 cup) and mineral salts ground fine (3 tbsp). I mixed this together and put an ice cream scoop full on top of the top frames in the brood box.