Message from Jim Sack,
Nebraska Beekeepers Association President,
Regarding March and April Association Meetings
The next meeting of the Nebraska Beekeepers Association will be Saturday, March 13, at 10:00 AM, in the Gretna Public Library. Our
organization is in need of a person to publish the monthly Newsletter. Our previous editor will gladly share insights on the effort
required. Please consider if you are willing to help the organization in this manner. It takes a lot of volunteers to create a
vibrant organization, and communication of upcoming events is vital. It would be great if a newsletter editor could be named at the March
Our April meeting will not take place at the Gretna Library, but at the Apiculture Lab in Mead, Nebraska. The meeting will not be on
the second Saturday of the month, but on the first Saturday, April 3, from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. There will be a potluck lunch, so bring
a dish to share! We will meet and work with the new beekeepers from the Beginning Beekeeping Classes
(http://entomology.unl.edu/beekpg/workshop_sched2004.htm) taught on
February 21 in Kearney and March 22-23 in Lincoln. They will be eager to learn how to examine a colony, assemble their equipment, and
they will have many questions. Don't miss this opportunity to share a meal, make new beekeeping friends, and to share your expertise.
You can still register for the Lincoln class by contacting Dr. Barbara Ogg, Lancaster County Cooperative Extension office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
There should be some enthusiastic new beekeepers at the lab on April 3rd. Come on out and talk with them; be ready to share all that
knowledge you've picked up by working with your own colonies. See you in Gretna on 13 March and at the Mead Lab on 3 April!
Tuesday, March 9 was the first day that bees collected pollen in downtown Lincoln. It was a pale yellow pollen and came from
silver maple trees. Now is a good time to watch dancing bees and try to locate where they are foraging based on the dance
instructions. There is not a lot of competing bloom, and it is easy to find where the bees are foraging. The dance arena is
usually close to the entrance. Dances you can observe include:
|Maple bloom in March
(Click for larger view.)
The DVAV Dance or Dorsal-Ventral Abdominal
This dance is used to recruit more bees to forage when foraging conditions are favorable. It consists of a bee placing its
legs on the dorsum of another bee and vibrating its wing muscles to shake the recruit.
The Tremble Dance
This dance is used to recruit more nectar receivers. The tremble dance is performed by a bee walking throughout the brood
nest shaking her body in a twitching manner with her front legs held aloft. Bees that collect nectar or water do not deposit it
in the hive. Rather, they transfer it to a receiver bee who stores it. Bees that are unloaded quickly continue to forage on the
same resource. Bees that require a long time to find a receiver willing to take their load go to the dance arena for new instructions.
Receivers unload the most desirable loads first. This process allows the colony to focus its foragers on the most profitable
The Round Dance
This dance is performed to indicate a resource that is within ten meters of the colony. The dancer dances is a circle,
then reverses herself in a circle in the opposite direction. The dancer repeats this process for several cycles. She will stop
periodically to give attending bees a taste of what she has found. Attending bees also sense the scent of the resource on the
dancer's body. The round dance directs nest mates to leave the hive and fly in increasingly large concentric circles until
they locate the scent found on the dancer's body. This is the same search pattern that many other insects use to
The Waggle Dance
The waggle dance is the dance for which honey bees are well known. It is a symbolic dance in which the position of a celestial
object (the sun) and the gravitational field are represented symbolically. It was discovered by an Austrian Zoologist named
Karl Von Frisch in 1944. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1973. It is used to communicate the location of
resources that are more than 100 meters from the hive.
If you want to learn to interpret the waggle dance, a great place to start is by reading The Dancing Bees
by Karl Von Frisch. You will also need a few supplies including a compass, a stopwatch, a 360° protractor, a good map,
and an azimuth table for your location. A compass and stopwatch can be obtained from most local outfitters. An azimuth table
for your location can be printed from the WWW at http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/AltAz.html.
Protractors are available from art supply dealers.
In the waggle dance, dancers make a straight run during which they vibrate their bodies rapidly. They then complete a half circle
loop and repeat the waggle run portion of the dance. They then complete a half circle loop in the opposite direction. Dancers
will complete many cycles of the dance. They will stop periodically to give attending bees a taste of the resource. Attending bees also
touch the dancer with their antennae to pick up any scent associated with the food.
In the waggle dance, the gravitational field symbolically represents the position (azimuth) of the sun. If the waggle run is
straight up (towards the gravitational field, it indicates that foragers should fly towards the sun's azimuth. If the waggle run is
straight down, attendees are instructed to fly 180° from the sun's azimuth. If the waggle run points 45° to the right of vertical,
attendees are instructed to fly in a path 45° to the right of the sun's azimuth.
The distance of the resource is indicated by the length of time it takes to complete the waggle run portion of the dance. If it
takes one second, the resource is 0.4 miles from the hive. If the waggle run last two seconds, the resource is 1.2 miles away, and if
the waggle run lasts for three seconds, the resource is two miles from the colony. There is a linear relationship between distance
from the hive and how long the waggle run portion of the dance lasts.
Now you are ready to watch a dancer in an observation hive. Use an erasable marker to trace the pattern of the waggle dancer on
the glass walls of the hive. Have an assistant take five measures of how long the waggle run lasts. Average the five time measurements
to calculate distance. Then use your protractor to measure the angle of the dance.
Now take your azimuth table and determine the sun's azimuth for the time of day you made your observation. Mark your observation
hive's location on the map, and then use your protractor to make a line from your hive to the edge of the map that represents
the sun's azimuth. Then center your protractor on the hive's location and place the zero setting along the azimuth line. You are now
ready to plot the angle you recorded for your dancer. For example, if the azimuth line is at 45°, and your dancer danced at a 30° angle to
the right of vertical, your resource line would be 75° to the right of vertical. You can now plot the resource location along the
azimuth line using a ruler calibrated to the map (most maps include a ruler that is calibrated to the scale of the map).
Now the fun begins! Take your map and go find the resource your dancing bee was reporting. It helps if your dancer is bearing a
pollen load. You can then match the color of the forager's load to the color of the pollen of the resource you have located. You can
have even more fun by catching a few foragers and marking them with white-out to see if you can find them back at the observation hive.
This observation will work best if there are no other hives nearby that may have foragers at the same site.
There is no more fascinating aspect of bee behavior, and you will gain great satisfaction by learning to interpret the waggle dance.
|Azimuth Table for Lincoln, Nebraska
for Use in Interpreting Waggle Dances
Altitude and Azimuth of the Sun
March 13, 2004, Lincoln, Nebraska, CST
|H:M||Altitude||Azimuth (E of N)
|19:30||-11.8||277.1||Graph for Estimating Distance
in the Waggle Dance
|360° Protractor for
Interpreting Waggle Dances
Options for Chemical Control of Varroa for 2004
The Varroa mite seems to pose a never ending challenge to beekeepers, however several new
strategies have become available, and some old ones are beginning to fail. The most widely used strategy
is chemical control. In 1999, widespread resistance to Apistan was found in Nebraska. Apiaries and
resistance continues to limit the usefulness of Apistan. In 2002, resistance to Checkmite+ was
found in Maine and Florida. To date, Checkmite+ resistance has not been found in Nebraska, but the
occurrence in other regions suggest that, like Apistan, it may have a limited useful life.
Currently, any beekeeper can buy Apistan. Checkmite+ is only available in states that have a Section 18 or
emergency use label. While Nebraska has a Section 18 label for Checkmite+, the label has to be renewed each year.
The 2002 label expired February 15, 2004, and it will be March 15, 2004 before the EPA approves a new label for
the current year. This timing protocol works for chemicals used in field crops, but it is awkward for beekeepers.
To avoid problems in purchasing a product registered for emergency use (such as Checkmite+), order what you need
before February 15 or after March 15.
Two new chemical control products are available in 2004 that are safe to handle and pose
little risk of leaving harmful residues in honey or beeswax. Sucrocide is a sugar ester that is diluted
with water and sprayed over frames containing bees. To effectively use the product, you must remove the
frames and spray the bees on each side. The product is most effective when brood is not present. If brood
is present, the manufacturer recommends three applications at seven day intervals. Application is
labor intensive, but treatments can be applied at any time, including during a honey flow. The product
works by suffocating mites by entering their breathing tubes and by dissolving the waxy coating
of their exoskeleton. The product costs $19.95 per pint, and one pint is enough to treat 87 colonies one
The other new chemical control product is Api Life Var. Api Life Var consists of vermiculite
wafers saturated in a mixture of thymol, eucalyptol, camphor, and menthol. It is a fumigant, and best
results will be obtained when temperatures are in the 59° - 69° F. range. The product should not be used
when temperatures exceed 90° F. In addition, Api Life Var must be withdrawn 30 days prior to adding
surplus honey supers. Like Checkmite+, Api Life Var is available under a Section 18 label and will not be
available for purchase until after March 15.
The Nebraska Beekeepers Association, and Association President, Jim Sack, worked hard to make
Checkmite+ and Api Life Var available to Nebraska beekeepers. Neither product can be purchased in many
states. A strong association serves all beekeepers well. I hope you will do your part to keep the Nebraska
Beekeepers Association a strong and vibrant voice for beekeepers.
Value-Added Workshop on June 18-19, UNL ARDC, Mead, NE
A Value-Added Products Workshop will be offered in Mead, Nebraska at the Agricultural Research and Development Center
Headquarters building on June 18-19, 2004. The workshop will focus on three hive products that command premium prices ----
creamed honey, comb honey, and mead. The program will include detailed presentations on all aspects of preparing and
marketing high quality products.
The program will include both classroom and hands-on demonstrations. You will learn how to use the
Killion method for producing premium comb honey and how to combine the Killion method with powdered
sugar dusting to control Varroa mites. You will also learn how to use the shook swarming
strategy for producing comb honey and a variety of other management techniques used by
successful comb honey producers.
Creamed honey presentations will include how to prepare and use starter,
how to obtain a uniform set, strategies for controlling temperature,
adding fruit flavor and color to creamed honey, labeling requirements,
and marketing strategies.
Mead production presentations will include equipment needed, fermentation techniques,
bottling equipment, aging, labeling and marketing. Participants will be treated to a mead
tasting mixer at the end of the first day.
Registration is limited to 100
individuals, so be sure to register early if you want to participate in this workshop.
Bee Tidings is published jointly by University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension
and the Nebraska Beekeepers Association four times a year. Your membership in the Nebraska Beekeepers
Association for $12 per year includes a subscription to Bee Tidings.
|This newsletter was respectfully written by:
Marion D. Ellis
209 Plant Industry, Box 830816
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE 68583-0816
|Your comments and suggestions about
the newsletter are always welcome!
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|University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension educational programs abide with the non-discrimination policies of the University
of Nebraska-Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.
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