Well another month and another snow storm! Last month as I sat here and wrote this letter it was snowing and now today, it’s snowing again. I love/hate this weather.
What are the advantages of belonging to a beekeeping club such as ours? Well the answers are many and diverse, but at last month’s meeting another opportunity showed itself to our club. Our speaker was Izzy Hill, from a group called Bugonia, who talked to us about something that we could do as a club that could benefit all of our hives. Izzy Hill spoke about using nematodes to control small hive beetles. I believe that this would be a great project for us as to undertake as a club. If one or two people apply nematodes to control small hive beetles, this would have minimal impact, as small hive beetles can fly over 10 miles in a day. But if we as a club can have large numbers of beekeepers apply these nematodes to our apiaries throughout the county, then maybe this could have a huge impact on the small hive beetle population in our area. It’s worth a try and should be fun. What we are talking about is having a small group of beekeepers from MCBA culture/harvest nematodes at home and supply the nematodes to any club member who also wishes to apply nematodes to their apiaries.
Izzy Hill is doing research work with Dr. Ashleigh Smythe and others with backing from many groups, including the “Center for Urban Bee Research” and the “Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research and Education Consortium”. We talked about the nematodes in questions, Heterorhabditis indica (Hi), which are not harmful to people, pets or plants. If we sign up soon, Bugonia will supply everything we need to get started for free -- including the starting nematodes! Izzy went through all the steps at the meeting, explaining how one would grow and harvest nematodes at home. It looked like a fun project that one could do without prior experience culturing and harvesting nematodes. She showed how using normal everyday items such as jar lids, coffee filters and juice boxes we could easily culture these nematodes using starter nematodes and a food source. The food source is our little friend the Greater Wax Moth Larvae which is sold for fishing bait all over the US. The culturing process only takes about 3 weeks total, with very little work for the people doing the culturing. Once the nematodes are harvested, they will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator. Application around our hives is fairly simple -- we just mix some of the nematodes with distilled water and pour them on the ground in a one foot radius around all our hives. The best time to apply is when the soil temps are around 70 degrees (mid-June, but with our weather this year who knows).
At our April meeting I hope we can talk about getting a core team together of people that would take over the culture and harvesting steps. We could then pass out the nematodes at the June meeting just in time for optimal application to the soil around our hives. Yes Virginia, there are advantages to belonging to a beekeeping club!
Hope to see everyone at the April 9 meeting.