Hmmm, could that buzz in the garage be Apis mellifera?
As the summer wore on, a honeycomb removal professional says Eden Prairie and other areas in the Twin Cities are experiencing an increase in bee infestations.
Alex King is on the board of directors of MN Hobby Beekeepers, a 501 (c) 5 nonprofit educational organization dedicated to practicing and educating the public on safe beekeeping practices. It performs call-to-call extractions.
According to King, his honeycomb removals have increased. âThree years ago, I made a call to Eden Prairie throughout my season. Last year I didn’t have one.
This year has been different. âI made five moves to Eden Prairie with additional calls that I didn’t hear,â King said.
King said the number of honeycomb removals differs each year. This year, the numbers are up in and around Eden Prairie.
He said a mild winter may have contributed to the increase. âMany hobbyist beekeepers have experienced a second year hive for the first time, and the hot spring caused a lot of swarming. “
King says the Girl Scout bees, the assigned home buyers for their hive, return to their swarm and share their findings with the other bees. They communicate via the “wriggling dance”, which gives indications on the site that the scout recommends. After visiting the site, the bees communicate their approval or disapproval of the proposed site through their own wriggling dance, in which more repetitions means more enthusiasm.
The same principle applies when the initial Scout gives the instructions, because the more the dance is repeated, the more the Scouts travel to see the site. Once a consensus of enthusiasm is reached through the dance, the bees enter.
Location, location, location
He says bees tend to look for “cavities of 5 to 10 gallons in volume.” Some common areas of a home include soffits along the roofline or spaces between floor joists near windows. “Often a rodent will make a small hole in a corner of a window frame and open the cavity by doing so.”
In general, he says that âempty places in a state of deferred maintenanceâ are attractive. Occasionally, bees will even be found within the walls of a house; more rarely due to isolation, but possible since “parasites can open the cavity, allowing bees to move around”.
Following the extraction process, the bees are transferred to the Bee Lab at the University of Minnesota, which leads Minnesota bee conservation efforts.
While he doesn’t work closely with the university beyond bee transfer, King says he understands that “a lot of the work they do with bees is to solve the problems that beekeepers are faced with parasites like varroa and other diseases “.
Support the bees
He noted that bees are not technically considered endangered as they are domestic animals (like cows or chickens). He stressed, however, that bees faced many problems “from pesticides, pests, colony collapse disorders and other diseases”.
As for what people can do to help preserve the species locally, King cites the use of neonics (neonicotinoids) pesticides as the main threat to the honey bee population, which includes clothianidin, acetamiprid, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam.
âThese are commonly used on plants to stop other pests, but bees come in contact with them during pollination and bring them back to the hive. Pesticides do not immediately kill the bees, but rather weaken the hive, causing it to die over the winter.
Planting pollinator gardens is another sure-fire way to help not only bees but all pollinators. King recommends the Lawns to Vegetables program of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, which provides grants each year to homeowners to offset a portion of the costs of planting pollinators.
It’s a “great resource for homeowners,” said King, who also has planting lists available for home owners.
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