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here are my bee notes for colony inspections

I get my bees and supplies locally  here
(in Years past have mail ordered from York Bees in GA
 912-427-7311 with good success) 
here is info  on
essential oils for hive health

I have been a beekeeper since the late 70's and maintain, advise, assist several friends with their hives.

Beside normal hive maintenance several problems have arisen recently:

Colonly Collapse Disorder (CCD)
The best explaination I have found is this comes from new pesticides used in commercial agriculture. Doesn't seem to affect suburban bee keeping.

Varroa mites
Tracheal mites
Powdered sugar  is  claimed as  good non-chemical treatment for mites.
youtube has several entertaining vidios on this. Here is one

These two pests have been in the news. Cause the hive to dwindle in the fall usually after some surplus honey has been stored. Makes it easier to harvest the honey (less bees).

Queen Failure
The mites have caused a secondary problem. Bee suppliers have been so agressive with miticides which is inteferring with bee reproduction. So I have been experiencing queen failure which I never did before.  A quick web search documents this - have pasted on below:

Department of Entomology
Blacksburg, VA

Miticide Effects on the Reproductive Physiology of Queen and Drone Honey Bees

PI(s): Fell, Richard D


Abstract: Efforts to control Varroa mites in honey bee colonies have led to an over-reliance on the use of chemical miticides and the potential for sublethal effects on honey bees. Studies in our laboratory have indicated that miticide use can affect the reproductive physiology of both drones and queens, and could be responsible for some of the problems with queen failure reported by beekeepers. The commonly used miticides (fluvalinate, coumaphos, thymol) were examined with respect to their effects on sperm production and viability in drones, and to potential effects on the number and viability of sperm stored in the spermatheca of queens exposed to these compounds during rearing. These studies have shown that several of these miticides can reduce sperm production and viability in drones, as well as the viability of sperm stored in the sspermatheca of queens.

(end of quote)

notes on my 2008 season
I started with 4 hives for this season. Two dwindled mid-summer, there were few if any eggs even with a queen present so she wasn't laying. A third collapsed in late summer - it had stored no honey (never seen that before). The fourth hive managed to produce some surplus honey and is still doing well march 2009. Expect it to survive if I do some swarm control.

While editing some old VHS tapes I found a couple of shots of beekeeping which I put here