Small Cell Italian Bees

barberberryfarm(8A)February 12, 2013

We're just getting into the bee business and have a fruit farm with about 7 acres of berries, pumpkins and fruit trees in central Alabama. We plan to start with 4 hives and if all goes well expand to 8 or 9 hives next year.

We have found a very knowledgable local vendor that raises small cell bees in 8-frame hives. One of his selling points regarding these bees is they are smaller than regular Italian bees making them and their brood less vulnerable to the varroa mite. Does anybody have any positive or negative experiences with small cell bees?

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Forget I even asked that question! There is plenty of information on the net regarding the subject.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 11:27AM
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As an aside to your question, I would suggest that you also put up some solitary bee boxes to attract such bees as mason bees. I live in northern VA so it is cooler in the early spring than in AL. Mason bees pollinate more and earlier than honey bees. This would give you better polination in the early, cool spring. There is no real need to build a bee box that costs money. I have two that were built from log pieces and I rotate them each year and clean the old one of mites.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 1:41PM
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Great idea! In the past, I've seen some of the mason bees polinating my berries and fruit trees and I wondered where they nested. Once I get my small cell italian bees all snung in their 8-frame hives in the next month or two, I'll definitely look into setting up some solitary bee "tube" homes. Those look pretty cool. Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 10:28AM
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For your mason bee boxes, you need to set them out by about March 1-15. Just get a 4X4, 4X6 or similar size untreated wood and drill it full of holes about 5/16th " in diameter and maybe 1 inch apart. I have used boxes made from 2X6 inch boards glued together and split logs. Add a slanted roof, to protect from the elements and give a little shade, and some side pieces to allow you to put on a hail-wire front cover to protect the larva from birds. Hang it at least a meter above ground facing south to south east. I build a few and each year I cover the old ones with a shoe box with a 1 inch hole in the middle on the 15th of March. I put up new boxes for the new bees. The new bees exit and start polinating and breeding and find the new boxes since the old ones are hard to find inside the shoe box, Then around April 15, I take down the old boxes and drill out the holes to clean them; and use a bleach/water mixture to kill any remaining mites; let them dry and use them again the next year. Your dates may be a little earlier than mine since you are in AL vice VA. It is a lot of fun and helps with early fruit pollination.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2013 at 11:17AM
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