Imirie November Notes


From George Imirie’s PINK PAGES November 2004 

U.S. Honey Bees Need Your Care

Today is October 21st, 2004 and would be my 61st wedding anniversary if Valerie had not died of cancer two years ago. I am VERY lonely. Nectar flows are long since OVER. Winter is just around the corner.

Most members are concerned about the Redskins or the Ravens.Wives are planning Thanksgiving festivities. Kids are thinking about Christmas gifts.

After 5 strokes during these past 14 years and losing my ability to walk or talk very well, Now in my 80+ years of life and thinking of a new marriage to my “young” 72 year old Las Vegas “best friend”, my thoughts are “Will I be alive in Spring 05?”

Have I properly sought PROFESSIONAL knowledge about diseases and health, or ignored possible death? This makes me think of wintering bees.

UNLIKE the last 397 years, since 1607, in the United States when there were no MITES, no small hive beetles, no resistant foul brood, and thousands of wild, feral bees in every woods in the 48 states, honey bees easily survived without much help from man; but since the arrival of mites in 1984, bees NEED the HELP of man to survive!

If you doubt me, show me some live wild bees that have been in place more than a year. Basically, they are nonexistent anywhere in the U.S. HONEY BEES NEED YOUR CARE IF THEY ARE TO EXIST! What you CAN do, SHOULD do, or SHOULD HAVE DONE?

Back on August 15th, during the Montgomery County Fair, you SHOULD, have treated your bees with MENTHOL to kill all TRACHEAL mites! Since the tracheal mite is microscopic and NOT visible to the human eye, most beekeepers ASSUME that there are no tracheal mites, and hence DON’T BOTHER TO TREAT.

If you OPEN a colony on a warm day in January or early February and find LOTS of honey, a queen, and just a handful of bees, your bees were killed by TRACHEAL mites. Don’t give us all that B.S. about a COLD WINTER!

To a knowledgeable beekeeper, such a statement about a COLD WINTER just tells everybody how UNKNOWLEDGEABLE you are about bees.

Shortly before Dr. Southwick’s death about 10 years ago, he subjected many colonies to temperatures of -20° and -40° for periods of 10days, 20-days, and even 30 consecutive days, and NONE died. COLD does not kill healthy bees!

Have you got at least 12 deep frames, or 18 Illinois 6 5/8″ frames, FULLY CAPPED frames of honey in your colony TODAY? Why not? Why did you NOT spend $10-$15 per colony for sugar and feed your bees back in September and October?

Are you going to try and feed them in cold December and January or just let them starve to death? What a NASTY way to die and YOU could have prevented it.

If you are wintering in 2 DEEP bodies, the colony should weigh about 120 lbs now, or wintering in 3 ILLINOIS bodies, the colony should weigh about 130 lbs now. of 6 lbs. of bees (20-21,000) present if it to get though the winter.

Bees have to cluster and eat honey to raise the temperature to 91°-96° for the queen to lay eggs in January and February and the bees MUST keep this brood warm for 21 days, so that requires MANY winter bees to get that colony successfully through the winter. Why didn’t you-COMBINE two weak hives back in September?

It is easy to get a strong colony through the winter, but very difficult (maybe impossible) to get two weak colonies through the winter; and even if you do, how strong are they going to be in April and May for our ONLY nectar flow?

Did you put Varroa miticide strips, Apistan or CheckMite, in your colonies BEFORE October 1st? WHY?

I have written and talked ad infinitum about waiting until at least 10/1 or 10/15 so that there is NO bee larvae present for the female mite to lay new mite eggs. I have steadfastly informed you to install miticide strips between 10/1 and 10/15 and ABSOLUTELY remove them on some warm day between 11/15 and 11/30.

If you find lots of varroa mites in April, it just shows that you put strips in the colony T00 EARLY to get a good kill of varroa. Lastly, how well do you work when you are suffering diarrhea?

Bees don’t do any better than you when they have the “runs”. Why didn’t you spend $2.00 for a dose of Fumadil-B and feed it to your bees beginning October 15th – November 15th, so your bees will be healthy in the spring? Ending, FORGET all those writings and stories of the “natural” keeping of bees prior to 1984, which was the mite arrival in the U.S. Now 24 years later, bees CAN’T MAKE IT ON THEIR OWN (or Naturally), but MUST HAVE YOUR HELP!

If you are UNwilling to give help to your bees, GIVE UP AND GET OUT! If you think that I am wrong or too conservative, I BEG you to consult authorities like Dewey Caron, Jerry Fischer, Bart Smith, Bee Inspectors Bill Troup or Greg Gochnour, or ANY of the STATE APIARISTS in the surrounding states of Virginia or Pennsylvania.

Show them this PINK PAGE and ask them if I am right or wrong – I dare you! I have enjoyed these 20years of converting_beeHAVES into beeKEEPERS, and particularly enjoyed watching some of my “students” become fine beekeepers or even MASTER BEEKEEPERS.

However, I admit that so often I feel like a preacher or priest who delivers a sermon each Sunday and then observes his parishioners IGNORING every thing that was said for the next 6 days. I am no longer mentally strong enough to handle this type of refusal to LEARN. For 20 years, I have TAUGHT good beekeeping practices and techniques FREE of charge, and never wanting any reward except to witness the perfection of someone to really learn the secrets of successful beekeeping and its JOYS. .

As long as I am able, I will continue my PINK PAGES still FREE of charge, but also I will no longer be “quiet” when I see or hear of something totally wrong, particularly in the Honey Pot. As an ultra conservative, the lies and negative remarks almost hourly in our presidential election are downright frightening. Are all politicians so interested in self greed, that our system of democracy could be destroyed.

Did George Washington, Tom Jefferson, Hamilton, etc. ever draw a salary from 1776-1789? I remember so well the number of experts that left their jobs during World War II and came to work in Washington for a salary of $1/year.

When I worked at Las Alamos in 1945 designing and constructing our first atomic bombs; I know that some of the scientists worked FREE and “Head Honshu” Dr. Robert Oppenheimer was paid less than $10,000.

Final thought: GOOD queen breeders are overwhelmed by demand and just can’t supply you a queen in April when you wait until March to place an order and then you BITCH and malign the queen breeder.

Why don’t you order a queen or queens NOW in November to be delivered by April 15th, and send $10/queen “good faith” money? ADVANCE money TALKS very loudly. AND ONLY GET A MARKED QUEEN which is BLUE for 2005. Blue is hard to see, so demand a BRIGHT BLUE.

I have TOLD you what so I don’t want to hear any crying or bitching next April, but trust my knowledge. If YOU really to be a perfectionist requeen in late August when you can buy far better bred queens, delivered on the exact date you requested, and allow your new queen and old queen to lay during September to provide your colony with a “ton” of wintering bees that gives your colony super extra strength for the April-May nectar flow. See “Imirie’s Almost Foolproof Requeening Method” published many years ago.

Enough Said

George Imirie
Certified EAS Master Beekeeper


November 2003 PINK PAGES – TIMING is so Very Important

George Imirie’s PINK PAGES
November 2003

TIMING is so Very Important
  1. There is little question among scientists that menthol is the most effective killer of the TRACHEAL mite; and in spite of what you may have heard, tracheal mites are still in most states, counties, and surely, in central Maryland. However, menthol MUST be used at the RIGHT time, or it does not work at all; and that time for Montgomery County is installation in the BROOD nest area on AUGUST 15th and BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1st. Why? The infected worker bee has to breathe the menthol GAS (not the smell) to kill the mites trapped in the trachea of the bee, and this GAS has to be present over many days to effectively reach all the worker bees.

    Here is the problem: Menthol does not sublime (turn from solid crystals into a GAS) until it reaches a temperature of 85°F! There are very few days after September 1st that the temperature goes over 85° and hence menthol just does not kill many tracheal mites if it is installed after September 1st.

    Suppose you don’t want to use menthol, but prefer the GREASE PATTIE treatment discovered by Dr. Diana Sammataro. Here too, timing is important. Grease Patties (NOT Extender patties which are made with Terramycin) MUST be CONTINUOUSLY used from July 1st through Christmas to effectively control tracheal mites. In other words, they have to be continuously present in the brood chamber of the colony for SIX MONTHS.

    Grease Patties are made from 2 parts of table sugar mixed with one part of Crisco. On some warm, calm day, like 50° in JANUARY 2004, you open your colony to casually inspect it, and there is still lots of stored capped honey, but only a cup full of dead bees and queen. The TRACHEAL mites have killed your bees, because you did NOT follow the dates that I described or maybe you believed all those NON scientists that told you that Montgomery County was free of acarapis woodi.

    By the way, cold weather does NOT kill healthy bees, in case you want to use that as an excuse for the loss of your bees. The famous entomologist and bee researcher, Dr. E. Southwick, exposed bees to various low temperatures for various sustained periods up to several months and as low as -60°, and proved that cold does not kill healthy bees. Maryland rarely has a day that is 0° or -10°; and equally rare is having any 30 day period that the temperature doesn’t go above 50° for at least one day. There is NO excuse for not taking a few hours off from work and OPEN your colonies and quickly inspect them on some day in January or February when the temperature goes over 50°, or don’t you care if they die?

    Why do I say that? So many of the Hive Management procedures just DON’T work AT ALL or work poorly if they are NOT done at the right time! The date that each procedure is done is VERY dependent on the weather, colony location, altitude, and geographic location. Hence, the times I name probably are not valid for places like our western Maryland mountains, New York, or South Carolina; but will normally be QUITE VALID for Montgomery County and other central Maryland locations. Let me tell you of a few, and I will give you the SCIENTIFIC reasons for why a certain date is the CORRECT, RIGHT, or BEST time for the beekeeper to do the procedure.

  2. There is little question that the Varroa mite is a more serious problem then the tracheal mite. Here again, people are treating varroa jacobsoni with several different products including some PROVEN absolutely valueless by honey bee scientists or researchers, and almost everyone is treating at the WRONG time or treating multiple times, because it is INCONVENIENT for them to do it at the CORRECT time with a proven chemical, and treat only ONCE each year.

    Let me explain the SCIENCE of treating “late” in the year, and thereby only having to treat ONCE each year. What is the CORRECT time for treatment in Montgomery County, and with what chemical? The BEST time to install either Apistan or CheckMite (which I don’t like) is October 1st up to perhaps October 15th, and those strips MUST be left in place for a minimum of 6 weeks, but no longer than 8 weeks. This treatment will kill 99% of all varroa mites; but you dare not leave those trips in after December 1st because you will make the remaining FEW live mites RESISTANT to the pesticide used.

    You can find a warm 50° day in late November when you leave work early, dash home, and quickly open a colony and remove the 4 strips. Let me explain why October (not September, or April, or any other month) is the BEST month for Varroa treatment.

    All of our pesticides; Apistan, CheckMite, or ApiLife, are CONTACT KILLERS, where the bee must touch the strip in order for the chemical to kill the mite. Hence, the chemical does NOT kill any mites in a capped bee cell of the brood chamber, and THIS IS THE LOCATION of ALL baby mites! The female mite will ONLY lay new mite eggs in just one location, a honey bee larval cell just one day before the bees cap that cell. Here, the mite eggs hatch, become larva that feed on the “baby” bee’s hemolymph, become adults and emerge as adult mites when the now deformed and weak honey bee emerges from its cell. It should be obvious that the BEST time to kill 99% of all adult mites and not have any baby mites developing is when the QUEEN BEE has greatly diminished her egg laying or completely stopped egg laying! In Montgomery County, queens are laying very little after October 1st, and generally completely stop about mid ovember. Hence, using this procedure, my bees have almost ZERO varroa mites through the winter and early spring months, and what mites they acquire during the summer and early fall, the bees can handle themselves without more treatment. HERE AGAIN, the TIME that you treat is so important, and treating at YOUR convenience rather than a TIME based on scientific facts is usually in error.

    By the way, if FGMO or essential oils like wintergreen, truly worked to kill varroa mites, don’t you think that some or all the honey bee scientists/researchers would have announced it and supported it years ago. In private talks that I have had with many of the scientists working in our bee labs as well as our universities, many have told me, that they had tried these things for years, and they could NOT endorse them, because all of them were so NON dependable, killing mites in some colonies but not in others, killing mites one year, but not the next, or sometimes requiring rags or paper soaked in the chemical, but other times requiring an electric fogger to be used in the colony.

    Meanwhile, FRESH Apistan or CheckMite always kills mites UNLESS careless beekeepers have created resistant mites by exposing them to long term contact with the pesticide by leaving the strips in the colony all winter; or have left unused strips out in the sun or subjected to heat by leaving the package laying round in the hot sun in their car or garage. APISTAN and/or CHECKMITE deteriorates when left out to air exposure, sun shine, or heat. OCTOBER 1st IS THE BEST DATE TO INSTALL APISTAN OR CHECKMITE IN YOUR COLONY IN MONTGOMERY COUNTY.

  3. How well can you work when you have diarrhea? Worker bees don’t do a very good job of nectar collecting if they have diarrhea; and bee scientists have estimated that 60% of all the hived bees in the U.S. have Nosema disease in the spring, and a major symptom of Nosema is DIARRHEA. Nosema rarely kills a colony, but it can surely weaken its effectiveness in honey production. $2 of Fumadil-B is the only treatment for Nosema, but when do you give it to the bees? Our spring buildup time is February and March to be STRONG for our April and May nectar collection.

    Bees that are sick with Nosema in February and March, and hence are suffering with diarrhea, just are not strong enough to raise much brood, keep the brood warm, take good care of the queen, or collect pollen. Therefore, the BEST time to feed the $2 dose of Fumadil-B to your bees is in the sugar syrup that you feed in LATE October and all of November, so the bees store this away as winter survival food, and as they eat in the months of December and January, they are getting constant continuous doses of Fumadil-B so-they are free of Nosema disease. There is a BEST time for treatment of EVERYTHING!

  4. In Montgomery County, Dandelion blooms in late March or early April. Our MAJOR nectar sources are Black Locust which might bloom by April 15th and surely before May 1st, and this is followed 2-3 weeks later by Tulip Poplar, and ALL of this ENDS about June 1st. This a very short time for the bees to make 100 or maybe 150 pounds of honey, so your supers sitting in the garage or basement or non-painted aren’t helping your bees at all, so they SWARM. They weren’t “bad” bees, but they had a “bad” beekeeper who did not pay attention to the proper TIME to install supers.. tempus fugit or “time marches on”. Perhaps, Saint Patrick’s Day Parties on March 17th, or EASTER Sunday on April 11th or working on your income tax for April 15th took too much of your time to worry about your bees. Who are YOU going to blame when your bees swarm and/or produce little honey? TIMING IS IMPORTANT! Install your first medium super without any queen excluder on April 1st, FOOL’S DAY, and place a queen excluder under that super on April 15th and add FOUR MORE medium supers of drawn comb ALL AT ONE TIME. Now your bees are ready to make you 3-4 full supers of capped honey for you to extract on July 4th. You CAN’T do this using foundation. You MUST use frames of drawn comb. WHY use 5 supers if the harvest is only 3-4 supers? Bees do not fly out and gather HONEY. They gather thin, watery nectar, as much as 25 pounds in one day, bring it to the hive and store it until the bees can evaporate perhaps 80% of the water and ripen it into thick wonderful HONEY. If the bees have no space (extra supers) to store this nectar until they can ripen it, they STOP working and SWARM. THIS is why you install 5 supers to make 3-4 supers of honey! Known for my bluntness and never apologizing in my efforts to make you into a better beekeeper, I will say that there is NO WAY that you can save money by only using 2-3 supers, and almost daily removing the capped frames of honey, replacing them with empty frames of drawn comb, because the bees just can’t do the work of evaporating water from the nectar, ripening the honey, and capping the cells with wax, as fast as more space is needed to store more nectar. Hence, don’t be CHEAP, buy 5 medium supers, frames, and foundation for every colony!
  5. Why do you REQUEEN in the spring? Queens are expensive, may not be well bred, rarely delivered to you on time, and certainly “screws up” a colony right in the midst of our ONLY yearly nectar flow? Spring requeening in Montgomery County is just ridiculous. The great majority of commercial beekeepers which might have 5000 or 10,000 colonies requeen in the fa II. These beekeepers make a living from their bees and depend on honey production, so they requeen EVERY YEAR, but always in the late summer or early fall. If you doubt me, come to the January meeting of the American Beekeeping Federation in Jacksonville, FL, and talk to these commercial beekeepers who have anywhere from 5000 colonies to 60,000 colonies (Yes, Richard Adee has 60,000 colonies and requeens all of them every fall). Doesn’t THAT tell you something! Fall queens are BETTER BRED, are delivered on whatever day you prescribe, do not interfere with your nectar flow, and are cheaper (which should NOT be important to we hobbyists). Late Summer or Fall requeening is much better for everything about success with bees than any spring requeeningl I will agree that fall requeening runs the risk of a new queen being killed, but NOT if you requeen via the nucleus method such as “Imirie’s Almost Foolproof Requeening Method” that I have used for over 40 years and rarely lose a queen. What are its “other features”? I have TWO queens, both the old and the new queen, laying brood for about 4-6 weeks in September to give me a large number of young bees to winter, warm the colony, take care of the queen, and WARM the new brood; but the most important thing is the fact that this NEW queen is so young that she can produce enough queen pheromone in the spring brood rearing season that the pheromone retards all SWARMING impulses by the worker bees. If THAT is not important to you, I suggest you give up beekeeping and take up something like raising pigeons or catching butterflies. Have I insulted you? Good, I am trying hard to make you a better beekeeper! Why is beekeeping so important to me, and hopefully YOU. I like orange juice for breakfast, a salad for lunch that has cucumbers, onions, a smidge of broccoli, and a wedge of cantaloupe or watermelon, and a protein dinner of filet mignon steak followed by pumpkin pie or apple pie with vanilla ice cream ala mode. You are supposed to know ALL about honey bees. Don’t you know that without honey bee pollination, none those meal menu’s I described would be available at your local grocery store except at very high prices? And I love ICE CREAM, but without that high protein alfalfa hay, pollinated by honey bees, that dairy cow is not gong to produce much quality milk with lots of cream. Here, again is Hard-Nose George begging you to maintain the health of your bees as if they were your children.


‘nough Said!


George W. Imirie, Jr.
Certified EAS Master Beekeeper