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Michael Bush Conference:  The Lazy Beekeeper

In mid April, COBA sponsored a weekend conference in co-operation with Fleming College and Farms at Work.  Over 200 hundred beekeepers and interested community members joined the presentations at the lovely Frost Campus of Fleming College in Lindsay.

Michael is a long time beekeeper from Southeast Nebraska.  A professed “lazy” beekeeper, he had many experiences and ideas to share which quickly dispelled any notion of “sloth”.  Rather, it seems that Michael prefers to reflect and observe and then use as many natural methods for practicality and efficiency when working in his beeyards.

His observations have lead Michael to try many different methods for his beekeeping and he had something for everyone, from novice to advanced queen rearing for the experienced.  While we may have wondered about some of the methodology, everyone left with something to think about.

Rather than try to summarize the three day event (which would hardly do it justice), you can review Michael’s website and presentation notes at the following link:

Consider looking at his comments on:

  • Genetics

  • No Chemicals/No Artificial Feed

  • Natural Cell size

  • Queen rearing

  • Cycle of a Beekeeper

  • Top Entrances (Lazy Beekeeping)

  • Lighter Boxes (Medium vs Deeps)

  • Foundationless Frames

  • Leave the swarm cells

  • Beeswax and gum rosin vs painting equipment

  • Stop requeening….

Spring Meeting:  Tim Greer – Beekeeping for Pollination

Tim Greer is a beekeeper in the Niagara Area who has married into a fourth generation of beekeeper family.  While their main home is in the Niagara Peninsula, Tim and his family continue with a summer of tradition of moving their bees to New Liskard for pollination and better summer foraging.

But, their season does not begin there.  A successful beekeeper, supporting agriculture through pollination, Greer, moves his bees into the various fruit farms in the Niagara Peninsula in May and early June.  From there, he packs up several thousand hives and moves them to Nova Scotia for the blueberry pollination.  Once finished in the Maritimes, the bees are trucked back to Ontario but to the Greer’s New Liskard apiaries where they will spend the summer “vacationing”! Tim mentioned that it takes a team of 2 men an entire week to check and repair the electric fences around each of his beeyards to keep the bears at bay!  

Tim’s best bear story:  Tim had a yard which was obviously being ravaged by a bear but since is was enclosed with an electric fence, the question was how the bear was getting in.  Watching one evening, Tim saw two cubs come rambling over to the fence.  One cub crawled under the fence and then proceeded to push over a hive onto the electric fence allowing the mother bear to enter the yard untouched by the fence! Tim figures if the bears are organizing like this, we’re in trouble! (LOL)

When asked about the numerous travels his hives undertook, Tim commented that his family had traditionally taken the hives to New Liskard first to help with crop pollination and later to provide better foraging for the bees which the Niagara Peninsula does not offer during the summer.  Blueberry pollination offered another source of income to allow the family company more financial security.

We enjoyed Tim’s presentation and were all fascinated with his multifaceted beekeeping endeavours!

Small Hive Beetle:  It’s Coming, Just a Matter of When…

Also at the Spring Meeting, Dan, from the OBA Tech Team came to speak to us about the small hive beetle.  Good news and bad news:  Bad news, it’s coming but the good news is, maybe it won’t be as bad as we fear.  

The Small Hive Beetle is currently in the Niagara area and even with quarantines and careful monitoring, it can fly short distances, so it is inevitable that it will reach this area at some point.  

OBA’s tech team has done some of the best research on small hive beetle and is currently sharing that information both provincially and internationally.

Things we learned:

  • Keeping your beeyard clean and free of old frames, boxes, wax etc is the most effective way of controlling a small hive beetle infestation.

  • Spring pollen patties are warm and moist and an excellent refuge for small hive beetles to lay their eggs and in which larvae can eat and grow!

  • Monitoring hives for infestation is important during peak gestation stages of mid May and September

  • Fall born beetles are unlikely to lay in the fall but they are able to overwinter within the bee cluster.

  • Small Hive Beetles can release a temporary pheromone disguising itself as a hive member tricking the bees into leaving it alone for a period of time.

  • Various traps for small hive beetle work to some extent but are not particularly efficient or effective.

  • There are currently no chemical treatments effective in eliminating Small Hive Beetle recommended by the Tech Team

  • Small Hive Beetle is more on scale with the wax moth as a nuisance pest

  • Honey pulled off hives with small hive beetle should be processed as soon as possible as the small hive beetle leaves “residue” causing the honey to ferment.

For more information on the small hive beetle, follow the Ontario Beekeepers Association website.  


Update on Neonicotinoids Class Action Suit

29 October 2015: Paula Lombardi of Siskinds LLP advises:

"As an update on the class action,we have retained the experts required to support our claim of the impacts of Neonicotinoids on the bee keeping, honey production, industry.  The experts are both nationally and internationally known and over the course of the next couple of months they will be preparing their opinions in support of the claim.

We have effected service of the Statement of Claim for both Bayer and Syngenta both here in Canada the subsidiary corporations and the parent corporations in Europe. Service of the parent company is a bit more difficult as we have to follow the international procedure.

The next step is for Bayer and Syngenta to file their statement of defences."

News @ COBA

COBA Summer Meeting A Great Success!

Thanks to everyone who attended our summer picnic in 2015. The turnout was great - Glen counted 68 people - and the food was fantastic!! While the downpour encouraged us to pack up a bit more quickly than planned, we still had time for great presentations and discussion. If you weren't able to attend, here's a summary of what you missed:

OUR HOSTS: Many thanks to Doug and Traces for hosting our event! A special thank you to their daughters for the tours of the chicken coop and Tour of the barn to see the chickens, rabbits and goslings. The family business, Green Side Up, is an ecological landscape contracting company that specializes in residential & commercial landscaping, ecological restoration and natural resource management. Be sure to visit their farm to see the great selection of native trees, shrubs perennials and grasses they offer for sale, learn more about sustainable agriculture, and the various services they provide. See Doug's website.

CANDLE-MAKING: Julius Arnold did a great presentation about making candle molds and beeswax candles. He showed us his mold-making tools, talked about the materials he uses, and provided lots of very useful tips and techniques for successful candle-making. Two of the resources he uses are: 

Silicone Source: Sculpture Supply Canada:website:; email:; phone866-285-5509address: 345 Munster AveToronto,M8Z 3C6

Wick Supplier: Free Spirit Candles; website:; address: Box 198ArdenONK0H 1B0; store phone: 509-443-8998 or 1-613-335-3769

FEEDING OUR BEES: Todd Kalisz from Dancing Bee Apiaires and Beekeeping Equipment demonstrated various feeding options, and talked about their pro's and cons, as well as optimal times for using the various options. Thanks also to Lorne Thurston for sharing his knowledge about feeding bees. Visit Todd's website for more information.

SLOVENIAN BEEHIVES: As a follow-up to an earlier presentation about beekeeping in Slovenia, John MacFarlane demonstrated the AZ (Slovenian) hive and pointed out the differences between it and the Langstroth hive. If you have questions, or would like more information, contact John at

MITE TESTING KIT: Thanks to Bryan Shanks for letting us know about the Varroa Mite Testing Kit, produced by the Bee Squad at the University of Minnesota. This kit provides you with everything you need to perform a powered sugar roll test in one convenient tub. Kits can be purchased online through the University of Minnesota bookstore 

COBA OUTREACH AND EDUCATION: Sherry Summersides talked about COBA’s outreach activities, including our booth at the recent pollinator festival at Laveanne Lavender Farm. Attending fairs and related events is a great way for COBA to spread the word about beekeeping and help to increase awareness about the importance of bees. However, our ability to respond to requests and expand our outreach activities is limited if we don’t have enough volunteers. If you are interested in helping COBA to expand our outreach and educational activities, please contact Sherry at or Lenka at