Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beekeeping tip of the day - Propolis

While inspecting one of the hives recently, I noticed the fine aluminum mesh screen covering the hole of the inner hive cover was almost completely sealed with propolis.  Since a feeder was being added to this hive, the screen needed the propolis removed.  The reason for this fine screen mesh is to keep out sneaky hive beetles that creep in through the top of the hive.  The other part of this anti hive beetle strategy is to seal underneath the screened bottom board with a slide out tray of  diatomaceous earth and fine mesh to allow ventilation.  Since implementing, we've gone from being infested with hive beetles to having zero in all hives during the last 3 inspections.  I didn't expect the results to be this dramatic.   It pays to NOT listen to conventional beekeeper books that are basically ignorant of hive beetles habits and their bag of tricks.     

But back to the inner hive cover with the propolis covering the aluminum screen.   Scraping the propolis is impossible and will tear the screen in no time.  Water doesn't work and using any solvents or chemicals is not an option when trying to achieve a completely organic chemical free hive. 

The natural solution actually turned out to be quite easy.  A heat gun was aimed at the wire mesh and a small container was placed underneath the inner hive cover to collect the dripping propolis.  As the propolis heats up, it drips into the collection container.  Simple and efficient.  And it only took a minute or two.

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