Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter condensation and what to do about it.

I use bee cozies on my bees in the winter.  After several several years of using them and not always having enough for all my hives I have seen the difference that having one makes.  They use far less stores to get through the winter, one of the main causes for winter hive death is starvation, sometimes with in inches of stores.  With the cozy on they don't have to cluster as tight and have a better chance of reaching the stores need to stay fed.
Mold from condensation.

The hive wrapped in insulation, the bottom board in place if using SBBs leaves the top to condensate.  All the warm air from the bees is pressed against the uninsulated top cover.  Condensation forms and drips very cold water on to the cluster below causing death and sickness.  A simple fix is to put a piece of insulation in the top airspace.  If you don't have an airspace on the top the next best fix is a nickel under the two front corners of the inner cover to let moister out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beekeeping 101 at Oakhurst Gardens

I'm so honored to be teaching a few classes this year at Oakhurst Community Garden.

January 29th I will teaching beekeeping 101.  I hope to cover the basics of what equipment to buy, from whom. What is and isn't really necessary for starting out and why.  Where to place your hive, how to install your bees ect.

March 19th I will teaching a advanced class.  I have asked for specific questions to be submitted a week before the class so I can try to address the student specific concerns and I know this will lead to lots of wonderful discussions about pest and problems.

April 23rd is the kids version of bees 101.  We will crush and strain a frame of honey, look at all sorts of tools, equipment and protective gear and of course taste some really honey.  If time permits we will also be making a rolled beeswax candles with some foundation.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Not ready for winter yet

I checked on my hives at home today and I would say that I'm not really ready for winter yet.

CSX split has one deep with brood and stores and a medium of capped honey
Package 1 has 3 mediums with two brood boxes and a box of stores
Package 2 is my testiest hive and it has two medium brood boxes and a medium box of partial stores
Demeter is just one deep of brood and a medium with hardly any stores.  This hive needs to be feed every day.
Demeter split I didn't have time to open but feels the heaviest at about 80lbs.  It will be check next week.

Mites were not out of control and the shb were few.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oakhurst Garden Bees & Birds

The Oakhurst Garden's bees are finally in the coop.  I think this should greatly help with the SHB issues and it makes me feel good to experiment with this method of permaculture.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bee Team letter

Hello Bee Team,

My family just got home from the beach for the last week and I have just finally had the time to actually look in my hives at home for the first time in a month.  

All of my hives have queens and most of them have quite a bit of brood.  I noticed some dark nectar that is being brought in, so there is a little bit of a flow going on.  Maybe someone with more botanical knowledge then me can tell us what we have in flow?  

The one thing that I didn't see much of was pollen.  I don't usually give pollen substitute to my bees, but there wasn't enough in there for them to feed the brood so I made 1" patties and put one on the floor of the entrance of each hive.  They immediately started to take interest in it.  I don't like the idea of pollen patties over the brood chamber or larger then 1" squares do to the fact that SHBs LOVE to lay eggs in the patties if they aren't eaten very quickly.  If they are in the entrance I can keep an eye on it and remove it if not eaten. 

I also put in sticky boards in all my hives today to do a mite count.  If your a beekeeper who does treat for mites, then this is the time of year to see if your at threshold.  I'm hoping that only one of the hives is going to need to be treated since it's been two years w/o treatment and I did notice some wing damage, that suggests to me, at it's over threshold.

So how are things in your backyard hives?  Problems, successes or questions?  Let's talk about bees!

Friday, September 3, 2010

lack of posts

You would think that my lack of posts means that not much is happening in the bee yards.  Actually, I have been getting Oakhurst garden ready for winter.  They have had a huge infestation of SHB and wax moths so all the old comb is coming out and every frame is going to be frozen.  Only two hives out of 6 remain, but this spring we will start new and it's going to be great.

The DHS bee yard is coming along well.  Both hives seem to be doing well, mites counts were done and both are with in my comfort level.  Club hive had about 12, CSX was at about 25.

The CSX split at my house had the SHB troubles.  I put in beetle eaters and only saw one alive beetle and the traps were full.  This hive seems to have it under control.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Atlanta Community Garden Assoc.

This Sunday I will be speaking about bees in the community garden at the ACGA.  I'm very nervous.  This is the first time I have done a talk with all adults and no hive inspection.  I find it much easier to talk about what is in front of me.

Same bee yard different things happening

The CSX split has one deep fully drawn and full of mostly brood. Yesterday when I opened them there was about 30 small hive beetles on the inner cover.  They are doing a good job of keeping them corralled on the inner cover, but to help them out I put in 4 AJ's Beetle eaters.  To get them ready for winter they are going to need more stores, so I filled the feeder with 2.5 quarts of syrup.  Today when I checked on them they hadn't hardly touched the feeder so I put on a medium with fully drawn out frames.  I think they are out of room, but it also gives the SHB a better chance to take hold.  I will keep a close eye.

Package number one is doing fine, but needs to be fed as well.  They have taken about half of the feeder.

Package number two had the most stores and bees.  It was pretty testy, but I did see plenty of eggs, so I believe it queen rite and just had more guard bees.  The feeder was empty on this hive.

The Demeter combined split is doing fine and for now has plenty of stores.

Demter is full of brood and has enough stores for now.

All the other hives were SHB free.  Next week, I will be doing mite checks to see which hives will need to be treated.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Demeter has a laying queen!

According to bee math on June 20th, if the superseder cells I spotted then did just hatch I would have a queen right about now.  I just looked and YES I do have eggs and some larvae!  The hive seemed like it's content self again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Solar wax melter update

The hot Georgia sun makes for quick work of cleaning my wax.
 Bag of cappings.

In the solar wax melter before melting.

Slum gum (dirt) that was left after melting.

Clean wax!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Solar wax melter

 I used a styrofoam cooler I had laying around in the garage, painted it black and put a piece of plexiglas on the top.  Inside is a large glass bowl with about 2 inches of water on the bottom, a piece of hardware cloth to hold the paper towel over the bowl and then the paper towel.  Then I add the wax capping that have been cleaned by the bees and then rinsed.

Robber screen

There is not much of a nectar flow right now in hot and dry Atlanta.  The split combo looked like it was having some robbing issues from Demeter so I put on the robber screen to help them fend off the other bees.
By moving the entrance to the top of the screen and leaving such a small entrance they can now effectively stop the robbing without an all out war.

Mortician bees hard at work

After the combining of the two splits I noticed a large amount of dead bees in front of the hive.  There must have been more of a fight about the combination then I first thought.  It took the mortician bees a couple of weeks to get them all out.  Sorry girls, but after 3 tries to get them to make a queen they were bound to parish if something wasn't done.  I think it was the best solution.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

High school inspection

Today Zack, Jason and I did a quick inspection.  It was scorching hot so we were brief,  but the bee club hive is doing well and we will continue to feed them to get them up to par for winter.

The CSX hive is so impressive.  Two deeps full of brood and two mediums full, but not finished being capped, of honey.  I pulled two frames of eggs and larvae and one frame of capped brood to add to Demeter just for insurance.

When I got home I put the three frames in Demeter and I'm even more convinced that there is a virgin queen, but it still doesn't hurt to give them a boost of young workers.  Max and I watched a baby worker hatching on one of the frames I pulled out it had just a few capped brood left to hatch.  Here is a youtube video of an emerging bee.

Queenless and bee math

Friday I went into all six hives that I have at my house.

  • The CSX split is fine, but not building comb and building up as well as I would like.  I will continue to feed them and try to get them where they need to be for winter.
  • Both packages that I started this year are doing fine, but I will continue to to keep feeding them as well.
  • The combined split is doing well and should be able to over winter without any further help
  • Demeter is queenless!  I did find two superseder cells with capped worker brood around them.  Bee math tells me that if indeed this was a superseder by the hive the queen had just hatched since the queen takes 4 days less to hatch then worker brood which was still surrounding the queen cells.  It takes about 2 weeks for the queen to orient to the hive, do her mating flight and start to lay.  I will check again in two weeks to see if a queen is laying.  

This bottom queen cell looks like it was distroyed by the first emerging queen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bee club hive check and honey extracting

Today Zack and I had a look at the Bee Club's bees. My hives at home aren't drawing much new comb, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost all of the deep we installed them in was drawn out.  Not the straightest of comb I have ever seen, but it was drawn.

Zack has been feeding them 1:1 sugar syrup every week for the past couple of weeks and it looks like it's paying off.  We added another deep and plan to keep feeding so they have a nice strong colony to go into winter with.

After we added the other deep to the bee club bees we checked on my hive's stores.  We pulled six frames of capped honey and replaced the frames with drawn out frames that I had on hand.  I needed some freezer space to put more frames, so I pulled out all the capped frames in the freezer and started extracting.  What a messy process!  All of the frames I extracted weren't wired at all, so I wasn't sure how they would do in the extractor.  Most of them did fine, out of 15 probably, 12 made it intact.  I think I got about 4 gallons.

The frames were decapped and then spun in the extractor on both sides.  Then the extractor is emptied into the strainer bucket to catch any wax cappings that got into the honey.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Long live the queen!

Queen spotting is such a hard thing for me.  I usually start looking right into the cells instead of doing a glance over the whole frame to spot the queen.  This doesn't work so well.  Today I went into two hives hoping to get a look at the queen and I did.
Notice the lack of stripes and the long graceful body?  How could I miss this???  Also, if you double click the picture, you can see new eggs in the cells.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Combining hives update

It has been a little more then a week since I combined the queenless split with the other split I made from Demeter.  It looks like all went well.  I saw brood where there was none in the queenless split and didn't see much in the way of a fight when the two hives met.  All that was left of the paper I used to separate the two is the rim of paper that was between the two boxes.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Combining hives

I tried 3 times to get the queenless split up and going by providing eggs w/o any success.  Yesterday I went to look again and they were anxious and no signs of a queen cell so I added them to the other split I made from Demeter using the newspaper method.  I added two sheets of packing paper on top of the split w/ the queen made a few small slashes w/ my hive tool then added both boxes of the queenless hive.  I wanted to just add the deep, but there was still so many bees that I put the medium on as well.  I then put the inner cover on and an empty super (just to make the top entrance easier) then the outer cover.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sometimes I just don't know

Today I went and had a look at the CSX hive.  If the bee math is correct I took the original queen with me when I made the split.  I saw new eggs but no larvae at all.  This make me almost sure that I mistakenly took her highness with me.  Not ideal, but as long as the eggs I saw weren't from a laying worker (a couple of the cells had multiple eggs in it, out of a whole frame maybe 6 cells) it should work it's way out. If you double click the bottom picture you can see 2 of the cells with 2 eggs in it just to the right of the lower bee.  The egg position suggest a queen, they are in the center, standing upright.

Signs of a laying worker:

  • Brood Pattern:Laying workers lay eggs that lack the queen's egg recognition pheromone, meaning that other workers may remove the eggs. This results in a spotty brood pattern, in which empty cells are scattered heavily through capped brood.
  • Number of Eggs per Cell: The beekeeper looks at the honeycomb cells to see how many eggs are laid in each one. Queen bees will usually lay only a single egg to a cell, but laying workers will lay multiple eggs per cell. Multiple eggs per cell are not an absolute sign of a laying worker because when a newly mated queen begins laying, she may lay more than one egg per cell.
  • Egg Position:Egg position in the cell is a good indicator of a laying worker. A Queen bee's abdomen is noticeably longer than a worker, allowing a queen to lay an egg at the bottom of the cell. A Queen bee will usually lay an egg centered in the cell. Workers cannot reach the bottom of normal depth cells, and will lay eggs on the sides of the cell or off center.
  • Drone Brood in Worker Cells: Another good indicator is drone brood in worker sized cells. Drones are raised in larger cells than workers. Drone cells are recognizable by their larger size, and when capped Drone cells are capped with blunt pointed cappings. Drones in worker cells are a sure sign of a failing queen or laying worker.
Double click on picture to see eggs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Michael Bush's bee math

I might have already posted this before, but since I didn't label from the beginning I couldn't find it.

Bee Math
email address
All of the numbers about the life cycle of bees may seem irrelevant, so let's put them in a chart here and talk about what they are useful for.
Caste   Hatch    Cap          Emerge 
Queen   3½ days  8 days +-1   16 days +-1  Laying        28 days +-5
Worker  3½ days  9 days +-1   20 days +-1  Foraging      42 days +-7
Drone   3½ days 10 days +-1   24 days +-1  Flying to DCA 38 days +-5
If you find eggs, and no queen how long ago do you KNOW there was a queen? At least there was one three days ago and possibly is one now. If you find just hatched larvae and open brood but no eggs when was there a queen? Four days.
If you put an excluder between two boxes and come back in four days and find eggs in one and not the other, what do you know? That the queen is in the one with eggs.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before it should have emerged for sure? 9 days, but probably eight.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before you should see eggs from that queen? 20 days.
If you killed or lost a queen, how long before you'll have a laying queen again? 24 days because the bees will start from a just hatched larvae.
If you start from larvae and graft, how long before you need to transfer the larvae to a mating nuc? 10 days. (day 14)
If you confine the queen to get the larvae how long before you graft? Four days because some won't have hatched at the beginning for day 3.
If you confined the queen to get the larvae how long before we have a laying queen? 28 days.
If a queen is killed and the bees raise a new one how much brood will be left in the hive just before the new queen starts to lay? None. It will take 24 or 25 days for the new queen (raised from a four day old) to be laying and in 21 days all the workers will have emerged and in 24 days all the drones will have emerged.
If the queens starts laying today how long before that brood will be foraging for honey? 42 days.
You can see how knowing how long things take helps you predict where things are going or where things have been.
Sometimes you just have to figure best and worst case. For instance, an uncapped queen cell with a larvae in it is between four and eight days old (from the egg). A capped queen cell is between eight and sixteen days old. By looking at the tip of the cell you can tell one that is just capped (soft and white) from one that is about to emerge (brown and papery and often cleaned down to the cocoon by the workers). A soft white queen cell is between eight and twelve days old. A papery one is between thirteen and sixteen days old. The queen will emerge at sixteen (fifteen if it's hot out). She'll be laying by twenty eight days usually.
Michael Bush

Hive updates

  • Demeter, the mother hive, seems to be doing well.  Pulled another 5 medium frames of capped honey today.
  • Split #1, this is the split that has a laying queen.  They still have room in the deep and are drawing comb and pulling in nectar.
  • split #2, this split will not cooperate and produce a queen.  I'm giving them one more week to see eggs or they will get combined with another hive.
  • package #1, I added another medium to this hive since they had drawn and filled out most of the first deep.  The queen is laying and they look like they are doing a good job.
  • package #2, This hive received a 2nd medium last week and they have hardly touched it.  I moved some more frames with stores to the top in hopes of luring them up.
  • CSX split, I made this split 8 days ago and today when I checked on them one side of a frame with brand new eggs as spotted!  Hopefully I didn't get the original queen from the CSX hive, but I don't think so.  She must have hatched right after I made the split and and got right to mating to be laying eight days later!
My be yard is quite the mess!  I need to pull down the fence, finish dispersing the dirt from the garden beds that I removed and put up a nice new fence with a gate and stands or rails for the hives that are just sitting on blocks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Foundationless frames and another split.

I removed some beautiful capped honey and some nice queen cells from CSX on Saturday.  John had come to check on the inspection when I spotted the queen cells.  Lucky for me he came baring a mothers day present of a corrugated plastic nuc.  This hive has been such a pleasant hive that I'm excited to have another one from this strain.

Frame with Popsicle stick guides and fishing wire for support when extracting.  Hope the wire works.  They seem to draw the foundation right over it so it should work fine.

What to do when the hive is to tall?

CSX and Demeter both came out of winter in full force.  They both have 2 deeps and 2 mediums full.  Nectar is coming in like crazy, but I don't want to add more boxes since I can hardly see over the top already.  This has left me no choice but to pull frame by frame fully capped honey and replace the frames with an empty frame.  I wish I had wired the frames so I could use the extractor and feed drawn out comb back to them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Atlanta Progressive Preschool peace, love and bugs bee Demo w/ John

John and I did a bee demo for my son's school fundraiser last weekend.  We tried out John's new observation hive and I have to say that bees didn't seem to really like it, it was a hit!  We had so many curious questions about bees and keeping them.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Second package

I checked the second package and the queen had been released and I spotted a few eggs.  Hopefully that means she is going to stay and be content in their new home.

Demeter brood pattern

Demeter has two brood boxs full of a solid pattern of worker brood.

The cost of impatience

The split that hasn't produced a queen and I have added eggs to twice now (today made attempt number 3) I should have been left alone for another 5 days.  It had been five days since I tried putting in eggs again and curiosity had gotten the better of my judgement. New wax is very, very soft.  When I pulled the frame marked with the eggs I accidently squished some of the queen cups.  Sigh, dumb, dumb, dumb.

squished cups
a few cups on the other side were ok.

Frame of eggs with drone brood (unknown at the time) that was tied in.

If they don't make a queen from either the cell above or cups then they will need to be combined back with another hive.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

DHS bee club prgress

Yesterday the bee club checked on their install.  Looks like all is well, they had released the queen and have started to build comb on 3 frames and are bringing in nectar.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Splits and installs

Today I finally saw evidence of a working queen in one of my splits!

The other split was aggressive last week and I couldn't see any signs of a queen cell that looked 'hinged open' from an emerging queen so I put in a frame of eggs from Demeter.  I never even thought about it, but it seems that the eggs are drones now that they are capped.  They have two capped queen cells on this frame but I'm afraid I will end up with a drag queen. LOL  Today I pulled another frame of eggs from Demeter to put in that hive and see if we can get it queen right.  It did seem calmer today, so maybe it was a fertilized egg they used to make the queen cells.  Also, I remembered to mark the frame with the eggs for ease of checking next week.

One of the packages had released the queen and seems to be doing fine.  The other package still had a way to go on releasing the queen so I poked a small hole in the candy to help them along.  Hope they find their new home to there liking and stay.

Monday, April 26, 2010

DHS no shake package installation

Today the DHS bee team got to install bees in the hive they worked so hard to put together.  We will go back in on Friday to make sure the queen was released, add more syrup and to remove the bee package and empty deep it was sitting in

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Installing two new packages

To day has been a very long bee day.  First my bee buddy John and I did a bee demo for Max's school fund raiser.  Then I drove for 2.5 hours round trip to pick up two packages for myself and a package for the DHS bee club.
When I got home from the trip the rain gave me some reprieve so I took my opportunity to install them.  Instead of using the shaking method of installing the bees I tried a nicer approach and think it went quite well.  I put an empty deep on the bottom board, removed the syrup can and queen cage quickly, recovered the hole and stapled the queen cage to a frame in the middle of the medium that I had ready with frames and stores.  Then I took the package put it on the bottom of the deep hole up, removed the cover to the package and put on the medium, inner cover and outer cover.  No mad bees flying all around.

I did staple the entrance closed for the night and covered the inner cover escape to give them the night to settle in.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Small hive beetle control

My hive at the DHS has to be monitored for small hive beetles since it's right next to the compost pile.  Several years ago I took Don's, A.K.A. the fat beeman, organic course.  Here is his video on beetle control.  It is cheap and easy compared to the beetle eaters.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Got Water?

Bees for Development article on why bees need water.
Honeybees nesting in the wild choose nest sites close to water supplies. Beekeepers must ensure that honeybees kept in hives have adequate water supplies available. Honeybees cannot survive without water. These are the reasons:
1· Temperature and humidity control
Honeybee colonies must maintain their nest temperature around 35°C. Young bees developing in the brood nest need to be kept at the right temperature and humidity. If the nest temperature was allowed to rise without control. wax combs would melt and the colony would be reduced to chaos. Honeybees collect water to keep the colony cool: water is brought into the nest and evaporative cooling keeps temperatures down.
2· Brood rearing
Water is also needed for feeding developing bees. The brood food they receive is secreted by worker bees and contains 70% water. To produce this brood food, worker bees need to have honey, pollen and water.
3· The dilution of food sources
When bees feed on honey, sugar syrup or nectar supplies (containing more than 50% sugar) water is needed for dilution.
Water carriers
Some honeybees' main task in life is carting water. Each bee may make typically 50 trips a day, each time collecting about 25 mg of water. When the colony is very short of water other foragers will divert from collecting nectar and pollen to join in the effort.
How much?
In a very hot climate one colony will need several litres of water every day. To obtain two litres of water, bees will have to make around 80.000 water-collecting trips.
Sources of water
The ideal source of water is a permanent supply of clean, flowing water. Of course this is not always possible and if there is no permanent water source nearby (certainly within 0.5 km of the hive) beekeepers need to provide water for their bees.
Water provision
The container must be as large as possible, at least one metre in diameter. Bees find water sources by the increased humidity in the air above the water. Small dishes of water are therefore unlikely to be found by bees and similarly, supplies which are covered
· Wide mesh netting can be placed over water troughs for bees, to prevent other animals from using them.
· Bees drown if they become water logged. This is a risk if they are collecting water from an open water source. Provide plenty of floats in the water (straw, pieces of wood, cork, branches) for the bees to land on.

· Water sources should be as near to the colony as possible. The further it is from the hive. the greater the energy used by bees in obtaining water, and the smaller the honey surplus available to the beekeeper at the end of the season!
· Water must be clean. Normally surface tension prevents bees from sinking into water. but if there is any trace of detergent or other chemicals in the water, this can change the surface tension and cause bees to drown.
· Water sources must not be allowed to dry up = bees need water daily.
Water Feeders
If you have only a few colonies of bees then in hot weather it is possible to provide water inside the hive using a syrup feeder or other container devised to prevent bees drowning.
Other considerations
Bees are sometimes regarded as a nuisance when they obtain water from village water taps or bathing areas.
Sometimes bees can be enticed away by providing a slightly salted source of water. nearer to the hive. This substitute source must then be kept in continuous supply or the bees will return to their previous site.
If the source at which they have become a nuisance can be covered up, the enticing effect is more likely to work.
Once honeybees have located a good source of water they tend to continue using it, even when other sources become available.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

DHS hard at work

I put an empty medium on the DHS hive before I left town and less then 2 week later it is full and partically capped.  Going to add extra medium today to give them more honey storage and hopefully keep them from swarming.

Still no swarm calls this year, come on free bees!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

DHS and swarm prevention

In this hive I didn't see any swarm cell, but it was busting at the seams.  I checker boarded the brood chamber that completely filled the deep.  I pulled 3 frames and put in empty frames, the 3 that I pulled I put together in the middle of the extra deep and put in empty frames around it.  The medium that was on top was full of nectar and pollen so I just replaced it and hope that the 10 empty deep frames will keep the nurse bees busy and the queen more space to lay.  I'm hoping that when I get back from my trip in 12 days that the medium will be capped and the tulip popular should be in flow so I will need to pull anything that is capped and add another medium.

Where the spacer was for the mite treatment the had built a lot of burr comb and had started putting nectar and eggs in it.  It was a shame to have to scrape it out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Too late to just open brood nest

Today the weather finally got warm enough for me to do the work what was so needed.

Ideally you want to prevent swarming and not have to split. But if there are queen cells I usually put every frame with any queen cells in it's own nuc with a frame of honey and let them rear a queen. This usually relieves the pressure to swarm and gives me very nice queens.~Michael Bush, see last post.

When I went into the hive today I found several queen cells so I made two splits with the cells.  One hive has the medium frames w/ the queen cells and the other one has all the queen cells on deep frames.  I also moved the original hive down and put the splits original hive was.  This should catch the returning field bees to the splits.

I'm hoping this will keep the original hive from swarming.  We'll see.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What to do?

So after re-reading on swarms and splits I have decided to go with Michael Bush's advise on swarm prevention~
Swarm control split. Ideally you want to prevent swarming and not have to split. But if there are queen cells I usually put every frame with any queen cells in it's own nuc with a frame of honey and let them rear a queen. This usually relieves the pressure to swarm and gives me very nice queens. But even better, put the old queen in a nuc with a frame of brood and a frame of honey and leave one frame with queen cells at the old hive to simulate a swarm. Many bees are now gone and so is the old queen. Some people do the other kinds of splits (even walk away etc.) in order to prevent swarming. I think it's better to just keep the brood nest open.

Opening the brood nest
This, of course is what we want to do. What we need to do is interrupt the chain of events. The easiest way is to keep the brood nest open. If you keep the brood nest from backfilling and if you occupy all those unemployed nurse bees then you can change their mind. If you catch it before they start queen cells, you can put some empty frames in the brood nest. Yes, empty. No foundation. Nothing. Just an empty frame. Just one here and there with two frames of brood between. In other words, you can do something like: BBEBBEBBEB where B is brood comb and E is an empty frame. How many you insert depends on how strong the cluster is. They have to fill all those gaps with bees. The gaps fill with the unemployed nurse bees who begin festooning and building comb. The queen will find the new comb and about the time they get about ¼" deep, the queen will lay in them. You have now "opened up the brood nest". In one step you have occupied the bees that were preparing to swarm with wax production followed by nursing, you've expanded the brood nest, and you've given the queen a place to lay. If you don't have room to put the empty combs in, then add another brood box. The other upside is I get good natural sized brood comb.
A hive that doesn't swarm will produce a LOT more honey than a hive that swarms.

After the flow, I will make a split since I like these bees so much and would like to have another colony from them.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The bees are over flowing

I had a look inside of Demeter to see where it was at with space and it really had none.  Two deeps and a medium full of brood and stores.  Lots of drone cells as well.  I hope they aren't going to swarm and I should have done a split, but I have only read about doing them and was nervous about making sure the queen was in the right hive.  They are building queen cells so I'm going to consult Curtis Gentry about the best splitting methods.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

DHS bee club

Three brave young men make up my bee class at DHS.  Last week they started putting all of their wooden ware together for their bees.  They have all of the bodies, the inner cover, outer cover and bottom board put together and now are working on their frames.  They will be getting a 5 frame NUC from Dixie bee supply.  Hopefully we will be installing them on April 13th or 20th.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Demeter today

I looked inside my hive at home today for the first time since winter.  It has 2 deeps and a medium.  The medium on top was full of honey!  The top deep had lots of brood and some stores, the bottom deep was all older caped brood and pollen stores.  I pulled 5 of the medium frames and replaced them with new frames with foundation or drawn comb.  I also had a deep that was attached to the next frame and the side of the hive.  It was mostly honey, but it did have some brood as well.  I replaced those two frames as well.  I need to give them some growing room and work to do so they don't swarm.  I hope those empty frames will keep them busy.

John some hive stands as well so I put one of those in and plan on getting the rest in this week for the new packages I'm expecting.

The 24 hour mite count was low so this hive is good till Aug or so. : )

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Could it bee spring?

Today I did my first inspection of the DHS hive.  This hive consists of a deep on bottom and two mediums.  I had done a mite could last week and decided that I was at threshold.  Not sure how many was there for a 3 day count but more then the 150 or less I was hoping for.

The top medium has lots of capped stores, and a small amount of drone brood.  The second deep was mostly full of egg, larvea and capped and stores.  The deep had capped brood and some stores.  I should have reverse the 2nd medium with the deep to give her some more room to lay.  If I don't do some management to open up the brood nest and add a super by the end of the month I think they could swarm.

Because of the mites I did a formic acid treatment from Mite Awayll.  I hate that I had to treat at all.  I'm not a user of chemicals, organic or not, but if I didn't treat I would have lost this hive by fall I believe.  The treatment was easy to do.  Here is a video on how to do it.

Lots of pretty pollen coming in.  The deep red is from Henbit.

I also noticed that he water station was being well used.  

After the inspection at the DHS I went to Oakhurst garden to do a inspection with Curtis Gentry.  Two weeks ago when I was at the inspection there one hive was really struggling and Curtis suggested that we switch it with another hive that was doing well.  The purpose of this is to instantly boost the adult working force of the weak hive.  The bees that were out foraging will come back to their normal location, but go into the weaker hive that was put in their original location.  The stronger hive will  receive the small amount of workers from the weak hive. It seems to have worked.  The weaker hive was doing much better. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Advise from Cindy Bee at the last MABA for new beekeepers

Cindy Bee discussed what’s going on in the hive currently, and told the audience that when temperatures rise to the 50’s, feed the bees a 2:1 syrup (that’s 2 parts sugar; 1 part water) Feed the bees internally inside the top cover, either on top of the frames or on the inner cover. 
For those people getting their first nucs this spring, never put the bees on the ground.  Have the hive ready prior to the arrival of the nuc.  Keep the bees in a cool place until you are ready to put them in the hive.  You install the bees just before dark. 

Monday, February 22, 2010

Compost and the small hive beetles.

A couple of days ago when I was was at the DHS hive to feed I pulled out the bottom board to look for clues as to what was happening inside.  Lots of large pollen balls, some mites (just some), very white wax bits and other various trash was found, along with about 25 small hive beetles.  I have never had a beetle problem before and was hoping that this was just an isolated time.

Yesterday Curtis Gentry said that small hive beetles like melons.  I didn't think much of it, but ttonight reading a year in the apiary by Cindy BeeStop composting: This sounds like an unfriendly thing to do to the Earth, but vegetable clippings and especially fruit and melon rinds draw small hive beetles. I limit my compost pile to coffee grounds and crushed egg shells.  Bingo!  

DHS has a large pile of compost, this hive is going to require lots of beetle management.  I will put in AJ beetle eaters tomorrow.  Hope that takes care of it.  

What are the bes visiting this time of year?

Curtis Gentry was kind enough to answer this question for me.





there could be other stuff too -- this is what comes to mind first --
as you might note, pollen color can range quite a bit as there are often multiple species in many of these listings -- i would suspect the avocado green is likely alder or some species of maple (there are several species of maple out there with red maple being the earliest to bloom which tends more toward yellowish/creamish, as i recall -- the approach to verify this would be to find a bee collecting pollen on the respective plant and compare -- there is an alder shrub near the apiary in the Oakhurst Garden -- the Bee Team will look tomorrow --