Friday, July 27, 2012

External Nest

I thought I had seen about all things bee. Today at a client's house I got to see an external nest. It was very cool, but there is no way they will last the winter. If they weren't 40' up a tree and 5' out on a branch I would sure try.

click on picture to get a better view.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bee Stings

I get asked a lot about what to put or do about bee stings. Personally I don't have a swelling reaction anymore, but it does still ouch when I'm getting punctured by the sting. Today my son, who has been quite a few times before, got stung and had a strong emotional reaction to the sting. I googled homeopathic remedies for bee stings and came up with this site. Good breakdown of the different needs for treating the sting. I gave him aconitum. It seems to be working, if only as a placebo.

Bee sting remedies

Sunday, June 24, 2012

SHB options

With the warmer weather, I'm really seeing the SHB populations rise in weaker hives. Even the strong hive have quite a few, but are keeping them at bay.

Here are some options with links with dealing with SHB issues.

SHB information

Don's method boric acid

Cheap Bottom Board traps This requires completely taking hive apart to install/change and remove.

Freeman beetle traps expensive

AJ Beetle Eaters works, inexpensive, but is messy and hard to install and remove without spilling.

Entrance traps These look like a good option. No leveling of hive necessary!

Keeping your hive real estate in correct proportion is the best method, but if you have a compost pile or more shade then sun, mechanical SHB removal is a must.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I promise this is the last of the chick post, for awhile...

Last night when I went to close up the coop, I found Goldie and the chicks in the coop. At first I only saw two chicks, one on her back and one behind her on the window frame.

After climbing in the coop with my flashlight, I found the other two tucked under her wings.

I'm glad they have decided to sleep in the coop, since there has been a coyote/chicken incident right down the street last week. I'm not sure how the dog create would hold up to a hungry coyote. I'm sure they would be traumatized at the very least.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Time is now to do your Mite treatments before it reached 85f days

This method is, inexpensive, works and is approved by Certified Naturally Grown. I find it to be the kindest way to handle the mite issue when threshold has been reached. My bee buddy, John Jones, made my fume board for me and mixed my formic acid to 50%. It's good to pull the girl card sometimes. ;) I have about 15 hives to check and treat if needed. I find that once, every other year, takes care of it. Here is John's blog with more information on the treatment and pictures of the fume board.

Broody Hen in pool and Goldie's chicks update

My grandmother told me that my Aunt was a chicken fan as well, she always tried to save those poor colored Easter chicks, so I'm glad to partly blame my new found fondness of the girls on heredity. They don't really pay for themselves, I think I break even after food. I love my Buff O's, they are the big hipped Wallace and Grommet chicks, that crack me up when they run, but they sure seem to be broody. I quite honestly don't need more chicks, so after doing some looking around on the internet, it seems that the temp of the vent is what triggers broodiness. Why do I care if they go broody? First off it causes a traffic jam in the the nest boxes to have one just sitting. Secondly, she won't lay when broody. I'm starting to think that this might be kinda like my son's book, Click, Clack, Moo. The farm animals find a typewriter and start writing out demands to the farmer or they withhold milk and eggs. I think she actually enjoys the coolness, and wants a drink with a umbrella. Goldie and the chicks are doing fine. It's so much easier to raise chicks with a Mama hen. Last night they actually slept in the coop with all the rest of the hens and all is well in the coop-yard. Goldie does a great job of following them with the constant peculating sound she makes. Brent thinks that's her telling them about all about their world. The rest of the girls didn't want to be left out of the spotlight so they gathered for their picture to be taken as well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers day and baby chicks

I didn't plan for the chicks to hatch on Mother's Day, but it seems fitting. Yesterday, I could hear peeping coming from under Goldie, when I would listen carefully. I read that you could hear them before hatching, but was still surprised. Today I lifted her up (quickly and gently, and yeah I know I shouldn't) and found four hatched chicks. This one was already dry and didn't have a milk tooth. Maybe she had already hatched yesterday, and that is what I was hearing. Three more were brand new, wet chicks. One doesn't look like it's going to make it, but maybe it had just hatched and weak from the fight with the shell. It's been nerve wracking not being able to see what's going on.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wild comb

I ran into this wild comb today when I was on a consultation job. The owner had put a quart feeder jar on the frames of the the deep below and then added 3 frames of foundation. The bees, for whatever reason, didn't like the frames and had only started to work one side of one frame. There was signs of a recent supersedure, no eggs were spotted, so I'm hoping that a virgin queen is there and just hasn't laid yet. I looked for her, but just didn't see her. The box below contained some capped brood and honey. Lots of empty, drawn comb they could have used.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wylde Center apiary certification

Wylde Center apiary has just been accepted by Certified Naturally Grown. This really didn't change much as far as how the bees are being worked, it just means that I have to start keeping track of how old the brood comb is. It must bee changed out every 5 years. Dee Lusby said "the comb is the liver of the hive". That has always really struck me as an important truth. Some of the comb at the garden still has "nasty" written on it by Curtis Gentry. He knows more about bees then I ever will, and that was his system. I think brood comb shouldn't be in the hive longer then 3 years, but sight of how dark it is, is my system. So for our garden official system I'm going to mark the frames with the International Queen marking system. Different numbers of the year are assigned a color. White 1,6 Yellow 2,7 Red 3,8 Green 4,9 Blue 5,0 Two of the three hives were new last year with new comb, so that is easy. The hive that was pre-existing, I will start moving old comb out to the sides, and then replace with new foundation and, color coding. One of the other changes is to have two other beekeepers, that practice natural beekeeping, come and inspect the garden hives. In turn, I must do inspections of other Certified Naturally Grown apiaries if called upon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How to extract honey the easy way, Crush and Stain.

For some reason I can't get the slide show to go forward to back no matter how I arrange the pictures. So here is the info, backwards!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Goldie, the broody hen

Goldie is a big, buff orpington hen.  When she runs it's like a Wallace & Gromitt character.  Her genetics that give her those wide hips and fluffy backside, are also why she's become broody.  Broody is when a hen just sits, and sits on eggs waiting for them to hatch.  This started about 4 days ago.  She even slept in the nest box.  I called my chicken mentor, Allen Goodwin, and asked some questions about this process.  I decided it would be fun to hatch some chicks the old fashioned way, broody hen.  I don't have, nor want a rooster, so Allen donated fertile eggs for my cause and said I could bring him the roos and he would make soup, er take them from me, since we live in city limits.

First, Goldie had to be moved from the nest box into her own space.  If I had left her in the next box several things could have happened.  First, she was causing a traffic jam for laying.  Second, when she left the nest box to eat or drink, she might get confused and sit on the wrong eggs, and let her eggs get chilled.  Third, when the babies hatch you don't want them to be raised off the ground so they wont fall.

The process takes 21 days, so 3 weeks from now we will see how many hatch.

Goldie sitting on 8 fertile eggs

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Biggest swarm ever, 40' up in my tree

Late in the season last year, I made a split, which I wasn't even sure if it would make it through the winter in one deep. This spring it has surprised me by taking off with great speed. I have added 3 boxes on to it and just checked the other day that they still had storage room. What I have been doing since I have been so darn busy is checker boarding my brood. Checker-boarding is freeing up brood space by inserting empty frames. BBEBBEBEBB. B=brood, E=empty frame. I heard the noise and wondered which hive was going. To my suprise, once again, it was this hive, not the hive that is bearding and 7 boxes deep, so you know I haven't dug all the way down into the brood.
Off they go!
WAY up the tree right next to the hive.
It took me a while but I managed to hoist a hive with some drawn comb up the tree to try and entice them to move in before it rains (fingers crossed, knock on wood, ect) tomorrow. I didn't put any stores in there and that was a mistake. I'm not doing redoing the hanging of that hive so I will have to hope that the drawn comb is enough lure.
Look for the orange strap lower right and bees upper leftish. Long ways apart.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sugar Mixes

I don't have a formula for mixing sugar, nor do I do a different ratio for different times of year.
Here is a slide show of mixing sugar.  It's super easy.

Click Here for slideshow

Monday, April 2, 2012

Beekeeping task that I detest

One of the things I can't stand about beekeeping is the equipment clean up.  Assembly can be boring, but cleaning out frames for new foundation is just the worse.  I was complaining talking to my bee buddy, John, about how flimsy the frame cleaner is.
My hand was so sore after just a couple of frames.  I hate to say, but my solution has been to just keep buying more frames since my bee yard keeps growing.  

John asked about my solar wax melter.  I do have one, but it's a Styrofoam cooler painted black and can't hold actual frames.  It's for crush and stain comb.  John built a wax melter that I thought was awfully big.  The kicker of this is that, if you put your frames in the wax melter, it cleans all those places that I would have to scrape with the frame cleaner.  That sold me, big or no, scrape free is too good to not do.  So now I'm waiting on the off season free shipping special. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Swarms and hurt feelings

Yesterday I received 4 swarm calls in 2 hours! The first one was in downtown Stone Mountain.  When I was en-route to the swarm the St. Mt. police called to tell me that the swarm had moved apparently found a better home and left.

While I was on my way to St. Mt. Daniel called from Oakhurst Garden to say that those bees swarmed as well and would could I come get them.  I turned around after the call about the St. Mt. bees leaving and headed to the garden.  It was a nice sized swarm that was about 25' in a tree.  After several attempts, with the John Jones famous bucket, I got the queen and the workers were fanning Nasonov pheromone to say 'hey everybody, the queens in here'.  I left them at the garden to let everybody get in, since I needed to go meet my son's bus.

Leaving the garden, I checked my email and had a email from another beekeeper about some bees in John's Creek.  That is quite a trip for me, so I passed them on to a friend in that area and it turned out to be a cut out.  So she called another beekeeper with lots, and lots of experience is going to do that one.  Whew!

After getting Max off the bus I got another call about a swarm in Grant Park.  I packed up more gear.  Stopped at ace to buy a new pole.  The pole I was using was collapsing on me. Daniel put a screw in the one at the Garden, so I could use it.  I hate technical difficulties. The bees were about 17' up a tree and easy to retrieve.

I stop back at the Garden to pick up that swarm.  Drive to my house to put the Oakhusrt swarm in a 10 frame with the three frames of drawn out comb I used during the removal and 7 frames of new wax foundation.

Then I drive to my friends to install that swarm, since I'm out of space in my yard.  All seems well.

This morning I checked the hive from OG in my yard and they are gone!  Just gone!  I think, what was not to like?  Drawn comb and new foundation, good view of the chicken coop in my yard, nice neighbors.  This is only the second time I have had a hive abscond. The first time was in a TBH that I never could get to work out.  My feeling are a little hurt.  I wonder why they didn't stay?  What could I have done different?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The decline of CSX queen

Several years ago I caught a swarm at the CSX station.  This hive has been a great hive, productive and calm.  Going into winter they looked fine, but coming out of winter I thought that perhaps I lost them.  When I checked a couple of weeks ago, the number of bees was very low, but I did find a small number of eggs and larva.  I reduced them to one deep and hoped for the best.  Yesterday, when I took a look I saw no eggs and this supersedure queen cell.  You know it's a supersedure cell since it's in the middle of the frame, not the bottom of the frame and well, the queen has failed.  I don't think the workers caught it in time.  The queen cell doesn't look big enough. The must catch an egg no more then 3 days old to make a queen, I think this may have been older then that.  To try and save the hive I pulled two frames of eggs and larva to give them another go at making a better queen.  Not sure if the bees might be to old to produce enough royal jelly to do it, but we will see.

Friday, March 23, 2012

CNN filming at Oakhurst Community Gardens

I was honored to have Wes Light and Natalie Snedden from CNN come and film my beekeeping 101 class.  To me, it was really interesting to see how the process works.  I must say they did a great job filming and editing, since I was extremely nervous and was having a hard time finding my teaching zone.
CNN at Oakhurst Community Gardens

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swarm in action

Today, as I was frantically getting equipment ready for Farmer D's, I heard the hum of a swarm.  I looked up and yes, sure enough, they were off and going.  I follow for a few mins, but really I was already running late for a day packed with important appointments.  I have already add one or two boxes to every hive and rotated the brood boxes, but once it's in their intent to swarm it's to late to stop it..

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I learned something new about swarming today.

Meridith Ford Goldman contacted me today about a swarm of bees from her hive at her parents house.  When I arrived Meridith told me that her mom said they had started the behavior of landing in the wisteria tree and then making a clump on the ground about 25' away on Tuesday.

The couple of pounds of bees on the ground were a first swarm and the smaller swarm on the tree looked to be a secondary swarm.  But why was there bees on the ground and why would the swarm in the tree start to join the bees on the ground during the day?

After doing some reading on this while eating lunch, I learned that sometimes the queen is too fat with eggs to fly far.  So even though the workers wanted to land on a tree, her highness just was not able to do it.  I know that this was the first swarm since she's a mated queen.  I did get her I believe and hopefully the rest of them will march into the 10 frame deep with drawn comb we put out for them.

The bees in the wisteria seemed to be less organize and had a bit of a temperament.  The virgin queen was doing a really good job of hiding in the vines of the wisteria and even after cutting and brushing I know that I didn't get her.

So I believe that swarm in the wisteria was drawn to the mated queen on the ground, but had a virgin queen in the tree and just didn't really know what to do.  Hopefully the bees in the wisteria will join the other swarm.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

New queen cells

It's that time of year where the strong hives make a new queen and the old queen leaves the hive with about 1/2 the work force to find a new home.  Swarming is natural and a good sign that you came out of winter strong.  So why try to keep them from swarming?  Losing half your work force right at nectar flow is unfortunate.  Not the end of the world, but a bummer none the less.
That cup is built in that position and in a 1/2 peanut shape in-case the colony decides to make a queen.  The cell was empty.

Several queens are raised at once when swarming is impending.  If you scrape all the queen cells off thinking you are going to stop the swarm, if the old queen has already flown off,  you could have no queens at all now.

If you look carefully in the cell you can see her future highness floating in royal jelly and being attended by the nurse bees.  The cell will be capped in about 3 more days and she will emerge about 8 days later.   

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Swarm kit list

Three swarms yesterday and more to come this  week with the warm weather.  Are you ready?
Swarm Catching:
  • Have your regular gear (veil, gloves,  smoker, hive tool ect)
  • White sheet, to catch a clump on ground
  • Box to put them in
  • Nuc box, if you have piece of dark comb to add that helps.
  • Cardboard box with close-able flap on side.
  • Swarm bucket with extension pole.
  • tape for cardboard box.
  • hedge clippers.
  • ratchet strap to keep nuc together
  • hardware cloth, foam or dish town to close entrance
  • stapler if hardware cloth
  • ladder
  • camera
  • red light flashlight, bees can’t see red.

  • Questions
    • Address, special directions?
    • Where is the swarm?
    • How high is it?
    • How big is it?
    • How long has it been there?
    • Has the swarm been spayed with anything?

  • Tell the customer how long till you will be there and reassure them that bees when swarming are very docile and that you will relocate them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Frazer Center

The Frazer Center is going to have two new hives this year.  One from complete scratch and another one from a die out last year.  Amy is also going to have two hive at her house and two hive at Twin Lakes Camp.  So 5 complete new hives, frames and foundation to prepare for the upcoming April 2 pick-up date.

You can do it Amy!

Friday, March 2, 2012

First swarm of the season

Anne-Marie, AKA, the Celtic Gardener called yesterday after witnessing a swarm from one of her hives.  It was a two person job for sure.  They had swarmed across her yard to a very ivy covered hill and up a tree about 8'.
The bees weren't the docile bees that a swarm usually is.  I think it's because they were only in the tree about an hour before removal.  No time to let the homeless state of their situation to sink in.

When Anne-Marie swept them into the bucket, I have never smelled such a strong banana odor in my life!  The first attempt I don't think got the queen, but completely filled the bucket!  After looking for the fanning sign of having the queen we once again endured the very agitated bees to try to get the queen.  We got her the second time.

Thank you to Anne-Marie for letting me help her on her first swarm.  She was a trooper! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Extra, extra jumbo egg and egg info

Yesterday my daughter went to put the girls up and found these two eggs in the nest box.

The blue egg weighs 102.4 grams and the brown egg weighs 54.2 grams.  I don't really know much about
the grading system of eggs and ran across this helpful page with information on quality & grades of eggs.
A Jumbo egg must weigh at least 70gm.  The brown egg fell into the medium category between 49-55gm.
Egg in carton