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Thursday, April 29, 2010

We've Got Brood!

Last night, Wednesday, Aaron and I went to the farm to refill the feeders and check on the bees.  When my dad arrived at the farm he noticed that the left hive feeder jar was empty and the right one had about 3 inches of sugar water in it (these are half gallon mason jars).  By the time we arrived at 6pm both jars were empty, so they when through a full gallon of sugar water in 3 days!

We examined the left hive first to see how work was progressing and whether or not we could find the Queen.  I was pleased to see how much wax work was being done by the bees.  There were bees on every frame and wax honey comb being built on nearly all of them.  We started looking on the center frames and eventually found the Queen.  She was walking all over the frame, apparently examining the construction efforts of her workers.  I was tickled to find the Queen!  All the time while working with this hive, one of the bees was apparently upset with our invasion and kept going after Aaron.  The bee would fly directly into his veil over and over again; he hit my veil a couple of times but was mostly after Aaron.

After putting the left hive back together we started examining the right hive.  I immediately noticed it did not have near the number of bees as the other, which probably accounts for how it doesn't use as much water as the first one we looked at.  I started pulling out the outside frames and found no bees or wax on the five outermost frames.  I then looked at the center two frames where the bees where on Sunday they building extra high comb and connecting the frames.  I pulled the two frames apart removed one for examination.  That is when I saw them...Brood!  Beautiful little worms curled in their own individual cells.  I showed Aaron and he was very excited as well.  I didn't bother looking for the Queen after that, because I saw evidence of her handywork.  I very carefully replaced the frames and closed up the hive.  I'm not sure why the second hive has fewer bees; I guess they could have drifted from one to the other.

We will be up at the farm again on Sunday afternoon, and if the left hive is doing well I will probably add another hive box on top.
The little worms are the baby bees!

Queen lays egg  --  Worker feeds larva -- Larva grows full size -- Worker seals cell -- Larva becomes a pupa -- Adult bee leaves cell

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

30 Hornets vs. 30,000 honeybees

This is an amazingly horrible film short of how hornets can destroy an entire honeybee hive.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Buzz kill! Is this 'bee Armageddon'?

Here is an article posted yesterday on World Net Daily regarding Colony Collapse Disorder. It isn't looking like a good Ohio beekeepers this year.

Buzz kill! Is this 'bee Armageddon'?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

One Week Hive Inspection

I went to the farm in the early afternoon to refill feeders and inspect the hives.  It is hard to imagine that it has only been 1 week with the bees.  I have been up there several times, so that is probably why it feels longer.  Luckily the rain stopped and I was able to work with the bees in the dry, but the wind was strong. 

Since Friday evening the bees have used 1/2 gallon of 1:1 sugar water.  I cannot believe how much they are using!  I picked up another 16 pounds of sugar at Aldi's from $1.79 a bag.

I got into the hives and pulled out several hives.  The bees did not buzz around very much due to the wind, but the frames were very crowded.  I hunted all over the frames and did not find the Queens, nor did I find any evidence by way of visible eggs or brood.  I'm not sure when to expect to see eggs or brood with a new hive like this.  I left a message with Dave at Long Lane Honey Bee Farm, but haven't heard back yet.  The worker bees have been busy building comb on the foundation on the center frames.  One of the hives built out large bumps of comb in the middle of the foundation on two frames facing each other; they were actually starting to connect the frames until I pulled them apart when removing frames.

Well, I hope the new feeder jars keep the bees satisfied until I get up there next.  The west hive still uses more sugar water than the east hive.  I plan on check on the bees for a refill on Thursday.

Those Sugar Using Bees!

Today makes one week since installing the bees in their hives.  Since that time they have been using the sugar water feverously.  Sunday I gave them each a quart mason jar of 1:1 sugar water and by Monday evening they had used well over half.  Wednesday we went to the farm and had to fill them again.  Friday night we replaced the quart jars with half gallon jars and by Saturday they were close to half used!  I'm figuring that because Saturday was a misty, rainy day and the bees didn't leave the hive, they kept themselves busy just working the feeders.  I'm planning on filling the feeders today and checking the frames in the hive to see if they are capping any cells containing syrup.  I have no idea how fast they work in the hive, so I'll check them out.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 4 - Freeing the Queen!

Today my dad was up at the farm and seeded about a quarter acre of white clover for the bees.  He has another strip of the conservation ground that he will be seeding soon.  It is neat seeing him get into the bee adventure!

I wanted to check on the hives to make sure the Queens were out of their cages and all was going well.  Dawn, Aaron, Jessica, and I drove up before church, and Aaron & I suited up for getting into the hives.  Immediately, we noticed that the bees had gone through quite a bit of sugar water; there was only about a cup left in each feeder, so we topped off the feeders with more 1:1 solution.

We went to the left hive first, and after smoking it I opened the top and found a big surprise.  When I pulled out the queen cage attached to it was a long piece of white comb about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide.  As I looked closer I could see that the comb had trapped the Queen in her cage!  I broke off the comb from the cage and could see that the bees had not eaten all of the candy plug to release their Queen, so I took a match stick and poked out the remaining candy plug and released the Queen.  I placed her onto a frame, and she quickly crawled between two frames hopefully to start a long productive life laying thousands and thousands of eggs! 

I pulled out one of the frames and could see that the bees were making good progress building up comb.  When I checked the other hive, I found they had released their Queen and only built a small amount of comb on the queen cage.  Likewise, the right hive also had quite a bit of comb being built on the frame's foundation.  I am so pleased with how they are doing thus far!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 3 Update

I received an update from Dad who had been to the farm Tuesday and he thought everything looked good at the hives and the sugar water feeders were down about an inch each.  My plan is Wednesday after work to check the hives to make sure the Queens are out of the cages and that everything continues to look normal.  I guess I'm a nervous dad wanting to make sure his girls are doing well!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 2 - Checking on the "Girls"

Today I went to the farm to till the garden and set out some tomatoes and cabbage, and of course check on "the girls", which is my pet name for the bees.  I drove out to the bee yard at about 6pm and walked to them.  There was a little activity with bees flying around the hive, but they were quieting down for the evening.  I looked at the quart mason jars that I had filled with 1:1 sugar water and was quite shocked.  The right hive had about half of the water gone, and the left hive had only an inch of water left!  I had no idea they would go through the sugar water that fast!

After working in the garden, I went to the farm house, made up a batch of sugar water, and walked out to fill up the feeders.  It was about 7:40pm and the sunset was beautiful and the air was peaceful.  As I approached the hives all was quiet and not a bee to be seen.  I carefully filled the feeder jars with sugar water and thought about my girls tucked in for the night.  While I was there, 3 bees from the left hive came out for a quick look to see what was going on and then back into the hive again as if they said, "What's going on out here?  Oh, it's our keeper.  Good to see you again...hey, were running low on that good sugar water, so fill'em up if you don't mind."

As I was leaving my son-in-law, Dan, came walking up to meet me (he had been fishing at the pond with his friend Kelly).  We walked back out to the hives for a final look tonight.  We got down and put our ears to the sides of the hives and hear a quiet and gentle "Buzzzzzzzzz" telling me that all was well in the hive.  That's my girls!  I won't be able to check on them tomorrow night, but I hope to go up Wednesday to check to make sure the Queens are out of their cages and all is well on the inside.

Good night girls!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Bees Have a New Home

Well, today was installation day, and the bees were introduced into their new hives at the farm.  We had quite a turn out for the event....either everyone wanted to see the bees or they wanted to see me get stung!  Those in attendance were myself (obviously), my wife Dawn, my kids Aaron & Jessica, two of Jessica's friends - Hannah and Elizabeth, my Dad - Edward, my son-in-law Dan, two of my grandsons - Elijah and Nicolas, and one of my high school friends who is getting into beekeeping - Dick Loy and his wife.

For the most part, everything went very smooth with no major problems.  The bees were very gentle and settled into the hives pretty quickly.  The first package of bees I sprayed with sugar water and smoked before shaking them down into the hive.  The second box had been calmer all along and since my sprayer clogged and did not get the opportunity to spray them with sugar water.  I also did not smoke them to see what the difference would be with the installation.  They still did well, but I would definitely recommend both spraying and smoking the bees!  I noticed after they were in their hives for about 2 hours they were doing basic housekeeping and carrying off the dead bees.  I will check on them again in a few days.

Larry removing the sugar container from bee package.

Larry shaking the bees into the hive.

Dick Loy & Larry commenting on a bag of pine needles used for smoking the bees.

Larry teaching Elizabeth (one of Jessica's friends) all about bees while Dick Loy watches.  The bee hives are on concrete blocks to prevent skunks from trying to eat the bees.

"I'm Smokin'!"

"Houston...We've got bees"

SATURDAY, APRIL 17, 2010 -- Pick-up day arrived and Aaron & I had plans for an early afternoon pick-up; however, I received a call from Sherry at Long Lane Honeybee farm and learned that the truck was delayed and would probably arrive around 4-5pm.  So, after a little goofing around trying to find a camcorder battery and having supper we arrived to get our bees.

As we got out of the truck I saw three guys in veils and I wondered, "Ooo, maybe I should have brought mine?"  As we walked up to the truck there were bees buzzing around but nothing alarming.  The bees loose around the truck were those who had been clinging to the sides of the packages "hanging with their buddies" all the way from Florida!  We said "HI" to Dave and his son, confirmed the purchase with Sherry, and then went back out to the truck to get the bees. 

I was looking at the boxes and the bees on the outside of the package and saw one that was considerably was a drone.  I picked it up and let it walk on my hand.  It was not alarmed so I could really study it.  It was very fuzzy and had two very large eyes together on the front of it's head.  Of course I didn't worry about getting stung since drones are males and have no stingers.  Dave's son went to pick up a worker bee for me but squeezed a little too hard with his glove and it stung the glove tearing it's stinger out.  I then picked her up and put her on my hand.  Neither the drone or worker wanted to fly away, but were content to just walk around.

Dave's son checked the queens in the boxes to make sure they were alive and well, so we were good to go!  I sprayed them with a solution of 1:1 sugar water to feed and help calm them for the trip home.  Aaron and I carried them back to the truck and started to head home.  Initially, the bees were buzzing in the back seat, but within a couple of miles they calmed down and made no buzzing all the way home...."Good Bees".

At home I showed them to the family: Dawn, Jennifer, Jessica, and her friend Elizabeth.  After another feeding I put them to bed.  Tomorrow will be a big day: Installation into the hives!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

2 More Days!!!

I don't know about anyone else, but this guy is getting excited about the coming bees.  My girls are somewhere between Florida and Illinois, probably wondering, "What the heck is going on?  We were happy, hanging out in Florida, catchin' some son, talking about a trip to Disney, and BAM! were were shaken into a box with some Queen we don't even know...."

Yesterday evening, Aaron, Elijah, and Nicolas joined me at the farm to drop of some used lumber from our deck project and to set up the hives.  The boys asked a lot of questions and had fun carrying the hive components and setting them up in the new bee yard.  Dad had been up this week and mowed a nice spot for them next to where we will be planting some white and sweet clover...the bees should like that when it comes up!

On Sunday we will be having a few observers for the bee installation, including Dick Loy and his wife.  Dick is an old friend from Effingham High School who found my house when he saw a beehive in the front yard and stopped by to find out the scoop.  He hopes to start beekeeping this year as well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

4 Days to Bee Pickup

WOW!!!  It's hard to believe that this day is fast approaching.  Only four more days until I go pick up my bees from Long Lane Honeybee Farm.  I still have a few tasks to complete:
  1. Buy a new battery for camcorder and charge it
  2. Set up the hives at the farm
  3. Get a spray bottle for sugar water to calm the bees
  4. Take a bunch of pine needles from back yard to farm for smoker
  5. Make my checklist for step-by-step process of installing the bees
  6. Buy several bags of sugar
  7. Get feeders ready (jars filled with 1:1 sugar/water solution
  8. ?????

Saturday, April 10, 2010

How They Will Package My Bees

Well, it's just one week until my bees arrive!!!  Some friends have asked how I will get my bees.  I ordered two 3-pound boxes of bees with a queen in each box.  They will come from Florida, I imagine the same bee farm shown in this video.  It is an amazing process.  My son-in-law can't believe some of the workers have bare arms! 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Packaging a Queen Bee

Here is another video from David at Long Lane Honeybee Farm showing how he captures and packages one of his gentle queen bees and nurse bees for shipping to a beekeeper.  I find it amazing how gentle these bees are!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Brood at Long Lane Honeybee Farm

David at Long Lane Honeybee Farm has posted a new video from one of his hives.  He is checking to see if his queen is laying, and she is doing a great job.  This is a queen he raised from his hardy stock of bees.

Monday, April 5, 2010

12 Days and Counting

It is 12 days and counting until Bee Day!  Unless the delivery plans change, on Saturday, April 17, and the next day we will place them in their hives.  I plan on making a check-list to take with me that I can refer to throughout the process.  I sure I'll be excited enough that I'll forget something bringing the smoker or sugar water spray bottle!