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Monday, May 31, 2010

This is a funny video of some crazy people robbing a bee hive....and it doesn't end in tragedy!

Bee Observations

This morning I was up at farm by 5:30am to feed the bees and do a little gardening.  The bees are really working both the feeders and nature.  I've got a feeling the are using more than a half gallon of sugar water a day, but I am not going to feed them more than every day or so now until they get their bottom two boxes filled for the season.  When I put the medium super on I will pull the feeders.  I also heated the water on the stove for mixing the sugar and it works great!  In the two hours between feeding them and leaving the farm, they had used over an inch out of each jar.

I also took some time to watch them work.  The forager bees would leave the front porch of the hive and make 1-2 circles as they spiraled upwards to a height of about 15 feet and then head off in a beeline to their nectar source.  They were all going in different directions, but they went with intention.  I found the upward spiral fun to watch as I tried to guess which direction they were going to go.  After several minutes of watch, it was time to return to the world of Effingham, but I could see myself watching the bees for a long time.  They are facinating creations!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today's Bee Photos

Dawn & I were up at the farm this evening and took a look at the bees.  We refilled their sugar water, but to make sure all the sugar was desolved I heated the water on the stove adding and stiring the sugar water until 4 pounds was well dissolved into the gallon of water.  We also looked in the hives a little bit, and Dawn took some photos of the bees.

Larry removing the inner cover.

Inside the West Hive

Smokin' the Bees

Frames filled with Pollen

Bees Filling Out New Honeycomb

Video on CCD & Backyard Beekeeping

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clogged Feeder

Tonight we were heading to Urbana to drop the kids off when I got a call from Dad at the farm for a bee update.  He said the East hive was 2/3 empty, but the West hive was only down a half an inch and the bees were buzzing all around the feeder like never before.  We made a quick stop at the farm to check out what was wrong.  When I pulled the mason jar out of the feeder base I could see that the sugar did not dissolve properly and was clumped up at the bottom by the feeder lid.  When I examined the lid with the pin holes I found it dry and crusted with dried sugar.  The bees were not able to get any sugar water at all and were trying their best to get at the artificial nectar.  I cleaned off the dried sugar and shook and shook it to dissolve the sugar into the water, then placed the jar back into the feeder.  While doing this the bees were very upset with me and kept bouncing off of my face shield.  I'm afraid my enjoyment of gentle bees that I could handle without protection may have passed for the time being.  Warmer weather and increased bees in the hives may have changed their character.  We plan to stop by this weekend to refeed and see how they are doing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Going through the Sugar Water!!!

This morning (Thursday) I went to the farm to fill the bee feeders, as Dad had told me they were dry yesterday.  I arrived at the farm about 5:30am and filled both half gallon feeders with almost 2 pounds of sugar and water.  I then examined the hives and video taped myself (see video below).  However, later this afternoon I received a call from Dad who said the West hive feeder was empty already and the other one had about an inch or so left!  What?!?!  In one day the west hive went through a half gallon of sugar water?!?!  We were in the area this evening and stopped by to fill them both.  Aaron suited up to retrieve and replace the jars.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Inside the Hive Update

Today I took an early morning trip to the farm and along with other tasks I fed and checked on the bees.  The bee feeders were empty, but Dad had only filled them with a quart each on Friday evening.  I mixed up my 1:1 sugar solution and added a quart to each as well.  I would have added more, but I am out of sugar; if my tally is right they have gone through 32 pounds of sugar!

While I was out at the hives I decided to check on their progress in the second deep supers, and after Dad's experience I decided to suit up!  I checked the East hive first and NOT to my surprise I found more comb being built between the frames.  I can't figure this out, because the frames are set at the correct distance.  I separated the frames to get a better look and there was a piece of comb loosely attached to the one of the frames that fell to the bottom of the box when I moved the frames.  I removed a couple of frames so I could retrieve the comb and found it to be mostly round and about 6 inches across!  They had not filled the bulk of it with anything, but one part did have brood larva that looked like it was about to be capped for the pupa state of development.  I scraped of the excess wax from the frames and cleaned them up the best I could.  I felt bad about the brood, but they need to learn how to build comb only on the man-made frames...yes, I'm lecturing nature! ;-)

I looked into the West hive and was very pleasantly surprised that they had two frames in the second deep super over 90% filled with capped brood on both sides!  They should be coming out as bees in the next week!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dad Takes it on the Nose....

Tonight, the family and I were on the way to camp for the weekend when my dad called from the farm telling me the bees were out of sugar water (I had filled them 2 mornings ago with half gallon each).  I asked Dad to refill them since I was leaving town the other direction, and he agreed.  I gave him the basic instructions and said those fateful words, "The bees are really gentle, so you wouldn't need to suit up for this."

About 30 minutes later I received a phone call from Dad informing me that he refilled the East hive with no problems at all.  However, when he started working with the West hive a few of the bees decided to take a walk on his face and even under his glasses, giving Dad quite a bit of concern and rightfully so.  Pow! Pow! Pow!  Two stings to the nose and one to the chin!  He called from the house where he used a credit card to flick out the stingers and doctor the stings up with baking soda paste.  I felt absolutely horrible, but Dad took it well. 

Later I called him from the campground, and he reported that he finished the West hive after fully suiting up; "They didn't bother me after that."  I'm wondering if Dad may give off a different scent than me.  He also reported having a bee land on him while he was walking around the farm and was far away from the hives; it stayed on his arm while he walked for quite a while before continuing on her necter hunting task.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Woke the Girls!

This morning I left for the farm at 5am to feed and check on the bees; Dad had told me that both feeders were empty.  I approached the hives just after sunrise and all was quiet...not a bee was buzzing around and not even a hive guard could be seen.  I removed the feeder bottles and decided to put my ear to the hives to listen to their buzz in the hive (I think it sounds really cool!).  However, I didn't hear a thing in either hive...not even a slight buzz.  Hmmmm?  Could they be asleep?  Did something happen since Friday evening when I was last up here?

I took the feeders back to the farm house and filled them with sugar water.  These half-gallon feeders will hold just under 2 pounds of sugar for a 1:1 sugar/water ratio.  So far I've fed them just under 28 pounds of sugar!  Wow! What a sweet tooth!

I went back out to the hives and put the first jar of sugar water in the feeder and immediately the bees started buzzing loudly.  Either I startled the bees and they began buzzing, or the sugar water is like a fresh battery for a video game!  I tried to carefully put the jar in the second feeder and POW! they woke up as well.  I pulled the tops off the hives to check their handy work and the West hive is going to town on the second super; the East hive is just working on two frames in the second super and those frames have been fused together by the bees' honeycomb.  I'm thinking I'm going to have to separate some frames next week for they'll attach all the frames and I'll have a mess on my hands!  I'll try to have new photos and video from that working visit.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Well, I just got home from the farm and needed to write an update on the bees.  I was up on Saturday, May 8th, to show my brother-in-law, Shawn, the bees as well as the rest of the farm.  It was a cool and windy day, and we didn't see any bees venturing outside the hives.  Feeling a little brave I opened the hives without any protection to show Shawn what beekeeping was all about.

I am concerned with my east bee hive because it does not appear to have nearly as many bees as the west hive.  In addition, since putting on the second deep hive box I'm not seeing the east hive working at all on the second story; as I see are a couple of bees just looking around.  On the other hand, the west hive is working hard on two frames on the second floor.  Also, the west hive is consuming more sugar water, which makes sense with them having more bees.  Also, my east hive bees insist on building comb connecting frames together.  My west hive isn't doing this at all!  Why are they connecting the frames?  What's up with that?  I'll need to see what I can find on the net.

Today, May 11th, I went up to the farm with Aaron and Jessica and we met up with Matt and Michelle Figgins and their two kids; we took them over to the hives to show off the new hobby.  Again, with no protection I looked in the hives and found the east hive now working on building comb on the second story.  The west hive continues to look strong and working away at building comb on the second story.  Also, their water jars were down a quart on each of the feeders, so I topped them off.  All together with the extra sugar water tonight they have gone through a total of 22 pounds of sugar in a little over three weeks!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Movin' On Up

Tonight I went to the farm with Aaron, Elijah, and Nicolas with several tasks on the agenda including checking on the bees.  It had been 3 days since checking on the bees and each hive had been using the sugar water.  The west hive had used a  little over a quart and the east hive just under a quart.  I filled them both up, and then I decided to peek inside the hives since adding the second deep frame super.  The east hive only had a small number of bees checking it out; they weren't working but just walking around on the frames.  The west hive has hard at work on the second super.  I was tickled to see them starting to build more comb!  My hope is that by the end of May I will be able to add the third medium super so they can start making honey for me!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Video of Larry Installing Bees

After a week of computer problems, I now have the video from when I installed the bees on April 18, 2010.  There were 12 of us out at the farm for the installation.  I hope you enjoy watching!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Frame Rotation & Adding Another Super

Today, I went to check on the bees and I took my grandson Elijah along.  Their sugar water needed filling, but there was a change this time.  The left hive has always been the one using more sugar water, but this time it was the right hive.  I added 1 quart to the left hive and 2 quarts to the right hive. 

My dad arrived shortly after we arrived at the farm this afternoon, and he joined us in working with the bees.  I was very pleased with their work on the frames.  The both had done a good job filling of the frames with wax comb, sugar water in the curing phase, capped syrup, and plenty of brood.  I decided to rotate the filled frames to the outside and the empty frames to the inside.  I also decided to add a second deep super to each hive.  It is something to see the two story bee hives.  It's is also hard to believe that it has been just 2 weeks since installing the bees.  I feel like I've been to the farm a dozen time filling the feeders with sugar water.

Elijah was suited up for working in the hives and was manning the smoker.  At first he was nervous and stood with my dad for a while, but when I needed more smoke he was right in there helping me.  I was very proud of him today, considering he did not like the bees very much on installation day.

Oh, by the way, I was at the Urbana Free Library and looked at several beekeeping books.  I really, really like the book "Backyard Beekeeping", and I would recommend anyone new the beekeeping to buy it -  lots of color photos!!!  I also liked the "Honey Handbook" by the same author.