Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Latest Update

While at the farm I checked on the bees.  I couldn't find the pine needles for my smoker, so I went without smoke.  Ya know, everytime I go without smoke I really regret it, not that I get stung, but it is very disturbing to the bees when I don't use smoke.

The West hive has bees in the honey super, but they are not drawing out any comb yet.  That really surprises me since the honey super has been on since June 7th.  I am also please with the East hive in that it is looking strong and filling out the frames with lots of capped brood and honey on the deep frames.  I will check them again on the 4th of July weekend and see if the East hive is ready for the honey super.

Note to self: Remember pine needles!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Visiting Dick's Bees

This evening I stopped by Dick Loy's house to check out his new bees.  Dick recently received a nuc (nucleus hive) that came with 5 frames of honey, brood, bees, and a queen.  Dick wore the appropriate protective equipment, but I had left mine at the farm and was "going commando" with nothing but my T-shirt and shorts.  To allow for some sense of protection, I did work the smoker for Dick and tried to keep myself well smoked.  While checking his frames, which by the way looked great with brood in all stages, I felt a sharp pain in the calf of my right leg.  Turning to see what it was, I noticed a little bee dragging itself away from its stinger embedded in my skin....poor thing tried to defend it's hive and didn't realize I wasn't a threat.  I then realized that this was my first bee sting as a bee keeper (and it wasn't even my bees, but Dick's that got me first).  As I gave Dick a very hard time for one of his girls getting me, I realized that this was likely my first honey bee sting since I was five or six years old.  Well, I imagine this will be the first of many.  I quickly pulled out my credit card and flicked the stinger out of my skin and within a few minutes the pain was gone, unless of course I rub on it!  Below is a picture of Dick and his homemade bee hive.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Response from Dave @ Long Lane Honey Bee Farm

I sent a letter this morning to Dave at Long Lane Honey Bee Farm, the guy I bought my hives and bees from, and asked him about my East hive that has so few bees compared to the West hive.  Below is my letter and his response.

Hi Dave,

I need your opinion regarding my hives. To give you an update: I picked up my two packages of bees from you on 4/17 and installed them on 4/18. The hives stand approximately 5 feet from each other with both entrances facing south.

In looking back over my bee blog, I first noticed a difference in the number of bees between the two hives on April 29, in that the East hive had fewer bees both at the entrance and inside the hive. At the time I figured that possibly some bees drifted to the West hive. I have kept feeding the hives 1:1 sugar water until last week when I pulled the feeders. Usually the West hive consumed more water than the East hive. In looking in the hives, there has always been way more bees in the West hive, but I hoped the East hive would catch up after the Queen was in full production of laying eggs; however, the East Queen isn’t producing anywhere near the brood as the West Queen.

On June 7th I pulled the feeder from the West hive, put on the excluder, and put my medium super on top. All the frames are drawn out in the West hive, and capped brood is abundant. However, the East hive looks to only be at most working on half the frames, and the amount of brood is remarkably less. I don’t believe I have seen a full frame of capped brood yet on the East hive, but I found a two full frames of capped brood on the West hive on May 24th. On June 12th I pulled the feeder on the East hive thinking it may be time to let them find food on their own. There is a lot of white clover all around the hives, plenty of water at a pond 100 yards away, and driving 30 miles round trip to fill one hive is costly! If my memory serves me correctly, I have fed both hives a total of 52 or 57 pounds of sugar in a 1:1 ratio.

Below are pictures of the hive entrances taken on Sunday, June 13. Do you have any recommendations???

Below is Dave's Response:

Hard to say. Sometimes a abnormally strong queen makes a good Queen look bad. You could try to swap locations of the hive while all the foragers are out. The stronger number of foragers could help the smaller hive. The other option is to requeen. But if you current queen is average the new one may not be noticeably different. Your last option is to kill the weaker queen and 2 days later place a frame of eggs without the queen on it into the weak hive and see if you can get some of those super traits from the super hive.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pulled the Feeders

I was up at the farm this morning for a variety of things with the gardening, and went to check on the bees. I wanted to see what, if anything, was happening in the West hive's honey super I had recently placed on top. I went with smoke and no protection and didn't have any problems. There were bees checking out the new super, but no work yet on drawing out honeycomb yet. I then took a peak in the top of the East hive and found them busy as bees working away.

Of course, when I got ready to put the inner cover back on the bees were in the way and I didn't want to crush them, so I tried a trick I saw in a video to move bees without getting them too upset. I have noticed that when I use my bee brush they get really upset and try attacking and stinging it. So I grabbed some long weeds growing near the hives and used them to brush off the bees. It works great. They don't get upset or anything. So I cleaned off the edges and replaced the top without killing any bees.

After finishing my gardening for the morning I went back to the hives and looked at the 2 empty feeder jars on the East hive (last time I pulled the one feeder from the West hive and placed both on the East hive). I kept thinking...At what point do I want these bees to fend for themselves? There were lots of blooming flowers, especially white clover in the immediate area, so I pulled both feeders. We'll see what happens.

Friday, June 11, 2010

4 Year Old Bee Whisperer!

This is a fun video of a little boy safely playing with bees!

Monday, June 7, 2010

West Hive Moves to Honey Production

Tonight, Jessica and I made a trip to the farm to check the bees and make some decisions.  The West hive is packed with bees.  The thousands of capped brood from a week or two ago have emerged and are all over the inside of the hive!  Many are hanging around the front entrance of the hive, and they have drawn comb on nearly every frame.  It is time to move up to honey production for me.  Jessica and I brought out one of the honey supers and a queen excluder and set it on top.  Wow!  Day 51 and we are ready to start honey production!  The East hive still has a long way to go.  We found brood, but not as much as I would expect.  Actually, no where near where the West hive is.  Is it because there have not been enough bees drawing out comb?  Is it because the queen is not a good layer?  I'm not sure.  I probably ought to call Dave at Long Lane Honey Bees and give him an update and inventory of the hive and let him try and make a determination.

Here you can see Jessica stylin' in her bee suit with the West hive.  Note the honey super (3rd box on the top).  Also, the worked ground behind the hive is the second white clover strip that Dad has planted this year for the bees.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Time for the Honey Super???

Today we (Aaron, Elijah, Dad & I) were up at the farm working on the garden and mowing, so I topped off the feeder bottles with a quart of sugar water each.  While walking around the farm I found myself constantly looking down at the white clover in the yard.  I watched many of "my girls" working the white clover for that wonderful nectar.  I can't tell you how long since I have easily seen bees working the clover - that was fun to watch!  I also found some other bees that were not mine.  They were slightly smaller and darker in color, and the yellow was less intense than my bees.  I think this picture is similar to the ones that I saw.  According to what I found on the Internet, I believe they are Dark European Honey Bees

I am also thinking it might be time to put the honey super on the West hive and pull the feeder.  They seem to have a lot of bees in the hive and hanging around the front porch of the hive.  I don't want them to get too crowded, so I'll probably add the honey super during my next visit to the farm.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Flip Flop Boxes

Tonight I went to the farm to feed the bees being I haven't been there since Monday morning.  I looked into the West hive with the intention of possibly rotating frames to get the bottom box filled up, but I decided to try something different.  I was reading earlier today about rotating boxes at different points in the season, so I decided to flip flop the boxes and move the bottom one up and the top one down.  Hopefully, since the bees like moving up they will move up and fill the empty frames from the bottom box.  Unfortunately, I ran out of smoke and really got the bees upset with me.  I know I crushed several bees because I couldn't get them out of the way when I went to rearrange the boxes.  During my initial inspection I found a couple new frames of capped brood, so it looks like several thousand more bees in the next few days.  Once I finally got the West hive back together, I decided not to mess with the east hive.  Without smoke I just wanted to leave them alone!

Great Documentary on Beekeeping

This is a great video on beekeepers from all over the country, both rural and urban.