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Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Update

Just a quick update on the bees.  Christmas Day I ran up to the farm briefly and took the time, since it was a nice day, to check on the bees.  Sadly, three hives were dead : Aaron's hive and both of the Gates Hives.  They had plenty of sugar available in the candy boards, but I think the sugar was just too far away for their ways.  I had made deeper candy boards so I could put more sugar in them, but I'm afraid that it back fired.  So, today I went up and cut off all the excess wood bringing the candy as close as possible to the frames.  I also removed a second hive box that was mostly empty and put on a reworked candy board.  I hope the rest of the hives survive winter!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rearranged for Winter

Today I went to the farm to check on the bees, see if any needed to be fed, and to rearrange the hives for winter.  I brought up some concrete blocks, removed the empty hives, removed the "high rise", and moved everything closer together with entrances facing south to avoid the northwest winds of winter.  It was relatively cool today, so I was hoping the bees would be staying inside for the move, but enough came out that some had a hard time finding their way back home.  Several were still looking for the "north entrance" on their hive.  Also there was a fair amount of fighting when the foraging bees came back to their location only to find a new hive there.  Hopefully they will figure it out without too much distress or loses.  My hope is to rig up a wind block behind the row of hives, especially those on the wooden stand.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Extract, Filter & Bottle

Well, I am almost done working my honey for the season.  Last night I used my extractor to spin out 20 frames of honey from three of my hives.  This morning I filtered the honey, and tonight I filled close to sixty bottles with some honey still left in the bucket.  I bought 192 half-pound bottles a few weeks ago, and they have all been used!  I've also filled 10 half-pint Mason jars, and still have about a gallon left over to bottle.  That is over 100 pounds of honey!!!  Wow!!!  I definately did better than I expected to do this year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Feeding the Bees

I stopped by the farm today to feed the bees in preparation for winter.  From my inspection last weekend, I have several hives needing some help with their winter food supply.  I wanted to try a couple of new feeding methods.  Typically I use enterance feeders, but some hives I want to pack with sugar water.  I remembered that Lonnie Langley had given me some 1 gallon feeders that had been tucked away in a corner of the woodshop and forgotten.  A gallon of sugar water holds 4 pounds of sugar.  I placed this on Hive #14

I also made an internal jar feeder out of one my candy boards that I made last winter but never used.  I drilled six holes in the board and placed window screen over the middle two to allow for ventilation.  I placed this feeder on Hive #13.

I also noticed something that gives me mixed feelings for Hive #13....I found a supersedure queen cell near the top of a frame.  I would rather they not try and swarm at this time of year, but maybe they know more than me.

I also placed a double feeder on Hive #15, the Wallace Hive because it was starting out having to make comb from scratch.  I placed two enterance feeders on it.

I also found two dead hives today: #8 & #10.  It was sad, but expected as they were not doing well.  These hives were the Kull Extraction and the Buzzard Swarm.  As I think back over the time with them, both had poor laying queens.

I also followed-up on a phone call last week about a bee tree that blew down and there were bees keeping it from getting cut up.  I stopped by the house and easily found the tree in the backyard.

As I inspected the tree, I realized that the flying things were not honey bees but were yellow jackets!  I informed the home owner of her options, and that she didn't have to feel bad about killing them since they weren't honey bees.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Logo for Quicksall Honey Bee Farm

Over this year I have been playing with a logo for the honey bee farm, and I've settled on this graphic.  I have placed it on my bottled honey this season.  Next will come t-shirts and embroidered shirts!

So far I've sold over 50 bottles of honey, and this morning Aaron will be selling honey at the Effingham farmers market at the Village Square Mall from 9-11am.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wild Hive Bottling Done

Earlier this week, I finally finished crushing and bottling the last of the honey from the wild hive extraction.  I tried several methods to extract the honey, but what seemed to work best at this time was to gently warm 1 inch strips of comb in the oven for about 4 minutes, but squeeze the honey out.  Long processes...hard process on the hands!  I believe I squeezed out around 7 gallons of honey!  Let me tell you, using frames and an extractor is much easier!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Effingham Old Settlers Day

Today was Old Settlers Day in Effingham on the old courthouse lawn.  The Crossroads Beekeepers had a tent set up featuring all kinds of information about beekeeping including a large assortment of suits, a regular and top bar hive, and honey from three different beekeepers.  I sold just under 30 bottles of honey from the Gates extraction on Labor Day.  The day was a lot of fun!

Below is the booth with Rick showing his topbar hive in the back, Dick selling Lance's honey on the left, my display under the Got Bees? sign, and Dave's honey display on the right.

Here is a closer view of my display.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two Queens

Today, Jessica & I went to the farm between activities to check on the new hive from the extraction on Labor Day; we met Dawn there following her trip up North.  As I looked through the hive frame by frame I found the queen I marked on Monday, and placed her frame back in the hive.  Two or three frames later I found another queen!  I suddenly spoke, "By golly, it was two hives."  I quickly gathered a few hive components and split this hive with one queen in each hive.

I also did a quick look at some of the other hives and found the Kull hive was not in good shape with very low numbers and poor laying pattern; this hive will not survive winter, so I need to start planning my winter preps to allow as many hives to survive winter as possible.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mother of All Extractions!!!

Today, Dawn & I drove to the home of Nic and Candy Gates between Greenup and Charleston.  They had an old shed with a hive between the walls that needed removed.  As Nic and I tore into the shed we discovered that this was not a typical removal, but the Mother of All Extractions (at least in my book).  As you can see in the below photo, this hive was quite large.  I'm estimating we vaccuumed up 20 pounds of bees and removed over 100 pounds of comb. 


Here is a close up photo of the honey comb on the right panel.

And this is the Nic & Candy, who have learned more about bees today than they were expecting! 


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tore Apart Birdhouse

Today, I did several bee chores including cleaning out a dead hive that was infested with wax moth (YUK!).  This was quite a chore that including scraping out the old wax, scrubbing and scraping the frames, and using near-boiling water clean the plasticell foundation.  Maybe it would have been easier to just have bought new frames!

I also took apart the birdhouse and removed the bees and comb...boy was it packed!  The honey was also amazing...I thought it tasted like sweet white wine!

Finally, I disassembed the observation hive and placed the frames in the swarm box with the Deters swarm.  We'll see what happens in the next few weeks.  Either the queen will prove herself, or they'll have to be combined for winter.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More Late Swarms

Recently, I received two more phone calls regarding bees, one from Doug Deters in Teutopolis and the other from Kenneth Wolf in Neoga.  Doug found a small swarm under a kiddi wading pool building a come on a weed near his house.  Kenneth received a call about a swarm in a birdhouse, but he wasn't prepared for it and offered it to me.  Saturday morning would be the big day.  After an early morning trip to take Aaron to Urbana I stopped by Neoga on the way home and met XXX who had a swarm in the neighbor's birdhouse.  The best part of this capture was when he said I could have the birdhouse!  I just stuck it in a box and took off....what an easy removal!!  I dropped the birdhouse off at the farm and then headed towards Teutopolis.

Unfortunately, when I looked in the transport hive that contained the swarm from Draves, they were basically all dead!  I'm not exactly sure why; possibly because I didn't give them  a feeder than night I dropped them off.  It was a sad sight.

I then ran over to Teutopolis and met with Doug who showed me the small swarm they found.  I placed it in a transport nuc and brought it to the farm.  I placed it in my swarm catcher nuc with some sugar water inside the box to see what they would do.  They are awefully small, but we'll see what they do in a day.

This afternoon we had the Girl Scouts out to the farm, and I wanted them to have a chance to see the bees up close, so I installed plexiglass in the new observation hive I bought at the HAS conference and loaded them with a couple frames of bees from one of the hives.  It turned out pretty good, though I need to trim the glass a little.  The girls had a lot of fun watching the bees!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Late Season Swarms

Tonight was a busy time after work.  Dawn received a call from Drave's Archery about a swarm outside their building hanging on a fallen tree branch.  I stopped by after work and found a small swarm; the owner said it was four times the size a few days ago, unfortunately I didn't receive the call until today.  I placed the swarm in my transporting nuc and headed home to pick up the family for the big event of the day.

Sean Wallace had called a few days ago about a hive that had built comb up in a tree in the back yard of one of his properties.  Dawn, Aaron, Dad, and I went to remove the hive and comb up about 12-15 feet up in the tree.

Here is the hive where you can see the ridges of honey comb under the bees.

In this photo you can see how we tied the honey comb into open frames to be placed into the nuc.

In the photo, Dawn is on top of the ladder vaccuuming the remaining bees after all the comb was removed.  Larry is holding the bee vac because the hose wasn't quite long enough.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Boxes & Dead Hives

I spent the afternoon today conducting a big inspection of the hives.  This was prompted by several factors including buying new hive boxes from Jason Weaver down at St. Peter.  So now all my hives have two deep supers to build up with honey for the fall nectar flow.  I also found hives #3 and #10 were dead or nearly dead.  They had not been doing well for quite some time, so this didn't surprise me too much.  I installed the last mating nuc into the site of Hive #3 and the new Buzzard Swarm into the site of Hive #10.  They each received fresh boxes and frames.  The frames in these new cypress boxes have white plasticell foundation with a deeper impression to encourage the bees to draw out comb better/faster.  We'll have to see if that works, but I do know one thing for sure, the swarm really took to the new frames!

Friday, August 12, 2011

More Equipment

What time is it when you have too many bee swarms?  Time to buy more beekeeping equipment.  After more success than I planned on when I was building hive components over the past winter, today Aaron and I drove down to rural St. Peter, Illinois, to buy deep hive boxes and frames.  Jason Weaver builds quality boxes out of cypress wood and orders frames from Dadant.  10 hive boxes with frames equals more money than I wanted to spend, but it will hopefully ensure my new swarms will have enough food for the winter months.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August Swarm Capture

Received phone call today from Allison Buzzard from Beecher City that she had a bee swarm in a tree in her yard she wanted removed.  So, after work Aaron, Seth, and myself headed out to capture the bees.  As you can see in the pictures, it was a pretty good sized swarm and the boys had a lot of fun working with the bees and the bee vaccuum...this was Seth's first swarm capture.  Allison was a bit nervous at first, but she joined us after some encouragement and learned quit a bit about the bees.  We then took the swarm to the farm and placed them in a nuc with sugar water available until Saturday when I'll put them in a regular hive.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hive Inspection

Well, it had been quite a while since I saw the bees (Boy Scout trip to Montana from July 17 thru August 3), so today Dawn & I went to the farm to inspect the hives.  All are doing well with the exception of Hive 8 which has no queen.  My plan is to combine the nuc that I have with Hive 8 since the nuc has a queen.  I desperately need more deep boxes and frames for the goldenrod flow that is just starting.  Time to place an order!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yet another mystery

Aaron & I went to the farm today to check on bees before leaving on our scouting trip to Montana.  The swarm I captured last week at the Stewardson tractor pulling grounds was gone, empty, out-of-here! (again?!?!)  Their feeder was empty, which I initially thought was a good sign as I approached the hive, but when I looked inside their messages was "So long, and thanks for all the sugar".  My assumption is that they didn't have a queen and possibly joined my other hive on the other side of the house in my cypress nuc.

Also, regarding the combined mating nucs in the cypress nuc, they are going strong, and I finally found the queen!  I've been seeing brood, but never found her until today.

As for the rest of the apiary, Aaron's hive is doing well, but we found a supersedure cell on one of the frames.  I cut it off the frame and placed it in hive #8 which still has no queen.  Hive #1 has uncapped ripe honey in its honey super along with a little fresh brood up in the honey super, so I did a full inspection, rearranged the frames in the brood chamber, and added a second honey super below the filled honey super.  I also threw a second deep hive on one of the hives (oops, I can't remember which one) with only 5 deep frames, which finished off my supply of deep frames.

All and all, the apiary looks pretty good: Aaron has a hive that is going well, and with the cypress nuc I have 13 hives.  I'm thinking about over wintering the small hives in one box with insulation and a large candy board with a pollen patty buried in the sugar.  Just a few thoughts.  Aaron and I will be gone to Montana for 2 weeks, so no bee updtes for a while.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summary of Updates

It's been a while since I've documented anything from the apiary, so I'm gonna play catch up today!

Regarding the cut-out from the bee tree, they have been doing well and have been moved to the position of Hive #3, which had died out.  They are also in an Illinois Hive, meaning that I am not going to use the standard deep frames for, but all frames will be Mediums or "Illinois Frames".  My reasoning?  I'm out of deep frames! 

I also noticed while doing inspections that I had a supersedure cell on a frame in one of the hives (I can't remember which one), but from the looks of the hive the queen appeared to be laying good and didn't need replacing, at least from my prospective.  So, I took that frame and combined it with the two frames from the last mating nuc that hadn't been combined because it had small amounts of brood being raised, but I could never find the queen.  I figure we will see what happens.  They are now sitting in my cypress nuc next to the old mating nuc.

Wednesday night (July 6th) Dawn & I went to the farm to work on hive boxes.  I had several medium boxes that had been built but never painted, so Dawn painted them up nice...I think 8 in all.  She then helped me use the last of my 12" wood up to make 4 more deep boxes, which she painted as well.  We spent the night, so second coats and work in the bee yard could be done first thing in the morning.

Friday, Dawn received a phone call from Ron Shultz regarding the urgent need for bee removal.  When I called him back he stated he had been mowing in preparation for the Stewardson Lions Club Tractor Pull when he came across a pile of bees on the grass and needed them removed before people showed up for the tractor pull the next day.  Dawn was busy with Relay for Life that night, so Dad decided to help me out.  We picked up the bee vacuum and met Ron where he had been mowing.  About 8-10 feet from a bee tree was about a quart of bees bunched in the grass.  Let me tell you, sucking bees out of the grass is not an easy task, but with some persistence I got the job done.  I then went over to the bee tree; it is a small tree with the bee entrance at ground level.  I added to my bees by sucking up the bees that were gathered on the outside of the tree.  The Lions Club wants the bees permanently removed and want to cut down the tree to do it, so we will get together next month to get the job done.  With the bees in the vacuum Dad and I went to the farm and placed them into an Illinois hive box to see if we have a queen.  While up there I also did some remaining hive work by adding a second deep box to a hive and used up the last of my deep frames to fill out the last of the hive boxes that didn't have ten frames in them.

Saturday, Dawn & I took off for the day and traveled to Vincennes, Indiana, for the Heartland Apiculture Society conference held this year at Vincennes University.  It is a three-day event, but we just went for the last day.  I attended workshops on hive diseases, diversifying what you sell, queen rearing, and trouble-shooting your queen rearing operation, and Dawn attended workshops on cooking with honey, catching swarms and removing bees from buildings, extracting and processing honey, and preparing for winter.  I can't speak for Dawn's presenters, but mine were pretty good; one was an Indiana state bee inspector, another ran a successful bee operation in Missouri who quickly filled in when the speakers didn't show, the third was a queen inseminator, and the last two worked with queen rearing in Hawaii where the operation grafted 2,000 cells a day!  HAS is hoping to have next year's conference in St. Louis; they are working out the initial details.

As for upcoming activities, I need to get to the farm today to retrieve the extractor for the Crossroads Beekeepers meeting tomorrow night for a demonstration on honey extraction.  I also want to check and see if I have a queen from the tractor pull swarm and if Hive #1 is making honey yet.  It looks like another busy day! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dawn Got the Queen!

This morning I went to the farm to feed the bees and check on the new hive from the bee tree we cut out on Sunday.  I was tickled to see that we have the queen and she is starting to lay in the new comb!!!  I am planning on putting this colony in an Illinois super hive all made up of medium boxes and frames.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Tree Bees to New Home

This morning I drove to the farm with the bees that Dawn & I rescued from the fallen tree yesterday.  Being that at present I am out of deep hive boxes but have several medium honey supers that I likely won't use this season, I decided to make this new hive an Illinois Super Hive where all of the boxes are Illinois (or medium) sized.  Before placing them in my cypress nuc I noticed more than the normal amound of dead bees in the bottom of my vacuum box...I may have set the suction a little high on the vacuum yesterday.  There were a few bees left from when I emptied the nuc a few weeks ago, so I used HBH to help them combine with less fighting.  Well, in a couple of days I'll look to see if we got the queen or not.  I also checked on the bee yard, and I noticed that several sugar water jars were empty already after filling them just yesterday!  I also placed hive beetle traps in Hive #1, as I've noticed a few around the inner cover when I have opened the hive the past couple of times.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Storm vs Bee Tree

Today I received word about a bee tree at the home of Sheila Rogers in Effingham that did not fair very well against a recent storm.  The old tree had a poor root system and blew down.  However, before the tree could be cut up and hauled away it needed an old hive of bees removed.  Dawn and I tackled the task yesterday with myself working the chainsaw and Dawn manning the bee vacuum.  Below are the photos of the interesting event.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hive Inspections

This morning I went up to the farm for a detailed inspection of my hives.  A quick summary of the hives are as follows:
  • Aaron has one hive that is going well.
  • I started out this morning with 12 hives, but hive #3 was abandoned, so I'm down to 11.
  • Hives #1 is doing well and has a honey super on top, but they have not started filling it with honey yet.Hives #4, 5, and 11 are very strong and need to have a second deep box placed on top.
  • Hives#2, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 are somewhat weak, but I'm going to try and build them up with sugar water.
  • Hives #8 & 10 had no queens in them, but I found two frames with a queen cell on each, so I placed on in each hive.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Bee Vacuum Plans

I've had several people ask about my bee vaccuum and how they can make one for themselves.  The plans are at and are located at  It is a good weekend project that is worth the effort!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Busy Day Creating Hives

Well, today was quite a full day at the farm as far as bees are concerned.  I broke down the mating nucs and starter hive until after the Montana trip.  I had 2 queens from the 12 successful grafts, and I gave one to Aaron for starting his hive, and I placed the other in one of my hives.  I also grafted another 12 cells on 3 frames to set up in hives that don't have queens so they can raise their own.  All said, Aaron has one hive and I have 12 hives.  Again, it was a very busy day, my mind is swimming trying to keep everything straight.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strange Times in the Bee Yard

This evening Aaron & I worked the beeyard prepare to set up the new queens into their own hives on Saturday.  However, things were definately not as I expected.  First of all, several of the mating nucs were abandoned and I only found two queens in them!  Then when I checked on the starter hive, it was overflowing with bees but they rejected all of the queen cells!  The last I checked they were raising 7 queens, but the bees even removed the wax from the queen cells.  When I checked on the regular hives in the beeyard I found something interesting in Hive #8 where I had placed one of the virgin queens that had been abandoned by the bees in her mating nuc.  Instead of finding the marked queen that I placed in there I found a laying queen with no mark!  Where did she come from???  Plus, I also found a large queen, what's up with that?    I then looked in Hive #2 where I had marked a queen but she dropped into the tall grass, and guess who I found???  Yes, my marked queen that I dropped!  She must have lost enough weight that she was able to fly up and get back into the hive; I know she wasn't in there the day after she escaped.  So, all in all it was a very strange day in the beeyard.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Housekeeping in the Bee Yard

I stopped by the farm before a quick trip to Arcola and did a little housekeeping.  I placed extra deep frames in some of the hives as a couple were getting conjested and I didn't need a swarm at this time.  I also moved four of the newer hives onto a large hive stand that Dad made by adapting an old table he found.  The Virgin Queen that I place in Hive #8 was still in the California Mini, but the bees were trying their best to free her.  All in all, the hives are looking good.  Yesterday, I also check on the newest batch of grafted queens in the Starter Hive and it looks like they are raising 6 or 7 of the ten I grafted.  That starter hive is also busting with bees.  It will make the start of 1 or 2 hives after this bunch of queens are capped off.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

We Have Virgin Queens

I stopped by the farm mid-afternoon to do a quick check around the beeyard, including the mating nucs.  I found all the queen cells empty, and some of the nucs with queens while others had none; of course they could be out mating as it was mid-afternoon, but those flights are typically short with an average length of only 13 minutes.  I did find one mating nuc with a queen and no bees; they apparently abandoned that nuc and joined another.  I decided to take that virgin queen, mark her, and place her in Hive #8 which was the Kull Extraction.  I was originally going to place her in Hive #2, but upon investigation I found brood and a large queen!  What?!?!  How did she get there?!?!?!  The only thing I can think of was that she was part of a swarm that usurped the hive.  Anyway, I decided to mark her and when I was placing her in the hive she flutter-jumped onto my bee suit and then promptly fell into the tall grass....NOOOOO!!!!  For those who don't know, that is a death sentence to a laying queen.  She is too large to fly back to the hive, and I couldn't find her anywhere.  That bummed me out the rest of the day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Grafted 10 More Future Queens

Since my new queens are now emerging I thought I needed to get another round of Queens in the hopper.  I left for the farm early this morning and found some nice larva in the hive containing the Court House Swarm.  If figure that this swarm, which likely came from one of the two wild hives at the old Effingham County Court House, is from good survival stock.  These colonies have been on their own without any help for several years, so they are likely resistant to disease, mites, and cold.  I grafted 10 larva and placed them in my starter hive.  Also also caught Queen from that hive and marked I should be able to see her a tad bit better!

This evening I also had the opportunity to help a couple of brand-new beekeepers capture a swarm out at Network Center.  Rick Russell and Stacy James had receved word about a swarm, but it was down in the fork of a tree.  I met up with them at 8:30pm when all the bees were gathered together and I used my bee vacuum to suck them up, then we transferred them into a cardboard box for transfer.  They plan to install them into a topbar hive.  It was a lot of fun!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday Night Swarm

I received a call last night from Lee Delhoudt informing me that he had a swarm hanging off one of the pine trees near his house.  Late in the evening I took my grandson Elijah and headed out to capture the swarm.  Elijah was present for the Court House swarm capture, but this was his first swarm being suited up as my helper.  Lee took lots of photos while I vacuumed the bees.  This morning I was on the road at 5am to transfer the bees into their new home at the farm.  I placed some drawn comb into the hive to help them want to stay put, and I also filled up the feeders on the various hives.  Today is also a special day....the queens should start emerging!!!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Queens Have Moved In

Tonight was the big night!  Dawn and I moved the Queen Cells into their new mating nucs and hope to have Queens emerging the middle of next week.  I pulled frames of bees from the West Hive, East Hive 1 and East Hive 2 in order to make up 12 mating nucs.  These are two frame mating nucs and I put one frame of bees and a frame of foundation so the workers would have something to do while they waited.  I did manage to get stung on my left lower leg...a bee found its way into my suit and down my boot leg!  Boy did that one hurt!

I also checked the hive from the Altamont extraction, and unfortunately they have no Queen....bummer, becase they were such gentle bees I hoped to have their Queen.  Next week I hope to graft another set of Queens and see how they go!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Queens are Sealed

I was at the farm last night with Aaron, and we did a quick check on the baby Queens.  All looks well for the queens as they are sealed off and will hopefully all hatch next week.  The starter nuc us busing with bees, so tomorrow when Dawn & I create the mating nucs I think I will pull out two of the frames of bees to use in the mating nucs.  That will give them a little breathing room!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Installed Last Night's Extraction

This morning I headed up early to the farm to install the bees removed from Lynn & Deb Kull's house.  I placed a frame of capped brood and honey to help them want to stay put in their new home.  There were quite a few bees in the vacuum box and they filled the hive!  A quick look did not reveal the Queen; I hope she is in there!  I also topped off the entrance feeders with sugar water.

I also checked on the Starter Hive and 3 of the cups were empty, but 12 had larva and lots of royal jelly.  I have just a little yet to do on the mating nucs, but I have to finish them this week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Busy Bee Day

Today turned into an "It's All About Bees" kind of day.  I went to the farm early today and started by vacuuming a few stragglers at the Stew-Stras Grade School.  I checked on the hives and all were doing great.  The East C hive had nearly released their Queen after I had found her yesterday in the Starter Hive.  I then checked the Starter Hive, and YES, they have accepted the grafts and are raising Queens!!!  I feel like a proud father!

I also worked in the wood shop preparing the Mating Nucs and telescopic lids for hives.  Below is a photo of the Mating Nucs being painted.  Before leaving the farm I set up 5 more hive boxes in the bee yard for any future swarms.

After driving home and getting cleaned up a bit, I left with my equipment for a home bee extraction for Lynn & Deb Kull in Altamont.  They had bees that made a lovely home in their porch.  Lynn & I worked and worked, and finally got the bees out.  I didn't leave their house until after 10pm!  I am NOT taking the bees to the farm tonight!  They can wait until morning for the new home.  I do have to remark, these were the gentlest bees I have ever seen.  Even though we were tearing apart the home, they never got aggressive with us even once.  I sure hope I have the queen, because I want to graft her genetics!!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Swarms, Grafting, Missing Queens & Mysteries Solved

What an exciting day today!  Dawn & I headed off to Stew-Stras Grade School after work today to capture a swarm hanging on the side of the building.  It was a nice size swarm, and it now has a proper home in the Quicksall Apiary!

After arriving at the farm and while we still had daylight, I started looking for young larva for grafting.  I planned on using the Queen from the original East Hive because she has been a good layer, and her bees make lots of wax and honey; however, when I looked in the East C hive she wasn't there and there was no young larve at all!  Where did she go???  Without any time to think too long, I pulled a frame of larva from the swarm captured at the Effingham Court House and grafted 15 one-day-old larva to raise queens in the Starter/Finisher Hive.  Tailgates make nice work tables!

Of course, a funny thing happened as I was getting ready to place the grafted larva into the Starter Hive....I FOUND A QUEEN!  There is NOT suppose to be a Queen in the Starter Hive!  Now I know why the larva that I grafted before were gone....a hive with a Queen will reject the grafted larva.  So, I removed the Queen and placed her in a California Mini (Queen Cage) and returned her to the hive where she was suppose to be: East C.  By the time they have her freed, she will be accepted and will go about her egg laying business.

Dad also had been working on fixing up a table that he found thrown out at his apartments to use at a hive stand.  I don't think it will hold too many supers filled with honey, but at this stage of the game it makes a nice bee hi-rise!

What an exciting day for the Beekeeping Quicksalls!

I came across a great free apiary tracking system called HiveTracks at  It is a web-based program that allows you to keep detailed records on your hives and access them from the Internet and even on your web-based cell phone.  Do updates LIVE in the beeyard!  It is very simple, good graphic interface, and looks like it will work for the average beekeeper quite nicely!  Check it out at the above link.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Swarm - WooHoo!!!

There was a little excitement after work today.  I received a phone call from Paul Doedtman, local landlord, who reported that he had a swarm on the balcony of one of his apartment buildings, and if I wanted it I had to beat the exterminator who would be there in 1 hour!  Yikes!  I quickly rushed home, grabbed my stuff, and drove to the apartment.  The exterminator was there already, but he wanted the bees saved as well.  It was an easy-to-get-to swarm requiring only a ladder and my bee vacuum, and in 15 minutes it was all done.  I also met the apartment tennant who knew the Quicksall family from the Stewardson area when she was a young girl in the 1920s & 1930s.  We probably talked longer than it took to capture the bees!  I then took them to the farm and set them up in a hive with a frame of brood I took from the West Hive.  Hopefully, by having brood in their new hive they won't swarm again like the other one did.  Also, I checked on the swarm from the Court House and found that the queen has started laying and she had a nice batch of brood they were raising!  That makes 7 hives including the Starter Hive that I will put grafts into tomorrow!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Totally Bummed Out

I took the starter nuc up to the farm this evening to check on the new queens I grafted on Saturday, and what I found was quite disturbing....not a single queen-to-be was found!  All the little cups were empty!  There are several things that could have went wrong, but it really bummed me out.  So, I need to put my new skills to work this week and graft another set of queens.  I hope I have some good frames of day old larva to choose from. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Queen Rearing Course

Well, today was the day I went back to school.  Today, myself and 12 others attended David Burns' 2011 Queen Rearing Course at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms near Danville, Illinois.  There was quite an assortment of beekeepers at this school who came from Arcola, Centralia, Peoria, Chicagoland, St. Louis...the the farthest traveler came from Nova Scotia, Canada!!  Dave took us through the basics of Queens to help us understand their don't change the bees, the bees change you.  Dave is a wealth of information (he is one of only two Master Beekeepers in the State of Illinois) and his propensity for bee facts made by trivia-designed brain spin with enjoyment.  Did you know that Virgin Queens mate with upwards of 25 dones?  That a Virgin Queen will travel about a mile away to mate?  That dones congregate in the same area for mating year after year even though no drone ever survive the winter to tell the new drones where to go?  That the Virgin Queen's mating flight only lasts an average of 13 minutes?  That after successfully mating, the Queen stores in her spermatheca 5-7 million spermatozoa that she will use over her lifetime to lay worker eggs?  That if the Virgin Queen doesn't mate within her first 20 days she will lose the urge to mate and will only lay drones?  OK, enough of the trivia.  At the end of the training I was able to graft 15 cell cups with larve from Dave's beeyard for transferring into my starter hive.  In a few days I will see if my grafting worked!

Dave Burns in his Queen Yard looking for a
frame of young larva for the class to graft.

Dave Burns holding one of frames of grafted Queens.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Prepping for Queens

Tonight Aaron & I made up a starter hive for accepting a frame of queen cells that I will use on Saturday when I go to David Burn's Queen Rearing class at Long Lane Honey Bee Farm.  The hive is a five frame nuc with two frames of capped brood, a frame of honey and a frame of pollen.  The fifth frame will be the larva that I transfer to the Queen cups at the class.  After I picked out my frames, I shook in as many young bees that I could from my existing hives.  They will tend to the larva by producing royal jelly and building up the queen cells.  I strapped up the hive and brought it home to be taken to the school on Saturday.  I hope everything goes well!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Swarm Today, Gone Tomorrow!

I couldn't believe it!  Today, Dawn & I drove to the farm to feed the bees and see how the six hives were doing.  When I open the hive containing the swarm from Thursday night, it was empty!  They were gone!  The swarm swarmed!  Dawn & I are totally bummed!  The Friday swarm was still in their hive, and I hope they remain there!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Captured Another Swarm!

My wife received a phone call from John Loy who reported that there was a swarm on a bush on the courthouse lawn, and that the Sheriff had OK'ed me getting it if I wanted it....well of course I want it ;-)

This time it was my son Aaron & grandson Elijah who helped me capture the swarm.  It was a good size swarm on the branches of a bush along the sidewalk and near the south entrance to the old courthouse.  Aaron & I were suited up, and Elijah watched from a distance as did a handful of people who came to investigate what we were doing.  We captured nearly all the bees, but we did leave quite a few who insisted on buzzing the area and were convinced that the queen was still somewhere in that bush.  However, the bees who made it in the box were quiet and content, so I'm sure the queen was in the box.  We then raced to the farm and set the hive near the one that Dawn & I captured last night.

After dropping off the hive we raced again to Lake Land College ariving just before the Honor Band concert started where our daughter Jessica was performing on her flute.  She and the other's did great!  Unfortunately, on the way home from the concert I hit a deer on the Interstate and my nice white beekeeper's pick-up truck is likely totaled.  Thankfully, my parents (who were riding with me) and I were not injured...God kept us safe!  So, now I have another mission....capture another pick-up truck so I can capture more bees!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Captured a Swarm!!!

What an exciting day!  This afternoon Dawn received a phone call from Jason Knierim from rural Watson.  He had heard me on the radio about a month ago talking about bees, and he told Dawn that a wild hive near his house had swarmed, and he wondered if we wanted the bees.  Well, of course we want the bees!!!!!  However, tonight was a bit busy with a band concert with the kids, so after the concert Dawn and I loaded the truck with all the equipment we could think of and headed out to the middle of nowhere.  When we arrived at the locationafter dark it didn't take long to find the swarm hanging on a branch next to a fence just across the road from the wild hive.

It was amazing how beautiful and gentle the swarm was just hanging on the branch.  They were easy to get into the nuc box and very few were flying around.  Just after we got the bees into the nuc Jason and his wife came walking up the road.  We had a great time talking about bees (in other words they were very polite as I rambled on and on about bees).  After leaving their home, we headed up to the farm for a late-night hive installation.  It was raining, so we parked the truck in the machine shed and tranfered the bees from the nuc into a regular 10-frame hive.

From there we took the hive out to the bee yard, placing it in a freshly mowed temporary location, and stuck a feeder on the front.  It still amazes me how smooth everything went, of course with the exception I got stung on my right sleeve road up under the glove and a little girl got me good!