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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!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fed the Bees

While up at the farm this afternoon I checked on the bees and gave each of the hives a quart of 1:1 sugar water in an entrance feeder.  It was pretty windy, so they weren't out much today.