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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!