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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Preparing for Winter

I realize that it is only September, but in the bee world it is time to start preparing for winter.  This means making sure that all hives are strong and have enough honey to make it through winter, combining weak hives so they have the strength of numbers and food, feeding 2:1 sugar solution, pulling off the last of the honey supers for extraction, repositioning hives for winter weather, and preparing to build equipment over the winter months.  I still have four supers on my hives and Aaron has one for fall honey flow (goldenrod and ragweed). 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Neoga External Hive

Terry Hopper and I had fun this afternoon removing an external hive from under the eave of an old 2-story house.  The bees were gentle and cooperative, but the challenge was that the hive was about 30 foot up!  However, with the assistance of a very long extension ladder and scaffolding we were able to remove this hive and place the bees in a nuc box at the farm.  Update: a couple of days later I checked on the bees and they had swarmed on me....oh well, hard come easy go!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Renshaw Hive

My long time friend, Anita Renshaw, had a problem with a hive in a backyard tree.  Unfortunately, it had become quite a nuisance and needed to be removed.  Because she wanted to save the tree, the plan was to save as many bees as possible for relocation into other hives and then humanely destroy and seal the existing holes in the tree.  I always hate having to destroy bees, but at times it is a necessity.  Below is a photo of how the bees were bearding on the tree and also a photo of Anita and myself with the bees we were able to save.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Route 32 Cut Out

Today, I woke Dawn up before dawn (no pun intended) to cut out a hive of bees from a large limb cut from a tree just off Route 32 between Shumway and Stewardson.  We eventually had to expose about 8 foot of the hollow chamber to remove the hive of bees.  Unfortunately, the queen was apparently killed along with many other bees when the limb fell.  I ended up combining the bees into my other existing hives.  Below is a photo of Dawn vacuuming bees and another photo showing the original cut into the limb.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Ag Institute

The Summer Ag Institute took a tour of the bee farm today, which was a lot of fun for Dad and I, and hopefully a fun learning experience for the 27 teachers who participated in the event. I took the day off from work, so I could get set-up for the 90 minute program. I taught on the biology and behaviors of bees, bee hives structure and equipment, and finally honey production. We concluded the program by touring the bee yards where I suited up a teacher to help me pull frames from the hive and allow everyone to dig out a spoonful of the honey straight from the frame. Below is the article from the Effingham Daily News published on August 9, 2012.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Terry Hopper Swarm

Today, Dawn & I received a call from my old friend Terry Hopper who reported a small swarm from his wild bee hive in a tree on his property.  So, before dinner we drove out to check it out.  After a few minutes of discussion and pursuation I had Terry suited up to capture his first hive of bees.

Here is the small swarm hanging on a branch about 50 feet from the mother hive.

Terry & Larry are getting ready to shake the bees into the traveling nuc box.

Terry's first photo as a beekeeper, followed by the question....Now What???

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Queens for Hive #4

The other day I discovered that Hive #4, the original East Hive, was without a queen.  So, I ordered two new queens from Long Lane and installed them this morning.  I split the hive into two, and gave each a queen.  Unfortunately, I would later learn that one was not accepted, so I was left with one hive accepting the queen and recombined the hive boxes.  As of last look, this queen is doing well and laying lots of eggs!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Little Swarm from Iola

Today I received a call from the Pontius' near Iola regarding a bee swarm that came out of their house and settled on a small branch in their yard.  Elijah and I headed out into the land of no cell service to find their farmstead and the small swarm.  I didn't use the vacuum but cut the branch and shook them into a travel nuc.  I then allowed the remaining bees to walk into the nuc before shutting it up.  Since they were small I decided to set them up in a regular nuc box in the back yard where I could feed and tend them a little more closely to help them make it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Three Bunches of Bees

Today was an absolutely crazy day.  I had the day off for "Honey Do Day" and our goal was to clean out the garage, however it was interrupted by a call from Wetherall Place, an ICFDD facility in town, about a swarm that had moved into a hollow tree.  Since they wanted to save the tree but get rid of the bees, I used my vacuum to suck up the foragers as they came back from the field.  Since this was taking quite a while and I had other tasks to complete, I plugged the hole and decided to come back later to get what I could. 

I then received a call from Matt Figgins who spotted a swarm near Stew-Stras High School.  I took Jessie with me and we headed out to get that swarm!  It was on a diagonal fence support and was quite large.  I scraped them into a box and then installed them in a nuc at the farm.

Afterwards I returned to Wetherell Place and tried to smoke out as many bees as possible and returned home around 9:30pm to learn of an emergency call about a large swarm hanging in the front yard of Monte Stephens' house in rural Lillyville.  My wife had a few Girl Scouts still at the house for late night bake sale baking, and Hannah, a 3rd grader, wanted to come along.  So, Hannah, Aaron, and I headed out to Lillyville in the middle of the night to hunt up a swarm.  We found the Stephens home without any trouble, and what we found was a beautiful swarm about 2 feet long hanging from a tree in their front yard.  I vacuumed them up for installation at the farm the next day.  Hannah told her mom all about the adventure when we returned to the house at about 11:30pm.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Picking Up Stragglers

After work today I stopped by the Ande's rental property to see if any bees were still there, and there were quite a few...probably a pints worth, so I suited up and schlurped them up!  I'll add them to the others in the morning.  We also had bad news about a swarm north of Sigel that we were going to get tonight...they moved on after a week in the same tree.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Andes Extraction

Today, after work, I met up with Beth Andes, Don Boggs, and Jim ? to remove some bees that had a hive in the eave of a rental property that was the Starwalt home back when I was in high school.  It was a nice size hive, but they had recently swarmed so the number of bees were small.  Lots of honey was dripping down as I removed the comb.  I hope to receive a few photos from Beth to add to this blog!  I'll be installing them in a nuc in the morning, and they we will see if there is a queen.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

BeeYard Work & Another Swarm

Today I spent the day working in the beeyard, inspecting the hives, and creating a new beeyard.  The first thing I noticed was that the four nucs from Tom Laue extraction had condenced into two nucs via drift, so I combined the remaining bees and frames and we'll see what happens.  I did see what looked like a virgin queen that may have hatched since the installation.  The Ellis swarm appears to have a false queen as evidenced by multiple eggs in many cells, ranging from 2-5 eggs, so I decided to combine the Ellis Swarm with the Sauers Swarm and see if they can make a stronger hive.  Regarding the new beeyard, it is near of the farmstead of my great-grandfather, Henry Quicksall, who had bees during the 1920s and 1930s.  I set up two hive boxes and in the left one I installed the Virg-N-Mary Niebruggee swarm from last night. 

Later that evening, around 9pm, I received a phone call from Don Cordes of Mattoon who reported a swarm in the tree of his 91 year old next door neighbor, Mr. Coffey.  He was hoping I could help him out and remove the swarm, so Dawn & I took off and met a couple of friends who are new to beekeeping at the house to help out with the swarm capture.  The swarm was up in a tree, and I used the neighbors ladder to get me up there.  After the capture Dawn & I headed out to the farm and installed the swarm right next to the Virg-N-Mary swarm in the Henry Quicksall Beeyard.

Virg-N-Mary & Cordes/Coffey Hives

Here is an update on the various hives:

BeeYard #1
#1 - Original West Hive (2010) - strong & grumpy - honey super on top.
#2 - Kelley Swarm (2012)
#3 - Ellis/Sauers Combined Swarms (2012)
#4 - Original East Hive (2010) - strong - honey super on top.
#5 - Courthouse Swarm (2011) - weak hive with poor queen.
#6 - Doedtman Swarm (2011) - strong with honey super on top.
#7 - Split from #4 in March (2012)
#8 - unoccupied
#9 - Silver Lake Swarm (2012)
#10 - Dale Laue Swarm (2012)
#11 - Graft from #4 (2011) - strong - honey super on top.
#12 - Tom Laue Swarm A (2012)
#13 - Tom Laue Swarm B (2012)

Aaron's Hive #2 - Funkhouser Swarm (2012)

BeeYard #2 - Henry Quicksall BeeYard
#1 - Virg-N-Mary Niebrugge Swarm (2012)
#2 - Cordes/Coffey Swarm (2012)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday Night at Lake Edwards

OK, I'm on my way to drop off Aaron for the EHS Band Concert when Dawn calls to report another swarm call....really!?!?  I returned the call and spoke with Virgil Niebrugge who lives with his wife, Mary, on his family's old farmstead at Lake Edwards Subdivision.  After the band concert I headed over with my parents to capture the swarm in the dark.  It was a large swarm hanging about 8 foot off the ground on a trellis.  We also had an audience of several neighbors who wanted to see what was taking place.  The swarm was very gentle and filled over a third of my vacuum box.  I plan on installing the swarm into a hive box tomorrow at the farm.  I hope to post photos from one of the neighbors what came out to see what all the commotion was about.

Another Extraction & Swarm

Wednesday I received a call from Tom Laue near Shumway about a probably swarm that came from a wild hive in one of his livestock feed stalls.  After church Dawn & I headed out to extract the hive.  Tom suited up and removed the boards and helped with the flashlight and vacuum.  Yes, it was dark as we started around 9pm!  Lots of bees!  Lots of Queen Cells!!!  Probably a dozen or so, but a couple were opened, so I'm not sure if the virgin queens are still alive.  They were scattered all over the hive.  Dawn wasn't suited up so she was the photographer and gopher for everything I forgot that I needed from the truck.  After I removed the comb in the exposed compartment, I could see that more come went into the compartment above, but by then it was after 11pm, and we were quite tired, so we called it quits until this Saturday.  We went home, and then I got up at 4am and took the hive to the farm and divided the bees into 4 nucs and placed two or more queen cells in each nuc.  We'll see what happens....keep your fingers crossed.

Below are photos from the night's extraction....notice the queen cells along the bottom of the comb.  We saved a couple chunks of brood comb in a special frame.

Yesterday, Thursday, I received a call from Mr Kelly in Effingham who reported a swarm in front of his apartment hanging on a tree branch.  Ofter lunch I quickly headed over with my bee vac and "schlurpt" them up and was back to work within 30 minutes.  After the band concert last night I headed up to the farm and installed them into a regular empty hive (I'm out of nucs!).  To ensure they didn't swarm on me I raided hive #4 for a frame of brood.  They say that the attack pheromone smells like bananas, well let me assure you that the stench of bananas was thick in the air last night and they were MAD!  Of course, silly me didn't fire up my smoker, again.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

BeeYard Update

Today, Aaron & I went to the farm in the afternoon to install the new swarm from Louisville and to check on the nucs.  Aaron's nuc, which was from the Funkhouser Cutout, was busting with bees, so we moved it to a regular deep hive body and stuck an internal mason jar feeder on it.  I then installed the Sauers swarm into that nuc box.  The other nucs still had room to grow, so I left them alone just replenishing the the sugar water feeders.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Swarm Updates

Even though I haven't been posting for a while on this blog, April has been a busy month for beekeeping.  Let's see if I can keep it all straight and document it here.

I started off on March 25th splitting Hive #4 (old East Hive) and creating 2 nucs because of swarm cells in the hive.  Eventually one of these nucs died out because the queen cell didn't hatch.

On March 26th I received a call for a hive extraction from at tree bulldozed down by Mike Ellis.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the queen, and I had to place a queen cell from Hive #4 in the nuc.

On April 7th Aaron, Nicolas, and myself extracted a hive from an outbuilding in rural Funkhouser.  I have to apologize that I forgot the home owner's name...I need to make a couple of phone calls to find out!

On Friday, April 20th, I helped Jonathan Donaldson capture his first swarm that was moving into a Hummer at the Effingham City Hall.

The next day, on April 21th, we received a call from a farmer in the Silver Lake subdivision reporting that there was a swarm on a 5-bottom plow.  Dawn and I went out, and Dawn lead the capture....she did a great job!  Due to the cold temperature the swarm had broken into three clumps...below is the upper clump.  We used the vacuum to retrieve the rest of the bees.

On Thursday, April 26th, I received a call at work for a swarm near Dexter.  I drove out to the Laue Farm and retrieved a swarm from their park bench in the front yard.

Today, April 27th, we received a call from the Sauers Family in Louisville reporting a swarm on a tractor tire sandbox in their backyard. 

What an amazing month for swarms and there are 3 days left.....more to come!!!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hive Updates

Just some quick updates on the beeyard.  I went up this evening and decided to check on the three nuc boxes.  The 2 splits were doing great with a good queen cell in nuc.  The Ellis Nuc did not have any queen or queen cells, so I decided to put a frame of eggs in the nuc for them to raise their own.  I dug into the  old East Hive (#4) to find a frame and guess what I found???  A capped queen cell!!!  That hive is bound a determined to swarm!  So, I pulled that frame and the nurse bees and placed them in the Ellis Nuc.  I also pulled out the feeders from the established hives and stuck honey supers on all the hives except the Court House Swarm hive, which is still week. 

In this photo, my girls didn't know where to build their honey comb!

Also, while examining my some of my photos I found varroa mites on my bees!!!  I've never seen them on a bee before, and it was quite a surprise to spot them like this.  The mites are behind the heads of the upper right bee and the second from the bottom left.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ellis Hive

I received an email from a fellow beekeeper about a hive in a tree that had been cut down in the process of clearing some land, so I jumped at the chance of getting my first swarm/extraction of 2012.  I spoke to Mike Ellis who gave me directions to the location where I also met his father who was running a dozer.  It was a huge tree about 4 feet in diameter at the base.  We had to carve away the outside of the large trunk to start collecting bees and comb.  Little did I know that it was going to be quite a challenge.  We wrapped up just before getting dark.  Mike, who didn't have a suit, got stung a few times, and I was stung 2 or 3 times, plus I got two of my fingers smashed when a block of wood didn't do what I expected.  Below is what the tree looked like when we made the first cuts...unfortunately, it was too dark for photos after this point.  All in all, I got several bees and a small amount of honey comb to enjoy for my pain.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bee Season is Here!!!

Well folks, bee season at the Quicksall Honey Bee Farm is in full swing!  Today, Aaron and I worked the hives creating two splits with queen cells from last year's Hive #4, which was the East Hive from 2010.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The other weekend I placed a couple of empty hives out to serve as swarm traps.  One is a nuc that I placed on a deer stand in the woods, and the other is a single deep hive on a childrens tower that has been turned into a deer stand.  Maybe I'll find a spring surprise in one or both of these.  I also have two single deeps in the river bottom.

I took a few photos inside the hive today.  This photo is of a frame of pollen.  Bees use pollen as their protein food source.  Notice the different colors of pollen from different plants.

As I examined Hive #4 I found what I was expecting: Queen Cells.  This hive is getting ready to swarm, and I found them none to soon.  In another week I would have lost half my hive when the Queen left 3 days before the new queens hatched.  The Queen Cells are large cells found on the bottom of the frames.

The funny round cells on the actual honey comb is Drone Cell; this is where the male bees are raised.  The are made 2-3 weeks before the queen cells, because Drones don't become sexually mature until Day 42, where Virgin Queens are ready to mate around Day 20.

I placed each frame with Queen Cells into one of my new Nuc boxes, along with honey and pollen frames and the bees on the frames.  Now I will feed them sugar water and see if they raise the new Queens so I have two additional hives.

Who can find the Queen???? 

Here you can see what some of my goofy bees from my weakest hive did.  The built honey comb on the bottom of the feeding frame.  Rather than place the valuable wax onto a frame, they build it in the extra space under the feeding jars....unfortunately, I have to scrape this was away, and there was brood in the comb.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bees Say Spring is Here!!!

Dad & I checked on the hives today and found out that the bees believe Spring is here.  Several bees were loaded with pollen they were bringing back to the hive.  Also the Queens have been busy with both open and capped brood.  Hives 1 & 4 were very strong, 5 & 6 were OK, and 11 was very weak.  Hive 4 had two frames with capped brood and was even making drone cells.  I will need to watch that hive for queen cells this next month!  I took the sugar from three winter candy boards and cooked it into sugar water, and fed the hives 4.5 gallons: 3 quarts each in internal feeders, and an extra quart in a entrance feeder to hive 4 and an extra half gallon to hive 1 in an entrance feeder as well.

Below is one of my entrance feeders on Hive #4.  It is a feeder ring with a board on top with 6 holes to fit a mason jar.  I keep the middle two holes covered with window screen for ventilation.  I also left a hole open so the bees could eat the pollen patty sitting on the board.  I later placed a deep hive box and telescopic lid on top to protect it from the elements.

Below is my first year example of using newspaper and a 4 pound bag of loose sugar for emergency feeding.  This is Hive #4 and you can see not only did they eat have the sugar, but they also ate away the newspaper!  Hungry little boogers!

Below is a close-up of the above photo to show the bees.  Aren't my girls pretty?  Of course they are!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Top Bar Hive Video

This is an interesting short video on the top bar hive with lots of computer animation to help you understand the process.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Quick Update

I was at the farm yesterday to drop off nuc boxes I had painted, and stopped to check on the beeyard.  The temperature was in the upper 50's, and the bees were buzzing all over.  They were all taking turns getting out for a cleansing flight and checking the area for signs of spring!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bee Yard Update

Today I went to the farm to assess the hives and tidy things up for the end of winter.  Near the end of January I discovered that 5 more hives died out, leaving me with only 5 of the 13 hives that went into winter....make a note - combine weak hives for winter!  Below is a photo of my bee yard.  The surviving hives are 1, 4, 5, 6 & 11.

I removed the empty hive boxes and stored them in the grain bin with moth crystals to protect them from wax moth.  One good thing out of this is that I now have a lot of drawn come to use with swarms this spring!

In addition, a few weekends ago I built 7 nuc boxes, and today I brought them home for painting.