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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.