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Monday, June 9, 2014

Beeyard Buzzing with Beekeepers!

Things have been buzzing at the Quicksall Honey Bee Farm since my last update. 

Dawn & Aaron went on a swarm call at International Paper in Shelbyville on June 3rd to capture a swarm in their parking area.  Nice size swarm with a Big Queen!  This was the first time that either of them went on a swarm call without me present, and they did a great job together!  I'm proud of both of them.

I also found an interesting situation in one of my older hives.  I had wintered them with 3 deeps, but when I put the hive together after inspection last fall, I apparently left a frame slightly ajar leaving an unintentional upper entrance to the hive.  Well, to my surprise, when I did a deep inspection about 2 weeks ago I found two colonies: one in the top box, one in the bottom box, and nothing in the middle box!  I split the hives into two, and we will see how they fair this summer.

Finally, yesterday was a Field Day for the Crossroads Beekeepers hosted at the Quicksall Farm.  We had between 25 and 30 in attendance and the day included visiting, a trip to the bee yard, fishing for the kids, and a grafting demonstration.  Below are a couple of photos of the event that was enjoyed by everyone!!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

First Swarm Call

It is hard to believe, but due to this horrible Winter and crazy Spring, today (May 18th) we received our first bee swarm call.  It was on our answering machine when we got home.  I spoke with a gentleman from Neoga who said the swarm came down the street, buzzing their yard sale, and landed on a tree.  Unfortunately, by the time I received the message the swarm had moved on, staying their only a few hours.  But hey, at least we had our first swarm call of the year!

Challenges for 2014

Well, I checked on the bees last weekend, and I didn't like what I saw.  The losses this winter was pretty bad...apparently the long, hard cold took it's toll, and I only have 8 hives out of 23 that survived.  I am starting to removed dead hives from the yard and put them into storage to prevent wax moth infestation.  In addition, I have not received a single swarm call this Spring, and at our bee club meeting only 2 members caught swarms that were not from their own hives.  Apparent, the winter was even worse for the wild hives in the area.

So, 2014 is looking to be a recovery year for my apiary.  I plan to check for swarm cells in my hives tomorrow and hopefully split some hives.  We'll see how this week plays out.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Good Morning Everyone!

Well, Spring is almost here, and it is time for me to start posting again about my bees.  I just noticed how long it had been since my last post, so my new commitment is to be more committed to this blog.

What a long, hard winter we have had in Central Illinois.  I haven't seen this much snow since 1978, and sub-zero weather even started to seem like the norm.  Unfortunately, my bees haven't cared too much for the winter. Back at the end of January we had a break in the cold, so I check on the hives.  Sadly, at that time I had lost 9 of 23 hives.  All but 1 of the losses were weak hives, so I wasn't too troubled, but in the six weeks since I have been worrying about additional losses.

Winter has been hard on other beekeepers as well.  My friend Dave Dhom from Newton reported at our last Crossroads Beekeepers meeting that he was looking at an approximate 40% loss this winter, and Dan Wright, apiary inspector, is seeing similar losses this winter.

So, what is my plan?  I am hoping to take advantage of one of the Spring days in the next week to assess the individual hives and start Spring feeding.  I have pollen patties that I plan to cut into strips and lay on top of the frames, and I plan to start feeding sugar water in feeders that sit on top of the hives.  I don't want to encourage robbing by using entrance feeders.  Speaking of robbing, about 3 weeks ago, my son Andy and I were at the farm on a warm day, and the surviving hives were raiding the dead hives for any food stuffs they could find....I was crazy!