Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bees Are Booming!

Although we made it through  a fairly mild winter with all 3 hives, we did lose one to a cold week in early April.  I  could have prevented this by putting liquid feed on top of the hive.  The patties just did not provide the kind of nutrition they needed since they were building brood quickly.  I will try not to make  this mistake again.  The other  two hives, though, seemingly just as strong, made it  through just fine.
Two weeks ago I did a split from each of the two strong hives.  Both splits seem to be doing well and when I inspected yesterday, one has a young queen.   I don't know if she has mated or not.   Her abdomen is still fairly small.  I have a queen cell  in the other split so  hopefully a queen will develop there  as well.
I moved the swarm trap I made last year from a neaby pine tree, which has died over the winter.  I placed it on the fence behind the  row of hives.  I placed a cotton swab with a good dose of lemongrass oil on it.  When I went to inspect hives yesterday I was excited to see bees busily flying in and out of the small opening of the trap, which vertically holds 4 frames.  Pretty cool!

I will let this stay in place for  a week or more, just in case there is a virgin queen who will  need to know where to return from her mating flights.  Then this will go into a nuc to use to raise brood or serve as an emergency queen.
Today I picked up a 3 lb. package of bees that I won in a drawing in our December meeting of the  East Central Iowa Beekeepers Association.  Compliments of Paul  Gardner of Precious Bee Farm out of Homestead, Iowa, this colony puts me at 5 hives plus the swarm.  It should be an  interesting season!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hi. I know it's been awhile since my last post.  It is a very warm February 17th, with possible record highs around 70.  Unusual winter weather is now the new normal.  It has been well above normal for a week and will continue well into next week.  Bees have been flying like crazy looking for anything.  I did put some pollen substitute out in the feeder, with some reluctance since it is a bit early. Then again, a couple years ago when I checked in February queens had been busy laying so it probably is time.  Unfortunately that year, we had a very late (early March) sub-zero temperature overnight and the hive, totally out of cluster, froze out.  So, fingers are crossed.
I have 3 hives currently, two of which for sure went into the winter with queens.  The third either was queenless or she just stopped laying.  Hoping for the latter.  We will see.  I still have the winter wraps on and will continue to do that until March for sure.
We made winter patties and the bees have hardly touched them. Hives all feel pretty heavy so I think food is not going to be a problem.  We have a recipe for both winter patties and spring feed, with pollen substitute, and I'd like to make the latter but since they haven't hardly touched the others and I have the pollen feeder out, I'm not too concerned at this point.
Today I did a mite treatment.  I ordered an oxalic vaporizer from ebay (Blue Ridge Bee Company) at a great price, under $80, made in West Virginia and free shipping.  Can't beat that.  I gave it a test, found the first battery I tried was less than fully charged, then did a successful trial and proceeded to treat all three hives.  I made a little video which you can see here. Or you can use the link at the bottom of the page called Oxalic Acid Vapor Treatment.
Enjoy and may the rest of the winter be kind.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Late Summer Nectar


It has been an interesting summer.  Swarms, honey-bound hives, and lots of bees.  Some hives went queenless, apparently, while others have swarmed multiple times most likely.  It's hard to be there when they swarm.  It did happen about a week ago, when I was out working with my grapes and became aware of a growing hum.  I looked up and saw the swarm in the air.  I should have stayed and watched to see what they were going to do but instead I hurried back to the barn to grab a nuc, sprinkle some lemongrass oil in and hurry back.  No swarm in sight.  I looked at the nearby trees, posts, etc., but they were long gone.  My swarm trap I had hanging in a nearby tree did not have them either.  Could have used a queen in hive #2, but hopefully will have one made soon.
The bees have brought in a lot of honey, but not always in the right places.  We were gone quite a lot in June, and the bees really packed the hives full of nectar.  I had two hives quite honey-bound, and could find no evidence of queens in either.  In fact, I haven't seen a queen all year but I certainly know when they are about.  One of the hives eventually started to produce brood and I've put eggs and even some culled swarm cells in the other to hopefully get a queen there.


Hoping for a good fall flow.  The prairie ironweed really attracts the honeybees.  We have a fair amount of it particularly in the prairie nearest the house.  The bees have also been all over our red raspberries, which will continue to produce until freeze.  The bees love the cup plants as well, both for the water the leaves hold but also the yellow blooms.  Goldenrod is now beginning to bloom and we have quite a lot of that.  We did not get buckwheat planted this year which has always been a plant they love.  Still, there are nectar sources around.  We will have a moderately good honey year but  it would be nice to have a great fall flow and have a very good year.