February Hive Check

Sadly, we're down to one hive from 5 heading into winter.  It has been a tough season, with temperatures at 20 below zero on several occasions.  Right now we have about 8 inches of snow  on the ground and  the lows have been single digits in the past week. 
Hives that were lost were lost due to starvation and/or cold.  Still, I was able to pull two full boxes of honey frames off the dead hives, so there was plenty of food in them. Hopefully, we'll get the  last hive through to spring.  I have a full box of honey on top of the hive that hasn't been touched, and added a winter patty today as well.
Here, at 42 degrees, the bees are out enjoying the sunshine, getting drinks from melting snow and pooping!

The Good, the Bad, and the--well, you know the rest

First the good!  We've had two harvests so far this year, with about 60 lbs. of honey the first time, in early July, and this week another 100 lbs.  The fall honey was darker, but still very sweet.  We extracted 29 frames this harvest and returned a number of frames to the hives that just weren't quite "cured" yet and didn't want to add that higher moisture honey into the mix.  We'll see if we get a goldenrod harvest but I think this honey will just be placed down into the hives to help prepare for winter.
Currently, we have 5 hives (I combined the swarm hive with one of my splits that just didn't take off quite as well as the others.)  We put the queen from the split hive into a nuc.  Now that honey supers are mostly off, I'll get in and take a look to make sure we have a queen in each going into fall.  From the numbers of bees hanging around on warm days, I think we are good with queens in each hive.

Now for the bad.  De-capping the frames, Kathy f…

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 yes…
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 tou…

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 evid…

Honey Flow!

We have been coming and going a lot lately, so monitoring the progress of the bees has been a little difficult.  Today was forecast to be a bit cooler (it really wasn't!) so after having been gone for a week I knew I needed to check the hives.  My objective--see how the bees were drawing out the comb in the supers, check on hive #4 to see if it was successfully queenright and check the other hives to make sure queens were laying and hives were not becoming honey bound.

Hive #4 seemed very busy and happy, and yes, young larva!  Good news.  That's about all I did with that hive.  I am almost totally out of frames (more coming tomorrow from Mann Lake!) so I didn't have enough to even put half a box of frames on this hive, so that will be something I need to do ASAP.

Next I looked at Hive #3, my 8 frame hive.  I only had one super on it (again, due to low number of frames) and found they have really been busy filling out the frames in the super.  I removed 3 good frames of cap…

Two Swarms

Last week, May 11th, I got a forwarded email from our club's secretary from a man in Coralville who had a neighbor who had a lot of bees going in and out of a black composting bin.  The owners were interested in having them removed.  I called the neighbor and set a time to come take a look. I spoke with Jeff, the neighbor, again before I went and he said there was also a small swarm on a young tree near the compost bin.

 Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the colony in the composting bin. It was huge.  They had drawn out about 8 combs, about 10 inches in length.  It was a much larger group of bees than the swarm in the tree.  I had only brought one box, so took the bees out of the compost bin. It was easy removing the comb and most of the bees, but hundreds were still in and around the bin.  I decided to leave the box near the compost bin and pick it up the next day, as well as an extra nuc in case the swarm was still there.  It was.  I removed it successfully and brou…