Showing posts from 2015

Fall Harvest and Winter Prep

After first thinking we might have a banner harvest, and then awhile back seeing fewer frames drawn out, we ended with a moderate harvest of about 4 gallons, or 48 pounds.  Now, starting from the one hive that survived the winter and making three splits, I didn't expect much from the starter hives.
However, it was hive #2, the strongest of the splits, that produced the most honey.  This is with a qualification--at one point, upon inspection I had looked all through hive #1 trying to see how the queen was doing.  I did not find her and found that the hive was pretty much honey bound.  They did produce a lot of honey, just not in the supers.  After putting in some fresh frames, the queen eventually began to lay again and all was well, but they had put so much energy into filling those frames we just didn't get honey from them like I would have liked.

So, next year, these are things I really need to keep in mind:  watch closely for bees filling all the frames in the brood box.  G…

Goldenrod still going strong

It's funny.  I have been looking at the goldenrod for several weeks, without seeing bees.  Honeybees, that is.  There have been the ever-present bumblebees and other small bees and wasps, but few honeybees.  Today, however, with temps struggling to get into the 70's under a partly cloudy sky, the honeybees were out in force on the goldenrod.
I checked with the bees two days ago, and did not notice the "smelly sock" odor that accompanies uncapped goldenrod honey.  I'll never forget the panic I experienced the first time I noticed the odor--certain that my hives had AFB!  Fortunately, I did some reading before torching them to find out that it is not a concern.
In my inspection the other day, I was surprised to see that hive #4, which at last inspection was basically out of food and had no larva and few capped cells, had many more bees than I recalled and were filling cells both with nectar and royal jelly!  I did not see the queen, though I didn't look in the…

Honey Check

Bees were definitely hanging out on this nice, sunny, low 80's, low humidity day.  Many were flying as well, as I decided to take a look to see how the hives were doing.  It's been several weeks since I've taken a good look.  I was a bit disappointed the last inspection, not with the number of bees and how well they were producing but with the amount of drawn comb and honey collection.
Today I saw good brood production in all hives, as well as honey production in hive 1 and 2.  I should have moved some of the frames that were newly drawn and filled out of the top brood box and put it up above in the supers, but that can wait.  That third box was extremely heavy, with each frame completely drawn out and filled and capped.  They have their winter stores!

Lookin' Good

Bad words to use, I suppose, but I'm feeling pretty good right now.  I've had some difficulty with hives this spring, which seems to have become the norm.  Trying to split one hive a couple ways can be tricky.  For example:  I thought I'd take a couple frames from hive #1, the strong hive, that made it through the winter and, despite taking a couple splits from it, still seemed overflowing with bees. I was putting those frames of bees in hive #3, which has been a bit slow to grow.  I had gotten a new queen for #1, which, despite having a huge number of bees, seemed to be queenless.   Workers were filling all the frames with honey and there was no larva or eggs present.
So, I got the new queen, very pretty with an iridescent blue marking, into the hive, having also removed a couple of frames to put in the weak hive.  Now, #1 is a big hive, 5 medium boxes--48 frames total.  I put the queen in and put the hive back together. I picked up one of the frames I had set aside and--…

More Queen Woes

I looked at my new hives a couple of days ago.  Hive #2 was looking strong, needing a third box on top.  Hive #3 had some capped pupa and very young larva.  I did not see the queen in either hive but she must be there.  The third had many fewer bees so I planned to add some with a newspaper divide.  I couldn't do it that day so I planned the next.  I would take them from the strong, #1 hive.
The next day I went into #1, removing the two supers and looking for some frames with larva.  Found none.  Not in any of the boxes, and bees were filling every frame with nectar.  No wonder they have been nasty. I've been too busy with other projects to look at them much and the queen had been laying well several weeks ago.  So, I need a new queen for this hive now. It seems to never end.  At least there are a ton of bees in this hive, so hopefully they can get back on track.  My problem now is, though, what  to do with all those frames filling up with nectar.
Ted Talks had a nice little vi…

Installed Queens

Just a quick note.  I installed two queens May 5th.  Checking 3 days later, they were both released.  Hopefully there are enough bees in the new hives to be able to manage.  Weather has been a real mix, with rain, sunshine and coolness.
My main hive still seems to have way too many bees.  I'll need to do something about that.
Thanks to Adam Ebert for the queens.  You can check out his blog at Adam Ebert's Tales of Bees.

Surviving Hive Looking Good

Upper sixties today, so I wanted to get the liquid feeder on, with a spring dosage of fumagilin-B for nosema), and check on the hive's status.  Bees were flying all around.  The first thing I noticed was the large amount of pollen sitting on the landing board.
Bees were bring in pollen like crazy, a good sign.  I hated to see all that pollen wasted, though.  I think they are having a hard time getting into the hive with their loads, given the small entrances both below and above.  To remedy that, I drilled a hole through the spacer above the top box which I have on to give room for patties.  They seemed to love that.
I did pull all three boxes apart and pulled a frame or two from each.  I thought maybe the queen had descended to the lowest level, which has many empty frames, but she apparently is in the upper box since that is where I found the larva, some capped.
So, there are a lot of bees in this hive.  That's good news.  I should be able to do one, possibly two splits.  I&…

Love This Weather--and I Do Too

The bees are loving it.  From the one hive I have left, they are out looking for any source of food available.  As I have noticed in the past, even before the crocuses poke up, the bees are hitting my birdfeeder, getting as much pollen or protein they can.

They're even on the ground around the feeder, picking at seeds and things the birds (and sometimes the dam*! squirrels) kick out of the feeder.
After lunch it should be in the mid-sixties.  I need to check on feed and reduce the hive by removing  a box.  I won't do a full inspection but I hope to be able to tell if a queen is active.

Winter Woes

Three hives going into winter.  Now two.  Again, really disappointing.

I went out about 2weeks ago to check on the hives.  We had a +40 degree day.  I had fed the bees sugar about a week before that, and all 3 hives looked fine.  All had honey, all seemed to have a lot of bees.
Now, the one hive I had thought to have the best chance for survival was dead.  A pile of dead bees covered the sugar I had fed them earlier.  Half a pattie still sat on the frames as well. I was really disappointed.  Late in the afternoon and upset, I just closed the hive back up.  The other two hives looked great.  Each had eaten some of the sugar I had fed earlier.  I added to this and closed them up.

The next day I went out to the hives again.  It was still above 40 degrees, so I thought I'd take a better look at the dead hive to try to find out what happened.
 The first thing I noticed was the size of the cluster.  It covered several frames, plus several hundred dead bees on top of the sugar.  Not a h…