Showing posts from 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 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…

Quick Update

Just a note that I did a small split yesterday from hive #1.  May have been a capped swarm cell on one frame I transferred.  Will have to monitor it.
Fruit trees all blossoming.  The bees love the big sweet cherry.

2nd update (5/3)  Added a frame with 2 queen cells.  A number of bees were dead in this split, but the lid apparently had  leak, so replaced that.  Hopefully this hive will take off now.

All Hives Queenright

These are our hives after working with the bees today. All 3 hives are strong colonies, and now all 3 are queenright.  Hive #3, the one on the right, was seemingly without a queen on St. Patrick's Day.  No queen to be found, no brood, no pollen being brought in, unlike the other hives.  I put a couple frames with a mix of capped and uncapped brood hoping for an early queen but uncertain if it would work with typically few available drones at the time the queen would emerge.  Apparently, though, we were successful in getting a queen or else she was there all along, just taking her time getting started on the season.  Who knows?
      At any rate, things are  looking good.  We added a box of undrawn frames to hive #2 and planned to do that to hive #1 as well, but I'll do that next week.  We ran a bit short of frames today, since we had to remove about  half a dozen due to a greenish mold that was on the frames.  These were all older frames and it's good to recycle some…

First Pollen

Our red maple just outside the house is in full bloom and our honey bees are all over it.  We've been giving them pollen substitute but I'm glad to see that real pollen is now available to them.  They're going crazy.
Bees were busy bringing in the pollen,

This is the new outer feeder we bought at Theisen's.  It is very easy to refill.  I think I'll get more of them.  This is on the hive that I discovered is queenless.  I put some frames with young bees in on St. Patrick's day, but that may be too early develop a queen that will be able to mate. Time will tell.

Pollen Feeder

I bought some of Mann Lake's Ultra  Bee pollen substitute earlier in the winter.  I had planned to make pollen patties to feed the bees, but after thinking it over I decided I didn't really want to make patties with high fructose corn syrup, which is what the Mann Lake recipe calls for.  Now there may be other recipes out there that don't call for hfcs, but after some reading I thought I'd give dry feeding a try.  I looked at various feeders, and probably didn't go with the simplest one out there but this one didn't take much to make either, though it was a little pricey.
I used 4" pvc, with the white T at the bottom, a tube extending vertiaclly with a reducer to 3" pipe, with a removable cap on top of that, for feeding.  The horizontal tubes I cut at an angle to help reduce rain from getting the powder wet.  I cut semi-circles from 3/4" pine (attached with screws) to fit inside those to allow the feeder to hold more feed yet allow the bees plent…

Still Alive and Buzzing!

It's the final weekend in January, and the temperature today, even with a layer of snow remaining on the ground from our December storm, reached the mid-40's.  With another storm coming in early next week, followed by a cold front, we decided to take a look at the bees to see how they were doing with supplies.  As you can see, there remained plenty of food yet from the feed we gave two weeks ago.  There is even still some of the sugar cakes we had put in in December.  So, we didn't add any.  You can see a number of bees clinging to the cloth on the bottom of the quilt box.
Last year at this time we were down to one hive already, so it is good to see the bees appearing to be well.  There certainly were big numbers in each hive and it's good they are able to get out for cleansing flights and to get needed water.  There is still a lot of winter to go, but I continue to be optimistic about the use of the quilt boxes for humidity control.
If we get a warm spell in sever…

January Doldrums

I checked the hives the other day.  It was only in the low 30's, but I wanted to check the hives for food.  Anyway, it was full sunshine and quite warm really back by the hives.  Bees were flying about.  All 3 remaining hives (we lost the little colony we had started late summer, which probably should have been combined but I just felt the other hives were so full of bees they didn't need more company).  I gave food to all and the bees, from my minimal investigation, looked ok.  I ordered more winter patties from Mann Lake and a bucket of their dry feed which I will give them in the spring (fingers crossed!!) when we want to get a good start on brood production.

I wrapped the hives in tarpaper this year, with the quilt boxes and feeding spacers in place as well.  If I can continue to get food out to them, I hope to get them all through the winter.

I've been reading more about oxalic acid treatments.  I'm just not sure the MAQS treatment worked well this year, but I mi…