“Bee Diary”

Winter and a New Year

By | January 6, 2013

2013 is here.  August since the last post.  So what happened since then you might ask.

I’m now at 8 hives, 4 hives + a nuc here at the house and 3 hives down at the alfalfa.  My plan was really for 10 hives, 8 + 2 nucs.  I lost one hive, more on that in a bit.  The second nuc I was trying to start never really took off.  It kept losing the virgin queens I was trying to introduce.  And then an opportunity presented itself.  The observation hive at Governor Dick had a massive die-off.  Their tube became blocked and they were trapped for a week or more.  Lots of starved bees, it was quite a terrible sight.  The queen was still alive though.  I brought them home and caged the queen and immediately fed her some honey.  She ate a lot.  I then used one of the German queen introduction cages with a big blob of queen candy to give her to the struggling nuc.  They had freed her in a few days and accepted her with no issues.  A refreshing success.  So with the observation hive modified to have a much larger entrance and a feeder, the nuc was dismantled into the observation hive and the bees were back at Governor Dick.

I used MAQs again this year.  Treated in mid-August.  It seemed to go well, no queen issues.  I had put two supers of comb back onto 5 of the hives  Two of them did nothing with it, so off that came.  Three of them really went to town on them, filled one and started on the other.  I left those three hives with four boxes for the winter, the rest of the hives have three boxes.  Late September was a lot of feeding.  This is when I lost a hive at the alfalfa.  I left the notch in the inner cover facing down and open with a bucket of syrup right on the top.  Of course they began to get robbed.  I didn’t catch it for at least 4 days, probably longer (I don’t remember) but it was too late.  The hive had dwindled to nothing and actually absconded, just gave up on the location with nothing left.  Lesson learned, which was pointless because I already knew not to do it, just stupid oversight.

I still have one hive, started by the Keeney package down at the alfalfa, that just seems to be a dud.  It may have snot brood.  If it survives the winter and into spring and doesn’t take off, I’m going to split it into two nucs and put it on a few frames of good comb off a different hive and make them draw new comb of their own.  I’ll ditch all theirs and start over.

At the end of October as the weather got cold the hives got their small attic boxes and all the insulation and wrap of last year.  Same tunnel-style mouse guards as last year as well.  As of today, 1/6/13, they’re all still alive.  But some are feeling awfully light.  The next two months will make them prove their mettle.

My biggest goal for the new year, assuming I have surviving hives, is to checkerboard them to prevent swarming as much as possible.  Last year I was just too timid in unwrapping them to checkerboard just to wrap them back up again.  I just didn’t want to disturb them.  Well, a lot of beekeepers who have been doing this successfully a lot longer than I have disturb them to checkerboard every year, so I really don’t want to put it off.  I want big hives and few swarms this year.

But for right now it’s winter.  Reading, workshop planning, maybe actually painting some boxes this year, we’ll see.  Cabin fever and missing bees until warm.



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Labels and Signs and Honey, Oh My

By | August 1, 2012

So I’m sitting on a pile of honey.  It won’t go bad of course, but what am I possibly going to do with it all?  Sell it is what.

First I needed a label.  I found some nice ones at onlinelabels.com.  One is an oval with a cut-off top and bottom that was actually listed as a honey label.  Those wont’ fit on 8oz jars though so along with those I bought some nice smaller ovals.  I designed my label in Photoshop.  I then made a full sheet of them to match the label sheet.  onlinelabels.com has pdf templates which made this so much easier.  I expanded the ovals in both cases so they printed over the edge of the actual labels which gives a great full-bleed effect.  I’ll stop typing now, a picture is worth a thousand words after all.

Now these pretty labels won’t do a lick of good if no one knows I’m selling the honey, so I needed a sign to put out by the road.  I got a little crafty, or is that craftish, when it came to the sign.  I didn’t want anything vinyl, I just didn’t like any designs that I saw.  I wanted something that looked old and homemade.  Having a wood sign custom lettered though is a pricy proposition.  I figured there was some way a no-talent like myself could cheat a little at this.  I found an online tip about printing the letters on paper and then taping that to the wood, outlining the letters with a ballpoint pen, and then painting inside the indent left by the pen.  I tried that, but I’m just not that good at freehanding the paint brush, my letters looked a little too homemade.  So I decided to make a small change in the method.  I covered the entire surface of the board with masking tape.  I printed the sign on paper with the laser printer, and then taped the paper to the wood on top of the masking tape.  I then cut the letters out with an hobby knife which also cut the masking tape.  Once finished with the letters I removed the paper and peeled out the letters from the masking tape and had a stuck-on stencil.  I painted inside the letters but the tape let me be a little sloppy with it.  Two coats of letter paint and I peeled off the masking tape to reveal decent letters.  I did this on two board,s both sides.  I plan to hang this on a upside-down L shaped sign holder.  Here’s your thousand words.

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By | July 19, 2012

The summer’s burning daylight and I’m already beginning to think about pre-winter mite treatments, but I did a quick look-through last night on the hives here at the house and figured I’d write a quick post.

I had 8 supers full of comb that I had extracted and I then put back on the 4 hives here at the house.  On three of those hives, the 2 supers are now unbelievably heavy.  Not as heavy as before I harvested of course, but I can’t believe how heavy the bees have made those in the month since I extracted.  One of the hives, the hive on the scale, hasn’t touched them.  Not sure what I should be doing with that hive at this point.  They might be queenless or simply need a new one.  When I inspected last night I found a capped queen cell.  I was doing all this in the late evening last night so the lack of light made seeing eggs impossible.  I’ll plan to check on that hive again in a week or so to see if that cell emerged.  I think very soon I’ll split those two empty supers between two of the other hives.  No use leaving them on that scale hive if they can’t fill them.

I have a nuc here at the house too.  I didn’t go through it last night but the last time I did it too looked great.  I removed two frames of brood from that nuc to start two little mating nucs with some of Jim’s queen cells.  That’ll be a different post.

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The Harvest

By | July 7, 2012

I took off work on June 19th to pull supers and extract.  Jim allowed me to bring all my honey and use his extractor, knife, and lots of nice other facilities.  I acquired some nice food grade buckets at a local bakery and restaurant, and mounted a Maxant honey gate on one of them.  I […]

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Where Did May Go?

By | June 1, 2012

May 2012 was quite the month which only partly explains why I haven’t written in so long.  Some observations and results for May: As I predicted somewhere along the way, this year was incredible for swarms.  I read that some old-timers said it hasn’t been this good in 20 years.  Every single hive at the […]

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