June Frame

June Frame

Monday, September 16, 2013

Getting ready for fall. Hive changes, and new queens ..

Ok - so I'm slack. 

It's been a few weeks since I posted any updates, so here goes - and hopefully in chronological order ..

As you're aware, I've moved all 4 hives into their newest and sunniest locations about a month ago.  So far, 3 of the 4 hives have been doing well with a reduced number of SHB in them.  I still have 1 hive, H2 which has allot (or more than I want to have anyway) of SHB in it - but as it has the most resources (capped honey and bees) they bees seem to be taking care of them - or at least keeping them under control.  I wish I didn't have to still kill about 25 or so upon each visit, not including the traps that I'm still getting them in - but as it was the last hive to move, perhaps that's it's 'fate' for now.

9/5 - Even though I've been community and top-hive feeding, only 1 hive ( H2 ) has been really putting on the weight.  I noticed this on a full hive inspection on all the hives and decided to make a few changes.  I took some brood from H2, and gave it to the new split-hive I created this year.  I also took some capped honey and gave it to the Nuc box, and H1 because the bees in the Split and Nuc boxes were the lowest in bee counts and needed to build up their 'stock' some.  I also broke down the Nuc box and H2 from double-deep boxes to just 1 Deep.  I also noticed that the queens in the Split, Nuc, and H1 boxes weren't laying too much - and what they were was somewhat spotty.  This might have been due to the Mite treatments I've been using, Api-Var Life - but as the packaging doesn't state it should...who know's for sure. 

9-6 - I decided after talking to several people and making arrangements to have a local commercial beekeeper friend "bank" some of my queens to order some replacement queens so that hopefully I can accomplish 2 things - new queens to build up the stock for the winter, and be able to maintain/keep those queens over the winter.  Since I didn't have enough brood to make any nucs up and it's really too late in the season to start from 'fresh' this seemed to make the most sense.  The queens I decided to replace, albeight 2 of them were needed the most were - Split box from earlier this year, Nuc bomb, and H1.  I was fortunate to be able to find someone locally that had stock, and also wanted to have some of my genetics.  I searched around from some VSH queens, but couldn't find any and ordered my queens from JJ's Honey out of Georgia.  We've had several people order from him and although he's a small breeder, there haven't been any issues.

9-11 -

I don't know when the call came in as I'd gone to bed at 2am from working, but woke up around  8 and had already received a call from the post office saying that the bees were in and I could come get them.
I inspected them at the post office, and had 4 queens with several attendants with them and all seemed fine.  They were much smaller in abdominal size than my current stock, and other club members have ordered from JJ's Honey before w/o issues - and I've heard that you can't always tell much from that.  Since you asked, I had someone else need one so that's why the order was for 4, instead of 3.  I'd arranged for Danny to come by and get my queens he as going to "bank" for me so I just gave the queens a drop or 2 of water in their cages until he arrived. This was the first time Danny had come out to the house and we did a full inspection of the 3 hives in question, and a preliminary one of the one that is doing well.  He didn't really have any "better" suggestions as to why the queens weren't laying very much, but thought that perhaps re-queening might help.  The only reasoning I can assume, and really hate to do that .. :)- is that perhaps their wasn't too many bees to cover the brood, and the Api-Var Life had 'shunted' them for a bit.  All 3 queens were quite large and healthy looking - but who knows.  We captured the old queens, and put the new queens, along with their cages in w/o any issues. 
Whenever we looked at H2 - he agreed that there were plenty of SHB in there and couldn't understand why either.  I also showed him the original location where they were located and he agreed that that location shouldn't have been any problem - but since they are doing better now ..  who knows.  I think since we have allot of pines around us, that might be the reason - but just not sure.  Before he left, he jokingly asked if he could sterilize his hive tools somewhere so that he didn't take any SHB pheromones back home with him.

9/15 -

I didn't have time to get back into the hives until yesterday. 

Split box already had the queen out so I removed the cage and refilled their top feeder.  I'm using a migratory top with a 1-gallon jar on it.  This seems to be working better for them as they couldn't seem to understand the other feeder.

The Nuc box still had the queen in it, although I don't know why.  As soon as I separeted the frames and pulled it up for inspection, she ran right out and into the hive.  There was still some 'candy' in place, but as I didn't have to remove it to release her - who knows.  I cleaned out the other candy and left on their landing board as a treat.  I'm feeding them with a top feeder, from Brushy Mountain, but they don't seem to take to it very well.  I've had this issue on other hives, but hope it's due to the "number" of bees in the hive, and not that they aren't smart enough to locate their dinner.

H1 - the queen was already out so I removed the cage.   I'm having to feed a gallon just about ever other day.  This is good news as I'm wanting them to stock up for the winter and they seem to like the migratory top/1-gallon feeder much better than the top-feeder from BM.

H2 - just a status update here on it.   I'm feeding it with the same type of top feeder from BM, and they are really taking it in - almost to the fact that it's a gallon a day.  If I kept it full all the time, I think they'd drink it up but I have to weigh that against them running out of egg laying area so I need to keep an eye on them.

I don't know when the other queens were released, but don't really care as I just have to look for some new eggs and brood towards the end of this week. 

That's all for now - I'll try to update after I do another inspection towards the end of the week.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Last hive move and current status ..

I've been delaying, for not any real reasoning except for my little friends (giving the Nematodes something to eat) moving my last hive (H-3) over to they sunnier place for too long - and decided to move them last night.  Now all the hives are in the same place again, and it's much sunnier for them.  Hope they like it now where it 'hotter'.  I need to clean up the area, but here's a couple of pics ..

I knew, from a recent inspection that the IPM board might be 'stuck or propolized' to the bottom of the Deep and that whenever I moved it I'd need to pry it loose a bit.  I wanted to move just the hive boxes and not the bottom board due to my last inspection whenever I found about 150+ SHB hiding inside, and outside along the bottom board.  As such, at about 8:15 I readied my new bottom board in place, took the hive tool with me along with the wheelbarrow and proceeded to their current (now old) location to get things going.  I pried some rags in front of the front entrance, loosened the bottom board from the bottom deep box and hoisted it. 

Can you imagine what happened next - but what I hadn't thought of - till I actually was about 1/2 way to the wheel barrow?  Yep - the bottom 2 hives were securely in my arms, but the rags were stuck to the entrance of the hive - which were attached still to the bottom board...which I didn't move.  What a strange feeling knowing that you have about 30,000 bees in a couple of 75lb boxes and no bottom board.  I quickly transferred them over to their new bottom board on the wheel barrow and start on.  No issues ... :) 

I left a nuc box laying on the top of the other screened bottom board for another 30 minutes or so to collect any remaining flyers and moved them over to their new location about 9:30pm.  I'd reversed the Hive boxes about 1 1/2 weeks ago and in doing so noticed that the bees had propolized the bottom board to the bottom hive box.  That's normal, but whenever I lifted up the screened bottom board - I noticed this quickly - and decided to kill as many SHB as possible.  I didn't get all of them though, but here's what I'm facing - and this is only 1 box.  The others aren't this bad - I hope. 

I'd made some traps, out of small cd-cases about a 3 or 4 days ago and put one in the bottom of this box to see how well they would work.  I noticed, after moving that there was about 80 or so SHB that were dead in the trap.  So, at least that piece worked.  I still don't like potentially enticing the SHB into the hives and then trapping/killing them in there - but you got to do what you got to do. 

I got notification that my newer beetle-barns have arrived so I'll be placing them in the hives this weekend in anticipation of great things !!!  I've discovered a bait, which kills the beetles rather quickly but as it is in a 'gel' foundation I'm not really interested in using that process anywhere near the top of the hives or on the foundation because it is deadly to bees also.  This was one of the reasons that I ordered the beetle-barns so that I can 'control' the 'bait' better.  I still have to find another type of bait to use in the barns, but will continue to use the 'gel' solution on the bottom boards.

I need to treat for Varora Mites - so I'll be heading up for some supplies either this pm, or tomorrow am.  I've decided, after talking to several people to use the Api Var Life product this year - and not the Api Var strips - or MAQS.  The reasoning I'm using the "life" product instead of the MAQS strips is in hopes of not slowing down the brood cycle too much.  As everyone "should be aware",  both products - although are "Naturally made" and use the Thymol product (made from the Tyme plant) I want to not inhibit the brood cycle too much right now while I'm still trying to create some really strong hives to over winter with.  The MAQS are a single dosing and the Api Life product requires a 2-step process a week apart.  Who knows .. I'll just have to wait and see.  Thankfully in either case, it's only about $5 per hive to treat. 

More later, and hope everyone's life is well ...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A sad day for the Nuc. Other interesting info ..

Down to 4 hives now - 2 are double-deeps, and 2 are single-deeps.

I'd checked the Nuc along with all the other days about a weeks ago and things have bee progressing well and there was a increased activity of bees feeding from the top feeder, as well as good "flight" activity.  Whenever I went to check on them yesterday, I didn't notice too much activity on the hive and whenver I opened it up - most of the bees were dead.  There was some slight orange staining from the entrance hole and I think these bees might have suffered from Nozema and the SHB were attaching the rest of what was left.  If you remember, this was the Nuc that I'd created from one of my packages, and actually moved the queen over by accident.  I didn't see her in all the mess along the bottom of the screened board - so I hope she and a few other bees made it out.  I'd double-tapped the 4-frame nuc boxes together so that the SHB wouldn't get in - but it might have been too "tight" and there wasn't enough ventiliation for the rest of the hive - despite the bottom board being fully screened.   

On another note, I've been feeding sugar water with HBH in the 5-gallon feeder and refilled it the other day.  I've added a top (box style) to one of the hives and refilled the 1-gallon top-feeder on the other hive.

Here's the latest feeding activity ..


 It took the bees just over a week to empty this one, and I think it was due mostly to the poor weather, due to the rain.  We've had over 6.5 inches of rain in the last 4 days and things are really water logged.  7.21 " of rain to date for this month, and a "normal" rain fall for this month (with 10 days left in the month still) is 3.35".  The weather channel is calling for rain for the next 5 days - then about a week of no-rain ... so let's all keep out fingers crossed.

I went to a local 'health' food store yesterday and bought some Wintergreen, Lemongrass, and Spearmint Oils for some mixtures that I'm going to start using.  The Wintergreen will be using in the grease patties, and some new SHB preventative treatments.  I'll try to also reference that info on another page for anyone who's interested in following along or looking for additional link info.

I'd ordered some Beetle Barns before I heard about this trick (keeping the SHB out in the first place, mentioned above in the SHB link) but will be using the barns in the bottom of the hives also.  I'll probably, since I'm down to 2 hives now - try these 2 treatments --- and see how well it works. 

Hives 1 and 3 - paper towles/coasters (look down for the Feb 9, 2010 post)
Hives 2 and 4 - beetle barns. 

Will update everyone as things change ... hopefully for the better quickly ..

ps - got to make time to visit Mr. Crocker in Spartanburg and "brain-dump" from him.  He's been keeping bees for about 60 years now, and still has 25+ hives doing really well ..

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hive inspections - 8-11-13

Well, I was able to get into the hives yesterday to check on their SHB status and honey stock as I haven't had a chance in about a week (I did a quick inspection 5 days ago) to swap out traps.  Here's what I found ..


Changed 2 traps and some brood but not much - also really light on capped honey.  There was some uncapped supplies.  A little low on bees, but they are keeping the SHB in check for now.

H-2 (Nuc Bomb)

It's still got 2 deeps on it and I swapped out 3 traps in it.  I noticed a drawn-out queen cell which looks almost ready to 'pop' in the top super.  It was located on about the 4th or 5th frame and was a hive-drawn frame which was about 70% drawn out.  I left it alone because the hive didn't have allot of bees in it and I hope they don't swarm.  I think the bees have created this because there is a problem with the existing queen - and she'll soon be superceeded by a new one.  There was only 2 or 3 frames of brood, and the frames were only spotty in brood - so we'll see.  Not much capped honey, but some uncapped.  Some bees might have drifted back to H-3 whenever I moved it last week - but their count seems good, and they are acclimating well to their new location.


Allot of SHB still - and swapped out 4 traps.  This hive has 2 deep hive boxes on it also had more brood and honey in the top - but not much in the bottom.  I decided to swap the boxes around.  In  moving them around, I noticed about 100 or so SHB trapped on the bottom of the screened board.  I spent about 15 minutes trying to kill all of them, in addition to all of the others that were on this hive.  No SHB larva found - just a over abundance of SHB.  Bee count is enough that they are keeping the SHB at bay - but I still thing there's a problem if I loose too many bees - I might end up loosing this hive.  Here's what the traps are looking like.  I'm removing 3 to 4 traps every 3 to 4 days from the hives and they consistently look like this...when's it going to end ???

H - 4

Still a single hive and a couple of frames of brood.  Light on capped honey, but some and some uncapped stores.  Swapped 2 traps.

Nuc Box -

Swapped 2 traps, and capped honey was in the bottom box.  Not much of anything in the top, and no brood up there.

So - even though I'd hoped I'd started to see some "light" by the reduction of traps - I don't know that I've made much headway.

Definitely - time to feed again though.  I refilled the quart jar on the Nuc box and H-1 - and also put out 5 gallons of sugar water for everybody..with the HBH in it.  I expect they will "drink" this all down by Wednesday or Thursday.  I'll keep refilling for a few weeks and see how they are doing. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

7-26 update

Wow - has it been this long since I've posted anything ???

I've been busy, like all others and haven't updated my Apiary notes lately so here we go ..

I've been really struggling with the SHB.  Their are the bain of existence and wish all of them a really horrible death.  Whew - that felt better.  :)

They have been wreaking havoc in my hives lately even though I seemed to have strong hives.  So far this year, they have decimated 2 nucs, and wiped out 2 of the 3 deeps out of my Nuc bomb hive.  The nuc's suffered, I believe, even though I had plenty of nurse bees whenever I created them, from the robbing I couldn't stop in time - and there fore they were quickly over run and I had to just 'dump' what bees I could save, back into other hives, and 'trash' those nucs.  I really don't know why I suffered such a loss on the 3-deep Nuc bomb other than their being more SHB than I knew were there whenever I tried to split it.  The process went like this .. Thursday I slid a choke board between box 1 and 2/3, to temporarly split the hive and created some queen grafts.  I noticed 2 days later whenever I went to check on the grafts that there were some dead bees out front on the landing board of the 'new' upper hive but just thought that this might be normal because of the split, and them trying to stave off robbing and etc.  I went back to check on the hive about 3 days later and noticed not only a lot more bees on the same landing board, but also what looked like some larva.  I slid my hive tool down the metal separator to 'draw out' what was there and noticed SHB larva - which really freaked me out.  As I carefully slid out the metal seperater more (but not too much) I quickly determined there was a problem and promply took the top 2 boxes off.  What a mess !!!!  Not only was the top 2 hives severely infested with SHB, 1/2 of the hive was lost - but the larva was everywhere and now I potentially have lost my great Nuc bomb, as well as potentially killed that hive.  I rinsed and killed as much larva as possible, giving the nearby ant piles a great treat and left the hives out to 'air dry' for about a week.  As expected the other bees welcomed the opportunity to retrieve all that necter and honey left over.

I've sense started an aggressive plan to kill as many as possible, through almost any means possible.  I keeping a closer eye on any larva in all the hives, and removing any frames with larva on them.  I've also started using the Beetle traps with mineral oil in them and have found not only striking results, but possibly a little hope.  In the last week I've had 1 to 3 traps in each hive and have had to replace them every 3 to 4 days (per hive) because they are full.

I'd guess that there are at least  to 70 SHB per trap.  I know that this only kills the "adults" but if I can potentially reduce their numbers, I can slow that process down.  I've also removed the top bars from the hives to reduce their abilities to 'hide' from the bees and have ordered some Nematodes to put into the ground.  The Nematodes are reported to be voracious microscopic eaters and hope they are fruitful and multiply.  Go Nematodes - Go !!!

I'm still feeding them and keeping an eye out that they won't get "honey bound" and so far this hasn't been an issue.  With it being almost the end of July now, I'm just on a maintenance plan for now to build them up for the winter.  I'll have to try and do some more splits in the spring, and work on moving the existing 3 hives I have into a sunnier place for the rest of the summer - and winter.  Thankfully, I've already cleared an small area that I can put them.  I'll be working on a larger area over the rest of the summer and winter so hopefully I can have some more hives next year.

that's all for now .. but here's a quick video of their feeding frenzy from the other day .
Although it's in the same spot it's been, it only took them about 10 minutes to find it again.  The 4 1/2 hives seem to consume a 5 gallon feeder in about a week.


Tuesday and Thursday ..

The first Tuesday of the month is the local bee keepers meeting and I wanted to try and get into the hives to check their trap status' before the meeting and quickly look for anything else that I might need to talk about before the meeting. 

I quickly rushed home after work and even though I was 'starving' dived into the hives to check out what was going on.  I only had to replace 4 traps this week as I found that most of the traps only had about 10 to 20 SHB in them.  This was an encouraging note, but I don't believe I've solved the issue I'm having - just possibly started to see a decline - at least for now.  Heck .... I'll take any improvement I can get. 

Hive status -

H2 - Nuc bomb -

I noticed allot of the male (smaller and brown in color) inside the top cover and in any of the other hives.  Strange, but maybe the word had gotten out that there was a 'batchler party' in this hive .... :)  I killed about 40 or so beetles (85% were males) in this hive whenever I took the cover off.  I've learned to quickly remove the cover and be prepared to kill with my fingers, instead of the hive tool - partially because of the satisfaction I get from it - and the other reasoning is that I'm faster getting them this way before they scurry off to some place other.  It's still being maintained in 2 deep boxes and although I didn't have time to go into the bottom deep, I did notice 3-4 new brood frames and am encouraged by this fact.  I'll have to check the bottom box real good this weekend to see what's going on down there.

H3 -

I noticed several new frames of brood and think the queen is still producing well in here - so far.  This is the hive that I swapped a frame of brood from H-1 about 40 days after getting the new package this year.  More about this hive below..

H1 -

This is the hive that I moved over to the new location.  I had removed the 'cover' from the front a couple of days after moving it and it seems to be doing fine in this location.  No significant change in SHB that I could tell, but no drastic reduction either.  There was some more brood here also, but not much.

H4 - The new (split) hive

This hive is one I created from a split off of H1, and is in the same (sunnier) location where H1 is now.  If I remember correctly, there is only about 7 frames in here and it's still growing slowly.  I might have to reduce its box but not sure yet.  I've been feeding it with quarts every 3 days or so, but switched to a gallon feeder.  I refilled the feeder as it had been a day or so already empty and will try to monitor it's hive-growth rate to make sure they are drawing more frames and not just filling them honey.

Nuc box -

I didn't have time to go into it and will do that this weekend.  I did "add to" the quart top feeder as they had only taken about 3/4 of it.  I don't know why they've slowed down but will investigate this weekend to see what's actually going on.

Wednesday - 8/7 - H-3 Move

I decided to move H-3 over to the sunnier place to see how it would do.  I did the same process, with partially blocking the entrance to force their re-orientation process, reducing their entrance -  and they seem to be doing well - as of last night.  I'll remove more of their 'coverage' tonight and leave their entrance restricted for another day or so depending on how they're doing.

I'll post more after the weekend whenever I know more.  Other than that, I've started clearing a larger area close to the original hive locations and have made some headway.  I've already hauled 1 trailer of trash to the dump, and almost filled another trailer.  I'll hopefully be hauling the partially filled off this weekend, and get another filled.  I think I have probably another 5 to 6 before I finish clearing what I want to at this time.  Hopefully I can get this quickly done and get the saw tooth trees I've purchased in the ground for this fall.  I also want to add some more fruit trees also - and .....

Friday, August 2, 2013

SHB trapping, moves and some new little friends..

As you know I've been trying to keep up with the SHB plague I've been experiencing.  So far, on a pretty regular pattern (4 to 5 days) I've been replacing the traps in my hives.  I've been doing this because they are almost full.  Here's the count, so far ..

H1 - I moved it the other day to a sunnier place.  I have 2 traps in it, and it is a single deep hive box at this time.  It is location in it's new location, close to H4.  Whenever I moved it, I placed some branches in front to cause the bees to re-orient, and have noticed them doing this over the last couple of days so I'll probably remove some more branches and let them settle in.
I'm also going to reduce the entrance some, probably to about 3 inches or so just to keep them 'current' with their new location.  I didn't see any clustering at the old location, by where H2 and Nuc-bomb was - so if any returned there, they either found their way back - or drifted to the other boxes.

H2 - It is a double-deep brood box and I have 3 traps in it.

H3 (the nuc bomb box) has suffered quite a reduction from 3 deeps, down to 2 deep due to the massive infestation I had in it.  It currently has 4 traps in it.

H4 - new split hive.  This hive was created from H1 bee stock.  It has been slow to start, but seems to be coming along.  I've been feeding it reguraly, and now have a gallon feeder with sugar water on it and that has delayed the need for me to replace the quart-feeder every few days.  It has had the 1-gallon feeder on it for about a week now, and there's about 2" of feed left in it.  I'll have to check it this weekend and be sure that they don't become honey-bound.

Nuc box - this is a double-stacked 4-frame box.  It has been fed continuously for about 3 weeks now and shows some progress in production.  As you might remember, this NUC is from H1 also, and I accidently moved the marked queen over whenever I supplimented some brood stock.  It has 1 trap in it.

I received my Nematodes a couple of days ago and just got a chance to put them in last night.  After you mix, and 'dissolve' the solution up into a 5-gallon bucket you can't really see anything.  I mixed/stirred up the solution every time I put some out 'liquid' out - so we'll see how well things go.  The directions say to apply to a 'wet' ground or water in after so I did this, with another 5-gallons of water, and we also got some good rain so that should help.  I believe the instructions say that you should expect some results, (how do i really measure this anyway) starting within a week and going forward.  The solution was split between both locations of my apiary. 

Depending on how well the move works, I'll start moving the other hives and Nuc over to their new locations over the next several weeks.  This weekend I'll be replacing some more traps and need to go through all the hives well to check on their brood status and also since I've been feeding for several weeks - check their honey stocks to be sure they aren't causing any queen-laying issues.

more later ..

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday update...

I decided to try my hand at doing some grafting today.  Thank goodness I was able to have a friend come over and show me how to do it.  Trying to get the grafting tool to work well - was a real challenge.  I think I've tried, now we'll see what happens.  It all started like this ...

About 30 minutes before I expected Scott over I put in a cloake board to try and split the hive.  I'd decided that I wanted to make some queens from my big Nuc Bomb box before the year ended.  I have 3 pretty full deep boxes stacked together in this box, so I just lifted up the top 2 boxes, smoked them - and put in the cloake board.  I know the queen wasn't in the very top box, but not sure if she was in the middle one.  The entrance is now facing backwards, so I'll have to watch myself whenever I'm behind all the hives now.  I also put in a divider in between hive 2, thinking that I might graft from it also - but didn't.  I noticed that I had a lot of SHB in Hive 2, so Scott has some disposable traps and I put a couple in there.

 Anyway, by the time Scott had gotten over here I'd already found a nice frame with plenty of eggs in it (from the top box on the Nuc bomb) and we proceeded to graft some.  We grafted about 20 eggs, so hopefully I'll get 6 to 8 out of this and then maybe be able to get another nuc box for the winter.  I put the single, double-stacked frame with the grafted eggs back in the top box.  This box has 2 deep's with a cloake board between the bottom board.  The cloake board is 'shut' but I don't know if the queen is in the middle box or not - so we'll see what, or how they do with the grafted queen cups.

We determined that in Hive 1 where I'd taken the last split (see previous posting) that there were about 10 queen cells between several frames across the 2 different 4-frame nuc boxes on top.  Not thinking, or remembering what I'd done in the past - I decided to make a split from this with 1 frame containing about 8 queen cells, some pollen and honey frames.  We shrank this hive down to a single deep box and I'll check it in a few days to see how the queen cells are doing.  It has a good number of bees in it so it should be ok.  Another split made.

We decided to look over 2 new hives I'd made and found something interesting.  One the split I put into a 'normal' 10-frame deep box, we found a lot of eggs and a really healthy queen.  I'd seen her before, but need to keep the feed on them so they keep drawing out and creating lots of egg laying room for her.  There are about 4 frames she can lay in now, so I should be ok without checking on here in about a week.

In the 4-frame nuc, I make last Friday and added another frame into (see previous posting) we noticed the queen.  Apparently I'd missed the queen from Hive 1 whenever I made that last move so she's already taken out all the other queen cells and is 'the queen' now.  It was funny as I was showing Scott the frame with, what I thought had all the queen cells on it, to have a marked queen on that frame.  I've been lucky so far in making nuc's and hives, but this is a first to have made a 'marked' queen.  Guess not many people can say that, huh ???

I've also refilled the 5-gallon feeder and they are working on it pretty good.  I'm going to keep this up for awhile for at least a couple of reasons -

   1. It's helping the hive's I've split load up for the winter, and
   2. It's helping to keep any hive-robbing down.

more later ...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Another split ..

As I was encouraged about the previous split, I decided to make another one on Friday (6/28).  I decided this time to try and create one with/from my Nuc bomb.  All was going well on  Monday whenever checked them and they had taken the 3 queen cells as started creating some queens.  Even though I put a (almost) whole frame of honey in with them, I was still feeding - but this time with only sugar water.  I wanted them to keep they 'energy' level up.  I took 3 frames along with 2 other shakes and created the nuc.

On Monday, things were going well whenever I checked on them.  I noticed that for some reason, I was starting to get some more robbing going on - so I shut them up during the day, and opened them up at night.  I checked on them yesterday and decided to move them over to another location, and change out the solid bottom board with a full-screened one.  Remember, this nuc now has a top entrance, and not the bottom.  My experiment to see how they will 'take' to this. 

Whenever I moved them and changed out the bottom, I noticed about 100 dead bees in there from all the (robbing) fighting I presume but they still seemed to have enough bees to cover the brood.  I decided to swap a frame out, and take 4 shakes over just to be on the 'safe' side.  Talk about something fun ... everyone need to experience this type of fun with about 500 bees flying around trying to determine what just happened.  I hate I lost all those bees, but have increased the numbers up so they should be ok.  I don't have the opening closed at this time and haven't noticed any robber bees so I think I might have this under control.  The previous location is still experiencing allot of activity where the nuc was, as I left a dummy/blank nuc there just to aggravate them.

Anyway, I'll update back in a few days whenever I get back into them and see what's going on.  At this time, there are 3 queen cells and they have already started to fillagreed them - so hopefully in a week, I'll have another colony.   :)

Friday, June 28, 2013



Success, or at least partially.  As I previously posted I was going to try and create a couple of splits from my hives.  I created 2 splits with both from several hive combinations, with one of  them being a split into 1 4-frame and the other going into a 10-frame box.  The 10-frame worked and the 4 frame didn't.  I think that even though I  believe I had enough resources in both the 4-frame didnt because if the robbing that started and even though I tried to stop it- I wasn't successful and eventually had to shake the remaining bees back into their respective hives.

I checked the 10-frame yesterday for queen activity (already given ip on the 4-frame a few days ago) and not only found her, but am glad to say she looks very fat and happy.  I've been feeding them on and off every several days and noticed/decided that even though their "supplies" seem to be ok - I think I'll feed them for a few weeks so they can draw out some more comb and give her plenty to lay in.

I'm saddened that the 4-frame didnt work, but decided to try again yesterday, specifically with the hive that I refer to as the "Nuc bomb".  This time u took a (almost full) frame if capped/in-capped honey and put into the 4-frame Nuc box.  I also added a few frames of brood and pollen along with their respective nurse bees, and 3 other full frame shakes.  I decided to also use a top entrance this time to see how they will react to it.  It only has about an inch opening, and with no external feed source they should be able to protect it w/o any issues.  I have the option to top feed with a quart jar, but will see how they do for a few days on their own.  I might have made a mistake by adding the honey-b-healthy to the sugar mix last time, so this time as I feed - it will be sugar water only.

I also toasted to my local bee buddy, "S" and he still wants to try some grafting off of my Nuc bomb. I bought the grafting cups and tool myself, but haven't had a chance to experiment yet.  Hopefully we'll be able to get the "cloak" board on their next week and get some good eggs for grafting.

I checked all the other hives while I was back there yesterday, and they seem to all be doing well.  I've started to see some more hive beetles, so ill have to make some changes this weekend to try and get bak on top of them.  The bees are handling them at the moment, but they can quickly get out of control so better to start now.

More later...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

a split or 2 -

It's been a few days since I updated this blog, but here's what's been happening.

A week and a 1/2 ago I noticed a few queen cell cups being formed in Hive 1.  I decided, even though it wasn't the hive that I necessarly want the genes from, I'd try to create a split from it.  So last friday (6/21) I took that frame along with 3 other frames (scattered from the 2-deep box), a frame of capped/fresh brood from another hive -  and created a nuc box putting it about 150 yards away.  I put some sugar water on it, but quickly noticed that 'other' bees had found it and I had a 'robbing' situation going on.  I quickly plugged up the new nuc and had to leave it closed up all weekend.  On monday, i opened up the blockage and left them to their own devices.  I also re-filled the quart feeder. 
Yesterday (Wednesday) I noticed that the 3 queen cups, had been transformed from just cups into capped queen cells.  They looked strange to me as they weren't fillagreed yet.  Today I re-inspected the hive and noticed that they were indeed fillagreed.  Magic ...

I also noticed back in Hive 1 that they had a queen cell already fillagreed - so i took it some brood/honey/pollen from H1, H2, and even 1 frame from the super-nuc box.

Attached are some pictures of what I saw today.  The cluster of 4 queen cells, is what was in the new nuc - but fillagreed today.  I have the new nuc shut up till tomorrow pm, then will let them go and see what happens ...

ps - another 5 gallons of sugar water has been taken also.  I'll make some more up tomorrow and start feeding them again.  I have to remind myself, I'm only doing this now - because I'm trying to stimulate more queens, brood, and some honey - if possible ..

Thursday, June 13, 2013

hardware needs ???

So - now that I've decided that I want to do some splits, I need to determine several things -

1. What will i be using in hardware equipment? 

I've come up with a pretty good idea of using a 4-frame nuc box.  I've developed the idea of using this type of nuc because I can 'stack' 2 right on top of a single 10-frame box (side-by-side)  for either 'walk-away' splits, because the easly stack side by side - overwintering some nucs shouldn't bee to hard for the 'boxes' to share heat for the winter, and I don't know that I actually need "5-frame" nuc boxes for what I'm doing.  This might not work in the long run, but we'll see as time goes on...

As I have 4 nuc's now and 4 deeps I'm probably ok to attempt this now and see how well it goes. I've borrowed a cloake board from a friend for now, but will probably have to get one on my own as I'm unsure if I can build one for what one costs -

I'll need some queen cups and a grafting tool.  This is so I can 'quickly' create the enviroment that I want with new queens, and not loose too much time.  [time to hatch, 16-days ..queen is bred in another, say 3 days - laying time to confirm good queen - 2 to 3 weeks --- 1 month gone]

2. how many 'boxes' will i need now - what happens if it works, and then later?

Thearetically - I'll need the following:
1 nuc box and a 1 deep per box that i want to create + allot of bees to propagate a single hive. 
Do I have this now - not sure till I get started to see what actually happens.  Funny thing, there isn't really any published information on 'how you actually do this' out there as I've tried to find it - and it seems to be a 'secret' for some reason.

In reality as i theorise more about this situation, I'll need not only allot of bees to start with, but a really strong hive or 2 so that i can keep moving/swapping out frames of 'nurse' bees into the nucs to feed the queens and try and keep the worker bee population down to a minimum so that they don't want to swarm on me.

3. what will i do to over-winter, if this works out now?

Over-wintering I think that I can accomplish this with the side-by-side 4-frame nucs.  I'll also need some type of feeding ability for them so i won't be able to stack too many high.  I can also double-stack the 4-frame nucs, thereby creating a 'tall' 8-frame box and feed that way so that i can maintain my structures and feed - if needed.  I'll also need another place in the yard so there's some potential work there and how many do i actually want to 'winter-hive' - and how many hives do i actually want to keep???

4. what will i need to have 'on-hand' and for the future should I want to either maintain my own stock, or sell some nucs/queens in the future?

Obsivesly I'll need to have and/or have ready about 4 to 6 nuc boxes to start.  Simple math seems to dictate the following:  1 setup = 1 to 2 nucs and 1 deep .. probably at a minimum. 

5. what else am i forgetting?

6. how much will all this cost in material -  and time ??????  Will i build my own stuff, from others' plans, creatively engineer myself - or just buy?

I need to find more 'free' stock material.  I'm pretty efficient now with building my own w/o alot of waste - but having more 'free' stock will certainly reduce my costs.  I think that if i 'troll' some construction sites i can pick up some more 'parts' but don't really have a good storage place for 'allot' of equipment or parts now.  The wife's wanting me to build or get a garage/shop so maybe I'll look into this.  We really need this now anyway, but there's 'some' support from her in all this and am always appreciative for the support - just need to thank her more for it !!!   I need to engineer some screened bottom boards for my nucs now - but that shouldnt be too hard.

the next step in my evolutionary trials ...

I've decided to also try my hand at some grafting and creating some 'natural' splits.  I need to do this for several reasons - Life cycle learning of the bees - for my own continued search of knowledge about these special creatures, propagation of the species, before it's not too late in the year, and if I can - why not ?? 

Here's some listings or other thoughts of why I need to start now (mid june timeframe)  -

 - The bees have time to 'rebound' and get started for winter
 - If I have to feed (I will I know, as there's no "flow" going on now) then the bees will/should have   enough time to get settled in good for the winter.
 -  If I'm not successful in my 'trials' then I'll have time to combine them back together and hopefully not loose too many.
 - "normally" this type of thing is done in the early spring or whenever there's a good 'flow' going on - but you gotta start some time and this might be quite a good experience for me.
 - I should have enough time for these bees to estabish themselvess and "IF" I have to overwinter some nucs this year I'll know how to do it.
 - I've gotten the notion that I'd like to create several nucs and possibly sell them every year, but most importantly that I have enough 'stock' to be able to perpectuate the good stock I believe I currently have, so that if I have a 'bad' year - I don't end up loosing this stock - or have a 'catostrophic' loss to my apiary.

Thirsty girls - and some brain dumps..

FYI - out 'normal' (as this year isn't a typical) year pollen flow has been out for several weeks now. I think we're into the typical 'hot and dry' summer and potential bee stress timelines...

Most people, if they have any honey, are pulling it out now or real shortly- and letting the bees settle in for the summer and get ready for the winter. 

I'm still trying to 'build up' my hives and since I've gotten the 2 packages to finally get going - I've been feeding them for several reasons (ps - i don't really want to feed as this isn't natural for them, but need to for now to get them 'ready' for next year)

-  As I had to take some eggs from H1 to get H2 going (bad queen with spotty pattern and bees not really happy with her), this hive is finally starting to do well with allot of good brood pattern, honey and pollen stores.  I'm going to try and create a NUC from it this weekend - but more on that later.

 -  H1 had a sluggish start due to the frame-stealing I had to do - but is doing pretty well now with lots of brood, honey and pollen stores.  Gonna try to make a NUC from it .. more later

 - Our year hasn't been normal.  Usually by the middle of march our pollen counts are really high and our cars are literally green until the middle of June due to so much 'popping' out at the same time.  With the weather been so rainy and cool, most people have been having issues with their bees this year.  It seems that there have been 'great' spurts in different area's - but overall pretty slow.

 -  Due to the sluggish/non-typical year of pollen - I want the bees to have plenty to survive this year and be 'boomers' for next year.

Note - I put a 5-gallon feeder out about 6 days ago and it was empty yesterday.  Talk about 'bulking' up.  I'm going to have to do something else for them - like honey supers or possibly other deeps to keep them active till I'm ready to split in the next week or so. ....

Monday, June 10, 2013

feeding at the apiary.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'd gotten tired of feeding a quart every day so I created a 5-gallon feeder and loaded it up.  Funny thing is I had a bee following me all around the yard as I was gathering the 'parts', making the feeder and then putting it up.  Within a couple of minutes other bees had found the new suprise and every since then - I don't think there's been less than about 500 at a time feeding. 

Enjoy ..

Friday, June 7, 2013

Talk about a busy bee...

Well I posted a picture earlier today which showed allot of bees hanging/chillin out in front of one of my hives - H3 or Nuc box

I think I'm gonna rename that Nuc box to Nuc Bomb !!!  I took the cover off to inspect it this afternoon and it's all drawn out and just about full.  Talk about a good laying queen ... I looked back over my notes and recorded the following, about that hive -

 - 5/11 - purchased that 5-frame nuc from somebody locally.  It was from a 'tear-out' or a wild/ferrel hive somewhere.

 - 5/19 - added a 2nd deep super to the box and moved 3 or 4 frame up to get them started.  I also added     4 bare frames with tongue depressors as guides for them to make some 'natural' comb on their own

 - 6/7 - today added another deep and moved 4 frames up.  All the new frames are foundation less and I hope that they draw them out as well.

Hopefully I'll be able to do one of the following - create a 'walk-away' split, or maybe graft some queen cells from this box and make splits with the 2 4-frame nucs I have on H1

H1 - i moved a couple of frames around on the 2 4-frame nuc boxes up.  In about a week I should be able to either create a couple of nuc boxes, or hopefully I can get/graft a couple of queens from H2.

H2 - still moving a little slower than H1 (the other new package from this week) with about 65 to 70% drawn out on the top deep box.

Also, I got tired of filling up the 'board man feeders' every 2 to 3 days, so i filled them for the last time today.  I got smart, and created a 5-gallon feeder.  Funny thing is, while I was mixing it up, I had a bee constantly following me around.  She followed me to where I was putting it, and as soon as I put it up - 5 other bees came around and starting feeding.  I bet by mid day tomorrow, it'll be swarming with bees.  I'll upload a picture of that in the am.

Good brood patterns in all boxes ...

Here's a pic on the new triple box ..

more later ..

a few days later

Ok-  so it's been a few days and I haven't put anything out here.  Well nothing much has changed except we're receiving some rain - 1.5 inches in less than 24 hours.  I've peaked into the tops of the hives and they are still working along.  It seems to be happening more slowly in the packages but as long as their still working (drawing out, pollen gathering, and egg laying) I guess I'm fine with that.

I did a top hive inspection yesterday, between the rain drops and found the following -

H1 - they are still working on the top left-hand side of the 4-frame nuc box more than the right-hand side.  Not sure why, but who knows.  By working more, I mean that all 4 frames have been almost drawn out and some egg laying has been done.  I noticed a strange bee yesterday in here and wonder if it was the queen or not but not sure.  It was half-again as large as a drone and almost 3/4" long.  I didn't get much change to inspect it as it quickly disappeared but the other bees didn't seem to bother it and just smelled and went along with what they 'normally' do.  It didn't have the full abdomen and look like a queen - but since this hive is differently colored - maybe that was her.  If so, it's the first time in a month that i've seen her - and she's definitely a hybrid of some type.

H2 - they still seem to be struggling with drawing out all 4 frames but have approx 2.5 drawn out and some honey/pollen stored in them.  I swapped around an un-drawn from the right with one on the left to try and encourage them some more.

H3 (nuc box) is starting to get allot of activity up there.  They've drawn out most of their frames and have a lot of good brood patterns and pollen/honey stored up there.

I've been using, for about 2 weeks now, a mixture of HBH (honey bee healthy) for several reasons but mostly to get them to drawn out the remaining new foundation so there will be more room for pollen/honey/brood.  I think that this has been working because I have all 3 hives consume most of the quarts within about 4 days.  H1 and H2 have consumed the most so far with H3 having about 2 inches left whenever I've topped them (all) off.

I checked on them late yesterday and noticed something strange.  On H3 - there were a lot of bees just 'hanging out' and cooling themselves along their front porch.  With 85+ temperature, 75+ humidity, and all the rain - I can't blame them.  I'll attach the photo so you can see.

Hopefully the weather will dry out over the weekend and I can do another 'full' inspection of all 3 hives so I can find the black queen as well as check on the bottom deep brood boxes.  If they haven't filled up all them, I might do a box rotation. 

Here's the 'chillin' bees -

Friday, May 31, 2013

the timeline to current date

I didn't start this timeline out correctly - but here's actually what's happened so far.  I've 'condensed' the info into 1 large post, mainly to get 'caught-up' with everything.  Enjoy ..

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

3-31 - picked up bees packages (ordered from ga)and put them into their new homes.  I'm currently using the (approx) 2-quart board man style front feeders.

4-3 - replenished the feeders.  Bees must be hungry and these are all new frames that they need to pull out before anything can happen.  I did get 1-frame for each hive from my cousin and put into each hive so they could clean them out and get ready for the queen.

4-5 - refilled the sugar water for both hives.

4-6 - first inspection.  both queens were out. found both of them with their red markings. removed a lot of bur comb from around the cages.  H1 (hive 1) bees are light colored and H2(hive 2) bees are really 'black' in coloring.  strange as both packages came from the same location - but who cares....5-frames are being drawn out on both hives and that's a good start.

4-8 - refilled the feeders again.  The weather has been raining and still cool this year.  It's been a strange year as we have gotten about 70% more rain than normal - and the pollen flow is 'off'.

4-16 - Inspection with Mr G.  Mr G has been raising bees for 20+ years and I'm fortunate to have someone who's both close by, and doesn't mind givng a new 'beek' some pointers.  We found good brood patterns in both hives, some stored sugar water and some supersedure cells in both hives.  nothing in them, but suspect this is just 'normal' for now and I'll continue to monitor.

4-23 - Inspection.  H1 - 3 to 4 brood frames but moving slowly.  some pollen and sugar water in there.  H2 - (day 7) 2 superseedure cells found but nothing in them.   As it's day 7 since i first found the super-cells, I'll check in another 4 days to see if anything else is going on (queen in cells or capped). No queen found in H1.  4 swarm cells found - no more eggs.  I wonder if she's dead or what's going on.  talked to several people who thought I should add another queen to get them going.  I may decide to take a frame with eggs and brood from H1 and add to see what they'll do.  Should have new queen in 2 weeks -if they need one.

4-29 - Inspections - H1 and H2 ok.  no queens.  slowly building out to frames 5-6 with foundations.  still not alot of pollen but some honey being capped and brood being laid.  eggs found and things seem 'normal' but slow to me.  I'm suspecting that the queens were'nt bred well or really good queens.  I've also heard that about 70% of others that got packages and even nuc's from Ga this year are having issues and most people have already re-queened their hives.  I'm gonna stick it out a bit more and see what happens.  It's been 14 days and I still haven't been able to find the 'black' queen from H1. Called Mr G and discussed the issue of no queen on H1.  He thinks that if they're still pulling in pollen and things seem to be working to keep a watch, and will come over in the next week and help me look around at both.  He's already caught 3 swams by now.

5-1 - still no queen in H2.  4-5 frames are pulled out now and 3-4 frames of brood.  strange that I haven't found her and wonder if she just stopped laying - cause there wasn't enough frames 'ready' for her her.  H1 ok with queen found, 4-6 frames pulled and eggs/brood look ok.

5-7 - Another inspection with Mr G.  H1-ok with good brood, honey and pollen.  H2-no queen found.  Decided to move a frame with eggs/brood over from H1 and see what's happening, or what will happen.  I hate to 'stunt' H1 as they aren't really strong right now and probably should just re-queen - but we'll see.  Added frame into 5th from left - near center of existing brood box.

5-11- found another guy in town who does bee removals for a living and also sells them.  got a "nuc" from him, which is really full.  He came over and helped me install into another hive as well as do some inspections on the other hives.  H1 and H2 are going well for now but only 5-6 frames being laid in as they are pulling the other frames out.

5-16 - 3 hive inspections.  H1-bees are drawing comb on frames 2/9.  adding another 'deep' on top and moved a few frames up.  I'd heard this was a good idea as it incourages them to start moving up - so i'll see what happens.  H2- 3/4 frames still need to be worked out at they are stil moving slowly.  no queen found yet, but seeing new eggs and brood. H3-(nuc) In 5 days they've already drawn out 3-4+ frames and are working on the last 1.  I checkboarded and moved up from frames whenever I added the new brood box for them.  These are working really fast - as they should for a 'nuc' box.  I found some rubber bands in the box and think that this was from a 'removal' somewhere and might be some more 'feral' bees.  Who cares at this time as they're moving along.

5-19 - added 2nd brood box to H2.  It might be early but hopefully they'll keep working strong now and as they're still taking some sugar water.  As they weren't taking too much, I'd removed the sugar water for awhile.  moved 3 frames up into new box.  tried some foundationless frames in here also.  I've added sugar water back to all hives now as I want them to start making drawing out more foundation and the 'honey/pollen' flow is really slow now.  still been having alot of rain but it's been dry for about 4 days now.

5-28 - Mr G came over to help inspect.  Queens found in H1 and H3.  boy, H3 queen is really fat!!!. no queen found in H2 but finding eggs and more brood.  probably 5-6+ frames in all hives now have 70% brood capped in them.  the black queen is really hard to find and you'd think a more experienced beek would be able to spot her - or even "me" with a red-dot on her.  Found, in the bottom box, 2 capped queen cells on the same frame (F8 I think).  As there weren' enough bees and plenty of room for them to expand ... decisions-decisions. (do i allow this to happen, create a nuc from/with the frame and other frames from H3/H1...).  Went though both boxes really well but still can't find the queen.  no other queen cell found - and no queen.  I decided to NOT make a split now, but rather tear down those 2 queen cells.  No rain for about 10 days now.  I'll check on them in another 10 days or so and see if they have made any other queen cells - or what's going on.  I believe now that I added the other brood boxes too soon as I have drawn frames in both boxes - but the bottom brood boxes aren't drawn out fully and 'operational'.  It's kind of scattered now and they should have the bottom 'full' and be working alot in the 2nd one.  i'll move some (honey/pollen frames) around as needed and try to keep them 'off-foot' and hopefully they'll draw out 'all' the bottom box frames and then try to get them working/concentrating on the top brood box.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

3-31 The day it all started

Ok today I picked up the 2 packages that I'd ordered thru the local bee club.  These bees are coming from Ga.  I dont know how many came in that day for everyone, but there was a trailer full.

I was concerned that the heavy rain we had whenever picking up the bees might dampen my ability to actually install them - but alas, the rain quit - the clouds opened up, and the bees got put into their new homes.  I installed each into a new 10-frame box and started feeding them sugar water.  In hind site, i should have installed them into nuc boxes, but i'll do that if i ever get some more.

I've come to the impression that they probably didn't probably do as well (info on that later) is - in my opinion, that there was 'too much' room for them to grow into.  I think that by possibly installing them into a nuc box (a 4 or 5-frame box) it would have caused the new hive to grow better and become more established.  after that, i would have moved them.

now the feeding starts ...

tips and nuggets

I've already read several books and been to several meetings.  The best answers I've come up with so far, that I can pass along are these items - (not in any specific ordering)

Build your own boxes if you can - there are plenty of plan our there on how to build Deeps or Brood boxes, Mediums (also referred to as Honey Supers amongst other things), shallow (i dont plan to use at this time), tops, bottoms, etc.  Doing this will atleast save you a few $$ as you can build a Deep/Brood box for about $13 vs $22 and any little you can save is just more towards the next box.  If you can get any 'free' lumber from construction sites - you lumber costs dwindle down into the $5 range per Supers.  Besides - isn't all of the experience, part of the experience?


Ask questions - there's plenty out on the net and at local clubs to help anybody get an idea of what might be going on with what you're experience.  Although bees have been 'cultured' for about 5000 years, there's bee a good movement for the last 30+ years to document and share common knowledge.

There are no rules.  I say this because the more I talk to people, I get different answers.  It really comes down to asking (you have to listen to what they are saying), Reading (to further or broaden your knowledge) and what's going on "right now". 

Right now - well, that's an interesting thing.  What is happening now, is different than it was last season and different accross town in someone elses bee yard. 

Keep a log.  I dont know about everyone else, but if you can keep some notes as to what's currently happening, then 'down the road' you can use your experience and knowledge to let you know if what you tried worked - or not. 

Why not bees ??

2013 - the first year of my bees, and what's going on ...

I've been toying with the possiblity of bee keeping for several years now.  After a few years of trying to actually get into the classes locally w/o much success I decided to start out on my own by picking up several books, reading them, scouring the different blogs, attending a local bee club and then just ordering them and getting stated.  I've decided to try and keep my bees as 'natural' as possible.  I know this will be hard as if I don't treat something, it might die and we don't want that - but if I treat, then I'm only hurting the 'natural order' of things.  It's a hard line, but I'm going to try and see if I can walk it.  I'm sure I'll 'stray' with some natural rememdies from time to time, but if I can get/propugate some good genetics and not have to spend $$ all the time treating them, I think I'll be better off in the long run..

With all that in mind, I've gotten started.  I'm about 7 weeks into the project, but will try to go back and put things in a chrono-log so atleast I can keep up with what's going on .

This, I hope will allow several things -

1. keep up with what's going on this year in my hives, and with the weather
2. have a way to share with anyone that's interested
3. and give me something else to do, like I 'need' that ...