June Frame

June Frame

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 ..