June Frame

June Frame

Monday, June 23, 2014

mid june 2014 update

Well, I admit it - I've been slack.  I haven't posted anything about what's been going on around the apiary.  Let me try to sum up what's happened over the last few months ..

>  over wintered with 4 hives, lost 1 and was down to 3.
> purchased a couple of packages (wish I hadn't and didn't I say I had this issue last year?)
> had to re-queen 3 hives and then supply 2 brood stocks to get those up and running - all from the 2 packages I purchased.  Even the queens I purchased didn't go to well and had to be re-queened from 'my' stock.
> up to 7 hives now - and stable.
> built a top bar hive but had to queen it from "my" stock from grafting.  seems to be doing well so far with the new queen in there about 3 weeks now (from hatch out)
> tried my hand at grafting again on 5/31.  grafted 24 cells and got a survival (my issues I'm sure) of 15 queen cells.  made up 9 nuc's and will check this week for eggs.
> made 3 other splits.

So, I guess I've been busy and hopefully these 9 nucs will have good queens in them and I'll be able to double-stack nuc's and over-winter them this year in preparation for next years stock.

I have found a local organic farmer who has agreed and want's a couple of hives.  As soon as I have a couple of the nuc's going well I'm going to move them over there for the winter - and then into a standard hive configuration next year. 

I hope to pull some honey within the next week and hopefully should get about 70# of honey from the 6 hives I've managed to 'maintain'. 

Here's what the apiary looks like now ..  and some other misc pictures of the area. 

You'll need to overlook the untidiness of the surrounding area as I haven't had a chance to 'clean-up' yet ..

Monday, March 31, 2014

3-29-14 split and angry hive

I'd wanted to check on the hives for a few minutes to see how they were doing.  2 of the existing hives were doing fine and since it was kind of late I decided not to check on the new packages other than to add some sugar water if they needed.

I have to take a frame of brood from H2 and add it to the 'danny' nuc.  This is a nuc I'd gotten back, or specifically 1 of the 3 queens he was 'banking' for me over the winter, and it need some additional resources.  I added another quart of some sugar water to them also.

In inspecting the angry hive I noticed on frame 5, of the top brood box, that there were 2 queen cells - of which 1 was empty and the other was capped.  I took it along with 3 other frames of brood, honey, and some pollen stores and made a split.  I need to check the bottom of this hive to see what's going on there as well as inspect all the other boxes before i start adding the supers.

As the other hives seem to be 'stocking' up some sugar water and nectar, I'll probably add supers to them so that they will 'grow' up and not want to swarm.  It's going to be in the 80's all week and the pollen is almost in full bloom with nectar being brought in daily.

Mike asked me to come over to his house last Friday and help him look for his queens as he hadn't been able to find them on the new packages.  We found 1, which already had the 'color marking' removed from it but weren't able to find the other one.  Hopefully he can find it today, or he'll need to order a queen at the mtg tomorrow.

more later after another inspection ..

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3-22-14 New packages

I'd decided to order another package this spring but as luck turned out I was able to purchase another from a friend on delivery day - so now I have 2 packages to install.  I had the equipment and it seemed like a good idea.  We arrived a few minutes after all the packages did from Georgia and after about a 30 minute wait or so, we were back on the road again.  After a short stop to grab something to eat I arrived home around 7 and as the weather was clear and in the mid 50's I decided to put the packages in.  It's a good thing I did that night as neither of the syrup cans had actually been pierced so the bees didn't have anything to eat during their trip from Georgia.  I'd sprayed some 1-1 water on them while I was suiting up and wondered why they were all working the side of the box so intensively - now I know.

I decided to, after puncturing some holes in the syrup cans, to leave them in the hives till they were empty and also feed some 1-1 so I shook most of the bees out of their package box, turned that can over for them and after putting a single deep on top of one of the hives, said good night.  The other package followed the same process, but instead I used 2 super boxes.  Later that night I remembered that I hadn't removed the corks from the queen cages but did so Sunday afternoon.  Both queens were marked so finding them was quite easy and although the bees seemed pretty anxious for their queen to come out - I widened the candy 'cork' a little and left them in their cages.  The queens should be out today and I'll check in a few days as the weather is supposed to be below freezing tonight and tomorrow evening.

I'd gotten 1 of my queens back from Danny a few days earlier and he was gracious to loan me a 5-frame nuc box and some brood - so I ended up with a Nuc instead of 3 queens.  I'd rather had the 3 queens back and since he didn't ever graph from the queen he wanted and (I don't believe) didn't keep track of whether this was one of my actual queens from last year - I'll just have to monitor and see what I actually have.  I didn't have a chance to look in the Nuc so we'll see what's there in a few days.  I had placed this Nuc close to the other hives but since the other hives wanted to 'rob it out' I moved it to another location.

I added a pollen patty to each of the hives whenever I set them up to provide some additional food as well as the sugar water and as I've seen some some flyers now and guard bees on the entrances - hopefully they will keep going and building up well.

Most of what has already started blooming, in a 'normal' year has either budded up - or starting to flower some, I'm hoping this late cold snap won't cause any issues.

More later, and I'll try to put some pictures in here later whenever I get a chance to take them.

Monday, March 10, 2014

3-9-14 Hive inspection and what I found

It has been a few weeks of partial spring and although I've been peeking in a few times I wanted to check on them to seem how they were doing since we've had a few days of warm (almost 70's) and some cooler nights (lower 30's).  I've heard that most hives can starve this time of the year because the queen starts laying, which equals more bees that need to feed - and although they might be bringing in more pollen - there's a tendency to 'burn through' their honey reserves and get in trouble.  I had a friend over yesterday and it's always a good idea whenever you have a fellow 'beek' around to go through your hives together and see/compare what's going on - so here' what I found ..

H1 -
This is the single deep that got a new queen last fall and has overwintered well and she's been laying pretty well so far with approx 2 frames of brood and I've also been feeding it some Megabee a few times to get them built back up.  Whenever I was in there about a weeks ago there was new brood about to about to hatch, more laid in various stages and still about 2 frames of capped honey.  Whenever I went into them yesterday I found a busy hive with lots of pollen, and more brood laid - but no nector or capped honey.  A problem.  I was able to steal 3 frames of capped honey from the other hives and provide them some 'stores' for awhile.  I'll check it in about 4 days to see how they are doing.  They seem to be making some drone brood, but not excessively and the queen has about 4 frames to lay in now and some really good brood patterns so far.

H2 -
This is the hive that had 2 4-frame nucs sitting on top.  3 or 4 days ago I've moved/split up some of the brood from the right side to the left side to give them more room 'up top' and as I've been seeing brood in the lower left hand side.  I'd been finding drone brood being made between the top boxes and below and thing that even though the space was 'normal' for double frames, it might have been the 'only' space they to lay it.  I decided to break it down more to see what was going on, and am glad I did.  What I found was almost 6 frames of capped honey still down below and not much room for the queen to keep laying.  As this time is the year that you are supposed to 'reverse' the hive boxes if you have 'doubles', I decided to rearrange it.  I took both 4-frame boxes off, rearranged the bottom box with most of the brood, added some empty frames to the bottom box, replaced the double 4-frame boxes with another brood box and moved the honey stores, some brood and empty frames up top.  The queen should have about 7 frames to lay in now between both boxes so she should be happy for a bit.  This is a good honey packing hive and really nice brood pattern so far.  Queen seen and is looking healthy.

H3 - the angry hive..
This is the hive I'd added 4 frames of various stages of drawn comb into last week.  They have started to work on this and drawn down and out some of those frames.  I found 5 frames of honey in the bottom box and some good brood patterns in here also.  I decided to rearrange this hive also by adding a couple more frames to the top box and moving the capped honey up and to the outside of the hive.  In each of the hives whenever I rearranged them I left pollen and honey beside the brood frames so they wouldn't have to far to go for food.  The hive wasn't too 'mad' yesterday which was good.

All in all a good hive visit, and manipulation.  I need to leave them alone for about a week to give them time to adjust and keep going.  It's still about 2 weeks out on our necter flow yet as best I can tell, and about 2 weeks before the other 'package' I order comes in so that should just about 'time it out' well.  The forcythia in the yard should start blooming within the next week or so as well as the cherry tree we have by the house.  Maples are blooming as well as American Elm so they have some pollen coming in.  As soon as the the cherry tree looks like it's going to 'pop' - I'm going to make a split off of H2, and possibly H1. We are expecting to have 3 more days of clear weather and mid 70's this week, then rain mid week and cooling off to the mid 50's but the low's are still above freezing.  I'll need to do a quick check on H1 by the weekend to be sure they are still 'good' with honey stores and might have to add some sugar water to them but the other hive should be good with 4+ frames of capped honey on them still.  I also only killed 2 SHB yesterday so they are still around, but not 'bad' yet.

More later ..

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feb 27, 2014

I've been into the hive a few times and am pleased so far with their progress in rebounding from the winter, and getting ready for spring.  I took a few pictures of each of the hives including their frame status and queens for reference, but as most of them were busy - I'll keep those for myself at this time.

For the last couple of weeks I've noticed the girls bringing in lots of pollen,  about 30-40 % of the time whenever there was good flying weather.  I've identified a couple of American Elm trees on my property and the girls have really been enjoying it. 

Last week I did a 'full' inspection and here's what I found.

H1 -

New queen from last fall.  2+ frames of mixed capped/new brood and 4+ frames of capped honey.  This is the hive I'd given a strip of pollen patty too and they responded very well with it.  I added another strip of pollen patty to it a couple of days ago and will check on it's status, weather permitting this weekend.

H2 - T

his is the hive that died due to not enough bees to keep warm.  It's ready for the Nuc I should receive in about 3 weeks.

H3 -

This hive has 2 double 4-frame nucs on it.  A few weeks ago I'd noticed the queen starting to lay in the top of 1 side and only a few bees moving around the other side.  I didn't check the bottom box other than to move 1 side and peak down.  It had almost 3 frames of capped honey on that side, so I presume its the same on the other.  Last week I did a full inspection and saw capped brood in the lower 'main brood box' and almost 3 frames of mixed brood in the same upper 4-frame box as the previous week.  I also noticed a lot of bees in the other 4-frame nuc box and believe the queen has migrated over there and started laying.  From my estimate, I've probably gotten about 5 frames of brood laid by this queen so far, and she seems to be doing well.  I have this box configured in this manner in hopes of making 2 more nuc/hives from this setup in a few weeks whenever the pollen starts coming in strong, and our nector flow starts.  I'm going to let them raise their own queens from this stock and they should be able to build up good for the summer and into the winter.

H4 -

Angry hive.  A week or so whenever I entered it I noticed that almost all the tops of the frames were covered with bees and there was about 30 or so bees on top of the Inner Cover.  Last week I counted 4+ frames of capped honey and several frames of mixed brood/pollen so this hive is doing really well so far.  I broke the #2 top frame off while trying to pry it off due to it's being "glued' down really well - so I just pushed it back down and left the frame as it was.  I'll deal with it later.  I peeked into it the other day and notice about 150 or so been up on top of the Inner cover and all the frames are now covered with bees so I decided to add another brood box, but only gave it 4 frames - and of those 4 frames only 1 is a 'full' frame in depth.  The other frames had partial natural comb drawn already and I wanted the hive to continue building them out.  Once they completely draw those down and need more frames, I'll add more frames until I eventually get a full deep box.  I also had a nugget left over from my pollen strip and give it to them to see what they would do.  It didn't take more than about 15 seconds for that to be covered in bees and started to be consumed.

So far I have 3 hives that seem to be going pretty well, considering it's the last of February and I'm pleased about this.  At this time it appears that I might be able to create 1 to 2 nuc's from H3 and I'll probably create another from H4.  I have a package coming in about 3 weeks and hopefully it will do well as I already have some drawn comb for them to get started in.  I also have a VSH Nuc which should be ready for mid-May pickup from NC.  I'm excited about getting these genetics and possibly making a few hives from it.  I also like the idea of possibly creating/re-queening these genetics into my other stock - but need to 'watch' them to see how they do this year.  I'll probably try to create another Nuc from it that way I have 2 VSH genetic hives to compare/contrast to.

This Saturday is the annual Spring Bee conference here in town so I'll be busy with this day.  There are going to be several talks on queen rearing and survivability so that should be exiting to hear. 

Maybe I'll see someone there that I know, that follows this blog ...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feb 2, 2014 update

Yesterday was a good day to get into the hives and see what was going on since the temp was around 65 degrees and I haven't actually been 'down' into the frames since shutting them up last winter.  So, here's what I wanted to do, and found ..

H1 - the single deep that I was concerned about for several reasons, but mostly because I wasn't seeing as much activity as the other hives during 'good flying' days.  This is also the hive that I'd placed a pollen patty into last Sunday and not replaced the syrup in the top gallon feeder .  It had 3 to 4 frames of bees, some brood and looked pretty healthy considering what I was afraid of.  I had another hive beside it that I lost last week and was concerned about this one also.  Whenever I removed the top, the bees had consumed approx 90 % of the pollen substitute I'd put in there last week and I had 3+ frames of almost fully capped honey stores.  I won't need to feed this hive any more - thankfully.  Here's some pictures of the pollen substitute, or what's left of it -

this was approx 2" wide and 11" long originally

Hmm - the middle must have tasted better then the ends ..
A close up of the buffet..
 I ended up moving what was left over, and giving them another patty to encourage them to continue building up. 

H2 -
This the single deep, with the 2 4-frame nucs sitting on top.  It has had, until yesterday, a top feeder on it.  They'd stopped taking sugar water and I hadn't really 'fed' them in a couple of weeks.  I also noticed some brood, and 3-4 frames of capped honey in it.  I didn't go down into the bottom box (wish I'd had time) but the bees were occupying both "top" 4-frame nuc boxes so I was encouraged about their capacity at this time.  I removed the top feeder, and replaced with an inner cover and regular top cover.

H3 - the mean bee hive ..

This hive is a single deep hive and was, until recently taking allot of sugar water.  I removed the top feeder and put the remainder out in the yard for everyone else to eat off of.  I noticed 4+ frames of capped honey - so they need to eat some more of their stores so the queen has room to lay.  I also noticed the queen yesterday, she looked kind of 'thin' as compared to previous viewings and don't know if this is normal during an over winter process, or not.  I did though see her dropping a egg into one of the cells.  Of course the bees weren't too happy with me removing their 'roof' and I actually got stung 3 times.  If they decide to supersede her this year, that would be fine with me.  This is actually an offspring of the 'original' queen from the Nuc I got bought last year, and has always been a 'mean' hive for some reason.  If they don't supersede her and they continue to be more hostile, then I might have to re-queen this hive this summer some time.

I also noticed a good bit of flight activity from all 3 hives yesterday and also allot of bees coming back with pollen.  I don't know what's blooming right now, but as long as they do - that's all that matters at this time.

Got our monthly bee club meeting tomorrow, and I'll get the timeline for the other 'package' I ordered, and also get a chance to talk to Danny and determine when I can get my other 3 hives back - from where he over-wintered the queens for me.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow time in the apiary..

We were expecting anywhere from 3 to 6" of snow last night, which is not only rare for us - but also this early in the year.  We usually don't have more than a dusting of snow but typically do get some ice - usually towards the end of February, so this surprise was really nice.  We ended up with just over 2" of snow, on top of about 1/2" of ice.  I spend the day working from home, which was nice also and got a chance to wonder over and see what was going on.

Here's what I found ..

The top picture with the double hives and glass gallon feeders on top only has the hive on the left with bees in it as I'd lost the other hive due to, what I believe was "leakage" from the feeder on top.  This is the hive that I added a single Megabee patty strip (actually is the length of the hive, but covers 2 frames nicely) to last Sunday while the weather permitted access.

The middle picture has the double-nuc box and is doing fine so far.

The last picture has 2 hives, but only has bees in the hive on the right.  The hive on the left is another deep that I removed and 'concentrated' the bees into 1 deep/brood box for the winter.  This is also the angry box.

I cleared the entrances that were covered with snow, not that I think they need access to the access, that the CO2 levels would get to high .. but I really just wanted to, and knew that if started scraping/knocking on their front door - I'd know if they were alive.  Needless to say, they all answered back quickly.  :)

Anyway, it's going to be 13 tonight and about 19 tomorrow night and with the weather still in the lower 40's during the day till this weekend, I know they'll stay hunkered down.  I know I would if I lived in a box like this during this weather.  The 10 day forecast calls for 65 on Sunday then followed by mid 50's as highs after that.

Hope everyone else's hives are surviving and doing well ...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Jan 25, 2014

Other than the fact that this is my first winter-over, being a new bee keeper or just am tired of the cold weather, but I'm getting anxious about the weather and whether I'll be able to get all my hives back up and running in 'full' swing this year so I can experience a "typical" (lol) year of beekeeping.  We've had some pleasant weather over the weekend and it gave me a chance to check on one if my hives that I haven't seem much activity on and have been worried that there were issues in it.  I've been top-hive feeding as much as they wanted over the winter, only 2 gallons taken so far, but as I lost a hive I believe from cold water drip - I was anxious to get into the hive and see a little.

The top gallon feeder was empty and it was a good time to visit the hive yesterday.  I didn't plan on doing a full inspection as the weather was only about 52 and windy, but wanted to remove the top and check on the cluster.  Whenever I removed the top and looked in I had a "2 to 3 frame" cluster which both surprised and elated me.  The other hives have always had more 'flight' activity and this was still the case yesterday. 

I decided since I'd received my shipment of Megabee power the other day that I'd make up a 1/2 batch as I wanted to keep the strips I plan on putting in them, thin to try and allow the bees to fully cover the strips and hopefully prevent a massive build up of SHB.  Although I'd read how to make up the mixture, nobody ever mentioned it's "unique" smell while still in it's liquid form.  By making up a 1/2 receipt, I was able to pour 2 (approx) 11x14 containers while keeping the thickness to about 1/4 or a little thicker. 

I'd put some of the 'scraps and scrapings' on the front of the 3 hives and 2 of the hives had devoured it within a couple of hours.  Since I'd cut a couple of strips already (mostly so that I could wrap and store them effiently in the fridge) I decided to put one on the hive that I'd inspected earlier.  By the calendar date, I'd intended to start encouraging them to build up their numbers around the middle of next month - but like I said earlier, I'm anxious to get things going.  I guess they were angrier than I thought as I actually got stung once.  Oh well, such is the life of a beekeep.  I needed a winter vaccination anyway.   HA HA

I'll monitor this hive and update back as to how well they consume and build up from this initial feeding.  The weather today is supposed to be around 62 today - down to 27 tonight, followed by low 40's for a few days and not back into the (possible) lower 60's for a week.  I didn't give them any sugar water back, just the "patty" so by leaving them alone for a week, I should get a good idea of how well they like - and are taking it.

Anyway, more later ...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mid January update

I've been providing sugar water to the bees all winter for 2 reasons:  One is that I knew there wasn't a lot of stored supplies for the winter, and two is that if they wanted it - they'd have it.  I haven't used too much sugar water ( not quite 50# for 4 hives so far) and I think it's worked out fine so far.  I've been noticing, during warmer days, activity from all the hives with 2 hives having more "flight" activity which I believe is probably normal as I had 2 hives that had a lot more bees in them then the other 2.

I've had 2 hives with 1-gallon feeders on top, and 2 with the common 'box top' feeders.  One of the box tops needs to be fixed as I've noticed that some of the bees have managed to get under the screening, and gotten trapped - and died.  I'll fix this feeder once the weather get's a little warmer, and I can remove it - but till then, I just don't put any sugar water on that side.  I've thought about something else too - maybe I can just open it up more - and put dry feed, like pollen substitute on that side if I use it again next year.

One of the 1-gallon feeders needed to be refilled a couple of days ago and since it was warm, I decided to have a little inspection especially since I didn't see any bee activity out front.  Whenever I removed the glass bottle and looked in, there wasn't any activity on the cluster so I pulled the top.  All the bees had died - what a sad day.  I inspected the cluster and hive and can only determine that even though the bottle was 'sealed' well with propulus, it must have leaked over the last couple of days with the extreme cold weather,  the cold water/sugar must have dropped onto the cluster/brood and killed the bees.  There was still some capped honey and stored sugar water so I know they had food.  I've taken the top off, and the frames out and made them available for the other hives to forage off of.

It's a sad day whenever you loose a hive, and it's my fault.  I didn't really like the idea of having to feed all winter, but thought all the hives were 'surviving' well considering all the splits I'd done last summer.  I've ordered some MegaBee to try and boost the hives with for the spring build up and plan to feed it, mainly externally.  Using it externally should, whenever the bees can fly, provide some extra pollen for all the hives - prevent SHB build up ( I hope ), and also help with the spring build up.  I was reading in the Farmers Almanac last night that this year is supposed to be another 'wet' spring, and 'dry' summer starting in June.  As I made several splits last year, this year will be about getting the hives stabilized, maintain their strengths, draw out the honey supers, and if possible create another split or 2.

I talked with Danny, who I've had 'banking' 3 of my queens last fall for me and he said that 2 of the 3 hives have been doing well so this brings my apiary count to 6 now.  I've ordered a package and should get it the first week of March.  I've also been in contact with a breeder from NC who will have some VSH queens and nuc's available - but not till mid-May.  I'm unsure if this will be 'too late' as our typical pollen season is about to wrap up by then, but we'll see how the year goes.  I'd like to get a Nuc from her, and/or possibly a couple of queens earlier depending on how my hives do this year.

The queens that Danny is keeping were born last year, and 2 of the hives I have at home are also new.  One of the hives is still the queen from the Nuc that did so well last year.  I'm hoping that every year, if or whenever I need - to replace the queens with VSH queens so that I can prevent any issues down the road, and start introducing some better genetics into my apiary.  That's the plan anyway, and we'll see how it goes.  If I can replace and keep up with any splits or queen needs that I might have - then trying to provide from 'known' good stock would be nice.