2013 May 21
In trying to stay on top of my hives I continue to watch three things. Varroa Mites, Swarm tendencies, and are they storing nectar in the supers. This is my 4th year and for the FIRST TIME I have two very strong hives that are filling the supers. Today I put a 4th super on one hive. Maybe a bit early, but they had filled 3-4 frames about 40%. I put a 3rd on another hive.
Swarms 1 - Paul 0. Last week I lost a swarm. Inspected at 6pm, had sealed QCs. Too late so planned to do something in the morning. At 11 am they were 75 feet up in a tree. So I helped the environment. Every swarm I've had was a new queen, less than one year old.
If you do not have the time to inspect (you may not want to if they are filling the supers), just lift up the deeps and check for swarm cells. This is not foolproof, but works well. In my brief time as a beekeeper I have found 100% of the time if they are not filling the supers during a honey flow, one of two things is happening. Either they are filling the deeps and preparing to swarm, or there is a problem. Mites, disease, weak colony, etc.
But it sure is fun to see them doing it right for a change!
2013 May 8
Update on VM & Drone comb. I pulled the frame of drone larva and sampled 25 larva (purple eye stage), half from each side. Did not find any VM. Put the frame in the freezer. Was tempted to leave them, but I have to learn more since 4000 drones is a bunch for a hive if not breeding Q's. Put 3rd super on one hive. 2nd is 5 frames beautiful white wax and full. 1st super is still half full of brood. Nice to have one hive going with the books.
Update May 10. Uncapped the drone brood and shook them out on newspaper. Found some mites! So glad I tried this. Have to decide whether to put the frame in a 2nd time.
2013 May 1
Busy day in the bee yard and a lot of fun! I'll let the pictures do the talking. Pic 1 - If you have a hive that looks like this.. congrats! Bees covering almost every frame. But watch them closely since such a hive will probably catch swarm fever. Pic 2 - Drone frame from same hive, 100% CB. No swarm cells..yet. Pic 3 - Leap of faith! 80 degrees is so hot to work bees. This is how they do it on the internet... in shorts. Only hive in last pic bothered me a little (irritable, couldn't find their queen). Pic 4 - OOPS! Five frames of CB and larva in the honey supers? I'll swear to my grave I saw her in the deep before I put on the excluder! I am so lucky they did not make queen cells in the lower deeps. Caught her, remarked her, escorted her to lower deep.
I checked several drone larva in two of my hives and found VM in 70%. So I put Hopguard on again and will monitor the drop. Hope the other hives draw out the drone comb as well. The most exciting time to enjoy our bees!
2013 Apr 27
Update on VM and Drone Comb. Hopguard dropped 443 VM on a strong hive and 253 on an avg hive in 48 hrs. It dries out way too fast, but does help. Two hives are quite strong. One has completely drawn a frame of drone comb, one side about 40% capped, the rest larva. I'm excited to test them for VM in about 10 days. My other strong hive has filled several partial frames in the supers
2013 Apr 20
Varroa Mites already. The last two years I've had problems controlling VM. Last fall 3 hives collapsed as a result. So my goal this year is to get my bees healthy and keep them that way. Did a 3 day sticky board count and one strong hive dropped 39 mites. Another just OK hive dropped 108!!! That is serious anytime, but especially this early. Although I have mixed experience using Hopguard, is does drop mites and does not disrupt brood rearing (important this time of year). Guess I'll try it to drop the number and give the drone comb time to work. My bees are definitely not varroa sensitive!
2013 Apr 14
Busy Day. Checked the nuc, frame of CH is almost clean. Put jar of honey to hold them over (no more medium fr of CH). Inspected hive 8, saw fair amount of new burr comb, which means nectar. Top deep several frames of brood, saw marked Q. But 6-7 frames of CH and pollen. Bottom deep 100% CH and nectar. While we've been complaining about the weather the bees have been making babies and hauling nectar. Reversed deeps, removed one fr CH from lower box, put one frame drawn comb. Removed 5 fr CH from upper box and put 4 fr drawn comb and one fr drone comb. Be careful not to remove frames with pollen. Also found a small patch of drone brood! Put super with 9 frames.
2013 Apr 7
Nuc is almost out of food. Inspected frames in upper box and empty. Put one frame CH. Will check them later this week. Hive looks OK, several frames of CB.
2013 Mar 22
Check your hives for food! Two weeks ago I put some fondant and pollen substitute on my hives. The bees were hauling a lot of pollen. That means they are raising more brood. But not one warm day since. Today I popped the IC and three hives had cleaned up all of both, and the other two had used up one or the other. My nuc looked like the upper frames were no longer capped.... a sign they are almost out of food. So I put more of both on all the hives. If we ever get a warmer day (55-60) I have several frames of capped honey and will add a couple to the hives in need. Great to see all five looking OK!
2013 Feb 25
Spring is just around the corner! If you were out today, you would have seen lots of bee activity at your hives (hopefuly). You'd also hear a differnece.... the birds are singing, not just their winter calls and chirps. Today I checked my hives for food.... saw two bees with pollen! I'm sure it is skunk cabbage since I saw many open today. You can always tell, the backside of the bees will be powdered yellow since they have to crawl inside the cones. Sure gets the blood going.
2013 Jan 31
Just when I think I've learned something, the bees show me how far there is to go! I sent samples from the two hives below to Beltsville for diagnosis. They came back clean. A few VM, but no trace of tracheal mites or Nosema. While that is very good, I'm left trying to figure out what happened. As below, the one hive had 4 frames CB and 2 with larva and eggs on Sept 1. Early November they were gone, only a few hundred bees left. No dead bees, queen is present. This hive did have a high VM count in July, but I treated early. And the brood pattern was very good. High VM can cause a spotty pattern. If serious, Deformed Wing Virus is often visible. This hive did not shows those symptoms. So much to learn!
2013 Jan 9
Another hive collapsed. Like my last post, I had two other hives that suddenly got very weak in early Nov. These two were VERY strong hives. I inspected this hive on Sept 1. It looked great. Lots of bees, almost SIX FULL FRAMES of brood. But on Nov 21 I noticed weak activity. Took a look and there were not a lot of bees. What happened to thirty thousand bees in 6 weeks? There were no dead bees in the fall, they just vanished. In the dead hive today there were several hundred dead bees, mostly on the bottom board. I also found the marked queen, so they did not swarm or abscond.
I did find a high level of VM in this hive in July. I treated it the end of July with one MAQS strip, then two times with Hopguard, 9 days apart. The multiple treatments were to kill the mites emerging from capped brood. Hopguard does knock down some mites. But the strips last only about 2 days, in several hives less (one hive bees removed by mid second day).
I suspect Nosema and/or viruses stemming from the VM. I collected a sample and will send to Beltsville. One more hive to check but still heard a few bees so will wait. Click to enlarge.
2013 Jan 8
Eulogy to a good hive. Today I noticed a little activity on several of my hives (40, sunny). Nice they get to stretch their wings after a couple weeks. However, I have 3 hives showing almost no activity. Today I checked one and it is dead. But it was not a winter kill. And they did not abscond, the marked Q was there.
This hive had bees, queen, and some brood on August 31. Not real strong, but not alarming. I first noticed weak activity on Nov 11, only 5 weeks later. Opened the hive and found only a small handful of bees, no cluster, and no dead bees. Interesting that this hive stored more food for winter than any other hive. I do not think the VM count was a serious problem on this hive. I did use one MAQS strip on July 28, then Hopguard 9 days later.
But last year the hive had a very high count in the fall. I wonder if viruses or Nosema carried over to this year. I sent a small batch of bees to Beltsville in December to check for Nosema. If very high I would not want to reuse the frames as is. Or maybe they needed more protein due to the dry summer?
This was one of my original two hives and the first hive I've lost, so it bugs me to lose them. I am certain that as I learn more I can do a better job of helping them. Another learning step. I cleaned out all the dead bees, put small screens over the entrances. Have to learn the best way to manage the full and partial frames of CH and N so it won’t mold.
2012 Sept 30
Open Feeding and Robbing - I seldom open feed since I have problems with robbing. But I had about 10 frames part filled with nectar so decided to put them out and let the bees clean them up. After a short time there were bees everywhere! Everywhere I looked bees were flying, some higher than my barn. One hive the entire front was covered with beees. Every hive had some fighting going on. The two worst had about 40-50 dead bees under neath. Maybe I have to move them even further, and where there is no direct line of site to the hives?! Ouch!
2012 Sept 27
The bees are in full winter ready mode. What needs to be done? A quick inspection to made sure there are no surprizes and to check on their food stores. Experienced beekeepers can tell by the weight (140-150 lbs), but us newbees have to understand what's inside. Hives should have 12 to 14 frames of food and pollen. If less, feed them heavy. One gallon of 2:1 SS yields about one deep frame of food. After this I try to avoid opening the hives. They are propolising the cracks for winter. And if a queen is accidentally killed the hive will perish.
2012 Sept 13
The Goldenrod Honey Flow is in full swing. Been a trickle for about 10 days, but Tuesday morning the big rush started. I visited my hives at 9 am, only 61 degrees. They were all busy, busiest in about 2 months. Non stop until nearly dark. Same all week. You can now smell the goldenrod nectar well away from the hives. Hope they fill all the frames to make for a good winter. Have two hives to inspect, but I won't bother them when they are so busy and content, bringing in food. One of the high points for a beekeeper!
2012 Sept 1
How often to Inspect a Hive? A typical vague bee answer is that it's up to your style. Some inspect every 10-14 days. Some once a month. Some once a season. If a hive is doing well, all is good. But if something goes a miss... you won't know until it's too late. I believe time is saved by more frequent inspections due to less work. For example, I did not inspect a couple of my hives for 34 days. It took forever yesterday since everything was glued together, had to clean every frame and rest.
One hive had 5 large swarm QC, not quite sealed. The queen is new (spring), and they have 5 frames of empty comb in the lower deep with few bees on them so why swarm? Another day or two and I would have had a weak hive going into winter. Or maybe not enough drones for her to mate successfully. Another bee puzzle!
2012 August 5
Hard Honey! I extracted 48 lb of honey on May 30. Then removed all my supers mid July. Ended up with 4 buckets for us and one full bucket for the bees (all uncapped honey gets fed back to the bees). Yesterday I went to fill a bottle for kitchen use and the early batch is completely solid. Surprize! I didn't know honey could crystalize in only 6 or 7 weeks. I'm sure I can warm it as we use it to reliquify it. But I have to check with other beekeepers to learn what source of nectar crystalizes so fast.
2012 August 1
More about Varroa Mites - My experience with MAQS strips is that they work well, but are very stressfull for the bees. I used only one strip and two hives bearded for three days. Another issue is that one strip does not kill the mites in the brood cells, so you need another type of treatment about 8 days later (to kill the mites emerging). So yesterday I tried Hopguard. It is supposed to be kind to the bees, just a little bit messy to use. Application was easy, the bees did not even move away. One big advantage is that I tried them on my nucs (can't use MAQS on small hives). This morning I had fair mite drops from both nucs, and they were active at 8:30 am, no bearding. Finally, I will reapply the strips in 8 days, then repeat once more after another 8 days. I will apply to one of my large hive this morning.
Watch your hives for food.... one of my hives feels really light, have to inspect to confirm.
2012 July 22
Watch for Varroa Mites! This is the time of year when VM can increase so fast it's hard to believe. Most of my hives have had low counts this year. But suddenly I have two with high 24 hr drops. One hive dropped 64 mites in 10 hours. That is an emergency since they can double and triple in weeks come August. I took advantage of the cooler day Saturday, put one MAQS strip on Friday evening. It is interesting that these two hives did not draw and fill drone comb. One requeened, thought they didn't need it. The other is Carniolan and they would not draw it out. Another lesson learned!
2012 July 2
New Queen and Something New. Checked my hive (same below) today and spotted my new queen walking around. Good feeling! In the process I learned something new. I used a cloth to cover the supers and one hive body while I inspected the other deep. I did this to discourage robbing (tend to have some problems). I've used the cloth before, a favorite idea of Peggy's. But the best part was that when I removed the cloth to put the upper deep back.... there were NO bees at the top. I didn't even have to smoke them. I removed the cloth and immediately picked up the deep and returned it. Worked like a champ and few if any dead bees!
2012 June 21
Wrong again! The score is Bees 27, Paul 2. Two days ago I opened the queenless hive to rearrange the frames back into two deeps. There were 16 frames with at least some drone brood. Checking the frames I found an unmarked queen. So then I had to inspect the lower box where my nuc was. I could not find the marked queen. Bees done her in or a royal fight and the bad guy won. Not laying workers, but a drone laying queen! Crazy. Put everything back together and today checked for QC. They had started emergency cells, so I know that I was now really queenless! Removed all the cells. Then introduced my new OQI queen in a cage. Since she is actively laying I am going to wait 3 days then let her out using just a marshmelllow. Kinda scary.... Sure hope they accept her. Something new to learn every day. And what to do with a healthy queenless nuc?!
2012 June 10
Queenless hive. My strongest hive superceded the queen. Inspected today and instead of brood I found lots of eggs... but you can tell instantly that they don't "look" quite right. They are in all directions and a few have 2 eggs. And not a single larva. I added one frame with open brood from a nuc (laying workers start laying when no brood present) to start some brood pheromone going. In two days I plan to check one more time for a queen, then merge with one of my nucs. Great reason to keep a nuc or two in the yard. Hard part might be what to do about all the eggs... if they are drones, don't want frames of drones. Maybe I'll pull the frames and chill them?
2012 June 8
The Joy of Beekeeping! I moved one of my nucs into 10 Fr deeps today. Started the nuc on April 24 with 2 Fr CB and a Q cell. On May 5th I added a 2nd 5 Fr deep since 1st one was packed. On May 23 all 5 Fr in the 2nd deep were fully drawn and there were 5 Fr with 100% N. (And I had a med super on). So I added a new 2nd deep and moved 5 Fr of N into the 3rd deep, hoping they would cap it. Today I moved them into 10 Fr deeps. Every frame is covered with bees, several Fr of CB, 2 with L & E. They have capped 2 Fr of H in the deep super and filled all 5 Fr in the med super 60-80%. What an amazing accomplishment in just 6 weeks! It's hard to believe, but a joy to watch them grow. This queen (Italian mother) is very dark, almost black. Noticed more propolis than usual. Nice to have a pleasant surprise now and then.
2012 May 27
My bees continue to fill all the deeps with N. Today I inspected one hive.... 4 fr foundation, 8 fr N, 2 1/2 fr P, and 1 CH. So they started building supercedure cells. Poor girl, only 2 weeks old and being punished for not having any room to lay. I removed 6 fr of nectar and extracted. Put the fr back, will feed the N back to the bees. Added a super.
2012 May 21
We installed our queen cells from the OQI Initiative on Saturday. I put 3 cells in a nuc and today I took a peek and they were completely covered with bees. I hope that is a good sign. First time ever tried to raise grafted queens.
Varroa mites have not been a problem so far this year. Have used drone comb and PSD. Need to check them regularly since they can explode late summer.
2012 May 13
Inspected both hives that had swarm cells 10 days ago. Might have waited too long. Close to 20 SQC in each hive. One hive no young L or E, so assume it swarmed (Carniolan). Removed most QC, left 3 in each hive. However, both hives had a couple of Beautiful large SQC. One had to be a full 1 1/2" long. I built a queen castle this winter, so took 2 frames from each hive with some nurse bees, a tiny patch of CB, and 1 SQC each and put them in the Q. castle. Cells too nice not to try it out, and now warm enough. Put a 2nd Fr with N & CH. Black Locust should blossom this week.
2012 April 29
Just when you think you are on top of things! Had a swarm today. Thought I was OK. Lucky, an easy catch. Haven't figured out which one swarmed yet. Pulled my first capped frame of drone brood today (medium frame). Removed the drone comb. Found some VM, but larva still young so have to remember there would be 2 or 3 times as many VM when they emerge.
2012 April 19
A ROYAL TREAT! This afternoon Yvonne and I stopped to watch one of our nucs. I was explaining how the robbing screen works when the queen landed on the screen and began walking around. It was her maiden flight, and we could see the white patch from a male's genital/abdomen.
2012 April 18
Drone Comb & Varroa Mites. Six days ago I put one med frame in this deep. They have completely drawn the bottom bar with drone comb. Once filled and capped I'll remove it, hopefully with most of the VM in this hive. I use jars above my hives to feed when necessary. On one of my nucs I tried a plastic boardman feeder. I had heavy robbing at this hive all morning yesterday. So I removed the boardman feeder and put robbing screens on my nucs. Today no problems (except when orienting.... got crowded due to small opening). Robbing screens have an opening at the top, away from the hive entrance. The hive bees figure it out but robbers can't.
2012 April 13
Bees everywhere! One of my over-wintered nucs is exploding. Heavy on the bees, all frames covered. 5 Fr nuc, put 2nd 5 Fr deep couple weeks ago. This nuc has 4 1/2 fr of CB and about 2 fr of L and E. That's incredible for a 10 fr hive. I put the QE on between the deeps to keep the Q in the lower box. Tomorrow I will split the hive, one full box each. There are eggs and larva in the upper deep and lots of bees to raise a new queen. This Q was a swarm cell from last summer. All of my swarm Qs from last year are doing fantastic this year.
We also hived a 6 day old Swarm on the ground for a friend. See pictures on Main Page.
2012 April 9
And So It Begins! Swarm season is early! Most hives are strong this year, most have 6-7 frames of brood. And it's so early! I inspected one hive today. They had packed the lower deep almost solid with CH, N, and P. The upper deep was almost as bad. It was HEAVY! It also had 6 sealed QC, swarm position. So early! I took 3 fr with some CB, all the nurse bees (and 2 queen cells), plus 1 fr CH and 1 fr P and started a nuc. I am warming a box of frames left from winter to see if I can spin them clean. I will then remove full frs and replace with drawn comb in this hive. Their mother did the same thing last year. I've had a super on for almost 2 weeks, but it is dry and the brood boxes are full.
2012 April 2
Yesterday I took a quick look inside my weak hive. Immediately saw more bees and several frames with CB. I saw the queen again (marked from last year). When I turned the frame over I spotted another queen! This was also brightly marked, like a new mark. They were happy as can be. I removed one queen and caged her. So today I had to take a quick look inside the hive I took the frame of brood from... found larva and the queen. This is very interesting. There was defitely only one Q two weeks ago. Unless the hive I took the brood from had two queens? I marked one but maybe missed the other and moved her? But that would mean they had co-existed since last fall?! And then why wouldn't two laying Qs fight it out? Really strange. But lots of fun.
2012 March 22
Full inspection of all hives last two days. Most hives doing wonderfully. Lots of bees, several frames of CB, clearly weeks ahead of last year. Two nucs look fantastic (one has two full frames of CB). Added second five frame deep. POINT OF INTEREST - I put my nucs side by side and wrapped them as one for the winter. The brood frames in both nucs are on the COMMON side, CH on the other side. Pretty cool, it really does work.
One hive extremely weak. Two patches CB, but very few bees. Guess the Bee PMS Dewey spoke about. I added one frame with about 40% CB AND nurse bees from a strong hive to help out (and slow the other one down). I'll baby them and see if they can regroup.
GDD for Mar 22 is now at 159. I stopped noting what was flowering since everything seems to be in bloom.
2012 March 14
Growing Degree Days - At our last meeting Denise Ellsworth introduced us to GDD as a way to know when specific trees and plants will bloom. With the warm weather the GDD has JUMPED to 45! Based on the forecast we should be at about 130 on the first day of spring. Is this significant? Last year on March 23 the GDD was only 27! That means not a single major tree was in bloom yet. Silver Maple and Red Maple should already be in bloom this year and we are 10 days ahead of last year. Everything may be early for our bees, as well, so be prepared!
2012 March 13
Spring is Sprung
Spring is officially here. 67, sunny, first Red Wing Blackbird, Spring Peepers are singing, first mosquito, and our nesting Phoebes are back for the 8th year. The girls are going crazy! I removed the mouse guards today, one nuc had 25-30 bees with pollen piled on the entrance. Yesterday I checked their food. Several had not a trace of F or PP, so I put more on all. This morning quite a bit of wax paper bits in front of a couple hives. Assume they must need it if they go after it that fast?! I also noticed that the bees were not as much on the top bars, they were spread out more between the frames. I assume the warm weather is letting them go after more frames of food. This is going to be one interesting spring in the beeyards.
2012 February 25
The year without winter continues and the bees are liking it! Today is the 12th fly day this year for my beees. And this past week they have been hauling pollen almost every day. Even today. It's only 39, but sunny and some bees were bringing in pollen. This week I popped the covers and on 5 of my 7 hives the bees were on the top bars, from 30 to 60% coverage. There is still a lot of food in the hive but I decided to put fondant. I'm concerned that they are making babies early and if it gets cold they might not leave the brood to move to food frames. We sure needed a nice break after last year. I see buds on some of the trees, so early!
2012 February 6
This weather is terrific. Today was 44 and sunny. All the hives were out a little. They were bringing in pollen today, on Feb 6. Can you believe it? On one hive I counted 11 bees return with pollen in a couple minutes. The skunk cabbage is blooming, and has pollen, I checked. If they are feeding brood we'll really have to watch the food levels.
2012 February 2
54 degrees and sunny!!!! All the hives were out in force again today. If we watch the food stores they should come out of the gates gangbusters this year! We saw two BLOOMING dandelions today. And the skunk cabbage are already up, a few were even starting to unfold. I think that's about 3-4 weeks early. Hope the maples and willows don't get messed up. Sure is exciting to see the bees flying on Feb 2nd.
2012 January 17
I didn't think I'd be posting so early in this year, in the coldest month of winter. But today was 54, we've hardly had winter, and the bees have been active. Think this is the 5th day this month they've been able to get out a bit. That should be great for the bees. The experts at the club quickly remind us to watch the food stores closely since the warmer temps will mean more larvae and much more food consumed. Below are a couple pictures from Jan 7th. (Click on any picture to enlarge).
2011 December 15
This should be the last entry for 2011, and much later than I would have expected due to the nice fall. Today I did my final winter prep. When the temps turned cold I wrapped my hives, including two nucs. Today was 57 so once it cooled in the afternoon and the bees were all inside, I closed the entrances and moved the nucs to a common stand. Right next to each other. I then wrapped a second piece of roofing paper around the two for extra protection. At least they have one common side that should hold heat a little better. Finally, I built a large outer cover that fits over the two nucs on top of the insulation. Looks cozy...... here's hoping.
This 2nd year of beekeeping was fascinating. The first year we were constantly excited and amazed with all the "firsts". This year was truly an education. Makes me look forward to next year to see if I learned enough to improve my beekeeping, take it to the next level. Clearly I will take a different approach to swarming. And I will check early and often for Varroa.
2011 October 22
Found a home for the queen (Ken lost one recently). For the other queen, due to the cold and rain I could not go into my hive to remove the cork and start her release. Finally removed it on Thursday. Today is 8 days so I removed the cage, carefully removed the candy, and put a small piece of marshmellow to hold her until I closed up the box.
On one hive I saw a drone trying so hard to get in but there were 6 or 7 bees stopping him. Not that's cold! Continuing to put insulation on hives and start wrapping. I don't think it's the cold temperatures, but it has to help to block the wind and keep the entire hive dry. A little scary this year due to several new queen introductions and no way to check them since so late. More risk this year! Tried some Megabee dry. Mixed it with 2:1 syrup to make a patty. The bees are all over it!
2011 October 13
Is anyone else getting beat up by robbers? I had some robbing last year, with some fighting but few dead bees. This year is terrible. I went up to open a hive at 8:30. There were already a couple fights going on at several hives. I made record time checking one deep for a queen. Even so, there was a huge cloud in the air and fighting everywhere. Worse yet, if I open any hive any time of day, within 2 minutes they are attacking all of my hives. Today they did not stop until it got dark. There are several hundred dead bees scattered around my hives. I closed the openings early this moring to one-at-a-time. Tried smoking them a little. Been this way all week. I am thankful for rain Friday to give them a rest.
This is a hive I made a split with the queen (let hive requeen from swarm cells), and it then swarmed four times. So what did I learn about mites? The books say requeening yields a broodless period and mites can't multiply without brood. But the mites don't go away, they just hang around until brood starts up and then they gear up again. So do the mite counts religiously, don't "assume" like I did.
2011 September 24
The bees were wondefully busy today, but the Goldenrod is starting to fade so the nectar flow, while still strong, should slow soon. So how much food do they have? I prefer to open my hives to check for stores, while others prefer to use the lift for weight technique. One hive I inspected this week was heavy. But when I inspected I discovered they had 15 frames full of nectar and some CH. Add in a fr of pollen and there was precious little room for a queen to lay, and it was scattered. I added two frames of empty comb and will watch. Another hive I inspected looked pretty good in the upper deep. However, the lower deep had very little nectar or CH, which means that I have to feed that hive more heavily to get them ready for winter.
2011 September 14
Wow, the bees have not been this busy (and happy) since early summer. Lots of activity and you can smell the GR nectar all over the yard. I continue to monitor the food stores since they have a lot of frames to fill before winter. For sure they will need some additional food.
Finally my varroa counts are dropping. After the high counts with the sugar dusting, I put one MAQS strip on each of my 5 hives. Based on many reviews and what some members have experienced I chose not to put two strips on in the fall. High chance of losing a queen. Single strip may not kill all the mites, but it took out a bunch on top of the PSD. The counts stayed a bit high for a week or two. I'm not sure if that is an after effect of the formic acid or weakened mites emerging with new bees? I am doing a count on one hive that was broodless to compare. Today I inspected my hive that had the highest mite count (used PSD and MAQS two weeks ago). Checked a couple drone pupae and did not find a single mite. Found queen and good brood.
2011 September 2
Watch those Varroa mite counts in August. I thought mine were OK, but they exploded in August. Needless to say, I have to do counts more regularly over the summer. Also, since most of my hives requeened 2 or 3 times, I'm not so sure the impact on VM of a broodless period is equal to all the hype. I chose to use Powdered Sugar Dusting to see how well it works. If interested in the result, please go to Diseases/Varroa. read more
It appears that we may have a banner year for Goldenrod. Everywhere you look the fields are filled this year. Another excellent harvest for pollen is wild coneflowers (the tall yellow ones).
2011 August 19
Robbing! Last year I had some problems with robbing. Tried putting a couple frames out for them to clean but the robbers followed my bees to the hives and attacked! This year is much worse. Can't even inspect my hives right now since every time I open a hive it sets it off. This evening I thought I'd outsmart them and go up late. At 7:30 I opened a hive, filled the feeder and put another frame above the IC for them to clean. Within 3-5 minutes there was a cloud of bees diving for the hive. Not from my hives, but must be close to get there so fast?! Watching from 20 feet away and one stung me on the leg. Whew! Maybe I'll have to try 7:30 in the morning!
2011 August 16
My bees are STILL building queen cells. NUC now in 10 fr 2 deeps with queen from Dana. Removed cells since hive is very healthy, lots of CB, L, and E. Have removed supers from all but one hive. Every time it starts robbing, even though I made good time. Bees everywhere! Extracted some. Several supers not completely capped but will put 5 on each nuc for winter and feed the rest to the bees. Also one deep super with 10 full frames (about 70% capped). Will put 2 fr in each of my full hives towards winter. Have checked drone pupae in several hives for mites.... not one yet. Guess all the new queens helped a lot.
I see some goldenrod already starting to bloom. Last year the bees brought in little until the later bloom. Time to watch closely for food stores.
2011 July 11
Bees can be pretty charming! After I dumped the queenless bees, they piled up on the stand and on the hive next to them. It started to get dark so I put the box back. They walked right in. They looked so lost. In the morning I put a little honey to help them before I dumped them again. They cleared is all up. Even started to draw a small circle of comb and store a little. That's really neat. Most are slowly entering a small hive that was next to them.
One other nuc I started with a 2 1/2 week old virgin queen that I fed honey and water twice a day to keep her alive. Checked today and the hive has 2 full frames of capped brood. Now, my joys are pretty simple, but saving this queen is right up there.
Queen from Dana now has two full frames of CB as well. First inspection there were four supercedure cells started, which I removed. Guess they were just impatient for her to get going.
2011 July 6
NUC is queenless. One small nuc I started with a virgin queen is queenless. It has a laying worker. Eggs are not uniform, helter-skelter, some with 4 eggs. I've read about ways to save them but the nuc is small and I'll just dump them out and let them find a home in one of the other hives.
2011 June 25
Hive 1, one of my two original hives, still has swarm fever. Can you believe it? I tried to stop the swarming, removed the queen and made two splits. Hive still swarmed 3 times. Inspected today and there were two sealed QC and no larva. Plenty of room, open comb, 2 supers. The masters have advised me that I need to requeen to break the cycle. Hive can't afford to raise a new Q from scratch, it's been a long time with only a few frames of new brood. Could not remove frame and cell to NUC, only 2 1/2 frames of brood in the hive.
2011 June 19
Queen "balling". Put a 2 week old virgin queen in a nuc, waited 5 days. Put a marshmellow in. Opened the box the next day to see if they released her. As soon as I lifted the IC, there was a clump of bees on top. The queen was in the middle. I picked up the ball and had to remove the bees one at a time, they wouldn't let go! Regaged her and put her back. I will try the marshmellow again on Tuesday. I don't know if she is inferior or if they balled her because I disturbed them by foolishly checking so soon. I'll wait a bit longer to inspect this time.
2011 May 31
Trying something new. I reversed my supers, put empty on the bottom. Added a 3rd super. Moved full super on top. Moved one frame of CH to each empty super. Since no laying queen due to all the swarms, there is a bunch of nectar in the brood boxes. Once Queen starts laying I hope they will begin to move N up to make room.
2011 May 29
It keeps getting better! Today I inspected my main two hives (were before they swarmed). In hive 2 there was a little CB, no eggs, no larva, and lots of queen cells. I've learned that that arrangement means they are about to swarm again very soon. Some of the QC were open on the end so I started to remove them. I looked at my work board and there was a queen walking all over one of the cells. She had just emerged. I caught and marked her. Before getting back to the hive there was a 2nd queen on the work board, just emerged! So I had to find something to put the 1st Q in. Then caught and marked the 2nd Q.
We returned to checking the hive and found several more QC that had a Q starting to emerge. We ended up with 6 queens. Had to put some in various containers until I get organized. One queen had a couple bees chasing her, maybe the queen that was about to lead the swarm. When we caught her she was extremely agitated, buzzing loudly. Once again, since a number of the cells were open on the end, the bees were keeping the queens in the cells until they decided what to do. Can you believe that?
This swarming thing continues to puzzle. There is some open comb, but lots of nectar. Two deeps and two supers. Fair number of bees but sure not like before. Maybe I have to extract several frames to truly free up a central brood nest?
2011 May 28
Tulip Trees are starting to bloom! Swarms and nucs are so much fun. Boxed energy. Inspected 2 swarms hives today. Both have laying queens. After just 9 days, they have drawn out 9+ frames in a deep, all filled with eggs, lots of nectar. They are out of room. I am going to put on a QE and 2nd deep, move some frames up and give more foundation. Get some more drawn comb before I sell, maybe even a little honey.
2011 May 26
Black Locust in Medina are starting to bloom! Clusters are there, not quite open yet. Lost a small swarm yesterday. Hard to see on trunk of small tree. Went to get it and just as I was getting ready to cut I heard a loud buzz. Looked up and in 20 secs they were airbourne and gone. Never witnessed that, pretty cool. Must have swarmed Tuesday.
2011 May 23
Yada,yada! Another day another swarm. Hive 3 (swarmed last friday, 3 days ago) swarmed again. Nice size swarm, went to the exact same spot as the last one. How do they do it? Where do they get all the bees?
So we decided to go against conventional wisdom. Time to try something different. Everyone says leave the hive alone. If you try to stop it you may end up queenless. Well the risk of being queenless may not be as bad losing all my hives?! So I inspected hive 3. I found and marked a young queen. Then removed one last sealed queen cell. (Proves the bees are not letting the queens destroy the others). After placing the last box back on the hive I looked down and there is a beautiful young queen walking on my work board! I caught her, marked her, placed her in a small cage.
Catching someone else's swarms is fun. Catching your own swarms is just watching your honey fly away, then a couple hours work so you give them away or sell them!
Denzil says I get an A++ for having such fantastic hives after such a hard winter, and an F-- for swarm management!
2011 May 22
Another double swarm within minutes of each other and this time they clustered within two feet of each other. Caught and hived them both, but now out of boxes. I'm glad no one is keeping score because right now it's Bees 6, Paul & Yvonne 0!! Amazing.
2011 May 20
I've been swarmed again!!! Kept an eye all day on my two big hives. All's well, but still piping in hive 1. Then about 5 pm we were walking along and there was another swarm! It was only about 20 feet from hive 3, only 6 feet up in an apple tree. We quickly caught it and put it in a nuc. This is crazy! After we caught the swarm, there were a group of bees on the front of hive 3 with their butts in the air, fanning like crazy. I suppose that since they were so close to the hive they thought they lost the queen and were trying to abort the swarm?! At least I know which hive it came from.
Hive 3 was my overwintered nuc, and it swarmed 2 weeks ago. Had a first year queen, has two deeps (2nd not even started), and a super. Such hives are not supposed to swarm! What happened to the theory that the 1st queen out kills the others? This means the bees are preventing her so that they can swarm again. I think I need an advanced class!
2011 May 19
Oh,oh. Checked this morning and still queen piping in hive 1. That means new queen and more QC. What to do?!
2011 May 18
A Year's experience in one day! For the past two days I've heard queen piping in hive 1. I took two nucs off this hive (and the queen), left only two sealed QCs. This morning the sun popped out and I decided to inspect hive 2 (still fighting swarming). Just then bees started to POUR out of hive 1. There were some high in the sky, so I realized they were swarming. I followed them to a tree 100 feet away in our swamp. Fairly large swarm about 18 feet up. My wife and I cut a path thru the muck, hauled a ladder and stuff to the tree. Since water below, decided to put a large plastic beneath the swarm. Then we heard even more buzzing and realized it was from back by our hives. Went back to get the plastic and bees started pouring our of hive 2! Amazing. They headed in the general direction of the first swarm. By the time we walked back to the swarm there was only one very large swarm. I think they combined?!
We cut the branch and let it bend down slowly. Got a bunch of bees into the box and gathered the plastic. Set them up in a deep with one frame drawn comb and foundation. Also put a couple small pieces of burr comb in the bottom. Went back and another 2 pounds or so on the branch. So repeated everything. Finally did it a third time.
Closed everything up, it started to cloud up and then started to rain and thunder. Can you believe how many things went right in one morning! Now the big question..... if they combined, who wins the war of queens? Hive 1 & 2 now nice and calm. Click on any picture to enlarge.
2011 May 6
I gave in! Ten days since could inspect hive. 17 sealed QC. Eight were large, well formed cells. So made two nucs. One with queen, one with two QC, and left two QC in the main hive. They were filling the brood box with nectar again, even with super on. Think I was lucky! Starting to cap 3 frames in the super. Still open frames for honey, but lots of bees. Maybe time for 2nd super?!
2011 Apr 26
SWARM Alert Two! Only 5 days since last inspection. Removed 18 Q cups (empty) and 6 sealed Q cells (found queen first). How can they build and seal in only 5 days? In obvious places, could not have missed last time. They started to draw the new F a little. Upper fairly full so reversed deeps again. Good news! The super I put on 5 days ago is being drawn and filled. Fr 5 & 6 75% filled nectar. Others partial. Better yet, there were noticeably less bees in the deeps since super had quite a few.
Why not use the cells to make a bunch of splits? I made one last summer, will make another with Q from Dana, and don't want 7-8 hives so fast. More important, most BK can make a split. In trying to manage this hive I have learned a ton in the last two weeks. Can't wait 10 days to inspect like the books say. Adding supers early can help a lot! Managing and inspecting very strong hives improves one's technique immensely. And I can still make splits next week (may be forced to).
Interesting note. Expanded my overwintered nuc to 10 frames one week ago. Inspected. Doing great, 4-5 frames in super filled with nectar (those 5 were drawn). BUT... I removed 19 Q cups, all empty. This queen is the sister of the queen above (they combined on 37 Q cups in 5 days)!!!
2011 Apr 21
SWARM Alert! Full inspection of strong hive. Found 26 queen cells (6-8 cups, 6 drawn to only small opening, about to seal, and 2 sealed). Extremely strong. Every frame covered completely with bees, most the bees were 2 to 3 deep. Reversed 8 days ago, upper had 6-7 frames of open comb, now almost full of CB and nectar. Removed 4 frames of CH, installed 4 frames foundation to give space and something to do. Found queen and marked her. Put on QE and added super. Hope they will start storing some of the nectar in the super, or at least hang out there. Will check in 6-7 days. If more cells will have to split. This is truly exciting!
2011 Apr 9
Only 55 but the bees are very busy. Tracked them to 4 locations, all maple trees. Removed hive wraps last week. Hoping for some sun tomorrow (80) so can do full inspection, possibly reverse.
2011 Mar 7
Spring is Springing! Bees flying, hauling lots of pollen, first look inside. Put fondant on since at the top and raising babies. Wonderfully exciting!!