Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happiness turns to heartbreak turns to hope

There was a swarm in a dogwood tree close to the hives  afternoon.  It's probably from one of my hives.  The one I suspect seemed mean the other day when we were in it, but they may have just been getting ready to swarm.

Anyway, my back has been acting up so I had to get Dad to do most of the work.  I wasn't sure what we needed to do.  The step ladders we have are too short to really work on this swarm, but we gave it the old college try.

I placed a box on the ground under the swarm, so if he could cut the limbs they were on, we could just put them into the box and be done with it.

When he got up there and got ahold of the limb, he moved it a little trying to get the lopper where he could cut it.  The bees all flew off.

I left the box with a swarm lure under the limb where they were.  There might be a chance they'll return to that spot.

I have another box with swarm lure about 150 yards away towards my house.  Maybe they'll go there instead.

I guess I need to watch more swarm capture videos.  It seemed to me like all you had to do was cut they limb they were on and put them in a box.  I wasn't expecting them to fly away like that.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I've got bees!

Lots and lots and lots of bees!  One of the hives didn't seem too busy coming and going, but when I went into the hive, there were thousands of bees everywhere!  I was so happy.  I finally got some through the winter.  However, the top super where I thought they'd all be was still full of capped syrup/honey from last fall.

The other hive was the same way.  Lots of bees and the top super was full of syrup/honey, too.

We did find the queen and brood in the middle box in each hive.  We put those boxes on the bottom and the other deep on top of that, and replaced the mediums back on top of those.  I've got to check the weather.  It's still too cool for a fume board, but I do have some escapes.  I might put them on for a couple of days so that I can get all the bees out of those top supers. I'm not sure yet what I'll do with those supers, but I can't have them on the hives when I medicate. And I have plans to use Mite Away Quick Strips next week before the flow starts.

But I'm so happy that I have bees!!!

This is a frame from the brood box.  It has some capped syrup/honey, too:

You can't see it very well, but there's some capped honey around the edges, but this frame is full of capped brood:

On each picture on the top and bottom of the frames you can see drone brood.  I didn't notice any mites on the drone, but I did see some mites in the removable tray in the bottom.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

New Year - New Posts

It's been a busy year so far and I haven't had time to work on this blog lately.  I got razzed a little bit for that Thursday night at the Cherokee Beekeepers Association meeting, so I figured I'd better get on the stick and catch up.  There's been a lot of things happening, and I'll try to catch you up.

Cherokee Beekeepers Association Short Course

On Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, The Cherokee Beekeepers Association, Athens, TN held it's annual Short Course for Beekeepers.  It was held at the McMinn County High School.   Below is a list of presenters and topics:

2014 Short Course Presenters:

9:30-10:15 a.m.   (WHY)
         Keynote Speaker, Charlie Parton, President Tennessee Beekeepers Association
         So You Want to be a Beekeeper?

10:45-11:30 a.m.   (WHAT)
         Getting to know honey bees
         Honey bee activities inside the hive
         Honey bee activities outside the hive
         Presenter(s):  Lynda Rizzardi, Executive Vice-President Tennessee Beekeepers Association

1:00-1:50 p.m.      Two Concurrent Sessions:  HOW/WHERE, WHEN

         The role of the beekeeper
         Intro to hive/beekeeping equipment, tools, protective clothing
         How to cope with stings
         Suggestions about lifting
         Location, location, location
         Time commitments
         Space/storage requirements
         Presenter(s):  Nancy Howard & Greg Whitehead

         Getting honey bees
         The first year
         The second year
         Management:  Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
         Pests and diseases
         Presenter(s):  Jim Gentry, Bobbie Burtz

2:00-2:50 p.m.      Repeat of Concurrent Sessions above

3:00-3:30 p.m.      Panel/Open Floor to address remaining questions
         Jim Gentry 
         Nancy Howard
         Mike Coulter
         Myron McCleary

I did a presentation on safety and how to try to protect your back.  I figured since I was down for a month last spring when everything needed doing that I knew first hand how it felt and the effects on your bee yard.

A super full of frames full of honey is heavy.  A 10-frame deep weighs 70 - 80 pounds.  Plus you have to pry it off the lower box and then lift it in an awkward position.

My idea was to build a 10-frame deep, but instead of honey-filled frames, I'd put concrete blocks, so that an accurate training aid would be presented.

I had an extra box, so me and dad cut up a 2x4 and attached the pieces to the bottom of the box.  I wanted it to be sturdy enough to hold the weight and not tear the box up.

Installing the 2 x 4s

 Cutting the top and bottom

 Adding the blocks

 Cutting the shims to stabilize the blocks

The box ended up weighing 72 pounds.  I encouraged people to try to pick it up.  My thought was that it was better for someone to know what it was like before they bought a bunch of equipment.  I'd hate for someone to invest a lot of money just to find out that they couldn't lift the boxes when they were full of honey.

I estimated that there were around 120 people attended (not counting CBA members and other volunteers).  There were great presentations on a variety of subjects.  Lynda Rizzardi, former president of the Tennessee Beekeepers Association, gave another one of her always-motivational presentations.  She never fails to keep your attention, and it's always interesting and informative.

There were displays of equipment, catalogs, vendor information, and lunch and refreshments.  I had a great time, and I think everyone did.  If you didn't make it this year, plan on attending one next year.  You never know who you'll run in to or what you'll learn!

A good crowd

Equipment Display

CBA President Gwen Lane

Attentive audience

I even got my picture in the local newspaper!

February Meeting

On February 27th we had our first regular meeting of the year and over 90 people showed up!  I wish I had thought to take a picture of the crowd!  We didn't have enough chairs.  Lots of folks wanting to try beekeeping!  I know many of them will decide not to, but it's a good sign that there's so much interest.

Our group had four state hive grant winners this year.  They have to join and attend meetings for at least two years, and donate some of their honey (when they get some) back to the association.  They get a starter hive kit, veil, gloves, jacket, smoker, hive took, etc.  One of them lives pretty far north from Athens, and since I was the closest one, I was assigned to mentor that winner.  Luckily, there's another member that has been doing bees for over thirty years that lives down the street from me, so we'll both be available to assist.  The grant winners are really nice people, and I look forward to sharing their upcoming adventure.

March Meeting

On March 27th, we were privileged to have Jim Garrison give a presentation on Pollen and Nectar Sources.  He is a dynamic speaker and explained a lot of things about plants, nectar and pollen.  Since I recently purchased the adjoining 5 acres next to my 5.5 acres, I plan on getting the bush hog attached to the tractor and preparing the field next door for bee forage.  It won't be an all-at-once thing.  It will happen over several years.  But hopefully I can add a lot of things the bees will like.


Near-term plans for the bee hives

 It was an extremely cold winter, but I still have two out of three hives left, and they seem to be doing well.  I gave them a pollen patty the week before last and when I popped the lid for a peek, they were going after it.  Of course things are starting to bloom now, so there's pollen becoming available.

It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, so hopefully Sunday I can get into the hives and rearrange some boxes.  I hope to treat for mites in a week or so after they settle down from this weekend's inspection.

Hopefully I'll be updating the blog and posting pictures.  Stay tuned!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ready For Winter

The top feeders and robber screens are off the hives now and the entrance reducers are set to the smallest opening.

The SHB oil pans are empty and clean and reinserted.  The telescoping covers are slid forward so the inner-cover notch is exposed.  I am hoping there's enough clearance around the oil pans in the bottom that there will be sufficient ventilation in the hive like this, while keeping it warm inside.

The hives are too heavy to lift, so I'm thinking there's enough stores for the winter.

In Febuary, I'll try to lift the hives and peep inside to see if they need sugar (mountain camp method).

The next couple of months will be good for inventory, repair, maintenance, and planning.

Have a great winter everyone and I hope your hives make it to next spring!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Brings Cooler Temperatures

The good news is that the hives are too heavy to lift.  I have been feeding syrup with Honey-B-Heathy but they're slowing down taking the syrup.  It's time to start thinking about moisture in the hives.  Starting this coming week, the temps are going to be lows around 40 and highs around 60.  I plan on takking the top feeders off and maybe doing some open feeding behind the house, away from from the hives.  Later on I'll probably put some sugar in the hives (the mountain camp method).  It's time to plan for Old Man Winter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

End of the 10-Frame Hive

I've thought about this and studied about this and don't have any definite answers.  But we went into the 10-frame hive today and it had bees inside, and lots of pretty comb, but no eggs, no brood, no honey, and no queen.  Just lots of worker bees and drones.

The best idea I can come up with is that they swarmed, and the ones that stayed didn't make a queen.  Or else they got weak and another hive robbed them out.  Some of the comb looks torn.  But there's no drone cells or no laying workers.  And there's a robbing screen on the front.  So I figure the bees that were in there were after the syrup in the top feeder.  I had put a screened oil-tray small hive beetle trap underneath the hive, and there were lots of beetles in the oil.  I guess the beetles got in there and since there wasn't anything for them to eat, they ended up in the oil tray.

So here's the 10-frame hive now:

There's some perfect comb in the deeps, so I'll stick them in the freezer for a few days and save them for next spring.  If I catch a swarm or do a split, that comb will be useful.

I'll probably use the boxes for swarm traps.  I think I'm going to go all 8-frame hives.  If my back keeps going at the rate it's going, I may go to medium brood boxes and shallow supers.

On a positive note, there's still lots of goldenrod and other flowers blooming, and the bees are bringing in tons of pollen.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Late Update

Haven't upadated lately.  I've been feeding the bees some (although I probably should have been feeding more).  The goldenrod is blooming like crazy and the entrances are very yellow, so I assume they're bringing in lots of pollen.

The 10-frame hive isn't doing so well.  I think it may have gotten robbed out before I got the screens on.  There are lots of bees in it, but no honey and I didn't see any brood.  I tried putting a new queen in (I ordered it from WT Kelley, and it came in the mail) there a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't looked into it lately.  Maybe tomorrow I'll get inside and see what's going on.  The other hives are doing ok, with one doing extremely well, judging from the weight.

It's going to be time to get serious about winter soon.  The daytime highs have been in the 80s lately, and this next week is going to be high 70s maybe 80.  So cool weather is right around the corner.