Friday, March 30, 2012

Cherokee Beekeepers Monthly Meeting

It was the first meeting of the year for the Cherokee Beekeepers, and my first meeting ever.  There was a good turnout.  The focus of the conversation was getting ready to install bees - putting together hives, frames, etc., and installing bees.

Some people there last night didn't have bees yet (but were expecting them) and some people there had been doing bees for years.  Some like me have one or two hives, some had 25 or more hives.  Some had bees they had taken to the apple orchards over on Dayton Mountain.

There was good conversation and information.  It was time well spent.  It will be good to know people around here so we can all help each other out.

I don't know if I'll have time this afternoon, but I need to assemble some boxes and get ready to do a split.  When I get to them, I'll post some pictures.  Stay tuned............

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things to do!

I've got a list of things to do today (and the rest of the week).  The boxes and frames got here, so we've got to assemble and paint.  Might get to that tomorrow or Saturday.  Tonight's the Cherokee Beekeeper's monthly meeting.  It will be my first one, so that should be interesting.  It's at the Co-op in Athens, TN.

The bees have been going through a baggie of syrup a day.  I put about 1/3 gallon in a bag.  I've found that poking holes in the baggie with a stick pin works best.  I'm probably feeding more than I should (there's already clover blooming).  But they've got a lot of empty frames to deal with, so I figure the syrup will help them with comb building.

I was planting a plum tree yesterday and one of the bees decided it didn't like what I was doing, so I got my first sting of the year.  I'm still unsure why it decided to sting me.  It hurt pretty bad, too.  And I forgot that the stinger also releases pheromone, so more bees arrived to help.  Luckily Dad was there to brush them off of me and I walked away smartly.  Maybe it was just a fluke, or maybe we were working too close to the hive.  I'm going to move the hive (and place the split) away from the fruit trees, so they don't feel threatened when we're working in the orchard.

The weather's been beautiful (but hot in the sun).  It's almost to the point where we need some rain.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Parts on Order

Well, I'm waiting for parts to get here.  I ordered some more plastic frames from Brushy Mountain and and I'm going to try some boxes (unassembled) from Kelly's Bees (they come with nails).  When we get these together, it will be time to do the split (weather permitting).  So keep your eye out for that big brown truck!

Thursday night is a meeting of the Cherokee Beekeeper's Assocition in Athens, TN at the Co-op.  It will be good to meet more folks and learn some skills (I think the topics are going to be inspections and frame assembly).  See you there!  :D

The bees are going through a ziploc bag per day of syrup.  I put about a third of a gallon in each bag.  Glad I bought sugar when it was on sale!  But the bees have a lot of comb to draw, so they need the syrup.  Hopefully, the nectar will start soon.  Also, hopefully, next year I'll have drawn comb so we won't have to do so much feeding.  But, that's getting way ahead of myself!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Building a Hive

I am getting ready to do a split.  The "in-service" hive now is 10-frame.  It has two deeps and a medium on it right now.  I got a deep and a medium 8-frame to experiment with.  I ordered the first hive assembled, as I didn't know how they went together.  After looking it over and thinking about it, and since Mom and Dad live up here now and Dad is a woodworker, I thought I'd take a chance and see if we could assemble a hive.  It really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  And, I should have put it together as soon as I received it, but it's been setting a couple of months because of schedules and stuff.

A rubber mallet is a handy item to have when putting the sides and ends together.  Since I started with Brushy Mountain, I ordered this hive from them, too.  I have since learned that Kelly Bees sends nails with their hives, so I'll probably try them next.

Below are some pictures of us working with the new hive components:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Correcting an Oversight

I realize that I didn't post a picture of my new ventilated bee suit purchased from Pigeon Mountain Trading Company on our recent trip.  It's cool and I can feel the breeze through it.  The material is heavier that I anticipated, but it doesn't hamper movement.  So here it is:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Feeders and an Addition

Sunday I stuck my head into the top of the hive for a minute and swapped a few empty frames toward the middle.  6 to 7 frames in the top and bottom deep were full.  I also added a medium super with undrawn frames to give the bees some extra room to expand.  I still feel like it might be a little too early to make a split.  So hopefully this empty room will give them some where to grow until I can do the split.

Monday evening when I got home from work, the UPS guy had been by and delivered some equipment that I had ordered from Kelley Bees and Brushy Mountain.  I had ordered two Boardman or entrance style feeders to experiment with.  On one I put a pint jar and on one I put a quart jar.  Both have 2:1 syrup with fumigilian.  It will be interesting this evening to find out if they've found them yet and how much they've taken.  I put the pint jar close to the ziplock bag, but I put the quart jar on the other side of the garden, about 100 feet away.

Hopefully, I'll have some pictures tonight that I can add to this post.

We're setting record highs here nearly every day now.  Yesterday was the last day of winter, and it was 86.3 F (30.17C).  Today should be more of the same.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day Trip to Pigeon Mountain Trading Company

We got down to Pigeon River Trading Company General Store today. We had a fun day exploring and shopping. It rained this morning, but had cleared up by noon, so it was a cool, partly-cloudy day.It took us about an hour and a half to get down to Lafayette (la FAY ette) GA. The directions were really clear and it was really easy to find.

It looks like any small town hardware feed/seed store and it is. Except most of it inside is extractors, frames, hive boxes, bee suits, observation hives, and other misc. bee stuff. There's hives in the back of the store. I don't think they have their entire internet catalog inventory in the store. There were several other buildings on the block that had their logo on it where I'm sure they store a lot of stuff. You can buy onions, potatoes, etc., for your garden there, too, and overalls, washboards, wood stoves, all kinds of general store stuff.

I bought a ventilated bee suit. They didn't have my size, so when I asked, they went to another warehouse and looked around and found one for me. The lady behind the counter was answering the phone advising people about bees. It sounded like some guy had bees bearding on front of his hive already and she was advising him about that. So they're really knowledgable bee folks there. I was impressed. It's a friendly place. There's a good video on their home page done by a Chattanooga TV station news department about the store that shows different aspects of it, too.

They had some observation hives there in the store and one had bees in it. I had never seen one in person before and these were quite unique. They are totally enclosed, and have an entrance feeder built in at the bottom. They spin on a lazy-susan type deal so you can see both sides.I may go back this fall and buy some overalls there. They sell Pointer Brand overalls still made in the USA (even Liberty overalls are made in China now.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day of Adventure!

A couple of things to write about this morning.  There is a Apiary Section of the State of Tennessee website.  There is a lot of good information there that I'll bet a lot of people don't know about.  It has a listing of honey sellers, swarm catchers, info on fire ants, etc.  It also talks about registering your bees with the state.  There are advantages to doing this, plus it's also the law.  So I figured I'd send in my info so I'd be in compliance.

It's been raining yesterday and today, and things are very wet outside.  Too wet to garden or work in the yard.  So my better half and I are going to go down to Lafayette, GA and see the Pigeon Mountain Trading Company store.

Besides beekeeping stuff, they have a General Store that should be interesting to explore.  They advertise ventilated bee suits at a very reasonable price.  I'm hoping to get to see one (and maybe try one on).  It's only about an hour and a half drive from here, so it should make for a good day trip off the beaten path.

I'll try to get some pictures and post them when I return.

I didn't get the syrup made last night like I had planned, so I'll probably do that this evening when we get back from our trip.  I'm hoping the weather clears up and things dry out, because I'm really getting behind outside!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bonus Posting!

I went out this afternoon walking around and I saw that the gals are really taking the syrup!

Yesterday we had put out three blueberry bushes we got from the Co-op.  They were working the blooms that are just barely open.  I guess they're encouraging them to grow!

The picture is from the phone camera and the bee is blurry, but if you look hard you can see it.  If you look behind the bush, you can see the hive, and the blocks where it used to sit.

Here's a picture from the garden (where it's been to wet to plow or plant.  I'm really getting behind out there!).  There's lots of henbit, and the bees are working it hard.  I also saw the first bumble bee of the season today.

And now........the rest of the story.

All I have to take pictures with is a phone camera.  And, the way my luck goes, the battery went dead before I was finished yesterday.  So I charged it up last night and went out this morning to take a picture of the "finished" product or the "after" picture.  The hive is really actually level.  It's just me that's out of kilter!

If you look at the upper left, you can see where the hive was.  There was a couple of bees still flying around there.  But, I didn't see many dead ones that might have froze last night (we had a pretty good frost), so I assume they all finally got home after the smoke cleared and the commotion settled down.

I added the hive stand (I call it a landing board).  It's the slanted piece under the entrance.  I also swapped from the 1" opening to the 4" opening of the entrance reducer (I'm just estimating the sizes of the entrance holes) to eliminate congestion at the entrance.  There had been a lot of bees on the side of the hive waiting to get in.

It's going to be a beautiful day today and I hope all the bees get reoriented and have a productive day!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Inspection, Moving, and More

Got to go into the hive today and moved it to a more sunny spot.  Overall I think things went ok. I didn't really know what I was going to find, so it was a real adventure. I didn't get as much done as I wanted to, as time was working against us toady.  But there will always be another day.

I started by preparing the next site for the hive. I tried to get it level, but it's probably got a little slant to it, and it will probably settle some. But it's close, I think.

Got the equipment down to the hive and got the smoker going. Got suited up. Here's me (right) and Dad (left) ready for bees:

I took the top off and looked in. Lots of sugar left and about half a pollen patty. This picture is of the top frames after I took the medium off that had been around the sugar. The sugar had been to the left of the picture where the newspaper remnants are:

They had started building some comb up in the empty area.

I took the sugar out. I was surprised the newspaper held it. I was afraid the newspaper would be mush and split and all the sugar would go down through the hive.

I pulled out the two side frames (I guess you would call them either 1 and 2 or 9 and 10). The inside of the inside frame was mostly drawn, but there was 1 1/2 sides that they hadn't drawn out yet. Also, it was like that in the bottom box too, but I'll get to that in a minute. Here's a picture of the inside of frame two (the inner most frame I pulled out):

The comb looks really white and well formed, but it is a little bit wide (going into the empty space where the opposite side of the next frame is not drawn out).

Oh, there are two things to mention here. Up to this point, there were several times that we had to walk away. The bees were not happy at all. And, walking away seemed to calm them down.

Then, the smoker ran out of fuel. Walk away again (a little quicker this time). I went up to the house to get some more fuel for the smoker, then I realized the fuel was in the tool box at the hive.

Back to the tool box and fuel in the smoker. I also learned that a smoker will stay really hot for a while after the fuel is gone. ouch! 

Anyways, got the smoker going again, (I'll probably get another one. This lid is really hard to get on, especially when it is hot).

Being short on time, I put those two frames back in and tried to get the top box off of the bottom box. Wow. That propolis is some strong stuff! It took both of us (me lifting and him hive-tooling) to get the boxes separated. And they had built some comb connecting the bottom box frames to the top box frames. We lifted and twisted and it finally came loose. Whew!

More unhappy bees and we walked away again.

When we got back to the hive, here is what I saw:

Since it had been so hard to get the two boxes apart and it was getting late, I didn't get to pull any frames out of the bottom box. I wanted to get it off the Screened Bottom Board (SBB) and get that cleaned off and get everything moved. I was curious about those worm looking things on top of the frames, though.  Right now I'm not sure what they are. The bees were just walking all around them though and not paying them any attention.

The bottom box frames were full in the middle. The outer two on each side were barely drawn out. But it looked like they were strong and vigorous in the middle 6 frames on both levels, and it looked like they were starting to draw out comb on the next frames out.

We got everything moved and the boxes restacked and the top on. A lot of the bees were still at the old "residence" but hopefully once all the smoke clears and they can smell the house, maybe they'll get back. I moved the hive maybe 10 feet (or maybe a little more).

Oh, the good news is that I didn't see one hive beetle. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before they find me. But, I was very happy about that.

So, the hive is moved, no hive beetles, and no stings. I didn't get a picture of the hive after it was moved as the battery was dead in the phone. I'll do that tomorrow.  Hopefully next week I can go in and worry more about pulling frames instead of moving the hive.

Oh, one more thing, I got the Yellow Jacket trap up today.  I mixed up the ingredients about a week ago and it's been "curing" and I think it's ripe now.  I hung it from an old a-frame that I have an anemometer and rain gauge on.  The black spot between the y and the j is the entrance hole.  The black things inside the jug are bits of banana.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Catching up

Tuesday, March 6, I saw bees on the syrup.  They looked hungry and happy.

It frosted the other day, and we had to cover up the peach tree to protect the blooms.  It survived and is thriving.

We're going to town today to check out the Co-op and may come back with some chicken equipment (I guess that'll have to be another blog/adventure!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Spring

Thursday, March 1, went to Lowes to look around.  Ended up getting some cinder blocks to raise the current hive and make a base for the second hive.  I got some paint, and some screws to put some woodenware together.  It was too late when we got back from town to do much with what we bought.  Friday was the day of the tornadoes, so we couldn't do anything.  Saturday and Sunday were windy and cold with snow threatening.  It looks like it's going to be this coming weekend before we get into the hive and set up some new stuff.

The sugar water was gone.  I think that it rained so hard, it beat the syrup out of the bag.  I put a new bag out Saturday (day 15), but they still aren't on it.  With the temperatures going up and down, and the rain (and maybe snow), I'm sure it's got their schedule all messed up.

The peach tree blooms are opening up.  If they don't get frostbit, the peach tree should have a good crop this year.  yeah!