Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Hived A Swarm Today

What a time Dad and I had today! There's been a swarm living in the swarm trap for over a month now, but I haven't been able to do anything with it until now.  I got an 8-frame hive assembly ready to put the swarm from the swarm trap in. The swarm trap is one of those flowerpot looking things from WT Kelley.

I got some empty wooden frames and some fishing line that I wrapped around them. Got the smoker and tool box and stuff up to the trap. Set the hive on a table a few feed away from the trap. Took the trap down and had to really pry with a hive tool to get the top and bottom separated. There was 5 big combs hanging down from the top. I shook the bees into the hive box and sat the top down on the ground with the combs sticking up. I took the hive tool and pried the combs off the top. I laid them down on the frames in the box until I had them all off of the top. Then I tried to put them into the empty frames with the fishing line. I learned I can't tie knots in fishing line while sweating profusely and wearing gloves! Then a thunderstorm came over and it rained hard for a few minutes. It cooled us off, but I don't think the bees liked it much. When I tried to put the comb in the frame, it just bent and broke and was a mushy mess. I really don't know how the big time bee folks do it. There must be a secret to it. But I stuck them in there as best as I could and I hope the bees straighten it out. I am thinking that they'll adjust the comb to allow for bee space, and hopefully connect it to the top. I have four empty frames for the comb in the center, and four regular frames (two on each side) on the outsides. I tried to get as many bees as I could into the hive. I hope I got the queen in there. I sat the top and bottom right under the table with the hive on it, so hopefully they'll realize that they live in a new house now. I'll probably give them a few days to adjust, then I plan on moving the hive a couple of feet every day until I get them where I want them to be, down with the other bees. I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures. Between the sweat and the rain and the bees and the ticks and the gooey comb, I pretty well had my hands full.

The moral to the story is this: I'll probably not use a flowerpot swarm trap again. I'll just get me a hive assembly and put some frames with old drawn comb in there.

But at least now I can say that I've tried it. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Soltice Inspection

We went into the hives today looking for brood and comb.  All four hives are still alive, although they're not as strong as I'd hoped they would be.  A late start and cool weather I think is the cause.  But they say the flow has been spectacular this year, so I was hoping they would have drawn more comb than they have.

I had 20 frames of mostly capped honey in a freezer since last year.  We thawed them out last night and I put a super on each hive today.  The second brood boxes weren't drawn out as much as I would have liked them to be, so I guess now if you were to look in to the hive, you'd think they were bottom supered.  There's a brood box on bottom, a partially filled brood box next, then a super with comb and partially combed honey.  I'm hoping that the bees will be drawn up to the top super, so that will encourage them to draw out the middle box.  I think one of the reasons they haven't drawn out the second brood box was they lacked incentive.  Perhaps now they have that.

So I'll give them a week or so then look in and see how they're doing.

One of the package hives wasn't doing too good, and I didn't see many eggs or brood.  So i took a frame of eggs and brood from the 10-frame hive and put it in the weak hive.  Hopefully this will bolster the hive, and if they've lost the queen, there will be eggs to make a new one.

Didn't see any SHBs.  Saw a couple of mites on drone larvae between levels in the frames, but it didn't seem too bad.  I'll probably treat this fall after removing all supers.  If it will keep raining, things will keep blooming and hopefully there will be some honey later.

I got some wooden frames at the Co-op today.  We'll need to put them together so that we can have a place to ut the comb when we get into that swarm rap.  I hope to get to that sometime this weekend or next week.  That will give me five hives.

Be well!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Feeders Off!

We went out for a few minutes Monday and took the empty supers and feeders off of the hives.  There wasn't nearly as many bees in the feeders, which was good.  We leaned the feeders up against the landing boards so that the stragglers would go back into the hive that night.

Tuesday, there were still bees on one of the feeders.  That leads me to believe that there might have been some brood in those combs and the bees didn't want to leave it.  Hopefully they'll get back in the hive.  I hope to have some time today or tomorrow to go and check it out.  And hopefully, everybody will be back in their hives.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Successful Day at the Hives

We had a good day at the hives.  We spent yesterday doing inventory to see what equipment we had and what we lacked.  I'm glad we did as I hadn't calculated correctly, and we were short one deep brood box.  I had ordered two to put the swarm in, but they weren't assembled yet.  So we put them together and Dad painted them so they would be ready this morning.

We got everything loaded into the wagon and ready for the beeyard:

I've got to give credit where credit is due and say that Jim Gentry, our local beekeeper's association president sure knows what he's talking about when he told us about his guarenteed sure-fire super-duper smoker fuel - pine needles.  I've had 100% success lighting and maintaining smoke and even refilling the smoker with pine needles.  Only problem is that they do burn up pretty quickly.  I tried adding some Brushy Mountain smoker fuel in with the pine needles this time, but I guess I didn't add enough, as I still had to refuel about half way through our work today.

The current status of the yard was two hives with packages and two hives with nucs.  We started with the two hives with nucs, as they were going to take the most work.  If you remember, we put the nucs into the hives on a rainy day, so we hadn't spent too much time on them.  Also, we didn't have enough cinder blocks to get them to the same height as the other two hives.  I was afraid we'd find hives full of wax moths and/or small hive beetles (SHBs).  So today Dad had to move the hive, move the mat and cinder blocks around to a level spot, add two more blocks, and replace the hive.  On the first hive, we changed the bottom board out because the one that was on there wasn't painted yet (we got behind in our painting chores).  Then we added another brood box to the one deep that was already there.  The bees had built comb up into the feeder, and the comb was full of honey (and some drone comb - no mites found - yea!) and it was full of bees.  I didn't want to leave four feeders with comb and bees out in the yard, and I was afraid I'd kill a lot of bees if I tried to scrape the comb out of the feeders.  So what I'm trying is to put the inner cover on top of the new brood box, then an empty super, then the feeder, then the telescoping cover.  I've got all four hives set up this way.  The reason I'm doing it this way is that I tried putting supers with extracted comb on top of the hive for the bees to clean out last year, and they filled the comb up with honey again.  I'm not complaining, but it doesn't help to get the comb cleaned out.  Supposedly, if you put an empty super between the inner cover and what you want the bees to clean, the space is supposed to fool them into thinking that it's outside the hive, and they need to bring the stuff back down into the hive.

Here's a picture of the comb in the feeder, and the top of the frames where the feeder was setting:

We got them all took care of and Dad decided it was a good time for him to mow since he was still suited up.  So he got that done.

I really appreciate his doing all the work since I've still got a bad back (I go back to the doctor next week to get a release for work).  He did a great job and I think he's enjoying this new hobby.  It's great spending time with him.

Here's the hives after our inspection today - cinder blocks, double deeps, and feeders moved up for clean out.  I did pull the bottoms out of the screened bottom boards (I had them in to prevent absconding during installation).  I couldn't find any mites.  I did see a couple of SHB larvae, but I couldn't find any in the hives, so hopefully the hives are strong enough to take care of the SHBs.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dreadful Anticipation

Well, if things go right, I'm going to peek into the hives this afternoon.  I think I feel good enough to get out and have Dad be my hands and back.  It' been several weeks since I've been able to get to the hives because of my back injury, and I just don't know what I'm going to find.  I hope they're all alive and not in too bad of shape.  According to a thread on, the nectar flow has been unusually good, so they're probably bursting at the seems or may have even swarmed.  I guess we'll find out.  I've to get some more boxes and frames ready before we open hives.

Spring is not the time for a debilitating injury if you're a beekeeper.  Please don't take your back (or any of your health) for granted.  And be sure to hydrate before, during, and after going out in the beeyard.