And we’re off…!


It’s been a while since my last post.  Thanks to good weather I’ve had little time to spare so I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like.  At my last post news was not good.  We lost a lot of hives this year.  While we were still in winter mode awaiting spring, it suddenly jumped right to summer with May delivering day after day of high 90’s and little rain.  Blooms were good, but the dry weather did little in the way of nectar for the bees.  The pollen was great though, and the hives built up quickly.  I did my queen rearing a month late due to weather, but still got 8 new queens to add to my surviving 4.  I split several hives to receive them.  I also spent time with all the failed hives cleaning up frames and boxes, painting them and doing repairs as needed.  We also added some new equipment this year. Continue reading “And we’re off…!”

A rough start to 2018

Winter 2017 Survival

We’ve had a few warm days lately which gave a chance to check on the bees at home and the farm.  When things warm up, the bees come out for a stretch and a much needed bathroom break.  This also allows them to move around in the hive to find food if needed.  At a glance, I knew I had trouble with a few hives, so I decided to open each one up to see what was going on.  When I started opening the hives, I found  Continue reading “A rough start to 2018”

Second swarm of 2017

4-23-17 Second swarm of 2017.

Today I found another swarm, near the same location as the first.  This swarm was large, not quite as big as a basketball.  I’m still trying to figure out where these are coming from.  All the hives here at home have marked queens, and they were still in place when checked after the first swarm was found.  Both swarms have unmarked queens.  I have a guess which hive they are from, but it’s still a mystery.

Bees on the farm

4-19-17 Bees moved into the farm.

Today was the day.  At the house I had a hive that was VERY full with bees, and a full 30 frames.  about 20 frames were brood, and about 10 honey.  They were meaner than I’d like.  I’ve been stung by them at times even just walking nearby for a look, something none of the other hives ever care about.  Rather than scrap them all, they’ll be the founders for the new farm hives.  Once the new queens begin laying, her gentler bees will replace these.  I took the 30 frames with bees to the farm and split them across 8 hives (2 will be populated from a pair of double nucs I wintered).  I was able to put 3 or 4 frames in each hive, doing my best to balance frame composition (brood, honey, pollen, free space) and bees.  When I found the queen, I kept her and that frame aside.  I’ll return it to her original location to build back up again.  In this depleted state they should be far less aggressive, and allow me time to generate her replacement.  I’ll give them a few days to notice their queen is gone so they’ll accept the replacements I’m installing soon.

First swarm of ’17

4-19-17 First swarm of the year.

On my return from work today, I found this little gem in a tree about 20 feet in front of my home hives.  I was able to collect them and install into a double nuc.  I gave them a frame of comb to settle on, and 3 empty frames to draw out.

Queen cell jail

4-15-17 Queens in their cell jails.

Here are the cells I grafted earlier, now moved from the bar to cell jails.  This specially designed bar holds each cell in a separate jail where she can emerge.  The worker bees can feed her through the screen.  Queens will actively hunt down other queens and unemerged cells to kill the others.  This jail prevents that from happening.

Pallets moved to the farm

4-14-17 Hives moved to the farm.

I got a little time today to move the pallet hives out to the farm.  These are just the hive bodies in place.  I’ll move frames into them when my grafted queens are ready to join them.  I’ll get the frames and bees from hives at home.

Hive pallets finished

4-10-17 Hive pallets

This spring I decided to build pallets for the hives headed to the farm.   Over time this will be a more manageable way to move the hives.  In the short term, it’s a stable base that holds two hives at once, perfect for life in the field.  The pallet is made from treated lumber and exterior grade plywood.  Each side has its own entrance in front with a matching length to a double nuc allowing me to use the same entrance reducers with them.  The pallet has retainer clips that align and hold the hive bodies in place.  I’ll get these installed in their new home soon.

Grafting day

4-3-17 Larvae in the cell cup.

Today is grafting day.  Grafting is the process of creating new queens by mimicking conditions when the bees will create a queen. Continue reading “Grafting day”