It’s dangerous around most bee hives this time of year. In most of the United States, all the pollen and nectar that bees gather is gone. Less food is coming in, bees start dying off, queens cut back on laying and the worker bees are aggressive. And thats just the bees. Ants, yellow jackets are a huge nuisance this time of year as well as other wasps and hornets. I don’t feed my bees at all during the spring and summer because I want honey that pure nectar from local forage. But I do want the bees to have the best chance of survival over the harsh winter, so I will supplemental feed to help add some weight to their winter stores. I mix sugar and water with a small amount of essential oils into a thick syrup so they dont have to evaporate it as much. I snapped a some pictures of a few bees drinking some of the syrup that I sprayed on them while I was opening the hive. I hope you enjoy.
I bought a few Cordovan queens from Walter Kelley bees last week. I got two of the three installed in hives. The other one probably ended up being dragon fly food. As soon as I opened the cage,instead of her crawling onto a frame, she flew off into the sunset. I was pretty pissed but there was nothing I could do. It was like watching someone light A $20 bill on fire. The battery on my GoPro was dead so I didn’t get anything on film.
A lot of things have changed since then. I made up two nuc hives from a weaker hive and ende up joining them as they were too weak. They actually made their own queen and she hatched and looked to be doing well. I wont look in on them for another few weeks in the hopes that she will get mated and start laying. The queen I installed in my weakest hive is laying and doing very well.
The swarm I caught a few weeks ago at a strip mall is doing awesome. The queen is laying frames of eggs and the bees seemed to be pretty calm. I opened the hive without smoking them and didn’t have any problems pulling a few frames. They were hived about a week after my hive swarmed but aren’t building up quite as fast as my own swarm. They are in the same place in the yard, they’ve bot been fed at the same rate. Some bees just build up faster than others.
I ordered two more queens a few days ago from a guy in Florida. The queens are Hygenic VSH Italian. Im wanting to add more genetics to my yard for queen rearing. I don’t plan on selling queens as a business, but I want to eventually try to raise queens to have the ability to requeen any hives that need it, and to be able to split hives for increase. For those of you that are curious VSH stands for Varroa sensitive hygiene. These queens have daughters that are very aggressive in keeping the hive free of Varroa mites, including opening closed cells that are infested with mites and dragging the brood out of the hive. Pretty impressive if you ask me.
I also just “closed” my TBH or top bar hive. I had a comb collapse in the 95 degree heat last week. I was afraid that I would have another one collapse and kill another one of the new queens. I love the fact that you watch the bees from the side glass, but the TBH doesnt have very good ventilation and in hot weather its just rough on the bees. So I moved the bars to modified deep hive body, (sort of a Warre hive now I guess) and I might cut the comb out and put it in frames. The queen hasnt started laying yet so im going to wait and see if she starts laying before I do much more to that hive.
Hopefully I will get good video and pics from installing new queens tomorrow. I will be making splits in order to give them a home, so there will be lots to do tomorrow.
I’ve temporarily given up on being able to requeen my hives with my own queens that I’ve manipulated the bees to raise. The top bar hive that swarmed twice is in need of a laying queen now, so I ordered a few to make splits and requeen the TBH. Hopefully I will be able to get to that tomorrow. I also got a great fathers day gift, a GoPro Hero3 camera that is absolutely amazing and shoots great pictures and video. Hopefully I will capture all of this tomorrow to help fulfill my goal of having a honey bee blog that has the best pictures and video of beekeeping around. I will post tomorrow night either way and hopefully the bees will accept the queens Ok. I made the hives queenless 2 days ago, so they should be ready for a queen by now.
My top bar hive swarmed on June 1st. This is my first TBH and the first one of my hives to ever swarm. So there’s many things I don’t know yet and haven’t experienced before. With the internet, it easy to just go to Google and type in what you need to know and find a reliable source on information. So that’s what I’m relying on, along with reading Beesource.com daily.
There’s always a chance that a swarm that’s hived can leave the hive you put them in within the first week. There’s nothing holding them there. No eggs, no honey, and no comb. So I was a little nervous that I would lose them again. Checking on them too often before they get settled is another thing that can make them decide to leave. So I gave them almost 2 weeks of peace and quiet to get settled. I only pulled a few frames up, but they looked good and were building lots of comb and storing nectar.But, the best thing a beekeeper can see in a newly established hive is that the queen has started to lay eggs and there’s capped brood (which means baby bees that are in cells and waiting to chew their way out). I took one quick picture of her on the frame shes currently laying in. Now that I know they are settled in this hive, its going to be tough to stay out of it. I know I’m not going to get any honey from it this year, so and the bees in this hive are beautiful. Most of them are Cordovan bees and are that orange rusty color and they are they calmest bees I have.
I pulled a bar from the top bar hive to check and see if any queens have emerged yet. As I was watching, I heard one of the queens start piping and the bees reaction was awesome. They all stopped moving around and froze in place. They kinda started back to their activities in between each time she made a noise. Its pretty interesting even if you don’t like honey bees. The video shows it better than I can explain, so here it is.
Got a call about a honey bee swarm Saturday evening. Unfortunately I was at work and unable to get them. I took a chance that they would still be there at in the morning and picked them up at 6am ! I didnt get a video of me catching them because I left from work this morning and didnt have my bee suit or any protective gear. So I needed all my attention on getting them in a bucket without making them mad or getting stung. I didnt even get out of the parking lot where I picked them up and the rain came down super hard and lots of it. I dont think they would have survived on the bush they were clinging to. Literally 5 minutes later and they would all have been drinched and dead within an hour.
Once I got home and started to put them in a hive, it started raining again. So their ride from the bucket to the hive was kinda rough. But its better than the alternative. This is now my 5th hive and I would have 100 more if I could. Youtube video is below the picture.
This morning I noticed my bees doing something Ive never seen before. Now that I looked it up, I remember reading about it but Ive never seen it. Its called washboarding and it looks really odd. All the bees take a step or two forward and then back while licking the surface and rubbing their front legs. Science hasn’t explained the behavior yet, other than noting that the bees all are of the same age range.
Im not going to write very much. Its late and it seems like I just end up having to edit all the posts I publish late at night. Spelling errors and sentences that don’t make sense are a common theme. I checked on the swarm from Saturday. They are doing great and they’ve already started building lots of comb. They were pretty calm until I started pulling frames and interrupting their work. I had a few start buzzing my head, but nothing too bad. I think they might stay put for the near future.
Next I checked the top bar hive which is where the swarm came from. They have nice capped queen cells. I think im going to steal one tomorrow and try and make a split to ward off a possible after swarm. I think they still have too many bees when you factor in all the capped brood that will emerge soon. I got some good pics of the queen cells.
Lastly, I checked on my big hive. This hive is a monster. 3 deep brood boxes full of bees and honey, one full small super, and I just added another small super. These bees are making up for the dearth we had last year. The picture below of the frame of honey is from them. The top deep box had 8 full frames of capped honey and the other 2 had brood and honey. I tried to take the top box off and then realized that it would be a better idea to take it apart frame by frame instead. It must have weighed 70 pounds. I made it a little lighter by robbing a frame of honey. I cant wait to see it all in a few jars. Wow, I must be getting old…….
Tomorrow im going to take a queen cell from the top bar and put it in a mini nuc. Ill post details in the next few days. Thanks for reading.