Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Son Rises

I am Kevin, the son of the one who has been recently posting this blog. As he stated in his last post, my father will be leaving for two weeks. I will keep everyone updated while he is away and give you my perspective on beekeeping. I know that he has never mentioned me before but I have always been learning right with him.

I, as my father, am also quite interested in this "hobby." It may sound odd but it is quite interesting to watch the bees fly in and around the hive searching for ways to store up for the winter. Today was the first time that I have gotten the chance to actually look inside the hive because my father just recently ordered me a suit. It was quite interesting.

As you can see from the pictures, on each frame there are an amazing amount of bees. My father told me that there were an excessive of 20,000 bees in the hive but did not see how that was possible. I only saw the few bees when i change the sugar water. We also saw the queen bee, which was quite noticeably larger than the others. She was amidst all the others but was much larger than the others.

I will post a blog on here quite often to keep you and my father aware of what is happening on "Antcliff Farms."

Goodbye old Nuc

Well, my mentor came over this afternoon and we transferred the bees from his Nuc to my hive! Here is the setup of the two hives before we started.

My son Kevin is always there to take pictures and lend a hand when needed.

We opened the Nuc and began moving the frames from the Nuc to the new Hive. First he pulled out the end frame which was mostly honey.

This frame was the first one put in the new box. We put three frames of new foundation, then this frame, then another new foundations then the next three old frames. The next frame was the one I added last week, it had a lot of newly deposited eggs, but nothing capped yet. The bees were busy on it.

The two remaining frames were still full of new and capped brood, these were moved over next, followed by the last two frames of new foundation. We then put the inner cover on, followed by the open box with the four remaining new foundation frames in it, followed by the telescoping cover.

We did slide the new hive over in the position of the old Nuc to help the bees find "home." Here are a couple of pictures of the bees trying to figure out this new hive.

Interestingly we did not use a smoker, the bees were all around us most of the time, but they seemed pretty tame and unfazed by the massive disruption. There were a lot at the end buzzing around in circles at the front of the hive trying to figure out which way was up. None of us got stung, not even my son who did not wear gloves.

I will be out of town for two weeks, my son will be feeding the critters. We are going to up the concentration a bit to help them (hopefully) draw some comb. I will look forward to see what is inside when I return.

New Hive

Welllll - putting together a hive from a box a parts is no small task! Several nights of pre-drilling, gluing, nailing, sanding and finishing have reminded me of early model building projects. I decided to go with a natural finish and used an external Minwax polyurethane for the outside coating. I am pleased with the natural color result. I put the last coats on Wednesday to give the hive some time to breath before the bees go in (I am posting this a little late).

One problem I ran into was that one one of the boxes had an end panel that had the rabbits cut upside down. Fortunately it was on the second box so I didn't think I was crazy. I called Dadant the next day and they FedExed me a new part over night, so I was able to complete the boxes on time.

There were no instructions for putting the foundations in, so I just remembered some stuff that had been talked about on the forums and gave it a try, once I got the hang of it, it went pretty fast.

Here is a picture of what the bottom hive looks like.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another purchase

Well, as intimated earlier, I had to buy some hive equipment so we could transfer the bees from the Nuc to "my equipment." So I went ahead and got a minimal set of hive parts to get started. I ordered all of the stuff from Dadant because - I like them, and they have a store in Lynchburg and I got a friend to pick the stuff up for me (i.e. free shipping). Here is what I bought:

B51101 Hive Body with Frames
Seemed like the best deal for buying just two hives. They are the standard "deep" hives with the frames - some assembly required!

F35010 10 SH. WIRED 8 1/2" X 16 3/4

These are pure wax foundations with crimped vertical wires. They come in boxes of 10.


Just a standard solid bottom board. I may replace this with a screened board later.


Combination Telescoping cover and inner cover, seemed like a reasonable deal. I am not going to be moving the hives, so the telescoping cover seemed like the right choice.


Well, you have got to have two sets of protection gear if you want to show anyone else what the bees are doing - so here is jacket #2.

So I called and ordered this stuff on Monday. My friend went up on Friday and picked the stuff up and returned late this evening! Looks like I will have some work to do this afternoon.

Expanding the Nuc

As reported last time, we needed to add some space in the hive for the bees. My mentor brought me a fully drawn comb to replace the super frame that they were essentially ignoring. He suggested I put in between the brood frame and the stores (honey) frame.

So, back into the hive by myself. It was a little overcast so no chance of seeing eggs or the queen. I got the smoker working well (paper for starter, cardboard and wood chips for fuel). I smoked them, popped off the top and feeder box. [One thing I noticed when my mentor came over is how slowly he worked as to not disturb the bees, so I intentionally slowed down and it seemed to go smoother]. I then took out the short frame and set it beside the box. I then took out and examined the remaining frames.

Two of the frames were almost identical with lots of brood on both sides. The third frame was filled with mostly honey, nectar and pollen (and a little brood). So, I put the empty comb in between the brood and honey frames. The half frame still had a bunch of bees on it. Not having a bee brush (several folks said I did not need one), I decided to shake the bees from the short frame into the hive. Well, they seemed to come off OK, but they sure seemed aggravated (lots of buzzing around my head). Perhaps this is normal, but I may reconsider a bee brush.

Anyway, with the short frame clear, I closed up the box, put the feeder back on (only a 1/4 jar left) and closed it up. I propped open the top to allow some circulation, because we are still dealing with unseasonable heat.

One mistake I made afterwards, was to leave the half frame on the table on my back porch. When I came back later, I found a dozen or so bees had found it. So, I had to shake these off the frame (having removed my bee jacket at that point). Fortunately, they were nice to me and I didn't get stung. I took the short frame, wrapped it in plastic and put it in my freezer. I'll return it too my mentor later.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

In the Hive again

The bees had really slowed down on the syrup, for the last two days they had not taken any new syrup.

My mentor came over today and we went into the hive to see what was going on. Well, my little queen has been busy! The first half frame still looked a little funky, the other full frames were full of brood and eggs. We are going to add another frame to the hive to give the girls some room.

He also suggested I go ahead and get a full hive to put these bees in - they will soon outgrow the Nuc. So, I'm shopping again...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nuc Update

Well the bees have been slurping down the syrup. I have been putting on a new pint jar of syrup every day and every day it is empty when I check it. They seem to be happy.

On Monday (record breaking heat) the bees were bearding up on the front of the hive. I slipped a stick under the front cover to allow some ventilation. By Tuesday they were back to normal. I'm going to wait until the weekend to go back into the hive and see what they have been doing.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

1st Peek Inside

Well I attempted my first peek inside the hive - and I learned.

1) Smoker - the smoker is harder to light and keep lit than I thought. I used a combination of bark and leaves. Too much bark at first. One thing that surprised me was the noise level increase when I smoked the top of the hive. The bees may have been trying to remove the smoke?

2) Plan - I kept having to go back inside for stuff I forgot. I need to have a plan for what I am going to do, and make sure I have everything, before lighting the smoker.

3) Food - They drained their quart of food - I might have to check that more often.

4) Seeing - I pulled the frames out to see what was on them. Unfortunately, I did not have my glasses (see #2) so I couldn't tell the queen from anyone else. What I could see was a frame full of capped brood. A lot of open cells with liquid inside (without glasses could not tell if there were eggs or larvae inside). The other frames were filled with a mix of pollen, brood and open cells. I did not see much honey stored.

5) Robbing? - After I was finished I sat next to the hive just to watch what was going on. It was nearing dark. There was a lot of activity at the entrance. Some of the bees returning(?) made a lot of noise and seemed to land at the entrance in groups of 4 or 5. I may just be over-reacting as a newbee, but I am wondering if it is robbing. After I smoked my bees and then put a new food bottle, I am wondering if they were not able to defend the hive well? We'll see.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I am a BeeSitter!

One of the great people in the local club loaned me a Nuc to beesit for the next couple of months. He thought it would be a good way for me to get used to handling and observing the bees. So I went by his house, he covered the hive entrance with some masking tape and I put it in my car. He also gave me an extra Nuc boday so I can put a feeder on top. Here are some pictures of the Nuc at my house!

Here is the Nuc with the feeder on top

Monday, October 1, 2007

Another Hive Inpection

I am trying to take advantage of every opportunity to look into a hive. Another invite took me to two other hives in the area. The experienced beek showed me a frame with fresh eggs and I was able to see them! I am amazed by the effect the smoker has on the bees - it is instantaneous.

Well I may be borrowing a starter hive for a couple of months to get used to handling them! I'll send pictures :)