Friday, October 29, 2010

The lazy blogger

Well, I have been a very bad blogger :(

I have done a little better with the bees :)

I did not do a good job of recording my honey receipts from the bees this summer. This year's take was somewhat smaller than last year. But I must say that the effort I put in is relatively small compared to the wonderful honey I get out - it is worth it.

So, just some summary thoughts from the summer. The honey seemed to abruptly stop in June, much more so than last year. Must have been the dryness that hit us harder than I realized.

As a reminder, I now have three hives numbered 2 through 4 (one was lost last year).

#4 which was my strongest producer this year had an odd occurrence in June. At this point, I think I must have had a swarm that left in June - I just wastn't expecting this at that time of the year, and sure exactly why, since the hives seemed to be doing fine. When I went back into the hive later in the summer there was a period when there were no eggs or lava to be found (although there were still older brood). Finally, when I did a good look at all the hives in September there were some new eggs. So, I am assuming that the new queen was created, it took the requisite time to mate and than begin laying. Right now they seem to be doing well, but I will not really now until next spring.

I reduced all of the hives to four boxes with approximately one of pollen, two of brood and one of honey. I am feeding all of the hives 2:1 sugar water to make sure they have enough stores to raise new brood to get them through the winter. (ie they need plenty of bees to keep themselves warm through the winter).

I went out an changed the sugar water tonight, after a week they had sucked the quart jars dry - that is a good sign that they are doing well.

Below is a shot of me at EarthFest 2010 at Sandy Bottom Nature Park in Hampton. Lots of fun and interaction with inquisitive potential beekeepers :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Honey

Checked in again last Sunday. All of the hives seemed to be doing well. I took 10 more frames of honey from the hives. I took the first frame of honey from hive #3 - this slow producer may finally be waking up.

On Friday there was a weird occurrence outside of Hive #4. There was a mini-swarm on the old fence sections that were laying next to the hive. There was only a hundred or so bees and I didn't see a queen. I went ahead and put them in a box with a couple of frames to see if they would either attract more bees (a queen was there) or not. After about an hour I went back and the box was empty - either they went back home or found another place to go. I may have to look more deeply into this hive to see what is going on.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

pre-Memorial Day booty

Went in to check the hives on Thursday before leaving for the long Memorial Day weekend. They are doing well!

Hive #2 - Top box that I put on a couple of weeks ago was beginning to get filled with nectar. Down in the next box, it looked very healthy, I took about three frames of honey, put in some extracted comb for them to fill up again.

Hive #3 - I had put old brood comb on top of hives #3 and #4 (because I did not have anything else). In both cases they had not done much with it. There was some nectar in it, but not much. I went ahead and removed both boxes. I had put together two new boxes of foundation during the week, so I used this along with the empty comb from last weeks extractions to put back on both of these hives. In the case of hive #3, they had brood put all the way up to box #4! SO I did not take any honey from these guys.

Hive #4 - again, this hive is going to be a big producer! After removing the brood comb box (a lesson learned), the next box down was packed with honey. I started taking out frames and ended up taking out the whole box full of honey. All of the boxes are now on nine frames which often makes them very fat and heavy. I took two more frames from the box below, for a total of 11 frames from this one hive.

14 frames overall - I do try to take an even number of frames so I can balance the extractor.

Speaking of extraction, as I mentioned above I did have empty honey comb as I extracted for the first time this year. I took out ten frames of the previous couple of weeks and got about 2 and half gallons of honey from these frames - sweet as ever!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Doing well!

Checked all of the hives - and they all looked really good. All of the hives had pretty full top boxes, so I need to get some new boxes together! I did pull three frames of honey from Hive #4 and inserted three empty frames of foundation. So far - looks like a good year ahead.

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Honey of the year!

I went in to check on the hives and came back with some honey.

Hive #2 - There was some activity in the top box, but not much. I checked below, lots of brood, some drone comb, everything looked pretty good. I left it alone. Still in four boxes.

Have #3 - I had put a new foundation box on top last time, it was without action at all. The next box down was hoping with activity - some brood, but mostly honey frames. I pulled two of the honey frames up to the top box to hopefully get them thinking about using it. Also, in four boxes.

Hive #4 - the mother load! This box was already up to five boxes and was already getting full in the top box. I pulled a couple of frames that were already capped. I then went down to the next box and found several capped honey frames also. All together 5 very full frames of honey!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Check-up and movement

Went out to check on the hives and move one of them.

Hive number two has been on a shaky stand for some time, I shored it up a little last summer but decided to do something more permanent.

I got some left over cinder blocks from a Team Impact show and used them as a base for a new stand. I also moved the hive over about 3 foot so that it gets some afternoon shade and wind block from a scrub pine tree. There were some retuning bees a little confused, but I think it is close enough that they will find the new hive location (I hope).

Inside this hive the bees have some honey in the top box, but not crowded so I'll leave them be.

In hive #3 the top box had a bunch of honey in at and even some brood in the top box (three high). I went ahead and added another box on top of new foundation - we'll see what they do with it.

In hive #4, I had put a new top box of foundation on last week and it did not have much activity in it. I went ahead and pulled up two frames of almost full honey from the box below and put foundation in their place. Hopefully they will start pulling out this foundation as they need it for storage.

Overall, not as much activity as I had expected after the extreme week of heat we have had the last week. But it looks like plenty of brood getting ready emerge.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Video and check up

I had a crew from the NASA kids program "Our World" come by to take some video shots as background for a story they are doing. I had fun talking to them about bees.

I then went ahead and inspected all of the hives. I just went into the top box to see if they were beginning to put up honey.

Hive #2 and Hive #3 looked very similar - not a lot of stores in the top box, some, but not a lot. Hive #4 had an 80% full top box! So I went ahead and put another box on top of this hive (now five boxes deep)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Opening up the brood nest

With warmer weather ahead of us for the foreseeable future (fingers tightly crossed), I went into the hives again today. Last week when I move the boxes around I may have made a mistake - at the Colonial Beekeepers meeting this week I was reminded the you have to make sure you do not have a "honey cap" blocking the bees from moving upwards to produce new bees. The problem is at this time of year the queen is looking for space to lay a bunch of new bees. If above the current brood area there is a box full of honey that may actually entice the bees to swarm to find more room.

So, I went in to make sure I did not have a honey cap and also to "open up the brood nest". Again, this is about swarm prevention - the bees will swarm if they are cramped, so I went in and put some empty frames in between the frames where the brood was. This gives the queen more room to lay brood and, hopefully, not think about swarming - we'll see.

So, I did this in all three hives. In addition in Hive #3, the brood was on 6 frames all in one box. To pen this one up I moved two frames to the box above and inserted some semi-empty frames in there place. Hope this doesn't freak them out too much.

I also went ahead and removed all of the internal feeders, there is plenty of stuff popping up outside to give them resources

I did not see any swarm cells in the hives (a good thing), there were some drones cells, but not a bunch.

Looked good

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Early Spring Box Swap

On advise from our President (Colonial Beekeepers) I went ahead and did some box swapping today.

All of the hives have ended up in four medium boxes. During the winter the colony moves up the boxes to continue to have stores to make it through the winter. Thus, theoretically the bottom box could become empty. This is not a particular problem except that it gives a false impression of the size of the colony and makes the stack unnecessarily high. Also, as a reminder, I only have three hives at this point - Hive #2, my monster hive from last year, it was the mother of my first split, Hive #3, my split hive, no production last year, Hive #4, a hive that came into its own last year and produced well. So I went in to see what the status was on my hives.

Hive #2. As I took the top off, the bees were all over the top box. I pulled out one frame in the middle and it was full of honey. The other frames also seemed to be being used for honey pollen storage. Next box down was essentially the brood chamber, alot of good looking larva and brood. Next box down had a lot of bees (could be because I smoked them down) but not much else. Bottom box was also completely empty. So, I took the top two boxes and made it the bottom two boxes. I took the box that was second from the bottom and put it on top. I took the bottom most box off of the hive entirely. So from bottom to top - brood box, honey box, empty box.

Hive #4 (this is the order I worked them in). Top box, not much activity, some honey. Next box, lots of honey but not busting. Second from bottom, brood and honey, heavy box. Bottom Box, brood and honey. I decided to leave this one alone as it seemed to be in good order. I may have one too many boxes on it, but it shouldn't hurt at this time of year. So from bottom to top - brood box, brood box, honey box, light honey box.

Hive #3. Top box, pretty empty, some honey. Next box, good honey box. Second from bottom, brood box. Bottom box, empty. So, I took out the bottom box and just moved everything else down a box. So from bottom to top - brood box, honey box, light honey box.

Went to the Horticultural Extravaganza this morning. Sold some honey still left from last year. Never sure what to charge. Sold 8oz bears for 4.00 or two for 7.00 and sold pint jars for 7.00. Feel like I should have charged more for the pints?

Monday, March 1, 2010

just feeding

Went in and replaced the feeders on hives 2 and 3. Hive four was still halfway full.

This post is just for my own records :)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

3 Alive so far...

Checked the hives today, in the low 50s - bees were flying from all three hives. I even saw some of the bees bringing in pollen. Not much of the sugar water had been taken, perhaps they are finding stuff outside (seems awful early).

I had taken the top box off of Hive #3 back in the late fall because it was empty and the one below it was only partially full. This hive was brimming with bees out of the inner cover so I am going to put another box back on it tomorrow. I took the box I had in the garage on some para-moth crystals and set it outside to air out before putting it back on the hive. I am assuming one day af airing out will be enough(?)

It was really glad to see the bees had made it to this point in the winter, probabaly still some cold days ahead, but good news.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cold weather feeding

I went back to the hives on Sunday to check on the feeders - they were all empty. This is a good news bad news thing - it tells me the bees are eating, but then I worry they may be running low on stores in this coooold weather.

I also replaced the box and feeder on hive #2 as I saw some activity at the entrance - hope stays alive!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Uh Oh

So, during the storm last week, my wife said - "Does that box belong on the ground?" Well, no. I went out and found out that the feeder box had blown off of hive#2 and taken the inner cover with it. This means that the hive was exposed to the nice snowfall we had :( So, I just closed it up and will look into it when it warms up - but I am not hopeful.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just an Update

Went in to the hives on Monday to replace the sugar water. I also took off the inner covers and took out a couple of frames to see what was going on.

Hive #2 - Empty jar, refilled it. Top box better than 50% filled with honey, so these guys should be OK as the weather turns cold again.

Hive #3 - Jar still 1/3 full. Top box was empty. Went down to the next box and it had a good store of honey. I went ahead and removed the top box and put it in the shed with some alpha moth crystals.

Hive #4 - Jar was 2/3 full, this hive continues to be slow in taking syrup, I think they just don't like it. Top box was about 40-50% full so I left it alone.

Friday, January 15, 2010

After the freeze

Well we have been out of town for three weeks and then the weather continued to be very harsh (in the 20's) so I haven't been in the hives for a while.
My son went out during the heat of the day (low 50's) and did see some bees flying outside of each of the hives (yeah!). When I got home from work I checked the feeders and they were all empty. Hopefully this was all taken by the bees and not dumped on them due to the very cold weather. There were bees up at the inner cover hole on all of the hives so things look pretty good for now. I replaced all of the feeders and left them alone- for now...