Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ordering 2 packages come spring time

Yep, bees are dead and clustered around the comb - when the kids are home for Christmas, we'll take the hives apart, see if there is any honey to harvest (did they really go through it in a month?) and examine the comb and bees.

I need to figure out what is going wrong, it can't be the cold because there are Canadians who have this type of hive and get their bees through the winter.

Oh well.............

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Polar vortex November 2014

Really? It's cold so early.
I went to the hives today with my stethoscope. Hive A, always the stronger one, was buzzing delightfully. That was the top box so the cluster is up there (where most of the honey should be).
But Hive B, I'm not so sure, was I just imagining a faint buzzing? And shouldn't it be louder even if they're in the second box?

Oh well, it looks like I'll be ordering at least one package come springtime.

Time will tell.

It's snowng lightly, supposed to get 2-3 inches today and it's 21degrees out and no sign of warming above 32 until a week from now.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014 - insulating the hives

Mark and Jon stacked straw around the hives yesterday and today. I'm still debating the whole tar paper wrapping thing but will just keep this windbreak for now.

New batteries in the fencer went in today too.
Here are my hives:
(if you look closely, you can see Doc staring at me, from the corral, wondering what I am up to).

And here are some of the deer on my game camera:

 Isn't he beautiful??

 These are the triplet fawns which have been spotted on our land by our neighbors all summer:

 Adorable little buck:

We are expecting our first major snow storm starting late tonight...stay tuned.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ready for winter

Today is Saturday November 1st and three days ago, I pulled the feeder boxes. All I have to do now is get straw stacked around the hives.  The bottom boards are pulled out about halfway.

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 19, 2014 - pulled "baggie" feeders

It is still nice out, and it made it to 65 degrees here today. So I got the smoker going and headed to the hives around 3pm.

Here I am in my outfit :)

Note the smoker and I'm by the hive :)
That's my A or #1 Hive 

The photo above is looking up into the top box of Hive A/1. It is my stronger hive. The bees were really active on this sunny warm afternoon. The white comb on the left is newer comb and the brown comb is capped honey and pollen. There are 6 combs which look good for winter and then the 2 newer ones on the left which are somewhat feeble.
I took each hive apart and pulled out the baggies which had syrup in them because they keep leaking down on the bottom board and the bees are accumulating on the board near the back of the hive. That's not such a big deal but there are also other bees and yellow jackets showing up so I wanted to discourage that.

I emptied the leaking baggies into the jar feeders and am really glad I remembered to bring a bucket along to minimize spillage. Some syrup still spilled, but I wiped it up as well as I could.

On  Hive B, the combs from the second box kept putting pressure on the baggie (on top of the top bars of the third box) so it leaked worse than Hive A. I pulled the bottom board out completely so I could bring it to the house to dry off. I put the hives back together and made sure the boxes' edges were aligned properly.

I am going to continue to feed them this week even though it's getting late in the season - because during the day, it's going to be in the 60's. My understanding is that they will keep taking down the sugar syrup as long as the temps are that high.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

September 29 - October 14, 2014

September 29: Hive B feeders were nearly empty. I filled the feeders and widened the holes on the lids of the feeder jars.  I put brads on the mouse guards to hold them in place.

September 30 - October 5: we went  to Guatemala and when I returned it seemed they had hardly eaten the syrup.

So October 6, I put baggies on the top of the bars of the bottom boxes - this meant I had to take the hive apart after I smoked it. The top box of Hive A/1 was lighter than when I weighed it before.

October 11: I refilled the baggies - though they still had 2:1 syrup in them, they were definitely lower in volume. Then I checked the lids of the jars and the sugar had crystallized inside the lids and that is why they aren't taking down the syrup. I did note that the top box of Hive A/1 is very heavy again. It definitely felt like 20# again. It is heavier than the top box of Hive B.

October 12: I dissolved more sugar in water - HOT water - and made sure the syrup was well dissolved. Then I refilled the jars.

October 14: There was a lot of activity at the hives - the worker bees were chasing away the yellow jackets and dragging the dead bees off the landing board.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Left for France and follow up

8/29-9/11: we were gone to France and when we returned I noted that only ~1" of syrup was gone from the jars.  It had rained 3 1/2" while we were gone - there was a hard frost over night on 9/12.

9/16  Tuesday: removed bottom boxes and kept 3 boxes on each hive.

this was the entrance with the mouse guard added after I removed the bottom box

9/22 Monday: Hive B/2 one jar was empty, the other jars were low so I refilled all 4 with 2:1 syrup

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Put feeder boxes on

Sunday August 24
Mark and I smoked the hives and took them apart to weigh the boxes. The top two boxes each have 20# of honey and the second boxes ~10# of honey so they need a lot more to make it through the winter - maybe 20 more pounds each.

We put the feeder boxes on and I will start feeding them to stimulate more comb/honey production for winter stores.

Got a little honey

Monday August 18
took off one comb from each super and crushed the comb to get a 4 oz bottle of honey and a couple of 2 oz jars which I shared with Joe and my parents.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bee excluder board added

Well 6 weeks to the day, I checked the hives - due to upcoming vacations, I have to harvest what little will be in the top boxes now.
I want to make sure that each colony has at least 2 boxes full of honey for the winter and I will start feeding them when I am leaving for I suited up, assembled a piece of flat cardboard, brought my excluder boards (which Mark made for me) and started the smoker.

After reducing the entrances of both hives to ~1.2", I removed the roof and quilt box, then pulled back the top bar cloth and smoked the bees. I removed the supers and then the top and second boxes and pulled out some combs just to look at them. The top boxes (the ones that were my original top boxes, not the supers) are HEAVY and packed with honey - YAY. I looked and saw larvae developing and capped brood and pollen as well as honey. There are also open cells of nectar - lots of them.

Neither of the third boxes even have comb - which, of course, causes me distress since I was really hoping to get them to winter with three boxes. But the goldenrod is just starting to come, so maybe that will send those busy bees into more activity. August 29, I will put feeders with 2:1 syrup on them.

This is so exciting to watch!

Anyway, Duchess intelligently kept her distance and observed the frenzy. Actually things weren't too bad, considering I was potentially a "honey robber."

I had an ice cream bucket with a lid, and my cardboard. I set the first super on the cardboard (to catch any honey which might leak when comb to comb attachments break - thus to prevent leaving honey around the hive which can trigger robbing by other bees/wasps/hornets), oriented so the combs were vertical (so they don't collapse). Then I moved a bar which still had brood in it to the box that will stay on the hive. When I used my hive tool to break the boxes apart, I tried to lift the top box but couldn't so I thought I had not broken all of the propolis attachments - but, in fact, the box was just that heavy with honey!! So I lifted the box off and set it so the combs were vertical. Then I removed the next box and turned it on its side too. The third and fourth boxes are empty.

I scraped off broken combs on the tops of bars and put them (even with bees on them) in my ice cream bucket and covered it. I put the hive back together, put the bee excluder board on top and then the super on top of the excluder. The cloth went back on, the quilt box and the roof. In 24 hours, I will remove the super and see what honey I can harvest.

The second hive was similar but there was a developing queen cell so I destroyed it and I looked in a drone cell to see if the larva had any mites on it - it did not. This hive's combs are packed with honey too - I moved one top bar with comb in this hive too.

Will update you tomorrow on removal of the supers.

Now there is a beautiful rain with rolling thunder - every type of weather here is truly gorgeous. So peaceful and pleasing.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 2014

Well, things are perking along. Hive A (northwest hive) still looks stronger than Hive B (southeast hive).

I have attached videos and pictures below.

There's a big yellow and black garden spider on Hive A:
cool, huh? that's the hive that the previous spider used to live on (the jumping spider) so I'm not sure if that one has been moved out or not!

Here are the videos of the hives:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Updated hive photos

So here are some updated photos:

Can you see the liquid in some of the cells? It's nectar which will be dehydrated to honey.
These were taken this week!

Monday, July 7, 2014

last video of preparing the super

So there is one more video of me getting the "old top box" ready to become the second box and putting the new box (the super) on top of that one. I have taken 2 bars with combs out of the old one and placed them next to each other in the super. I put them toward the left end of the box, since they always seem to start building comb at that end and then move across (right).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6, 2014 Putting supers on the hives


 So today I decided to "super" my hives. That is, I put a new box on top of each hive in order to encourage the bees to just make honey in the top box. Supposedly, we are having a really great nectar flow so the bees should be bringing in lots of nectar to dehydrate and make into honey.

So I took off the roof, then the quilt box. I pulled back the top cloth and removed 2 combs attached to their top bars and transferred them into the new top box. Then I put two replacement top bars back in those boxes.

 I don't know what I'm talking about half the time, so don't take my word on what these images show...I'm just not sure :)

Because after I said there isn't any capped brood, I saw some or capped pollen but I think it's a capped drone cell. The puffy yellow thing.

Anyway, then I put the cloth on top of the "new top box" after I put the new box on top of the hive. Then I  reassembled it.  All went well. No stings.

this is just a picture of the open box:

and this is inside the box when 2 top bars/combs are removed:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

4th box added - whether it needs it or not

So of course, as I observed the hive, I thought swarm cells were forming. Swarm cells form when a queen is planning to depart or the queen is failing - since these are young queens, I feared the former.

Mark lifted 3 boxes at once (WOW) and I put the 4th box underneath. I do not see comb in the 3rd box, so how could they really be preparing to swarm? Unless the "false floor effect" does exist - which is where the top bars of the lowest box is a "fake out" and they think it's a floor and that they are running out of room.

Needless to say, they have plenty of room now - though I've read that you can't prevent swarming (some think it's healthy hive reproduction) unless you destroy the swarm cells - guess who is NOT going to try that...unless the next post is from the ED with IV epinephrine running - for my anaphylaxis.

So here's a video and I think there are too many drones going in and out - but I usually am not down there mid-day (despite Cassie's belief that I never work, turns out, I do) so maybe this is normal activity. I sent the video to Nature's Nectar (Stillwater very experienced beekeepers) but when I looked at it on a computer screen (versus my iPhone) it's kind of fuzzy so they may not be able to tell me anything.

well there it is, my hive June 27, 2014

and here's an even worse video (it is a martin flying off of my martin house - who, by the way, came back the next day - Monday - and we haven't seen him since). One of these days, the martins WILL set up camp here (the birds singing in the background is my martin CD "dawn song" trying to attract a colony):

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stopped supplemental feeding

Tonight I decided to take the sugar syrup feeders off the top of the hive - it was dusk. I went to the hives with a brush and a hive tool with intention to take the feeders off and to remove the feeder boxes.

So I put on my veil/jacket, GLOVES (after the sting on the finger debacle), and headed over there.
I opened the top, took off the jar feeders and prepared to remove the screen/frame which separates the feeder jars from the top of the bars.

Then I realized that the bees were ready to defend their honey so I decided to run up and get the smoker.
Run is a misnomer...more like hobbled to the garage.  (yes hobbled - see xray below) - this occurred the day after the bee sting - can you believe it?

I limped back (the rubber boots squish my toe) and smoked the top and pulled off the screen. Lo and behold, the fabric flap doesn't fit anymore because the bees have eaten some of the fabric, so I couldn't just replace the flap. I had to go back to the garage to get the original cloth which covers the top bars (and is solid without a flap cut in it). Again limped and hopped to the garage and back. Now it's getting dark, by the way.

Smoked the hives and pulled the old cloth off and replaced with the intact top-bar cover cloth. Then replaced the quilt box and the roof. There were bees attached to the screens and the hive cloth so I had to brush them to the entrance board to get them to go "home."

This is what the feeders look like - when the jars get removed, there is a screen under the jar lid and the bees cannot get through the screen but they can lick the syrup through the screen as it drips from the holes in the lids.

Double Jar Feeder for Bee Hive

This is the view from below - the way the bees would see the feeders :)

A couple of bees stuck to my veil all the way up to the house then they flew back to the hive. All went well, let's hope the upcoming nectar flow is enough for them. I have 4 more boxes on the way to expand my hives.

In case you don't have the concept, here is an exploded view of the Warre hive (I currently have only 3 hive boxes on):

So that's the 8 1/2 week update. I'm also concerned that there may be swarm cells forming (i.e. queen cells being developed so the queen can swarm with half of the hive, if they are getting overcrowded). But I'm not sure. That's why I've ordered more boxes to give them more room to expand. Hopefully, I will enlarge the hive in time!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

8th week

Tomorrow is week 8 of my colonies. The top boxes are full, the second boxes are nearly full - I can see 6 combs for sure.
They are starting in the 3rd boxes so I ordered 4 more boxes with windows from
Here is a picture of my stung finger:

Isn't that beautiful?
The sting occurred on May 27 (I was in a hurry to get to Bloomington to pick up my grand niece and nephew to go to the Science Museum so I didn't smoke the hive when I opened the top!!)
Haste makes waste!

Here's a picture of a Daring Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) which was on the hive yesterday:

Isn't she cool?
So all is well with the hives, they're still drawing comb so I've left the syrup feeders on as well as the pollen packs. The white clover is blooming, the wild geraniums are just finishing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014 refilling the feeders - Week 7

So I put ~1 cup of sugar syrup in each of the 4 jars on Saturday, and they are nearly empty so although one isn't supposed to visit the hive in the evening (since it is the time of day when they are all coming back to the colony - thus the most bees are there), I went there tonight to put on more pollen packs and to feed the bees.

Hive #2, the southeast one, had no pollen and just a little syrup left so I replenished them
Hive #1, the northwest one, had a little pollen and the syrup was nearly empty.

I smoked the hives, put pollen on, and filled the feeders. Lots of bees and it looks like they are drawing comb in the bottom boxes.

All went well - no stings! I wore gloves because I got a sting on my right ring finger May 27 and my hand got super swollen as well as deeply bruised (weird). The bruise mark is still there and it's been 2 weeks!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 24, 2014

Joe and I went to the hives, smoked them, took the feeder boxes off the top and added them with their top bars to the bottom of the hives.

Looked at one frame - to show Joe what it looks like - and all is well!
Here are some pictures:

 this is the top cloth on the top box after the 2 jar feeder was removed - these bees are covering their honey which was exposed when we pulled off the feeder - they were building comb onto the screen. they grab their honey and take it back to the comb inside the hive but we did get to taste some YUM!!!
 now I've pulled off the cloth you just saw in the first picture - the bees are on the top of the bars as well as on the combs.
 isn't their comb pretty and perfect? I am pulling up one top bar with its attached comb and bees
 there are pollen patties (pieces of them) still on top of the bar - 2 of the bees are seen eating the pollen patty
 the top cells hold honey
 the puffy looking capped cells are drone cells - after the 5th instar of a larva, the bees cap the cell so it can pupate. the "flat" caps are worker bee cells and the ones that are depressed are pollen
 a lovely little wood tick on the outside of the hive
we put zip lock bags with sugar syrup on top of the bars of the 3rd box (the one we just placed). I am going to ask my dad to build me 2 feeder boxes

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Week 4 of the new hives

So I obviously am moving the camera too fast - a repeat issue with me!
So....pause it frequently to look at the images. It is 72 degrees out and sunny, so a great day to check things.
The pollen is still adequate as are the sugar feeders.
No new updates but the frames and combs are looking full and healthy. Honey being stored, larvae seen, capped brood - lots of it.
We went to the U of MN Bee Yard last Thursday and our combs are MUCH further along than the ones we saw up there - and they were dividing their hives because they felt they were strong enough to do that!
They also started their bees a week BEFORE us, so I'm really happy with our progress this spring.

top cells have honey, capped brood - workers and drones

 the larvae are whitish looking worms/larvae!
the dead bees at the base of the hive - normal!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 10, 2014 - I opened the hive!!

Ok I know the point of a Warre hive is to keep it closed and not let the heat out but I'm a beginner and I wanted to see if there are larvae developing - i.e. are my queens healthy and productive?

And yes! They are!! It was so cool to look at the different stages of larvae development. My photos were blurry so this is what they looked like:

Tomorrow is day 21 - so new bees will start to emerge next week. 21 days from egg to bee :)
I pulled up the quilts and pulled a frame/comb from each box to look at them, it was SO neat - the bees just climb all over and don't do anything to me. I checked how much pollen was left in the patties and they were nearly gone. So I put new pollen packs on top of the bars of the bottom box, that way I don't have to open the hive to replenish the pollen next time. I can just slide off the top box and put new pollen on. The quilts have some mold on them - probably from the moisture from the pollen packs and the sugar syrup.

The feeders were ok so I did not fill them yet - I just filled them on May 6th.

Here's the second video:

Sunday, May 4, 2014


May 4, 2014

It has been rainy and cool all week - down to the 30's overnight. We received 2 1/4" of rain over 5 days and they stayed in the hives during those days. Good thing I have sugar syrup (1:1 ratio) and pollen packs on the hives.

Today it is 57 out and they are very active.

I will post 2 videos to this blog.

Here are the buds of one of the many trees in bloom - this one is in our front yard, as I recall it is a maple and someday will be glorious and brilliant gold!!

And our goofy peacock, thanks to Jon, we always have peacocks!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Less than 24 hours later

So I went out around 10:30 am after reading various sources and removed the grass plugs. Then Mark said "I thought you were supposed to wait 24-48 hours?" and I got all nervous about it. But most sources said not to plug it that long. I called Bee Thinking and they said not to worry, don't plug it.
So I compromised - tonight ~5pm, I went out and partially plugged the entrance hole so they can get in and out. I checked the feeders and I wasn't sure they were working, 3 of the 4 seemed like they had a vacuum lock and when I turned them over and back the syrup came out the holes again. So I will check in another day to see if I need to fill them.

At 7:30 Mark and I went and watched for any activity but they all seem to be in the hive, the queen cage on the hive closest to our house is visible through a window but I can't tell if the queen has been released - I can't see the marshmallow but it's turned 90 degrees from my view. There isn't a window on the bottom box on the other hive.

Here's a video from this morning (ok it's rotated here but it isn't on my iPhone). It was warm today around 70 but getting cooler tonight, around 40, definitely cooler than last night. Rain is in the forecast. I will remove the queen cages on Wednesday night because Thursday I have hospice training.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The beginning of year 2

We picked up two 3# packages of Carniolan bees with two queens.
Got them hived as the sun set around 8pm. I got a bee under my veil who decided to sting me on my throat.
Put pollen packs on and 1:1 sugar syrup (sugar:water) in feeders above the top bars.
Went back to make sure the bee stragglers had moved in to the hive, I picked some up to put them on the ledge to the opening of the hive and got stung again! On my pinkie finger.

So just went back again around 10 pm and plugged the holes with grass.  A cluster of bees are outside the hive but that's just too bad at this point.

Here's hoping these hives work!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Here is a picture of 3 combs which I removed and the pile of dead bees. This is the top box's contents - I had to pull combs in order to get the bees cleaned out from between the combs. They are very light and beautiful. I'm certain now though that they starved. There is NO honey at all. So sad. I refuse to see this happen again! When I rehive my new colonies, I will feed them vigorously until mid-June and I will feed them in the fall so they go into winter with lots of honey stores!!

Well, that's the hope anyway.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

So I guess they didn't make it through the polar vortex

I went out today and listened with my stethoscope - nothing

So then I looked inside the window - frozen bees

Since it looked futile, I went ahead and opened the top of the hive - and again, just ice inside the hive and dead bees.

I suppose there could be a tiny core of bees in the middle of the comb/honey that have survived but probably not enough mass to make it.

When it gets warm this spring, I will really look by pulling up the boxes, but I'm going to order my packages NOW!!