Sunday, November 27, 2016

Winter feeding November 27, 2016

I slipped a block of fondant under the top cloth today as well as added an extra cloth to cover all the edges (the fondant pulls the cloth up too much and exposes the open ends of the top bars/comb) and quickly resealed everything.
I took the cork out of the escape hole, in case it snows because the snow can cover the main (lower) entrance and the bees could suffocate without an escape hole.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Drilled the escape hole November 20, 2016

Well the weather did change, winds were gusting up to about 45 mph on Friday and it mainly rained here though by Saturday morning, there was a fine dusting of snow. Out west and up north, there were accumulations up to 24"!!

Low 30s all weekend, so I drilled the escape hole and put a cork in it. The front wall of insulation had blown off in the storm but I found it down by our woods and put it back and rebungee'ed it in front of the hive.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Insulating walls and feeders Thursday November 17, 2016

Today it was unseasonably warm again, around 55 degrees, I believe but supposedly a "rain changing to snow" storm is coming tomorrow, so I took the feeders off now before it gets too cold.

I didn't use a smoker and they were a little irritated but it went smoothly without any stings.

I put the insulating walls around the hive and used bungee straps to hold the walls in place.

The floor is slid in all the way. I still need to drill an escape hole in the top box.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Just over 36 hours later

Less than 20 mites fell off the combs after the powdered sugar treatment - so I don't think there was much of an infestation after all.
Oh well, the local Langstroth beeks can't say I didn't check mine because they keep posting "if beekeepers don't treat for Varroa, it will spread to your neighbor's hives."

That was November 10
Saturday November 12, I refilled the feeders - really?
They were bone dry.

Today, November 13, I checked the feeders and the hive activity and the bees are STILL bringing in pollen. Wow.

It was 63 degrees today. If it cools off, I'll remove the feeders.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Powdered sugar dusting

November 8, 2016 - Election Day
Due to my finding ~20 mites after a 24 hour check of the bottom "sticky" board, I decided to go ahead and treat with powdered sugar.

Got the smoker going and put 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar (using a sifter) through the top bars after removing the feeders/cloth and gently smoking the bees down a little bit.

They look so funny all covered in sugar.
I put sticky paper on the bottom board again and will check it tomorrow to see how many mites are on it.
I guess the theory is that the bees clean the powdered sugar off of themselves and dislodge the mites which then cannot climb back up the hive on to the bees.

We'll see.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The first time I've ever seen mites in my hive

It was 73 degrees on Saturday November 5 (also deer hunting opener) and 68 degrees today!
The bees are covered in orange pollen from my marigolds.

When I pulled out my bottom board, I thought I saw some tiny red guys (Varroa destructor mites) so I took them to work to examine under a microscope:

I tried to take a photo through the microscope eyepiece but it wouldn't work, so I video'ed it:

These are a couple of mites on the edge of the cover slip on the microscope stand at work:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Sixty degrees on November 1, 2016

What a beautiful day, the bees are bringing in more pollen than last week.
This is amazing.
Or a sign of global warning and thus our demise is on the horizon.

 These are photos of the front of the hive today - see the pollen coming in?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pollen coming in WOW

so it is Oct 28 and I still have feeders on my big hive and today, it is almost 70 and they are bringing in brown pollen and lots of it. it matches the color of the bees!
taking down syrup, probably last warm day

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Last feeding

October 11, 2016, my mom's birthday (and my brother bob's)
I filled the feeders one last time before I head to Europe. When I return, feeding time will likely be over and I will get everything ready for winter.
Here comes another winter - I slid the bottom board in 1/2 way, mouse guard is on, have not drilled an escape hole yet.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

took apart the small hive september 28

So last night, in the dark, I suited up and decided to take the hive in, so to avoid robbing of the honey in the hive.
There weren't that many bees but the box feels about 10# so I have it in the garage and will take the honey soon.
Oh well, better luck next year - the little hive was never very strong though it surprisingly made it through the winter last year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pretty dismal

So I suited up, got the smoker ready and took apart the small hive - pretty sure the queen absconded with the crew but there was a cluster (small) of bees on 2 frames in the top box, so I took off the empty bottom box and replaced the second (now bottom) box which has empty comb in it and the top box which has some honey and the bees. Put the feeders back on but there were yellow jackets hanging around so I doubt the remaining bees are going to stay. Oh well. You win some and you lose some, it could be worse.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Did I lose my small hive?

I have been filling the small feeder's jars every other day until we were gone this past weekend. I got home last night and checked the hives - suddenly the small hive did not eat the sugar syrup while I was gone. Today I looked and it seems there are hardly any bees in the small hive. Ahhhh.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

These are hungry little bees

This morning, Sept 8, I checked the hives' feeders and the small hive was empty again!
Filled them up.
Large hive is fine
sept 10, filled small hive and large hive feeders
sept 11, filled small hive feeders
sept 13, filled one jar in the large hive and both jars in the small hive

I also processed the beeswax but it is too much work for very little wax, so I won't do it again!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Took the top boxes off

Saturday August 27 2016
I smoked and raised the top boxes, put queen excluders on at 7:30am.
Around 1:30pm I removed those top boxes and put the combs (some with a lot of capped pollen and some brood) into a big black contractor's bag. I then left the feeders on the hives - now each with 3 boxes.

We then left on August 28 for ND for horseback camping.

On September 3, 2016, both jars on the small hive were empty and the large hive's feeder jars were barely touched (but the sugar crystals had blocked the holes so I remedied that). Filled the jars. Some bees were "balling up" on top of another worker bee and appeared to be eating something out of her mouth - this happened with two different worker bees. Then they all dispersed and walked into the hive (this was at the small hive).

I harvested almost 4 quarts of honey and there is more in the buckets as I type this.I will save the pollen to feed in the winter.
The larvae do not have any mites - I even looked under a microscope at them.

On this day, Mark found a ball of bees in the grass - did I accidentally dump out my queen(s) a week ago when I took off the top boxes??? I never saw a queen but there were a lot of bees even though I tried to smoke them down into the hives before I removed the boxes.

On Sept 4, I saw a queen and grabbed her and a clump of workers and put them in a box on the porch. When I looked back at the ball of bees I saw ANOTHER queen and put her with bees in the box too.

Here's the queen - the caramel colored large abdomen, dead center:

Sept 5 was Labor Day and I volunteered at the Honey Booth at the State Fair in the Ag-Hort building and then Tuesday it rained all day but I checked the box and all of the bees were gone. (I was going to cage the queens). Oh well. Time will tell :)

I had to fill one feeder jar on the large hive and both jars on the small hive.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Opened the boxes to check if I can harvest honey

August 13

I smoked the small hive B and put the queen excluder between the top and 2nd box. This was Saturday morning between 9:15 and 9:30 am.

I took the large hive A apart but there was brood in the top 3 boxes as well as capped pollen so I removed the bottom box and put the feeder box on Hive A. So now there are 4 boxes. I think I'll try to remove the top box/honey in September. One issue is that my top boxes (which I intend to remove for the winter/harvest some honey) are the ones with escape holes, so if I take them off, I'll have to drill holes in the "next" top boxes :)

There seems to be plenty of honey throughout the combs but there isn't one solid box of honey.

I used the smoker, the string technique and wedges to separate the boxes and I put a big piece of cardboard down to prevent "robbing."  I set the boxes on the cardboard so if any honey would spill, I could remove it from the scene.

August 14

Sunday I took the top box off of the small hive but when I examined it, about 4 of the 8 combs which I removed there was way too much brood, so I replaced the combs exactly where I had removed them from and put the feeders on Hive B.

I took the large hive apart but ended up putting it back together because there was a lot of brood and larvae. I pulled some larvae and none of them had any mites on them. But I have not done a formal mite check/count.  I put the feeder back on Hive A

August 21

Checked the feeders, and will need to fill them tomorrow. Carpenter ants are in the sawdust of hive B and as I was trying to brush them away, an irritated worker stung me in the left cheek!!! Methylprednisolone and Diphenhydramine begins :(

August 22

Sunday, I checked the feeders and topped up the jars on Hive B, the one jar on Hive A was empty so I filled it but the second jar was 2/3 full so I left it.  I wore my veil today!! Angry little workers this time of year.

This is the top box of Hive B before I took it apart for inspection:
 Mark took these pictures (explaining the finger) but this shows a comb with some capped honey, capped pollen, nectar and larvae.

 Here is a close up of the comb:

Every larva I look at, looks like this, no mites the way I see them photo'ed from other hives:

Here's the video as I removed the top bar/comb to look at it:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

3 3/4 quarts of beautiful honey

So I still have some left to press out of the combs but the 4 combs yielded nearly 4 quarts of honey - yum! Here are the 8 oz bears and then there were two 1 quart Mason jars as well:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

pulled some honey with help from my friends

Today, it was nice around noon, prior there were thunderstorms.
Warm out so Tom and Michelle came out and we opened both hives.
I used the fishing the technique after I propped up the corners with small wedges.
Once separated and smoked, we took off the top box from hive A (the big hive) and pulled 2 combs of honey off. We also took the 5th box off, so now there are 5 windowed boxes.

This is the top box from which we had just removed 2 combs on the left.
 This is the 2, 3, 4th boxes:
 Some of the comb in my bucket before I crushed it:
 So the comb in the bag after I came inside. There is capped honey but open cells too
 Comb from Hive A with extra wax:

We removed 2 combs from the small hive , Hive B. This small hive had ?supersedure cells so may have lost the queen. We didn't look through all of the combs, but there weren't eggs in the one comb we checked.

As I was picking up the comb to put it in my extractor/gravity bucket, I got stung on my right index finger.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wednesday June 15 2016 Mouse guards

I removed the mouse guards to increase the openings for air circulation, I probably should have done that well before this.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Feeders off June 11, 2016

I took the syrup feeders off Hive B and one was nearly empty and the other was completely empty.
Lots of activity at the hives, knocked some wasp hives out of the roofs.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


so I'm very excited because someone other than my family is reading my blog.

I saw bees gathering on Hive A and sent pictures to experts - Jim Kloek at Nature's Nectar and David Heaf et al in the UK - and they all thought it was a swarm or secondary swarm.
Well by evening (this was last Sunday) it was smaller and Monday it was gone!

so if they did swarm, I missed it.

But there are still bees working the combs so I'm not sure what else to do at this point.
I do not have feeders on that hive, though I did put some pollen patties on that are almost gone as of yesterday.

People in the UK group did comment on the fact that I have too many boxes on and they thought they were full of honey. But as stated, when I tried to take off the top box, there was capped pollen at the bottom of the middle combs so I only took out one comb on the edge and replaced the top bar there. That was before this "swarm" phenomenon.

I had so many boxes on because they have comb filling 4 boxes then the next box doesn't have a window so to make sure they had plenty of room and "didn't swarm" (nice thought anyway), I had the 6th box on (windowed) for insurance. They have started one comb in there so I thought it was smart to give them the room.

I'm going to wait until the end of June or July, I guess, to try to remove the top two boxes - if it looks like they're filling the bottom one.

I honestly wish I could just transplant David Heaf over here to get me through a season of this because it feels like trial and error (more error) as I try to leave them alone to do their thing. OR I wish there was a group of Warre beekeepers around SE Minnesota.

Hive B is still eating its syrups (1:1) and pollen is nearly gone but the nectar flow is about to start so I'll take the feeders off this week.

The secondary swarm (Cast) was larger in the morning:
 Here it is that evening:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Armed to the gills May 22, 2016

Completely covered, smoker in hand, I took off the top box but it wasn't full of honey, so I just removed one comb of honey.
It's draining in the bucket right now.
So the big hive still has 6 boxes (too many but I'm not going to try to remove the bottom one - too heavy)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Boldly going where no epi pen can reach me

May 15, 2016
Decided to go to the hives and "quickly" add pollen patties without a veil.
First they buzzed into my hair near my ears - I ran.
Got my veil.

Then one stung my left hand, got the stinger out, went to the house, iced it, got 50 mg Benadryl in me and then took the smoker with me.

This time, they were so calm as I worked the hives, topped up the feeders and added pollen patties to both - will I ever learn??

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 2016

Small hive's feeders nearly empty - filled them both
Very little pollen left but lots coming in, so left it

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Added pollen patties, feeding small hive

April 26, 2016:
I checked my large hive and most of the pollen patties were gone, since it is going to be cold and rainy, I added 1/2 pollen patty to the large hive then put the strap back over it.
The inside activity looks good and plenty of bees, I did not feed it because there is still honey in the hive.

I dug out the dirt under the hive so air could circulate under it better though the wood "shelf" is still under the screened bottom for now.

In regards to the small hive, I smoked it, and put a full pollen patty on it after dividing it into 4 small squares. Then I placed the feeder jars on top 1:1 sugar/water combination.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Added a box to the big hive

Sunday April 10, 2016
We smoked the hive, then hefted top 2 boxes and set them aside..
Then lifted the next two boxes and placed a windowless box on top of the now 6th box.
then I put a strap over the hive so it wouldn't topple in the wind.
I plan to harvest the top box this spring

Fed fondant and pollen to weak/small hive.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Isn't this a cool photo?

Tuesday March 29
There are balls of pollen being dropped outside of the entrance and I'm not sure why. This is my large hive.
Lots of activity on this warm day, over 60 degrees and sunny.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Et tu Brute?

Yes, it is the Ides of March.
Mark helped me with the small hive - we smoked it and put a new box on the bottom so the bees have somewhere to expand.
All's good.
It cooled off again and is going to be windy tomorrow March 16.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tuesday March 8, 2016 70 degrees

A new record and the bees were all over again.
Just a little update - it will cool off over the next few days and then warm again by the weekend.
I took the covers off today.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

WOW - I can't believe how many bees were out today

It was up to 56 degrees today, wait til you see these photos and videos:
small hive:
 big hive:
 big hive, up close:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

February 24, 2016 Still humming away

both hives appear strong, buzzing away.
a couple of dead bees at the front and a couple live ones moving slowly on the outer walls - I guess they've been banished.
See the bee crawling around?

 My small hive:
 My strong/big hive:
Check out the coyotes on the land!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Put more fondant on

I got the smoker going, donned my veil and went to the small hive while it was sunny, albeit only 32 degrees though. I peeled back the top cloth and bees were moving around slowly - there is still plenty of fondant but I placed some right in the middle where there was a bare spot.
covered it up quickly - didn't need the smoker or the veil, it turns out.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

I thought I lost a hive

On Thursday, I listened at 6am and thought the small hive was silent though the big hive was buzzing away.
So I went out today, Saturday, Feb 13 and they are both buzzing.
It is supposed to warm up next week and I will put more fondant on the small hive to help them get through this.
I'm still hopeful.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Is this the last cold snap?

Saturday, February 6, 2016
both hives still buzzing...evidence of cleansing flights outside the hives (yellow spots) and a few dead bees lying in front of the hives.
if they make it through this next week.....

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February 2, 2016 - Still buzzing

There is a blizzard storming and both hives are buzzing.
If I get them through February, we may be looking at winter survival.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Jan 24, 2016 Fed the weak hive

I listened over the escape holes on both hives and can hear buzzing. I then tried to listen over each box to see which box the bees are in (if they are in the top box, then they are running out of honey).

Strong hive (5 boxes): I can hear buzzing through the walls of the middle 3 boxes, so they have not moved to the top box yet - at least I think not. It's really not easy to hear through the wooden walls.

Weak hive (3 boxes): I can hear buzzing through the wall of the top box, so I decided to put fondant on top. I took off the roof, then the quilt box. I pulled the top cloth back part way from 3 different edges and slid some fondant under the top cloth. Then I used an old top cloth (the one I use for feeding the bees that has the hole in it) to fill in the gaps created by the bulk of the fondant blocks so there is cloth to the edges. A couple of bees escaped, one landed on my shoulder but didn't sting me. I put the quilt box back on, hoping it is sealed enough and then the roof.

Here's hoping!!

Frigid Weather Update Jan 11-18

So it's been -16 degrees F but both hives have been humming when I've checked them.
I'd really like to get some candy (fondant) on Hive b (weak hive) but it's just too cold. If they make it through this cold snap, I'll try to put some under the top cloth.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January 3, 2016

 this photo is the bottom of my strong hive,
the photo below is the weak hive near the escape hole;