Calendar Categories Expanded
Installed moisture quilts on beehives
Sat, 10/07/2017 - 04:45
Created and installed moisture quilts on both hives. I didn't get into the hives, but I did remove the tops and take a peek into the hives. Both are filled with happy, apparently healthy bees. I put some pollen cakes into each hive and really had to clear bees from the tops of the frames to make room for the cakes. After installing the moisture quilts and replacing the tops, I sat in a char and observed the hive entrances. There are lots of bees still bringing in pollen. I have no idea where they are getting it.
I did note that the pollen carried on the bees legs appears flat, rather than rounded - as I'm used to seeing. Interesting.
Entrance reducers put on Hive A and Hive B
Sun, 10/01/2017 - 09:00
I already had entrance reducers on both of these hives, but switched them to the tiniest (pinky finger width) opening. I didn't go into the hives but observed bees moving freely in and out of each. Pulled the top off of Hive A and saw lots of activity through the hole in the inner cover.
Hive A is three deep supers tall, with lots of honey in each. Hive B is two deeps tall, with plenty of honey at last inspection.
Hive A Honeybound
Sat, 09/16/2017 - 12:00
Okay, this mystifies me. Several weeks ago, I combined two weaker hives (A and C.) I inspected the combined Hive A today (which is 3 deeps tall) and it is practically honey-bound and STUFFED with bees! I looked at frames in all three supers and could find no brood, outside of what looked like a handful of capped brood in the center of a cell. And a lot of it isn't honey - a lot is open nectar in cells. Not sure what I'm seeing here.
I know a queen stops laying going into winter. It's mid-September and the weather has only recently turned cold. But not THAT cold. I'm not sure what's going on. The bees are pretty docile, but do get riled up when I start pulling honey frames. Seems like normal behavior. There is a lot of clustering and bearding on the front of the hive, but there always has been since I combined hives.
I do have a very active open feeder on the property and there is a steady stream of bees from my two-hive apiary to the feeder. I do think the feeder is not necessary at this point ...
Still puzzled. I'm in my second year of beekeeping, so what I see today is completely new to me ...
Pulled 10 frames of honey from Hive B
Sat, 09/09/2017 - 13:15
The honey came from the top deep super of a 3-deep hive (Hive B), leaving a brood box on the bottom and another full super of honey above it. The frames were pulled at noon. Temperature was in the mid-sixties and overcast. I did not use a smoker and the bees, while active and not happy, were manageable. On examination, I saw a bit of brood on one side of one frame, so I popped it into my other hive, trading it for an empty frame on that hive. That leaves me a net nine frames of honey to extract tomorrow morning.
When pulling the frames, I had an empty super waiting nearby in a wheelbarrow. I put the frames in that, covering them with a towel. I closed the hive and wheeled the wheelbarrow halfway to the house. There, I removed the frames, brushed off the last few stubborn bees, and carried them into ANOTHER empty super in the house. Once done, I rinsed the honey off the wheelbarrow and whatever dripped onto the back porch.
Tomorrow will be extraction day. This should be interesting as it will be my first time. :) I will update this with a video in the coming days.
Reconfigured Combined Hive A
Mon, 09/04/2017 - 06:15
Last week, I combined Hives A and C. Several days ago, I opened the hive to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and the hives were integrated. Since then, however, I have noticed hundreds (maybe a thousand?) bees clustered beneath the screened bottom board UNDER the hive. This has been going on for several days. The temperatures are warm by Pacific Northwest standards: at, near, or just over 90 degrees during the day and very warm at night.
Prior to combining the hives, I had my hives alternating from facing north to facing south. Hive A always faced south. Hive C always faced north. When I combined Hive C with Hive A, the new hive faces south, as Hive A always has. I think what's happening is that the Hive C bees, always accustomed to a north-facing entrance, have been entering "the hive" through the opening in the screened bottom board that is left when the solid slide-out board is removed. I believe that the bees entered through that opening and actually thought they were in the hive.
So today, I reconfigured the hive. I separated all three deeps and removed the screened bottom board, replacing it with a solid bottom board. Still facing south, I reassembled the hive in the order in which is was disassembled and also opened the entrance reducer from a finger width to the four-finger width, giving the bees a larger opening to find. I also installed a slatted board between the supers and the solid bottom board.
For several hours, bees were bearded all over the hive, on every side. As the day grew late,they moved to the front of the hive and many went inside. By 4 a.m., there were still a dozen or so out on the porch, but most had gone inside.
Hive inspection - Hive A
Fri, 09/01/2017 - 06:30
Today I inspected Hive A - the newly combined hive. It's too early to check on the status of the queen (I left both queens in the hive when combining), so I was just checking this time to make sure the newspaper had been eaten through and that the hives were successfully combined. There was no newspaper at all in the hive. I removed the top two supers and did my best to place brood near brood and honey near honey. I made sure the two bottoms supers all contained full frames and moved empty frames to the top super. Currently, the top super is about half empty. All looks good.
Combined hives A and C with newspaper method
Fri, 08/25/2017 - 10:00
As I'm a bit worried about these two hives going into winter (insufficient bulk/food stores) I decided to combine them today using the newspaper method - placing a single sheet of newspaper between the hives. I put Hive C (one super) on top of Hive A (two supers) - with the sheet of newspaper in between. I did not remove one of the queens; I know it's a risk, but I left both queens and with luck, the bees will make the right choice. Stay tuned ...
Basically, this was just a reintegration of the bees that swarmed July 8, more than a month and a half ago ...
Hive Inspection - A and C
Fri, 08/25/2017 - 09:00
Opened up hives A and C (A being the hive that swarmed and C being the recipient of that swarm once captured.) Hive A is two deep supers - observed normal activity and brood in the cells. Hive C is one super, about half fully drawn with brood, capped brood and open nectar cells.
Hive Inspection - 08/09/2017
Wed, 08/09/2017 - 07:30
Since the hive split on July 8, I have tried not to disturb the bees much. Outside of a quick inspection on July 23, this is the first time I've looked inside. Even this is a very cursory inspection.
Hive A - This is the hive the swarm left, taking the queen with her. This hive has produced a new queen on its own. There are 2 supers on this hive - the top one is still empty but a frame or two in the center has been mostly drawn and had uncapped honey. I saw lots of bees in the bottom super but did not inspect, having verified the existence of a queen in the last inspection.
Hive C - This is the new hive, an empty hive that received the swarm. It is only one super deep. Five to six frames are fully drawn. Lots of capped (and uncapped) brood. Beautiful pattern. This should turn out to be a great queen - if she can survive the winter.
Hive B - This is my enormous, active hive. I had added an empty super in the middle, moving the full honey super to the top and leaving the full brood chamber on the bottom. Now, the middle super is totally drawn and being filled with honey. I am very happy with this hive.
Hive inspections - A and C
Sun, 07/23/2017 - 16:30
I inspected Hive A yesterday and saw eggs. So yes, the bees made their own queen. She is mated and is laying eggs. But last night, I thought about my suspicion that I may have set the swarming into motion with my frame swapping the month before (I took a full frame of brood and bees from the middle of the brood super and put it up into the middle of the empty top super to try to encourage the bees to start drawing foundation.) So this morning, I swapped them back. Not sure if THAT was a good idea, as the brood is gone and that frame now is nearly full of uncapped honey. We'll see what happens.
Hive C is doing so good! That's the swarm-capture hive. The swarm was placed into it fifteen days ago - a brand new hive with no drawn foundation. They have now drawn out a few frames and I see brood everywhere. And capped honey. I have attached a photo taken today from Hive C.
Hive A has a mated queen
Fri, 07/21/2017 - 02:45
Today I inspected only Hive A - the hive that swarmed. Earlier in the week, I observed what I was sure was a mating swarm. That must have been what it was as today's inspection showed eggs in one of the frames! Looks like she's just starting out, as I only spotted them on one frame. I did not see the queen but I did not look for her that hard, either. Still no new comb building going on but one super is fully drawn.
In hindsight, I think my own actions created conditions ripe for a swarm. When adding a second super, I got impatient that the bees were not moving up into it. I swapped a full frame for an empty frame right in the middle. I think the queen hit that empty frame and thought that was her boundary, giving her only four frames or so to move about and lay on. I am guessing that she felt confined and took flight.
Live and learn. Let nature do its thing.
Hive A Swarming again?
Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:30
It appears that Hive A just swarmed AGAIN - second time in eight days. But this was weird ... I heard the loud humming (a little after 4 p.m., with the summer sun still well up in the sky), so I went over to the hive and it was totally enveloped in flying bees. There were also bees bearding over the front and crawling up the front of the hive. There was a large swarm cloud of bees over the hive, and I shot lots of video. But they didn't go anywhere.
In time, they all went back into the hive. I have never seen this before. I have read that you can have a main swarm and then cast swarms, but this was odd in that they didn't go anywhere. I did read that it could be the mating flight of the new queen. I'm hoping that's it. I'll report more as things develop. So glad I keep this journal so I can refer back to it in years to come...
Hive Inspection - B and C
Sun, 07/16/2017 - 12:45
Today, I inspected hive C - the newly hived swarm hive (the swarm left from Hive A, was captured, and put into a new hive, C, eight days ago). Since this hive has a queen, I figured eight days elapsed since the swarm would be okay. The bees were put into a brand new hive (single deep super) with no drawn foundation ready for them. They are beginning to draw foundation over several frames and I saw eggs and uncapped larvae. looks like the queen is getting down to business in her new home.
I did not inspect Hive A. After the swarm, they need to make a new queen, so I'm leaving them bee (get it? :)
Hive B is so awesome. It is two deep supers, with a third deep added a two weeks (or so) ago. There are a lot of bees lounging around the empty top super, but no foundation drawn. Today, I took the middle super off (which used to be the top and is now quite heavy with honey) and put it on the very top, sandwiching the empty super between the top and bottom. It is my hope that they will draw it out. That hive is very heavy and very packed. I have never had a hive that was so busy and productive. I hope today's super switch doesn't upset the bees or impede their progress. Only time will tell.
Added Boardman Feeders full of water
Sat, 07/15/2017 - 13:00
Today I added Boardman Feeders filled only with water to the front of all three hives. We are in the middle of a prolonged dry stretch and it is my hope that by making water immediately available, resources can be redirected to comb building, feeding brood and expanding the hive.
Hive A SWARMED
Sat, 07/08/2017 - 12:45
One of my hives (I first assumed Hive B but it was Hive A) swarmed today. Fortunately, I was home. Fortunately, they landed on a branch of my cherry tree. I was able to capture the hive and move it to a new hive. Unfortunately, this brand new hive is right next to the hive they vacated. I've never captured a swarm before so while the capture was a success, we'll see how the placement works out. I shot a full video and will post it later.
Hive Inspection - Added super to Hive B
Sat, 07/01/2017 - 08:45
Hive B is still going like gangbusters! I added a third deep to the hive today ... let's see what they can do with that!
Hive A seems to be struggling again. Bottom deep is very full but even though I swapped a full frame into the empty upper super, they still haven't made any effort to draw out the frames in the top (deep) super. But there is a lot of hive activity and the hive is packed with bees on all frames ... except the nine empty ones in the second (top) super.
Hive inspections - Hive B way ahead of A
Sat, 06/17/2017 - 06:15
Hive B has really surged forward, though you wouldn't know it by looking at the activity in front of the hives. Both appear to be equally busy, with plenty of orientation activity in the afternoons, etc. But on opening the hives, B has nearly fully drawn comb in both supers with great brood pattern and honey storage.
In Hive A, they really haven't moved up into the top deep super at all, though the bottom super is densely populated. My suspicions all season have been of an under-performing queen. There was burr comb (with larvae) built up between the two supers, but nothing in the top. To hopefully spur some activity, I removed a center frame with brood from the bottom and swapped it with an empty foundation frame from the center of the top super. We'll see what happens.
Added notched inner covers
Sat, 06/10/2017 - 06:15
Did not do hive inspections this week. Removed both hive tops and took the inner covers out. Using a Dremel, I notched them for bee access and ventilation (the notches go on the front.) Replaced both inner covers and put the tops back on the hives. Lots of activity in both hives.
Great hive inspection
Sat, 06/03/2017 - 06:00
Today's hive inspection was about as good as I could hope for.
Hive B - usually very aggressive, seems to have calmed down some. There was still syrup in the hive top feeder but it had gone bad. Of concern were about 200 dead bees in it - that's quite a lot in one week. I removed, cleaned and stored the feeder. They are starting to build comb in the upper deep super.
Hive A - appears to be making a strong comeback from the MAQS treatment. The hive is very active. I removed the empty hive top feeder. There are bees moving into the upper deep super but not as strongly as in Hive B. There were only a few dead bees in the hive top feeder, which I removed. Both hives have wide open entrances, no reducers.
Removed entrance reducer from Hive B
Sat, 05/27/2017 - 06:30
It's been in the mid-eighties. Yesterday, the bees were starting to beard on the hive. I removed the entrance reducer this morning but left one on Hive A, the weaker hive.
Filled both hive top feeders
Sun, 05/21/2017 - 03:30
Nothing remarkable here - didn't even have to suit up. :)
Post-varroa mite Hive Inspection
Sat, 05/20/2017 - 03:15
Hive B (without the mite treatment) seems to be a very strong hive. The bees are very aggressive - they definitely do not like to be bothered. Some cling to my veil, trying to chew their way in. I am surrounded by a cloud of bees when I work this hive, some clinging to my gloved fingertips in an attempt to sting. Due to their agitated nature, I did not spend much time looking for the queen. I spotted capped brood and larvae. They haven't done much with the second empty super I put on some weeks ago, but they have built up burr comb between the supers. I removed the extra comb. The hive top feeder is empty.
Hive A seems to be doing better. I removed the MAQS strips. They appeared much the same as when I put them in. There are still empty frames in the bottom super. I removed the empty top super I put on when applying the MAQS and replaced the hive top feeder, but I won't fill it until tomorrow. I did spot and photograph the queen. She seemed to be more active than last time I saw her. I did spot a bee hatching out of it's capped cell. :)
Treated for varrao mites
Sun, 05/14/2017 - 14:45
I posted to the Friends with Gardens site today, explaining more about this ... I treated with MAQS (Mite-Away Quick Strips).
Varroa mites in Hive A
Sat, 05/13/2017 - 14:45
After noticing how weak Hive A was this morning, I went out and did a closer inspection by pulling out the plywood beneath the screened bottom board. I have a Varroa mite problem. More accurately, I have a BIG Varroa mite problem. The bottom board had quite a number of live and dead mites all over it. How could this be on a hive that's only three weeks old? I posed that question to Stedman's Bees in Silverdale, and was told the mites may have overwintered in the foundation that I used to start this year's hive. I was also told that Port Orchard, Washington has a higher-than-normal frequency of mite infestations. Go figure. Regardless of the cause, I'm in near panic mode. While at Stedman's I purchased some Mite-Away strips. I will go out to the hive and install them tomorrow - once things calm down a bit from today's inspection ... stay tuned ...
Week 3 Hive Inspection - One hive far stronger than the other
Sat, 05/13/2017 - 11:30
I did my week three hive inspection today. It was cloudy and cold, but I had no other choice. The bees in Hive B made it very clear that they did not welcome my presence. Because of that, I did not spend time looking for the queen (in either hive). I saw lots of capped brood, larvae and eggs in Hive B. There was significant burr comb built up beneath the hive top feeder. I removed it. Not as many dead bees in the feeder as I had anticipated (in either hive). All but one frame is fully drawn. I added a second deep super and left the hive top feeder in place. I will fill it tomorrow. In Hive A, the bees were nowhere near as active. There were three empty, undrawn frames. The other frames were very full though, and looked as if they were being built up. The capped brood is far more spotty than in Hive B. The queen does not appear to be as strong or prolific. But it could be that way since she got a later start by three days, or so. Also, the foundation was already drawn in both hives - this hive may have inherited dirtier foundation that took longer for the workers to clean and prepare. Eventually, the Hive A bees let me know it was time to go, so I removed some burr comb and closed it all up. I am satisfied with the progress of the hives, but still a little reserved about Hive A.
Filled hive-top feeders
Sun, 05/07/2017 - 06:30
Filled the hive-top feeders in Hive A and Hive B this morning. Observed nothing remarkable or worthy of note. Both hives appear to be busy today, with Hive B seeming to be busier than Hive A.
Hive inspection - Hive B is flourishing!
Sat, 05/06/2017 - 10:00
In today's hive inspection, Hive B was very strong. It didn't take long to find the queen. I saw LOTS of capped brood on a number of heavy frames. The brood pattern was typical, some missed cells along the way, but the entire frames were filled except the top and edges, which were being capped as honey. I was very impressed. I saw lots of larvae. The hive was very active - not agressive, but they did let me know they knew I was there.
Hive A was another story. I did find the queen, but it took some time. I found her on my second pass through all the frames. I saw very few larvae and almost no capped brood. She must of gotten a later start. If you recall, the queen in Hive B was released during package install, while the Hive A queen was caged behind a candy plug. In Hive A, there didn't seem to be as many bees. They were very docile - not challenging and not really even interested in my activities at all. It will be interesting to see what this hive looks like in another week or two...
<a href="http://www.friendswithgardens.com/blogs/jimwcoleman/can-you-spot-queen-bee">Can you spot the queen bee?</a>
Added syrup to Hive A
Sun, 04/30/2017 - 16:15
Hive A got syrup when they were installed on April 22. I opened the top of the hive to refill the hive top feeder today, and to clean out a lot of dead bees. Curiously. several dozen bees were clustered beneath the inner cover, clinging to the bottom corner of it. I shook them off on the ground in front of the hive. I saw this same behavior two days ago when I did the main hive inspection. Both hives appear to be very active. Today was sunny with occasional showers.
First hive inspection
Fri, 04/28/2017 - 07:00
At first, I saw no evidence of eggs in either hive. Called Stedman's and was told to look again. Sheyanne said it can be very hard to spot eggs in old comb. I looked again ... I did finally spot some eggs, but not many. I couldn't find a dozen on one frame, but I was in a hurry to get the frames back in. Did not spot queen in either hive but again, I had the hives open twice in one day and was in a hurry to get them closed. Bees in Hive A were pretty much okay with me, but bees in Hive B were very very agitated. Could also be that I removed the slatted rack from hive B and that changed the hive configuration enough to piss them off. Bees in Hive B were really storing sugar water/nectar in the existing comb. Not so much in Hive A. Observed no new comb building in either hive.
Installed two packages of bees
Sat, 04/22/2017 - 17:30
Bees starting to draw foundation and make honey in top honey super
Mon, 08/29/2016 - 19:00
Tue, 08/16/2016 - 02:30
I had to move my beehive about three feet and up onto a hive stand I built. Went without a hitch!
Built a three-hive hive stand for my bees
Sat, 08/13/2016 - 02:30
Painted it powder blue!
Beehive still strong!
Sat, 07/23/2016 - 04:45
Both deep supers full of bees, very little activity in top honey super as of yet.
Removed entrance reducer from beehive
Fri, 05/20/2016 - 09:30
Hive inspection, added second super
Sat, 05/14/2016 - 09:30
Added second super to beehive. Six of ten frames drawn, though not all fully.
Third hive inspection
Sat, 05/07/2016 - 09:30
Comb building proceeding at a rapid pace. Removed hive top feeder.
Second hive inspection
Sat, 04/30/2016 - 09:30
Refilled hive top feeder. Spotted larvae.
First hive inspection
Sat, 04/23/2016 - 09:15
Removed a lot of burr comb. Refilled hive top feeder.
Sat, 04/16/2016 - 06:30
Set up beehive!
Sun, 04/03/2016 - 13:15
Bees will be here April 16!