Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thumbs up...

I've been neglecting the blog all month but not the bees. Everything is good without going into detail. I added more boxes tonight as they are filling the honey supers pretty quick. This will be the first year I extract honey and I'm going to get plenty of practice if they keep going. I'll add some pictures when the extractor gets here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Early evening check and my first look at wax moths.

I got into the hives today finally after neglecting them because of work and all were good except the Kenny nuc and Orange hive. In the future I will force myself to check them weekly or every two weeks at the most regardless of how I feel.

Orange hive
It appears to have a laying worker. I'm planning to google some info to correct this after I get this posted as well as send a couple of email asking for suggestions. Strange though. I see lots of drone brood and lots of baby drones and new worker bees. I didn't want to mess with it however until I get a little info on what to do and talk to a few folks.

Kenny nuc
A couple of weeks ago I told myself to put a frame of eggs into this hive from one of the others and didn't. I paid for it. I popped the top and found the thing full of wax moth larva. It also had a few bees inside on comb they had been successful in keeping the wax moths out of but no brood and just eggs. I took 2 frames from the blue nuc full of bees, brood, and eggs and placed in this hive after getting the wooden ware cleaned off and free of the moth cocoons. I added 3 new frames also and replaced the frames I stole from the blue nuc with new frames. I placed the 5 frames with the wax moth damage into the freezer where I'll leave them for a week or 2 just to be sure all of the larva and eggs are killed. I will keep a better eye on this nuc in the future.

Also, the Cierra and Orange nuc got a new nuc box with 5 empty frames to draw out. Still no word from Russell's since the may email. I'll look locally this week for a queen or two so I can get a couple more nucs going in July.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mysterious bees...

So after a few weeks I finally found some free time and made it into all of the hives to check. Everything looked good although a couple of the hives have me puzzled. Anyway, I did a little a video record of what I found in each so I'll let that provide the detail instead of typing it all out.

 Also still no queens from Russell's yet although I did speak with them a couple of weeks ago. I was told they could ship them last week but never heard anything. Anyway, I'll keep my fingers crossed for this week.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

3 hives queenless...

Just a quick update for my records. I found 3 queenless hives this afternoon when I did my checks.

Orange hive
No queen and no queen cells. Still full of bees so I left them alone. I'm going to try and contact Russells this weekend and see if I can get the order I placed sped up. If I don't hear from them by Wednesday morning I'll add some eggs to let them try again to raise a queen. Not sure what happened but I have a feeling it has to do with all the swarms from this hive.

Blue Hive
No queen but they have built a couple supercedure cells. I'll let them go and check them next week.

Stained Hive
I couldn't find a queen in the hive nor could I find any cells. After closing up the hive I decided to pull the board I had in to close off the bottom. After watching a bunch of bees fall out I noticed a big fat queen walking around on one of the stand blocks. I placed her inside the hive but have a feeling she was injured when I removed the bottom board. I'm not sure how she got down there or why as this hive was ok a bit ago. I'll wait until Wednesday before adding anything.

Kenny Nuc
Didn't notice a queen so I added another frame of eggs and bees from the natural nuc.

The rest of the hives looked good and all had a queen including the Cierra nuc. I don't believe she's mated yet however.

Also I plan to cut some wood this evening to put in front of the hives to close off the bottom. I think this has been one of my problems with the Orange and Stained hives. All the hives will get a piece of wood in front of them to prevent this. New hive stands will be built wider to keep this from happening.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another day another swarm...

Orange Hive
I found another large swarm from the Orange hive this evening. I was unable to get it given its location but I did try a few times. This hive just won't stop. That makes 3 swarms so far and the hive is still jam packed with bees. I pulled 2 splits out of it this evening and made up 2 nucs. I even shook a buncha bees in them to cut down on numbers. I went through the hive to see if I could find any swarm cells and I did find 2 of them. One is a nice big fat one at the bottom of a frame and another is smaller and in the middle of the frame. I'll give them a few days and check it again to see if it's hatched. Theres no eggs that I could see and very little brood left to hatch. Hopefully no more swarms. I'm thinking they had a bunch of queen cells and the new queens are swarming when they hatch given it's so crowded in the hive. I need to pick up some frames ASAP and do a even split with this hive. There's 6 empty frames and an empty medium super up top now that they can draw out. Maybe that'll keep them busy. I also pulled the super of honey/drone brood from this hive to the let other hives rob out.

Kenny Nuc
I attempted to put 2 swarms in this nuc with no luck. I either didn't get the queen or they didn't have one and the bees always went back to Orange hive after putting them in this one. This time I took 2 frames of bees and honey/pollen from the Orange hive and a frame of eggs from the Natural nuc to slow them down a bit. We'll see if they take but I did notice they set up guard bees after a little bit so I'm hoping it's good. I also shook a few frames of bees from the orange hive into this hive to give them some numbers.

Cierra Nuc
Took 2 frames of honey/pollen from the Orange hive and a frame of eggs from the Natural nuc and set up this nuc. As with the Kenny nuc I shook in a few frames of bees to give them numbers. They've also set up guard bees so I have my fingers crossed. I noticed last time with the big swarm and small swarm I tried to hive they never set up guards. Maybe that's some sort of sign they are or aren't staying. 

I plan to build more of my own wooden ware this weekend or early next week. I'm down to 2 nucs and 22 deep frames, 1 deep super, and 2 medium supers with frames. I plan to place an order with Mann Lake in the very near future to order 100 deep and 100 medium frames. That should keep me going for a while and building my own hives and supers will save me a nice chunk of change. The local bee suppliers are hard to get in touch with or don't have it in stock. I have a hard time with hunting down folks or waiting around so they can sell me something when I can build it for more than half the price. I may need to pay one of them a visit though for frames if I run out before ordering from Mann Lake.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A quick look and see today...

I got into all the hives today and everyone had a queen except for the Orange hive and Stained hive. I'm planning on a real good check on everything this weekend and I'll probably make a couple of splits from the White hive. They were busting at the seams today and I added a empty medium with drawn comb to give them a place to store some honey. The blue nuc also got another deep super over it. No word yet from Russells about the queens but I'm in no rush as I'm running out of gear. I'm starting to think I should just go ahead and order some frames and build more stuff on my own. No luck with one local guy having anything in stock until next week and the other guy doesn't answer the phone. If I don't hear from the other guy before the weekend I may just make a trip to lowes.

Also the swarm I hived the other day left the nuc. Most of the bees returned to the orange hive and a small cluster reformed on the branch near the one I cut down. I cut it down and took it over to the Kenny nuc and placed them in it. We'll see if they stay or not. I'll also check for a queen as I didn't see one today. If they are still there and there's no queen I'll give them a couple of frames from the White hive.

Also I believe the queen from the blue nuc ended up on my veil when I was checking the hive somehow. I went to check the orange nuc and watched a sunkist colored queen land on top of the orange hive before I opened it. I noticed a bee on my veil when checking the blue nuc and thought it rather big so I left it alone. I'm guessing it was the queen and she flew to the top of the orange hive when I walked over. Not 100% certain though. Anyway, I let her crawl onto my hive tool and walked her over to the blue nuc. She crawled right in without any of the guard bees causing a fuss so I'm guessing that's where she came from. We'll see I guess.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another swarm from the orange hive...

Well the orange hive put out another swarm today. It's been about 8 days since they swarmed the first time and this is another big cluster of bees. Not sure if they have a queen or not but I was able to get 85% or so of them into a nuc box. I'm hoping I got the queen if they had one and that they stay. There were bees landing back on the branch they moved to when I cut the first down but they weren't clustering, just spread out. Time will tell if I go the queen I guess.

Also I need to fix the hive stands. There's a small crack under the bottom boards and these bees did what the stained hive did by going under it. I put the bottom slide in boards on the stained and orange hive and tonight I'll spray whatever bees have accumulated under them with soapy water. I'm not going to deal with cutting hives out every time I have a swarm. I'm planning to fix them tomorrow and I will build the hive differently in the future to prevent it from happening again.

Second swarm from orange hive.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cut out and a queenless hive...

Chris came over this evening and helped me get the hive out from under the stained hive. We ended up cutting it out as they didn't have a queen. Nice comb but it was filled with drone brood so I'm guessing it had a laying worker. Such a shame to destroy such nice comb and the delicious honey they had created.

So after cutting it out we remounted the stained hive and took a look at things. If they have a queen she isn't laying and we didn't see her. Not sure where she was as I saw her on Saturday when I checked. Anyway we took a frame of eggs from the blue hive and gave it to them to raise their own. If the bees attempt to rebuild under the hive I'll hit them with some soap and water in a sprayer until I get them all. Just can't have them building under the hive like that. I'd really like to know what happened to the queen though and where she went. Anyway, here's the video. There is a little language to go along with a lot of bees so keep that in mind before viewing.

Hive cut out...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It was a really busy day with the bees!

So a couple of posts ago I talked about and showed a video of my stained hive swarming and appearing to return to the hive. Well today after checking all the hives I found out... Not so much...

White Hive
Looked good. They are still building nicely and saw lots of eggs and brood. Didn't look for the queen as it looked like a storm was coming and the wind was picking up.

Stained Hive
Well this was a shocker. As I said above the swarm that left on the 8th appeared to return into the hive but after a thorough check today of this hive and not finding any eggs or larva I started tearing it apart looking for a queen. To my surprise I found a queen inside the bottom super on the 3rd frame. No eggs or brood around her but we'll get into that in a bit. So while looking for the queen I noticed that there was what appeared to be capped honey on the bottom board screen. Upon closer inspection it turns out it's not capped honey, it's comb. This hive has a hive living under it. I guess the swarm didn't go back inside after all. They built a nice little nest in 1/4 of the screen bottom board that I will have to cut out. Not sure if I'll combine it back with the hive above it or put it into it's own nuc though. It's supposed to rain and be cooler for the next few days so I have until Thursday at least to decide. I'll see if my buddy can help and offer some guidance with it and I'll be sure to get it on video. I have an idea to get them down using a heat gun and a box though.

Also these girls were a bit testy today and after being a little rough I got my first sting of the year... Right to the knee. I'll have to tell my niece we're even now after she got stung last week watching me inspect the hives.

Blue Hive
They have their own queen and she's laying eggs already. She was a nice fat little girl and I was excited to see her for the first time. I'll see about getting a photo of her next time I'm in the hive. Everything else looked good also and there's still a lot of bees in the hive.

Orange Hive
Well these girls got a little impatient and swarmed today. I knew it was coming but didn't expect it to happen today. More on that below. The hive looked good and they had some capped queen cells. I didn't pull it all apart however but will next week just to be sure everything is ok. There's still a very large amount of bees left inside this hive.

Blue Nuc
Still full of bees. They've made about 10 queen cells on the frame I put in last week. I reckon the girls want a queen badly.

Orange Nuc
I was a little worried when I first opened the hive up and didn't see the queen cells. I started to second quess myself and thought maybe I had damaged it or something while inspecting last week. Or heck, maybe that what I thought was a queen cell wasn't. But then to my surprise I see this beautiful little queen crawling around on one of the frames. She is a little small but boy was I excited. This was the first queen I've raised  and the start of creating my own strain of bee. I can't wait to see how she's doing next week when I check on them.

Natural Nuc
This is the new nuc I created from the sunkist swarm. The basketball size cluster found a nice peach tree to hang out in while the scouts were out looking for a new home. I took the swarm trap down from the barn loft and shook them into it after adding some lemongrass oil to a frame. The swarm was big enough I felt it needed another nuc box on top. I'll have to pick up a hive or build one very soon for these girls. Given this was my first real swarm catch (the other caught themselves) I was very excited. The bees were very docile and went right into the hive. Hopefully they will stay. It's started to rain and is forecasted to continue the next few days so that may keep them there. I'll need to add a feeder though just to be safe and will do so this evening or tomorrow if the rain stops for a few minutes.

Swarm and hiving video

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Half checks...

Checked half the hives this evening with my niece watching...

Orange Hive
Looked great. Lots of eggs brood and bees. They will need a empty super probably next week. I also plan to pull a split or two from them when they queens I ordered arrive.

Blue Hive
No queen yet but they do have a nice queen cell. Anytime now I guess. Lots of bees still in the hive but hardly any capped brood left.

Orange Nuc
Just a little brood left and a nice capped queen cell. They are building comb and storing nectar in the meantime.

Blue Nuc
Didn't see a queen, a queen cell, or any eggs so I added a frame of mixed eggs/brood from the orange hive to them.

Friday the 13th I ordered some more queens from Russell's. Not sure when I will get them but I ordered another Sunkist Cordovan (love the color of these bees), another Buckfast to try again, a Russell's Italian, and a Russell's Moonbeam. Hopefully I'll get them between now and the middle of May. In the meantime I've got lots of nucs and hives to build so I'll have a place for all these bees. Hopefully and if all goes well I'll have 10 hives and 6-10 nucs here going into winter and next year I'll start placing hives and nucs at the farm and other places.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter check...

Did a quick check on all the hives and everything looked good. Took a frame of bees from the blue nuc and added it to the orange nuc since the blue nuc was so full of bees. No sign of a queen in the blue nuc yet but the queen cell is gone. It is possible I missed her though. If I don't see any eggs or a queen in a week or two I'll look around for a queen for them. This is the first time I've let them raise their own and I'll admit I'm not too positive I know what I'm doing. :^) Also the stained hive is just as full as it was before. Not sure what was going on with them the other day when they swarmed, but they stuck around. Also the white hive is continuing along although it's a lot slower than the others. Nice amount of brood and eggs though and she's got a really nice pattern.

Also I had some strange comb in the Orange hive. I added a deep super for them and they built the comb across two of the frames in 3 places instead of following along with the frame. It totally connected 2 of the frames together down the full length and was filled with brood. I removed all of it and hopefully they get it right this time. It was strange because all around the 3 sections they built it like it should have been built.

Swarm returning to hive.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oh wow!

So today I got into the hives again for a little spring cleaning and WOW... Actually triple WOW! I checked them 2 weeks ago and the stained and orange hive looked good. The white hive however looked really low on bees but I did see the queen and she was laying. It's been nice for most of March and things started blooming early. This of course started the bees building up early. Anyway below are my observations from 2 weeks ago and today.

White Hive
3/17/2012 - Low population of bees inside and not much activity at the entrance. I did find the queen inside and she has been laying not as much as other 2 hives.

Today - 3 frames of eggs and capped brood. Lots of larva and triple the amount of bees as 2 weeks ago. She's laying very nice and has filled both sides of a frame with solid capped brood. I guess she's off to a slow start. She looked really good when I found her and I should get a split from this hive in a couple of weeks.

Stained Hive
3/17/2012 - Lots and lots of bees and brood. This inspection was just a quick check and I pulled a split out of it due to the amount of bees in it. Didn't looked for the queen but find lots of eggs, capped brood, and lots of activity.

Today - This hive is overflowing with bees. Serious overflowing. The queen had 12 frames just packed full of eggs and brood. Swarm cells were also everywhere in this hive. I figured it would be the case but I'm glad I caught them before the swarm. I pulled out 4 frames of capped brood and eggs and one frame with a few nice fat swarm cells hanging off the bottom and placed them in the blue hive. I removed the medium super on top of this hive and added it to the blue hive. It was a medium honey super just jam packed full of bees. I also pulled out 2 frames of eggs and brood and placed them in a nuc along with some bees. I added 7 empty frames to the top super and a empty medium super to the top and closed it back up. That should give them something to work on but I doubt it keeps them from swarming. That's what bees do in the spring though. Anyway, that makes 3 splits out of this hive in 2 weeks. I think in another 2 weeks I could probably pull another out. This Carniolans are going like gang busters! So much so I was not able to find the queen with all the bees. I figured she's in one of the boxes. Maybe if they haven't swarmed by next week I'll pull her out and put her in a nuc to keep her here. Otherwise she's free to find a new home as I have faith her daughters will be just as good and her genetics in the wild isn't going to hurt my feelings a bit.

Blue Hive
As mentioned it was dead. I cleaned out a tiny bit of wax moth damage and added a split (see above) from the stained hive as well as a medium super full of bees. Should give them a head start when they get a queen raised and mated.

Orange Hive
Doing well. Didn't look for the queen but lots of bees and brood. In a week or two I will probably pull a split out of this hive also.

Blue Nuc (started 3/17/2012)
Doing well, they have a nice queen cell and still some brood to hatch. Nice number of bees inside also.

Orange Nuc
This is the nuc I created today from a split taken from the stained hive.

I also added a empty nuc I made with 2 frames of drawn comb and honey along with 3 empty un-drawn frames to the barn loft. It's in the opening pointed almost south. Hopefully someone will decide to move in. I'll need to get to the bee store A.S.A.P. and get 3 frames to replace those as well as pick up 20-40 new ones for nucs, new hives, and spares. I'd like to do away with anything that isn't wood and plastic or all plastic this year.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crazy weather update...

Did a quick check of the hives today since it was so warm and tonight is supposed to be in the 50. All looked good except for the buckfast. I doubt very seriously they make it through the winter. Today it's near 70 and all the hives are active except the buckfast. When I popped the top on them there are very few bees in the hive/cluster they have on a frame of honey.

The carniolans have a hive full of bees and I added a medium super from the white hive full of honey to them. They seem to be good strong bees and I'd like to make sure they get to spring.

The italians looked good although they didn't have the huge number of bees I expected. I did see the italian queen though and she is laying in that hive.

Sunkist looked good from the top down also but I didn't check for the queen.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter (sorta) update...

This weather has been strange this year (I have a peach tree that is blooming already). I say winter in the title only because it officially is. Today it's been winter but it doesn't stick around long. 2 hours ago it went from sunny to blizzard like conditions in a few minutes. Now it's sunny again and the snow is just about melted. For the first time this year it's supposed to get under 20 degrees at night. I decided since it's supposed to be so cold and a constant wind of 25-30 mph (gusting to 40) I'd slide the boards into the bottom of the hives. I'm planning to leave them in tonight and tomorrow night and then take them out when it gets warmer again on Monday. I also added a popsicle stick under the cover of each hive to give them a little ventilation since the screened bottoms are closed off now. There was a little moisture inside the white hives cover when I popped it on 02/01/2012 after noticing a little sweat on the outside. I put a little sliver of wood under it then and it took care of it. Today I replaced that wood with the popsicle stick. Next year I'll probably add one to each corner of the hives to prevent having to take the covers off if it's cold out to do it.

The carniolan and sunkist hive both have bees coming and going even though the little weather station I have says it's 36 degrees. Another case of someone forgot to tell the bees they don't like temps below 45 I guess. I put my ear up to all the hives and can here them pretty good. I don't want to say they are all going to make it through the winter but I'm very hopeful.

Also just as a precautionary measure I've been putting out 2:1 syrup on the days it's above 50 degrees. Some days they take it and others they don't. From what I can see by looking through the hole in the inner cover they'll all have capped honey. There's also been lots of yellow, tan, and grey pollen coming in the days they are active. Still no clue where they are getting it but I've read golden rod will retain pollen if it is still upright. I guess this could be one of the sources.

Here's a little video I put together from some film I shot on 02/01/2012.