Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quick checks.

Checked everyone today before football starts and all looked good. The nucs are a little light so I put some feed out. Not noticing anyone taking it however. I believe that's due to the goldenrod and asters going real good right now. I plan to add feeders to the nucs tomorrow also after getting some more sugar.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

August swarm re-do...

Found the nuc empty this morning and the swarm on a branch on a small apple tree. I didn't want to cut the branch this time so I placed the nuc under it on a barrel and brushed them in. After I got most of the bees off the branch I saw the queen and got her into the box with the brush. She was a nice light colored girl so I hope they stay this time. I found some old drawn comb from a swarm trap I had forgotten about and placed it in the box this time. Hopefully they will stay. I'm leaving the nuc box out until this evening before moving them to the stand. I'll add a branch in front so they have to reorient also.

EVENING UPDATE: Came home this evening to find the box empty and them about 15 feet away. I hived them again. Maybe 3rd time will be the charm as they say. It was almost dark so I doubt they'll leave until morning if they aren't happy with the location. If they leave tomorrow I'll add some brood to see if that will keep them. If that doesn't work they are on their own. It's a really nice looking queen so I'm hoping I can keep her. These are the times I wish I had a queen excluder. If they leave and I can catch them again maybe I'll cage her also along with the brood frame since she's been so easy to find each time and see if that will help. Not much I can do beyond that.

NEXT DAY UPDATE: They stayed this time it looks like. I will give them a week or so before checking the box but they are guarding the entrance and I'm seeing activity in and out.

Monday, August 4, 2014

What about August?

I've heard that a swarm in July isn't worth a fly but I wonder what a swarm in August isn't worth...

It looks like the orange hive swarmed sometime today or yesterday. I found a decent size cluster in a peach tree late this evening. I was able to get them into a nuc and set. I spent a little while watching and I'm pretty certain they are from the Orange hive. It's pretty easy to tell if a hive is queenless from there behavior and the Orange hive was showing all the signs. I will leave it alone until this weekend and then take a look.I'll also watch the orange nuc and see if they stay over the week. I didn't have any spare comb so I put them on foundation. Shouldn't have any problem though as they didn't waste much on the branch I found them clustered on. I'm on the wall about feeding them to get them ready for winter. I guess I'll see how they do after a couple of weeks then decide.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Honey time...

Pulled honey yesterday and got a good crop. Even a nice box full of a light colored honey from the stained hive I'm guessing came from the locust trees. I left 3 boxes behind for them to finish and pull in August hopefully.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All's well...

Checked everyone out today and things looked fine. I think I'll give them another couple weeks before I pull honey.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

After Vacation Checks...

Returned from vacation to discover all is well with the hives. The new queens from Broke-T were out of their cages and both nucs had good numbers. I'm thinking about going ahead and re-queening the red hive as the queen isn't laying that great of a pattern and the blue hive to cool them down a bit as the are a little aggressive. I've reached out to see where I can get a couple of queens from so that will be the deciding factor I guess. Everything else looked good.

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Queens Round 3...

I received 2 queens yesterday from Broke-T from Mississippi. The rain has been keeping up so I couldn't find time to get a split done until this morning. I pulled a split from the white hive for the Lexi nuc and from the blue hive for the Cassie nuc. By the time I was ready to put the queens in late this evening most of the bees from the Cassie nuc returned but those in the Lexi nuc stayed it looks. After installing the queens I added a box to the top of the Cassie nuc with newspaper in between and added a cup or so of bees from the blue hive to it. Hopefully they stay. The Cassie nuc only has about half a frame of bees before I added more but there's 2 frames full of capped brood. Hopefully it emerges soon to boost numbers. Hopefully the added bees stay also and accept the new queen.

Also wanted to note the blue hive was a bit testy today. I was in the brood nest so I can't really blame them but if it continues when I pull honey at the end of this month I many consider re-queening them. Mostly they've been passive but today was different. I can't blame them though as I was tearing their home apart. Like I said I will evaluate how they are when I pull honey then decide what I'm going to do with them. They've been great bees but if they're turning hot they'll have to go.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday checks...

Checked all the hives today and all looked good. The swarm I got from louisa has a great pattern but they are building comb strangely on 2 frames I saw. We'll see if it continues or they fill the strip they've built out. Built another stand and transferred all of the nucs to full size hives except the CiCi nuc. I added another nuc box to it and added 2 frames of bees and capped brood to them with a sheet of newspaper in between to boost their numbers.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Queens are free...

Checked the newly queened hives at lunch time today and all the queens have been released. I'll check this weekend for eggs. I need to add some bees to the CiCi nuc. I'll probably just pull a few frames of brood and nurse bees from another hive and do a news paper combine with them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Swarm Catch, New Queens, and a New Jacket...

Went yesterday morning to the next county over and picked up a swarm someone on Facebook posted. It stayed overnight and I was able to get it. Believe it's from the guy who used to sell bee supplies outta his barn but it's just a guess. It was in the same area as him is why I assume it's one of his. They seem like decent bees. They stayed and are out foraging today. I went yesterday and picked up the material to build a new hive stand this weekend. I hope to film that and put it on youtube along with measurements here.

The Cordovan and Carniolan queen arrived today from Koehnen and looked good. Lots of attendant bees included with them. Also much better packaged than the Kelley Queen. They seemed accepting of them when I put them in both hives. I took a frame of capped brood from the green hive and placed it into the Lexi nuc to help with number. I'll do that again next week until they are nice and strong.

 I checked all the hives today besides the ones with new queens and all looked good. Added honey supers to some as they are packing in the nectar. It looks to be a good honey season for sure. The tulip poplars are in full swing and they are bringing in tons from them along with black berries.

Also got a new jacket today from Miller Bee Supply. I ordered the Apollo half suit and I have to say I like it. It's a tiny bit thinner material than my old jacket and much cooler. Also it's much bigger. I ordered 2 sizes bigger like most suggest and I probably didn't have to. It's very roomy that's how I like it to fit. I really like the veil on this one as well as the cuffs around the sleeve. Much better than the little strip of elastic on my old jacket.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kelley Queens...

I got a call from the post office this morning letting me know the queens from Kelley had arrived a day early. No complaints besides not being ready but I went and picked them up then came back to make up splits and make the hives getting queens queen-less. I dispatched the queen from the Orange hive and didn't notice any signs of her laying yet. One of the queens I got today will go in there this evening. I opened the purple hive and to my surprise it is absolutely jam packed full of bees still. I didn't notice any signs of a queen but did see open cells. I shook 2 splits out of the hive into nucs and added a frame of eggs from the O/B nuc to see if they build a queen cell. It will get one of the queens arriving Friday unless they have already started on a queen cell today. I will add a frame of brood to the other split and purple hive also this evening to see if they start working on a queen cell. I want to make sure I didn't miss a queen when I checked. With as many bees that were in the purple hive it would have been very easy to overlook a virgin queen in there. The Russian queen will go to a buddy as he already has Russians and acceptance will be better.

UPDATE
I got the queens installed and 2 nucs made. One of the queens went into the Orange hive and one went into the CiCi nuc. Both seemed accepting of them and were attending to them through the cage. I'll let them get them out through the candy on their own and check them in a 5-7 days. One of the splits I wasn't able to get any brood into before a rain shower came through and all the bees went back to the purple hive. Both splits were pulled from the purple hive since there's so many bees in it. There's still plenty left for the new queen when she arrives. I pulled another split for the Lexi nuc and added a frame of brood this time to keep them. They should stay but I'll keep my fingers crossed none the less.

Ordered a new jacket as the old one is in rough shape. I'm giving it a wash and will keep it around for anyone who needs one that wants to watch me inspect or whatever. I ordered a Apollo Half Suit from Miller Bee Supply. I'll review it when it arrives as I couldn't find anything online about it in any of the forums. I liked the looks and style so hopefully it's as pictured. They shipped today which is nice and I got tracking info from Koehnen for the queens they are sending. Funny how buying beekeeping gear/stuff/bees/queens works. None of the big names have done anything but deliver as they stated they would. I can't say that for the couple of small guys that never sent what I ordered and filed for bankruptcy so they could steal my money. Anyway, it'll be a lesson I can share with others.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Combine, Orange Hive Queen, & New Queens....

Combined blue and orange nuc today into one via newspaper. The blue nuc wasn't building up like I'd hoped as I believe their queen never made it back from her mating flight. I looked but never saw her so I just went ahead and made the combine. I'll add them to a full size hive next time I check them.

I also planned to add a frame of brood to the Orange hive but when I was about to pop the cover off of it I noticed a nice little queen on the inner cover. She wasn't fat yet so I'm guessing she hasn't been mated. I coaxed her into the hive and the couple of bees that met her ignored her so I'm guessing that's where she was from. I didn't see her at first but her size and ability to fly makes me assume that one of the queen cells in that hive hatched.

Yesterday I ordered some queens to add some genetics. I'm 50/50 on the nucs and queens I got last year locally so I thought I'd try Kentucky and California Queens this year. Below is what I ordered and when they should arrive.

Kelley (arriving 5/22/2014)
 - (2) Hygenic Italian
 - (1) Russian

Koehnen (arriving 5/23/2014)
 - (1) Italian Cordovan
 - (1) Carniolan

I haven't figured out what I'm doing with them besides making splits yet. How many and if any requeening will be done I'm going to decide later this weekend. My buddy wants the Russian since his bees have Russian genetics already and will be more accepting. I thought I was up for it but I don't believe I want the hassle of getting my bees to accept the Russian genetics. I'm pretty happy at how passive my bees are also. That's something I'd like to keep around and I've heard and read once the Russian trait starts to become hybridized they develop aggressive traits. I like sweet bees so...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

They won't make up thier mind...

So... The purple hive has been something else. They swarm, they come back, they swarm, they come back... Another swarm from the purple hive today... Only it was the swarm from the other day that left and went back into the hive. And like before they did it as soon as I puffed smoked into the entrance to start splitting. I've seen it happen a few times before but never more than once. And I've never had them start to swarm right after blowing smoke into the entrance much less have it happen twice. Anyway, this one went up in a oak again out of reach so I just ignored them. A few hours later I came back to check on them before the storm and they were gone. I won't know if they went back into the hive again until I check but the entrance looked busier than before. It could have been field bees returning before the storm though. I did check the other hives besides the nucs and split the purple hive in half. If they came back to the hive again they'll find plenty of room now. Even after splitting the hive in half both still have a large amount of bees. The split I pulled out of the top deep had some nice capped queen cells on the bottom of a couple of frames that I left. I'm really glad the queen cells were still viable. I'm picking up some queens tomorrow and I'll check the bottom box on the purple hive for cells and if I find none I'll add one of the queens. I didn't see hardly any brood in any stages in the frames I pulled for the split so I'll maybe have to add some brood in a couple weeks just to be sure numbers stay up.  I also need to pull a split early in the morning to add one of the queens I'm picking up to. Maybe it'll get placed in a nuc if I find one that's not doing great instead. I'll be checking the nucs early too.

I also made the entrances bigger on the hives and added the summer entrances to the strong hives.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers day swarm...

The purple hive cast a big swarm today right as I was lighting my smoker to check them out. Talk about bad timing. They are about 40 feet up in a oak tree so there's no chance of getting them. It was cool to watch but I hate when they go up that high and there's no way to get them. I keep telling myself I need a old bucket truck just for swarms with the big oaks that are behind the hives. I've got out swarm traps so I'll keep my fingers crossed. They were still up there when I came inside at dark. Anyway I figured it was going to happen given the town swarm moved in. Just too many bees. I'm splitting it in half tomorrow if numbers inside look good and I find some queen cells or eggs. I'm hoping the town swarm queen didn't kill all the queen cells or virgin queen that was in the hive. We'll see tomorrow I guess. If nothing else I'll throw a frame of eggs and brood in from another hive if numbers are good enough to split.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Those city bees...

After seeing the fanning at the purple hive last night I think the town swarm queen may have ended up in that hive somehow and was accepted since the hive just swarmed and was raising a queen. I looked in both today and there's significantly more bees and the orange hive is empty. I'll check my swarm traps tomorrow just in case but I believe they migrated. I've only read about something like this a few times but never seen it happen. I'll see what's going on in the hive for sure this weekend.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Town swarm...

I noticed a swarm clustered out front of a church in town on my way home and stopped and picked them up. Got them hived this evening but was a little rough. I'm hoping them stay but I'll check in a couple of days to make sure. Also noticed the the purple hive had a full front porch late this evening fanning. Believe it's the queen out on mating flight but not 100%. Could possibly bee that when I was hiving the town swarm the queen ended up over there. I did notice what looked like orientation flights on the newly hived swarm but it could be that the queen took off and ended up in the purple hive. I'm 50/50 on it actually. It seemed like mating flight behavior but you never know about these fascinating little creatures.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

First swarm of the year and quick inspections...

Popped into the hives real quick and checked everything. All is good. Need to pull some capped honey out of a few deeps and replace it with drawn or empty frames to make some room in a couple of hives. I'll get to that Wednesday after the rain. They've made a lot of honey already this year and the main flow hasn't even started yet. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for lots more.

Also had a nice big swarm I believe came from the purple hive. Had to call my beekeeping buddy to work the tractor to get it but ended up operating it myself as he felt more comfortable with it me using the loader while he cut it down. Anyway, you can watch the excitement below.

Big swarm capture - 05/04/2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Post Easter Inspection...

I checked everything today and pulled a box of honey off the stained hive. The little Orange Nuc has a queen already but she doesn't seems to be laying. I pulled a split out of the stained hive and placed it in the blue nuc. I'll give them a frame of brood this weekend to keep numbers up. Maybe a shake of bees also. All the hives look good. Added extra boxes where needed.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

First inspection of the year

Checked everything real quick today and bumped numbers on the hives that were weakest. Everyone has a queen and the purple and stained hive are booming. Pulled a real good split out of the purple hive and put it in the Orange nuc. I was seeing drones so figured I'd chance it. I also pulled the honey that was left in medium. I have about 60 pounds to get extracted and there's still a good amount in some of the deep frames. I'll get in there this week and get the last medium box of honey off the stained hive when it's warmer and split, split, and split some more. I noticed cups in the hives but didn't see any cell so I don't think they are ready for swarming yet. I hope to cut them down enough to prevent it actually with splits. These bees did really well over the winter and there' still lots of honey to get them going left. I learned a big lesson on moisture this winter that I won't repeat but more on that later.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring is sprunging...

Hopefully after a little cool weather tonight spring is here to stay. Bees are active and I've been feeding for the last couple weeks just to get them going. Today I put out a couple swarm traps and plan to make a couple up this coming week out of a few cedar boards I have to place over at the farm. Planning to reverse boxes and inspect hive thoroughly this coming week also so I'll more than likely have a video or 2 to put up. Plan on going high gear this year with them. Hopefully that includes lots of expansion.