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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a Master Beekeeper! Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.


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Sunday, April 30, 2006

One of my bees hard at work

One of my bees on my Dortmund rose which is in full bloom. Isn't she cute!Posted by Picasa

Funny picture of me in HUGE beekeeper suit

This picture was taken at night with the camera on night setting so it is dim and not well-focused but at least you can get a good laugh at me in the BeeSuit!

I've posted on a beekeeping forum and gotten advice that the best thing a woman can do is to get bee britches (they come in petite sizes for the short person) and a jacket with a veil - so that's what I'll do and save this huge thing for visiting sons-in-law and others who might want to get suited up and look inside the hives with me. Posted by Picasa

Added Medium super to Bermuda and Destin

April 28, 2006: Built and painted medium supers. Built foundation frames for one of them (Destin) Will install tomorrow. Better build shallow supers before I leave for the Folk School – they may need them sooner than later.

April 29, 2006: Took FOREVER to light smoker – must get cedar chips. Thought dryer lint might work as well. We used to use that at Girl Scouts.

When I lit smoker and opened Destin, they had built comb above the inner cover. Also saw 3 small hive beetles – or some kind of beetle on the inner cover. Brushed them off but couldn’t find them to kill them. Destin has drawn out the comb on 8 of the 10 combs and is starting on the outer edge – perfect candidate for the new medium. I put it on with great relief.

I looked at Bermuda but it isn’t built out as much – about 6 frames are fully drawn. They haven’t touched 1 or 10 but have begun expanding wax on 8 and 2. I still think I’ll go ahead and add the super just for consistency and because I’ll be at the Folk School for a beekeeper class next weekend and won’t be able to work with the bees.

Early afternoon built frames for the super on Bermuda.

Waited until the end of the day to put on the super. Much easier to light the smoker this afternoon. Must get some chips. They are still busy bees in Bermuda but not as crowded or vigorous as Destin. Posted by Picasa

Clustering bees at night

April 26, 2006: Opened the hives to check on the overcrowding because in spite of ventilation and SBB (screened bottom board), they are clustering (bearding) outside the hives in the evening – lots of them.

Inspection on each hive: I pulled up the frame 2 and 9 on each hive – Destin beginning barely to draw them out. I need a definition of what “drawn out” looks like. Bermuda is completely not touching 2 or 9. In general seems to be a weaker hive.

Successes: I managed to light the smoker and keep it lit. I upset the bees in spite of being as quiet as I could but I didn’t get stung. I was a little awkward with the hive tool, but I’ll get better. Also refilled both syrup jars. Forum discussions indicate to remove the syrup jars when the super is added so as not to contaminate the honey produced with syrup.

It’s raining tonight and the bees are still outside the hive. These pictures were taken at 10:45 PM - and many are outside the hive.

The medium super arrives tomorrow. I’ll paint it and get it up and running as quickly as possible – maybe add it on Saturday. These pictures were taken at 10:45 PM - and many are outside the hive. Posted by Picasa

Obvious pollen on bees

April 25, 2006: The syrup jar is empty on Destin. When I added to it, I had a bee adventure.

An angry bee came into my hair buzzing like crazy. I shook my head to get her off, but that made her angrier, evidenced by her buzzing. After a while, and not wanting to be stung, I went inside with her in my hair and got the bee brush. I then proceeded to try to brush her out of my hair. Eventually it worked, but I spent about 10 minutes at this endeavor!

One reason the syrup jar on Destin empties so fast is that it appears to be leaking – there is a dark area on the cinder block below the jar, below the hive that appears to be soaked with sugar syrup. I’ll take it off and tighten the lid, but I will be relieved when I don’t need to keep feeding. I’ve ordered an interior feeder.

Bermuda doesn’t seem to be as active this morning as Destin – hope the queen is still there.

While I watched I saw several bees flying into Destin with obvious pollen collected on their legs!!!! See the bee with orange pollen on her legs at the right of the picture. Posted by Picasa

Help from new friend and beekeeper Nicky

April 22, 2006: Nicky came over and helped me light the smoker and remove the upper hive body. We first lifted the cover and smoked a little from the back onto the top of the frames. Then we took off the top, standing to the right of the hive and set it upside down to the left of the hive. Then we smoked the hole in the inner cover and lifted it up and laid it crosswise on the telescoping cover. Then we smoked the tops of the frames again and lifted the upper hive body and placed it on the ground behind the hives.

There were lots of bees in the upper body so we took each frame and shook it gently over the lower hive body to release them. Then we set each frame back in the hive body and when it was all done, left the hive body open on the ground behind the hive. Within 30 minutes all the bees had left the open hive body. We scraped some of the comb off of the tops of the frames in the lower body and saved it to taste. Then we put the hive back together again. We chewed the wax and tasted the very sweet honey (they are drinking sugar syrup.)

Things I learned:
1. How to use the smoker – she feeds hers cedar chips and pine straw. When she is done, she has carved down a wine cork to fit the opening and stops it up with that.
2. Wear a bandana under the hat/veil to keep hair from falling into face
3. Stacking the hive parts every other one the opposite direction helps keep you from killing bees.
4. I need to add a super in about a week. I have shallow supers but will also order a medium super for brood from Dadant tomorrow morning.

Wish I had pictures from this - what a great bee day!

Bee hive Goof up

April 20, 2006: I returned the empty nucs to PN. He asked how things were going and advised me to wait until the bottom hive was drawn out before adding anything above it. He doesn’t use a second hive body because it weighs so much, but rather uses a medium or small super.

I was too embarrassed to tell him I had already screwed up by adding the second hive body. I came home and called several Metro Beekeepers who had offered to help and left messages asking what to do. I also posted on the Beekeeper forum. Someone answered there and suggested that I simply remove the extra hive body and all should be well. Nicky called and offered to come over and help on Saturday.

April 18, 2006

Becky said I should name the hives so I named the salmon colored one Bermuda for the sands of Bermuda and the yellow one Destin. I hope the bees from Destin don’t want to move to Bermuda. The bees in Bermuda are eating their sugar syrup. The bees in Destin are not.

Moving the Bees from the nucs to the hives

April 16, 2006: On Easter afternoon I moved the bees from the nucs to the hives. I was not scared of being stung but was scared of dropping one of the frames or of killing the queen. I didn’t think I saw any queen cells but was also afraid of destroying anything I saw on the frames. I moved the frames into each of the two hive bodies, filled out the bodies with frames and then put the second hive body and frames on the top.

I made several calls to find out what to do with the bees who didn't want to leave the nuc - see pictures.....and learned to set the nuc on its side in front of the hive so the bees could make their own way to the queen inside (hopefully, since I never saw her)

Beekeepers will notice that I made the mistake of putting the second hive body on top when I installed the bees - OOPS!

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The bees arrive!

April 15, 2006: Picked up 2 nucs from PN Williams at 9:00 PM. The nucs were held closed by bungee cords going in each direction. I drove them home and went to the back of the car and opened the van to find that the bees were coming out of the nucs. I carried one of them through the house to the deck and a few bees stayed in the house!. The second one I carried down the kitchen steps, up the deck steps and placed them on the deck. I let the bees calm down for about an hour before removing the screened door. I also before I went to bed, put the Boardman feeders with sugar syrup on the main hive bodies
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