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I've been keeping this blog for nine years and now there are over 1200 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Small Hive Beetle trap is Working

Here's the small hive beetle trap developed by Sonny and Mel in Arkansas. Look at the dead beetles. I'm so grateful This came from my Bermuda hive where I see the most beetles. Even with these dead ones, I saw plenty of live ones all around on all the hives. Mellona had 2 dead beetles in her trap. I didn't see any SHBs in Proteus and reinstalled their trap, removed when I got stung last week.

I was relieved to find only SHBs in my trap - the holes are obviously the right size although I need to clean out some of the propolis.

Circled in black you can see the SHB as I typically see them on the inner cover of the hive. I smashed all of these with my hive tool before putting the inner cover back on the hive.

Many times the bees chase after the SHB, but this one was having a Sunday morning stroll with little interference.
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Hive Inspection at the Atlanta Botanical Garden Apiary

Today I was lucky enough to get to participate in a Metro Atlanta Beekeepers' Club sponsored inspection of the hives at the Apiary at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

The inspection leader was Gerard McCann, a skilled beekeeper, an expert on comb honey, a good speaker (he's given some very educational programs at the Metro Beekeepers' meetings) and the person in charge of these hive inspections. He set this one up as an extra session especially for all of us who couldn't put our names on the list for the dates available because by the time it came around to our side of the meeting room, all slots were filled.

In general, Gerard is generous of spirit and kind in his approach....in other words, a perfectly lovely afternoon was had by all with Gerard as our guide - even in the sweaty, humid Atlanta heat.

To watch the slideshow AND read the captions, click on the picture below. That will take you to the web album page where you can choose "slideshow" (upper left) and watch the whole thing. You can make the slide stay on your screen longer by clicking on the plus sign and changing the seconds upward from 4 at the bottom of the picture on your screen.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Bald Faced Hornet is Back

I watched with dismay today as the bald-faced hornet systematically attacked and carried off bees to feed its young. The hornet swoops down and captures a bee. Just as quickly it flies up to the paper nest in which it lives high up in a tree above my deck. I'm sure the nest is located there to take advantage of the beehive restaurant.

Here's a face-on look at the lovely insect. I think the hornet looks menacing as I'm sure is nature's plan.

I never snapped a picture of the five bees I watched the hornet capture in the space of less than five minutes, but here the hornet has killed a yellow jacket.
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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dead Bee Larvae

Today the bees in Proteus were trying to carry out this dead bee larvae. Wonder why she died? I don't see a varroa mite, but maybe the bees knew it was there. Bees are amazing housekeepers and keep house hygienically if we are lucky as beekeepers.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bermuda Bees in the Rain

My Bermuda beehive loves to beard. Every evening they gather on the porch. This hive has plenty of ventilation. There's an open screened bottom board, a slatted rack, the top is propped open and the top two supers are full of empty frames from honey harvest that they are cleaning up. So there's lots of room. But still every night they are hanging out. I think it's the hive culture. This is my only hive that made it through the winter and they behaved like this last year, too.

Finally in Atlanta we are having our typical summer weather. It's extremely hot in the day time and then gets really muggy toward the end of the day, followed by a thunderstorm. The Smithsonian magazine ran a very funny article on visiting Atlanta in the summer just this month. So after months of drought, finally we are having our thunderstorm evenings and this was one. Above you can see the Bermuda bees on the left, just hanging out in the summer heat.

In the above picture, the rain has started and the bees are beating a retreat. You can see the raindrops on the camera lens.

They so want to be outdoors that they are barely inside the hive as rain puddles on their favorite hangout porch! I wonder if they'll go back out when the rain stops, since there's no sun at 9:30 PM to dry up the puddles.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Possibly the Final Block

Here it is - the bottom and below, the top. I do think it's lovely, but I may melt and pour it just one more time. There are a few tiny dark dots in the bottom - looks like the lining of the Presto Pot. So I may melt it one more time and not completely empty the pot. The block weighs 36 ounces - so I could have less wax and still it would be fine.

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The Return of the Small Hive Beetle and the Continued Saga of Proteus Bee

The small hive beetles are out in force. I got new plastic sandwich containers and used my soldering iron this morning to make 3/16" holes in the four sides of the box. I baited them with Sonny-Mel lure and put FGMO in the bottom. I put the traps in Proteus A, Mellona and Bermuda. At the same time I smashed 5 or 6 beetles in each hive and saw many more
.
I don't know how to think about Proteus Bee. Last week it looked as if they didn't have a queen but there were numerous opened queen cups in the hive as well as a ripped out the side queen cell. But most of the frames are drawn but empty and there are only about three frames with bees on them. I put the above frame into Proteus Bee from Bermuda. It has lots of capped brood and also has eggs and tiny brood around the edges.

There were two emerging bees on this frame. I found it amusing to think that they thought they were arriving in one hive and in fact will find themselves in another.

I looked all through Proteus Bee and just as I was thinking I should combine it with Proteus A and make them one hive again, I saw a cell with about 3 day old larva in it and couldn't. I'll wait another week to make a decision. It is now late in the season for them to build up enough to make it through the winter. Hmmmm, we'll have to see next week.
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Second Try for the Wax Block to Succeed

I bought a Presto Pot converted to be a wax melter from EBay. You can see the spigot that has been added to allow the melted wax to flow easily out of the pot. I looked forward to melting wax without the double boiler. I set up the measuring cup below with a new stocking stretched over the top. The plan was to melt the wax, open the spigot, filter the wax through the stocking and then pour into the mold.

However, for some unknown reason, when I turned the spigot to "On" nothing happened. I shut it off and turned it on again. Still nothing happened. I tried again and then gave up. How disappointing! So I simply poured the wax out of the Presto Pot directly into the mold.
This meant that a large amount of wax came out of the pot into the silicone pan I had purchased at Target. See the dark spot. That is where the initial pour hit the pan and made in the end a concave spot on the top of the wax.

I got up this morning and took the wax out of the mold and sure enough, there was a dip in the area where the dark circle is. So today I decided to give the Presto pot yet another chance. While the wax was melting, I took a chopstick and stuck it into the inside opening of the spigot. Then when I got ready to pour the wax, it came happily out of the spigot, filtered through the stocking and I was able to pour it from the measuring cup into the blue pan quite evenly.

To keep blocks this large from cracking while they cool, it helps according to the Internet, to cool the wax in a hot water bath. So you can see that the silicone pan is sitting in a larger roasting pan full of hot water. Hopefully this block will be pretty enough to enter into my bee club's fall contest.
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Friday, July 20, 2007

Bees on Anise Hyssop

The anise hyssop is blooming and the bees are going crazy. I see all kinds of bees on it. Huge bumble bees sway on the blossoms. My honeybees are everywhere and there are tiny sweat bees, and other bees I don't recognize. Obviously the bees of all kinds love this plant. I found out about it on the Beemaster Forum and have been thrilled to have it in my garden.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Proteus Bee Continued

I've been out of town for a number of days and today did an inspection on my hives, so there's lot to report. I've posted about a number of observations in several posts today. First I looked at Proteus Bee, the hive that came from the upstairs portion of Proteus when the hive had two queens.

When I opened Proteus Bee today, I looked at the frames in the top box first. There had been mostly starter strips in this box and the bees are festooning and building honeycomb.

As they build up their comb, they are also storing honey, as you can see from the right edge of the second picture.

The bottom box of Proteus Bee is the box where the bees originally lived in the big Proteus hive. This is where I put the frames of brood and eggs. Today every frame in the bottom box was emptied of bees, honey, etc, as you can see in this picture. I was discouraged. I had not seen bees entering the hive since I returned from my trip.

In the top box, however, they are building comb (see first two pictures) and they have capped and uncapped brood. I did not see any eggs, but did some young brood, but I am not sure there is a laying queen.

There were two opened queen cells. One was open on the bottom of the cell, indicating that a queen may have emerged. The second one, located right beside the first one, was ripped open on the side, indicating that the first queen emerged and then killed the queen in the second cell. However, it doesn't look as if anyone is laying in this hive. I'm not sure and didn't do anything today, but may add yet another frame of brood and eggs on the weekend.

Interestingly, this hive was the upper part of Proteus when it was a two-queen hive. The bees in this hive rarely use the front entrance, but mainly enter the hive through the top entrance. This also makes sense since the bees are living in the top box and not the bottom one.


Still a shape-shifter, like the god Proteus for whom the hive was named, I'll wait to see what happens with these bees. If they don't get more of a running start, I'll re-combine them with Proteus A before winter.
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Small Hive Beetle Back in Force

A few weeks back, I removed my small hive beetle traps. The bees had propolized the holes and they needed to be opened back up and probably enlarged to 3/8 inches. I have only seen a few SHBs this year until today.

Today there were small hive beetles in every hive. I crushed 12 - 24 on each inner cover. I replaced the shim round I had made for each hive under the inner covers and will replace the SHB traps this weekend.

In the upper picture you can see a SHB in the foreground and a bee attacking a SHB in the upper left corner. The picture below is a close-up of the bee attacking the SHB. She won and then I finished the SHB off with my hive tool for good measure!

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"Wet" honey cappings and "dry" honey cappings


When I opened Mellona today, I found some honey that had "wet" cappings. Most of the honey in my hives has "dry" cappings. According to Kim Flottum in The Backyard Beekeeper on page 97:

"You'll find frames that have what are called "wet" cappings,.....and "dry" cappings. When bees place the wax covering over the cell filled with ripe honey, they either place the wax capping directly on the honey, giving the cap a wet appearance, or they leave a tiny airspace between the wax and the surface of the honey, giving the cap a dry appearance. Comb honey producers prefer the dry look, but neither wet nor dry caps have any effect on the quality or flavor of the honey."

The upper picture illustrates "wet" cappings. The lower picture illustrates "dry" cappings.

The only remaining super that I have to harvest is on Mellona and the honey is mostly capped with "wet" cappings.
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State of the Small Swarm Hive


Today it was very gratifying for me to do an inspection on the small swarm hive. The queen is quite busy. I did not see Her Majesty, but she is obviously hard at work.

The first picture shows both brood and eggs.

In the second picture you can see very young brood in the upper center of the photo as well as eggs. I don't know how Halil Bilen put numbers on his cells in his wonderful post on his blog, but in the center picture if you look hard you can see the stages from days 1 -4 represented between the upper bees in the picture. Again in this picture there are eggs everywhere there is an empty cell.

I'm so proud of this little hive for surviving and creating their own queen after the earlier tragedy.
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OOps!

As I was inspecting today, I checked a super I had put back on Bermuda for the bees to clean. When I pried out this frame it came apart as I pulled it. This is a good lesson in why it's important to both glue and nail the frames. I must have skipped the glue on this one!
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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Feeding Frenzy in the Front Yard

Yesterday I harvested cut comb honey. When I finished with a frame I put it in a medium super sitting on a piece of cardboard. This morning I put the filled super back on the hive for the bees to clean up. I put the cardboard in the front yard (the hives are in the back yard). Look at the bees taking the honey back!

The next morning, here's how the cardboard looked. They obviously worked hard to get that honey back!
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