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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 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.

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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
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bee Discouraged

This is turning out to be a discouraging bee year.
  • First I get this gorgeous swarm from my friend Gina and install it into the top bar hive only to find that they didn't like the accommodations and took off for parts unknown.
  • Then I opened my Aristaeus2 hive to find that the lovely queen that was there three weeks previous (photographed, no less) is apparently no more and there is NO BROOD, implying a queenless hive.
  • Yesterday I transferred the L Hive to a new hive box and, where there was the prettiest brood I have ever seen on March 27, now there is absolutely NO BROOD.
  • I opened the hive at Blue Heron (from the Jennifer Berry nuc) yesterday to add a super. It looks great but I got an email from Jennifer today saying that because of the great bloom we are having, I should expect that hive to swarm.
I transferred the L Hive to a new home, cleaner and in better shape than the one in which they were housed.

I am glad I transferred the L Hive, even in its no-brood state. In the original box, the screened bottom board was closed up with an old sticky board and in the space between the screen and the board lived an ant colony of large winged ants. No air was coming into the hive, thus the immense beards that I have been seeing.

I gave this hive a screened bottom board that is wide open; I put on a slatted rack; and I moved them into 8 frame boxes.

I also looked at every frame because since I was downsizing them to 8 frames, I had to choose to leave out two frames from each box. I of course shook and brushed all bees off of each of the rejected frames.  There was no evidence of a living queen.

So here it sits in its new digs, in all its queenless glory, soon to die out if I don't find a solution to the problem.

OK, so I tried to think positively about this hive and all its problems.
  • It's possible that there is still a queen in this hive but she quit laying because of bad conditions....hmmm, not too likely. 
  • It's possible that she was killed in the move - a lot of bees were killed in this hive when we attempted to close the entry with screened wire previous to moving them. And a catastrophe can happen when you move a hive with frames sliding and the hive parts moving.
  • We moved that hive on the 26th of March.  I found beautiful brood on April 4.  Now on April 10, all of that brood has emerged and there's no new brood.  This would imply with 21 days to emerge, that the queen probably died on moving day.
  • It's also possible that the bees, angry with the queen for the disruption after four years of peaceful, undisturbed, albeit poor, living conditions, balled the queen and killed her after the move.

The obvious solution would be to add a frame of brood from another hive and allow the L Hive to make a new queen. But I currently don't have good resources to do that.  Mellona, my one ongoing hive, has only two frames of brood and eggs in it at the moment - the brood is about the size of a coffee saucer and while I did see eggs yesterday, I can't take one of only two frames of brood out of that hive. I took a similar frame out of that hive last week for Aristaeus2.

I haven't inspected the swarm that moved into Bermuda. They've been there just a week at this point. I added a super to them yesterday but didn't explore for brood. I could go deeper into that hive and steal brood from them. I'm a little burned from the swarm leaving the top bar hive and don't want to make these bees want to go away.

I also could inspect the hive at Blue Heron. Yesterday I only added a box to them and didn't go into the brood box. Perhaps I could get some brood from them and see if they have swarm cells at the same time, since Jennifer emailed this moring that I would probably find that. I am also cautious about doing that because I have to open up that hive on Tuesday for a boy scout troop and don't want to disturb them every two seconds.

On Friday, I called and emailed a N Georgia beekeeper in Ball Ground, whom I understand is the only person still selling packages, to see if I could buy two packages from him to fill my top bar hive and the hive I am supposed to install in Rabun County. I've now heard back from him that he doesn't have bees available any more and no possible queens until after April 20.

As I reread this sad post, I think today that I will inspect the brood box of the swarm hive and if I can, I'll take a frame of brood and eggs from it to add to the L Hive.  I'll not disturb the Jennifer hive at Blue Heron until I open it on Tuesday, but if I find swarm cells or a brood frame to spare, I'll take it and move it to either L or Aristaeus2. I'm on the swarm call list for Metro along with tons of other people, but maybe I'll get a swarm call for the top bar hive.  Sometimes I get a call from someone in Atlanta because they find this blog and call me......however,

I "bee" discouraged.
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  1. Anonymous9:47 AM

    Just think of all that you are learning and sharing with all of us! Don't bee discouraged! You have been and continue to bee an inspiration to me. I am beginning my second year of beekeeping with two hives and, while both colonies made it through the winter, they are weak and I don't know if we'll get honey this year or not. But, I have been encouraged to keep on keeping on because of your wonderful blog! I have learned so much through your experiences. So, bee encouraged...you're doing a great job! And everything will bee ok!

  2. Sorry you are having such a difficult Spring. I likewise have learned so much from reading your blog and know I will encounter my own bee difficulties. So far my one hive is doing well other that the bees are a little more aggressive than I would like. Wed. I will be replacing my queen with a (hopefully) more gentle queen so we'll see how that goes. I appreciate all the information you share and want you to know that it is helpful so don't get discouraged and keep up the good work.

  3. Hi Linda - you are such an inspiration to many beekeepers around the world - kia kaha, stay strong my friend . .

  4. Hello Linda,
    I believe that Don in Lula, GA still has packages available. http://www.fatbeeman.com/


  5. Anonymous8:37 AM

    Sorry to hear of your hives' troubles. I've also learned a lot from your blog; both your successes and problems. A thought: if your queenright hives don't have enough brood to donate a frame to the queenless hive, do you have any beekeeping friends who could give you a frame or two?

    Bee optimistic,

  6. Anonymous6:54 PM

    Hello Linda,
    Thank you for your posts and your photos. I am investigating slatted racks and see that your slatted rack is 90° perpendicular to what I expected.

    Then I notice the slatted rack design on BeeSource also has the wide end off to the side.

    Is that simply up to the beekeeper where they want that extra space located?

    You also have posts http://beekeeperlinda.blogspot.com/2006/06/beard-and-slatted-rack.html that show the slats 90 degrees the other way.

    Is it correct to say this is totally up to the beekeeper to decide if they want that extra room off to the sides or in the front or to the rear?

    I sure wouldn't rebuild my screened bottoms to accommodate the extra width shown on this page.

    Why are you using both? Any reason or difference noted?

    Thank you.

  7. I am not sure what you are talking about. Perhaps you are noticing that I have an 8 frame hive sitting on a 10 frame base and to accommodate that, I have put a board over the last 2 frames so that the hive can be set on this base. I was trying to use up my 10 frame bottoms without having to buy new equipment when I switched to 8 frame boxes several years ago. My slatted rack came from Betterbee and runs parallel with the frames. There is a wide part of it in the front right at the landing. I have never used a slatted rack that is at a 90 degree angle to the frames because it defeats the purpose of the screened bottom board. My slats run parallel to the frames, as I mentioned. "Why am I using both?" Both what? I do have both a screened bottom board and a slatted rack on every hive. It helps with cooling down the hive in Hotlanta. Hope that answers your questions.

  8. Anonymous3:46 PM

    Thanks for the reply.
    I understand that the slats are parallel to the frame.
    On all slatted racks. That was not what I am wondering about.
    I'm asking about the non-slatted end of the slatted rack.
    Look at your photo above with the blue-green slatted rack. The non-slatted extra space that extends to the right of the structure? It requires a wider bottom.
    If you look at the slatted racks on Mann-Lake's site: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_PjSsFlUyEHA/S8G-YarU_0I/AAAAAAAAp5A/b_DBUGS-aLs/s1600/Wax+016.jpg
    you can see the non-slatted extra space is not off to the side, but to the front. You've got some like this too.


  9. Again, the green piece to the right of the hive is because that is an 8 frame hive sitting on a 10 frame screened bottom board and 10 frame slatted rack. The piece to the right is a board that I put on the hive to cover the exposed space left by the fact that the slatted rack is for an 8 frame hive so there is nothing to the right and the bees are left exposed unless I cover the opening with the board. That board has absolutely nothing to do with the slatted rack. I hope that makes sense.

    My slatted rack, like all of them, has a flat space at the front of it ahead of the slats, but it is part of the slatted rack and is beneath the bottom box of the hive. http://www.betterbee.com/Products/8-Frame-Hive-Components/Vertical-Slatted-Rack

    1. Oops - both the slatted rack and the screened bottom board in the photo on this post are 10 frame. The hive is 8 frame. The extra board covers the two slats in the slatted rack that are not covered by the bottom hive box. The green board to the right was added by me and has nothing to do with the slatted rack.

  10. Just FYI, slatted racks are not always built parallel to the frames. Until a couple of years ago all of the slatted racks carried by Brushy Mountain were at right angles to the frames. I would order equipment from Brushy Mountain and then order slatted racks from Betterbee because theirs WERE parallel to the frames. Now, thank goodness, Brushy Mountain has changed their design so they are available there in a parallel design - thank you, Brushy Mountain.


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