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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 31, 2011

How do you Get Beeswax Off of a Ceiling? (!) You Iron It, Of course.

As you know this has been a topsy-turvy month. I moved out of my old house and Jeff and Valerie moved into it. In the old house once upon a recent time, wax exploded in my kitchen, sending globs of wax all over the ceiling, cabinets and counter. What a mess!!

The house was going to be painted while I was at the beach this past week, so Jeff and I set upon the task of getting the globs of wax off of the ceiling. I learned a number of years ago how to get wax off of floors so I thought maybe the same approach would apply to the ceiling.

I bought a whole roll of brown paper, figuring we would need a lot.

We plugged in the iron and heated it up. I cut the brown paper into usable sizes. Even with the preparation, this was a hard task. It's not fun or easy to iron upside down like that while standing on a ladder. I had waited until Jeff could help me so I would have a spotter when it was my turn.

He's laughing in the picture - we both were - at the ridiculous nature of this task, but we managed to iron all of it off.

I told the painter about it before she came to give me an estimate. By the time she arrived at the house to do the estimate, she had checked with her painter colleagues and none of them had faced this problem before. She didn't have any idea what to do.

I told her Jeff and I would iron it off.

Imagine her surprise when she arrived on Monday to find nary a trace of ceiling wax. I immediately think of Alice in Wonderland in "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and want to say that forever more I'll read that line as "shoes and ships and CEILING wax, of cabbages and kings."

(I suppose it is important for the Walrus to talk of "sealing wax," however, among the many things.)

The miracle of ironing wax with brown paper is that the wax liquifies in the heat and soaks into the paper, leaving the ceiling altogether.

Does call for some awkward body positions, though!


I will not have this problem in my new house. I didn't like the stove that was in my new kitchen because it had a gas oven but it seemed a shame to simply replace it. So I had a plumber come and install the all-gas stove into my bee part of my new basement.

Any further explosions will not be in a pretty cooking kitchen, but rather in a basement area set up purely for bee stuff and other messy business.  I plan to harvest honey down there, make lip balm, lotion, melt wax, all the messy stuff.  I can build bee equipment down there - it's really a beekeeper's heaven.

I had the stove moved down there and put in a utility sink right beside it so I would have hot and cold water.  There's a work bench - soon I'll post pictures.  I'm going to have about 1/3 of my basement devoted to bees.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Splitting Topsy

Lots of moving is going on in my life. I've moved out of my house that I lived in for 13 years; moved to a smaller intown house in Atlanta; my daughter and Jeff, my son-in-law, are moving into my old house and they are renting out their house which is where Topsy has been located.

So among the many changes, Topsy can't stay in the backyard of a house that will be rented.

On Sunday, Jeff and I split Topsy into two hives with the plan of moving the split to my new house. It was hard and made difficult by the fact that the honey comb has been cross-combed for the summer and we haven't been able to get the bees to draw straight comb in there.

Here's the pre-split hive.



It's hot in Atlanta so they are bearding both down here at the entry to the hive and under the top board. This is a huge hive with lots of bees.


We took out the brood frames first. We propped up the top bar and examined each comb to determine how to divide it up because we were rubber-banding the comb into Langstroth frames.



We were as careful as we could be and rubber banded the comb into frames, fitting it as best we could.


Here's a look down into the hive before I quit taking pictures. When we got to the honey-filled combs, everything got sticky and taking photos wasn't happening after that.


The brood comb was straight and beautiful and we carefully cut each comb to fit the frame, trying to save the most brood and eggs possible.



The honeycomb part was a complete mess, but we managed to get them some saved comb and I put some of the comb into a filter bucket to drip through to feed it back to them.


There were so many bees that we ended up putting on three boxes for them and putting a hive top feeder of their own honey above the inner cover.



There were so many bees on the outside of the hive that we propped the top despite the notched inner cover to allow them a top entry. Both Jeff and I felt a little defeated by the daunting task of trying to split this hive and weren't sure how it would turn out. We decided to leave them for this week in the new hive and move them on Saturday night when I get home from vacation.



So I'm at the beach with my family and Jeff, who stayed in Atlanta, called to tell me the split hive had absconded and are hanging in a tree behind his fence.


My super swarm catcher tool is locked in my new house and these bees are about 20 feet up a tree.  Jeff is going to try to get them tomorrow, but it's not going to be easy.  I'll let you know how it all comes out.

I'm very sad about all of this.  I put a lot of energy into this top bar hive and haven't done well with it.  Also this is the third split I've made this year that has not succeeded.  So I'm not too optimistic that he will capture the swarm and that we will keep these bees.

Tonight Jeff is moving the hive boxes to my new house and if he can capture the absconded hive tomorrow, he'll install them at my house where there are three other bee hives.  He's picking up the pole for my swarm catcher which is still at my old house and is going to get a large water cooler bottle from Home Depot to try to use on the end of it, since the water cooler bottle is locked in the basement of my new house.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Bee-less Life at the Moment

I am moving on Friday and my life is all about boxes and not about bees.  I look longingly out the back door to the hives in the yard as I pass through on my way to the attic or the basement or one of the many boxes of books, etc. that I am packing.

All my friends are harvesting and I am packing.

Those of you who follow this blog - and there are 433 of you who follow on Blogger, 791 who subscribe by RSS or some other feed and 45 of you who follow me on Twitter - are used to my posting several times a week.  So I apologize for the dearth of posts but after Friday, I should be back in my bee mode again and posting once more.

I've got pictures from the Blue Heron inspection on Sunday and will be splitting Topsy this coming weekend, so I promise my usual rate of posts will be coming soon!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Differences in Old and New Wax, Melted

Below you can see the product from my first two uses of the solar wax melter this year. The top disk came from Lenox Pointe, all new drawn honey comb; the bottom one came from Stonehurst, again all new drawn comb.



Yesterday I had the wax from some frames that included some old comb (also from Lenox Pointe). BTW, here's a useful tip in squeezing the wax into a ball: Put the wax in a plastic bag and use that to help you form the ball. Your hands won't get all sticky with honey.



You can see the pieces of older comb mixed in with the new comb on the paper towel below. This wax is ready to go outside.



At the end of the day, here's what the wax looked like - much brighter and darker in shade.


The color isn't so good in the picture below but you can easily see the contrast in old wax (on the left) and new comb (on the right). When people who use extractors melt capping wax, they get the results on the right. If you go foundationless and do crush and strain with the all new comb, your results should also look like the comb on the right.

Comb is also affected in terms of color by the type of pollen in the honey.  The wax on the left came from honey that I would define as medium to medium/dark.  The comb on the right was a very light honey.



If you are entering a honey show with your wax, the judges will give more points to a lighter wax. All wax should retain the smell of the beehive, which is why you need to use this year's wax in wax melting for a honey show.
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Checking on Blue Heron on the last day of June

Julia, Noah and I checked on the Blue Heron hives before the July 4 weekend.  We wanted to see if the queen were established in the queenless hive with the donated queen; we wanted to see if the nuc had managed to get started despite its poor resourced beginning; and we wanted to see if there was honey to be had at Julia's hive.

Here's a slide show.  After the inspection, we decided that if there is still no laying queen in the large Blue Heron hive, we'll combine it with the mean hive from the nuc that we know has a queen.  Hope for the future and all of that.  We have a MABA inspection on June 10 and we'll put the hives together then if we need to.

As always, click on the slide show to see the pictures with caption and full screen.

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