Welcome - Explore my Blog

I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 16th year of beekeeping in April 2021. 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.

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. (678) 597-8443

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Easter Sunday Hive Inspection

 While kids were scampering through yards looking for Easter eggs, I was inspecting the hives at the community garden. I began beekeeping on Easter Sunday in 2006. Seems just right that I am inspecting hives in 2021 on Easter Sunday!

Lots of interesting events during this inspection. We move frames with queen cells to a queen castle and deal with a queenless (apparently) top bar hive at the very end with an interesting solution to the issue. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Hive Inspection March 29 and 30, 2021

 In our second virtual hive inspection this year at the Morningside Community Garden, we saw the queen!!!

I do have a video clip of my falling and rolling down the hill, but I'm not going to share it!

A number of issues came up in our discussion as we viewed this inspection last night. Here they are:

1. Marking queens: It's great to mark your queens and if you can, you should for several reasons. 

First, it's much easier to find her if she is marked. She does move a different slow regal way than the rest of the bees and she's 1/3 longer than workers, but she is very, very hard to find and marking her helps.

Second: There is a marking code for the color on the back of the queen. It determines the year she was born so marking your queen helps you know how old she is. 

Third: There's lots of equipment you can get to help you mark a queen. Some items are the queen clip, the queen muff, and there are even queen marking kits.

The color for 2021 queens is white. Last year's color was blue.

2. Walt Wright devised the idea of checkerboarding. 

3. Australian beekeeper on how to prevent swarming in your beehive. Remember his seasons are the opposite of ours in North America.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

First 2021 Virtual Hive Inspection Done March 5 - 14, 2021

 I presented my first virtual hive inspection of the year to the MABA bee registrants last night. While you don't get the benefit of the Q&A or the discussions, here it is, if you would like to watch it.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Time to Bait Hives with SWARM LURE

 Yesterday I baited every empty hive I have in hopes that this year bees will find me, as they do most years. Here's the recipe for almost-never-fail swarm lure:

1 square inch cube of beeswas

1/4 cup olive oil

15 - 20 drops of lemongrass oil.

Put the oil in a glass container and drop in the beeswax cube:

I make the lure in the container that I will put in my hive tool kit.

If it needs stirring, I use a tongue depressor or a chopstick.

Let it cool a bit before adding the lemongrass oil so it doesn't immediately evaporate. I have my container sitting on a piece of marble which cools it off quickly. After 3 - 4 minutes, then I add the lemongrass oil.

Now smear it on the hive at the upper edge of the entrance, around the inner cover, and on the tops of a few frames. 

And wait for scout bees to find your hive and entice their sisters to move in!

Here's how to apply the swarm lure for greatest effectiveness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Come to the GBA Spring Conference online - it's only $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers!

 It will be worth getting up on Saturday morning to hear Jack Rowe of Auburn talk about pesticides. Jack is talking about how we as beekeepers deal with the pesticides that come into our beekeeping life from outside our beehives - like our neighbors spraying RoundUp or agricultural farms next door to our apiaries. His talk is engaging and really worth hearing. Later in the day he is speaking on how to Bee a Good Neighbor. Here he is:

Jay Evans from the Beltsville, MD bee lab will speak to us on how to tackle the issue of stress in our bee colonies and later in the day, he'll talk about novel treatments for bee diseases. I've heard him speak on three different topics at EAS a couple of years ago and thought he was such a great and engaging speaker.

Jennifer Berry is our third "J" keynote speaker. She will share the results of the UGA Bee lab's oxalic study that is now complete and later in the day will end our conference with a talk about the sunny side of beekeeping. Jennifer is always funny and keeps everyone's attention as we all learn something. 

In addition to all of those great talks (six of them!) we have eight different breakouts from which you can choose. They are as follows:
1. Barry Bolling speaking on The Importance of Raising your own queens using the Queen hotel
2. Cindy Hodges: Races of Honey bees
3. Julia Mahood: Bee Club Apiaries
4. Michael Minardi: Making Mead
5. David McLeod: Diseases of the Brood
6. Willa Beth Smith: Medicinal Honey
7. Linda Tillman (yes, me) Offering a Virtual Hive Inspection for your Bee Club 
8. Georgia Zumwalt: Photography for Honey Shows

For the minimal registration fee, you can watch all of the breakouts and the keynotes after the conference for the following two weeks.

I'm sure all of you will want to come! To register, just click here and spend a wonderful Bee Saturday here in Georgia, ya'll. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Georgia Beekeepers Association Online Spring Conference

 I didn't talk about this on this blog but I have been the president of the Georgia Beekeepers Association from September 2016 until September 2020. I loved the job and enjoyed giving as much as I could of my time and energy to the organization. I have been on the GBA conference committee since 2014, at least. 

In September 2020 which was GBA's 100th anniversary, we had to hold our conference online. It was supposed to be our big birthday blowout. Instead we had what turned out to be a wonderful online conference. Jonathan Hayes, who did a lot of the technical parts of the meeting, and I as president wrote up how we achieved this successful conference and our article was published in American Bee Journal in this month's issue (December 2020). If you subscribe to the magazine, our article is on page 1333.

Since COVID does not make it possible for us to meet in person for our spring conference, we are again holding it on Zoom. That means that people from all over the country can register and participate. It's only $15 for GBA members and $20 for nonmembers. Our keynote speakers are Jay Evans, Jennifer Berry and Jack Rowe (just a coincidence that all of their names start with "J"!). We have great breakout as well.

In addition to coming to the conference on February 20, 2021, through the miracle of Zoom, we also will present all of the talks from the meeting online to registered participants for two weeks. Conceivably you could watch every single one of the eight breakouts and all of the six keynotes.

We have a wonderful conference committee: Gina Gallucci, Julia Mahood, Derrick Fowler, Marilynn Parker, Jonathan Hayes and me. Again we will all be planning the actual day and Jonathan and I will make it happen. 

In September we had people from 22 states outside of Georgia as well as our large Georgia contingent. Come - you'll have a good time. We know how to make a Zoom meeting both fun AND educational! Here's where to register.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Auction at Bee Informed Partnership

 The Bee Informed Partnership is a resource for all beekeepers. They provide a lot of material that is educational and helpful to beekeepers. You can see what is available on their site by clicking here.

As you explore their site, you'll find lots of helpful information. They even offer a webinar series and all of the webinar recordings are on their site for you to watch and learn from great speakers.

To support the site, they are having an auction. There are about 48 items in the auction, including a cloth bag that I made!

To visit the auction and bid for something, click here.

The auction started today and ends on November 23, 2020.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Before....and After

These hives are at a community garden. Like many community gardens in Atlanta, this one is under Georgia Power lines. The workfolk for Georgia Power don't come anywhere near the bees so the area around the community garden gets mowed, but not this place where the apiary is.

I had a weed whacker in the mountains and now I've hired a guy who is cutting my place up there, so I brought the week whacker home. It's battery powered and should be perfect for this hillside apiary. Small catch - I've only used it twice before today and I don't really understand it. Took me a few minutes to remember how to turn it on and in the middle of using it on this tall grass, the protector device came off. Luckily the screw was still hanging onto the device and I rescued it. 

It looks a bit like the hives are drowning in the grass and you can't even see the entries except on the strapped hive which is the absconding hive which I've just moved here.

And here are the after shots:

The nuc hive where the bees came out to see what the heck was going on:

The absconding hive whose view of the hill is much better now:

The pesticide hive - again coming out to see what is going on. Also it was very hot, and they may have been out anyway - just hidden under the grass!:

Here are both of the original hives - the hive on the left was split about two weeks ago. I saw a bee flying in with pollen so maybe the queen is in this half of the split. I'm inspecting tomorrow so we'll see.

My weed whacking leaves a lot to be desired but in the process my cell phone fell out of my pocket somewhere in the cut grass. I spent about 30 minutes looking for it and finally found it (Whew!) but it did distract me from doing more with the weeds. And the protector had come off. I wasn't sure what it was protecting me from, but I didn't really want to find out the hard way.

I'm checking all of these hives tomorrow and it will be so much easier without the tall grass and kudzu.

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