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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 19th year of beekeeping in April 2024. 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.Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

New babies at Bermuda

Every hot night my two hives have bees hanging out on the front porch, but tonight finally Bermuda looks like there's a much bigger group than in the past. Probably this means that the amount of brood hatching is finally catching up to Destin (the hive on the right)...

Here's an up-close look at Bermuda with the thick group of bees gathering on the porch at the end of the day.

Tonight I'll need to build a couple of extra supers to have on hand - I'll bet these girls are working hard to fill the current honey supers and that when I inspect this weekend, I'll need to add a new one. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Capping the honey cells

When I opened the hives this weekend the bees were busily working on the honey supers.

They fill the supers with honey and then fan the cells with their wings to remove the water from the honey nectar. When the consistency of the honey is just right, they cap the cells with wax.

If you look at this picture you can see that the cells are being capped with white wax. I love seeing the honey glistening in the cells.

Standing between the two hives in the middle of the day, the smell of honey is everywhere. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Six Feet Under Bee

The little orange bee has the job of carrying out this dead bee - I think the dead bee may be a drone because he is big and because of the way his eyes look. I followed this little worker bee and took ten pictures of what was happening but because she moved so fast with her grim job, this was the only one in focus (and in it, she's almost out of the picture!)

She moved him away from the hive and finally dropped him over the edge of the deck to fall into the bushes below. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bees on the Butterfly Weed

The butterfly weed
is blooming profusely by my mailbox this morning.

At the end of the day I walked down to find my very own bees enjoying the blooms. What a treat! Click on a picture to enlarge it so you can see the bee better.

The butterfly weed is planted with cleome, so you may notice some leaves of the cleome in some of these pictures.

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Housel positioning for the honey super

I’m interested in being a good landlord to my hives. If I am to do this, I should imitate nature as much as possible. Dee Lusby has written and spoken about a way to build the foundation for the bees to better imitate nature.

In nature, the bees may hang a feral hive from a branch and build their comb out from there. When Michael Housel studied the feral comb, he found that the center of the cell has a “Y” in it. In natural comb on either side of the center the “Y” faces up toward the outside of the hive.

When foundation is in a frame, you can turn the frame from right to left and see the "y" facing up on one side and the "y" facing down on the other. Here's a link
to see the Y positions.

When I added the super to Destin today, I marked the frames for Housel Positioning (HP) with an indicator of the "Y" up or down position. See how the up "Y" is on the outside from the center outward in each direction.

We'll see if the bees take to this more eagerly than they have with my previous random foundation placement Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Comparing the beards

I'm concerned about the huge beard on my Destin hive to the right. Are they crowded? Ready to swarm?

The bee-beard on this hive grows every night - in one way this is a good sign because it means that there are more and more bees being born in my hive. I wonder what it will look like in August in Atlanta when it is REALLY hot? Earlier in this blog
(a little less than a week ago at about the same time at night) you can see the hive with smaller bee-beard.
I took this picture at 11:40 PM in Atlanta and by morning the beard is reduced by about half and gradually is replaced by bees who are foraging. They still congregate all day on the front porch where they "dance" until the beard builds up again at night.

PS I added a super to Destin on Friday, giving the bees more room and the possibility for more ventilation. They look just like this picture even after supering...this must be what beekeeping looks like at night in the deep south.Posted by Picasa

The bees keep a clean house

Apparently in a wind last night the pine cone in the foreground blew off of a tree and bounced off of the front porch of the beehive. When it did, a piece of the pine cone stayed on the front porch while the cone rolled onto the deck.

The bees were quite disturbed by this - I watched this morning while several of them worked like ants to move the big pinecone piece off of their front porch.
When I returned from work today, the pine cone piece was on the deck in front of the hive. The bees succeeded in cleaning house. Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Washboard Dance on a Monday night

At 8 PM on a Monday night here is what the bees looked like outside of my Destin hive.

They are all doing what's known in the bee world as the Washboard dance. I found an article about it on a website from UC Davis' entomology department. The article said:

"Years ago Dr. Norman Gary and Dr. Stanley Snyder tried to define and determine a purpose for the Washboard dance of honey bees. That
dance is described as bees with their heads pointing down, rocking back and forth on their second and third pairs of legs. They move their mandibles as if scraping the surface.

K. Boherer (Montgomery College, MD) and J. Pettis (Beltsville, MD) took a close look at the behavior and found the following. Workers don’t do that dance until they are 13 days old. Peak
behavior exists between 15 and 25 days old. Dancing can start in the morning, but more dancers are seen in late afternoon and into the evening. They danced a bit less on glass than on slate or
wood, but not significantly differently.

Exactly what they are doing still remains a mystery."

In The Hive and the Honey Bee, the authors suggest that washboard behavior may serve as a "cleaning process by which the bees scrape and polish the surface of the hive."

BTW, for an amazing picture, click on Dr. Norman Gary's name (above)!

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

What kind of bees do I have?

I was told that the nuc I purchased was a combination of Carnolian and Russian bees. Some seem to be more orange and others are more black -

When I posted this question on the Beemaster forum, the answer was that until all of the mix of bees have been replaced with new baby bees, I won't know what kind of bees I have. After the queen has replaced all of the original bees, I'll be able to tell- if they are the orange bees, they will be Russian, if the black bees, they will be Carniolan.....Posted by Picasa

Inside the hive brood cells

Here you can see what it looks like on a brood frame. If you double click on a picture you can see it much larger.

You can see the white larvae glistening in their cells.

The capped cells are developing into mature bees.

In the center of the lower picture you can see a bee emerging to take her place in the hive.

If you look closely you'll see some workers with their heads down in the cells Posted by Picasa

Bees fill in foundation just as predicted

Just as the experts on Beemaster predicted, the bees in Bermuda have filled in the gaps on the honey super and extended the wax to meet the frame. As you can see in these pictures, they are filling in the comb with honey and are making the wax to bridge the gap.

In one foundation frame, the foundation had come loose from the top of the frame and the bees had attached it to the comb of the next frame. I just picked those two frames up together. If they did that with all the frames, I'd have a real mess on my hands, but I think so far that's the only one.

My busier hive, Destin, had not even touched the honey super and had not dealt with the short foundation yet. However, they will be there soon. The medium super was extremely heavy with brood and honey, so there's nowhere for them to go but up to the honey super.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's Saturday night and the bees are bearding!

I just drove in from the mountains of North Georgia to find the bees at Destin bearding across the front of the hive. The day here in Atlanta has apparently been hot and dry. Although the picture shows bees standing still, in fact they are each moving and dancing and having a real good time!

Here they are up close and personal.

What more can you expect from bees on a Saturday night?Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bees and the Beehives after the rain

Here are the beehives in the early morning sun after a night of rain.

The two bees in the first picture are bumping heads - hmmmmm. Is it a kiss? Surely not. Are they talking to each other about the weather? Is this the bee way of saying, "Have a good day?"
Here are the bees venturing out of the hive. They have some water to navigate on their way out to forage. Posted by Picasa

Do the bees recognize the beekeeper?

Well, I'd like to think I'm developing a relationship with my bees. I go out and stand or sit between the hives and watch them come and go. But I never approach the hives from the front so that I don't interrupt their flight paths. So far since I installed the hives on April 16, I haven't been stung.

There's a thread going on the beemaster.com forum about this topic, and I was disappointed to read that it's highly likely that the only reason the bees aren't bothering me is that I am not bothering them - not that they are recognizing me. Here's the thread
if you'd like to read it:

Since bees turn over about every 40 days in the hive, the queen is the only bee in the hive who lives sometimes 3 or 4 years. Gives new meaning to the phrase: "Long live the queen!"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bee Housekeeping

This morning I watched from my sunporch something that looked like two bees fighting. I went outside to find a bee struggling to pull another bee out of the hive. She would pull and the bee would disappear back into the hive.

On her fourth try, she pulled the bee out of the hive and flew off carrying her. The bee she was carrying was dead and it was her job to carry out the body. She flew about five feet and left the body on the deck.

She was a mortician bee, I guess.

The bees have a specific job progression from birth. At first they remain in the hive to clean up, groom the queen, take care of larvae, make wax and honey.

Then they hang out at the entry to the hive, fanning the entry way either to cool the hive or to help solidify wax cappings over the brood or the honey.

These pictures are of bees hanging out at the hive. I think the Conga line of bees at the entry to Destin in the third picture is rather funny.

The last job in a bee's life is the work of foraging. Many of the bees in these pictures are at that stage. They communicate to each other where to find the nectar and pollen and then they fly off. They've developed the strength for this during the time that they were fanning at the entry to the hive. These foragers in the summer live about three weeks before they die and get carried out by a mortician bee.

As Winnie the Pooh said, "You never can tell with bees."

Posted by Picasa

Added super to Bermuda

This afternoon I added the super to Bermuda (the pinkish hive on the left). I am pleased because I did it without using my smoker and only wore my regular clothes with a bee veil and my gloves.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 12, 2006

Honey in the beehive

I checked the hives before adding the super today. I found bees working hard to make and cap honey in the middle super of both Bermuda and Destin. Destin was fully drawn out (meaning that the bees took the wax foundation that I put in the frame and added wax to it to expand the depth of the comb) with honey in every frame except two and those were drawn out with wax, so I added a honey super to it.

The white capped wax at the top of the frame is over honey-filled cells. Some of the darker cells just below that are filled with pollen. The beige cells in the center and bottom are brood cells in which baby bees are being raised.

Bermuda continues to be slower and maybe not as strong. They had only worked on 6 of the 10 frames in their medium super, so I am waiting until about Monday to give them another super.

I also took away the sugar water feeders on both hives. Posted by Picasa

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