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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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Friday, June 30, 2006

Bees and the Small Hive Beetle

I was sad to find that I had a number of small hive beetles that I saw in both hives. I killed 12 in Bermuda and 4 in Destin. This is the first time I have seen them and been able to kill them and this is the largest number of beetles I have seen.

More experienced beekeepers have told me that the bees in a strong hive will keep the SHB under control. Here is an example of it.

The small hive beetle tried to hide under burr comb (picture 2) and in the next picture you can see the bees going after him.

I saw a number of small hive beetles being attacked but the bees were on top of them so fast that I couldn't get a picture.

For now, I'm going to trust that my girls can protect themselves from this invader.
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My bees love Cleome

Cleome grows profusely by my mailbox and in my garden. I find my bees bee-ing on the cleome every day.

I gathered this cleome seed while on a walk one day. I passed a cleome full of ripe seed pods and put one in my pocket. The profusion of cleome in my yard is the result of that pilfered pod.

Cleome reseeds itself. I've had cleome growing in my yard for two years now.
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

No more Boredom in Beedom

We've had three rainy days in a row in Atlanta and the bees have been confined to their hives. I saw a few venturing out in the rain, but mostly it's been all quiet on the bee front. Today both hives are a-buzz with lots of activity. This picture doesn't begin to capture the energy of all the comings and goings.

I don't imagine that bees have emotions, but if they did, I'll bet it's very boring in the winter when they stay in the hive huddled together with only the job of keeping each other warm. I expect they "feel" some of that on rainy days as well. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

I've finally been stung

I've kept bees since Easter, 2006 - that's over two months now and I haven't been stung. Every morning I go out to the hives and stand between them and take pictures or just observe the bees. When I do this, I'm in my regular street clothes - no beesuit, no protection. Sometimes the bees send out a guard bee to send me back into the house, but most of the time they ignore me.

Every time I work on the hives in full suit, I end up with bees in the house. I imagined that they must come in on my beesuit, so I started taking the suit off outside on the deck and leaving it there for several hours before bringing it in.

My little dogs are in the yard all the time and have very long coats. Maybe the bees come in on their fur.

Inevitably I have bees in the house. Here's a picture of one on the paper towel roll. Often the bees are drawn to lights, just like moths. When I know one is in the house, it is often at the end of the day when only a light or two is on in the house. Then I'll hear the bee and know that she is near one of the lights that is on. They buzz and fly into the light as moths do.

Sometimes I can cover the bee with a glass and slide a postcard under the glass, trapping the bee. When that happens I can release the bee outdoors.

Tonight I came in from dinner with friends to find a bee buzzing around the kitchen lights and a box from Amazon on my doorstep. I ignored the bee and opened the box. In it was in fact a book I had ordered on beekeeping. I set the book on the counter and went to work on my computer for a while.

I returned to the kitchen and stood at the counter, reading the book. I took a step while I was reading and felt a sting in the bottom of my big toe.The light bulb bee had landed on the ground, dying, and I had stepped on her. She spent the last moments of her life giving me my first bee sting since becoming a beekeeper! Posted by Picasa

Bee-ing in the Rain

It's pouring in Atlanta, as it did yesterday. Ultimately the bees will be glad because we've had weeks with no rain, but the rain also causes problems for the bees.

There is a growing puddle on the front porch of Bermuda. The bees continue to leave and return to the hive, even in the rain. The numbers are much smaller than on sunny days, and I have to think these are the suicidal bees in the hive who leave.

The struggle to land and enter or leave the hive is complicated by the large puddle on the landing.

The bees slip onto their backs in the puddle where unless they can turn over, they will drown. You can see orange pollen in the puddle which has been lost from the bees' legs as bees flail in the pool.

In the last picture you can see the motion in the water caused by the bee using her wings to help her turn over.

This morning every bee I saw in the water managed to turn herself over except for one drone (who probably WAS on a suicide mission) and I gently pushed him off with a pine needle. On the ground he righted himself. Yesterday my daughter Valerie helped a bee in the same way and the bee was able to fly from the deck.

I've always wished for a tin roof to hear the rain. My bees can listen to the rain drumming on their roof all of this rainy day.

I do know from what I have read that drumming is disturbing for the bees. If you are trying to get a swarm out of a tree hollow, for example, drumming the tree with a regular beat below the opening is one way to get the bees to leave the tree.

I wonder what the effect of an all-day tin roof drumming has on the bees? Maybe this is why some of them leave to forage in spite of the rain - the drumming drives them out of the hive! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It's a miracle! Before....and After!

These pictures were taken at about the same time of night on a day with similar temperatures - in the upper 90s in Atlanta.

The first picture shows Bermuda on the left without a slatted rack - look at the beard. Destin on the right has a slatted rack and a much smaller beard.

Today I put a slatted rack on Bermuda and look at the after picture. Bermuda has a slatted rack and an empty super. Now the beard on Bermuda is SO much smaller. Posted by Picasa

Hive Inspection Saturday June 24

Both hives were doing well. Bermuda had two honey supers filled and capped. I put a third super on Bermuda between the brood area and the other two honey supers. Bees build down when they work in the hive and placing it there may encourage them to draw it out and fill it with honey.

Destin had gorgeous fully capped honey in the top super and the second honey super had barely been touched. The foundation pieces looked almost just like they did when I put them in the hive.

I moved the almost empty super and put it below the filled one. This may stimulate them to work on it, but with no rain in Atlanta, bee times are hard.

I also moved the filled super because they are putting brood - mostly drone comb - in the bottom of the frames on one side of the honey super. With those frames separated from the brood chamber, the brood already there should hatch and the bees should then fill that comb with honey rather than brood. We'll see.
The very outside frame in Destin was the only one where the honey was not capped, as you can see in this picture. Posted by Picasa

Slatted rack on Bermuda

I opened up the Bermuda hive all the way to the brood box and this is what the top of the brood box looked like - bees everywhere. I had to take the brood box off of the screened bottom board to install the slatted rack.

I did see a small hive beetle, but couldn't squash him because I was holding the heavy deep hive body at the time.
Here is Bermuda with its slatted rack. I will find out tonight if it makes a difference in the bearding.

You can see the bees gathered at the top of the first hive body. I didn't realize until I had the entire hive back together that I hadn't quite set the medium exactly in line on top of the deep at the bottom.

I didn't want to continue the disturbance I had already started by again taking the hive apart. I'll fix that on Friday when I open the hives again.
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Morning Bee Meeting

Every morning in front of my Bermuda hive, there is a bee meeting on the deck. Today the meeting included a tulip poplar leaf that had fallen the night before. However, they meet in the front of the hive regularly, leaf or no leaf.

I can't tell what they are doing. Their bodies and eyes don't look like drones so I don't think it's a meeting of the Good Ole Boys, but I sure don't know what they are doing.

This behavior doesn't happen at my other hive.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Late night look at the two beards

This weekend I will put a slatted rack on Bermuda and probably give it another super. However, Destin (on the right) used to have the thickest biggest beard of the two hives. Now that it has a slatted rack, its beard is thinner because the bees are probably hanging off of the slatted rack inside the hive.

Bermuda's beard as a close-up shows you how thick the bees are, hanging off of each other and the hive.

Destin's beard is thinner. Bees there are probably more comfortable in Atlanta's 90 something degree night. Posted by Picasa

Beard and slatted rack

Here is a slatted rack. You can see that the slats follow the ten frames that are in a hive box. this sits between the screened bottom board and the hive body. Using a slatted rack provides the bees with room to spread out as well as more ventilation for the hive.
Bermuda on the left does not have a slatted rack (the one in the picture arrived broken and its replacement arrived from Betterbee today). Destin on the right does have a slatted rack (the unpainted piece at the bottom of the hive.

Notice how much smaller the beard is on Destin. It's 90 something degrees in Atlanta this evening. Destin on hot nights like this used to have the biggest beard. Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 19, 2006

Inspection cameos

Here I am in my bee veil - Linda the Beekeeper!
Becky, my daughter, is the photographer for the last four posts. She took this picture of her as she watched me put Destin back together in the inspection. (She came inside because the bees seemed a trifle too interested in her for her comfort!)
This is Henry, one of my two black Pomeranians. Henry is relegated to watching the inspection from the inside of the sunporch because his sister, Haley, was stung pretty badly and I didn't want that to happen to either dog again. Henry sits and watches me through the door while I work on the bees.
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Inspecting the second hive

Here you see me beginning the inspection of the second hive, Bermuda. I have lifted off the top cover, the inner cover and the top super which is pretty well drawn out and filled with honey.

I've placed a hanging rack on the side of the hives to help me hold the frames as I work on the super.
I lift out the first frame which is heavy with honey and in addition has some brood at the bottom. I found that several of the frames in this super had brood at the bottom of the honey frames. Most of the brood cells looked like drone cells.
You can see a frame hanging on the rack. This makes it easier to slide the other frames over to look at them. The frame I am looking at has lots of honey at the bottom and some brood over in the corner.
I inspected each frame in this honey super and am pleased with how the frames are filling up with honey and how many frames are capped. Posted by Picasa

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