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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, February 28, 2007

The Live Hive

The frame of honey below is one of four frames of honey left in the dead hive's medium brood box. The Beemaster folks said I should move those frames to the Bermuda hive and let the bees there use it for stores. I haven't done it yet, but will.

Here are the bees in Bermuda - not a particularly thriving bunch - but they are alive and are beginning to raise brood. We've had strange weather in Atlanta. In February we've had a week of 30s at night and high 60s in the day, followed by a week of 20s at night followed by 40 - 50 degree days. The last two weeks have been in the 30s above freezing at night and in the high 60s/low 70s in the day. I think the bees have had a hard time because of the confusing weather
The bees in Bermuda are making brood. The pattern below is a little spotty, but there are larvae (see the cells with white shiny C shapes in them?) and they are bringing in pollen. Look at the red pollen cell directly below the brood circle. So action is starting for spring in this hive. I also looked really hard at the bees. I saw mostly healthy looking bees. I was disturbed to see one bee with ragged wings, meaning she probably has deformed wing syndrome, brought about by Varroa mites. Michael Bush on the Beemaster forum suggested that I do a sugar shake and a Varroa count on this hive, so that will be what I do on Friday.
(Note: If you click on the image below to enlarge it, you can see bee eggs in the empty cells. The eggs look like grains of rice - the good news is the presence of those eggs means the queen is alive and laying - HOORAY!)

There's lots of activity in this hive, so I put a Boardman feeder out to help them build up for spring. I don't want to be guilty of starving another hive. I also called the local beekeeper from whom I had already ordered a nuc for this year so I could have a third hive and ordered another nuc to replace my dead hive.

The Death of a Hive

Today I came home in the middle of the day - it was finally 68 degrees on a day when I had a break to inspect the hives. I opened Destin to find that all of the bees had died. Apparently they starved to death. I am so very sad. I had fed this hive with a jar of sugar syrup but had not replenished it before the 20 degree weather we had two weeks ago because I knew the hive had stores of honey in frames and didn't want to open the hive in such cold weather. I am SO SORRY that I didn't. The pictures below show what happens when a hive starves.

In the cold the bees cluster in a ball around their stores of honey. These bees are on either side of two frames, completely empty of honey. Some of them are deep in the cells trying to find the very last of the honey. The sad part is that there were four full medium frames of honey below them in the medium super (these bees are in the shallow super at the top level of the hive.)
Below are all the dead bees on the screened bottom board. I looked everywhere for the dead queen and couldn't find her anywhere.

I looked at every frame in the hive and couldn't find the dead queen nor any evidence that she had been there for a while. The red maple began blooming at the end of January and bees have been beginning to build brood since that time. There was no capped brood or larvae of any kind in this hive. I suspect that the queen died at some point over the winter and the hive has dwindled until it died altogether.

Well, I'm trying hard not to feel like a bad beekeeper because I didn't know they were starving, but it's hard to know that I could have kept them alive. Of course, if the queen were dead, I couldn't have done much about that without knowing.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Special Visitor to my Hives

I spend a lot of time on the Beemaster Forum where I get a lot of my questions answered and have learned a lot from people all over the world. One of my favorite posters is "Understudy." He lives in Florida where he has done a lot of "cut-outs" in which he goes to places where people have found bees and have not wished for the bees to be there. Examples are boats, trailers, inside roof overhangs and most impressively, in a compost pile!

In addition, he travels for his work and has been in Atlanta this week. So he came to my house to see my two little hives and eat lunch. I loved hearing about his bee adventures. He has a blog as well.

To prove he was actually at my house, here he is between my two hives - lucky me - to be entertained and educated by his bee stories over lunch!
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Drinking bees

The weather has been cold in Atlanta and the bees have been balled up in their hives. Today it was warm and relatively sunny and the bees were drinking from my water source all day long. The water source is filled with old leaves and gunk - not clean and beautiful like it was during the summer - and they loved it. I saw as many as five at a time, all drinking by sticking their tongues into the holes in the brick and sucking up the water.

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