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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.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. ‪(404) 482-1848‬

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ongoing Tale of the Small Swarm

A few days ago I opened the nuc where the small swarm is housed to see how things were going. I pulled out one of the old frames on the edge of the nuc and found happy wax moths having a field day. The photo shows the damage and some of the wax moth worms. I gouged out the wax moth area from the frame, crushed it with my hive tool and threw the mess over the deck railing. I left the frame in the sun to do the rest. I then put in a deep frame with a SC starter strip.

I wanted to make sure this little nuc is OK in terms of food, so I made a baggie feeder with a quart sandwich bag filled with sugar syrup and snipped an X in the top of it. With it on top of the frames the nuc top wouldn't fit on the nuc, so I took two bottom bars from unbuilt frames and laid them on each long side of the nuc. Raised up just that 1/4 inch or so, the nuc top went on. I would rather, however, be feeding them with honey in a frame so I decided to work toward that.

This morning I went out and took a full frame of honey (see it leaning against a tree) from Mellona and replaced the empty frame with that. The bees were already festooning and drawing wax on the empty deep frame - that seemed hopeful to me. They were preparing for the mated queen, I hope.

They had only drawn about a jelly jar lid sized area of wax so I hope it didn't harm the process of the hive/nuc for me to take it out. I have added to that nuc now three frames of brood and eggs and as the brood has emerged, there are empty spaces for the newly mated queen to lay on at least three frames.

There were many more bees apparent today. If you'll look at the picture, you'll see some bees who are black - those are the original swarm bees. The orange bees came from the brood frames I added to the hives.

I hope the queen makes it back from the drone congregation area, wherever that is, and begins laying well in this hive. I believe the numbers would say that she should be laying about the end of the first week of June, if all goes well.
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Monday, May 28, 2007

First Honey Harvest of 2007

Over this weekend, I took a super off of Mellona and did the crush and strain method of harvesting. I took 8 frames from a shallow super and got a little over 25 pounds of delicious honey. I didn't like the look of the outside frame on each end of this super - looked too light to me and I didn't want to harvest it. I wondered if they had moved sugar syrup honey up to make room for brood below, so I left it in the super.

I wanted to get some honey this weekend because my 86 year old father just retired from more than 60 years practicing medicine in Natchez, Mississippi. The main hospital in Natchez is having a reception for him this weekend, and I am going to Natchez for the event. He loves the honey from my hives so I wanted to take him some of this year's honey.

The super I harvested this weekend was the first honey super I put on Mellona. This will probably be the only hive from which I get honey this year. I have two supers on that hive for cut comb honey that are almost ready for harvest. On the oldest super with the 7/11 foundation, there are 3 frames with the honey still not quite capped. When I am cutting comb, I don't want to take the honey until all of it is capped . The other cut comb super has about the same number of uncapped frames. I am watching closely because I want to cut the comb while it is still white and gorgeous.

My weak hive, Bermuda, is doing well to build up strength this year and most if not all the honey produced there will be for the bees for the winter.

Proteus is an odd hive. At the beginning it was my strongest hive. The bees practically tripped over each other trying to go in and out of the hive. In the bottom hive body, they grew brood but in the medium box just above it, all they did was store honey in the crazy comb they drew. I added a third box when the second was full, but by then I think they were honey bound - or at least the queen must have felt as if she couldn't find enough space for laying.

Although I didn't see it, I think the hive swarmed. The numbers of bees has definitely decreased. Now there is brood in the bottom deep, honey in the second box, and brood and honey in the third box. The third box looks a lot like Bermuda did when that hive first began to rebuild.

I have wondered why Proteus wasn't making honey and now I think it is because they had to wait for a queen to develop and begin laying. So instead of making honey, this hive is recreating itself. A hive loses about a month while developing a queen.

While I'm sad that I won't be harvesting from this hive, it will be interesting to see if the new queen has babies that are creative in comb drawing or if that crazy comb building left with the swarm that I assume happened.

Of course, the small swarm nuc will not be making honey this year.

So in total I will probably harvest the 25 pounds I got today plus about 50 pounds more from the two 10 frame supers of cut comb honey on Mellona. If I'm lucky, then I may get one more super that I can harvest from one of the hives before the summer is over.
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My Bee and a Friend on Echinecea

My Echinacea started blooming yesterday (who knows why since we are in the middle of a terrible drought with so many watering restrictions that by all rights the plants should have given up the ghost).

I went out to find a bee (one of mine, of course) and a friend of unknown identity enjoying the pollen.
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My Cells are Getting Smaller!

My one hive that made it through the winter, Bermuda, had moved into a medium box full of LC honeycomb. The picture on the right is Bermuda as it looks today.

The bees in Bermuda were weak and sickly from a varroa infested winter. I used sugar shakes and treated them with low expectations about growth or honey to help them build their strength slowly. Their queen is a 2006 queen and was still alive and laying well.

As they got stronger I added the next box that you see in the picture with only SC starter strips. When they had drawn out that comb, then I added a third box with SC starter strips.

These bees are thriving and doing great. I don't expect any honey from them this year, as they are doing well to have built up their numbers and collect enough honey for themselves.

Today I found on the Organic Beekeepers Yahoo Group site a file with a measuring tool for determining how small your cells are. You may not be able to access the file without being a member of the group, so some of you may not be able to click on the link above.

Anyway, the tool prints out a ruler of various decreasing cell sizes so that you can see
how your regression is going. I printed it out as per instructions from the author, Michelle Barry, and covered it with clear contact paper (again as per her instructions). I then took it with me to the hives today to try it out.

I only checked one small part of one frame because I didn't want to disrupt the hives too much today - I had opened them on Saturday for a big inspection.

My glove is covering up the measurement and the picture is out of focus (I was too excited to give the camera time to focus!), but the cells on the side of this frame are measuring 5.2, considerably smaller than 5.9 - and that's on the edge of the frame.

I think my girls are adapting well to the small cells. I only measured this one place to see how to use the tool, but I'm looking forward to using it again when I go into the hives
again (which won't happen now for about 10 days).

It's funny to me that the bees in my hives look smaller but the drones look monstrously big!
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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Small Hive Beetle Trap Saga

Yesterday I did all the construction for the Sonny-Mel Small Hive Beetle trap and put it on my three hives. I posted pictures of the process of making the lure for the trap in an earlier post.

I made a video of the whole construction process.

[Note: I worried about the hole size (that perhaps they were too small) in the sandwich boxes so I went back and made the holes on 2 sides of the boxes larger before I put the boxes in the hives. I didn't want my now somewhat smaller bees (as I regress) getting into the boxes instead of the beetle.]

Most of the members of my bee club aren't trying the things I am trying. I wish I could watch someone do the things I am doing for myself for the first time. So I am made this video in case one of you would like to see someone else making this trap before making it yourself.

I hope the trap works and will report to you the results.

Inspection and First Honey Harvest!

I had many jobs during the inspection today. I saw a bee on two occasions carrying out pupae from Proteus. I want it to get more sun to lower the possibility of disease like chalkbrood, etc. So my first job was to move Proteus back one foot into the sunshine. I took off the top three boxes and slid the bottom box, slatted rack and SBB to the waiting concrete block. It went well and I blocked the entrance with leaves to help the bees reorient.

Then I did my first honey harvest from Mellona. I took the oldest box and brought the frames inside for crush and strain. I left the box standing outside Mellona to get all the bees to return to the hive. I then crushed and strained the honey. I believe I will only get honey from Mellona this year.

Proteus has brood all into the third box and has done little work in the fourth box.

Bermuda has built itself back up well but is just now exploring the third box and isn't ready for a honey super....and then there's the small swarm which won't make honey this year - we just hope it survives.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Wishin', and hopin'....

I'm wishing and hoping that the little swarm hive will really develop into a colony. I ordered 8-frame equipment and put it together in that wishin' and hopin'! Here's the hive all put together. I even have an 8-frame screened bottom board and a slatted rack (see second picture).

I'm sure you are wondering why I have the new hive up on the hearth - it's to keep the dogs from getting too interested in it or to have a need to claim it for themselves.

All it needs is for me to paint the hive and for the swarm nuc to grow up enough to need it. That includes developing a healthy queen and having her succeed in her mating flight and returning to the hive. She should have emerged today or maybe tomorrow or the next day.

In case the queen cells I saw didn't result in a good queen, I'm adding another frame of brood to the nuc when I inspect tomorrow. I'll only open the nuc to take out a frame and add the brood/egg frame. I'm staying away from the frame where the queen cells were.

I also plan to put the Sonny-Mel small hive beetle trap on my three thriving hives tomorrow and I plan to move Proteus about a foot backwards more into the sun. I will also probably take a super off of Mellona to harvest cut comb honey. Should be a busy inspection day!

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The Joys of Beekeeping

I spend time every day just standing on my deck, watching the bees. As they take off in the sunlight, the sun catches them in its rays and they shine like golden streaks leaving my porch. I was reading The Joys of Beekeeping by Richard Taylor.

Listen to his description of the beeyard activity:

"One of the joys of a woodlot yard is to look skyward in the spring, through a break in the foliage, to see the thousands of bees cascading in like a waterfall and rising in equal numbers to scatter over the countryside for miles around. How they do this without constant collision I cannot imagine. They stream upward and downward without any interference whatever, threading their individual irregular paths with such speed that it would be difficult to follow them if there were not such numbers. They are oblivious to me, even though I may be standing directly beneath the break in the foliage that is their entrance to the yard. They swoop past me on every side, then each to its own hive, which is indelibly fixed in its memory from among the twenty or more hives that are there.

The spectacle is greatest in spring, when each bee seems to feel that the destiny of the race depends upon its wings. I may stand directly in front of a hive, into which the bees were pouring a moment ago until I obstructed the approach, but they do not dream of attacking. They are driven by the need to forage, gather and bring home. But when I step aside, restoring the familiar sight of the hive, they descend upon it in a cloud. They display every color of the rainbow, for they are carrying large and colorful pellets of pollen on their hind legs, gathered from dandelions, willows, rockets and other spring flowers. This pollen is the "bee bread," as beekeepers call it, intended not for themselves, but for their rapidly developing larval brood. It is an inspiring spectacle."...The Joys of Beekeeping by Richard Taylor, pg. 31

His description far surpasses anything I could say, but he depicts my experience exactly as I stand on the deck with the bees and the hives.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bees on the Butterfly Weed

I love it when the butterfly weed blooms (Asclepias tuberosa). Last year I got some good bee pictures on the butterfly weed.

Over this past weekend, my butterfly weed burst into bloom. The flowers have lots of nectar and the bees love it. I see bumblebees on this plant as well. Here are my pictures from the butterfly weed of 2007.

Look closely at these pictures--in the third one, you can see the bee's tongue extended into the flower. (Double click on the picture to make it larger).

If you want to plant this for your bees, plant seeds. It has a deep tap root and is very hard to transplant.

Butterfly weed lines the edges of the highways in Georgia at this time of year. I had so many good photos that I simply made a Web Album. Click on the first photo to see the rest.
Butterfly Weed and Bees

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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Swarm is Making Queen Cells!

I inspected all the hives this morning - just a perfunctory check to determine which hives (if any) needed new supers. I started with Mellona. The first picture is the beautiful honey being stored on 7/11 foundation and being capped in this picture. This hive is such a workhorse. They had filled every frame in this super and I added another with 7/11 foundation for more chunk honey or crush and strain if I wish.

I then checked Bermuda who is beginning to move into the third box. They have a way to go yet, though. I removed two frames of 7/11 that I had put into that box last week. The frames hadn't been touched by the bees and I needed it in the box I added to Mellona. I pushed the 8 frames together and will add two more with starter strips of SC before I go to work in the morning.

Proteus continues to make creative comb, although now the bees are staying inside the boundaries of the frame. The second picture is one of the combs created by Proteus from a crush and strain comb from last year. You can see the remnants of last year's comb on the bottom bar of the frame.

A friend of mine who is deeply into mythology and ritual suggested that I have a name-changing ritual to take Proteus and change its name to something that doesn't include shape-changing (as done by the god for whom Proteus is named!) Then perhaps the hive would improve its comb-building ability!

Finally I checked on my tiny swarm hive. On Saturday, the 12th, I gave them two frames from Bermuda with eggs and very young brood. If they were able to start queen cells from the eggs, that should be evident by now, nine days later. I was thrilled to find open queen cups on one frame and one prominent and very big queen cell along with a couple of others that were smaller. You can see it in the lower left of the third picture. Also you can see the opened queen cups to the right.

I'm so excited that these girls are on the right track. I moved the five frames to a nuc box where they will stay until they get bigger. I've been feeding them 1:1 sugar syrup and will continue that in the nuc box. I also plan to add another frame of capped/emerging brood to increase their numbers.

In the last picture you can see the tiny nuc hive, rather dwarfed by the towering Mellona that now has four (4) honey supers on it!
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Beekeepers in Secret

Many beekeepers feel uncomfortable letting their neighbors know that they have bees. People tend to interpret any sting as a sting from your bees if they know you have them. Beekeepers know that your bees don't just sting for fun - they sting if the hive is threatened or if you threaten their lives. The usual neighborhood sting is from a yellow jacket or a wasp....not a honeybee. It's ironic that a hobby which is helping pollinate the planet is one that is often kept secret to those around you.

Here's an article on the subject.

My neighbors don't know that I keep bees. My hives are on my deck in my backyard which backs up to woods. I am on a hill and my house is at the top of the hill. The neighbors on either side of me are at a slightly lower elevation. When they look at my deck, they are looking up enough that they can't see the hives. There is tall red-tipped photinia
that lines the deck on the side of the closest neighbor.

The other saving grace in my location is that in Georgia, the mosquitoes are terrible in the summer. If you have a deck, sitting on it is impossible at the very time of year when one might like to. If my closest neighbor sat on her deck more, she might notice my bees, but so far, if she has, she has said nothing.

I don't keep it too secret. I get packages from bee suppliers delivered to my carport where they sit with Dadant or Walter T. Kelley or Betterbee emblazoned on their sides until I come home from work. A friend gave me some 25 year old used hive boxes from his beekeeping that many years ago that I haven't moved out of my carport because unless I take the boxes apart and torch them, I'm afraid I might be moving AFB onto my deck since he doesn't know how his last hives died.

With the news full of bees disappearing, this seems like a time in which a neighbor might be glad someone is keeping bees, but I'm not going to take the risk of hanging my bee flag on my deck or putting a beekeeper bumper sticker on my car.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Young Harris Beekeeping Institute and Bill Owens' Demonstration of Hiving a Package

I came home today from a wonderful five days in the N Georgia mountains. On Friday and Saturday I took part in the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute, sponsored by the University of Georgia Entomology Department. This year marked the 16th year of the Institute.

There are several learning tracks one can take. Since this is my first year at the Institute, I took the beginner courses and sat for the exam to attain the certificate for Certified Beekeeper. It involved a practical exam as well as a written exam. This wasn't easy. Lots of material was new to me and I felt very challenged. I am thrilled to say, "I PASSED!" I am now a Certified Georgia Beekeeper.

The next level (Journeyman) is even more challenging, but I'll probably try for it next year or the year after.

There were presentations all day long both days. The first day I went to a wonderful demonstration of how to hive a package of bees. It was given by Bill Owens, a Certified Master Craftsman Beekeeper (the very highest rank you can attain). Click on the album to see the pictures and read the descriptions of what we learned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Slowly Swirling Small Swarm

Everyone I spoke to about this small swarm told me that I would need to help the hive gradually adjust to the position I wanted the hive to be in on my deck. It couldn't stay where it started out because its location, directly in the flight path of two other hives, would make it practically impossible for me to work or to inspect this little hive.

Cindy Bee and Brendhan (Understudy on Beemaster.com) both told me to move the hive at night after dark and to help the bees adjust in different ways. Cindy said to move the hive a foot every day and turn it about a quarter turn with each move until I had it where I wanted it. Brendhan said that I would need to put grass in the entrance of the hive to make the bees think a tree branch had fallen and that they needed to reorient themselves.

The first day (first picture) the hive moved about a foot and turned toward the sunporch door. Day two the hive is turned even futher and has progressed another foot toward my ultimate goal. On Day Three, it is directly in front of Mellona and facing at a right angle from where it started (90 degrees). Notice the grass in the entry. And on Day Four it is in its final position.

I added a feeder with sugar syrup 1:1 because I left for the mountains this morning and won't be back until Sunday. I couldn't resist lifting the top for a peek this morning before I hit the road. There are four frames of buzzing busy bees in there. Some of the brood I added must have hatched.

I hope, hope, hope they are raising a queen. By the time I get back to Atlanta, my equipment for this hive will have arrived and it can have a real telescoping cover instead of this 2' X 2' sheet.
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Monday, May 14, 2007

Saga of the Small Size Swarm Hive

Well, as we all have agreed, the queen in this small swarm was killed by her own bees who "balled the queen" when I moved the hive and changed its position. Left queenless, the hive needed to have either the resources to make their own queen or have a queen introduced.

I decided to experiment with trying to see if I could give them the resources to make their own queen. To do this I needed to take a hive with good growth and remove a frame of new eggs and young larvae and put this in the hive. The bees will then feed the eggs royal jelly and develop one of them into a queen. With the eggs already laid, a queen should be in the hive in 16 days. Then she still must go on a mating flight and return....so the whole endeavor is fraught with failure potential.

I opened the swarm hive to find it only amounted to 3 frames of bees. I had thought the dead queen was a virgin queen and this was supported in that there was no evidence of brood in the hive frames. I called Cindy Bee, a reknowned member of Metro Atlanta Beekeepers and the Georgia Beekeeper of the year, to ask her advice. She said with a swarm this small, I could shake these bees into one of my existing hives to up the numbers. I told her I wanted the experience of trying to make a queen, and she then said for me to put two frames of eggs and brood into the small hive. She also advised that I begin the process of moving the hive to the location where I want it to be. (I'll post about this move later)

Now the drama begins! I decided to take a frame from the deep brood box of Mellona since the bees there are doing so well. I took the five boxes off of the hive. In the deep box, I could not find a frame of mostly new eggs and brood. I believe the queen in this box has moved to the box above. So mainly I made the bees mad and gave up on this hive. I did this because the new swarm is in a deep box and it would be preferable to take a frame from a deep to add to the swarm hive.

Then I went to Proteus and went into the deep. The first frame I looked at seemed to have mostly capped brood, so I decided to try another. I picked up the second one and tried to hold it at an angle to the sun to see if there were eggs. As I did this, the comb broke in half and half of the brood comb fell to the deck. Horrors! I was so upset. Honey and goo everywhere. I ran inside and got my bag of long rubber bands. As quickly as I could I rubber banded the comb back into the frame and put it back in the hive. In the process I dropped honey laden rubber bands all over the deck. I shut Proteus back up. I had done enough damage there.

Since I was determined to make this experiment happen, I decided to look in Bermuda for eggs. This hive is all medium frames. I have always been able to see what is going on in it. Sure enough, I immediately found a frame with larvae in all stages. There was some very tiny larvae and I think I saw eggs in the cells next to that, but I wasn't willing to hold a frame up to the sun again and risk the same mishap.

I pulled two frames of very young brood from the medium and put them in to the new hive. I sprayed the bees in the hive and the ones on the introduced frame with sugar water flavored with vanilla. Cindy suggested that I do this to keep the bees from killing each other by "messing up their smellers."

Now the small hive has five frames in it - the original three deep frames and two medium frames in between that are brood and hopefully the resources to make a queen.

I do hope this all works out. What an adventure beekeeping has turned out to BEE!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Raising Bees is About Raising Bees!

I started raising bees because I decided not to raise chickens.

I wanted chickens and you can have them in my county as long as your chicken house is more than 20 feet from your neighbor's house. I measured and my location for the chickens would be exactly 25 feet from her house. But raising chickens would mean getting chicken-sitters when I went out of town and that didn't seem fun and there's always the chance that you'll get a rooster and he will disturb the neighborhood. So I put the idea on hold.

When I heard about the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers' Short Course, I thought I'd take it and learn to raise bees for the honey and give up the chicken plan.

This little free swarm has emphasized what I have learned about keeping bees. Raising bees is about raising bees. I so want this little swarm to make it and feel horrible that all my moving around of the hive box resulted in their killing the queen. I have no investment in their honey production - I just want them to become a little bee family that makes it.

Today I am going to remove two frames of young brood from Mellona and add them to this new hive to strengthen it. Hopefully if they don't have a queen, they can raise a queen from the frames I give them.

I'm also going to take out the old, old comb in the new hive. This comb was the center of a nuc I got last year and is thick blackened old comb. The new bees wisely avoided those frames and moved into the new frames on the sides.

Wish me luck as I "mother" a new beehive on this Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Inspection Today

Bermuda has been slow to build up. Today every frame in the brood box that I pulled looked like this - covered all over with capped brood and with a section of drone comb somewhere in the center. They had drawn every frame but one in the second box.

In the first box I took the two outside undrawn frames and moved them in to the center of the box with drawn comb on either side.

The ladies in this box sit on the front porch all the time and don't seem to be foraging like the other hives. Given how much they sit, I thought there would be no work product in the hive, but they have been busy. I left them with a new medium with starter strips of SC. We'll see how they do.

I did a powdered sugar shake on this hive as well as the other two that I inspected.

Mellona, my largest, most productive hive, is buzzing with bee work every time I go near it. These girls have been working hard and have a number of supers filled with capped honey. Here's an example of their beautiful honeycomb drawn completely by them from starter strips. Looks yummy, doesn't it?

When I inspected Proteus, I was tired and didn't do a thorough job. I needed to look into the brood box at each frame to see if there had been a supercedure or if there were swarm cells. The hive has been moving very slowly - filling supers very slowly and drawing wax like molasses in January. I have wondered if they still have the original queen and if they are making wax and brood.

Proteus has quit drawing crazy comb, and did have at least one very heavy, very full of honey super. They only have brood in the bottom box, which surprised me. However, I had been stung once by then and was tired and very hot, so I'm saving a thorough inspection of Proteus for another day.

Right before I began looking at Proteus, I had scoured the deck trying to find the bee that had been in the center of the bee-ball from the gift swarm yesterday. I remembered the bee because she was all black and not striped like my other bees. I found her dead and I am pretty sure this is the queen. She is probably a virgin queen because her lower abdomen is small.

I'm hoping that she has a sister in the new hive who is queen, but I'll wait to inspect this "extra" hive until the end of next week. That this queen is dead took the wind out of my sails - which is probably why I had little energy for the inspection of Proteus' brood.
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Friday, May 11, 2007

Here's the new hive

Here's the new hive (Picasa wouldn't let me use four pictures in the last post for some reason). It's the small hive with no cinder blocks and a flower pot on its top. If the rain quits before I go to bed, I'm going to move this hive to a location about 6 feet across from where it currently is. I can't work the hive where it is without standing in the flight path of Proteus and Bermuda.

The people on the bee forum groups say that if I move the hive, I should put grass in the entry way so that the bees think a branch has fallen across their entrance and they will need to re-orient before flying tomorrow.

We really need the rain in Atlanta, but I want it to stop just enough for me to move this hive....and I forgot to get cinder blocks but I have some bricks in my carport and they will probably do.

I think I'll name this hive Aristaeus for the Greek god of bees. Aristaeus was a great contributor to his world. Among other things,

"Aristaeus is one of the most beneficent divinities in ancient mythology: he was worshipped as the protector of flocks and shepherds, of vine and olive plantations ; he taught men to hunt and keep bees, and averted from the fields the burning heat of the sun and other causes of destruction..." quote from the page in the link above.

Also Aristaeus is the Latin translation of the word and the same webpage goes on to say,
"His name either derives from the word aristos, the most excellent or useful, or from astraios, the starry one."

I think it is fitting since it will most excellent for me to have four hives instead of three and this hive essentially fell from the stars!

Beekeepers think that May is a great time to get a swarm. There's an old beekeeper's saying:

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay
A swarm in June is worth a silver spoon
A swarm in July — let them fly

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