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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, November 29, 2007

Bees and Good Housekeeping

Remember my post two days ago about the dead bee bodies accumulating on the porch of the hive in the cold weather?

Yesterday our high was in the 60s all afternoon. The bees, being extremely good housekeepers, took care of the debris and this morning their front porch is all clean and shiny. I wish I were as good a housekeeper as these girls are!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Winter Dead in the Beehive

In winter it is often too cold for the bees to haul out the dead....and as most of you know, some bees in the hive reach the end of their lives each day. These last few days in Atlanta have been 50 degrees or below and the bees can't fly the dead bodies away from the hive, so they lie on the entry waiting for a bird to eat them or warmer weather.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the high is predicted to be 61. We'll see if any mortician bees break the cluster to dispose of the dead.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Sad Tale of Shattered Wax

When the trick-or-treaters had gone on Halloween, I was left with a lot of candy. Well, that's not exactly true. I live in a neighborhood of 80 year old people and there are very few children....so I never get any trick-or-treaters on Halloween, but I always buy a bag of Three Musketeers, just in case this is the year when someone actually says "Trick or Treat!" at my door.

Sadly, this year was no different - no kids in costume knocked at my door. To keep from eating the candy, I took it to my downstairs refrigerator to freeze it. When I opened the upper door to the freezer compartment, a practically unused box of 7/11 foundation, stored in the freezer, crashed to the floor and broke into shards of wax.

The bees made beautiful comb from this wax last year and I made boxed and cut comb honey from it. Now it's all in pieces.

I guess I have several choices. I could save the shards and put partial strips in honey supers next year so the bees could get a start at drawing the beautiful wax for cut comb boxes. I could melt it all into candles.

Lesson learned: Don't store foundation in the freezer.

I should know this. I overnighted some comb-filled frames in the chest freezer to kill wax moths and dropped one when I took it out. That comb also shattered into pieces of wax.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Preview of Coming Attractions!

Tonight I took Step One toward making lip balm out of my prize winning wax block - seems a shame to grate it up, but that's the direction I'll be taking.

I'm planning to use the recipe in The Backyard Beekeeper to make lip balm for Christmas presents. Tonight I found coconut oil (an essential ingredient) on the web and ordered it!

Here's the recipe:

1 cup shredded beeswax
14 oz coconut oil (what I ordered are 2 bottles - each 14 oz - of coconut oil)
5 Tbsp honey
5 Tbsp vanilla extract (I have great Mexican vanilla extract)

Heat the wax in a saucepan over low heat to 150 degrees. In a separate saucepan, heat the oil to the same temperature. When both are heated to the proper temperature, add the coconut oil to the beeswax, remove the pan from heat, and stir steadily until well blended. then add the honey and the vanilla extract. Continue to stir until well blended. Pour into tubes or tubs, allow to cool overnight, and then cap the containers and store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.

Well, I'm fired up to do this - the recipe above makes 100 .15 ounce tubes of lip balm or 65 1/3 ounce pots. I've already been to the Container Store and have bought a few pots for the lip balm - we'll see how it turns out. The coconut oil has been ordered from a place in Texas and I'm ready to do this.

I found a great Internet site for making lip balm. Her site led me to another good site about lip balm. And in further exploring I found these tins to put the lip balm in. Goodness, after all of this ordering stuff, I hope I actually can successfully make lip balm!

Since next week is Thanksgiving, I imagine that this will be a post-Thanksgiving project - but you know I'll record it for this blog!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bee Report - After First Freezing Night

Last night we had freezing temps - not for too long, but long enough for my fig tree's leaves to curl up. This morning I worried about the bees. I was out of town last weekend so I haven't checked them in two weeks, and I didn't know if more food were needed.

I opened the top of Mellona and didn't see a bee. There were a few stragglers on the outside, but I only saw a silverfish on the top cover and no bees. My heart sank....not another absconded hive. It was warmer - about 50 - so I lifted up the second box and under it the bees were clustering! I was thrilled and hoped I didn't chill them too much. I immediately put the hive back together.

I left them with a bag of new 2:1 sugar syrup on top of the frames and took the propping stick out of the tops of both hives.

Bermuda was active and clearly doing fine. I'll give them sugar syrup tomorrow because I needed to make more and it will be too hot to put on the hives until tomorrow. It actually will cool pretty quickly but I can only work on the bees today while my grandson is asleep and he'll wake up before the new syrup cools.

I did other things to help with the cold. I removed the shim that I had put on both hives to help with ventilation and with the small hive beetle trap. I removed both small hive beetle traps to clean and get ready for next year. I refilled their water source which in our drought-suffering Georgia had completely dried up.

FWIW, the weather reports show no rain at any time in the near future.
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