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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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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Visiting a Preschool

Here is my grandson Dylan in his bee veil. He showed his friends at preschool today how he is protected from the bees when Grandma works in the beeyard.

Today I was lucky enough to get to go talk about bees at my grandson's preschool. The class members were betwee 2 and 3 years old!

They got to feel honeycomb.

They tried on Dylan's bee veil.

They tasted honey on popsicle sticks.

And they did the waggle dance - I didn't get a picture of that because I was dancing with them!

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Monday, March 30, 2009

First Semi-Inspection at Blue Heron

We're having a strange March in Atlanta - or really a typical March. March is always both lion and lamb in Georgia. We had thunderstorms and fierce rain for three days running at the end of the week.

I woke up on Saturday, the date of our scheduled inspection for the Metro club, expecting sunny weather in the high 50s. But no, that was not to be. Instead the skies remained overcast all day long and the temperature was only 46 by 11 AM. The inspection was scheduled for 1:30. We had four people eagerly signed up and we were as prepared as we could be.

We decided to meet our participants at Blue Heron and see if the bees were flying at 1:30 when the temperature was supposed to be up. When Julia and I arrived, it was 48 and very cloudy....grim weather and not conducive to inspecting bee hives. Julia brought her two sons: Sam and Noah, both of whom had helped install the hives at Blue Heron.

We decided to do a truncated "inspection." I had brought a new super for the nuc we installed last weekend and we knew it would be needed by that hive and we had a handout for the participants on how to do an inspection, derived from this blog post. We also thought we could demonstrate lighting a smoker, how to use the hive tool, and how to slide a hive box onto a hive.

Here's a slideshow of our "inspection" visit to Blue Heron. Click on the slideshow to see the captions and choose the length for each picture to remain visible to you.

We talked about Housel positioning and each participant was able to see the "Y" in the back of the honey cells - that's why we are looking so carefully at the old comb.

Because of the bad weather, we are rescheduling the inspection to happen at 10:30 AM on Saturday, April 4 at Blue Heron. In Atlanta's inimitable way, let's hope it doesn't snow!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Crystallized Honey (Creamed Honey)

Honey lasts a long time. It's been found in tombs, still in good shape. However, under certain conditions honey will crystallize. My understanding is that the crystallization happens when there are tiny particles in the honey that act as seeds for the formation of the crystals and when the temperature is around 57 degrees F.

All honey doesn't crystallize but some of my favorite harvest bottles from this year did just that. I went out of town for a week and left my thermostat on 55 to save on heating. When I returned my favorite honey had become creamed honey.

When people make creamed honey on purpose their goal is to have a very smooth creamed product. The seed grains in this honey must have been perfect because the honey was smooth and perfectly creamy. Or, as my bias would lean, my method of harvest without an extractor may result in only the tiniest grains coming through the filter.

However, at this point in the year, most of my harvest from 2008 is gone and we love honey at my house. This morning I decided to take one of the last non-chunk jars of honey and reliquify it. To do this, you have to heat the honey.

Part of what I value in my harvest methods is that the honey is never heated - the hottest it has ever been is the interior temperature of the hive. But to re-liquify the honey you have to get it to 160 degrees and keep it there for a minute or so before turning off the heat.

I put the creamed honey in a pan of boiling water. I put a candy thermometer in the honey so I could monitor the temperature.

As the temperature rose, the honey became clearer.

At the end of the process, the entire bottle was again liquid honey. Because I got it to 160 degrees, it won't recrystallize. What we lost in flavor from heating the honey is worth it to me to have the liquid again.

I also have some jars of chunk honey (comb in a jar filled with liquid honey) where the liquid part of the honey has crystallized. I can't imagine that this process would work for the chunk honey because the wax would melt.
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blue Heron - the Queenless Saga

As you'll remember from earlier posts, my hive at Blue Heron was started with a nuc that had no queen. There was little or no brood in the box and we saw no queen and no evidence of a queen - no new eggs or larvae, very little capped brood, all in all a sad state of affairs.

To cope with this I gave the hive brood and eggs on two frames, hoping that they would make a queen. They made at least one perfectly lovely queen cell and the hive is calm, quiet and seems to be chugging along.

Meanwhile the nuc supplier calls and wants to "make us whole" by giving me another nuc, this time with a queen. I called several beekeepers whom I respect: Cindy Bee, Jim Ovbey, and I posted on Beemaster. Everyone agreed that the hive that made its own queen needed to have a chance.

So we got permission from Blue Heron to install the nuc in a second hive. I will keep an eye on the first hive to see if the queen they made successfully mates and begins to lay eggs. If she succeeds, then we have two good hives and I'll move the newest one somewhere else. If she fails, I will combine the hive I installed today with the first hive since we know there's a good queen in the new hive.

Here's what our process today looked like:

Now the supplier feels good about coming through with a queenright nuc, I feel good about Blue Heron allowing us to temporarily have two hives there, the whole process provides a great teaching/learning opportunity, and the new queen in the first hive has a chance to prove herself.

Everybody wins!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ga Tech Sustainability Project

Having this blog is so much fun! I get contacted by very interesting people as a result of this.

The other day I got an email from two Georgia Tech grad students who are working on a project about sustainable endeavors for other countries. They decided that they would like to explore the ways in which beekeeping might fit the bill.

They came over and had biscuits and honey with me while we discussed lots of aspects of beekeeping. Then we all suited up. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of their friend, Gabe, who was with them as well. We cobbled together enough protection for all of them, although Gabe, who only had a veil and an ill-fitting one, at that, was the least covered.

Dale and Karen wore my extra outfits and we went out to do a hive inspection of my hives. We actually opened and looked at all three of them. Each student examined parts of the hive. Here's Dale holding a frame and looking at the brood pattern.

And here's Karen trying to see eggs with the sun at her back.

In all I spent about 2 hours with them and I had a great time. I hope they got what they came for - it certainly was fun for me!
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The state of Blue Heron's Queenless nuc hive

As you may remember, on March 8th I put two frames of brood and eggs from my hives at home into the Blue Heron hive. My hope was that they would make a queen to make the queenless situation queenright.

I checked on Thursday, the 19, and sure enough, they had made a beautiful queen cell. I'm sorry the picture is out of focus. I forgot to put the camera on macro and I forgot my frame rack. So I didn't hold either the frame or the camera steady and it wasn't macro focused.

I went through every frame of the hive. The bottom box had all syrup filled frames. The second medium box into which I had put the brood/eggs frame also had no eggs or larvae.

Important note: I couldn't light my smoker - we've had rain for several days in a row and all of my pine straw in my yard was damp. I worked these bees with no smoke and they were calm as if they had a sense that all was well in their world. There was no queenless roar and the bees did not act angry.

In addition to this lovely queen cell, the frame also had two opened queen cells on the bottom of the frame. I think these may have already been there, but I took again a shaky shot of them as well.

My guess is that if there were a four day larvae on March 8 on the frames I brought them, then tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday, is when Her Majesty should emerge from her cell. She'll hang around the hive a little and then go on a mating flight. Let's hope all of that happens without incident, including her return to the hive without being breakfast for a bird.

Then we might see eggs and brood in the Blue Heron hive!
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Memorable First Day of Spring - Beekeepers Everywhere Take Note: The White House will have BeeHives!

In the groundbreaking for the organic garden at the White House, beekeepers have cause for celebration. There will be two beehives at the garden, managed by a White House employee who is also a beekeeper.

This should bring more attention to our favorite pollinators and bring beekeeping to the forefront as an interesting, multi-layered hobby in which to engage.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Trying Out the New SHB Trap

Today I had time to go to Costco to get oil for my Freeman SHB trap. I put the oil in the trap. The tray slides out easily from the back of the bottom board. It was covered in hive debris since it has been on the hive for a week. I dumped the debris and tapped the edge of the tray against the deck rail, but as you can see, some debris is still in the tray.

I filled the tray - the instructions say to fill it half full. Since it slants down due to gravity, I actually had to fill it almost to the top on the edge fartherest from the hive in order to have enough oil in the tray. Sliding it filled with oil back into the hive was difficult. I wished that I had something the level of the opening to rest it on while I filled it. The backward slant made pushing the filled tray into the hive sort of awkward.

Once it was pushed in, I also followed the instruction and pulled it back toward me about 1/8 of an inch to keep it from taking on water on rainy days.

To fill the tray took this much of a five quart bottle of oil, the cheapest they had at Costco. The oil cost $6.99 so I'm guessing it will cost about $3.50 to fill a tray each time you do it. Jerry suggested getting throw-away oil from fast food places, and I am sure there are cheaper ways than Costco, but that is easiest for me, so I wanted to try it following what I would ordinarily do.

Note: I just got this email from Jerry Freeman of the Freeman SHB trap:
From your picture, the tray is pulled too far out the back. In the proper position, it will be 1/4" inside the back and 1/8" from the landing board at the front. This sounds confusing so I'll try to get a picture of this on my web site.

It's raining in Atlanta now, but I'll go push the trap further in as soon as I can!

I won't check this hive again until next weekend - I'll post pictures to see if there are dead Small Hive Beetles. Jerry is sure there will be.
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beekeeper Error and the Walk Away Split

When I set up the walk-away split (three frames of brood and eggs, two frames of honey and pollen), I truly walked away, but I kept worrying. Did I put enough bees in the nuc? Would they be able to sustain themselves and build a queen cell?

I worried so much that on Wednesday, I decided to feed them. I'm not feeding my other hives. They all have stores of honey left over from winter and don't need anything from me. So I put a Boardman feeder on the nuc, planning to remove it on Friday, add the second medium box (empty) to the nuc, and put in a baggie feeder.

Today I cam home to robbing and bees flying frantically all around the nuc. There are shards of wax on the ground, indicating that the bees have been shredding the caps on the honey frames in the nuc.

And even when I moved the bottle from the Boardman, the bees clung to it for several hours afterward.

At the end of the day, great destruction took place. My beekeeper error was being lazy and putting on a Boardman feeder instead of making the effort to set up the baggie. I've posted on Beemaster to see if I can redeem myself in some way. I'll let you know.
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Keith Delaplane speaks to Bee Club on Honeybee Decline

In the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers' Association, we are so lucky to have frequent access to Dr. Keith Delaplane. Tonight he spoke to the monthly bee meeting on "Honey Bee Decline and Why it Matters."

I love to hear him speak and always learn something. The University of Georgia has received a grant of $4.1 million dollars to study the decline of the honeybee and Dr. Delaplane is the chief investigator for the grant.

Tonight he wanted us to understand why it is important to be concerned about the plight of the honeybee. When asked why they are interested in raising bees, the top of the list for most beekeepers is honey production. Much lower on the list is the honeybee function of pollination. However, pollination and the role of the honey bee in it is key to why we should be concerned about the decline of the honeybee population.

While there are many vectors of pollination: the wind, gravity, water, bats, monkeys, wasps and butterflies, bees have the highest rate of pollination over all of these.

Bees are ideal as pollinators. They are hairy all over and in addition their hairs have split ends which encourages pollen to stick to them. Bees tend to visit flowers in succession, which makes them great vectors for pollination as they seek out what they really came for: the plant's nectar.

Keith had graphs showing the decline in honeybee population. However, as the honey bee population goes down, the acreage in this country planted in crops that need to be pollinated has gone up. This creates a losing equation. In addition, honey bees are less in the pollination business because there is habitat loss and change in the environment. And today's agriculture is machine based rather than animal based so less forage crops are planted.

He put up an interesting chart from the UN Food and Agricultural Organization showing that crops that are not bee pollinated are the ones that meet 90% of the world's food needs. These crops included: banana, barley, cassava, coconut, corn, millet, potato, rye, rice, sorghum, sweet potato, wheat. None of these crops need bees.

On the other hand, meat and dairy products need bees because they need pollinators for forage crops.

Interestingly, developed nations such as the US, Canada, the EU countries, Australia and Argentina have a higher quality of life and thus include more complex diets, based on many more bee-pollinated foods. However, underdeveloped countries whose people subsist on the UN FAO list of crops above, want bees for honey production.

Delaplane pointed out that it doesn't matter if the beekeeper's focus is honey production. The by product for the community when honey production is the point of beekeeping turns out to be pollination!!! And honeybees do well in less developed countries because from an economics perspective, it takes little to get started - you only need a rooftop for a hive - you don't even need land!

And although the many species of solitary bees by themselves do a super job of single flower pollination (fruit set can result after only one visit from the solitary bee), the honeybee visits in droves and thus a colony of bees (social bees) can be a very effective pollinating machine.

We were lucky too that he stayed after his talk for questions on many beekeeping subjects. In the Q and A, someone asked him about poisons in the hives and he said that his research is showing that many of the chemicals that are part of modern day beekeeping are very deleterious to the bees. Maybe mites die, but in the long run, the bees are badly affected.

He cited the beekeeping of Georgia's only Master Craftsman Beekeeper, Bill Owens, who doesn't use any chemicals and really doesn't subscribe to IPM either, but doesn't lose any more hives than the person who does do chemicals in the hive.

Dr. Delaplane reminded all of us that on May 14 - 16 the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute is taking place (this is its 18th year) and that registration is now open. Young Harris is where I earned my certified beekeeper certificate and (last year) my journeyman certificate.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Splits and a New Small Hive Beetle Trap

My hive, Persephone, has had a hard time of it. When I saw the queen earlier before our two cold snaps and snow in the last three weeks, I should have moved the hive to a nuc. I didn't and today when I opened the hive, there were few bees, no queen, no brood, no larvae. The hive looked done in. There were solid frames of honey, though, and bees still defending the hive against intruders.

I didn't do anything to the hive today, but shut it up and decided that it probably was a goner. I do see defenders on the landing working hard to keep intruders out, so I'm not totally sure the hive is done.

However, I'd like four hives and now with three exploding-with-bees hives, I decided to make a walk-away split. Michael Bush describes a walk-away split this way:

"A walk away split. You take a frame of eggs, two frames of emerging brood and two frames of pollen and honey and put them in a 5 frame nuc, shake in some extra nurse bees (making sure you don't get the queen), put the lid on and walk away. Come back in four weeks and see if the queen is laying."

So I took two frames of brood and lots of eggs from Mellona and one frame of brood and lots of eggs from Aristaeus2. I took two frames of honey and pollen from Bermuda. I put these five frames in this nuc.

Now the bees in the nuc have the resources to make their own queen. Hopefully they'll take the cells with eggs in them and make several of them into queen cells. The bees determine what eggs will be workers and what eggs will be queens. Without a queen, they make one and she's in business in 33 days.

Borrowing from Michael Bush, here is what he labels "Beekeeping Math:"

The egg for the queen hatches in 3 1/2 days
The queen cell is capped in 8+1 day
She emerges in 16+1 day
She is laying in 28 + 5 days

I hope I put enough bees in the nuc - I was paranoid about accidentally getting the queen from the hive from which I was taking the frames. Although the picture doesn't show it, I did reduce the entry before I ended my beekeeping chores today.

Also another beekeeper, Jerry Freeman, who is apparently also an inventor, sent me his small hive beetle trap which I installed today on Bermuda. Bermuda is my strongest hive and is full of small hive beetles.

This trap has a tray in the bottom that you put oil into and then the beetles fall in and die. It doubles as a screened bottom board as well. I didn't have any oil today, so the trap isn't yet functional, but I was taking the hive down to the bottom today, so it was a good time to change out the screened bottom board.

The picture below shows how the tray slides in and out of the bottom board. When I add the oil, we'll see how well it works. This is a great hive to test it because it has always had SHB - not ever in such quantity as to overwhelm or have much impact on the hive, but I'd still like to drown those little guys in oil!

When I went through Bermuda, I found nothing in the bottom box besides empty comb. The bees had moved up to the next boxes during the winter. I removed that bottom box. The rest of the hive included two full boxes of brood, pollen, larvae, eggs and a third box of mostly unused comb. The top box is all honey. I plan to checkerboard the top two boxes to help discourage swarming.

So what you see (from the bottom up) is the hive stand, the Freeman trap, the slatted rack, and four boxes. The box I removed is sitting in front of the hive until tomorrow so that the few bees at remained in it can return to the hive.

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Ministering to Blue Heron

Yesterday when we inspected my hive at Blue Heron, we found absolutely no brood, no eggs, no capped brood, no queen cells, nothing. I've been wondering what happened. The hive was boiling over with bees when we installed the nuc and there are still lots of bees but no brood or any evidence of a queen.

It's possible that the queen wasn't in the nuc or that she had died in transit. It's possible that the queen who was probably raised in the fall didn't mate properly.

A gardener at Blue Heron reported that she saw a huge swarm on Friday, hanging on a tree near the hive area at Blue Heron. Possibly the nuc hive swarmed. Sometimes a hive swarms to deal with overcrowding when they don't have enough stores and can't find another solution. However these bees were being fed and had lots of room in the hive.

The swarm being from my Blue Heron hive is less likely because there were no queen cells left in the hive - usually a hive that swarms is reproducing itself and would leave behind resources for the hive to survive. But a virgin queen in the hive would need to make her mating flight and wouldn't begin laying for a while after the hive had swarmed.

The only things to do at this point are:
  • To call the supplier who hasn't yet called me back to see if he can supply a queen, since the nuc was supposed to have one or
  • To set the hive up to make its own queen by giving it frames of brood and eggs from another hive.
The latter is a good thing to do in any event. If there is a queen in the hive, the bees will simply raise the brood I provided them and add to the numbers in the hive. If there is no queen, then the eggs in the cells with allow the bees in the hive to make a queen.

So today I brought a nuc filled with three frames of brood and eggs as well as two frames of honey to Blue Heron.

Important note: When we opened the hive, the bees did not make the characteristic "queenless roar" of a hive without a queen and we didn't use smoke and the bees were not angry and attacking as they were on Day one at Blue Heron.

Sam, Julia's son, helped by spraying the foreign bees and frames with sugar syrup to ease their introduction into the hive.

First I hung a frame rack on the side of the hive to hold the frames I planned to remove. Sam is holding the spray bottle and I have a bee brush to help with clearing the frames of bees when I swap them out.

We pulled the frames from the hive to make space for the nuc frames of brood, eggs and honey.

The frame in the picture below came from my hives at home. It had tons of eggs and some capped brood as well as nurse bees. Sam is poised to spray sugar syrup on the nurse bees as we put the frame into Blue Heron.

We successfully moved all five frames to the hive and took out five frames. Yesterday I had put a new box on the Blue Heron hive so these frames were not used yet. It was easy to remove the bees from them and make room for the frames from home.

When we finished the transfer, we shook the bees off of the original Blue Heron frames back into the hive and closed up the transfer nuc.

Yesterday I noticed the box that I brought over for the second box on the hive had one side broken. In addition to the frame transfer, I also moved all of the frames in the second box into a box that didn't have any damage. I left an empty box on the Blue Heron hive because we have been feeding sugar syrup in baggies, but I should have removed that box. We will feed with a Boardman to avoid disturbing them while they make a queen.

I am in a dilemma about the empty top box. If I leave it they will probably make a mess of comb in it since there are no frames in it (set up to shelter a baggie feeder that is no longer there). If I remove it I'll disturb them in the queen making process.....hmmmm.

Probably the best solution will be to leave the empty box on until a queen cell is probably capped - that would be in about 9 days - so I'll leave the empty for 10 days for good measure - until March 18 - and then remove it.

In the picture below I am moving the frames to the box that is not in disrepair. You can also see the transfer nuc sitting atop Julia's hive.
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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Blue Heron: The First Inspection

Julia and I visited Blue Heron this afternoon. We installed the nucs on February 25. We've given them sugar syrup about every three days since then. We haven't opened the hives because we wanted to get them well started. Usually you wait at least a week after installation to check on the hive.

There's good news and there's bad news. In the bad news category: We opened my hive which was boiling over with bees. They are in an eight frame box and although we had given them the five frames that came with the nuc and three frames with starter strips, they had already built out the wax in all eight frames. The comb was beautiful, but the cells were all empty. There was absolutely no sign of a queen - not any capped brood, no eggs, no larvae, nothing.

This hive will die out if there is no queen. I called the bee club president who purchased the hives we are using at Blue Heron and he told me to call the supplier, so I did. Hopefully I'll hear back from PN tomorrow, but just for insurance, I'm going to put a frame of brood and eggs into this hive tomorrow from one of my other hives.

We put a box on the hive since they had more than built out the frames so they could keep busy and because the frame I'll bring tomorrow is a medium. We also gave the hive a baggie of sugar syrup.

There was much better news when we opened Julia's hive. Note that the first frame we removed was the next to the last frame - not the last frame. In an inspection, bees get killed but to minimize this, removing a frame that is not next to the hive wall helps. When you are returning that last frame to the hive, having it be in position 2 or 9 makes the bees on the frame press against other bees or wax rather than the hard wood of the hive box and saves bee lives.

Julia's hive is in a 10 frame box. The bees were doing well with capped brood on at least four frames. The remaining frames that we put in the hive when we installed it were empty frames with starter strips of wax. Below you can see a built out frame of wax drawn by the bees. In the lower left corner we saw her majesty (circled in red!). We were so relieved and thrilled to see her.

We put a baggie of sugar syrup on Julia's hive. We didn't put a new box on Julia's hive because there were about 3 frames that hadn't been even started by the bees and the fourth was barely started (see below). In that photo you can see how the bees begin to build out the wax from starter strips.

Note: We found the queen on the second to last frame in Julia's hive. She is likely to be found there in future inspections so we made sure to notice where we found her.

Her hive will need a new box next weekend.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

More hive news

My son-in-law was home today while I was inspecting the bees so he shot a picture of me in my new Golden Bee Suit. Now that I've gotten the hang of the headband, I love the suit - comfortable, easy to wear and move around in it.

I opened this hive, Persephone, last and didn't have time to look through the box before going back to work. (I smelled like a campfire but nobody at the office said anything). This hive will move into a medium nuc box this Saturday.

My strongest hive is also my oldest hive. The bees below are from Bermuda - my four year old hive. Bermuda lost her queen over her third winter and requeened herself. This queen is doing well. If you look closely at the photo below (click on it to enlarge it), you'll see brood in all stages, pollen stored, uncapped honey and capped brood.

On Saturday I think I'm going to use frames from this hive and from Aristaeous2 to make a split. I've never done that and want the experience. It is the right time to do it. I'll in Bermuda combine making a split and opening up the brood nest as a way to manage the possibility that this hive will want to swarm this year.

BTW, the top box in Bermuda was heavy, heavy with stored honey.

Just to show what experience does for you, for the first time in three years of beekeeping, my smoker remained lit throughout my inspection today!!!!
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Good Hive Inspection News

Today was warm and lovely. I took the opportunity to inspect well two of my hives. First I opened Aristaeous2. This hive was a swarm gathered on April 1 last year.

The bottom box held no bees, no brood, no stores. I took it off of the hive. I now have a box of beautiful drawn comb in medium frames to use somewhere else.

The second box looked like this when I opened it. The bees looked good in this hive. It is a very active hive, often flying in temperatures that surprise me. I expect it to have a really good year.

I pulled a frame from the second box and found good examples of what you can see during good brood production. In case you haven't seen them before, the yellow arrow from the yellow number 1 below points to eggs. Seeing these lets me know that the queen is alive and well.

The yellow arrow by the number 2 points to tiny c-shaped larvae. If you click on this photo so you can see it larger, you'll see examples of brood in all stages of development. The arrow from the number 3 points to capped brood. The queen is laying all around the capped brood, filling in the frame.

I didn't see her but I didn't need to because the evidence is so present.

I left the hive smaller but stronger and look forward to adding another box on the top of this hive very soon.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Newbie Questions at the Beginning of Bee Season

Here at the beginning of bee season, there are many questions that the first year beekeeper asks. I have posted a lot about my challenges and what I have learned. Here are some of the links to posts that may be helpful if you are just getting started:

The basics: What you need to get started in beekeeping
How to build a hive box
How to build a frame
How to install a nuc (a four or five frame mini hive of bees)
How to light a smoker (as if I really can!)
How to do a hive inspection (and why?)

If you get through all of that, there are numerous posts on harvesting honey to produce clear honey, chunk honey and cut comb honey as well as posts on how to melt wax with a simple, cheap solar wax melter - just look on the right side of the blog under videos and slideshows.

Also be sure to search using the Google search bar on this blog for any questions you have and after 500 something posts, I imagine you'll find that I've probably been challenged by the same question at some point!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Feeding Blue Heron in the Cold Weather

Yesterday we had significant snow in Atlanta, but since it's March by this afternoon, all of it had melted away. Around 2 PM I went to Blue Heron to add food to the hives. There was still a tiny bit of snow as you can see in the first picture.

When I arrived at Blue Heron, my car said the temperature was 42 degrees. The jars of sugar syrup had been in my car for the last couple of days and in the cold, unscrewing the top was quite a challenge.

If I had been at home, I would have held the lid under a hot stream of water until I could easily unscrew it. However, no such condition was possible here so I used my Swiss Army knife to loosen the lid. I then substituted a solid lid with tiny punched holes in it.

There were a few bees actually flying around the hives, but unprotected by veil and gloves, I put these two Boardman feeders on our hives. We have added food to these hives now about every two days.

Don't you love Julia's Apis Mellifera?

In case you didn't believe the bees were out and about, I took a picture of one who landed on the grass right in front of the hive!
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