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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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Monday, July 27, 2009

Yet Another New Queen at Blue Heron and Powdered Sugar Shake

When I was last at Blue Heron, our third hive, the one the supplier gave us to replace the queenless nuc we got from him, didn't look good. The hive was not bustling with activity or bees and the numbers seemed small.

I was disappointed to find that the bees I saw on the tops of the frames had many shriveled and deformed wings, indicative of Deformed Wing Virus vectored by the varroa mite. I decided that I would return this week to do a powdered sugar shake.

Before shaking the powdered sugar, I pulled each frame to see how things are going in this weak hive. On the second frame I saw this opened queen cell. This is at least the third queen for this hive. Their first one failed and I don't think the second one was doing anything. Now they apparently have created yet another queen. Hopefully she'll be a good one.

I found two frames full of eggs and brood which was reassuring. The hive had good honey stores in the deep in which they live. The box above was completely empty and I removed it to give them more security (less space to defend).

The powdered sugar shake was quite an event. Here are the bees, covered with sugar clinging to the frame.

Here's how the whole box looked!

I took off the inner cover and put it on the ground and I removed the top box before doing this. When I lifted up the inner cover to set it back on the hive, the bees who had not experienced the powdered sugar shake surrounded one of their sisters to see what was going on with her and all this white powder!
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AJ's Beetle Eater and the Saga of the SHB

The AJ's beetle eaters have been in my home hives for a week, so I thought I should check them out. I was amazed to find dead beetles but not dead bees. The beetle eater is smaller than most traps so it doesn't get as many. My Bermuda was full of small hive beetles under the top cover - I didn't see any deeper in the hive. So the beetles killed by these two traps in this hive were only a small percentage of the total.

However, the Freeman trap (the oil filled tray under the SBB) and the Sonny-Mel trap (that I built from a sandwich box) both had their share of bees that died, drowned in the oil. So to the AJ trap's success, I saw no dead bees in any of the four trays I inspected today.

Here is the set of dead bodies poured out of just one trap in the Bermuda hive. It has my worst infestation. There are very few SHBs in Mellona and I only saw 2 in Aristaeus2.

I was so happy that I refilled the traps and put them back in the hive.

Advantages of AJ's Beetle Eater, so far:
1. No dead bees
2. Lots of dead SHBs
3. Fits easily between frames

Disadvantages of AJ's BE

1. It's hard not to get oil everywhere while filling the trap
2. I end up with lots of oil on my gloves which either means I change gloves after filling the traps, don't wear gloves while filling them, or figure out a spill free way to do the delicate job
3. It's hard, if the bees have propolized the trap to the frame, to lift it out from between the frames. On 50% of the removals, the zipper top popped off and I dripped oil on the bees.
4. The small capacity means that it should be emptied frequently and means that it can't possibly get as many SHBs as one might wish
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

I got a call from two beekeepers who had been on one of the Blue Heron inspections. I had offered to let them come over to help me harvest honey so they could see for themselves how easy crush and strain is as a harvest method and how it isn't messy at all. I invited them to come on Saturday.

We all put on aprons and Donna and Dick, my new beekeeping friends noted at the end that they didn't even get honey on their aprons!

I had my camera on the macro setting for taking pictures of bees in the hives and didn't get good pictures of the day, but the one below, while fuzzy, does show Donna and Dick hard at work. Don't get me wrong, I remember Tom Sawyer - the key is to get the other person to think that work is FUN!

Dick devised his own special two handed pestle method which made the crushing go quite fast.

After we had crushed all the honey and put it in the bucket to strain, we put the bucket outside in the Hotlanta heat to begin the filtering process. We sat down for iced tea, watched the beehives on my deck, and waited. We talked bees and honey a little while - I showed them my harvest so far this year, my 18th pour wax block from last year, and the various ways you can harvest honey - chunk, cut comb, and liquid.

After a short while, we brought the bucket in and I showed them how easy it is to fill a honey jar from the honey gate on the bucket. I do think that we all had fun.

They went home with a bottle of honey that they could claim as the result of their own hard work (thanks, Tom Sawyer!).

I'll bet I could have convinced them to paint a picket fence if I had had one handy!

Reminder: Blog Radio Talk show Wednesday, the 22nd 5:30 PM EDT: here's the address with the information.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

BlogTalk Radio on the Bees and Me on Wednesday

This Wednesday I've been invited to be the talk show guest on an Internet radio show!

The show is Scorpion Equinox and the program takes place at 5:30 PM EDT. I'll be on, talking with the hosts, about my beekeeping and bees in general. If you want to listen in or call in with questions or comments,

here's the address with the information. They keep the show in the archives so even if you didn't hear it on Wednesday, you can still hear it by clicking and listening.

Death to the Hive Beetle!

I opened my hives to find small hive beetles in every hive this weekend. I don't have any traps in place on the hives at home, but clearly now is the time. I smashed beetles with my hive tool and generally created beetle mayhem all over the inner cover.

Here are some dead hive beetles, smashed with the mighty hive tool!

In this second picture, you can see a bee in the lower right hand corner curling herself around the hive beetle in an effort to deter him.

I must have smashed about 30 of the horrible creatures and then left them for dead on the inner cover.

I have some AJ's beetle eaters and installed them on the three deck hives. The AJ's beetle eater is a black container of oil closed with a plastic screen to let the hive beetles in but keep the bees out. I will look later in the week and see if they are working. It hangs between the frames and looks like a large black zipper.

I was opening the hives to get honey to harvest. The pickings were slim - I took five frames of honey off of Bermuda because in the 10 frame super, that's all there were. It's a bad year for honey. There were tons of SHB that came into the house with the honey frames. I must have smashed at least 10 -12 on each frame of honey.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Joys of the Solar Wax Melter

Since I harvested a couple of weeks ago, I've had wax for the solar wax melter to melt. Every day for the last few I've put out wax balls onto Tupperware containers, sitting on top of rubber-banded paper towels. I set my two styrofoam wax melters out on the hot walkway to my front door and go to work.

When I get home, the slum gum is dark brown and cooked to the top of the paper towel and gorgeous wax is floating below. It gets really hot in the solar wax melter. The two blocks of wax below are turned upside down so you can see what happens to the wax when the water on which it floats begins to boil!

I do love to take off the paper towel and slum gum and see the yellow glow of the wax floating on the top of the water. It always smells so good, as well, like delicious honey in the hive.

Here are the two pieces of wax from today. I have two more balls to do tomorrow and then I'm through until I take off and harvest another super.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while may remember my 18 pours to try to get the ultimate blue ribbon wax block. All of this wax will be remelted (hopefully not 18 times again this year) in pursuit of another prize-winning block in September.
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