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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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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Musing about Frames: The Importance of the Tenth Nail, Sturdy Waxing, and the Availability of a Handy Toothpick

Lots of people purchase their frames pre-assembled.  I am not one of those people.  However, I am certainly rethinking this - it takes me 50 minutes to nail together 10 frames using a jig - not very fast, although the jig really helps.  The jig is set up for 10 frames, so when I went through the process three times, I've completed enough for three boxes (but since I use 8 frame boxes, I actually almost have enough for four!)  Waxing frames in takes time too.  This morning I spent one hour cutting and waxing strips into about 50 frames.

Constructing a frame takes 10 nails.

Are you listening, those of you who only bothered to use eight nails?

The tenth nail is the hardest to drive in and makes me say, "*#^#$^)%(#$)," almost every time  However, it is by far the most important nail.  That nail and glue make all the difference in frames that can stand up over time.  The tenth nail is the one that takes me the longest.  I can hammer all eight into 10 frames in 30 minutes.  Then it takes me 20 more minutes to hammer in that $(*)@#*$**^ ( tenth nail into either end bar of 10 frames.

If you don't hammer in the tenth nail (or use glue), the sight below is one you might see.  This is a medium box of honey, but I won't be able to harvest the second frame.  The top bar has become unattached from the end bar and I won't be able to get it out of the box.   This is a frame from 2007, so it is in its fifth year of use (new comb every year), but the parts are wearing out and maybe I skipped the 10th nail at least on this end of the frame.

The frames for the hives at Stonehurst don't have the tenth nail.  I am not in charge of constructing the hive parts over there. I picked up the constructed frames the other day and brought them home to wax in strips.  When I noticed the lack of the 10th nail, I suppose I could have nailed it into place.  It's my nemesis however, so instead  I've decided that if one of the frames over there comes apart like the one above, I'm simply skipping it in the harvest.  And if we order any more frames for Stonehurst, I'll do a better job of educating the guy who is building the hive parts.

When I've given talks about using foundation less frames, I've had beekeepers I respect tell me that they have had strips fall out of frames in Hotlanta weather.  That has never happened to me.  I wonder if perhaps those beekeepers are not waxing in the strips well.

When I put a wax strip into a frame, I run the wax tube fastener up one side of the strip.  Then I turn the frame and run the wax tube fastener up the other side.  When I'm done it's well waxed in and I can't imagine it falling out.

Here's where the handy toothpick comes in (you were wondering, weren't you?).  Sometimes the wax tube fastener looks like it is releasing wax when it isn't really.  Then I take a handy toothpick and unplug the hole in the handle.  Wax flows out easily then and I can make sure the wax strip is being secured on both sides.

One thing I've noticed in using frames from previous years when I have cut out the old comb:  If the old comb I cut out was crooked cross comb, then the bees with the now empty frame, follow the old cell lines and build crooked comb again....even with just a one cell depth of wax left on the frame.

Going forward when I cut out cross comb, I am going to use hot water to melt the old crooked lines off of the top bar and insert a new wax strip.  I may have to put such old frames into a boiling water bath so that the bees, in trying to color between the lines, crooked though they may be, won't have the old lines to use.

Note:  There's a video on this site about how to build a frame.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hives at Jeff and Valerie's House

Jeff and I have thought that Colony Square is queenless.  They have not stored much honey in a few weeks and we haven't seen brood/eggs.  However, it's a rather vigorous hive and we haven't gone into the lower boxes.  We decided this past Sunday to explore until we found evidence of a queen or lack of one.

The hive is one deep (this hive began as a Jennifer Berry nuc last year) and five medium boxes.

These hives are Jeff's responsibility, so I am just there to satisfy the question: is there a queen?  He wanted to do the work (and the lifting, thankfully!)

We went down to box four where we found brood frames that only had a few scattered capped drone cells.  There were many empty uncapped worker cells.  This means that the queen last laid eggs more than three weeks ago.  The drones, which take 24 days to emerge, would be the last capped cells left.

However, the hive was pretty calm and there was no queenless roar.  More than likely they have already taken care of the problem and made a queen who either hasn't emerged, hasn't gone on her mating flight or hasn't started laying yet.  We went all the way down to the deep box and didn't see capped brood other than drone cells.

We decided for insurance sake to add a couple of frames of brood and eggs to Colony Square to give them a way to make a queen if they are still in need.  Although they have not collected much nectar in the past few weeks, there are three boxes on the hive for us to harvest - and the disruption of the brood cycle will be good for any varroa problems.  It takes a hive 42 days to get back to full production when they make a queen.

We decided to go into Lenox Pointe to get frames of brood and eggs.  We found lots of capped honey and some beautiful wax (see below).

In taking out the frames, some comb was opened.  The bees below are trying to repair the damage as quickly as possible.

We found brood - but most of it was in honey frames so we decided to get our transfer frames from Five Alive - our most vigorous hive.

We opened Five and took two frames of brood and eggs and put them into Colony Square.  We put CS back together.

Meanwhile, Five Alive which had eight medium boxes on it, was desperate for a new box.  Jeff added the new box (the blue one) below the top box and we moved honey frames from the box below up to the new box to serve as a ladder.

The top box was completely full of capped honey.  It took all his muscles to get the box onto the top of the now nine-box Five Alive hive!  Jeff posed to show his muscles after the event!

The hive is now almost as tall as Jeff who is six feet!  We must harvest from this hive.  Our plan is to harvest on June 2 from Five Alive, weather permitting.  This is my seventh year as a beekeeper and the best year ever as far as productivity is concerned.

FWIW, this hive began as a package from Don in Lula, Georgia; survived the move from the south Georgia farm almost exactly a year ago; and survived the winter, although there was only a tiny number of bees as February arrived this year.  We actually thought it was dead (thus its name: Five Alive).

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Tom Seeley Webinar about Swarm Decision Making

Robo on Beemaster posted this link to a webinar by Tom Seeley.  I had a hard time getting the sound and the slides to work at the same time, but when I did, it is well worth watching.

Seeley is a great speaker and a very good teacher.

This picture is from the Cornell University web site.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

How to Hold a Smoker Contest

I've never been to a meeting where there actually was a smoker lighting contest.  At the Tara Beekeepers there was such a contest today at the annual picnic, so I am sharing how to run a smoker lighting contest, now that I've been present for one.

Basically each contestant has three minutes to light his/her smoker with the provided fuel.  The smokers have to be empty at the start of the contest.  The smoker has to be lit with provided matches - these were strike-anywhere matches.  After the smoker is lit and the three minutes are up, the winner is determined by how long the smoker continues to smoke without anyone squeezing the bellows.  It's a last-one-standing contest.

The judge has a difficult job.  She has to make sure equal supplies are given to all, has to time the lighting, and then has to keep an eye on the smokers for the length of the contest.  Our judge, Fran Lane,  periodically went over to see which smokers were still burning.  She turned the ones that were out onto their sides.  At the end of the picnic (and the end of the contest), she had to determine a winner from the three that were still burning.

The slide show is below and there are captions for each photo explaining how the contest is set up and run.  Click on the slide show to see the captions and to view it full screen.

This event inspires me to learn to work my smoker better.  I can light the thing but it takes me forever, and I certainly don't have the art of packing it properly down.  Makes me want to drive down to Forest Park and take a lesson from PN!  At the very least I am going to work on improving my smoker lighting.

Since I use hive drapes, I rarely use my smoker, but I do light it and need it to stay lit through all of my inspection.  Instead I am always needing to relight it or add fuel.

Creamed Honey 'Nother Year

Jeff and I decided to take the jars of honey from my basement that had begun to crystalize and make them into creamed honey.

There's a specific way to make creamed honey developed by Dyce.  If you just take crystallized honey and call it creamed, usually it's far from a true creamed honey.  Honey that crystallizes on its own has large crystals, is solid and has crystals easily felt with the tongue.  Creamed honey to be show quality must be smooth.
An earlier post on this blog describes the Dyce method as taught to me by Keith and Roseanne Fielder.  I did record this event today, though, because it was difficult and fun and we learned a lot.

 Half of the jars we made were cooled by stirring in an ice water bath and half were cooled in the freezer, periodically taking the honey out and stirring it (periodically meaning about every 3 minutes). We'll see if there's any difference.

We didn't have great thermometers - made me want to buy one just for this process.  I had one instant thermometer that measured down to 60 degrees, but our candy thermometers didn't go that low.

We also discovered that a generous 4 liters of honey makes 17 jars.  Actually we added 2 nine ounce jars of creamed honey as seed.  The conversion shows that 4 liters should make 15 jars, but we got 17 but the seed honey would account for the extra 2 jars.

We wished for really good rubber spatulas, better thermometers and a better method of having an ice bath for cooling.  There's always so much to learn...at least in the world of beekeeping!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not the Best Bee Day - Zia in Jeopardy

Today I went through my hives in my backyard.  My friend Julie's husband, Seth, who used to keep bees in 1989 and wants to get back to it, came over and went through the hives with me.

We've had rain and cooler weather over the last ten days or so.  And the nectar flow has about stopped.  So I didn't expect much.

We found roly-polys under one hive!  There were also earwigs, I saw one roach, and I smashed three large wax moth worms.

It's the scheduled week for powdered sugar every four days, so I started today.  The bees were not pleased with my effort to keep them healthy!

I only added a new box to one hive (below).  I did shift around some of the top boxes to encourage the bees to build a little more.  I also, to account for drift, add some identifying markings to all the hives.

Below is another hive that I shifted the box positions.

I don't have photos of the bad part of the day.  We went up to the nuc housing the Little Kitten swarm.  I know not to open or go through it for three weeks after installing the new queen (the Zia queen) but I hadn't pulled the queen cage and wanted to get it out.

We opened the top of the nuc.  The bees are quiet and calm - there are lots of them thanks to the nuc I created a week ago.  There between the frames was the queen cage, with the queen still inside.  The bees weren't attacking the cage or biting it.  The queen was not released but was alive and seemed vigorous.

That's when I did the stupid thing.  I thought, "At this point I should direct release her."  So I opened the cage and she walked down into the rest of the bees.

THEN I thought, "Wonder why they hadn't released her…..could there already be a queen in this hive?"

Too late to retrieve her majesty.  I guess I just cross my fingers that they accept her and life is good rather than my other thought which is that there is a competing queen who will kill Zia on sight.

And how will I know later what queen is in the hive, if there is another queen already present?  I can't say, "Will the real Zia step up."  I have no idea what she looks like compared to any other.  I guess I can add this to the growing long list of my bee mistakes………….
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Inspecting Hives - This and That

At Sebastian's and Christina's house, the bees were doing well.  Interestingly the blue hive which is a 10 frame set up is growing faster than the yellow hive which is an 8 frame set up.

In the blue hive there were only six undrawn frames total in all the boxes.  I might not be back for about 10 days, so I put a new box on that hive.  However, now I am out of 10 frame medium boxes, so I put an 8 frame on the hive and covered the extra two frames below with a 2X4 (see the hive tool sitting on it?).

This year in every location I am finding earwigs on the hives.  Generally they are located like these are around the top edge of the hive often outside or on top of the inner cover.  Wonder what the appeal of the bee hive is for the ear wig?  They eat arthropods, plants and ripe fruit and they do like small tight spaces which does describe the bee hive.  Whatever the appeal, they are in all of my hives this year.

Then I went to Stonehurst Place.  It's an interesting group of hives.  We've had rain and cooler weather for the last week, so the bees have not been able to forage and the tulip poplar is almost done so there isn't much nectar to be had.  The two new nucs at Stonehurst this year are moving slower than my other nucs.

In the first hive I took this picture of new comb filled with nectar.  I love it that the bees immediately use wax as they draw it.  They will continue to fill this frame but are storing the nectar as the storage are is created.  Even more fun is to find comb that is a niblet hanging off of the top bar of the frame, but is already filled with eggs from the eager queen!

The second nuc at Stonehurst swarmed almost immediately after installation.  However, their new queen is laying and doing well.  If you click on the photo below, you can see an egg in almost every cell.  She is trying to catch up.  However, swarming is almost a guarantee in a new nuc that we will not get any honey from this hive this year.  They will need whatever they store to make it through the winter.

Talk about a bee yard that needs equalizing!  The overwintered hive is full of honey - the bees were unhappy with me because they are in such need of space.  I had no help with me today and no ladder so I simply added a box to the top of this hive.

In the hives at Morningside, I'm finding the same phenomenon that is occurring at Sebastian and Christina's.  These hives at the community garden were started from packages on the same day.  The hive on the left is smaller and has fewer bees than the hive on the right.

Both have active laying queens and appear to be storing nectar, laying eggs, and generally going about their bee business.  Differences in hive size may be the result of the queen, but it also may be the result of drift (bees coming back to the wrong hive).  These hives are different colors and have different markings on the front, but to further address this potential problem, I added stick-on flower designs to both hives to increase their distinctiveness for the returning forager bees.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

It All Adds Up


  • 0: the number of chemicals or pesticides I use in my hive.
  • of an inch: bee space.
  • 1: the number of queens in most beehives
  • 1: the number of times a worker bee can sting
  • 2 days: the amount of time in which a larva can still become a queen if fed royal jelly
  • 3 times a month: the number of times I inspect bee hives during bee season
  • 3: the number of segments to a honey bee body.
  • 4 minutes: the amount of time it takes for a honey bee to remove and manipulate a scale of wax exuded from the abdomen of a bee (4th to 7th abdominal segments if you are interested!)
  • 4 - 5 pounds: the approximate weight of a full medium frame of honey
  • 4.9 mm: the width of a natural-comb worker brood cell.
  • 5 : number of eyes on a honey bee
  • 7:  the number of hives I have in my Virginia Highlands backyard
  • 8 feet:  the average height of a wild colony inside a tree
  • 8: the number of frames I use in my hive bodies
  • 9 ODA:  9-oxodecenoic acid or queen substance - queen pheromone
  • 10 nails: the number required to build a frame properly
  • 10 - 15 trips a day:  the number of times nectar and pollen gatherers fly out
  • 12 - 25 days:  The age of most guard bees
  • 16 days:  the number of days it takes for a queen to emerge
  • 17: the number of states having the honey bee as the state insect
  • 17 - 30: the number of drones needed for a well-mated queen
  • 18.6% moisture: the maximum moisture content a honey can have and not ferment.
  • 20 times its own weight: the amount of honey a comb can support
  • 21: Current number of Master Beekeepers who have earned their certification from the Young Harris Beekeeping Institute
  • 21 days: the number of days it takes for a worker to emerge
  • 24 days:  the number of days it takes for a drone to emerge
  • 24 km/h: average honey bee flight speed
  • 25: the number of talks I’ve given to bee clubs and others since January 2011
  • 36: the number of days from egg to sexual maturity for the drone
  • 40 liters: the size of a hive cavity
  • 56:  the number of workers a single worker touches with her antennae in 30 minutes
  • 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit:  the temperature of the core of the brood nest in a hive
  • 120 degrees: the angle between adjacent cell walls in honeycomb
  • 600-800 meters: the average distance a swarm moves from its parent colony
  • 800 km:  The distance a forager accumulates in foraging flights before her death
  • 1000:  The number of posts on this blog as of this very moment!
  • Infinite: The amount of joy and pleasure I get from beekeeping and the amazing  people and experiences that it brings to my life............

**Many thanks to Noah Macey for all the help he gave me with this post.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Death by Drowning, But Revival by a New Queen

My flower pot swarm trap caught a swarm that I called Little Kitten because it was so small.  I think it was a secondary swarm and was relieved to find that finally a mated queen was laying in the wax comb.

I had a Boardman feeder at the entrance of the nuc - and those of you who have used Boardmans know that they are not designed for a nuc.  To combat the instability I put a package container under the feeder with a small block to support it.  However, one night our evening raccoon or maybe my dog, Hannah, had bumped into the Boardman, turning over the feeder bottle.

By the time I discovered the mishap, there was a pool of sugar syrup all over the bottom board of the nuc and bees were having a terrible time negotiating entry to the hive.  It could have been like that for several days - I don't always look at the hives every single day.  I put the hive on a new bottom board and cleaned up the old one.  Then I returned it to the hive and put it all back together.

Sadly, either the queen drowned that night - death by raccoon/Hannah/sugar syrup??? - or the bees, upset with the state of things, balled her.  The hive was queenless.

I put frames of brood and eggs into the nuc.  They didn't really succeed at making a queen.  There was one small queen cell - obviously an inadequate job (1/2 inch long at best) - and the handful of bees now left could not have managed to take care of it.

My friend Jerry ordered 20 virgin queens from Zia and offered me the opportunity to buy one.  Zia Queen Bees is a family operation breeding survivor queens.  I believe this is the answer to the mite problem - not poison.  I snapped him up on it, got the queen on Wednesday night.  She was alone in the queen cage.  Jerry suggested that I feed her a drop of honey and a drop of water when I got home and that I install her the next day.

An amazing experience but with no pictures:  I put a drop of honey on the end of my finger and held it next to the openings in the plastic queen cage.  She stuck out her proboscis and sucked the honey off of my finger.  I will never forget the experience.  I knew the water wouldn't stick to my finger, so I put it in a spoon and watched her drink, but I wished I could repeat the honey drop!

The next day, Thursday, I was scheduled to give a bee talk at 7 PM and from there to drive to Young Harris, so I had a packed day.  I luckily had a two hour break in my professional day (but only 2 hours) so I drove to Valerie and Jeff's to get frames of bees to create population for the small Kitten.

Jeff has been busy adding boxes to these hives and this is how they looked:

All of these boxes are full of honey and I can't lift the top box on these hives without a ladder and help, so I opened the hive I call Lenox Pointe (second from the left in the collage above).  I took two honey frames with bees from the top box, checking very carefully for the queen.  I did this because I could take honey frames out of the top box without having to lift it off of the hive.  I put these in a nuc I had waiting.  I took three frames - two of brood and bees and one of mostly pollen and honey from the Swarmy hive - the mostly yellow hive on the right in the collage.

I shook a few extra bees, but didn't worry about that as much as I would normally since I am adding this "split" to Little Kitten where there are already some under employed bees.

I had to be back at my office at 1:00.  When I finished at Jeff's, it was 12:25 and I had a 20 - 25 minute drive back to my house.  I drove in my bee jacket as quickly as I could within the limits of the law.  When I got home it was 12:50 and I needed to be at work in 10 minutes.  

I walked the nuc through my house to save time because the nuc is on my deck.  I opened it, took out the frames and put them in a second nuc box on Little Kitten without disturbing the bottom box.  Then I took the queen out of my top pocket and put her cage between two frames, put the inner cover back on, and ran into the house, stripping jacket, etc. as I went.

Oh, and I put an end bar on the entry to give them an entrance reducer of sorts.

I threw on my business clothes, jumped in the car (my office is 5 minutes from home) and got to my appointment there at 1:05.

Returning from Young Harris, I found the bees happily flying in and out of the hive and seemingly satisfied with their new housing. I'll check tomorrow to see if the queen has been released and then leave them completely alone for three weeks.
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Young Harris Beekeeping Institute 2012

Home from Young Harris Beekeeping Institute today and I'm exhausted.  This, for me, is the end of seven weeks of over-commitment and now it's setting in that I am TIRED.

Young Harris was great in so many ways.  I learned a lot and heard some good speakers:  Juliana Rangel from NC State and Gary Reuter from the University of Minnesota, in particular.  I also taught two workshops on Low Tech Beekeeping and tested the candidates for Certified Beekeeper on their practical exams.

Julia and Noah went also.  Noah earned his Journeyman certification - he's only 15 and I imagine he's one of the youngest, if not the youngest, person to get this certification in Georgia.  He is such a knowledgeable and excellent beekeeper, and I love being associated with him.

I couldn't believe that I left my camera in Atlanta so I couldn't take photos of Noah and Julia in their moments of reward, but I've put in pictures of them in inspections that we have done together.

Julia who earned her Journey(wo)man last year, this year went for her Master Beekeeper and she DID IT!  I have loved working with her over these years and was sure she would achieve this.  There's an old saying that if you ask 10 beekeepers a question, you'll get 10 different answers, but Julia, Noah and I generally think very similarly and agree in philosophy.  I feel lucky and really privileged to be friends with and to keep bees with both Julia and Noah.

I didn't enter any honey in the honey contest - all of my cut comb has been opened and shared with others; my liquid honey is beginning to crystallize, and I never got around to making a wax block or creamed honey, so I didn't have any honey to enter.

I did enter the "art" category of the honey show with the quilt I've made for my newest grandson:  Max who is now five months old.  Jeff, who is his father, keeps bees with me, and he and Valerie decorated Max's room in bees.

I've worked on it for six months and was thrilled to win a blue ribbon.  I've made a number of quilts in my life, but this is the first quilt that I actually drew the design myself so it is totally original.  The six honey bee blocks are based on a traditional quilt block but I made the heads smaller like a real honey bee and put a floral block in the center.

So now I'm going to slow down for a month or two and take better care of myself…..but I will still be sharing my bee life with all of you.
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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bees: A Little of This, A Little of That

Yesterday I inspected all the hives at home.  Finding lots of little tidbits of interest, I decided to post a hodge-podge of them, so here goes:

I saw a perfectly lovely queen in SOS2.  She was gliding slowly, unfazed by my arrival in the hive, over her creations and paused so that I could take her photo.  Isn't she pretty - I love the golden queens that my bees often raise.

It has (finally) begun to rain in Atlanta - we've now had several days of it.  My garden is green, and the nectar flow may get a last hurrah with the extra push of moisture from the universe.  Below you can see my water source.  It's a plant saucer sitting on an upturned pot.  Inside that plant saucer is another one filled with rocks so that the bees have somewhere to light while taking in the water.

I fall in love with the bees all over again every time I pull a foundationless frame and find that they are creating comb.

Remember the frames that have stood around untouched until the nectar flow began to diminish?  There have been bees all over them for the past few days and now every cell has been ripped open and all the honey robbed out.

The shards of wax cappings on the ground attest to the robbery.  That is a way that you can tell if your hive has been robbed.  In a working hive, the bees are quite conservative with the wax - they reuse the caps of the brood cells, they move wax from one place to the next.  But in a robbery, the bees are not invested and tear the cappings off, dropping them wherever they may fall.

Early in my beekeeping, when I was still using sheets of wax foundation, I put a box of wax foundation frames as a new super on the hive .  Later that day, I stood by the hive and could hear a definite crunching sound.  I even posted on Beemaster about it because it was such a strange sound.  I came to discover that the bees were chewing the wax out of the new frames and taking it to a place in the hive where it was needed!

Imagine hearing crunching coming from your hive!

My bees in these hives have really been collecting nectar.  They've built some pretty fat honey comb as you can see in the photo below.

I'm off to Young Harris tomorrow night and will be teaching "Low Tech Beekeeping" there on Friday afternoon at 1 and at 2 in room 106.  If you are there, be sure to speak to me and introduce yourself as someone who reads this blog.
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Monday, May 07, 2012

Signs of the diminshing Nectar Flow

In Atlanta our nectar flow is tied to the bloom of the tulip poplar.  When the tulip poplar is done, the nectar flow is pretty much over.  We will continue to have nectar sources and we always have a little bump in the availability of nectar when the sumac and catalpa bloom in late June/early July, but for now, it's over.

This has been a funny spring.  Everything is two weeks earlier than last year.  The privet hedge bloomed in coincidence with everything else, and it will be interesting to see how that flavors the honey.

If I couldn't look up in the tulip poplars above my backyard and see that the bloom is done, I could tell that the nectar flow is over by the behavior of the bees.  They are still primed to collect nectar and disappointed that it has almost suddenly stopped.

They indicate that it is over by collecting honey wherever they can.

I had the two frames below sitting under my deck since January when I discovered that my hives in my backyard had died.  These frames had been somewhat slimed by the small hive beetle and the bees ignored them…….that is, until today.  Today there are bees robbing out these two frames like crazy.

Also I have lots of wax under my house cut out of frames and waiting for Jeff to build us a bigger solar wax melter.    Some of that had remnants of honey in it and you can see bees all over the comb in the foreground.

Another way to tell that the nectar flow has ended is that the bees have slowed down in building comb.  Whether you use foundation or not, when the nectar stops, the bees stop drawing wax.  They have to have resources to build wax and without nectar, they have no fuel.

When you have foundationless frames, it's quite obvious as you can see in the empty hive box below from Morningside.  If you use foundation, there's an illusion that something is going on because each frame is full (of plastic foundation, that is) but in those boxes as well as my foundationless boxes, NOTHING is happening in Atlanta today.

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