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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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Thursday, January 31, 2013

MABA Short Course 2013

We just finished the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers annual short course.  There were 112 people in the course and we had a great day on the 20th of January.  If you missed it this year, we'll offer it on the 3rd Saturday of January next year.  Next year Julia and I are in charge of it.  Gina Gallucci has been heading it up for the last few years and she has done a great job.  I'm scared to follow in her footsteps!

I gave the last talk of the course before a panel of all the speakers so I don't have photos of the end parts of the day, but here is a slideshow to give you an idea of the numbers of people there for the bees this year.

 Click on the slideshow to get to see the pictures full sized and the captions that go with them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It's Almost Bee Season

How do I know?  Well, the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers' Short Course is tomorrow.  Today I went over the the Atlanta Botanical Garden where it is held to put the lip balms I had made into the goody bags.  Gina's team was hard at work stuffing the goody bags.  My granddaughter, Lark, pushed her cousin, Max, who is one in his stroller back and forth in the room so I could put the lip balms in the bags!

Below Philip, Patty, Melissa, and Gina are putting together 112 goody bags.

Edie was also helping. 

And below is our fearless leader and fantastic chairperson of this course, Gina Gallucci.

When I returned home, waiting in my email box was this gorgeous movie that Steve Esau had made under Atlanta's blue sky of the bees feeding in the red maple again today.

So, you can see why I think bee season is just around the corner.  I just hope we don't have a two week spring like last year!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Goody Bags for Short Course

Our MABA Short Course is this Saturday - it's been full at about 110 people for the last two weeks.  Julia and I are chairing it for next year so we have to pay close attention this year to make sure we have an idea of what we will be doing.

One of my volunteer tasks this year was to make the lip balm for the goody bags that the participants take home.  The bags have a lot of items in them - catalogs from bee companies, lists of local bee suppliers, resource lists of Internet and other resources (including this blog ;-}), a small jar of honey, a small candle, and a tube of lip balm - guess whose job it was to make the lip balm?


So tonight I poured 100 tubes of lip balm.  We already have a few more to make up the 112 or so that we need.

First I melted wax in the Presto Pot:

Then I set up my pouring tray with fifty lip balm tubes (I get them from Majestic Mountain Sage).  I got orange tops for the tubes so they wouldn't get lost in the Goody bag!

So I melted the wax.  In a Dutch oven filled with simmering water, I put my oversized measuring cup.  I put into that 1/2 cup plus 4 T of sweet almond oil, 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp cocoa butter (had to heat it with my hair dryer to allow me to scoop out a teaspoon), 1 tsp vitamin E oil, 9 T beeswax, melted.

All of this sits in the hot water until I am ready to pour.  Then I pour it in the tubes.  Notice I set the pouring tray on a sheet of wax paper in a cookie sheet.  This makes for a clean work surface and any drips can be scraped off of the wax paper with a rubber spatula and remelted, but you couldn't do that off of the counter.

I scrape off the excess from the tray and remelt it.  Then I refill the tray, make the mixture again and fill another 50 tubes.  The recipe will fill about 40 - 50 tubes.

Finally I capped the tubes with the cute orange tops:

Tomorrow night I'll print and put on the labels, but for now, I'm off to bed.  If you try to make lip balm and have any helpful hints, please post them in the comments section below.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Location, Location, Location: Key for Bees in Winter

I opened my hive that has died in my backyard and was sad to find that there were many dead hive beetles along with dead bees.  The cluster was very small - about the size of a tennis ball - which makes me wonder if they went queenless into late December.

Sad to say, the cluster was on a frame where there was honey and there was honey in the frame immediately to the back of the frame with the dead bees.

Bees simply can't generate enough energy to move when the temperature is below 50 and certainly not if the temperature is in the 30s as it was for a week in late December.  These bees had resources and couldn't move to get to them.

Even sadder is another frame where the bees who are dead are just above honey on the same frame.

There were a lot of small hive beetles in with the bees but since there were still frames of honey in the hive, the SHB is not the cause of the hive death, but starvation and cold weather was.

I had seen bees flying from this hive in early December, but they were no longer present when I returned from the mountains after Christmas.  The queen's laying is tied to the winter solstice so she had not begun in any way.  I am thinking with the small population in the cluster and no evidence of any brood rearing that this hive was queenless going into winter.

I don't know if it's safe to give this honey to my two-box medium hive that appears to be quite happy but feels really light.  I do think the bees starved and did not die of disease, so I think that means I could give these frames of honey to the light hive, but I'm scared so I didn't do that today.  Thought I'd at least sleep on it.

Bees in Red Maples in Atlanta

My friend Steve Esau who has bees in Atlanta has a video of the bees in the now-blooming red maples.  He showed it to me.  People are always saying the red maple blooms in early January here (even when we have cold winters which we didn't so far this year) but I've not seen the bees in the trees.

Steve is very kind to share his video with me and now with you, so with gratitude to Steve, here is a video of bees flying in the red maple bloom!

I can see that one of my three backyard hives that went into winter is dead.  The two that are left is a large strong hive and a tiny hive made as a split.  The split hive is in two medium boxes.  It's the one that I had to give resources to twice to make a queen.  Their final queen came from eggs from the strong hive right beside it.  I did not expect them to make it through the winter.

The strong hive that is still going well originally came from Jerry Wallace (I think he gets his bees from Bob Binnie), but by accident I think they requeened with eggs from a Jennifer Berry queen when I moved a frame of eggs from the MABA club observation hive to give the observation hive some growing space.  So that probably means that the small survivor hive also has Jennifer Berry stock - boy, she makes great queens.

I said that because of the four of my hives at my old house, three are Jennifer Berry queens or their daughters.  The fourth came from Don Kuchenmeister (Fat Beeman).

We are having a warm weekend so I'll see if I can determine what went wrong with the hive that died (a Fat Beeman hive) and share it with you.  Also I think one of my two hives at the Morningside community garden is also dead, so I'll check both of them today, if I can.

I've tried going into this winter only to feed honey to hives (I used no sugar syrup and no bee tea this year) and I'm thinking I'll follow the principles of the WNC honeybee research center headed by Carl Chesick.  They determine that hives which live through the winter untreated and on their own are survivor hives with resistance to whatever the varroa mite may have given to their bees and they split those hives to perpetuate the strong bees.

That's my plan.  Any hive that makes it through to March, I will split at the end of March and then be supporting strong hives.

Progress Notes on New Year's Resolutions:  I've moved the Links above the Certifications on the side bar and have been through everything on the "links" list.  I've eliminated several links that were not existing sites any more; added George Imrie's Pink Pages (thanks to Penny for the suggestion); and made more specific some of the links.  If anyone else has suggestions, send them to me.

Next I plan to go through the list of blogs and favorite web sites to see how active they are and if they need to stay or go.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Beekeeper's New Year

First let me share our beekeeper's cocktail:  a chunk of honey comb, an ounce of honey liqueur, a squirt of lemon juice and champagne.  This is what we started the New Year's dinner with at my daughter's house last night:

I'm celebrating many things about beekeeping:

1.  That I am a beekeeper and have this marvelous opportunity to peek into the lives of fascinating insects and be a part of their growth and progress

2.  That my friend Gina and I are editing the GBA Newsletter together and are having a fabulous time - getting to know beekeepers across the state, sharing the ways people in Georgia manage their bees, and learning about putting together both a newsletter and a website for it.

3.  That my son-in-law, Jeff, and I have gotten to work the bees together, harvest honey together, and do various bee projects together for the last couple of years.

4.  That Julia, Noah, and I will continue to do hive inspections for the Metro club together at the Chastain Conservancy - I love anything I get to do with the two of them

5.  That Julia and I will be in charge of the Metro Atlanta Short Course in January 2014, giving us a big project to work on together all year

6.  That I have 1002 people who subscribe to this blog through Google and 539 people who "follow" this blog - all people who are interested in learning more about bees and beekeeping through whatever I choose to post

My New Year's resolutions about beekeeping:

1.  To clean up my side bars on this blog - I'd like to take off links that aren't so useful and add some that are.  If you know of a particularly good web site for beekeeping that I should link to, please let me know.  Don't send my blogs that only have one or two posts a year, but if you do know active, helpful websites that I haven't listed, please help me with this resolution.

2.  To continue natural beekeeping, even if I lose hives in the process and to stick to my guns about not using poison, chemicals, etc. in my bee hives.  My hives at Stonehurst were part of a UGA study and showed up with lots of chemical residue in spite of my not adding anything and using no foundation.  I need to research what chemicals they may use in the gardens at Stonehurst....or maybe the bees are bringing in poison from the Atlanta Botanical Garden where there are no weeds.

3.  To try to learn to make a good lotion from beeswax, something I have not been able to achieve in a way that makes me happy

4.  To finish reading some of the bee books that I've started but haven't finished.

5.  To do a better beekeeping management job in 2013 - I was behind and never did some of the things I should have done to be a good beekeeper in 2012 - this will be a different year.

Happy New Year to everyone - if you want to share your beekeeping resolutions, please do - hearing what others are focused on is always inspiring to me.

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