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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, June 27, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Making a Nuc

When I brought the terrible queen home from Ron's on Memorial Day, May 27, I made a nuc to house her and closed it up so that the bees would have 24 hours without a queen.  Meanwhile the queen who was in a queen clip, slipped out of the clip and was wandering around in the pillow case in which I brought her home.  I left her there over night and the next morning, she was dead.

I added a frame of brood and eggs to the created nuc and decided to see if it would make a go of things.

Now if they made a queen, she should have emerged about the middle of June - and if all went well, she should have been laying by Father's Day.

The little nuc has been looking pretty happy.  Bees are flying in and out.  When I've peeked inside, there seem to be plenty of bees.

So this weekend I thought I'll bet they have a laying queen, so I'll move them out of this box and into a medium hive body.

I opened the hive and found lots of bees and one frame on which there were eggs and brood.

This was quite a funny thing.  On one side of the frame were cells with an obvious laying worker: five and six eggs in the cells.

On the other side were single eggs, tiny larvae and small c-shaped larvae.  - sorry for the blurry photo, but you can see the light biscuit flat-capped worker cells.  What does this mean?

Did a laying worker develop as the queen was getting mated?  A laying worker only results in drone brood and the brood on one side of this frame is flat-capped like worker brood and single eggs.  However, clearly there is a laying worker or maybe the queen just didn't quite get the hang of it at first. I know sometimes they lay multiple eggs in the cells when they are starting out.

At first I set the frame away from the hive, thinking I would see what bees returned to the hive.  But then I thought there clearly is a single egg laying queen....so I returned the frame to the hive.

So here it is in the new configuration.  Bees are again flying in and out.  I gave them a new frame of brood and eggs from the Morningside nuc.

Every time I steal a frame of brood and eggs from that nuc, I think about My Sister's Keeper, that novel about the little girl whose parents had her to provide body parts for her dying sister?  But the nuc, like the little girl, seems to keep on keeping on despite my constantly raiding it for brood and eggs.

I'll leave the new hive for a while and we'll see what develops (or doesn't).

I did add an entrance reducer after I took this photo.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Follow Up on the Bee Move

Finally today I went over to move the homeless hive to the place where their sisters have relocated.  There were about 500 bees in the box - some may have been left behind and even though we put greenery on the entry way to get the bees to re-orient, some may have left the new location to go foraging and returned to the old home place about a miles away.

The bees seemed happy and active in their new location:

I gathered up what we left the other night (screened wire, inner cover, bungee cords) before situating the hive box.

Then I place the hive box entrance facing the two hives.  There is no queen in this box, just errant bees.  Some are probably from one hive and some from the other.  The way I placed the box made it easy for the bees to go to their chosen home box.

First I set it there with the top off and the screened wire still attached.  Then I looked up at the storm clouds and thought I didn't want to ruin my equipment.

So then I took the screened wire off the entry and put the telescoping cover sort of catty corner, exposing the two frames with the most bees on them.

And this was how I left it.  I hope the bees leave this box and go home to whichever Mama is theirs.

Monday, June 24, 2013

And on the Longest Day of the Year, What did We Do?..........

We moved bees and laughed at ourselves the whole time.  Sebastian is moving and the two hives of bees at his house had to move as well.  Jeff and I were up for the job and the logical (it seemed) time in our busy lives to do it was Friday night.

Neither of us thought about the fact that Friday was the Summer Solstice and thus the longest day of the year.  The sun didn't set until 8:51!!!!!  I'm very busy these days and Jeff and Valerie have a baby who wakes them up every morning at 5 AM so neither of us were really full of energy at 8:51.

Nonetheless, we drove to Sebastian's house and outfitted Sebastian in my bee jacket, gloves and veil.  He and Jeff were to be the brawn of this move and I was the person manipulating the hives (and therefore getting stung).  Here are our steps:

1.  We lit the smoker - oops, well, I left the lighter at home, but Jeff had a lighter in his fantastic car storage compartment (more about that later!).  We smoked the bees to get the front porch stragglers to go inside the hive.

2.  We closed both hives up with screened wire with Jeff shooting the staple gun.

3.  We took the top two boxes off of the tall hive, set them on a bottom board and gave them a top for the trip.

4.  We strapped both hives tight together and bungee cord strapped the top box combo.

5.  Jeff and Sebastian loaded the three hive box combos into Jeff's car.   It was getting dark, but Jeff in his amazing car storage bin had two flashlights - a mag light and a small silver flashlight that I had put in his Christmas stocking a couple of years ago.

6.  Meanwhile an unhappy bee flew under my long-sleeved shirt, under my untucked t-shirt and stung me right in the tummy - ouch!  I'm so used to wearing a jacket that it never dawned on me to tuck in my shirt.

Note:  We left a hive box - a single box - on a bottom board with a top cover to allow any wayward bees to have a place to hangout.  I'll go back and move whatever bees are still there tomorrow.

7.  With three boxes in the car, we drove slowly to Sebastian's new house. 

8.  Jeff backed carefully into Sebastian's new driveway and we began the unloading process - we had to unload the cinder blocks and place them as well as the hives.

9.  When the hives were placed, we undid the straps.  Then I took off the top of the big hive to add the removed honey supers back.  OMG, those bees were all gathered at the top of the box, loaded for bear and wondering what the %$#@*** had just happened to their happy abode.  

I got stung on three fingers of my right hand - each finger getting several stings.

10.  For the do what I say, not what I did crowd, we would have been better served, I think, to remove the screen wire from the front of the hive before taking the top off, but I didn't think of that.

11.  We put grass on the fronts of both hives to help them reorient, leaned the inner cover from the fake hive against the fence to allow those bees to find their way home and headed for Jeff's car.

12.  In the car, I had Benadryl - the dissolve on your tongue kind - but no way to open the package.  In his magical car storage bin, Jeff had a sharp knife and opened the package for me.  

I'll go anywhere with Jeff in his car any time - that man is prepared for anything.....well, he didn't have a glass of wine and I sure could have used that, but he commented that it would be illegal to have that in his car.  

Good point.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Free Bees

Free bees is a term that typically people apply to a swarm that they capture.  They are free, but it's some work - you have to go to the site, shake the bees into some kind of container, wait around for stragglers to join their mother, drive them to your apiary and install them in a box.  Yes, they don't cost any money but they definitely cost you in time.

Real free bees are the kind we found at Stonehurst Place this weekend.  We arrived for our inspection that we do every couple of weeks.  I've been in Colorado at a professional conference so we haven't been to Stonehurst in three weeks this time.

You'll remember our terrible robbing incident at Stonehurst at the end of bee season last year.  So we went into winter with one dead hive that I took down to one box and left as a swarm lure.  Then we had two live but small hives.  One hive survived the winter well enough but hasn't been bursting at the seams.  It's still only three boxes tall - enough for winter but not to rob.

The other hive dwindled and died - I don't think I reported it here, but we determined it was almost dead on May 2 and there were no live bees in it on May 19.  The hive did have honey in it - almost a full box.

The hive in the middle is the live hive that made it through the winter.

So this Saturday when we arrived to check on the one live hive at Stonehurst, to our surprise there were  truly FREE BEES!  The "dead hive" had been occupied by a swarm - and it had ivy growing up the front of the hive box!

We checked on the brood and found that there was capped brood that was medium biscuit in color (per Billy Davis).  This means that it was capped about two weeks ago.  So the swarm must have moved in just after Memorial Day.  We saw the queen - probably the gift of a new beekeeper whose newly purchased nuc swarmed.  She had a red dot on her back and was long and lovely:

If you look closely, you can see eggs in all of those cells.  She's hard at work and we were thrilled to have FREE BEES at the Stonehurst Inn.

I don't think unless some miraculous nectar flow happens that we will get any honey from Stonehurst this year, but it's nice to have two hives that we can work on keeping healthy through the winter.

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