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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, November 24, 2013

Bee Emerging

Dean Stiglitz has a great video on his website of a bee in close-up, chewing her way out of her cell:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Mothering the Bees

This has been a bad bee year for me.  In my eight years of beekeeping, I've had two awful years - that's 25% - not too great.  In one of the years - I think it was 2010 - I got honey but all my hives died (five of them) going into or during the winter.  This is the worst year yet.  This year in 2013, I have lost count (or refused to count) the number of hives that have absconded.

When I tell other beekeepers my hives have absconded, they all say, it must have been the small hive beetle.  But I didn't have a big SHB population this year.  The hive with the worst hive beetles is still alive in Sebastian's yard.

Most of the discovery of empty hives came in late July.  I think it was about no stores.  The bees couldn't collect enough honey during the honey flow because it literally rained every day.  Then in July they were still hopeful that there was honey somewhere - just not in their area, so they left.  Every hive I opened had NO DEAD BEES - just emptiness.  There was absolutely no honey and very little brood and the bees were totally gone.
  • The hive at the Morningside garden had a pesticide kill and never recovered.  It was a tragedy because that was an amazing hive.  The split beside it never took off and simply dwindled away.
  • Both hives at Chastain absconded.  No dead bee bodies were in either hive and no stores.  
  • The hives at Stonehurst Inn are both there and doing fine.  One is a hive that moved into a dead hive in early August.
  • At Sebastian's one hive left - no bodies, no stores left behind - and the other hive is there - it's going OK, but there are SHB in that hive.  I have two different traps on that hive - at the entrance and in between the frames, but the beetles are still there.
  • At Ron's the splits never became thriving hives.  One colony hived there absconded.  I replaced it with a Wilbanks hive and they left too.  Ron's theory was that the pesticides Emory uses on its campus and in the neighborhood where Ron's house is made the location one that was bad for bees.  Whatever it was, they left lock, stock, and barrel with no bodies left behind.
  • At my own house, my best swarm hive absconded when the electricians used jack hammers about five feet away from them.  I had a queen excluder on that hive below the bottom box, and found the queen still in the box.  I made a split and put them in a nuc, but the queen is not in the nuc and the bees are almost dwindled away.  A swarm hive in my yard also absconded as well as the only hive other than Morningside that I had left as the year started.
  • I do have one solitary hive in my backyard.  It's the swarm I collected near Northlake and is going gangbusters.  I put a feeder on this hive although it was heavy with honey and the bees only just began to take the bee tea.  They totally ignored it for about two weeks.
I've had a terrible bee year.  And I got no honey.  I harvested one box from the Morningside hive but the honey is too thin - 19.2% water.  And if I had left that box on the hive maybe those bees would still be alive.

So I'm going into winter with six hives and I've been feeding them bee tea like there's no tomorrow.

Here are the two hives at Stonehurst.  I have put almost three gallons of bee tea on these hives.  I feel disheartened, though, because there are roaches under the cover of the hive on the left and every hive I've had with roaches eventually dies during the winter.

Here's the bee tea.  The leaves floating in it are thyme.  You can see the bees crawling up the inner tube to get the welcomed food.

This is the hive at Sebastian's that I fed the same day.  You'd love to see me visit that hive.  Sebastian's new house has a tall gate with the latch on the inside.  To get to the bees, I have to take a Rubbermaid stool and stand on it, reach over the gate and feel for the lock, slide it open and open the gate.  I repeat the action on the stool when I leave!

In this hive there were these little black things that I thought were mouse droppings, but at close look on my computer screen, they are dead small hive beetles.

This hive appears to be doing well going in to winter, but I have two different versions of SHB trap on the hive and still there are these random dead beetles littering the inner cover.

It's going down to the 20s tonight.  I hope the feeding I've been doing of all of these hives will keep the hives alive as winter descends.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

And Back in Atlanta....we are Feeding the Bees

Back in Atlanta, Jeff and I are determined that the bees I won at the MABA auction from Bill Owens will thrive.  We are not bee-feeders.  Our general goal is to leave enough honey on the hives to let them survive the winter.

This was a terrible year.  None of my bees had any honey to harvest, but they all had some honey.  I misjudged the staying power of the hives and did not feed my bees as fall approached.  We had a pretty decent nectar flow this fall and lots of goldenrod, but many of my hives absconded in August and early September, leaving me pretty bereft and feeling like a terrible beekeeper.

So I will do anything - compromise my values, etc - to keep the Owens bees alive.  We are just short a gallon of putting five gallons of syrup on each of those two hives.  We have fed them bee tea since mid October just after I picked them up.  

We are using Rapid Feeders - bees rarely die in the RF.  The only ones I have seen die are almost always the result of beekeeper error.  As you pour syrup into the feeder, it also rises in the cone.  As it rises in the cone, the bees move up to dry land.  If you dump the syrup in, bees can drown in the inability to move quickly enough above the rising tide.  So to avoid killing bees, we pour very, very slowly and watch to make sure the bees are in fact getting out of harm's way.

The bees have started buidling comb in the top of the inner cone in the RF.  Jeff and I began to wonder if they had used up all their storage space in the deep box below.  We decided that the next time we came to feed the bees, we would open the hive to see how much storage space they still had.

Another Philadephia Moment

When I was in Philadelphia, a place I'd love to return for more exploring, we went to get lunch at the Reading Market.  The market is in the site of the Reading Rail Terminal.  I immediately thought of Monopoly where you can buy the Reading Railroad.  We always pronounced it the REEEEding railroad but in Philly, it's pronounced properly the Reddding Railroad.

Photo above from Wikipedia.

We went in to buy sandwiches for lunch at a place of great reknown called DiNic's.  But as we entered the market, there we saw this:

We stood in a long line at DiNic's and tried to find a seat at the lunch counter but every emptied stool was immediately occupied by the person in the line standing behind that stool....so we ended up sitting in the food court.

The roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone and brocolli rabe was a gourmet treat!

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