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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.

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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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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Analytical Thinking about the New Dead Hive

So the hive that appears dead today (it rained and was too cold to open it today) needs some careful thought and I have not been able to get it out of my mind today.

First it originally was my Northlake swarm hive - a swarm from a hive of bees that had been living "for years" in a column in a business condominium complex.  So potentially these were feral survival bees.  They lived through the winter of 2013 and I was thrilled to have a survivor hive.

But this year, as my son-in-law called it, was the Year of the Foot.  I dealt all through bee season with my injured leg (now all better after a YEAR) and it really hampered my beekeeping attentiveness.  I have to acknowledge that my hives were neglected more than they were cared for in bee season 2014.

So the Northlake Swarm hive went queenless some time midsummer.  Because I was not in my hives every week with a cast on my leg, I missed the queenless situation until it had probably gone on a while - not long enough to develop a laying worker problem, but still long enough.

When I recognized the queenless problem in the hive, I didn't have any swarm survival hives, so I gave them a frame of brood and eggs from the Sebastian hive (the one that we moved from the yard of the GSU professor in spring 2014).  I did that three times before they made a queen.  Two frames came from Sebastian and one from my Morningside hive in the community garden.

So the queen that developed in the Northlake hive was no longer a survivor queen.  She had been made from eggs with a less clear history.

I just grabbed a frame of brood and eggs from a hive that seemed to have a lot and didn't give the genetics much thought.

This year if either my nuc that has overwintered or my neighborhood swarm hive that has overwintered go queenless, I'm using each of them to provide brood and eggs for the other.  That way they will still get survivor genetics.  I am resolved to be a much more involved and careful beekeeper in this year of NON-INJURY - crossed fingers that that remains true.

Tomorrow I'll check on Stonehurst and see if it survived - it's not a feral hive - it came from Mountain Sweet Honey last year, but it may have made it.

My ongoing goal should be to use survivors to make queens for any queenless hives.  If Tom's hive which came from Bill Owens and also appears to be a survivor hive made it through this cold period, I will split it in late March for the same reason - it's a survivor.  The nuc currently alive in my backyard came from that hive as a split in 2014.

Great GBA State Meeting

Last weekend was the "spring" meeting of the Georgia Beekeepers Association.  In 2013, they barely had 120 people.  This year we had 240 registrants!

We have a fabulous president of the association now who had built up the numbers of local clubs and has encouraged each of them to join GBA.  We also have better ways to publicize it since the newsletter comes out every month and people seem to read it.  And we had a program that was really good.

Here is the slideshow. Bill Owens took five of the pictures (the wonderful ones). I put captions on them but if you don't click on the slideshow, you won't be able to see the caption saying that he took the five that he did. Thank you, Bill, for sharing them with me. We will also put this slide show in the GBA March newsletter.

 We had a great program with four keynote speakers: Cindy Bee, Erin MacGregor-Forbes, Gretchen LeBuhn, Ph.D., Jennifer Leavey, Ph.D. We had breakouts done by the keynotes as well as Bob Binnie, Julia Mahood, Jennifer Berry, me and other Georgia beekeepers.

I Think I have a Dead Hive Post the Freezing Weather

I have had three thriving hives in my bee yard at home and every time we go up to 50 degrees, I have looked out of my window with relief to see the bees flying.  We've just had a week of temperatures in the 20s or below and today it is raining and in the 50s.  Yesterday when it was up to 45, I saw bees flying from my overwintered nuc and one other hive but not the Northlake swarm hive.

Again today bees are flying (in the rain) from the nuc and the neighborhood swarm hive but no bees from Northlake.  There is such a large pile of dead bees in front of this hive that I think they must have had a disease filled winter and couldn't make it.  I feel sad about it, but that is the way it is when you are trying to raise bees that can beat the varroa mite.

Seems like I will be starting the spring in rather sparse bee condition.

Last time I was at Stonehurst, those bees were fine so I'll have to check by there tomorrow to see if the bees made it through the intense cold (and before any of you comment about how cold it is where you are and the bees survive, this was unusual for Atlanta in late February).  We have ordered bees from Mountain Sweet Honey for Stonehurst so they will have bees this year even if the hive does not survive.

I also haven't checked with Tom about his bees which were flying after the last hard freeze.  And I haven't been to Rabun County.

For sure in a couple of weeks, I'll move the nuc hive to a full sized hive situation.  And a week or two after that I'll split the neighborhood hive.

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