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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 18th year of beekeeping in April 2023. 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. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
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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Monday, August 23, 2021

ANOTHER pesticide kill!

 What a year! As you know, I am the beekeeper at SPARK elementary school (Springdale Park Elementary School - part of the Atlanta public schools. I've kept hives at SPARK since the summer of 2017 so this is my fifth year. We've done inspections there (Meghan M., the science person at the school) and I - you can see the hive installations this year by clicking here. And you can see an inspection of these hives here.

This week Meghan texted me that there were dead bees all over the rooftop garden at the school where we have the hives.

The sidewalks were lined with thousands of dead bees. On the ground level bees and other pollinators (bumblebees and lady bugs) were also dying. Many were lying in pools of their own feces.

I urged her to report this to the Department of Agriculture in Georgia. They will send out an inspector. 

As we talked and as she asked desperately about what might have happened, she found out that the school system's landscapers were at the school the day before from 9 - 11. She texted "No one at the school sprayed for anything. The landscapers were here yesterday but they are contractors. We don't know if they did something." 

The bees fell dead right out of their flight paths. 

The next day, one of the hives had a huge pile of dead bees in front of it. These girls managed to get back home, but died and were dragged out of the hive. This pile does not include the thousands dead on the sidewalks.

on the front edge of this photo, you can see yellow diarrhea...

Of course, when Meghan called the Department of Ag, they said if APS (the Atlanta Public Schools) had done the spraying, contractor or not, they can't issue a citation to APS for APS. They said if a neighbor had sprayed, then they could issue a citation and send out an investigator, but could not cite APS for something APS did, nor could they investigate.

However the Dept of Ag will report this to EPA.

I am heart sick. I was out of town when this happened and the first day I can go look at the hives is Wednesday. It will be amazing if these two hives can now make it through the winter, so short on bee resources as they now are.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Successful Late Summer Split

 Starting on June 21, the summer solstice, the queen slows down her laying and continues this decrease until the winter solstice in December. So in Georgia, where we generally harvest all the honey we are going to take by July 4, the queen also doesn't lay as many drones as she did pre-June 21. 

Making post-harvest splits is a fine procedure, but you do need to know that your new queen, assuming you let the bees make their own, may not be well-bred when she goes on her mating flight...less drones, less opportunity. So when I do make splits in July, I hold my breath until the new queen proves herself.

I moved to a new house in June and moved my bees at the very end of June to their new location. I had planned to split one of the hives to put a new hive of bees in my daughter's yard where the swarm we housed had absconded. My bees needed to adjust to their new location before I interfered and split them so I went to the mountains for the month of July, planning to cross my fingers and do a split when I returned.

As luck would have it, I came home for three days in mid-July, so while I was in Atlanta, I made a split for Sarah's yard on July 13. It was a tiny split - a frame of brood and lots of eggs, a frame of pollen, and a frame of honey and brood. That was it. I housed it in a medium box and crossed my fingers. I put a Boardman feeder on top of the inner cover, filled it with sugar syrup, and surrounded it with a deep box. 

A split in mid July provides a brood break which is a natural beekeeping IPM method of varroa control, so it helps the new hive stay healthy. Since our first frost is in mid-November, they had a good head start on building up for winter with a laying queen. I will, of course, make sure they are fed up until then. If the hive can make it through the winter, there's a good chance it will come into spring strong with a big population.

When I returned at the end of July, I exchanged the Boardman for a rapid feeder surrounded by a medium. There were plenty of bees (clearly some of the brood on those three frames had emerged) and the hive was calm. I didn't go into the hive for fear of ruining a maturing queen cell as I lifted a frame.

Sarah has kept the feeder full of sugar syrup which the bees have been devouring. On August 5, I returned to the hive to add a box. I didn't want them to backfill all of the laying space with syrup and I wanted to see if they had a laying queen by now. The split was twenty-three days ago and she should be laying, if she was able to survive and get mated. 

The first good sign as I arrived at the hive was that bees were carrying in pollen on their legs, often a sign of a laying queen. Not a great picture, but the bee on the left in the photo below has pollen on her legs.

The hive was still using about three frames for brood raising and the rest for storing syrup. I started the inspection on the side of the hive fartherest from the activity in the hive. Five frames were being used for syrup storage - only one was filled. The sixth frame had tons of eggs on both sides of it. You can see the frames on the occupied side of the box in the photo below.

I added the box, closed up the hive and celebrated!

A successful late season split! HOORAY!

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