Welcome - Explore my Blog

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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Monday, January 31, 2022

There are drones flying from my hives on the last day in January

 I was looking at the photos from my earlier post today and discovered that there are drones flying in today's 56 degree temperature. I went out to the hives specifically to see the drones in person - not just in a photo that I took. Sure enough, I saw three drones enter each of my hives in a space of less than a minute. Here they are in all their Frida Kahlo glory - with their eyes looking just like her eyebrows:

Below the large bee about to enter the hive is a drone.

In the photo below, the drone is closest to the raised edge of the entry in center of the photo.

In the photo the drone is right in the center of the photo. I believe the bee away from the entrance and near the center of the photo may also be a drone from how his eyes look, but we can't see his body well enough to know.

Two things to note from this:
1. It's a great idea to take photos when you inspect your beehives. You often learn something from the photos that you might not have noticed at the moment. I never saw the queen in the hive in my first few years of beekeeping but I did see her in photos that I took.

2. We may have an early swarm season in Atlanta with mature drones already on the fly! If there is a swarm call list where you live, be sure to put yourself on it and learn how to catch a swarm if you don't already know. Here's a video of a swarm I caught last year on April 19, 2021:

Bees are not supposed to fly until temp is above 50 degrees F

 My bees continually defy that rule. Yesterday when it was about 44, they were out flying and having a great time.

When the temperature is in the 50 - 60 range, the bees in the south can fly to gather lots of pollen available to them. As I watched the bees today (Jan 31) there was lots of pollen coming into the hives. 

Saturday, January 08, 2022

Water for bees all year - even in the winter

 There are a lot of days in the south and all across the country, when, even though it's winter, the temperature is warm enough for bees to fly. And when it's warm enough, they will fly.

Our bees in Georgia have year round pollen sources so when it's warm enough to fly, the bees will be out, looking for camellia or whatever might be a winter-blooming plant. Every day that my bees fly, I see them flying into the hives with pollen on their legs.

The other thing they are looking for is water. This year I'm in a new house (old, but new to me!) and have set up bird feeders. I also put a bird bath on my deck railing. I see birds in it on every sunny day. Because I know that bees can't swim, I have floated two corks in the bird bath to give the bees a landing place. I'll add a few more as a few more bottles of wine are opened.

The other night on January 4, our temperatures dropped to the 20s and in the morning, my bird bath looked like Lake Michigan in the winter:

I guess in the night the wind whipped up the water and it froze in place!

By Thursday, the 6th, it was warm again, and the bees discovered my water source. More accurately, probably one bee discovered my water source and went home and told her sisters to come too. You can see them below, balancing on the corks and the edge of the bird bath as they suck up water.

It froze again last night and by mid morning, it was 42F. I was taught that bees can't fly when it's lower than 50 degrees but these bees didn't get the memo, or someone didn't tell them that at 42F, they are not supposed to be out and flying. My bees were flying and were visiting my still thawing bird bath! 

So provide your bees with a water source. And most importantly, give them something to stand on so that they can get water without drowning.

Monday, January 03, 2022

MABA Short Course is January 29 by Zoom


Given the ongoing presence of the COVID virus, the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers is again offering our short course via Zoom. To register, click here.

The advantage of our course being on Zoom is that anyone anywhere can take it! If you are in the Metro area, your fee for the course includes a one year membership to MABA. But if you are from a different area, we will contribute $35 to your bee club of choice if you don't live in the Atlanta area to cover the dues you would have to pay at your own club for a year.  

I'm biased because I'm one of the chairs of the course and teach in it, but we have three master beekeepers teaching in our course: Bobby Chaisson, Julia Mahood and me. Also each of us has been GBA Beekeeper of the year - actually Julia in 2018, Bobby in 2019, and me in 2020! Jennifer Berry from the UGA bee lab teaches in our course and we have videos from Cindy Bee, whom many of you know, and from Dr. Keith Delaplane of the UGA bee lab. Kathy Bourn is editor of the GBA Newsletter and Jimmy Gatt is an expert on trees for bees. When we offer the course in person, we typically have over 100 people every year. 

Here's the program for the course:

We'd love to have anyone join us from anywhere. I find that I learn from every bee lecture I hear!

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