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, February 28, 2022

Crossword Buzzle about Swarm Season

In the south, when March arrives, you know if you are a beekeeper, that swarming sweeps in with the March winds. Being prepared for swarm catching for me means keeping my swarm catching kit in my car at the ready. Here is a crossword "buzzle" that I developed about catching swarms. 

If you feel like you need to learn about swarm catching first, visit this post. To see a YouTube video I made of a swarm I caught last year, click here


If you want the answer key, email me.

This is how it looks in the GBA newsletter, thanks to Peter Helfrich, our layout and graphics editor. He is amazing:

Sunday, February 27, 2022

It's Time to make SWARM LURE

 Years ago in 2007, an Italian beekeeper shared his swarm lure recipe with me and I have made it every year since. In a good bee year, it's amazingly effective. I have just put it on my empty hives at the community garden and on my top bar hive which is empty of bees. 

Next week is March and in Atlanta, that often marks the beginning of swarm season. I have drones flying in all of my hives, so I made swarm lure this week, like a good "be prepared" Girl Scout.

Here's the easy to follow recipe:

1 square inch cube of beeswax

1/4 cup of oil - olive oil was in his recipe but he's in Italy - any relatively no-smell oil will do

12 - 20 drops of lemongrass essential oil

Put the first two ingredients in a glass jar (small jelly jar) and set the jar in a small pan of hot water. Heat until wax is fully melted. I stir with a chop stick and remove the jar from the water. I use a jar lifter which I have for making apple butter. 

Let it cool only slightly and then stir in the lemongrass oil.

As the mixture cools, it will become solid but smeary. If your cubes are larger than 1X1 inch, use more oil. You want the concoction to be soft enough to smear. Sometimes I carry a chopstick to scoop out some of the harder versions of my lure before smearing it on the hive.

How to use this fabulous attractant?

  • Smear it around the center hole in the inner cover.
  • Smear it on some of the frames in the top box on the hive
  • Smear it on the underside of the top of the entrance to the hive (if you smear it on the bottom, the bees feet will stick and get goopy so just on the top of the entrance.
For photos and a previous post about this lure, click here.

This post shows where and how to smear the lure. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

First Split of the Year Feb 15, 2022

 My bees at the biggest survivor hive have been flying like crazy and I knew I had to either make a split or checkerboard or both as soon as was reasonable. Yesterday it was 65 at 3 PM, so I opened the hive and made a split.

I recorded it with my iPhone and wanted to share it with you. I apologize in advance. I didn't have my microphone on properly. Oh, well! It's the first time this year. 

If we were watching this on a virtual hive inspection, I would pause a lot to let you see the frame not in motion. Please do this as you watch so that you can see the queen, etc. BTW, the queen is on the top center of the frame when I show it to the camera.

Here is the recorded inspection:


Sunday, February 13, 2022

What did you learn in your short course? A Crossword Buzzle

I created this crossword puzzle for the GBA Newsletter after the MABA Short Course a couple of weeks ago. I thought you might find it fun! I'm doing these for the newsletter and will put them here on the blog after the newsletter has come out.

Have fun with it - pretty easy and should test your basic bee knowledge after a one day short course.


Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Corks and the Bees Water Supply

 When I set up the bird bath, I wasn't thinking of the bees. There is water in my neighborhood - a nearby creek and feeder streams all over - so plenty of water available. But the first warm day this winter, I noticed bees in my bird bath, struggling to maintain their footing and a couple of dead bees in the water. I immediately added wine corks. Only a couple. I want the birds to use the water AND I wanted to accommodate the bees.

I noticed a very interesting feature of the corks when I was watching the bees in the bird bath yesterday.  You'll see too when you look closely at this photo:

Look at the unfocused bee on the cork. Her proboscis is stuck down in the cork. She is using the porous cork to suck up water absorbed into it, rather than risk drowning by balancing her way down to the surface of the water.

At the MABA short course on Saturday, several people asked how long is the bee's proboscis. I believe from watching them on the corks that her proboscis is a little over 1/8". This is why the plant: bee balm (crimson monarda) is not a flower that our honey bee can use as a nectar source. A hummingbird has a long enough tongue to gather from bee balm, but not the honey bee.

Even with the cork, there are bees who drown, but it at least provides a modicum of safety for those searching for water. The bees floating in the water are dead. But the ones on the back cork in the first photo look like they are winning the bee log-rolling contest. They are actually getting water between the two corks which don't move because the ice in the bird bath has glued them together.

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