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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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Hive Inspection from Week of St. Patrick's Day

 Tonight I held a virtual hive inspection for Metro Atlanta Beekeepers. We watched the video below to see three inspections: a Langstroth hive that overwintered from a split in 2021; my top bar hive into which I installed the March 2 swarm I caught in Decatur; the split I made in my own backyard which has finally made queen cells.

If you'd like to see what we watched, minus the ongoing discussion that we had on Zoom as we watched it, the video is below:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Video Record of the First Day of Spring Swarm Capture and Installation

 Yesterday, as I reported in my last post, while I was building a chicken coop in my backyard, my own hive swarmed. I had been checker boarding for several weeks and they swarmed anyway. But luckily I captured the swarm.

Unluckily, the movie I made on my iPhone required "converting?" That's the first time that has happened to me and it wouldn't download even after converting (from what??). So I shot some screenshots of the movie and then filmed the install which did not require converting for some reason.

Let me know in the comments or by email if you have any questions.

Monday, March 21, 2022

A Swarm in my Own Backyard

As a responsible beekeeper, I try very hard to pay attention to my hives and make efforts to keep them from swarming. On my largest hive this spring, I have taken a split from it. (I didn't actually split the hive, but took frames of brood and eggs and made a split.) I also have been checker boarding the hive to give them the idea that they had plenty of room. 

We had heavy rains in Atlanta. I moved in June of last year to a house, new to me. I just discovered in the last month that sometimes in the heavy rains, the back corner of my backyard and the back fence area of my backyard fill with water. The water literally came up to the bottom of the cinder blocks on which my largest hive - the one I've been checkerboarding like mad - sits. 

Yesterday I took that entire hive apart all the way down to the cinder blocks and moved the cinder blocks forward the length of a cinder block.

The green arrow indicates where the edge of the water was after the heavy rains (and it stayed there all day and night). The blue oval marks the footprint of the original hive position. Moving the hive forward about a foot didn't seem to bother the bees. They appeared to adapt immediately.

And today, despite three checkerboarded boxes on the top of the hive, they swarmed. My grandson and I were building a chicken coop in the backyard and the bees just wouldn't leave us alone. Then we realized that they were swarming.

This is a four year old survivor hive and I really didn't want them to swarm, and if they did choose to swarm, I wanted to collect the swarm. These bees flew into an evergreen tree about twenty feet from the hive and about ten feet up. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. 

The timing was terrible. Dylan, my grandson, had to go home for soccer practice. As I drove him home, I kept thinking about where I would put this swarm. I didn't plan to climb ladders this year, but I was going to today to get that swarm. Intermittently I reminded myself that you are not supposed to count your chickens before they are hatched. 

Sure enough, I ran into my backyard and the swarm wasn't up high in the tree. But bees were still buzzing around and I discovered that the whole swarm had moved down to a much lower branch.

It was a quick and easy (no ladder) swarm capture. I then left the box for about an hour for the bees to settle into their transport container. Then I installed the swarm about 20 minutes away in the Morningside Community Garden.

I'll check on it tomorrow. And when I post the YouTube of the capture and install, I'll put a link here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Buttermilk Honey Rolls

 Today one of my daughters had a medical procedure so I wanted to take her dinner. I included with her dinner the buttermilk honey rolls that have won so many blue ribbons for me. I realized that I have never posted this video on this blog of how to make the rolls. 

Here it is:

Try them - they are easy to make and always a hit!

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Caught my first swarm of the season today - March 2!

 I got the call at about 3 PM from my local club swarm list. Dave, who manages the list, knew I didn't want to climb ladders this year and said this one was one inch from the ground. And it was only 15 minutes away near downtown Decatur.

The bees belonged to beekeepers, but not beekeepers who are members of my local club. They got bees last year, had not treated them with anything, and the bees lived through the winter. Today they swarmed and it was a HUGE swarm. As swarms go, this was the size of about four cats and when I carried it away, my estimation was that it was about seven pounds of bees. 

Here's the photo the homeowner sent:

This enormous swarm was hanging from a hydrangea bush and was also pooled on the ground. It was quite a challenge to collect. Lisa, the homeowner, said the bees began gathering at the base of the hydrangea. My assumption then was that the queen was down at the bottom of this swarm. 

The beehive from which the swarm issued was housed in a deep and a medium box - imagine how crowded these bees were since this only represents one half of the hive. I encouraged Lisa to get her husband (the actual beekeeper) to add a box when he got home to give the remaining bees space to grow.

Because of the swarm location I was unable to do a good video of the process. I could barely get to the bees and couldn't place the camera in a way that would work. I'll show you a short bit of what I tried to record. The whole process took an hour because even though I shook a ton of bees into the box, the queen didn't get there until I managed to brush her (I assume - I didn't see her) into a paint container that I had. Then the bees put their bottoms up into the air and began to send out pheromone signals to attract the bees not in the collection box.

Gradually most of the bees were either in the box or on the sheet. A few remained on the tree, but I had hope that they would return to their old hive about twenty feet away by morning. 

I took the bees to my empty top bar hive - a great place to put a swarm that large. I am sorry I didn't take any photos of the bees when we dumped them in - they absolutely covered the entire interior of the top bar hive because there were so many of them. There was a basketball size cluster of bees clinging to the ventilated top on the collection box. Even when I dumped those into the hive, there were still at least two cats worth of bees inside the collection box to add.

Here are a few stragglers entering the front door to their new home. The bees on the sheet below are still probably gathered around the pheromone of the queen, left by her after I swept her into the paint container and put her in the collection box.

P.S. My friend David L. and I get our hair cut at the same salon. His stylist is Jon, and David told me that Jon keeps bees. Rachel, another stylist there, cuts my hair. Ever since I learned about his beekeeping,  I have always had a short bee conversation with Jon about how his bees are doing every time I visit Rachel for a haircut. 

The morning after I caught this swarm, I got a text from Jon that said, "Good morning, Linda. This is Jon from C___ Hair Studio. I heard you had quite the adventure yesterday with my wife and son! Small world. Thank you so much....." 

Amazing that in this giant metropolis of the Atlanta area that I would know the person from whom I got the swarm (quite by the coincidence of being on the swarm list for MABA.)

Does your local bee club or extension agent keep a swarm list? It's a great way to get a swarm - put your name on it and you will be called when a swarm is available and it's your turn. I get at least one call a year from MABA and as a retired person who is very available to leave at the drop of a hat, I sometimes get more than one/year.

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