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, April 22, 2024

Making Food-Grade Beeswax Polish

 I enjoy making products with my beeswax and sometimes with honey. Most of what I think of as products of the hive are made with wax, however. I was asked to write an article for the GBA Newsletter about how to make furniture polish with beeswax. This is a great recipe because it is spreadable, is completely made with food-grade ingredients, and works beautifully on anything wood in your kitchen as well as on your furniture.

Here's a video of how to do it:

Saturday, April 06, 2024

The value of having a resource nuc

 It is very helpful to have a resource nuc in your apiary. We tell new beekeepers that they should start with two hives for a number of reasons. One is that if your queen dies in one hive, you can take a frame of brood and eggs from the second hive to provide your queenless hive with eggs to make themselves a queen. However, if you are taking from one of your production hives, you are removing their resources to save the second hive. 

If you have a resource nuc in your apiary, your expectation of that hive is that it is for providing aid to the bigger hives. 

Swarm (Again) to Become a Resource Hive for my Apiary

 Last year I sold my original chicken coop to a friend from Butler, Georgia for money and a swarm of bees which he would deliver during swarm season. He puts up swarm traps on his farm in Butler and catches numerous swarms every year. So I took the money, gave him the chicken coop, and waited for my swarm.

Greg's life is complicated and he caught a great swarm for me in about May 2023, but circumstances kept delaying his delivery of this swarm. Long story short, he didn't get the swarm to me until October 2023 and it was still in the swarm trap up in its original tree location for all of that time. In Atlanta, October isn't a time to move bees, so I left them in the swarm trap for winter and hoped for the best. 

I tried something different this winter and wrapped my hives with purchased hive wraps that I only employed around the brood area of the hive. Totally wrapped hives in Georgia often result in a moisture problem, but I reasoned that keeping the brood area warmer might be a good thing. So I also wrapped the swarm trap. 

When spring arrived, all of my hives in my yard lived through the winter and were bursting at the seams with bees. My friend Peter came over to help me open the swarm trap and move the bees into a hive. In the swarm trap there were five deep frames but in addition to building comb on the deep frames, these bees had drawn comb below the deeps to the bottom of the swarm trap. Their length was about the height of three medium boxes. I didn't want to disturb them by cutting and wiring the comb into frames, so we just put the five frames into the box and filled in the sides of the boxes with regular medium frames. 

I can inspect the two medium boxes on the top of the hive above the transferred frames, but I can't really manage the brood, etc. in the bottom three boxes. Meanwhile, it's swarm season and this hive that was trapped in the swarm trap for a year just can't get enough of swarming!

So it sent out a primary swarm on May 24 and I gave that swarm to a new beekeeper who didn't have bees yet. Then on April 3, it swarmed again and landed on my deck rail. I gave that one away to a beekeeper whose hives had died over the winter. Then on April 5, it sent out another secondary swarm, again landing on the deck. I decided I should keep this one as a resource nuc. 

Here's the video of the whole process:

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

April Fool's Day Swarm Capture

 My bee club Metro Atlanta Beekeepers has a SWARM COMMANDER, Dave Marshall. He fields all the calls that come in (812-369-0401) about swarms in the Atlanta area. He has a list of over 50 beekeepers who have signed up to collect swarms. Each has registered his/her wishes as to how far one will go to get a swarm; how high one will climb to get a swarm; how experienced one is in catching swarms, etc. Then as calls come in, he texts those of us on the list based on our position on the list and with all of those preferences in mind.

Lucky me, on April Fool's Day, Dave texted me about this swarm at Emory. I live only fifteen minutes from the location (that's saying something in huge Atlanta) and I will not at age 75 go up on ladders. This was the perfect swarm for me since it was on a picnic table and so close to my house, so I hopped in my car and headed to Emory. They had already called Orkin who was on the scene when I telephoned the woman who called Dave. Orkin would not spray the bees but would "call a professional" to come and get them (and charge Emory, of course). Laura Hunt, the person who called Dave, said I would come for free. I spoke to an Emory rep who was there and assured him that I was qualified (a Master Beekeeper and past president of the Ga Beekeepers Association who had kept bees for nineteen years) so he agreed for me to come and rescue the swarm.

There's a church on the Emory campus nearby where feral bees live in a tree. A groundskeeper who had noticed the swarm at 8 that morning said the tree bees had swarmed before, were within a football field's distance (how far a queen might fly) and these probably came from there. It was a small swarm and I'm guessing it was a secondary swarm with a virgin queen. It's bigger than it looks because the bees were tightly packed and wrapped around the pole near the table top edge.

Collecting it was a challenge (like the one I collected from a mailbox last year) and I don't have it filmed well because I didn't have my tripod, but here is the YouTube video of the collection and installation:

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