Honey For Sale

There is still some of last years Honey available.  This year’s probably wont be harvested until August, so I may run out before then.  Also, last winter was rough on the bees so I’m not sure how much I’ll get this year


You can buy it at Brooklyn Fabric Company.  Open Tues – Sat 9 to 5.  116 Jackson St. next to the Flag Store.



Getting Swarmy

I had a feeling I was going to be late inspecting my hives, but between work and the weather, I didn’t a chance to get to it until today.  As I had feared, one of my booming hives in the outyard had sealed swarm cells.

It looked like they hadn’t swarmed yet so I took a few frames of brood, a bunch of extra bees and found the old queen.  I moved them into a new hive in my back yard.

Hopefully they will think they have swarmed, and all will be good.  But, there’s always the chance of having 2 queens and I only removed one.  I doubt that is the case as I made it through 27 of 30 frames before I found the one I did.  There is also the chance that they have just made up their mind to swarm and once the cells start hatching they will leave with one of the virgins.

I reversed all the other hives and added supers.  There weren’t any swarm cells I saw in the other hives, so for those I hope I was early enough to do some prevention.

I’m trying some of the things Mike Palmer suggested in a presentation given to the Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association.  You can see it on line http://vimeo.com/20202284


Busy Weekend

I’m realizing that with the unusually warm spring, I’ll need to be ready for splits and swarm prevention earlier than I had planned.  So, I spent the last weekend finishing up loose ends.  I think I’m in good shape equipment wise, as I built more than I think I will need, at least initially.  I finished making the last inner covers for the expansion I’m planning.  I use this design from Honey Run Apiaries.  If you aren’t handy building them, you can buy them as well.

I will not be buying queens this year.  I’m going to graft off of my existing survivors.  So, I organized the equipment for two cell building nucs this weekend so they will be ready to go.  One thing that concerns me about grafting is the timing.  I travel frequently for my day job, and could run into a situation where I have a set of ready queen cells and nowhere to put them.  I built a hatching frame in which I can put cells in, allow them to hatch and keep the queens segregated (see picture).Hatching Frame

There are two hives at my house that I want to move to the outyard, which I will probably do next weekend.  I only want two hives and some nucs in my backyard in order to prevent any potential neighbor issues.  The hives are small now, so I want to move them before they get too big.

I’m seeing dandelion greens poking through the grass.  If the weather holds, I could see them blooming a few weeks early.  Once that happens everything will kick into high gear!

Beekeeping Resolutions 2012

I’ve been spending the past few months thinking about how I would do things differently in 2012. I thought some of my ideas would make good New Years Beekeeping resolutions. Beekeeping is a constant learning process.  We learn a lot from each other, and more importantly from the bees.  So most of these ideas arent my own, and I’ll try to give credit where it is due.
Here they are in no particular order
1) Make my own equipment
One of my other hobbies is woodworking.  So I’ve always had the equipment and know how to build my own beekeeping equipment.  I have been building my own screened bottom boards and ventilated inner covers mostly because I couldn’t find a design from an equipment provider that I particularly liked.  I had been buying my supers and assembling them myself, mostly because I didn’t want to spend my woodworking time building boxes, and would rather work on other things.  But, based on the expansion I want to do this year, it’s going to make economic sense that I build them myself.  I hope to get things set up well enough with jigs and a process to make things go as efficiently as possible.  The only thing I plan on buying is frames…too tedious to try to make.
My ventilated inner cover is a combination of an inner cover, upper entrance and a ventilator rim.  I am redesigning it to also support feeding emergency dry sugar in the winter.  I’ll post photos after I finalize the design.
2) Regress at least one hive to natural cell
Some beekeepers swear by it, some studies say it doesn’t work.  I want to try it for myself.  I have purchased some Mann Lake plastic frames in natural cell size and will use those to regress, and then go foundationless when they are building in natural size.  Of the studies I’ve read, there are some issues that I see that I’m going to correct with my own unscientific study
– Use locally mated/adapted queens not packages
– Isolate the small cell hives from the large to prevent drifting
– Plan on a longer term before drawing conclusions…longer than 1 season.
– Survivability is the measure, not mite count.  I may be simplifying things, or may just be ignorant, but as I see it the only thing a mite count measures is the number of mites on the bees, which may be no indication of how the bees are surviving with the mites.  I know there is a multiplication factor with a drop count on large bees (double the number to cover those sealed in brood), but I have yet to see a similar study done on small cell bees.  So if there is a larger number of phoretic mites on small cell bees, does that necessarily indicate a larger number of mites sealed behind small cell brood?
3) Plan to sacrifice hives for winter stores or nuc feeding
The credit for this idea comes from Glen Stanly, Iowa State apiarist (Emeritus).  He recognized the value of feeding real honey and pollen instead of syrup and substitutes.  He advocated eliminating hives with low stores, or even using one hive as a feeder hive for the others.  Better to have 3 hives going into winter with all honey stores than to try to prop up 5 hives with substitutes.  To that end, I am planning on taking one or two full size hives and reducing them to nucs for the winter, then using the surplus for feeding others.
4) 2 nucs for each hive.  One for overwintering, one for queen backup.
Mike Palmer gets the credit for influencing me to take this method.  I plan on trying to have twice as many nucs as I have production hives.  If you haven’t heard Mike speak on the subject, here is an excellent videos of his presentation. http://vimeo.com/23178333
5) Observe and record the blooms
I have to admit to embarrassing ignorance on knowing what blooms when in my area.  This year, I am going to better observe and keep records
6) Brood boxes will all have 10 frames
One habit I got into, which many of you probably also do, is put 9 frames into a 10 frame body.  The rationale is that it’s easier to manipulate and you have less of a chance of squashing a queen.  It’s too much of a pain to align the frames, and I think I’m confident enough in my hive manipulation that I’m going to go 10 frames in all brood boxes.  Honey supers will have 9 to have them draw deeper cells in order to make it easer to uncap.
This is just a list of the main points, there are lots of little details that I will try to document as the year progresses.
Questions and comments are always welcome!

A Survivor!

Yesterday I went to clean up my last two nucs from the winter that didn’t survive.  I had been putting it off as there were still some bees alive in each, and I wasnt sure what I wanted to do with them.  One nuc had laying workers, the other had nothing going on.

Imagine my surprise when I saw brood in the nuc that had little activity.  Not laying worker brood, but actual worker brood…and eggs.  Not much brood as there were probably only 100 bees total.  Then I saw a queen.

Somehow this nuc that has had limited population since February is still chugging along.

I decided to combine the two.  As they were both in the same split deep box, I put the queen and the limited bees and brood in a single nuc, then took the laying worker side out some distance from the hive and shook it out.  Any returning bees found their way back and joined their new sisters.

I had planned on making a split from my other survivor.  At this point, I’m not sure if I should just use this queen for the split, or go ahead and make a queenless split, then take another frame of brood to help this survivor out.

CCD Solved?

They appear to have found the cause for Colony Collapse Disorder


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