Beekeepers Friend

Peaches' Beekeeping Blog

August 9, 2015

Then There Were None

I am almost ashamed to write this post. As a person who has  obtained the rank of Master Beekeeper, I am not showing much promise in proving it. It really takes more than a piece of paper to make a master of anything without making some effort to “practice what you preach”. A Dr. of Philosophy doesn’t show much intelligence without philosophizing any. A Dr. of Medicine doesn’t elicit much trust if he doesn’t practice. A Master Mathematician doesn’t show much numerical ability without doing some calculations.

By the same token, a Master Beekeeper doesn’t generate much faith in his wisdom if he doesn’t show his ability to run an apiary with measured success if he keeps starving his bees, or letting the pests and parasites to decimate his colonies. I could say, “Do as I say and not as I do”, but that is a cop out of putting the blame onto someone else. I have no one to blame but myself. On second thought, I AM ashamed to write this post.

But the truth of the matter is, I have to do something to motivate me into action. I can tell everyone else how to operate their apiaries and how to manipulate their bees to help them to increase their numbers and health, but I don’t seem to be able to make myself do the same for me. I would make a good boss and maybe a fair teacher, but I am not a very good leader. A good leader will lead by example which I am not doing.

Now that I have no bees, I could use this time to clean up my apiary, equipment, get my boxes repaired or replaced along with the frames and foundations. This would be a good time to have a class on how to do this by having some wannabees and new beekeepers over to get that experience using my equipment. It would help both of us, but I find it hard to ask for help. I have always done things for me by myself. That is a failing on my part.

You wonder what this has to do with beekeeping? Well let me tell you. It is life in general. The ladies where I grew up would have a quilting bee by having a group meet at someone’s house and sew some quilts together to sell or give to the needy or to replace the old worn out bed covers. Then there are the ladies that have canning parties so every one can put up some fresh fruit and vegetables. I was a cowboy in my younger years and come roundup time for branding, moving cattle to another pasture, or getting ready for the market, the different neighboring ranches would send one, two, or more ranch hands to help. It was called being neighborly.

Beekeepers could do that, but being what they are, most beekeepers are solitary beings, unless they are commercials, then they have their employees to do the work. I would like to see the beekeepers be neighborly like that, but they are a afraid that if someone knew where all their locations are, they would soon be missing some hives, or that someone would move in close to their areas and cut down on the forage volume.

I personally have not problem with beekeepers calling me with questions, asking me to come look at their bees, showing them what the heck I was talking about, and explaining by using their bees as examples. But to me, being a self contained unit, asking for help is like admitting that I am not sufficient to complete the task. The mighty ego is the downfall of not just me, but a lot of people, not just beekeepers.

Maybe by the next post, I will have some better news as to my progress on the cleanup and getting ready for the next swarm.

In the mean time, keep your veil handy, your smoker lit, and your hive tool  sharp!

July 1, 2015

Frames, Frames, My Kingdom for Frames

Have you ever needed something and you had to stop doing whatever you were doing and either build, repair, clean, or even go to town to purchase it? That is my situation at this time. I have to clean some boxes and build new frames for them.

From the time I last wrote to now, I have lost my two new colonies. I will be honest. I neglected the bees and they got an abundance of Small Hive Beetles along with Varroa Mites. I have also neglected to clean the boxes and now I will see a bunch of beetle larvae unless they have gone to ground to pupate.

I am going to build approximately 25 frames and get them wired, then put wax foundation in them. That will give me two 10 frame boxes and one 5 frame nuc. Then I can either add a nuc to the remaining colony that is living in a 2 story  nuc box to a 10 frame brood box, or I can put another nuc on top and let them just keep on keeping on. During this time, I will need to start feeding them as we are going into a dearth.

Now would be a good time to make some more frames and clean some more boxes checking them first to keep the good boxes and get rid of the bad ones. There are two times that you will be slow and that is in the Winter and again in the Fall.

This is all that I am going to bore you with this time. Remember to keep your Veil close, your smoker handy, and your hive tool sharp.

May 4, 2015

Training Time, But No Students

Kinda spooky, now that good teaching opportunities are occurring everywhere, but without new beekeepers to learn, these are lost lessons. Right now, I am preparing my clothes and equipment to load up with my wife’s and leave in the morning to Orlando, FL to watch our youngest son graduate with his Doctorate in nursing. Then we will be off to Indianapolis, IN to watch our Number One grandson graduate High School. A flying trip (in the car) to Knoxville, TN to witness our Number Two grandson graduate from High School. After which we, my wife and I, will take a leisurely trip back to Pensacola, All this in the next three weeks.

In the meantime, I will not be able to show how to put frames and foundation together and make some supers to add to my hives. As of right now, some of the beekeepers on different forums are saying that their honeyflow is over and the bees are eating all the honey at a rapid pace and they are having to feed sugar water. I live in a housing area and the bees are still bringing in pollen and nectar. I am having to make more room for them to store their food. However, since I am a procrastinator, I have waited too long and now I will not be here to finish my work. Now the bees will maybe swarm and then I won’t have to add a supper. Oh well! That is my fault and no one else’s. Maybe someone will get the swarms and increase his apiary.

This is one of those times that you should “do as I say and not as I do”.

Until Next time, keep your veil close,  your smoker lit, and you hive tool sharp.

April 27, 2015

Back to My Apiary and Other Things

I have been going over in my head as to what to do with my colonies now that I have three of them. Do I leave them in my backyard,  or do I try to split and move some to the out apiaries. By the way, I don’t even know if I have any apiaries left. I need to touch base with the land owners and see if anyone has moved into my spots. That is something that needs to be taken care of sooner than later. You need to keep in touch with your contacts or you just might lose what you thought you had.

I was going to split my three colonies, but I really don’t have the bees or brood enough yet. I want each to split on their own without help from their neighbors. I will wait another two weeks to split. I need to get this done before the spring flow is over. I want them to be able to make wax to insure they have plenty of comb for storage.

I plan this way to split just before I start my may graduation run. I have a son that is getting his doctorate  degree in nursing in Orlando, FL. Then I drive to Indianapolis, IN. for my number one grandson’s high school graduation. Grandson number two will graduate from high school near Knoxville, TN. That means the middle two and a half weeks of May is taken up and I will be missing some of the beekeeping association meetings I regularly attend. You might say this will be a working vacation. hehe….

I am in hopes that when I get back, my bees will have gotten strong and I will be able to say with surety that they will be survivors and I will be able to loan some of the bees to a observation hive.  I have found that using an observation hive, will open lots of opportunities for bee talks to all areas of people. Show and tell always gets the attention of the young and old alike. I have also gotten some Newbie beekeepers interested in coming to the meetings and making our associations grow.

I am sure that by now that some of you readers out there have heard about two new types of bee hives. One is the Bee Barrel. This is a interesting article and the link I gave, is to the video. To download and read is easier for me as I need to see it in print to understand some of the concepts. I haven’t had the information as to how to extract the honey yet. Something about not having a patent on the extractor or the process to extract yet. I’ll keep you posted as the new information becomes available.

The second type of bee hive is the Flow Hive. There are several videos on the flow hive. there are several pros and cons about this type of hive. All discussions for both sides are valid and very thought provoking. I think that you, the readers, should research for yourselves and make your own decision.

I will leave you here as I am about 2 weeks late with the posting of this page.

March 20, 2015

Life Cycle Of The Varroa Mite

There are at least 30 different classes of mites that have been found living in a honeybee hive and at least three of those are considered vampire-like parasites. They live off the haemolymph which is the life blood of the honeybee.

One is the Trachea Mite that lives in the breathing tubes of the bee. These are not as much a problem as the other mites so we are not discussing them at this time.

Two are the of the more serious variety, V. jacobsoni and V. destructor until recently, were thought to be the same, but now DNA tests have separated them into two species. The most destructive is V. destructor, however, the life cycle is basically the same.

It starts with the adult female mite taking up residence in a beehive by riding in on the back of a bee that has robbed another hive and brought home, or the mite has ridden the robbing bee to the house that is being robbed and jumping onto a house bee there. Either way is the way the mites move from hive to hive and infesting the whole apiary.

Once in the hive the mite will jump into the cell and hide under the larva and hide until the  larva turns into a pupa and the nurse bees puts a cap on the cell. That is when the mite will lay 3 to 5 eggs with the first egg being a male. The brother in this case will mate with his sisters then die. The female mites will latch onto the pupa and emerge with the full grown worker bee then start the cycle over again.

At this time, I should point out that the mites prefers the drone cells as they are larger and easier to move around in and also the drones have a longer pupation period than the worker bees by 2 – 4 days. This gives the mites that much longer to develop.

This is the reason that we have to treat for the mites several times at a treatment time to be sure to get the majority of the mites. The treatment for mites is a contact type of chemical and the mites that are exposed are the only ones to receive the chemical. The mites in the enclosed cells are protected until the caps are removed and the bees emerge from the cells.

The treatments and types of chemicals will be another post. But in the meantime, keep you veil handy, your smoker lit, and your hive tool sharp.

 

March 12, 2015

Split Survivor Colonys

A young beekeeper and his wife called me about several swarms he had hived. He ran out of complete boxes and asked what to do with one that was boxed but had no bottom board. Well since I am in the early stages of rebuilding my apiary, I said that I probably could take it off his hands. With them being new beekeepers, the swarm looked larrrrge so I loaded a 10 frame box with drawn comb along with top and bottom boards. I also put a nuc in the truck just in case the swarm was not as big as he thought.

When I arrived at their apiary, there were the beekeepers, his mother, and their son and daughter-in-law ready to watch and learn. The first thing I asked about was the sheet draped over the hive of  one of the swarms. The answer was that they didn’t want the bees to leave. I explained that the bees were looking for a home and when they were put into the box, they found a home and unlike humans, didn’t need to rest. They needed to get to work and with the sheet blocking their way, they couldn’t forage for nectar to start producing wax with which to start building comb.

With the bees uncovered, we took the top board off and dumped the adhering bees on the ground in front of the landing board. When Tom, the new beekeeper, and his wife, Gena, asked about the bees flying away, I showed them how the bees were going back into the hive.  Then, as the frames were not in the brood box, I had him put the frames in to give the bees the incentive to start building cells.

Next, we went to the swarm that was to go home with me. The brood box was sitting on a flat piece of cardboard with a top board jacked up so the bees would have a way in and out of the box as there was no bottom board. We proceeded to take the brood box to the truck and dumped the bees in the 10-frame brood box with the thought of putting them into a nuc the next day as a training session.

Next, we went into the two colonies he had on stands. First thing out of the hatbox, was do we need a smoker? Yes. Always, when going to the apiary, you should have a smoker, hive tool, and have your veil. Always, always, always. You never know when you will need one and going back to the house to get you equipment is not always a convenient time.

One was a European breed, the other was of Russian ancestry. From the European colony, we took a frame of open brood and put into the colony with the sheet just to give the bees a reason to stay, “There’s babies here and we need to feed them”. I told Tom and Gena that the bees have not had time to orientate to that spot on the ground yet, so he could move them tonight after the bee meeting to their stand that he had prepared. At night, the bees are all home and waiting for the sun to rise in the morning. That is the best time to move them to their new location. You want as many bees as you can get.

The Russian colony was filling up the brood cells with nectar. No brood, no eggs is an indicator that it was queen-less and he would need to get another queen or put some eggs in the hive so the bees could make their own queen. In that case, the bees would in all probability would end up being European. He asked why were they putting nectar in the cells instead of making another queen. The answer is simple. The bees cannot make a queen without a 1-3 day old larva. Can’t have a larva without an egg. So the bees without any direction, will do what they know the best and that is to make honey.So they forage – forage – forage.

At this point in time, we were needing to get going as our association was having a meeting and I would be late if I stopped by my house to drop the bees off, so I took them to the meeting. As it was approaching dark, the bees would be fine to leave in the truck and not blocked up. I forgot to say that I hardly ever plug the hive entrance when transporting bees unless I am going a fair distance in the daytime with several stops. Plugging the entrance in that case would keep me from losing very many bees in transport.

The next day arrived and I had a call from a couple that has had bees for about three years, but didn’t work them much, mostly had them for their own enjoyment. Richard and his wife, Barbara has just recently decided to get really involved with their bees and have been calling me for advice. The questions involved swarming and splitting. Well-wellll-welll- well! Guess what?! “Bee at my house at 4:30 pm and we will have a class.” I’ll have help rearranging my bees and maybe splitting a hive with freeee help. Hehe

I have a two-story nuc that I think is ready to split, and a 10-frame brood box that I just might be able to split. So at 4:30 all three showed up at my house and we (they) got suited up and with veils, went outside to start the smoker with whatever we could find for fuel. The best free fuel is Pine straw. However, some leafs and wood shavings, chips, pressed sawdust will work.

Having smoked the swarm in the 10-frame box that Tom and Gena gave me, the class as a group, set up the nuc and transferred five frames and all the bees into it. Then they moved the big box out of the way and placed the nuc in the space that it had occupied. This way the foraging bees would go to the nuc where their queen was.

My over wintered 2-story nuc was moved over and the 10-frame brood box was placed in the same spot and all 10 frames, honey, brood, and bees, were transferred into it. Not enough brood yet to split.

Then we went to the last overwintered swarm box and checked. It was weak and we took a frame of  bees that had two queen cells and put it in the weak hive to either replace the queen or at least strengthen the colony.

That frame had three queen cells, so I gave one to Tom for his Russian colony, and while I was looking for a queen cage, she had chewed her way out of the cell but was kept in cell cup by a finger until I could get the cage to her. In this case, I didn’t have any fondant for a plug so I got a small marshmallow. It works just great.

Now we all will just have to wait to see if all the bees make it. Just a side note, during all this maneuvering of the bees, I only say three Small Hive Beetles which I promptly killed.

As always, keep you veil handy, your smoker lit, and your hive tool sharp.

March 4, 2015

Life Cycle of the Honey Bee

The honey bee is the most versatile insect in the world. It pollinates, makes medicinal products, food, and shows us how the insect world works (in a way). This is a post on how they operate from conception to death, (my own opinion).

First of all, the virgin queen goes on a maiden flight to the Drone Congregation area to get impregnated by 3-4 up to 20-28 drones. Then she goes back to the hive and starts laying eggs in the center of the cells. One egg to a cell. The egg is standing up on end. By day 3 the egg has laid down in a bed of royal jelly.

Day 4 the egg has hatched into a larva. From that day through day 6 all the larvae are fed royal jelly then on day 8, all male and female larvae, except the female larvae that have been designated to be the new queens, are fed beebread which is a form of baby food. It is made of pollen and nectar (honey). At this point in life, the baby larvae eat 90% pollen and 10% honey. Later, the adult bees will eat 10% pollen and 90% nector.

The worker bee will be in the larval stage for 6 days. On day 10 through day 21, she will be in the pupal stage metamorphosing into a full adult. On days 10 and 11 the nurse/house bees will top the worker cell with a flat cap or roof on her cell. On the 21-22 day she will eat her way out of the cell as a full grown adult and will then slurp up some honey and then get to work on cleaning up her cell so it will be ready for the next egg. Thus begins the workers work life until she dies which is about 40-45 days in the spring and summer. For those bees that live in the northern part of the U.S. and southern Canada, the workers have a shorter spring period in which to work with a longer winter period in which they can rest so the bees can live for a much longer period of time.

The drone will be in the larva stage for 7 days, and on the 11th day will elongate and start his transference into an adult. On days 11 and 12, the workers will build a dome-like cap on the cells that will look like a rack of bullets standing up ready to be boxed or loaded in a gun. The reason for the high roof on the cell is because the drones are so much longer than the worker bees. On the 24th day the drone will start chewing his way out of the cell and will then start begging the workers to feed him as he cannot feed himself.

The drones are the only bees that can go to any bee hive with impunity and get something to eat. If a worker goes to another hive, she will either needs to be bringing food (nectar or pollen) to be able to enter, or she will be treated as a robber and either killed or driven away.

Now the drones will live until they mate with the new queen at which time they die from an explosive ejuclation and fall to the ground dead, or the workers will kick them out during the winter so the food will last longer. Side note: The drones don’t like the idea that they will either freeze or starve to death, so they try to get back into a hive. This is when the workers decide to gang up on the drones and drag them back outside (kicking and screaming???), rips their wings off, pulls their legs off, throws them on the ground and says,”Now, you will stay put!”

The queen cells are also a special type of cell. The queens are so much longer than the workers and even longer than the drones, that the cells will be drawn out and folded down atop of comb some cells to the extent that it looks like some peanuts hanging down the side of the comb. On day 10, the larva will start elongating and will fill up the longer cell as she turns into a pupa. Day 11-12, the bees will close the end of the cell for the remainder of the pupa stage.

Just about an hour before starting to chew her way out of the cell, the new virgin queen will start singing or “piping” as some of the older beekeepers would say. This lets the workers know that she may need help chewing the end off the cell. Also, it lets the other potential queens know that the fight to the death is imminent.

When the queen emerges, she goes around to the other queen cells and enlisting help from the workers in the area, to start chewing the side of the queen cell so she can stick her stinger into the side of the trapped queen before she can get her stinger out to sting in self defense. If a queen gets out of her cell before she is stung to death, then may the best, quickest, luckiest queen win. Sometimes they will sting each other and both will die. That is another story.

The location of the queen cells is important to the bees and beekeeper. If the cells are at the bottom of the frame or comb, then this signifies to all that the bees are getting ready to swarm. This means that the old queen is getting ready to leave the parent hive and take approximately 50-60% of the population with her. When they hear the first piping, then all heck breaks loose and the exodus begins.

Another side note: At this time the bees will either die for lack of finding a shelter, or they will either find a suitable location or they will start an open air hive. Again, another story.

If they make the right decisions and live, then usually, the bees will make some supersedure queen cells in the center of the beeswax sheet or frame and the same formula as above applies with the exception that the bees are not going anywhere. They are simply replacing a queen that has been injured, got sick and is dying, or has stopped being proliferate by not being able to lay fertile eggs.

These are some of the things you need to know if you are going to breed queens for sale or raise them for your own use.

Check your supers and add as necessary. Until the next time, keep your veil handy, your smoker lit, and your hive tool sharp.

 

March 1, 2015

Getting Ready to Pull Honey

Now that the bees are set and making increases of the workforce and the splits are working to build comb, it is time to get some more supers ready to put on the hives and maybe to replace the honey supers that you will need to pull soon.

Make sure that all the corners are in good repair and the new foundation is in the frames. You won’t have much time to do that when you need to place the supers on the hives to give the bees more room to store honey.

Last of April, you need to get ready to pull your honey and get some replacement supers, if you are going to get a speciality honey, such as Tupelo, Gallberry, or Privet. You have to keep the wildflower honey separated from the speciality honey so you can sell it as a one-nectar source honey. This also means that you must clean your extractor, pump, and lines so that only the  speciality honey is in the extraction equipment.

Use to in the old days, 20 years ago, we could store the honey in the supers and wait until we had all the honey ready to extract, then start with the most expensive (Tupelo) honey and clean the equipment, then go to the next Gallberry, clean, then Privet and then without cleaning, on to Wildflower because Wildflower is a mixture all all the different honey anyway. Still it was work to be a specialist in honeys. Now we have to extract in 1-3 days of pulling the honey before the Small Hive Beetle larvae hatches and slimes the honey.When we strain the honey, that separates the SMB eggs from the honey and when we melt the wax (if it is in one or 2 days) the heat will kill the eggs and larvae.

In the meantime, we need to strain the honey through a paint strainer to clean all the non honey elements, then you have to have the containers to pour the honey into for retail. At this point, I would make sure the jars, bottles, and pails are clean and have lids ready to put on the tops as soon as the containers are full.

I usually have 2-6 different sizes of each of the honeys for the customers to choose from. [12 oz., 1 lb., 1 1/2 lb. (pint), 2 lb., 3 lb. (quart), 12 lbs. (1 gallon)]. Sometimes I even have a 6 lb. (1/2 gallon) container. It gives the customers control of the amount they purchase.

February 18, 2015

Bee Spring Is Here Again

I have no excuse at this time for my years’ absence since my last post. So I’ll just jump right into my new post….: I have had my two swarms from last Spring over-winter and now I am looking to do some splits from my survivors. I have made some improvements on some of my wooden-ware as some have started to break down. Wood putty is great for some and the fire pit for the others.

Now is the time to get to planning how to do the splits. Do I uses nuc boxes to make small colonies to start? Or do I put the splits in large brood boxes the let the bees bees fill out at a slower rate? How many splits do I make and what am I going to do with them. Do I try to keep all the bees in my back yard until they get larger or do I move them to an out-apiary? These are the same questions you should be thinking about. Same scenario…just different beekeepers.

Personally, I will probably use nucs to split one of the colonies into, and just divide the other colony into two large brood boxes and let them fill them out. I will take the original queens and their splits to an out-apiary and and leave the new splits with eggs in the same place of the original colonies. The reason is: when the bees swarm, the old queen will leave and take half the population with her with an equal amount of nurse (young) bees, Middle aged (guard and house) bees, as well as older field bees. the bees in the split will then take several 1-3 day old larva and make some more queens to replace the one that left.

This way the swarm will have young bees to produce wax flakes, older house bees use those flakes to build the comb cells and have some guard bees to help fight off incidental intruders, and the field bees to start foraging for food. This will be anywhere from about 20,000 to 60,000 bees. The move will be about 3 miles or more so the field bees will not be in the area they worked before the split. If they recognize the area, then they will go back to the original site. If they are outside of their original work area, then they will be forced to get acquainted with the area back to the new homestead.

Now I understand that not everyone will have the advantage of multiple apiary sites, so there are several ways to split inside of the same area. When you make splits with the knowledge that you will have to use the same apiary, then when you move the frames with open and closed brood, then you must take care to not shake the adhering bees off the frames. These are nurse bees and if you need to shake more bees into the split, then use bees on other brood frames.

The nurse bees have not been out of the hive except to use the bathroom and will not have made any foraging flights to be able to memorize the surrounding area. Now it is possible to move the bees to the furthest point in your yard. Maybe they cannot smell the pheromone of the honey that would be familiar to them from the other hive.

When the bees realize that they have no foragers, then some of the nurse bees will take on that job. The colony will equalize the workload to resemble the correct percentages that a colony needs to survive. Bees are very resilient and very forgiving when you do something to upset the balance.

Now, from now to June, you should be ready to work as the bees will be swarming and you will be catching your own bees and you will have calls telling you of someone else’s bees aswarmin’. You will have your hands and boxes full if you don’t have all your woodenware in use.

Just remember, if you split, then the bees will have only half of a normal colony and they may have trouble keeping the new box warm and according to all the indications, there will be at least one more cold snap before Easter. Take that into consideration when you start splitting.

All these suggestions are my own and not proven in a scientific manor. Keep your veil handy, your smoker lit, and your hive tool sharp.

June 17, 2014

Better Late Than Never

Two things come to mind, referring to the title of this blog. One is that I have bees again, and two, I am posting a blog after a long delay.

My phone rang not too long ago and a man said that he had a swarm of bees out by his mailbox next to the driveway. He couldn’t get into his front door and he had to park in the back yard. His kids could’t go outside to play even in the back yard because of the bees. I asked how big the swarm ball was and he said about a basketball size.

Well, I thinks that that is a good size to start my beekeeping again, so I gets me equipment together and goes to his house. No one is there. so I look around near the mailbox and find a swarm of bees in the bush next to the road. I see that it is only about the size of a softball. Where is the basketball cluster? I call the man’s cell phone and he says that the one I found (softball) was the one he was referring to. Rats! I wouldn’t have come if I knew it’s real size.

Since I was prepared for a large swarm and only brought a 10 frame brood box, and I was already there, I shook the pint sized cluster into the big-g-g box. It was a great day in the big outdoors so the bees were sending out scouts to look for a better place to set up housekeeping and to maybe see about some grocery stores in the area. I decided to leave my box and return later in the evening around dusk or later, as it turned out to be. 

I got home and left the bees in the back of my truck till morning. I did get up before the bees and moved them to the back yard (I use my back yard for a first aid station). At that time, I opened to see how many bees I had. There was enough to barely cover two sides of a frame. I would let them rest for a day and then feed them, hoping that they would decide that the big brood box was too big and leave.

Two days later, I got a call to get a swarm and I took a five frame nuc to hive a basketball size swarm. It turned out to be closer to a soccer ball  size. I retrieved it after dark and decided to take it to the back yard once I got home so it wouldn’t decide to leave because of all the moving around. I had already made some sugar syrup so the next morning, I traded the 10 frame box for a 5 frame nuc ( the weak colony was happy and contented so needless to say they didn’t move), and placed an empty nuc on top of the strong colony and proceeded to feed both colonies.

It took the strong colony 2 days to empty the quart jar of sugar water and took the weak colony four or five days to empty their quart jar.

Now for the”Rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say. The little colony has one frame of babies, open and capped brood. Since I did not give them any pollen substitute, they had to find some in the neighborhood enough to feed the larvae. I checked only because they are the weakest. I have not bothered the other hive except to open the top long enough to see that the bees were covering all the frames in the second story. I will be checking more thoroughly this next week. That is when I will clip and mark the queens. This year the color is RED.

If you want to know the International Color Code, then here it is: Years that end with 1 or 6 = Green; 2 or 7 = Blue; 3 or 8 = Black; 4 or 9 = Red; 5 or 0 = Yellow. This way when you want to know the age of you queens, then the color will tell you. If you don’t find the marked queen and you do find an unmarked queen then you know she just hatched this year.

About 12 days later, I didn’t get around to clipping and marking the queens, but I did add a nuc to the weak colony and took the strong colony out of the double stacked nuc boxes and placed them into the 10 frame brood box. They have grown to a strong 10 frame hive. I an going to fix some medium supers and place some frames with foundation in the supers to give the bees something to work on.

I know—you are going to tell me that the bees will not draw out foundation unless a nectar flow is on and we are now at the end of the nectar flow. However, you remember that in the Spring, we feed 1:1 sugar water to jumpstart the egg laying. Well, I am going to feed them so they will think a flow is on and start the queen to laying eggs. In order for her to have place to lay, the bees will have to build wax cells. They can use the sugar water to manufacture building wax. Then when the Fall flow arrives, I will stop the sugar water and let the workers continue on as they would normally. By the time Spring gets here, they will have used and/or eaten all their stored sugar water and will be ready to put real nectar in the pantry.

On a side note,  man called me to get a large swarm of bees from in front of his house. He was having repair work on his house and he didn’t want the workers stung. Since I have had no good descriptions of the swarms in the past, I only took a nuc and my wife and proceeded to go to his home. When we got there, My wife looked for the bees while I knocked on the door to keep the repairmen from calling the cops thinking I was stealing from them.

The man said that a girl had already come and collected the bees and just left minutes before I showed up. He said that the bees were hanging down from a branch of the short tree and nearly touched the ground. He spread his arms and the distance was about 1 1/2 ft by alittle over 2 ft. I am glad that They were picked up as I only had a nuc and all I would have done would have been to drive them off to somewhere else.

If you have any questions about honeybees, honey, equipment, or books, make a comment at the bottom and I will try to answer your inquiries.