I will get some honey this year. The trick right now is finding the time to extract it and fill some jars. There will be gifts of honey.
My reactions to honey bee stings are becoming less severe. During my last trip to my apiary, I was stung five times. The swelling was much less than the last stinging incident, and the itching and irritation went away sooner.
The viticulturist who works in the vineyards near my bees has informed me that honey bees have been feeding on damaged grapes. Of course, this irritates the harvesters, since they don't want to be stung. But this is fascinating to me, since I wonder if I could get grape juice in honey. Would I get purple honey?
Treated the bees for the second time with Sucrocide. The operation proceeded much more smoothly this time. It was faster, and the bees were less irritated.
Unfortunately, I think I initiated some robbing of A hive by B hive. I reduced the entrance to the hive with some sticks and hoped for the best. Fortunately, it was late in the day and there was not much time left before nightfall. I don't know if it will be wise to continue with the third treatment, if I am risking a similar situation.
I received a promotion at work. Now I work a lot more and make a little bit more money.
I sprayed both hives with Sucrocide to treat for mites. Hive B was treated on Saturday, 3 September. I succesfully treated the top two hive bodies, but by the time I got to the bottom hive body, the bees were very agitated, and I called it a day. Hopefully, next time I will be practiced enough to get all three done before the bees get so agitated.
I treated A hive on Monday, Labor Day. I got all but the last three frames done. I stopped at that point owing to the presence of the queen. I am still worried about smooshing the queen, so I stopped after I found her.
I will return and treat both hives next Monday.
With the goldenrod flow on, both hive entrances are crowded with foraging bees coming and going. To me, the level of activity is awesome, and I love to sit and watch the activities at the entrances.
We surrendered the kitty to a foster home, hopefully to be adopted by some nice family. In the meantime, she will be living with some slightly older kittens and their feral mother.
I visited my bees, and added a third hive body to A hive. Instead of taking a frame of drawn foundation out of the 2nd body and swapping it with a frame of bare foundation in the 3rd, I took two drawn frames from B hive. I hope this will give some extra help to the hive that needs it, and give a bit of extra work to the hive that is very strong.
Sadly, we have decided to find a new home for our kitten. Our dog thinks that the kitten is food, I think.
Would anyone like a kitten?
First of all, the cat cost me 150 dollars this afternoon. She is a little sick and wormy from being on her own, but she should be ok. It looks like she got beat up by another cat, and she has two big teeth marks on her soulder. She will be just fine as long as she does not become dinner for one of our dogs.
I pulled out the drawers in the bottom boards to check for mites, and hoo-boy I have some mites up in there.
The drawers, when I pulled them out after a day, were covered in bee garbage, wax, pollen, and bee parts. It is amazing how much crud falls down from the hive during just one day. Here is an overall pic of one of the boards:
The dark mass in the bottom center is wax cappings from cells.
This next shot is a close up of a bee leg.
This next shot contains the dreaded varroa mite. It is the black speck in the center:
There are not enough mites in either hive to cause alarm, but I will be treating for the mites very soon.
I went to check on the progress the bees have been making in the honey supers. Most of the frames are still not completely capped, but they are nearly ready. However, I could not resist taking one frame with me. The smell and taste of a comb of honey straight from the hive is simply ambrosial.
Honey bees don't like it when you make off with their honey. I worked them without smoke, to avoid contaminating the honey with a smoke smell, and to avoid them engorging on the capped honey. Many bees were divebombing my veil, buzzing angrily. But it was not too bad, and I brushed the bees from the frame and walked away with my booty.
I took the frame home, cut out the comb, and placed it in hard plastic cases. Now, the combs are in the freezer, where they will stay for a day or two, what for to kill any wax moth eggs.
Here are some pics of the cut comb in the plastic cases, cover removed:
No sleep for the wicked, so I may as well write about this evening's excitement:
This evening, vinfille and I took the dogs for a walk. Returning home, we heard a cat meowing, and we were curious. We put the dogs inside, and went to where we heard the cat, just three houses down the street. We discovered that the meowing was coming from under the hood of our neighbour's car, so, a bit alarmed, we rang the doorbell and informed our neighbour that there was a cat in his engine. He seemed unconcerned, and informed us that his wife had just recently chased the cat out. I asked him if it was a cat or a kitten, and he told me it was a kitten. Again, he seemed completely unconcerned about a kitten under the hood, so vinfille and I left.
We returned a short time later, after nightfall, with flashlights. Fortunately, we found the kitten sitting underneath the car, and not actually in the car. Unfortunately, when we approached too closely, it went straight into the old canal which parallels the street...
This canal is probably about fifteen feet across and ten or so deep. It has not been an active canal in years, since the city built a new and improved version which runs behind our back yard. In the meantime, this old canal has filled with all manner of muck, runoff, and ooziness. A great variety of wetland plants and trees now grow out of it, and it stinks like a stagnant swamp. Which, at this point, with no actual water running through it, it is.
It was into this stinky bug-infested marsh that I went crawling, flashlight in mouth, to search out this kitten. I could see no more than a few feet in front of me through the thick tangle of layers of reeds and jewelweed. With vinfille spotting from above, I tracked it much more by sound than by sight. Of course, every time I drew near to the cat, it would slip further away.
After a good half hour or so of this, we lost track of it completely, and decided to take a break for dinner.
I returned alone after dinner, determined to find and catch the kitten. I prowled back and forth along the canal a few times, listening. Finally, I stopped and popped a squat and waited. I heard a crunching noise almost directly below me, and after some peering with a flashlight, I saw the kitten almost within reach, munching on... something. I thought I had it this time, but it slipped away and led me on another thirty minute romp through the muck.
I guess it probably just got bored, and let me catch it. vin and I brought it back to the garage, where it immediately devoured a half can of tuna fish.
We could not find a peepus, so we assumed it was a girl. I named her Jewel, since I was crwaling through a great bed of jewelweed (one of my favorite flowers) to find her.
vinfille has suggested that we not keep the adorable little varmint, since our dog Paola will no doubt find her a tasty snack. So, we called out cat-owning friend to take her for the evening, and tomorrow I will take Jewel to the vet to make sure she is as healthy as she looks. Hopefully, in the next few days we can either figure out where she came from, or find a new home for her.
Here are some pictures of the adorable little critter:
I put the drawers in the screened bottom boards today. Tomorrow I will remove them and inspect for mites.
I applied for a management opening at work, and was interviewed for the position this morning. For some reason, the management where I work likes me, and I was encouraged to apply for the position. However, the position will require a larger time commitment, and I sincerely hope I am not selected for the job. Simply put, I do now want to spend any more time at work than I absolutely have to, regardless of pay. With both of us working, I see little enough of vinfille as it is, and I do not want to spend more time at work than I already do.
Hi, everyone (you know who you are).
Nothing new yet, as I have just finished copying all of my old journal entries into this blog. I will be preferentially updating this blog, so check here for all of teh bee hotness, and other whatnot.
Conducted an inspection this morning at about 10 am. The weather was warm and sunny, but not too warm and sunny.
My goals during this inspection were twofold: to check the condition of the bees, of course, and to replace the bottom boards on both hives with screened bottom boards. I will explain screened bottom boards later on.
I was very happy with the state of Hive A, which has the new queen. There was lots of stored honey and lots of capped brood. In fact, while inspecting one frame of capped brood, we witnessed a bee crawling out of her cell. She was fuzzier than the other adult bees, a lighter color, and had a wet-dog sort of look to her. It takes a bee a few hours out of the cell to dry off, and about a day to finish developing completely into an adult bee. Looking around the frame, I noticed several other bees with the same appearance. So, the eggs on the frame were hatched about the same time, and now many of the bees on the frame were being "born" at the same time. This was a wonder to witness, and a joy to behold.
I was a bit worried about this hive, but now, after seeing so many new bees emerging from their cells, I think that this hive should be on their way to making it through the winter. I hope that the coming late summer/fall nectar flow should be enough for them to build up their stores for the winter.
I also uncapped a few drone cells to remove the drone pupae and inspect for vorroa mites. Vorroa destructor are the scurge of modern-day beekeeping, and are one of the many challenges faced by would-be beekeepers like myself. Vorroa mites prefer to lay their eggs in drone cells, since drones have the longest development time of the honey bee castes. The female mite crawls into the cells before they are capped and lays her eggs on the pupa after the cell is capped over. The young mites attach themselves to the pupa and suck its blood, like leeches. I found no mites in this very random search.
A better way to check for mites, and estimate the mite load for a colony (in mites per bee), is to use a screened bottom board. Unlike a traditional bottom board, which has a solid bottom, the screened bottom board has a big hole cut out of the bottom, covered by a mesh wire screen. Since mites occasionally are knocked off or fall off of the honey bees, they will fall through the mesh onto the ground and be unable to crawl back up. Or a removable drawer can be introduced into the bottom board, to allow the installation of a greased sheert of paper. Thus, when the mites fall through the screen, they will be trapped on the greased paper and die. Later, I can remove the drawer, count the mites, and estimate how many mites there are in the hive. If the count is high enough, I can choose a treatment to reduce the mite load.
Also, the screened bottom board helps manage the mite population in the hive without chemical treatments. I am not using any chemical treatments, preferring rather to take the integrated pest management route, using selected genetic strains of bees which are disease and parasite resistant, and non-chemical methods of pest management.
B Hive was also very healthy. The honey super on top is not quite ready to harvest. I hope that one more week should be enough for the bees to fill and cap the remaining cells.
This is a hasty journal entry. I am a bit tired, but I wanted to get this updated as soon as I could. I will probably correct some typos later, and add some pictures.
I inspected my bees this evening with the help of Gustavo, a Brazilian exchange student working at the HRC. He lives in a cabin just a few hundred meters from my hives. He told me that he worked at an apiary in Brazil for several months, and has some experience with bees. He was very relaxed around the bees, which comes as little surprise, since he told me that they work with Africanized honey bees in Brazil.
We worked the first hive, A hive, first. I worked with no veil, since the hive is still small and very relaxed. I was very happy to see lots of eggs and larvae in the hive, a sure sign that the new queen has been accepted and is doing her job well. Although I did not see her on this inspection, I was more than happy with what I saw, and closed up the hive. I hope that in a week or so they will be ready for the third hive body, which should give them enough time to draw out all of the foundation before winter.
One of the great pleasures of working without a veil is being able to take a sample of the honey straight from the hive.
Hive B was much more work, and I made sure my veil was in place for opening up this hive. First, we checked on the progress in the honey supers I recently added. The top honey super is almost ready to harvest, as only the very bottoms of the frames are not capped. They honey in these frames is a wonderful light color, most likely from the clover bloom, which is just now fading. I will wait one week and then harvest my very first full super of comb honey.
The second super is coming along very well, and I suspect that I will have enough time for the bees to fill up a third before the close of the summer.
Next, I performed another full reversal of the hive. What a right pain in the ass that was. I was only stung three times, and had to walk away from the hives only twice. I am guessing that the bees were much less happy this time owing to the extra honey they had stored in the hive. Gustavo, of course, was not stung at all.
We went to the hives this morning. I wanted to add a second honey super to the strong hive, to give them some room. The hive is full with bees, and the extra honey super will give them some room to spread out and make more honey. Swarming season is behind us, but there is no need to give the bees an excuse to swarm by crowding them.
Here is a picture of the inner cover, after removing the outer cover:
Of course, we had to take a peek and see how the bees were doing with the honey super we had put in last week. They were doing very well, drawing out most of the foundation and already filling the cells with nectar to make into honey. Here is a pic of the honey super:
I drew several of the frames out to inspect them. In this one, you can see the nectar, which is already starting to take a nice, rich honey color:
As long as I was there, I performed a brief inspection of the top hive body. I only inspected a couple or three frames to check for brood, which was present in abundance. While removing one of the frames, I damaged a drone cell, exposing the pupa within. You can see clearly the pupa in this photo, at the top of the frame. The pupa's eyes are dark, indicating that he was within a few short days of emerging from the cell as a full grown drone:
All of these pictures were taken by vinfille.
We have a guest in the parsley in the front garden. I am not sure what it is, but it is pretty nonetheless:
The bed of Bergamot in the front is in full bloom, much to my own delight and that of the hummingbirds. Mt favorite flowers are these uncommon double flowers:
I was digging a hole in the back yard in order to amend the soil and plant some blueberry bushes. For some reason, my dogs decided that it was the perfect spot to get a suntan. It made me laugh, since it looks like I was digging a hole in which to bury the dogs:
Returned the evening of the 6th, to check for acceptance of the new queen in A hive. vinfille and I noticed bees inserting their proboscises into the cage, but no more biting of the cage. So, we decided to let the queen out onto a frame of comb with a few bees to see what would happen. I removed a frame of comb with no bees and placed it next to the hive body and released the queen onto the face of the comb. I reached up and grabbed one or two bees at a time from the hive and introduced them onto the comb with the queen bee. All of them walked over to the queen and started grooming and cleaning her. After a few minutes, we replaced the frame back into the hive. Still, the bees seemed happy with her, and many bees walked over to attend to the queen. Finally, we wished her luck and put the cover back on.
It would seem, then, that the queen has been accepted by the hive. Of course, we will not know for another week. Next Wednesday, we will check for the presence of eggs, a sure indication that the queen has been accepted.
We checked B hive and the foundation in the honey super is still in place. The bees have already started drawing it out so they can fill it up with honey for me.
Went back on the morning of the 5th to put the honey super back on top of the strong hive.
I returned to the hives on the 4th, as I had forgotten to bring the queen excluder with me on the previous day. The queen excluder is a wire mesh frame that goes between the hive bodies and the honey supers. The mesh is large enough to allow the worker bees to get into the honey supers, but small enough to not allow the queen to pass. Thus, we don't get any eggs in the honey that we are planning to eat.
Unfortunately, when I opened the top cover, I discovered that the foundation in the frames in the honey super had all fallen out. I had not done a very good job of installing the wax foundation into the frames. A frustrating and unneccesary setback, chalked up to inexperience. I removed the super and all the frames, and re-installed new wax foundation, hopefully the right way this time.
First, I performed inspection to determine queen acceptance in A hive. We noted two distinct behaviors: some bees were inserting their proboscises into the wire mesh, and others were biting the cage. The biting behavior is bad, and indicates that the bees have not yet accepted the new queen. The bees extending their proboscises is probably a good sign, since it may mean that they are attempting to groom or feed the queen. We decided to play it safe, and leave the queen bee in her cage for a few more days.
Here is a pic of the queen cage in the hive:
On the other hive, we performed a full reversal and added a honey super on top. For a full reversal, we re-position the hive bodies so that what was the bottom hive bottom is now on top, and the top hive body is on the bottom. This is a bit of work, since those hive bodies are heavy, and three hive bodies full of bees is a lot of beeeeeees! Here is a picture of me replacing the top hive bottom into its new position on the bottom of the stack:
The new queen arrived today, in a cage with seven attendants. The queen is marked with a blue tag, indicating that she was born in 2005. Vinfille took a picture of the cage, sitting on her desk. You can see the blue tag on the queen's thorax:
So we placed the cage in the hive, wedged between two frames of foundation. Immediately, bees began mobbing the cage, biting the wire and trying to get to the queen. We wished her luck and put the cover back on the hive. In four days, I will visit the hive to see if they have accepted her yet, and release her if they have.
Of course, I could not resist peeking into the other hive to see how they are doing. Almost all the frames in the top hive body have been drawn out, and the hive is crowded with bees. Very happy-making for the new beekeeper! This weekend, I will perform a full reversal and add an empty honey super on top. Soon I will have yummy, yummy comb honey.
This morning I went in to prepare the queenless hive for queen introduction. I performed a more detailed and thorough examination, and I suspect that the old queen failed due to old age or sickness. There was brood, some capped pupae and larvae, but the pattern was spotty, and there were zero eggs. So she must have become sick and started laying poorly before she either died or was killed by the bees. There were a few queen cells, which I removed. I put a sugar syrup feeder on top, and they should readily accept the new queen when I introduce her.
After putting the new queen in the hive for 2-3 days, I will manually introduce her into the hive. This will allow me to watch the reaction of the bees as she is released onto the comb. If they attack her, I can take remedial action to correct the situation. If not, at least I will be assured that she is alive and ready to start laying eggs.
The queen is coming via UPS, and is being sent to vinfille at work, since she will be there to receive the new queen. I do not want the UPS person to drop off the new queen at our house, where she will be sitting outside for who knows how long before we get home. I figure the caged queen should be a good conversation piece sitting on her desk.
I visited my honeybee hives today. The roses are now blooming, and I managed to get a couple of pictures of honeybees working the roses. Enjoy:
I inspected my hives yesterday. The weather was good for working with bees. There was a lot of pollen and nectar coming into the hive. Overall, the bees were very docile, and I was not stung. In fact, they were so calm I could have worked them without a veil.
I did not notice the queen in 'A' hive, but I saw her last week, so I am not worried. In 'B' hive, I noted a lot of eggs and young larvae in the freshly drawn-out foundation, which means that the queen was there laying those eggs just a couple of days ago. In fact, 'B' hive is doing so well, and has drawn out so much of the new foundation that I gave them a week ago, that I will soon need to add the third deep hive body. I may do a brief mid-week inspection to check their progress.
Both hives had lots of pollen coming in, but B hive had the most foragers bringing in pollen. This is a very good sign, as pollen is primarily consumed by brood and very young bees. So when the bees are bringing in pollen, it means they are raising lots of new bees, a good indicator that the hive is healthy and flourishing.
In this picture, I am uncapping a couple of worker cells. My cousin is with me, and I wanted to show her the developing pupae in their cells. If you look in the top left of the frame, you can see reflections from the surface of uncapped honey in the cells. This frame was loaded with honey, pollen, and brood, and was very heavy. I had to rest the frame on the hive body in order to free my other hand.
Both hives appear to be doing very well, and I am very excited. I think I may get more honey this year than I initially expected. I will be producing honey in the comb, the only way to eat it, in my opinion.
I finally got my honeybees. I picked up two singles on the 15th of May, and put them very near an apple orchard. The day after I put them in place, I added a second deep hive body to each, as they were already getting crowded in the single hive body. Also, I have replaced all of the original equipment (hive bodies, top covers, bottom covers), except the frames, with my own brand-new equipment.
I did a full inspection of each hive yesterday, and spotted the queen in one hive, but did not see her in the other. Both hives appear to my novice eye to be very strong, with a great deal of activity at the entrances. There are lots of bees coming and going, and many of the returning foragers have loaded pollen baskets.
I visited them today, and walked around the area to see what is blooming, and what flowers the bees were working. I noticed the bees working Cercis reniformis (not native to this area, they were in large planters), Dandelions, Horsechestnut, Cardinal Red Osier Dogwood and False Honeysuckle.
This is a somewhat hasty journal entry, and I hope to make more complete journal entries in the future.
My hives are located at the Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, which is right across the street from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I think that there is no better site in the entire state for honeybees. There is always a steady supply of flowers providing abundant sources of nectar and pollen for my honeybees. There is no plant in Minnesota which is not represented at the Arboretum, and there are many non-native species growing there as well. I suspect that because of the unique location, I am in a much better position than most beekeepers, in that I have a more constant, uninterrupted source of nectar and pollen.
I am very excited to taste the honey from my hives.
During my visit to the area today, I noted bees working on: Weigela florida, Peashrubs, Lonicera trichosantha (honeysuckle), Berberis koreana (Korean Barberry), Japanese Barberry, Kolkwitzia amabilis (Beauty Bush), Viburnum trilobum (Cranberry Bush), Elaeagnus umbellata (Autumn Olive), Cottoneaster allochrous, Spirea, and Black Lotus.
Also, I took some pictures. The first is a honeybee working on a Peashrub:
The second picture is of a honeybee on the front of one of the hive bodies. I was writing across the front with a Sharpie, and I think she was attracted by the smell. This picture is an answer to ufx's question as to why I got into beekeeping. If you can pardon the minor typo (I was writing from memory), and my kindergarten-level Arabic penmanship, the answer is there in black and white.
From ye olde OED:
[a. Pers. darvêsh, darvîsh poor, a religious mendicant, a friar, in Arab. darwêsh, darwîsh, Turkish dervîsh, the latter being the immediate source of the European forms: cf. It. dervis, F. dervis, derviche (in 1559 derviss), Sp. derviche, Ger. derwisch. Some of the variant spellings represent Arabic and Persian forms of the word. (The native Arabic equivalent is faqîr poor, fakir.)]
A Muslim friar, who has taken vows of poverty and austere life. Of these there are various orders, some of whom are known from their fantastic practices as dancing or whirling, and as howling dervishes.
Hence 'dervishhood, the estate or condition of a dervish. 'dervishism, the principles and practice of the dervishes; the dervish system. 'dervish-like a.