This is a journal I will be keeping to document my experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, in beekeeping. This will be my first year, 2011, keeping bees. We'll see how it goes. I will be keeping bees naturally, letting them build on foundationless frames, and without medication. This is also my first blog I have ever done and I am by no means a journalist or English major. So, if you see grammatical errors of any and all kinds don't be surprised. The looks of things on the blog will probably change several times before I come up with something that I like.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ending out the year!

My how time flies.  My last post was about the same thing, not posting for a while. 
I have been very busy this past bee season.  I received several swarm calls and quite a few removals.  That quite a change from last years season.  My name finally got out there via word of mouth, advertising, and handing out business cards.

I had stated in a previous post that I may start posting some videos.  Well....I have started making them of the swarm catches and removals and posting them on Youtube.

My channel is jmblakeney1 , if anyone wants to subscribe, feel free.

Here are a few of vids taken this past spring and summer.

This one was extremely fun.  It was my second one and I got to do it with Aiden. 

I was referred to this swarm by word of mouth.  Fun little swarm catch.

Here is my first removal.  The building was going to be burnt down the following month.


This one is on another channel but Aiden and I were along for the fun.
I wasn't able to participate in this one too much, I had just had knee
surgery.  I still went along for the fun though.

Another cutout from a house that was still under construction.
I had to wear a jacket because I was going to be in a wedding the next day
and I was specifically told to not show up with a swollen eye or face, haha.
I had as many as ten hives this season.  Two really big hives, five normal size, and three nucs.  All, except for one, was from swarm calls and removals.  

The two larger hives produces two supers worth of excess honey this year.  I got my first honey harvest mid summer.  The two hives gave me slightly more the five gallons of sweet liquid gold. 

Until next time, thanks for reading

James

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Its been a long time.

Well it has been a very long time since I posted on the blog.  It has been a very busy summer for me as well.  I watched my wife graduate too.  She is now an RN and loving it.  I am very proud of her.

But anyway back to beekeeping.  I last left off just after I had established my second colony.  I still have both hives and both seem to be doing ok.  However, this has not been a good year for me honey wise.  I wasn't able to get any surplus honey off either hive.  As Dean Stiglitz stated in his book, "Don't risk long term success for short term gains."  Only my bee tree hive had actually stored honey, as of a couple weeks ago they only had about 3-4 frames of capped honey.  So now I am feeding sugar syrup heavily.  I had hoped not to do this but if am to keep either of the two hives through winter it looks like I will have to. 

Looking back, I should have feed both of the hives a lot more when I started them.  Since they both were foundationless they needed the sugar syrup in order to make the comb.  I could have helped out more, and should have, looking back over the year.  This was my first year and I have made some mistakes but have learned from them as well.  Hopefully things will go a little smoother next year. 

My package hive has started to kick out her drones.  Which I thought was a little late in the year to be doing, but they teach me different each time I get in the hive. 

Till next time, thanks for reading

Saturday, May 14, 2011

And then there were Two

My family had ordered a package for me and Aiden earlier this year. It was scheduled to ship out on the 3rd of May. They shipped out actually a day earlier than intended and I received them on May 4th.  I, of course, had to work over on that day and was able to get Carl to pick them up for me.  Melissa, Aiden, and I drove to Carl's to pick them up.  He told me that it would probably be best to get them hived as soon as possible.  So, once we got home Aiden and I got on our gear and went to work.  It was just starting to get dusky dark about the time we dumped them in.   I really wished I could've done it a little bit earlier than that but whats done is done. 

I let them go undisturbed for about 3 days before I check on the queen and to make sure everything was going good.  While doing the inspection on day three I saw that they had already let her out and she was already laying eggs.  They had started to build some extra comb in the open space where the queen cage once was so I removed it.  On the second frame I looked at stood the queen herself.  She wasn't quite as big as the queen in my bee tree hive.  She moved around the comb very fast.

All seems to be going very well with both hives.  I have capped honey in the bee tree hive.  Here is some  pictures of a complete frame of brood they have. 
 The brood pattern looks a little sporadic but if you click on each pic you can see that every open cell has nectar stored in it.  So I'm not sure if they just ran out of room to store it and started storing in the brood area or if she isn't laying that well.  I am guessing the first because they are still building comb as fast ast they can and using it as soon as it's built.  I have one foundationless frame that has a small band of honey across the top and nothing but pollen all throughout the rest of the comb. 

I done an inspection earlier today.  It was rainy this morning and had cleared to a nice blue sky.  Toward the end of the inspection I started hearing thunder off in the distance, I looked up and saw that the sky wasn't so blue any more.   I finished up and closed the hive and went in to eat lunch.  I came out a little bit later and saw what appears to be several bees doing orientation flights.  (Approximately 30-50)  After about 15 min or so they kinda calmed down and my other hive right beside them is starting to pick up the activity at the entrance just like its neighbor did previously.   I am not for sure as to what they were doing but it appeared to be orientation flights, but why all of a sudden that many at once?  And one hive, then the other.

This video is of the second hive doing the activity stated above.
video

The hive closest to you is the package hive.  Furthest away is the bee tree hive.  Bear in mind the amount of activity in this video is way more than normal for the package hive.  And for them to do it one right after the other is very confusing to me.  They weren't doing anything other than flying back and forth in front of the hive.  They have since calmed down and are now back to "normal" activity levels.

Here is another picture drawn by Aiden.  It's of the package he is holding at the beginning of this post.

Thanks for reading,

James

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marked the Queen

The bee tree bees are doing great. I have been checking on them periodically to make sure they are doing good. They have only went through about 12oz. of 1:1 sugar water. They stopped drinking it sometime last week. I got a little worried about the queen last week. I did a quick inspection and couldn't find her. I looked for eggs to avail as well. (I could've just not saw them) I closed everything up and let them be for another week.

I had recently purchased a queen catcher, marking tube, and paint pen from a local supplier and decided I would delve back into the hive to see if I could find and mark her.
While looking through the frames I finally saw eggs, LOTS of them.   

It appears that she will have a great brood pattern. Apparently, I overlooked the eggs before because there were some larvae that was well along in development. Whew, that's a relief.

I have read that, when marking a queen for the first time, it's a good idea to practice first on some drones.  Now I have several marked drones in my hive.  HaHa.  Now it was time to find the queen.  I looked at each frame carefully, only to get to the last one and not find her.  So, I went back through them again scanning what seemed like each bee.and found her on frame 8.  She was a little bit skiddish of going into the marking tube, but she finally went in and I was able to get her marked and released back on the frame that she came off of. 

I have noticed that some of my drones have been flying out of the hive today and yesterday.  I can only assume that this means it is now swarm season. 

I did take a picture of some of the new, or newly reused comb that they are making.
There were some more comb that they were building that was much browner than this.  I asked on Beemaster why this would happen and learned that bees will reuse older comb to make new comb elsewhere, thus making the new comb have a brownish tint. 

They have started attaching the old comb, that was tied into the frames, so I have now removed all of the fishing line that was holding it in place.  It seems all is well so far.

Till next time, thanks for reading.

James

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Checking on the Bee Tree Bee's

We done the bee tree cutout on Wednesday, 4-13-11,  I left the hive there at the base of the old tree for two days.  I went last nite, 4-15-11, in the rain to pick them up.   I left them there so they could get used to every thing and hopefully not abscond on me.  I setup them up in my back yard this morning.  I still hadn't found the queen yet so I decided to really go thru the hive and check things out.

I saw a few hive beetles.  One or two of the bees had DWV.  I wasn't able to get a picture of them.  I checked the frames one by one and on the 9th frame I found her.  Can you find her.  Clicking on any of the photos will allow a larger picture to be view and it will allow you to zoom by clicking once more.


She is circled in this image.  It's the same picture.
I have a few of her close up here.

Click on this next picture for a closer look.  You can see the queen and a nasty visitor on one of the bees.  I didn't see this until now while editing the pics for this blog post.  It's a mite, the nasty little blood suckers.  (that's a bad thing, I don't care if you do like the twilight saga, sorry that just poped in my head and had to say it.)  If you can't find it or her highness, they are both circled in the next picture down.  It's also enlarged a bit for easier viewing.  You may be able to find more in these pictures, I didn't.


What a joy it is working with the bees. 

I have a few drawing my five year old son drawed for me of us working with bees over the past few days.  I just had to show them.  I told him I was going to put them on my blog so everyone can see, and he smiled and said on your computer and then ran and gave me a hug. 

Here's working on the bee tree.



Going thru the hive when we got them home.















I hope you enjoyed this post.  It was fun making the hide and seek photos.

Thanks for reading,
James

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Found the criminals, (I believe)

We have a local radio station in town, WYSH.
As a matter of fact, its just about 1/2 of a mile from my house. They have a program that runs in the morning called "Trading Time" This is where any one who has anything to buy, sell, trade, or give away, can call in and advertise for free.

As I stated in a previous post, I won't be getting my package in until May 3rd. And, I believe that is when they will be shipped, not when I get them. Any way, I told you about "Trading Time" for a reason. I called in Monday morning on my way to work and advertised that I was looking for open swarms, If anyone knew where any were to give me a shout. I had no sooner set the phone down in my lap and it rang.

Dang, I thought, that was quick. I answered and they man stated that he didn't have a swarm, but had a bee tree that been on his property for over 6 years.  He would like for someone to have them that would take care of them.  I went through the usual questions, making sure they were honeybees, no chemicals had been sprayed on them, etc., etc.  All questions were answered the way I'd hoped they would be.  I asked him where abouts he lived at.  He lived only about 400-500 yards away from me.  Since he was so close, I believe that these wear the bees that had robbed out the dead nuc I had.  After the conversation was over, I told him I would be by to take a look after work. 

Wow, a bee tree.  Could I handle it?  Should I take on the task of a bee tree just starting out?  Would it be worth it?  After pondering for a while I decided to go for it.  I talked with my beekeeping buddy, Carl, and he said he would come down to help.

I stopped by this mans house to look at the tree.  It was down in a little valley that was kept mowed.  There was one little apple tree at the end of the little grassy field.  Where was the tree, I wondered.  As he led the way, we started to vear off into a thicket.  Walking about 50 feet into the brush there was a split trunk cedar tree, with one of the trunks dead and rotting to some degree.  "This is it", he said.   I looked around in amazement, because I had never seen a hive in the wild like this.  Nor did I think that there were any around.  I felt like I could do this and didn't think it would be that much work for some free bees.  I called Carl to tell him what everything looked like.  He said, "lets do it".  He was just as excited for me as I was. 

Today was the day.  I got Carl and we went to the bee tree.  To make an even longer story short, we ended up doing a cutout on the tree instead of cutting a log section where the hive was.  This was because we couldn't get the tree to fall because the top was entangled in some of the overgrowth in the thicket.

We cut a big section out of the side of the tree to gain access to the comb.  And boy, was there a lot of bees.

We began gently pulling comb and tying it into frames.  All the while looking for her highness.  That is a very time consuming task.
The hive had some big black ants that had taken up residence just above it.  I only saw one small hive beetle during the whole cutout. 














The queen, who never graced us with her presence, seemed to have a good brood pattern.  The above picture doesn't seem like it, but there was brood in the open spots.

After getting most of the comb and bees in the new hive,  we set it at the base of the tree and smoked the bees down so they would hopefully start to go in. 


I tried to get some good pics of them going in but wasn't too successful.  It is very hard to remember to take pictures every once in a while and do the cutout.   I was very pleased to see them marching in with the others fanning away at the entrance.  We are not for sure that the queen went in.  I had added a lemongrass lure in the hive to draw them into the hive.  Prior to adding it, the bees were staying in the hive and not trying to fly back out.  So I can only hope that she is in there.  Carl said that he believed that she was or they wouldn't have stayed in there so easily.

The hive was left at the base of the tree they were originally cut out of so the extra stragglers will be able to find there new home over the next day or two.  These were very gently bees, and apparently are excellent survivor stock.  I can only hope that all will continue to go good with them.

I said these were free bees but in the end, it looks like they will cost me the price of a new chain saw, as the one I used was borrowed and it locked up on me halfway through the whole ordeal.  Ugh.  I keep telling myself that I will never borrow again, for that reason.  And, I got popped four times during the three and a half hours we were there.  Once on the neck before I was decked out with a jacket (not sure why that happened and they were so gentle two days prior.  I was able to stand right at the entrance without any problems) and three times on my fingers through the glove. 

Here is a short video of them fanning and marching in.  Its viewing from the top of the hive down to the landing board.  The tree they are clumped on is the bottom of the cedar they were in.

video
This was a very welcomed site at the end of the job.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.

James

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"h" I ' VE BEEN ROBBED


My mentor gave me a nuc at the later part of the season last year.  It was started too late in the year and ended up hopping on the Jesus train this winter.  The nuc is still outside and we went out yesterday and saw 30-40 bees "visiting" it.  I am hoping that a swarm will take up residence sometime this spring.  This is the first time I have got to be around bees without protection.  Anyway, as they were robbing out the leftover honey we thought we would see if we could hold them without getting stung.  I know robbing is not something one would want to encourage but there wasn't that much left in the nuc and I know that it is common to set out "wet" frames or extractors and let the bees clean them up.  So I felt it was ok. 

This is a video of my son opening up the nuc.  We already had been in the nuc several time before this video was done.  They were very gentle and never acted like we were there.  I was very proud of him for being so brave and keeping his movements very slow.
 video


I was able to hold a frame and watch them work around on the frame, all w/out gloves or veil.  The following is a couple of pics of my wife, son and I letting them eat some of the honey off our fingers.  She through me for a loop when she said she didn't care to do it.They were surprisingly gentle.




This is what they looked like hurrying in and out of the entrance. 

This was so much fun and I can't wait until I can have some permanently.  I am a little extra excited as well because my wife has show and interest in them now. 

Thanks for reading, until next time.