Sunday, December 29, 2013

Time To Feed?

In late December in Missouri there aren't many days when the temperature rises above 8C let alone into double figures, but when it does you can be sure it will be short lived; you just know temperatures will plummet again very soon.  And so it was yesterday.

We had a balmy clear day with a maximum of 12C. Warm and sunny, and the bees thought so too. I even managed to get out on my bike for some exercise! Anyway, I decided that it was worth feeding the hives I could get to quickly;  the two in my backyard and the one that's just down the street and I made up some of 'Ted's mush' (4lbs sugar to 1 cup of water) and put this on top of the hives using a 1" high rim under the inner cover.

I was encouraged to find quite large clusters in each of the hives. It was so cold here before Christmas that I was worried for them; especially as I lost a hive a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, the bees in all 3 hives were at the tops of their hives under the inner covers (maybe that is too high? I have to worry about something after all) and I popped the mush on in the hope they would break cluster and eat some carbs while it was warm.

Today the temperature is expected to drop to -12C overnight and it may well snow!  Feeding on a warm day might just take the edge off that!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Myth

There's about 15 minutes till midnight when according to legend bees are supposed to hum psalm 100!

I have ventured out in the past to see if I can hear them, but I have failed, most likely due to the quantity of mince pies and alcohol I have consumed!  

And this year is no different... However I suspect they actually do hum psalm 100,  but I can't hear it as they are not all doing it at the same time!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lost Hive!

I went to the Gardens today (Friday 20) to put some insulated inner covers on the bees only to find that one of the two hives there has died out. 

The hive in question was light in stores going into the winter and it seems pretty clear there was no honey left in the hive. I doubt it was robbed out as its been so cold; no other bees would have been flying it was so cold. There was some pollen in the hive just an absence of honey.

So I now have to decide what to do with the hive. Some of the frames were new in 2010 so maybe it's time they were now rotated out. But do I retain the other newer frames and the pollen they contain? If I do might I be spreading something harmful to another hive; something that might have caused the hive to die?  I need to go some research and ask a few questions. 

With luck the worst thing that will happen is that I use the hive as a home for a split I make from the adjacent (currently heavy and healthy) hive. It's just a shame this has happened; I should have fed them more sugar I suppose!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Snowy Day

It's been snowy here today; probably the first real snow of the season. It's been cold too! -14C last week.

I managed to get out and put some "pink board" insulated inner covers on 5 of my hives today. I saw bees in all but one hive. I'm not sure if that's entirely good as it means the clusters are at the top of the hive. But what can you do?  

Well, I'll make up some of Ted's sugar mush and a few shims for the hives and put some emergency feed on as soon as I can!

Can you make out the location of the cluster in the photo below? I think heat from the bees is melting the snow. Hopefuly the "pink board" will trap more of that heat in the hive!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Wow it’s cold! Last night it was -14C (or 7F if you prefer) and I wonder how the girls are doing!  It’s been a week or more since it was warm enough for them to venture out on cleansing flights and cleaning up the hive.

There is a circle of melted snow on top of each of the hives in my back yard which I take as a good sign. Maybe heat from the cluster is melting the ice above? Equally though, this also means the bees must be burning through their supplies of honey! So I may try to pop one of my insulated inner covers on top of the hive this weekend just to try and trap some of the heat they are generating and I think I will prepare some sugar mush for the hives so I can give them some emergency food.

The weather forecast isn't looking that great either.  I think we can expect another week of cold temperatures. Fingers crossed…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Product Line?

Nuts 'n Honey

It's been a while since I last posted, but to be honest not much has happened as the hives are mostly closed up for the winter.  One of the hives at the Botanical Gardens was a bit light so I put some sugar mush on it. Both hives there still have open screened bottom boards on them; I really must try to get down there to check on the mush and to slide in the removable boards!

So to while away the time I have been playing with some product development...  I've made some more massage bars and tried some new fragrances.  I now have Unscented, Coconut, Orange Dreamsicle, Black Amber & Lavender, Oatmeal Milk & Honey, Spiced Mahogany and I have more Ylang Ylang on it's way to me.  I think that should cover me for the festive period! 

I'm going to a mead making workshop tomorrow; It will be good to know where I went wrong last time! With luck I'll come away fully prepared for some serious brewing!

And to cap it off I thought I would see how putting a load of nuts in a jar with just enough honey to kind of bind them together would work.  I have to say they look great!  It's not very cheap to prepare but I reckon the look is good and the flavour of nuts and my honey should be brilliant!  I'll see what results the consumer test reports yield!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Dash!

I dashed around some of my hives today. The three in Ladue look in excellent shape! Lots of nectar, nice and heavy, some calm bees and a little brood in the top box. I have a feeling the queen is down in the bottom deep as there were no eggs up top!  I hope in spring these hives will be rocking!  I better prepare for some splits!

The hive in Diane's yard is also in a nice place; certainly much better than it was last year. There is nectar in the hive and a nice lot of brood in the top box, but I nevertheless left the partially full super on the hive as I thought the bottom box was light of stores. I think I will pull the super and try to feed this hive over the next couple of weeks; I might do that tomorrow if the weather cooperates!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

United Way

I was asked at the office if I could put a honey basket together for the United Way of Greater St Louis fund raiser.  Here's my small offering...

Monday, September 23, 2013


I went to the hives yesterday to release the new Queens and I got a bit of a surprise...

The new Queen in first hive I opened at home had been killed in her cage.  No messing about!  Queen and attendants all killed.  The residents were clearly unhappy with my proposed coups d'etat!  But why?  I took a look through the hive and sure enough I found some young larvae present, but not what I would call a lot, but young enough and sufficient enough I supposed for there to be a queen already present.  And sure enough I found her.  Clearly alive and kicking and in control enough for the workers to dispatch the new Queen.  Bit of a waste that! Not much dense brood in the hive though.

In the second of my hives at home the new Queen was still alive in her cage along with her attendants.  Much more promising!  There wasn't any candy plug on the end of the cage so I just popped the cork and encouraged the Queen to leave, which of course she didn't! So I lifted the mesh from the top of the cage and let her crawl out, which she did, right onto the top of a frame where she sat around and allowed the workers to attend to her.  All good so far!  Just to make sure she didn't get it in her head to fly off I moved a couple of frames apart and sure enough she thought yep, now it's time to head down into the hive.  All very controlled and very calm.  Good Girl!

Down at the Botanical Gardens it was the same situation as the first hive.  The residents didn't want me foisting a newcomer, with no right to succession, on them so they snuffed her out as well.  Again I saw the resident Queen.  She looked a little thin so she might be new and for the life of me I was totally convinced I saw a second new Queen in the hive on the same frame.  I know this can happen in a hive, with an unmated queens (that aren't giving off pheromone) and it is possible they were unmated but I reckon I was just imagining things.  Anyway I let this resident Queen get on with things.

So what's going on?  And can (or indeed should) I do something about it.  Well, to answer the second thing first; can/should I? I think it would be very difficult for me to locate another new queen right now form a breeder so I might as well go with what I have, even if the laying pattern is suspect.  Perhaps in the spring if there isn't any improvement (and if the bees make it that far) I'll make splits or get new Queens.  That said, I think there is enough in the way of stores in the hives, or there will be by the time the bees stop foraging for the bees to get through OK.  I just hope the Queens have good enough, warm enough, weather to let them lay prolifically and produce bees for the winter.

But why the relatively poor brood pattern?  Well I think it may well be down to the after effects of thee MAQS treatment.  It wasn't long after I completed this treatment that I looked into the hive and decided that maybe a new Queen was needed.  But I think the resident Queen was there all along, just not laying.  Maybe she was knocked back by the treatment? I have heard this can happen and I think this probably best fits what I saw.

Overall the good news at the official start to Fall is that I have 8 hives all with Queens and all with good levels of stores in them.  At least good enough for me not to worry about any feeding for another couple of weeks.  I'll go around and check the hives in early October and see if I need to put anything on. But the way things look the hives look well set as they are.  There are SHB about (aren't there always?) and I will pop a trap or two in the hives as I check them next time.  I saw more beetles this last weekend than I have all summer long!.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Queens

Well that didn't take long! A couple of calls and a check of the club forum and what do you know, I find three new Queens.

I think I got lucky as Dave Faust was closing up his hives for the winter and by good fortune had four queens available. So I nabbed three!

I raced around this evening installing them; tomorrow is supposed to be stormy and as tonight was hot clear and dry I thought it too good to pass over. The garden bees were nevertheless a bit irritated!

I'll go around on Sunday and check them and then release them. Hopefully they'll lay well before winter sets in and come through it strong!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lost Queens!

I thought things were going well but I've just finished going through my hives and I found that I have lost queens in three of them; once again after treating with MAQS. I'm more than convinced this isn't coincidental!

Both my home hives have few bees and very little brood in them. I'm in a similar situation at the Gardens. The only curiosity us the mature hive in Ladue. 

This had MAQS treatment and afterwards a high residual mite count and quite a few SHB larvae crawling on the sticky board. I went in today to find a pretty healthy hive, I saw the queen and she's laying to a good brood pattern. I think the SHB may be hiding under the screen bottom board and above the sticky board; there weren't many, if any, SHB in the hive that I could see. I put another sticky board tonight just in case the count was weird. I'll pull this on Friday.

So now I need to find queens! I hope I'm not too late!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Last Treatment of the Year?

Well, at least I hope it is!

With the final harvest complete it made sense, given the cooler weather that is forecast, to get into the three hives that needed further mite treatment i.e. the two in the backyard at home and the hive in Ladue.  I didn't go through the hives very thoroughly today but I did go through the top boxes to make sure I saw what I wanted to and to install some MAQS between the top and bottom deeps.

All three hives look in pretty good shape.  There is some solid capped brood in each hive and plenty of young larvae present.  I'm also very happy with the quantity of honey stores that are already in these hives; several frames in the top boxes are already full!  I'll leave the hives for a week before I remove the treatment and I hope (I really hope) that temperatures remain low and that the treatment doesn't effect the brood and Queens like it did last year.  Next week I'll take a closer look at the nests and stores present and maybe even take a look at what is going on in the lower hive boxes.

I figure that if there turns out to be a need to feed I will still be able to feed syrup into October.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Completed Harvest!

At last the harvest is complete (I think...).

It's been the best year I have had to date.  My five hives produced a total of about 240kgs (530lbs) of honey (an average of over 100lbs per hive) which I think is really good! As a point of reference the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association did a survey last year and the average per hive in 2012 was in the order of 30 pounds - so well done girls!

Here is the latest update of my harvesting and mite count summary...

It's still too hot to go through the hives or to put any treatment on them so that will have to wait for a bit. Hopefully tomorrow will be cooler. So my focus will now be to bottle as mush as I can...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Starting Fall Management

I spent time this last week or so in my apiaries removing supers.  Yes, there is some more honey out there (I am guessing at possibly as much as 45 kgs (100 lbs), but the main reason for running around the hives is to start my Fall Management. I managed to remove all but a couple of supers from all the hives and they are generally now down to just two deeps.  The hives where I left supers on had some brood in them and I want to have this emerge before I take these off too.

So why remove the supers with honey and why not leave this on for the bees in the winter?  Two reasons. The first is that a super of partially full honey is a lot of empty space for the bees to keep clear of beetles and other possible infestations. And secondly, in the depths of a cold winter the honey will be harder for the bees to get to. The super is not in my view the best location in the hive for honey to be kept in over winter.

So I have taken the honey off and I plan to extract it this coming week.

So what else does Fall Management mean?  To me it is the the start of the effort to winterize the hives.  I have done mite counts on the hives already and I have treated some hives and not treated others.  I tested a couple of weeks ago and this last week saw me do a second round of tests/counts to see how effective the first was.  It looks like the MAQS worked well this year, but the jury (my jury at least) is still out on caging the queen. this has the potential to be a good system but unfortunately for me it was pretty inconclusive as she escaped! So here is a summary of where I am:

MOBOT Hives and Diane's Hive:  After the initial treatment, mite counts were low and so I think the treatment was successful.  I have not yet been into the hive to look through the brood, but I plan to do that later this week.  I hope there will be some good brood and that these mature hives will get through the winter.  If the queens are OK think I will re-queen them in the spring after once more testing and treating for mites.

Backyard Hives: Mite counts remain high so I plan to use MAQS but only after the weather cools off a little.  This week (the last in August) is proving to be quite hot with temperatures forecast to be in the low to mid 30s Celsius (well into the 90s F).  Which I think is too hot to treat.  Last year I am convinced the high temperatures effected and possibly killed off the queens.  As with the MOBOT hives I hope to re-queen these in the spring, possibly after some further mite treatment in or around March.

Ladue Hives:  These continue to be strong.  I looked in the hives over the weekend and there is a lot of good brood pattern in all the nests.  I anticipate these hives to be quite productive next year. The mature hive (the one that came through last winter) has a high(ish) mite count and I think I will treat here, once it cools down.  Again I will check on mite counts in early spring and I hope (if needed) I will knock the mites back using MAQS or drone comb.

One final thing.  Tonight I collect 10 gallons of High Fructose Corn Syrup the club obtained from a food company.  I intend to use this as winter feed, if this is needed.  The late summer weather has been good and I hope this means there has been a decent nectar flow on.  I know some honey has come in and many of my hives have deeps with nectar and honey where last year they had none.  So I'll leave the hives to do their thing for a couple more weeks at least.  By mid September I think I will know if I need to feed any hives. The weather by then should still be mild enough for the bees to take this syrup.

It's been a busy couple of weeks and will remain so for at least another month!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Missouri State Fair.

Just arrived home after an enjoyable day at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.  My honey was placed 3rd in the candied honey class!  I'm very happy about that!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Queen Uncaged!

At last I got into the Carniolan hive to uncage the queen. This hive is just so sticky with propolis. It was a real struggle to open it up!  When I did and when I got down to the cage I found she had broken out!

I've no idea how long she had been uncaged for (its been 10 days since she was caged) but there was little sign of any new eggs having been laid, which I suppose is good.  Anyway I was beginning to think she had disappeared altogether, and then I spotted her; she seems fine.

I'll do a second mite count in the next couple of weeks or so to see what effect caging her has had!

Summer Camp!

I just spent a very enjoyable morning with three classes of children at the local Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood.  

I was asked back in April if I'd like to give some talks on bees in the summer And II always find it hard to resist droning on about my bees!

It wasn't looking good for my observation hive this morning though; overcast and threatening rain - even thunder - and the first hive I tried were really unimpressed with my efforts to open them up. So I beat a hasty retreat and waited an hour; luckily the second hive was nice and cooperative!

Anyway, thanks to all at the church for letting me give my talks. I hope everyone enjoyed the honey!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Last MAQS removed

I removed the MAQS from the hive in Diane's yard today. I was prepared for some aggressive behavior but the girls were nice and calm. Just goes to show you never can predict how they will behave. 

I'm finally due to uncage the queen from my last hive under 'treatment' on Wednesday. I'll then wait a couple of weeks before checking mite counts again. That gives me plenty of time to check brood patterns and stores in the hives. 

This July and August is so far very different to last year; msinly because the bees are still bringing stuff in. Last year at this time there was a complete dearth of forage. That said, most hive bodies are not exactly what I would describe as "bursting with honey" but the supers are still pretty full which is a much better position than they were in last year!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chalk and Cheese!

Well I'm convinced the aggression is linked to MAQS. I went back to the hives today to put on a super. The bees were calm and not at all aggressive. This despite the fact It was humid, overcast and rain is forecast for the afternoon. Ok so I smoked the hive but that was only light and I was in the hive straight away.

So beware bees with MAQS!  Mind you, I suppose if you lived in an acid environment for a week you'd be pretty pissed off! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And it's supposed to be for their own good!

I went to the gardens at lunchtime to remove the MAQS. The treatment has been in a week now and the weather has been great for it.

When I got to the gardens I realized I'd forgotten matches so I couldn't light my smoker. But I figured that I'd only be in the hives very briefly so it wouldn't rally matter. How wrong I was!  As soon as I opened up the hives the bees came for me! Lots of them! Both hives acted the same way. And it was warm and sunny too! So what's the reason?

Was the MAQS was making them angry?
Was the lack of smoke a problem? Would this calmed them?
Perhaps they smelt the banana I ate in the office just before I left and this made them aggressive?

Whatever it was they were unpleasant and I rushed away with a few stings! I'll leave them a week before going back and checking on the queens.

Ungrateful girls! The treatment is supposed to be for their own good! I'll be better prepared got the last hive that has MAQS in it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

CCD update

The Guardian published this neat summary of recent developments in the understanding of CCD.  Worryingly, fungicides are now getting into the mix!  Previously these were not thought to be a significant factor in bee health.


Hive Summary

I thought it was about time I posted a brief summary of what's happened in my hives this year.  So here's a table that provides a little potted information.  I hope by the end of August to be able to fill it out more and update the remainder of the fields.

Multi-Media Profile

I've gone "multi-media"!!

Well actually I now have a separate Facebook page to promote my honey...

"North Clay Honey" Go check it out and tell you friends...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mite Treatment Continues.

That's it! It's the last week of July and the first round (and I hope only round) of treatment is now underway on all my hives.

The Botanical Garden hives have "Mite Away Quick Strip" on them. The Ladue Hives, as they all had mite counts <30, have no treatment. Diane's hive has MAQS and in my own back yard one hive has no treatment (it had a count of 27) and in the other hive I managed to cage the queen.

So I have lots of things to consider once the treatment period is over.  I plan to do another count, most likely at the end of August. Then I'll decide if I need to do anything more before the winter.

Interestingly, all of the new season hives needed no treatment but the ones that came through the winter were in need of a lot of attention.  Doubtless this means early season treatment is the most efficacious thing to do. So I think I will try to treat all my hives in late March or April next year. I'll have to see whether I think caging the queen or using MAQS is more effective. 

I am due to start pulling the first treatments on August 1st, and the other MAQS on August 4th. I'm going to cage the Carniolan Queen for 10 days. Watch this space for news!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mite Treatment Begins

I missed the first day of cool weather but it looks like we have some settled cool days for a week so; I can but hope I suppose!

Anyway, I just put on some "Mite Away Quick Strips" on the two hives at the Botanical Gardens. I'll remove them in a week or so and then do another mite count just to see how effective the treatment was. Oh, and also to check on how they effected the Queens!

Some other good news; both hives have filled the supers I left on them after the harvest so in a week I'd better bring another couple of empty supers back!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mite Testing

Now the harvest is over it's time to start testing and checking for mites.  I put sticky boards under all 8 hives and in a couple more days I'll pull them and do a 24hr count (i.e. take the 3 day total and divide by 3).

I hope that mites won't be a major issue as most of my hives have had a break in brood rearing either as a result of swarming or queens being superseded. 

However the  actual counts were as follows:

MOBOT existing: >80
MOBOT swarm: 72
Backyard west: 18
Backyard east: >80
Diane's yard: >66
Ladue east (existing): 27
Ladue nuc south: 5
Ladue nuc north: 1

So that's really mixed!  I'm very pleased the two nucs are in great shape although I'm surprised (but happy) that the other existing hive in Ladue is also good. I wonder if this us because they are aggressive and prodigious propolis producers? In any event I reckon there will be no need for treatments here at least for now. I will but test again in a month or so.

As for the other hives, well the mature hives that came through winter have been hardest hit which I guess is no great surprise, so I'll have to treat these. The garden hives both came through the winter and have the heaviest mite loads.

So how to treat?  I really want to cage queens, but I think I have a great set up for trying no treatment (in Ladue), Queen caging (at home and in Diane's yard) and soft chemical treatment (MAQS at the gardens). It will be interesting to see how they all do.

It looks like cooler weather is on the way (26C to 30C as of Wednesday July 24) for about a week - MAQS treatment to start then I reckon!

Beeswax Processing

Tonight I've been processing my wax cappings.  I boiled them up in a vat of water at the weekend and tonight I processed the "raw" wax. 

I started by melting the raw wax and then pouring this through a metal mesh coffee filter. Then I poured the molten wax into a mold.

Tomorrow I'll freeze the block of wax (or is it an ingot?) to make it easier to remove from the mold.

And the finished product? 1 kg of lovely golden wax!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bees Knees!

The honey harvest went amazingly well, quite possibly because we were well oiled with this cocktail!

The Bees Knees:
2oz gin
1/2oz lemon juice
3/4oz honey syrup (1:1 honey:water)
Shake with ice, strain and serve in a martini glass, if you have one!

Very refreshing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Honey Harvest - Part 3 - Extraction

It took about 4 days to bring in all the supers from their various locations in St. Louis.  It was hot, hard work, although not as bad as last year; the temperature hit 41C one day!  It was still pretty hot and on one day I lost about 5 lbs I was so dehydrated (yes, I measured it!).  I learnt from last year's experience and I'm very glad I paced myself this time.  I reckon I would have been unable to do all the extracting if I had to bring all the boxes in just the day before.

So, once all 13 supers were in the house the extraction process started.  A huge thank you goes out to everyone who came round on Saturday July 6 to help me extract all my honey (and drink all my booze!).  We gathered in 376 pounds (170 kg) of liquid honey from around the area, but I also have about 5 frames of cut-comb honey as well, so that probably brings the total to around about 400 lbs (180 kg).  I simply must give a special shout-out to Maddie and Eleanor for bottling 74 honey bears and about 20 other assorted bottles!  Wonderful job girls! Thank You!  Anyway the breakdown was like this:

Backyard = 81 lbs (36.7 kg)

Diane's yard = 46 lbs (20.8 kg)

Botanical Gardens = 195 lbs (88.5 kg)

Ladue = 54 lbs (24.5 kg)

Cut-comb = 5 frames, so about 20 to 25 lbs (10 kg approx')

A very tidy haul indeed!  That's about 400 lbs from 5 hives, or an average of about 80 lbs (36 kg) a hive.  Quite impressive! Last year I got about 255 lbs (116 kg) from 3 hives, which is slightly more per hive, but there is still some honey on all the hives. I intend to take that off in September, so long as the girls don't need it. I'm sure there's another 10 to 20 lbs per hive out there! but I mustn't get greedy.

So as I said, the backyard honey is partially bottled, but the rest of the stash is in about 9 buckets in the basement!  I'm going to make some set/creamed honey as soon as I can and perhaps enter that in the Missouri State Fair.  Some "chunk" or cut-comb honey (jars of liquid honey with cut-comb inside) will also be made. But I'll need more jars and bottles, and fairly soon!

It was a wonderful weekend.  I'm now in the process of taking supers back to the hives to let the bees clean up the frames.  My car smells devine!!  However my forearms, hands and fingers ache now from all the repetitive lifting, spinning and grabbing!  I couldn't do this every week!

Some Interesting bee facts:
400 lbs of honey takes about 20,000,000 "bee-miles" to produce.
Each bee can process about 1/4 of a teaspoon of honey in it's life. So something like 100,000 bees were responsible for this year's haul.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Honey Harvest - Part 2 : All Harvested!

Everything I can bring in is now in the house (including a few bees). There are however still a few supers out there in myyards and  I'm hoping they will get filled over the next couple of months. That, or the bees will consume it if the weather turns out to be anything like last August! 

13 supers so far, so with luck that'll be about 300 lbs! Yum!  All supers are coded so I know where they came from; look out for the blind tasting event...

Honey Harvest - Part 1

It's time!  The busiest, and best, time of the year for us beekeepers!

I started harvesting at the Gardens on Wednesday and hauled in 6 supers with the help of some friends. Thanks so much to everyone it made a tough job much, much, easier! 

Once I was done there I managed to bring 2 more supers  from Diane's hive. Tomorrow (July 4th) I'll harvest from the back yard and then I'll finish up in Ladue on Friday! 

It's looking like a good year!

The Extraction Party is Saturday. Super busy, but my favourite day! I hope to see at lot of people!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nuc Development

I spent a very sticky 30 minutes or so in Ladue this afternoon (June 24) moving the nucs on.  It was 95F when I started! The nucs had been in single deeps since I installed them on June 7.

I added second deeps to both nucs today. I didn't go through the hives to look for the Queens, but I saw some young brood and larvae and that was enough for me today. Just too hot for a detailed look!

Before today there were 2 supers on the single deeps (over a queen excluder). So before adding the second deeps I removed the excluders in order to give the bees easier access to the supers for drawing out comb and filling honey! I don't think the Queen will cross the empty deep frames and move into the super, well not before harvest anyway.

So all I need now is to just get new stands, bottom boards and top covers on these hives and the apiary will be looking very nice indeed!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's a little mad out there!

I went in to check on the bees in Diane's yard today (June 23). There was a Queen Cell in there a couple of weeks ago (9 June) that I left to develop. It's 2 weeks since, so there should have been more brood and eggs in the hive if I was lucky!

I'm wasn't sure if the hive had previously swarmed but there were still loads of bees in the hive, flying in front of it and also perched on the landing board. There was also tons of honey in the supers. So I'm still jot sure!  The 4 supers I had on the hive are full, so I scraped around and  threw on a fifth of just undrawn foundation. I'm not sure I've ever had any hive with this amount of supers before!!! 

So the inspection... I got down to the deeps and pulled a couple of frames from the top one.  I found lots of capped brood on several frames, and then loads of very young larvae and eggs on another two.  So I clearly have a Queen. Whether it's the old one or a new one I don't know as I didn't see her. But the hive is certainly vital!

I don't think I'll do another inspection until after the harvest on July 6.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Carniolan Update

I finally managed to check in on my new Carniolan Queen.  I didn't need to look far; the second frame I pulled from a deep was full of lovely eggs and small larvae!  

I'll leave this lot alone until the harvest now!

Next inspection July 2.

Pre-Harvest Bounty

I stopped off at the Botanical Gardens tonight to remove a damaged frame of wax foundation in a super. However I ended up removing 4 frames of honey and giving the girls some more empties to fill!!

I suppose you could say the harvest has already begun!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ladue Bees.

Yesterday I nervously set out to inspect the hives in Ladue! Nervous, why? Because last time I went to look at them they were very aggressive and unpleasant!

I have 3 hives in Ladue now, two nucs and this nasty existing hive. My plan was to go through the nucs first to see how they are performing and then to take the supers from the nasty hive and "store" them over the nucs prior to the harvest in a couple of weeks.  I thought that by working in this way it would make harvesting any honey from the nasty hive a bit easier.

The nucs look great! Both have good Queens laying in them. But I will need some additional deeps quite soon. However I now have to confess I am wondering if they should remain strong in single deeps for the winter, or maybe I should combine them with the nasty hive to create two strong hives going into the winter!!!  I might call Eugene for advice.

Anyway instead of closing up the nucs as I found them, I put on a queen excluder and added a new super of undrawn foundation. I then went to relocate the supers from the other hive...

I should say that before I worked the nucs (and also during) I smoked the nasty hive to try to calm them and keep them calm. I think this (and the fact it was a much nicer day than the last time I did an inspection) must have worked because they were really OK this time. A couple of bees did follow me back to my car but I wasn't stung like I have been.  

I smoked supers quite heavily before pulling them off and relocating them and I didn't have any major issues! Rather than just leave the deeps I added an empty super of drawn comb to the hive just to encourage the bees to keep on keeping on!

So this means that each of my nucs are now in single deeps with full(ish) supers of honey and an undrawn super over them and the nasty hive is down to two deeps and an empty super of drawn comb.

Next time out I will harvest the supers (or at least decide how many I will take) and then think about finding the queen in the nasty hive and executing her!

Next inspection June 30.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

It's Been Said before...

It's been said a lot before but this image sums up quite clearly the difficulties we would face if honey bees were to disappear!  

I'm not sure if native pollinators could effectively fill the gap they would leave, so we have to be even more aware of what we are doing to our bees and what we ask of them!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Home Hive Looks Great!

My home hive, the one that I split from the over wintered colony and which raised their own Queen from a frame of brood, looks great!

I went in to do an inspection tonight to see just how hard they'd been working and I found a great number of bees in front of the hive flying about! Now there's been talk of robbing at recent meetings, and I'm not sure I've actually witnessed real robbing, but to me this looked just too relaxed!  Bees were simply flying around so I put all the activity down to test flights!

When I got in the hive I saw the two supers (that I had taken from the adjacent big hive) were full and inside the deeps there was lots of brood and eggs and larvae. I didn't see the Queen, which was a pity, but there was lots of evidence she's in there and happy. 

And no Queen Cells!  Finally swarming urges are being tempered! Well, maybe!

Anyway I laid down a challenge to the girls! I put on a new super (3 now) mostly filled with frames of foundation. They have a little over 3 weeks to draw it out and fill it! 

Next inspection 27 June.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Finally settling down!

This morning I did another inspection of the hives at the botanical gardens. These hives each have 4 supers on them.

Last time I was there I put an excluder between the deeps and supers of the  "swarm hive". I hoped I successfully chased the Queen into the deeps as she had been laying in the supers. 

Well, my strategy seems to be working! There were no eggs or larvae in the supers. The cells were capped and the cells around the larvae filled with nectar. It looks like the bees are gradually using the supers for their intended purpose.

The other hive is also settling down. No sign of any eggs of brood in the supers. I put an empty super between the deep and the supers and this is being slowly drawn out.

I don't think I need to do another inspection for a bit do it may well be a couple of weeks; perhaps the next time will be just before I harvest.

Next inspection 23 June.

Another Swarm???

I went into Diane's hive on Friday (June 7) they were a little aggressive and I got stung twice on my upper arms, through my suit!  Not very impressed! 

I have 4 supers on this hive. Three are pretty full and one us still filling, and as I was looking at the lowest super, wouldn't you know it; I saw a capped Queen Cell. I didn't have time to deal with this there and then but I did bring it up at the bee seminar later that day.

Anyway, the advice was to go and find the Queen and once I find her remove the queen cell! I might be too late given it is now nearly two days later! 

I'll take a look and maybe add a super, just to encourage the girls to fill it!

Next inspection June 15. 

I went in to the hive this morning (June 9) to see what I could see! I found a number of swarm cells but couldn't find the Queen! Lots of eggs and brood however!  Anyway, I removed all but one Queen Cell. The bees were quite well behaved. They stung my suit a few times but settled down after being smoked for a bit.

I'll go back in a couple of weeks and see if the numbers of bees look any different then!  There's no point going in before as if there is a new Queen she'll need to settle in and if there isn't a new Queen the other one will be OK by then I think!

Next inspection June 23.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bee-Vacs and Nucs.

Today I picked up two nucs for the bee yard in Ladue. I collected them from a friend in the bee club who was completing a "cut out" of a hive that was taking up residence in a chimney!  I've never seen a bee-vac in operation before and it was really quite interesting. Looks a bit dicey though!!!

Looks a bit dicey to me!

The two nucs appear to be in good order but I only saw a Queen in one of them. Time will tell if it is Queenless I suppose!

While I was there I thought I'd look in the established hive, but this is just nasty and aggressive! When I cracked open the top cover I was immediately set upon! Clearly a case for some premeditated Regicide. The Queen must go!  But when? I think once honey is harvested!

I know I'll have to go in with lots of layers on because I will get stung! I just hate knowing that!

Next inspection June 15.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I found a new Queen for my home hive!  Not an Italian but a Carniolan Queen!  What's the difference?  Well, there's a good little summary on Wikipedia.

I popped her in this afternoon and took out the cork plug. I hope by the weekend she'll be released and a few days later there will be new brood in the hive.

I took the opportunity to look in the adjacent hive. I didn't see the Queen and there was no brood in the top deep, but I did find sone larvae in the bottom deep. 

Next inspection of the home hives June 11.

My New Carniolan Queen (She's in there somewhere)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mobot Hive Inspection

I took time to go to the Gardens today and check out the hives there.  I found I had to cut back some undergrowth from in front of the hives! Everything is growing so fast right now!

Anyway both hives are doing nicely. Despite the rain in the past week there is still nectar coming in and a lot more still out there I reckon. 

The Established Hive no longer has any brood in the supers. I think putting an empty super under the brood stopped the queen from getting up into the supers now. Happy about that.

The Swarm Hive is also doing well. I really must do something about the name! There remains a lot of brood in the supers! I went through them to try to find the Queen but couldn't see her. I think, and hope, she was in the deeps. But just to make sure I applied a bit of smoke to try to force her down and then put on an excluder. I hope that means the brood will hatch and then get filled with nectar over the next month. However, if I see larvae next week I'll know she's still in the top of the hive! 

Next inspection June 9.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mid-Week Dash!

I dashed home yesterday to go through my home hives and Diane's hive.

The established hive did not create Queen Cells from the two frames of eggs and brood I put in at the weekend, which is annoying!  So I'm on the look out for a Queen now! But the nectar is pouring in! I added a super!

The new nuc seems OK. There was no brood in the top box, but that's OK too! I'll check again in a week! (June 5) I moved two supers from the established hive to this one! Might need an excluder!

Diane's hive looks good as well, I only added a super but did not go through the frames. I'll go this again in a week or so. (June 5).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Holiday Inspections

It's a holiday weekend and so an ideal opportunity to get into the beeyard.  Of course it's raining as I write this so I'm pleased I finished what I needed to do this morning!

It was a mixed bag; good things and bad things happening but overall progress has been positive!  I started at the Gardens yesterday and finished in Ladue today. I think I have worked out an efficient system for inspecting my yards, at long last!

Mobot Hives:
Established Hive: this continues to go well. There's a good laying pattern and no Queen Cells in the hive. I also saw the Queen which is always nice. This hive looks in good shape! There was some brood in the supers, but not much! I'll need to keep an eye on that! 

Queen Bee at the Botanical Gardens.
Swarm Hive: I found quite a lot of eggs and brood in the supers which is a nuisance! However, the good news is that this at least means there is a Queen present!  And a good one judging from the laying pattern and quantity of new brood! 

In order to address this I moved the supers containing the brood to the top of the stack. the hope is that these clear and get filled with nectar and not refilled with brood. But its good to be prepared so I may need to put an excluder on; maybe on Monday.

New brood in a super!
Next inspection May 31.

Home Hives:

Home Hives.
Nuc: Did not take! Disappointing but no great loss!

Single Deep: This is looking good! Theres plenty of new brood and I saw a new Queen. I thought I took a photo of her but I missed!  Still, you can see the good young brood and larvae. I added a second deep and I hope to build this up over the testing the spring.

Larvae in the Single Deep.
I thought I had a photo of the Queen!

Main Home Hive:  This is Queenless and that's very disappointing. But as there is no Queen the supers continue to fill. So that is one good thing!  Interestingly there were a lot if empty supersedure cells in the hive on at least 2 frames.  I suppose this could mean the hive may have swarmed but I'm not convinced. I need to research this further. 

Empty Supersedure Cells
So what action did I take?  I took two frames of eggs/larvae/brood from Diane's hive and slotted them in the top deep. I'll look in the hive in a week to see if Queen Cells are being prepared. If not I may have to buy a Queen. I may also have to move a couple of the full supers to the new adjacent hive as the stack is becoming to heavy and high to manage!

Next inspection June 1.

Diane's Hive: 
Another hive doing well!  There's a lot of brood and I saw the Queen (she's marked so one from last season). As I mentioned above I took 2 frames of eggs/larvae/brood from the hive and slotted them into the main hive at home. There's some space in the supers still but I'll need to check these in a week or so!

Next inspection June 1.

Ladue Hive:
I should have expected this; by now it was getting overcast and it started to look like rain.  Yes, these girls weren't too happy to be disturbed and got a bit nasty; I got stung 4 times on my right wrist and arm!

So they're strong! And I found brood in the hive! This was Queenless a few weeks ago so I'm happy they should now be OK. There's lots of nectar in the hive too. I hope with a Queen now in residence they will move this up into the supers to make some room for brood. One old super is full and the shallows are filling.

I cleared the yard with my brush cutter to make it easier to move around, and I now need to think about starting some new hives.  Nucs would be good! I also need to "de-propolise" the hive! It's so sticky and hard to work.

Next inspection June 2.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Further Spring Inspections

Writing up my inspections on my blog is fast becoming my go-to method of record keeping as well as planning.  I felt I dropped the ball a bit coming into the spring; I was disorganized and not fully prepared for what I needed to do with my bees. But since I started recording stuff here and using the calendar on my phone more, I've found I've been better able to plan my time and I'm also sure I service the hives I have dotted about the city much more effectively.  I guess the lesson is "record data in the way that best suits you"!

So what happened this weekend?  On Saturday I dashed about the...

Home Hive: 
I went through just the supers to see if any more were needed.  In the event I added a fourth, as of the 3 there two were almost full and the third partially full. I did not look for the Queen on this occasion as I want to wait a little longer to make sure if there is one she is settled in the hive.  I'm planning on doing that on 25 May (next weekend).

Home Hive with Supers
Diane's Hive: 
Now this hive has been in good shape this spring.  I went through the entire hive and found nothing untoward, apart from some larvae/eggs in the first super!  I looked in the super for the queen and as I didn't see her I bottom-supered with a third shallow. Hopefully this will discourage her from going up into the supers again. This will leave the brood in the supers to hatch and allow more nectar/honey to be stored.

The other two supers on the hive are filling well; there are lots of eggs and brood and larvae throughout the deeps - but no queen cells!. I'll check in on this hive soon - May 25.

Diane's Hive
Ladue Hive: 
This is not firing on all cylinders - not yet!  There should be a maturing Queen in the hive so I didn't want to disturb things too much; I just went through the supers.  These are not filling that quickly, but I nevertheless put an extra super on (up to 3 now).  I also took a quick look in the top deep and I found lots of nectar here and some mature brood as well, but not much.  I hope this doesn't mean the hive is Queenless! But it is early days still and I will go back to look this weekend to see if I can find brood and eggs (May 24) i.e. if there appears to be a resident Queen. If there isn't one in the hive I will consider either purchasing a new Queen or bringing the nuc I prepared from the Queen Cells in this hive (which are at home) back to Ladue!

On Sunday my focus was at the Botanical Garden...

Established Hive:
The established hive here looks in good shape - it's very vital!  Everything looks good!  No Queen Cells, plenty of brood, larvae, eggs, nectar, pollen and honey in the hive. I added a single shallow as the two there are partially full.  The top deep appeared further developed than the bottom deep so I reversed these as well.  I'll be back to look inside the hive in a week's time! (May 24).

Swarm Hive:
As with the hive in my yard I only went though the supers on this hive.  Both were both pretty much full so I bottom-supered two more!  I will check to see if the Queen Cell I moved from home a couple of weeks ago has taken (may 24). If not I think I may have to obtain a new Queen!
Piles of Supers at the Gardens!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Next round of inspections

Over the weekend I looked at the two hives that are in good shape. The hive down the street and one of the hives at the Gardens.

Both show no signs of having any queen cells and both look well set up for the main nectar flow which I hope starts this week. I have 2 supers on the hive down the street and 3 on the Garden hive.  So fingers crossed. 

My next round of inspections will be in the hives and nucs that contain the queen cells, but that is still a week off so I may recheck these good hives next weekend.

Here are a couple of views of the Garden hives.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Well what do I do next time? 'Cos the business end of the season is starting to roar

Home hive:
Well, I went through this hive again last night with the intent to perform an Artificial Swarm.  I would have done it too, but there was NO QUEEN!  So I removed all but two developed, and capped, Queen Cells. With luck the first out of the gate will terminate the other and there'll be no secondary swarming. The good news is that with no Queen in the hive the girls are busy bringing in nectar!  Well, what else is there for them to do!

I'll check on the hive's progress in a couple of weeks (May 25).  After all, I want the new Queen to settle in.  If the cell is currently capped it must be within 6 days of hatching.  Add a week for her to get mated and return home and a few more days to start laying and we'll be good.  So all I have to do in the meamtime is keep "supering"!

Diane Hive:
There was nothing untoward going on in this hive, so I think all I need to do is check in the hive for any swarm cells (May 11) and add supers should the two there now be filling nicely!

Ladue Hives:
This had swarm cells in it so I think I need to check the hive again but not too soon (May 24) just to see how the hive is doing.  It would also be worth lifting the supers to see their progress. And of course i need to rummage through the garage and check on the equipment that's stored there!

Mating box:
This is no longer occupied!

New Nuc Box
This was made up from bees in Ladue and contained some frames woth Queen Cells.  I reckon I need to check on this again in a couple of weeks (May 25) in order to give the Queen enough time to hatch, get mated, return and start laying.

Observation Hive / New Home Hive!
The New Home Hive was made from the old observation hive "nuc" I prepared from the Home hive!  Confused? Anyway, I went through the observation hive / "nuc" last night only to find a new Queen Cell in it and no existing Queen!  I think the cold weather at the earth day event did her in!  A shame!  So I decided to put all 5 frames in the nuc back into a full deep but this time I'll make sure the Queen stays in her hive and I'll wait to do another check until she should be laying (May 25), or even later.

Garden Swarm Hive #2:
OK, this hive now contains Queen Cells I took from home (from the mating box). As with so many of my hives I'll wait long enough for any queens to hatch, get mated and start laying (around May 24).  It will be worth lifting the supers as well, especially as the bees in the hive have nothing else to do and there was some honey already being stashed away!

And I'll certainly rummage in this garage again for equipment, but I doubt if I'll get quite as lucky as I did on Monday!

Garden Hive #1:
Nothing untoward was happening here but I'll check for Queen Cells soon (May 10) and maybe add some more supers if the ones that are currently in place are filling quickly.

Checking to see if the swarm hive took! It didn't!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Extended Day Beekeeping!

The weather was so bad this weekend that I didn't manage to get any beekeeping in, yet again.  Instead I took Monday off (May 6) and went round my hives.  This activity actually started on Sunday as I needed to plan what I was going to do at each hive location so that I wasn't unnecessarily running about.  Broadly my planning worked! Broadly, but not quite...

So what follows are my plans and notes of what actually happened - a few surprises came my way!

Equipment needs:
Tool box - 2 empty drawn frames + mating box frames.
Spare deep - no frames.
Supers with cut comb x 2.
Supers x 10.
2 nuc boxes for possible splits.

Should have taken my back support!

Home hive:
Check for queen cells and/or queen.
Perform artificial swarm if cells present! or simply reverse if not.
Need excluder and deep of drawn comb for AS.
Add 1x super with cut comb.

Didn't see the queen, but saw Swarm cells were present on two frames. Relocated one frame to mating box (centre compartment) left one in the hive but removed 2 of the 3 cells on it. If the queen in the hive doesn't take maybe the one in the mating box will.
I think it may be likely this hive will swarm!
Bottom supered with frames for cut comb. Three supers currently in place.

Diane Hive:
Check for queen cells. Remove any queen cells to tool box then to mating box in yard.
Add supers x 2 (max).

Didn't see the queen, no sign of supersedure cells or swarm cells. Didn't reverse. 
Bottom supered a single super. Two currently in place.

Ladue Hives:
Check two hives for queen cells. Remove to tool box/nuc box if present.
Perform reversals.
Add supers x 4.

Down to one hive, but combined the hives.
Swarm cells removed from the one surviving hive (removed a total of 4 frames) to make up a nuc at home.
Added 2 supers.

Mating box:
Check queen cells.
If not hatched relocate to nuc box/tool box, take to Gdns for swarm hive, otherwise leave.

Swarm cell present in western compartment. Decided to leave it in place!
These cells (and those in the centre compartment from the home hive) were subsequently all relocated to the "swarm hive" at the gardens.

Garden Swarm Hive #2:
Check for queen. If present OK. If not use frame from mating box.
Reorganize and reduce to 2 deeps.
Add supers x 2.

No queen! Swarm was either Queenless or they killed her! 
Reduced bees into 2 deeps added 2 supers (3 total now). Put in queen cells from the mating box. A couple were damaged in transit (at the bottom of frames) but hopefully either the healthy capped cell or the viable uncapped cells will develop. Check back in a couple of weeks!
Should have taken my swarm cells to the gardens as planned. The "swarm hive" was queenless and needed these cells and I had to drive home to collect them!

Garden Hive #1:
Check for queen cells. If present relocate to swarm hive or nuc box.
Add supers x 2 - check garage!
Add one super with cut comb.

All ok! Added two supers. Total of two in place.

A montage from the Botanical Gardens of some lovely brood,
pollen and a very prominent Queen Cell.

Another montage from the Botanical Gardens,
including the delivery of the Queen Cell!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Another Queen...

Well the hive in my back yard has got some capped Queen Cells in it! But the existing Queen is still there. So I removed the Queen Cells and put them in my mating box! I'm not sure if the hive will swarm - probably it will - unless I can perform an "artificial swarm" on it. However, given the weather forecast I think this is unlikely before Sunday. And by then it might be too late!

Still, I hope I'll have another Queen to raise which I can use to split another hive! I'll check in the mating box in a week or so to see what's happened!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Preparing my Observation Hive

Now that I know I have a Queen in a mating box I just have to decide what to do with her! Well I have now decided; she's going into my Observation Hive.

I took two frames of capped brood from the hive that is located next to the mating box and put them in the OH. Tomorrow I'll put my new Queen (and her two or three frames of brood) in with the bees that have stayed with the OH. I'm hoping the nurse bees that don't go back to the parent hive will happily accept their new queen.

I'll try and develop the OH into a nuc that I can use later on, once its done a tour of the local schools!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bees 1 : Owen 0

Some excellent news!

Lets just hope the UK government abides by the ruling!

A very helpful summary of the issues being faced by the Honey Bee.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Earth Day at Kirkwood Farmers Market.

What a way to end an excellent week of beekeeping! Yes, Earth Day was last week but here in Kirkwood they held their own local version yesterday. Sadly it was wet and cold, but surprisingly well attended!

Walter from Cornucopia (the local cook shop that stocks some of my honey) asked if I'd like to have a stall. I jumped at the chance! I had no honey to sell but I love taking my observation hive places.

But it's been so cold lately and the hives are so far behind (developmentally) that I wasn't sure if I could find enough frames of brood etc. to full the observation hive. However, I had a brainwave! I sealed off the nuc below the observation window and decided to put in just a single frame of bees from my mating box. You'll remember the queens in these boxes had died or been killed off. I pulled a frame from one side of the box and thought no more of it.

I generated some interest at the market, which is actually quite easy when you have a hive of bees on display. People are always so interested and know quite a bit about the issues bees are currently facing, so it's nice to be able to talk about what is being done locally to help maintain bee populations.

I kept telling people that the frame was just bees and a bit of maturing brood, until one 9yr old girl said she saw the Queen. No way! But she was spot on! Clear as day, there was a Queen, quite black with a black shiny saddle on her thorax on the frame. She'd been busy too, lots of eggs and larvae were on the frame and we alao saw her laying. She was not only recently hatched, but mated too!

What had happened? This is my hypothesis. First the timeline: On 5 April I pulled one frame of eggs and brood from a hive at home and from the gardens. On 6 April I added new queens purchased from the club to these frames in the mating box. On 13 April I found the queens had died or been killed and I saw queen cells being raised on one side of the mating box. Finally, yesterday, 27 April, I had a new laying queen.

I'm assuming the bees started to raise a queen almost immediately after the frame was removed from the donor hive. One of these queen cells could therefore have been formed around a 3-day old egg. So the egg could have been laid on 3 April. This queen should then have hatched 16 days later, on 19 April. Now Queen cells are capped after 10 days so the cells I saw could have just been capped when I saw them. It's been 7 days since the queen hatched and I believe its perfectly possible that she took her maiden flight, got mated and started laying within a week of hatching. Quick, but not unusual!

My only worry now is did her trip to the cold day at the market upset her? And if not, what do I do with her? Well, I think I will split one of my hives in a couple of weeks time and I'll install her (or should that be invest her?) as the new Queen.

It's certainly been interesting this week!

Friday, April 26, 2013


I checked the "swarmed" hive at the gardens yesterday. No sign of any brood or eggs so I reasoned they were Queenless still. It's nearly 2 weeks since I was in and found what I assumed was a post-swarm hive. So what to do now?

I put in a call to a couple of folks and I got a lead to a swarm of bees that was on Craigslist. Quite how they got Internet connectivity I don't know; that's another avenue to explore I guess! Anyway the swarm of bees was located on the ground at a house 20 mins from home.

I called the home owner last night and arranged to look this morning. It looked like rain so I went out without being able to check if they were still there. But they were, still on the ground.

Now this is the first swarm I have ever caught. I was a bit nervous, but the bees were every bit as docile as you're told a swarm should be. I simply picked them up and put them in the new "Pershing" box I have. My apologies to those (bees and humans) that didn't make the trip!

So once in the box I drove them to the gardens and installed/combined them with the existing hive. I dumped the swarm in a new box with drawn comb, put a sheet of newspaper on top and then placed the Queenless hive on top of this. I hope they will get along together and get cracking with all the nectar that's about to explode from the trees and flowers (I hope). I will check to see how they are on Sunday and remove one if the deep boxes so I get back down to 2.

I don't know if there was a queen in the swarm, and I don't know if there was a queen in the "Queenless hive. I guess if both are there there'll be a fight!

It was an excellent first swarm experience! Can't wait to do it again!

Swarm on the ground
Into the "Pershing" box!

At the Gardens

Combined with the "Queenless" hive.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Eye off the ball!

Lovely weather here today! So I managed to get to look at the garden bees. And I got another surprise!

One hive (the one that came through the winter) has 2 capped Queen Cells in it! So I think the hive has swarmed - already - Queen Cells and fewer bees in it than I might have expected!

Oh well! I'll let these cells develop and see what happens. Can't help thinking I took my eye off the ball somewhat with this hive.

The other hive is in good shape. Saw the Queen in the top brood box and so did a reversal. With luck this might deal with any urge they have to swarm!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Well, that wasn't planned!

Last week (April 26) I took delivery of 3 Queen bees from the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association. I thought it was way too early to get queens (well certainly too early to make splits) as its been so cold here this winter. But there's not much that can be done if everything is firing in Louisiana and there are queens there ready to shipped out!
The 3 Queens.
Anyway, I took the queens and installed them the same day. One went into a weak hive, together with some eggs and brood from an adjacent stronger hive (I had already disposed of the resident queen the previous day). The other two Queens I put in a mating box along with frames of brood/eggs I took from the strong hive in my back yard and from a hive I have at the botanical gardens. No worries!

The strong hive in my Back Yard
I checked on the mating box on Wednesday; the candy plugs in the queen cages had been eaten away. I therefore assumed the queens had been released. So all good, right?

Wrong! I checked the hives this morning. One side of the mating box is raising Queen Cells! (can you spot one?) So that means the Queen in that side is dead! I found the other Queen dead inside her cage!

Spot the Queen Cell!

The dead Queen!
So that was a waste of time! Still, at least the Queen in the weak hive is alive! I found her still in her cage!  She hadn't been able to find her way out. She doesn't sound too clever to me!  All in all it wasn't a very encouraging start! But you have to look on the bright side...

1. I'm now raising my own queens which is actually what I wanted to do in the first place!

2. The hive in my back yard is nice and strong and it was no problem taking brood and eggs from it.

3. The single surviving queen walked out of the cage and onto a frame in the weak hive without being assaulted by the other bees!

I have hope!