Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Hive Loss

Today it was quite warm (70 degrees) and I opened all 3 of my hives. The two hives that I purchased early in the year (May) are doing well. Lots of honey in there. The hive that I started late (August) has essentially died. There was only a hand full of bees in there and no queen or any honey. I removed all frames and stored for next spring for a new hive. I plan on splitting my good hive with a new fresh queen. I now see why the old addage of ("A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in July is not worth a fly"). At any rate it was a learning experience. So now I am down to two hives. I think I will feed them occasionally to ensure they make it through the winter. I am also interested in growing Shitake mushrooms and have purchased a book on the propogation of mushrooms. I also have purchased shitake fungi plugs to inoculate my white oak log. I will do this in a couple of weeks and hope to photo this for you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sharing a recent Photo

I thought I would share this photo that was taken by my automatic camera the other day. (No I am not interested in shooting this beautiful animal.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Intrigued by the Queens

I am now reading about how to breed and rear queens. I have not done much with the hives lately since it is too cold to open them, but I did place "Mite Check" in each of them to help eliminate the hive beetles that I have seen. I dislike those little critters. I do need to remove the strips in mid December. Mostly deer hunting and duck hunting now. I purchased a "Wild View" deer cam the other day and have it placed at a location of several rubs and scrapes. Hopefully I will have a photo of the big buck soon for you. I am also reading about queen rearing and breeding, I am intriqued by this process. Hopefully I will rear my own queens for next year if all goes as planned. I will update the steps that I am taking for queen rearing once I begin the process.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Solar Wax Extractor

I wanted to extract the wax from a hive that we removed from an old house. I read about some solar extractors on the net and thought this was a good idea. I made mine a little differently but with the same outcome. My wax extractor is simply an old fire extinguisher cabinet that you have seen in commercial buildings. They have the rounded plexiglas cover-excellent for solar heat collection. All I did was clean the cabinet up and painted the interior of the cabinet with a black paint. I also wrapped the cabinet with duct insulation for heat gain. I placed a foil pan that I perforated with a tiny nail inside another pan that is not perforated. I placed the wax on top of cheese cloth that is streatched over the perforated pan. It worked fine. I measured the temp inside the cabinet on a sunny day and it measured 138 deg. F

A Home Made Honey Extractor

My father acquired an old antique honey extractor from my grandfather. It was a basket case and the drum was rusted out but it was made of heavy cast iron gears and parts so this was salvageable. I bead blasted the entire extractor (except for the rusted out drum) until it was clean to bare metal. I then cleaned the bushings and replaced the 5/8 inch drive shaft with new. I then primed and painted the mechanism and it is now like new. I purchased a food safe plastic commercial trash and with some back yard engineering was able to make it work well for the barrel. I also was able to salvage the cast iron scissor gate and mounted it on the trash can. It works perfectly. I think the plastic trash can is an excellent barrel for the honey collection. It is easy to clean and very clean. Check out the photo. If interested in how to build this I will be glad to give you the info you need. But first, you need an old worn out extractor to start from.

Re Queen

I purchased a marked clipped wing queen from a reputable bee supplier from Alabama. The weak hive was closely inspected and I found brood but only a very sloppy pattern and very few brood cells were noted. This hive is weak due to either a weak queen or an old queen. I purchased the queen and she arrived intact and healthy. I removed all the frames and located the old queen and eliminated her. I then removed a frame from the middle of the brood hive and placed the queen in this location with the candy plug up. Hopefully would be released in a few days. We shall see.

Update: 5 days later: the queen is still in there. I opened the candy plug so that I could actually see the queen in there through the plug. Will check on her in a couple of days.

Update: 8 days later: The queen is still in the queen cage! I could not believe that she had not been released with the candy plug partially I completely opened the candy plug. I know she will be released now, all she needs to do is walk out of the cage. Will check in a week for eggs.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More photo's of the swarm capture

These photo's show somewhat of the hiving process. After removing the swarm from the limb as shown in the photo's below, We placed the limb with the swarm in a plastic trash can and covered the can with a towel and secured this for transport to the hiving location. I used a towel to cover the trash can so the bees could have good air circulation for transport. Once at the hiving location, I allowed the bees to calm for an hour or so. I had to build a new brood hive because I had none on such notice. I did have 5 frames of foundation for the brood hive although 10 are needed. Will order more at first of the week. At any rate, I placed the new brood hive in a location about 75 yards from my other bees for the hiving process. I opened the swarm container and took the limb out and placed it over the new brood hive and simply shook the bees off into the new brood hive. I then turned the trash can upside down over the brood hive and thumbed the sides where most of the bees fell into the brood hive. I then placed the frames with foundation and placed the inner and top cover on. I then allowed them to calm until about 1 hour before dark and then I moved the hive to the final location near the other bee hives. So far so good. I hope they stay.

July Swarm

I have read that "a swarm in July is not worth a fly." But my Dad called today and one of our good hives swarmed today and he was wanting to know if the swarm was worth capturing. Sure, why not. Upon arriving at the swarm it was noted to be quite large. I took photo's of what we did to retrieve the bees and also of what I did to hive them. I think they will be ok. I know this is a healthy queen because she grew the old hive quite rapidly. Enjoy the photo's.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lumber for Bee Hives

Our home was constructed of framing lumber that was cut on my sawmill and airdried for 5 years. The garage is currently under construction. I plan to pour a driveway after the garage is bricked.

Prior to garage construction.
I built my Langstroth hives from lumber that I cut on my hydraulic Timberking sawmill. I have had this mill since 1997 and it works perfectly. I also used this mill to cut my materials list for my house that my wife and I have recently completed. The hives were made from cypress that I cut on 50% with the landowner. The key to good lumber from the mill is having a place to stack and sticker and air dry the wood. Anyway, I thought you may like to see the mill.

Hives Looking Good! Have Brood and Honey!

There must be a queen in there with all the brood. Good tight pattern.

Healthy growing hive

This morning I checked my hives and the hive that I thought had no queen now has lots of brood. The other hive is growing much faster and has actually filled the super with 50% of honey. No honey in the super of the weaker hive but I think it may catch up since there is now obviously a queen in there. It must have worked when I placed a frame of brood from the healthy hive to the weaker hive so that the weaker hive could form their own queen. Pretty cool. I took some good photo's of the bees. Check it out

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Added Supers

The hives are growing by leaps and bounds. 8 of 10 frames drawn into comb. Added supers on 6/1/08. I still see no brood in one hive but it is growing somehow. I shall check it more closely this weekend. Both have beautiful honey in most of the frames already. More pictures to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I see no eggs

Today I opened the hives and checked on the AJ's beetle eaters that I installed last week. I had 2 beetles in one trap and 1 in the other trap in the other hive. I inspected the foundation and see that the comb is being drawn but ever so slowly. No eggs visualized. I quess there is a queen in there? The bees are steadily bringing in pollen and seem to be doing ok otherwise. Will check again later next week. Took photo of the bees in action.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Queen Emerges

Last weekend I opened the hives and noted that one of the hives had formed a queen swarm cell and it was evident that she had emerged. The original queen must have died or was killed some how. I was suspicious that there was no queen since I have not observed eggs in that hive yet. I do not think they have swarmed, there seems to be just as many bees present as before. Hopefully that queen will take over and start laying and get the hive organized. I also noted that the bees in that hive were more agressive and much more disorganized. Very little pollen was being brought in by the bees and they were quick to try to attack me. I had to use smoke to open the hive. The other hive is doing well. Those bees are organized and are working hard. I see eggs in the cells and comb is being drawn in 7 of the 10 frames. I have my super foundation ordered and will introduce probably next weekend. The black berries are blooming and should be ready to pick at the end of May.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Robbing Ferrel Hives

My neighbor became interested in beekeeping through our discussions and here we are robbing a ferrel hive that he had behind his house. The older gentleman helping us in the photo has experience in beekeeping and he only used a vail. I have the jacket and vail combo. This day was quite interesting. We cut the old dead tree after we devised a way to lower it to the ground with a system of ropes and pulleys. The log was rotton in that we could split it into two halves by hand. We placed the Langstroth hive near the tree and placed the comb in it. The bees eventually marched into the Langstroth hive. We then placed the Langstroth hive on a stand the following day and the bees were actually still there. It has now been 6 weeks since this attempt and the bees are actually thriving in the hive. We took no honey. Eventually we are going to place another Langstroth on top of this hive with hopes that the bees will ascend into this hive with frames. We shall see.

Arrival of the Bees

I began reading about bees this past winter of 2007. I thought this would be an interesting hobby and so I built several Langstroth hives and several Nuc hives, ordered my supplies from Dadant, and eagarly awaited my opportunity to receive my bees.

I purchased 2 nuc hives from a local professional beekeeper on April 12 2008. Both looked very healthy with lots of bees. The hives contained 5 frames nearly full of bees and capped brood. I placed the bees in my full size Langstroth hives that same afternoon. All went well. I placed the two hives facing opposite directions on a stand that is about 24 inches in height with all 4 legs in 4- 1 gallon paint pails with old motor oil in the pails for pest resistance purposes. We have a terrible problem with fire ants around here. We also have skunks that can wipe out a hive. My elevated hive stands should alleviate this problem. We shall see.