Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bee Yard Update - Oct. 10, 2012 - Feeding

This afternoon, I put a hive-top feeder filled with straw on both hives. It was cold and blustery, so the bees weren’t flying, which made the procedure a bit easier.

I filled each feeder with 2:1 sugar syrup, allowing 6 cups of sugar per hive (a little more than 6 cups liquid when dissolved in water – preparation 6 c boiling water, 12 c sugar, stir until dissolved. Let cool briefly before pouring into feeder).

Above each feeder, I replaced the inner cover, then topped it off with a honey super filled with insulation to help keep the heat in. Over that went the outer cover.

Time to get bees ready for winter!
If the bees are anything like mine at home, they should take all of the syrup down by tomorrow, when they will be fed again.

I explained the process of daily feeding to Judi, as I cannot be there each day to do it. I will check when I can. Although the bees have been fed using jars, they have been consuming all of the syrup until now. Hopefully, the process of feeding large quantities of syrup will let them store some honey for winter.

Oh yes, the electric fence is working quite well even though there wasn’t much sun today. My dog, Kiili, found out the hard way! I think her first visit to the Willow Springs beeyard did not favourably impress her! She opted to spend the rest of the visit in the car!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Bee Yard Update - Oct. 1, 2012 - Mite-Free So Far

I did a 48+ hour sticky board check – all three hives appeared to be mite-free. Here’s hoping they stay that way until we figure out a good mite-prevention strategy.

Well, I did it. Combined Polly and Deanne today, after seeking advice. Now both are in the polystyrene hive, with the original Polly on the bottom. The upper polystyrene box was almost empty with undrawn foundation (bottom box was full of bees and honey), so I removed the box, then removed the frames and shook any bees out onto the landing board. Before replacing the box, I placed a single sheet of newsprint over the lower box and sprayed it liberally with vanilla. I then removed the brood frames from the wooden Deanne hive and placed them in the upper polystyrene box. There was enough drawn foundation in the Deanne hive to fill the rest of the box (I also replaced two frames in the bottom box that hadn’t been drawn out), ensuring that there would be drawn comb in which the bees would be able to store honey once I start feeding. I did not look for or kill any queens, as I am not sure that either hive had a good queen. So, let the strongest one survive, or rather, the one that survives being killed by the other hive’s workers. I will look at the hive again in two days. If I cannot find a queen, we will go ahead and requeen.

So, now we officially have two hives, Alistair and Polly.

I added a jar of 2:1 syrup to both of the hives. This should keep them going while the combined hive sorts itself out, and hopefully, will keep Alistair from robbing. We will keep this up until the hive top feeders are made and we can feed them more in a shorter period of time, forcing them to store the excess.

Within a few minutes of finishing, dark clouds started to roll in – done just in time!


From your editor ... Beehives of Slovenia

Hi All! This is your current Bee Blog "administrator," Wendy. I just had to pop in with a post about some of the prettiest beehives on the planet - and they're in Slovenia! Perhaps all of you knew this already, but it was new to me when I saw it on a DVD of one of Rick Steves' old travel shows.

Slovenia considers itself an ancient source of the Carolinian bee (Apis mellifera carnica), its native bee, and has given it official state protection. Bee tourism is a growing industry in the area.

Of course, the good people of Slovenia have been keeping bees much longer than we have, and perhaps they've gotten so good at it that they have time to spare ... to paint their hives!

slovenian beehives

Visit this website for more on beekeeping in Slovenia.

Bee Yard Update - Sept. 28, 2012 - Sticky Boards!

Well, I finally made it back into the beeyard.

Alistair is doing very well. Both boxes are well-filled with bees, and there are some honey stores.

Polly is considerably smaller in size, nowhere close to filling the second box. However, the bottom box is full of bees. and there is also a small amount of honey.

Deanne is the smallest of the three, and the comb is spotty. Not sure why this is so, as the new queen seemed to be doing well last month. I found her and she looks small, but since this is my first time seeing her, I can’t compare her appearance now to what she looked like previously. There is no honey in this hive and the bees are quiet – almost sombre. I wonder if this hive should be requeened? It definitely needs some syrup immediately.

I also wonder if Deanne should be combined with Polly to build a strong second hive. I think Alistair is okay. I will need to talk to some other beekeepers about this, but if they are to be strong enough to resist mites, it might have to happen.

I prepared sticky boards for all three hives, even though they were tested in the summer. In light of recent findings of mites in the Thunder Bay area, I would feel better knowing they were done again.

I prepared disposable sticky boards as follows (x3).

I photocopied a 9”x12” grid pattern from a craft mat onto regular 8½” x 11” paper. I cut a piece of cardboard to roughly the same size, then stapled the gridded sheet to it. I attached a pull handle (not sure if it will be needed) to the narrow end of the cardboard piece using masking tape. I brushed a generous amount of Crisco/petroleum jelly (equal amounts) onto the grid. Covered it with an 8”x10” piece of hardware cloth (8 sq/in), and slid one into the front entrance of each hive, leaving the ‘handle’ exposed. We will look at them in 48 hours.

I also notched the inner cover of Polly, and applied a piece of hardware screen (8sq/in) to the opening in the cover, as indicated in the previous bee blog.

The next step will be to start feeding 2:1 syrup as soon as the sticky boards are removed and the hives have been united – if that is to be done. We will need to build two (or three) hive top feeders asap for this.

We also need to decide how to protect the bees during the winter. Again, I will speak with some other beekeepers.

Let’s see how Sunday’s sticky board results are first.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Bee Yard Update - August 10, 2012

Well, we finally made it to the yard! We opened up the hives just to get a look at how the girls were filling the second brood boxes.

Alistair appears to be full, but there is space on the brood frames for more brood and honey stores. Since the main nectar flow is over, we are not going to put another box on, but will keep an eye on it. The brood pattern is classic for a healthy hive! There was no evidence of swarm preparations.

Polly is filling in the top box quite nicely. We looked at some of the frames. The outer ones have not been drawn yet, so we moved them in a bit. There is ample room for honey and brood. We realized that that the inner cover still needs to have a piece of hardware cloth placed over the feeder jar slot, and the front has to be notched. Until now, we have raised the outer cover a wee bit to allow bees to move in and out of the top box that protects the feeder jar, but with colder weather coming soon, that will have to change.

Oh yes, we did remove the oiled paper from the IPM board. I forgot to mention that. No evidence of varroa, and the pattern of debris along it reminded us of the scrap board technique used by Werner Gysi.

Deanne’s bees are slowly starting to move up into the second box. I would like to see this happen more quickly (I’m impatient), but since we requeened it, we can’t expect this to be happening any faster. The good news is that, yes we do have a new queen! Almost all of the brood cells in the two frames that were moved up into the second box are capped. They are flat, indicating that they are workers, and that the brood wasn’t chilled by the move. Within days we should have a vigorous young worker population to help with comb building, brood tending and nectar collection, a good thing with the end of the season approaching.

Other jobs that will need to be done include construction of feeder boxes for the fall, as well as entrance reducers. We also need to look at winter hive protection.

There won’t be any honey taken off this year.

Until next time,


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bee Yard Report - July 26, 2012

I picked up 10 pierco/wood frames from Barry Tabor to use to put a second box on our newest nuc – Deanne. The bees have filled the bottom box and we want them to work on filling another box with bees, brood and honey before winter. To encourage them to move up, I moved up two frames of brood and honey. I couldn’t avoid moving some brood along with the honey. I am hoping that the weather is warm enough that the brood doesn’t chill. (I read somewhere that the presence of drones helps to keep the hive temperature elevated? They do a lot of ambling over the comb.).

At least the heat is cooperating! I saw the queen again, but there are still a lot of drones and relatively few workers, as before. There are no newly capped larvae yet, although there are new eggs and young uncapped larvae. Because of what I am seeing, I do think this is a new queen and it took her some time to get mated. I can't think of another reason why there would be a lag in new worker bees. Ayla is feeding them, and we are watching for robbing. Haven’t seen any evidence yet, but as the nectar flow subsides it may start. Which reminds me - we should put on an entrance reducer, just in case. Anyhow, the new super is on, and we will wait for a couple of weeks to see the workers emerge! I left Polly and Alistair alone after a quick peak into the top.

~ JoAnne

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bee Yard Report - July 20, 2012

Hive #1 “Alistair” - queen right, no new swarm cells, lots of honey and brood in brood boxes.

Hive #2 “Poly” - queen right, no swarm cells, starting to draw comb in second poly box.

Hive #3 Dean’s - “Deanne”? - all swarm cells (13) have hatched and have had sides chewed out. Found a queen, but don’t know if she is the original (drone layer), or a newly hatched and mated queen from the inserted swarm cells. There are fresh eggs, but won’t know if they are drone or worker until capped; however, eggs appear to have been laid in regular-sized cells. There is some capped brood, a few uncapped larvae from the (previous?) queen. Need to wait another 10 days to two weeks for capping shape to be evident. There is lots of honey in the brood box. Need to get a second brood box on ASAP. Have notified Judi and Ayla.