Since I have purchased most of my equipment from Brushy Mountain, I get their monthly e-flier they send out to customers. They have two upcoming webinars that look interesting. I’m especially interested in the 2nd one since the book I got the most out of was written by Kim Flottum.
What to do when hives go bad?
Jennifer Berry will be joining us to discuss how to deal with queen issues. Swarming, supercedure etc. Jennifer oversees the colonies at the University of Georgia and raises queens on her own.
Title: What to do when hives go bad?
Date: May 27, 2010
Time: 6:00-7:00PM EST
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/804066651
6 weeks as a beekeeper…Now What?
Now that you have your hive up and running, what’s next? Kim Flottum (editor Bee Culture Magazine) will join us to discuss what you should be looking for and seeing in your colonies. We will discuss assessing queens, brood inspection, supering, and varroa monitoring.
Title: 6 weeks as a beekeeper…Now What?
Date: June 1, 2010
Time: 6:00-7:00PM EST
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/960734619
I went to check the top hive feeder early last evening, and I am glad that I did. One side was almost empty, and the other was also very low. I don’t think the girls really liked me opening the top of the hive so close to sundown, and I had a few dive bombers in my face. I didn’t bother with the smoker since I was just filling the feeder, and I wasn’t technically opening up the hive. The suit did its job and I didn’t get stung. In reality, there only seemed to be a few angry bees, and the rest of the hive will be thankful not to run out of syrup before I get back this weekend to do a more thorough inspection of the hive.
I’ve used my smoker twice now and getting it lit and smoking properly definitely required a little trial and error. It helped that I got some compressed cotton smoker fuel when I originally ordered all my equipment, and this burns very well and the smoke is “cool”. You definitely don’t want smoke that is mixed with sparks and feels like a blast furnace. I’m told bees don’t like that.
I’ve heard all sorts of explanations on why smoke calms down bees. One theory is that it simulates a forest fire so the bees go down into the hive to start eating all their stored honey in case they have to leave the hive. Another is that it masks the alarm pheromones given off by worker bees when the hive is opened up. Whatever the real explanation, it certainly works.
It is important to have a reliable water source near your hive for your bees. Bees use water to feed brood, dilute honey and control the temperature in the hive. The owners of the property where I keep my hive have a shallow bird bath about 30 feet from the hive and took this great shot of a worker filling up for the road.
One important thing to remember is to make sure the water source is either shallow enough so the bees don’t drown or have plenty of floats available for the bees to land on. I’ve heard of some beekeepers saving wine corks and using those for floating bee perches.
Here is a snapshot of what I think is another native bee that I find in my front garden quite often:
I am having trouble getting a closer look because it moves very fast and never stays in one place for very long. Even when it lands on a flower, it doesn’t spend much time on it. It also can hover in place like a hummingbird. I’m assuming it is some sort of bee, but until I can get get a decent non-blurry picture, I’m going to have a difficult time confirming.
I checked the hive today and Large Marge has been busy. There is already a lot of capped brood as well as larvae in different instar phases. Honeybees have 5 instar phases as they grow from egg to mature honey bee. During each phase they produce a skin, grow into it, shed and then produce a larger one. Here is a shot of me checking a frame:
They only bad thing I saw was two hive beetles. It amazes me that these things can suddenly appear in a backyard and find an available hive. I squished these two but I’m sure there are probably more lurking around. There is a wild hive in the next door neighbor’s property so maybe they came from there. A healthy hive can handle a small number of these pests so I’m not too worried yet. However, I decided to order a small hive beetle trap to see how they work. I’m also going to spread beneficial nematodes around the hive as the beetle larvae must leave the hive and pupate in the soil to mature.
They had also used up almost 100% of the syrup so I went ahead and refilled the top hive feeder with another 96 fluid ounces of simple syrup. I also added a teaspoon of Honey B Healthy to help the girls out. Honey B Healthy uses lemongrass and spearmint essential oils and smells delicious.
This weekend will be a milestone check on my hive’s health. Last weekend I confirmed the queen’s release, and this weekend I will look for evidence that she is laying eggs. If I see evidence of a good egg laying pattern then I can breathe a bit easier that the first major hurdle of a new packaged bee hive has been cleared.
At the Dai Due Supper Club event this past weekend at Boggy Creek Farms, I was a bit surprised to hear they did not keep any bees on their property. We also had some folks from Rain Lily Farms at our table, and they did not have bees either.
The Austin Chronicle just did an article on four local farms in Austin (which includes the two I mentioned above), and I would be interested in seeing if the other two have bees on their land or not. With the exception of catching a swarm or moving an existing hive to the property, it is too late now to get bees to start a new hive, but I may reach out to them next year to see if they are interested in having a hive or two on their farm. I would definitely like to expand the number of hives I have in the future, and this would seem like a win/win for all parties involved.
It has been seven days since I installed the package of bees so today I opened the hive to see if Large Marge was still in the queen cage. I found the queen cage empty and the candy plug completely eaten away. The bees had also drawn out a lot of comb on the 6 middle frames. I switched frame positions for 1 and 2 and 7 and 8 to encourage the bees to use all eight frames. Bees have a tendency to ignore the outer most frames in the hives without a little encouragement. I also went ahead and added an additional super on top.