On Friday, my two Italian queens arrived in the mail. They are hard to see through the cage, but here they are.
I installed them Friday after work, and it was certainly a learning experience. I attempted to do a quick release into the hive that has been queenless for several weeks. I’ve heard from other beekeepers that you can put the cage on top of an open super and the hive will come investigate. Supposedly, if you can easily shake those bees off the cage, and you don’t see them trying to bite through the mesh to get to the queen, the hive is pretty much ready to accept the queen right away.
It didn’t really work out that way at all…
After I watched the bees investigate the cage and even observed a worker feed the queen through the mesh, I thought this hive would have no issues welcoming a new queen into their home. I removed the mesh and the nearby workers immediately tried to ball and kill her. Luckily, I was able to quickly intervene and get the queen back into the cage and re-attach to the mesh, but not before she got stung once in the thorax. I ended up installing the other queen into this hive.
We observed the stung queen for 15 minutes and she didn’t really seem that worse for the wear after her ordeal. I went ahead and stuck her into the other hive and will just hope for the best. In hindsight, getting the queen into they hive and laying a few days earlier is not worth the risk of her getting balled and killed. I’ll check back later this week and will keep my fingers crossed that both hives accept their new queen.
On April 7th, I did a late afternoon inspection of both my hives at Baab-Brock Farms. I first checked the hive I moved from Sunshine Community Gardens and found no evidence of a queen. No eggs, larvae or capped brood were present. I’m not sure what happened but without any eggs, the hive is unable to even make a new queen.
I then moved over to the queen eating hive that I attempted to requeen twice last year. The last queen was one sent from sunny Hawaii in late October in an attempt to chill out an aggressive hive. I actually found the queen very unexpectantly near the top of the hive, and it was not the marked queen I had dubbed “Aunty Lilikoi”. The hive was also more aggressive than from past inspections a few weeks back so I don’t know if the hive swarmed with my Hawaiian queen leaving me with a queen mated with the local drone population. Trying to find a queen in an aggressive hive is one of the least fun things a beekeeper will do, so I made the snap decision to remove her right then and there.
I now have two cordovan queens on the way which should arrive in the next day or two. Since I feel the location of my hives are in a AHB influenced area of Austin, having a queen that produces distinctive coloring on workers and drones will help be an early indicator that the queen has been lost or replaced.
I really meant to get this going when Flat Stanley visited our hives a few months ago, but better late than never I say.
Since Gitanjali took so much time drawing out Flat Stanley as a beekeeper, it seems like a shame not to send him around the globe. So if anyone is interested in hosting Flat Stanley at their own hive, please leave a comment and we can exchange address information. If you are interested, I’d only ask for the following things:
Be willing to have a blog post with some pictures of Flat Stanley at your hive with some interesting facts about beekeeping in your state or country.
If you don’t have a blog, send me some photos and a little write up which I’ll post to my blog
Be willing to mail Flat Stanley on to the next beekeeper
Flat Stanley is looking forward to visiting all of you.
Spring in Texas always seems to come early and time just slipped away. I can’t believe it has almost been two months since my last post.
The biggest piece of news is I moved my hive from Sunshine Community Gardens down to Baab-Brock farms. After the hive got tagged last summer, there have been additional incidents of people deciding it would be fun to remove the outer cover. As a beekeeper, I felt it was my responsibility to remove this temptation from the public gardens so that no one ended up getting hurt.
So last night, with the help of a fellow beekeeper Jim Hogg, we arrived at the gardens, got the hive taped up, and then wrestled it in the back of my truck. In prep for this move, I did harvest 16 medium frames of honey a few weeks ago to get the height and weight down. Even a hive with four medium supers is still pretty heavy and certainly not the most elegant thing to move. Here is a shot of it partially taped up.
After I got the hive installed at Baab-Brock farms, I decided after all the jostling around, it would probably be wise to keep the hive taped up overnight. I got up early today to avoid rush hour and SXSW traffic and got the tape removed from the entrance. I even put some branches in front of the hive as an additional visual cue for the bees to fixate on their new location. Hopefully, they will enjoy their new location south of the river.
Flat Stanley arrived courtesy of my niece Riya shortly after the holidays. Part of the instructions suggested “dressing” him to reflect either the season we were in or an activity he performed.
We took these instructions to heart and got Flat Stanley all suited up and ready to do a hive inspection complete with cowboy boots since we are in Texas after all.
We had a nice break from the cold weather this past week. It was perfect for a quick peek into the hive I requeened with the Hawaiian queen at the end of October 2012. The hope was the hive was still full of bees with plenty of honey to make it through spring. It would also be a plus if they didn’t try and kill me.
To calm the bees before the inspection, Flat Stanley first smoked the hive.
After smoking, we opened up the hive and started inspecting frames in the top most super. All 8 frames were all mostly drawn out combs of honey.
The next two supers after that were still all honey as well. The bees were also calm and only started getting a little annoyed towards the very end of the inspection. I didn’t go any further into hive because it was late in the day and the temps were starting to go down. If we have another warm weekend this week, I’ll do another inspection and go straight to the 2nd super now that I know the top three are all honey. I’ll hopefully see some activity of brood meaning the queen from Hawaii was accepted.
I hope all my beekeeping friends had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying the lull in beekeeping duties before the spring swarm season is upon us. While the winter months aren’t completely void of tasks, it is a nice break from the hectic spring and summer months.
Austin finally got into the mid-50’s today after several weeks of cold overcast weather. It was also nice and sunny which helps warm up a hive allowing bees to take cleansing flights. I stopped by the Sunshine Community Garden today to plant another round of beets and carrots as well as harvest some chard and arugula (rocket for my readers down under) for tonight’s dinner. While I was there, it was the perfect opportunity to check my hive without opening it up. Just by quietly observing your hive entrance, the amount of activity can give you a good indication of the health of your hive.
I think I timed my visit perfectly when the temperature and sunshine finally got the girls warm enough to take off. The entrance was alive with activity as the hive left for a cleansing flight and then returned.
An hour later, the activity was much more subdued as all the girls had taken their turn. I also noticed bees taking advantage of winter crops such as broccoli that were not picked quickly enough and had flowered. The forecast shows temperatures in the high 60’s next weekend so I may take a quick peek in all my hives to make sure their honey stores are still looking good.
Well, it took over two years, but we finally went through all the lip balm we made in August of 2010. While the balm we made last time turned out really well, we always felt is was a tad on the hard side so we tweaked the recipe this year to make it easier to apply.
We used the basic same ingredients and supplies found in my previous post with the addition of some bergamot essential oil, and we even added a little honey to the mixture.
This time I went with 110 grams of beeswax and 60 grams each of the almond and jojoba oils. We also added a teaspoon of honey. Be sure to break up your wax into small pieces to help it melt quickly.
Here I am adding the oil while Gitanjali is so happy to be drying cutting boards.
Once the mixture completely melted, we added 2 mL of grapefruit essential oil and a few drops of the bergamot. Then you just pour into your empty tubes.
It cools pretty quickly and then you can scrape off the top layer of the balm.
Then you can cap them and slather your chapped lips with beeswax goodness!
After Jesse over at Dai Due used some of the honeydew honey I gave him to marinate some feral hog loins along with mustard grape vinegar and Texas olive oil, I was inspired to find some recipes that complimented this honey’s unique woodsy taste.
I hit the jackpot last night. These balsamic and honey glazed root vegetables are amazing and super easy to make as long as you have a few hours to roast them.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for greasing baking dish
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup honey (if you don’t have aphid poop on hand, a darker honey is probably better)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground peppercorns
3 lbs of root veggies (I used carrots, parsnips, and cipollini onions all cut roughly the same size)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking dish with oil and set aside. Whisk the oil, vinegar, honey, rosemary, thyme, salt, and ground peppercorn in a large bowl. Add the veggies and toss with the glaze. Transfer to the baking dish and roast until the glaze is thick and bubbling, turning the veggies every 30 minutes for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, this is truly a dish worthy of a holiday table. Bon Appétit!
After requeening Rue’s hive on September 23rd, a mid-October inspection showed no brood or eggs and extremely aggressive bees. I received several stings to the ankles and pulled over 100 stingers from my gloves and shoes after checking on the hive.
This late in the year, it is extremely difficult to get new queens, so I had to resort to calling up Kona Queens in Hawaii to get a queen shipped to the mainland. I installed her on October 25th, and checked the hive today. The queen cage is empty but I did not do a full inspection as the bees are still very aggressive. I’ll check the hive in two weeks. Either it will be calmed down due to the new queen or the new queen wasn’t accepted and the hive won’t make it through the winter.
I’m hoping the new queen was accepted because it was very obvious during the mid-October inspection that this hive was the obvious culprit in the robbing and ultimate death of Knives’ hive. The top four supers were all honey with only the bottom two being used as the brood chamber. If this new queen does not take, I’ll lose the last hive at Baab-Brock farms as well as over 100 pounds of honey. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.