View Full Version : Oh, beehive!

Pages : [1] 2

02-06-2011, 11:07 PM
After meeting with the folks at Landmark Park, I got some names and phone numbers to beekeepers and the bee club over in Dothan.

So I caught up with Mr. Carter on the phone before church this morning and MAN, OH MAN he was helpful!! He not only answered every question I could think to ask him, he invited me to a bee class on the 15th! Best of all IT'S FREE through the cooperative extension!

So I've been out using power tools instead of rocks the last few days.. well, just to get my rock fix.. and this is what I came up with.
Still gotta build the bottom stand to keep it up off the ground, and build a jig for making frames. Then I gotta order my starter grids, a block of beeswax, and hopefully find a swarm (he suggested this was best, as the "bred" species seem to be less tolerant of adversity) to get started.. well actually, I have to build a whole extra box set, because I need to start with two colonies,, but at least I know a little bit more what to expect and do now.

So this is my start-up phase of beekeeping. I'll gladly give pointers and links to anyone interested. Since I'm building it all myself, I didn't go by any specific plans, so my measurements probably won't help if you are buying frames, but the gist is in the reasoning behind some of the cuts, etc.


02-06-2011, 11:10 PM
Looking good. You'll love it.

02-07-2011, 04:45 AM
I love all this handywork stuff. I'll look forward to seeing it full of bees!

02-07-2011, 09:45 AM
Bees sure are an interesting little critter, if you take a liking to them two hives won’t be enough. Nice job by the way! The landrace bees here tend to like one size of hive, lots of thanks to the beekeepers for figuring it out. It’s neat to locate hives in different places and noticing the taste off the honey. Buckwheat is one of my favourites. Good luck!

02-07-2011, 11:04 AM
Fantastic! I'll be following allong, for sure.

Best I could do was a bee block, for solitary bees:


I get no honey out of the deal though, just pollination in my garden.

02-07-2011, 11:25 AM
grrlscout that is WONDERFUL! bees are so valuable to our gardens. I'm probably going to build several of these blocks also just for the garden, like I mentioned, I'm a little worried about them attacking when cutting the grass.

Do you find them to be aggressive when you're out working your garden? (don't know if you use tillers and such)

02-07-2011, 11:51 AM
Here's a link you might find helpful: http://www.dadant.com/ I worked there after high school 35 years ago. Bees are interesting creatures.

02-07-2011, 12:49 PM
Looks Great Brazito!

I don't have time to read it right now.. got a skin soaking I gotta stretch (good luck softening, eh, it's 100% chance of rain), but I will definately look into it this evening! Thanks!

02-07-2011, 02:26 PM
grrlscout that is WONDERFUL! bees are so valuable to our gardens. I'm probably going to build several of these blocks also just for the garden, like I mentioned, I'm a little worried about them attacking when cutting the grass.

Do you find them to be aggressive when you're out working your garden? (don't know if you use tillers and such)

A trick to keep the bees away from you while you are in the yard and in close proximity to the hives is to surround the hives with a six foot high privacy fence. Leave yourself plenty of room to work inside the fenced area, or to add more hives. What the fence does is to force the bees to fly to a height that will be over your head while they are traveling to and from the hive. I have spent time handling managed hives with nothing more than a head net and gloves. When I was more than 10 feet away, I wore no PPE.

02-07-2011, 02:33 PM
From what I've read and experienced, native bees are very gentle. They also don't swarm (since they are solitary). I regularly garden around them -- even brush them off if they get in the way -- and they don't sting me. I'm not really good at identifying them, but I'm pretty sure most of what I get are leafcutter bees (the regularly take bits of my rose bush leaves to build their nests with), and just a few mason bees.

Here's a leafcutter's nest that fell out of the PVC I use for trellis:


This is a leafcutter working on a lablab hyacinth bean leaf:


02-07-2011, 03:26 PM
After finding a wild hive in West Texas a few years ago, I started reading about bees. They are truly amazing and productive creatures.


02-07-2011, 08:49 PM
There is a great article in the latest version of Backwoodsman on keeping bee's.

02-08-2011, 01:16 AM
Trabitha, that bottom one looks like what Mr. Carter described as the "small black german bee".

I don't know about identifying them either, but I'll consider putting up a fence for sure. Something I read about in one of the several articles I have read, suggested a removable cage made of window screen. When I want to cut the grass or work close to them, put the cage over the hive and they can't get out. Anyone heard of that?

02-08-2011, 09:06 AM
Honey Bees.





02-08-2011, 10:15 PM
mmmmm... yum!

I'm excited about this. Wierd how all these things came around at once for me ain't it.

Got a lot of frames to build.. tht is gonna be a pain, but it'll be worth it. How much honey does it take to sweeten a gallon of tea?

02-09-2011, 07:38 AM
YCC - I was doing some work for a guy and we got around to talking about bees. He started with two hives. He now has 134 on his property and manages about 50 others for people on their property. This, coupled with all of the other "exposure" you are getting might eventually lead to a new career for you.

02-09-2011, 08:08 AM
A career parallel with nature, rather than opposed to it would be awesome.

02-12-2011, 09:38 AM
It was a nice day yesterday, though a bit on the cool side.. too cool for painting, so I went over to mom's house, set up her garage with saws and jigs and all that stuff, and got all the frames cut. Now I have to build a jig to fit them together.

I should have gone with standard sized measurements, because I haven't been able to find plasticell or wax foundations that are oversized. I'm either going to have to try to make my own, or shim out my frames to fit them (which is probably what I'll do). My frames actually wound up being only about 1/4" oversized, but all my framework is 1/2" thick as opposed to the standard 1/4-5/16", they should be more sturdy.

So far I have quite a few hours in building this myself, and I've only done one hive. I can see why they are so expensive. It's a lot of work! So far I have about $50 tied up in wood, but I used a lot of scraps from construction sites and "junk" that the building supply was going to pile up and burn, so if you are resourceful, you could build one yourself on the cheap.

Talked to a bee farmer down in Chipley yesterday and I can get nucleus hives from him WITH a queen and 5 frames (1 brood, 2 workers, 1 drone, and 1 honey) for $75, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than any of the websites I've visited. He only asked that I return his hive box once I get them moved in, but most likely I'll take my box and let him install them for me there.

I also found a pattern for a "bee cage" which is basically a screen "sock" that you place over the hive(s) when you want to cut grass.

It is a lot of work, but the only thing we are promised in this world is time. We are not promised great careers or lots of money. Many people will say "Time is money" but that's just not true. In this case "Time is honey"!

02-12-2011, 09:42 AM
OH, an extra note.. he said that diatomaceous earth doesn't do a whole heck of a lot to keep the mites or hive beetles away, and he recommended a natural miticide that he manufactures himself, and some stuff called "beetle blaster".

I sure hope to be able to make a go of this.. one more step towards self sufficiency.

02-12-2011, 10:04 AM
YCC - I would recommend standard sizing. You will find many more resources availible to you. I have found these guys to be very helpful. Lots of good info, especially in their learning center. Their bargain center sometimes has good stuff too. http://www.mannlakeltd.com/

02-16-2011, 12:19 AM
Bee class was pretty cool tonight. The teacher sounded a lot like a bee, but always smiling and very knowledgable. We built a few bodies and frames and put the foundations in, and looked at a few different kinds of foundations.
Looks like my frames won't require shimming, as their foundations were a little loose too, so maybe I'll only have to do a little trimming.
My Nucleus hive is on order (don't know if I already mentioned that) my hive lacks about 4 frames being finished, except for the beetle-traps and feeders, and I'm ordering foundations tomorrow.

Now that I have jigs built for one the other hive should be fairly quick to build, but I'm still worried that I won't have time to finish it before I need to install the bees, so we'll see how it goes.
Got a few other pieces of safety equipment I gotta make, and finish the smoker that became a smudge pot last year lol.

I'm getting by on the cheap, but if you have the money, it's worth it to just buy all this stuff in a kit.

Met a lady who uses the honey and extra wax to make her bathsoaps and lip balms and all sorts of neat stuff, so she'll be a lot of fun to hang out with after I get established. I'm going to try to attend the next club meeting and sign up, since dues are only $7 and they always have a "pot luck" supper. I offered to bring some wild foods. This bee club helps Landmark Park harvest their honey every year, so it all ties together!
This past month has been really cool for me. Good karma?

02-16-2011, 08:03 AM
Make sure you build or get your queen excluder before you introduce the bees from you nuc to your hive.

02-16-2011, 10:05 PM
Oh, I almost forgot that. Mr. Carter says he doesn't use one, so I gotta talk to a few more keepers to see what's preferred, but I might just run one full box for this year, and when they swarm next year, introduce a new hive with excluders. or two broods in one hive.. top feeding, beetle traps and regular dusting with powdered sugar is basically all I should need to keep a healthy hive.
There's a lot of options and it's a lot to take in at once. Glad this class came along. Should make it real easy.

And these folks are giving their time to us with nothing in return. So I really need to give props to Wiregrass Beekeepers, Milliebee, and the Cooperative Extension service.

02-16-2011, 11:00 PM
If all you are wanting to do is increase the size of your colony just using hive bodies will work. If you plan on harvesting honey though I would recommend doing it from the supers. If you take a capping knife to a brood chamber I'm pretty certain that you will stop the development of that part of the brood.

02-17-2011, 06:44 AM
Never mess with the brood! I'm going to be running medium honey supers on the top, with 1/16" smaller spacing (5/16" vs. 3/8 brood spacing). So far everyone suggests two hives to start, and agrees there will be NO HONEY the first year, so growth is the primary concern in the first year, just as if you were planting a peach tree sapling.
As I start building my next hive, the Brood chamber will be the first one I build, so I might just run two on one hive, which will also increase the bees tendency to create another queen. This is because there are so many chambers to fill and fertilize.

Bees are interesting little creatures. The man upstairs knew what he was doing. Dummies like me are just trying to figure it all out, LOL.
I think I mentioned before that I'm using the Langstroth principles for building my hive.

I must have half a dozen printouts, and another half dozen sites bookmarked. Most of those sites are ones you suggested to me last year. So a big Thanks! to Mr. Crashdive, too!!

02-25-2011, 07:53 AM
Bees are really interesting. Class this past Tuesday was really cool, learning about bee biology and habit. Anyone who claims that this world we live in is some cosmic accident, is really either very shallow or very ignorant. When we understand the science involved with this relatively simple insect, there can be no dispute.
In the same way that Darwinists are discounted by the simple deer, being an all in one package for OUR survival (why would a deer evolve to suit our needs, rather than it's own?) so it is with bees.

Just a few little factoids: Queen bees mate with other queens THROUGH the drones, who are "half a being"; basically a shell containing half the chromosomes of the queen, and no chromosomes of it's own. In this way, strong queens are able to add their DNA to the gene pool.
Beeswax is a bi-product of the bees simply being alive. It's a secretion that the bees make naturally, much like our sweat. Bees build their hives, literally, with their own sweat.
What kind of bee (worker, drone, queen) comes out of a hive cell, depends entirely on what it's fed. Queens get "royal jelly" for their entire larval stage, while workers only get it for a short while, then get switched to a mix of pollen and honey. Drones get the worst treatment of all.

I meant to post about class a few days ago, but I've been pretty busy. Can't get foundation to fit my frames, and now I'm not sure that the nuc I have on order is going to fit inside my box. Not sure what to do about it, unless I can find one of the companies (or an individual) who might do some horse-trading for a hive. I have a large buckskin that should be worth a few bucks more than a hive, being somewhere around 15sq ft with NO holes.
Might have to find better plans and start over, saving this hive for later.

02-25-2011, 07:56 AM
Perhaps, YCC, it's the other way around. Maybe WE adapted to use everything on the deer.

Good posts on the bees.

02-25-2011, 04:57 PM
Not sure if your class covered it, but the way bees regulate temperature and humidity in a hive is pretty cool. That, and knowing the exact humidity of a cell and when to cap it.

02-26-2011, 02:21 AM
Time is honey, I like that. :)

02-26-2011, 10:14 AM
I started on my new hive yesterday. Got hive bodies built and all the top rails for the frames. Using new schematics from beesource.com.
My first jigs won't work, so I've gotta rig up some new assembly jigs for this "standardized box", and I'll use it to start, and just modify the other box later.
http://www.beesource.com/files/dadantfr.pdf <this part is a real pain to make without real tools, but between a few C-clamps and my table saw, It's coming together nicely. Pictures coming soon, and perhaps a few words about doing this all yourself. The link above shows how to make the top rails; each cut in order. So far only one neighbor says it might create a problem, being allergic to bees, but since my hives are really about 350yds from him, I doubt it will ever be an issue.
Bees do NOT want to sting you. Stinging you means the bee dies, and she'd much rather work on her colony than die.
Even with the purchase of more wood yesterday, I'm still under $65 on two hives. I can't even count how many hours I have in this project so far, but it's a lot.

02-28-2011, 08:20 AM
Hive bodies done and this time they are standard size. Also shown are the top rails.

A pic of my jig for making the sides of the frames, and a pic of the sides in process

Parts being fitted and assembled

hive full of frames. If you buy a kit, it will look exactly like this (well... maybe not quite as crude, lol)

Still gotta make the inside cover, top cover, and screened floor. Talked to Mr. Cutts yesterday and we're still on for about mid-March, so I have about two weeks left to get foundations in, get equipment, and drop bees in. I'm excited!!

02-28-2011, 09:05 PM
Looking good YCC. You've been buzzy.

03-01-2011, 12:58 AM
You bet your sweet beehind I have! I don't know how they can sell completed frames for $3 or so.. It's a lot of work!

After work this evening, I managed to make the screen floor and inside cover. Class is tomorrow and my head basket is on backorder :mad: :flare: :censored:

betterbee.com should have listed on their site that they didn't have some of my kit in stock. I really didn't appreciate finding out later that they didn't have everything I needed.

next project in this endeavor will be the smoker. Gotta make leather bellows and get good at brazing. Unless someone has one they might be willing to barter?

Now where did I put that book about metalworking?

03-01-2011, 07:16 AM
I've got an extra suit that you can borrow until yours comes in. You'll swim in it because you are quite a bit smaller than me, but you are welcome to use it till yours gets in.

03-01-2011, 08:30 AM
Let me get back to you on it. I might be able to borrow one from one of the teachers at class tonight. I'm gonna call the company today and find out exactly what the ETA is on the veil.
Thanks. I might have to take you up on it if it's gonna be a while.

03-01-2011, 08:39 AM
Jeepers. Good job. I had to give you a little rep for the hives. They look great. I can hear the queen talking to the drones now. "And boys, wait until you see your place! You're gonna love it. A real palace with hand carved woodwork!"

03-01-2011, 09:12 AM
Let me get back to you on it. I might be able to borrow one from one of the teachers at class tonight. I'm gonna call the company today and find out exactly what the ETA is on the veil.
Thanks. I might have to take you up on it if it's gonna be a while.

Just let me know. It's a complete suit with the veil zippered to the collar of the suit. The veil has stretched some, but I just duct tape it to the helmet and it works fine.

03-01-2011, 09:17 AM
Crash wears a veil (snort, giggle).

03-01-2011, 09:25 AM
I'm just looking forward to Memorial Day so that I can wear white without being ridiculed.

03-01-2011, 09:32 AM
Jeepers. Good job. I had to give you a little rep for the hives. They look great. I can hear the queen talking to the drones now. "And boys, wait until you see your place! You're gonna love it. A real palace with hand carved woodwork!"

I priced out some dado blades for this project, and it would have cost more to get the collection of tools than a hive. Dado blades run up around $100 for adjustable types. But by making a simple "stepped" set of cuts I accomplished the same thing. It took a lot longer, but it worked pretty well.
Nothing left now but the top cover with metal, and drop in foundations. Doesn't look like any of my order has shipped yet. Grrrr.

I will be looking into ways to make my own foundations too, so that's something I'll be exploring in the near future. A mold and some wax should be all I need??

A side note. My table saw burned up in the process. Bearing locked up in the motor. It's a Craftsman, so I'm gonna be checking with Sears to see if they'll fix or replace it. It's pretty old, so I doubt they will. I wound up borrowing one from my uncle to finish up. On the bright side, I might have a new work bench, lol.

03-04-2011, 01:31 AM
I went tonight to the club meeting. Met some knowledgable people.
I found out that beekeeping is a lot like tanning. You gotta figure out what works for you and do that. There is not a particular formula for success that works for everybody. I talked a little about microecosystems and got them talking about "bee sanctuaries" and field plots left to wildflowers. It was a pretty interesting conversation.
Some folks swear by excluders and others act like it's a cuss-word. Some prefer plastic frames and others wouldn't take them from you for free.
The whole affair was a bit formal for me, with all the motions and votes and club-stuff that clubs do. It was like a foreign language lol.
The club program was about creating nucs and catching swarms, so that was really informative, since I have a nuc on order and am on a list for swarms.

Tuesdays class was about colony habit and organization and the things that cause them to swarm.

I measured one of the plastic frame/foundation things and I'm going to buy one or two to see if I can make a cast, into which I can pour wax to make my own foundation. The plastic ones are the right size for the frames in my first box... whodathunkit? I bounced the idea around with a few of the members and they said go for it.

It's expensive to get into. Hopefully it'll be something the kids take an interest in too, although my daughter isn't really a bug person lol. I think she'll enjoy the wax projects, and I'm sure she'll enjoy the honey! The boys have been wanting to go to the classes, but they are held too late on a school night. both of them like woodwork so they'll at least enjoy that aspect for sure.

Some of the members said they lost a lot of hives this year. One guy lost 15! No apparent reason. No viruses or other baddies (except mites). The bee deaths are still a mystery and are continuing to grow in both occurrence and percentage. It was said that 30% loss is expected, but some folks there lost 50%. That's kinda hard to take when you have thousands of dollars invested. I see a relationship, tho, of # of hives to # of mysterious losses.. It's kinda like people. The more you have in one area the more likely a disease or affliction is to spread rapidly. Bees are not something you disturb on a daily basis (tho I'll be checking mine frequently), so say you check this week and they show no signs of disease, you might not check for another week and by then the damage is done.
All I can do is try my best at it and take whatever comes of it. If I fail, it won't bee beecause I didn't try!

I went to a bee yard yesterday, to ask the fella if he had a smoker he'd sell me. I was wearing a buckskin of course, and the bees didn't attack me. The teacher at the classes keeps telling me that buckskin isn't the best thing to wear in beekeeping. I told him I was going to find out, since he didn't know firsthand ;) Well, I was surrounded by bees.. the buzzing was louder than my truck idling, and not once did I get stung while wearing buckskin. It's logical to me that a deer isn't a natural predator of bees, and even if it was, buckskin is a light color and smells nothing like animal anymore. Mine smells like smoke and soap.
Anyhow, I didn't get killed by the bees, so there went that theory.

03-10-2011, 09:15 PM
So my foundation and veil came in yesterday. Been working steady on getting it all together and I'm finally ready for bees, except to rebuild a smoker I got. Need one drill bit to finish it which I'll pick up tomorrow. Thanks for the offer on the suit Crash, but I'm good to go now.

So here goes assembly: If your hive was purchased, you'll use the same steps I'm using here. My hive is (pretty much) identical to store-bought hives and frames.

First step is to remove the wedge with a good sharp knife on a hard surface. Careful not to cut yourself!
Top rail looks like this:

Add a nail to the sides of the frames to attach your support wire

give the opposite end a good tight pull as you twist them against each other

Let gravity do the work as you drop the foundation in. bottom goes in bottom groove first, then it flaps over to the space where you removed your wedge. Nail the wedge back in place.

Run your wires back through to support the front side of the foundation, then twist around the nail.

Frame is DONE!

Brood chamber full of completed frames

Removable "back door" for a little extra puff of smoke if needed, and sliding bottom drawer for "sticky paper" that helps keep a check on small hive beetles.

I forgot to take a picture of the screened floor after I put the screen on, but this is a pic of it with drawer in.

The paint isn't quite cured completely yet, so you notice I used the wax paper from the foundations to put between the boxes for now. The top is covered with PVC trim coil.

An peek inside from the POV of a bee lol

And I fabricated it all myself! More updates after I get bees.

03-10-2011, 10:06 PM
Looks great. After you get up and comfortable with what you are doing, you might want to call local pest control companies. A lot of them will not do bee removal and are looking for a "bee keeper" to take away swarms. I'll check GA laws - I used to be licensed there to see if there are any restrictions, but if not - that might be a good source of more bees.

03-11-2011, 03:03 AM
That looks great YCC, can't wait to see em drippin with honey. Slurp!

03-11-2011, 08:09 AM
There aren't any restrictions that I'm aware of, and I got on the swarm removal list at the local coop extension office. I talked with the Chief Plant Protection Services fella and we don't even have to register in GA because inspection is not in the budget unless you are raising and selling queens.
Which raises another good point.

If you are going to keep bees, there are several catastrophic diseases and a few pests that have the potential to wipe out your colony, so it is important to ALL bees that we keep ourselves in check. I have made arrangements with the bee club and the extension office in Dothan, to get checked every so often, particularly if I spot a problem.
American Foulbrood is a bacteria that reproduces by spores and basically causes your pupae to rot in the cells. One cell can ruin an entire hive and the only cure is to block all entrances and exits and set the whole hive, colony of bees and all, on FIRE. A trachael mite outbreak will slowly and painfully kill off your bees. Compared to these two ailments, the others are pretty pale, and are considered "part of life". ALL of them are communicable from bee to bee, so drones out mating with queens can transmit them across the whole country in just a short while.
GET INSPECTED. If these ills go unchecked, you are just housing and nursing some serious problems.

I'll be checking on some of the local pest control companies to see if any of them do removal and try to get on their list. If I could catch a swarm or find a feral hive I'll be saving $75, and I'm told that wild colonies usually do better than hive-raised bees. Now that I have ppe, I have no reservations about approaching a feral hive. You'll know pretty quick if they are africanized.

If you don't have much patience, I suggest buying hive kits. If you are like me and prefer to make all your own stuff, it is very rewarding and relatively light on the wallet.

03-12-2011, 07:57 AM
So another beekeeper here in town gave me one of his old dilapidated smokers, probably because it was in such bad shape that he couldn't justify charging for it. The wood on the bellows looked like termites had a field day with it, the faux leather was stiff and brittle and rotten, so my small project for yesterday after work was to rebuild it.
Glad I saved some of that bark-tan deer. Using what was left of the old bellows, I got some roundabout figures and made it work.
Bellows all tacked together

showing the leather valve and the blowhole

So I grabbed a handful of dead grass. It was not completely dry, so it took a few tries to get it to properly smolder, but once I got it stuffed with fuel, there was little chance of anyone in the yard getting stung by a bee.



I told the old guy that I was "right handy with leather and wood". I don't think I was wrong lol. Homemade bellows works like a charm.

03-12-2011, 11:17 AM
Awesome. Smoke em if ya got em.

03-20-2011, 08:08 AM
After a very pleasant day at Landmark yesterday, learning at the spring festival about moonshining, making cordage, growing gardens, tapping pine trees and a whole bunch of other stuff, We ate supper, and just as I was about to step back outside to see what was developing in the garden, I got a phone call...

My bees are ready, and I'll be picking them up at 2:30 today! Woohoo!!

Gonna till up the rest of the garden today, and have one of the kids trim the grass around my hive stand, so we wont have that to worry about for a while. Clover is in bloom and many of the beekeepers I ran into at the festival yesterday have already had to split hives to prevent swarming, and are adding honey supers atop. Looks like it'll be a good year for bees and honey in general.

Also of note. I wore my buckskin suit to the festival yesterday, and we went into the interpretive center where they have a very cool observation hive. The master beekeeper was there, with a few other teachers from the classes, and I told one of them I wanted to do an experiment, seeing as I had my "animal skins" on that are supposed to be so threatening to bees that they'll attack on sight.
The CEA piped right in and said "I'll go with you" so we proceeded out the back door to the hive entrance. We must have stood 6 feet away from the hole-in-the-wall, thousands of bees zooming by and flying all around, and they acted like they couldn't care less that I was wearing deer skins. I didn't have my veil or gloves with me so I didn't tempt fate by sticking my face all up around them, but I walked up to within about 2 feet of the entrance to see how the bees were carrying pollen in, and getting off-loaded by the "docking" bees. Still no stings. I couldn't help but brag, since I've been warned by several beekeepers that "animal skins are going to make the bees angry". They seemed right happy to have a deer standing there beside them hehe.

I did learn that you should not eat any bananas before tending bees, because the "death pheremone" smells like banana and that it would send the bees into a frenzy. I can take their word for it on that one, but I couldn't believe that buckskin, which smells like soap, and in my case smoky lye-soap (because mine has been washed) would provoke an attack.

Anyhow, I have a little work left to do this morning, so as soon as I finish my coffee and get a nice bowl of bacon-grits, I gotta get to work. Accordion to the all-manack, today and tomorrow are good days to plant, so I'm gonna drop in the peas and okra, save a row for squash and a few other things, and get buzzy. We'll know in just a few short months if the bees will benefit my gardening efforts and the efforts of my neighbors. Hopefully we will all have more veggies than we can eat this year.

03-21-2011, 12:07 AM
My new friends moved in today.


Friendly bunch. Never did get stung. I think they were very happy to be let out of that little box. I was well prepared and almost felt like I knew what to do. I guess I did, I didn't squish any. Mr Cutts took me through his bee valley, and made me comfortable with them first off.
When I let them out, they kind of buzzed around looking at me, wondering, but almost like they were cool with me disturbing their hive.
I sat and watched them for a while, cleaning up what was left of honey dobs in the old box, moving them over into their sparkling new home. The Mrs was snapping a few pics (from a distance and using ALL the zoom!), she thought it was neat that I was so comfortable. I was committed to say the least and expected with all my heart to get stung. It seemed like it would be scary. I don't know how to describe it, but it was almost like a ballet, or something; graceful, yet chaotic. they seemed like they knew I was going to help them. It was wierd haha. Especially when the hum changed pitch in unison.
The boys were a little nervous at first but after a while they figured out that the bees really weren't interested in them lol.

I did whatever inspection I might be qualified for, 4 out of 5 frames were drawn with one completely full of brood with a few drones, didn't see any mites or beetles, but the bees were kind of busy on the combs so I guess I checked good enough. The queen was a beautiful golden buckskin color that I thought suited us both quite well. Sorry I didn't get any pictures of her, the gloves and headgear are kind of clumsy.
They were all very gentle bees, I really thought it was a cool experience. I'm looking forward to visiting them again in about two weeks. I don't know if I mentioned that I'm using the screen bottom board with the drawer so I can do frequent beetle checks without disturbing the hive.

In contrast to the theme of this forum, Self preservation is not in a bees best interest. Every bee works toward the common goal of survival of it's species, and the survival of it's colony as a whole. There are no slackers, nobody gets special treatment, not even the queen; you either pull with the rest of them, or you get swept out the front door and left for dead, as you can see in the second pic.
What a mindset!
Maybe they will let me play a role in that and we can be good friends. Tomorrow they get their own special birdbath, that might evolve into a nice pool one day. I know some folks who took one up and it might be for sale.. For this evening they get a bucket of water and a screen to walk on LOL.

Gonna set them up a jar of sugar water tomorrow morning since the clover is just starting to bloom good and see if they take to it or not. It's warm enough for the nectar flow to begin any day now...

Which also adds a whole new dimension to learning wild plants.. knowing the conditions under which they provide nourishment for the bees!

I'm rambling.. My new friends are pretty cool tho.

03-21-2011, 04:51 AM
You're so lucky! I don't know whether you have the custom over there, but here the Bees have to be told of any hatchin' matchin' or dispatchin' that goes on in the family. Supposed to keep them with you.
I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour!

03-21-2011, 08:56 AM
It's a little coolish this morning and the bees were huddled in the center of the hive. I opened the lid and added a medium super to cover my jar of sugar syrup. Did a beetle check and didn't find anything on the tray except poop and a little dirt. There were a few still scavenging the old box they were in and they very cooperatively climbed onto my hand to be transferred to the big hive.
Never met such a friendly and cooperative bunch since I met you guys. Called Mr. Cutts this morning to let him know what I thought and he was as excited for me as I am hehe. Looks like I got a very mild tempered colony and they appear to be very clean. They've already cleaned out the debris that fell on the top bars as I emptied the box yesterday. Beekeepers are a friendly bunch too. This is gonna bee fun!
I watched for a little while this morning and one worker pulled another dying bee out of the front. She wasn't completely dead, but was definately at the point that it was time to go.

It's all really neat and I'm really glad I took the time to build my own hive.

03-21-2011, 09:00 AM
Oh, and Winnie, the first thing I told them when I opened thier splits box yesterday was "Welcome to your new home" and they seemed like they replied "much obliged!"
Even the guard bees appear very accepting of me.

Sounds crazy for a roofer to be wanting more heat, but around 85F clover starts putting on nectar. I'm sure they'll find our 6 acres of white clover in the next few days.

03-21-2011, 12:29 PM

Just a question about your frames. Why do you have vertical wires through your frame, and foundation ? I've never seen that before.

03-21-2011, 08:56 PM
The vertical wires are bent 90 degrees at the top. The split top bar's wedge is cut out and those hooks are nailed under it to help support the foundation as it hangs. The wires that run side to side help reinforce the centers for centrifugal extractors to keep it from blowing out. The vertical wires are not actually through the frames, only the foundation.

None of this is a problem, nor is necessary for plastic foundation, or plastic frames. Plastic just seems so ... I dunno... unnatural.

You can see the wire hook in this picture (bottom right) of the frame with the wedge removed so the foundation can be put in.

03-22-2011, 03:53 AM
The vertical wires are bent 90 degrees at the top. The split top bar's wedge is cut out and those hooks are nailed under it to help support the foundation as it hangs. The wires that run side to side help reinforce the centers for centrifugal extractors to keep it from blowing out. The vertical wires are not actually through the frames, only the foundation.

None of this is a problem, nor is necessary for plastic foundation, or plastic frames. Plastic just seems so ... I dunno... unnatural.

You can see the wire hook in this picture (bottom right) of the frame with the wedge removed so the foundation can be put in.

I ask because I have only ever used frames with the horizontal wires. They are timber frames with wax foundation, and i've never had a problem with just the horizontal wiring.

03-22-2011, 07:07 AM
Which extraction method do you use? apparently the "face out" centrifugal one is a little rough on the wax foundations.

hopefully I won't need an extractor for at least another year. I'm going to have to build it myself, so I'm taking suggestions on different styles.

Also, I was curious if you ever just sit and watch your bees? I sat out there with them yesterday evening as they were going to bed. It was neat seeing them with collected pollen, landing on that little 2" strip, hurry in, and hurry back out before dark.

These bees are so calm, you can pick one up and pet it. really neat!

03-22-2011, 09:52 AM
Excellent beehive work. My dad had a few hives when I was a young. He loved it. I have been thinking about it for a while, but I don't think I want to put them in my small yard. I do want to add to what crash said with the perimeter fence. One additional thing it does is block their view. My dad told me they generally don't attack things they can't see. If you put something in front of the hive, then they will only defend up to that point. Anyways, keep the pictures coming. I love to see the bee porn. :)

03-22-2011, 11:31 AM
Which extraction method do you use? apparently the "face out" centrifugal one is a little rough on the wax foundations.

I use a centrifugal hand crank extractor, and I've only ever used the horizontal wired frames. Four frames at a time.
I just run the steam capping knife down the face, and spin them out.
My extractor was $100, a stainless steal drum, four framer with lid.

Also, I was curious if you ever just sit and watch your bees? I sat out there with them yesterday evening as they were going to bed. It was neat seeing them with collected pollen, landing on that little 2" strip, hurry in, and hurry back out before dark.

I do watch the bees often, they have always facinated me.

hopefully I won't need an extractor for at least another year. I'm going to have to build it myself, so I'm taking suggestions on different styles.

I suggest no more than a four framer if you only have 1 - 10 hives. Also look out for second hand extractors that other bee keepers are selling, as they up grade they sell off their small extractor set ups, some quite cheap.

These bees are so calm, you can pick one up and pet it. really neat!

You have good bees by the sounds of it. Mine are a bit patchy, a little too much African in them, plus they have a sting venom that is four times stronger, oweing to the type of blossom they gather from.

03-22-2011, 11:45 AM

Your bees are a nice light color, that's good. The darker they are the more nasty they are.

Some abandoned hives I've left out and a wild hive has moved in that have been really aggressive. Fantastic honey, but you really pay for it.

03-22-2011, 05:52 PM
Thanks for the suggestions. I'll keep an eye open for any deals.

Just looking at them this evening from a distance, I'm seeing population increase in foragers. There were probably 200 swarming in front of the entrance at once (although certainly some were flying in and some out)

Hope to get a shot of the queen on the next hive check. I'm eager to see their progress.

Oh, did I mention I got them their very own birdbath? I'll have to get a shot of them landing on the flint-rocks to get a drink.

03-23-2011, 01:07 AM
Wow, you're moving along quick with this. How much does it cost for inspections/ tests for disease and such?

03-23-2011, 04:10 AM
Just looking at them this evening from a distance, I'm seeing population increase in foragers. There were probably 200 swarming in front of the entrance at once (although certainly some were flying in and some out)

They could be robber bees from another hive. They are usually attracted by sugar syrup feeding.

03-23-2011, 07:42 AM
RWC, in my state, there are no "inspectors" unless you are raising and selling queens. To get inspected, I'll have to call some of my friends from the Wiregrass Beekeepers Assoc. and try to sweet talk them with some good food, or perhaps some leather trade. Many states offer it free of charge, but I've been informed that it does not fit in GA Dept of Ag's budget. Best that I do my own inspections, since I took good notes at all those classes, and got a nice reference book with pics of the diseases and pests, and call one of my bk friends if I think I have a problem.
The sliding bottom drawer makes mite and beetle inspection really easy and unintrusive to the hive. So far all I've spotted was a few clumps of pollen that were dropped, and bee poop. Still got 11 days before I make a real inspection, but with the steady population increase I'm seeing, I think it's safe to say they are very healthy. Watching them go to bed has the added advantage of being able to eye the ones flying in and out to look for the mites on their bodies.

Gordy, I don't know of any other hives within a 2 mile radius, so I doubt they were robbers. Since this was a nuc with a full capped brood frame, I'd think the ladies are hatching and sending some of the attendants out to work the fields. I'm still very new to this, so you could be right about robbers, but they would have to enter the hive and climb all the way to the top to get any sugar syrup, as I'm using top-feeding with the jar enclosed in an empty super and a telescoping lid. At any given time you can spot 5 or more guards at the entrance with their agressive posture (tho they don't seem agressive towards me). I would think they would deter any robbers from making it all the way up through the hive and back out.
Are you familiar with the "betterbeetleblaster"? It's a top-rail beetle trap that uses canola oil to nab SHB. It was designed and developed by the same gentleman that I got these bees from, Mr. Laurence Cutts, along with the varroa treatment ApilifeVAR, which is made of all natural ingredients and essential oils. I feel lucky to live so close to all these folks even tho the closest ones are 45 miles away, and Mr. Cutts is about 80 miles.

Got a few more pics if I ever get around to uploading them. I gotta figure out how to change the shutter speed on my camera.. most of the pics look like the kids drew on them with orange crayons LOL. Those ladies are some really fast flyers!

03-23-2011, 10:59 PM
They've drank very little sugar syrup in the last two days, so they are foraging something. I just don't know what. So many things are in bloom. I've sat near a few plants in the yard to try to figure it out but haven't spotted them on the things I would think they would be foraging on. Gonna have to get one or two (thousand) of them microchips you put in your pets for when they get lost.

actually, I'm gonna shoot a few emails out there and ask if theres a good way to figure it out. The garden has 0 blooms yet, so I'm hoping it's close by whatever IT is..

03-24-2011, 10:06 PM
watched them for a little while this evening. Thought I'd share a few shots of these lovely ladies.



and their own personal water source, which they don't really seem interested in today LOL.

And I found one plant in the yard this evening, that they were foraging on. I was sitting in the shade softening a piece of leather when I found this little girl having a field day in the vetch.

I forgot about eating the bananas, I had one for a snack today, and when I checked the syrup again this evening, I almost got stung by one of the guards. Guess I shoulda washed my hands at least lol. She flew right into my right hand, bumped it (wasn't wearing gloves) as if warning me, so I walked away and didn't tempt fate (or the bees!!)

I never thought of insects being "pretty" before, but these really are! I watched them groom each other with a neighbor for a few minutes. neat stuff!

03-24-2011, 11:04 PM
From the pictures, it doesn't look like robbers, it would be a lot busier, and the entrance would look crowded, as they overwhelm the guards.

Sometimes nucs can get wiped out by a powerful hive.

I feed small nucs protein if they were flagging, but if there is a good pollen, I wouldn't feed protein cakes to them.

Protein just gives them more strength, and they turn protein into more bees. You want to get them up to 2 brood boxes and 2 supers as quickly as possible.

Once you have big powerful hives, when the flows come you can get a lot more honey.

03-24-2011, 11:18 PM
I forgot about eating the bananas, I had one for a snack today, and when I checked the syrup again this evening, I almost got stung by one of the guards.

LOL, don't forget the banana factor, it's a doozy. One day you will not even be able to get close to the hive, on bad days leave the hive alone. Some days bees get really really angry, and there's nothing we can do about it, sept leave them alone.

If the syrup isn't being used up, I'd take it out.

See if they'll take some protein cake. If they eat it all in 1-2 days, feed them some more until they aren't interested. Man bees can eat protein cake when they are hungry for it.

03-25-2011, 12:07 AM
That's cool, ya got me wanting to try yet an other thing now, lol.

BTW< I thought you said you had to have them inspected in an earlier post, that's why asked.

03-25-2011, 05:50 AM
I imagine that at some point or another I will have to have an inspection. I just have to do it without the help of the state. I think I've worked out a deal with some of the more experienced beekeepers from the club. While it won't be "official", at least they'll know what they are looking at. I've been sharing pictures with one lady who is pretty well versed and knows what things should look like. She seems to think we (the bees more than myself) are doing great.

It's important to police ourselves for the sake of the bees. The pests and diseases that have popped up in recent years can wipe out entire apiaries in a season, and can spread like wildfire throughout the state (or even country should a new pestilence develop). Tracheal and varroa mites in the mid 80's bankrupted many beekeepers and destroyed entire apiaries before anyone knew what happened. Foulbrood is one of those diseases, and if I even suspect with the slightest notion that it's in my hive, I will be calling somebody to come check.

People keep bees far to the North of you, but seeing as you still have snow, they'd be eating protein patties and sugar-syrup like crazy, while we have flowers already producing nectar here. I'm NOT saying it's not worthwhile, just that in your case it might be a little heavier on the budget in the "food" area for a longer duration. The biggest problem I could see for you, would be the startup cost, or time to make all the stuff yourself (one or the other lol).

Gordy, We got a recipe for the protein cakes at class. Might mix up some of that just to see if they'll go for it, or if they've found something nearby that they like. Many of them seem to be heading to the woods north of here, and I can only imagine what they've found. They go from dry, piney woods, to swampy, dense thickets in a matter of just a few acres, so there is a diverse ecosystem that might make it hard to figure out what they are foraging. Might be worth a walk in snake country just to see if I can spot them foraging.
I'm seeing the wax-flake pattern moving outward from the middle towards the sides of the box which would indicate they are expanding and drawing new combs on the blank frames. Hopefully they'll be strong enough by mid-summer to add them a nice surplus super for overwintering and split the hive next spring.
I'm fairly isolated right here from other beekeepers, no other hives within 2 miles that I know of, so hopefully the risk of cross contamination is very minimal.

03-27-2011, 10:09 AM
Feed the protein, build that hive brother.

03-28-2011, 06:46 AM
Found a few dead mites, and a few live ones over the last few days. Yes, bees get fleas too, and this is what one looks like:

Finding them on the bottom drawer means to me that the bees are cleaning them out of the hive and off each other. These are very clean bees and I haven't actually spotted a mite ON any of the bees.

Rainy weekend made foraging a little tougher for the bees (I think) so I gave them a little sugar-syrup to help out. This little lady must have been thirsty!

Saw them bringing in LOTS of pollen yesterday, so I think I'll let them do their thing. Look at any random car and you know the pollen flow is on, now it's just a matter of time before I see them needing more space. Got a medium super ready as soon as the ladies are.

03-28-2011, 02:09 PM
Aw, ain't they cute? Makes ya just wanna reach down and pet one. YCC and his pet bees. :)

So, how much honey can you expect get for yourself out of this setup?

03-28-2011, 09:57 PM
I don't expect to get ANY honey this year. When all the big brood chamber frames are drawn and they start acting crowded, I'll add medium supers above and let them draw those out. I have two medium supers that should get me about 2 pounds apiece of honey, or maybe half a gallon next year, BUT, I'm hoping that they'll do well enough to want to split, so next year I'll have one hive to get honey from, and another raising. Of course, they have to have some to last them the winter, so If I get all my frames drawn this year, I'll feel lucky, and if I get any honey next year, REAL lucky.
One good thing, as long as you don't let them starve to death, overwintering should be easy, and in two years, should have a few pounds for personal use and double that every year, till I have enough hives to stop buying sugar :D

I would expect about half a gallon would be stored this year, but I wouldn't dare touch it. Of course, this is my first one, so I can't say for sure. Gordy could probably tell us both more what to expect. I'm not even sure how much honey weighs lol.

03-28-2011, 10:02 PM
some of the honey supers at the class on Saturday were stacked 8 high, and if half a gallon each is a fair approximation, the one hive should make 2 gallons and still have enough to overwinter. But all their combs were drawn, so all the bees had to do was pack them.

03-28-2011, 10:15 PM
Not sure about the technical lingo, but everything good comes with time. Plus, it will be neat to see how they progress.

03-28-2011, 10:40 PM
"super" is lingo for a box with more combs in it, they come in different sizes for different purposes. We give the queen a big box to lay eggs and raise more bees, and generally anything above that is considered to be food storage. The topmost should be all honey.

It takes them a little while to start from scratch, and these ladies had a head start with 4 drawn frames, one that was capped brood. They literally work from the time they emerge to the time they die, so patience on our part is not optional.

To tell the truth, the honey is really of less concern to me, than the benefit they'll bring to all the other crops in the neighborhood.. blueberries, thimbleberries, elderberry, then there's the peas and butterbeans, pears, plums, peaches... Man, I'm gettin hungry!

03-28-2011, 11:01 PM
Ya, I noticed the apple orchard has quite a few boxes out.

04-04-2011, 10:49 PM
Did the two-week checkup yesterday. I won't bore you to death with lots of pictures, the album is here (http://s248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/Hive%20inspection%204-3-11/)

There were a few cool shots I wanted to share tho, if only for their relevance to beekeeping in general. If you're thinking of getting a hive, these will be some of the things to look at/for.

On the left of this frame is capped honey, the rest in the picture is nectar being dried into honey.

They appear to be building their own mite trap. This is likely space for males where they built comb in a place where the corner of the foundation was removed.

You can see the growing larvae in these cells.

Capped worker brood, and a new bee emerging in the center.

Click this picture to see a slideshow of a bee emerging from it's cell.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/Hive%20inspection%204-3-11/th_DSCN6163.jpg (http://s248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/Hive%20inspection%204-3-11/?action=view&current=d30777e0.pbw])

This picture is of another bee emerging on the same frame. Sunday was a good day and I should be getting many more hatchlings over the next few days and start seeing a steady increase in population

Here's my queen, depositing an egg in a clean cell. Watching her, she seems very selective in which cells she will lay in.

Not only can you see the difference in the queen, you can see pollen packed into the cells.

A male drone bee. Notice the big eyes.

This is one of the frames I built. They are already capping cells along the top and edge.

Just for kicks. This is white clover.

So, I only found one mite, no beetles, and no moths. I hope I never get to take any pictures of those evil things.. The bees looked healthy and happy, and I'm getting hatchlings, so I'm on the right track. I do wish they'd put less effort into burr comb and more into drawing frames, tho.

04-05-2011, 06:47 AM
Looks like you are well on your way. Better start buiding another have body and supers.

04-05-2011, 10:47 AM
Cool pics, definitely gives some insight into things I've never really considered about bees, like some having bigger eyes.

04-05-2011, 09:31 PM
The male is just a little longer, but a lot thicker. Also, he has no DNA of his own, like the female workers. He only has his queen's DNA and when he mates with another queen, her eggs will have both of those queen's DNA. The drones are just shells, even though they are bigger bees. Wierd stuff!

04-09-2011, 09:04 PM
I'm confused about the frames. From what I understand, the box is in segments that stack on top of eachother. The frames fit inside each box. So if you lift the top box, it will take all those frames with it right? Looks like you stack 3 or 4 high.

Well the link on how to build the frames has a LOT of cuts that, to me, don't make sense. It looks like all you need is a frame with a channel in it all the way around the interior for something (not sure what goes in it yet, but I've seen pictures of something that looks like plastic). So can't I just notch the top rail and side rails so the fit together and attach them? The link in post #30 is the one I don't understand what all of those cuts are for. Even the pics of the ones you made YCC don't look the same.

YCC, your's look like you notched the side rails top and bottom, then made cuts into the top and bottom rails, for a simple box joint. Is that really all it is? I also see the ledge for holding the frames in the box, which is easy to make as well.

I'm a carpenter so making this stuff is easy, I just didn't understand the frames from that link. A lot of cuts for something that doesn't seem to need it.

04-09-2011, 09:10 PM
JP - here are a few of pictures that may hep a little.




04-09-2011, 09:33 PM
Thanks Crash, that last pic showed me something I didn't see in the thread, the little notches so the frames can't move. Would there be notches on the bottom as well?

Though I still don't understand why the side rails on the frames are narrower at the bottom than the top.

04-09-2011, 10:12 PM
I'm not sure about the taper without looking it up. The notches are actually spacers to ensure that the bees have enough room between the frames to bee buzzy.

04-10-2011, 12:54 AM
Fascinating pictures. I do not like bees, except honey bees never seem to bother me. I am also learning some things about honey bees I did not know before, great post.

04-15-2011, 02:49 PM
Let me see if I can address all the questions..

The frames rest on a rabbet along the top edge of the ends of the box. This is so that when boxes are stacked on top of each other, there's still room for the bees to get between.
The top rail of the frame is notched vertically for the siderail legs to nest in. The part of the top rail that is wider is so that when the frames are set next to one another, the space is reduced to 3/8 so the bees won't fill it with burr comb. The side rails add another 3/16" which when you have two frames side by side, leaves a 3/8" gap for the same reason: bee space (actually 5/16").
The long cut along the side of the top rail is so you will have a wedge to nail in place to hold the wire hooks that are embedded in the foundation (the wax pattern that the bees build upon). The wax foundations are brittle and delicate so you can't do a whole lot of bending with them. The bottom of the foundation drops into the slot of the bottom rail, and the wedge is nailed back in place on the top rail, giving a secure fit for the foundation without having to bend it. IMO the end bevel cuts are useless and I did not make them beveled on mine, BUT they do need to be trimmed down to fit on the rabbet to allow bee space.
The side rails mate with the top and bottom rails in a basic box joint, yes. So it really is that simple, but you have to remember that there has to be enough wood left to nail through and not be so weak as to come apart in the centrifugal extractor. In the case of a brood chamber (big bottom box) that will NEVER be extracted, you could probably fudge a little on that, but since I was making all my pieces on a jig, I went ahead and cut them all the same way.
--IMO there are a few cuts that are unnecessary, like the bevel on the edge of the side rails, or the bevel on the ends of the top rail. One good example is the "spacers" that are cut into the rabbet in the pic that Crash posted. I simply eyeball the spacing on mine and don't worry, the frames won't move anyway.. The bees will literally glue them down in place with a substance called "propolis" which is basically sticky plant matter from random plants. That's why you need a hive tool to pry apart the frames from the box when you do an inspection; they are all glued down!

Sorry it took so long to get back to you on this. I must have missed the post somehow.

@ woodsman86: Bees won't bother you most times, unless they have become africanized, or you squish one, thereby releasing the death pheremone that prompts others to attack. The death pheremone smells like banana. While bees and wasps are similar, they definately have polarized dispositions. A wasp might sting just because you got too close. A bee is unlikely to sting you AT ALL unless you hurt one of them. They'd much rather go about their business of pollinating our gardens and gathering honey.

I'll try to remember to get some better pictures of the frames and the stuff (foundation) that goes in it today.. In my next post I'll tell you about yesterday's bee adventure and how my inspection went last week.

04-15-2011, 03:09 PM
So after a grueling day at work, I got home and started unloading tools, when the phone rang. It was a fellow whose house I just covered, said he was moving some irrigation from one field to another. As they lifted the center-pivot they revealed a well established colony of bees, and he immediately called me to come get them.
Now, I've never recovered a bee colony like this before, so I didn't know what to do other than to don my veil and gloves, use my big knife to cut the comb out of the pipes and drop them in a bucket.
I arrived to find comb that must have been 3 or 4 years old, inside an 8" pivot pipe, 3 feet deep into the ground and a foot up into the irrigation itself. I started high and worked my way down. The top combs were fairly easy to remove, and even though I squished a few bees I managed to save most of it. The real excitement was getting those 3-foot-long combs out of the pipe going in the ground.
Imagine sticking your WHOLE arm into a tunnel of bees, all-the-while, them humming in the key of A not more than 3 inches from your face. I'd say it was terrifying, and I'm sure to the uninitiated it would be, but the classes I attended and talking with some of the extremely helpful friends I made at the classes had my confidence through the clouds. I carefully reached the knife down inside and trimmed the combs from the walls of the pipe, reached in and recovered as much as I could possibly get.
Yep.. I had gotten myself about 3000 bees in about 30 minutes. Sure I had to lay on my belly, inches away from the hum into a pipe that was covered in bees, but it was worth it. Still not absolutely certain I got the queen, but if they die, it won't be for lack of trying on my part. Was I scared? absolutely not. Bees do NOT want to sting you, and somehow I felt like they knew I was trying to help them. If I hadn't gone to save what I could, they would have been doused with gasoline and set on fire and the whole colony destoyed; combs oozing with honey and larva.. all would have been lost.
It breaks my heart to know that the ones that were left behind are dead now, and the ones out in the chop shop cannot find their home.. they are lost. Out of the few thousand I did manage to save, I feel as if it was a job well done.

So I didn't have a new hive ready for them, so I wound up driving 80 miles late last night, to the local (I use the term local very broadly) beekeeping supplier, who waited for me to arrive. I got there about 9PM, and he applauded my efforts to save the bees and I think he saw in my eyes that I genuinely care about them. He gave me a hive body, screen bottom board, and beetle traps for free, and the only thing I had to buy was the frames and foundation. Of course, I still had to assemble them all, so I was up till 4:30 this morning building and moving bees from the buckets into their new home. Best to do this sort of thing while the bees are asleep for the night so that you know they are all in there. I lost a few and some are still lost, not to mention those that got squished in handling.

I only got stung twice, once in the bend of my elbow.. I think I mashed one that was crawling on me, and once when I was reaching down into the bottom of the pipe blindly, I mashed a few with the back of my hand, apparently hard enough to get stung through my gloves. Besides the veil and gloves I was wearing the same ordinary short-sleeved tee shirt and bluejeans I wore at work yesterday. The stings itch a little now, but honestly, I hurt myself at work MUCH worse than that on a regular basis (ever hit your finger with a hammer??) Those babies didn't want to hurt me and I expected the stings to feel much worse. I have been stung by ants that hurt 10x worse than the bee stings. Unless you are allergic, I say there is nothing to worry about. Bee stings don't even make me flinch.

I've had my nuc colony for nearly 4 weeks now and check their bottom trap-board every day, this is the first time I've been stung and that was only because I was being careless and squished some. BEES DO NO WANT TO STING YOU!

For all my effort, I sure hope they survive, not for my sake, but for theirs.

04-15-2011, 04:53 PM
Very nice. A pest control operation would have charged a good amount to remove them. Your roofing customer got a great deal.

04-16-2011, 04:44 AM
Now that's what Ilike to hear. It really does your heart good to hear of folk thinking of the bees first.

I was gutted last week. A solitary Bumblebee had made it's nest under the window of my bathroom. I had no idea it was there until I opened it and tore the nest to peices. This is the second time this has happened, there's no way of checking under the window frame to see if there's anything there!

04-16-2011, 10:22 AM
I had to toss a little rep your way. That was above and beyond in my book. Not many would have drove that distance or stayed up that late to protect those bees. Good job.

04-16-2011, 11:14 AM
I set up a medium honey super in the chop shop last night and nested a piece of their old comb, still rich with the scent of old queen and honey, and trapped (just a guess) 250 more bees. Relocated them with their sisters just a few minutes ago. There are only a handful left flying around out there now.
Not sure I have a queen in there, so I have two options: give them a frame of 1 day-old eggs and they'll rear a new queen in 16 days from one or more of the eggs, OR merge that colony with my existing colony, bringing their numbers to somewhere around 8-9000. I really want to expand to two colonies, so I'm gonna think about it for today, and decide what to do. The Chehaw event is today so we'll be heading there in a little while. My 4-week inspection is tomorrow, so I'll know if I have any viable eggs for requeening, or if I should just merge them. Of course, I could buy a queen and stick in there, but there is always the possibility they'll reject her and I'll just be out that money, but it is virtually impossible for them to reject a queen that they raise themselves, so I will be going one of those two routes.

Found a hive beetle and a few SHB larvae on the bottom trap last sunday. I FREAKED and did an inspection. Couldn't find any beetles or larvae on the combs. I felt that the bees were keeping them cleaned out so I put it all back together and stuck a beetle blaster on top. Got lots of pics to put up, but no time today; gotta get ready for the festival and head out. Suffice it to say that in 7 days time they went from 55% capacity, to 85% capacity, so on Monday I put on a honey super for them to draw out and start filling. With any luck they'll stock it and be ready for winter.
Another inspection is due tomorrow, if only to find viable eggs so be expecting lots more pics.

04-18-2011, 06:31 AM
Bee explosion this weekend.. no, not terroristic bees. come on now...

A fellow keeper had one of his hives to swarm yesterday, so he called a mutual friend to see if he had any place to put them. He immediately called me to see if I had any equipment to put them in, and I DID! Drove over to his house, which was surprisingly right in the middle of a neighborhood, very close houses with small yards, and he took me out back to see his apiary. I figured he had a box or two, being in a neighborhood, but I figured wrong. He said he produced 110 gallons of honey from those 7 hives, and every one of his colonies was teeming with working girls.

So I got a chance for a whole new experience late yesterday evening.. Installing a swarm! A swarm occurs when an old queen is about to phase out. Several things happen and it's hard to pinpoint one cause. Normally a queen will lay new queen eggs every year, either due to her age, due to congestion, or perhaps she or the workers sense something amiss, so she prepares a new colony of bees by producing queens who will rival until the strongest emerges the victor. Then the old queen and about 1/2 to 2/3 of the old colony follows her to a nearby random location to make room for the "renewed" colony. A swarm will usually only hang around for a few hours at most. I was very lucky to have an experienced beekeeper to collect them for me ALONG WITH THE QUEEN in a 5-gallon bucket with a screened lid.
If you order a "package" of bees, this is basically what you get: a queen, anywhere from 3-5000 workers with drones, nurses, and foragers, and nothing else. A swarm is a free "package" of bees. Installing them in your hive is as simple as misting them with a little bit of water to make their wings sticky so they can't fly. Bump the bucket on the ground so that the bees up top fall from the lid, remove the lid and 4 frames from the center of the brood chamber, and gently pour them in, as if you were pouring pancake batter in a fritter pan. After a minute or two, the bees will move to both sides of the hive, leaving room in the middle to replace the frames you removed. Being very gentle, as to not crush any bees, the frames, cover, and lid are replaced on the hive, an entrance reducer put in place so that they can waft the queens pheremones throughout the new hive.

I probably should point out the difference in the two terms, hive, and colony as they are not entirely interchangable. A hive is just a box, with frames and foundation, top, bottom, etc. A hive with no bees is still a hive.
A Colony on the other hand, is a group of bees. A group of bees with no hive is still a colony. A colony lives in a hive, which could be a box we made, or a hollow log or tree, or even a wall of your house, or even a 3 foot deep pipe in the ground.

While I've got you here, I wanted to share some more great news: I did a brief inspection of my established colony yesterday, and all frames are drawn and laid with eggs, except for the very outside of frame 10, which they were very concentrated on, and they have begun drawing on the honey super from monday. I spotted the queen on frame 9 and she looked happy and healthy, so I put it all back together and moved to the colony I tried to save.

This feral colony must be extremely resilient. Much of the comb I saved in wired cages had hatchlings emerging!! This is great as now they have a head start on repopulating their colony. To top it all off, frame 7 had a piece of white comb, meaning it is brand new and from this years drawings. It MUST have had day-old eggs in it as I found 3 queen cells being prepared on that 3x3 inch piece of comb. The working girls are requeening themselves with some of the eggs I managed to save!! WOOHOO!! ALL IS NOT LOST!! Within the next 18 days, I will have a new queen for that colony, and since workers are emerging she'll have plenty of attendants.
I spent a great deal of time removing debris, and dead bees from the combs, dead larva, and I found a few SHB larva on the old comb (not surprising since it was in the ground). I couldn't get it all clean because it is all very delicate, and I can just let the ladies work their magic of cleaning and prepping.. It's what they do. I will still be keeping a very close eye on this colony, doing checks every 3 days as opposed to 14, to check progress, pests, and queen rearing.

I have to apologize for not posting pics.. I've got a ton of them and haven't had time to upload them YET. Had a fun and busy weekend and this week is full with work, but hopefully I'll get the chance one evening to get the pics up for those of you who are following this thread.
I now have 3 colonies of bees, all gentle enough to handle with bare hands. Even have a picture of me handling them bare-handed while wearing buckskin, so the "animal fibers" myth is completely false. Wool might be a concern, I don't know because I don't own any, but rich smoky buckskin does not provoke them to attack.
Pics coming soon, I promise!

04-19-2011, 10:47 PM
So I'll just link you to the albums and post a few shots here (http://s248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/4-17%20and%2019/).

Part of the salvaged colony framed in a cage

Even in this sad state, new bees are emerging

A new bee almost out and ready to go to work. This is the third day, by the way, so hatchlings will be wax-makers soon.

A nice clean comb I managed to save

It's hard to see, but there are some odd-capped cells in the next few pics: one on top left corner, one slightly below and to the right of that, and one on the bottom right corner. Those are queen cells from 1-day old eggs. At day four, it will hatch and become a larva, which they'll feed royal jelly.
I was lucky to have saved this piece of comb with fresh eggs. Very lucky.

It's in bad shape, but with a little work on the part of the hatchlings it'll get cleaned up and attached to the frames.

04-19-2011, 10:49 PM
The swarm I went and picked up, moved out, but this is what they looked like for about 16 hours, then vanished the next afternoon.

04-19-2011, 10:54 PM
A few cool pics from today. They've started using the birdbath, so their watering hole must have gone dry. A peek inside.



04-19-2011, 10:59 PM
The hive inspection is here (http://s248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/Hive%20inspection%204-10-11/), it's actually from the 10th.

The hive beetle and larvae that prompted the inspection

A nice shot of worker larvae being fed a mixture of nectar and royal jelly

The queen is laying eggs on frame 10 which is ready on the inside and almost complete on the outside

04-19-2011, 11:03 PM
Of all the things that seem to bother them, the stink of shingles, right after work seems to really agitate them. They bump me a bunch, but still don't sting. bumping is their way of sayin, "hey.. Get out!"
Take a shower and don some buckskin and they are as gentle as kittens.

04-19-2011, 11:15 PM
Very nice pictures YCC and thanks for the info. I would love to have a hive, just not sure whats around for them to survive off of. I don't see that many of them around often.

04-19-2011, 11:41 PM
They are very resourceful and will exploit any pollen and nectar source they can find.
If you live in the big city, neighbors might be more of a concern than anything else!

04-20-2011, 09:41 PM
hmm, I may have to look into it then sometime in the future. I don't really have the means right now to be buying a bunch of stuff for the bees though. Thanks for all the info.

04-20-2011, 11:09 PM
It can definately get expensive. That's why I liked making my own stuff out of scrap wood. The only expense is really the foundation and the sugar-water.

On a positive note, one of my neighbors found the swarm that escaped. Got them all boxed up and locked in with a jar of syrup. Screen front so they nor the queen can escape, and this time I used two drawn frames from my first colony as an incentive to get them to stay. I used my equipment to get them out of the tree (veil and gloves), but once I got them home, I took it all off and worked them with no shirt, veil or gloves. Just a little spray bottle of water and a smooth stick to rake them into the hive. Very gentle bees. Gotta love that. Thousands of bees on my bare skin and not a single sting!

Now if I can just get them all out of my hair before bed LOL.
I'm giddy with joy that I got my babies back babies back babies back.

04-21-2011, 06:12 AM
YCC - I know nothing about bees and I've stayed out of this thread because of it. I've enjoyed following you on it. I just couldn't help envisioning you walking into a colony of Africanized bees with only a veil and gloves. I know in this case your neighbor had already worked with them so you knew what you had but, as I understand it, you folks have the Africanized in your neck of the woods so I just wanted to throw out a caution to you on those colonies that are strangers to you. Just concerned about your safety.

04-21-2011, 07:43 AM
You don't have to know anything about bees to be able to tell if a colony is africanized. You wouldn't get within 10 feet of an African queen without getting stung. If you encounter a colony that seems particularly aggressive, it's best to leave them alone and call an experienced beekeeper (i.e. I'm not very experienced).

And I'm not saying that to Rick in particular, but to bring it to the attention of everyone who's following along. There was an article on the front page of the Albany Herald about it on Sunday. The only way to tell for sure is through genetic testing, but their behavior will tell you a lot about that colony. Time of day/year, temperature, and weather all play parts in how they behave, and so do particular smells. All that must be taken into account in your survey of the colony BEFORE you try to handle them with or without equipment.

It's the time of year for swarms, so if you hear a strange buzz in the air, and have not been stung yet, you've probably got a nice colony of Italians. Don't freak out and pour gas on them.. With Africans, you'll most likely be stung or at least bumped a few times before you even hear the hum.

I appreciate your concern very much, Rick. I must admit that some of my actions are not textbook, and most people wouldn't dare walk out half naked into a field of bees, nor buckskin.. not even experienced beekeepers. The only way I can justify my actions is through handling, and training (which is still not good justification). Experience is the best teacher. The classes and continued support from my keeper friends really has helped me to be confident and unafraid. Eventually I will learn my lesson, I'm sure. Till then, I'm going to push myself to continue without fear. A few hours of working that colony with equipment on, let me know that these bees were very much safe. A few minutes of working them without equipment let me know that they are not aggressive or threatened. With the knowledge from the classes, and simple observations in the field, I am getting a "feel" for them.

A few tips for non-beekeepers: If a bee lands on you and doesn't sting you, dont' swat it. You'll make it mad and probably get stung. If it starts flapping it's wings and you feel the vibration, don't freak out, she's just cooling down. If she starts to hum while crawling, she's just saying "hi, nice to meet you. We can bee friends". In a few minutes of determining whether you're friend or foe, she will most likely fly off and rejoin her group. As kids we are taught to be afraid of them, like snakes, but that's just not the reality.

By the way, the neighbor that called is allergic to bees and did not handle them at all. He stayed well away from them and called me. From his perspective, every bee could mean death. As Rick suggests, it is very dangerous to do as I did. Follow your own instincts and if you sense something isn't right, get away and make a phone call. African queens are extremely dangerous.

04-21-2011, 09:04 AM
I do appreciate your reinforcement that bees are really friendly. As a kid, we had a couple of elderly Italian brothers in our neighborhood. They had prolific roses and the big black and yellow bumble bees loved them. The old guys would very often reach down and let one of the bumble bees walk onto his hand to show us kids. They always said the bees wouldn't sting and as far as I know neither ever got stung but we always backed up when they moved our way with the bees.

04-21-2011, 03:02 PM
The big black ones are carpenter bees. You'll notice the males have white faces (at least I think it's the males). The ones with white faces don't have stingers, so they can't sting you even if you do make them mad lol.
Bumble bees aren't much bigger than honeybees and live in nests in the ground, usually in the straw in flower beds. They are excellent pollinators too!

04-21-2011, 03:15 PM
I know when my Grandpa had bees all he used was a little smoke to clam them, no suit or the like. Maybe your smoky buckskin has that effect on them?

The only time I've ever been stung is when I swat at or accidentally sit on or squish a bee. When you hunt wild edibles bees are everywhere, especially when the flowers are blooming. They will fly in my face and land on me, but as long as I don't show fear and panic or try to swat them away I never get bit. I just let them crawl about, buzz my face or what have you and they eventually go about their way. I'm also careful as I pick edibles not to accidentally squish any bees or disturb any nests, etc.

I'm surprised the swarm of bees was so mellow, as I'd think they'd be a bit angry over all the commotion they've seen recently.

04-21-2011, 03:16 PM
These guys.


04-21-2011, 11:37 PM
Hard to compare size on that pic, but that looks like a carpenter to me. Bumble bees have less yellow.

@ rwc. If one is buzzing around your face, it is attracted to the carbon dioxide in your breath. Usually if you stop breathing for a few seconds, they'll just go away. I applaud your fearlessness with them also, and the care you take not to harm any. Experience with your grampa taught you how to behave around them I'm sure.

And a bit of great news. I managed to cage the queen tonight! The swarm will stay in the box now and I can clip her wings in a day or two, once her scent has filled it and they start drawing comb.. Which they started on frame 6 today and many were eating from 4 & 5. Took me a few tries to catch the queen but I got her.
During all that commotion, a few crawled up my pants legs and stung me as I was moving around. I imagine I squished them a little while they were in there and that's why. I hate that those couple bees will die, but the stings were totally worth it to cage that lovely lady! No doubt now that any stragglers will adopt the hive. Was too dark to take any good pictures, so maybe in a day or two I can get pics of clipping and tagging her in the cage.

So this is where I am: Original colony is FULL, and very busy. Might need to add another honey super next week. Salvaged colony is still building though I think they are still queenless. Might merge them with this new swarm. Latest colony lost quite a few in transition, but still very populated, and now that the queen is trapped, they'll make a new home there. One great hive, one bad hive, and one starting anew.
I gotta build some more boxes and frames!!

And a side note: the stings are more like ant bites than the torture most folks make it sound like. Not like getting stung by a wasp AT ALL.

04-22-2011, 04:58 AM
It's a bumble bee, not a carpenter bee. They look the same except the carpenter bee will have a "shiny hiny".

04-22-2011, 05:53 AM
Thanks for clearing that up Crash. I thought bumble bees were smaller. Fuzzy butt is bumble. Shiny hiney is carpenter. Good way to remember! It's all in the little details :D

04-22-2011, 06:03 AM
The stings are itchy more than anything.. About to scratch the skin off one. The itch is far worse than the little sting. I've had burns from making fire that hurt worse than the sting. Might take a benadryl to see if it helps, but I really hate taking medicine.

04-27-2011, 09:16 PM
A quick update: The swarm didn't survive. It almost looked like they had gotten into some sort of poison that proliferated all through them after I caught the queen in a cage and clipped her wings. Once I let her out of the cage, she disappeared the next day and all the bees were dead. At least I tried, though I failed. I took it pretty hard, but some things are simply beyond our control. Talking with some of my keeper friends made me feel much better after I beat myself up for it all day.

The salvaged colony with old comb got infested with hive beetles and wax moths. Looked like most of the hatchlings were out, so I removed the contaminated combs and disposed of it. The commercial keeper from Atlanta is supposed to be bringing me a hygeinic (sp) queen when he comes to collect his migratory hives this weekend, so hopefully they'll be able to make a comeback. They are actually drawing cells on the new frames and foundation I gave them and making queen cells on it, even without eggs. Introducing a fertile queen (if she takes) should really help that colony grow back to strong numbers. The rotten honey smelled horrible, so I think they'll be much happier now without all those maggots crawling around on one side of their box, and the stench gone. They are hanging in there like real champs, so I'm gonna keep trying them.

My original nuc colony is doing so good that I had to add another honey super on top today. They have drawn the first honey pot to 95% and filled it to about 80% capacity. As they continue to dry and fill it, they should start capping frames some time this week, and start the next pot really soon. There are so many bees in it that I had trouble taking the frames out to check the capacity. I felt like they needed more room. It's possible that I could harvest some honey this year, but I think I'll let them overwinter with whatever they make this year and try getting actual honey for personal use next year, along with making a split. two full honey pots would make an excellent split!

Sorry.. no pics today. Gotta get batteries.

04-28-2011, 07:42 AM
I read...I'll have to see if I can find the article...but I read that it's a mite that has been killing off the bees. That apparently it's a mite that other animals and insects deal with...but because bees are so busy collecting pollen, they don't clean themselves as much as other insects, so the mite sets in, is brought back to the colony, where they all get infected and die. Have you been able to find any stragglers? Maybe you would be able to see if it's the mite. I would hate for you to bring a new colony into an infected hive.

I'm a huge honey lover...I love that you do this. :)

04-28-2011, 05:44 PM
Good news! I've found a series of Solitary Bee colonies in one of the raised beds. I think they're Andrena haemorrhoa ssp. I've marked the nests so I don't disturb them when I'm weeding. I found yet another way to waste my time, as if chicken watching weren't enough....

04-29-2011, 07:10 AM
Trabitha, the colony that died was healthy a few days before. seems strange that so many would die all at once. Trachael mites can't be cleaned as they enter the bees airways and lay eggs. They are microscopic so it's not something I can check without spending a ton of money on lab work. Varroa mites, by comparison, are large enough to be seen with the naked eye on the bees. Neither mite would be able to kill an entire colony of thousands of bees in the span of 3 days, I wouldn't think. There might have been 10 bees left in there still alive. Long story short, a beekeeper caught the swarm, gave them to me, I housed them, they left, I caught them again down the road, re-housed them, then they died. Could have been stress, but I'm really leaning toward pesticide. Mites just wouldn't be able to do that sort of damage that quickly.

Winnie. I'm really glad you've marked them. They will help all your flowers and herbs when it gets warm enough for them to forage. Even solitary bees are colonial for part of the year and as they reproduce, numbers and yields will also increase. I'm glad I posted this thread up, if only for the sake of educating a few folks about NOT destroying bees. That post makes it totally worth it. Thanks for sharing.
Bee watching is very rewarding, imo, because you can see which plants they like the best, how they exploit a resource by priority, and you can compare plants that you know they foraged, to plants that might not be, to see the effect the bees have on the yield.

Andarena haemorroah (http://natureofdorset.blogspot.com/2011/03/mining-bee-andrena-haemorrhoa.html) (they resemble our "german" bees)

04-29-2011, 09:13 AM
This brings up the obvious question for me. By gathering rogue bees and bringing them home do you run the risk of contaminating the other clean hive/s?

It sucks they all died, mass suicide?

04-29-2011, 10:05 AM
mayan bees? any tips on finding and domesticating swarms in east texas?

05-01-2011, 11:03 AM
@rwc. Theres little risk of cross contamination. Bees know their queen (somehow) and will only stray from her if it is impossible to reach her, or she dies or swarms away. If mature beetles or mites, or diseases like foulbrood are inside the combs, there is a possibility of some reaching other hives, though not very likely simply because each colony guards it's hive entrance to not let "strangers" in which could be carriers. Foulbrood is a bacteria that reproduces by spores; that means one infected cell on a comb has literally billions of seeds to spread by robbers or simply on the wind. I wish I could give a more concrete answer, so I'll say the risk is "generally minimal".

@ravenscar. It's getting on in the season to be finding swarms, but it's still possible. IF you are prepared to catch a swarm (meaning you have your ppe and a hive ready), the easiest way is to register as a keeper (not sure about texas laws) and call all the local law enforcement agencies and emergency responders to get on their list. I'm listed with the Sheriff, city police, fire department, forestry agency, DOT, and Cooperative Extension office. There are other folks who have been on that list for years and they would certainly get the call before I did, but if they turn down a swarm, at least I'm in line.
I'm going to make a swarm-bucket today. I'll take pictures of it for you. basically just a chlorine tablet bucket with the screw on lid (rinse it out really well). The lid is cut out to replace the center portion with wire screen so the bees can get air. Lots of techniques come into play when trying to catch them and you'll likely have to improvise. On a tree limb, I tied a sheet in the tree under the swarm, misted them with water, and just shook them off, then poured them in the bucket. In the case of a swarm under something like a mailbox, you'd simply brush them gently into the bucket after misting them with water so they can't fly.
I must stress that you are in Texas with seemingly high occurrences of Africanized bees, so protective gear is critical, and knowing a little bit about bees ahead of time will be a big help in determining if they are africanized. If you're not sure, best to just leave them alone or call an expert.
Feral colonies can be very difficult to domesticate. Probably the easiest way is to find the queen in that swarm, clip her wings and cage her for a few days. When her scent has filled the hive and the bees have started drawing comb, they've accepted their new home, and you can set her free from the cage.
Also.. as you can see from my recent experience, none of this is failproof and you should expect failure just as much as success.

Remember, I'm new to this...

05-01-2011, 11:31 AM
I opened up the suffering colony yesterday and introduced a new queen to them. After being queenless for two weeks, this 500 or so bees readily took to her. This is a peek inside the suffering colony. Many of them are along the wall and others are drawing comb on frame 1. With such a low population I had to rob a comb of brood from my strong colony so she'd have someplace to lay her eggs, and to give them some honey and pollen to use.


Nurse bees were tending her overnight and into the afternoon. It's a good sign they've accepted her. It's also pretty cool to watch them feed her while she's caged. Cage design is really simple. One end is blocked with a cork, the other with candy that is basically cake icing. The candy has no smell. Before I placed her in the hive, I observed that the queen herself smelled like flowers, very reminiscent of lillies.

At this point it was time to rob the strong colony, which got them pretty mad at me. I still didn't get stung, but I must credit that to wearing my PPE. I was constantly getting bumped.. That's them saying "Hey! Get the heck outta here!" A peek inside the strong colony showed bees top to bottom, very crowded, keeping the hive clean. This is the best way to force them to do maintenance. If you look back at the first pictures of the nuc colony installed, and compare the population to these pics, you'll see that they've exploded into a healthy colony.

.. and since I had it open, I checked on the queen, so seems to be more plump now.

After a few hours of hanging in her new hive with the salvaged bees they still hadn't eaten the candy away, so I had to release her. By afternoon, she had made her way into the crowd of bees and onto the fresh comb. Sorry for the blurry pictures.
Can you spot the queen?



I have not checked on them this morning, I'd actually like to wait about two weeks before I open them again, but by evening yesterday, the bees behavior had changed, from basically idle, to increased flights and foraging, many tending the frame of brood, many drawing and almost all of them cleaning each other and the hive. Amazing creatures in that way, but it's funny that they seemed "lost" and directionless while they were queenless.

Here's a bee that was tagging along while I was preparing. Most of the bees were covered in wax like this one before queening.. They were aimless and just doing their most basic habits.

Compare that picture to the pictures of the queen on the comb and you'll see that only a few hours later, the bees had cleaned themselves and were much more industrious. One bit of great news is that I didn't spot a varroa mite ANYWHERE, and there were no eggs present to support hive beetle infestation. IF this colony is able to come back from the brink of destruction, they should prove to be healthy and clean for a long time. Guess we'll find out!

05-01-2011, 11:46 AM
One sad shot of the dead swarm.

05-01-2011, 09:12 PM
Sorry for your loss, but sounds like things are going well now, which is great. The more I read your thread the more I would love to have a hive. Those little guys are awesome.

Justin Case
05-01-2011, 09:27 PM
One sad shot of the dead swarm.

oh man,, this bums me out,,, sorry Ycc.

05-01-2011, 10:08 PM
It broke my heart too, but some things are just beyond our control. Nature has a way of humbling us like that. You just have to take it in stride and call it "learning".

Got busy building frames and painting hive bodies today, so I didn't finish the swarm bucket. Will finish it over the next day or two and post pics. Got two more possible colonies to relocate at some point before the nectar flow goes out in 9 months HAHAHA.
Gotta love the south and our long growing season.

My plan at this point is to get the suffering colony established, trap out one of the relocation colonies using my new queen and slack hive. That reminds me.. I made a bee escape trap today too.. will post pics of it and the swarm-bucket in the next few days, and explain how it works. Any bees I can add to that suffering colony will improve their odds of making a comeback.

05-02-2011, 07:05 AM
You like making stuff so here's another project for your list. I saw this some time back on a TV show.



05-02-2011, 10:05 PM
That's a pretty neat contraption. Thanks Rick! I'll have to build one just for kicks!

05-06-2011, 06:43 AM
A quick update without pics. New queen took right up to the suffering colony and a peek inside yesterday, revealed the bees grooming and building comb. I've been feeding them sugar-syrup because I don't see nearly as many foragers as I feel like they need, mostly because so many of them are still hatchlings that have not matured to be able to fly yet.

ACE hardware uptown has a nice little "car vac" that will work well with the bee vac. Just gotta save up $35 for the motor and the bee-vac will be in business! http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4385950&cp=2568448.2626074.2628083.1259528
I've also come into some info about a product called "bee-gone". It's a liquid normally used to usher bees out of honey supers so you can collect the honey frames. It smells exactly like chicken manure farmers put out on their corn and it should also rightly be named "people-gone" too cause it smells like H-E-double-hockey-stick!
I will probably get a few drops from one of my keeper friends, apply it to some cotton balls and drop them into the colony that's in the brick pillar on a porch where neighbors son lives. Used in conjunction with the bee-escape, I might even get the queen to come out.

So many experiments and different ways to do things... Sometimes it's hard to decide which direction to go!

05-09-2011, 06:34 AM
Updated pics of the swarm-catching-bucket:

I used my Weller soldering gun with the "hot knife" attachment to cut the circle from the lid, and a bernzomatic torch to heat a nail to poke holes for sewing the screen in place with wire. It's really a very simple project and yours doesn't have to be nearly this fancy.


Completed lid, I left some loops in my stitches for hanging things like a queen cage (pictured). If you can catch the queen in a swarm, you will have lots of luck in getting the rest of the bees. I will likely modify this screen to include a one-way entrance.



Hope that helps make sense of the bucket. Not much to it. Forgot to take pics of the bee escape.

05-09-2011, 06:42 AM
Couldn't resist posting a pic of the healthy colony. This was on an afternoon that was about 95 degrees out. I had wondered if this was typical behavior; apparently if it's too hot inside, bees will move outside to make room for air flow. This is my original nuc colony that has literally exploded from (just a guess on the numbers) somewhere around 3000 bees to probably 10,000 bees in the scant few weeks since I brought them home.
notice the Rumex acetocella on the right hand side of the entrance.:detective:

Requeening the suffering colony. These pics are several days old by now.



05-09-2011, 06:45 AM
Cool pics as usual.

What is the purpose of the queen cage? Is it just to acclimatize the colony to the queen without actually letting them get to her?

On the bee vac, I also saw one that was made out of a vacuum truck for sucking prairie dogs out of their holes!!!! Just stick the hose down the hole and zoooooooop! instant prairie dog.

05-09-2011, 06:49 AM
Just to quickly clarify what I think are "unnecessary" cuts:

This is what's called a top-wedge style. The lateral cut is for the removable wedge, cut out with a utility knife. Foundation is inserted and wedge nailed back in place to hold the hooks on top.

bottom bar

I really think this 1/16" bevel is unnecessary and the ones I made myself work equally as well as these prefab frames

Foundation being placed in the bottom rail. Top wedge has been removed, and hopefully you can see the hooks on the top of the foundation.

05-09-2011, 07:02 AM
Cool pics as usual.

What is the purpose of the queen cage? Is it just to acclimatize the colony to the queen without actually letting them get to her?

On the bee vac, I also saw one that was made out of a vacuum truck for sucking prairie dogs out of their holes!!!! Just stick the hose down the hole and zoooooooop! instant prairie dog.

Yes. If a "strange" queen is just released into the hive, chances are good that she will be killed.

05-09-2011, 07:04 AM
I saw a strange queen in Vancouver once. He was dressed all in white. Even his face was painted white. He did have a nice gown on though.

05-09-2011, 07:07 AM
That was probably the queen that traveled from Mexico to Vancouver. Had it not been for the cage as "she" passed through Texas, "she" may have been killed.

05-09-2011, 10:18 PM
In that case, it is more like a shark cage than a mode of transportation haha!

I was warned to keep an eye on her to make sure the workers didn't ball her up. I monitored for about 4 hours watching whether they were nursing her or not. You can watch them stick out their strawlike mouth parts and share with her. This colony had been queenless for too long to NOT want a new queen, but it's still good judgement to protect her to make sure they are accepting. A colony can reject a queen, as Crash pointed out and evict or kill her. The cage that hangs in the bucket is so that if I can find the queen in a swarm (you have to be pretty lucky as well as observant) I can cage her and hang her in a new hive and the colony will enter and start building under the illusion that she has accepted the home. Once they start building, she will accept their comb almost undoubtedly.
Bees are kinda picky.. except the guy bees.. they're like "whatever, honey!"

While the picture above would appear that the workers were trying to get to her to "ball her up" if that were the case, almost every bee in the hive would be on that cage. Ultimately, I just used my superhuman powers of observation to see them nursing her and going back to the sugar-water. Them babies wanted a new mama.

05-27-2011, 06:17 AM
Been a while since I did an inspection on my original nuc colony, so Saturday I opened 'er up to see what kind of progress they were making on their honey stores and check for signs of pests or disease. A few good shots:

This is the first honey pot I added a few weeks ago. all frames are completely drawn, very near completely filled, and probaly 60% capped for honey stores. This is the outermost frame of the honey super (which must weigh as much as a bundle of shingles by now).


Frame 2L

Frame 6L You'll notice the extra drone cells along the bottom of this honey frame. I assume that the bees are setting beetle / mite traps along the "dead space" as sacrificial or hygeinic behavior.

For the salvaged colony, which has been relocated to trap out some bees from an old house, I stole a frame of brood (see post above). They have drawn the inside of the frame and are working hard on the outside side. The inside had a few day-old eggs, which I could use to raise queens if I knew anything about that.. maybe next year.


It's hard to tell from this pic, but the hive is FULL of bees. Population must have tripled or quadrupled since the last inspection.

This frame is being used for pollen stores, mostly. Along the top you can see capped honey, and on the right side, capped brood. All the cells that appear empty are packed with pollen.

This is the kind of density that is our primary goal. With this many bees on a frame, constantly cleaning and tending, it's darn near impossible for a mite or beetle to do any damage.

Good pic of drones (males) on a worker brood frame. One has just emerged from the cell that has been chewed open. There are two males in this picture, can you spot them?

While this frame appears empty, the queen is making her way from cell to cell placing new eggs in a frame of freshly hatched workers. Can you spot the queen in this pic?

Just a couple cool shots of one of the girls foraging on some lillies



I'll go tomorrow to check the status of the salvaged (lure) colony up at the farm, more pics of that to come (and probably some better explaining of the process). Been a busy week and terribly hot.

05-28-2011, 11:54 AM
As promised, I got some pics to share of the bee escape and lure hive. I'll throw a couple neat pictures in here too.

Late in the evening the ladies were just hanging out:


Unless you open the hive, you really have nothing to fear. When just watching, this is how much "protective gear" I wear... even when less than 2 feet away from the entrance.


The First thing you have to do when attempting to "trap out" bees, is close all the entrances and exits, except for one. I chose to use screen wire so that air could still circulate through the hive, but the bees cannot get back in any of their extra entrances.

At the top exit, I fashioned a screen cone, about 18" long reinforced with wire. The wire helps hold the cone in position without sagging. The principle is simple. When bees leave their hive, they crawl to the exit and fly directly out in a more-or-less straight line, but when they return, they generally land on the wall, or landing strip, walk over to the entrance hole and re-enter. The cone prevents them from reaching the entrance. (while they are smart critters, they are definately not the smartest) The big end is roughly 6" diameter and the small exit end is roughly 3/8". You can tell by the cluster of bees above that they can't figure out how to get back in.

The colony I salvaged is in the hive next to the exit. When the bees cannot figure out how to return to their queen, they'll go to the next available "home" with a leader. In this case, it's a ready hive with a new queen less than a foot from exit of the cone. I tried to get pictures of the (we'll call them feral even though they are just as gentle as my original) Feral bees assimilating with the salvaged colony, but they are so fast entering and exiting that most of them turned out blurry.. Sorry, but this is the best one I could get. The yellow blurs are the feral ladies joining the new queen.

I was wearing just as much protective gear as above when I opened this hive to check the status of the queen and population. After a week, I would say I've added a few hundred bees to my colony. I found a small hole that I hadn't blocked last weekend, so after some minor blocking efforts, I felt that it was as good as I could do without tearing down the porch. The queen inside was healthy and I got to witness her laying eggs in an empty cell, though I didn't get to take a picture. I did get to share with the homeowner what a frame of bees and the queen looks like.. He's more happy to be working toward a front porch he can use LOL!

Anyhow, the cone is a simple concept. Using a homemade compass you simply draw a circle with a radius equal to the length of the cone. Draw an arc. In my case, the arc has a radius of 18".
The length of the arc is determined by how big you want the finished product. The large end of the cone needed to be 6" so I multiplied that by Pi (3.14) to get 18.84" or 19", then add an inch for sewing the thing together, so my arc length was 20". Same rules apply for the small end (0.375 x Pi = 1.18 or 1-1/4" plus lap).
Wire it together along the straight edges of the cone and you have it.
The main problem I saw was that when it was positioned at an angle, the bees couldn't figure out how to get out because they naturally leave in a straight line. Once I added a piece of wire and pulled it over perpendicular to the exit, they started pouring out.

I will most definately not get the queen out of this colony, as it is highly unlikely that she will abandon her eggs until most of the workers are found absent and pests begin to take over. Since it takes 16 days for a worker to hatch and another 13 days until they will leave the colony to forage, this will be a long ongoing process. If the queen continues to lay, I can expect new nurses to hatch that often. In other words, it'll be another week before the non-flying hatchlings that were present when I set up the trap last weekend will ever exit the colony.. Without more explanation I'm sure you can understand that it will be a long process.

05-28-2011, 12:55 PM
Awesome looking stuff. Watching your bees evolve is pretty interesting.

06-12-2011, 12:14 PM
Okra, Squash, and cucumbers are doing very well. Bees can be spotted all over the garden even before sunrise. With the drought in place, I must consider myself very lucky to live near a swampy area. A common roadside weed in my area that blooms this time of year and happens to like growing near swampy-wet areas is Great Rose Mallow (Hibiscus grandiflorus) also called by some "wild okra".

I've spotted my bees on flowers in the ditch a few hundred yards from here, and on a dirt road on the way to work, I've spotted small german bees in them.
An unrelated note, I've also spotted wild potato vines (Ipomoea pandurata)growing and blooming in the same places as the wild okra (as grandma calls it)

06-23-2011, 06:43 AM
Not a good sign... This is from my healthy colony. One or two beetles is expected, but this many has me worried.

A fellow down at the lake called and said his fishing shack was infested with bees, so I went yesterday to check it out. This feral colony is apparently NOT africanized. Africanized bees have been found as close to my house now as Bainbridge (22 miles from here), as well as in Albany. Genetic testing has confirmed that the two cases were africanized, both of which resulted in death.
This colony is not aggressive so I feel safe to say they are italians. I took these pictures barefoot and wearing no shirt, and as close as 2 feet from their entrance. My oldest boy went with me, but he had a banana for snack yesterday so he wouldn't approach. No stings or aggressive behavior is a good sign that this is a strong, yet well behaved colony. I did get bumped once or twice, but keep in mind I was blocking their flight path, so that's understandable.


Going to rig up another bee-escape and use my non-standard hive to house them. The gentleman gave me full permission to remove siding as needed to get the bees out. I hope to be able to find the queen, cage her, and hang her inside the hive, luring her daughters into the hive, then disassemble the wall to remove the comb, and put it in cages in that hive. Sounds like a better plan than scrapping the non-standard hive. Wish me luck!

06-23-2011, 07:18 AM
That siding looks like asbestos siding. If it is it will snap at the blink of an eye. Use a dust protector, as well since you don't want to breath in any fibers if it does break. That stuff is just super brittle.

06-23-2011, 07:27 AM
YCC - also keep in mind that while an Africanized colony is more aggressive, they normally only display that aggressiveness when they feel threatened. As you have said, the only way to know for sure (in cases where they do not seem aggressive) is to send them off for DNA testing.

06-23-2011, 09:29 AM
cautions duly noted!

I'll stop by the building supply on my way down there and grab a few dust masks. I'm sure they'll clog pretty quick with all the sweat combined with the dust, and I'll definately wear long-sleeves and other safety equipment for handling bees, including smoker, just in case. Once I start tearing into the hive, I'm sure I'll find out pretty quick if they are aggressive.

I have a little bit of that type siding left on my house. It probably is asbestos.. Looks like the same stuff.

06-23-2011, 01:01 PM
When I worked outside I hated to pull up to a house that had that stuff on it. The slightest pressure will crack it. You can't drill it, pry it, poke it or swear at it without it cracking. I've tried it all.

06-24-2011, 07:42 AM
Finally caught up to the man on the phone, and we talked for a little while. It is definately asbestos. Still he wants the bees out of his house, whatever it takes. Gonna be a fairly big project.. Water sprayer bottle to keep dust down, tarp to catch breaking pieces.. THEN I have the plywood and bees to deal with.
Still trying to get a functional plan together.. really should have built that bee-vac already, that would make it really easy.

On a more positive note, I'm finally making some progress with the trapping down the road. Bees had formed a "beard" on parts of the porch, so I misted them with water, brushed them off into my swarm bucket, and dumped them in with my bees, and they took to the new queen with ecstacy and vigor, immediately moving into foraging mode.

There is one more bee class tomorrow, regarding extracting honey. I'll have to build my own extractor (they are pretty expensive to buy). I hope it doesn't get cancelled due to rain. This is the last major lesson, and the rest of the learning process can only be from experiences, which I'm getting plenty of. Had yet another fellow mention he needed bees removed yesterday at the building supply.. I need more boxes!!

06-24-2011, 07:56 AM
I don't know how houses are built down there but up here those built during that time frame used a tongue and groove beneath the asbestos. I'm sure that was to seal drafts as much as anything so you might not have it in your warmer weather. Just wanted to give you a mental picture of what you'll have before you get there.

06-24-2011, 01:14 PM
this thing was thrown together. really a fishing "shack" some of it's plywood, some cedar, some is tin, some is that old cardboard stuff (masonite?). You can definately tell that it started off as a one-room shack and was added to, here and there over many years.
Admittedly I'm a bit apprehensive about this project LOL.

06-24-2011, 03:07 PM
I've had to demo a few asbestos sided walls. You'll already be pretty well covered because of the bees, but I'd recommend either a full face respirator or a respirator and goggles rather than a dust mask.

When you climb out of your bee suit, make sure that you bag it - leave the respirator on until you do.

06-27-2011, 05:27 AM
Carefully pulled the nails with vice-grips, and didn't break a single piece of siding. Got each piece good and damp with water before I even tried to move any. Haven't had a chance to upload the pics yet, but I got a few, and a couple videos I have to edit together. What I thought might have been 16" or 2 feet wide, turned out to be a 5 foot wide gap, 3-1/2 feet high completely filled with comb. Looks like I'll get honey this year!
I filled two 5-gallon buckets over the top with honeycomb, pure, clean honey from this year, and got 7 frames of brood in frames I rigged with kite string to make cages. It was a good opportunity to use the odd-size hive I built.
I tossed any comb that looked tainted, or spotted a mite (drone cells) or a beetle (the bottom 12 inches or so).
The trick to getting the bees in the box was misting them with a little water, and using a wisk-brush to sweep them onto a small piece of wood, then dump them into the box. They can't fly with wet wings.

Only got stung 5 times (3 legit), twice on the left shoulder, one on the back left hip, once on the back of my right shoulder, and once on the finger where I accidentally mashed one grabbing a tool. The whole endeavor took right at 9 hours to complete, and I'd guess I got 75-80% of the bees... literally thousands.
I didn't reinstall the siding yet, I've gotta go back this weekend, probably, and make double-sure I got as many bees as possible and make sure I sealed all their entrance holes.
Not sure I got the queen, never did lay eyes on her, but I did collect all the "bunches" of bees that clustered in the corners, and judging by the way bees were taking to the screened cover on the hive, I think I got her, but not sure. I'll give them a couple days to settle down, then check it out. If I can't get a queen for them (if I didn't get their queen) I'll just add their numbers to my weak colony, give a couple frames of honey, and hope for the best!
The man didn't have a bee "colony" in his house, he had a bee PROBLEM!
pics coming soon!
Strange enough, I can handle bees all day, and not dream about them, but if I get stung, it's all I dream about.. like last night.

06-27-2011, 05:38 AM
I will be building a bee-vac in the next week or two. I still have two more houses that need bees removed, so look for a brief build-along for that project.

Oh, yeah.. Bee class on Saturday was really fun. I uncapped a LOT of honey frames, got to talk to people about bees and reduce their fears a bit (the event was open to the public), and got to help reinstall the extracted frames back on the hives. Bounced around a lot of ideas, had good laughs, great lunch, and picked up a new book about bee pests and diseases. I probably would have backed out of the removal job if it hadn't been for the class. I was so inspired that I came home and fixed up my mis-sized box to hold comb for the removal. Wiregrass beekeepers are some good people from all walks of life. Amazing how people who are so different can be unified by a common interest. One of the instructors is going to be extracting his honey next Saturday and invited me over to help and possibly extract my 9-frame super, but I think I'll let my bees hang on to all their honey this year to overwinter.

Got invited to a hog-extermination hunt next weekend, too... No rest for the wicked!

06-27-2011, 05:41 AM
Oh, yeah.. @ Crash, tho it was too hot to keep the respirator on the whole time, clothing went straight into the washing machine. Can't bee too careful with that asbestos!

06-29-2011, 06:09 AM
First peek looked promising, like it wouldn't bee to big of a job. Then reality hit me on the left shoulder (Ouch!). The white comb on the right side is honey, the darker comb on the left is brood comb, for raising more bees.

Densely populated and heavily worked comb that was exceptionally clean, considering it's location.

A particularly useful photo, as one of the first things I saw was this Queen Cell.

I was not able to find the queen, but many of the cells had viable day-old eggs that the workers can use to raise new queens. Todays "peek" revealed that they are doing so.

Second hacking at the wall revealed even more comb.. it just kept going!


Careful removal of "squares" of brood comb. My odd-sized frames got rigged with kite string to make a cage of sorts to hang the comb.


Third peek revealed even MORE comb

Some pure clean honey from this year.

Got two 5-gallon buckets full of honeycomb. I saved as much of the brood comb as possible in the cages, and resorted to gently placing the honeycomb in the buckets as I ran out of frames to hang it in. I will be using some of this in more string cages (or maybe rubber bands) and just let the bees have it back for their winter stores so there won't be so much pressure on them as "dry time" is approaching.

The worst sting came when I was trying to re-tuck my shirttail in and apparently one of the ladies was in one of the folds of my shirt. OUCH!!

I didn't want them to get too hot in transport, so I closed off the front of the hive with screen and used some extra screen as a lid, with "universal glue" aka duct tape, to keep it on.

This picture is probably the most important picture in this post. If I had captured the queen, the bees would not be building queen cells. The round-capped cells pictured here are queen cells being built. Closer inspection reveals that each one has a white jelly with a larva floating inside. The white substance is "royal jelly" and is the ONLY thing that makes a difference whether a fertilized egg becomes a worker or queen. I will have queens hatching from this small piece of comb within the next 16 days. Queens take the least time of all the bees to hatch.

Much cleaning and construction is taking place inside the hive. This picture shows the density of the bees on the salvaged comb. Much of it is already attached to the frames, and the ladies are busy raising queen cells and stabilizing the combs. They are also ridding the comb of any pests like SHB and varroa. Many of the drone cells proved to have mites on the larvae, so I culled any comb that I suspected were contaminated, and probably can only contribute the queen cells above to "Dumb @$$ luck", since the piece pictured above was actually going to be thrown away, but for some reason I held on to it.

In this picture you can see that I actually left that comb on the outside of the hive, and when I got home from work yesterday, I noticed that it had been attached to the outside of the box. Closer inspection revealed the queen cells on the back side so I placed it inside a cage and put it inside the box. I only saved it so that the ladies could scavenge whatever honey was left on it, and somehow the universe smiled on me and blessed me with 5 queen cells on a 6" x 6" piece of comb. Finally, it's my lucky day!

In summary, I'm glad I spent 8 hours collecting these bees. Still have two more houses on my list that need bees removed, so I have to build more hives, but priority calls for building a bee-vac first.

Also, I do not recommend doing something like this by yourself. The danger involved in the possibility of them being africanized is very real. I took an epipen with me just in case, and could only hope that I'd make the 20 mile drive back to town before anaphylactic shock got the best of me (provided I would be able to drive). Too bad for me, I don't have any friends locally that would accompany me. I don't have many friends that are interested in anything I do, for that matter.. What I'm saying... use good sense. I've been known to do stupid things that pose a real danger to my survival from time to time.

Does anybody know just how much time an epipen would have bought me if I had been stung a deadly number of times?

06-29-2011, 06:41 AM
That's an amazing set of photos. Either that hive had been there a long time or they've been busy as a ... well, you know. I'm amazed at how adaptable they are. Change of queen, change of housing, neither seem to bother them.

I don't know much about the epi pen. I checked their web site and it says that one injection may not be enough. That's why they come in 2 unit cartons. If you are allergic to bee stings then I'd suggest you talk to your doctor about what your options are. What if you are not able to self administer?

06-29-2011, 07:40 AM
YCC - great pics. You saved the home owner a lot of money. A pest control company that does bee removal charges a pretty penny for a job like that.

06-29-2011, 10:34 PM
The neighbor said she thought two years, but that's an aweful lot of comb and honey to be such a short time, I would think... The house was 50 yards from the lake, tho, so maybe resources really were just that abundant?
My epipen box does have two units.

I didn't do the greatest job getting into the house, but I put wood in the walls to add support at the cuts. Still have to return this weekend to see if I can collect more bees (if any are left) and make sure I've blocked them out before reinstalling the siding (which I'm going to try to talk him out of...)
A fellow at the class said his minimum charge for bee removal was $600 and only included putting back what was removed, but many jobs would end up costing more if the removal is more invasive. He makes a living doing nothing but bee removals and the resulting remodelings...

I am amazed at their resilience. For anything to survive such trauma is a feat unto itself. To recover is nothing short of a miracle.

07-07-2011, 08:52 AM
Filled 9 string-frames with honeycomb yesterday, and the unsalvagable comb got turned into wax and honey. From ONE of the 5-gallon buckets we got almost 2 gallons of honey, put into pints and an old mayo jug. Still have about 1/5 of the comb to process (squeeze out the honey) left in the bucket. It took the better part of the day to thaw it out and save what I could in the baskets.
There were 5 pints, but we confiscated one this morning for coffee since we ran out of sugar.

Got this much comb left to squeeze..

and the 5 gallon bucket was reduced to this much wax...
(those are fig preserves in the background..)

07-07-2011, 09:38 AM
Mmm, loks good. You're gonna be overrun with bees and honey soon enuf.

07-07-2011, 03:29 PM
And it never goes bad. Probably the most perfectist food. Gooder than most that's for sure.

I have to hand it to you, YCC. This is one of the best ever threads. I'm fascinated by bees so I guess I've enjoyed following it a bit more. But I do appreciate all the work you've gone to posting the pictures and the explanations. Thanks!!!

On another note, we seem to have far more honey bees around this year. The last couple of years we haven't had many. It was rare to see one. This year they are pretty prolific. Hopefully there is a wild nest nearby (just not in my attic!).

07-07-2011, 06:44 PM
Well done YCC.

07-08-2011, 09:33 AM
Thanks for the compliments!
I'm really glad I have friends to share this with, even if it is around the virtual campfire.

The presence of bees could mean there is a new beekeeper in the area. Everything growing in my neighborhood seems to be doing better and the neighbors say they see bees all over the place. They aren't just benefiting me, but everyone around me. If you do have a feral colony nearby, they will be very hardy, even if they do have more exposure to pests and predators. If you can locate their hive, you could feed them sugar-syrup over the winter months to aid in their survival. Even if you don't care to have an apiary, the feral colony will help pollinate all the goodies in your garden. So far north, you should have no problems with africanized bees.

07-08-2011, 12:10 PM
I couldn't have an apiary if I wanted one. Being in town some of the folks around here would frown at me. And they know how fearful I am of frowns. Of course, bees don't mind traveling a small distance and since the edge of "civilization" is only a few blocks there may well be a new aviary nearby. I'll have to keep a sharp eye peeled.

No fear of Africanized bees either. We could have some Canadian bees, though. I'm sure I heard one the other day as it flew by....buzzzzz, eh. buzzzz, eh. Maybe it was French Canadian. (shrug)

07-11-2011, 06:19 AM
LOL. I went to see Mr. Burke over in Dothan this weekend to get a dose of Bee-quick. He lives in a tight neighborhood, houses all around, and just about 150 yards from a school. He has 8 hives and no problems or complaints from the neighbors.
On a side note, he was averaging 3 pounds (a quart) of honey per super, and had 17 supers to do. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, and honey, 12.

Farmer called me on Saturday morning, said they were clearing land, knocked down a tree that was full of bees and wanted me to come get them. So I did. Sadly, I think the heat killed them before I got home. Heck.. I thought I was gonna die at one point. Sad, but they were going to be destroyed anyway. At least I tried... I had my bucket about half full of bees.. probably 6 or 8 pounds of bees... all dead now :(

07-17-2011, 08:47 AM
Same guy called again on another tree they knocked down, not 300 yards from the first. I got there early, everything was exposed, and even though the ladies were quite mad, I got 80% of them in the bucket, got home by 10:30, and had them in a new hive by 11. So far they are still alive and doing well.

Did some more honey extracting yesterday. Got another gallon and a half. Probably another pound of wax. Some of the honey was in really old comb and had a scent reminiscent of lillies, or maybe gardenia. very pleasant smell and very good to eat.. almost gave myself a tummy-ache licking my fingers lol.

Today's project: BEE VAC. I still have two houses to remove bees from, but only about two weeks left to get them without the risk of them not being able to recover and overwinter. Farther north, the time has already come and gone and I wouldn't remove any more bees above the mason-dixon with the intention of starting a new hive with them, especially if you don't get the queen. Recent rain should get our clover and other goodies blooming again, and we still have a good 3 more months of growing season. If you do live farther north, it is unlikely they will start a new queen this late in your season. The first of August is generally the cut-off in my area. If the colony I just removed doesn't have a queen, I will merge them with one of the other suffering colonies, rather than letting those few weak hives die. Judging by the way the fliers clustered on the "swarm bucket" outlined earlier in this thread, I'd say the queen was in there, although I was unable to spot her among the 4-5 pounds of bees.

The removal from the lake should have hatched their queen on Tuesday (day 16 after extraction). I was going to inspect them yesterday, but it rained all day. I talked with two of my mentors, and they said it could take up to an additional 10 days for the queen to mate and start laying, so I'll do inspection next weekend. If all goes well, I'll find several queen cells opened from the side, and tiny eggs in clean cells, laid singly. hopefully I'll have plenty of pics to share.

The first queen to hatch aborts all the other queens. if two hatch at the same time (or thereabouts) the workers will determine the weaker queen and kill her or evict her. How the workers determine this weakness is still a sort of mystery that we may never understand. Bees are a fully functional multi-organism, with a unified consciousness. Cool stuff!

07-17-2011, 04:45 PM
YCC - Since it's the middle of summer and we still have August to go....would it work if you put some ice in a five gallon bucket then sat your bee bucket right down on top of it? That would keep the bee bucket cool in the bottom and make it more likely the bees would get home in the heat. Maybe (?) The bees wouldn't be exposed to direct cold but the bee bucket might be kept cool.

07-18-2011, 05:25 AM
It's worth a shot. Bees can handle quite a bit of cold and can get down to almost icicle stage before they die (relative, of course). heat is exactly opposite. If I get the opportunity to try again, I'll add an extra bucket of ice to the truck and try it.

07-18-2011, 09:01 AM
I was thinking you could fill the bucket about a quarter to a third full then sit your bee bucket down in it. The bottom would stay cool but since there will be a gap between the sides of the buckets the sides of the bee bucket should be surrounded by cool air as well.

07-19-2011, 05:59 AM
Might get a chance to try it Friday. I'm planning to assist one of my mentors with a removal job on a house that's getting a make-over (good job because we can tear shtuff up!!). He has a bee-vac on a bucket, so I'll suggest it to him and see what he thinks. Only a few weeks left till the cut-off where workers will no longer raise a queen, so any removal jobs will have to be done before then or wait till next year in the spring.
Gonna be grabbing up all the bees I can in coming weeks to add to my weak colonies. It rained all weekend, so I didn't get to check if my queen hatched.. maybe this coming weekend will be better weather, and by then, she'll have mated and should be laying. I'll be looking for fresh eggs rather than a queen who is about the same size as the workers, and after a month or two, I can mark her and might even clip her wings.

Hoping to get lots of pics of this (since we'll have two sets of hands) to share. Stay tuned!

09-04-2011, 02:36 PM
Been a while since I gave an update.
My original colony is doing SUPER GOOD. Two honey supers are wall-to-wall packed and must weigh 80 lbs or more each.
Colony I saved from the lake does not have a huge honey store, but they've cleaned the comb well, they have a laying queen who most likely mated with my gentle original colony drones. Got to see some hatchlings last saturday, so with some rain and nectar flow, and any luck at all, they'll recover and be able to make storage for winter. If not, I'll just feed them.
Neither of these two colonies have troubles with mites or beetles, although they both have a few. It's kinda like any other pet.. if you have a dog, you have fleas at some point, birds have mites, people get lice... so on and so forth. I could treat for these pests, but don't want that stuff getting in my honey, so as long as numbers are below a threshold, I won't have to.

The other hive, I took down the road to use as a trap for a colony in a porch pillar. Well... I let them sit a while, and when I checked two saturday's ago, they were wrapped up with beetles. The bees in the box were so pre-occupied with corralling beetles, they weren't foraging, or working the comb. They were doing a good job of keeping the beetles off the comb, considering their weak population. So I took everything apart and manually killed every beetle I could find, and put two top-traps, and a bottom trap in the box.
Checked again on Tuesday and had the assistance of one of my mentors. We reworked some of the tape and stuff on the exit trap for the porch. Beetles seem to be under control, but I might have to let this small colony "share" heat with a stronger colony over winter, and definately will have to feed them over winter. Yesterday's check revealed the queen still laying, no more beetles, and bees flying in with cotton pollen. Not making much progress on the porch tho.. Gonna have to evacuate them with some butyric acid and vacuum them up. With increased numbers there is still hope for this colony, but I don't have high hopes.

It's been a fun learning experience. Got a little honey and a lot of garden, and so did the neighbors.

Oh yeah.. got stung on Tuesday and had to work all week with a swollen hand. That was fun too haha.. It doesn't hurt as much as it itches. The itching will drive you crazy!

09-11-2011, 11:29 AM
One of my mentors (who wishes to remain unnamed) came to help with the bee removal down the road. We made a small hole in the top of the brick column and juiced them up with some really rancid smelling stuff called Bee-Go. It smells a lot like rotten chicken poop and no doubt it would make me leave if someone spilled it in my house.

So I built myself a bee-vac, pictured here, and He also brought his, which is the bucket. One of us on one side and one on the other, as the bees exited we sucked them into our respective containers and now I have them all in a hive with my queen, happy as can bee.

http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/DSCN6899.jpg

The vac consists of a removable inner cage which directly contains the bees, and the outer box is the one that holds the suction. It doesn't need to be airtight, but the more drafts it has, the harder it will be to regulate air-flow. You want just enough suction that the bees come off the surface they are on, but can almost hang on to the end of the hose. If you can feel them bumping the hose as they are sucked down, you are probably killing bees. My box only killed a few bees, and truthfully, I probably killed them with the working end of the hose.
I was wearing my gear, which was hot, and we were very busy, so I only got a couple pictures, but this one shows all the live bees in the box during the removal. I'd guess we added a thousand-or-so bees to my existing colony, between the two of us.

http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/DSCN6903.jpg

A beekeeper that intends to do removals should build one of these boxes. $35 for the shop-vac, which I can still use around the shop, and about $15 worth of wood and accessories (hinges, screen, etc), it's invaluable and extremely effective.

09-11-2011, 07:13 PM
Outstanding! Really well done.

09-11-2011, 07:23 PM
If bees could only know the work and trouble you go to just to care for them. Great job. Thanks for the pics.

10-04-2011, 06:55 AM
If you have beekeeping equipment.. wear it.

As Cody Lundin says, "If you make dumb@ss choices, you suffer dumb@ss consequences".

.. Got stung in the face yesterday.. Standing in the flight path of some very busy bees. yeah.. I know...

10-05-2011, 07:03 AM
Is your veil attached to your suit? I was working with a guy that rarely wears more than a veil - sometime the top if he is working the hive. With my normal encounters with them - full body armor.

10-05-2011, 10:40 PM
Long story short, I was just watching.. the bees were going to the squash blooms in the garden and apparently I stopped in just the wrong spot to watch. Was looking at pollen color, and how many foragers had pollen vs. empty baskets, which would indicate more nectar foraging.

I don't really have a "suit". I just wear longsleeves when going into the hive, regular pants, just make sure my shirt is tucked in. Hat/veil is the tie-down type and I have the mid-length slip on gloves.
It was a little on the cool side, and I was a little too close, AND directly in the way. totally my fault.
I haven't seen my mentor wear gloves yet, even when going inside the hives. He likes the slip on veil/hat like I have, but he does have some of that body armor for tougher jobs (remember we do have africanized bees here!) with gloves and veil attached to a pullover top. We had a bee removal job that turned out to be yellow jackets so he suited up for that!

So far this year, only two people have been killed nearby by africanized bees, but they are confirmed in Albany (North) and Bainbridge (22 miles East from here). Ultimately, everyone, even non-apiarists, are going to have to learn about africanized bees. Soon it will be taught in schools.
I will be attending a seminar on the 14th and 15th on this subject and some others down in FL where I got my sweet, gentle bees. I really want to learn more about them now before populations and attacks increase.

Don't remember if I mentioned, but now I'm up to 4 hives. One super healthy colony, which I just did mite treatment on a few weeks ago, and 3 small "saved" colonies from removal jobs. If I get many more, I'll have to put up a fence so that the bee traffic will be overhead.

Glad I opted for bees this year instead of chickens. They are very interesting little things! One of my friends got chickens so we will do some horsetrading for this and that.

10-05-2011, 10:43 PM
yum honey! i am alergic to honey bees,(stings that is) but love to eat thier sweet treat! i have a friend in Fla that forages for wild honey . i have gone with him a few time to open a honey tree. good EXP.

10-11-2011, 10:42 PM
I had a honeybee come buzzing in my car window the other day. It just kept flying right up into my face and every where else. I just did my best to keep my mouth closed and ignore it. After about 10 or so minutes it finally left.

10-12-2011, 06:13 AM
RWC, I'm told and have read that they are attracted to the CO2 in your breath, so if one persists on getting in your face, try holding your breath. Just not for too long LOL.

Looking forward to Friday and Saturday. Hope to have some good info to share with all you guys.

A primitive method for finding feral hives (@ Gene) was to find some bees foraging on flowers, take a hollow reed, and catch a few bees and put them in the reed. Holding the open end closed with your thumb, you could walk a bit, and let one out. Noticing which way it flies, you could follow that direction to it's hive. This is supposedly still practiced today in Africa. If you're allergic, you might want to let your friend hold the reed and do the catching, but would be lots of fun to see if it works. We do not fully understand how bees navigate, but we do know that if you move the hive, the bee will be lost forever, but if you take a foraging bee away from it's flower and into another area, somehow they can still find their way home. Amazing!

10-16-2011, 11:08 AM
Not sure my brain has absorbed / procesed it all yet, but two days of hands-on bee education. People from all walks of life coming together with one common interest. Wrote down 2 1/2 pages just plants that bees use for honey and pollen, so now I have a HUGE list of wildflowers and shrubs to put in a small plot in the yard and around the apiary. Met folks who were entymologist, biologist, botanists.. And one really cool thing, Mr. Cutts (whom I got my first nuc from) Is going into the Florida Dept. of Agriculture Hall of Fame for all he's done with bees (He also developed the best beetle trap available).

We did queen grafting and learned how to set up hives or nucs to make splits AND rear queens and there was enough interest in this for them to organize a meeting in spring for several of us to actually help graft in queens, and come back 10 days later to watch them hatch!
Got to drive the loaders, help with some equipment, and witness how a commercial honey producer REALLY handles extracting. Good times with 3 generations of apiarists.

I definately learned that this is the time of year when the bees KNOW cold weather is coming. They all become much more agressively defensive over their honey stores. Now would be a good time of year to use smoke if you are going anywhere near a hive. This time of year it could be hard to tell if a feral colony was africanized or not. So Pay attention! What everyone needs to know, especially in the southern states:
Be aware of your surroundings. If you see stinging insects around this means "Heads UP!"
Look around to try to tell where exactly they are coming from. I do not mean "go hunting them".. I mean survey the area around you to try to locate where they are coming from, or going...
Listen for the buzz of the bees or other insects which will be a good indication of the direction you should not run.
Run away with your mouth and nose covered in the opposite direction of the threat, or at least in the direction you came from.

a 900 lb. horse killed by confirmed africanized bees. Horse was in a corral and could not run away to escape. It was not killed from envenomation, no. It was asphyxiation. Bees in the esophogus, trachea, lungs, nose and mouth and the swelling from the stings very much suffocated this horse. At this point I should say that it takes 10 stings per pound to be fatal. I could take about 1400 stings but I don't want even 1. If you walk into an area and hear buzzing or start getting stung, cover your mouth and nose and run away. If you open the door to the truck or whatever and 300 follow you inside, I can guarantee that you would rather be in the cab of the truck with those 300 than outside the truck with the other 30,000. A bee navigates and targets a percieved thread by the CO2 trail, since most predators are large mammals.

This was an actual situation we found ourselves in after the classes yesterday. We were called to a feral colony in a live oak. The bees seemed gentle enough until we started trying to remove them. The family, a woman and a man, and about 5 kids of various ages from teen to tot. We rushed them inside as the bees wrapped us up and one of our helpers (who wasn't wearing his gear) got stung a few times. He also ran to his truck, got in, and let the windows up. Smart move for all of them.
We dealt with the bees as best we could with our gear on, vacuuming up most of them, then treating the colony with sulfur, which is not so residual to affect any clean-up bees that come to raid, and went on our merry way.
If you live in the southern states with confirmed Africanized colonies, I strongly suggest you invest in a veil at the very least. They won't keep gnats off you, but I do guarantee that if you somehow walked right up on an africanized colony, it would prove invaluable. I saw first hand just how aggressive italian bees can be and if Africanized bees are meaner than that, then buddy, you don't want to be in that situation.

It is our duty as beekeepers to educate the public about bees (both africanized and european), so that's what I'm trying to do as I learn and I do hope that somebody learns from this thread. I hope none of you ever find yourself in the situation where this information saves your life, but if it does, then I'm very glad I took the time to share this.

Just a few numbers to throw out there: 1/3 of the food you eat every time you sit down at a table, is made possible by bees. For every $1 generated by the bees in honey/wax/other production, we follow with $150 in commerce. This is equivalent to $20million floating back into the economy... And this is ONLY the statistics for Florida!! Bees are environmentally AND economically important. I'm proud to be a small part of it.

10-16-2011, 11:21 AM
Thanks, YCC. Good post and a little more rep your way. We don't stop to consider all the fruit trees and fruit bushes and all the veggies that bees pollinate year after year. But we rely on them none-the-less.

10-17-2011, 10:07 PM
It's not really even so much the fruits as the basic commodities that we overlook. Mustards, for example are a bee superplant, providing lots of pollen throughout the winter, and the yellow spicy stuff we put on our ballpark franks at the game.

It's in those little things...

01-25-2012, 04:38 PM
And so it had to evolve. North winds meant I really needed a block so I put up a fence. It doubles to make the bees fly higher so they don't bump into the churchgoers across the street.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/1-25-12 apiary pics/DSCN6935.jpg

Original colony survived winter like real champs. The two honey supers are packed, but the middle one has some brood in it.
It had a pretty heavy mite load, which can't be seen internally during cold months. Caught a warm (HOT) couple days to do some proactive pest elimination, and found a high count post treatment. More bees, more fleas.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/1-25-12 apiary pics/DSCN6936.jpg

The colony I removed from the lake house has built up and survived also. It took several months for them to requeen themselves, get a good lay (population boom), and pack away supplies. They are stressed, but really made a comeback. Minimal honey stores, but at least they are established. The brood box is covered with bees.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/1-25-12 apiary pics/DSCN6938.jpg

The colony that came from the irrigation pipe, combined with a colony from the farmhouse, with a purchased queen had to be merged with the next colony. Perhaps I clumsily squished the queen, perhaps they froze to death, but they never got a population boom, or put up any honey. When I saw bees crawling on the ground I knew it was a dire situation, so I placed a box on top of the next colony I'll show and set the 3 poor excuses for drawn frames on top.

This colony was actually the last one I got, late in the year, and didn't expect to survive. They managed to attach their combs to the frames, establish a brood nest, and maintain high enough population to not freeze for the one night it got below freezing this year (who needs seasons anyway?) Major traffic in the entrance. You might notice the entrance screen on there. What is that anyway? well... I figured the queen might try to fly back east to her tree. didn't want to lose the colony, so I cut a queen excluder into strips, built a little frame for it, and fixed that problem. The holes are large enough for the foragers to pass freely, but just small enough that the queen can't pass through. Normally used to keep her from laying in honey supers (which she shouldn't do anyway). So they've stuck.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/1-25-12 apiary pics/DSCN6939.jpg

spotted drones flying in and out, so it is time to start watching for swarms! Don't know that I want to get many more hives than this, but I have a nice network of beekeeping friends who would take one or two each year.
Oh, and if you are gonna keep bees, keep a journal too. When you work all the time, weeks run together and "trying to remember" ain't gonna cut it! This is a hobby for most who do it, and things like treatment dates and inspections are important to remember. Queen raising is one of those timing things that has to be done on just the right day (I'm too inexperienced to really talk about that). At least keep a calendar if not a notebook.

One last shot is a basic feeding station. no fancy lid, just a proper bottom and shell. A bar across, some small distance in keeps water from blowing in, a small sheet of saran wrap with pollen substitute ensures they get dusty, which in turn makes them groom more, keeping mites off, and in back (right side) a jar with 1/16" holes in the lid used to dispense sugar syrup. It's been warm and we have lots of winter-blooming plants in my area, so they don't use it as much as I would have thought, but it's there if they want it!
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/1-25-12 apiary pics/1116111507.jpg

01-25-2012, 05:40 PM
Looks like you and your bees are getting on pretty well there YCC. Got to admit I envy you a bit. I do love honey!! Just never got around to learning about the little buzzers. More power to you for doing all this on top of all the other things you do in your spare time.( Guessing you don't have much of that) ;>)


01-25-2012, 08:28 PM
Well done. I got a bee call today - half the hive on the ground, half 35 feet up......he thought anything over $25 was too much.......I wished him luck.

01-25-2012, 10:06 PM
OT, it's impossible to get bored at my house. Come over sometime and you'll leave more tired than when you came lol!
$25 wouldn't even pay to get the man-lift out to the job, let alone the rent on it. Easy to get to, I might say $25 and free bees, sure. Hope he finds somebody to get 'em. Gonna take a real sucker!

01-25-2012, 10:42 PM
Pretty cool. I am looking forward to see how things progress for you this summer. Good luck!

02-18-2012, 09:34 AM
You guys might remember the removal job from the lake house in this post: http://www.wilderness-survival.net/forums/showthread.php?15100-Oh-beehive!&p=301193&viewfull=1#post301193

I forgot I did a couple video clips and when I borrowed the camera and noticed the memory card was full, I started fumbling through them and found the removal clips.
I put them together into a short video.


02-18-2012, 10:29 AM
One thing I thought I'd mention, if only for Crash's enlightenment, I am not running queen excluders on my strong colony (or any of them for that matter). I found some brood in the middle "super" but I really only consider it part of the brood chamber as most folks run two deeps for strong colonies. When I removed the honeycombs from the top super and inspected the middle one, only the top edge of the frame was honey, the middle had an arched stripe across it that was all pollen, and at the bottom of each frame was a small amount of worker brood mingled with drone brood. This means the colony is large enough to need more space above the single deep box. I'm considering adding another deep to that brood, so that both mediums will be honey.
The idea is that the queen will not cross the pollen barrier to lay eggs, which lends to another concept, "Food over brood". A colony builds in 3 dimensions, in concentric spheres, like the top half of a jawbreaker. The outer layer is capped honey which you can see in the video above, then pollen beneath that, and finally the "nest" at the core. The queen really has no reason to go get food because all her needs are taken care of by all the attendant bees, who feed, groom, and even take away her poop! So if she reaches the food stores, she knows to move on around the circle. If she has nowhere left to lay, you get "swarming behavior" where the colony says "we have overpopulated and it's time to move out".
It's time to be watching for swarms, so be expecting some calls!

03-19-2012, 06:35 AM
I did a whole writeup on swarming, but for some reason the forum locks whenever I try to make a new post, and I also seem to lose whatever is copied to my clipboard.. Not sure what the problem is, but it's frustrating. Short of retyping the whole thing, I'll just post the video, and let folks ask questions.

Allen Currie Author
03-25-2012, 09:27 PM
After meeting with the folks at Landmark Park, I got some names and phone numbers to beekeepers and the bee club over in Dothan.

So I caught up with Mr. Carter on the phone before church this morning and MAN, OH MAN he was helpful!! He not only answered every question I could think to ask him, he invited me to a bee class on the 15th! Best of all IT'S FREE through the cooperative extension!

So I've been out using power tools instead of rocks the last few days.. well, just to get my rock fix.. and this is what I came up with.
Still gotta build the bottom stand to keep it up off the ground, and build a jig for making frames. Then I gotta order my starter grids, a block of beeswax, and hopefully find a swarm (he suggested this was best, as the "bred" species seem to be less tolerant of adversity) to get started.. well actually, I have to build a whole extra box set, because I need to start with two colonies,, but at least I know a little bit more what to expect and do now.

So this is my start-up phase of beekeeping. I'll gladly give pointers and links to anyone interested. Since I'm building it all myself, I didn't go by any specific plans, so my measurements probably won't help if you are buying frames, but the gist is in the reasoning behind some of the cuts, etc.


You might want to make the slit at the bottom wider. You can always shim it closed. In the summer you will find lots of bees sitting there fanning their wings, just to move air through the hive to keep the temperature steady/tolerable. With narrow that can't happen. Overwintering you have to have narrow to cut down heat loss

Allen Currie Author
03-25-2012, 09:35 PM
Ooops. See you have done so.

Allen Currie Author
03-25-2012, 09:56 PM
Finally caught up to the man on the phone, and we talked for a little while. It is definately asbestos. Still he wants the bees out of his house, whatever it takes. Gonna be a fairly big project.. Water sprayer bottle to keep dust down, tarp to catch breaking pieces.. THEN I have the plywood and bees to deal with.
Still trying to get a functional plan together.. really should have built that bee-vac already, that would make it really easy.

On a more positive note, I'm finally making some progress with the trapping down the road. Bees had formed a "beard" on parts of the porch, so I misted them with water, brushed them off into my swarm bucket, and dumped them in with my bees, and they took to the new queen with ecstacy and vigor, immediately moving into foraging mode.

There is one more bee class tomorrow, regarding extracting honey. I'll have to build my own extractor (they are pretty expensive to buy). I hope it doesn't get cancelled due to rain. This is the last major lesson, and the rest of the learning process can only be from experiences, which I'm getting plenty of. Had yet another fellow mention he needed bees removed yesterday at the building supply.. I need more boxes!!

Saw an interesting home built extractor out of Africa built from two bicycle wheels

Allen Currie Author
03-26-2012, 04:53 AM
Well, I started posting at page one and definitely stuck my foot in it. Since I have read the whole thread in detail and carefully, and all I can say is you sure do learn fast and well.

Mind, being north in Ontario Canada, we do have slightly different problems, but probably less than you do. No Aficanized bees here yet. Been a while since I dabbled in bees although we had plenty on the farm when I was a kid. Not many tame bees survived the winter going feral. We usually noticed if the bees were at or near swarming, and if they swarmed it was usually onto a limb or fence crossbar. Lay down a blanket under them, hit the limb a good crack with the back of an axe and the swarm would fall onto the blanket. Pick up the blanket by the corners and take it back to the hive. Kill the queen on the way back in and done. Other than hornets and wasps, no nests in houses etc.

You are one sharp cookie and I'm gonna keep my mouth shut around you. I even sent a message to a friend that this is one of the better tutorials I have seen about raising bees.

Good luck

03-26-2012, 07:33 AM
Thanks Allen. I have really had a lot of fun with this project. And as you can tell, I started off knowing basically nothing. Now, I'm closing in on a full year of beekeeping and I've had some good and bad times, and learned an aweful lot. Currently I'm reading "The Hive and the Honey Bee" and I really had no idea bees were so sophisticated!
I don't imagine you have much problem with small hive beetles up there at all, which isn't really a fair trade for the overwinter losses that I hear is more common farther north. All my losses were actually before winter, and after I made a split. Is it really so common to lose a queen on her nuptial flights?
Since the Africanized bees are more tropical, I'm not sure they would survive over winter up there because they like to nest in the open down here.
Don't keep quiet around me.. If you want to share something, I'm all ears. I listen well to others who have more experience than me, and I listen very closely. I think it was Mark McGuire who said "Never make the same mistake once", and I will gladly listen to any suggestions you make.
I actually have a few questions for you, if you don't mind: What methods did you use to try to alleviate swarming, and at what point is it too late? (not chronologically, on a calendar... I mean "when you see swarm cells" or "at first nectar flow")
I'm working on moving the lake colony into a standard box, trying to force an upward move by slowly depleting resources in that lower box. Do you think there is a way to make it happen faster without losing an entire brood cycle AND all the nectar they've stored this year. We are already in a heavy nectar flow with all the clover in the yard, which is why I think one of them swarmed... But they all still look so strong I can't tell which one it was!
I have more questions, but it's time for me to head to work. I appreciate your input!!

03-29-2012, 07:20 PM
YCC (and anyone else interested) - I thought you might be interested in this article on bees and pesticides.


03-30-2012, 10:34 AM
That was a pretty good primer on the pesticides. I have noticed a correlation in the initiation of nicotine-based pesticides and the timing of the invasion of the honeybee pests around the mid-90s. I also read in "The Hive and the Honey Bee" about residiual, persistent pesticides like carbaryl (Sevin dust) being so persistent, that using it on plants before bloom time, somehow the plants "soak it up" and it has been found inside flowers (that were unopen at the time of application) IN the pollen. This is very VERY bad because pollen is bees primary source of proteins and amino acids. I have not read the research on nicotinoid pesticides yet, but if they are as bad as that article makes them out to be, I won't be using them in my garden. I am also going to be researching through my local extension office, other methods of pest control that are safer for use in my garden than sevindust.
Thanks for sharing that info!!

This is the book I'm reading right now.

05-19-2012, 07:04 AM
Finished the book.
It's been over a year now and the stuff I've been doing is far more advanced than I ever intended this thread to be, with the exception of a few gadgets.
A solar wax-melter:
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/0407121154.jpg
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/4-24-2012/DSCN7168.jpg

Swarm Trap with a pheremone lure:
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/0331121451.jpg
It mounts on a tree and is used for swarm control. The pheremone smells like lemon pledge, or lemongrass oil, which mimics the scent that scouts leave on a new nest location.

I've had to deal with swarms a bit this year, but most of my own hives were no problem with proper management. Some of my management strategies went completely haywire, but that's also some technical type stuff that's a little deeper than the scope of this discussion.

One of the swarms I caught landed in our gardenia bush, and was very easy to catch. Another piece of equipment is the 'nuc' sized boxes for doing splits and catching larger swarms.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee pictures/0408121330.jpg

Making some progress, going to try selling comb honey this year. 3 Production size colonies and 2 starters. Got a few gardeners talking about pollination services and such, so I've still got a lot to learn.

05-19-2012, 07:32 AM
The progress that you've made with this is fantastic. It's been fun learning with you and watching you grow.

05-20-2012, 08:31 AM
It has been a lot of fun. I've met some really old-school guys who don't mind sharing what they know (and one in particular who is very reserved...).

I have left out a great deal of intermediate-level info on recent progress, so if there are any questions about the pests, swarm impulse prevention and management, hive splits, queen rearing, or anything else that I haven't covered, I encourage you folks to ask! My cukes were so bountiful last year we couldn't pickle or eat them all and wound up giving away a large portion and throwing a lot back into the compost.

05-20-2012, 09:03 AM
You've really done a great job and I've learned tons from the post. I've really enjoyed following it. That solar melter is pretty cool. Get it? Solar.....cool.

05-22-2012, 06:44 AM
If you touch the wire basket in there, it will burn your fingers. I'd imagine you could cook bread with it. It caramelizes any honey left in the comb as it melts. It's built on 16 degrees, which is roughly perpendicular to the suns' angle at midday for my latitude. Most of it was built from scrap wood from different jobs, and the wheels are from an old Radio Flyer that rotted away. It's nothing fancy, but I did have to learn how to cut glass.
I'm trying to figure out a compact "collector" to absorb more sunlight inside the melter, to generate heat. I'm thinking something akin to a heatsink for a computer, but larger scale, and it needs to fit along the sides without blocking access for cleaning.
The wax in the pictures is from removal jobs. All the comb I salvaged to save the brood within, I'm slowly cycling out (only have 2 frames left in one hive now) so that everything will be standardized. I'm guessing I have about 12 pounds of wax +/-. One of the by-products is the scale or "cocoon" that each bee molts in the cell as it develops. This stuff turns to goo as the wax melts off and what's left is called "slumgum". Strike a match to slumgum and it burns as well as fat-lightered. It can be a little sticky, but stays solid at temps around 90F. Might be a good backup resource for drying tinder when starting a wet fire.

05-22-2012, 06:51 AM
A quick talk about swarm prevention: We, as beekeepers, have a responsibility to the public and to the bees and the industry as a whole, to keep the reputation of the hobby/career in good standing with public views. It is our responsibility to do our best to manage our bees so that they do not swarm (colony level reproduction "fission") and take up residence in our neighbors homes, or in this case, a ball park WHILE a game is in progress.
Since this is the second time a game was interrupted this year in the same stadium, I'd be willing to bet there is a beekeeper nearby.

05-28-2012, 05:18 AM
Made a run down to my supplier to get my bottling tank and seive, and talked to him about the swarming. Some other old guys were there and they all agreed that swarming is not our responsibility, to which I promptly and very sternly replied, "If you are the only person in your neighborhood with bees, and they swarm, and land in the wall of your neighbors' houses, not only do you lose the respect of your neighbors as a responsible beekeeper, you give the negative connotation to the hobby / industry as a whole.", to which they also all agreed. (A bit two-faced, if you ask me)
Consider the struggles of the honeybee and that an estimated 4 million colonies were lost last year to various ailments (most of which are being called CCD). Down from 144M the previous year, not only is honey supply lower, but also wax and other commodities that most folks don't realize are in their everyday goods, like cosmetics and soap, and even candies. Demand for the products of the beehive are considerably higher while supplies are constantly dwindling. We, as beekeepers, have a responsibility to keep the views of the general public as clear and upstanding as any respectable contractor you would hire to work on your house. We do not need local governments placing zoning laws and other stipulations on us, making what we do that much more expensive and difficult. That is just one more item on the list of honeybee strife.
I was quite disappointed that these folks whom I had great respect for, would so callously spout off that something that we beekeepers should be learning and at least attempting to understand and prevent, and an event that would not happen at all if we didn't keep bees, could be "Not our responsibility". If your kids go vandalize someones house, you'd be responsible, right?

05-28-2012, 05:25 AM
On a happier note, My honey is ready, just waiting for bottles and labels to arrive. I got some new equipment that is all my own, so no more borrowing! Pics of the process as we extract due to come. I wish I could say I will have enough to share with you guys, but I've had a waiting list for this stuff since Feb. At least 99% of what I expect to get next weekend is already spoken for. Luckily I was offered an opportunity to set my production hives on a 60 acre field of sunflowers in about 3 more weeks, so hopefully I will get two crops this year and still have enough time for them to build winter stores.

05-28-2012, 06:59 AM
How many frames will your extractor hold? Top crank extractor?

05-28-2012, 08:15 AM
YCC - Perhaps that was how they were taught and no one had ever placed it in that context before. It doesn't matter the age of the person. We can always learn.

I saw this and thought you might be interested in the article. They are releasing short haired bees back in Britain. They have been extinct there for several years because of loss of habitat.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jxd3voIW3RiwDNvnUDwx5W4UoVeg?docId=73d794fc7 7e743629e03f76a69115255

05-28-2012, 01:33 PM
We have never seen honey bee's on our farm until this year. This is the second swarm in two weeks. It makes us happy to see them here.



05-29-2012, 06:26 AM
@ Crash, It's a two frame that will do any size. I run deeps for brood and mediums for honey

@ Rick, It's refreshing to see someone make a difference on a single-person level. Something very similar happened around here with a nearly extinct woodpecker.

@ Spartan, While that is a very beautiful thing, the chances of a swarm finding a suitable home and surviving is limited by habitat. One estimate I heard was that 80 - 90% of swarms will not survive. It's too bad you didn't have some hives to catch them in. With two swarms landing on your place, either there is a beekeeper nearby, or a very nice sized feral colony. If you happen to find them, try to be as accommodating as possible. The swarm pictured looks fairly large to be a secondary, and is definately enough bees to start a hive. Have you considered keeping bees on your farm?

05-29-2012, 06:51 AM
We called local bee keepers as soon as we seen the bee's, and they collected both swarms. They were very excited to get them. :thumbs_up:

05-29-2012, 07:06 AM
Thanks for the thread, brings back lots of memories. When I was a lad my dad and granddad had bees. My dad sent his to my granddads due to the bears. They just wouldn't leave the hives alone. I remember when I was a teenager and my granddad sold his bee operation, it was a sad day. I've been wanting to get into it.

05-29-2012, 09:30 AM
Incredible shots on that swarm!
I've read a lot on beekeeping. I've always been fascinated, but I can't keep Bees here in the suburbs.
My neighbor has a swimming pool which really rules out bee keeping.

Have you thought of making mead to supplement your income?
I just made a batch of mead from store bought honey.

05-30-2012, 05:59 AM
jc24, I've been asked about mead at least 3 times since I put word out that I would have honey available. One guy is already looking for a horn to drink it out of LOL. Maybe in a few years when honey production and pollination services have returned some of my investment, I will get into mead. One of the regular catalogs I get sells everything you need to make mead (but for some reason we still can't make moonshine?)
Also, I would like to add that my mentor's mentor lives in a suburb called westgate (there is a school across the road) and his lot can't be more than a half acre with neighbors on all sides. He has 5 hives and one last year had 7 supers on top. Another bk in my town lives just about 100 yards off dead center of town and he has 8 hives AND a swimming pool and it's not an issue. The oldest local beekeeper I know of, who still sells honey, also has his apiary in town. What I'm getting at.. talk to your neighbors and educate them on the bee/water issue: bees normally only sting to protect their nest. Unless you directly disturb a field bee, by stepping on it or swatting at it, they really have no reason to sting you away from the hive. Yellow jackets, on the other hand, resemble bees and that distinction needs to be made. YJ's don't seem to care who or why they sting. But they don't die from stinging you either so I guess there is less at stake, so they can afford to be more aggressive?
I have read several articles on urban apiculture, keeping bees on top of skyscrapers in the city, with little garden spots up there too. I haven't read much about it, though, because where I live is a long way from "suburban"!
and please, just call me ycc. kinda a long UN to type out lol.

05-30-2012, 01:49 PM
(but for some reason we still can't make moonshine?)

I know, Aint that a .... Peach?

I applaud you on the pollination services, I'm sure that will be far more lucrative than making mead! :thumbs_up:

06-03-2012, 01:19 PM
Harvest Weekend. Enjoy!

06-03-2012, 04:32 PM
Awesome! I'll bet it goes fast.

06-03-2012, 04:38 PM
Wonderful picutres. Thanks for taking time to share.

06-05-2012, 06:39 AM
That's 4 1/2 gallons off off 10 frames, plus 36 4" slices of cut-comb in boxes at a little over a pound apiece. I might make most of my investment back this year! I'll harvest a little more in 3 more weeks, just need to let a few frames with brood hatch. Don't worry about the bees stores, that 10 frames was from all 3 hives. Never take more than half of a single colony's stores at a time.
Despite the worries at the beginning of the season, all my hives appear strong and healthy. Healthy bees make lots of honey. I understand that if you raise healthy bees, you get honey as a product of your efforts. It's less important to manage for honey production and much MUCH more profitable to manage for bee production.
I still have 20 more frames worth to extract, possibly, provided I can manage the brood out of the supers.
I'm so proud of the comb honey. It is definately the most marketable as it is considered gourmet nowadays. Most beekeepers don't want to take the time or effort to produce it due to the possibilities of beetles and increased monitoring. For the effort, that's where the money is, though. IMO it doesn't take any more management than extracted honey. I use the same techniques either way.

06-05-2012, 11:02 AM
Congratulations on the good yield. I’d say you deserve it. The bee keepers here have a good go of it as the bee population is quite isolated and free of many insect and disease problems. Low bush wild blue blueberries get grown here on an industrial level and are dependent on bees for pollination. Because the growth coverage of berries is artificially large the native bees can only pollinate 60 to 70% of them. The growers want to import bees that are more efficient pollinators at the risk of watering down a healthy native population. Bet ya $$$$ wins in the end.

06-16-2012, 09:11 AM
Money always trumps.
Blueberries around here are actually opened by carpenter and bumble bees, THEN honeybees can get in to get the nectar, so remember the pesky ones are important too!

06-16-2012, 09:28 AM
Hey bud, congrats on the Honey. I'm also impressed with the labeling! I've always believed that the best label sells the most!

V's B's Hunny!

Hey can we send you money and get a jar of your honey shipped to us?

Watch Ryder
06-29-2012, 03:11 PM
I'd be very interested in knowing if anyone has kept bee's at high elevations, like 7000 to 10,000 feet... :)

Or is it unfeasible?

07-04-2012, 08:40 PM
jcullen, yessir, send me a PM and we'll talk about gettin some out. I don't have a whole bunch left now, though, it's all gone pretty quick!

WR, people keep bees on top of skyscrapers in big cities up North, like NYC. There are many groups open to the public regarding urban beekeeping, etc. I say if the conditions are fitting, and there are flora for them to eat, mountainside beekeeping would be just as easy. Actually, considering the conditions which help the bees' pests spawn would be almost nonexistent in that setting. It might be easier than the swampy area where I am...

10-29-2012, 10:35 AM
Harvested twice this year, and I'm up to 3 production colonies, with an expected 2 more next year, provided that they overwinter as well as they did last year. Wound up with about 8 gallons of honey altogether, from the last harvest, and sold a good deal of it. Still have quite a lot left if anyone is interested.

More to the point, I've seen quite a lot of ailments, and had quite a many adventures with bees in the last *year and a half roughly?*. It's really fun, but requires a lot of work to get a quality product. I'm not sure that it's worth it to sell it, because the market is flooded with what I (alone) call "fake honey". Now, to the 'naturalist' who really looks at the science of it, sugar syrup that is fed to bees, is not the same thing as plant nectar that has been gathered by the bees. -Plant nectar is full of amino acids, lipids, minerals and vitamins, proteins, and most certainly pollen gets in the mix. It is a combination of glucose and fructose, which is a compound sugar. Because I do not feed my bees sugar or corn syrup unless there is a dearth and they have no stores, I have what is the stuff your grandparents called "honey". Most of what you buy today is sugar syrup, or corn syrup that's fed to the bees, and then filtered to remove everything but the sweetness.

I think it's time to move forward into research and study of husbandry of other insects. Wouldn't it be neat to have an "insect store"? ladybugs, carnivorous wasps, mantises, bees... a "beneficial insect farm". Got a lot on my plate right now, with work, land to clear, hunting season, bad soil, cave to dig, and lots of events coming up, so it won't be soon, but definately something I'm considering for the distant future!

10-29-2012, 02:08 PM
Oh, man. Fake honey? whodda thunk someone would monkey with honey?

10-29-2012, 04:48 PM
That's just what I call it because it lacks all the stuff that makes honey, "honey".

I might also mention that I've almost reached the "break-even" point. If I stop expanding the apiary, I would already have my investment back, but it's kinda addictive :D

By next year, I should actually make a little profit!

11-05-2012, 08:02 AM
Winterized my hives yesterday. There's this phenomena called "Colony Collapse Disorder" and it is as much a mystery now as it was 10 years ago.

Winterizing involves treating for mites before the bees cluster for winter warmth, replacing bottom traps which also reduce drafts, and refilling beetle traps. Well, long story short, I HAD 6 hives this year, 3 of which were a year old and were production strength, one which reached production population this year (and have filled two honey supers since!) and two which I acquired this year. Upon entering the sixth hive, it was completely vacant. When I looked at them on Friday, there were lots of bees. Yesterday, NONE. Strange indeed!

On the bright side, ALL of my supers on my production colonies have been refilled, and almost completely capped. I already harvested twice this year, with a running total for the year around 11 gallons. Now I have 8 supers, almost completely full, and at approximately 2-1/2 gallons per super, I have far exceeded my expectations, and have surpassed most all of my mentors' production for the year. Bee real estate.. It's all about location, location, location!

How sweet it is!

11-05-2012, 08:56 AM
Have you had a chance to inspect the empty hive? Are there a lot of queen cells? If so, is a swarm a possibility?

11-05-2012, 10:53 AM
This has been an intresting thread.....The Rise of the Bees" as it were.....

I can say that it is the "Good stuff".....for sure.

11-05-2012, 10:41 PM
I'll be glad to go take pictures of each frame. I saw one old queen cell, but on my last inspection of that hive, they had a queen, lots of brood, and 3 frames of eggs. I thought of the possibility of swarming, but some bees would have remained behind for the new queen. They were in a nicely insulated and draft-free box. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary on last inspection, with the exception that I needed to treat for mites.
I looked in on them Friday morning, just to see if there were any dead bees at the entrance, and there were surprisingly few, but there was traffic at the entrance, which means they were active and had already cleaned up the dead. I could see the bottom of the cluster moving about, and when I tapped the box, there was a terrific hum, about the key of A#. A mere two days later.. empty.
Throw some more ideas at me. I'm looking for possibilities!

11-05-2012, 11:13 PM
I don't know much about them, but could it be hive robbers?

11-05-2012, 11:23 PM
Have you heard of absconding? I hadn't, but it sounds like it may be a possibility. http://www.honeybeesuite.com/absconding-swarms-leave-an-empty-hive/

11-05-2012, 11:24 PM
For kicks, I got some nice shots of the last honey harvest.








11-05-2012, 11:30 PM
For now I'm calling it absconding, but usually it has a cause, such as too much old comb, too many pests, not well insulated, etc. But the hive robbing would be a curious explanation.. What that equates to, is that the very strong hive next to them robbed them out to the point of starvation. This would also account for why it only affected one of the two hives in that area (Did I mention I started putting bees in another location?) I ruled out pesticides, because that is a wildflower field that never gets sprayed. There are lots of anthills around to eat up any pest larvae that hit the ground. All the factors are in place for a healthy colony.. maybe one is so healthy that they took out the competition?

11-06-2012, 12:36 PM
I had never heard of "absconding",....... of course I don't keep bees....DW is deathly allergic to any sting, carries an epipen....Thanks for that info.

11-08-2012, 06:10 AM
Look, listen, and run.
Look before you go grabbing stuff, like old grills, any elevated box with an opening, eaves of houses, and anywhere else that might provide protection for colonial insects.
Listen for a "hum" or buzzing sound.
If you DO start to get stung, cover your nose and mouth and RUN in the direction you came.
Make sure you check the date on that epipen.

11-08-2012, 07:38 AM
....and don't jump in the water to escape an attacking swarm. They can hover a lot longer than you can hold your breath.

11-08-2012, 07:20 PM
Bees can fly faster than a tractor can go....bumble bees like to make nests in big old round bales......Run....get the tractor later....at night.

11-08-2012, 08:25 PM
....and bumble bees will sting the dog food out of you through your bee suit. Don't ask me how I know.

03-14-2013, 07:12 AM
On Sunday, I was enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze, along with low humidity, with my grandmother out in the meadow. Bees started boiling out of my #2 hive (westmost) so I handed off the buckskin we were softening, ran and got my suit and an empty hive, and by the time I got back with the camera, they were casting on the cedar tree not 20 yards from the hive (they usually do not cast so close). There were four casts altogether, so I dumped the first into the box, just guessing that was the one that had the queen, and used my swarm bucket to dump the other three, each weighing about 4-5 lbs, into the hive. By sunset there were so many bees that I couldn't close the lid without killing thousands of them, so I had to add a medium honey super just to put the lid on!
Anyhow, I got a few pictures and thought I'd share. Now I have 8 hives, and two more will be all I want. It takes me all day to go through the four I had last year, so I gotta find a friend who is also into bees to help lol.

First three casts ended up looking like one huge cast

the fourth cast

First cast dumped in

bees coming out the front, and completely covering the top of the bars. under the lid was about 2" thick with bees

They cast this close to the original hive.. pretty uncommon, so I was lucky. if this was 50% of the bees in that colony, then I still have a super strong colony, and a builder equally as good!

Oh happy day!

03-14-2013, 12:17 PM
Now that is pretty cool and something most people would ever see.....Thanks.

Honey sure was good.

03-24-2013, 08:30 AM
I'll tell the girls you said so ;)

More bee adventure pics coming soon! Been a pretty wild spring here in SW GA!

03-24-2013, 08:42 AM
I know this pic is a little blurry. During an inspection, I found several queen cells, so I decided to do a split. Gathered up my equipment to do so, and when I got back to the hive, this queen cell was hatching!

So I stuck her in a cage until I could get done, and move the hive to my annex apiary out at the new "Place". I used my knife to finish opening the cell, and let her out, as you see above. After a few seconds, the colony apparently could smell the new queen, and a harmonious buzz began. I watched several bees to the "happy dance", start grooming and feeding her, and finally move down onto the combs.

03-29-2013, 05:24 PM
Queen birth is awesome!! You have developed great skill and a little luck and together they equal success. ;)

I captured my second swarm this year and hope the ladies will find my accommodations suitable. The first swarm was installed loosely and I just let them decide on their own if the hive an sugar water was to their liking. Unfortunately they went elsewhere to find a new home.

This swarm I captured today during lunch and put the queen and as many as I could comfortably into a screen capture box and then into the bottom of the top bar hive. Sugar water feeding all around and I will check them later this weekend or Monday. I have built two and the new swarm is in my "life" hive now. I went home for lunch to offer them the hive. They had settled not 25 feet from my apiary and my single remaining hive from a dark 2012 had not swarmed from the looks of things.

I use langstroth and top bar hives, but really, really like the top bar. Painted symbols on the entrance identify the hives for me mainly as I am thinking bees don’t read much. My garden hive is the blue hive and my top bar hives are "Life" and "Pi" or π. I am just now recovering from a horrid year 2012 of two hive collapses, both corresponding with cotton field spraying in the area.

Farmers know the stuff sprayed on cotton is pure poison and I truly believe it is killing our friends the bees by the billions. What is the answer, I am not the person to know that at all. I am going to schedule a cover and seal up of my hives the day of and after spraying occurs this year. I hope it helps.

A good friend had 13 of 17 free ranging chickens all die the day after the cotton field next to them was sprayed. Coincidence? I think not.

The industry benefitting from bees the most may be slaughtering them. It would never admit to it though. The conspiracist in me says they know and are misdirecting to all types of scenarios. Mites, moths, aliens, solar flares, bad karma...

Save the bees! ;)

03-30-2013, 09:51 AM
It's fascinating how many uses honey has--some I knew about, some I didn't. Truly a super food!

05-15-2013, 10:52 AM
I was just reading about the lawsuit getting slapped on the EPA for allowing the use of neonicotinoids.

09-01-2013, 07:41 AM
Pesticides don't discriminate, as far as I know.

09-01-2013, 09:23 AM
Welcome back, YCC!
Where you been, what you been up too?

09-02-2013, 07:24 AM
Working like CRAZY mostly, and between that, working on our new place, and helping about 4 other folks with their bees also. At one point early this year, I had 13 hives. Due to aging queens, and other factors, I reduced and merged them back into 7 hives. A removal job a few weeks ago brought me back up to 8 hives. That's still a 40% increase in bees from last year, contrary to everyone else's claims of 50-60% losses. (I must be doing something right!) 4 hives are here at the house, and the other 4 are at our new place.
Over the summer break, we've taken a few outdoor adventures. Even with all the rain we've had over the last months, we've been working. Heck, when you get home, your soaked with sweat anyway, a little rain don't hurt. And if the roof is already leaking water inside the house, you just gotta get it fixed. On one particular Thursday alone, I had 15 calls, and I still have 9 jobs on the books to do. Looks like I'll be working most of the hunting season this year. Totally not complaining. We are hoping to start construction within the next two years :D

Roofing seems to be a feast or famine line of work, lol. Kinda like the bees have been this year. Man, they really packed the honey and pollen in there prior to July, and on June 7 (my b-day) we pulled about 10 gallons of honey from 4 hives. Then it rained for a solid month in July and what was left, the bees started eating because they weren't able to forage as much.

I do want to go out on a limb here and say that everyone I know who keeps bees, has had trouble with queens this year. Just like fake honey, fake queens just don't hold up to scrutiny. If anyone out there reading this is requeening with purchased queens, you are headed down a very troublesome path. Grafted queens will never perform as well as naturally raised queens, IMO, so there's another aspect of CCD that everyone (especially queen breeders) are avoiding. Now, we are finding that mating yards are full of sterile drones, and most logical beeks are leaning toward the recent study that showed 8 out of every 10 drones tested (out of thousands) were sterile.

So, between all that, I spend a little time every day reading whatever I can get my hands on, and other than that, there's eat/sleep/work/repeat. Sorry for my absence. Hoping things slow down a little bit. The wife is going back to school and working full time, and the kids use the computer to do a lot of their school-work, so my place-to-be seems to be outside, out of the way, LOL.
I will say, I've done quite a lot of experimenting with woods for friction fire in different weather conditions. I got to spend a good bit of time with my knapping mentor, so I've been touching up my skills in that area (but they still look like pleistocene projectiles LOL.)
When I do get a chance to use the computer, I read a lot of sciency stuff and stuff about bees, touch base with some beek friends, and check the weather haha. Been a REALLY busy year so far and I don't see it slowing down very much more than this until after the first of the year. If everything goes according to plan, we'll be starting on our earthen-dome-home and paying mostly cash-up-front for it within the next few years. As much as I hate money, cash is king and will usually get you a huge discount.
Been missing you guys, and I think of you all often. Hope everyone is well!

09-02-2013, 10:10 AM
Glad you are doing well.

About that hating money thingie.....You still have my address right? It's the least I can do to help a friend.

09-02-2013, 12:32 PM
Good to hear from you.. Glad to hear you are in feast mode.. LOL

10-03-2013, 11:23 PM
With the beeswax, it's as easy as heat and pour to make candles. The bees bought us a nice kit to make candles this year (hunny munny) so we are doing a little "crafting" for the upcoming festival. You can add scents and colors, but I prefer the natural stuff.
A double boiler is good, but you can melt the wax directly in your pouring pitcher, in a pot of water. Use butter, or pam, or the kit came with silicone spray, but I imagine it's pretty expensive. A candy thermometer is handy so you don't get the wax to it's ignition point, so keep it under 170 degrees and your good. newspaper is nice, so the wife doesn't fuss, unless she's the one making the mess ;)
I might do a how-to, but it's so simple with beeswax... melt and pour, dig out the air pockets, refill, and done.
http://i248.photobucket.com/albums/gg184/your_comforting_company/Bee%20pictures/candles_zps8b13f168.jpg (http://s248.photobucket.com/user/your_comforting_company/media/Bee%20pictures/candles_zps8b13f168.jpg.html)