Final Beekeeping class!

Today was the final meeting of our 4-H Beekeeping SPIN club.

We went to the hive and placed a fumeboard that had been sprayed with a substance that made the bee’s run from the super.  We all agreed that it smelled so bad we’d do whatever we needed to to get away from it to!

After about 15 minutes all the bees had cleared out of the super and we were clear to bring it into our honey-house (aka my unused garage).

We used some equipment loaned to us by Cy Kennedy who is a beekeeper I met in the last year who was a tremendous help in getting started.

With hot knife, uncapping tank and two frame honey extractor in hand, we got to work.

Special thanks to all my 4-H friends for joining me for this first year experiment.  It was a trip that took us from a package of bees and a Nucleus hive to two thriving beehives with populations that will exceed 30,000 bees by the end of the first season. Along with it we had a hive die, lost a queen in the mail and split a hive. We will continue to watch the super on Uni-matrix zero and if we get extractable homey, we’ll let you know and we can do it again. We had a great time and enjoyed meeting all of you. We will definitely be doing this again in the Spring so watch the 4-H announcements!

8/3 hive check

Ba-Bee-Lonia is Queenright!

I saw our fancy russian queen, eggs and larvae in ba-bee-lonia.  All is well but is there enough laying time to get up to strength before the winter sets in.

Tardis – Honey super is filling up.  Not sure if I should add the queen excluder or not.  From what I’ve read the bees will stop building comb if the excluder in.  They still have a lot to build out.  Didn’t spot the queen but everything looks ok.

Unimatrix Zero.  Doing well – didn’t spot the queen but the hive looked fine.

Defiantly crank the audio!

7/20 hive check

The 4-H’ers came out and we checked the two remaining hives (Ba-bee-lonia was moved to a different location away from the strong hives). We saw lots of brood and tons of stored honey and pollen. We didn’t see the queen in Tardis but saw eggs and larvae so we’re sure she’s ok. They still haven’t started on the honey supers but hopefully we’ll get a frame or two.

Unimatrix zero was just as strong but the bees have done a lot of work in the medium super. Nothing capped but lots of uncapped honey. We actually spotted the queen in the deep super!! In the weeks we’ve had the hive, this was the first sighting.

The class’s overall luck is holding. So far the only person to get stung is me!

On a overall “farming update”. We’ve brought in a bunch of peppers and the tomatoes are going nuts. Neighbor Chris D. Came over with some fresh eggs from his chickens. Totally yummy awesome. Farming rocks.

7/19 Hive Split

Big fun today!

A few weeks ago Matt’s hive looked like it was going to swarm.  He added a new super and it gave the girls a place to spread out.  I asked if he would give me a split from his hive and in the name of crazy bee science he agreed.

I’ve been really interested in getting a Russian queen primarily for their ability to over winter. I found Mikes Bees and Honey and ordered me up a a buzzing laying comrade.


Our Russian queen arrived in a queen cage with a few attendants to see to her traveling needs.

Although the UPS guy was a bit freaked out to be delivering a buzzing package, she arrived at my office in perfect shape.  With queen in hand and help from Payal (4-H club member extraordinaire) we (Me, Matt and Payal) made our way to the Apiary.

We had to go through 4 supers of mostly honey in Matt’s hive before we got to good frames of brood.  We spotted his queen along the way. Finally we grabbed three frames of brood and bees and put them in Ba-bee-lonia.  There were still a few bees left from before but so few and so long without a queen that they didn’t mind us one bit.  We’ll see how well they play with the others.  We hung the queen cage between two of the frames, added an entrance reducer and a top feeder and closed her up.

I’m going to watch the top feeder to make sure it doesn’t mold in our current heat and attract ants.  I’ll also get the ant moats on it today. If they are taking feed and it gets yucky, I’ll switch to an entrance feeder but I’m afraid of the new hive getting robbed.


Hive Check 7/7

Checked the hives after being away for a week in Spokane Washington to visit Grandma.

Our goal for this hive check was to check the overall health and to see if we were going to be able to add honey supers to the hives.

Amazingly there are still bees but won’t be for long.  The goal is to get them to build out as much comb as possible so we can either do a spring split or just install a new package come Spring time.

Saw the queen and she’s been busy.  Lots of brood all at different stages. The top deep super was about 60% full mostly with pollen and uncapped honey but there was some capped honey.  Also found brood at the bottom of a lot of the center frames.  There was quite a bit of burr comb and I got rid of most of it but couldn’t bring myself to eliminate all of it.  It would have meant sacrificing quite a bit of brood.  Once the colony is at full strength I’ll clean it up.  I had to unstick the frames from each other and did clean off the tops and bottoms of all frames.  I added a super and will just need to watch it to make sure I get the queen excluder on in time since I know the dear girl does like to climb.

Unimatrix Zero:Brood brood brood – lots of it.  Also a lot of capped honey and pollen.  It’s odd to see how well established this community is seeing as there is always such little activity at the entrance whenever I visit.  I added the honey super here too.  I wasn’t expecting this hive to do this well but after seeing how filled out the deep super was and how much brood there was, it seemed like the right thing to do.

We may see 2013 honey!

Girls reclaiming honey

Girls reclaiming honey

From left to right - Ba-Bee-Lonia, Tardis, Unimatrix Zero

From left to right – Ba-Bee-Lonia, Tardis, Unimatrix Zero

Mosquito Abatement!

We signed up for notifications when the mosquito abatement sprayers were going to be making the rounds.  This afternoon we got the automated notifications.  Of course I’m out of town but Matt (a squatter in our Apiary) was kind enough to go out and cover the hives.  The chemicals used aren’t supposed to effect the bees since it only kills bugs that are flying.  Since our bees don’t fly at night and the sprayers don’t come around until midnight, we should be ok.  Matt sent me a pic of our girls tucked in for the night.

covered hive

hives covered in prep for the mosquito abatement foggers.

6/29 Hive Check

We did a full hive check today with the 4-H group. The group setup 3 smokers and put on their gear.  We talked about the goals for the hive checks (is ba-bee-lonia going to fail, how well built out are the other hives and clean up and burr comb).
We were also joined by Jakes friend Matthew who was observing.

We opened up ba-bee-lonia and although it was mostly drones and no sign of a laying queen we did see a queen cell.  So we decided to let it go to see what happens.

Tardis (it’s bigger on the inside)This hive looks great we spotted the queen on the 4th frame and the bees are drawing out comb on the deep super and filling it with honey and pollen.  We’ll wait a week and then most likely we’ll add a honey super to it.

Unimatrix ZeroLots of comb and brood.  Everything looks good but we didn’t see the queen and we did spot a queen cell.  This weekend we’ll take a very close look at this hive.  If we don’t see eggs, and the queen cell hasn’t opened we’ll look at ordering a new queen.


squatterFriend of a friend Matt is now squatting at our Apiary.  The public beeyard he was in is shutting down.  His girls will finish out the season in Gordon’s Woods.

Hive Check 6/15.

We opened Ba-Bee-Lonia and saw one of the supersedure cells had been torn open.  We went through the frams and caught a glimps of a new queen.  We didn’t see any eggs or brood so she is either a virgin or newly mated.  We’ll check next week to see if she’s laying.