Tag Archive | Bee

Welcome Pink Hive #4

May 17, 2014 (Saturday)

Baby nuc has been flourishing. They’ve been feeding well, growing in population and actively keeping up with their larger neighbors. I decided they’ve earned an upgrade. So welcome our newest member of the BooBee Apiary….(drum roll)……Pink Hive!

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Salmon pink to be exact. She adds quite a splash to our already colorful configuration.

As I transferred frames from Baby Nuc to the new 8-frame hive, I looked for and did not find the queen cell that hung so prominently from the bottom of one of the frames. This gives me every reason to believe that the virgin queen has hatched.

Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a hurry, so I did not inspect the frames as I made the switch. It’s been 2 weeks since the cell was placed in Baby Nuc, so I’ll give her another week before checking for new brood. By that time the queen will hopefully have completed her mating flight (if she hasn’t already) and returned safely back to the hive to begin laying up a storm.

We’re excited to have a fourth hive in place, and now that Baby Nuc is freed up, I’m planning one more split in the coming weeks. Need to start thinking about that next color…hmmm.

New Package for Yellow Hive

Monday, April 14, 2014

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It’s that time of year, everyone is getting the call to pick up their packages and nucs for spring bee hive installations.  I added myself to the list early on as a safety precaution, and I’m glad I did because yellow hive has been sitting empty since February.  I received the email on Friday that my package (a 2 lb box of bees complete with queen) would be ready on Monday as early as 7am.

Mother Nature Not Helping

I figured I’d go pick up my new bees early and get them installed before heading to work.  But mother nature had different plans.  After a most perfectly gorgeous spring weekend, I woke up to a cold, cloudy, and insanely windy Monday. Ugh.

I thought the day might warm up in the afternoon, so I left at lunch, picked up the girls (still cold, windy and cloudy), went home and got them into their new digs.  I’ve never installed a package before.  It wasn’t difficult, now that I have a little bee experience under my belt.  But I can see how it would be intimidating for a beginner.  Keep in mind though that bees without a hive to defend are naturally docile.  They fly around but they aren’t aggressive or stingy.  Regardless, wear your gear as a precaution.

What’s a Package?

A package includes 2 lbs of bees (about 3500?), a can of sugar syrup for feed, and a queen cage containing the queen and several attendants.  Queens are marked a different color each year so you can identify her and the year she was installed.  This year is green.  All of this comes in a nice compact wooden screened box. You can imagine the buzz during our ride home.  The girls were very excited!

Installing the Package

I’m sure there are many ways to install a package, but here’s what I did, and it worked like a charm.

1. Hive configuration:

1  8-frame box
3-4 center frames w/ drawn comb – (keeps the queen safer and gets the bees started more quickly)
2 frames of honey – one on each side of comb frames (feed for cold eves – more freezing temps expected)
3-4 fresh foundation frames on the outside edges (to allow room for growth).

2. Spray 1:1 sugar syrup to settle them down and occupy them while prepping for the install. (see below)

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3. Remove several center frames to give space to dump bees.

4. Remove can of syrup. Bees will start flying at this point. (see below)

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5. Remove queen cage and set aside. (see queen cage below)

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6.  Take the large wooden box, with the hole facing top, lift it a few inches and slam (not too hard) the bottom on a hard surface so that the bees drop into a ball at the bottom of the box.

7. Then slam (again, not too hard) the side of the box on a hard surface to further condense the ball of bees into the corner of the box.

8. Turn the box over and shake the bees out of the hole, dumping them into the open center area of the hive.

9. Repeat steps 6-8 until most of the bees are emptied into the hive. (see below)

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10. Gently add the frames back into the center of the hive. Bee very careful, they won’t drop in completely right away because of the mounds of bees located at the bottom of the hive, but gradually the bees will move up onto the frames and the frames will lower into position.  Be patient with this step.

11. Poke a hole through the candy in the queen cage.  This helps facilitate the eating of the candy plug that allows for the release of the queen over a course of several days.

12. I insert my queen cage differently, and it has worked for me just fine. Insert the queen cage between two frames, under the top bars, embedded within the comb.  I insert mostly horizontally with the candy side tilted up slightly.  This prevents the exit from being blocked should any of the attendants die.  A blocked exit means the queen can’t exit the cage.  I also place the screen side down so the bees have easy access to the queen.

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13. Once everyone is installed, I close her up and feed, feed, feed with 1:1 sugar syrup.

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14. Some bees will likely be loitering in the wooden box.  Place the box with left over bees on the ground just beneath the hive entrance.  They’ll all march into the hive when they’re ready.

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Freezing Temperatures and a New Package

Not a great combination, but it is what it is.  We had freezing temps all week.  As long as the queen is inserted within drawn comb with easy access to the bees, and as long as the bees have honey stores to feed on, then all should be well.  You don’t want the queen to bee on fresh foundation.  The bees might easily cluster away from the queen, leaving her to freeze.

Several Days Later

I checked on the hive Thursday (3 days later), the queen still hasn’t been released, but she looks alive and well.  All the bees are active and building comb fast, all over the cage and up to the inner cover.  Giving it one more day.  If she isn’t released on Saturday, I’ll dig out the candy and free her into the hive.

Yay! Yellow Hive is Back

We’re all happy to have Yellow Hive back in action.  Of course, Blue Hive was curious and had to come out and see what the fuss was all about.

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Green and Blue Hives 

Green Hive is still slow.  I suspect they have too much space, or the queen may be doing poorly, so I’ll need to combine it with Blue or Yellow Hive, or find a new queen soon.  Blue hive is active, but hoping they become more active as the weather warms again.  This fluctuation in temps is crazy.  Regardless, we’re in full swing now so let the decision making begin!

Coming soon – DIY solar wax melter, soap making, and harvesting beeswax from comb.  Woo hoo!

 

 

Spring Bees In Action

April 5, 2014

Spring is here and the girls are so busy I can’t keep up with them!  The bees love this spring weather and so do I. I couldn’t stop watching them as I worked in the garden. I didn’t realize how much I missed them.


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Checking for Brood

I did my first spring inspection a few weeks earlier, so this was a follow-up to see how the girls are progressing.  I wanted to check the brood and see how much the queens are laying. It’s easy to see where the brood is located. Just look for the cluster of bees on top of the frames. In both hives, I pulled one or two frames and saw nice round, centered brood patterns, but they aren’t laying like crazy. I didn’t look for eggs, only capped brood. I’m just not sure, at this point, when the weather is still cool and rain is prevalent, just how much brood I should see.  I’m thinking they should be laying a lot more.

Feeding

I’ve been feeding sugar syrup and diluted honey from capped sugar syrup.  Blue hive is taking it fairly quickly.  Green hive, not so much.  The numbers in both hives are ok, but could certainly be better. At this point, I will ask my mentor to visit and look at my hive to help me decide whether they look good or if I should requeen.  My instincts tell me to requeen green hive.  I might even combine hives.

Fume Board Incident

I attempted to reduce green hive by one box since they have so much space.  I placed the fume board on top (which has worked like a charm in the past), but this time they went nuts and started coming out the bottom and oozing over the top.  I removed the board and they remained that way til evening.

Pollen and Nectar

I’m excited to see the trees beginning to bud, and the daffodils are out, so pollen is in the air and the girls have been hauling it in large clumps.

Yellow Hive Will be Back Soon!

As for Yellow Hive, packages are scheduled for pickup Monday morning. I plan to be there bright and early Monday morning, and will install before heading in to my day job. Will be good to have Yellow Hive back in action.

Glass Honey Dippers

Aside from beekeeping, I love glass, hot and cold – lamp work (torch work), fusing, cold working glass, painting glass (visit my Paula’s GlassRoots blog).  Yep, I like it all.  So when a commercial beekeeper from my Beekeeping club approached me about making glass honey dippers, I was completely onboard. What a fun and fantastic idea!  And why didn’t I think of it sooner???

Perhaps because I’ve never used or owned a honey dipper in my life. In fact, most of my honey is crystalized and doesn’t lend itself to dipping. Doesn’t matter, I was on the torch that weekend coming up with prototypes. The first few are always a learning experience. A few things I learned:

  • Borosilicate/Pyrex glass is better for honey dippers than soft glass. It’s more durable from a users standpoint, and also easier to work because you can allow the one end to cool somewhat before working the other end. And there’s less worry of cracking. Plus you can rework if it doesn’t turn out right.
  • Be extra careful when working both ends. You can even work one end, then anneal and cool, then work the other ends later.
  • Don’t use color on the dipping ends. Not safe for food consumption because of the metals contained in the glass.
    Although you could wrap it completely in clear. Safe to use plain clear glass.
  • 10-12 mm rods are the best size.
  • Also best to work both the designs directly on the rod rather than making a separate component then applying it on the end. Doesn’t look as clean.
  • Don’t make a decorative top the looks like a dipper. User may get confused.
  • There are so many ways to make the dipper bottoms, I think the best is to carefully coil glass from a smaller rod directly onto a larger rod. Tricky part is keeping the larger rod from melting and bending.

These are my prototypes. I have lots of practice ahead of me but I think these lessons are a good start.

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Remember that honey dippers do have a practical use, so do test them to make sure they lift and spread the honey evenly onto a slice of toast or something yummy. This is a tough job, but it has to be done for quality control purposes!

Mite Mishap and Feeding Massacre

September 9, 2013   Backtracking and Starting Over

You’ll recall from my previous post “Prepping the Girls for Winter”  that I had just added a mite treatment (ApiLife Var) to Green and Yellow hives, and I swapped out the feeders for the “no drown” top feeders.   You may also recall that I included a list of recommendations when using the mite treatment.  However, the following day, I realized I left off one very, very important recommendation….

Check the Weekly Weather Forecast Before Treating!!!

When using certain mite treatments, the temperatures must remain below 90 and above 53 degrees.  I thought I was in the clear because the weekend was gorgeous.  Then the hubster, also known as Doppler Don, told me the temperatures would excel into the low 90s by mid-week.   Of course he tells me this AFTER I already added the mite treatments.

Keep in mind, I’m already losing sleep thinking about my poor girls being fumigated out of their home for the next 3 weeks.  Now they’re at risk because I didn’t check the temperatures for the week ahead.  Ugh!!!

Backtracking…

So I made yet another snap hive management decision and was determined to remove the tablets that evening.  But wait, I had a vet appointment and another meeting scheduled that night.  Ugh!

I made the 5:30 vet appointment (for my dog, not for me) and got home around 6:30 pm.  It was already getting dark outside.  I lit the smoker, suited up and started pulling the hives apart.  Green Hive (GH1) was a success, I carefully removed all 4 tablets.  Yellow Hive (YH2), not so much.  I had lost one of the 4 tablets between the frames when they were added.  And as I lifted the box, I noticed another tablet was missing.  I was only able to recover 2 tablets and could not find the other two, even after digging another level deeper.  Ugh!   Which leads me to yet another recommendation that I’d overlooked…

Caging the Tablets

The tablets should be caged in some sort of mesh or wire.  That way the bees can’t chew on them, and they won’t so easily fall between the frames.  In fact, you could even staple them to the frames to ensure they stay in place.  Next time (assuming I actually try to do this again), I will cut pieces of window screen and will staple around the tablets to create a sort of mite treatment pillow.

The Massacre

I closed up the hives and ended with feeding.  This was my first time filling up the new feeders, which I thought would be much easier and much less stressful for the bees.  I opened the top covers and the feeders were PACKED with bees.  Not only were they packed with bees, but the floats, made of cut sections of queen excluders, allow the bees to crawl underneath the floats.  The entire bottom areas of the feeders were lined with bees who, theoretically should crawl back up through the queen excluder mesh to escape drowning.

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Removing the feeders and emptying the bees out is not nearly as simple as it may sound.  I decided to take the risk in hopes that the bees would be smart enough, and fast enough to crawl back through the excluders before making contact with the syrup.  No so.  Some made it out, but the syrup was like a runny river of death for most of the bees left beneath the floats.

What’s more, the floats were stuck to the side, so when I poured the syrup, the floats didn’t float!  You can imagine at this point the girls were not happy with me, Beezilla, again…   It was horrible for them, it was horrible for me.  They were fed, it was dark, I was exhausted.

Back to Buckets

Currently, I’ve left the top feeder on Blue Hive (BH3) because it does help with robbing, and because there are so fewer bees, they don’t line the feeders, so drowning is not a problem and the feeders work as intended.

GH1 and YH2 are back to buckets.  I can’t use buckets in winter because they are taller than the medium boxes and they leave a substantial gap at the top.  I’m torn between the Collins Feeders, which are shallower bucket feeders with a wider distribution of holes and some other helpful features, or making adjustments to our existing feeders ($22 a pop!) so the bees can’t get down into the bottoms.

Final Recommendation

I’m usually good about reading reviews, but somehow I overlooked the reviews for Brushy Mountain’s “no drown” feeders.  None were good and all reiterated my exact experience.  Ugh!

The Good News (Long Term)

Unfortunately for the girls, I learn the most from my mistakes and oversights, but the good news is that these lessons are hard to forget, even for my middle-aged “chipmunk” brain.  So at least the future generations will benefit from the suffering and demise of their ancestors.

Coming Soon: “More than Honey”

If you haven’t heard, there’s a new bee documentary coming soon called More than Honey.  This is no Disney movie.  It’s an investigation into why our bees are dying and how long man could survive without bees.   Looks like a beautiful award winning documentary.  Includes subtitles.  I can’t wait to see this!

Here’s the official trailer…

Little SOBees

The girls and I had a little spat the other night. They say that when a bee stings, you are to remain calm. Bees get very excited by sudden movements. Use your hive tool to gently scrape the stinger from your skin. This prevents the pheromones from being released. Then smoke the area where you were stung to mask any pheromones that have been released. When pheromones are released, other bees are alerted that an attacker is threatening their hive, and everyone is called out immediately to participate in the sting fest.

Honey bees sting for one reason…that is to protect their hive. That’s why swarms are so docile, they have no hive to protect. And it is true that a honeybee will sting only once, and then will die.

Up to this point, I have not been stung. I knew the time would come, but it’s not something you’re ever prepared for. One evening I went up to change the feeder buckets. Never have I worn gear to change feeder buckets. Green Hive 1 is a nice gentle hive. They don’t pay much attention. I get in, do my business, and get out. It’s all good. But over the last 2 weeks, I noticed growing irritability in Yellow Hive 2 (YH2). Perhaps they’re still scarred by memories of dead bee parts hanging out from between the boxes after one of my recent inspections. Perhaps they recall spending 2 days walking the sides in attempt to scrape off the remains. Whatever it was, they wasted no time buzzing into my hair and onto my face. I felt one, two, three, maybe four stings across the bottom of my face. Then a shot of pain on top of my head.

There was no warning, and there was certainly no remaining calm or gentle removal of stings from my skin. Feeder buckets dropped. I was dancing the honey bee jive baby! Hands swatting through my hair and feet running and jumping into the neighbors’ pine trees.

When the excitement was over, I walked down to the patio where the hubster was pushing some heavy, loud gas-powered device. My hair was disheveled, my chin was puffy and my head was sore. I had been told by the bees.

I knew it would happen, I was now a real beekeeper. The stings died down pretty fast. What hurt more were my feelings. My girls turned on me. They told me to get out, be gone. Didn’t they realize I lose sleep at night worrying about them? I worry about them swarming off and leaving me. I listen to YouTube round the clock so I’ll know how to take the best care of them. And I haven’t even gotten any honey yet. I felt angry, betrayed. For a short time, they weren’t my Boo Bees. They were “those little SOBees”.

I went back up, this time in full upper gear, to finish feeding the little ingrates. They began buzzing around again, but this time I was in charge.

Last night I walked up to fill the PVC ant cups. Again,YH2 started buzzing at me. I read that bee temperaments are driven by the queen, as is pretty much everything in a hive. That replacing the queen with a gentler new queen can help settle their little bee butts down. I won’t be replacing any queens. I doubt I could find her if I wanted to. I will, however, take heed and dress a little more appropriately for work around the hive. At the very least, I’ll wear a hat.

Inspect-Move-Deter

June 21, 2013 (Day 42)

The objectives included:  Inspect GH1 for Queen, Add the Ant Deterring Additions, and Make Room for a Third Hive

For the first time, we entered the hives at dusk when the bee activity was very low.  That’s because we had to move the hives.  Temps were in the mid-80s, sun had gone down, not much breeze, just a beautiful day that turned to a beautiful evening.  Both hives were highly active around 5PM.  Our mission began around 7:30PM.

Challenge with Moving Hives

In beekeeping class, they tell you to place the hives where you plan to keep them, because moving hives is no easy feat.  When filled with bees, honey and comb, one 8-frame medium box can weigh about 40 lbs.  It has to be done in chunks and, believe me, the girls do not like to be moved around.  Bees also become easily disoriented when their hives are moved.  Even if moved only a few inches, they may have trouble finding their way home after flying out.  The rule is, anything more than 2 feet doesn’t matter.  You may as well move it 2 miles.  Of course, I’ve watched a number of YouTube videos on the subject, but since we were talking inches rather than feet, we decided to take the risk and just shift them without further measure.

We had both hives on 2 levels of cinder blocks.  Since the hives are growing in height, we decided to lower them down one level. We also decided this would be a good opportunity to move Green Hive 1 (GH1) to the left about 8 inches so we can add a third hive in the center, when that time comes.  Just for the record, I never said anything about a third hive.  That suggestion came from straight from the hubster.  Not that I haven’t been thinking it, but I wasn’t gonna say it.

Ant Deterring Additions

Ants have been a problem for several weeks now.  Every time I lift the top covers, ants scurry around the feeders and down the sides of the boxes.  Not a huge infestation, but enough to be annoying.  I also see spider mites and other creepy crawlies that are enticed by sweet sugar syrup and the smell of honey.

I’d previously posted the hive enhancements shared by members of my beekeeping association.  These enhancements consist of PVC end caps that, when filled with water or vegetable oil, form mini-moats at the base of the hives.  So unless the insects are good swimmers, they’ll likely become floaters.   Mine will be filled with water so they’re easy to fill and easy to flush out.  This will be done regularly because floaters make good stepping stones.

Thank goodness the hubster loves projects.  We made our usual 4 or 5 trips to Home Depot to get exactly what was needed for his “improved” design.  For some reason, men can never just look at another design and replicate it.  There always has to be a one-up.  This is not a complaint, just an observation.  In fact, his one-ups are pretty ingenious and have a high success rate.  He created bottom frames footed with the PVC caps and held on with heavy screws and bolts.  They’re very solid and the hives set right on top of them.

Two ant deterring frames footed with PVC caps that will be filled with water.

Two ant deterring frames footed with PVC caps that will be filled with water.

Preparing for Our Mission
I suited up, the hubster brought up the frames, and I carried up 4 quarts of sugar syrup. I started separating GH1 and realized I’d forgotten my hive tool and brush. Had to run and grab those. Hubster set two cinder blocks between the hives as a place to set the boxes. The feeder pail was completely empty. They’d gone through about 5 quarts of syrup over the last week, so they’ve been feeding like crazy.  Just before filling their buckets, the hubster asked me if I’d added the Honey B Healthy supplement ($30 a bottle!) to their feed.  I forgot AGAIN – 2nd week in a row. Ugh!

GH1 Having Queen Issues
I opened GH1 and saw a comb ladder leading to the top board.  Immediately, I ran down to the shop to get a new box and frames.  GH1 bees weren’t active. Just going about their business. I decided to inspect for the queen. I’ve been digging into this hive for over a month trying to determine whether it’s queen-right. The side frames on the top box haven’t been touched, so false alarm – no need for a third box yet. The bee population is not increasing, and may even be decreasing. I looked at every frame and saw no sign of the marked queen. Doesn’t mean there isn’t another queen in there, I just can’t find her. On a good note, there were no drone cells and no supercedure queen cells, but I didn’t see any new larvae either.  I can’t keep waiting to figure it out.  I’ve decided to purchase a new marked and mated queen and solicit help from someone in my bee club who can identify and remove the existing queen, if there is one.

Adding the Ant Deterrents

We moved GH1 in two chunks to the temporary holding place.  Hubster removed the original top blocks, shifted the bottom blocks 8 inches outward and leveled them.  We added the PVC frame and positioned the bottom board over the frame.  Perfect fit!   Just in time, since GH1 was starting to get irritable.  I assembled the rest of the hive and moved on to Yellow Hive 2 (YH2).

Hubster repositions and levels GH1 base and adds ant deterring frame.

Hubster repositions and levels GH1 base and adds ant deterring frame.

On to YH2

Unlike GH1, YH2 is growing like crazy and the girls are much more irritable and active.  We moved quickly on this one, no inspections.  I transferred the bee-filled boxes, the hubster aligned and leveled the blocks and added the frame, then I started to reassemble.  The girls were getting angrier.  That’s when the smoker burned out.  Hubster made an emergency run to reignite the smoker.  I was left with angry, darting bees.  Even in full gear, I worked faster and faster.  I decided not to wait for the smoker and just slid the boxes back on, taking down a few casualties in the process.  Hubster returned with an active smoker and a few choice words, but the deed was done.

Bees do not like it when other bees are killed.  Communication in the hive is instantaneous, which is why smoke is so important to keep them settled.  The sides of YH2 were lined with bees trying to inspect the damage and clean bee parts that extruded from between the boxes.  It’s what they do, clean house, remove the dead, protect the hive.  Oh, the guilt!

End Result

I visited the hives this morning.  Both are active and GH1 bees are flying in and out of the right hive.  Good news.  The PVC caps are filled with water, ready to foil any hive robbery attempts by the ants and creepy crawlers.  I’ve determined my next action for fixing GH1’s queen issues.  And I’ve decided to install a white board checklist in the greenhouse, to be reviewed before each inspection…because lack of preparation is unacceptable.

It wasn’t pretty, but mission accomplished.

PVC caps filled with water.

PVC caps filled with water.

Simple Rules for Using Entrance Reducers

June 11, 2013 (Day 32)

When to use and when not to use an entrance reducer? THAT is one of those ambiguous topics that offers no one right answer. Some beekeepers keep them on year round. But as the weather gets hotter and more humid, I feel sorry for the bees and want to give them a larger front porch area on which to hang out and socialize. Then rain comes and I reduce it again. And back and forth. Perhaps I should stop overthinking and just reduce their entrance year round. Ugh! This new beekeeper gig definitely tests my decision-making skills.

The entrance reducer has two different sized openings. The wooden piece can be turned so that only one the openings is used at a time.  There are advantages to reducing the entrance.

1) It reduces the amount of area that needs to be protected by the guard bees, thus making their jobs easier;

2) Hive robbers and invasive critters also have a harder time accessing the smaller entrance; and

3) Supposedly, entrance reducers help to control the ventilation and temperature in the hive.

However, a larger entrance provide more ventilation and it gives the bees more space to fly in and out.  So it’s nice to remove it when the honey flow is on and the temps are hot and humid.

Entrance reducer makes it harder for mice and robbing pests to enter the hive, and helps keep out the cold and wind.

Entrance reducer makes it harder for mice and robbing pests to enter the hive, and helps keep out the cold and wind.

Simple Rules for Using Entrance Reducers

Long Lane Honey Bee Farm, one of my favorite bee sites, offers a few simple rules for using entrance reducers.

When to Use the Small Setting

1) When installing your package of bees for the first time. They can still come and go, but it keeps them from wanting to fly away until they nest.
2) In the winter, when you are trying to keep mice out of your hive.
3) When the hive is being robbed by another hive. There is less entrance to protect.

When to Use the Larger Setting

Anytime you need a larger opening, but don’t want to open it up all the way. This could also be used for all three reasons above.

Should the Opening Face Up or Down?

Down is fine during spring and summer when bees are able to fly out and clean the dead bees out of the hive (yes, bees really carry their dead out of the hive, and drop them on the ground in front of the hive – I have the piles to prove it!).

During the winter, the opening should face UP! When bees die during the winter, if the opening is down, then dead bees will fill up the opening. However, if the opening is facing up, then the bees can still fly out over the dead bees which you can clean out later on a warm day (FUN!)

Can the Entrance Reducer be Removed?

Once your hive is more than a few weeks old, is not being robbed, and the weather is warm, the entrance cleat should be removed and stored in a place where you can easily find it.

There you have it.  If you were confused before, hopefully this will help sort it all out, plus a few key tips for overwintering.  Leave a comment and share how you manage the entrances to your hive(s).

Staying Ahead of the Bees

Sunday, June 9, 2013 (Day 30)

Yesterday the temps were in the high 80s to low 90s – sunny, bright, no wind, and a a tad bit humid. The girls are going crazy again, out foraging and flying actively about the hives. I did check the feeders. Green Hive 1 (GH1) still has a good quarter of a bucket filled with sugar water. Yellow Hive 2’s (YH2) bucket was completely empty, so I had to run in and throw together a quick batch – part of which I ended up throwing out because the feeders needed to be cleaned and I didn’t realize it until I’d already poured.  Ugh!

Staying ahead of the girls is a lot harder than I’d imagined.  Based on the amount of new comb they produced last week, their super high activity levels, and their feeding frenzy, I decided that I need to do a better job of keeping up.  They work fast!  So my strategy is to stock up.

Last night I mixed close to a gallon of sugar water for the feeders.  This morning I visited my bee supplier and picked up six medium boxes, frames and foundation, and two queen excluders. We are assembling and painting as fast as possible (AFAP) so I can get two more boxes on during my next inspection, which I hope will be tomorrow or Tuesday. Being true to their gender, the girls don’t like to wait.

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Here’s the good news…once these new boxes are added, I’ll have three brood chambers on each hive. Then I’ll add a queen excluder.  The queen excluder is a screen that is placed over the top of the last brood chamber.  Worker bees can get through the screen to draw comb and make honey in the honey supers (the boxes that are placed above the queen excluder).  The queen is too large to fit through the screen, so she will remain in the brood chamber to continue laying eggs and creating more bees.  This keeps the brood or eggs/larvae out of the honey.

My point is, each week we’re getting closer and closer to honey!  Yay!

Keep in mind though that the first filled honey super goes to the bees for winter feeding. Whatever is left will be for us. But let’s not lose focus.  The first year is about growing the colonies and keeping the bees alive. We are not to expect honey, so I will not jinx by making unknown promises.  However, if the girls decide to reward our efforts with some sweet liquid gold, then bring on the honey!!!