Tag Archive | how to

Mint Hive Moves to Colony Row

Saturday, September 13, 2014

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When Pink Hive combined with Purple Hive, a prime spot opened for Mint Hive.  Mint Hive sat alone,  just 4 feet in front of the other hives, and was virtually engulfed in a forest of asparagus ferns. The bees didn’t seem to mind and they even switched their flight path from straight ahead to sideways. They are adaptable, it just takes a bit of time for them to figure things out. That’s why it’s best to approach major changes in baby steps, like moving Mint Hive in line with the other colonies. Here’s the process I use for moving hives, which I assure you is a very infrequent event.

Step 1. Blocking the Entrance

Friday eve, I removed Mint Hive’s entrance reducer. The girls came out and inspected. I gave them an hour or two to settle down. When it was dark and I was sure the foragers had returned for the night, I snuck up and blocked their lower and upper entrances til morning.

Step 2. Moving the Hive

Early Saturday morning, around 7am, I recruited the hubster’s assistance. We easily lifted the hive and moved it to its new location.

Step 3. The Long Wait

I left the hive shut tight for 24 hours.

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Step 4. Freedom at Last

Sunday morning I unblocked the entrance, placed the entrance reducer on medium, then placed a bushy branch in front of the entrance so they had to go through the obstacle to leave the hive. The purpose is to allow them to reorient when they leave the hive so they can return to the same location without issue. This worked for most of the bees, but there always seem to be a few who are dazed and confused, flying around their old stomping grounds wondering what happened to their home.

By evening they’d figured it out. Everyone had calmed down, so I opened the top entrance and added their feeders. Now Mint Hive officially lives on Colony Row.  Welcome to the neighborhood Mint Hive!

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Blasting the Beetles

August 4, 2013 (Day 86) – Installing Beetle Blasters

I drove to my bee supplier and bought 10 Beetle Blasters.  Beetle Blasters are small plastic wells that sit between the frames and are intended to trap small hive beetles.  Fill them half way with oil and when the bees chase the beetles around the hive, the beetles will jump into the traps to seek refuge from the bees.  This is an effective, safe alternative to chemical treatments.  However, ask a question to 10 different beekeepers and you’ll get 10 different answers – this certainly applies to the how to’s of using the Beetle Blaster.  Below are some Beetle Blaster how to’s that I gathered during my research…

One time or multiple uses:

  • Beetle Blasters are meant for one time use, however, my supplier said he carefully cleans his out and reuses them.  I’m cheap, so I will attempt to reuse.

How many to use:

  • Some say put one or two traps in each box, depending on severity of the infestation.   I find this method to be very invasive.  Especially if the traps in each box are changed every 7-10 days.
  • Some will place up to 4 just in the top box, because most of the beetles reside up top.
  • My bee supplier uses two in the top box of all of his hives.  Again, this is because most beetles reside in the top of the hive.
  • Again, I’m cheap.  I’ll start with one in GH1 because I haven’t seen any beetles in that hive, and two in YH2 since it has more beetles.  I’ll increase if needed.

What to use for filling the traps:

  • Vegetable oil is most popular.  Hive beetles are supposedly fond of Crisco (the oil, not the shortening).  It has been suggested that bees will clog the holes with propylus when using vegetable oil.
  • Mineral oil is safe and supposedly effective.  It was also suggested that bees do not clog the holes with propylus so much when using mineral oil.
  • Some people use motor oil.  Sure it probably works, but why would you put that in your hive?
  • My bee supplier suggested vegetable oil with a top layer of dish detergent to allow the beetles to sink to the bottom.  This enables the trap to hold more beetles and also prevents floaters from acting as stepping stones for the newly trapped victims.
Fill half way with vegetable or mineral oil and top off with dish detergent. This breaks the surface and allows the trapped beetles to sink to the bottom.

Fill half way with vegetable or mineral oil and top off with dish detergent. This breaks the surface and allows the trapped beetles to sink to the bottom, so the trap can hold more beetles.

How to fill the traps:

  • The easiest way I found to fill them is with an empty syringe.    The traps easily hang across a 9- inch bread baking pan.  I lined up 4 traps across the baking pan, used the syringe to fill them halfway with vegetable oil, then topped off the oil with a thin layer of liquid dish soap.
4 beetle blasters are easily filled and transported while sitting across the top of a 9 inch bread baking pan.

4 beetle blasters are easily filled and transported while sitting across the top of a 9 inch bread baking pan.

How to install:

  • I just lifted off the top of the hives, smoked the bees down (because they’re very curious creatures) and inserted the traps easily between the frames.
Placing the Beetle Blaster between the two end frames.

Placing the Beetle Blaster between the two end frames.

Positioning:

  • If using one, then between the first two or last two frame toward the back of the hive.
  • If using two, then place between the first two and the last two frames, one positioned toward the front and one positioned toward the back.
In place and ready to start blasting some beetles.

In place and ready to start blasting some beetles.

Now we just hurry up and wait.  I’ll check them again next weekend.  Of course, I open the hive to insert the traps and did not see one single beetle the entire time.  I hope they’re in dark little corners shaking with fear.

In the meantime, I pulled the homemade CD traps.  Not one single beetle entered those traps.  But as soon as I set them down, the ants raced right into them.  So great for trapping ants, not so great for trapping beetles.   At least mine didn’t work so well.

I’d love to hear how other beekeepers manage their beetle and pest problems.  Do you have any thoughts on using the Beetle Blaster or other beetle and pest management methods?

How to Make Pollen Patties

Since the pollen has died down, the girls need protein. So I ordered a bucket of BeePro – pollen substitute – and after watching a few videos, came up with my own recipe for pollen patties. Easy to do, I added HoneyBHealthy for some added nutrients. The girls took to them immediately! I kept the patties to no larger than 4×4 inches.  This recipe makes about 4-6 patties, but you can multiply the recipe to make more.  They freeze well until needed.

Note:  Pollen patties attract hive beetles, so ideally you want the bees to consume the patty within 3 days.  Best not to put more than one patty in the hive at one time, unless you have a very strong hive and minimal problems with hive beetles. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pollen substitute (I use Bee Pro by Mann Lake, available on Amazon for $19 at tub)
  • 1/2 cup sugar syrup (1:1 or 2:1)
  • 1/4 tsp HoneyBHealthy

Instructions

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Gather your ingredients.

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Mix them together. Hands work well. You want the consistency of play-doh.

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Pull off a piece no larger than a golf ball. The piece in this photo is too big.

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Place between two sheets of wax paper or parchment and roll them into patties.

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About a 1/4 inch thickness is good.

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Leave the patty between the wax paper and cut the excess paper around the edges.

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Here are your pollen patties. Use the edge of a knife to cut rows of small slits across the top and bottom so the bees can have easy access without having to remove the paper. The paper keeps the patty from breaking up and falling between the frames. The girls will eat right through it.

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Lay directly on top of the frames above the brood and remove the top layer of wax paper.

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Its love at first bite!