This year I ordered 1 package of bees to bring me back up to two hives. The Italians came in the earliest so I got those. With our short season even two or three weeks can make a big difference.
We decided to do what I call “a quiet installation”. Instead of turning the bee package upside down and dumping the bees into their new home, we instead gently turned the package upside down on top of the hive bars after having placed the queen cage between two frames in the middle of the hive. We added two boxes over the travel cage and then put the top on. It starts out looking really tall but once the travel cage is removed we are back to two boxes deep.
After 24 hours all of the bees had migrated out of their travel container and into the hive. Another 24 hours later I checked the queen cage and the marshmallow had been eaten and the queen had been released.
I think this method would work well in bad weather too……Granted, this method is not as dramatic as having a cloud of a thousand bees buzzing around you, but it worked just fine.
Joining a local beekeeping club provides lots of support, information and education….all making you a better beekeeper. The West Sound Beekeepers Association each year on bee arrival day puts on demonstrations throughout the day. This makes it easier for newer beekeepers to understand the process of moving their new packages of bees into their new home.
A 3 pound package of bees contains about 10,000 bees and one queen.
You will find other bee package installation videos here and here.
David Mackovjak does a great job not only installing this package of bees but also fielding questions from the onlookers.
An excellent report by Dan Rather. More questions than answers but this story at least heightens the awareness of the impending doom of the honey bee unless we can get a handle on the use of chemicals and pesticides on our crops.
We are in the middle of winter and have been in a cold spell. Dry days and clear nights have lead to temperatures in the teens and 20’s. I’ve used a flash light to look in the windows of the two warre hives to check on the bees. Green roof hive is looking good but I’m afraid flowers hive might be dead. I can see the bees all clustered together but no movement at all. Also seeing quite a bit of furry mold on the comb. The nuc is still a mystery as I don’t want to open it up to check….I hate this part of beekeeping.
At our bee club meeting last night we had the discussion about overwintering our bees. One lady suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to move the hives into a warmer, protected area like a carport or shed. While this sounds good it was pointed out that what is really better for the bees in general is to let the stronger ones survive the winter then try to graft some queens from this stock. In this way we are promoting bees that are stronger and that can deal with winter in the Northwest.
Three things affect our bees in this area
If each of these are kept in check the bees should make it.
My goals for this year:
Have at least 2 of my 3 hives survive.
If my nuc survives move it into an 8 frame western
Capture one swarm
Graft a queen from my healthiest hive
End the season with 3 or 4 full hives and 1 or 2 nucs
I do have quite a bit of work to do on equipment. I need to build the nuc boxes I bought from Brushy Mountain when they had their sale and I also need to build a lot of frames so that I’m ready to stock the western, and I hope to build a jig that will help me to glue and nail straight frames……Can’t wait for the next day that is in the 40’s so I can take a closer look at the hives….Til then all I can do is worry.
Many of you may have heard me commenting that though I love Brushy Mountain Bee equipment I don’t like the expense of having it shipped. Well now is the time to buy. Free shipping on Black Friday. I don’t get any benefit from passing this on, I just think it is important to tout good quality and I think their western nucs are the best on the market:
As I approach my first winter in beekeeping the biggest hurdle yet to overcome is keeping my bees alive throughout the winter. Even the most experienced beekeepers struggle with this. So I’ve set some milestones for myself and will go into this season on purpose…so that if I completely blow it I’ll at least know what not to do next year.
My goal: have all 3 hives alive on April 1, 2013.
Going into the winter it is important to have plenty of stores for the bees. Ideally I’d like to have about 50 pounds of honey in the comb so that the bees have plenty to eat. It is also important to have a low verroa mite load so that the bees have a good chance of making it.
I checked my hives a few weeks ago and as usual…good news and bad news. The good news is that I seem to have a low mite count. In one hive I have 25 mites that dropped in a 24 hour period and on the other only 14. My target was less than 24 mites per 24 hour period….I think I’m good on this issue.
On stores…..not so much. Very little honey in the comb. 2 to 3 frames in one and less than that in the other. The nuc has maybe one full frame of honey.
My plan of action based on my hive inspection:
1) no mite treatment
2) Feed sugar water through Oct then switch to sugar and pollen patties.
The reason you cannot feed sugar water all winter is because the ambiant moisture is so high the bees would not be able to store the sugar water in the comb and then get it down to below 18% humidity. Anything above 18% and it will spoil giving the bees dysentery.
Above is a video showing how I built the sugar boards. A nice 1 day project to improve the chances your bees will survive the winter.
We spent the weekend getting our two warre hives ready. Bees will be here in 3 weeks or so. I’ve seen quite a bit written about painting your bee hives so to save you the time here is what I’ve reduced it down to:
Color: color does not really matter though keep in mind that light colors reflect the heat away from the hives and dark colors attract the heat. For me, where I live the darker the better as beeks in our area seem most concerned with keeping their bees alive throughout the winter. If you only have a couple of hives you can afford to get decretive. In our case my wife is painting one and I’m doing the other. She is planning a colorful design while mine will look like a log house, green roof and golden brown sides. If you had 20 hives to paint I’d recommend a spray gun or roller to cover as much territory as quickly as possible….maybe that is one of the benefits of being a backyard beekeeper, small scale.
Type of paint: Latex, water based exterior paint. Low VOC would probably be the best but if you used regular VOC paint and let them sit for a few weeks I’m sure there would be no problem. Stay away from oil based paints. In our beekeepers class they really pushed for you to use leftover paints that you or a neighbor might have left over from your last project.
What to paint: Just paint the outside. Do not paint anything the bees will be living on. Your goal is to protect the wood from the elements while realizing that over a few years your hives will age. All of the bars, frames, inside walls, ceiling and floor should be untreated wood.
My warres are 16” x 16” so I’m putting down a 16 x 16 inch square paver that I’ll level with sand underneath and then on top of the paver I’m placing two 16 x 8 in cinder blocks side by side with the holes on the side. This way if it is getting stormy I’ll be able to run a nylon strap around the stack and through the cinder blocks to add stability.
I’ll post pictures of the paint job as well as how I have them placed in the yard next week.
Time never goes so slow as when you are waiting for your first package of bees…..
This is a unique approach to an urban beehive. 10 points for creativity though I don’t know how practical this would be. As the plight of the honeybee becomes more known we will see more and more innovative ways to work bees into our everyday lives.
On the one hand it would be great to have a garden hive in every backyard, on the other if you have a bunch of hives that are not managed correctly you may create more problems with disease and pests than you solve by supporting a larger bee population.