This is a journal I will be keeping to document my experiences, both successful and unsuccessful, in beekeeping. This will be my first year, 2011, keeping bees. We'll see how it goes. I will be keeping bees naturally, letting them build on foundationless frames, and without medication. This is also my first blog I have ever done and I am by no means a journalist or English major. So, if you see grammatical errors of any and all kinds don't be surprised. The looks of things on the blog will probably change several times before I come up with something that I like.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Man's Foot

I learned something pretty neat today.  I was reading back through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping and noticed something that I had missed.  It talked about a bee sting remedy that I had never heard about before.

The remedy was to apply a poultice of crushed or chewed plantain leaves on the sting to relieve pain and itching.  Now I had no clue what a poultice was, or what a plantain leaf looked like.  The only plantain I knew of was the fruit that looked like a banana.  So, I did what any person does now when they don't know what something is, I Googled it.

A poultice is a soft warm mass, hence the chewing of the leaf part.  The book said that the plantain growed wild in most of the United States, (I am a very outdoorsy kinda guy and consider myself to know more about nature than the average bear) but I had never heard of or seen it (to my knowledge).  Well it turns out that the plantain plant does grow everywhere, I have it all in my yard and have seen it everywhere.

I used to pick this weed out of my yard with a tool that I bought several years ago that was awesome at removing dandelions, root and all.  I guess I won't be doing that anymore, the dandelions either, having bees now I probably will not mind them growing in my yard as much.

I found out that the plantain wasn't just good for bee stings, but a number of things including:  mosquito bites, poison ivy rash, sunburn, eczema, burns, cuts, and toothaches.  Seems that this is more of an ointment than a weed.  It is also known as jewelweed, plantain major, and white man's foot.  The term white man's foot was phrased by Native American's who said the plant seemed to grow where ever the white man settled.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Latest Reads

While I have only read a limited amount of books on Beekeeping I think the latest one is the best of all. 

A few months ago I found a book by Karl Von Frisch called" The Dancing Bee" in my local library that was pretty good.  It just became too technical for me to follow very well.  While I did learn quite a lot from his book, these are the main points that I can think of.   This is where I found out exactly where the beeswax comes from.  And, what shapes bees can actually see.  He did a lot of experiments with the honey bee and proved most of his theories with them.  I also learned in more detail about a honey bees anatomy including, the pollen basket, the five eyes, and the honey stomach and how it performs. 

My latest read was Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer’s
"The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping."  This book was a great read.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping

It was very easy to follow and they keep your attention throughout the book.  Dean and Laurie are avid treatment free and artificial feed free beekeepers. They stick to their story throughout the book and explain the reason why they believe the way they do.  They walk the beginning beekeeper throughout getting started and give the experienced beekeeper a turning point to get away from harsh chemicals and unnatural feeding.

I kept a few notes as I read through the book.  These are some things that I didn’t know and thought would be helpful in the future:
  • There are six days between when the egg hatches and when that egg is capped.  During that time the larva increases in weight more than 500 times with virtually no waste.
  •  A queen works in spirals laying eggs on the comb.
  •  The alarm pheromone smells a lot like banana oil, therefore, avoid eating bananas in the apiary. 
  •  If you feel something dripping “UP”, it probably is not sweat.
  •  Bees can barely sting through dishwashing gloves.
  •  Pheromone can remain on clothing unless they are washed.
  •   Feeding:  an emergency measure not a regular management practice (exceptions-newly established colonies)
  •  Feeding bees communicates “there is a flow”.  Bees should be stimulated by nature, not when we decide to feed.
  •  Resist the temptations of short term gains and work for long term sustainability.
  •  When inspecting the hive, the first frame pulled should be the frame with the least population to keep from rolling bees and possibly the queen.
  •   If you have to replace a queen, dispatch her and put her in a small jar of alcohol.  Dab this Lure Tincture on a popsicle stick and place it inside a swarm trap works great…...  This one kind of confused me.  Wouldn’t the smell of alcohol deter the bees from taking up residence in a trap with just a hint of alcohol?  Maybe essential oil of lemongrass is a better way to go.  I’m open for suggestions.
  •  Keeping bees is a lot like falling in Love.  Both provide a lot of sweetness tempered with an occasional sting.
Dean and Laurie also go into queen rearing quite extensively.   While this maybe something to go into later for my own stock, I just hope I can get my colonies to overwinter.  They offer easy suggestions for just about every aspect of beekeeping.  If you have not read this book, I strongly recommend it.  It can be found on Amazon right now for $7-$10.

If you know of other books you would recommend please leave me a comment below.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My email is on "Backwards"

I recently emailed "Backwards Beekeepers" with a couple of questions and some compliments.  I got a reply back a little while ago answering my questions and they let me know the email was gonna be on their blog.  It may not be much to some, but I thought it was pretty nice. (I was actually very excited.) The email can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Little Helper

I just found some pics from last year of my little helper.  This is my son.  He was so excited to get to help out that day.  We were at my wife's uncle's house, Carl, who was the one who got me interested in beekeeping again.


I got the first coat of primer on the hives.  After seeing several videos of bees entering hives I've noticed that the bees don't actually use the landing board.  So, I'm not sure if I'll build another one or not.  Probably not.  I have one of the telescoping covers made and both inner covers. I just never took a picture of them.

Getting Started Building the Hive(s)

Over the past winter I have been working on building the hives from scratch.  What an experience that was.   I think for future supers I will just purchase them locally,
or do rabetted joints instead of finger joints.

I had not made the bottom boards at this point.

 I finally made the bottom board.