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.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marked the Queen

The bee tree bees are doing great. I have been checking on them periodically to make sure they are doing good. They have only went through about 12oz. of 1:1 sugar water. They stopped drinking it sometime last week. I got a little worried about the queen last week. I did a quick inspection and couldn't find her. I looked for eggs to avail as well. (I could've just not saw them) I closed everything up and let them be for another week.

I had recently purchased a queen catcher, marking tube, and paint pen from a local supplier and decided I would delve back into the hive to see if I could find and mark her.
While looking through the frames I finally saw eggs, LOTS of them.   

It appears that she will have a great brood pattern. Apparently, I overlooked the eggs before because there were some larvae that was well along in development. Whew, that's a relief.

I have read that, when marking a queen for the first time, it's a good idea to practice first on some drones.  Now I have several marked drones in my hive.  HaHa.  Now it was time to find the queen.  I looked at each frame carefully, only to get to the last one and not find her.  So, I went back through them again scanning what seemed like each bee.and found her on frame 8.  She was a little bit skiddish of going into the marking tube, but she finally went in and I was able to get her marked and released back on the frame that she came off of. 

I have noticed that some of my drones have been flying out of the hive today and yesterday.  I can only assume that this means it is now swarm season. 

I did take a picture of some of the new, or newly reused comb that they are making.
There were some more comb that they were building that was much browner than this.  I asked on Beemaster why this would happen and learned that bees will reuse older comb to make new comb elsewhere, thus making the new comb have a brownish tint. 

They have started attaching the old comb, that was tied into the frames, so I have now removed all of the fishing line that was holding it in place.  It seems all is well so far.

Till next time, thanks for reading.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Checking on the Bee Tree Bee's

We done the bee tree cutout on Wednesday, 4-13-11,  I left the hive there at the base of the old tree for two days.  I went last nite, 4-15-11, in the rain to pick them up.   I left them there so they could get used to every thing and hopefully not abscond on me.  I setup them up in my back yard this morning.  I still hadn't found the queen yet so I decided to really go thru the hive and check things out.

I saw a few hive beetles.  One or two of the bees had DWV.  I wasn't able to get a picture of them.  I checked the frames one by one and on the 9th frame I found her.  Can you find her.  Clicking on any of the photos will allow a larger picture to be view and it will allow you to zoom by clicking once more.

She is circled in this image.  It's the same picture.
I have a few of her close up here.

Click on this next picture for a closer look.  You can see the queen and a nasty visitor on one of the bees.  I didn't see this until now while editing the pics for this blog post.  It's a mite, the nasty little blood suckers.  (that's a bad thing, I don't care if you do like the twilight saga, sorry that just poped in my head and had to say it.)  If you can't find it or her highness, they are both circled in the next picture down.  It's also enlarged a bit for easier viewing.  You may be able to find more in these pictures, I didn't.

What a joy it is working with the bees. 

I have a few drawing my five year old son drawed for me of us working with bees over the past few days.  I just had to show them.  I told him I was going to put them on my blog so everyone can see, and he smiled and said on your computer and then ran and gave me a hug. 

Here's working on the bee tree.

Going thru the hive when we got them home.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  It was fun making the hide and seek photos.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Found the criminals, (I believe)

We have a local radio station in town, WYSH.
As a matter of fact, its just about 1/2 of a mile from my house. They have a program that runs in the morning called "Trading Time" This is where any one who has anything to buy, sell, trade, or give away, can call in and advertise for free.

As I stated in a previous post, I won't be getting my package in until May 3rd. And, I believe that is when they will be shipped, not when I get them. Any way, I told you about "Trading Time" for a reason. I called in Monday morning on my way to work and advertised that I was looking for open swarms, If anyone knew where any were to give me a shout. I had no sooner set the phone down in my lap and it rang.

Dang, I thought, that was quick. I answered and they man stated that he didn't have a swarm, but had a bee tree that been on his property for over 6 years.  He would like for someone to have them that would take care of them.  I went through the usual questions, making sure they were honeybees, no chemicals had been sprayed on them, etc., etc.  All questions were answered the way I'd hoped they would be.  I asked him where abouts he lived at.  He lived only about 400-500 yards away from me.  Since he was so close, I believe that these wear the bees that had robbed out the dead nuc I had.  After the conversation was over, I told him I would be by to take a look after work. 

Wow, a bee tree.  Could I handle it?  Should I take on the task of a bee tree just starting out?  Would it be worth it?  After pondering for a while I decided to go for it.  I talked with my beekeeping buddy, Carl, and he said he would come down to help.

I stopped by this mans house to look at the tree.  It was down in a little valley that was kept mowed.  There was one little apple tree at the end of the little grassy field.  Where was the tree, I wondered.  As he led the way, we started to vear off into a thicket.  Walking about 50 feet into the brush there was a split trunk cedar tree, with one of the trunks dead and rotting to some degree.  "This is it", he said.   I looked around in amazement, because I had never seen a hive in the wild like this.  Nor did I think that there were any around.  I felt like I could do this and didn't think it would be that much work for some free bees.  I called Carl to tell him what everything looked like.  He said, "lets do it".  He was just as excited for me as I was. 

Today was the day.  I got Carl and we went to the bee tree.  To make an even longer story short, we ended up doing a cutout on the tree instead of cutting a log section where the hive was.  This was because we couldn't get the tree to fall because the top was entangled in some of the overgrowth in the thicket.

We cut a big section out of the side of the tree to gain access to the comb.  And boy, was there a lot of bees.

We began gently pulling comb and tying it into frames.  All the while looking for her highness.  That is a very time consuming task.
The hive had some big black ants that had taken up residence just above it.  I only saw one small hive beetle during the whole cutout. 

The queen, who never graced us with her presence, seemed to have a good brood pattern.  The above picture doesn't seem like it, but there was brood in the open spots.

After getting most of the comb and bees in the new hive,  we set it at the base of the tree and smoked the bees down so they would hopefully start to go in. 

I tried to get some good pics of them going in but wasn't too successful.  It is very hard to remember to take pictures every once in a while and do the cutout.   I was very pleased to see them marching in with the others fanning away at the entrance.  We are not for sure that the queen went in.  I had added a lemongrass lure in the hive to draw them into the hive.  Prior to adding it, the bees were staying in the hive and not trying to fly back out.  So I can only hope that she is in there.  Carl said that he believed that she was or they wouldn't have stayed in there so easily.

The hive was left at the base of the tree they were originally cut out of so the extra stragglers will be able to find there new home over the next day or two.  These were very gently bees, and apparently are excellent survivor stock.  I can only hope that all will continue to go good with them.

I said these were free bees but in the end, it looks like they will cost me the price of a new chain saw, as the one I used was borrowed and it locked up on me halfway through the whole ordeal.  Ugh.  I keep telling myself that I will never borrow again, for that reason.  And, I got popped four times during the three and a half hours we were there.  Once on the neck before I was decked out with a jacket (not sure why that happened and they were so gentle two days prior.  I was able to stand right at the entrance without any problems) and three times on my fingers through the glove. 

Here is a short video of them fanning and marching in.  Its viewing from the top of the hive down to the landing board.  The tree they are clumped on is the bottom of the cedar they were in.

This was a very welcomed site at the end of the job.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.