Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buckingham Beekeeping Club Presents 2012 Beginners Beekeeping Course!!!

2012 Beekeeping Workshop Series

Door Prize to be awarded at the April class:
One Starter Bee Hive!
Must attend at least 3 of the 4 classes to qualify for drawing. Hive does not include bees.

Starter Hive donated by: Oxner Apiaries- Honey, Bee Supplies, Swarm Retrieval, and Nucs.

January 18th:
Beginning Bee Keeping
7:00 p.m.

February 15th:
How to Build a Hive – hands on instruction
7:00 p.m.

March 21st:
Environmental & Seasonal Changes for Bee Hives
7:00 p.m.

April (TBD):
Hands on working a Hive
Date, Time & Location to be determined (must attend 2 of the first three classes to be authorized for this class.

Please RSVP by January 10, 2012 to Buckingham Extension (434) 969-4261

Cost $10.00, includes all instructional and take home materials

The Buckingham Extension office

Monday, November 28, 2011

Light Weight Hives

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I did, the weather was wonderful (for me) and I got a ton of work done on the little things I have been putting off for so long.

Well the weather has been nice this fall, too nice in my opinion for the bees. We have had many days well above average. With these warm temps come active hives consuming honey they normally wouldn’t be consuming. After all they are flying but what are they getting? Maybe some water, but that’s it. Not only this all this flying early in the winter reduces their lifetime through winter…

No one really knows what this all means, but in my mind a warm fall can be death to already light or weakened hives. I know I have been checking on my 60 hives a few times, lifting the back and comparing “weight”, I need to buy me a scale… maybe next year… anyway most of my hives are ok, not great but ok with honey weight. While others have eaten all their stored honey and would starve before December if not fed. Some hives have a ton of honey, but it aint many of them…

The weather has been so crazy, I have even seen with my own eyes maples blooming and bees working the blooms!!! Come on Mother Nature really? Maples blooming in November?

The purpose for this email is just to make sure everyone is at least “tipping” their hives to make sure they are heavy, remember in normal winter we 50-60lbs of honey, but so far this has not been a normal winter and in my opinion that 50-60 lbs might be like 20-30 lbs left in the hive if not all gone…

It doesn’t take 3 seconds, so get out there and lift those hives… (make sure you take that heavy rock off the top first!)

I have been using fondant (300lbs so far) on my top bars with a spacer to feed my bees, I expect to have fed about 10 lbs per hive by April, so that’s not a lot per hive ($10 worth). To me an ounce of prevention is worth a ton. To me this also doesn’t have anything to do with survivability, yeah some will do better than others, but none had a huge surplus of honey, if they did I had pulled it and extracted it anyway… so to me this has to do with an abnormal fall and human intervention created a recipe for disaster.

Remember a few lbs of fondant or even dry sugar on newspaper is far cheaper than the loss honey next spring or the price and ramp up of a package to fill the deadout… to me its all about agriculture and taking care of your animals. You feed your cat after all and they can catch mice and birds right?

We are going to be getting seasonal weather soon this week, so that’s awesome. It’s about time!

Again I hope this finds you and your bees well and don’t forget to order your new hive equipment for next year now while most manufactures have free shipping and you have some spare time on those cold winter days to assemble equipment….

Thursday, October 13, 2011


So i will be honest, i need to do an updated post regarding my hive inspections last weekend, but i need to find the time to do so in detail...

Anyway, i was reading an article on the Black Plague and came upon this quote which i felt spoke to the current issues our bees face today, or what some people call CCD...

"You had an immune-compromised population living in London under stressful conditions who were then hit with a new pathogen," Hendrik Poinar, a co-author of the paper and an evolutionary geneticist at McMaster University, told USA Today"

I have always believed and still do that CCD is nothing more than stress, bad health, poor feed, and new pest.

As many of you know, if you have talked to me in person, i believe the die offs etc are nothing more than stress caused by a poor food supply, so many of todays locations are limited and maintained by us humans, such as mono-culture farms, lawns cut every week, hedge rows sprayed, and fields cut 3-4times a year. Weeds (diverse flora) no longer exist. I was told a few years back by my mentor (while saying she should cut her field), that "this overgrown field provides more forage than a planted field of clover". She is right and i have seen it, i now cherish the 2-3 year old uncut fields around my house.

Anyway, just figured i would post something related to both bees and humans... i have long said humans will perish the same as the bees when not fed correctly, not maintained correctly when needed, and a new pest comes along... heck look at most of the American population these days...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wild Weed ID Guide

Found this awesome Weed ID guide on the internet.

If you have a slow connection dont try it, its a large file...

Not all are shown, but many are HUGE Honey Bee friends...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Unknown Fall Bee Plant

This plant grows in the fields, mostly shady edges around my house in may places. Last year the bees tore it up and it is just starting to bloom now in central VA. It grows from about 2 foot to about 4-5 foot tall with wonderful little yellow flowers.

Any help identifying it would be appreciated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Russian Brood Patterns

This is a picture i took last friday while inspecting my hives. By far the Russians had the best brood patterns. Although they are known for their wall to wall brood patterns unlike other races who will have the "typical" circular patterns...

Anyway, these Russians came from Charles Harper and have been doing great. I installed them in April and they have provided me with atleast 2 splits each this year if not 3 in some cases!!!!

I did find out that they MUST have open comb available or they will swarm... fortunantly i caught the queen...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A tribute to my late dog

Just was thinking about my animals and thought of my late dog who died from a coyote attack. She was a rescue beagle that i got about 2 years ago, i had her for about a year. She was a wonderful dog like most beagles and loved riding in the truck.

Since then i have gotten another beagle, this one a small blue tick beagle that is an awesome dog as well and really keeps the outside enjoyable.

Here is a tribute to my late Pearl...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Winter Pattie Mix

As you may remember back in the winter of 2010/2011 i wrote about and used a marshmallow fondant pattie. These worked great and easy to make. but since i have now grown from 18 hives to 60 things take on different proportions and things done previously dont always make the most sense.

That said i have been researching different options like commerical fondant, marshammalow fondant, and others related to cost and ease of making.

One option is a recipe Kent Williams discussed at the State Meeting, i didnt have a pen and paper, so i found his email address and asked him to send the recipe that way.

I shouldnt share this with yall, since yall should be attending the state meetings... but since others see this in different states i will "let it pass" this time...LOL

Anyway, i am going to be doing the cost analysis of this soon, but feel if i have a way to mix it effectivly than this might be my ticket. I especially like the idea of it involving protien which is needed as the bees start raising brood in January...

You too should start making winter prep plans!

The forumula that "fits best for my needs" is based on 60 hives...

Here is he response email...

The formula that would fit your needs best is 1) 25# bag of sugar - granulated "table" sugar; 2 quarts syrup-mix (made by mixing 6 tablespoons of HBH with 2 quarts of 1-1 sugar syrup) ; 4 to 6 quarts mega-bee or similar protein source. Crushed/powdered pollen is best - if you are confident the source is free from disease and pesticide/fungicide residue. Start with 4 quarts of protein sub and continue adding additional sub until the consistency is similar to dough.
This formula figures (roughly) to 7 parts granulated sugar - 1 part syrup - 2 to 3 parts protein sub, if you want to mix it in smaller amounts.
If beetles are a problem in your area, and if they seem to be attracted to the patties, add 7 or 8 drops of wintergreen oil to each patty when they are placed on the hive. If you do this to one hive in your beeyard, you need to treat all the hives equally. If not treated equally the shb will just move from the treated to the untreated.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bees History and being in this country

Many times i have been told "the bees know better" i don't disagree, but along with this comment usually comes "they have been doing it for millions of years". I have to disagree to a point. Yes honey bees have been around for millions of years, but NOT in North America.

First the German Black Bee was brought over by the settlers in the or so in the 1600's. However, the bee we keep is based off the Italian Honeybee which was not brought over until the mid to late 1800's. which means they have only had a chance to adapt for about 150 years, and of course we have constantly meddled with them as well, which i am sure has slowed their adaptations. As nothing "Man" does ever really works well. Keep in mind 150 years is NOTHING in the life cycle of evolution. Not to mention we keep bees in un-natural boxes. there is NOTHING natural about keeping bees in boxes, topbar hives OR Langs.

So what i am getting at is YES our bees AT TIMES do need our help. After all don't we have an obligation to them since we removed them from their home country and brought them here?

Here is an article that was posted on Bee-L i found an interesting read...


During the early part of last year the Commissioner of Patents at Washington authorized Mr. S. B. Parsons, of Long Island, N. Y., to proceed to Italy, and inquire into the habits of Italian bees, and if, upon investigation, he found them possessing qualities of value which our native bees do not possess, to procure a certain number of swarms and send them to the Patent Office.

He entered upon the duties assigned him, and arrived in the country of the Italian Lakes in April, 1859. After wandering about among the hills of that delightful region for some months, his researches were arrested by the approach of hostile armies, and he was not able to resume them until the following September, when he met an intelligent Bavarian who had established himself in the Grisons, and had devoted himself to the culture of pure Italian bees.
The result of his researches convinced him that these bees possess qualities superior to those of our own, and he ordered for the Department to the full amount which he was authorized to expend, and directed them to be sent by the Arago on the 18th of October from Havre, but by some unaccountable delay they were not shipped until December 28th, from Genoa.

In his investigations, Mr. Parsons says he came to the following conclusions in relation to the Italian bees:

1. That they will endure the cold better than ours.
2. That they swarm twice as often.
3. That they are abundantly more prolific.
4. That the working bees begin to forage earlier, and are more industrious.
5. That they are less apt to sting, and may be easily tamed by kind treatment.
6. That the queen may be so educated as to lay her eggs in any hive in which she is placed, while the bees of such a hive, deprived of their ownqueen, will readily receive her.
7. That its proboscis is longer, and it can reach the depths of flowers which are entirely beyond the efforts of the common bee.
8. That a young queen, once impregnated, will continue fertile during her life—from four to seven years. This quality will insure pure broods, till the whole country is fllled with them.
9. That they are far more brave and active than the common bee; will fight with great fierceness, and more effectually keep the moth out of the hive.

Having read the statement of Mr. Parsons, and learning that Mr. Brackett, of Winchester, in this State, a gentleman who has gained some celebrity as a'skillful cultivator of several varieties of grapes,—had introduced the Italian bee into his colonies, we visited his place a few days since, and examined both bees and grapes for ourselves. In the midst of his delightful retreat, surrounded on all sides but the south by the natural forest, he nestles on the hillside with his pleasant family, his forcing houses, grapes, and other plants, and his twenty odd swarms of bees! He is full of zeal in regard to them all,—and that zeal is so admirably tempered with knowledge, that one cannot fail to gather valuable suggestions upon any of his favorite topics. Mr. Brackett was early called into consultation with Mr. Parsons, and one or two other distinguished apiarians, in regard to the course to be pursued with the Italian bees, and as a part of the policy he has introduced eight pure queens into his colonies, having first by a most ingenious device driven all the drones, or males, of the common bee from his hives. The queen of the common bee and the drone brood being taken away, and a new Italian queen introduced, the natural work was at once entered upon of forming new queen and brood cells, so that the eggs deposited by the new queen would produce the pure Italian bee!

From the experience thus far gained, Mr. Brackett is inclined to confirm the statements made by Mr. Parsons. He thinks their merits have not been overrated, and states that they are more easily managed, and less sensitive to cold than our bees.

From a little work by H. C. Hermann, the Bavarian referred to above, we learn tjiat the yellow, Italian bee is a mountain insect; it is found between two mountain chains, to the right and left of Lombardy and the Rhetian Alps, and comprises the whole territory of Tessir, Veltlin and South Graubunden. It thrives up to the height of 4500 feet above the level of the sea, and appears to prefer the northern clime to the warmer, for in the south of Italy it is not found.
It differs from our common black bee in its longer, slender form, and light chrome-yellow color, with brimstone-colored wings, and two orangered girths, each one-sixth of an inch wide. Working bees as well as drones have this mark. The drones are further distinguished by the girths being scolloped, like the spotted water-serpent, and attain an astonishing size; almost half as corpulent again as the black drones. The queen has the same marks as the working bees, but much more conspicuous, and lighter; she is much larger than the black queen, and easy to be singled out of the swarm on account of her remarkable bodily size and light color.

We engaged with Mr. Brackett in some manipulations, such as taking out the queen bee and a drone or two for examination, and peeping into some of the nuclei which he is forming.

The New England farmer, Volume 12. September 1860

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ramblings in this heat

Well its over 100 deg today and i have a ton of work to do this weekend. Currently have 15 hives bodies, 10 bottoms, and 150 frames to build. Add this to the fact i have 12 hives to feed initially and I'm sure more have used their syrup... i also need to inspect a multitude of hives to see if they are doing well, accepted queens, etc.

Far too much work in this heat, but it will have to get done. I have 13 queens coming possibly Tuesday or Wednesday, i will be selling 3 of those to a friend so that leaves me with 10 splits i will have to make next week.

This will be my last round of splits and will set me at 60 hives assuming everything has been and will be accepted and does well. I have been doing 50/50 splits and this seems to work very well. In fact the parent hives when left in place to receive the foragers have been building out 10 deep frames of foundation within 4-5.5 gallons of syrup which isn't too shabby this time of year. This means that the split will be not far behind them once they build up the difference of bees to account for the foragers they don't have. So basically i have a month from the time the splits are made to be in full double deeps.

This is a little different from my original plan of overwintering all nucs, but this will also give me allot of drawn comb. Essentially what i have when i make the splits is a nuc ready for winter as originally planed, but i have a hard time sitting watching bees do nothing when i know they could be drawing me some wax.

At first i thought wax was the only thing i was receiving for my sugar i am spending, but after thinking and watching i am also having a chance to see how a queen preforms in a larger colony prior to sale in the spring. A true test of performance. It also helps weed out the "junk" early on as the poor queens will not be able to build up like the others, while in a nuc arrangement both a good and poor queen will be restricted possibly falsely equaling the judging. Of course winter will tell who does well and also who is frugal or not.

I will say the queens i have made this year are preforming well, not only for me but for others as well. So alot of my worry and concern have been put to rest when it comes to selling nucs as i have personally worked and seen these other hives out of my control and they look wonderful.

These are my thoughts anyway...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bees Running Off the Comb

well today I recieved my Purvis queens and went to make my splits.

The first went ok, found the queen etc, but I noticed the bees would
run off the comb out of the hive body and pile up on the top edge and
sides like a swarm would. They would do this in both the queenless and
queen right portion. Basically empting the hive of bees and leaving
brood frames. I was able to finish the first split and eventually they
all went back in amd settled down.

Moved on to the second hive and started making the split. This hive was worse. Eventually it got to the point there was no need to continue since every frame I pulled had no bees on it, so I couldn’t find the queen anyway. So I had two boxes with basically swarms of bees festooning on the outside of the boxes. While working this hive I started hearing thunder in the background behind me. Since everything was so bad and no chance of finding the queen, I put the boxes back together, scooped the bees into the hive and closed it up and went inside. In about 30 minutes or less the storm came which had heavy lightening, thunder, and rains for about an hour.

All I can figure is the bees acted this way due to the approaching storm.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Queen Installation and Acceptance?

Well i recieved 3 VP Open Mated Queens yesterday and installed them in my previously made 10 frame splits that had been queenless for 24 hours. They were solid strong splits made via a 50/50 split process. Pretty simple,place two empty bottoms and boxes on the ground beside you, find the queen and remember which box you put her in and basically one frame in that box and one frame in this box. A 50/50 split.

I then feed the QUEEN-RIGHT hive a pollen pattie and syrup while adding an upper deep of foundation. I take the QUEEN-LESS split and place another deep of 8 frames foundation leaving the center two frames out. This gives me room to place the queen cage on top of the bottom frames as seen in the picture below. Once the queen is released in about 3-4 days i simple remove the cage, add a pollen pattie, install a in-hive feeder or install 2 frames and a hive top feeder, depending on the feeder im using.

Anyway, below is a picture after about 15 seconds of laying the queen cage down in the hive. you can see the bees welling up around her passing around her pheromone! They were truley excited to have a queen. The top of the frames where empty of bees prior to laying the queen down...

Pretty neat!!!

BTW, my Dann Purvis queens arrived this afternoon and will be installed them this evening or tommorow depending on how much of this heat i can handle...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hive Updates and Safety

So I returned from vacation on Friday and instantly went to work. I must say I really enjoyed not having anything to do for 7 days! But I have 9 queens coming from VP Queens and Purvis Brothers and I needed 130 frames assembled, hives inspected, hives fed, etc. So I went to work upon my return.

I wanted to mention a few things I noticed this weekend. First the Goldenrod is starting to bloom across the state, and with this rain we have been having it should produce useful nectar and pollen so I am glad to see it. The hives are using it too, they are loading the pollen in. This will help brood rearing this time of year. I have been feeding ½ patties of Bee Pro for three weeks now and it seems the bees are eating it up, all but one hive out of 41 eat everything and remove the paper in 7 days… I wont feed too much right now with good pollen coming in, but I have 22 more splits to make and need the brood.

I notice a few large hives having trouble fighting varroa, a lot of deformed wing virus (DWV), but these hives recently swarmed and maybe and hopefully this is caused by the break in the brood cycle and the varroa crowding all in the last remaining larva to be capped prior to the new queen laying, so maybe its just a short term issue, one hive in particular has been keeping the mites in check since last summer. But who knows. This is the time of year to think about treatments in the fall. I am looking at Oxalic Acid Vaporization along with testing the Api-Guard Thymol gel and Formic Acid Mite Away Quick Strips I have. I have never tried any of it, but don’t want to lose bees either. I won’t treat across the board as I do want to select breeders, but there is no reason to lose hives if I don’t have to. I can always requeen the “losers” after treatment.

One thing I learned yesterday was BEE CAREFUL when working bee hives. I am 29 years old and although not competing in the World’s Strongest Man competition, I can hold my own when working outside. However, I must be getting old. While feeding bees (yes feeding) I hurt my back. Folks at work are saying my Cyanic Nerve or maybe a compressed disc. I was lifting multiple 5 gallon pails of syrup at about 50lbs each one at a time and using an oil pump for a 5 gallon bucket I bought at Agri Supply to pump syrup into my in-hive frame feeders. Well I noticed my back beginning to hurt while leaning over and pumping etc. Well yesterday afternoon I could barely do anything (but of course had 150 frames in front of me to be assembled). This morning nothing was better and could barly put on my socks. At times it takes my breath away.

So BEE Careful, lift with your knees, and build a syrup truck with a gasoline pump so you don’t have to lean over and pump…LOL I sure hopes this gets better, I have 3 splits to make tonight and 6 tomorrow night, im sure that wont be any fun with this back… But a farm must go on.

After all that’s done, this weekend and next week I have to make 10 bottoms, 15 deep boxes, 150 more frames, not too mention the feeding… oh well I do it to myself.

Maybe I need another vacation? The other bad thing is I have these two $125 queens in hives I was going to use for grafting and have barely had a chance to graft, and when I do I don’t use the queens… I guess it’s a waste of money. I need to get back on the band wagon and go to grafting again.

Here is a picture of my dining room (now my bee room), thanks to my wonderful wife understanding my addiction to bees...LOL this is 150 frames in a pile with another 50 stacked to the left behind the pile...along with queen rearing items, and other bee stuff... i even have a air compressor and staple gun in there to assemble them...LOL My poor wife... if i wasnt such a good husband id feel sorry for her...LOL

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recent Inspections and Observations

Went through a number of hives yesterday, mostly full size hives I haven’t been into in a while. I was worried about queenless mostly, so once I hit eggs and saw solid brood patterns I backed out and felt all was good. I saw no issues yesterday, hives are doing great with large amounts of brood, honey, and pollen. My largest hive and the one that has produced about 110lbs of honey this year must have swarmed, I thought it had but I hadn’t inspected it in a while. During the inspection I noticed a lot of new larva and only a small amount of capped brood, which means to me a break in the brood cycle i.e. swarmed.

The other thing I noticed was the full size hives are actually backifilling a little, not too much to worry about, but it shows we still have some nectar and pollen flowing, I assume due to the rain we have been getting recently. So this is really good as it will keep brood rearing going. However, not enough flow to draw out foundation on their own, so if you have foundation left to draw you need to feed… I was really impressed with the brood patterns and amount of brood in the hive.

I have also been please thus far with my Russians. Brood from corner to corner and fairly gentle. A little runny on the comb, but gentle. So we shall see how the do this fall, winter, and spring.

I also noticed my large honey hive talked about above is having trouble with varroa loads, I am seeing a number of bees with deformed wing virus. I assume what may have happened is that when the hive swarmed the last batch of larva to be capped received very heavy mite loads as they were the last round of brood to be capped so all the mites rushed in. So we will see how the hive recovers as more new brood hatches. However, this hive I have noticed a little more mite issues than others, but in its defense it has been VERY strong and has been the ONLY hive I have not split all year, so its been abnormally large compared to the rest and had more bees so my observation could very well be skewed due to this.

I believe in 2 weeks when I pull honey supers I will do mite samples and see where my mite numbers sit and make a decision from there regarding any possible treatments. I have been thinking about using Oxalic Acid Vaporization to “whiten my frames” using the JB200 from (you know i like pretty frames!). I have a friend in MA that uses it and recommends it and has used it in all temperatures. One side benefit to Oxalic is that not only does it whiten your frames (wood bleach) you also get the side benefit of mite control… BTW its illegal in the USA to use Oxalic Acid for mite control, but using it to whiten your frames is a legal use…

Well not much to do for your bee hives, just enjoy them and make sure nothing is going wrong. Please do inspections and not just assume everything is ok because “the bees are flying”. If you have foundation to draw continue to feed 1:1 syrup and I would add a pollen pattie to help with brood production. When you have 7 out of 10 frames drawn, move those 3 undrawn frames inward staggering them (foundation/comb/foundation/comb) etc in the middle to aid in building comb, then add another box of foundation above and continue feeding doing the same rotation as before.

As the middle o July approaches or maybe later depending on rain (nectar being produced), brood production will slow down due to lack of pollen coming in, so to keep your bees strong feed a ½ pollen pattie per hive per week, once they consume they ½ pattie in one week and its completely gone, add a whole pattie. This constant feed coming in will keep the queen laying and make sure you have a healthy large population of young bees going in to winter…

I hope everyone is enjoying their bees and keep up the good work!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bee Flowers and a Good Laugh!

Well, this weekend was spent shearing alpacas, checking on some hives, and on sunday driving around on the fourwheeler looking at bee forage.

Here is a picture of Reggie our alpaca, with Rockie behind him... Kinda a cross between a poodle and a deer...LOL

Here are a few pictures of somewhat unknown plants my bees work like crazy. I believe the pink flower is spotted knapweed, the white things i have no idea but i have about 10 acres of it in the hay fields, and of course the ole sourwood!

The bees work the white field bell flowers like crazy in the evening as well as what seems to be the thisle all day. Im not sure about the Sourwood trees... i will be digging up some of the sourwood saplings shortly to relocate closer.

BTW DONT CUT YOUR WEEDS... they probably are bee plants...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sugar Syrup Pumps

I have been struggling for some time about the “sugar water” issue I have and will have on my hands this year. Making so many splits requires a lot of feeding, both pollen patties and sugar water. The pollen patties I will just buy, no issue here other than money… but the syrup is an issue. Not only do I have to buy the sugar, I have to mix it, haul it, and of course fill feeders with it.

Currently last Sunday I fed 160lbs of sugar or about 40 gallons of syrup all by carrying a 5 gallon bucket and dipping a cup… this is time consuming, a pain in my hind parts, and messy at times which is not something I have once late July gets here… so I sent out a request for info per Bee-L and got some great responses some on-list and some off-list.

It boils down to TWO solutions for me, one more expensive than the other. Of course the most expensive one is the easier all the way around regarding mixing AND delivering. One solution a friend uses up North is a 5 gallon sprayer with the nozzle removed filling it up using a drummed pre-filled with sugar water via a spicket at the bottom. This is pretty cheap costing only for the morter mixer ($90), the drum and spicket (free?), and the sprayer (4 wheeler mounted or backpack ($90)). But this requires possibly heating water etc which is time consuming.

The other solution is using a gas powered trash pump, large tank, delivery hose and handle (like a gas pump handle), and a by-pass hose back into the tank. What this system does is recirculate the syrup to mix it via the bypass hose. I have been told even 2:1 will mix in cold water this way. These pumps range from the cheapest at $250 to about $1,000, then the hose, tank etc. I expect id have about $500-$600 in this system at least. But the time savings is a huge thing as I wont have to mix the syrup or heat the water!!!!

We shall see what I do this year, as I will be eventually feeding about 120 gallons a week at times to build foundation etc, so the gas system is more practical but more costly. I will also have to dedicate a truck to it as well for the most part…

Here are a few pics a friend Bill Lord in NC of his trash pump system, he eventually changed to a larger tank with the large “water” cap on top making pouring the sugar in easier.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A few updates and my new quick electric bee fence

If you didnt go to the VSBA meeting this weekend, you missed out. Some high points some low points, but overall worth the cost and two days. I went to two good friends, met up with a few more, and really enjoyed my time. I find it dishearting that there was over 200 folks there, the meetings only occur twice a year, but yet the highest number from any club was 16 attending, and these clubs have hundreds of members. Whats wrong with this picture? i understand people have things to do, but you learn so much from these meetings that help everyone, i even learned how to make soap!!! I just find it odd that folks seem so interested in doing better and learning more about bees, but are not willing to take the day and up to a 2-3 hour drive to socialize and learn far more than they can in a local club, just simply by talking to so many different people. If you go to these meetings talk to others and dont stay to yourself, you learn more by asking question and actualy being a part of these meetings than simply just going to them. It is what it is, but its ashame so many folks missed out. Maybe youl make it to the fall meeting in Wyers cave VA at Blueridge College...

Well after some discussions at the VSBA meeting this weekend, i decided i needed to get off my lazy rump and atleast protect my most expensive queens and 17 hives from bears, after all i have had everything to do it for a year now...

Anyway, i wanted to show everyone how i build a quick electric fence, this is by no means the only way. is this the best way? NO, its not, you should use strong wooden corner post with tensioners and porcelin corner insulaters for strength and a better solar charger. But i didnt have time to plant cedar post etc. NO fence will hold back a bear if he/she wants to get in, but this should deter the snoopper...

You can also see the quick and easy handle arrangments i use, they work great on low tension fences like this.

The charger i am using is not the best and i prefer a stronger charger, but its all i have right now. You really need a large solar charger usually around $300 or a good AC or DC battery charger, these are cheaper, especially the AC ones. The small one i have is better than nothing and is ok, but it doesnt stop or skip your heart, i can grab the wire bare handed, although not fun, not terriably painful, but should pop a bears nose good.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Splits

Well, i received my Russell Apiaries queens yesterday. They left MS Tuesday night and i had them in cumberland by 11:30 Wensday!!! Anyway, i recieved 3 Caucasians, 3 Sunkist Cordovans, and 4 English Buckfast. All were in great shape and were nice size for "mail-order" queens, anytime a queen stops laying for is young for that matter her ovaries shink and she gets smaller. In this case based on my limited experience these queens were laying and pulled quickly and NOT "banked" like many large producers do. So i was happy.

The Sunkist Cordovans are a nice "blond" color as well as the Buckfast queens. The Caucasians were solid black queens, the darkest i have seen, i fidn this funny since us Caucasian folks are white...LOL of course the breed comes from the Caucus Mt region...

So i left work early knowing i would need time to make the splits,and boy am i glad i did, i didnt make the las split until the sun was behind the trees at 8:30!! I had already inspected all my hives a few weeks ago to identify "splitters" so i had that on my side.

I decided to do what i call a 50/50 split, where i laid two boxes beside me on the ground and placed one frame in one box and then the next frame in the other box, deviding the brood, honey, pollen, etc up evenly between the two boxes. Since i was installing queens i absouluty had to find the existing queens, the box that got the existing queen usually got one less frame of brood and in its place i made sure was an empty comb. Either way its not scientific just one here one there. The i placed the existing queen box back at the same location moving the split for the Russell queen somewhere else.

So i did this on 10 hives and thus made 10 single deep drawn comb splits. So each hive had are now a single deep. These are EXTREMLY strong splits and should build up and draw wax VERY quickly, which is my intent. I then placed a 1/2 Bee Pro pattie on each old and new hive. I then placed a second deep with 8 foundation frames and an empty (until sunday) 1.5 gallon Mann Lake cap and ladder feeder on top of both single deeps.

Once i got through doing all that, i then went back i then got my queens ready by removing the cork at the candy end and went to each new split. i removed one foundation frame in the new upper deep and placed the queen cage in the center of the hive NO TOP OF the top bars of the bottom frames with the SCREEN SIDE UP. This provides easy installation, release, etc for the queens and me. The key is to always make sure the exist hole is not blocked and the screen is not blocked so the bees can feed the queen etc.

I will go back on sunday and check for release and if so i will then reinstall the one remmoved frame and add sugar syrup to the feeder. The reason i didnt add syrup yesterday is two fold. For the existing "parent" hive i could have added syrup but i ran out of time. For the new split since i had an empty frame space in the middle for the queen cage i didnt want them building anymore odd burr comb than they already will, so holding the feeding off for a few days limits this issue, also i didnt have time anyway...

So thats my story. I was pleased with the splits and the brood levels, i did notice the hives slowing a bit which is expected now the nectar flow is over and less pollen is coming in. I will be keeping an eye on the pollen levels in the comb and possibly add patties to all hives starting the middle of july or slightly earlier depending on weather etc, last year i added them middle of july, but the weather and rain has helped recently so we shall see.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bee Equipment, Small Hive Beetles, and Cows

Well, Bees, SHB's, and Cows are not related and they dont go together. But i wanted to update everyone on a few things.

First here is a wondeful article about Small Hive Beetles...

Second, The Virginia State Beekeeping meeting is being held on June 17th & 18th, i will be going both days...

Third and MOST Important, i have made some WONDERFUL friends since i started keeping bees. Recently i had some timing issues with some queens that were expected to arrive (they havnt yet) and i was lacking bottom boards. I havnt had a chance to make them like i had planned. Well i sent out an email asking for a few able bodies to help me build them. Many responded and i truley appreciate everyones willingness to help. But in the end i asked 3 gentlemen come over to help. We had a great time even if it was a little hot. It just goes to show how great of a community and world we still live in!!!

Well the way i was cutting my screen for my bottom boards was not all that effcient or great. So one of my friends took it upon himself to build me a wonderful "screen cutting jig". Its awesome. Not only that he and another good friend came over while i was at work this week and cut 50 pieces of screen with it!!!

I hope to one day pay all my friends back for everything they do for me. I do truely appreciate them all! Thank Yall!!!

Here are two pics of the jig:

BTW, i also have a steer calf now i bought from some of my good bee friends... Here are some pics i took recently.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grafting Success

Well, checked my grafted cells after 48 hours and 6 out 0f 16 look text book!!! They are slam full of royal jelly and the drawn wax is text book (i checked the books afterwards...). I am very pleased with this as this is my first attempt ever at grafting. I felt very comfortable while grafting after the first attemps and now feel confident i can produce enough queens for myself if not more.

However, we are not out of the woods yet, the queens i produce still need to be mated and tested to make sure they are carring traits i want. That said all the queens i have let them make on their own have been excellant.

I did increase the nurse bee numbers yesterday in the starter/finisher, it was weaker than it should have been, but thats my fault. After all really i was only playing with my grafting skills and not really anticipating actually making queens to finish...

Monday, June 6, 2011


So its been a while since i last posted something and alot has been going on atleast in other areas of my life... But back to bees which is what this blog is about after all...

I currently have 32 viable hives, was supposed to have recieved 10 queens from Russell Aparies this past week but have not recieved them so my plans are beginning to be pushed.

In the lack of timely queens i have 14 hives that are fully ready to share 5 frames for a split and more if i wanted to. So since i have hives ready i decided to start grafting for the first time off my Glen Aparies AI VSHxCarnolian queen. I recently recieved two AI'ed queens from Glen's one Pure VSH and one VSHxCarnie. They have been accepted and laying great!

Anyway, i felt pretty comfortable with my grafting especially as i got near the later larva i grafted, i grafter a total of 16 larva and i am sure messed that many up i left in the cells. So today i will pull the cells and see how they took...

My overall goal is to be at 50 splitable hives by the end of July. What this means is that i have 50 hives that can be split into at bare min. 5 frame nucs. but hopefully more drawn frames than just 5. I plan to overwinter these in a total 0f 8 deep frames with a 1.5 gallon Mann Lake cap and ladder feeder in a single 10 frame deep box all pushed together on a pallet.

I have also been very very very pleased with the Queens i got last year from Zia Queens, i recieved 5 of their Rocky Mt. Reinas and they have been my top preformers all year, whether its honey production, comb production, or split production. Since they have met and far exceeded my expectations i have decided to purchase 13 more of them to add to my genetic pool.

The Russians are doign very well so far. They are just hatching their second round of brood so the hives are what i call Russian. They are building great. I do notice a little runnyness on the frames but nothing i havnt seen before in Italian hives... the queens can also be elusive. They are by far my hardest queens to find, whether its from the darker brown color or maybe they hide. Either way i have trouble finding them and usually dont have any trouble finding other queens even unmarked...

One last thing i wanted to mention is the fact that this week has brought major change to my hives i have been feeding. Before these new hives have been taking syrup but at a slow pace, in some cases slow enough to ferment even with HBH. I feed them last weekend all 1.5 gallons and now less than one week they sucked it dry!!! This means as i had expected with the dry weather and heat the nectar flow is over. So for all those new beeks or new hives if they havnt been taking syrup before, you better "test" them and see, because from what i am seeing across about 15 hives i am feeding things have changed for the worst and they will need feeding or else they will starve.

I would also watch the frames and make sure they have ample pollen, currently i see atleast one solid frame of pollen plus the normal bands around brood. What i do is watch for this extra frame of pollen to be eaten, once i no longer find a "pollen frame" i start feeding pollen patties. Last year i started mid july feeding 1/2 lb of pattie and once they consumed 1/2 lb in 7 days i would give them a whole pattie. I continue until i see them storing it like real pollen (most patties are consumed by nurse bees and not stored until they have access). Once i start seeing the brown looking patties stored in the cells in abundance i then back off and use this "storage gauge" to tell me when to start back feeding. After all i dont want to cause them to become honey or pattie bound. But this assume bi-weekly inspections, so if you dont like doing inspections frequently i would feed patties once a week until they slow down taking it. Patties are by far cheaper than buying bees (packages are $80 something...)...

Well i think thats it. If i have viable queen cells and cant use them i will notify everyone and first come first serve can have the cells. I just dont have the mating nucs to be able to produce mated queens for sale right now. Maybe next year on that...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awe Inspiring Video!

I watched this video in awe and faded back to my younger years (yes i have younger years) in which i used to stop and smell the roses, now i just seem to walk past them... it made me remember the younger me fascinated with everything natural from digging holes to catching caterpillars to keep and hatch. I guess this is why i am into bees so much.

But what this video also made me do is think once more if i am doing right by my family and life. Do i have too much going on and rush through my chores instead of spending the time sitting and relaxing watching time go by, looking and watching the sky and stars, am i spending enough time with my girls? I don't know if it was the video or just me, but it had me almost teary eyed with wonder and thought.

Should i cut back? i don't spend a whole lot of time on my hobbies, but they keep me busy enough to mold my schedule. Should i cut back. I have things pretty efficient nowadays with watering and fencing etc? I maybe spend 30 mins an evening with them. But should i be more focused? would i be happier? i don't know for sure. I am a busy body by nature and on a rainy day even while doing things indoors that need to be done, find my self anxious to get outside and work. So i cant say if i would be happier with less. With summer and the girls growing up they can "help" me, and enjoy feeding the piggies and baby chickens, this i find a wonderful things and need to do more of.

But i still wonder is life passing me by with out be even glancing as it passes?


Monday, May 16, 2011

All things BEES

I inspected my hives this weekend for two things, the large ones for swarming, and the smaller ones for needing more boxes.

Well i used a few deeps, removed feeders on some, and installed a number of mediums... all in all they are building wonderfully. The big hives do not show signs of swarming like they once did. most have laid in my super above the brood nest on a few pieces. I am wondering if what i did stopped the swarming instinct? Basically on 4 hives i removed about 2 brood frames to asist other weaker hives and installed foundation there, i had always an empty super above them and then any honey supers above that, that had honey in them, and i cut swarm cells out for 2 weeks in a row. Now they seem happy to stay although i will keep an eye on them. I now also see no signs of backfilling like a few weeks ago. I belive removing 2 brood frames, cutting swarm cells, and always having an empty super above them worked!!! we will find out again next year.

One other thing of note is the fact that i have 2 hives at my father-in-laws about a miles through the woods. I have made 3 rounds of splits up there and ever generation gets "darker" to the point they are now almost all black from what i have seen this past week. They are also some of my most defensive bees as well. The others i can work wit no smoke etc, but these without smoke will explode on you. If you use smoke they are very workable and calm down. So they are not that bad.

In my opinion there has got to be some feral hives past his house away from mine in which the queens are mating with and the ones at my home are not. I do not see this change at my home.

They are def. showing the traits of the so called german black bees or Apis Melifera Melifera.

I am wondering what to do with them to be honest and that yard... i do know they build up wonderfully and have been some of my strongest and best bee and wax producing splits i make...

All things NOT bees

We had a good weekend, the girls were having fun feeding the chickens friday, got two tamworth piglets (one male and one female) on saturday, and i inspected all my hives to see if they needed more boxes and if the big ones were going to swarm.

Here are a few pics:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2 more new hives

Went to New Kent yesterday after work to my parents place. He has 4 full size hives and 1 recent swarm hive. One of his hives he has been cutting swarm cells out for 3 weeks now trying to push them for honey. Well upon inspection to make a split as he was tired of digging into it every week, the hive had 2 full mediums of honey, about 10 swarm cells capped, and i found one OPENED queen cell. Upon further inspection as by looking at this hive you would have never known it had swarmed, i got luckly and found the virgin queen! Anyway, since they were still cramed i went ahead and made an 8 frame medium split with all the swarm cells.

The next hive was fine and moving along drawing out a super and storing a little honey right now.

The next one was borderline swarming, say some backfilling but hes going to push it a little too, i will probably go back in 2 weeks and make a split.

The next hive which has been hanging out front during the rain and cold (see pic below) was working on super foundation and had 3 swarm cells, 2 capped and open being extended, so i made an 8 frame medium split as well on this one and dispersed the foundation frames in the middle brood nest to open it up. Even after splitting heavy the hive still sat out front heavy even when i left at 8:30... pretty wild really.

His recent swarm he got at my Grandma's has brood and doing fine, other than building comb every which way but on the foundation...LOL that will be fixed later as they grow and can handle comb removal... they seemed to build comb between the foundation...

I now have 32 hives...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Expanding Expectations and the Hard Road

I normally wouldn’t write this kind of stuff, but it’s on my mind at the moment. I sit back at times and wonder not how I do what I do, all I do, but why I do what and all I do. Currently I have a wonderful wife, 2 twin girls, 1 baby on the way, 3 alpacas, 3 sheep, 30 chickens, 3 hogs, 1 steer to be, 2 dogs, a half acre garden, and 30 hives right now.

My plan is to have say 50 full size hives by the end of July and split them into 2 overwinter nuc, this will give me 100 nucs to tend to in the fall and winter. Then in early spring when they are ready to go into 10 frame hives I will then sell them before they need transfer. This will provide the new beek an overwintered proven queen and the possibility of honey their first year as they will be receiving a nuc prior to packages etc. This cannot be said for spring made nucs. Then with say the 50 nucs I keep they will build up for me and will need splitting again, so I will then sale spring made nucs. All this will provide me with a hobby that will pay for itself and hopefully make this business plan worthwhile.

However, the issue is getting there with my sanity in tacked. Currently my biggest battle is keeping up with equipment needs (I am behind on making screen bottoms and medium frames), and keeping up with the larger hives keeping them from swarming, which in the cases of my honey hives means weekly inspections and fingers crossed. But in the other hives that are growing they are bumping on swarming and in some cases I have split some into three hives due to swarm cells.

I also have far too many hives where I park (I believe about 15 or so now and some of my largest), this is starting to cause problems, and will cause problems once the populars stop blooming and these starting hitting the ground clover… So I need to move these hives and organize them all. But this has to be done at night and I have put it off for a while. The problem is this area keeps getting new bees…LOL

So currently week head plans will probably include another round of splits and possibly breaking my honey hives down and calling my honey amounts, but we will see. Based on what I can remember I have maybe 8-9 hives that need splitting with another possibly 3 at my dads I am inspecting this afternoon. Doing this and being aggressive means at or over 40 hives. I need to make sure I have 2 available for next Friday when my fancy Glen Apiaries Queens arrive at $123 each including shipping!!! Then I have another 10 queens from Russell Apiaries coming the first week in June. So I need to make sure I have enough hives strong enough to be split by then as well. I should but need to be sure.

I am struggling with the idea of splitting as I have been doing all I can including having some hives in 3 deeps to keep swarming off in prep for my Russell queens, but I also want to take advantage of the nectar flow for build up, and in some cases hives are not waiting till the first week in June! So splitting will occur. Most of my large hives could be split right now into 3 or 4 splits and build up fine, so splitting one hive off should be just fine.

I guess in the end I am worrying too much, I know in the back of my head I can make the hives if needed even from stealing 1 frame from 5 small hives and making a 5 frame split, after all I have 30 hives… But I worry anyways. This is really my main cause of stress is keeping these large hives, wanting to keep all bees, and make many splits. If I just split them down and gave up on anymore honey (after all I am out of drawn comb!), then all I would have to do is feed and inspect every so often, especially after I confirm a laying queen…

You can probably see my broken writing and thoughts that go round and round… but it is what it is.

In the end i am still enjoying all i do, so i will continue!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Updates All over the place...LOL

1) Grandma's swarm is in a hive and doing well...

2) We have sheep (3 ewes for now), so far they have been wonderful. i have built a woven wire fence for them since the pics were taken. they follow you anywhere with corn...LOL

3) I built a Top Bar Hive and Demoed it at the Charlottesville bee club. Its made out of a solid piece of Tobacco Barn Wood off the farm and rough cut air dried pine for the bars. It mimics Dennis Murrell's Kenyan hive closely but not exact due to wood width issues etc. I think its neat!

4) Not Bear Damage: This is how you find out if your girls are too young to be a beekeeper... LOL they did have fun playing with daddy's "Bee Frames"...LOL

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Grandma's Swarm!

Well got a call about an hour ago from my dad, while he and my mom were driving to my Grandma's in Sandston coming down her street they spotted a swarm in flight!!! Well it landed in my Grandma's back yard in her big pine about 10 foot up. So dad ran home and got equipment and as i write this he is working on cutting the limb to get the swarm in his box! Not a huge swarm but bigger than my dogwood swarm so it should be fine.

I will post more as things progress etc.

Here is a pic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crimson Clover Field In Bloom!!!!

Here are some pics of my Crimson Clover field i planted in the late fall that just started blooming yesterday.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Split Update

Well i inspected a few hives yesterday, mostly i was looking to see if the splits i couldn't find signs of queens a few weeks ago were in fact queen less (i only got around to one of those). Well in fact one hive was queen less and full of bees, i had another split that was weak on bees but had a laying queen so i combined them. I still have 2 more "questionable" hives left to inspect again, but currently i have 29 hives and only 1 verified unsuccessful mating from my 8 splits in March, not a bad average as i only assume 80% will mate and return.

I did inspect a few more hives while i was at it, all are doing well except one, one has tons of brood and bees a solid deep and medium of bees in fact but has the worst case of chalk brood i have seen, although not as bad as pictures etc, but the worst case i have personally seen. I don't worry too much about chalk brood as usually its related to moisture and or temps, but in this case i am hedging my bet on moisture, i don't ventilate the tops and maybe this hive just needs a little ventilation to remove the moisture. I am thinking that the hive started out with chilled brood which then led to chalk brood (really the same thing), but due to excess moisture the hive hasn't been able to overcome the issue on its own like typical. The only real remedy for chalk brood is placing the hive in full sun (already is), reduce stress (none known), ventilate (plan on it), and or re-queen. i doubt it is the queen as i have never seen it in my hives other than chilled brood which usually i create via splitting early and heavy, so i doubt my issue is with the queen. So i will ventilate and watch. i assume i can fix this and move on. They have tons of brood, its just spotty with chalk brood, so the population can increase just not like it should...

Just figure i would fill everyone in on whats going on, a little education on chalk brood, and use my issues for your learning experience. Most people don't share their issues, but i find we can only learn from each other, and if we don't share both our good and bad stores we will all repeat them...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend and No Break for the Bee-Keeper!

Easter Weekend and No Break for the Bee-Keeper!

Well Easter weekend was here and went down to visit my family in New Kent VA. Dad has 4 hives and this is his second year. We had placed his drawn medium honey super on his strongest hive a few weeks ago, he runs all mediums. Anyway, I inspected the first 3 and was very pleased, 2 need honey supers on them and 1 needs its third medium since this was the parent of the split I took home since it had started swarm cells… So his hives are doing very very well, I have split a lot (twice already) of my hives and have very few what I call Super Hives, so it was refreshing to work slam full hives again, although not the easiest thing to do…LOL

When I got to his 4 hive and the one with the drawn super, the entire super was filled with honey (not quite capped though). We continued to inspect and found about 10 swarm cells or cups with eggs in them, so since he wants honey and I wasn’t prepared to take home another split and he didn’t want to split, he made the choice to inspect once a week and cut all swarm cells on each frame. A tough task as if you miss one they will swarm… unfortunately for him these bees had made swarm cells in all 3 boxes, so he will have to fully inspect each frame. I always tell folks never have rules of thumb with bees and always inspect, very few were in the typical bottom location where you can see them by lifting boxes, many were in comb irregularities. So inspect!!!

Well I cut all the cells and kept some for the royal jelly and grafting. I normally dont subscribe to cutting swarm cells as I think its working too much against the biology of the bees much like reversing hive bodies in the early spring… Anyway, I cut them all and then removed 2 frames of capped drone brood (these were natural comb frames) and replaced them with foundation to open the brood nest since they were near the center and not on the outside. This should help with brood nest congestion and give the bees something to do. The next thing I did was take another empty medium super with foundation and use the existing 10 honey frames and stagger the frames so that each box had 5 frames of honey with foundation on each side of a honey frame, similar to “checkerboarding”.

So to re-cap, I cut the swarm cells and cups, I removed drone brood and installed foundation to open the brood nest, and I “checkerboarded” 2 honey supers to open the “honey ring” and keep the bees busy. Hopefully all this will help them reverse their thinking and decide “What a second we don’t have queen cells, we have empty brood area, and we don’t have enough honey above us b/c we have empty space…” , maybe all this will stop or slow the inevitable swarm.

If we can get through the nectar flow without swarming it will be a miracle, but might be worth the weekly inspections for queen cells if his honey crop comes in large!!! Once the nectar flow is over we can always split then…

Now I need to check my Honey Hives…

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Russians Released In Buckingham!!!!

Well, yesterday was day #5 for the Russian Queens from Charles Harper. So i wanted to inspect the hives to make sure they were released etc. All in all 7 out of 8 were released and found, some had eggs already!!!

Alot of people worry about installing Russians into non-Russian colonies due to bad acceptance, but all i did was install the queen cages like normal, nothing different at all.

Now for the funny part, remember bees ALWAYS throw you a curve ball! i was at Russian Hive #7 and saw the queen had not been released, the candy had gotten hard, the bees were being nice to the queen (not biting and trying to sting through the screen), so decided i would go ahead and release her, well i pulled the tube ( this queen cage had a tube) and stuck the cage down into the slot between the frames, well she comes out and crawls right up my thumb.... before i could do anything she lifts off and fly's into the great abise.... $32 gone somewhere in Buckingham...LOL

What i did do was leave the top off while i inspected #8. Maybe she made it back but i seriously doubt it. This stuff happens, happened to me once last year with a Zia Queen... so just laugh and chalk it up.

So now i have to go back see if she returned, if she didn't the bees are aging and wont make the best nurse bees anymore so letting them make their own is not an options, i could buy another queen if i could get it within a day or two, but i have enough hives to cut my losses and move on. So more than likely i will take this split and share it's resources with any splits that are my weakest, i have a few that would benefit from a little boost...

I will let you know how the Russians do and your more than welcome to stop by and work them for yourself. I will eventually be moving the hives about 8 miles away just before the first Russian drones hatch since i don't want them in my breeding population until i decide i like them etc... but it will be at least 2 brood cycles (42 days) before the hive will take over any Russian traits...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another new addition to the farm

Well some how i got pawned by my wife to purchase yet another Alpaca...

Her name is Laverne and she will be bred prior to us getting her. She will be pastured with Rocky and Reggie our current Alapcas...

If this keeps up i might have to sell some hives...LOL just kidding...

Garden Bee Yard

This is a quick of my Garden Bee Yard after making all my Russian Splits etc.

I have 31 hives at this point...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Entombed Cells?

Interesting study on entombed cells...

Monday, April 11, 2011


It seems things always happen when you dont have time... LOL

This past Friday i was rushing out the door for a dinner at the extension office and heading to a hunt club work day after that... well walking across the yard i saw a small swarm hanging on a limb on a dogwood, about 1.5 - 2 lbs of bees, so i hived that one. then while walking down the sidewalk about 10 minutes later i saw a much larger swarm (about 4lbs or more) of bees on a boxwood next tot he sidewalk. Seems no matter how many splits you make, how often you inspect, you always can miss something. I have yet to inspect all my hives to figure it out, but maybe they came from feral hives i dont know about or from hives from swarms last year i missed??? who knows, either way today i have 25 hives with 10 Russian queens arriving this week for a total of 35, although i might sell 2 to a friend a work... so maybe 33 hives...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sunday's Hand's On Bee Class

I will be hosting a Hand's On bee class at my house this Sunday starting at Noon. It will included actual hive inspections, making a split, installing a nuc, and installing a package.

If you would like to attend contact me at 804-690-7055 and i will give you directions.

Please bring any food or drinks, chairs, etc and you MUST bring gloves, veil, long pants, etc. I.E. BASIC  PROTECTION.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crazy Nuc UPDATE and CONCLUSION !!!!!

Well after a few more days of observation etc on all my hives I have come to the conclusion that the large population of bees in the nuc was in fact forager drift over several days. The other nucs although not as packed, are packed! In hind sight I was lucky I did this with the onset of the cold weather blast which could have crippled my little hives etc. if I had not given it the foragers.

Looking quickly at the parent hives that I moved over and stole foragers from, they are faring well with little set back. It seems the drones must have chilled on the outer frames due to this cold weather as I have a small number, maybe 20-30 drones at most, laying outside pulled after they chilled to death… I consider this a small lost to sustain a nuc which will continue to lose bees over the next month and a half roughly while the queen hatches, matures, mates, lays her eggs, and hatches her first brood 21 days later… (Basically 13 days to hatch + 7 days to mature and mate + 21 days for the brood to hatch)…

I highly recommend using the “swap” procedure when making nucs or when you have weak hives…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Attached you will find pics of my crazy nuc from yesterday. Here is a little time line and history to add confusion.

·         Weekend before last I put a weak hive with about 300 bees and a queen into a nuc box to help them preserve heat.
·         This past Saturday I moved them up to my garden area and moved a strong hive during the day and placed this week on there to give it all the foragers.
·         Sat and Sunday was uneventful and normal amount of bee traffic
·         Yesterday I got home and said “What the heck” they are getting robbed, well upon further looking they weren’t and bees were hanging out like mid summer
·         Well I got my jacket on and lifted the top to find about 2 inches of bees piled on the top and every frame covered not to mention bees below the screen bottom, on the front, etc
·         I swapped the frames into a single deep for room and the hive still covered all ten frames, piled outside all night, and were just unbelievable.

The only thing I can think of is a hive swarmed and took over, or a hive I lost (just was empty weekend before last after I had inspected it 2 weeks prior and found a queen etc), I am thinking either a hive swarmed somewhere in my yard and usurpatation (whatever, read Wyatt Magnum’s recent article in ABJ…) or the hive that left was sitting out somewhere waiting for a home and here was this little weak nuc in its original location so it “went home”. Either way a hive that had a queen, goofball size brood pattern and less than a cup full of bees is now about 4-5 lbs of bees!

These creatures never stop amazing me…

Below is basically a order of pics from the time i got home (6:30 pm) till i was done and cam back just before dark...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Breeder Hogs

Well i decided to step into Breeder Hogs and try my hand at raising hogs on pasture and piglets. I purchased this weekend 3 hogs, a hampshire sow (black and white), a Tamworth sow (big tan/red), and a Duroc boar (red hog). They are great looking hogs and are very gentle already. I cant wait till i finish the 2.6 acre fence with pasture, woods, and creek access.

Below is a picture of the 3 hogs and then my current hog lot i have been using to raise 2 feeders for the past 3 years.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Splits are done

Well went through 8 hives and in most cases was able to make extremly strong splits. I feel real confident I will have plenty of bees when the Russians arrive.

One note to make in many hives I had backfilling of the brood nest occuring, so I doubt very seriously the bees would have hung around until my russians arrived...

Swarm season IS going to be 2 weeks early and strong IMO...

Not only that but in some cases I still have a full double deep untouched since about a month ago I had placed entire boxes of drawn comb on my strongest ones. For three hives I had three deeps of solid top to bottom brood patterns. All I simply did was locate the queen, verify I had eggs in my split portion, and lifted an entire box. I also repositioned the parent hive with the laying queen and placed the split in its place, thus mimiking a swarm! The old queen is gone from the hive,and left behind is brood, no queen, and reserves, so the returning foragers believe the hive has swarmed!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not for the Faint at Heart

Well today i will dig through ALL my hives and make splits where i can and the hives can aford the brood and bees. i have a few hives in mind for this, 9 in particular. I dont really expect to be able to make 9 splits, but we will see. I have a bunch of drawn comb and stored capped honey so maybe bewteen the two things will work out.

My biggest concern is not temps etc, but that i have 10 Russian Queens coming the week of April 11th, exactly one full brood cycle. So i am praying that i wont wind up with a bunch of hives that i pulled splits from that dont have enough brood and or bees to make 10 more splits when the queens arrive!!! I am hoping with good weather and drawn comb the queen will go right back to laying in the comb and by April 11 week comes around i will have the same number of eggs/brood frames as i do today...

We shall see.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Failing Queen or Hygenic Behavior????

This is a post written by Randy Oliver on Bee-L which really sums up how to identify if your "spotty" brood pattern is from a failing queen, disease, virus, or expression of hygienic behavior (which is good). I believe it is important enough to post for documentation and to share...

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: randy oliver <>
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Subject: [BEE-L] Intermittant brood pattern

> > How does one tell the difference between a failing queen and brood
> > that
> has been removed due to hygienic behavior.

Mike, there are other possible reasons for the shot pattern:
Miticide or pesticide contamination of comb Virus mortality Fast-acting AFB strain

All above, plus failing queen, could be ruled out by inserting a drawn comb in the center of the brood nest.  The queen should start laying immediately.
 Then simply follow that brood up to capping, and a few more days.  Hygienic uncapping won't happen until later.

If queen is failing, then you will see a poor egg pattern.  If larvae or eggs are removed shortly after queen lays them, then suspect nutritional stress.

If the egg and larval development pattern is uniform, and the larvae uniformly develop through capping, then you can rule out the above.  Removal after that would likely be due either to hygienic behavior or virus mortality.  If hygienic, the removed pupae will be white and solid during removal.  If virus, they will be miscolored (gray) or disfigured.

Hope this helps!


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Here is a picture of a solid brood pattern (top) and a spotty brood pattern (bottom) i found at University Of Ga's site

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Little Farmer Girls

These are two pictures of my 2 yr old twins walking across what was my watermelon patch and now is back in pasture seed for our Alpacas and soon a Angus Steer for beef...