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.