Honey bee update

Since my blog was lost since March of 2017, here’s an update.

So over the winter of 2017/18, every hive died. I had one in Bellevue, Clermont County, Loveland and OTR. All gone.

I bought a nuc and put it in Clermont County but it promptly died or took off. It just ‘seemed’ sick from the get go.

But joy, wild bees found my hive in Bellevue. It seems strong. It settled in early. Let’s hope it survives the neighborhood.

Beekeeping 2017

So I have one hive. It’s in my back yard and it made it through the winter. Glory Bee!

This past weekend I put a fourth box on the bottom of the (Warre) hive and will let them be until spring of 2018.

I’ve also got three nucs ordered up for delivery in April and May. One will go to Vickie, not sure of the others.

Add a box bee visit

So last night I thought it a good time to add a box to each of the hives. It’s been over 21 days which is the honey bee gestation period so this will give them plenty of space to handle all the newborns that I hope will be emerging soon.

Pollen – McE bees have been bringngin in lots of yellow/orage cheeto colored pollen. McK bees which I’ve not spent much time observing didn’t seem to be bringing in as much and it was a bit paler, almost white. But both hives had pollen coming in.

Characteristics – McE bees seemed to be slightly larger and more yellowish. McK bees smaller and darker. Both of these may change once the queen eggs start hatching.

Boxes – both hives had one box filled up pretty good but not a second. That made me think that I may be adding too much space but I’m not sure there’s a downside to that right now. I’d like to error on giving them too much space than too little.

So the McE hive has a total of four boxes. The top box we left for a feeder, the third box (counting from the bottom) has some good comb build up and the two lower boxes are empty….hopefully not for long.

The McK hive did things differently. Maybe it’s because I left a lot of spare comb on the floor of the hive when I set them up. I’m not sure. They filled up the bottom box, not the top box. In the top box they started a little pyramid of comb built from the floor upward. So now they are set up with the top box is a feeder, the next one down is empty with that pyramid of comb, the second from the bottom is pretty full of comb and the next one down is empty. I have a feeling they’ll keep building on that pyramid making that box a bit of a mess. Maybe I should have removed that pyramid but when in doubt, don’t do anything, is my mantra.

In a month or so during June I may add the fourth box. Once that is done it may be the end of beekeeping for the year except for some fall feeding.

Bee update – 4/20

Yesterday we looked in on the new hives. Both queens were released. Vickie’s seemed pretty active but I didn’t see any comb. In ours, there was a bit of comb. However, I didn’t look to closely on either.

Both of the feeding jars were empty so we replenished those.

Overall, both hives looked active and healthy. That’s very cool.

Beekeeping – new beginnings

This Saturday I picked up two 3 lb packages of bees and put them into Warre Hives.

This is a new beginning for me. All of my existing hives┬áhad died. I don’t know why – some starved, wax moths got one – but I have a feeling it was beekeeper error.

I found the Top-bar hives a bit of a pain in the neck to deal with. There was just too much ‘management’ involved. I didn’t want to go re-arranging comb. Every time I tried, I felt like I did more harm than good. Plus, I just didn’t want to spend that much time monitoring it.

So the Warre Hives are supposed to be easy. We put the bees in no problem. We just need to check on the queen here in a couple days and then in a month or so see if we need to add a bottom box. That just requires a peak underneath. If so, we lift one up and slide it in. Then we do it again – if needed – later in the year.

Finally, in the spring, we’ll take off a box and empty it then add it to the bottom…and keep doing that over and over again. Year after year. I’ll capture some swarms – which I really enjoy. And find homes for them.

At least, that’s the plan. If I find it doesn’t work or is annoying. I’ll try another method of keeping bees.

New beginnings call for new hive names. I’ll have to think about this.

Beekeeping Notes

Visiting the beehive on Saturday….the only one of mine which made it through the winter.

This used to be a very mean hive but it was rather tranquil. I looked inside quiet a bit and they didn’t get upset much at all. New queen, I guess. However, it makes me worry that they are having some kind of problem. I didn’t spot anything obviously wrong but there was less honey than I would have expected. I shut up the hive and asked them to have some honey soon that I could steal in a month or so.

Mid-August Bee Notes

Sad day.

I looked at Alpha Hive last weekend. They are doing AOK. It is a center entrance Kenyan Top Bar Hive. For my birthday, the girls got me a book all about it and I did learn about one thing I didn’t do that could have hurt the original hive that didn’t make it through the winter.

Gamma Hive is strong and bustling. It’s so strong and bustling that I didn’t even feel like getting into it so I let them be…for now.

Delta and Epsilon Hives are very low-maintenance so I leave them alone. Nothing to report there.

However, Beta Hive is the sad news. Wax moths took refuge into the hive. I squashed some but the bees should have been able to handle it. They seem to have rebounded quite well over the last few weeks. I was happy. There was a point where I thought they would die. Today, a perfect bee day I went to it and saw….nothing. Very few bees. I went back a few hours later. Nothing. A few hours later, nothing. I opened up the hive. They’re gone. Obsconded. Out of there. What is left behind is the ugliest, more horrible looking comb and hive that I’ve ever seen. Wax moths basically eat the wax up and defecate it out. They must have overwhelmed the bees and the bees finally said, to hell with this and left. I couldn’t find a swarm anywhere but I trust that they’re out there and that’s really the point – increasing the bee population. I just wish I knew where they were at.

Beekeeping Notes

It’s been a while but I got back to the hives this past weekend. Here’s the updates:

Alpha Hive is doing well. They’ve almost filled up over half the hive and now it’s time for the mid-season shift that Christy Hemingway writes about in her book. I’ll do that this coming weekend. Otherwise, all seems well. There was a bit of cross combing but I cut that out and – since it had some capped honey – gave it to the land owners. They got about a half a cup of honey out of it.

Beta Hive is not so fortunate. It has been struggling and this check I noticed plenty of wax moths in it. I went squeshy, squeshy on them but there was plenty of damaged comb. I’ll keep an eye on them and do some more squeshy, squeshy.

Gamma Hive was calmer than normal. The original mean queen is now up at Alpha Hive so that may explain it. They’ve plenty of stores so I did take a bar. It’s draining now. Very cool.

Delta is far away and I’ll visit it soon. I’ve not seen it since setting it up. The only problem is a griping neighbor has complained to the HOA and it now needs moved. No worries. We have a property close by.

Epsilon Hive appears to be doing well also. It’s a Warre Hive and I went ahead and put the two boxes under it. It already had two boxes. Now, if all goes well, I won’t need to look at it again until the spring.

Past weekend’s bee notes!

Alpha Hive. They’re going gangbusters. They’ve built up a respectable amount of comb and I gave them a bit more room to build in.

Beta hive was still struggling. Then I got involved and now they’re strugglign more. The problem? I have a bunch of honey comb which I left outside thinking Beta Hive would clean up of any pollen and honey and then I’d render it down into wax and make cute candles.

What happened? Another stronger hive from someone smelt it and went after it AND Beta Hive. Beta fought back but they’re struggling more. I stopped the robbing of their hive by this other hive by getting all that comb under cover and placing a wet sheet over Beta Hive. The robbers eventually lost interest. I took off the sheet and I’ll just have to hope my bringing trouble to their neighborhood wasn’t the death blow.

Gamma. I didn’t get to them.

Delta. My dad says they’re going AOK. I need to stop asking him. It’s a Warre Hive and should be fine on it’s own.

Epsilon. Another Warre Hive. I fumbled with it and probably pissed off the bees. They’ve not built too much comb. I’ll probably give them some more room at the end of July when I check on them.

First time getting some honey

So I’m in my third year of beekeeping. Honey was never an objective. Helping the bees and learning was. Also, I found that they assisted in helping me focus and getting into a Zen state that made meditation easier.

However, it’s good to finally get some of the sweet stuff.

Gamma Hive still had the old chop and cropped Lang frames that I put in last spring (2012). Earlier this year I moved them into the rear of the hive thinking they’d let the brood in them hatch and then start packing it with honey. They packed it with some honey but the queen kept laying brood. I hate those Lang frames. For one, they’re not the all natural I’m looking for. Second, they rigged up nature of it leaves lots of holes the bees have to defend.

So I took them. They weren’t happy about it but I finally got that going. I brought them home and cut out the honey part of the comb as best I could. I left the uncured honey and pollen sections out for the bees to clean up and put some of the brood comb in struggling Beta Hive.

Then I processed honey. It went well. I crushed up the comb and laid it in a regular kitchen collander with some cheese cloth laid in it overtop a bucket. Gravity did the rest. Setting it outside on a hot day helped. I did two more strains.

The resulting honey looks like caramel. I believe it’s full of bubbles but mostly it’s winter honey and it’s full of pollen and propolis…all the good stuff store bought honey cooks out. I’m hoping it clears a bit but mostly it tastes like a nice multi-layered honey. I prefer more floral tastes in my honey but this is good.

Oh, and I learned I can’t judge worth a darn. I thought I might get half a cup out of the combs when I pulled them. Honey, again, wasn’t the goal. What I got was about half a gallon. Not bad.