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So are the frames on the honey super already drawn out or do the bees still need to work on them?
They have to draw them out. They have the first deep drawn out already. The second deep needs to be drawn out along with the honey super. The 3rd deep only has 3 frames partially drawn, so they need to finish that too. They have a lot of work to do!
Anita. Nice story! I think it would bring a tear to larry the cable guys eye.
Ha ha, thanks for the laugh, Kevin!
This is so sad. I wish there were a way to just let them go free and start their own colony. 🙁
Me too! If she only had her act together, if her bees built out 3 more frames, then she could have overwintered as a nuc. Alas, time was not on her side.
I was going to blog about the phenomena of honeybee undertaking, and ran across your blog while looking for footage of undertaker bees actually bringing out the dead or dying. You’ve said pretty much everything I want to say on the topic, and said it really well. I like your blog and will check back. Thanks and best,
Thanks John and welcome!
Although a challenge, it seems a blessing to have a swarm, be able to catch it then run two queens, then merge; as you’ve done a lot more than the average first year beekeeper. Pretty exciting.
Thanks Kagen! Yes, it was a great learning experience, and the bees are still alive so it worked out in the end. I also had a wonderful mentor and determined husband and couldn’t have done it without them.
Hi Anita — You’re website is fantastic! I’m in bee school w/ Brian and he mentioned your site to me. Believe it or not, our kids are classmates at school (my daughter is in ECE-4). I just wanted to say hi and tell you how great your website is; it’s been officially bookmarked! I just ordered my bees on Monday and I’m vey excited to get started! Looking forward to meeting you in the future and good luck with your bees. – Cristina
Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoy the website. I’m sure you will love beekeeping. Be careful – it is very addicting. We are adding at least 3 more hives this year and more if we can find the space. If you need any help, don’t hesitate to ask, since we are right around the corner.
I have to say this is one of the cleanest, most thorough, compleatest (is there such a word? There is now!) web sites I have ever been to. What a pleasure to read and enjoy your spring opening recently!! Thanks for all your dedication and effort.
Welcome, Bruce and thank you! I love hearing from readers and I’m so glad you enjoy the website. I’m adding 3 more hives to the apiary in a few weeks and beekeeping season is coming into full swing soon, so please stop by again soon and let me know what you think. Thanks again for your comment and have a wonderful day,
I love the colors of pollen that the bees bring in. So far, I’ve seen orange, dark yellow, and white pollen going into the hive. I’ve not seen blue pollen, though. What a treat!
I wonder if Siberian Squill will grow in my 10a zone.
The Zone hardiness for Siberian Squill is 2a-8b but it couldn’t hurt to give it a try! I did see it for sale online in your area.
I just love watching the girls come back back to the hive. I’ve seen a variety of colors here this year so far – white, various yellows, orange, blue and grey. Last summer I saw a bee with black pollen. Those girls never cease to amaze me.
Wow! What a story. I read all three parts. I think bees sound like a lot more work than chickens. Although I would love some honey!
Thanks Brenda! I would love to have chickens. I’m thinking about getting some this year if I can find a place to squeeze them into my tiny yard. Do you have any chicken rearing advice for me? If you check back with me in a few months, I will have some honey for you!
Lot less work than chickens. Once they are hived they mostly take care of themselves and if you want to leave for a week or so you can do so without arranging for someone to feed/water/gather eggs. A couple of hives (under normal conditions) will provide you with all the honey you can use and plenty to give as gifts at Christmas or even trade for other things. The initial phase is the most difficult of all.
I have to say after getting chickens, that bees are much easier (even though they are more complicated to understand) and you don’t have to clean up any poop either! 🙂
I found your blog via Mil’s recommendation and I can see why she thought it worthy to follow.
My back yard is literally packed with squill, just finishing up blooming right now. I’ve hated it and fought it futilely for over two decades. I finally gave up trying to grow spring ephemerals back there because hardly anything can compete with it. I’ve managed to keep it out of the front garden where I concentrate my spring wildflower efforts. Since I’ve started beekeeping–actually just getting the first bees this week–I’m seeing squill in a totally different light and appreciate it for the sake of the bees.
Keep up the good work!
Someone once told me that squill looks like a piece of sky fell onto their lawn. I just love that metaphor, I think it describes squill perfectly. Next year when you start seeing the blue pollen coming into the hive, you may become as enthralled with squill as I have. Soon you will be planting as many bee friendly plants as you can find, although it sounds like you are already doing that with your wildflower garden.
Congratulations on your news bees! I’m sure you will love them. Beekeeping has a way of changing your entire outlook on the world in ways you will never expect. Beekeeper Yvon Achard says “bees choose the beekeeper” not the other way around and I think he’s right. I’m excited for your new adventure!
Very cool. I think that it would be so much fun to have bees, and have that honey available. I am slightly concerned about getting them because it gets so cold in the winters, and I’m not sure they would survive. Of course, we do have honey bees every year in our garden, so they must be surviving somewhere around here 🙂
I have a beekeeper friend who keeps honeybees in North Pole, Alaska, where the winters are always subzero. Where she lives it is too cold to keep the honeybees outside all winter (she has to bring them in) but most other cold places it’s fine. If you are seeing them in your garden there is probably a beekeeper near you. I encourage you to give it a try!
LOVE the photos showing the blue pollen! I plant my gardens to feed a neighbors bees, love to see them.
Stopping in from Homestead Revival…
Thanks Wonderwoman! I love that you plant gardens for your neighbors bees. I hope you get some honey in return.
oh my gosh! my yard is full of squill. I feared that because it was not native and was spreading so nicely I was not doing anyone (bees) any favors! Hooray, I am. The bees/hoverflies/wasps/ground bees/bumbles etc seem to enjoy my yard. I often stand under the apricots just immersing myself in their songs as they do their work. I will have to check out the colors of pollen a bit more carefully, I have never noticed any but yellow, but now will watch my helpers more closely. Love this site!
Thanks Theresa! Wait until you see the blue pollen in person. It is beautiful. Your yard sounds like a wonderful sanctuary for bees. The more honeybees and native bees you have living around your yard the better and bigger fruits you will get from your tree. Isn’t nature incredible!
This sounds amazing. I bet it will be great on bread fresh from the oven. Is liquid pectin the only kind you use? I’m pretty much exclusively using Pomona’s Pectin now and love it.
Thanks for the recipe.
No I use all different kinds. I had a hard time finding the Pomona’s Pectin last summer. I need to bulk order some for this year. Where do you get yours? I want to make my own pectin from apples in the fall. Have you tried that?
Thanks so much for commenting on our new bees. Your site is wonderful and we’ll be checking it regularly. We’re expecting the rest of our hive boxes soon – thanks for the info on painting them. We chose to get the unassembled ones because of the price difference. We’re so very excited.
You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by. Assembling hive boxes is simple. You will be glad you saved the money when you’re done. If you have any questions please read How to Assemble A Bee Hive Box or Super. Good luck with your bees!
That blue pollen is so neat! And the pictures are beautiful 🙂
Hi Anita – this is a great summary. I’ve forwarded your site info to both Norfolk and Plymouth County Beekeepers Associations as a great reference for beeks, especially new. Keep up the great work.
Thank you Bruce!
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Thanks for sharing this with Wildcrafting Wednesday, Beverly! I’m so glad you stopped by! Beekeeping is definately on my to-do list. I envy and admire you, and I appreciate you sharing your experiences on your website.
Thanks again! 🙂
You’re welcome Kathy and thanks for stopping by. Are you going to give beekeeping a try this year?
Raspberries are my fave berries so I’ve pinned this to remember to give it a try this season.
Thanks, Mark! If you want it to have a stronger raspberry flavor try to use a very light color honey and add as little water as possible when cooking the berries. I also want to try this with blackberries this year.
This looks wonderful! It’s good to see that you can use the liquid pectin successfully with the honey instead of sugar. I was under the impression that it wouldn’t set up. Very good to know! Would you consider adding this post to my blog’s homestead hop? It’d be a perfect fit! http://littlefarminthebigcity.blogspot.com/2012/04/homestead-helps-wednesday-homestead-hop_11.html
Will do Betty and thanks for stopping by!
This looks so yummy! I can’t wait to try it! My best friend and her husband are just starting their own bee hives so I’ve got some local honey coming my way! This will be my first recipe to try.
Jan from Tipgarden.blogspot.com
Thanks Jan! If you like honey you will love this jelly too. It can be hard to get honey your first year as a beekeeper, so I wish your friends a great beekeeping season and hope their bees make lots of yummy honey for you. The raw local honey is delicious and well worth the wait. Enjoy it!
Can you do this with out using raw honey? I don’t know of a source for the raw honey in this area. Wondering if the honey I buy at the store would work. Thanks
While the recipe will work with store honey it won’t taste the same. Raw honey has complex flavors that are brought out in this jelly. Most of the honey you buy in the store has been filtered and pasteurized, removing the beneficial ingredients to help the honey have a longer shelf life without crystallizing. Some imported honey seen in grocery stores may actually even contain non honey ingredients in it. You can usually buy raw honey at farm stands or farmers markets. You can also look up your state on the honey locator http://www.honeylocator.com/locator/find/ and see if you can find some raw local honey near you. If all else fails, check back with me in a couple months and I may have some raw honey for you to try.
I love raspberry jam! I’ll have to give this one a try.
I’ve never heard of liquid pectin. Is this pectin organic or somehow better or special? That was one problem I noticed when we used to make jam with honey, it was runnier. Perhaps we can now make jam again.
The jelly sets perfect with the liquid pectin. It comes as a liquid in a foil packet and is usually next to the jars of pectin at the store. Liquid and powder pectin act differently and are not interchangeable in recipes. I’m not sure if there is an organic version or not, perhaps you could try Whole Foods? Let me know if you find one and how your jelly comes out.
Good tips on the razor knife and square for such an unfavorite task. Have you ever used those frame assembly boards? I’ve always been curious about one, but didn’t want to spend the money for something I ended up disliking.
No, I haven’t tried those. I wanted to make a jig to do 10 frames at once but Brian does most of the frame assembly – he is better and faster at it. He said he could make the frames faster this way. By the time he made the jig he could have all the frames done. If we were doing hundreds of frames at once I would definitely make the jig first.
Siberian Squill is pretty and I’m sure the bees like it just fine, but it’s an aggressive invasive that spreads readily and displaces native species. There are lots of pretty native early spring bloomers that would make more ecologically sound alternatives as bee forage!
Sure, but none that will have that beautiful blue pollen the bees just love!
So timely! We installed our first two packages today and it was a great experience. Crocus is a great name. We’ve chosen to name our hives after our grandmothers so today we introduced Margaret and Lizzie to the world. A few grandmother names left so we’re hoping for some splits or captured swarms this season. Happy beekeeping!
Congrats! I’m glad it went well. I love the Grandmother names idea. Two of mine had the same first name so that would be confusing for me. 🙂 I’ll be naming my hives after flowers. It is harder to run out of names that way and a perfect fit for the bees!
Thank you so much for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! I’ve talked to many who are interested in backyard bee keeping, so this post is just what we needed! 🙂
You’re welcome, Kathy! Thanks for hosting it!
Forgetting the cork isn’t too bad–as long as he remembered before too long. I actually was putting on the inner cover before I remembered the queen was still in my pocket. Oops!
I’m glad you remembered! It’s easy to do those things when you are installing the packages with all the bees buzzing around. All in all he did a good job – with a bee in his veil too! I hope you write about your packages, I’d love to read about it and see more pictures of your beautiful hives.
I’ve never seen a similar site before. It’s a lovely site. Thanks for sharing and nice meeting you. I’ll get back to reading your amazing articles. Dropped by from UBP.
Wow, this is an amazing blog. I’m glad I found you on the #UBP12 list, I have always been interested in bee keeping but I’m not sure our city would allow it since our houses are closely packed. I’ll have to read more here and study up, who knows..maybe bees are in our future. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by, Audrey! Surprisingly, there are a lot of beekeepers in my small city but you would never know it. Bees can be kept just about anywhere. I even have some hives on my roof. You do need to check your city laws. See if there is a local bee club near you. They can point you in the right direction and may have some beginner beekeeping classes, which I highly recommend taking. Good luck!
A very nicely done job you are doing here. Nice presentations accompanied by interesting and entertaining copy. Good variety as well.
Hi there, I found thourgh the Barn Hop and so happy that I did.
I installed foundationless frames in a honey super about two weeks ago. It’s my first time not using foundation. I used foundation for the brood chambers and will slowly swap the frames over to foundationless over time. I’m going to be adding a new nuc in a few weeks and will start that hive totally foundationless. In fact a friend, gave me 20 large frames of foundationless comb that I’m going use for that colony.
I’m enjoying watching my experiments as they unfold.
That’s great! I hope to go all foundationless with this hive. If it works out well, I will switch my other hives over also. It’s nice you have a friend to give you the comb, then the girls won’t have a chance to mess it up (at least at first). I’ve had trouble with one colony on the pierco foundation. They would rather build burr comb than draw out the plastic. I think they may be trying to tell me something. I’ll probably switch that hive over to foundationless pretty soon as well. I’m interested to see how your foundationless hives work out. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!
Very cool. Thanks for the step-by-step photos. You make it look easy. Bees are on the list when homeschooling is done. In the meantime, I’m trying to educate myself. Thanks!
There are a lot of great books out there but I suggest finding a local bee club near you and taking a class. The people there will be very helpful and knowledgeable. Plus they will help you get a mentor which is important to the success of a new beekeeper.
I will be interested to hear if the girls build on the wax better too.
I’ll update you when they start making progress. So far nothing yet. They are just ignoring it.
I didn’t know the hive had to level to have the girls draw out the foundationless comb. I wonder if that was one of our problems–we have our hives a bit tilted to let the rain out.
We put in one foundationless comb a couple days ago, between two frames of capped honey. My teacher said the girls would be more likely to draw out the comb if the surrounded frames can’t be built onto.
Great pics, btw. You sure put in a lot of effort for this post. I’m appreciating it; it was awesome.
Thanks Mil! I think the best way is to put the foundationless frames between two drawn frames of capped honey. Let me know how it works for you. If this hive works out well, I’ll try that method on my other hives. Yes the hive needs to be level for them to build the comb correctly. I do have the outer cover tilted back slightly, so the rain drips off (I did this after the queen was released). If you balance the very end of it on the inner cover and move it forward enough for it to overhang over the inner cover entrance it works great. You can see a better description of that at the end of this video. http://www.beverlybees.com/how-to-set-up-a-beehive-beginner-beekeeper/. My mentor Stan taught me that trick last year and it works great. Good luck with your frames!
Hi, Julie here from I Create Purty Thangs just makin the rounds from UBP2012. Wow, you really know your stuff! Enjoyed your site. Please visit me sometime.
You take some awesome pics. Keep us posted on the swarm status of this hive. It appears they definitely have good numbers. We have been having dynamic weather here. It is as if March and April switched places this year here.
I have been stung about 3 times this year. I hope to not get stung anymore, but some of my bees are mean and I won’t kill my queens for it.
How do you put your website address in the bottom corner of your pics?
Thanks Jason! I may have to split them soon to prevent swarming. I’m trying to hold off on doing so because I’m hoping to use this hive as a donor hive for a workshop I’m taking in two weeks about overwintering nucs. I’ll keep you posted on their progress.
The weather has been wild this year. The bees have adjusted surprisingly well. Many hives in this area were bringing in pollen off and on all winter long which has not been seen before by people who have been keeping bees for 40 plus years. They are pretty amazing.
It’s wishful thinking that I won’t get stung again, I know. But this hive is usually very gentle. You are brave dealing with mean bees! Are the hives more productive than your gentle hives?
I use a photo editing program. Photoshop is the best but Picasa is one that is free from google and you can use that to do it. In the export picture section it has a box to add a watermark. Just type your web address there and export the picture. You can also do it by adding text to the picture, but it’s not as quick. If you have any questions about how to do it let me know and I’ll try to walk you through it. Thanks for stopping by!
Sorry to hear the bees are deconstructing the drones. It’s always hard to make the decision to feed the bees, especially now that it’s spring and you’ll be wanting to harvest honey. I hope they get a foraging day soon.
When I read you post about hiving your packaged bees (Great post btw. Is it on Pinterest so I can pin it?), I noted that you didn’t wear gloves. Sam, in his video, also didn’t wear gloves, and I felt like I should take the plunge some day. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately…(What a bee nerd, huh?) The last time I got stung, though, I broke out in all body hives. I guess we’ll see…
I’m not allergic at all and my stings go away quickly, so that makes it easier not wearing the gloves. I don’t like them because I can’t feel the frames and if I’m smushing bees or not. You need to be more careful though and move slowly (which you should do anyway). If your hive has a large population it is hard to remove the frames without touching bees. I’d advise trying it on a small population first until you feel comfortable with the bees walking all over your hands and touching bees with your fingers to get them to move out of the way.
It’s not on pinterest but you should be able to pin it. I’ll add it on my page so you can repin it. Thanks Mil!
You’re lucky you’re not allergic. This reaction was a surprise to me after keeping bees for 3 years. I still want to go gloveless, though. Good idea about going with a small population.
I know other beekeepers who have become allergic after keeping bees for years and being stung so many times. I hope yours is a one time thing!
Pretty neat huh! It is neat how they work right around the wires. It is good to see others using foundation less. When someone asks you what cell size you are using you can say, “whatever size the BEES want!” :). Nice pics as usual….
I don’t believe the old addage that they build on foundation faster. I have seen some amazing rapidity on foundation less frames. This year I am experimenting with no starter strip. We shall see.
Make sure to keep your hives level on the hive stand. I learned the hard way.
Thanks Jason for the excellent advice! I did level the hive on the hive stand when I set it up. Let me know how your lack of starter strips works. Are you waxing the wood? Are you using the wooden frames that are angled in the middle? I’m curious how those work.
It is really fun watching them draw out the frames. It’s worth trying foundationless just for that!
Your bees are doing great! Most of my frames have foundation on them though some are just wire (but they now already have comb on them.) I am just in my second year so I am still learning. It is fun hearing how others are doing.
Thanks Abbi! There is so much to learn about bees, I’m learning new things all the time. They are amazing little creatures. Good luck with your bees.
Good to see this. We had tried before with wax starter strips, but with no success. My partner was beginning to think it couldn’t be done as the girls built out some crazy comb!!
We put one tentative frame in between built out comb just to see if we can get the girls to draw some out. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Good luck Mil! I hope it works for you.
I totatlly understand his reaction. Though I love working with bees one day when my veil got untucked I got around five bees up in it and in my face and down my shirt. I was running all over the yard throwing of clothes as I went too. I know better than to do that now but when you are getting stung (and I did get quite a few stings) it is any easy reaction.
Oh no, scary! Luckily, Brian didn’t get stung. It was only one bee and he is such a great sport about me teasing him (he gives it right back to me too). When you are getting stung by many bees that is no laughing matter. It can get dangerous fast.
Since I found your blog from UBP my husband and I have had renewed interest in keeping bees. This is definitely a good story to have read about! Thanks for sharing!
I’m so glad Audrey! Beekeeping is very addictive and a lot of fun. Go for it!
Very informative. We haven’t started with bees but I hope to add it to our homestead within the next couple of years. I just recently heard about foundation less frames. I have SO MUCH to learn. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome Missy! If you are serious about bees I recommend you take a class and get a bee mentor. Having an experienced beekeeper there to help you is the best way to learn. Good luck!
They can really move a lot of stuff around in there in a hurry. The power of numbers. I have always been amazed at how efficiently a colony can just kill off drones. Bees don’t know compassion, it is all about continuing the hemolymph line.
I always fear a warm spell in spring followed by a cold snap or other foul weather. It gets certain genetic lines of queens all ramped up laying then there is no food for brood. It can cause havoc. I prefer a nice moderate pace build.
Keep us posted on Crocus’s progress.
It is sad to see all the drones out there. All my hives are doing this now. The rain has finally let up for a few days so the girls are doing better now. Pollen is going into the hive once again, which is always nice to see.
This queen does tend to ramp up quickly, the workers cannot keep up with her. Now that there is more of them, perhaps they’ll be able to try making drones again soon.
I really miss the days of bee keeping with my dad! Thanks for letting us follow!
Thanks for following! You should get a hive or two for your gardens. Your plants will thank you. 🙂
The bees are really artists with the different shapes that they make with wax. One of our hives once made some comb that looked like stalactite. It was also hanging off of the main comb.
How funny! Did you take any pictures? It is amazing to see what they can build.
I wonder why they wouldn’t take the feed? Is it because they had the taste of the real thing and want the real stuff, already??? 🙂
When there is a strong nectar flow they won’t take the feed. The real thing is always better!
I have actually heard of using that as a test for when flows start. Take a honey bear and place a line of honey across the bottom board entrance. If the bees walk across the honey and leave the hive there is a honey flow on. I have never tried it. Didn’t want to get a robbing frenzy started.
Interesting. I’ll have to remember that one. Last year I cut out some burr comb that was filled with honey. The comb was so large it was messing up all the other frames. After I was done, I left it for the bees to rob. They had no interest in it at all because of the nectar flow. I had to clean it up myself. I ended up saving it for them to eat anyway. Not only is the real thing the best, the freshest is the best as well!
If you are going to feed that’s the best. My home apiary always gets to clean up my honey supers every year after spinning. They do a good job. Late July early August is normally dearthy here so they are more than happy to clean em up.
I wish the closet beekeeping association was like yours, and I would join in a minute. But from following their list serve emails, it seems they are always arguing with each other which scared me off!
I love my bee club (and we have arguing too). We have a great group of people full of ideas and the fair to support us so that is beneficial as well. It is really helpful to meet with other beekeepers and see how they are doing things. There is so much you can learn. Perhaps you could give yours another try. The clubs are only as good as you make them. If you are scared off by them I’m sure others are too. Maybe you could suggest some things to them to make it better. They may not even realize they are intimidating new members with their banter.
Absolutely LOVE this! Thank you for sharing with us! 🙂
You’re welcome Kathy.
WOW, I had no idea that was even possible. My blog partner just installed her second set of bees on a roof top hive. please come to our DIYLinky at http://www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com
The workers also kick the drones out every fall so they don’t have to take care of them during the winter. Anytime the colony is short on food the drones are the first to go.
Brrr…it was a bunch of name calling. The moderator had to threaten them to stop! Not sure why this bunch is like this since I’m supposed to be living in the land of the peace loving hippies!! 🙂
Oh no! Sorry Mil! Is that the only group near you?
Interesting the color of your capped brood. From the pics, it looks yellow. Out capped brood is rather tan.
And I agree, the brood pattern on that one frame is a work of art!
It’s a yellow color because it is new wax. In a few weeks it will be the typical tan color you are used to seeing.
I was making a link to you, and then saw this post. Dang, I’m supposed to leave soon, but your post had me enthralled. Great storytelling! And what an arm Brian has! Sorry the bees decided to move on, but at least you guys gave it your best shot.
Good thing to think about too–the hive that got left. Usually one concentrates on the swarm, and not the hive that got left. Got to keep that under consideration as to avoid getting stung.
Thanks Mil! It was a fun trying even though we didn’t catch them. Plus it makes a great story! Most beekeepers I know waive goodbye to high swarms because they are just so hard to get. I have a few ideas for a better way to get high swarms but I need to try them out first to see if they work.
We knew that hive was angry and it was silly not to wear my suit. But I wasn’t really near them when they stung me. I had been in my hive about 30 minutes prior so maybe my hands still smelled like bees?? I sometimes wonder if the bees can tell who is their keeper and go after the strangers in yard. I have seen that happen several times.
Thanks for the link to my site!
I kept reading thinking. They’re gonna get em’…… Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
Thanks for the idea though. You should video tape such efforts. In the event that would have been successful you would have had a hundred views from me alone, watching it over and over!!! 🙂
I think if we had the frame of brood at the beginning it may have worked. It was fun trying anyway. I have some ideas how to perfect this technique that we may try next time.
I did video tape some of it but I thought the kids fighting in the background was a little distracting. 🙂
Your hive may have been cranky because you were opening up brood cells. I am just a first year beek but I think the general advice is if you are going to open drone cells to check for varroa and/or to reduce numbers of drones, or if you are destroying queen cells, you may want to shake all the bees off, and walk away to a work area and do the dastardly stuff there.
Perhaps but I wasn’t opening up or destroying brood cells during this inspection. There were two drones cells which may have been accidentally uncapped when the frame was removed. I don’t think that is enough to make the bees angry. I have seen many more drone cells destroyed during inspections by beekeepers looking for varroa without any concern by the bees.
After this inspection it turned out the bees were destroying all the drone cells and also killing adult drones. The queen built up the brood too quickly on a very small amount of honey and pollen and then we had extended bad weather so they could not forage for food. When they can’t feed everyone they first get rid of the drone brood. These bees were hungry and hungry bees are cranky bees!
Drones may also be discarded if they are infested with Varroa or deformed in some way…this means your workers are very hygienic, which is good!
That would be amazing! I would be so happy if these were hygienic bees. I’m not going to do the test to find out since it involves liquid nitrogen and freezing a patch of sealed brood to see how quickly the dead brood is removed by the bees.
All bees will ditch drone brood when they are too much of a burden. This hive is nearing starvation with the amount of food they have for the high bee population. Everything they bring in is getting consumed immediately and they are unable to store very much. I think that may be why the bees are destroying the drones. But I prefer your answer and I really hope you are right!
Our teacher once said he enticed a swarm down by clipping a frame of honey to a long pole.
That is amazing! I’ll have to put that one in my swarm catching repertoire and try it out the next time I find a high swarm.
That is cool. I especially liked those asparagus. Ah, you know how these chefs are…
Everyone at the class liked that one too. If there was more than one mold I think we may have all come home with it. The asparagus dyed green is one of the best selling candles in the spring.
Seems like many factors here.
–I also question the plastic foundation. I wonder if they are trying to tell you something.
–Nectar flow. Does it flow well now?
–I think I would re-queen. I would hate for that gene to spread to the rest of the apiary.
–Do they come after you only when you open up the hive or all the time?
I have decided to switch them to wax foundation. They may be cranky because they don’t want to build out any of those frames which is making the colony stressed. I know a lot of beekeepers who love the plastic but for some reason my bees just do not like it. Crocus has it and still has not drawn out all 20 frames. I have finally taught them to build it correctly but it was a lot of work and a lot of destroying of burr comb and moving frames and I’d rather not do that again. Since this hive is telling me they do not like it I’m just going to switch them. It is much easier!
Yes the nectar flow is better now at last! The rain has slowed down too so the bees can get out again and forage.
I’m going to give them one more chance. I would really hate to set them back by requeening. There are northern raised queens which will be ready soon and if I have to requeen that’s what I will use.
This hive is at a friend’s house and they do not really go near it so I don’t know. Every time I go there I am opening it or feeding it. They seem to be fine when I change the sugar water which is on a boardman feeder. Maybe they are mean because they know I am going to ruin all their hard comb building work 🙂
Based on what I learned in my beekeeping class, you should re-queen. It sounds like they might be slightly africanized because aggressive hive defense is one of the characteristics. I wouldn’t want to keep those kinds of bees. The drones could be mating with other queens also.
The bees that we keep in the class are so friendly you could wear a veil and nothing else and most of the time not get stung if you’re careful. I took apart several hives in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a veil but no gloves.
Also, I would make sure there are no diseases in the hive. Sometimes when I opened up a hive with foulbrood, the hive would be angry and sting several times even if they have friendly genetics. I think this is because they are under stress because they are unable to successfully hatch brood and the hive population is decreasing.
Keep us up-to-date!
Thanks Tanya that’s good to know about the foulbrood and the bees attitude. This hive does not have any diseases unless wacky comb building is a disease. 🙂
Even friendly hives get cranky sometimes. I have the nicest bees at another site and they are crankier than normal this year. The weather has been really strange, which is affecting the nectar and pollen supply and making the bees antsy. In my area we have had an incredible number of swarms the past few weeks, more than the last few years combined in only a few weeks time. It is a weird season for beekeeping.
I may end up requeening this hive but I am going to give them another chance. If they are still mean after the next few inspections a requeening is definitely in order!
How about Electric Boogaloo? 😉
Seriously, though, I can not say enough positive things about how great you and Brian were getting the swarm- you would not have known it was your first swarm capture. You both were so calm, focused, yet overjoyed and fascinated by the whole beauty of the swarm. My neighbors were totally impressed w/you both; in fact they refer to you and Brian as “the bee busters”. You will absolutely be my first call next time there is a swarm nearby and I don’t have a super available. Thank you again for coming over!
Thanks Beth for everything! My kids keep asking when they can go back to your house. They had so much fun. You need to buy an extra setup so you can join the “bee buster” team too. You’re neighbors are wonderful and so understanding about the bees. What a great place to live!
If I was your neighbor I would not complain of swarming bees! Good luck on the split.
If you were my neighbor I’d bee happy to send some swarms your way. 🙂
The aggressive behavior might be alleviated by positioning the comb as in the Housel Positioning.
Worth a try, Before re-queening.
Always a learning experience, the bees are constantly trying to teach us.
Great idea! I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe it will stop all the burr comb building as well. Thanks!
Are you using a special bucket on a contraption? If so, do you have a picture of it?
We just used a regular 5 gallon bucket. It was not attached to a pole. Then we used an old window screen on top, secured with a very large rubber band.
“I’m glad I saved them. I would do it again a thousand times. It was well worth it to just to see and hear how happy the reunion made them. It is one of those bee moments I will never forget.”
I love that quote. I feel the same way. We got the left over bees after the first beekeeper left. Frankly, I was surprised he didn’t leave the box there until night. If I remember correctly, one of the neighbors told me she had asked him about the foragers and scouts, and he had said that they’ll just die. Lucy and I called him the “Bad Beekeeper”.
Thanks Mil! I’m glad you showed up for those bees! I love how you used a frame to draw them out. I want to try that the next time I have extra comb. What are you planning to do with those left behind bees? Are you going to give them a frame of brood or integrate them into an existing colony?
I never knew that about the position of the egg!
Eagerly awaiting the next installment…
It’s good to know. You can use the egg position to determine how long ago the queen laid the eggs which is really helpful in a variety of situations. In this case using the egg position I can predict the exact day the new queen will hatch out. Also if I see brand new eggs, I don’t even bother to look for the queen because I know she is in there somewhere.
We are new beekeepers this year and went foundationless using a wax starter strip. That’s a pain, though, so for the next round of frames we will be using popsicle sticks.
We see the best results when we alternate every-other-frame: drawn out frame, foundationless frame, drawn out frame, and so on… they build ’em so fast & straight that way.
Thanks! These bees are doing a great job with the foundationless frames too. I’m so proud of them! I didn’t mind doing the wax starter strips in the wedge top frames, they seemed to work just fine and were easier to make than the wired wax foundation frames. But I recently found out from Jason at LetMBee that you can buy foundationless frames and you don’t even need to put wax on them at all! The bees will draw them out without waxing them or using starter strips/Popsicle sticks. That’s what I’m going to try next time. Good luck with your bees!
I am going to start foundationless in deep boxes..is it necessary for them to be wired? I know that would make them more sturdy, but it is my intention to leave what’s in the brood box for the bees and extract the supers.
I have tried both wiring and not wring deep foundationless frames and have both types of comb in my hives right now. Wiring them makes the comb stronger. I had a hive knocked over this past winter with both wireless and wired foundationless comb inside it. Every single foundationless frame that was unwired had the comb fall apart. The comb in the foundationless wired frames remained intact. So it is really up to you, but just know that wiring the frames provides the comb with an extra layer of support that unwired frames do not have. Maybe you should try a few frames both ways and see what you like better. The unwired frames are also more delicate and harder to inspect until the wax matures a bit, so you need to be gentle with them. Another thing is sometimes you may need to extract the brood frames even if you never intend to, from dead outs or a honey bound hive, so that is something to consider.
Thank you so much for the photos etc of foundationless frames. I am trying that with three Nucs later this spring and I was a bit nervous about the process and what it would look like in practice. I am also concerned about toxins in the wax on coated plastic foundations. The supplier of my nucs has been going frameless for a long time with great success, so it seemed do-able, but I found your photos and all of the comments to be helpful and reassuring. Thanks!
I use foundationless frames all the time now, both wired and wireless for deep boxes. It is much easier. Wired is stronger for the deep frames, esp in the winter if you are moving cold comb filled with honey, it helps keep it together better. You can buy foundationless frames from Walter Kelly or you can take a wedge top frame and nail in the wedge perpendicular to the top bar, creating a comb guide for the bees. This way when you recycle your frames and melt the wax you do not need to redo the comb guide. Good luck!
Glad to hear you were able to avert the swarm and feed Crocus too. It’s nice when you can avoid all that heavy work of moving hive bodies, and trying to find the queen.
I’m glad too because I really didn’t want to split that hive. Now that the nectar flow is here I hope they get busy and start filling out the honey super.
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I have had similar results with similar pictures.
One thing that seems to be working in my honey supers is to place 3 or 4 drawn combs (in a group) in the center of the super above the main cluster of bees. Then the bees walk up the combs and begin building better on the frames to either side. Haven’t written about it because it “seems to be working”. I have about 4 different trials going on in about hives.
Sorry bout the stings… What’s that inverted mason jar doing in the background of the last picture?!? 😉
You caught me! I’m feeding a package hive in that picture – Squill. Turns out they didn’t need it after all since they were honey bound (or so I thought. I’ll have a new post about that tomorrow.)
Thanks for the great advice on the comb, I may try that if this doesn’t work.
Our teacher told us to put any frames you are trying to get the girls to draw out between frames that are already built out and filled, i.e. capped honey or capped brood. They won’t, hopefully, want to disturb their finished comb so that should help them build out straighter.
Let me know if you try this. I am trying this and will see what the results are.
That’s a great idea! I will try it on a few frames and see how it goes if they are still having problems. Thanks Mil!
If it is capped it may just work. I will have some pictures at honey spinning time that show what happens if you alternate between drawn comb and foundation less frames (similar to checkerboarding). it is better than what they did here but I ended up with |fatcomb|skinnycomb|fatcomb|skinnycomb|………. All the way across.
Let us know what happens.
The exact same thing happened to me last week! Just 2 months after installing my first package of bees I discovered queen cups (empty) and got a swarm call that same day where I used my (only) other bottom board and lids. I rushed out to get more equipment on the chance that I’d need to do a split but my local store was sold out. They ordered what I needed but I didn’t get it in time to paint it. To my relief the queen cups still looked empty this past weekend and I haven’t had to split yet.
Thanks for the mention, and I love the video. Gosh, how many hives do you have now?
BTW, still groovin’ on that kim chi recipe you shared. I just ate it with some eggs that a neighbor brought over today!
I’m always running out of bee equipment it seems. Just when I think I have enough set aside I end up using it for whatever reason and need to get more. It’s funny how bee hives just seem to multiply at times.
I have used a piece of plywood as a temporary lid in pinch and a Snellgrove board as a bottom board. Sometimes you have to get creative until a proper home can be obtained!
The bees will build Queen Cups just to have around. They will also take them down and put them back up. If you cut them out, they will rebuild them so I usually just leave them. Just check them during your inspections to see if they have anything in them. Once they start elongating the cup to a queen cell that’s when you really know they are serious!
This hive ended up taking down the queen cups by themselves even though they had eggs in them and I didn’t have to split them after all. 🙂
I have 6 hives at the moment – 5 on the roof and one in a friend’s yard. But as you know that can change at a moments notice. We have had so much rain here I expect there will more swarms this weekend once the rain stops. Maybe I’ll get another call. Hopefully my back ordered equipment will arrive in time.
I’m so glad you love the kim chi! I bet it is wonderful with eggs. Yum!
If you are going to feed, honey is what you should use! Thumbs up.
If I had enough surplus that would be all I would use to feed my bees. Nothing beats honey!
In calif. U souldet feed bees till winter or spring i dont i do it natural taste is a lot different or save frame with pollen for have in winter freez frame to keep sterial
I work for Washington State University and provide pesticide safety education. I am working on a training module (Bee Health) for pesticide applicators to gain continuing education. I found an image of a bee with varroa mites and would like to use the image associated with a slide discussing USDA-ARS Areawide Project to Improve Honey Bee Health.
Please consider this request to use the image in my presentation.
Extension Pesticide Safety Education Specialist
Washington State University
PO Box 646382
Pullman, WA 99164-6382
For more program information, visit http://pep.wsu.edu
WSU Urban IPM & Pesticide Safety Education Program emphasizes personal safety, environmental protection, and effective integrated pest management in a multitude of disciplines.
That was so cool! I’m excited for them, and I’m not even a bee. I loved watching them march over to the brood. I think they will be doing much better now.
I hope so! It will be interesting to see how different the new bees are from my other hives too.
Hi Beverly, I’m a fairly new beekeeper & I was wondering if you could recommend a good place to get high quality Queens. Hope all is going very well with you.
Hi Harrison, Try contacting your local beekeeping organization to see where they recommend getting queens and which queens are working well in your area. All beekeeping is local, so queens that work for me may not be the best for you. Good luck and congrats on your beekeeping pursuit!
Anita, Thank you so much. I do appreciate the knowledge and hope you have a wonderful day today.
Love your site. Your pictures are awesome!
Well, Anita, thanks for today’s education. Since I was a boy (oh, some 55+ long years ago), my Mother and Grandmother had always answered my question about the striking, blue flowers as, “Oh, you mean the Scillas”. They were neither botanists, nor taxonomists. After a late night search for some beek enlightenment, I stumbled upon your post. SQUILL? What in the world was this young lady talking about? Those pictures sure look like Scillas! Usually around here, in SE Wisconsin, just after the Snowdrops (Galanthus) are starting to fade, these blue beauties appear. After a quick search, I found we’re both right.
As I said, Mom and Grandma weren’t naturalists, and I’m sure they had no clue they were referring to a Genus. All in all, aside from sentimentality, “Scilla” falls on my ear as more poetically descriptive of their beauty.
“You say, TOMATO, and I say, TOMAHTO.” Again, thanx for the education.
Thanks for the comment Bruce! I’ll add the name Scilla to my post so other people know too. I think you are right about the name. Scilla is a beautiful and poetic name for such a pretty flower.
Snowdrops are also a wonderful early spring flower for bees.
Queenlessnes is going around. Just began measures to remedy this situation here. I caught a queenless swarm last week. If they can hold out until Sunday I might just have a plan for them as well.
I have a cousin with Carniolans. He claims they are more aggressive, but I have never been around them. Can you let us know if the temperament of the hive changes?
I’ll let you know how the Carniolans turn out in 6 weeks or so. I hope they’re not aggressive. I’ve had enough stings to last all year from my other “mean” hive.
I have suggestions on names for the new hives. In my garden right now the bees are all over the Borage and the Milkweed. Both would be good hive names, don’t you think. I will see you at Mass Bee Field Day!
Thanks for the suggestions Mary Lou! Those are great names. Both are wonderful plants and excellent for both bees and butterflies. See you on Saturday.
I think I have to agree with Jason about not putting a swarm trap in an existing apiary (although I’ve read on Linda’s bees that she consistently captures swarms in one of her apiaries).
I put a hive body with old comb situated on both sides as a swarm trap in my apiary in March. Sad to say, so far, no takers. Perhaps we have managed our hives better, but our hives haven’t swarmed as far as we know.
I’ll be following this story with interest.
I know several people who capture swarms in their apiaries that are not from their hives. Maybe it depends if bees have swarmed to that spot in the past?? So far I haven’t caught any bees with the swarm trap. I may have to move it to another location.
How fun! I wish we had something like this. My son is just getting started. He has one hive. This weekend he and my husband got a great deal on some equipment from a family whose beekeeping father passed away a few years a go. They are so excited to start a couple more hives. Thanks for all the info.
New bees – how exciting! I saw your post on the equipment and that is a great deal. You should be all set for your first honey crop. Good luck with your bees!
Wow… Looks good. Haven’t had a reason to plant rhubarb yet but that looks as though it could be changing.
Nice post on a different theme… 🙂
This was a fascinating post. I unfortunately have many questions!
What is your opinion of the Taranov and Snelgrove boards?
Any way to distinguish with deformed wings from mites and from old age?
Did the teacher use the Pierco green drones frames for the mite control?
How did you get such a cool beek association? 🙂
Unfortunately, I missed the Taranov class. I saw pics of it and wish I had gone. The only downfall of the event is there are so many classes running at once you need to pick just one. I hope they have the Taranov board again next year. I saw the Snelgrove board last year and there are so many uses for it in terms of hive splits, two queen systems and swarm prevention. Brian made one for me last year, but I haven’t tested it out yet. It takes a lot of management but can be a useful tool to have in the arsenal.
I missed the very beginning of Ken’s talk so if he mentioned deformed wings from old age vs mites specifically I missed it. But I’m pretty sure the deformed wings in old age look more raggedy and used, and the deformed wings from mites are actually deformed and the bees can’t fly (that’s what the pics look like). I have seen the former but not the latter in my hives.
Yes, she used the pierco green drone frames for mite control. Have you tried that? I have heard different opinions on it because if you forget or can’t get to the hive to take out the frames in time you will have a mite population explosion.
I love the bee clubs around here. They are awesome and such a great way to learn. I wish you had a good one near you too.
I love rhubarb! Every time I plant it, the chipmunks eat the bulbs on me. They also take one bite out of every ripe strawberry in my garden. I think I need to get an outdoor cat!
That is a great story! I bet you have been saving that one for a while. 🙂
There aren’t many people male or female who would have had the presence of mind and guts to pull something like that off. I will remember Charity Crabtree probably forever now. It is too bad that she didn’t have the opportunity to have had a blog post about it!
I have seen this story in several beekeeping books talking about the history of American beekeeping. However, I am not entirely sure of its historical accuracy as it was first published in The Sunday School Advocate (which is a children’s periodical). I’d really like to believe it’s true and either way it’s a fun story to tell. 🙂
I love this story!
Thanks for such a great blog. I nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Here’s more info http://www.schneiderpeeps.com/2012/07/versatile-blogger-award.html )
Thank you Angi! I really appreciate it.
Thank you. I am glad you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy yours. Wow, this is cool.
You’re welcome Mil. You totally deserve it. I love reading your blog!
Congrads to each of you, well deserved!
Thanks Clint! I see you were nominated too. Congrats!
I too have had issues with plastic foundation, but found it to be due to the stingy amount of wax they coat the foundation with. If the bees decide to chew off some of the wax, all bets are off – they won’t build it up.
I had a bunch of plastic frames (undrawn). I was able to melt some wax and add another thin coating with a paintbrush and the bees drew it out just fine.
But I agree, wax foundation is best.
I know other beekeepers who are fine with it too. I’d rather wire the wax and have it work the first time then recoat the foundation. You are welcome to the undrawn plastic foundation I have left if you want it. I have to count it out but I think I have 10 medium size and 4 large size left. They probably need your recoating technique though.
I TOTALLY AGREE!!! I’m glad I never used plastic comb except those green Pierco frames as mite control, and even those I don’t use anymore. My teacher, Serge Labesque, told us that the bees just don’t like plastic, and so we just never used them.
My first year, I was up at Mann-Lake picking up equipment during almond pollination season, and there were beekeepers coming and going. I was waiting for them to put my order together which included wax foundation. I remember one beekeeper telling me how great and easy the all-plastic hives were. He kept trying to convince me to get plastic instead. I didn’t want to, and he left thinking I was a fool.
Fool or not, the results speak for themselves, I think. The bees are happier, and they draw out comb really quick. I’ll never do plastic!!
I’m glad you weren’t talked into using it. I was told by my mentor, Stan that the bees do not like it but then some other beekeepers who use it all the time in a huge operation convinced me to try it. I wish I hadn’t. I think a lot of my problems last year were from the plastic foundation – problems the bees just don’t seem to have on wax. Plus, I have eliminated plastic just about everywhere else in my life why do I want it in my beehive?
i already took 10 frames from my hive for the honey, theres still 1 super on the hive with partial honey which i left, do i take all supers off to treat with apigar?what about the a second honey flow?dont the bees need the room?
Did you do a mite count? I would do a mite count first before deciding to treat. If you don’t have a lot of mites, no treatment is needed. It may be different in your area but here it is suggested to treat colonies in the fall with Apiguard after you pull the honey and before it gets too cold (which is usually around October). You cannot have any honey supers on when using Apiguard because it will contaminate the honey. They are other mite treatments you can use with honey supers in place but I have not used them. Another thing you could try is a powdered sugar treatment which gets rid of 1/3 of the mites and won’t hurt the bees. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you an instruction sheet for that. You can also see a post on that here – http://www.beverlybees.com/mass-bee-field-day-2012/. Good luck with your bees!
Thank you very much Anita! I am enjoying checking out the other blogs listed.
You’re welcome Natalie! I love reading your blog. You definitely deserve this award!
I have seen much the same. There are a bunch of pictures somewhere on my Carbonite backup that show several different foundation types with both good and crazy results. Wax, heavy plastic, Duragilt, and foundationless are represented for sure.
I have had plastic and Duragilt work, but it’s pot-luck. I am with ya. Sticking to foundationless for now at least. Gave the last plastic foundation, frames and all to a new beekeeper who said he wanted them. Not going to be in my hives.
Yet another great post.
I would love to switch to all foundationless but I’m still experimenting with it for now. This is probably just the hive’s personality but my foundationless hive seems calmer and happier than the other hives. But they are slower to build up. I think they are increasing population at a more steady pace as opposed to the ones on wax foundation who go like gangbusters and then slow down and go like gangbusters again. They also have more drones around all the time as opposed to only sometimes. It’s interesting to see. I’m going to start a few more hives out on it to compare. They are also the only hive (besides the swarms I captured) who have not built queen cups so far this year.
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Beautiful photos. Her majesty looks quite regal.
Thanks Mary Lou! I love your pics too.
Beautiful pictures! It is so fun to hear about others’ beekeeping experiences. I hadn’t know that milkweed is good for bees. I leave some of it in my veggie garden for the sake of the monarchs but now I realize that the bees will benifit too. Great name for your new hive!
Thanks Abbi. Milkweed is great for bees! I’m glad you are doing your part to feed the butterflies and bees. I love how keeping honeybees teaches you so much about plants and nature too. I hope to plant some milkweed next year in my backyard close to the cup plant flowers.
WOW. Your post blew me away. The wonderful pictures and the wonderful information you have here has been the best “bee post” I’ve seen lately! Thanks! I’m now a new follower- and I found you on the Barn Hop. 🙂
Thanks for following along Heather and welcome to the hive!
Amazing about the wire. The line is well defined, indeed. Was the wire too loose?
As always, I enjoyed the beautiful pics of your frames and bees. That queen is a beauty!
Thanks Mil. The wire was tight it was just not embedded all the way into the wax.
I’ll take all the plastic you have! All you need to do as posted elsewhere is give it a nice coating of beeswax and they’ll drawl it out just fine. Not to say the wax foundation is not great, it is. However, I’ve never never have a plastic frame “blow out” on me in an extractor. Nice thing about plastic, the comb gets old, scrape it off and you have a “new” frame……
You are welcome to have it. Email me at email@example.com to arrange a time to come pick it up.
We’re going through the same thing right now! Our bees swarmed on May 22nd. Turns out the bee company we order our package from accidentally sent us two queens (one in her separate package, one mixed in with the other bees). Yesterday, after several weeks of creating beautiful comb filled with honey, they packed up and left again. We still have lots of larvae, they robbed all of the honey, and took all of their sugar syrup from their feeder. Any idea what to do next?
Great blog! Made me feel a little more comforted!
Oh no! Did they fill everything with honey and brood leaving no place for the queen to lay eggs? After the new queen hatches if they start filling all the frames with honey again you may want to remove the feeder so they don’t swarm a third time. It sounds like your bees may have been honeybound with the second swarm and ran out of room for the queen (or they couldn’t build the comb fast enough so they ran out of room.) Sometimes though no matter what you do the bees will still swarm. Let me know what happens. Good luck! Love your website too – it looks great!
I know!!! I know!!!! Though I would be cheating if I said so. Get back and give us some more beautiful pictures!!!! 🙂
Hmmm…you are in Hobbit Land learning about the pollinators there. I see those feet…:)
One Queen to rule them all! hehehe
Finally!!! Someone I know and can follow the chronicles of a top bar hive. Can’t wait to hear your wintering experience as well as see the great pictures you will have upon hive inspection. Keep us posted.
I went to that site and watched the video of Dean and Laurie. I DIG ‘EM!!!!!! Treatment free and no feeding…. hrmmmm… sounds interesting.. 🙂
I’m so happy I went to this conference. You need to go to the one in March in Arizona. I’m going. I learned so much! I will write about it soon but I need to digest it all. My head is still spinning. Many rock stars from the treatment free world were there all week and you could talk to them as much as you wanted. It was amazing! I had heard the top bars had trouble overwintering but this is simply not true as proved by the people in attendance at the conference. I really hope my bees make it in there. They are small cell, foundationless, northern bred treatment free bees. And don’t worry, I will not feed them sugar!
Aren’t they one the ones that wrote The Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping?
Your TBH looks cool. I’ve always wanted to keep one just for the experience, but I’ve heard that TBH have a problem with moisture in my neck of the woods.
I’ve always wondered how you would expand it if your bees needed more room.
Yes they did write that book. I have heard that top bar hives have problems with wintering and all kinds of things. Then I went to the treatment free conference and met Sam Comfort. He breaks all the rules and proves everyone wrong. His website is down right now but when it’s back up, check it out and if you ever have a chance to see him speak go and watch. He has completely changed my view of beekeeping for the better. It is actually easier to expand and make splits with a top bar than a Langstroth and the hives can be made out of anything for very cheap money. Also contrary to what I’ve heard around here, top bars are excellent at overwintering. I’m excited to try it out here.
Can’t seem to find the “gallery” of pix. when i click on the individual pix each one expands, that’s all.
Hi I live in Kent UK, we or nobody I know has top bar here, although we all know about them always told they are too much trouble to keep, I am in ore of your bees and follow all your updates, I only wish we could come to these events with you…I shall wait patiently for any forthcoming news and follow ups on the new TBH,Such a great thread and page. I have but 3 hives in my back garden, we have just not had weather suitable for anything this year and only just begone a long awaited summer with a spring of continous rain and low temperatures, and last my hives are picking up, but not enough this year for us to take anything but leave it all for them and their overwintering, currently free of any mites ot nosema (I test myself), but undoubtedly here we shall need to treat soon, We have had swarm after swarm even with artifically swarming, and removal of queen cells, colonies just continue to want to supercede, we shall suceed in the end, Good luck and I wait with impatience. Wendy (by the way I have an Aster, Bluebell and Cowslip…)
Hi Wendy – Welcome! I wish you could come to the events too! I’m lucky there are so many beekeeping organizations and events nearby. There is so much to learn about beekeeping I am learning new things every day. Other beekeepers can show you things you just can’t learn from books alone. Before the treatment free beekeeping conference I did not know anyone who was using top bar hives either. I was so impressed by what I learned there I am excited to try it out. I really hope those girls in the top bar survive the winter and I can get some treatment free gene lines in my apiary. I’ve heard the weather in your area has been hard for the bees this year. One good thing about all the swarming is it breaks up the brood cycle which drastically reduces the mite population since they thrive in the brood cells. It’s one way that bees can “self regulate” for mites even if that was not their intention. If your bees have swarmed recently you should not have to treat for mites at all. I was told at the conference that it takes 20 hives to be a sustainable treatment free beekeeper. The loses can be severe at times and it can take 5 years to breed locally adapted resistant bees. That is very hard for a beekeeper with a few hives to try to accomplish. But if you do decide to not treat it will be better for the bees in the long run. The treatments end up breeding stronger pests and weaker bees. I love your hive names! They are just beautiful. I have been thinking about naming one of my new hives Aster too. Thanks for following the blog!
Bruce there should be arrows that show up all the way on the right hand side of the screen that look like this >. Do you see those? Click on that and it should take you through the gallery. This is a different format than I’ve used before so please let me know if it is still not working. Thanks!
I love the picture…you should enter it in the Mass Bee photo contest!
Thanks Dean! That’s a great idea. I may just do that. 🙂
And thanks again for hosting such an amazing conference. I learned so much! I am really excited to do treatment free beekeeping now (instead of scared as I was before when everyone I met told me it was impossible). Meeting everyone there who is successfully doing it really gave me confidence to go ahead and try it myself. Thank you for that!
I want one of those hats!!!! I have always said I didn’t want a tattoo, but Sam has made me at least consider the idea!!! 🙂 I looked at his site just briefly and realized I am going to need more time tonight after I get home from work. There is a lot of stuff there.
Is this conference a yearly thing? Please keep posting info about it anything and everything you have learned there. Thanks for informing us about something we may have never heard of.
Yes. There is usually one treatment free conference in Mass in the Summer and one in March in Arizona. If you look at Dean’s website under videos http://beeuntoothers.com you can find videos from two previous conferences.
Seems like many organisms need these friendly micro-organisms to flourish. Like us humans, for example, need friendly organism in our gut to help us produce the all important serotonin. Perhaps like us with our anti-biotics, all these anti-fungicides, mite-icides, and cides also harm the internal flora of the hive.
I have not seen these super hive tools. Advantages? More leverage?
Yes. That is exactly why you should be treatment free with your hive (which I know you are). We do not understand the complex nature of bees and microbes yet and have no idea what all those “cides” do to them.
Where did he get that super hive tool? I was trying to find them on the internet…
I had a link to it but it’s gone for some reason. I’ll fix it in the post. But here is the link http://www.betterbee.com/Products/Hive-Tools-and-Accessories/14-Betterbee-Giant-Hive-Tool
I got mine from Walter T. Kelly
Everyone told you it was impossible to keep treatment-free bees? Well, I submit myself as proof that it can be done!
I’ll be excited to learn more about TBH through your eyes!
I guess I should have said “everyone except my blog friends.” I know you aren’t treating Mil! I decided not to this year but was nervous about it since most of the bee conferences talk about mites and mite treatments and why you need to do it to keep your bees alive. It’s one thing reading about treatment free beekeeping online and another actually meeting people who have done it successfully.
I was planning on making the trip to Mass. for this conference next year but why bother. Your coverage is so good I will just sit back and wait on the reporting… 🙂
I have seen the earnest that the bees will build comb above the brood nest when there are frames above. The magic number of three sounds like a good deal. I have been using five. Keeping two extra ones blow will make things easier since oftentimes in the summer a lot of the frames have brood and I don’t want to move em.
Thanks for paying attention and passing all of this on to us!!!
I hope you still come out for it! It is great to meet everyone in person plus I could use your advice on a swarm catching location!
When and where will Mass Bee Field Day 2013 be held so i can put it on the calendar?
It has not been announced for 2013 yet. It is is usually held at the University of Massachusetts, Agronomy Farm, River Rd. South Deerfield, MA. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter I tell subscribers ahead of time about the local beekeeping events they can attend. You can sign up here http://eepurl.com/jlW9v. For that event you can also check the Mass Bee website in May, as the event is usually held in June http://www.massbee.org/.
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I learned two new things from your post. First of all, about feeding bees too late. I never heard that part about high humidity in winter. Next, I was always curious what Michael Bush looked liked! He’s such a legend that I always wondered!
I’m glad I could relay some helpful info. He is so nice and a great guitar player too!
Thank you for this wonderful post. I really was so sad to learn that I could not attend. Great info for this newbee!
Glad you enjoyed the post, Melissa. You should try to go next year, it is an amazing conference! I saw some people from your bee club there too.
More and more reasons not to feed.
Another fine post… Wish I could have been there myself.
I knew you would enjoy the feeding part. Feeding or not feeding your bees is hotly debated in the treatment free world. Most people feed honey but are not against sugar syrup for newbees without resources.
How interesting! Are they both bearding or is it one hive bearding across the two nucs? Not much happening here in our beeyard; I am thinking to the future already about over-wintering. I wonder if it is too soon. 🙂
It is both hives bearding together. They were recently split prioir to this photo so I’m sure they were all confused in this picture. I am thinking about overwintering too and wondering if the fall flow is going to peter out here. It has not been very strong yet. I have been so busy in the beeyard (and with other things traveling, kids, chickens, canning). I have so much to update here. I need to find some blog time soon.
Hello! Rhubarb and ginger look appetizing. I must try it!
It was yummy! I wish I made more. Let me know how you like it.
Thanks for this recipe it looks amazing! What a great idea for holiday gifts! I would love to try it but I can’t find pectin here. I know there is a natural way to make pectin (apple peels and seeds) but I haven’t been successful at it. Do you know any recipes?
Yes. Here is one I have not tried yet but will this fall. It makes 4 cups of pectin and is from the book Small Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. Make this with apples in the fall when pectin is at it’s highest. The fresher the apple the higher the pectin amount. Use 7 tart apples, 4 cups water and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Do not peel or core apples. Cut into quarters. Combine with water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 40 minutes. Strain liquid through coarse sieve and then again through a jelly bag. Ladle into hot jars and process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Let me know how it works for you!
I will definitely try it! Thanks!
So now – a year later – did you end up splitting the hives again? Or merge them?
Hi Rachel, I merged the two hives together at the end of the summer last year. You can read about it here – http://www.beverlybees.com/off-with-her-head-well-actually-her-butt/. If I had to do it again I think I would have tried to overwinter the top hive in a nuc instead. As it turned out the winter was quite mild and both hives would have probably been fine. If only we knew then.
I am in the same place that you were a year ago. We got 2 hives in April. One dwindled and died – non-laying queen – or weak-laying, I am not sure. Then we were given a swarm by NYC Police Dept bee expert (!) beginning of June.
The swarm quickly drew out 10 frames – in about 10 days – but then stopped making new comb. They have nicely filled up one super, but did not expand beyond that point.
Our original hive has drawn out comb 2 supers – but then also stopped expanding. I think we might have had a big dearth, for 4-6 weeks June-July – and did not realize it.
We certainly have not gotten even one jar of honey.
2 weeks ago, we checked, and realized that both hives have almost no honey stored up – corners of the brood nest frames, and that’s about it. After reading a bunch of stuff, we decided to start feeding more concentrated sugar syrup, as well as pollen patties (that I made from pollen, purchased from Dadant (at great expense,) mushed with sugar water), hoping they would build up some stores for the winter – but I was also wondering if we should dispatch the swarm queen, and merge the two hives, for the winter.
I wish we could know, in advance, what the weather will be this winter!
I would try to overwinter it as one deep. This year I am overwintering bees in nucs, two deeps and three deeps but a one deep is a viable hive to overwinter. I know many beekeepers who have successfully overwintered beehives of all different sizes. Kirk Webster overwinters tiny mating nucs on top of 2 deep hives and told me he thinks of them as Bonsai bees. They should look the same as a regular hive with honey on top and the sides but in miniature. Overwintering both also gives you a higher chance that at least one hive will survive the winter. Swarm queens are usually genetics you want to keep because the bees were strong enough to swarm and may be survivor bees. I would feed them 2:1 until they have 4 frames of honey (at least two on each side) and honey on the top of the frames in the middle with room for brood on the bottom of the frames. Mike Palmer said you need to feed them all at once. If they need 5 gallons of honey for the winter you feed them 5 gallons of sugar syrup 2:1 at one time. The large amount at once will force them to store it instead of raise brood with it. You can also make a candyboard and put it on the hive when you close it up for winter (Nov). I used a candyboard last year (although I’m not sure if I needed it) but others who have used them had great success with them and a higher bee survival rate. You can read about how to make one here – http://www.beverlybees.com/i-want-candy-so-lets-make-a-candyboard-for-winter-feeding/. You can also see my bees on it and see what was left at the end of the year by clicking on posts in the candyboard category here – http://www.beverlybees.com/category/overwintering-honey-bees/making-a-candy-board/ I hope that helps. Let me know what happens with your bees.
It’s amazing to me that Sam could shake bees off a TBH bar without breaking the wax!
Once the wax ages and has brood cocoons in it, it is stronger than you would think. That being said, there is a finesse to holding the bars and shaking the bees off them. The bars need to held a certain way that differs from Lang frames, especially if the comb is heavy and full of honey!
I need to investigate and find out if there is anything similar around here. Looks like this was a great week of events!
It was amazing. I think they have two conferences a year, once here in MA and one in Arizona at Dee Lusby’s place.
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Have skeps always been illegal here or is it only after the advent of all these bee diseases?
I was also fascinated by the section on queen raising. I would like to learn how to do that because I just love learning and what a skill to have. But then, is there anything about bees that isn’t cool?
Skeps used to be the main way we kept bees until the invention of the Langstroth hive. I believe there are a few states where skeps are still legal but the majority of states have banned hives without moveable frames.
Love this post and shared it with our local beekeeper’s association. I am definitely going to try this this winter. Thank you for sharing so much and keeping such a lovely blog.
I’m glad you like the post and thanks for sharing it! I will be making these this year for some nucs I’m overwintering. It is so much easier than cooking the candy!
Thank you for this timely post. I was thinking that this is something that I am going to look into for the future. I am definitely intrigued. I’d also like to invite you to link up this post to our blog hop. I think our readers that are interested in bees would just love it. ~Melissa
Thank you too Anita! You are such an inspiration to me 🙂
Did you take any pictures of the Russian queen with the broken leg? I know how hard it is to do stuff like that when you get busy, just wondering.
Don’t know about everyone else, but I will be interested in hearing the results of this late split next spring. Keep us posted.
I do have pictures of her. It is hard to see the leg though. It is pulled up against her body and she does not walk on it. So I guess she is more of a gimpy queen than a queen with a technically broken leg.
Those nucs are pretty strong now so I hope they make it (except for the one that died of course). We shall see.
I like Warre’s management method, which is almost no management. Warre emphasizes evaluating your hives with outside observation as opposed to getting in there and ripping the place apart. I am a HUGE fan.
Though I use Lang boxes, I manage in a way similar to the Warre method. In the spring I add a new deep to the bottom (making 4 deeps), and in the fall one of the “supers” I take is the top deep.
Other than the spring when I add the new deep underneath I never take the brood chamber apart. The bees tell me they like that…… I’m not crazy, I just mean they have been doing well since I have started this practice. That’s how they talk to me… No different than when my wilted tomatoes tell me they really would like a rain.
Stupid regulations and state government just says we aren’t allowed to use traditional Warre hives in Indiana….
Great post as always.
I wish I could be more hands off here and let the bees swarm too. There are so many benefits to natural swarming for bees, the biggest ones are it breaks the varroa life cycle and makes strong new queens. But being in a city with close neighbors I don’t think they would appreciate that too much. Some day when I get my house in the country I will LetMBee. 🙂
Well I see you got me take A pix of the me take a pix of Peter in the smoker contest pix on top of this Pg. I am the holding the camera
I love that picture!
Just wanted to say hi and find out how things are with you. I hope all is well. 🙂
It has been an interesting few weeks. This week I am busy working at the fair but we need to catch up soon. How was your trip?
Will have to try this next time I wire a frame.
Use pliers to twist nail and tighten wire
At Mass Bee Field Day this year, I learned an easier way to wire a frame but you need an electric embedding tool when installing the foundation. I have not purchased one yet, but once I get it I will write a new post detailing that method. It is much faster.
My trip was great! We want to go back to France. I see you have been very busy. Congrats on all the awards. You are very artistic.
Would love to hear the latest on your neighborhood news.
Where can I get a Kit like what is shown above?
I got this from my local bee supply house. But you can buy these pieces or similar kits from any bee supply place.
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Thanks for the invite Anita! This is such a great hop. I look forward to joining in when I can.~Melissa
Thanks for joining Melissa! The bees were missing out on all the blog hopping fun. 🙂
I am also adding your site to my blogroll. I find myself going back there all the time to learn about chickens. I really enjoy it! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.
Long story but so far so good. I’ll send you a PM.
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Anita, thanks for inviting me. I’m super excited about this hop. My son (14) is the beekeeper in the family. My husband is helping him and they are a little obsessed. I just take the pictures and use the honey.
Thanks for joining! It is so easy to get “stung by the bee” and become obsessed with beekeeping. Bees are just so darn amazing!
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Hey Anita, I have a crazy question for you… Do you know if Raid Roach Foggers will harm wax foundations? We fogged our garage early this morning before going on a field trip and on the way home realized that some of my son’s bee equipment is in there. I think the rest can just be scrubbed. Of course I don’t want to hurt the bees or contaminate our honey but I also hate to see these foundations not to be used. Any ideas?
Bees on the roof is pretty cool, by the way.
I would not use the wax foundations. It is too risky. I don’t know exactly which fogger you used but I believe they all contain some sort of pyrethroid which is highly toxic to bees. Sometimes the pyrethroids are also mixed with an oil based substance to make the chemical more effective at killing. This means it will not dissolve in water. Some of them will dissolve in mineral oil and some of them do breakdown in full sunlight over time. Which fogger did you use? If you can figure out the exact active ingredient you can also figure out how to get rid of it on your wooden ware and what the half life is and how long it stays in the environment. You could also try sanding everything down and repainting it. Hopefully that would take care of it. I think you should toss the wax foundations though. Wax naturally absorbs toxins and holds them inside. This is the foundation the bees will be using to raise brood. Baby bees will be nestled against this toxic wax while they are developing which could lead to a myriad of problems and weak hives. I don’t think you want to use it for honey storage either and risk ingesting it. Bee populations are struggling right now from many different factors. It is better to give them a clean house and a fighting chance than weaken them with toxins from the get go. Sorry! I wish I could give you better news.
Of course if the foundations were enclosed in something that prevented the chemical from getting to them they may be okay.
Thanks, Anita. We had pretty much decided to throw away the foundations. Thanks for the info on getting it off of the wood surfaces. I’m just kicking myself for not being more aware.
can you post the dimensions of the follower board please (upper and lower). Thank you
Sure. The upper is 18 inches and the bottom is 8.5 inches.
Another way to hold those moving screens on is by wrapping a strap around the hive body to hold it on. I hate putting tape on painted hive bodies. Do you have problems with it pulling paint off? I quit using screws as well. Just trying to keep that wood good for as long as possible.
The next time I am moving hives I am going to tell Holly that I am going to be the picture taker….. She can be the hive mover… 🙂
Hope that three deeper continues to thrive. Keep us posted.
I have not had any problems with it pulling the paint off although it does leave a sticky residue behind sometimes. Since that residue makes a good ant catcher I figure it’s worth it. 🙂 I’m glad Joe came over to help move that hive off the roof, there is no way I could move it down the ladder with just Brian. I am too much of a wimp. Poor Holly. She must be one tough cookie!
Just ordered the nuc candy board and looking forward to it. What kind of wood do you use to make it? Does it need to be painted?
Thanks Bruce! It is untreated pine. You can paint it if you want. I painted mine. Let me know how it works for you!
You can eliminate the hive tipping over in a truck bed by putting a pallet in the bed and ratchet strapping it to that…
Thanks for the tip Tyson! The hive was really top heavy so even though we strapped it to the truck, obviously it was not good enough. The bees were fine in the end though.
Could you provide a link where such a kit is available online. I’ve done a little research and have had some luck finding most of the pieces and parts shown above, but would prefer to find a complete un-assembled kit such as the one you have here.
Jeff, I bought this as a kit from a local bee supply house. They do not sell it online as a kit. You can get the pieces separately but most of the kits that are sold online are not as good quality as this one. If you are close to MA you can get this kit from Crystal Bee Supply. Most of the pieces in the kit are from Brushy Mountain. I hope that helps!
I think I missed the story on why this hive had to move.
One thing I really appreciated when I worked in professional kitchens with all guys, they sure are handy when it comes to lifting stuff.
Glad things went well with the move.
Thank you for the feedback. I wonder how rice paper would work instead of the wax paper? Just a thought….
great site, graphically stunning and info rich.
a question for you (or others) and your deck/roof hive experience…
i have a 12 x 12 second story deck with one open side and am considering putting a hive on a modified rail top which faces south. do you think since the bees are 12 feet high that my neighbors yard (and playing kids) just beyond that railing are out of harms way ?
i also use deck for gardening. will that activity disturb the bees (watering, pumps, etc)?
thanks for your insight
Thanks Gerard! If the bees flight path is over the heads of passerbys and you have only one hive, it should be okay as long as the spot near the hives on the ground is not very busy and full of kids. That being said, the bees will fly down to the ground below. I find bees on my deck (which is about 10 feet below my flat roof and adjacent to it) all the time. Sometimes when the bees are very active you cannot walk back there without bees whizzing by your head. My kids still play there. They know to look out for the bees and we all coexist just fine. I am not sure I would chance it with the neighbors kids though. How far is your roof from the property line? We have neighbors close by but my hives are at least 15 feet in from the property line and my neighbors say they never see the bees. Gardening should not be a problem as long as you do not walk in front of the hive. The bees need clear access to get in and out of the hive without anyone getting in their way. Some days they may be cranky and you may have to alter your gardening schedule if it is very close by them. Most of the time it should be fine if you have a gentle hive. On a hot day the bees will enjoy your garden plants. Mine love the plants I have on the deck below and are often spotted drinking water from the pots. If you have anymore questions about rooftop beekeeping feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you are going to try to store the comb take the time to pick those bees out of there. Otherwise they will mold and it is no fun in the Spring. If you can preserve some of it for a while it might be wise to keep it around. You need to test for Duet…..
I cut out some of these bees to send in for analysis but there are probably a few remaining. I’ll try to get them out of there before they get moldy. I have some samples of bees in the freezer to test for Duet but since my hive would have died from indirect pesticide exposure not direct, I’m not sure how large of a concentration of pesticide will be left on the bees since the spraying was in October. The pesticide disappears quickly after spraying and the samples need to be frozen asap and sent in overnight on dry ice.
It has very cold here in Oregon. My girls are cold and were not eating the sugar solution sacks to get them through the winter. I will try to make the Bee candy board. I am starting a Warre hive for next spring. I have a top down bar hive now.
Patsy, You can also try to pour some regular cane sugar right into the hive. When the temps are too cold they cannot take the syrup but they may eat the cane sugar instead. Good luck with your bees! I hope they stay warm.
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I will be saving a hard copy to take to some hives in March for a little CSI. Several of my hives that have died were text book examples of the scenarios you outlined.
Thanks Jason! 🙂
I am very happy to have this information about Beekeeping
I would like to start the same project i need more guidelines about the bees and honey.
I live in uganda where the weather is conducive for the project’
I have a big pice of land where i can put the project. thanks so much that i have now learnt somethings but i need more as I am a bigginner
Thanks Benjamin! The best way to learn beekeeping is from an experienced beekeeper. Do you have a bee club or do you know a beekeeper nearby who could act as a mentor? You can also learn a lot in books and online, however the bees don’t read the books, so things don’t always go as planned. That is why help from an experienced beekeeper is best. Thanks for reading!
I just finished reading this and the previous post. Sorry to hear that Crocus might’ve died in such a horrific manner :(. The area I live in, thankfully, is so anti-chemical; it’s so hard to think that municipalities spray for mosquitoes.
Fascinating what you wrote in the last post about water. I’m so against all the chems (not to mention all the chemicals from the medications that people take and then pee out) in water that I go and get water from a spring.
I agree with Jason that this list is a must have for any beekeeper.
Thanks Mil! It’s good to know I’m not alone in my water phobia – lol. ;). A lot of people here are horrified about the spraying too but the news gets most people so riled up they are afraid to go outside because they may get mosquito borne illnesses. Schools cancel outdoor after school activites and all you hear about is the few people who got sick and the one or two animals and/or people that died. So in the end most people just don’t care because they are too scared of getting bitten.
What if you accidentally use pressure treated wood to build a top bar hive. Can you paint the inside of the hive and still use it or do I need to start over?
I would not recommend using pressure treated wood because of all the dangerous chemicals that are in the wood in order to preserve it. The bees will built the honeycomb on the bars so those should definitely not be pressure treated. You do not want these chemicals contaminating the honey. They will sometimes attach the comb to the side walls as well. But now that it’s built it is up to you if you want to rebuild it or not. I would at least make sure the bars are not pressure treated wood. It is also not recommended to paint the inside of the hive, bees will coat these surfaces with propolis (although I have heard of people doing it I am not sure how it turned out for them.)
This strikes me as strange. Those are not emerging bees. Why are they dead face first in the brood area? If they were starving they would be like that, but not with pre-emergered brood all around. At least that is the way it seems to me. What do you think?
They are like that because they were in the center of the winter cluster. When the bees overwinter some bees go inside the cells and the other bees stay outside, clustering over them, then they rotate so no bee freezes to death.
Great pictures but I don’t envy your shoveling! This winter we’ve had soooooo much more precipitation than last year. I’m ready for spring.
We have more snow on the way today with freezing rain to boot! It’s a mess out there as many people are still digging out from Nemo. Another storm is also expected Thursday and Sat/Sun. It’s going to be a long week with much shovelling ahead. I think the bees have the right idea staying inside until spring. 🙂 Although I do enjoy sledding with the boys!
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I love the photographs of the bees bringing in blue pollen and would like to use some of those images to illusttrate a flowers for bees project I am working on for Friends of the Earth as part of our Bee Cause Campaign. I am part of a local group within North Tyneside England, but would be grateful if you could give me permission to provide the Friends of the Earth organisation to use your photos as part of our campaign royalty free.
I’m glad you like the photos. I have a copyright policy regarding the use of text and images on my website. I will send you a private email with details. Thanks!
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Another great post. You are going to be the bee death specialist….. This post has been bookmarked on my computer.
Thanks but not exactly what I want to be known for -lol.
True, this is not one of the greatest things to be known for, but it is a reality in bee keeping. New Keepers and those considering a jump into bee keeping need to learn this stuff too.
What do you think about this idea : If over the hive I put a queen excluder and a super and in that super I put a queen cell prepared to get it out. What will happens? Both qeens will put eggs?
Welcome Daniel! That is not a good idea because the queens will be able to sting each other through the queen excluder. You need to have a space in between TWO excluders. Your setup would be something like the bottom hive bodies, an excluder, a super, another excluder, then the hive with the second queen on top. You can also use a double screen board to separate the hives, such as a snelgrove board, that has space in between the two screens, so the bees cannot touch each other.
Hi Anita, great site and info, Thankyou. Question on the candy board, why the outside hole ? Would that induce robbing, and the bees of that hive seem like they eat it thru the hardware mesh. I am new to beekeeping and am interested in trying this out. Thanks again, Ken
Welcome Ken! The candy board is only for feeding during the winter time, when robbing is not really a problem. You remove it in the spring, at which time if you need to feed you can then feed syrup. The opening in the front provides the bees with ventilation and another exit. By the end of winter the cluster will probably be using the top entrance to come and go instead of the bottom, so a top entrance here is important. The mesh is actually large enough that the bees can get through it. In the winter they may not be able to break cluster to get to food that is out of reach, and sometimes they starve this way. Since the candy board is on top of the top bars and has openings via the mesh, the bees can get to it without much effort when they need it. I hope that answers your questions and congratulations on your new beekeeping adventure!
This is a fantastic post. I just found your website and am reading through all the old posts. We are picking up our first package of bees on April 20. They’ll go into a top bar hive. I have a 4 and a 2 year old. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. The kids are innocent, and my 4 year old is looking forward to them. I look forward to teaching them about the bees.
Thanks Christy! Congratulations on becoming a new beekeeper. You will love it! I love my top bar and am adding several more to the apiary this year. It’s so nice not to have to lift large heavy boxes. Kids love bees (once they get over the fear of stinging)! My two boys love to help out in the bee yard and my 4 year old even wants his own hive this year. Once you get your bees established you should go to their school and teach their class about bees too. Preschool/kindergarten is a great age to learn. I have done this several times – the kids (and their parents) come up to me, months and even years later, to tell me what they learned about bees. Now instead of being afraid of bees, the kids learn just how amazing those little creatures really are. This understanding is essential to help persevere the honeybee for future generations.
Sam was showing off his bravery… and got stung like 4 times… don’t mess with the bees when they’re after that camera
So true! It really was astonishing how much they hated the cameras. How many stingers did you find in your camera Charlie?
That smoker has seen some use
I must admit that I don’t fully understand Housel Positioning. I have read about it here and there. Reading about it makes me wonder how such a high degree of order can be maintained when bees are building in the wild.
Take for instance one of my cutouts from last summer…..
I am not just being contrary. I need to learn more about this. It just seems amazing to me that they would be able to have the Y’s and ^ lining up around curves and in like the UPPER LEFT of that photo where little pieces of comb are built between larger divergent combs.
What is Ms. Lusby’s take on just allowing bees to make their own comb?
Here is a great article Dee wrote on Housel positioning which will explain it better than I did and hopefully answer some of your questions. http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/ed-dee-lusby/more-on-small-cell-foundation-for-mite-control/housel-positioning-how-i-view-its-importance-to-beekeeping/
Housel positioning is also one thing you can try with your combs that does not require much effort, try it and see if it makes a difference. I am implementing it in all my hives this year, so I can let you know if I see a change. It would also be interesting for you to try to observe the positioning in your next cut out and see what you find. I’d love to hear an update.
I can’t speak directly for Dee but in general the consensus is that bees need to be regressed before they can be allowed to draw natural comb. Large cell bees will build large cell foundationless combs since bees can only draw cell cells slightly below their size. So before going foundationless (which is encouraged if you are not making your own wax foundation from your own clean wax) it is first important to start with small cell bees or to regress your bees to a smaller size using 4.9 foundation or PF100 plastic foundation which many people say works better for regressing bees than the 4.9 wax foundation.
I am trying to find a source for small cell package bees within driving distance of Maine. Am willing to drive 3 or 4 hours one way to pick up. Anyone know where I can purchase these little beauties?
Ken, I just sent you an email. You can find some suggestions there. Thanks!
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I LOVE the idea of Hive Hosting however I live in Plymouth, MA. Do you have any contacts in this area? Thanks so much
You best bet is to contact the Plymouth County Beekeepers Association and talk to someone there.
I just wondered if you could ship bees and the kit to Ilfracombe in Devon,
Sorry I do not ship bees, this program is only available to local people in
my area and is full for the 2013 season. Thank for you interest.
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I have learned so much from your site and appreciate you in-depth photo essay on the No Treatment Conference.
Now I stumped. The Crocus Hive… Is this a Langstroth hive named Crocus or a Warre Hive named Crocus or is it a hive you have designed that is called the Crocus Hive. Please clarify.
In the meantime, I have sent a couple of links out from your No Treatment Conference blog entry. And about to copy your description of the Housal Positioning to two university apiarist because it is the most straightforward and clearly written statement I have been able to find.
Thank you for your skillful writing and your vivacious appetite for detailed infor and data on apiculture. Bravo.
By the way, my web site features my jewelry line and not bees. It will be making a slow transition to bees and my new bee venture. I’ll send you an announcement when it’s completed.
Thank you, Carol
Hi Carol, I am glad you are enjoying my site! Crocus hive is a Langstroth hive named Crocus. All my hives are named after flowers bees forage upon. I guess I should make that more clear in the description, it is a little confusing. Thanks for sharing my website and passing it along, I really appreciate it. Are you getting bees this year? What type of hive are you starting? I wish you good luck in your new bee venture and can’t wait to read all about it on your website. Very exciting!
I found this information very helpful. Thanks for posting it.
I have space for hive(s) and am interested in hosting. I live in West Gloucester
Mary I sent you a personal email. Thanks for your interest!
Our bees love peony’s. we love watching them roll around in the opened flower.
What a great visual Tara! I’ll add that to my list.
I’m interested in buying some honey if you still have some. What size containers do you have and what is the cost?
Hi Susan, Thanks for inquiring about my honey. I sent you an email with more information.
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I would like to buy some of your honey. Please send me details.
You got it!
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Boy am I glad I found all you here.
I am a died in the wool rockie beginner.
I purchased a hive with 2 deep supers and a medium super with a peaked roof.
I also purchased a package of bees coming soon.
Now the fellow did not tell me where to put the screened thin board and the thin oval slotted board.
I read your installation on pkg. bees and very much appreciate it.
but this hive maker says the screen goes between the top med. super and the others below.
your install says put the queen bee tied between a couple of frames.
I hope someone can make things more clear for this rookie.
You can hang the queen between the two frames or use a rim board to install her. Either way is fine. You should only start the bees out in 1 deep and add the rest as they need it.
I’m impressed with your information about bee casts to which it is important to deal and investigate more and more on it.
VERY GOOD ANSWERS IMPRESSED
Hey there! I’ve been reading
your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead
and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas!
Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic work!
Glad you are enjoying the blog!
Do you sell these kits you are showing here? If no, where can i find a kit for the super and the frames?
Hi Jan, I am not selling these kits but you can get these kits from any beekeeping supply store.
Do you know of any kind of host a hive program in Phila. I live on 2 1/2 acres on a park in Phila. We have chickens and do not use pesticides. I have two hives, but would love some mentoring and in exchange would offer our yard to set up hives. Any suggestions on where to turn in our area. Thanks. (from Waltham originally)
Kerry, Try contacting your local beekeeping organization and tell them you would like bees on your property. They should be able to help you.
What a GREAT website. My neighbor just started her first bee colony and I happened upon your site in my quest for more education and information. Thanks very much for the dedication and effort that has gone into creating such a wealth of information for the “newbee”! Sorry, but i couldn’t resist!
Wonderful content, informative and very fun and interesting to read.
Good luck with your hobby and new hives.
Thanks for your wonderful comment Doug! I am so glad you are enjoying the website. I wish your neighbor good luck with her bees. Are you planning to do get a colony next year too? I hope your neighbor lets you help her with the bees. Working with another beekeeper is the best way to learn.
My husband and I are very keen conservationists and would love to have hive in our garden to help with the decline of the bee population, not having a lot of money to spare, where could we purchase an inexpensive beginners hive? Thank you for your consideration.
All the beekeeping supply shops sell them but they are not inexpensive. They will cost a few hundred dollars. Beekeeping is not an inexpensive hobby unfortunately.
I love the post and i would like to have such garden,please do you know where i could get this flowers for free or with money/purchase.i would appreciate any help on this,am thinking wouldn’t this bees sting,course that is the only thing am sacred of.thanks
Hi Deborah, You can purchase some of the flowers through the links on this post. The bee friendly seed packet is a great one to get. Thanks!
Liz, you can build a top bar hive yourself.
Thanks Brian. This is a good point. You can build a top bar for relatively cheap if you are handy.
anita my online mentor! CONGRATS on your new appointment as bee inspector!!
wonderful articles and i hope to see you at the TF conference in Leominster 🙂
i HAVE REALLY ENJOYED THIS SO VERY MUCH……….PLEASE SEND MORE………AND BY THE WAY I ONLY HAVE 2 HIVES ONE OF WHICH I CAUGHT THAT MADE ME VERY HAPPY. SO NOW I AM OUT TO CATCH MORE.
I’ve been going through your lovely blog in preparation to get bees next spring. Your posts are so informative and I very much appreciate all the gorgeous step by step photos! Just curious, why did you freeze the wax? Isn’t beeswax shelf stable at room temperature?
It is shelf stable and you don’t need to store it in the freezer. That is just where I put it for storage. I will take that part of the post out to avoid future confusion. Thanks for pointing it out. I’m glad you are enjoying the website!
Congratulations on your new appointment! I can hardly wait to read more of your fascinating posts.
Looks interesting, but I don’t think I would want to have bees in that kind of operation. Congrats on the new job.
This is going to be a job that provides stories for you for the rest of your life…. 🙂
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How can I purchase your honey? I desperately need local honey to cure my 5yr old son of allergies. Is the honey you sell available in “really raw”, unheated, unfiltered condition?
Very neat idea! Here in Florida, we don’t feed our bees much but this is a great idea for the occasional hive that needs supplemental feeding. Here’s a thought though: when you strain the sugar water, use a paint strainer (located in the paint section of your hardware stores. That’s what we use to strain wax from the honey. works great and would make the straining much much faster! 🙂
I use my paint strainers for swarm catching. I haven’t tried them for straining yet but I know other people who recommend this as well. Thanks for the tip!
I’ve been using my own version of candy boards for a couple of years. The thing I do differently is I make a solid, plywood ‘floor’ to the board but have a large hole in the centre which I plug while pouring the candy. The bees move up through the large hole to feed but this design minimizes the amount of sugar falling into the hive and onto frames.
Hope this idea works for others as wel.
Sounds like an interesting idea. Thanks Richard!
The plastic frames will work perfectly if you coat them in wax, otherwise the bees do not know what to do with them.
I know beekeepers do this but this is too much work for me. Now I do not use any foundation for most of my hives, I let the bees make their own. Plus I like sticking my frames in the solar wax melter when they are no longer in use, which is something you can’t do with the plastic frames.
Many thanks for sharing such a great post! 🙂 Wonderful to go through it. Like the quality content , useful information and an amazing photos shared. Keep sharing post like this.
Thanks Matthew! Glad you enjoyed it.
I would like to purchase some local honey, Marblehead area, to help quell my spring and fall allergies. Do you have any available for sale?
Thanks August 26th, 2013
Thanks for inquiring about my honey! I will send you a private email.
Hi, we only use feral bees removed from human conflict situations here in LA—the BackwardsBeekeepers. We use no foundation, just start with open frames with comb guides for swarm installations. If doing a cutout, the brood combs are re-installed in the new hive body in the same order and orientation that they were removed from their original hive space. If there are large honey combs, those are fed back to the bees in a baggie feeder placed in a feeding shim on top of the frames. Housel positioning is not a issue with bees drawing their own comb or placement in cutouts. The bees have already put the cells the way they want them. Housel is for the installation of foundation bees. After the NE Treatment free conference, I finally figured this out, after fussing over what I was told I should pay attention to! Bees in the wild hives do it correctly for themselves, we don’t need to try to manage that.
Great point Susan! Have you noticed if the wild hives have the Y’s up on one side and Y’s down ^ on the adjoining comb?
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Very interesting! If what you say is true, then I have learned. Chemical treatments are expensive, laborious and don’t seem to work. Members of our association seem to go from one faddish practice to another, looking for a solution.
So, for the candy boards, that is 16 lbs of sugar for each hive to survive the winter?
It depends on your location and the amount of stores the bees have. 16 lbs is what was originally recommended but 8 lbs works well here in MA.
Read his book, Top-Bar Beekeeping, solid information.
Would this candy board keep one deep of bees through the winter if they did not have any other honey stores?
If they have no honey stores at all you should be feeding them. If they go into the winter without stores, depending on your area, they do not have a good chance of surviving. A candy board will help but is not a replacement for stores in the hive.
Hi Anita – do you have simple easy recipe for fondant for winter feeding? Thanks.
I am a new bee keeper and I think I just made a huge mistake. I just re queened my hive bc it had been three weeks since I saw any eggs. There was plenty of uncapped larvae each week but no eggs. So I ordered a new queen. I inspected. The hive today before putting new queen in and found the old queen. I decided to re queen anyway bc my old one is three years old. But my mistake was that I didn’t just put the queen cage in and leave the bees to release her, I emptied her straight in!!! Will she be ok? Have I set her up to die??
Did you kill the old queen before releasing the new one? They may or may not accept her if you killed the old queen first. If you did not kill the old queen, most likely they will not accept her. You will usually get better acceptance with a caged queen if you leave them queenless for 12-24 hours, cut out any queen cells, then put in the new queen and let them chew her out of the cage. There are no mistakes in beekeeping just opportunities for learning. Good luck!
I am wondering where the entrance is on Sam’s TBHs. They do not have a solid end at all, right? Just the follower boards to keep it simple? Is the entrance just a gap in the follower or a gap between bars?
Correct, the hive does not have solid end boards only follower boards. The entrance is a small gap on one side where the follower board meets the side of the hive.
My second year in bee keeping and a problem I had last winter was that some of my hives died from starvation. Some of the bees were fully formed but capped in the cell and dead. I believe they died because the bees covering them died from starvation and the capped bees died because they were chilled at least I hope thats what happened I’m just not sure. Bees on other frames were head first in cells.
Sometimes the bees will die when they start raising brood because they will not move off the brood to get to the honey. They can starve even when they have honey a few inches away from them. There is not much you can do about this except try to keep bees that are local to your area and better at overwintering.
I’m new as of 2013. I really value your site, as a neophyte bee keeper. My bees & I are in Nebraska. I have mostly guys here who have been doing it for a while. It’s hard to ask questions w/o feeling awkward. It’s good to have a different voice from a strong experienced keeper.
I’ll follow the website more closely this year now that I’ve found you.
Happy New Year 2014
Thanks Susan and congrats on your new beekeeping journey! It is always a learning process and I’m glad you found my website helpful. Just keep asking questions and reading and learning as much as you can and you will get the hang of it in no time.
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I live near cranberry bogs on the Oregon Coast. Since you are inspecting bees in the bogs there, what exactly are you looking for? Don’t the cranberry farmers spray with neonics? Is there a certain time after pollination is over that they spray?
I have a hard time asking the farmers around here…they get real defensive about it.
I was inspecting the bees to make sure they were free from disease. These bees had just been dropped off and had only been there for a week or so. The farmers do spray while the bees are there and it is very hard on the bees.
The bees GET SPRAYED??? No wonder they (by extension, we) are in trouble.
I agree with your footnote. We need stronger bees. By poisoning the mites, we are building stronger mites and weaker bees. We’ve GOT to let the bees adapt to the mites. You have to ask, how do the feral bees exist for years in the trees? They don’t have humans inspecting them every couple of weeks and throwing antibiotics, sugar, or replacing their survivor queens with some import. (Russian Hygenics seem to be the rage around here). Whenever I say (at the bee meeting) get swarms, instead of package bees) for your hives because they are acclimated, the more experienced Beekeepers recommend killing the swarm queen and replacing her with a new one, one with a known history, sometimes artificially enseminated. No wonder our bees are in trouble. My mentor is into maximum honey production. He scolds me for not using fumagellin to kill the nosema that weakens the bees so you don’t get as much honey. I say STOP THE BEE EXPLOITATION!!
I have seen that happen too where people kill and replace the swarm queens thinking they are inferior. I try to explain to them (when they will listen) why that is not a good idea. When you have the “right” type of bees, beekeeping is a whole different experience. It takes more effort and more research on the part of the beekeeper to get the right bees, so I think most people can’t be bothered. Package bees are a simple and easy way to get bees, although one of the hardest ways to start a new colony. If people buy package bees, I try to encourage them to requeen with mite resistant stock as soon as feasibly possible.
The new research coming out on Nosema is getting conflicting results. With the rise of nosema ceranae over nosema apis, treating with fumagillin (for those who treat) may not be effective anymore. http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.ppat.1003185
Pat, I couldn’t agree more. I run a host a hive program I
In Eugene to create pesticide free neighborhoods. I promote early swarming in Spring and it must help clean the hive of varroa with no eggs being laid. Almost all of our hives come from swarms! The tree hives die where I live but new swarms move in so it appears they don’t die. Maybe some live?
Thank-you for your reference to the fumagillin research published on PLOS. I have recently subscribed to their site but had not yet seen this article. I made the decision not to treat when I began keeping bees four years ago and find this research very reassuring.
You’re welcome. Treatment recommendations are always in flux as treatments stop working or become less effective as pests become resistant to them. You said you don’t treat but for people who do it is really important that people who decide to treat make sure they have done before and after mite counts to make sure the treatments are working (for mite treatments), get bacterial diseases tested by a bee lab for antibiotic resistance and always follow the instructions on the treatments exactly (especially related to temperature). As well as stay up to date on the latest research.
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I’m looking at starting some hives on top of buildings. Do I need to be concerned about heat or other issues from the rooftops?
Hives do great on rooftops! If the surface is black you will want to do something to cover it up to reduce the heat. The first few feet above the black rooftop get very hot and may be 50 degrees or more hotter than the outside temps. Simply changing the color decreases the heat tremendously. Some people paint the rooftops, some cover them around the hives (mine is covered with white panels, some people use astroturf). Also you need to worry about wind on buildings and probably want some type of wind break to help the bees, especially in winter, because it can get very windy up there. Access may also be an issue for roof top hives, do you have to climb up a ladder or do you have a door to the roof. Hive boxes can be heavy and carrying them down a ladder is hard, I do that, but not everyone would want to. Good luck!
Wow, scilla are one of my favorite spring flowers – plant a few more each year because they are slow to expand at first – and yet I never noticed that the pollen was blue! That does look lovely!
Love the squill photos :). We failed big time to get it to grow in the bank here so planted up a couple of big pots and it’s just coming into flower now (mid-Feb at 650 feet!). Hopefully get it established soon…
Thanks Trisha. Good luck with your squill. I heard it spreads like wildfire once established so you will have to let me know how it grows after you replant it. Thanks for feeding the bees!
I would like to purchase a yard sign….please tell me how I can do this.
Hi Bill, I am working with a printer right now to get some more printed. Just waiting for the shipment to arrive and then they will be available for sale on my website. Thanks for asking!
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Great video!! I have lost 6hives over the years ! 1/2 were wild swarms.I am done!! I never use pesticides on anything and all that I plant in my yard has to benefit bees, us and our chickens. I just received from my sister an article on how Lowes and Home Depot’s plants are sprayed with neonictides!! A gal behind me has a hive and I am seeing her hive slowly go down hill. I have also seen a steep decline in bumble,carpenter and other wild bees. My husband and I are trying to find acreage out of the sacramento valley..hopefully then I can start new hives. This has to be a main reason for bee decline! Home Depot and Lowes sell heirloom plants but I have stopped buying anything from them ..I cant believe that they dont warn us of neonictides use..a known insect killer!!!
Hi Anne, I’m sorry you are having trouble keeping your bees alive, beekeeping can be really disheartening at times. I have seen entire apiaries decimated from pesticides and it really sad to see. Many things can cause them not to survive, but if you suspect it is from disease or pesticides you can send in a sample for analysis which you can read about here http://www.beverlybees.com/prepare-samples-bee-disease-diagnosis/. Also if you are buying plants for bees once you find your new bee sanctuary, try to buy organic plants which will not be treated. As an alternative to buying organic, here is a great website to refer to which shows you lists of places where you can buy bee safe plants and seeds. http://nativebeeranching.com/sources-of-untreated-plants/ and http://nativebeeranching.com/sources-of-untreated-seeds/. This way when you get your new land you can make sure you are planting safely for bees.
I have a chicken and fox situation. A dead hive, two deeps and one honey super on a stand. I need to clean out the hive as I believe there is a mouse nest in the bottom honey super (that’s another story). So I pulled out one frame, some of the top bars on the other frames separated, lots of honey leakage and no bees to eat it, sad. As noted I at that point pulled out just the one frame. Now, a frame dripping on my counter and honey in the hive is running into the mouse’s ( probably more than one mouse) mouth, horrors. Any ideas to moving all the frames ( I found a lonely extractor for this weekend) but need to get from point A to point B with out a honey bath, contamination, lots of honey loss and a broken back. I will put 5 frames aside for the May nuc as you suggested, in my garage in a cooler (can the frames get moldy? Without air?). I plan to use a cooler to transport the frames from the hive to the extractor, any improvements on that idea is welcome. Please give detail on what to look for when determining hive death. I plan to send out a bee sample as soon as this weekend, post bad weather.
thanks ahead of reply.
Why don’t you give me a call to discuss. I will be home tomorrow afternoon.
Thank you for having all the complete instruction on you’re site. I will be a new beekeeper this year. I have been to a basic beekeeping course; and still find some things confusing.
Thanks, Emily Jacobs
You’re welcome Emily and I’m glad my website has helped you. Congrats on your new beekeeping pursuit!
are these plants bulbs, and where can you purchase them
They are a native plant that likes to grow in swampy areas. I didn’t think you could purchase them but I just did a google search for “buy skunk cabbage” and a few places came up. Make sure you get the Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus Foetidus) because there are a few varieties.
Great to know. I had always thought they were as unwelcome as the skunks who are waking and spraying like mad this time of year. I’m going to go down to my swamp now and look for their stinky, welcome flowers.
It really is an amazing little plant!
I had no idea that skunk cabbage was a nectar plant for my bees! Plenty of it grows behind my house, and coincidentally, I have a watercolor of it in a show next month. I researched skunk cabbage for the painting, but I thought flies pollinated it…Great to know it benefits honeybees.
It is an amazing little plant! It provides pollen to many pollinators including honey bees and flies, but honey bees do not gather nectar from it to make honey (that I am aware of anyway).
Maybe they just get pollen?
Yes that is what they are gathering. The bees need it to feed their babies back in the hive.
Yes, I was watching them on winter aconite, last Saturday…
Congratulations on the baby and the bees!
Thanks Caitlin! It will be a busy season for me this year. Think I can find a baby sized beekeeping suit? 🙂
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Though partly unplanned and partly planned your “bee abandon” practice is actually good confirmation of a beekeeping theory – that we may be fighting Nature by “over-caring” for bees and hence propagating various problems Nature would have dealt with quickly and viciously.
I am getting first two hives of my own this Spring (have built them over Winter, purchased bees, waiting…). Many things I learned from my grandfather (farmer with over 100 hives, overseas) are in sync with this line of thinking and I plan to apply those methods. One difference, though – insulation. Climate over there, in NJ where I now live and MA are similar. My grandfather have had practice I haven’t seen elsewhere and will recreate with modern materials: hives (standard Langstroth type) were year-round insulated by application of thick (2cm), shellacked rope all around. His reasoning was: “that’s how it have been done” by his father and his,… My guess is that this practice came about from merging over 19th and early 20th Century methods of old conical hives (where rope was insulation and structural) and new, Langstroth hives. It worked for grandpa’ – Winter losses were small (10%?). No additional insulation was used but rope was on year-round.
One early item I’ll take from BeverlyBees practices – I never had hives named, but my two will be using system inspired by you: Lavender and Sage.
Everything best with family addition!
I think there is a lot of truth to that beekeeping theory, but in practice it is hard, especially if you only have a few hives. It is much easier to implement when you have more bees and are not worried about losing a few colonies.
I have not heard about that insulation method with the shellacked rope. Keep me posted on how that works out for you. Unfortunately there are a lot of things in beekeeping that have changed from when your grandfather kept bees. The biggest being the varroa mite and the viruses that it carries and everything beekeepers do to try to make the mites go away. Many bees are having a hard time managing these pests now and it makes it hard to just let the bees be bees. Which goes back to that beekeeping theory you mentioned, because if we had done that in the first place beekeeping nowadays might be similar to how it was back then and our bee stock may be better off for it.
Congrats on your two new hives! I love your hive names! I wish I still named mine, but last year I had so many new colonies coming in through swarms and removals and making nucs, I got out of the habit of doing that. Good luck with your bees. This will be an exciting year for you.
Coming out of the winter in N.C. with my first hive. When I had the chance to order a spring queen, she asked me how many? Bought 2. I thought, if one is killed off, I still have the insurance. Used mess cages.., both queen acceptance in 2 days..!!
After several days, 80% of the field bees joined the main box. Two weeks have past resulting with two extremely small colonies.. (Both small colonies have several existing drawn combs now with some capped brood 3 weeks before main honey flow..)
Question: if I threw a towel over the strongest hive late in the day, would the remaining field bees do well in finding new homes..?
Overall, amazed on how adaptive this buggers are!!
how many frames of brood do you have in your strong bee hive? are they capped brood or uncapped,eggs and larvas?
I overwintered five hives and all still a live but one is very week, i would say less that 2 frames of bees.
the rest have 2 or full frames of brood but mostly uncapped.
Glad to hear your bees survived the winter and are busy raising brood! Unfortunately, it was too cold to pull brood frames the day that I checked these hives, so that will have to wait until the next visit. The two strong hives shown here had 8-9 frames of bees in the top box, which was nice to see!
how is the brood in that strong hives now? how many frames of brood do they have?
during this cold days, my hives have slowed down. there were a lot of pollen coming when the weather was sunny and warmer.
today, they just bring water
Hello Beverly Bees,
I lost two hive over the winter and found your site while looking for info on this white powder in a few cells? I plan on sending some samples out for testing.
I do not think it is the chalk brood, it looks like just a white powder filling the cells.
There are not many but has me curious, hope you may be able to shed some light or
direct me to more info?
It is most likely wax cappings that the bees chewed into a powder when they were accessing their honey stores over the winter.
So glad to find a blog where wax foundations are used! My husband and I have disagreed in this regard with our hives (this is our first year) because no one local to us uses wax and they have all convinced him that plastic is the only way to go … so we decided to try an experiment 🙂 I have wax foundation in my hive and he has plastic in his. We shall see how they compare throughout the season. Unfortunately, all I could find locally was plain beeswax foundation (not the crimped wire kind) and I was told there was no need to wire my frames, so when we went to check on bees for the second time after hiving, a couple foundations were bowing and one had completely fallen and crumpled. We found though that the bees had already built a good amount of thick comb in that time in the now completely foundation-less frame (filling about a quarter of the frame); whereas the other hive with the plastic foundations only had a skiff of drawn out comb on about half of the foundation. I suppose it’s possible that the plastic hive may just have a slower start and eventually catch up, but it was clear that the bees were able to get a faster start with even no foundation, over the plastic foundation.
That experience is what led me to start looking for instructions to wire my frames though. I was getting error messages when trying to reply to your post about that, and I did not see a tutorial for installing foundations, so I thought I would ask here: Is there a precise way to install the wax foundation after you’ve wired the frame? If the foundation just lies against the wires is there still risk of it falling out? And do you only use crimped wire foundations or have you also used the plain wax kind? That is what I have for my brood boxes, but will be ordering some crimped wire for my supers. Thanks!
It’s always great to experiment and see what you like better! Thanks for letting me know about the error, I will take a look at it and see whats going on. To install the wax foundations you weave them between the wires and then nail them in place using the wedge cleat over the crimped wire feet. I have not used the unwired foundation, but I do use a lot of foundationless frames – they are much easier, as long as you can get the bees to draw the comb correctly.
I just hived two packages of bees on Sat, and the company that I bought them from said to release the queen after 3 days. So today is Tues, and I pulled the cork (there was no plug) and I put the queen cage down on the frames to let here out. The bees were pretty aggressive when I pulled up the queen cage, and then really pushed in the cage when I set it back on the frames. I don’t want to disturb them again, but I think I might have released her too early? Any advice? I waited to release the other queen, as I am not sure if I did it right. Thanks!
The safest way to get queen acceptance is to use a queen cage with candy and let the bees release the queen on their own. This way you can leave the hive alone for a week without disturbing them. If you disturb them too many times, they may not accept the queen. Sometimes this is not advised or possible, for top bar hive installs or some foundationless frame setups it is better to remove the cage after 3 days, but usually the queen is released by this time if you use a cage with candy. If you let the queen out and the bees are acting aggressive toward her, I would leave the hive alone for a week and check back then. Make sure you see eggs or spot the queen, because you may need to order a new one to replace her. But it is best to let them bee and let the bees sort it out, they may accept her after all. If your other cage has no candy you should release that queen in the next day or so as well. Then leave them alone without disturbing them for at least a week. They need time to settle in and get used to their new hives. Good luck!
I’m brand new at all of this. Just installed my first package of bees three days ago. The first thing that amazes me about learning about beekeeping is that there are so many contradictory ideas about the ‘right’ way to do it.
For instance, the rationale given me as to why it is important to release the queen at 3 days if she still isn’t free of the cage is that the life cycle of a worker bee is about 6 weeks. The sooner the queen is out and about, the sooner that she can begin laying eggs. The hive requires a constant ‘turnover’ of new workers to replace ones that will die off of ‘old age’.
So, since I am new at this I don’t know exactly what the wrong or right of it all is – one thing I would suggest is that all the long-time beekeepers need to get together and sync up the information they are giving so it is all uniform …
Very cool blog! 🙂
My husband and I are new to beekeeping. We just picked up our first box of bees on 4/19/14. This article was very helpful. We are going to check on the Queen tomorrow (Thursday, 4/24/14) to see if it’s OK for her to be in the bee box.
Again, thanks for the great article.
You’re welcome and good luck with your bees!
I am so happy to see other people that are willing to try new things in order to help our bees. I also use foundationless wedge top frames without waxing, with great success. I break the wedge and nail it to make a starter strip like Michael Bush describes. I have even gone as far as just using the wedge top bars alone in my NUCs and swarm traps. I do not wire the frames and have had a few issues, but nothing that a few rubber bands around a frame can’t typically fix. My bees have tought me wood workig skills and to be creative with my troubleshooting. I’ve learned so much from books and the internet, but so much much more from the bees themselves. Thank you for your willingnes to try new ideas and for all the great pictures of your success.
Thanks for sharing your experiences Frank. That’s also how I do my foundationless frames now too. This way you don’t lose the starter strip and only need to set them up once, it is much easier! The bees really will teach you a lot if you are willing to listen and learn. That is one of the reasons I love beekeeping so much. Keep up the good work and happy beekeeping!
Hello, can you just dig up existing skunk cabbage and replant? I would like to add to my property for the bees! I am new to this site. Thanks! Bettina
I have not tried doing this but since eastern skunk cabbage grows downward and deeper into the mud every year, I suspect it would be hard to dig up and replant. You can gather the seeds when they are ready and plant it this way though.
Just found your site – congrats on overwintering your bees so well. I just got my first swarm after a ten year gap in beekeeping.
We got a swarm from a feral colony that has been living continuously in the same roof space for at least 10 years. Optimistic for good genetics for a treatment free approach. I think that genetics are a key factor for people trying treatment free, and swarms from long standing feral colonies are a great way to start.
I hope your kids get into bees as well – I’m looking forward to taking my little boy to see the bees when he is a bit older.
What a great colony to get a swarm from. I agree that genetics have a lot to do with how well the bees fare when going treatment free so starting with a swarm from a feral colony that has been going strong for 10 years is perfect! My kids are torn on beekeeping so far, some days they like it some days they are bored with it but anytime they want to help me I let them. They really enjoy lighting the smoker though!
Well my swarm seem to have settled in nicely. They are drawing out some comb at least, but I haven’t opened them up to see how the queen is laying.
I’ve also been offered a job doing a cutout on some bees living in a stables nearby. Been a while since I did one, and last time I wasn’t trying to preserve the bees. Hopefully it will all go smoothly.
I just setup a website advertising my service doing swarm removals. Already lined up a couple of cutouts from it, but no nice easy swarm as yet.
Your website is great! Good luck with your swarm and cut out business. I have done both, the cut outs are hard on the bees, no matter how strong the colony is but I still try to save as many as I can. Swarms calls and traps are the way to go. It is much easier on the bees and you are getting them at a point when they are ready for the move, so they tend to do much better for me than the cut outs. Keep me posted on your cut out success, I’d love to hear how these colonies do for you in the long run.
My husband are new to beekeeping….this is our first year. I can tell you stories about how terrified I have been of bees all my life…but this adventure has changed me. I actually drove home with our first box of 4,000-6,000 bees in my car 2 weeks ago! I go out every morning before work to check on *the ladies* and hope for good weather for them to *go shopping*. I found your site a few days ago on a Google search for *what to see on the first hive inspection* and I have been totally absorbed since then reading all your adventures. This one broke my heart. I feel I have learned so much from your website, and I wish you continued success with your bees……………..and with your new baby!! How exciting! I have so many of your posts yet to read. Thank you so much for this site! Adair and Jerry Renning
Hi Adair and Jerry, Congrats on your new beekeeping adventures! I’m glad you are enjoying the website. It was really sad when this colony died, it is always hard to lose the first one or to lose many all at once or to lose them to pesticides. It is just hard to lose them at all! The girls grow on you and before you know it they become a part of your family. Speaking of family, our new baby arrived a couple weeks ago and is doing great! He is a sweet little boy and we are so happy to have him. Good luck with your bees I hope they do well for you this year and go on to make you lots of yummy honey!
I just found your site a couple of weeks ago. I did a Google search for *what to look for on first hive inspection* and found YOU! What a wonderful resource your site is for new beekeepers like us! My husband and I (with a little help from a friend) hived our first package of bees that I won at the SEMBA conference in March. Our second arrives this weekend. We are very excited, and trying to learn all we can. Thanks again for the wonderful site. And congratulations on your new baby boy!!
Welcome Adair! I’m so glad you are enjoying my website. Congrats on your new beekeeping adventure and keep trying to learn as much as you can. The bees are wonderful teachers and will show you new things all the time. The new baby is doing well and is a cute little boy. My family is so happy to have him around!
Anita, have you ever seen a swarm on the ground? We installed our second (ever) package of bees last night and this afternoon there was a pile of bees on the ground, about 6′ from the hive. It was about the size of a medium pizza pan. We had gone out with the plan of checking our first (ever) hive, which was about 1 month old, so we decided to do that first, then check the pile ‘o’ bees. In the meantime we called our wonderful local mentors. Hive 1 queen is a *layin’ machine* according to our mentor, and all appeared well. We went back to the pile and they were still swarming around on the ground. Our mentors came over and helped move the bees back to the hive, one-hive-tool-full at a time. Then dug the sod with the remaining bees up and moved it in front of the hive. We checked at dusk and it appears that they are camping out under the hive. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Was there a queen in the pile of bees? Did you release the queen or leave her in the cage for the bees to chew out? It could be just a cluster of bees with no queen that got confused about the hive location. Package bees are very confused when they arrive and sometimes have trouble orienting, but it does sound odd. I have seen clusters on the ground near the hive when they are balling a queen and have also seen a swarm on the ground near a hive when a queen tried to swarm but could not fly and fell to the ground instead.
Thanks so much for your reply Anita. Our *bee school teacher* came over today w/a nuc and some drawn comb from an old hive of hers. The put the nuc right next to the ball ‘o’ bees on the ground and they walked, strolled, sauntered in. Took about an hour Jerry said. So the nuc and the hive # 2 are right next to each other and all the bees are in one or the other. No bees on the ground. Our teacher thinks maybe the queen was not done mating and flew out and the others followed. (We saw the queen in the box, marked w/green. We replaced the cork w/marshmallow. They did not see the queen today. We hope she is in either the nuc or the hive # 2, which we are calling *Drama Queen*
Sometimes the packages ship with an extra queen in the box of bees and not in the cage (by mistake), so this may have happened too.
Is it possible for two hives to merge on their own? I have to hive one weak the other strong
The weak when recently had a queen death and there were few bees left. While I was tending to my bees the weaker colony just took everything and left, and went into the stronger hive
It was not a swarm, a robbing, or an attack they just acted like they were part of the other colony. And there was no bees attacking each other or bees that died of being stung or bit
Is this possible?
Yes, I have seen this happen with nucs that are struggling. Sometimes they will have a few queens in one hive for a while, then some of the bees and a queen may leave or the bees will kill one of the queens and leave the stronger one remaining.
Also if the weak colony was queenless, and too weak to requeen, the bees may have just drifted to the other hive with the strong queen pheromone.
I was wondering what cell size you are using in your foundation?
This post is a few years old and shows 5.1 foundation. Now my bees have all been regressed to small cell (4.9) and I am using mostly foundationless comb.
how to purchase your honey?
Thanks for inquiring about my honey! I will be selling honey at the Beverly Farmer’s Market this year which opens June 16th. You are also welcome to arrange for a local pickup. Just send me an email at email@example.com to arrange it.
I was looking for a web site that would tell me how to re-queen a queen less bee hive. I just did my three week inspection of my packaged bees and I could not find any capped bees, I did see lots of capped honey and lots of honey not capped, I saw no drones and I saw what looked like two supercedure cells and what looked like two totally black drone or queens, what I observed it looked like the workers made two queen cells but all they have now are two unfertilized queens, if you want to call them that. I have heard of some ways on how you can re-queen a hive without getting a store bought queen. One is to bring over from another hive some capped brood and drone in hopes that the drones will fertilize the unfertilized queen, if its possible?
Unmated or virgin queens will leave the hive to go on a mating flight. They find an area called a drone congregation zone, where the drones from nearby hives will be hanging out waiting for the queen to come. This is where she mates, so you do not need to bring in frames of drones to get your queen mated. You do need to make sure you have a queen though, and not just drones. You can see what a queen looks like here – http://www.beverlybees.com/new-swarm-hive-milkweed-spot-queen/. If you have a queenless hive, you can bring over frames of eggs and young brood and let the bees raise their own queen. Good luck!
I may have run into the same problem. I collected a small swarm at work last week, right out on the road in front of the shop (surprise!). A fellow from across the streeet said there was a larger swarm about a week and a half before behind their shop that he said they chased off. My qualifications for beekeeping are… well, I am “YouTube certified”, so I have absolutely no frame of reference for the sounds a hive will make sans queen. I only built my first hive in February, and these are my first bees. I was able to collect and place the swarm without any protective gear and no stings. They have stayed in the top bar hive for 5 days now. I have seen bees with their bums in the air, but not sure if this is the behavior you described. I have opened the hive, but not moved the bars the bees are on. I dont see any evidence of comb. Any comments?
If the bees are not building comb, you probably do not have a queen. I would try to give them a new queen asap. Also bees without a queen will sometimes fan with their butts in the air for days to try to entice a new queen into the hive.
On inspection Monday evening, 6 days since collection I did see some comb being drawn out. There was about 3+ inches on one bar and about a quarter size on another. I will be seeking a local source for a queen through the Olympia Beekeepers.
You should try feeding them as well – 1:1 sugar syrup. But if they do not have a queen they will not survive. Sometimes small swarms will take a while to draw comb, check for eggs, larvae and capped brood in the comb and if it is worker brood you have a queen.
I started two colonies from packages April 5th, they are both now queenless. I only have these two colonies, so tomorrow I am going to try combing these two colonies using the newspaper method. I will then introduce two deep frames of brood and a new queen. I’m following methods outlined in “First Lessons In Beekeeping”, but I was wondering if you had any advice to add.
I appreciate your time!
Sorry to hear about your bees. Your idea sounds good, try to make sure you have older open brood and capped brood on the brood frames and not eggs or young larvae or the bees may try to make their own queen instead of the one you are giving them. It is a good idea to add the brood, even if it is young brood, the hive will need new nurse bees to take care of the bees the new queen will lay. Good luck!
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I’m going to share this around on my Facebook since I live in MA. Hoping to help you save some more swarms!
Thanks for helping to save the bees Caitlin!
Did anyone ever identify the white stuff? Because we have a cell of the same looking stuff in one of our hives.
No, but I think it was just an odd capping color, as the capping was very thin. Let me know if you find out.
I think I know what the white colour is.
The bee larva in the cell pupates and spins a little cocoon around herself. Usually the bees on the comb add a wax capping on the outside of the cell just before this happens. But maybe your bees were a bit out of sync and you got a glimpse of the cocoon with the pupa inside it.
I’m a new beekeeper and want to go foundationless but I’m also wondering about extraction. Have you heard of anyone using the extractor with foundationless but wired frames and having success?
Yes, I do it with a hand crank extractor. You need to be careful but it will work with most of the foundationless combs without wire. The foundationless wired ones usually work fine.
Thanks for sharing all of your information! It has been very helpful to me. I don’t have bees yet, but want to someday. But I do make soap, and have a friend with bees who gave me a huge bunch of honeycomb that he cut off a hive that didn’t make it through the winter. Can I still use the honey? Or is it bad? There are some parts that look totally normal, honey tastes fine to me, just from a little dab of it that got on my hands from moving it. I wasn’t sure how to process it, there is a LOT of honey in it. But after reading this, I’m assuming I can just use the same straining method you did. There are some other parts that are darker. Very dark brown in color. Does that mean there is something wrong with it? Thanks for all of your help!!!
It is fine to use. Honey never goes bad. Just crush the honey comb and strain it through a sieve or a paint strainer to get out the wax. The dark color you are referring to is probably the brood comb. It is fine to crush and strain that comb as well, you just want to make sure that no miticides, pesticides or antibiotics were used on it that are not approved for use with honey supers on. Beekeepers sometimes use these in the boxes that contain the brood comb.
I used plastic when I first started out. It seemed to be okay. Maybe I bought wax coated. The last 2 years they started doing the bridge comb dance like you show above.
So I bought some wood frames and wired wax foundation. My goodness, quite a lot of time it takes me to make 20 frames. And I want to go from 6 to 12 hives. Not likely. I can reasonably make enough for 2 more hives each year.
Then I found 2 frames in storage that were annihilated by moths. Now I get to buy more foundation, pull out nails and re-wire.
I’m still on the fence. I like wax way better, but wax coated plastic might be the only practical way to get up to 100 hives before retirement.
I would so love to take that job on!!! But living in Geneva il would be a bad commute, right. I want to have a bee hive of my own next spring. Need help getting started
Too bad you don’t live closer! Try to find a beekeeper near you or take a beekeeping class with a beekeeping club. They should be able to put you in touch with a mentor who can help you. And of course there is a lot of great info for beginners right here on my website at http://www.beverlybees.com/beginner-beekeepers-guide/.
I only live about an hour away from Beverly (I’m on the South Shore) — I wish I didn’t already work full-time because this would be a great opportunity! I will pass the word around on Facebook 🙂
I have a huge nest of bees not sure if they are honey or not. I’m located in Rowley, ma. The whole side of my shop plus the crawl space attic is full. Do not want to spray in case they are honey bees do you think you can help
Hi Diane, Please give me a call at 978-778-8276 to discuss or if you have a photo of the nest or one of the bees you can email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to identify. We do live bee removals for both honey bees and wasps. We relocate the honey bees to a place where they will be cared for by a beekeeper and remove wasps and hornets without using pesticides or chemicals. Give me a call to discuss. Thanks for saving the bees!
Well, we are nearing the end of our first year of beekeeping and your site has been an amazing resource of information!! The latest is how to clean the honeycomb! We have pulled 3 frames from our first ever hive and have wax to clean! We are so excited!We got just over 3 pints of honey per frame! We never expected to claim any honey this first year. And in the process we have wax to process! I used your method this morning and it worked just as described! I now have several layers of purified wax….dunno what I’ll do w/it yet, but it’s cool to look and, and to thank the bees for! Thanks for all your hard work keeping this blog going!
Thanks Adair! Congratulations on your first year of successful beekeeping and I’m so glad my blog helped you. Enjoy your honey and all the hard work both you and the bees put into it.
I swapped over to plastic frames, coated them with wax and put them in the supers on my two hives. The bees seemed to build on them no problem, and things went along well for a while.
However, before I got the chance to harvest any honey, they were hit by small hive beetle attack. Now the queens were old, and the hives possibly under a bit of strain rebuilding on the plastic frames, but I believe the frames with their little slot openings all along the edges of the frames, gave the SHB somewhere to breed and escape the bees repelling actions.
These slots were crammed with lava from the SHB and I think this exacerbated the attack and subsequent failure of the hives. Unless someone produces a solid plastic frame (absolutely NO cavities for SHB), I will not be interested in wasting my money again. Back to teh old way for me.
I still do not like or use the plastic foundation in a wooden frame. But I started using the PF100 one piece plastic frames in some of hives in the brood nest only, to regress my bees to small cell. The small cell wax foundation did not work as the bees would chew it up or mold it incorrectly. The PF100’s have those cracks you describe, but hive beetles are not too bad around here yet and I have not had a problem yet with the PF100 frames (although I still do not like plastic in my hive).
what do you do during catastrophic nectar collapse or pollen collapse ??
a commercial beekeeper in Australia told me if he is willing to feed pollen he can make a honey crop about 200 kilos or so pre hive. If he does not do this the bees will die for there is no natural pollen to be had.
PS. I have no way of proving this statement.
do you feed honey from other hives if available ?
do you move bees to a better location for a nectar flow if a catastrophic nectar collapses is all around you ??
I do believe honey is the best over wintering food available if you have it .
I just can not let the bees starve to death.
are you running three deep boxes for a brood chamber ??
if so how is that working out for you ??
I do hope the best for you and your family and your adventures in beekeeping.
Since I switched to the Tim Ives method and started using 3 deeps for brood I have not had to feed those hives at all. They end up storing enough honey and pollen all by themselves. I leave them heavy with honey and they have honey left come spring, which I leave for them. They have a deep and a half or more (conservatively) of honey going into winter. They like to fill the bottom box with pollen in the fall which makes fat healthy bees next spring. I try not to move my bees because using the 3 deep method they are very heavy hives! I do move bees permanently if the location they are in is not a good nectar producing area, as some areas in general are better for bees than others. Feeding bees is very time consuming so I try to avoid it at all costs if the bees are strong enough. But I still feed nucs for overwintering and late swarms and removals (late August/September) if needed. I try to feed my honey from other hives first, then sugar water if I have too, to prevent starvation. Hope this helps! Are you using the 3 deep method?
if I use a deep configuration two deeps for winter since I went to Russian bees about 6 years ago need a lot less honey for winter feed.(had Itwinter. for about 50 years) With Italians I needed about 12 to 14 frames with Russians 10 to 12 frames one good thing I like about Russians is when they start laying a brood in about January they will follow the honey stores what I mean is the Queen will lay eggs towards the honeyside of the frame not on the empty side they do not stay still like most Italian I ever had and can only move on the comb on a warm day to get extra food and or pollen.
one thing you might like to incorporate in your fall emanagement
on about september first I will inspector hive and look for two frames of pollen I will take those two frames of pollen put them into the top box at number 3 and number 7 the bees will top them off With honey and capping and them.in the springtime bees will be in the top box most of the time and be right near the pollen honey mix combs this has worked well for me over the years.
I do know in northern Vermont and New Hampshire a lot of beekeepers who do use 3 deep configurations for winter.
I use all 10 frame equipment
Interesting observation of the Russians. I have all mutt bees, but some seem to have Russian type characteristics. Also the bees in one of my top bar hives somehow seem to “make honey” in the winter. No idea how they do this but I have definitely observed honey stores being moved around to different frames in freezing cold temperatures. I have also seen some of my bees out flying in very cold weather sub 40F and somehow finding pollen. I use all 10 frame equipment too. The bees will usually fill some of the frames in the top box with pollen before capping with honey, so I usually try not to move frames around. Using 3 deeps the bees tend to fill most of the entire bottom box with pollen stores going into winter, by the spring they have used it all. They are pretty amazing!
Hi – thanks for this treatment-free article. I’m a first year beekeeper and had wanted to go this route but with just one hive and pretty high mite levels, I felt treating (with formic acid) was the right thing to do. I still do, in this particular case, but I am concerned with resistance. I did a little research and couldn’t really find any info that bees were developing resistance to formic acid. I did see one statement somewhere that said they have been using it in Europe for 30-40 years without any signs of resistance, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of studies or scientific info out there. Do you have any knowledge of this? Clearly resistance is occurring with some of the chemical pesticides.
I don’t think there is anything that is resistance proof. Eventually nature will find a way, she is smarter than we are. Did you do mite counts before, during and after treatment? I doubt formic killed all the mites in your hive and this is where is starts. Randy Oliver has a good article about this and I encourage you to read it – http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-arsenal-natural-treatments-part-1/ In it he states “It’s been frequently asserted that the natural miticides will be “sustainable,” that is, that the mite is unlikely to develop resistance to them. I don’t buy this. Milani (2001) speaks for biologists when he states: “There is no reason to believe that the varroa mite cannot develop resistance against acaricides of natural origin or simple molecules (e.g., formic acid). There are hundreds of species of insects and mites which feed on plants containing natural toxins.” Even though formic acid has been used for some 30 years in Europe with no apparent sign of resistance, with continued regular use without rotation, the tolerance of the mite to formic would likely approach the tolerance level of the bee. In other words, you’d kill your colony before you killed enough mites to make it worthwhile. My point is, it would be unwise to use any single natural treatment as a Silver Bullet.”
I have been beekeeping since May 18th 2014. Yeah, 4 months.
I have NOT treated my hives. I did put Diatomaceous earth
around my hives and I am allowing fireants to buld in my bee yard.
I just returned from the GBA (Georgia Beekeepers Assoc) Fall meeting and was told I must treat if I want my Bees to live.
My bees are local. A Russian/Italian mix. They seem to be doing well. I have beatles. I kill them by hand and I guess I will wait and see if my girls make it through the winter.
I live in Northwest Georgia. Our winters are on the mild side.
Is there anything else I could possibly do?
Learn as much as you can from everyone who is successfully keeping bees treatment free. There are many similar methods but also differing ones. Try a few ways and see what works for you in your area. Read as much as you can about bees, go to meetings and workshops. The more you learn the easier it will be to care for them treatment free. Good luck!
I am not applying treatments to my hives. I do feed sugar water when needed. My girls are Russian/Italian and they are doing good so far.
Thanks for providing information on Treatment Fee Beekeeping.
This is my first year with 4 hives. I am going to make these candy boards this weekend. Did you use 16pounds for each hive? Thanks!
Yes, that is what the recipe calls for. But I started using only 8 lbs per hive and put the boards on in late December. I only use them on hives that do not have enough stores to survive the winter.
Hi, Did the trap ever catch anything? If it got a swarm, how did it do with the “Let M Bee” method? I’ve tried bait hives the last 2 years in MA with no luck 🙁
No I have not trapped anything but I know people who have trapped swarms here in MA.
If someone is keeping bees in a place where “catastrophic” nectar shortages occur it’s a problem with hive placement. A treatment free person would have to concede that it was a bad location…. that’s what I’d have to do.
In my first year I used all plastic, and it was a huge nectar year so the bees drew everything out nicely. This year was a big drought year and the bees did everything but draw out on the plastic (which I now was putting in wood frames). I will try both dipping the foundation in wax next year AND all wax foundation, and make a decision at that point. Let us hope we get more nectar in 2015 to help all that along~
Anita – thanks so much for your great blog. My Loving Bride & I are in our first year of beekeeping. I just put on my first candyboard using instructions you posted here. Our third hive – a split from earlier in the summer – is rather weak and they’re already hanging out on top of the frames of the top super. I figured they’ve already exhausted their meager stores or are otherwise starved. My own Loving Bride is a biologist also (how we got into this) and we’re both pleased to read about your “treatment free” approach. Take care. Keep up the good work. (Northern Virginia)
Great post on your candy board, why the vinegar as a ingredient in the recipe? Probably a stupid question , but was concerned that the vinegar might be Bad for the bees.
Have you ever used lemon grass oil as a feeding stimulant . It’s marketed by Dadant as a product called Honetbee Healthy .Its primary ingredient is Lemon Grass Oil. Very expensive to buy !! Sence the main ingredient is the oil from the lemon grass , why couldn’t you make it yourself. Any ideas on this ?
The vinegar is used to prevent mold growth. I don’t feed my bees any feeding stimulants at all and no longer feed them sugar unless they are nucs or very late swarms or cutouts. Many people do use HBH and make their own essential oil feeds for bees and seem to be happy with them.
Thanks for taking time to answer my question on the vinegar
Every year I have a large percentage of my Italian queens never make it back to the mating nuks . Ive tried different shapes of structures ,colors or patternes , landmarks .
Spreading out the nuks , facing them differnt directions helps some.
Is this just a problem with the itallian queens?
It’s been said that honeybees don’t see red. Witch of the colors in the ultra violet color spectrum do they see clearly? Any ideas on this problem?
I have snowdrops in a bed 1/3 of a mile from the hive. Will they travel that far when it’s cold or do I need to plant some closer to the hive? This is the end of my first year with bees. I lost a hive in the fall and hoping my other hive will hang on until spring. All I have are entrance feeders. A man that lives by me and has raised bees for 40 yrs. told me he puts sugar water out in a chicken waterer for days when it gets warm. (I live in NW Arkansas–zone 7 where we get 60- 70 degrees for a few days in the winter and then plummet to the 30’s.) I did this only to have a small cluster die INSIDE the waterer. I guess I’m beginning to panic. Looking forward to reading more from your website. Brenda
Sorry to hear about your bees! When it is warm enough for them to fly they will find them.
Looks like an amazing experience! Thanks for posting these wonderful photos and for the information. I found the comments about Housel positioning really interesting. Also, I’ve long been convinced that the sole purpose of drones is not to eat and mate. Bees spend a lot of resources and work raising them, so they have to be important to the survival of the colony — not just for passing on genetic material — but for their overall health and well-being. I really thought the remarks on how they may provide a protection against parasites fascinating. Thanks for sharing!
What type of wire are you using for the board? Is there any concern of the sugar reacting with the metal?
Thank you so much for all your help!
It is hardware cloth. You can read how to make one here – http://www.beverlybees.com/i-want-candy-so-lets-make-a-candyboard-for-winter-feeding/
Wow! Great sight! Thus will be my first year as a bee keeper, and your site has some awesome information with pictures! What a great help! Your site will definitely be a great reference as I start this journey!
Thanks for sharing. Yesterday I received from a friend, a big jar of pure, local honey, from around Lake Okeechobee, and a bucketful of dripping comb seemingly half-filled with honey as well. To get the honey from the small chunks of comb, I took an old clean honey jar, put a funnel in it, and squeezed the pieces of comb into the funnel, one chunk at a time. It was time consuming and messy, but I got a little over a half-pound done, I think. Not entirely sure of amounts, I’ve got about 10 times the amount I squeezed, to go. What I’m not sure of, is what to do with all the wax. I took the wax I squeezed, and put it in the funnel, over a SOLO cup to drip overnight. My A/C has it about 67F inside right now. Is that too cool for it to drain honey? Or should I just take the wax I have and refine it, to be mixed with more refined wax later? I know wax has a seemingly endless shelf life, as does properly stored honey. I love this stuff!
First off..LOVE your site! It is helpful in so many ways and has got me excited about really digging into the idea of beekeeping. I would like to begin my first hive this year, however we are currently purchasing a home and will not be moved in til mid April. I live in Ohio and the winter has been beyond cruel this year. Would June be too late to start a hive that can produce enough food to sustain itself through the winter months?
June is about the latest you can start one here in MA, unless it is an overwintering nuc. It is best to talk to some local beekeepers who know what beekeeping is like in your area.
Thanks for this wonderful discussion.
I am picking up two packages of Italian bees in April up here in Maine and I think I’m going to try alternating wired foundation less frames with frames containing small cell foundation. Seems like a good way to get started. Yes?
I wonder, how did you add the wired supports for your foundationless frames? Or is there a vendor who sells them like that? I like the added stability. I think I’d feel terrible if comb fell apart on me.
I added the supports in. You can read how to do this here – http://www.beverlybees.com/wire-frame-beginner-beekeepers-guide/
Thanks for the great site and information. I’m starting two new hives on foundation less and will follow your lead by putting a few frames w/ foundation to start. Nice pics, and nice looking bees!
Thank you for such an informative site. I am taking your advice this year and mixing 1/2 foundation divided by 1/2 foundation less frames. I was wondering what your take on your idea is after the fact. From the pics, it looks like it has worked out!
It works great! All my hives have a mix of many different frame types now and it is sometimes hard to notice which are foundationless and which are not.
Could you tell me about your decision to put WWFs in with you FFs, and how you decided to alternate them?
Alternately, could you direct me to pages or videos that talk about this? I’m new but determined to go foundationless. The amount of information on the internet is amazing but weeding through it is tough.
I was considering Ross Conrad’s vertical guide strips on the sides suggestion…and no full foundation at all.
Thank you for all you share on your site. Leecia
Anita, Very sorry, the answer is in your post, I had failed to read it all…
Beverly, lovely pictures but don’t envy the snow. My husband and I are starting out with our first hives this spring. We are in Minnesota and I noticed you did not have your hives wrapped like everyone here seems to do. How do you overwinter your bees?
Sometimes I wrap them, sometimes I don’t. It all depends how much time I have. Good luck with your bees!
love this story! I would of done the same. My family has cherry orchards and we get bees every spring at the end of their stay on the orchard we get so many queen less swarms all the time because the beekeeping companies pick the bees up in the middle of the day leaving thousands of ladies behind. It’s heartbreaking to hear and see.
I have 4 new packages as of a couple weeks ago. I used a drawn frame in the center, two partially drawn combs on either side of that then alternated wax coated plastic foundation with crimp wired wax foundation frames to fill out the boxes for all four.
I notice now two weeks later that the bees are moving ahead on the wax with wire foundation mush faster than the plastic with wax, in all 4 hives.
In my area, most prefer wax over plastic, and many opt for foundationless. I think it depends on who the active beeks in the local clubs are mentoring people to do.
One think that can help prevent the drone/burrs that you had on plastic is to use a hole saw to remove a couple of circles of the plastic from the frame to allow the bees to build drone comb if needed. If I can get the plastic drawn, I will use it, but if its still there in a couple of weeks, I will replace with wax/wire.
So we just put our package of bees and shook them into the hive. (this is our first). We placed the queen in her cage with a marshmellow as suggested by the apairy between the combs. So when should we check on her. I also read that when putting a package of bees in a hive it is best to “lock” them in for a day or so. Will they leave if I didn’t lock them in and How will the escapiees get home?
Please read my post on How to Install a Package of bees which should answer some of your questions. http://www.beverlybees.com/install-package-bees-langstroth-hive/
New to beekeeping and have just started with a package and a nuc. to compare their progress. Third day in.
Nuc seems fine and is humming along nicely…very quiet and sedate hive, which I think must be a good thing.
The package hive is more noisy and busy looking which I would guess is normal since the Queen has only been in a few days and is (probably) still in her cage and not accepted.
I am feeding both hives using ‘Dadant Ultimate Hive Feeder’ which I put on top of the brood box using an empty deep as a cover, but a quick peek shows me that they have eaten a lot more of the syrup than I expected, so I have to refill sometime today or tomorrow.
Would it be better to now place to feeder outside, on top of the telescoping cover, (or somewhere near the front of the hive) so I won’t disturb the hive as much, or would this simply encourage more problems with raiders and ants?
No keep it inside the hive.
I would like to buy some raw honey if you still have some available? Please let me know. Thanks.
Hi Rose please send me an email at email@example.com if you are interested in purchasing honey. Thanks!
Thank you! Is there a list anywhere of treatment free beekeepers in Massachusetts who sell their honey? I would like to support them, though I am in western massachusetts.
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Hi! I came across your above post while researching honey bound hives. Did you just use a gravity pail feeder to feed the thawed honey back when they needed it? Thanks for your time 🙂
No I used mason jars on wood strips inside the hive.
Any idea where the orange pollen comes from? What kind of plant/flower? My bees are bringing in the same thing right now.
This is a great guide for researching pollen colors. Check it out! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollen_source
Hi. What is the purpose of putting the wax in cheesecloth? Can’t I just dumb some brood comb in the water and boil without it?
The cheesecloth traps most of the debris. The wax melts out of the cloth and hardens at the top of the water as it cools.
where can i get the entrance cover for my swarm trap. is it plastic or metal?
It is metal. Most of the big bee equipment suppliers sell them.
I have been using the waxed plastic foundation from Mann Lake for years (Rite-Cell) and have no trouble with it. My bees build it out very quickly and after a few years of use I can scrape it off, clean it with a stiff brush and re-coat with wax by hot dipping. Occasionally I would get the Pierco foundation in Nuc hive swaps and found that with the Pierco, quite often the comb would be snaked onto the foundation. I have as of late told customers who want to buy a bee nuc from me that I no longer accept the Pierco foundation. Around here folks sell nucs by trading out full frames of bees for empty fresh frames of comb, they bring their own nuc box. It keeps the cost of the nuc down a little. Plastic frames are a big no-no for me because they give the small hive beetles too many places to hide within the edges of the frame.
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Nice capture! Looking forward to bagging a swarm myself one day.
Do you leave the bucket there for a while to attract the stray bees?
Yes, they will cluster on the top of the bucket to stay with the swarm.
I have a number of videos of my first hive which is foundationless. Why start wrong? I was told it makes things harder for a new beekeeper but so far so good. I did not use any wax at all and the bees seemed to know just what to do. The comb is a little off in places but I think they started putting comb on the one wall first then went to the frames for some reason and it made a ripple in the frame comb. They started on the east side of the box and not in the middle. I’m about 5 weeks in and it seems like the bees no longer have much honey or pollen in the brood chamber, I think its all they can do to keep up. I do have many new bees and used uncapped brood chambers…. not sure if the queen has laid more in them or not. I need to inspect better this weekend.
I am a brand new beek. I bought a new hive with all foundationless frames. I bought a 4 frame nuc. The nuc had foundation. When I combined the nuc into my hive I spaced the 4 frames with foundation less frames in between. I’m worried about the bees building comb other then I’m the shape of the frames… I applied bees wax to the wedge to hopefully show the bees where to start. Is there anything else I should do? Also its only been a few days since I combined them, is it to soon to inspect? I don’t want to overly stress them while the hive is weak and growing… Any advice would be much appreciated! You can email me too or I’ll check this thread (firstname.lastname@example.org) thank you for any advice!
If the nuc has a laying queen it is ok to inspect, after a few days. Make sure your hive is level side to side, this will help them build the comb straight. Usually they get it right when you alternate frames, but it is not a great idea to separate the brood nest that much as it makes it harder for the bees to manage the brood. Try putting the foundationless frames between the last two drawn combs and rotate them in to be built as needed, as your would do in a top bar hive.
Geez, you guys make it look so easy!
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Hi! I just bought a jar of the Sweet Summer Wildflower crystallized honey (#501) at the Beverly Farmers Market opening day earlier today. This honey is delicious! I hope to see the other honey types to try there next week too, i’m hooked 🙂
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So cool watching them march right in like that! All it took was some frames of honey in the nuc box? Did you uncap them first?
No, no uncapping needed.
Beverly: great swarm pictures, thanks for sharing .
Been a very crazy spring – mid summer swarm seasion hear in Tulsa ok.
I’ve had more extractions this year from homes with rock or brick exterior. Rescuing the queen with all the nurse bees inside the exterior wall is very expensive for the home owner .
Removing them would require all the rock or brick to be torn off that section of the outside wall.
I am able to use my bee vac for the worker bees , but the queen- nurse bees and all the honey comb has to be sealed inside the wall cavity. What a sad ending to all the bees left inside the wall.
If there are any ideas on ways to Incourage the queen to abandon the bee cavity , please share your ideas or thoughts.
I’ve even tried to talk the home owner into leaving the bees alone if possible. Normally that’s not a option.
Thanks all and may your beekeeping be blessed.
We remove the brick so we can get all the comb, honey and bees out for the homeowner and prevent problems with bees and or/other pests in the future.
I did that also and caught only the foraging bees in a house where the owner would not allow me to remove them.I later went back to the site and the bees are still there working away!Apparently the queen and hose bees had eggs and they all have survived.I plan on doing a trap out this spring to get them out of the house.
I have heard that eventually all bees ail come out and if you leave the hive box there for a good while the bees will establish a home in it and later rob out the stores they had before the trap out. I am going to try that method this spring!
what is that wacky cone cause from? We just open up our hive today and there was some of those wacky cones and they had tunnel built with cone too; which seemed kinda of weird. Is this normal, if not what should I be doing? Thanks
Sometimes the bees build comb that way. There are a number of reasons – honey flow intensity, foundation type, no foundation, too much space etc. You need to cut it out and fix it to keep the hive inspectable and prevent cross comb.
Interesting scenery for swarm retrieval. Know anyone around there that would let you put a trap up….. 🙂
I’ll have to talk to the captain 🙂
I have two bog commercial size hive both are filled with brood and uncapped honey should i add new box and honey to top and small brood on top trying to have bees capp the uncapped honey and stop urge to swarm.or put supperand queen extractor and then big frame on top thanks natural bee keeper keith
If your boxes are full and you are going into a honey flow you should add another box or two to give them room. I put undrawn supers over the brood box and drawn supers on top of that with no excluder.
Hello, I have a hive with laying workers, introduced a mated queen ,in a cage but the workers killed her, so as now it’s a bit late in the season I’m going to amalgamate with the newspaper method, is that all I can do as the hive is weak and be prone to wasp attack even with wasp traps
Yes, merging with another hive is the easiest way to stop it. Read more here – http://www.beverlybees.com/laying-workers/
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wow! Bees are amazing creatures. Is there a chance another swarm might be attracted to the same spot again?
Very unlikely. Brian cleaned the area well and removed all bits of wax and traces of bees. Plus it is not an ideal location that most swarms would choose.
This is incredible! This is my aunt’s house. I think you need to mention that this is located on the THIRD floor. Thank you for giving these girls a new home.
Thanks Christie! They are very happy in their new hive and are very nice bees. Thanks to your Aunt for calling us to save them!
Do you know if herbicide sprayed under powerlines nearby could kill a hive? My whole hive is dead, and herbicide was sprayed beneath powerlines, not on our property, but across the road from my hive.
I’m so sorry to this happened to you!! Yes some can be toxic to bees. You need to find out what they used and call your state pesticide inspector to come out and take samples. Also you can send a sample into the Pesticide Research Institute who will test the bees for a variety of pesticides. Some pesticides degrade quickly and in sunlight so time is of the essence here. You can find their website here – https://www.pesticideresearch.com/site/?page_id=10913 Also call the company doing the spraying and report it to them, as well as the EPA and the Pollinator Stewardship Council.
Love the advice, and I try to add nothing to the hive but am curious what you do for wax moth prevention l, especially in stored frames this time of year.
Keep bees in my boxes and they take care of it for me.
I am a new beekeeper in Cranbrook, BC. I just harvested my first batch of honey and I ended up on your site while looking for directions for making a candyboard for winter. You have many great posts and I will be looking through all of them in the next few months. Thanks for all of the info!
My bees are bearding this evening, it’s 66 degrees, so I went online to maybe find out why… After reading the above, I checked the humidity and it’s 71%, after a rain.
I shouldn’t worry so much as they know what to do!
I live in Ohio I have been told it is too cold here for a top bar hive, I had built one but set up a Langstroth hive. I had spent $60.00 to build the Langstroth hive but didn’t want to take a chance on killing the bees I had caught. A well known bee man told me I was making a mistake that top bar hives are not warm enough for Ohio weather. Also that the bees won’t move to the food in the winter and will die. Is this true? I am disable and the top bar hive would sure make it easier for me. I can’t lift heavy weight I have a grandson that has been helping me this year but he is soon to leave for the service.
By the way you have one of the most informative bee sites I have found. The pictures are so well taken they really help. Keep up the good work.
So glad you are enjoying the website! No this is not true. Top bar hives can and do survive the winter. It helps to have entrances on one end of the hive and not the middle so the bees know which way to move to get to the honey. You should also insulate the top for them and make a mouse guard. Good luck with your bees!
There is the (IMHO valid) argument to start a small colony with any leftover swarm queens and use simple natural selection to see which ones prosper.
Also this helps the long term survival of the honey bee, as those queens might well be more resistant to parasites etc but are never given the chance to thrive.
In your candy board recipe what’s the vinagar’pupose?
To keep it from getting moldy.
what I did, was moved a hive about 1/2 a meter,off the original stand , and put a nuc on the where it was, I took two frames of bees with honey and eggs and 1 frame of honey ,and one drawn frame, put them in the nuc ,the nuc was put on the where the hive was moved from, this was done in the middle of the day, when the bees come back from work they go in the nuc, leave it for around 2 days, before you put the new queen in. I also feed the bees 50- 50 sugar & water,best off luck. ron
yes it works ron
I’m a newbie just wondering why sugar cubes couldn’t be used
You would need a lot of cubes!
How do you get your bees to dtaw out 4.9 i use5.1lost alot befor they took to it i have italian and allamerican cross hope you can gibe some advice i mever use chems.thanls
I use PF100’s from Mann Lake when resizing, the large cell bees usually draw the 4.9 wax foundation incorrectly in my experience.
We just started with bees this spring, and I found your web site a month or two ago while looking for candy board recipes. I love that this one doesn’t require “cooking” and appreciate your clear, step-by-step directions. I built our wired frames a few weeks ago and made the candy boards today (included pollen patties). They turned out great! Thanks!
Glad to help!
This is a great tutorial! I’ve seen lots of different recipes cook-no cook- adding pollen, bee healthy, even chamomile tea! Have you tried adding any of these or tweaking the recipe?
No but if you do let me know how it works out for you!
I’m told you can use that leftover cheesecloth to start your smoker.
Could you point me to any resources regarding starting an urban hive? Also, how likley is it to be able to move a hive to a different secrion of the city once its established. I’m a renter but have always had a love for honeybees and would love to take the hive with if I could. Right now I have a whole garden full of thistle that the bees loved this year! It was a treat to watch them. Since you said that if you see honeybees, someone around you has a hive, I’d love to know where it is!
Thanks for the knowledge.
Hi Lindsay, Find a local beekeeping organization near you and sign up for their bee school. That is the best way to learn to become a good beekeeper. You will meet other beekeepers there and hopefully find a mentor to assist you as it requires a lot of knowledge and skill to raise bees successfully.
Thanks for a very informative website. Being new to the bee feeding, I have been planning on building a rim feeder and then putting a layer of newspaper over the frames then pouring in sugar. I thought about misting some water over the sugar to keep it intact. I have a hive blanket ready to install above this. Do you think this would work?
Yes you can do this it is called the mountain camp method.
Hello, I used both your hardware design (mostly) and recipe last year. Worked great, both colonies I have not only survived very harsh and long winter in North NJ but started “explosively” in Spring. I used 8lbs of sugar for each hive. With paper below (below during candy making, in hive paper side faced up). Bees ate it all, including patty inside. I am about to make this year’s candy tomorrow. I am contemplating between 9 and 11 lbs per hive. Why tomorrow?-I am following the same timing method I used last year: placing candy on when weather prognosis predicts a whole week with high temperatures of the day below 50F.
Now to the small differences from your design: on one side (top when in hive, bottom when pouring candy in) is board with standard circular hole in the middle; while candy is poured in ,the hole is temporarily closed by a standard tall cylindrical 1lbs honey jar; above board (when in hive) one side has standard size hive entrance notch; part of the system is insulated telescopic cover on top of it (which I use year-round).
Everything best and thanks for the idea and recipe.
Thanks for sharing your method and tips!
Great article great reviews!. Last week i setup a deep super on top of brood box. I decided to try out going foundationless, my frames are wired. So i cut a strip of wax out of my extra foundations and glued strips to the top bars of the frames (10 frames). Today and i went to check the outcome of the experiment.
Two observations:1. Bees made a couple of holes on the strips about their size.
Any thoughts on why they made the holes?
2.reading the q&a here i noticed i put all 10 frames of the super foundationless and did not put any reference made comb next to any. So i learned that i have give them an example or pattern close by, interchanged i read above. I saw the bees started to make comb, but they started on the bottom bar of the frames going up and a little bit diagonally.
Just wanted to share my experience. Thanks for the good read.
The bees will chew holes in the wax to form it as they please. Not sure exactly why they made the holes you are referring to but it could be to allow them access. Thanks for sharing your experience! I find it helps to give them a guide by alternating drawn and foundationless frames.
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Great information, I have for years seen bees in my back acreage on skunk cabbage, A new lesson for me and I thank you for posting it.
what a great site. I get my first package of bees tomorrow!
excited…but a little nervous too!
I live in southern Indiana…and have a top bar hive.
Thanks for sharing your expertise.
Thanks Jim! Good luck with you bees!