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Found 3 results

  1. While out checking my apiary Friday, I noticed a great deal of bee activity around one of my pallets of hives. I could also hear the dull buzzy roar of a swarm of bees somewhere close to me. I looked around and found a very nice size swarm of honey bees in a black berry bush thicket. I had been working on putting out our swarm traps but the wife had just painted them and they were still drying from Friday. I rushed back to the house, I grabbed one that seemed to be the most dried, put 5 frames of drawn out comb and an empty frame into the trap, saturated a cotton ball with lemon grass oil and swabbed the entrance to the trap, the tops of the frames and threw the cotton ball inside the swarm trap. It DID smell rather nice I must say. I loaded the swarm trap into the back of the Kubota RTVX and off I went to place the trap as you can see by the pictures I was a bit limited for space so I leaned the trap against the black berry thicket where the swarm had landed in a small sappling. I gently shook some bees off of the swarm in the sappling so they would fall onto the side of the swarm trap where the entrance slot is. I quick prayer and off I went tending to other apiary chores, followed by grass mowing in my apiary (in which I am shamefully behind with). I came back a few hours later and they were pretty much all on or clinging to the trap box but had not all gone in. The final pictures showing the little "bee bridge" going into the entrance slot was the next morning on Saturday. They had all pretty much gone inside the box and a NICE honey bee hum was emitting from the box. As of this morning I went to check on them and add a brick to the trap box lid due to thunderstorms on the way. They were still inside humming away. I will leave them there for a week or two and allow the queen to lay brood and the bees to clean up the comb. Once they are well establish in the swarm trap, I will then cover the entrance slot and move them to where I will put them into a double deep nucleus colony for further development. Possibly split them later down the road. Enjoy the pics!
  2. Just finished installing the insulation to the rest of my hives mounted on migratory pallets. I began with insulating just a row of 3 which is half of a migratory pallet to observe how the bees responded. There was a notable increase in activity over and above the other hives. On cold days in the 40's this group of hives would be out flying and still foraging while the others were dormant. I am NOT trying to encourage more activity. Typically, it is best for the bees to cluster up in there hives during the beginning or the Winter and stay there with PLENTY of stocks or honey, pollen, water, with the occasional foray outing on very warm days. Unfortunately, in our area, the weather patterns have gone haywire and just a few days ago it was in the mid 70's. Even during the Fall and lead into Winter, the temps were in the 80's. Once cool & cold weather did arrive, it would be cool or cold for a few days followed by several days in the upper 60's and 70's, even nearing 80 a time or two. This is VERY hard on honey bee colonies as the break cluster during the warm times and must recluster when the cold returns. They are not equipped or designed to do this repeatedly. Each time they recluster, they may not cluster up directly in contact with their food stores. In an extremely cold snap, they can and DO starve and/freeze to death. I have already lost a weak nuc that finally lost too many bees and did not have enough to make a cluster big enough to keep warm. I found a sub- tennis ball sized cluster all nice and cozy tight.........deader than a door nail centered over uncapped sugar syrup. A few days earlier when it was warm and I was installing sugar patty strips in each hive they were doing fine and were even a bit defensive of their hive. In circumstance such as this, in my opinion, I think it best to do all that one can to alleviate as many stressors to the honey bees as one can. That means ensuring they have been properly treated for mite, have plenty of food stores, if they don't, supplement with sugar patties, fondant, even dry sugar, and provide pollen substitute feed. You want to minimize or eliminate any possible drafts but not so much that here is no ventilation in the hive. (ie: close up the screened bottom board and repair any holes in the hive boxes. Adding insulation can be yet another VERY effective measure. I install a Mann Lake Winter inner cover that has a 1 inch thick urethane foam board sheet of insulation in it to minimize heat losses from the hive top. These covers have a knotch cut in the bottom side for the bees to use as an upper entrance/exit.......it is also an excellent vent that the guard bees can control by propylizing it as they need to in order to keep in as much heat as possible but still allow enough ventilation to prevent condensation and mold building up. On some of my hives that stand alone, I install Bee Cozy's which are insulation jackets that go around the each hive. On the migratory pallets, I found that using 48 inch wide double bubble insulation wrap that has been folded in on itself in equal thirds makes a nice 3 layer thick x 16" wide hive wrap. I will do my best to get out in the apiary tomorrow and take some pics so you guys can have a better idea of what I am describing.
  3. It has been a good while since I have posted in the Apiary section. I have been VERY busy in my apiary and just have not had the time to post. In late February I planted about 5 acres of various honey bee friendly wild flowers mixed with Sainfoin & Yellow Sweet Clover. In late March I had a local farmer plant 20 acres of Sainfoin in one of our pastures. Still waiting for the coop to bring the lime trucks as the pasture needs about 3 tons+ to the acre of lime to reach the soil pH of 8.0. I will have to call them again. Last season we reached a high of 51 hives. Going into the Fall we began losing a few hives here and there in spite of treating our hives with oxalic acid vapor. I treated them again last November and again in December yet the hive losses got worse. We lost almost half. In early Spring the hives began building up really nice and had very large populations and then in early March I again treated them with oxalic acid vapor. They continued to do well until about 10 days later I treated them prophylactically with methol for tracheal mites. Almost immediately it seemed like the hives collapsed. I initially thought it was the menthol so I removed it after the second day. The hives did not recover. Long story short we lost EVERY hive with the exception of 1 by the end of this May. In the 3rd week of April I contacted a commercial beekeeper and bought 6 migratory pallets (36 double deep hives) of commercial production double deep bee hives. I immediately split out 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of honey/pollen to build 36 5 frame nucleus colonies to which I added 1 empty frame of drawn out comb or foundation. I ordered queens to queen all of the nucleus colonies and of the 36, 31 made it and I combined the 5 with other nucs. In early May I purchased locally 6 nucleus colonies of "treatment free" bees to add to the genetics in the apiary. In the 3rd week in May, I again grafted 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of honey/pollen to build another 36 nucleus colonies and added queens. Yesterday I went through all of the hives with the exception of the most recent nucs to ensure they had a queen. Talk about a LONG, HOT, SWEATY day!!!!! I had 14 queens left over from the order of 20 so I used these to build 6 two frame "queen castle" hives. Today or tomorrow I will go through the newest 36 nucs to ensure all are queen right and use these queens if needed, otherwise I will put them in the "queen castle" hive which require only 1 frame of brood and 1 frame of honey/pollen. Altogether we are sitting at 125 hives if my count is correct. The wife and I have been working our butts off. She likes to paint so she has been painting hive boxes & related woodware while I am working the hives & keep the grass cut and trimmed in the Apiary. We have 100 more nuc boxes on order to build out and paint to add a 2nd nuc box to each of the nucleus hives. Once they are filled out by the bees, we will split each nuc. If the nectar flow continues to hold out, we plan to split each of the 36 commercial double deep production hives and the 67+ nucleus colonies then I will treat ALL of the hives with Apivar for the next 6 to 10 weeks while they are building up their empty 2nd brood box. Once all of the hives have filled out their 2 story boxes it will be time to transfer the nucs to 10 frame hives and add a 3rd deep box to the now 72 commercial production hives. The 6 nucs of "treatment free" bee hives are already on their second deep and working on the 3rd deep. Every hive that fills out its 3rd deep box will then get honey supers and the Apivar removed. We are managing primarily for bee hive production but expect to get some honey (just not sure how much). Again IF all goes well and the nectar flow holds out we have an optimistic goal 200+ hives. We learned an painful lesson about having too many hives so close together and are spreading out our hives around the farm. In August I will be planting 50 lbs. of Dicon Radish for a late Summer/early Fall foraging treat for the bees. Today the FEDEX truck will be delivering 3,000 frames that will be going in all of the hives once they are transferred to 10 frame hives.