Friday, December 31, 2010

2 hives lost

It was warm enough again for the hives to have bees out and about cleansing. I noticed 2 hives for the second time durring a warm spell, not active. I broke them open and this is what I found:

Both hives with Kona Queens from Hawaii didn't make it. There were inches from food, but starved to death. There were also random pupae ready to hatch that they abandonded to try to stay warm. I will place some of their old honey stores on a hive that is desperatly needing honey.

2 out of 12 isnt so bad... but we have a few months left to go!

Friday, December 24, 2010

For Michelle

I managed to get a really nasty bug on Monday that has run me over like a truck. Before the inconvenience, I have had the opportunity to take some quick peeks at where the clusters are and check the stores.

I have candy boards on all of my hives and my nucs just to be safe. There is a small gap that I made to keep the boards from turning to complete mush due to condensation on the inside of the hive. Only 2 hives are to the point of using the candy boards. Two hives also have a super and a half left of honey. I can use their candy boards if needed. All of the other hives seem to have enough to make it the rest of the way through winter.

We have had snow stick 2 times already this winter and tomorrow (Christmas day) it is supposed to snow and accumulate again! It is really too bad I feel so terrible.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I have been busy with various things and have forgotten to post.

I moved the hives off of my back deck and organized my main bee yard some. I had some stragglers not want to orient to the new spots and they buzzed around the back deck looking for home.

It was warm enough to crack open the hives to take a peek and several have me worried. They have eaten through ALL of the bottom and most of the middle boxes of honey. This means they have one medium left. I threw sugar in there via the mountain camp method (place sugar on newspaper and wet slightly to let them eat it as they go through the rest of the honey) and will be making candy boards (hard candy that sits in the inner cover for them to eat if they run out of honey). I guess 66 lbs of honey is not enough for this climate.

I should have enough honey next year to have a few supers left for winter swapouts if they get low next year.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warm weather

We had 73 degree weather today and the bees were out taking advantage of the nice day to do cleansing and orientation flights.

I also took the initiative to add about a 8"x8" pollen patty to the center of each hive and they must have been hungry because after about 15 seconds the patty was covered in bees eating it. I need to go and feed the other hives.

I also found 2 hives on craigslist for sale and got a really good deal on them. The guy had not messed with them for over a year (or so he said). Lets hope the bees were truly as advertised and are healthy enough to make it through winter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Update on apiary and mead

I will be changing the chocolate mead carboy in the next few days. I will also be adding some more water to all when I rack them (change from one container to another leaving behind the gunk).

I have marked all of my queens with the exception of one. She is a black carni and hard to spot. I have also made sure all of my bees are ready for winter with enough stores to be able to survive. They are in 3 boxes known as supers. The bottom is full of pollen and brood, the middle is half honey and half pollen and brood and the top box is all honey.

I have also given all of the hives another sugar shake. Food and mite population reduction all in one.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sugar shake and mite drop

I decided now that it was getting colder, I would do a sugar shake and a mite drop count. You take powdered sugar and sift it over all of the bees in the hive. Taking care to brush it down between the frames. As the sugar gets on the bees, they start cleaning themselves. The powdered sugar gets on the varroa mite feet and they cannot hang on while the bee cleans. The mite then falls through a screen on the bottom of the hive. You slide a board in on the bottom coated in either cooking spray or crisco. The mites stick to it and you can count them.

Needless to say, the bees were NOT happy to have the 10x powdered sugar thrown on them. Even my calmest hives became mad.

After 24 hour I came back and pulled the boards. I counted the number of mites on each board.

There is a lot of junk you have to sift through to find the mites, but the grid system makes it easier. Below you can see a mite that I have circled.
Here are the totals and breed of queen for each of the 5 hives I shook:

Glenn Carni: 3
Kona Italian: 10
Tate breeder Carni: 6
Kona 2nd Gen Italian: 7
Kona Italian: 85

I have several options for the Kona that got 85 mites. I can treat with chemicals (don't want to do that as I am staying as natural as possible), do another sugar shake in a few days and then another a few days later (probably do this), or do nothing and let them either die off or deal with it. I would have to say that 1 out of five failing the drop test is not bad.

I think I know why the mite levels are so high in that hive. I have some old drone comb in the hive and the hive still has drones, and the queen is still making drones in it. Varroa LOVE drone pupae. None of the other hives have either drones or drone comb.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mead 2nd shot

I am making a few tweeks to the previous JAOM orange:

Joes Ancient Orange Cinnamon Clove Mead

Filled 6 gallon carbouy to just under top line

3 ½ gallons water
1Qt OJ
1/4 tsp orange extract
5 large naval oranges cut into 16ths then halfs
5 pinches nutmeg
4 cinnomon sticks
7 cloves
18 lbs clover honey (1.5 gallons)
1½ cup loosely packed Sunkist raisins
2 packets fleschmans baking yeast (4.5 oz)
2 tsp Fermax nutrient

I am also going to try a pina colada mead.

3 gallon carboy
12 lbs honey (got carried away and forgot to stop at 9)
2 20oz cans crushed pineapple
1 can 13.5floz coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut imitation extract
1 tsp Fermax nutrient

Extra pineapple
3 gallon carboy
9 lbs honey
4 20oz cans crushed pineapple
1 can 13.5floz coconut milk
1/4 tsp coconut imitation extract
1 tsp Fermax nutrient

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

lot in a few days

I have done a lot in just a few days. I have fed up all of my weak hives or hives low on stores. I will continue to feed pollen patties for 2 more weeks.

I finished marking all of my bees yesterday.

This one is from a swarm I cutout from an apartment in reidsville a while back. I marked her last years color because she is at least 1 year old.

Yesterday, I went into one of the airport hives and the queen was gone. This is the problem hive. I don't have any idea what is going on, but this is about the 4th time this season the queen has dissapeared with no queen cells present in the hive.

I am making one last effort before giving up on them completley. One of the late splits I did was pretty low on bees. I decided I would do a newspaper combination on the two of them. Late last night I attached a front moving screen to the one here at my house. This closed the bees up inside. I moved this hive out to the airport this morning. I added the queenless hive ontop of the queenright hive with a sheet of newspaper between them. I also have removed all of the frames that were from the cutouts, or even looked questionable in the problem hive.

I opened up the drone cells to see how bad the varroa mites were. wow....

I count 8 mites. Only having about 1 frame of capped brood in a whole hive condenced the mites into a very small area.

All of the frames I removed are being melted down and I am going to make candles eventually.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

queen marking

I am going to spend today marking the rest of my queens. Since I am doing this by myself, I cant take pictures.

I marked my first queen last night. I decided I would try one of the nucs (small starter hives). This way, if I screwed up, it isn't that big of a loss. I was very nervous about handling the frame without gloves and then grabbing the queen out of the middle of the workers without gloves. My heart was going a million miles a second in anticipation of getting a bunch of stings on my bare hands, or hurting the queen.

I found her in the second hive body and set the frame aside. I took off my gloves and went for it. I got her with my dominant hand, let her grab my left thumb then gently pinched her legs (minus the front leg so I wouldn't damage her front leg. Queens measure the cells with the front leg. If it is damaged, she wont lay).  I carefully dabbed some blue paint with a Sharpie paint pen on her thorax. I then blew gently on her to dry her off. 

All that was great until I went to return her. They balled her and tried to kill her! I had to throw my gloves back on and dig her out of the pile of bees. I put her on a frame with honey and corralled her with a push in cage. she had 2 very young bees to tend to her. I put that frame back in the middle and closed everything up for the night.

I came back today and let her out. The bees were so happy to have her free. I guess the smell of my fingers, me blowing on her and the paint made the workers think she was a foreigner.

Today's nuc trial went better. I donned my neoprene gloves and tried again in a different nuc. I got the queen, marked her with my gloves on and then put her on a frame with a push in. I let her dry in the shade for 10 mins. I came back and let her loose. The bees were just fine with their newly tattooed queen.

Now I need to do this with 5 more hives....

I need to get a hairpin roller style queen cage to let her dry in so I stop damaging the comb and brood with a push in cage.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hive tracking tool

I am now using a free service called Hive tracks.

It lets you visually build your hives with components the hives have on them. That is a nice feature because I do not have to remember what I have on each hive.

It also lets you select hives to be requeened, when the queen was introduced, her race, ect.

You can also generate inspections and reports on each hive. The hives are all shown and weaker ones are colored yellow to red depending upon the strength of the colony.

This is an awesome tool. I hope it stays free.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back from Panama

I am back from my trip to Panama. I had a great time with some of the most fun people in the world.

Once I got back, my mother wanted to dig up and give me a bunch of flowers to plant in my yard. It has taken me 3 days to plant them all. I had a car full of plants and assorted spiders that I am still finding in my car! I am adding another expanded flower garden that I should get done this weekend.

I helped my father pickle and bottle jalapeno peppers. As a reward I got a whole flat of them to take home. There are more peppers than I know what to do with.

I also had to clean my 90 gallon reef tank and my 29 gallon tank. 2 weeks of neglect took 3 hours of work. Plus, I had more corals to put in that I brought back from Atlanta.

On to my bees:

Inspecting 8 hives that have not been inspected in 2 weeks is a lot of work. I checked 2 at the airport when I was there this past weekend and the swarm cutout from reidsville is awesome. Good pattern, stores and bees. The other hive is hot. I have had nothing but issues with them. Lost 2 queens trying to keep them queenright and they finally raised their own. I went back to feed them a few days later, but I was in shorts. Big mistake. I cracked the bottom box to throw a pollen patty on it and immediately got hit by 5 workers on my left leg. They shot out of the crack and stung me! I got 2 on the right leg before I was able to run back to the car.

Most of the hives are awesome. One is so calm I worked it without smoke or a suit. That hive has a great brood pattern and nice pollen rings and honey rings around the brood in the frame. I am 99% sure they are carni's. They are all dark workers with the exception of a few Italian looking ones.

I also have 2 hives that are mean as can be at my house. They chased me around outside for the next 5 hours if I went to work in the yard. Next spring, I will be re-queening them with a queen from the super calm colony.

I have fed all of the hives 1.5 gallons of sugar water to make sure they have enough stores for the fall and winter. The nucs are up to 1 gallon.

I have also noticed a TON of wax moths around the hives hanging out on the outside. Good thing the hives are strong.

In all, I have 2 nucs that are doing well, 3 hot hives and 8 hives total.

Mead update:

I racked the chocolate mead into a new carboy. It is very creamy chocolate tasting, but bad alcohol after-bite. It will take some time to mellow out.

I bottled the last strawberry mead, and it is AWESOME! It is a bit on the sweet side, but it has quite a complex flavor and aroma. My best one yet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have been very busy and not had time to post. I thought I would let everyone know that, yes, I am alive and will post when I get back from Panama.

I would also like to let everyone know I gave a lecture on aerodynamics and honey bee flight to the Forsyth County Beekeepers this past weekend. There were about 113 people there! The talk and Q&A lasted about an hour. In all, I would say it was a success!

That's all for now....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For my Granny

I have been very busy with things and I have not had much time to post on here. My Granny in Florida has been keeping up with my posts and has made the comment that I have not posted in a while. So this one is for her!

I have 8 hives total. I have 6 at my house and 2 at the airport location. I will be moving two hives from my house to another location sometime closer to this fall.

I have gotten a queen castle to raise 3 queens at a time. All you do is put a frame of eggs, a frame of pollen and a frame of honey into it and 14 or so days later you get a new virgin queen. You can then sell them or use them yourself.

I have 4 newly hatched queens. I have one queen in a nuc hive. The three current ones should go on mating flights in the next few days and begin laying eggs by this weekend. I will keep one to requeen a mean hive, and I might sell the other 3. I am also considering trying to overwinter one nuc colony in the event I lose a primary hive. I can always sell it next spring if it makes it through the winter.

I have also had 2 metal hive stands built…. I have built in oil traps at the foot of them to keep ants, earwigs and anything else that crawls/walks off of and out of the hives. I have killed a good 30 bees with these traps. Not sure why those bees were on the ground and trying to crawl back up. Most likely they are already dieing or are deformed and the others kicked them out. I might try to market and sell the stands for $65.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

cutout, queen rearing and bottled mead

I started and finished another cutout today. It was in a second story bedroom. I removed the wall and got the bees out. Never found a queen. The comb is small cell and not larger sizes. I then crawled on the roof and we cut into the soffit/box overhang and made sure there were no other bees in there. Just mouse damage.

Yesterday I also bottled the Ancient Orange mead and the Strawberry Chocolate Vanilla mead. Talk about good stuff!!!!!!!!!!

This is a combo of both..... I call it sunset mead. Very complex taste and VERY good.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Queen pics and ant/roach/earwig

I have had an ant, cockroach and earwig problem in this hive. I have taken 2 turkey roasting pans and filled them with canola oil to stop them from crawling up the stand.

I have created 2 new nucs, one in a nuc and one in a hive body. I will be testing 2 Instrumentaly Inseminated queens in these to see if we did a good job on them.

We will be doing II on friday or sunday and these bees will have been queenless for 24-72 hours... I will have to destroy any queen cells I find when I cage introduce the new queens.
While pulling frames, I was able to take a picture of 2 queens. Hive 3 which is a carni who is putting out mean daughters and will be pinched very soon (see if you can find her in the next pic):

And I was able to get a good one of the Kona queen from Hawaii:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

nuce to hive move, and queen pics

I decided that the nuc had enough time being in a nuc now there was a queen in it.

The brood pattern in the following pic is from my Kona Hawiian queen. I gave them a booster of brood. I would say that is a good pattern, wouldn't you?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

wax processing

I have gotten around to cleaning up the junk wax and processing it to clean it up. I washed it in warm water in pantyhose to catch the big chunks. I then put it under a heat lamp in my solar wax melter, as we have not had a full day without rain.

I took that wax that ran off and gave it a hot water boiler bath to get it to melt. All of the trash either floats or sinks. I can skim off the top and scrape off the bottom to get rid of the junk.

All I have left now is to scrape the bottom trash off the block and melt it one more time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Working and a wild swarm appears!

I was inspecting my far hive at my house and I started closeing everything up. I noticed a lot of bees buzzing around near me. I went back to the porch and looked back and saw the swarm landing on the cinderblock temporary hive stand.

I initially freeked out and though that I had dropped my queen while working with her, but I remembered that I put the only frame I removed in front of the hive, not behind it.

I threw them the best I could with my bee-vac into the nuc I had been trying to get to raise a queen. What a dumb idea. They all immediatly started fighting. I sugarwater sprayed all of them and shook every frame infront of the hive. I also smoked really well....

Don't ask me why I added them to the queenless nuc... I didn't think about the cardboard nuc I had squirreled away in the garage.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

4 meads bulk ageing

I have sorbated both the chocolate and joes orange meads to keep them from restarting, and I put them in the freezer and got them below 30 for the night. That should have made most of the yeast, if not all of it, go dormant. The sorbate keeps it from becoming active again.

I also didn't think the chocolate had enough chocolate taste. I added a whole bottle of Hersheys syrup and stirred it up. It was noticable, but not strong. The same with Joes and orange taste. I added 5 cups of quality OJ.

I am going to add some more honey as well. This is known as back-sweetening. I have to make sure it doesn't start fermenting again. That is why I froze it and sorbated it. A lot of people I know are alergic to sulfites, so I am going to try to not go that route.

I added 3 lbs honey to each strawberry mead along with 9 drops vanilla extract to the strawberry vanilla.

Sorbating, freezing and back sweetening is all done.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

no queen cells

I think I know why I am having a hard time with the bees in the nuc drawing out a queen from a worker cell.

I went into the nuc today and the bees were PISSED! Even with smoke, they shot out and started smacking the veil. I had them stinging the gloves and my jacket too!!!!

They are queenless, and they are hungry. I have tons of honey in the nuc, but apparently there is a shortage of pollen. Because of this, the bees have been sacrificing eggs to eat. I have added a pollen patty to the nuc and will be sprinkling some dry pollen substitute in tomorrow, along with a fresh frame of eggs. I don't want to open feed due to the honey flow being on.

Maybe I will be able to get them to draw out a few queen cells now that they have tons of sugar water, honey and food.......

Anyone else have any ideas?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mead update

I have a few good recipes that seem to have turned out well. And one or two that have some serious pucker factor tartness!

To give everyone an update, I did a lot of racking into secondary's a few weeks ago and taste tested everything. I was a little drunk by the end of it just on taking about 2 shots worth of each.

The chocolate tastes very mellow with a hint of chocolate. It will be one that sneaks up on you and when you get up to get just a little more you will have to sit back down!

The Joes I made is VERY pithy but good. I added 2 cups of OJ out of the carton into secondary to bulk age. It will be pretty good too. Cinnamon made it spicy hot.... I think it might need a dash of nutmeg or something. Not sure yet.

The strawberry chocolate vanilla is VERY strawberry sweet, then goes to a slight pucker. Very nice contrast. The straight up strawberry is like a punch in the mouth pucker. It is like munching on straight cranberries fresh from the farm.... WOW! I am going to have to k-meta/sorbate and backsweeten it. I cannot stand to drink it. I am puckering just thinking about it.....

Friday, May 21, 2010

NC Master Beekeeper

Here is a link detailing the process and requirements that I am going to be doing.
NC Master program 
Journeyman is the second level of beekeeping certification, and the one I am currently working on. You have to do a certain number of community service hours, have 2 years experience as a beekeeper and take another test.
Then I will take the Master level and the Master Craftsman. It takes 5+ years in all...

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I got my certificate today verifying I am a Certified Beekeeper with the State of North Carolina. I now get to work on the next level, Journeyman. You need 2 years experience and community service hours.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Orientation flights

Every day around 3-4pm the bees all come out in masse force to orient on their hives. The first time I saw and heard it, I thought they were swarming and I was going to loose a bunch of bees. I sat and watched one lone bee (VERY hard to do when there are that many). It would fly out around in a lazy loop and come back in.

Here is a video.... You can hear the crow in the background. I scared him off the porch when I went out. He was having a mid day snack on my bees.... :(   I have noticed a TON of birds hanging around. Cardinals, Jays, Titmice, crows, robins and others all grabbing a quick meal.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hives update

I now have 6.5 hives total. 4 at the house (with a starter nuc to see if I have drones around here for virgins to mate with) and 2 out at the airport where I work.

The hives at the airport are standard white. I did this to be able to keep my equipment separate for separate yards in the event of an outbreak of AFB or something. I will not loose everything this way.

The first carni I got has done quite well. I am now on the second honey super. They have drawn out and filled all but 2 frames. 4 frames are capped already.

The middle hive was a late nuc from Hawaiian Italian breed. They are just starting on their first honey super.

The hive closest to the house is doing okay. The replacement queen has JUST started laying…. Dunno what that is all about. They have plenty of stores, but if she doesnt start laying faster, they will miss the end of the honey flow.

The other swarm has about 3 frames in the top box drawn out. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

spoils of war

It started at 9:00 and went until 2 pm. This cut out was a lot of work an in 95 degree heat, it was not fun. We had to cut into the house due to tiling on the inside and they were sort of below the floor.

I have no idea if we got the queen or if we got to all of the nest. I have a feeling that I will have to go back in a day or two and tear off more siding and cut more wood off of the house. There was a small bee-run that either went to the back of what we exposed, or a whole new area.

I did end up getting a ton of honey covered bees, who knows if they will make it. I also got what will amount to about 3 gallons of honey!