Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wierd Weather and Things

North Cariolina has had quite a bit of rain in the past weeks. So much so, there is flooding going on. It is sad when you see something like this:

These are a bunch of floating and washed away bee hives in Boonville, NC. The Yadkin River overflowed its banks by 28'

Now we have another winter storm warning for NC. Friday and Saturday are expected to snow almost all day, both days. They are expecting several inches. Then possibly more snow Tuesday, Thursday and Friday next week! Now that they are predicting several inches of snow and everyone is running to the grocery scared of 2-3 days of bad weather. As we all know, people in NC don't get regular snow fall, so several inches scares everyone. We don't have the infrastructure to handle it.

The strawberry patch & other things

Larry Tate is talking with the owner of the berry field to see what he wants us to do. We are also comming up with a game plan for the bees there. There needs to be some serious cash invested in the woodenware and there is a lot of cleaning up to be done.

I have also contacted all of the pest control agencies in Winston and they will call me if they have any swarm or cutouts to be done. I am hoping to get one or two free colonies. I will keep one, and the others will go over to the strawberry field. I also have built a beevac from a shopvac and a cooler! I cannot wait to try it out. I am going to build a frame holder and it will be able to hold 6 frames and can act as a temp. nuc until I can get them installed.

I might be getting into queen grafting, raising and instrumental insemination with Larry Tate of Tates Apiaries..... LONG story on that one. I will post about it in a later post.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

new adventure

While working with Larry Tate with his apiaries, he brought up something interesting. A strawberry farmer near us has some hives that he doesnt want to tend, but wants them left for the pollination. I would help tend them and get all of the honey as payment.

Sounds awesome right?!?!?!?!?

Well, there is a HUGE problem. Most of the woodenware is in such a poor state that it needs to be carted off and burned. The two of us went by to just see if it would be worth it. It was kinda muddy (which I can live with) but SAD! The woodenware had not been taken care of in about 5 years and had been treated poorly from the looks of it. Out of 10 or so hives, 3 were strong, 4 were iffy and 3 were downright scarry.... and there were about 5 deadouts mixed in.

I think I might give it a try anyway. I will continue to work with what I have there and it will either make it or not. When I go into them for the first time, I am not going to use my gloves or hivetool until I know there is no EFB or AFB present.... I dont want to be tracking that home. From the looks of things they have not been touched for at least a year.... so they are pretty strong if nothing has been done with them for well over a year and they are still around!

I might get a bonus of a few of these puppies


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun Happens

The last two days were a blast. I got to assist Larry Tate of Tate's Apiaries in his inspections. He has several yards and several types of bees.

We found the queen in most of the hives, but a few the bees were hot due to the drizzling rain that moved in 1/2 way through. We made up sugar water with honey bee healthy, some with mega bee and some with apple cider. We put each type on different hives to see what works best. Each type of feed was applied to about 6 hives, along with regular sugar water in some.

Initially we put bowls out with each type in front of a dry substitute box he made that had bees swarming around it. And by bees swarming around it I mean SWARMING.... They were going crazy loading up their baskets.

Initially the honey bee healthy and the apple cider vinegar had a lot of bees on it, but before the rain started, the mega bee had a few as well. I think the smell of the honey bee healthy and cider led them to the water faster. It started raining so there is no telling which they took the fastest.

We should be able to get a general idea about mega bee vs honey bee healthy vs apple cider in a week or so if the weather is warm enough for an inspection (but it is looking like 40's for all next week).

Quite a few of his bees didn't even need smoke on the cloudy day. About 5 hives had bees so calm, we wouldnt have needed protective gear. The most gentle were his carniolians and MH Italians.

I will post an update about a free yard I might be getting into with him, but that is a whole post for a future date.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beek Idea!

The CNG class really got me going into science mode again. I have an idea to help combat: varroa, wax moth, small hive beetle and tracheal mites. Yeah, just about everything out there that can crawl, fly or hitch a ride into the hive. I am going to test my idea on one of my hives. I am going to gather data and report on it once I have the first years data compiled. The second year will seal the deal.

I am getting 2 nucs from Buddy Marterre. They are roughly the same breeding with the same genetic traits, mutts of everything. The bees will have identical foraging areas as both hives are in the same apiary. Granted, a much larger number of hives will be needed. So, once I establish this I will post my results AND post how to do this. I will then gather everyone else’s data from my generated forms (you will be able to get from me after the first year) and compile it with mine. The more raw hard data we have will prove or disprove my hypothesis.

Yes, I am being vague. The reason is, I don’t know if it will work and I don't want everyone out there running and giving it a try and then it to be an abysmal failure. It is also a little pricier than thought. But if it works, it will be worth it!

I am also going to be reporting on the efficacy of powdered sugar blowers/billows vs regular dusting. I bought one from Brushy Mountain. This study will be the second year or, if I win a hive from Brushy Mountain, it will be this year. Brushy Mountain donates several hives to beginner classes for the newly hatched beeks to begin their journey with. I REALLY want to win one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Certified Naturaly Grown Class and research ideas

The CNG class was good, but not great. They could have charged us $5 and just given us the handout and we could have gathered the same info on our own from reading the handouts. The demonstrations were good and talking with other beekeepers was beneficial as well.

One of the biggest problems is that we are all the first to start this program. We are the ones giving feedback and helping to dial this whole thing in. We will be the first crop of CNG farmers for beekeeping.

I do really object to them splitting the first class into a January class and a future undecided class. They did this yesterday during the class. They just talked about some of the rules and guidelines, but nothing really about pest management and nothing too involved like I thought they were going to do. They also should have had a walkthrough on the certification applications and process.... Other than saying just "sign up and fill it out." There is a little more to it than that. They also don't have the farmer inspections network up yet. It is a system of inspecting farmers from other farms spot checking everyone else around them...

Mark from Marks Bee Haven attended the class with me. I am glad I told him and Mr. Tate from Tate’s Apiaries (he has a nice nuc and soon to be queen breeding program going just south east of me). The class didn't really advertise much and not a lot of people were told... Even so, 85 people signed up!!!!
I did get the opportunity to meet Lynn from Walter Bee. She is a VERY nice person. It is amazing how small of a world it is sometimes. I found out she used to live near me where I grew up in Georgia and we both moved states, to North Carolina! She brought up some very good points and questions during the class. She also brought some good literature for Mark to read (and I will have to steal it from him)...

On to other things:

Sometimes the scientist comes out in me and I get really interested in scientific research. I have found two sites that are really well done and are requesting local beekeeper assistance in supplying data and info.

The first is:

This website has a TON of scientific data and research done on current thoughts for pest management and apiary management. I really recommend everyone go there when you have some down time or are bored, and read away!!! They test the sugar shake method vs IPM vs anything else. If they have not studied it, and you want to get some scientific data, send them an e-mail... And even compile some yourself to send them!

The other site I found asking for data and info from local beeks is:

They are asking for participants to supply data and records for swarm management and handling. They want you to try a method of swarm pervention called checkerboarding. You basically take empty frames and put them where full, drawn out frames would be. The thought is that this tricks the bees into thinking they have more room in the hive, and get into establishment mode building comb, instead of swarm prep.

Check them both out and happy beekeeping!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I went ahead and did one cover in "Hunter Green." I just couldn't wait. I must also say thanks Mark from Marks Bee Haven for prompting me to get it done before the storm came in and we had more snow.

I used old newspaper and painters tape to tape off the areas I did not want to turn green.

I then sprayed in even strokes right and left until it was evenly coated (I had a little run until I got the hang of it).

This is the finished product.

I think it turned out just right.... Clean lines and crisp color. The light in the basement is flat right now due to the fact we have a winter storm rolling in.

Here is what it looked like before:

All in all, I must say it came out really well.

To paint or not to paint....

I am having a hard time deciding on painting the copper metal on my hive covers or not. Copper being what it is, can be enticing for someone to try to take, especially in an urban setting. What does everyone think?



I like the idea of hunter green, but what about any other colors? Feel free to send comments on paint colors or not.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The poll is closed. I appreciate everyones help on naming my hives. There was a problem... A 3 way tie! The name was tied between American Presidents, Brands of alcohol (Jameson, Jack, Coors Bud, etc...) and Literary Characters....

I am going to go with Literary Characters for my first pair. When I get more, I will put up a new poll with the remaining two to let the people decide.
I am now posting a NEW poll. I will give everyone options for the names, pick the pair you like the most. If you think of a better one, let me know and I will add it if I like it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year

I am excited about the class I am taking this coming Saturday. I will get to learn all about Organic and IPM beekeeping.

I am also doing some shopping around and trying to figure out some more plants to add to the yard/woods for my bees. At Wake Forest every year there were hundreds of honey bees on a type of holly, Osmanthus Fortunei. I am getting 2 of them to be a short hedge, with 2 Osmanthus Fragrans.

I found 5 false orange trees, which are really fragrant, for $20 and 5 fragrant lilac trees for $20. The yard will have sweet smells throughout summer… the flowering order will be Fortunei, Fragrans, orange and lilac…. And all are REALLY aromatic plants!!!!

I have another holly the bees like along with:
blueberries, a dwarf GA belle peach, Cleome spinosa (spider plants), chocolate vine, Pink fragrant lavender, Russian sage, Salvia Plumosa, Wonder of Staffa Aster, Dwarf aster, Lady in black Aster, Bee Balm, wild romance aster, 5 different types of butterfly bushes, Black Eyed susans, golden rod, snowdrift aster, 2 types of thyme, milkweed, Blue fragrant lavendar, Butterfly scabiosa and a few others I cannot remember.

I have also found some really nice people on a few of the bee forums who are going to send me seeds and plants. I will be getting quite the annual and perennial garden going for the girls… I am afraid I am going to run out of space in the yard before I can get everything situated. I think I am done!!!!

I guess I am going to have to invest another $200 in soil, landscaping timber and stakes to build another garden box so I will be able to handle all of the new plants.