This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Solar power generated in the month of May

It was a good solar month. 2300 kilowatts. More than twice what we would normally use. The excess power was sold back to the grid and Xcel energy.
 The best day was 115 kilowatts. The worst day was 12 kilowatts.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Hot humid weather coming

This hive is hot. The bees are bearding under the bottom board. This is normal.
This hive is overcrowded. The hive needed a second brood box two weeks before this pic was taken. This is a swarm waiting to happen.
I noticed hot and humid weather coming this week. So I went out on Sunday to work my hives. I removed all of my entrance reducers on all my colonies except two colonies that were still a little weak in population.
 Several package colonies needed food, so I fed ProSweet. All of my hives are two deep right now.
 All of my package colonies needed pollen patties. The fruit bloom is pretty much over. In some areas the available pollen has dropped considerably. There may be a dearth of pollen for a couple weeks. Making sure hives have pollen right now will keep the hives moving forward. Package bees, while their  population is increasing, many of these hives still do not have a strong field force. There may not be sufficient foragers to supply the pollen needs of the hive.
 Having entrance reducers in right now, in hot humid weather, can get swarming behavior to start up. The entrance reducers prevent the hive from properly cooling their hive. A hot hive is the same as overcrowded conditions.
 It is normal on hot days that bees will be hanging outside the hive. Sometimes the bees hang in a clump under the entrance of the hive or the bees can be covering the front of the hive. This does not mean that the bees are swarming. The bees are just hot.
 Adding a box of drawn comb either a deep or a medium honey super is a way to add room for the bees. A box that is filled with all undrawn foundation is not room. The bees will not occupy the boxes very well. A box of undrawn foundation will not solve overcrowding.
 Switching colonies works great for preventing swarming and helping overcrowding. I show how to switch colonies in the previous post video.
 Keep up weekly hive inspections. Remove uncapped swarm cells.
 The main nectar flow is less than a month away. Keep the bees from swarming and the benefit will be a nice crop of honey.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Making a weak hive into a powerhouse hive

I had queen issues with one of my package bee hives. I caught the problem a little late. The hive did get depleted with bees, but I requeened anyways. On later inspection I noticed it only had two frames or so of bees. I knew the hive was too weak and would never build up unless it had an intervention of more bees. This video shows what I did to:
  • Make a weak hive strong
  • Make a strong hive a little weaker to prevent swarming
  • Some different methods explained i.e. newspaper method
  • Switching colonies
  • Moving a divide to another colony
Tom from Nature's Nectar LLC assisted me in doing all these moves. This is advanced beekeeping. Seeing a couple problems and making moves to address the problems with positive outcomes on all of the issues presented. This all comes from experience and the confidence in knowing what is happening in the hives and problem solving. As time goes on beekeepers never stop learning. I hope my moves are something that you can put into your bag of tricks.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Tractor Carryall For Hauling Material

I saw this carryall on a YouTube channel. The two part series made making the carryall was very easy to build. The video series described all the steps of making the carryall.  There are links to the carryall build in the description of the video on YouTube. The carryall cost less than $500.00 to build.
 I was looking for a way to haul materials such as bee equipment with my tractor. I have used pallets on my pallet forks, but on uneven terrain, sometimes the load will fall off the pallet.
 This carryall brings a multi use attachment that is easy to take on and off. You can see in the video all of the yard debris being hauled in the carryall and the attached trailer. Side doors that open and close can support stacked bee boxes so they don't tip over.  
 The carryall can easily haul what my tractor can lift. That is around 2000 lbs. I will be able to pull my honey and carry 16 supers without any difficulty. Also. when I go back to my beeyard  I can bring more supplies with me whether I know I need them or not. This will save me trips back to the barn.
 My tractor is a John Deere 3046R. I can't say enough about the work this tractor has saved me.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What's happening now

Swarm cells can be anywhere. This was a queenrite colony. This swarm cell is on the side of a frame. It is not a supercedure cell.

Remove the queen cells before they are capped. When the swarm cells are capped, that is usually the time when the hive will swarm.

Swarm cells can be built on the top bars. Don't forget to smoke the bees down and look for swarm cells.
The fruit bloom is still going on around my place. Apple trees still have a good amount of blossoms. But the fruit bloom should start waning soon. I think we are 7-10 days behind our normal growing season.
 Bees are still able to find ample amounts of pollen. This may change after the fruit bloom is done. There is usually a dearth in pollen for a couple weeks after the fruit bloom. I usually put pollen patties back on around the last week of May. I give each one of my hives a 1/2 a patty. Pollen is usually widely available again by around June 10 - 15th.
 Package bees should be ready for a second box by now if you haven't put one on yet. When the bees are working on eight of the ten frames, it is time to add a second box. If you are drawing foundation, you need to keep feeding syrup until the bees have finished drawing out the comb. It takes the bees a month to finish their first box, about another month to finish their second box, if you are doing three deeps, the bees will finish the third box in about ten days.
 Populations in beehives continue to grow. But so does mite populations. If you have an overwintered colony and have not treated for mites. You really need to do a mite count. Mites build up in populous hives over time. Failure to do this will have a negative outcome on the colony. Hives that have high mite counts now, will usually be dead by mid July, or so damaged that they will not survive.
 Swarming is an issue that is affecting strong colonies. This humid weather and scattered storms keeping bees in the hive, is an incubator for swarming behavior to take hold. Beekeepers need to be going through their hives weekly looking for swarm cells. Removal of swarm cells is critical or your honey flow will be up in a tree. Switching strong colonies with weaker colonies is a great strategy to employ, like I did to my colonies in a previous post.
 We are about a month away from the start of the nectar flow. Keep the bees from swarming and give them all of the resources they need. The payoff for our hard work is coming soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

What I did in my beeyard today

My beeyard at my house.
I went out to my beeyard to manage my five package bee colonies and three overwintered colonies. I had no one to run the camera so I will try to explain without being too confusing.
Hive 2, 5,6,7,8 were package colonies. All of the package hives were ready and received their second box. All of my equipment is drawn comb. I did have to feed hive 5.
Now the tricky stuff.
Hives 1 and 3 were overwintered colonies and were quite strong. Hive 3 had some capped swarm cells in the hive. So this is what I did.
  •  I took hive 1 that was crowded with bees and switched it with hive 2. I physically moved both hives. This will weaken the strong hive 1 and hive 2 will get stronger. By switching the hives, the field bees on both hives will fly to go forage. Even though they left from a different locale, they will fly back to where they thought they lived. So hive 2 will get hive 1's field bees which were more than hive 2's field bees. Hive 1 gets weaker but hive 2 gets stronger. Now with more bees, the queen in hive 2 can expand her brood laying area. Hive 1 gets weaker and probably has lost all desire to swarm because the number of field bees in hive 2 was much less. By moving the two hives I addressed possible swarming and helped a package of bees increase their numbers. Both hives will build up nicely for the nectar flow that starts around June 21st.
  • Hives 3 and 4. Hive 3 was a strong overwintered colony that I found some capped swarm cells in it. Hive 4 was a weak overwintered colony, that may have been weaker than some of my package bee colonies. I did the same thing as before, I switched hive 3 with hive 4. Moved the entire boxes, hive 3 boxes went to hive 4 location and hive 4 boxes went to hive 3 location. Also, hive 3 was very strong, I did take four frames of capped brood out of hive 3. I looked for a queen, not seeing one, I shook the bees off the frames of capped brood. I put one frame of capped brood in package hives 5,6,7,and 8. Now hive 3 gets weaker from loosing the four frames of brood. Plus with moving to the new location should have lost all desire to swarm, if they haven't done so already. I did mark the hive to look for signs of a queen on my next visit. The package hives 5,6,7,and 8 will now get stronger when the capped brood emerges soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Solar on a cloudy day

Even on a cloudy day there is solar power being generated. Yesterday it was cloudy all day long. The solar radiation is strong as we get into summer. The solar radiation penetrates the clouds and is used by the solar panels. Granted if it was December, the solar radiation is weak at that time of year and the power generated on a cloudy day is low. On sunny days this time of year, our system that is 16.5 KWH will generate 100 to 117 kilowatts per day, The average U.S. home uses about 30 kilowatts per day. So I am sure I sold some of this excess power to Xcel.
The solar panels yesterday started generating power at about 6 am. Solar power usually peaks between  10 am and 2 pm. Then the power decreases as the sun gets lower in the sky. Power generation is over by 8 pm. As the days get longer, the power will start generation earlier and maintain it later into the evening.