Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Beautiful fall day and the bees are busy.  54 degrees out and they are even bringing in pollen, from who knows where.  Fed them syrup this morning and they are going at it like they are starving, one hive is to be sure.  Busy chopping up the tree I lost, looks like a lot of work.  Filled my wood shed almost to the top and I am not even started on the big tree yet.  Luckily the NYDS is hauling off the tree branches for me, that saves some $s.  Off to eat.  Later

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Super storm Sandy

I missed the storm as I was on my annual So. Dakota Pheasant hunting trip.  Cut the trip short and got back late Thursday.  Found my Norway Maple down, which was a shame as it was the largest tree on Staten Island and one of the largest in NYS.  It fell all around the nasty hive but the hive came out unscathed, my wife and  daughter had lowered it off its stand to the ground tucking it under my lilac bushes.  The other 2 hives are fine and all three are buzzing on the warm days.  Still need to feed all three through the winter.

We were very lucky as the tree fell away from the house and only caused minor damage to the garage.  All of my various hand built boats had puncture wounds but nothing that can't be fixed.  My sailboat, which I decided not to store for the winter, came out fine, one of the few that did.  My storage marina had 100% damage of various degrees to all the boats in the yard.

Just read that the Grange in the Brooklyn Navy Yard lost 19 hives which drowned from the high tidal surge.  Guess they don't know how to measure 10'.  Later

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall feeding

As the weather turned cold and rainy for a day, I decided to try feeding the nasty hive again, hoping that the other hives would stay home.  It seemed to work, as I saw no robbing.  The hive is much more active than the other two, as they seem determined to increase their numbers for winter survival.  Pollen gathering seems to be the main ingredient, as most of the bees foraging are bringing back legs sullen with pollen.  Hard to see inside the bees for nectar, but I guess some are full of that too.  The other 2 hives seem set for the winter, although they are lite on the supplies, but I intend to feed fondant throughout the winter.  For the first time all year, I got attacked while trying to mow in front of the hives.  No stings, just angry bees buzzing around my head.  Surprising how fast you can push a mower through tall grass.  I guess its just the fall mood.  I seem to have killed all the beetles in the nasty hive as I haven"t seem any evidence for a couple of days.  I think I killed 7 or 8 altogether, along with the worms which fell on the bottom board.  Haven't seen any of those either for a couple of weeks.

Got another hit on the White Oak Apiary blog, that makes 8 disgruntled buyers.  turns out he may have gotten AFB, but I'm not certain.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Preparing for winter

Preparing for winter is fairly simple for me, I just put in the bottom board.  Because of the beetles I covered the bottom board with Diatomaceous earth when I put it in.  The board is about an inch below the screen.  Yesterday and this morning I found a single beetle on the bottom board trying to move but couldn't without legs.  Its amazing how destructive to the beetles this is.  I have not seen any new dead brood on the bottom board, nor beetle larvae either for that matter.  Bees still bringing in pollen and a little nectar.  Robbing has ceased since the smell of the Honey Bee Healthy sugar syrup (Don't want to do that again) has ceased so I expanded the entry a little.    Later

Monday, September 24, 2012

Beetles in the hive

Yesterday I found 2 hive beetles in my nasty hive.  They moved into the feeder where the bees could not go.  I mushed them with my finger.  I guess that's what those larvae were from, at least I think.  Things to note;  don't use Honey-Bee-Healthy to only feed 'one' hive.  It causes instant robbing.  I had to close off the hive there were so many bees trying to get in.  It took another day after the food was gone for the hive to settle down but even today there were a few stragglers trying to get in.  The bees became very aggressive and for the first time even went after the dogs, didn't take them long to learn where not to go tho.  Had a few bees sticking to my cloths but no stings.  Will wait to feed again after it get colder I guess.

Had the group of SI bee keepers here for a meeting on Sat., which went well I thought.  Handed out some bee plant seeds as party favors.  We tasted some Mead and a new grapefruit drink I learned to make at last weeks festival in Rockoways.  Not much else going on.  Later

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More little worms

Yesterday I pulled the bottom board to the nasty hive and found five brood pulled from the comb.  One was still alive and the others were sucked dry.  I also found 4 more little worms.  I went to the Honey fest. in Rockaway, taking some samples with me.  I asked a long time beekeeper about the problem and after looking at the worms, said he had never seen such a thing.  This morning I found no dead brood but did find six or more worms of various sizes, from 1/16 in to 1/4 in, in length.  The look somewhat like a hive beetle larvae but I think they are much to small, and I see no beetles in the hive.

Today I sent the photo and history to the labs at Ithica for identification and what to do about it.  I also did a thorough inspection of the hive, even with a magnifying glass and found nothing unusual, just a strong hive.  Go figure.  Later

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dead brood on the bottom board

This morning early, I looked into the Nasty hive and found many dead brood laying on the screen and a couple of dead bees.  Pulled the removable bottom board and didn't find any hive beetles or mites, just fragments of pollen and hive debris.  I did see a small mite sized insect, but it was grey in color.  I lost sight of it and couldn't save it.  I checked through the upper transparent cover and did not see any sign of mites.  The hive seems to be doing fine.  With the bees doing good house cleaning, it seems I have a strong hive.  Will have to watch closely with early morning visits for awhile.  The other two hives are still doing fine.  Later

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Hanging Chains

I have read with interest that the bees form chains inside the hive to help with comb building.  What I have read, in more than one publication, is that the bees, presumably using internal mathematical equations, design the size, location and alignment of each comb and with that information form these chains, positioning thier bodies to accomplish the task.

Here's an alternative theory:
 As a natural bee keeper, my bees have no frames nor foundation to follow and having observed my bees     ( through the viewing windows) for hours and on many occasions,  have found that the bees really just hang in every which way and build the comb not necessarily in the direction of the hanging chains.  If they did, the hive would have comb running in all directions.  So as I watched, I began to remember another social insect who does the same thing, the ant, and guess what?  they don't build comb.  They build bridges and many other intricate forms (using their bodies en mass) including the chains like that of the honey bee.  What for? For ease of transportation.  With this new thought I watched the bees, and behold, they came through the entrance and ran directly to the bottom of the chain and began crawling straight to the top to deposit their load, once having done so, either ran down the chain or just dropped to the bottom board and ran back out.  No grand design here, just a bee ladder and ingenuity enough to know that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line, a bee line I guess.  Later

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sept and bees coming on strong

After a nasty bout with a kidney stone I finally checked the hive for a fall progress report.  All hives have been very active.  The inside hive has been building new comb, three since I last checked, in the lower brood box and filling with honey.  Most of the bees have moved down although I haven't seen the queen in all that mass of bees.  The nasty hive I think has built up to a wintering over size but still no activity in the lower box.   A few hanging from the upper bars.  With all the fall activity, they may finish on top and begin comb below, would be good to see.  May have to feed anyway to be sure.   The TBH is just moving along, doesn't get any bigger or smaller.  Seems to have a queen who knows how to run a business.  Must be a republican as she didn't need any outside help.  I expect to catch a big swarm from it in the spring, then sell it along with a new octagonal hive as a complete package.

 Almost out of last years honey so I might take a bar this weekend.  May have the troops over for a Saturday get together/talk on wintering bees and harvesting.  Later

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Removed the bee trap

Today I pulled the trap as there was no activity of bees anywhere.  Looks like they didn't like the alternative hive and went elsewhere.  Checked around but found no activity except a few flight bees down the street.  I was hired to remove the bees and that is what happened, although I could have used the extra for the nasty hive.  Not much else is happening.  Later

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bee trap successful

Checked the trap this morning and found that there were no bees around the old entrance.  Put up the ladder and removed the transfer tube and found nothing inside to old hive.  Will keep in place for another week to be sure than will remove the alternative hive and take home.  Will have to mix with the nasty hive as they will not have time to secure enough winter stores.  Later

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Staples clean of bees

  Stopped by Staples Sunday PM and found only three bees inside.  Went back Monday and found none.  Guess it was the conduit that they were entering from and it took a couple of days to clear after I stopped it up.

  Bees were hanging around the old hive entrance so I put up the ladder and checked.  I missed a small opening with the caulk so a few were going in and out.  Fixed that and within an hour most had abandoned  the area and began using the alternative hive entrance.  Will check on progress every week or so till they make the transfer completely.

  Been getting a lot of calls concerning Paper wasps, surprising how many people can't tell the difference between wasps and honey bees.  It takes a long time to convince them what they really are after they describe them to me.  I even had one person send me an email photo of a paper wasp nest and telling me that a beekeeper from upstate had identified it as a honey bee nest.  Probably, you know who.  Later

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Flurry of activity in Nasty hive

What a turn around since I fixed the insulation blanket problem in the hive.  Today for the first time, almost exactly 21 days since it was discovered the insulation was missing, bees are circling at the entrance.  There's still hope for recovery if the nectar flows.  Last night I saw bees clinging to the top of the second brood box and all the top bars seem to have comb.

Attached the connecting tube to the bee trap this morning and saw bees coming out of the trap a little later.  Wanted to do it before they came out for the morning hunt but Staples didn't open early so a lot of bees circling the old entrance.  Eventually they will move to the smell of the new hive.  More bees showing up inside so I'll be vacuuming them up for awhile I guess.  Still can't find the way they are getting in, has to be through a conduit, but which one?  Later

Friday, August 10, 2012

Second visit to Staples

Went to Staples this morning and installed the bee trap and plugged all the entry holes, turned out to be 5 altogether and they were even going into a conduit for the security light (which I plugged).  When that was completed I went back inside, kind of knowing that now that the bees in the conduit can't get back outside they would be inside.  Guess what?  back home to get the vac, which I knew I should have brought with me.  Came back and found and removed about a hundred bees.  Will check back in the AM to see if that's the lot of them.  I didn't make the final connection to the trap as I wanted to do that after dark when they were all back at the nest.

All the bees I loosed yesterday in the back yard decided life was better elsewhere and flew the coop.  Maybe they assimilated into the other hives, or just flew off, either way they are not a Staples problem anymore.  Knowing that I work without protection, the staff has become brave and come into the storage area when I'm working to check things out.  Maybe they think I'm their great protector!!!  Later

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hurrah, First official paid bee removal

Got a call from the local Staples on Monday morning saying that their storage room was full of bees and was I able to remove them.  Of course I obliged.  Visited the site and found that an exterior security light had come loose providing a perfect entry point into the concrete block cavity.  Recently a bunch decided to explore and found an entry into the store.  Luckily it was in the storage area and as they were attracted to the lights, would make an easy removal process.  Went back home and gathered my gear but unfortunately I came down with the flu and was laid up for a day.  The staff were still overwhelmed to see me when I finally arrived for the removal because they were afraid to go into the room with so many bees.  They hadn't been stocking the shelves for 2 days.  Set up the equipment and in 3 hrs had the place clean,(except for a few stragglers of course).   Went out back to access the second stage for removal of the hive bees and queen if possible.  Will set up the trap later in the week.

Will put the new bees I caught in with the nasty hive, that's four different mixes of bees for that hive.  Since I found and fixed the insulation blanket, the bees in the Nasty hive have really responded and have added four new comb and many, many new bees.  They seem to be non-stop bringing in pollen for the brood.  I guess they know its late in the season and really want to make it through the winter.

Took off the super I placed on the TBH as the bees refused to work it.  My guess is there isn't enough nectar around this summer as the hive combs are full only about 3 inches down, even on the ends.  So much for that experiment. Later

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plexiglass cover

Today I put a plexi-glass inner lid over the bars of the nasty hive so I can better monitor it without opening the hive completely.  While in the process I was delighted to see that the bees have increased in numbers significantly, maybe there's hope yet.  Have been waiting all growing season to see what the mystery plant is in my bee garden.  It has grown to over 7' tall and finally bunched out at the top and to my dismay, has fussy flowers which the bees could care less about, so out it came.  Great conversation piece, but no value to me or the bees.  Planted some Anise Hyssop in its place.   Also started some seeds which finally came in the mail.  Almost eradicated the Queen Ann's Lace which took over the bee garden this spring while I was doing cabinet work for friends.  Good luck having them help in the garden.  Can't even get my wife to help, if it's not Hosta, she wants nothing to do with it.  Later

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bees finally moved into penthouse

Finally, after a long six weeks the bees have begun to work the super.  When I lifted the lid to check, there was a mass of bees.  In the past, there were only a few bees hanging around.  If there is a good fall for nectar then maybe I'll get some comb honey in the boxes.  Lets hope, I need some for Christmas presents.

The nuc is full of bees, I guess the new queen is working well.  The expansion into the brood box is slow, but I think that it has a lot to do with the dearth that we are experiencing right now, no nectar, no comb building.  In the evening the mass of bees hang in the brood box so the upper nuc must be getting full of honey and brood.  Although the white clover is still producing, it is drying up as well.  A few bee flowers are yet to bloom in the bee garden and the Asters should begin to bloom also.  There is also the tree I found last year which will produce for all three hives when it comes into bloom in a couple of weeks.  I took a cutting and it has rooted so I will transplant that in back by the bee garden.  The Japanese Apricot is doing well even though the top of the stick died.  I cut it off and am training the top-most branch as the tree top.  Hopefully it will branch out.  I took cuttings of it also and it has also taken root.

The nasty hive is slowly gaining in strength, if the robbing of the hive would stop it still might have a chance if I feed it all winter.  I have left the entrance reducer in but I may have to reduce it further if the dearth gets worse as the robbing will get worse too.  There's a small group of bees in the nuc who use the upper entrance who look suspiciously like the culprits, as the are very dark and have little hair (which gets chewed off by the guard bees when they try robbing).  Only a guess, but its funny how they seem to stay to themselves at the little upper entrance.

Plan to check on honey supplies at the end of the month, should get a frame or two without causing any harm.  Later

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nuc is expanding

Finally the nuc has started to build down into the main box.  First comb is about three inches long and the whole of the box seems to be actively building, but with so many bees its hard to tell.  Maybe if we have a good fall for nectar I will be able to dispense of the nuc altogether, surely by next spring.  I do expect to get swarms from both hives next spring.  Weather still in the 90's but the hives seem to be handling it okay as there is no fanning going on.

Checked the nasty hive and it still is looking bad.  The queen is laying very sporadically at best but they are building comb.  That's a first, as there was comb in the hive to start with but no honey build-up (from the robbing).  It will be lucky to make it through the winter even if I feed it.  Later

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to robbing again

The sugar water has attracted the neighbors again even with the entrance reducer in place.  Not a huge number of bees but many. I have read that if you trap the bees inside a strange hive for three days, they will make it their own.  So I took off the bottom board and replaced it with my catch trap.  Any home bees from the hive can get back in and any robbing bees will enter and not be able to get back out.  The nasty hive will build up by someone else's attrition and if the literature is right, then the hive can begin to prosper, albeit, not the usual way.  We'll see what happens.  Later

Monday, June 25, 2012

Activity in the nuc

Lots going on at the nuc entrance this afternoon after the thunderstorm.  Looks like the brood is beginning to hatch, as new bees were flying at the gate.  Inside the hive the bees are actively making comb where I had removed it for the nasty hive.  It too seems active, but with such a small colony its still not much.  The bar of bees I gave it seems to have perc'd them up. Gave it some sugar water to help it along and closed down the entrance even more.  Checked on brood development and it to seems to be getting stronger with brood on more than one comb now.   As the bees hatch, it to should improve as there will be more hive bees to help.  Hope to see new bees flying in a day or two.  Later

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Another transfer

Today I have decided to move a frame of bees into the nasty hive to see what will transpire.  The nuc seems to be doing well now so they can spare the frame.  Later

Friday, June 22, 2012

Queens in

Checked the nuc today and the queen has been set free.  We'll have to wait and see if she is accepted tho.  Placed a mat in front of the hive to see if a dead queen shows up.

The nasty hive is slowly dwindling, not much in the way of brood cells and no honey build-up ( could the robbing had anything to do with that?).  I'm just going to let it go as I don't want to mix it with the other hives, just in case there's another problem.  The bees seem fine otherwise.  We'll see how the summer goes.  Later

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Queen

Received my new replacement queen today from Full Bloom Apiaries out of CT, right on time as promised.  Because its so hot today, I gave her (them) some water and a drop of honey.  When I opened the hive to put her in I noticed that they had begun to build down into the Octagonal hive.  I had made a transition board for that purpose last year and its working just fine.  I had opened up the hive yesterday to check on things and much to my surprise, there was brood comb on one frame on both sides.  That couldn't have been from my transplant attempts as its to soon.  There are three possibilities: 1) Maybe a laying worker, but the pattern looks to even, almost perfectly round.  2)  that I had moved the queen with the TBH frame when I transferred the frame to the nuc. If I did, the TBH will make a new one.  3) and last is that for some reason the original queen just wasn't laying, which I doubt.  I decided to put in the new queen anyway just to be sure.  If it was either old queens then the new one will take over or maybe they will leave her alone and I'll have 2 working queens.  That happened to Debra when we tried to make a nuc out of the back of her TBH.  The queen move forward and the back succumbed to beetles, she checked and they are both laying.  We'll see what happens.

On another note, my comments on white Oak Apiaries is getting noticed on the web.  It shows up right under his ad.

The robbing has ceased on the nasty hive since I shut down the opening.  Will leave it that way until they can build up their strength to protect themselves better.   

PS:  It's now 4:30 and for the first time since I installed the nuc there are guard bees defending the entrance.  I saw no hostile activity nor threat at the entrance so maybe they are finally feeling that they could be a colony, lets hope.  I thought maybe that they were fanning since its so hot, but they weren't doing that either. There are large stores of honey and my adding extra bees has kept the hive strength up even without a queen, it can only get better now.  Only have the nasty hive to work on expanding now.  Later

Monday, June 18, 2012

Robbing nasty hive

Today as I checked the arrival of the hatching of the bees in the nasty hive I saw everything going great in the morning,  many bees at the entrance awaiting their first flight. I checked again later in the day and saw much fighting at the entrance.  I had given them sugar water inside the hive to help them along and I guess now that the flowers are abating, thievery is about, so I closed down the entrance to help them defend the hive better and it seems to be working.  If its still is bad tomorrow, I'll close it down some more or maybe even shut it off completely for a few days.

Got a reply from the queen vendor and he has shipped the new queen, should be here on Weds.  Its a New World Carnolian.  Hope that will spice the nuc before its to late.  I guess I should be feeding it also.  The TBH is still going great guns, hope to harvest some of the honey the first year.  Later  

Monday, June 11, 2012

White Oak Apiaries

Just want to let anyone know that you don't get what you pay for at White Oak.  I thought I had purchased a nuc which should have had 3 frames of brood and bees and 2 frames of honey.  He said that because of the late spring the nuc would be a little light.  What I got when I opened it at home was: one half frame of brood, 2 frames of bees, one completely empty frame (no comb) and one empty frame of comb the bees would not touch.  And guess what?  no queen, which I didn't find out until my 2 week inspection where I found no brood left and no laying going on.  I left an e-mail and he doesn't seem interested in my dilemma as he refuses to return my call.
There was also an interesting article in the NY Times that stated the president of the Brooklyn Bee assoc. who purchased his bees from White Oak, had his bees chew their way out of the nuc's in the back of his car and he had to pay a fine because of the nuisance it caused.  Sounds like this guy is a piece of work.

I suspected something upon arriving at his apiary as it was in total disarray, not what you would want from a businessman you could trust.  That's my two cents worth, take it or leave it.
The queen which I purchased from him I had to actually pick up on site when I got my Nuc, as after waiting ten days he hadn't sent it.  It isn't laying a good pattern and after 4 weeks the hive has not enlarged at all.  My other hives are doing great, so its not the flow.  Later

Friday, June 8, 2012

Making queens

Today I opened the TBH and located some day old larva.  I shook off and brushed off all the bees and took the bar to the house.  There I used my magnifying glass and make-shift tool and removed four of the larva to cell cups I had just made by watching a video by the Fat Man.  The whole process seems painless, really, no stings.  I then placed the cell bar into the queen-less hive and replaced the TBH bar.  I'll check them tomorrow to see how things are working out.

The hive I mixed has shown some improvement as half the bees on top have moved down to the other box.  Still bees hanging on to the combs in the top box.  I have a window into it so can now watch from a distance without opening the hive.  There's a lot of space still for them to moderate the climate.   Later

The activity in the queen-less hive has definitely increased since I installed the queen cups.  Do they already sense there is hope on the horizon?  The number of bees making sorties has more than doubled.  Lets hope that at least one of the cups will take.  If more than one does, I have my queen rearing boxes to put them in.  Debra said that all her bees died in the box I lent her, so I'm anxious to test one for myself.  Later

Later Afternoon:
After writing the above I realized that I could move my bars of the nasty hive from 2 boxes into one box as they had built on different sides of their individual boxes.  So I did.  I placed my observation on the bottom so I can check on growth.  When they get half the bottom filled, I'll add another box.  When I was working in the TBH I broke one of the combs off the bar, it was pretty heavy so I think in a couple of weeks I'll pull it and extract the honey.  Got a great price on an electric extractor and bottling tank, can use it for the bee club.  Later

Thursday, June 7, 2012

2 hives queenless

Yesterday I examined all my hives.  The small swarm which I thought was doing so well was queen-less, so I papered them into the nasty hive which I had previously given the queen to.  There was fresh brood in the comb so I think they will be fine.  My nuc is still queen-less and the frame of bees and brood I added hasn't started a queen cup so there must not have been any new larva.  I've been studying up on queen making so tomorrow I'm going to try and find some day old larva from the TBH and make some queens.  With my eyes that should be something.

Haven't heard a word from White Oak Apiaries so scratch them off your list of good people to work with.  I got half of what I paid for and no queen to boot.  Will have to post some bad things to say about them on the web.  Oh, I'm doing that aren't I.  Later

Monday, June 4, 2012

Transferring bees

Couldn't stand the tension of waiting for White Oak to call back so today in the rain I removed a frame of brood, bees and hopefully an egg or two from the TBH over to the nuc to give them some support.  All went well and I didn't even get stung.  Will check the end of the week for queen cells developing.
The nasty hive has calmed down completely since I added the queen.  They became a busy factory, building new comb and flying many sorties.  I hope in another 20 days or so we shall see new bees flying.  The small swarm has begun work on another bar.  I can see this one making it through the winter.  I may have to combine the nuc and the nasty hive if there is no new queen development.   Later

Sunday, June 3, 2012

NUC failing

After the excitement of watching the new bees yesterday, I awoke around 2 o'clock thinking that I hadn't been seeing anything happening at the new nuc.  Decided to check it out and found no queen, no brood cells, empty frames and very few bees.  May still have time to add a new queen and salvage it.  I guess that White Oak Apiaries has more problems than I thought.  Along with his untidiness and bad bookkeeping, he may be untrustworthy also.  We'll see, as I wrote him an E-mail telling him of the problem and how was he going to correct it.  I'm not the only one having this type of problem of having queen-less nucs.  Will have to wait and see what he says.  Later

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Dance of the honey bee

The swarm I placed in my TBH has become an official colony today, as the first bees to hatch came out for their orientation flights.  I love to watch them dance in front of the hive, circling, circling ever so larger, than after many minutes, gaining the courage to take off for who knows where, to fulfill the last stages of their life, unselfishly bringing in nectar or pollen for the others, knowing all along that nothing will be for them.  Free of the hive at last and the drudgery's of cleaning and tending the very young, then flying with the wind with only an occasional bird or car to worry about and instinctively knowing how to get back.  I had watched them gathered on the threshold of their entrance last night, anxiously waiting, they couldn't sleep, just hoping the weather would change and they would be given the okay to go.  Not right away of course, the older bees would have to lay an invisable course for them to follow to the flowers.  Then the word would spread and they would start to trickle out, than more and more would be flying at the entrance.  Soon, and as fast as it had begun, they would make a last circle and head for the sky, the hive would be back to normal.  How long would they be gone? only the distance would tell.  Later

Friday, June 1, 2012

Bee Penthouse complete

Finished working on the expansion of the TBH today and beat the storm that's coming in.  I added a narrow regular super filled with comb boxes.  I chose the TBH as it has the most active bees.  The colony is strong and I am hopeful that they can fill the super with good honey before the end of July, at which time I will remove it and let them store for themselves the rest of the year.  Here's a picture:  It has a removable cover so if I wanted, in a good year, I could add more supers on top.  This year is iffy weather wise, as the blooms are very short lived. 
The swarm I caught on Monday has 1 1/5 combs built already.  Not bad for the size of the colony.  I'm thinking they may be fine by winter time.  The other hive I added the queen to, I'm not so sure about.  Still have three weeks to go before I see any increase in bees.  Then I'll feel better.  Got stung on the nose yesterday while trying to put the cover back on the hive.  I had been working on it for quite some time too.  They are extremely tame, even let the dogs stick their noses right into the entryway without giving them trouble.  I do of course, because if they attack the dogs their liable to come for me.

Checked on the bee tree today and found a few bees working below one of the holes I plugged up.  Not sure whats going on but I told them I'm done and to call an exterminator if they return en mass. Later

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another swarm call-out

Today I finally got a call from the local neighborhood of a swarm in a backyard.  I arrived to find a small swarm clinging to a low branch.  I placed the basket under it and clipped the branch and wah-lah it was done.  Or so I thought.  As I waited for the flying bees to collect in the basket, they decided that the chain link fence was better.  I tried brushing them into the basket but no luck.. It was back home to get the Bee Vac.  Most of the bees had left the basket for the fence so I just decided to vac them all up.  Half an hour later they were secure and off I went to put them in my hive.  Watch Video:              That's four hives now where I had none earlier.  Later

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Freeing the queen

Today I let my new queen loose into the nasty hive.  She ran directly below the top bars without any reaction from the other bees.  They have seemed to be calmer today, which I had expected, but I still don't trust them, especially after the getting stung in the eye yesterday.   Inspected the TBH today also to see how things are progressing, they seen to be doing well with only the end bars not being worked.  That's 15 bars with comb, honey and brood on all of them since the swarm was installed a  month ago.  Will add more bars next week if necessary.  Also decided to add a honey comb super above it.  Will start on the transition and covers tomorrow.  My plan is to leave it on until July, and then let them store late season honey for the winter.

I have about a month to deal with this nasty hive and then it should quiet down in the back.  Would like to get another swarm call so I can populate my skep.  Going to contact the police to see if they have a contact list for swarming bees and try to get on it.  Tried 311 but no good information there.  Although my web site comes up near the top when I do a search I haven"t gotten many calls recently. 

 I found an extractor and tank for sale here on the Island at a good price so I think I will buy it for the group to use.  Will make cages for those who have TBH's so they don't have to crush the comb to get the honey.   Later

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bee tree secure ( I hope)

Yesterday I went to the bee tree and found that my sac trap was full of bees.  Unfortunately, most were dead as I had not checked it for three days.  Even though they could return to the hive, they seem to die if I leave the trap up overnight.  Not sure why yet, maybe they just tire themselves out trying to leave or maybe die of thirst.  Someday I will figure it out.  As these were very angry bees, I'm not to concerned with their perishing.  As I removed the trap I saw many bees inside so I installed my other catch sac and told the owners I would return in the afternoon.  Hoping my sulfur sheets would be in the mail.  They were , so I returned with my bee vac and sulfur sheet.  Removing the sac, which had a couple thousand bees in it, I then began to vacuum up all the bees either trying to enter or leave.  It took about a half hour before they were mostly all vac'd up.  I them lit my sulfur sheet and lowered it via a wire into the hole and sealed it all up with concrete.   All entry holes are now secure.  Even if they don't die from the SO2 gas they cannot escape.  If the owners decide to remove the tree, we can still salvage all the honey, as the sulfur does not leave residuals in the honey.  If I had known it would take 2 weeks to get the sulfur, I would have left my hive trap in place, I think I may have enticed the queen out, but now will never know.

Later I went to Debra's house to loan her my queen mating nuc for her new queen she bought and couldn't use.  We placed one queen in the back half of her TBH, and moved some bars of honey and brood, along with some bees.  We placed the other queen in the nuc, which I had previously supplied with a piece of comb filled with water and some fondant.  I had placed some of my angry bees in there for starter stock.  By the time they get some comb built and the brood hatching, the bad bees will be gone and replaced by a friendlier bunch.

Checked my queen today, and the bees seem to be accepting her, but I'm going to wait and release her tomorrow.  I had shook out all the bees I caught yesterday and they took to the new hive right away.  Didn't seem to be any in fighting between the two groups.  Maybe because it was late in the evening.  I walked back to the house to take off my suit and one bee was on the suit when I took it off and nailed me right on the eyelid.  Ouch!!  I  immediately took a Benedryl, hope it works as I really don't need to look like I lost a fight, although I think I did.   Can't wait for the queen to replace all this nasty stock.  My new nuc seems to be doing fine, eating the fondant I gave them and gathering pollen also.  Later

Friday, May 25, 2012

NUC has arrived

Yesterday I went north to Brewster and picked up my nuc at White Oak Apiaries.  What a junk yard.  I hope his bees are better than his house keeping.  The nuc was a little lite, as the weather up there has been cold and wet and the bees hadn't multiplied as they should have.  There was hardly any honey above the brood comb and one frame was devoid of anything except open comb and a few bees hanging on.   I also picked up my queen, which he was suppose to have sent out last week, but I guess his book-keeping is as bad as his house-keeping. I put the queen in the small swarm hive and transferred the frames of the nuc to my own hive.  Today I fed them both with fondant as its suppose to rain for the next week.  My TBH can hold its own as they have plenty of stores already.

Debra from the bee club had mis-ordered two new queens for her hives so I'm going to lend her my mini queen nucs to hold them over until she can sell them.  Rainy today but I have to close up the bee tree so they can use their back yard for the one sunny day we're suppose to get over Memorial weekend.  Let you know how it goes.  Later

Sunday, May 20, 2012

TBH expanding

Checked the TBH  again today and they are working on all 13 bars so I added 3 more to the open end side.  I put in 1 1/2" bars and left 1/4" space between the bars to promote honey production.  With so much brood I think I'm going to have to watch for late season swarming, but since I haven't been getting any calls for the last 2 weekends I could use them for joining with my first swarm hive which will need the help for the winter buildup.  Scheduled to close up the bee tree this week.  They are calling for rain on Tues. so that would keep them home and the deadly deed would be more effective.  Although, I still have 2 more days to entice the queen out.  Later

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bee tree bees diminishing

Put out my trap again this morning and when I checked it at noon, there were almost no bees in it.  Very few flying around and the ones that were out early this morning were just hanging to the outside of the trap.  Put out a second bag and in the process, almost no bees came to greet me.  Looking into the hive I saw very little activity.  Maybe I can entice the queen out today or tomorrow as she hasn't had many workers return now for over the last 2 weeks.  They have stopped using the topmost entrance so I'm going to close that off also, but need a much bigger ladder.  No Sulfur sticks today in the mail, that means I have until Tuesday to capture the entire hive.  Keep your fingers crossed as I don't like the thought of killing them.  Later

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tree of never ending bees

Since I've taken the hive trap down I've been collecting around 3-4,000 bees a day from my sac trap.  I put it up early in the morning and then take it down later in the day.  I shake it out in front of my hive that I've set aside for the bee tree residence.  Where they go I'm not sure, except that I know I need to be in full dress uniform for the operation.  I can feel them bumping my head and hundreds fly into my face net, attracted to the CO2 I guess.  I think some finally make there way into the hive, as its residence keep expanding.  Some may go over to the TBH and some may just fly off.  In any event, they are not in the bee tree anymore.  Today there were far less bees around, but still ferocious.  Tomorrow I'm going to take a day off and look into my hive and check to see if by chance I may have caught the queen, or the queen from the first small swam that I caught.  If so there should be eggs or brood comb.  May even have a laying worker if no queen, will be lots of drone cells if there is.  We'll see tomorrow.  Later

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Papering hive transfer

Today I pulled off the cover and was going to pull out the paper between the two boxes and found just a few bees.  The paper was solid, with no apparent chewing to get up or down.  When I smoked the bottom hive it went buzzing like crazy.  All the bees seem to have abandon the upper hive and moved directly into the main bottom one.  Will have to nadir the box back to the bottom when the queen arrives, tomorrow, I hope.  Should be getting a call on the nuc I bought also.  That will make three hives and the swarm season isn't over yet.  Bought a catch basket at The Christmas Tree Store the other day and made a cover for it, can't wait to try it.  The wood hoops in my catch sac broke so I ordered some of steel and will have to undo the stitches and sew in the new ones when they arrive.  Can't wait to get finished the kitchen retro-fit for our friend, it was no small job and has eaten up way to much of my time.  Should be done this week.  Later

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bees from hell

I'm still trying to catch the bees in the bee tree.  Every time I close an entrance, they make a new one.  I cemented one up the other night and before I finished, they were coming out above me.  Told the owner she should cut down the tree.  I checked it the other day and the bees attacked me before I got close.  Haven't been there once without getting stung.  Must be my smell.  One got between my sleeve and glove and pumped me full of venom as I couldn't scrap it off.  Yesterday my whole arm was swelled up and red with rash.  Anyway, I pulled my new trap and put back my sac-trap.  As I was carrying it to the car, I felt it very light so didn't expect much.  When I got home I papered between the one box I had put the small swarm in and the set the new catch box in place.  I then pried off the temp cover to place the permanent one on and to my surprise the catch box was completely full of bees.  Not sure if I got the queen yet or not.  Will check in a couple of days for brood.  Tomorrow I'll pull the paper.  Maybe my new queen will be here and I can put her in, if I find one in the hive, I'll kill her for retribution and for producing such mean bees.  Since I've put all the bees in one hive, they seem to be settling down somewhat.  I can even stand next to the hive, something I couldn't do last week.  Much to my dismay, I,m going to gas the tree, I've taken about as many bees out as I can and the two little kids in the house want their back yard back.  Both are allergic to bees.  They were nice enough to let me trap for a month.

Today I checked out a call from a guy who said he had bees in his shrubbery and was afraid for his kids.  I told him I would check it out as they were not far from my bee tree.  My feeling was they were probably bumble bees.  To my surprise (again) they were not.  Went home and looked them up and found them to be Mining Bees (Family Andrenidae), a form of ground dwelling bee that burrows into the soil and lays its eggs, then forms balls of nectar and pollen and pushes them down the hole for the larvae to feed on.  They are harmless so I hope he doesn't kill them.

Seems like it for the day,  Later

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bee trap whoas.

Checked the two swarm hives today, the small one had conciderably less bees and saw no queen nor fresh sign she was there.  Could'nt find the queen in the other either but they have been busy building lots of new comb.  Some with honey and others looked like the queen had been laying.  Will check again in a few days.  They are bringing in lots of pollen so lets hope thing are okay.

Went to check on my bee trap the other day and found they had found another way out.  To date they refuse to use the funnel into the trap.  They must have chewed their way into another tree knot as they were going in an out with ease.  I got some plastic bag and tape and closed it off.  Tried to check on it the next day but they locked the gate.  Today I went back and checked.  They had tunneled under the cover I had made so back to square one.  I had made a catch sac, so I removed the bag and was going to put the sac over the hole but the bees drove me away.  One bad sting right on my bad knuckle.  Cold and wet today, so they were nasty.  I decided to let them settle for a while, and went flower shopping with Janice.  $150 later I went back and placed the bag over the second hole and began removing the old funnel.  I had to lower the base to make the new funnel fit, but no big deal.  Lots of buzzing but no more stings.  They actually were settling down as I worked.  Before I even had the apparatus set up fully, the were using it.  I watched as several went into the traps inner trap.  One found it way through and the others followed.  Hopefully I'll get them yet.  Tomorrow will know for sure.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

New swarm

Today I was called out to Charleston for a swarm capture.  It turned out to a large one but no pictures due to dead battery in the camera.  I clip away the dead branches then shook them into my bag.  They weighed around 4 lbs so when they hit the bottom, I almost dropped them.  I was precariously standing atop my 6 foot ladder at the time.  They began to cluster in the tree again so I shook  those into the bag also.  After a little while they began to settle down and enter the catch bag so I closed it up and put it in the back of the PU.  Many hundreds of bees hanging to the outside of the bag.  When I got home I prepared the TBH ( Top Bar Hive) and shook them into it.  That I have on film, watch.
The swarm I got yesterday seems puny compared to the 30,000 plus I got today.  Don't think I had that many all last year.

I found a planter at Costco today that I'm going to make into a Skep.  The next swarm is going into it.  Placed it by the house for English garden look.  What a trip it is to work with so many bees.


Monday, April 23, 2012

New Hive completed

Got called out for my first bee problem of the year, unfortunately they had made commitments with a pest control person and the nieghbor wasn't to happy about competition.  Second callout for a bee colony living in a tree.  Set up trap on the 22nd of April.  Bad Nor-Easter came through and those foraging bees that didn't get into the trap died from the storm, but most were in the trap.  Fed them today as the trap only had a small comb with little honey.  Removed the dead bees from the funnel.  Hope to lure the queen out in a couple of weeks, if not I'll buy a new one and seal the opening shut in the tree.

Finished another octagon hive (photo attached) based on the Stewarton hive from Scotland, with a few adaptations. Has pitched roof, insulation blanket, 2 brood boxes and an additional super (not shown yet), and screened bottom board.  Looks quiet smart in the back yard.  That gives me three octagon and one top bar hive ready for the swarm season.   Plan to sell hive, including a colony of bees as soon as I collect a swarm, (in the NYC area only).  Hives alone could be shipped anywhere, I guess.  My new bee's will be picked up on May 10 from upstate, can"t wait. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Oh well, I've done it again.  As of Jan 28th I'm officially bee-less.   Only 2 living bees and one isn't a queen.  Taking them to the basement only prolonged the inevitable I guess.  I'm thinking that they died of thirst, but who knows.  They had been dwindling since the fall but I could not pinpoint the reason, but now I think the queen was a failure from the beginning as the buildup of the hive never really happened.  Afternoons would only see 50-60 new bees out for their test flights.  Oh well,  ordered new stock from upstate, will be here in May.  Going to try a very hygenic cross this time.  I'm also going to set out a bee trap this spring, if that works I'll have a couple of hives going.  They say that with two hives you might save one good one, lets hope.  I have 2 extra empty hives just waiting, one being a traditional top bar.

From the hive I gathered about 25 Lbs of honey, very rich and dark.  Plan on making some strawberry mead with it.  have made wine in the past, but mead will be the first.  I tasted some from a friend in Minnesota last fall and it was supperb.

Heading up to Olive for a bee seminar on the 11th of Feb, should be fun to see how everyone else is making out.

Last blog now till the spring.  Later

Monday, January 2, 2012

New year starts

Yesterday it rose to ever 60 degrees so I decided to let the bee's do an evacuation flight (poop).       I moved them from the basement to the back patio and opened the entrance.  Out they came. (Watch video) Problem is they all flew back to the shed.  When I went back there the window was full of bee's as was the landing board.  What to do?  I had made a bee vac so it was time to put it to the test.  I vacuumed up the bees from the shed window and landing board, then the ones I could catch on the outside of the hive, then closed up the hive and moved it back to the shed and opened it back up.  I then dumped out the bees from the vac onto the landing board so they could reenter the hive.  That wasn't so bad as I thought.  I lost a few bees in the process, but it seems they are stronger than I thought.  Cold spell coming this week so today I moved them back to the basement for the duration of the winter, if we get one. The lessons we learn!!!!