Saturday, November 7, 2015

Winterizing the yard

Today I put the final touches on insulating the hives.  I kept one hive un-insulated for comparison next spring to see if it is all worth it.  I removed the top box from the hive I combined (No 6) as the bees had moved down and no honey had been stored in it so its less area for them to keep warm.  Still unsure if this hive will make it or not, although it seem active at the moment.  I set out some sugar water with HBH for the bees and hordes of yellow jackets showed up for the feast, so now I have to make a trap for them.  Other than that, not much happening.  Time to start cleaning up the summers mess.

Decided to buy some cardboard nuc boxes for next spring.  Keep my yard to 7 hives and let the swarms move into the nucs for sale later.

Put a piece of dryer sheet inside a disk case in the hive just above the top bars as I had read it works for controlling beetles.  Checked the drop pan 2 days later to find a dozen or so dead ones.  I had placed lime  dust in the pan too, so not sure which is working.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Combined two hives

After much thought about the pro's and cons of joining two weak hives, I decided on putting them together today.  Each on its own was doomed to fail this winter so, after remembering my first hive to survive the winter 2 years ago by a combination of 3 weak hives, I decided to try and save at least one.  They were both from small swarms which I should have put together last spring, but a little greed seeped into my veins and now I will probably pay the piper.  I also added a shim with bars to the green hive.  This is one of the two that suffered from my experiment of 2 years ago by not placing bars in every box, that was a bad move but we only learn from our mistakes.   Added another box under hive No. 1 as it was almost full of comb to the bottom and top box full of honey.  This was a swarm hive so will not harvest from it.  It is almost to the wintering weight of 30lbs.   As of today I think that 4 of the 7 are heavy enough to survive the winter.  1 is close and the last which I combined today, I will probably have to feed in late Oct.  Later

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Yesterday I hosted our Staten Island Bee keeping Meetup group for a brunch meeting.  Had a great time and learned a few things.  Gave a tour of my gardens and apiary also.  By the way, I'm hosting an apiary tour and short lecture on natural bee-keeping methods on Sat. Sept. 12th between 11 and 2. All are welcome and its free.  E-mail me for directions.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Varroa has appeared

After all these years I have finally found mites in my drop pan.  Two of the overwintered hives have them.  In hive No. 3 I found one, and in hive No. 2 I found four.  Both of these hives were the ones I had made such a critical error in not using top bars in every box. Here's hoping that the bees can take care of them as they did the beetles.  I have also been finding a lot of moths in the drop pan.  This seems to be an added bonus, because I think they are trying in vane to sneak in the back but can't get in and then get covered with D. earth and die.  Have also found a couple moth larvae too, also dead.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Octagon backyard hives for sale

Complete Octagon bee hives for sale in NYC area, with established proven over wintered northern Carnolian/Russian stock included.  Raise bee's to Warres' natural bee keeping methods.

Always wanted to do something to help out the bee's?  Maybe wanted to say, " I raise bee's.  No place to put them?  No problem.  Will keep and maintain the hives in my bee yard for half the honey.  Friendly non aggressive bee's.  Enjoy our July harvest get together by helping or just keep hands off approach and we'll ship you the honey. Will also set up and maintain on your property (business or residential), or will just set up, you do the rest.  Will mentor.

Hives are 100% cedar and we raise the bee's naturally and limit interaction to as little as possible.   (Photo of 2 box setup.)

Hives consist of 4 boxes, screened bottom board with catch tray (dusting powder included), with or without Beetle trap entrance if set up on your property, pitched roof with insulated cedar shaving blanket.  Hives come with 10 top bars or, 4 center frames with 6 top bars and burlap cover cloth.  Each box holds approx. 25 lbs. of honey. Only one full box needed for over wintering.   Hives are monitored for diseases but I only naturally treat on a limited basis to keep colonies hardy.  Each hive box comes with viewing window for monitoring and enjoyment. Visit your bee's anytime.

Stock is limited to 10 hives for spring of 2016 so sign up now (more or less depending upon over wintering and if good swarm year).  No down payment needed until spring.

Cost $550.00 per hive complete.  Maintenance is 1/2 raw honey per year.

Cannot guarantee bee's once leaving my yard but will replace as necessary if I maintain.

Pete's Bees   646-201-2461

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Queen outside the hive

Doing my routine walk around the hives this morning I noticed a couple bees sunning themselves on the outside of the entrance.  A closer look revealed that one was a queen, so I picked it up for a closer examination.  Finding nothing abnormal, I put it back and it then flew off.  My only thought is that I may have killed the original queen while doing my honey harvest, but the dates didn't coincide with her appearance, maybe they are just superseding.  Hope she finds a couple good mates this time of year.  Otherwise all is normal.  I did find some beetle larvae in the drop pan from the last hive I harvested Monday this week.  Not unusual for the beetles to try and get a hold while the hive is a little disrupted.  Finding them on the bottom means the bees are back in a cleaning mode again which is what I would expect.  The harvest yielded about 15 lbs on the outside bars (5) as there was still brood in the center so I left those in and replaced the box.  Later

Monday, July 13, 2015

Treatment for Nosema

Found several bees in the yard unable to fly so decided to treat the queen castle colony for Nosema using Oxalic acid fumes.  The hive has not increased in size for more than 2 months so will have to wait to see how it works.  All the other hives are doing well.  Will have to let it go this autumn if this doesn't work.

Pulled the top box off the last hive today and harvested honey.  There was still brood in the center comb so left them in place and cleaned and returned the empty bars back and replaced the box on the hive.  Got about 16#s of honey, should have been around 25#.  Because I was experimenting (bad idea) the lower box had no top bars so had another mishap with everything falling down but eventually got it straightened out.  Honey is super sweet with a light amber color.  I bottle for allergy sufferers so leave it murky with lots of pollen.  With such a wet spring and all my hives swarming at least twice I think it was not to bad.  Creating a hardy bee line is the important thing.  Later

Monday, July 6, 2015

Harvest day 2015

Saturday the 5th of July I opened both of the hives I had previously tried to harvest without much success and pulled off the top boxes of each.  I was a little upset when I found that neither hive had begun repairing or using for that mater, the combs which had been damaged.  I only got about 4# of honey from the worst one but the other yielded about 22 lbs.   Most of the center comb from the later was empty.  Not much of a harvest this year so far but at least these 2 hives are back to normal again and harvest will be much easier next year.  The last hive is full in the top box and I may take a few bars from the new swarm hive as they are putting honey in the second box already.

This spring has been wet again and the nectar has not flowed to well for me at this end of the island but as long as the bees can stock up for winter I'll be happy.  The three lesser swarm hives are slowly building up but I won't know for sure until Oct., whether to unite them or not.  Feeding is definitely on my to do list for those three this autumn, am saving honey just for that purpose  Later

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Natural Bee Keeping

What’s natural about keeping bees?  Man has been cultivating bees for thousands of years, but to the bee, it’s not natural.  But then, thousands of years of keeping them one way or another, maybe it is.  Over a hundred years ago when the framed hives were invented, the doomsayers said it would destroy the bees.  Is it?  I hardly think so, but it is putting a lot of stress on them, constantly manipulating the inside of the hive the bees have worked so hard to make their own.  Chemicals to fix this and that, constantly inspecting, cooling the brood, making life inside the hive more taxing.  Stealing too much honey and having to replace it with sugar water.  Is it actually the sugar water which is causing the problems?  Moving the hive from point to point and grazing on single plant species.  Replacing the queens 2, 3, 4 times a year and then watching the whole bunch fly off to places unknown (CCD).  Do artificially inseminated queens even know what their role in life really is? Never having taken the first flight, no wonder they take the colony and leave. Is it simply these queens which are responsible for CCD?

As backyard bee keepers, we need to make a change and begin committing to a more natural way and make it better and less stressful for both us and the bees.  Allowing the bees to build their own environment makes them more docile.  Frankly, friendlier bees means no more sweating days under the hood.

Bee diseases can and should be monitored only, but on occasion we can give them a hand.  Nosema for example, is a fungus caused by too much humidity in the hive and this we can help by providing more ventilation.  I also think it is caused by feeding sugar syrup which has been around too long.  For the Hive Beetles we can provide beetle traps and screened bottom boards with catch basins under to catch larvae as they drop, or using Nematodes around the hives.  Tracheal mites can be treated with oxalic acid without too much adverse effect to the bees.  But the Vorra mite is something the bees have to learn to work with.  Applying poison’s only poisons the comb and honey, exposing that back to us as consumers and then, because the mites become resistant, we have to put in stronger and stronger poisons, a never ending cycle.  But by allowing the bees to build their own environment inside the hives; they can then fend off all of the above.  And if they can’t, we have to let them perish and start anew with a hardier breed and or crossbreed from other hives which have survived.  (By the way, Monsanto is trying to develop, through gene manipulation, a “Super” bee which they say will fight off the mites, Or are they just trying to make a bee which can withstand there own poisons so they can then sell more and stronger ones? Of course all with government grants.)

So what is natural bee keeping?  It is simply allowing the bees to tend to themselves.  By providing them with a more natural environment inside the hive and allowing the bee’s to build new comb to raise brood however they want, the bees do exceptionally well on their own.  Natural comb shape is not straight, but curved to inhibit a bad environment inside the hive.  Monitoring the bee’s actions from outside and checking the drop board for any problems, and allowing the colony to die if need be and opening the hive only as a last resort.  With all the problems we have caused over the years, we need to be trying to raise a hardy, more resistant bee and not to promote further problems.

Let’s talk about the hive.  My preference is an octagonal shape, more closely resembling the inside cavity of a tree.  After several years of experimentation, I have settled on one that suits me well.  The boxes are 7” tall with a 14” diameter inside cavity, closely matching the inside dimensions of the Warre hive.  The bottom board is screened and has a beetle trap entrance.  Under the screen is a drop pan which is sprinkled with Diatomaceous earth.  The roof has a built-in blanket filled with a cedar shavings for positive ventilation.  Each box has ten top bars (some of have 4 center removable frames, which helps with splitting the hives if need be and or transferring eggs and brood to a queenless colony, these are bottomless).  A single full box of honey will weigh approximately 35lbs, more than enough supplies for an entire winter.  I harvest in July, then, just monitor through-out the late summer until close-up in winter, when I add insulation to the outside of the hives.

After finally learning to let my bees be, I have succeeded, this year anyway, in having a 100% survival rate and more than doubled my stock naturally.  I also gave away 2 swarms and had the misfortune to lose 1 to Nosema, after feeding some leftover syrup and lost 2 that flew away when I, unfortunately, was not around.  Good luck on your endeavors.  Later

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Both queens laying

Today I examined both my hives which I had introduced new queens to and they both have capped brood cells.  One I could see through the viewing window and the other, which doesn't have a window, I just turned the hive upside down and there they were.  What a relief as I had released the queens myself into the hives without having the bees chew them out.  I think turning the hives upside down is much less stressful on the bees.  They never get excited and I have never been attacked and can even move the comb around to see whats going on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Naidered 2nd box to the blue hive

Swarm #1, which I put in the blue hive has now received its second additional box, as the first one is full.  They are about halfway through the original in capped honey so I had placed a honey comb super on top and they are interested but am not sure yet if they are filling the mini boxes yet and I don't like to disturb them too much.

I had suited up for this operation because it is in tight quarters under my grape vine arbor, but these bees are gentle and it wasn't necessary.  It still surprises me that all my hives are so gentle, they don't even get upset when I accidentally hit the hive with the power mower.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Today I received word form the Nat. Bee labs that my hive was infected with Nosema.  Hard to figure as the swarm came from my strongest hive, then and now.  The other swarm from the same hive is doing fabulous having almost filled the top box with capped honey.  Will need to add another box soon.  I found capped brood cells in one of the hives I placed the queens and the other is very active, so I think that one survived also.  Sat. is the day of reckoning as it is 21 days since I put in the new queens.  Later

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Nematodes have arrived

To make sure I don't get a major beetle problem I'm going to treat the ground around the hives with beneficial Nematodes.  I was a little hesitant using them as they may have an adverse effect on my Lightning bug population.  I also have have a grub problem in the yard and since I won't use pesticides, maybe this will take care of that too.   The bees on the other hand seem to have taken care of the previous beetle infestation I had.  There are no signs of drops in the catch pan, from either hive. Later

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Queens released

Late yesterday I opened the queen cage and let them out.  No signs of balling and both hives have increased their activity.  Hope it works.  With all the rain, not much pollen coming in.  No we need a couple days of sunny weather.  Later

Thursday, June 4, 2015

New queens have arrived

Last week I ordered 2 Russian/Carnolian cross queens from Honey Bee Genetics as I had 2 swarm hives with no queen activity.  Yesterday I completed another search and I did find a queen in my Queen castle and lots of tightly packed brood cells.  No activity at all in the other 2 suspect hives so that's where the queens went.  I am not in love with the idea of mass produced queens and think that this is another reason we have CCD, but there were no local queens available.  The only 2 other hives which up and left years past were both with queens
from queen factories.  Someone should study this.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Newest hive design

After many years of experimenting with my hives, I have finally came up with what I think is a good design.  It incorporates all of Warre's natural bee-keeping aspects with just a few improvements.  The center 4 top bars are removable frames but no bottom rail, this should satisfy any inspector if one should ever come. Pest control measures are using a screened bottom board with a tray underneath which catches 100% of the dropped pests.  A Beetle-Jail entrance and a Cedar filled blanketed roof for ventilation.  This picture shows it with a top feeder box installed.  NYS had a 57% bee loss this year, I had none.

Last night I closed off the entrance to my swarm trap in preparation of moving it to a new hive.  This morning early I set everything up and then lowered the trap down and moved it close to the new hive where I pulled the top and found many bees, probably a small cast from my feral hive as they look Italian.  Anyway, the transfer went well and now the bees are buzzing around the entrance.  A few stragglers are hovering where the trap was but I suspect they will find their new home soon, then I can put the trap back up.  I have expanded my hives from 3 this spring to 7, with 1 die-out from unknown causes.  1 hive is still suspect as to whether or not it has a queen.  Am going to check soon for brood cells.  I have given away 2 swarms also and lost 2 from not being here. Good year so far.  I harvested 2 combs of extremely dark honey on Weds. this week.  I'll market it as high potent allergy med., have 1 buyer coming today.

The hive that was over-ridden with beetles is back to normal with no signs of them for 2 days now. The tray is magnificent having removed about 1,000 or more larvae daily for over a week, along with the mature beetles.  Koodoos for the bees as they have done well.

Monday, May 25, 2015

2 cast system

Things were hectic before 9 this morning as I looked out and the sky was amass with flying bees again.  So many in fact that I thought my troubled hive was absconding.  Further investigation showed me it was actually 2 hives casting (a cast is a subsequent swarm coming 8 or so days after the original swarm)  off at the same time.  So I prepped everything, sprayed them with sugar water and put both of them in the same hive (now my white hive)

and sealed it up,  They can either duke it out or learn to get along.  Later   They settled in just fine but I'm not sure yet if I have a queen.  My 1st swarm is full of brood, yeah.  Later

2nd swarm in same trap

On my way to the compost heap I glanced up at my swarm trap and low and behold, there was another batch of bees coming and going from the trap.  Hope this one has a queen.  Will leave alone for a couple of weeks to settle in and maybe make some brood before I transfer the frames into another hive.  Things are looking up.   Later

Octagon hive for sale complete with bees

I have decided to market my Cedar Octagonal hives, complete with bees.  All my hives survived the summer and winter so  have sound stock.  A mixture of Carnolian/Russian and some feral Italians,   The hives are new and have 3 brood/honey
boxes, insulated roof, screened bottom board and tray with Beetle Jail entrance and 2 viewing windows per box.  No known hive pests.  Very gentle hygienic bees, I can open the hive and inspect without suit or smoke. For more info, email me at

(2 box high in photo)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

2nd swarm lost

Wouldn't you know it, just as I was leaving to take my wife to Metro Park to catch a train to Washington, activity was amassing at the entrance to the last hive that swarmed.  Couldn't do a thing about it but thought they would be okay while I was doing the 20 min round trip.  Just as I pulled into the yard, I see them flying over the trees.  I drove the neighborhood but to no avail.

Today I added another box to the bottom of the hive as they had built down to the bottom of the box.  It weighs around 80 lbs or so, so should get a good harvest this year.  I also installed a new screened bottom board with Beetle Jail entrance and catch pan under.  A 14" sq pan fits perfect under my hives and I can't believe how good they work.  Anyone have an octagon hive and want one let me know.

The swarm I placed in the queen castle are very active with a lot of sorties.  Next week I'll open it to see how they are progressing.  Whatever killed the last residence seems to be gone with the thorough cleaning.

I also ordered some Nematodes to soak the ground in front of the hive for natural beetle contriol, will be here in 2 weeks or so.   Later

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ist paid swarm catch of the year.

Although I advertise that I catch swarms for free, I don't turn down any offers of gratitude.  Today I am the hero of Westerly as half the block came out to watch and video me vacuum up a small swarm, I mean a real small swarm.  I put them in the queen castle just to see what will happen.  I had cleaned it out and removed all traces of honey that the previous swarm had made.  Can only hope.  If they die too, I'm burning it.  On another note, the recently hived swarm from Sat. has taken to the hive with much activity at the entrance.  Have my fingers crossed.  Later 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

feral hive swarmed

So this morning I was helping my wife in the house getting ready for the new living room rug we purchased.  About 11:am I went and checked the feral hive as I knew it was about to swarm.  When I got there, the bees were tumbling out of the hive already and my preparation to catch them (in my hive catch sac) leaving the hive went up in smoke. Nothing to due but sit and watch.  They began to settle in my plumb tree at the very top but soon came down to within reach from my 6' ladder. They had spread themselves out on 3 different branches but after 3 try's I finally got the queen in my catch basket and deposited them all in my new Blue
hive.  Hopefully, they will stay.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dead bees by the hundreds

Opened up the queen castle I made from the swarm to see what was going on inside. Outside the bees are 3 deep in a massive pile and more coming, all dead or dying.  I opened the hive and found no evidence there is an active queen.  They are making comb and filling with honey, no pollen and no brood or eggs anywhere.  Sent samples off to the bee lab in MD, they take forever.  Ordered some menthol on the net and have to wait for it to arrive.  This is for Tracheal mites but they are only suppose to attach to young pupae but this is a swarm with no young????  I have no idea whats going on and the web is useless on this issue.  May have to call Cornell.  Later

Sunday, May 10, 2015

2nd swarm

Today was Mothers day and we had commitments for brunch.  I worked the bees this morning (see previous blog) and watched for swarm activity.  At 11 I went in to shower and finished, said that I didn't think the bees would swarm today as it was too overcast.  I dressed and went back outside to check the queen castle and heard a lot of buzzing and looked up to see this swarm in my Tulip tree.  I ran inside and grabbed my basket, then set up the ladder and shook them out.  Put them in a hive box and waited.  Unfortunately I missed the queen, but she did call and say it was time to go.  As we drove out of the yard I could see that the swarm ball had grown back to full size.  My only hope was they might use one of the bait boxes I set out.  No such luck, I came home to an empty tree and 2 empty
bait boxes.  Hopefully a neighbor will call and I can bring them back home.  One more to go, or maybe some secondary swarms.  Later

Happy Mothers day to all deserving mothers out there.

Today on inspection of my queen castle I found hundreds of dead and dying bees at the entrance and in front to the hive.  Nothing seemed wrong with them other then they couldn't fly and no other familiar signs of Nosema or K-wing disease so I took samples to send to the Maryland bee lab. Maybe they got into some pesticide or something.  

The other two hives are fine, except the parent hive of the swarm had hundreds of beetle larvae in the under trap.  Its good the bees are hygienically cleaning but very disturbing to see that many larvae. No beetles in the entrance trap, so it must be from a wintered over batch.  Going out to celebrate today so I hope the other hives don't swarm, put some new Lemongrass oil in the 2 swarm catchers I put out just to be sure.   Later

Thursday, May 7, 2015

1st swarm of the season

On Tuesday this week, I was installing the new bottom board w/Beetle Jail to the strongest hive and in the process, several of the combs slid down and what a mess that made.  I worked the hive for about an hour rearranging the boxes and called it a day.  Weds. the bees were getting back to normal but there was a mass that had collected under the hive on the screened bottom board, I thought that I had probably killed the queen.  Throughout the day I would scoop them up and put them on the landing board and in they would go.  Today, much to my surprise, just as I had earlier predicted, the bees swarmed.  I was cutting the lawn and when I passed the hive, it was amass with flying bees.  My first thought was that they were absconding after the trauma of Tuesdays event, but I sat down and watched and soon they began to gather on my Red bud tree.  I was in the act of gathering my swarm gear (I am always prepared as you can see) when something caught my eye by the garage.  It was three Fireman with their big red truck standing and watching.  I yelled over something about someone complaining already but they were just on a routine stop, someone had turned me in as having a business in my garage and were here to confirm. It had the neighbors going though. I showed them how to scoop up the bees by the handful without cover but the bees I think remembered me and began bumping so I covered up and caught the whole batch and put them in my new Queen castle I had made.  Interested, the I gave the fireman a lecture on bees and they sent me this picture. One of the fireman has allergies and said he would be back when I had honey.  So far the bees have settled right in and I noticed that new brood hatched from the parent hive as there were many new bees dancing in front of the hive.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

New bottom boards

This week I was working on some new improved bottom boards with a slot for the beetles to go straight into the pan under the screened bottom.  As I was looking at it, it occurred to me that the beetles could just crawl up from behind and through the screen and into the hive.  I had remembered seeing a you tube video of one like mine that had a trap between the hive and the entrance, so after much digging, I found what I was looking for on line and bought six.  Talking with the mfr, I told him it was for my octagonal hives and he was totally unaware of what they were.  I said " don't laugh, all of my hives survived this terrible winter".  He said he could have what I needed here by next week.

Today I modified the bottom boards to accept the Beetle Jail entrance trap and can't wait for them to arrive as I killed 9 beetles the other day while doing a cursory inspection.  The bees had them all pushed into a corner so it was an easy thumb squish process.  All my bees seem to be very hygienic.  As it turned out, making the new boards for the Beetle Jail, was half the work and the cost is surely justified.  NOT CHEAP  Will have a picture when its all done.

My Red-bud is just beginning to open its blossoms and the bees are ready.   Later

Monday, April 13, 2015

Free Bee Removal Staten Island

Honey Bee removals Staten Island, NY
Bee Rescue
Free Swarm removals

Have one of these in your yard,  Call 646-201-2461 for Free Removal.

I also will remove them from your home or other buildings for a low cost.  Call for Estimate.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Feral hive out come looks bleek

Seeing limited activity, today as it was warm, I pulled the nuc box from the top of the hive and saw that it was empty so I set it aside and removed the second box.  This one had a few bees.  Upon cracking open the third box, I saw a smaller mass of bees at the top so covered it all up and went and got the hive blanket and cover.  I then removed all the upper box again and did a thorough inspection.  Not a trace of honey left so I thought that the bees I was seeing could be robbers.  After watching awhile, the bees became active and soon they were bringing back pollen to the hive so my hope picked up a little.  I made up a batch of sugar water and put it in the entrance feeder.  I shook out the remaining bee from the box removed and then reassembled the hive leaving only 2 brood boxes.  It was in the low 50's so I didn't want to chill any brood, if there is some, so didn't dig any further for now.  Will just watch for now and see if any new flyers come out in the near future.  The other two hives are still doing great and I am expecting early swarms and have made all preparations for that.  If I get secondary swarms, I may pull the queen from one and put her in the feral box as it has an older queen.  Probably why its not up to par with the rest.  Was a good thing I fed when I did earlier as this hive would not have made it.  Still may not.  Later

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Flight bees

Yesterday I mentioned that one hive had new flight bees.  Today all three hives are active.  With the weather warming, the bees are not paying attention to the yard flowers and are off enjoying their new found freedom.  They must have hit the mother load somewhere as they are all coming back with legs covered in pollen.  I'll have to do a walk about with the dogs and see if I can find out where.  I opened up one of the viewing ports on the strongest hive and found that there is over half the honey reserves left from this winter.  I left about 35 lbs in each hive.  Guess the insulation really worked and just more reason to continue with the octagon hives.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Aconite bulbs blooming

Last fall I purchased 100 Aconite bulbs for my bee garden. Even though I had 3 trusty squirrel guards, the squirrels had a field day and all that came up to bloom this springs were six plants. As fat as the squirrels got, you would have thought the dogs would have gotten at least one. The bees are enjoying them anyway.

Yesterday I cleaned up my comb honey boxes and then placed one on my one hive.  A little early, but thought I would see how it will compare to the next one I set the 1st on May.   Still kind of chilly at night so I plugged up the upper entrances for the time being.  Today the activity in this hive was acting as if the brood had hatched because for a short time a ton of bees came out and began circling and then left for parts unknown to gather nectar and pollen.  I pulled the last of the insulation off today and put it away for the summer.  Later

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring opening

The temps hit above 60 today so I decided to open the hive and install pollen patties and Beetle control traps, which I made from CD diskettes, with D-earth and Boric acid (watch the Fat Bee Man U-tube on that).
   I decided that I wouldn't smoke and the bees from the hives all remained quite content, even though they didn't know me from Adam.  I should say all but one, a lonely bee decided to commit suicide and nailed me on the wrist.  Maybe he was the only one leftover from last fall and was getting even for something.
   I checked the Cedar shavings (which are my hive blanket) and they were totally dry.  I guess having the area vented above the shavings works.  Lots of bees in the attic so the queens are doing their jobs.
I didn't touch the feral hive as the nuc box is still on top.  Will deal with that after the flow.  Later

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1st day of spring

I had planned on removing all the insulation from the hives the 1st day of spring but the weather changed again with 4" of new snow and the temps dropped back below freezing at night.  Will remove when the weather changes for the better.  The bees finished the second batch of syrup so I set out one more.  The pollen patties arrived so the first day in the 50's, I'll put them in, also the beetle traps I made from disc holders.  Later

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pest management

For pest management in my boxes, under the cover I have placed a baited plastic CD box for Small Hive Beetles.  I have also placed a plastic tray filled with vegetable oil under the screened bottom boards.  I clean this about every 2 weeks as it gets filled with capping and other debris.  A thorough inspection at this time also gives me an idea as to any problems inside the hives.  Because the oil is an added expense, this year I'm going back to Diatamacious(sp) Earth and add a small amount of Boric acid to it.  At the front of my hives I have planted Thyme to help ward off beetles and mites. This seems to have worked as my beetle counts last year were very low.  So far, by not stressing the bees by opening the hives, I had little or no mite problems, the bottom traps were clear.  I believe using the Carnolean queens aided in reducing the mite problems because they are a smaller bee and seem to be more hygienic.  Both the hives with the Carni queens came out of the winter very strong, the transitional hive had Italian stock and is somewhat weaker.  I expect the first two to swarm and have made preparations for it.  As a natural bee keeper, I am going to start propagating by swam rather than splitting the hives again, even though it did work well last year.

Transitioning from nuc to octagonal hive.

Through the last several years on beginning bee keeping I have slowly but surely become a natural bee keeper.  I did not open any of my hives last year except in July to see if I had surplus honey that could be harvested, which, because I had split my one surviving hive, I did not.  Last year I was asked to remove some bees and found that someone had placed a nuc on the back porch of a building and it had attracted a swarm.  The year before, a bee keeper was called to remove some bees from this building and I believe he just forgot to take the nuc box home.  I watched the box occasionally throughout the summer, hoping he would remove it and when he didn't, I did.  Because my hive is only 14 inches across, I could not just transfer the frames from the nuc, so I added a new cover to my hive and cut a hole out the size of the nuc and then just placed the nuc on my hive, upside down.  I added an entrance hole at the top for ventilation and access for the bees.  I will leave it in place until this July, at which time I will remove it and place the original cover back on.  Any bees will be swept back into the hive and all honey will be harvested.  Photo's show nuc with winter insulation wrap.  A visual inspection from the viewing window indicates that the bees have built comb all the way to the bottom box.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Crocus

Today the Crocus blossomed and it was no time before the bees found them, hooray for springtime.     The bees are almost finished with the second batch of sugar syrup I gave them.  Have pollen patties on order but have not arrived yet.   Must be bee season as I find myself searching the net for bee stuff.  Also ordered another comb honey box, hopefully they will sell at this falls bee gathering in NYC.  Our first SI Beekeepers meeting is next Saturday.  I think we lost about 40% of our bees this year, about average I think.  Later

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Winter has finally broke

Wednesday the temp were in the 50's so I removed the insulation from the south side of the hives and almost immediately bees came out of all three hives and began their evacuation flights, you could almost here the sighs of relief.  I cooked up so syrup and HoneyBHealthy and placed it in the lawn between all the hives.  They found it forthright and within a couple of hours the 2 quarts were gone.  After they were done flying, I picked up the feeder and brought it inside to clean and refill.  I found that many bees had crawled inside and became soaked with the sugar water and had died, so I tossed them in the trash.  The next morning I found all the bee's alive and waiting at the rim of the trash bin so I collected them in a basket and waited for the temp outside to warm so I could bring them back.  I then refilled the feeder and placed it back outside.  Cool day so not to much activity.

Today I spent repairing my catch sacks, the wood spreader hoops I had used, broke, so I had ordered new metal ones which arrived yesterday.  That task is complete.  I have been laid up with bruised ribs from a bad fall and the door to the garage froze closed with ice 2" deep so no work over the winter.  I had planned on completing several more hives to sell and will now have to make up for lost time. Later