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.