Friday, April 24, 2009


When I return home from work each day I like to check on the hives. Today I noticed what looked like Robbing behavior occurring at Mary’s entrance. I removed the entrance reducers (blocks of wood) during Sunday’s inspection. I thought with the warmer weather the bees just needed the room to move. We are looking at 85 degrees this weekend. Anyway, I did not see any great piles of dead bees from fighting on the ground. There was, however, some very aggressive behavior at the entrance. Bee on bee, plus it was the bobbing that got my attention in the first place.

It dawned on me then that in the aftermath of Mary’s swarm she does not have the power to defend her borders. I’m so silly. I retrieved the 2 reducers that came with the bottom boards for both hives. I removed the feeders; I’m done with them now. Then put the reducers in place using the wide setting.

The wide setting because 1) - I still want room for the bees to move. 2) – Myrina can take care of herself. 3) – The single bee sized hole will bake the bees this weekend. Both hives got the reducers since I don’t know whose bees are doing the Robbing; there are several other Keepers within a mile of the yard. Mary got an additional block limiting her entrance to about 5 bees across. This she should be able to defend.

I checked on them 30 minutes later and all was calm. Although for the record as soon as I put the reducer on Myrina *ALL* the guard bees came out to protest. Perhaps nothing was happening in the first place or I caught it as it began. I don’t know. It was, however a good exercise to teach me to aid the bees in protecting themselves. I’ll leave the reducers on till we hit 80 degrees. Then I’ll take Myrina’s off but Mary’s must stay until she has more bees

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspection 4/19/09

70 F

Well on Sunday I was able to get a look at Mary. First I saw the unmistakable sign of chalkbrood on the front porch. Second they had gummed up the hive frames with lots of burr comb. Third I found many unopened swarm cells. Fourth I found one opened swarm cell.

I pulled out every frame in the hive looking for chalkbrood. Fortunately there was very, very little. It centered in where the Winter bee ball would have been. I pluck out the ones I found (less than 10). The bees can take care of the rest. The wet Spring & cool temps are to blame. Soon it will be dry & hot.

The burr comb I scraped off of everywhere but the bottom board. The board will be replaced in May with a screened board.

It's Spring so the swarm cells are plenty. I found 8 of them mostly in the bottom brood chamber. they where removed.

(Can you see the opened cell to the right?)

Yes I'm sure the previous Swarm in the yard was from Mary as I found one opened swarm cell. I hope she's a good queen as she's in charge of Mary now. Mary's attitude had changed over the Winter as to make me think the re-queening exercise may have worked. Population was up. They stopped exhibiting that odd 'everyone out of the hive now' trait. Had I inspected a week ago I'd still have her. Bad weather, cold & rainy, delayed me.

The brood looked good in pattern & amount. Their stores lasted them through the Winter with surplus. I made great use of the entrance feeders. There seems to bee plenty of bees left in the colony to do there job. Job 1, of course, is make more bees.

I replaced 3 frames in Mary's bottom chamber. They are very old and falling apart. I intend to replace the remaining 7 frames in that box later this year. Then all will be new, plus she gets a new box for that chamber too (back ordered).

All medication is complete. All I did this year was Apistan & Fumidil. I hope that's enough.

I plan to put 2 Honey suppers on each hive this year. That should net me 120 lbs of honey, or so. I also want to make a third hive from one of these swarm cells. I pulled 2 honey filled deep frams from Myrina to put in the Nuc. I'll add the frame with the last swarm cell (and bees) and hope for the best. If it works i'll kick myself for not getting 2 Nucs. I did, however, put the excluder plus 1 honey super on each hive. I get to inspecting Myrina on the next warm day.

Speaking of Myrina I opened her up briefly. Then the drizzle shut me down. All I had time to notice was that the last pollen patty I put in her last Fall was still there. That got thrown away. With all the honey that was left in these hives, from what was a sturdy Winter, I don't think pattys are necessary.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Painting Jig

Painting hive boxes and such is dreadful. Because one side is resting on the table it cannot be painted at the same time as the rest of the box.
  1. Paint top side with primer and let dry 1 hour.
  2. Flip then paint bottom side with primer and let dry 1 hour.
  3. Paint top side with top coat and let dry for 4 hours.
  4. Flip then paint bottom side with top coat and let dry for 4 hours.
  5. Then repeat as I like 2 coats of top coat.
My response is to make this little jig here.


All 6 surfaces can be painted at the same time. Since the boxes are essentially stacked numerous boxes can be done at a time. God bless Henry Ford. With the 4 foot bar, 4 Honey supers or 2 Nucs or hive bodies can be painted at once. Throw in using a roller not a brush and painting is no longer a chore.

If I add a middle support plus another 4 foot bar I can primer and top coat a 2 hive body & 4 honey supper hive and have it dried in 1 day. Just spin & roll. Solid bottom boards still need to be flipped but with an attachment a screened board can be spun too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Something in the air?

This swarm appeared in the yard yesterday. Since the branch is far from the ground no one but my daughter saw it (Shes the smallest so is always looking up). She told me earlier in the day that she found a 'Big Hornet nest'. I was busy assembling & painting honey suppers and a Nuc so made a mental note to check it out later but it slipped my mind.

What irony.

At dinner the Wife noticed it and sent Jr down to tell me. I was still working on the suppers. So in Twilight's last gleaming did I find myself standing in the middle of the yard with a paint brush wondering if these were my bees or someone else's. Thinking mostly that these were bees from Mary made for an awful nights sleep.

To add to the suspense today was loaded with family commitments that could not be rescheduled. I could not be around for someone to collect them. I do not know how to collect them myself other than guessing and I have nowhere to put them. The glue in the Nuc is barely dry let alone painted. I'm just a newbie caught with my pants down. Plus I still think these are Mary's bees. The forecast calls for a warm & sunny Spring day. Perfect traveling weather for both bees & family's. With heavy heart I went down to the swarm and said my thank you's and goodbye's. They were still on their branch as we all got ready and left on the trip.

(30+ feet up)

I put the unfinished Nuc outside close to the swarm hoping it may suffice for them. It was a weak attempt but having no other perceivable option it would have to do.

(didn't meet with the scouts approval)

When we got back in the late afternoon they where gone. I hope the new Queens scouts found her a good home. Or at least into the yard of a fellow Keeper who knows what to do.