Last Spring started rough, with storms that took down one of my buildings. It took a large part of the year to get it rebuilt. Add to that, lost friends and family, weddings, A GRANDSON, The wife buying a house on the Mississippi I had to remodel. (Still working on that but almost done.) and a plethora of other things and my bees were severely neglected. However, I hope to have a lot of the mess dealt with by this spring. Still a lot to do but I THINK I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, so my plans to update the site and work on my bees a LOT this year look good! I hope to finally get the site updated with new pics and vids, so stand by! Scott
April fifteenth and it is snowing so hard I cant see from my front window across the pond. Weather like this is frustrating, but it is weather like this that usually makes me wait to order queens. I have gone through hives in late March in the past, with temps already in the upper 60's. This year has not been cooperative at all.
The trees, specifically the maples all bloomed in March, then it froze, and the buds fell from the trees... Two days ago it was 70 degrees, and there were new blooms... today we are in the grip of an April snowstorm. It sometimes makes me wonder how trees OR bees survive such crazy weather. As beekeepers, all we can really do is wait. make sure the hives you have that are out of resources have sugar cakes, winter patties etc on them, and keep our fingers crossed!
Have patience, spring will arrive eventually!
I am back in Iowa, and at the current time waiting for the weather to cooperate so I can go through hives and see what I have got, after spending 7 months in Maine. My hives didn't get treated or winterized last fall, so I have a bad feeling. But at the same time, I see bees swarming the maple blossoms.
Time to get this mess cleaned up and the Apiary into shape, and I will take pics and be adding to the website as the spring and summer progress!
Two entries in August?
Yep! Hives have been treated and winter prep is beginning.
September is arriving, time to make sure you have finished treating. Look your hives over and combine the weak ones, or move weaker hives into nucs and overwinter them that way.
How much honey do your hives have? Do you need to feed syrup to insure they have enough?
Doing your organizing now gives them time to do their own, and be as ready as they can be for winters arrival.
Lets all HOPE, that it is a mild winter like last year!
It has been a very busy summer. My wife is working in Maine, so I am attempting to do everything, from mowing the yard, cutting fields and making hay to increasing my hive numbers. Time has been hard to come by. I have increased to over 80 hives, I expected to do better, but the TIME factor has hurt me.
A picture of my home yard with nucs and new pallets;
More pallets are built and ready to move the nucs into.
The rains this year have come almost perfectly in this area. At times, they were a little too intense, but the timing has been good. The bees built up exceptionally well, despite being split so many times.
Now that August is here, i noticed a lack of incoming nectar, and that the hives were getting lighter, so I have started feeding, and the bees are taking the syrup readily. This will allow them to continue building up and storing feed for winter, as well as making comb.
Almost time to get the vaporizors out and treat for mites. I will try to get a picture of the operation in progress.
With a little luck, the Goldenrod will bloom, and the natural nectar they produce will help the hives prepare for winter.
Now is the time to start looking at the hives to assess their condition. As September arrives, it will be time to start combining weak hives to make strong hives and finish feeding and preparing for winter. Don't forget to treat for mites! It is important to insure your hives are as strong as possible. Treating NOW will insure that the emerging bees will be healthy and strong, so that the generation they raise will go into winter well prepared.
Start making your candy boards, or sugar cakes. Don't get caught if winter decides to arrive in October rather than November!
Keep your bees happy and healthy!
It has been a long winter, but not a harsh one. I lost four hives and four nucs, so am not in bad shape...
The decision has been made to head to Maine with 100+ hives next spring, so I have been building hives the latter part of the winter, and still have a LOT more to build.
I am building them on a 4 hive pallet design, and will get pictures for the next blog entry..
The time has jumped ahead on me, and I have four medium box tall hives that are already overflowing with bees, and its only the middle of April... Apparently the bees know, because they are building up in leaps and bounds.. so this week I will be making queens and preparing to do splits. With a little luck, I can get some pictures of all of that as well.
I will be using the Waynes bees I got from NC to use as the donor hives for eggs to make new queens. The waynes bees came through the mild winter very well, and are booming already. their ability to resist mites not withstanding..
So, Spring! The Dandelions have JUST popped.. the bees are in build up mode. Hopefully you have all gone through your hives recently, cleaning bottom boards, reversing and doing any other spring prep.. this includes treating for Varroa if you have not already done so. Get in those hives! In this area, it looks like swarm season is JUST about to arrive... two to three weeks early, so dont get caught off guard! Other keeps I know have already had swarms, so no excuses to keep putting it off!
I have a cut out to do from a duck box that I will try to get pictures of, and several other cut outs pending.. looks like its going to be a hectic spring, trying to get all of this done AND build up to 150 ish hives before fall!
I do have a fall back plan if I don't make it.. I can buy March packages next spring and feed them to build them up for polination, but I prefer to have them all ready to rock without buying packages.. we shall see how well this goes!
I hope, EVERY hive you have made it through winter, and that you get 140 lbs of honey from every hive this summer!
Keep your bees happy!
All of those nucs are now filled with bees. 20 + nucs made up today after splitting 6 hives down and using queen cells produced using the cell punch method.
I made up 24 cells using the method outlined under the Queens section. 18 of those cells were accepted and capped when I pulled the bar this morning. the 6 queens in the full sized hives were last years queens, so they are one year old overwintered queens. The rest of the nucs recieved a queen cell.
It is looking like I may be going to OK to help a friend deal with 400 hives he has on Canola next week, so I will have to wait to get back to see how many of these queens mate successfully and return.
See Yall in May!
Keep your bees happy!
March was a month of surprises, and wildly fluctuating temps. It looks like we are about two to three weeks ahead of last year already. I decided to check my hives.. we havent had much rain, and its been below freezing on numerous occasions at night.. so I was worried the sugar reserves would be low.
Much to my delight, the bees not only HAVE nectar and pollen being packed away, they are making COMB like little mad women!
There are a plethora of Drone cells as well, so in about two weeks I will be making queens. That also means, its time to get the Swarm boxes prepared!
Here we have the winter side of the inner cover. Mine are still DOWN because my hives still had sugar cakes on the top bars.. Most of them were in one stage or another of filling that space with new comb. Also to my delight, they had some nectar and honey in that new comb, so I cut a big piece of it out to munch on later. In the meantime, I removed the sugar cakes, reversed SOME boxes, and then I installed 40 Drawn supers, and 18 UN drawn supers. The bees are already filling them.. with what? Pussywillow and Maple are a couple sources. So I gave them a bit of advantage by putting their supers on... Then I went to collect my bounty for a snack of honey filled comb.. and guess what I found instead? SOMEONE was already eating it!!!
Yeah.. how do you get mad? That is Knightro the bee dog. He is part lab and part Spaniel. Hoping he will be a good farm guard, a good bird dog, and an excellent companion when running to my outyards. Only time will tell!
SO! If you have not gotten into your hives yet, it is TIME, and in fact it is past time. Get out there and get those bees ready for spring!
Keep your bees Happy!
February turned out to be COLD, snowy and windy.. an Iowa winter at its finest. Not much to report about February, I made the trek to the outyards and checked sugar reserves. Found half a dozen hives that were finished, so I stole their sugar for other hives..
March came in with a roar, stormy and cold.. but then rapidly turned around on itself and it has been in the 60's.. Tomorrow, the 13th of March, which also happens to be Friday the 13th is supposed to be 70 degrees.. The bees are flying, the snow has melted, and I have been in the hives to check on them.. At this time, it looks like I have lost 12 of 41 hives.
When I got home and checked the hive number/ID, I was not so surprised to learn that 8 of the 12 hives lost were packages. Two were hives I attempted to winter with NO upper ventilation, and two were Nucs I had purchased last spring.. That leads me to the next revelation.. ALL of my local hives/queens/colonies are alive and thriving at this point... 4 of them overwintered nucs with queens I raised last year.
To me, this answers the question about genetics and overwintering with no room for error. This is the third time I have attempted to winter bees from packages.. With the same results. I might try to change my methods, but 90% of the nucs I bought last spring survived, and 100% of my own colonies survived, barring of course the two I personally killed in attempting a different method of wintering.. The center of both clusters was a ball of ice... Which leads me to the conclusion that there is a difference between MY bees and the bees that have come in the packages.
As always, I STILL advocate buying packages very strongly, then putting a locally proven and adapted queen in to replace the package queen once that hive is getting well established.
In other news.. my outyards will retain the sugar cakes at least until the maples are blooming. But here in the home yard, the bees are already being fed;
Syrup and Pollen sub are out, so these hives can begin building up..
The danger is that we may still get a prolonged cold snap, in which case my chances of losing more hives goes way up.. the bees will not leave the brood to cluster, and will freeze right where they are, so this is a risk. If it works, I have super strong colonies to split. If it fails, I will lose more production hives to replace the losses. Keep your fingers crossed!
Hang in there, Spring is rolling up on us fast! I hope all of your losses combined were less than mine!
Keep your bees happy!
OOOH! Almost forgot!
Oxalic Acid is now approved for use in a hive for controlling Varroa Mites. I will post more about this under;
It is, January 19th, and it was 46 degrees today. It is supposed to be above freezing during the daytime, for the next ten days. Great weather for the bees. They have had cleansing flights in the last couple of days.
I checked hives, and I have lost three at this point. One was a small single nuc.. I knew better... The otehr two were strong hives, and both had nosema.. I am not sure what I could do for them. Meaning MORE that I could have done. I fed syrup with Fumadil B to each hive. Perhaps I will need to UP my concentration. It is obvious those hives didnt have enough.
The other/rest of the hives are still doing well. I will get into them this weekend to check their sugar blocks again.
In other news? I was given the news that the process for approving Oxalic Acid for use in bee hives has been started, and that we were months away from that approval... WHAT!!! YES!!!!
Unfortunately, it is on Beesource Forums. I dont go there any longer. I dont need the Drama, so I had a friend go for me, and he sent me this;
As promised in another thread, I contacted Ms. Meredith Laws of the EPA regarding the approval of OA for use in beehives. On behalf of Ms. Laws, Rubin Baris returned my call.
The USDA is acting as registrant of record (vs Monsanto or some other chemical company) for OA, so that the tremendous fees to get OA approved are waived.
OA will be approved in use in both syrup and vaporization
The EPA relied upon both Canadian and other sources for it's studies.
The approval is merely "months away." It is in the final stages of approval before going to the Federal Register.
Brushy Mountain will be the first to market OA. Now, what is not known is how BM will market OA be it in a syrup or for use in a vaporizer or both...
I'm guessing that other suppliers (Mann Lake, Dadant etc) will soon join in under the "me too" provision.
Here's the "unspoken" catch. While OA is available in many places, you can only use OA in accordance with its label. So if you used OA supplied by another source (and hence not having the "approved for use in beehives" label, you are in effect in violation. Brushy Mountain will have that wording on the OA label.
http://OxaVap.com Your source for the Varrox Mite Killing
OA Vaporizer "One of the highest ranked" by R. Oliver