Friday, August 30, 2013

New Bee Keepers Make mistakes

Last week I ordered 2 boxes of ApiFonda 15 kilograms each.     Now the guy I bought my bees from said he used this as well.  He even showed me how he puts the box right on top of the frames.    I didn't think anything of this because even the company's website I bought it from shows them putting the full box right on top of the frames.

As I was putting it on I was thinking to myself how the am I going to get this off again to check the hives.   I haven't tried ApiFonda before it seamed very gooey.   But I plopped it down anyway, probably killing a few bees in the process 15 kilograms is heavy.

Last night after work Ole came over he his a very nice man from my local bee school hes in his 70's and has had bees for over 18 years.   He came over to mark my queens for me,  I'm to worried about hurting the queen to do it myself next summer I'm going to practice on drones.

When he saw what I had done with the two boxes he was shocked.  He had never seen it done like that before.  He told me how they normally cut off a chunk that's around 1 kilogram and put that on top under some plastic.  It took us about 5 minutes to figure out how to get it off.  Ole was stung on the hands a few times he doesn't where gloves and the girls where not all that happy about the huge sticky box being removed.   Even the frames where stuck to this mess..... Yuck!

To make a long story short we managed to remove the boxes from both the hives.  We only found one of the queens but at least shes marked now.    He says I'm doing everything right (with the exception of boxes on the hives) that they are both very strong happy bee families.    Both queens are laying well and they still need more stores for the winter, he told me to feed them more sugar syrup and to put 1 kilogram of that stuff back on at a time.

Last night I took two sheets of wax paper and put the Fonda between them and rolled it out to about 2 cm thick.     I cut the wax paper to shape and put that on the hives.  The bees will be able to get to it though the sides of my little Fonda pancake,  and it will keep sticky gooey mess off the frames.  

So Live and Learn.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In the News - Drunken moose

Five drunken, threatening elk escaped from police after a party Tuesday night at Ingarö in the Stockholm Archipelago, reports

The moose had throughout the evening built a solid drunk by eating fermented fallen apples in a garden rural home.

When the owner arrived home late Tuesday night found moose not inclined to let him into his house, and the large animals appeared threatening.

So, police were called to help get rid of the intruders.

- The police who came to the scene to confront the moose, found that the moose had apparently been warned about the arrival of the police and therefore had taken the wise decision to leave the address, write information officers of the Stockholm Police, Albin Näverberg, on the police website.

They called the cops advised subsequent landowner to remove the fallen apples as not to tempt the moose to continue intoxication.

- They must find another tavern, writes Näverberg.

I guess it beets coming home to a bunch of drunken teenagers throwing a party in your house.   :o)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


So after the garden stairs project I was left with a little mess / problem.   The hill the stairs went up was lower then the stairs themselves every time it rained dirt was washed down onto the stairs.   I have had a problem with this little hill for a while.  A few years ago I put bark down to deter the weeds which worked very well, but every time it rained the bark would be washed down the hill into the grass.  Looked terrible and had to be raked back into the bed before we could mow the grass.

I knew I needed to terrace the hill but I wasn't sure how.   I didn't want to have to buy stones to terrace it the hill is to long and I didn't want to have to lug so many stones though the garden.   I don't think my back could take that.  I found an alternative, these little willow fences are pre-made in meter lengths and don't cost that much either.   I know they will rot out at some point but i'm hoping for a few years at least.  

This is a weekends worth of work and several (at least 10) wheel barrows full of dirt was removed to terrace it right.    I'm not done that's probably only a third of the bed that needs to be terraced but boy does it look so much nicer.   I placed landscaping cloth behind each of the little fences to keep the dirt in when it rains, I tested that it worked by over watering a section and the dirt stays in.   Once the plants grow and fill everything in I think this is going to look wonderful.  I had a load of bark delivered yesterday and I'm going to put it down on each terrace to deter the weeds, this time they wont wash out.   My plan is to use river stones in the front of the last terrace and maybe plant some succulents in it, that way we can mow the grass right up to the line where the rocks start.  I wont have to get the weed whacker out to cut the grass in front the terraces.

Fun Things bees do....

Back in June a local bee keeper captured a swarm.  He installed her in a nice hive.   But after a time he couldn't understand out where she was.   He finally found this...

The queen had decided that she liked UNDER the hive much better then in the hive itself.

Oliver Maxwell  "We put the old base on to the top of the hive - then waited for the queen to go down to the main box. Next we put a queen excluder on so she wouldn't come back ... wait 3 weeks for all the eggs to hatch - then remove the old base. We also had to pack the whole thing in in cardboard to keep it dry and safe and to encourage all the bees to use the correct entrance."

Us girls like to pick where we build our homes we don't need men telling us where we should bring up our families.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Stung for the first time.

I just got stung on the middle finger of my left hand, its the first time I have been stung by my home bees. If it swells up it should be funny. I really need to get a frame puller and / or where my gloves. It was my own fault when I put the frame back in and tried to push it into place i squished a bee between my finger and the frame. Wasn't her fault. But i gave her sisters 15 kilograms of fondant they should be happy for a while.

Update: It didn't swell up, I don't think the stinger went in far enough and i got it out with in 10 seconds.

Oxalic acid drip - varroa mite

There seem to be as many different ways of combating Varroa as there are bee keepers.    I found this one mentioned on Denmark bee keeper societies website.    I like it because it doesn't destroy the brood because of the fact that you do the treatment in the winter time, when there is no brood.    Does anyone have any experience with using this?  Being that it is found in nature and in honey naturally it seams to be a little less drastic then some of the other methods i have read about.  

Oxalic acid drip is extremely efficient, inexpensive and easy to use in that brood free period.

Oxalic acid is an organic acid, which is commonly found in nature. For example.  the sour taste of rhubarb and sorrel derived from Oxalic acidOxalic acid is also naturally occurring in honey.

For combating varroa oxalic acid is used in a very weak solution (3.2%). This solution is only very slightly corrosive. However, one must be extremely careful in contact with the skin as oxalic acid can be absorbed through the skin. Oxalic acid can also be dangerous if  breathing or ingested. Therefore it is not advisable to administer an Oxalic acid drip with a spray bottle.

The drip method gives you control of the oxalic acid.  It is how ever also recommended you use acid-resistant rubber gloves when administered the solution.   When mixing, use gloves, goggles and respirator (dust mask).

An increase in Oxalic acid concentration can be seen in the food stores, but this falls back to normal levels within 8 weeks after treatment.  There are currently no identified increased residues in honey season after application of Oxalic acid the previous winter.

There are to date not identified resistance to oxalic acid.  Why Oxalic acid works is not fully known. However, the spread oxalic acid is by body to body contact of the bees in a winter cluster.

Oxalic acid drip does not work on sealed brood, so the treatment must be carried out during periods of as little brood as possible. That is in the "Brood free" period in November / December.  In other countries, there has been a tradition to treat much later. However, one should treat as early as possible so that the damage done by the mites present is minimized.  In the past the best results where found in colonies who had at least one flight day after treatment. However, there are no studies that suggest that this is necessary.

To Oxalic acid treatment purchased oxalic acid dehydrate, which is a white powder. Oxalic acid di-hydrate is normally sold as oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid Treatment recipe

  • 1 liter of water 
  • 1 kg sugar: 
  • 75 grams of oxalic acid dihydrate. 
This is enough for 55 colonies.  Be careful not to mix small quantities, for example. For just two colonies,  weighing on ordinary kitchen scales can give an incorrect mixture due Kitchen Scales agree inaccuracy.

Swiss studies have shown that  Oxalic acid treatment can be stored in a basement (under 15 degrees), for up to 6 months.  If the mixture is kept at a higher temperature, the solution will become toxic to bees. We therefore it is recommend using fresh mixes. One should keep the solution in a child-resistant container.

Oxalic acid treatment should be lukewarm. Use a 50 ml syringe. Add it slowly  3-3.5 ml per minute, on the bees between the frames. This gives approx. 35 ml per minute. bee colony. This is a very small quantity, so it may be a good idea to first practice with water. It is important not to drip ​​directly on the bees and not just on the top of the frames where the bees will leave it alone.

Danish and foreign studies have shown that treatment to a bee colony more than once per. Bi-generation, there may be damage to the bees and thus reduction in hive strength. It is therefore recommended to treat a hive only once per. season. However, it is OK to treat again as long as there are several months between treatments. We have beekeepers who treat both fall and spring with oxalic acid.

By common Scandinavian trials and experiments in international cooperation "European Group for Integrated Varroa Control," which DBF has participated, achieved efficiency of over 90% in several studies.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Bee Cams

I just ran across these two live cams of bees. What a wonderful idea you can sit at home and watch the bees do there thing.   The one from inside the have is grate you can see what they are doing.    I find it very relaxing to watch the bees going in and out of the hive.  They seam very busy today.            

Live streaming video by Ustream

Live streaming video by Ustream

Soap Box - Pesticide

Pardon me while I step up on my soap box now.

Garden Centers Sell Bee-Attractant Plants with Pesticide Residues toxic to bees

OK I'm going to ramble a bit here.   Why do we have to spray everything?  I assumed having my bees in my yard they would be safe.  A lot safer then the bees out in the country where the farmers spray there crops with everything under the sun.   But there not!

It just came in the news here in Denmark that farmers are spraying the crops up to two weeks before they harvest them with roundup.  Why?  To kill the weeds?  No, its to make the crop ready for harvest faster.   What a waste why do we need to spray stuff just because we can spray stuff.   Why not just wait the extra week or two for the crops to be ready.  

Do we really need to spray the plants that go into peoples gardens?   I can except a little spraying.    A lot of these plants sold in garden centers are grown in huge green houses,  if pests get in there they will run rampant and kill all the plants and the grower will loose money.   But if you say a plant is bee friendly then you need to except that you can't then spray toxic agents to kill bugs.  Just because it doesn't say it is harmful to bees maybe you should stop and think for yourself.    If the pesticide are using is designed  kills bugs maybe it will kill bees to.   Bees are after all bugs.

OK I will now step off my soap box now.  Have a nice day.

Update: Well it looks like maybe someone is listening.  EPA finally comes to defense of honey bees.

August Planting

August is gate time to plant seeds for a second harvest it can be productive as your early spring plantings. Late summer is a good time to plant these vegetables.

Start planting both bush and pole beans now.   Try for a continual 7-10 day sowing of different varieties. This will give you continual bean crops and not one large harvest with more then your family can eat. Early August is the best time to sow them.

Beets are also a good thing to sow in August they can be ready to harvest in the fall and if left in the ground you can be eating them most of the winter.

Flower Bulbs
August is a good time to plant those fall flower bulbs. There are many varieties that can be planted this fall and start blooming early spring.

Planting kale around the middle of July to the middle of August and you will get an excellent harvest in the fall and winter.

Sow lettuce in August for a fall crop. Try growing early harvest varieties that will produce a harvest before cold weather rolls in.

Green peas, sugar peas and snow pees are good to plant in August, and will produce a moderate fall harvest.

An easy vegetable to grow. Plant now and you can have them ready in 30 days.

Spinach likes the cool weather vegetable and is great to grow in August.


I have two different compost bins in my garden. One for leaves, grass and trimmings from the hedge. The other is for kitchen waste.

Leaf mold

Leaf mold a grate commodity to have in your garden. Its good for around roses in the winter to keep them warm. It can be mixed around any plant really.

In the fall we use the lawn mower with the bag attachment on. You mow right over the leaves it chops them up in to nice little pieces, and sucks them up into the bag. We do the same when we trim the hedge.   I always check that we didn't trim off any large stems before we run them over with the lawn mower.   It makes a terrible nose if it runs over anything large, probably isn't good for it either.    All this nice chopped up stuff goes right into my compost bin in the far corner of back yard.     Last winter it was full by spring it had compacted and rotted down to a third of its former size.  

Kitchen compost.

Almost anything that was once alive can go into this.   I leave cooked veggies and bread out though.   Some people say it doesn't matter that you can add cooked veggies but I find it attracts more bugs.     Some fun things to add that you might not have considered.
  • Egg Cartons
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • news paper
  • bills :)
  • egg shells
  • coffee grounds
  • wood ash (not to much go easy with this one)
Note: As long as there's no color ink on the paper it can go in.   

You need to layer your Kitchen compost.  If you put in to much wet stuff you may start to attract fly's.  If this happens just toss some soil over it or if your Leaf compost isn't to wet you can add a layer of this to it also.   

I like to cover my compost with a blanket of sorts basically its more or less some landscaping cloth I had left over. You could also use an old tarp anything works really.   The reason for this is it keeps the heat in and the fly's out so they cant lay eggs.   Again its not a requirement but I like to do it.

Once and a while I water my compost to make sure its nice and wet.  Not to wet but it should be moist, this will help the matter break down.   

Note:  You need to get the heat up in your compost.  Mine wasn't quite high enough everything rotted down but it didn't kill the seeds.  This summer I had little tomato plants growing all over my garden from the compost I had put down in the flower beds.   Not to mention the potato plants I have growing "IN" the compost bin.

Garden waste

You can add your garden waste to either of these piles.  I wouldn't recommend adding weeds unless you are sure your compost bin gets hot enough to kill the seeds.  You may  end up with lots of weeds in your garden when you use your compost.   This is worse then lots of little tomato plants all over the garden.  :)

My Kitchen compost bin with potato's growing out of the sides. 

My leaf compost

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Feeding Time / Honey Tasting.


I was at my local bee keeper club meeting last night.  It was feeding time.  We removed the last of the honey supers last week so now its time to feed them up for the winter.  

I didn't know it before hand but we had a honey tasting.  Everyone brought in there best honey and we passed them around the table to taste it.   One of the local honey tasting judges was there and spoke about how our sense of taste works that it is in fact mostly smell.   This was the first time I have been to a honey tasting, I never released before now how different honey can taste.  It depends a lot on the time of year and what flowers where in bloom when the bees made the honey.  

It almost makes me want to steel a little of my girls honey just to see what there honey tastes like.  They are way to small there is no way I can harvest any honey from this year... but maybe a taste.  But how to know if the honey I taste is from the sugar syrup I have been feeding them the last two weeks or from flowers?   I guess I will just have to wait until next year.

Eggs In the garden.

Plant en egg.

Place one raw egg in the bottom of the pot before you add your plant.  As the egg decomposes, it will serve as a natural fertilizer adding calcium to the soil.

Save those shells

Every time you use an egg, don't discard the egg shells, put them in a container in your fridge.  When the container  is full, crush up your shells into small bits and spread them all around the base of your plants. The sharp edges of the egg shells may stop some slugs, snails, and other bugs from nibbling on your plants and will add a touch of calcium to the soil.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

2014 Bee keeping Calender - Contest

I just entered that picture in a contest.  If I win the picture will be in the "2014 Bee keeping Calender".  The picture was taken in may at my local bee keeping clubs apiary during one of my first inspections of a hive.   I love the picture because if you zoom in you can see several stages of uncapped brood.    

Wish me luck :)

Greenland Beekeepers

Greenland Beekeepers' Association in Narsarsuaq has received half a million bees.  The purpose of the bees is to make honey for the whole country. It is a consignment of healthy Nordic brown bees from Sweden, says an optimistic beekeeper-chairman.

Southern Greenland has tried beekeeping for 5-10 years. But now, Greenland Beekeepers Association, which was founded last year, has moved up a gear, as spokesman for Greenland Beekeepers' Association,

Ole Guldager says:

- The bees will be used for the production of honey. We have done so for some years, but we would like to produce something more.

It has been attempted twice before putting bees in South Greenland. The first time for approx. 12 years ago, where the bees were fewer and fewer, in the end there was only a few left.

Ole Guldager thinks its had something to do with the Queen. When a queen dies in other countries, you call you to the nearest queen breeder and then you get a new queen in the mail the next day.

It can't be done up here. The beekeepers themselves make the colonies, and if it can not be done, then the families dies.  adds Ole Guldager.

- We simply need have a few more hives in order to build the foundations stock.  We have also distributed the bees to several locations, both in Narsarsuaq  and Arsuk areas.

Therefore, there is now half a million extra bees in Narsarsuaq in total10 families. Ole Guldager hopes to have the number up to 20 in the fall.

The new consignment of bees Nordic brown bees from northern Sweden, is different than the bees that were put out 5 years ago.

- There some pretty good bees for us in Greenland,  they are adapted to a cold climate and should thrive in Greenland.

But because they are a little different than the bees we have at present,  we are in the process of replacing all of our existing queens so that we get the same basic stock of Nordic brown bees.

And there is not much that can go wrong with the new bees, predicts Ole Guldager.  These bees are  disease-free so can not spread anything naturally when they need hollow trees if they are to make hives.

- There are in control.

Ole Guldager hopes that more of Greenlanders will be interested in beekeeping. He believes that you can practice beekeeping virtually the entire west coast up to Disko Bay.

Translated from Hundredetusindvis af bier skal sikre honning til hele landet

JFK the little hive that could....

defend itself with out bee keeper involvement.

JFK was very busy yesterday when I got home.  I had the entrance set to one bee to help them defend the hive after Saturdays robbing incident.  I though this was a sign of robbing again.  After consulting with some people on Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum Facebook page they though the problem was congestion at the entrance.  I opened it up and a huge mass of bees flew out.   

To me this looks like they are fighting but again the people on Facebook said that with the entrance set to 1 inch or 2 centimeters the bees can defend the hive just fine so its normal to see them fighting a little.   Can't we just get along?

It was almost dark before they started to calm down and all go back inside.  I have feeders in both of the hives and i just ordered some fondant from the bee keeping suppliers.    I ordered 2 boxes 15 kilograms each this should give them enough stores for the winter.  I also heard from my Facebook friends that as long as they both have plenty of food in the hives they wont bother robbing each other.

But I'm still not sure that what i was seeing was robbing.  Apparently with full scale robbing in action there will be hundreds of bees involved.    Maybe I'm just the over worried bee keeper.  

Monday, August 19, 2013


Having roses in my garden is a must for me.   You can find roses of so many different shapes and colors.    I love walking out on the terrace and being assaulted by the smell.  A lot of people find roses hard to care for but really they are one of the eases plants to have in your garden.


I know that you can buy special soil for planting roses for the most part i haven't bothered with this.  I normally just plant them in the ground and watch them grow.     I read some where that if you put a bone (beef bone) in the bottom of the hole you plant the rose in this will help.  The reasons for this is roses like Phosphate by planting a bone with the rose you ensure that it has enough for quite a long time.  Another option is to put a hand full of Bone meal in the bottom of the hole with your rose.


In late winter or  early spring you need to prune your roses you need to wait until after the last frost.   Begin pruning out and removing any dead canes.  Dead canes can be determined by their shriveled, blackened appearance. In contrast, a healthy cane has a nice green outside and a cream or green color in the center of the cane. If only part of the cane is damaged, try to prune as close to the base or bud union as possible.

Next we can focus on the remaining healthy canes. If any of the canes are to long or not in the shape or place you want them you can remove them also.  Try to prune as close to the base or bud union as possible.

Dead heading

As your roses start to die remove them as soon as you can this will encourage the plant to flower again.   Even early flowering roses can some times be encouraged to flower again later in the year by doing this.


Aphid are the worst creatures known to roses lovers.  If allowed to stay on your roses they will suck the very life out of them.   I keep a spray bottle filled with water and a tea spoon of dish washing liquid and a little vinegar ready for this.  Spray the hole plant where you see the Aphids and  they will die and for a little wile not come back.   Another option is to get a lot of bird feeders.  I have a full flock of small birds that frequent my garden they love to hang off the roses eating the Aphids for me.   

Here is a full list of rose Pests and diseases 


This is an old tip from my grandmother.  Roses love coffee.  Save your coffee grounds and put them directly on the ground around your roses.     The picture at the head of this article is from a rose bush that was in the garden of the house I bought 3 years ago.    The first summer there was 1 rose,  the second summer there was 3, this summer there are 15+.   All I have done to this rose bush is give it coffee and prune it every year. Now it gives me the most beautiful red roses that last more then 2 weeks on the bush each. 


Robbing is a term used in beekeeping. Bees from one beehive will try to rob honey from another hive. Robbing behavior is especially strong when there is little nectar in the field. Strong colonies with the largest stores are the most apt to prey upon weaker colonies. Some robbing is carried out so secretly that it escapes notice. Most of the time, when robbing is going on, one can see bees from the opposing hives fight. The fights can lead to significant losses of bees. Robbing may go on between hives in one apiary or hives of different apiaries.

Here we go again.   Sunday morning i added some new sugar syrup to the little hive (JFK).  They are still about a third of the size of the larger hive (Heathrow).  I have been trying to feed them extra to help them build up.   The last time I had robbing problems was when I had the feeders out side the hives.  This time I put the feeder directly inside JFK.   Three hours later all hell broke loose, I guess they could smell it.

There where bees all over the out side of the hive.  I wasn't to worried in the beginning until I saw all the dead little bee body's in the grass in front of JFK.    I opened up the hive and out few a few hundred bees.  They are supposed to be back there, I could also see little bee body's on the bottom of the hive.   I quickly ran in the house grabbed my bee jacket and gloves ran back out again and removed the sugar syrup feeders and reduced the size of the opening to one bee.    I also put a little smoke to the front of the hive seamed to clear them off fast enough.

Dam why do they keep picking on JFK.   Can't they just leave them alone to grow.  Last night I made up two liters of sugar syrup I'm going to put a feeder in each hive this time.   Then maybe Heathrow wont feel so jealous and stay in there own hive.    

I bought 2 new feeders just for this purpose last week.  But when i tested it in JFK I found dead (drowned) bees so I was worried.  I am going to put it back again maybe they just need to learn how to use this type of feeder.   It's the same type they use over at the local bee school so they must be OK.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Over the weekend i found the bees in the larger of the two hives dragging these things out.   When i smashed it up it looked exactly like chalk.   After Google around i'm convinced its calk brood but what do i do about it?   

I have only been a bee keeper for 2 weeks and already I'm having problems.   Poor girls I need to help them ... some how.

I just spoke with the man in charge of my bee keeping class.  He says because it was only two (so far) that i shouldn't worry to much about it.   What it could be is that the bees are just cleaning house and I should leave them bee to do just that.   Apparently this late in the year the bees will clean out the comb and remove any brood that may be sick or contain drones (!!!).  Poor guys don't even get permission to finish developing this late in the year before they get tossed out.

OK then I'm not going to panic I am going to let the bees be and be bees.    (Sorry for the pun but I couldn't help myself )

Update:  22-8-2013 found another one.  Bee guru's say that its not a problem unless you find like 50 of them but i should probably change out the queen.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Life Cycle of the Honey Bee.

 The queen honey bee lays about 1500 eggs a day.   This is a little explanation of what goes on in the 19 1/2 days after the egg is laid.

Day 1 - 3  the egg
The honey bee worker exists as an egg for the first 3 days of its life.

day 3 the egg hatches into a small larvae.   The honey bee exists as a larvae though 7 1/2 days.

Workers begin feeding the larvae royal jelly you can see it in the bottom of the picture as a puddle.

Larvae ready to be capped. 
Workers begin to cap the cell with in 15 hours of this stage.
Capping has started
Fully capped brood sell.
Within 24 hours of being caped the Larvae spins a cocoon sheds its Larvae skin and becomes a pre-pupa stage.
day 12
day 13
day 14

day 15
day 16 (movement of legs can be seen)
day 17 or 18 movement of mouth parts
19 1/2 days worker honey bee begins to chew its way out.

Here is a a link to a video explains it all along with some info on the Varroa mite:  here

Monday, August 12, 2013

Honeybee Democracy Hardcover by Thomas D. Seeley

Honeybee Democracy is an amazing book if you really want to know about bees.  If you want to know about bee keeping this isn't the book for you.  This book is all about research into bees how they live in the wild,  how they communicate with each other, how they choose there new homes.     If you are already a bee keeper and want to know how bees live in the wild in order to improve your hive management then this is a grate book to read.   If you are a bee lover this book may be a bit hard for you to read due to the fact that a lot of bees died in the name of science and research.   But still its a grate book and was defiantly worth reading.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum

The Backyard Beekeeper - Revised and Updated: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden  is a grate book for beginner bee keepers.   This book picks up where Beekeeping For Dummies  leaves off.    This book assumes that you are a complete beginner and know absolutely nothing about bee keeping.  It takes you step by step though the seasons telling you what you should be doing and what you should look out for.   Definitely worth a read.

Beekeeping For Dummies by Howland Blackiston

This was my first bee keeping book.    Beekeeping For Dummies  is a grate place to start if you are considering bee keeping.  I would defiantly recommend it to any one thinking about bee keeping.  It gives you all the basic knowledge you need to become a bee keeper.  The book gives tells you how to set up your hive how to order bees and install them.  What tools you may or my not needs to get to start.   It goes into what problems insect and disease problems you will need to keep an eye out for.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bee Keeping Week 1

A little update on my first week as a bee keeper.

The Pickup

We picked up the bees on July 31, 2013.   It was a 45 minute drive to the guys house,  as it turns out he lives in the middle of no where.  He was really nice when i asked him how many hives he had he said he didn't know right now.   That surprised me until he started to show us around.   Apparently he captures swarms and just stores them then he sells the hives as they start to lay eggs.  He normally over winters about 45 hives then sells all but 20 in the spring.   A nice little side business when you consider what he can get for them in the spring.   I think i will wait a few years before i try and do that.

He was nice enough to move the frames for me from his hives over to the travel boxes i had borrowed from the local bee club.   We packed the girls in the car and drove home.   I was worried we would end up with bees in the car but it wasn't to bad i think we drove with 3 bees buzzing around the windows in the back of the car.

By the time we got home it was 21:30 but not really dark yet.   He told me to put the hives next to my hives and wait a few days to move them.   Here's where the fun started.   The next day I couldn't wait to get up and go out to check on them then I found myself out checking on them almost every hour.  I had to make sure they where OK.  I didn't open the hives i just watched them going in and out.

Hedge trimming

Sunday we needed to trim the hedge.
You can see the girls in there little hives.  Next to my refurbished trugstader.  Trugstader  are quite common in Denmark they are a mix between a top bar hive and a Langstroth hive.  I will show the difference when i get around to taking some internal pictures of them.    As you can see the Hedge on the right is a bit over grown.   Its an old hedge that used to divide the front of the garden from the back of the garden.  The people that lived in the house before us thought it was a waste having a front garden so they planted the hedge on the left which is now big enough that we don't need the one on the right.    We really do need to just remove the hedge on the right but i'm not exactly sure how to remove a 15 meter long hedge that's almost 3 meters high.   So cut it we did :)

It took about an hour and a half and a really good set of pruning shears.  Lars managed to destroy the hedge trimmer.  I tried to tell him its not designed to do that.  Men never listen.

While trimming the hedge i wasn't more then 20 cm from the bees in there travel hives.   They didn't seem to care at all.   I was wearing shorts and crocs,  crazy i know but it was hot.   The fun thing was i kept feeling something tickling my feet would take of my shoe and a bee would fly out it happened 3 times.   Silly bee stay out of my shoes but thanks for not stinging me :)

The Big Move

Since the girls had been so nice i decided it was time to move them to there new hives.  Suited up put on some gloves and off i went.  I didn't bother with smoke, from what i read it can take them a few days to get over smoke and they are such small bee families i didn't want to set them back any more then i had to.    It didn't take long, not much buzzing in the first hive the second one talked to me a bit.

Observations First hive (the one in the back)
  • 1.5 frames of honey
  • 2 of brood saw some uncapped that wasn't more then a day or two old, and some capped.
  • No sign of the queen 
  • didn't see eggs but i'm bad at spotting eggs.   I blame it on the veil but its probably my glasses.  
Observations Second hive (the one in the fount)
  • 3 frames of honey not all caped though.
  • Saw several stages of uncapped brood.
  • Full frame of capped brood that looks like its starting to emerge.
  • EGGS! i saw eggs.
  • No sign of the queen.

Open Feeding = BAD

I decided to put some sugar water out for the little hive so i built my own little bee feeding system.  I really should have read more about the fact that open feeding can start robbing.

When I got home from work on Monday I was out stalking the bees I mean checking on the bees.   The front hive looked fine bees flying in and out.  Then I walked by the sugar water I had set out to feed them.  They where hungry most was gone good girls eat up.   Then I came to the second smaller hive.  I watched for a few minutes I just love to watch them.   Something seamed different.   I must have watched for 5 minutes I couldn't figure it out.   There where bees at the landing pad trying to keep other bees from coming in.  One even had another by the leg and wouldn't let it go.  Then finally something i read kicked in.   These where guard bees trying to keep the other bees out of the hive.   So i ran into the house to check my books on exactly what robbing looked like.  Went back out to double check yup that's got to be whats going on here. So i blocked up most of the entrance left them about 2 cm checked again about 2 hours later it was mostly dark by then and things looked better.    

OK so no more open feeding the next day i put the little feeding system in the back of the little hive and promptly ordered a real in the hive feeding tray.

I guess that's it from my first week bee keeping.   

Things i have learned this week.

  1. Bees don't mind me trimming the hedge.
  2. I can inspect a hive but really should go slower and take my time looking for queen and eggs.
  3. Open feeding is bad.
  4. I know know what to look for when i see robbing.
  5. Pollen comes in different colors! Who knew i thought it was just yellow.  Nope there is blue pollen.

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