Bees of a feather swarm together

160425 Swarm 1

First swarm of the year. Really, first swarm of my life. To think I started this endeavor just over a year ago, hiving my three hives on April 19, 2015. Now the little buggers (literally!) are going off on their own. I remember when they were just a little nuc box, eager to grow into a full-sized hive. Continue reading

The busiest bees have the most leisure

Jupiter

My helper G looking at the queen cups between the boxes of Mars.

This post was meant to appear a couple weeks ago with a short summary of my spring preparations. I’ve been crazy busy of late, and given that the advent of spring has taken a recess, I figure a summary of my beekeeping status will suffice.

Here I’ll just give an update on our existing hives. I’ve done some work getting the hives ready, and will save this for another post. Continue reading

He that would have honey must endure the cackling of mites

My view of varroa mites and how to handle them has evolved this past year. I started out as a beekeeper not wanting to treat for mites. Then became a beekeeper who wasn’t worried about the mites because he had first year hives. Then finally a beekeeper who monitored for mites and treated during our warm winter. Around November 2015 I started recording the mite drop on my two Langstroth hives every few days. With the onset of spring weather I stopped (this past weekend), so it must be time to post some results. I also have some temperature readings from my BroodMinder devices to compare with this data. Continue reading

1001 Arabian Mites

Qunice

Our Quince blooming on December 26, 2015

This started as my official end of year hive update, so now it has become my official beginning of the year hive update. Happy 2016 to one and all. The hives are officially closed up until spring is on the horizon. With our mostly warm days of late, this might come sooner than expected. We had some bushes start to bloom, especially our two Quince bushes, though the weather turned decidedly cold this week so winter seems to have finally arrived. Continue reading

I mite bee crazy

My prior post You may bee right was never intended to have a sequel. Yet it elicited a somewhat critical response from a local beekeeper who was disappointed in my lack of mite checks. I know I’m supposed to check mites, but it takes time, and I didn’t know how, and its my first year I’m still trying to get comfortable with bees flying around my head. In any case, while the top bar hive was the one to suspect, everything I’ve read indicates that a new hive with new comb in a new spot is likely to survive the first winter. So it was that I set out to prove the criticism unfounded and myself correct. Hence, a sequel.

TBH Comb

A brood comb from Venus on Oct 12, 2015. The top part of this and other brood comb now has capped honey.

Continue reading

You may bee right

Now that winter is fast approaching, I finally checked for varroa mites in my hives. I should have done this over the summer, even once a month starting in May or June. Then I would have some good numbers for how my hives fared over the course of the year. Alas, tis not the case.

Venus

Our top bar hive Venus on October 4, 2015

Between vacations and family and work this summer, it seemed like I was only home long enough to catch my breath and do quick inspections of the hives. So one day I realized it was the end of August and I’d done no more than think about the possible mites in our hives. Continue reading

CCBA Honeycomb: A Way That Appears to Bee Right

Honeybee DemocracyI posted a short summary of the CCBA Conference yesterday, so today I thought I would describe the advanced track presented by Tom Seeley and Michael Palmer. Even though they alternated, I thought a separate post for each of them would make sense. This post is about Tom Seeley’s three sessions on topics related to wild bees, honey production control systems, and water management. I was especially looking forward to seeing Tom Seeley, as I greatly enjoyed his book Honeybee Democracy about swarming. Continue reading

All Dressed Up and No Place to Bee

150220 Bee Suit2Well, the good news is that I have managed to purchase the hives, equipment, and clothing I believe is needed to have bees in the spring. The bad news is that it is February in Virginia, with snow on the ground and cold in the air. So the best I can do is take some pictures and keep reading and learning. Here is a picture of me dressed for the bees in my new bee jacket. I was planning to purchase a full-body suit, but am told I would roast in the full heat of summer around here. So a jacket it is.

This past week in bee school we learned about bee diseases and pests, from the tiny viruses to the dreaded mites and the much larger skunks and bears. Continue reading

The Unbearable Lightness of Beeing

There seem to be quite a lot of bees, over 20,000 species worldwide. Bees are part of the insect genus Apis, which (surprise!) is Latin for bee. This post discusses the bees generally available in North America, which is one of the seven different species of honey bees generally recognized. Continue reading