Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another Video of Hive #4 (May 30th)


Hive #4

May 30th 2009 (Sat) 3:20pm
81 degrees; Sunny
Bees very active. This is the hive I installed the new queen two days ago, May 28th. I can't peek inside until a week has passed.


A Visit in My Garden

81 degrees and partly cloudy.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thursday, May 28th 2009 - Installed 2nd Queen

75 degrees, balmy, thunderstorms

It has been raining for the past three days and thunder storms again throughout the day. Arggggh. I came home from work and found the Fedex package at the door. Thank goodness it wasn't pouring or I would have drowned bees. I tore open the box and found that the queen was alive and one of the attendants was dead.

Approximately, 4:30pm I checked the hive and found very little brood. Lots of honey but that's not going to keep the colony going. I pray that the colony will accept this queen. There were a lot of bees around the entrance and after I installed the queen and closed up the hive, they all went inside.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Inspected Hive #3 - May 22,2009

Friday @ 2:30pm

Scattered Clouds Scattered Clouds
Feels Like: 82°F
Wind Chill: 81° Ceiling: Unlimited
Heat Index: 81° Visibility: mi
Dew Point: 61° Wind: 9mph
Humidity: 51% Direction: 190° (S)
Pressure: 30.15in Gusts: 0mph

I could not find a queen. The modified feeder had many carcasses of the bees. I dumped the feeder and placed it near the hive so the bees could dry off. The Brushy Mountain feeder is a better design than the other brand that I've used.

Very disappointing that I could not locate the queen. I have placed an order for another Queen and she is due to arrive Thurs 5/28/09. That means another two weeks lost. Very disturbing since a bees life is approximately 42 days.

Inspection of Three Hives - May 21, 2009

Thursday, 81 degrees, and sunny.

Inspection at approximately 3:30pm

Hive #1: Found the queen and it appears that she has a good laying pattern.

Hive #2: Found the queen and the hive has a lot of bees even after the division. I'm not finding the queen cells that I had prior to division. There were about four cup shaped cells in the middle of the frames. No long cells on the edges. I placed a honey super on this one a couple of weeks ago.

Hive #4: Oh my goodness, I'm very pleased with this bee group. I purchased them this Spring and they are doing so well I put a honey super on. This one I plan to rob this Summer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Transferred Bees from Nuc To 10 Frame Hive

May 15th 2009 (Friday)

I transferred Hive #4 from Nuc to 10 Frame hive. Opening the Nuc I did not smell the sweet unpleasant odor as I did on the last inspection. The bees were not as defensive and did not hit my veil.

Because I had transferred so many bees over to the Nuc I had decided to go ahead and put them in a 10 frame hive. As I pulled each frame I inspected it and found several queen cells. I have decided to let the colony produce their own queen.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Death of a Queen

A week has passed and I decided to check status of the Queen I installed in the small hive (Hive #4), which was split from a parent colony (Hive #2). After splitting the hive I relocated Hive #4 to another location so they wouldn't drift back to Hive #2.

When I first opened the Hive #4 to check status of the Queen I smelled a scent that I have never smelled before in a hive. It was sweet like an overly ripe fruit. The bees were very defensive and several hit my veil. I remembered in class last year a beekeeper saying that when a hive is angry or very disturbed they put off a smell like a ripe banana. The smell wasn't like a banana but sweet and not a pleasant sweet. It's hard to describe.

The new colony had not accepted the Queen and killed her. I saw Queen cells in the hive and will wait for the hive to create their own Queen.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 11, 2009 (Sunday)

Hive #4 (Nuc) Four days after being split from parent colony. I have a couple more days before I inspect it to see if Queen and attendants are out of the cage and accepted by colony.


Friday, May 8, 2009

8 May 2009 (Friday) - Hive #4 (Nuc)

Partly cloudy - 69 degrees.
7:30am - Removed the cheese cloth at entrance and inserted feeder with sugar syrup. Observed bees orientation flights around hive. Very exciting!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009 - Split Hive

After setting the Nuc on center blocks I pulled the cheese cloth away so the bees could investigate their new location. I did the split in the late evening hoping the bees will remain in their new home at night. Nighty Night, little bees.

The queen bee arrived with her attendants on Thursday, May 7th, 2009. I decided to split the hive that day and prayed for a break in the rain. It has rained for the past five days. After a torrential downpour, we decided to go ahead and divide Hive #2. Isabel blessed the queen bee and we started the process.

Hive #2 (big colony) - The bees almost devoured the pollen patty I had placed in hive four days previous. Lots of queen cells in the hive. We found three nice frames of brood and pollen, and one frame full of honey. Perfect.

During the split, we had to isolate the existing queen so we wouldn't put her in the new hive. If we had accidently removed the queen and put her in the new hive that would jeopardize the colony survival. They could create another queen this early in the season, however, that would mean 21 day from egg to newly emerging bee, and then wait until the queen took her maiden flight and mate. So you would be looking at approximately 2 months before the new queen would begin laying eggs. Not good at all, so we were very careful in isolating the queen.

The configuration of Hive #1: old queen with brood in super #1 (bottom), super #2, queen excluder between super #2 and honey super.

Hive #1 hadn't touched their two pollen patties so I placed one over in Hive #1. I will need to check on Hive #1 in a week to see if the new queen is laying eggs or if she is a weak queen.

Hive #3 is very active. I didn't want to check them just yet and will wait until Sunday, May 11, 2009. They are newly installed and have accepted their queen. I will then pull some frames to see what they are doing and if the queen is laying eggs

We brought the Nuc (Hive #4) to another location. I decided to feed them sugar water in the morning as I didn't want to disturb them just yet.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Prince William County Revises Zoning for Beehives!

The board of supervisors voted 5 - 2 on April 21st that bees can be kept on any size lot in the county.

The keeping of honeybees in four (4) beehives or less shall be permitted as an accessory use to a residential principal use on any lot. On any lot of 10,000 square feet in size or larger, more than four (4) beehives may be kept, provided there is an additional lot area of 2,500 square feet for each hive. In all instances, there shall be one (1) adequate and accessible water source provided on site and located within fifty (50) feet of the beehive(s). In addition, if the landing platform of a hive faces and is within ten (10) feet of any lot line, there shall be a flight path barrier, consisting of a fence, structure or plantings not less than six (6) feet in height, located in front of the hive.

It is vital to understand what this means in plain English. Effective immediately, you may keep as many as 4 individual hives on any size lot up to 10,000 square feet within the County's jurisdiction, HOA restrictions notwithstanding. For every additional 2,500 square feet you may keep 1 more hive in addition to the 4 permitted on 10K square feet.

Please note, there are added restrictions with these new liberties:
1) You must have a water source for your bees within 50 feet of your hives
2) If your hive entrance is within 10 feet of your neighbor's property line, you must erect a physical barrier not less than 6 feet tall to force the bees' flight path up and out of the way of passersby.

These restrictions are identical to zoning laws in Fairfax County, who has not seen any incidents in the past 25 years with these codes as written. __________________

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 3, 2009 (Sunday)

The temperature is approximately 54 degrees and there have been rain showers for the past four days. I've been concerned about the bees going hungry because they can't work in the rain. Because I installed a new package and didn't have a lot of sugar syrup on hand to feed them, I decided to feed all the colonies sugar syrup and give them pollen patties. Bees need more than just carbohydrates from honey, sugar syrup or corn syrup to survive. They also need protein that usually comes from pollen especially when raising brood.

Beekeepers don't normally bother a newly installed bee colony until at least 5 days after installation. Because of necessasity I made the decision to feed them the syrup and pollen. Prediction of rain for the next three days meant they may starve. The new colony was very happy in their new home and were a little defensive when I began to pour in the sugar syrup and pollen patties. A couple of guard bees hit my veil and I quickly closed up the hive to reduce the disturbance.

I fed Hives #1 and #2 as well. Hive #2 was extremely active and the rain will keep them from swarming. Hopefully, after the split they won't swarm and I will need to kill any queen cells that I find. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't work. It's always good to keep a log book so you know what has worked for you in the past.

The queen with attendants is due to arrive this Thursday, May 7th.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Home Sweet Home!

Box set at entrance for remaining bees to find their way into their new home.

The small hive that isn't white is the Nuc for the future split hive.


Bee Installation - 2009


The Aftermath

Remember beekeepers to always plan for the worst case scenario so you won't be surprised about the madcap chaos that happens in real life.

5:30pm - temps low 60s, overcast
After my lovely friend from Scotland blessed the bees we drove to Huntly, VA to install the bees and split one of my existing hives. In the beeyard we had the smoker going and sugar water spray. I banged the box down so as to get the majority of the bees out away from the entrance. Prying off the top bars I gently pulled out the can that contained the sugar water to feed the bees while being transported. Taking the foil strip I pulled the queen cage out. This one was different from last year. The queen had no attendants with her in the cage and no candy plug on the end. Remember Murphys law. I looked for the other queen that I was assured would be shipped in the package, however, no sign of her.

I had contacted this particular company three to four times about the two queens and how I wanted to make sure that they arrived on the same day. The company representative assured me all was well. No dice. I was in a bit of a tizzy and my husband said I had a rather large clump of bees nestled on top of my helmet, which he did not want to tell me about it. Maybe the ladies were trying to cool me down. Mantra for the bee yard --- hummmm hummm all is peace, all is well. No blathering and splathering. Be calm dear beekeeper.

My father and I searched the bees thinking the company may have shipped one queen in the cage and just set the other queen lose with the packaged bees. We could not locate the 2nd promised and paid for queen. There was a remaining clump of bees in the box so I disassembled the box and still no queen.

At that point, I contacted the company, which was located in California, and they told me ooops we forgot to send that 2nd Queen.

We set the almost empty box next to the entrance so that the remaining bees could fly in when ready. Poured sugar syrup in the top feeder. Put the top on and said goodnight.

Plan B: Have my queen shipped next week so I can split the hive.