The girls are ready for winter!!

last week we removed the medium super of honey on each of the 4 hives that we had left for the bees to take down to the brood’s nest. We don’t feed our bees water and sugar but instead, we leave them with that they are supposed to be eating, honey.

The way we winterized the hive last year, and will so the same this year since we had great success is by placing an inner cover with a notch of about an inch for the top entrance just above the single brood chamber for ventilation, then we place an empty super that we fill with wood chips and close with an outer cover. We have started to buy the insolated cover too instead of the regular ones, they are heavy and great for winter, and just fine for summer since we don’t close then all the way anyways!

One thing that we are doing differently this year is to not use  tar paper to wrap the body, I found that residue of tar had stained the wood, and I don’t think bees like tar, so we purchased some Beedry from  Debbee’s Bees http://debbeesbees.ca/beedry-winter-hive-protection.php and it looks promising so far. It was quite easy to put on, we had to cut a hole for our upper entrance and cut a bit of the top part so the lid would fit, but I guess everyone has a different configuration, so it was easy to just make a couple adjustments for a perfect fit!

Last spring one of our hive had lots of mold in it in the spring, while the 2 others  located on a different wood skid had no mold at all. The girls had made it, but barely, we noticed that that hive might of not been slanting forward enough, even it might have been slanted toward the back, so we fixed that too, and right away we saw a little water drip out. So remember all to slant your hive a bit forward beekeepers!

Now let hope they make it through his winter. The 2 out of the 3 hives located at Greta’s organic seeds and doing very well, one seems a bit weak. And the one in our back yard, a split that we made from the Russians hive, is doing also very good also.

Now its wax cleaning and candle making time!!

Bees wrap No 14 -9      Bees wrap No 14 -5   Bees wrap No 14 -7    Bees wrap No 14 -2  Bees wrap No 14 -3

 

 

 

Good news and bad news…

 Good news and Bad news from our June 3rd inspection. I will start with the good news, our first split ever and now our also first ever backyard bee hive is a success!! We spotted the Queen and she is laying eggs! Lots of them!!

And now the bad news, one of the 3 hives we keep at Greta’s Organic Seeds is queen less, and it has been long enough that one or more worker bees have started to lay eggs themselves. NOT a good thing, and its “funny” I was just reading about that exact topic the day before, what a coincidence! As soon as we lifted the inner cover of hive number one, I know there was something wrong, we could see capped brood, which is not normal, the queen is not supposed to be in the honey super, she is confined to the brood chamber where she lay eggs and is tended too by her nursing bees. I thought, shit! The queen has gone through the queen excluder and started laying eggs in the medium honey super that we prematurely put on last visit? But this diagnose was quickly retracted when we pulled out a frame and notice that none the capped brood was of a worker bees, instead there was drone brood everywhere… They are very easy to spot because they stick out; they are much larger cell than worker bee, not as big as a queen. I would like to have taken some pictures, but once again, the camera was left at home. Drone brood develops from unfertilized eggs; the queen will lay unfertilized eggs, but never in that quantity, will the queen normally balance worker and drone bees. If we didn’t have a queen excluder between the brood box and the honey super, we could of wonder if we had a drone-laying queen. In our case, it’s pretty clear that it’s not the case.

So what to do? Once worker bees have started to lay eggs, introducing a new queen will not work, they will kill her because they think they already have a queen. So we will take the hive at least 100 meters away from its current location, shake out all of the bees from each and every frames, not leaving one bee behind. Once we have an empty box, we will bring the hive back to its original location, some foraging bees that returned home will probably be waiting there looking for their home, they will be able to get it, and all of the older foraging bees that we shock out of the frames should also be able to find the way back home. The goal is to have that that laying worker(s) not be able to return to the hive, and she/they shouldn’t as they are young and probably have never been out yet. At least that is what I understand. Once the hive is back in its place, we will introduce the queen like we would normally. This is our first time dealing with this, hopefully the last. And it is also our first time introducing a new queen, let’s home they welcome a real queen in the hive with open wings!!

We bought the queen; she will have to be picked up from Carleton place possibly Friday June 7, maybe before.

Another dilemma I am having is that now I have lots of frames with too many drone broods, it is not a good thing for many reasons that we can talk about at a later time. So what I read I could do is to freeze the frames, so that the drones don’t survive and the bees will clean it up. But in my case, I don’t have 10 other frames that I could use right away that already have comb drawn. So I will use my hive tool to destroy the caped drone cells. I am not looking forward to do this. I love beekeeping, but this one even here is making me a bit sad. But we will get through it! And pictures to come….

Nuc in the yard / moving a hive learning experience

We decided to bring in the nuc from May 5th hive split into our backyard to keep a close eye on it. By now we should have a queen and she should have gone on a few matting flight, and she should also be laying eggs, lots of them we hope! We will be confirming this in the next sunny day.

2 days ago we decided that we should move the nuc into a full size brood box. And we also wanted to move it just a little bit further in the backyard, maybe 15 feet further, while we were transferring the frames from the small hive to the 10 frames ones, we realized that the bees that were coming back from foraging where going to the old location.

Bees back home gone

I must say that we didn’t think this through before acting and that worried me quite a bit. I remembered that I had read somewhere that the bees would eventually find the new location, but it was getting late in the day and the bees started to cluster on the fence. So we decided to put the 5 frame box back with some frames with draw out the comb in it in the hope that they would at least take shelter for the night.

Cluster on fence

both box

And that they did! Eventually the cluster dissipated. That night, we moved it right next to the new hive about 15 feet away and yesterday after work we moved the bees in the regular size brood box again and took the empty 5 frames nuc away until the next split or maybe catch a swarm!

That was quite the learning experience, I since then, i did some reading about moving bee hives, and one thing I learned is that it can take up to a day or two for the bees to re-orient themselves even a small move like we did. When we moved the nuc from Greta’s to our back yard, we closed the entrance, it was the evening when the foraging bee where in the hive and we re-open it at its new location. This time because the distance was so little, I didn’t think anything of it, next time I will!

Interesting info on this topic http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmoving.htm

 

 

Checked on babee hive May 08

We went to the bee yard yesterday afternoon, another glorious day! Bees were out foraging and enjoying this warm weather after a wet and cold winter. We added a screen bottom on Russian hive number one, number two already had one. They seem to be doing great! We aded a medium super on hive one and a large super on hive 2, the one we made a slpit from.

Hive one Hive two

We also removed the mesh from the entrance of the nuc, but the foraging bees already had made their way in and out through a little space between the feeder and the screening that i didn’t nailed properly. We removed the screen completely and replaced it with some grass to keep the entrance smaller. To my surprise they had not touch much of the feed, so i removed the jar to see and it seemed that maybe the holes on the lid might have been too small, we fixed that. We still have our fingers crossed!!Nuc 05-08

 

 

Our first Split! Sunday May 5th

One of our second year Russian bee hive was doing amazing, almost too good that they look a bit over crowded in there, so we decided that we would try to make a split! I made a quick trip to http://www.propolis-etc.ca/ in Carleton Place and bought a nuc box for the split and some other equipment i needed to our new Italian nuc that we purchased from http://www.zurcherhoney.com/ that should arrive sometimes next week.

Paul Lacelle was manning the store, so i was in luck, he is a wealth of information, he has been keeping bees for 25 years, i bet he has done many many splits in his beekeeper’s life! He gave me some priceless advice that i put in my back pocket to use the following Sunday.

Sunday came and our busy hive got open, we found the queen in no time, which really surprised me because we never seem to find her! We normally look for eggs, and just signs of her, but with all the action, see seems to blend in really well. We put the frame she was on aside for a couple of reasons, she would be easy to find again, we would not put her in our nuc by mistake when choosing our other frames, as well as we hope that she has been laying fresh eggs on that frame. We then choose some frames with lots of broods, one with pollen and a frame with food. Then we took that frame the queen was, found her again, which took longer than to find her the first time around, and gently pushed her back in the busy original hive, took that frame with hopefully some fresh eggs on it and put it in the new nuc, we put a drawn frames on the outside, close the newly created nuc with the front entrance blocked with some screening and a feeder with 1:1 water: sugar and way we went fingers crossed.

To be followed….

 

 

April 9th. Second visit of 2013

The last time we saw the hives, we wore snow shoes and it was January 1, 2013, we could see life inside of 3 of them.
But since then, i worried, until Tuesday when we made a trip to the bee yard, this time wearing rubber boots. Our two Russian beehives looked in top shape, bees buzzing all around like a nice summer day! We removed the black paper, that we wrapped them with in the fall for some extra warmth from the sun, and just observed them as they were cleaning house, removing dead bees from inside the hive, some taking cleansing flights (yes, bees need to pooh too and they will try as hard as they can not to do it inside the hive, they will even go for a cleansing flight on a nice winter day, or some will not go at all until spring.). Needless to say, we are VERY Excited.
The third hive that we acquired from a different source mid-summer 2012, on the other hand did not look as lively, some bees outside that i could have counted on one hand, and a strange smell coming from the entrance. We will open up next visit, hopefully soon to find out what is happening in there. First winter is not looking pretty good so far! Hopefully they have enough in them for, hopefully the last snow storm that is apparently coming our way here in Ottawa, stay tuned!

How it started in a few words.

My partner and I got our first two nucs in the spring of 2012 from Pilgrim Honey House. We live in the city, so we needed a place to put these hives. After a bit or asking around looking for flat accessible roof tops or larger yards willing to give our hives a home without success, we had the idea to ask Greta, where we had been before to buy our spring garden tomatoes plants, vegies and herbs. Greta is an amazing organic gardener that lives on this little piece of paradise on River Road, 10 Km from our house. It seemed perfect and best of all she agreed, Thanks Greta!!
I have to mentioned that picking up theses nucs were not our first encounter with bees, for the last couple of summers we were helping Jordan, my partner’s step dad with his bees, he showed us a lot, and I owe him the world for bringing bees into our lives! But it was time for us to fly from our own wings.