Sunday, August 30, 2009


Honey - you're going to have to find a different spot! Last week I discovered these "nasties" (bald-faced/bold-faced hornets) hanging out in the evergreen behind my hive.

Now, now....wasps & hornets are still an important part of our environment and should not needlessly be killed....UNLESS, they're bothering and endangering activity close to them. And that - they ARE. They're VERY protective of their nest/territory - and they are RIGHT BEHIND my hive. So - we have a conflict.

They do NOT AS OF YET have a nest in the tree. They build their nice big paper nests in the spring. This is the time of year when the NEW QUEENS have been released and are looking for "sheltered" areas to OVERWINTER - so that they can build in the spring. My evergreens apparently fit the bill.

MY PLAN of ATTACK? Beesuit, maybe some smoke, lawnmower, and a BIG CANNING POT FULL OF BOILING WATER. I'm going to suit up and MOW under the tree - so I can see what I'm dealing with - she might have found a RODENT HOLE to overwinter in. Next - the BOILING WATER (it's a chemical free way to get rid of ant nests too!) If the mower doesn't get her - the boiling water will.....and my backup plan? ETHER (yes - starting fluid) - goes right into their breathing systems - evaporates and doesn't leave much chemical residue for my bees to find.

I'm just waiting for the day to warm up a little and for the dew in the grass to evaporate....

building a beehouse

We had this "flower display table" that we'd bought from home depot when they went out of business. Plus, we had all this "excess" lumber in the back of our shop from previous decking - it's being TRANSFORMED.

Transformed into a BEEHOUSE. I looked around on-line and found nothing regarding beehouse plans - so we're "winging it".

Essentially it's a DECK (about a foot off the ground) - with the framework above to attach ROLLED CANVAS COVERS (to drop the sides down in winter/bad weather). It will have a steel roof.

It will have LOTS of ventilation. Though you'd like to "protect" the bees from the severest of wind/snow....the hives must still have adequate ventilation (the cluster is breathing and releasing carbon dioxide). AND - you don't want it to be like Florida in there either. You'll still want the bees to enter a hibernation state - otherwise they'll be burning through their food stores early and they'd "think" it's nice out and try flying around mid-winter.

I'm figuring it will house 6 to 8 hives across - with lots of room for me to still work around them. There's plenty of height for me to stack hive bodies and supers. Now - I'll have to "expand my color palette" - and start painting the hive bodies other colors besides yellow - to help them identify their hives and prevent drifting.

You'll have to ask us at the next club meeting - "how we got this thing home!?!" Isn't there some saying about "painting yourself in a corner"? ha ha.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Request from our LIBRARIAN

ECWBA members - our newly appointed librarian Andy Krueger (ECWBA secretary) - has requested "lists of titles" of your favorite BEEKEEPING resources (books, dvds, videos, etc). She will be considering them as permanent additions to our LIBRARY. email: or bring your list with you to the next meeting.

In the Right Place - At the Right Time

Fellow beekeepers - can you RESIST buying honey pots - when you find them? I just had to share this with you - it's a story of being in the right place at the right time. I was giving that beekeeping presentation at UWFDL Prairiefest - and they had that little "rummage sale area" outside.

NO WAY! 3 HONEY POTS!!! $1 each!!!

Handmade by "AL" (signature on the bottom)...whoever AL is...Thank You!

The Harvest

This is a LOVE/HATE time of year. I'm sad that the bee season will soon be over. I will hear and see them less - buzzing around the yard.

Of course, it's also exciting to "see how the girls did".

My hives didn't fare as well as last year - about half the honey. But remember - I'm experimenting with some "high hives"...which means the additional super or deep I have over the 2 bottom deeps....IS THEIRS - and THEY seem to be filling nicely. I'd rather they keep their winter stores.

I don't know what to expect of this coming winter - the season as a whole has been so DRAMATIC. They seemed to be sealing hives early - we'll have to wait and see if they know something that we don't.

The harvest at SUNSEED went well, and we had a good dozen of interested folks. Anything that I can do to "show-off" the girls and encourage EVERYONE to become a backyard beekeeper.... One point brought up - the DOCILE nature of honey bees - as I worked them without smoke. THE QUESTION: ZONING restrictions in communities - The ANSWER: KNOWLEDGE - and that knowledge getting into the minds of the people responsible for these restrictions. (Sunseed had to get a variance from the town of Mt. Calvary for their hives.)

I know town board meetings isn't probably topping the list of THINGS I WANT TO DO....but "if you always do what you always did - you always get what you always got." Change is coming.

ECWBA Newsletter - August 23, 2009

1. July meeting review. Establishing an affiliation with the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association (WHPA) was discussed. We discussed the previous workshop presented by Earl Jewett and the possibility of sponsoring another workshop is early 2010. Also, we talked about the establishment of a library. Andy Krueger, as ECWBA secretary, is the designated "librarian" to oversee the newly established library.

2. Next meeting. The next meeting of the ECWBA is scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2009. Meeting time is 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Meeting place is The Masonic Center in Fond du Lac. Address is 500 West Arndt Street. Here's how to get there: from West Johnson Street (Hwy. 23 West) turn north onto Hickory Street, from Hickory, turn west onto Arndt Street to address. There will be a discussion panel to discuss over-wintering practices and any other beekeeping topics.

3. Next year. The September meeting will be the last meeting for 2009. The first meeting of 2010 will be in January. Date, time, and place are to be determined. This year, 2009, was the charter year for the organization. I think things went well and I am looking toward a successful year next year as well. I would like to thank every one that has become involved in the ECWBA. Your support and dedication has set the foundation for establishing a local organization focused on beekeeper development. Let's sustain the momentum we've gained into a second successful year.

4. Membership. Being our first year as an organization, we established a good membership. Thank-you to every one that paid dues. For next year, the membership dues payment period will be the first two months of the year. After that, membership privileges (voting at meetings and receiving a newsletter) will be withheld until dues are paid. Currently, there are many people that are on the mailing list for the newsletter that have never attended a meeting or made contact with the association. I would like to eliminate the expense of sending out newsletters to non-members.

Beekeeping Notes:
1. Be sure to manage your honey harvest to ensure enough honey remains on the hive for winter survival.
2. If you have harvested excess honey or other honey bee products, prepare a marketing plan. There are many farmers’ markets in the area. There are usually holiday craft shows later in the year through which you might be able to market your honey.
3. If you are new to beekeeping and you do not yet have a means of extracting honey, find an established beekeeper that is willing to help you with extracting your honey.
4. Start planning for the fall application of mite and disease controls. Also, plan for feeding bees if honey stores are inadequate.

Best of beekeeping,
Jeff Champeau
President, ECWBA