Monday, June 28, 2010

i didn't know i'd be beekeeping today

2:22 pm - swarm phone call; 2:30 mobilization; 2:55 onsite; 4:15 hived.

WOW - a nice 5 pounder or more! (remember your packages are "3 pounds")...there were way more bees than that in this swarm.

and they're CORDOVANS (blonde/light colored bees)...some of them are so light - their legs are this translucent red/orange (strawberry blonde?)'s "strange" (your first thought is...what's wrong with them?)

one of the girls got me as soon as i shook them into the box - which leads me to believe that this swarm was hanging for awhile. i think they get CRANKIER the longer they hang. did the unceremonious SHAKE into the cardboard box technique.

when i got them home, i put them on top of a hive that i KNOW is queenless. so here's the configuration... queenless hive on the bottom (i got them down to one box - due to them being queenless...and population loss - i could rearrange frames to do that - frames with some bees left are left outside the hive yet...they'll migrate) (i suppose you could use a CLEARING CHEMICAL (bee quick) - like what you use to clear supers to get them down in the box if you had to). put a SINGLE layer of newspaper on top of the bottom box. put a queen excluder in. put the empty box on top - add your swarm (like installing a package) it will take them some time to chew out the newspaper and MELD the hive smells...meanwhile protecting your queen behind the excluder. in 10 days or so...i'll check the top (swarm) box and see if there are any signs of queen. when i think everyone will be "so happy together"...remove the excluder.

a short ditty on queenless hives. i have ANOTHER queenless hive in the bunch. and i could tell when i popped the inside population - lack there of. i said...IS ANYONE HOME??? then i lifted the top box. YUP - QUEENLESS. how could i tell? THE WEIGHT. the buggers are storing HONEY in perfectly good LAYING CELLS. why? - i suppose they're doing something rather than nothing - they'll continue to STORE pollen and honey...and into cells that would normally be brood. the box should not be that ladened with honey this time of year! so to cut to the chase - i went STRAIGHT into the brood area and pulled a frame, then another. NOTHING going on there.....lots of nectar and pollen.... (if i don't catch another swarm for this hive...i'm thinking of combining them with another hive - what i don't like about this hive is the number of DRONE - laying worker? i'll have to inspect closer)

so - back to the swarm hive. what might happen if the swarm is queen-right....with the excluder between these two boxes - i might end up with my brood chamber in the top box...and the storage in the bottom box (cause - STORAGE is what queenless hives do). so - again in 10 days or so...if things look good - i might switch the hive bodies. (hindsite being 20/20 - i suppose i could install the swarm into a blank bottom box and put the weaker/queenless hive on top. configuration paper/excluder remains - no need for a switch later)

i'm happy so far with the swarms i've combined. i've got 2 swarm hives with supers on them already. as i don't much expect anything from "first year hives" - they're beyond my expectations.

i've said it before - but i think i'll mention it again. one thing i've learned from last year's swarm season is...HAVE ENOUGH EQUIPMENT ON HAND FOR NEXT YEAR'S SWARM SEASON!

...happy hiving.

i think it matters WHERE you get stung to your reaction....

i'm the type that manifests "allergic" reactions on the inside of my wrists or the inside of my the form of small itchy bumps.

well...SHE GOT ME - right on the inside of my wrist today (hiving a swarm). it was an interesting chain reaction as the toxin went through. almost immediately - the sting i got in the arch of my foot 2 weeks ago started itching again - though it's been fine for a week +! all my mosquito bites started to itch...then i noticed small itchy bumps on the other wrist as if in sympathy for the other.

i think i'd rather take a hit in the finger...stings there seemingly stay within the joint.

a bath in benedryl should do the trick!

(update - day after) you know those dolls with the really "fat" arms with the little "dimples" in the elbow and hands. that's what my arm looks like today. man - where she got me must have been like INTRAVENOUS for me. i wonder now if i should have tried sucking out the a snake bite. it looks weird not having an elbow!

ECWBA Newsletter - June, 2010

June 26, 2010

1. Meetings. Here is the list of meeting dates for the remainder of 2010:
July meeting: July 17, 2010. 9:30 am. Fond du Lac County Library.
September meeting: September 18, 2010. 9:30 am. Ripon Public Library.

2. Presentation Topics. Here are the discussion topics to be covered at the meetings:
July meeting: Andy Krueger will talk about her beekeeping operation and incorporate information about her Master Gardener skills.
September meeting: To be determined.

3. July Meeting. The July, 2010, ECWBA meeting will be at the Fond du Lac County Library. The library’s address is: 32 Sheboygan Street, Fond du Lac, WI. To get there, take Main Street (north or south) to Sheboygan Street. Take Sheboygan Street east one block to Portland Street. Turn right (south) on to Portland and go about a half block to the library’s parking lot located on the east side of Portland Street.

4. WHPA Summer Meeting. For those of you who are interested in checking out the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association, the WHPA will be holding its summer meeting on Saturday, July 10, 2010. This meeting will be at the Lion’s Hall in Redgranite, WI. The featured guest speaker is Dave Mendes, a nationally known honey producer and package bee and queen producer. There is a $15.00 registration fee which includes lunch.

5. Internet Blog note. Our blog has a NEW look. The blog has up-to-date information about the ECWBA and other beekeeping information. There are links from the blog to the club photo gallery as well as a discussion group. Let's hear from you! If you'd like to post something - forward the info on to Jeff or Denise. Take your time and enjoy the links to OTHER BEEKEEPERS from the site - it's always interesting to see into the life of other keepers.

Beekeeping Notes:
* Before things get going too fast this summer, this would be a good time to check on your honey gathering supplies and equipment. Will you need more honey supers? Queen excluders? Bee escapes? Jars and bottles for honey? Start planning ahead.
* Be sure to have plenty of supers on hand for the BIG nectar flow. If you run short of supers, here’s a couple of options: buy some more supers, or extract the full supers and return them to the hive (these are called “wet” supers).
* For the new beekeepers, start planning the honey harvest. If you plan for a liquid honey harvest, start shopping for extracting equipment. Or find an existing beekeeper that will help you out with extracting.
* You may want to buy honey jars in advance. When there is a big honey crop, sometimes the suppliers run short of jars.
* Start thinking about fall pest treatments and over-wintering strategies.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 715-330-9969. I’m sometimes hard to contact, but leave a message and I’ll call you back. Or e-mail me at

Best of beekeeping,
Jeff Champeau - President, ECWBA - Telephone: 715-330-9969

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

note to myself:

note to myself: beginning beekeepers "season" with the bees starts with the arrival of the bees in APRIL. beekeepers with hives coming out of winter - the "season" starts in MARCH! AS SOON AS you can get in there and get them sugar syrup &/or pollen &/or treatments and hive body switches - you need to get ready for the POPULATION EXPLOSION coming with APRIL's FIRST BLOSSOMS. May seemingly comes around and you're mentally ready for spring and beekeeping...and it's TOO LATE - the bees are already AHEAD OF YOU!

lost count

there was only going to be 6 hives in the beehouse - MAXIMUM!....there's two more hives in another row behind these you DON'T see!

SWARM season. so many - i lost count. i believe i caught them all. swarms that were too small to make it on their own....i COMBINED with other swarms! i'm sure they didn't like it...but i didn't like them swarming either! ok - i gave them a "little break-in time"...when i combined them - i put a sheet of newspaper on top of the hive below...a queen excluder - then the new box on top. i figured they'd have some time to chew out the newspaper and COMBINE the smells...then i removed the queen excluder after about a week/10 days...and let nature take it's course.

one of my boxes - i believe - went queenless in the swarming!...or she was out on her nuptuals? (inspection revealed good population - no sign of any eggs/larvae)...anyway - that hive got a swarm queen (i hope)

as members from our club might remember - we found quite a few swarm cells in the 3 high hive - which we split. did the split - not make them swarm? NO! i believe both hives swarmed anyway.

which leads to the question....(even IF you do everything right - which i didn't do)...but YOU GAVE THEM ALL THE ROOM IN THE WORLD and THEY SWARMED ANYWAY!??? what happened? all i can say to that is....they're still WILD ANIMALS - they're going to do what they want.

i talked to a fellow beekeeper at the west bend farmer's market (150 hives and 150 of his son-in-laws hives)....he said LOTS OF SWARMS too!! our friend in canada says - LOTS OF SWARMS.

i know those beekeepers out for honey production view swarms as HALF OF THE WORKFORCE LEAVING...but i view swarms as....STRONG HIVES SPLITTING. and it's GOOD for the bees - IF YOU CATCH THEM! remember, the survivability of swarm in the wild is only about 20%....probably due to the fact they pick a bad spot, or they can't "get it together" before winter with enough population and food, and/or they receive no treatment for varroa & weaken.

one thing i learned from last year's swarm season. make sure you have enough spare boxes and equipment for next year's swarm season!

i'm making a concerted effort to WORK MY BEE-SEASON backwards this year - with my HARVEST DAY already planned. that being the "final date" in mind - i'm working out and planning varroa treatments and possible combinations. i REALLY don't want to go into winter with 8 hives or more....i'm watching to see - which hives will i combine? i'm considering overwintering some HIVES ON TOP OF HIVES (this year's experiment). after harvest - i would put newspaper on top of the "strong hive"....add a queen excluder....and overwinter them that way. will they gain from the warmth/population of each other? HEALTHY hives of course - don't want to infect my "mother hive" with some disease.... in the spring - you should be able to "re-split" the theory.... hmmm? (i'm squinting - thinking)