Friday, May 25, 2012

Another swarm call

Same Guy! (as per previous post)  I know what I'm doing tonight. (putting frames together)  I know what I'm doing in the morning. (suit-up, ladder, trimmers, catch-box)


Sunday evening, the 13th of May.....I received a SWARM CALL from a friend.  I'd just returned from a BOW event (Becoming an Outdoors Woman)...and had NO ENERGY left to suite up, jump in my ride and retrieve some wayward bees.  I told him....if they're still there tomorrow aft (monday), give me a call.  He did - they were still hanging.  I have a "real job" so for whatever reason - that probably being, I'm too busy".  The next day when he called, I told him...if they're still there tomorrow aft (tuesday), give me a call.  He did - they were still hanging.

I'm thinking....swarm hanging for 3 days - without food...should be getting hungry!  MEANWHILE - a beekeeper student from this year's classes calls.  HIS QUEEN IS DEAD.  (a newly installed package).

I called him back the next day....after I confirmed the swarm was STILL HANGING... FREE BEES!

Wednesday morning, two beekeepers, a 12 foot ladder, and a home-fashioned catch box in hand....

We retrieved the bees and installed them into a box on top of the queenless box with a sheet of newspaper in between (just to slow them down from integrating - in case the queenless bees weren't ready to accept a new queen)......and we majorly crossed our fingers that the swarm queen was INTACT and NOT HARMED.

The news from this hive is....they're doing a PHENOMENAL job!  Population is twice that of the other package hive installation (he started with two hives).

Interesting notes here....that swarm hung for 4 days....hung-over through some pretty cool nights and high winds.  Were they just not capable of coming to a decision?  Couldn't they find a suitable place?  My friend said he's had at least 5 swarms in the last 5 years....he suspects they're issuing from a tree in his yard - though he can't see them (very large mature trees on the property)....he's a "natural beekeeper" ;)

the buzz from the beehouse.....

BIG CHANGES in my bees lives last evening.  With the help of another beekeeper.....we did some MAJOR SPLITTING.

About 3 weeks ago, I with the dog and cat were "minding our own business" over by the beehouse.  The little black cat not knowing any better, jumped up and bumped against one of the hives.  IMMEDIATELY two bees were lodged and frenzied in his collar!!!  I jerked him off the platform...he ran, I ran, the dog ran toward the house.....with my gloves on - I tried CRUSHING the bees in his fur to get them to stop/prevent? stinging.  I don't know if they got him - but I think they did.  He was pretty wiped out for the rest of the day.

Also about this time - 3 weeks ago.  I thought to myself - I don't like they way the hives SMELL.  They smelled like DIRTY SOCKS....immediately I started searching around the books and the web for foulbrood info.  I was wondering if that's why they were "sensitive".  What was disconcerting to me about their behavior was that they FOLLOWED US ALL THE WAY TO THE HOUSE - behavior SO UNLIKE honey bees....they usually give up sooner.

LAST EVENING - I FINALLY "tackled" my troubled hives.  I was DREADING it - putting it off.  I invited another beekeeper - just to keep the smoke going.

TURNS OUT...we had NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT!  and of course - they were DOCILE and back to being their lovely selves. ?????  no stings....

The 4th and 5th boxes in the pic were 3 highs....we'll call them the MOTHER HIVES.

WHAT WE FOUND......swarm cells GALORE!  opened & capped  If I had to guess....20...25...30????  We had virgin-queens hatching from their cells as soon as we'd cut them out!  How many DIDN'T we see/find????
WHAT WE DIDN'T FIND....foulbrood - capped brood looked as pretty as ever.
CONCLUSION....They were cranky from the swarm cell/requeening situation.  The "dirty sock" smell must just be whatever pollen/nectar source they're bringing in.  In the fall - GOLDENROD & ASTERs make the hives smell foul.  We did note the EXCEEDINGLY BRIGHT YELLOW debris/pollen on the sticky board/screened bottom board.

RE: SPLITS.  We did what I call: FRANKEN SPLITS.  We robbed frames full of bees and swarm cells from "whichever" hive/box and made them nice new nests.

So - will these hives still swarm?  maybe.  maybe even probably - extra equipment on standby:)  Could we/should we have made more splits? COULD have!

MAY THE BEST QUEEN REIGN....  it's nature.

Monday, May 14, 2012

corn planting killing bees...

an article forwarded to me from a club member:

"Kim Flottum"
Subject: CATCH THE BUZZ - Corn Planting Killing Bees. Help Stop This Now.

This ezine is also available online at


Corn Planting Drift is Killing Honey Bees. You Can Help. Here’s How.

The number of beekills this spring due to poisoning by pesticides has skyrocketed. In Ohio just this spring we have seen more beekills than I can remember total in the past 25 years combined. Reports from many, many states have been coming into this office in the past couple of weeks. At first they seemed isolated and unsupported. Beekeepers are wary of reporting incidents, and seldom sure of how to proceed or what to do.
The incidents this spring are not the symptoms reported commonly as Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees disappear and a beekeeper returns to what had been a strong healthy hive only weeks before and what’s left is simply lots of brood, a handful of young bees and a queen…if anybody is home at all.
No, the incidents this spring are different…they harken back to the days of massive beekills, when plants in bloom were sprayed on a routine basis, when beekeepers would find entire apiaries wiped out, with pounds and pounds of dead bees, twisting, writhing and dying in front of their hives. Piles of dead, stinking bees were common then, but with the advent of more restrictive regulations and safer-to-use pesticides, much, but not all, of that death-by-pesticide era has gone away.
Until now. This spring the ugly past has returned. We were warned though. Purdue researchers saw this problem last year and brought it to everybody’s attention. Then they looked deeper and further and saw that it wasn’t just a flook, an accident, an anomaly, but rather it has turned into an epidemic. And they brought that to our attention too.
Simply, pesticides, those troublesome neonicotinoids, are applied to corn seeds before they are planted so when the corn begins to grow the pesticide on the seed is absorbed by the new roots and fills the plant with poison for the rest of its life. But the stuff is sticky and doesn’t come out of the planters very well so farmers supply a slippery additive in the form of talcum powder to make those seeds, in airblast seed planters, simply fly right out of the drop chute and into the ground. But there’s the rub. That airblast planter is blowing all that talcum powder and loose pesticide dust everywhere…up into the air to travel where ever something as light weight as talcum powder can travel…feet and yards and yards certainly, maybe miles…nobody knows.
But birds are dying. Robins and crows. And one observer says that wildlife eating the seeds are dying…three seeds will kill a quail is what I’m hearing, but I don’t know for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised. But for beekeepers, what’s happening is that this poisonous dust is landing on everything downwind…dandelions, flowers, water surfaces, everywhere a honey bee can go, that’s where this stuff is landing.
How much of it is going airborne? I don’t have a clue, but every seed is coated with it, and you know how big corn seeds are and there are about 30,000 seeds planted in an acre…and there are, this year, 96,000,000 acres of corn planted in the U. S. And what I read is, is that almost all of those seeds are coated with something that protects the plants. Know how big 96,000,000 acres is….? It’s all of North Dakota and South Dakota, combined. All of that.
But of course all those acres are spread out all over the place. There are few places in this country that are not within drift distance from these airborne poisons. Very, very few. For instance…North Dakota plans on 3.4 million acres of corn this year…that’s 5% of the entire state. And recall, North Dakota is the biggest honey producer in the U. S. I’m thinking there’s no place to hide in that large, very flat state.
If you experience a beekill in your apiary this spring DO NOT simply shrug your shoulders and feel there’s nothing to be done. There is something to be done.
First, take pictures…with today’s newspaper showing so you have a date. Get a witness in the photo so you have someone else to verify your incident. Video a person collecting samples and filling to half a plastic bag and sealing the bag. Freeze the sample as soon as possible. Call you state apiary inspector and report the incident. If your state has a pesticide incident reporting system in place, report it there, too. And tell the feds. There’s two places to go. First, do a direct to EPA email. They have a system in place to document these when reported. The email is
Tell them what, where and when you found the incident, attach a couple of photos of the scene, record the number of hives affected, the date the incident occurred and any other pertinent data you can include. Tell them you have taken samples, and that you have reported it to your state authorities. And tell them you want something done!
When you finish that, go to this web site
the National Pesticide Information Center’s page to report a pesticide incident. And do it again.
And then, one more thing.
Send this information to your local beekeeping group, and to your state beekeeping association and tell them to put it on their web page, to send out emails, to put it in newsletters, to get every beekeeper in this country up to speed on what is killing our honey bees (heck, send it to every beekeeper you know and tell them to do the same thing. Let EVERY BEEKEEPER EVERYWHERE KNOW!). This is something YOU CAN DO, whether you never, ever have a problem or not. Help protect honey bees, and beekeepers from this, and any other Pesticide Incident.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A swarm in May


If you want to increase your chances of getting some FREEBEES :)   You'll want a nice big cardboard box with a cover ready (for transport)....and some extra boxes w/ frames, bottom board, covers, etc....READY TO GO.  Be sure to SPEAK UP at the bee club meetings if you're WANTING swarm calls...

ECWBA Newsletter - April

1.  Most of the meeting dates and places for 2012 have been scheduled in.  Here’s what developed so far:
·         Saturday, May 19, 2012, field day.  Time:  1:00 pm.  Charles Crites’ bee yard.  See note below.
·         Saturday, July 21, 2012, 9:30 am.  Fond du Lac Public Library, 32 Sheboygan Street, Fond du Lac, WI.  Downstairs in the Eugene McLane Room.
·         September meeting to be determined.  (I’m trying to schedule Sept. 8 in Ripon.)
2.  Charles Crites has been generous enough to share his beekeeping operation with us.  He has been keeping bees in top bar hives.  This will be an excellent opportunity to view firsthand how top bar hives are managed.  The address is N6039 Esterbrook Road, Fond du Lac.  Here are the driving directions:  From State Highway 23 west of Fond du Lac, turn south on to Esterbrook Road (by the Hyundai auto dealership).  Drive south on Esterbrook to address.  Charles has two driveways – he asks that you use the driveway located 100 feet north of the fire number.  There is plenty of room in that lot for parking.  The field day this year will be a rain or shine event, there will not be a rain date.
3.  A new ECWBA e-mail address has been established.  All e-mail correspondence directed to the ECWBA can be sent to: .
Beekeeping Notes:
·         Queens!  If you plan to split surviving colonies, develop a plan for additional queens – Are you going to purchase queens?  Are you going to raise your own queens? 
·         This is the time for early season disease and mite control applications.  If you use any type of treatments, now is the time to prepare and apply those treatments.
·         With the early onset of spring and hence, an earlier than normal brood build up, be ready to add supers to provide plenty of room for the increased bee populations.
Best of Beekeeping,
Jeff Champeau

City Beekeepers get together

City Beekeepers get together and design a label - that EVERYONE can share.  Interesting the different honey's coming from different neighborhoods!  Neat Idea!!!