Monday, February 24, 2014

SUGAR BOARDS! (recipe included)


Knowing that another severe cold spell is on the way I went out to 4 Russian hives that I want to survive.  I had put 10 lb sugar boards on them in early January.  I had 4 spare sugar boards and went out to install them today; knowing it is only going to get colder.  I tilted up the old sugar board a few inches and rapped on the top several times.  This dislodged the bees clinging to the board and they dropped back into the cluster.  Then in about 2 seconds I switched to a new sugar board.  Only lost about 20 bees total from the 4 hives. 
The remaining sugar on the old boards  was primarily above where I had placed a feed patty in January.  The patty appears to prevent the cluster from moving under the bees working the sugar.  The working bees will not move from the cluster and hence won't work above the patty.
From the look of the 4 boards the bees ate 6 to 8 pounds of sugar from mid-January to late February; plus whatever they are get from the hive comb. .  At least they are still alive!
6 of 9 (66%) Russian hives still going.  5 of 13 (38%) package or Buckfast hives still going. Feeding all hives except for the top bar hive which I could not think of a good feeding method. 
Next year I think all hives will be set up with a 15 lb sugar board.

RECIPE: add 3 cups water to 10 lbs of sugar.  A little less water may work better, but more water is too soupy.   I poured this mixture directly into the sugar board and baked it at 250F for several hours.  Makes a mess in the oven if the edges are not sealed.  An alternate method is to heat it on the stove with a candy thermometer until the mixture reaches 250F and then pour  directly into the sugar board. 
I've lost two hives since putting on the sugar boards and 8 prior to adding them.  3/4 of our cold weather was after adding the sugar boards.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


With the sun out today it was actually quite pleasant in the beehouse.  BONUS! 7 out of 8 alive! Actually popped the tops today... Everyone but one was right at the inner cover.  (Remember for me that means they're through 2 deeps and one supper).

So... Out with the emergency feeding!  Most of the colonies were right under the inner cover hole. In these cases I take scoops of their own crystallized honey which I saved from last fall... place it on a paper plate... And place it near the hole.. And put some in and around the hole.  Then I put on a super box with no frames to create a space, then outer cover. They were very anxious to have it... every one was feeding.

There were two colonies that were off to the side.  For these I put the paper plate and honey right on top of the frames and put a 1" spacer, then the inner cover and outer cover. I did that to get the food closer.

After honey harvest... I take all the very waxy cleanup honey and reserve a bucket of it for just this reason.

Of coarse I didn't pull any frames. Even though I see bees, it doesn't mean they are viable colonies.  No queen.. No hive.  Won't know that until I get my first inspection...

Monday, February 17, 2014

I know, I know...I'm "ASSUMING"

I'm assuming - that if you like like flowers.  here's a nice short bit about HOW TO KEEP YOUR CUT FLOWERS LONGER.  There's a recipe in there for making your own "flower food".


 INGENIOUS.  A Plastic "corrugated" NUC BOX.  comes FLAT...all scored and cut for you to fold into a NUC :)  

A NUC BOX is a handy thing to have around.  I'm planning on playing with some queen-rearing in mine.  But they're also useful to use for a small colony to get started (or treat) or a swarm catch. They're also useful for splits - say you leave the queen in the MOTHER hive...and steal out some frames of eggs for the split-off colony to make their OWN queen.  It's much easier to monitor 5 frames than 10...let alone 20.  They can just plain serve as temporary housing till you can get more equipment built.

Mexican honey REJECTED by Germany because of GMO pollen!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"blogger" reminder

hey peeps....don't forget that "postings" aren't just located in this area....  THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH MORE information and site links to the RIGHT....over on the "sidebar".  Check out LINDAS "unlikely smoker fuel" post....what a great idea!  beekeepers - what a clever bunch!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Los Angeles to approve urban beekeeping?????

The OVERALL I get from this article is....  CITIES ARE GOING TO HAVE BEES - WHETHER OR NOT THEY HAVE AN ORDINANCE!  Bees don't stop foraging at the city limit.  Better to keep GOOD bees than encourage the habitation of BAD bees.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

ordering package bees? get them in the MAIL - it's so worth creeping out your postmaster!

...I just visited the KELLY BEES ( site...they're shipping 3# packages with RUSSIAN MARKED QUEENS to our zone (4) for $126.14  (delivery: saturday may 10)  (look at it this way - a russian queen will set you back $30/$35 with the shipping alone)

...i think i might TRY one of these.  my ORIGINAL bees came in the mail from bee weaver texas...and i had REALLY good luck with them.  the first package arrived (wet) and dead...and they shipped out a replacement package - no problem. me - YOU WILL GET A PHONE CALL IMMEDIATELY from your postmaster when they arrive!

(looks like they're offering some free shipping on things too if you hit the dollar amount - an anniversary type offer...)

Hive check

6 out of 8 still humming. The clusters are generally at the top of the second deep and into the extra super. I used to overwinter with 3 deeps... But ended up with a lot of extra honey frames. This year I opted to make HIVE SUPERS. Both boxes and frames are marked as such!!! Marked and separate because - they may come into contact with hive treatments... (these are NEVER going to contain honey for human consumption!) These short frames can also be cycled into the deeps for drone brood cutouts.

After this years harvest in mid-August... (another good reason to get your honey harvest in early)  They got an extra box to fill... And it's obvious they're using it!  I think it's a good idea in this climate zone to over winter with an "extra box" on top.

The two that are dead - were small to begin with.  They were my own swarm catches.... they were secondary and tertiary swarms from the same hive. Hindsite being 20/20...I should have combined them or dumped them back in their mother hive because they were queenless anyway.

I'll harvest any extra honey frames out of the dead hives for the other hives if need be. (just put another full box/super on top)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

bees join-in the zombie apocalypse

You can see that now there's a website tracking the "progress" of the parasatizing fly.  It's my understanding that the first notice of this parasite goes back to 2008 ish?  One of the "symptoms" the bee expresses - it leaves the hive at night and "heads to the light" (literally).  Dead honeybees can be found dead on the ground under the outside light the next morning.  Some of the earlier things I read seemed to indicate that the honeybee was not this fly's first choice of host - it actually was a problem for bumblebees. But with the decline in bumblebees and other native's jumped ship.

ok - I know what you're thinking.  Won't survive THIS Wisconsin winter.  so - Where do your packages come from this spring? (every spring?).  This is yet another "issue" with the commercial movement of bees....I think this is just the beginning.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

another virus in the hive?

Beekeepers - it is ever more apparent and  IMPERATIVE that you help the bees keep "environmental buildup" out of the hive.  If you don't already - have AN EQUIPMENT REPLACEMENT PROGRAM in place.  Wax is absorptive.  CYCLE OUT OLD FRAMES (the wax) in an annual rotation.  1/4 to 1/3 of the wax - every year!  Move "less used" honey storage frames in from the replace brood frames.

This brings a whole new meaning and purpose to SPRING CLEANING....the perfect time when clusters are small  - to do some rearranging.