Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
For the last few years I've been searching for a convenient, yet effective way to winterize my hives in the cold Minnesota environment I live in. Hay bales were effective but tended to attract vermin, and presented me with a problem after winter: I could not find enough people who wanted to utilized these bales after their winter use. We tried pink insulation foam last season but they were not insulating enough it seems. This year we will try insulating the hives with Fox Blocks, insulating concrete forms. This insulation should be as effective as hay bales, yet reusable and easily stored.
Monta designed and built these structures using her skills as a sculptor. Pink insulation foam was used to close off and fill in the gaps.
We will see how this works.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
- I have reluctantly finished 4 of the hives treatnent with Api-Var. While I would like to treat the bees "naturally", I recognize that my bees do not live and forage in a "natural" world, but a world of globalization, monoculture, urban development, neighbors with pesticides and herbicides, and a nearby golf courses. Given the high mite counts, I made a decision to treat with the safest, most sustainable miticide. Nothing is ever fixed in my mind, so we will see how this works.
- I combined Bee Glad... with the nuc I had started earlier this spring. The nuc was too far behind while Bee Glad... went queenless.
- Lake No-Bee-Gone is now fishless. A local leopard frog got in the pond and ate all the fish while I was in the hospital. I will rethink the pond arrangement for watering the bees.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
What I could see the last two weeks look fine though Bee Glad... has little nectar though plenty of honeybees. I will be testing the hives for mites this week and judge what I need to do in August to control them.
My surgery has been making me consider whether to go to all top bar hives. Top bar hives, except for the initial set-up, might be a bit safer for me if I continue in this abdominal state.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
I went to inspect the hives with a bit of fear and discouragement. I was disappointed with the langstroths the last two days and expected the same in the top bars. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised as both top bar hives are healthy and productive.
Both Metpropolis and Plan Bee... had stored away an abundance of honey already and the brood patterns, though not perfect, were solid. Larvae could be found at all levels of development. I did not find either queen in the hustle and bustle of workers and drones. I added an empty bar between the honey area and brood nest of each hive.
I might harvest a bar of capped honey from each hive next week.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Yesterday, I inspected Worker Bees... and Lib-BEE-taria and things look a bit better in these hives then last week. The bees are building up now though the brood pattern is still not to my liking. I added a third box to each hive though as it was getting a bit crowded in the two.
I am not really pleased with Bee Glad... at all. The brood is spotty, and the workers have raised supersecedure cells. I will see how the bees work this all out with a new queen but I am not confident.
I am inspected the nuc and while I saw the new queen who looks mated, I saw no signs of egg laying.
I don't know whether it is me or not but it seems to me that my langstroths are all not producing as many drones as they did in previous years. I am going to email some local beekeepers to see if they noticed the same thing in their hives. I hope there are some drones around the local area for mating.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
- Worker Bees... - 2
- Lib-BEE-taria - 2
- Bee Glad... - 1
Friday, July 1, 2011
Let me quote Oliver:
My point - standard Langstroth hives are "standard" since they have proven the test of time for over 150 years. Believe me, if anything better had been invented, commercial beekeepers would have adopted it in a heart beat! (p. 657)Before I discuss this quote, let me make this perfectly clear: I am not wedded to any particular hive. I have no axe to grind here. (I have both top bar and langstroth. I might try a Warre sometime as well.) This statement is probably true in many respects as well. My problem is that it doesn't really settle the issue of what is the "best hive" for me.
First, the fact that the langstroth hive has been used a long time does not mean anything in itself. The "test of time" is only one test and it is often used to retrospectively justify the continuing use of a technology or an institution. Banjos have had bodies shaped like drums for longer than langstroths have existed. Is this because that shape is or was important/functional to the particular use and sound of the banjo? Maybe, though some historians disagree. The first non-gourd banjos were made from old circular wooden cheese crates simply because they were conveniently available. Most banjos continue to follow that same shape because of tradition (that's what a banjo looks like after all!) not function. We should remember that Egyptian beekeepers still use clay pots like their ancestors 1000 years ago.
Secondly, before we can judge whether something works or is successful we have to ask, what is it meant to do exactly? To judge whether or not a langstroth is the best hive, we must first ask: what exact purpose is it meant to serve? Is it being used for migratory pollination services? To supplement an older retired couples income? As a source of amusement? As a cottage industry that provides a person with some honey for their toast? Bee hives do not serve the same function for all beekeepers.
Oliver is partially right. The langstroth hive serves the needs of commercial beekeepers very well, but are the needs of a commercial beekeeper exactly the same as the needs of other types of beekeepers? Granted, a top bar hive is not very convenient for a migratory beekeeping outfit, but it will allow a disabled individual in a wheel chair access to the field of beekeeping.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Besides containing general suggestions for our beekeeping regimen, this month's article includes an assessment and critique of the field of beekeeping. In this world of the internet, new beekeepers are faced with a barrage of misinformation, "slanted" and more "faith-based" than empirical. Oliver lays some of the blame for this on 2nd or 3rd year beekeeping bloggers (ooops, that's me!) who portray themselves as experts but lack the knowledge that comes from years of beekeeping. According to Oliver, these individuals spread misconceptions which are picked up on by newer beekeepers just starting out.
I think there's a great deal of truth to this critique and I am probably as guilty as anyone of doing this. I started blogging about bees before I had them! I have expressed strong opinions on things occasionally, though generally, I have attempted simply to describe what is going on in my apiary. I have attempted to bring the insights of sociology (the discipline I am trained in!) into the discussion of beekeeping and have always been (at least in my own mind) tentative in anything I've written. I always try to be critical of what I've written and willing to revise my ideas as evidence comes in. I apologize to anyone who might have been led astray by things I've said. I try not to confuse my models of reality with the reality of my models.
I think my boldness in stating my opinions strongly in this blog comes from living and working in the field of academics where the young hot shot with new ideas often has more capital than the old-timer. The new academic can make a name for him/herself by shooting down holders of the old paradigm. Experience, in itself, is not given very much authority in this world.
Having said this, I wonder if the field of beekeeping is a little more complex than either Oliver or I see it. My experience as a newbie to beekeeping has been rather different than Oliver describes. When I entered beekeeping I was often faced with deciding which old-timer should I believe. One of these experienced, well-known beekeepers demanded total, unquestioned allegiance, ridiculing those who asked honest questions about her practice. I steered away from that and found healthier places (e.g. biobees.com) to learn where I could still question, and, yes, sometimes disagree. The humility, challenge and support of Phil Chandler's website has kept me in beekeeping, even though, Chandler and his colleagues may have fewer years of experience than other "experts".
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Sunday, my grand-daughter Taylor and I inspected the two top bar hives. From all appearances these two hives are doing so much better than any of the langstroths I maintain. (Whether this has anything to do with being top bar hives remains to be seen.)
Both top bars are strong with great, solid brood patterns. The bees have brought in a good deal of nectar and pollen. The queens look healthy. There were no signs of swarm or superseder cells as well. I am very pleased with their progress in this cool, rainy June we've had here in Winona.
Today I inspected two hives. First I opened up Bee Glad..., a langstorth hive; the only one to survive the winter.
Bee Glad... seems moderately strong, though its brood pattern is too spotty for my liking. I also discovered 10 or so swarm cells not yet capped but containing brood. This was unexpected.( I probably placed too much faith in my first attempts at checker boarding.) I pulled some capped drone comb for mite prevention, as well as two frames of capped honey which I placed in the nuc. I will watch Bee Glad... over the next week.
The walk-away nuc I created a few weeks ago is doing fine. I saw the new queen though no sign of her laying any eggs. I placed two frames of capped honey on either side of the nucs broodnest. I will watch this hive closely as well.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
As far as mites, the 24 hour mite fall was 1. That's something to be thankful for.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I plan on placing some sticky sheets under the hives today in order to test for mites.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Plan Bee... is doing very well. I did not see the queen but I saw evidence she's there and healthy. There were all stages of brood in the hive and the brood pattern was solid. The bees are storing much nectar and pollen.
Metpropolis is doing well though, it seems, somewhat behind Plan Bee... The same healthy brood pattern (and I did see the queen here) but less bars drawn and less nectar stored. I am not necessarily worried about this as it seems, overall, that the honeybees are doing well otherwise.
I placed two empty bars in each hive, one on each end between the brood nest and honey storage area. I opened another entrance on each.
I also took the entrance reducers off of each langstroth.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Here are some excellent photos taken by friend and fellow beekeeper, Greg Smith. She got back into beekeeping this spring and decided to try her hand at top bar hives. The bees are hanging out in front of the entrance during today's rain storms.
Not much to new to report about the hives. In the hives installed this spring, the bees are working in the second deep box. The queen is laying eggs in the top box, and the workers have stored or moved nectar up on the edges.
The walk-away nuc I created last week seems to be doing fine. I peeked in the top and saw queen cells capped and ready to hatch. I was a bit concerned about the number of workers in the nuc. I should've shook in more workers when I created the nuc. I will wait and see whether this creates any problems.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
"Roughening up" does not take much doing. Just take some steel wool and lightly scour the inside of the box.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
I decided to video Beelandia today. I hope you enjoy watching the bees active outside their hive.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Both hives were in a similar state.
I had worried needlessly two inspections ago about the state of Plan Bee... and the nature of its brood pattern. I am happy to report that things are going well in this hive. Plenty of brood, good pattern, and the bees have begun to store away honey on the edges. The queen looks fine. I did accidentally break some comb in the hive but wired it together a bit. The bees should repair the rest. I did add two undrawn bars to either side of the brood nest.
The same report can be made of Metpropolis minus the breaking of comb. The queen is laying well, good pattern, and the bees are starting to store away honey on the edges. I also added to undrawn bars to the hive.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I put second boxes on both Worker Bees... and Lib-BEE-taria, along with drawn drone comb frame as part of my mite management plans. I took the 3, 5 and 7 frames out of the bottom box and moved them up to the second and put drawn frames in their place in the bottom box. I left both with a pollen pattie.
I did a walk-away split on Bee Glad... I've never done this before preferring to create nukes from queen cells I've grafted or were given. I am an experimenter and want to see if there is a significant difference in results in my local area. I will report the results as they come in.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
- Plan Bee... - 3 mites.
- Worker Bees... 0 mites
- Lib-BEE-taria 0 mites
- Bee Glad... 0 mites
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
I found chalkbrood in front of the entrance to Worker Bee of the World Unite. This isn't all that surprising given the intermittent cold and rainy weather we've had up until recently. I am not too worried. The hive seems to be taking care of itself.
All the hives seem to be doing well. Plenty of larvae in all stages of development. They are bringing in pollen and the queens look large and healthy.
Drones have hatched in Plan Bee..., the largest top bar hive. I did not see any in the other hives.
I took off the top feeders but did leave a pollen patty in each hive. They have been consuming it and, with the rain and cold, I have worried about the bees diet.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
And thus, in a nutshell, the treadmill of "development" goes on at the expense of other creatures who live in the neighborhood. All this is done with entirely "good" intentions and for the "love of beauty".
Friday, May 20, 2011
All the hives seem to be doing well except for Plan Bee..., one of the top bar hives. The queens were laying and the brood pattern was excellent. The bees have consumed the pollen substitute patties I had placed in last week.
I have some concerns about Plan Bee... . Everything seems to be going well except for the brood pattern which is spotty at best. I will watch this hive carefully and I may requeen from my own stock if it does not improve. I did not see any queen cells, however.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
On Saturday, the temperatures were in the low 60s (F) with sunny conditions. The next two days were overcast, and stormy, so no inspections took place. Today is sunny and warm with temperatures finally reaching into the low 80s.
From outside the hive the bees are bringing in a good deal of pollen. I have caught the bees foraging on our plum tree's blossoms and those of the dandelions on the neighbor's lawn.
On Saturday, I inspected the 3 langstroth hives, 2 of which I just installed. In the newly installed hives, I found plenty of eggs and young larvae, I also found the queen in each which wasn't all that difficult. All the queens in the newly installed packages are black and the workers packaged with them are all much lighter in color. The bees are not eating the sugar syrup provided and prefer the combs of capped honey last year's bees have provided them. I retrieved the queen cage in each.
Today I opened the top bar hives and found pretty much the same thing. Eggs, larvae, (even some capped brood) and an active dark queen. Again, the syrup provided went pretty much uneaten. Queen cages were retrieved.
Monday, May 2, 2011
John and I went down early to B and B Honey Farm to pick up our bees. John was getting two 2 lb. packages and I was getting 4. With the chill in the air, the bees were rather quiet in the packages, all huddled together around the queen cage.
Installation of my four packages went without a hitch. I installed two of the packages in two top bar hives, and the other two in two langstroths. Except for dropping a jar of sugar syrup on the only cement in the beeyard, there were no major disasters.
I will be going home this afternoon to take a look at the hives and see how they're fairing. I don't expect to see much. May 2nd has temperatures in the mid 30s.
Monday, April 25, 2011
- Culling three year old comb- Comb retains many of the noxious chemicals and diseases bees come in contact with while foraging. This season I have already removed comb that is three years or older.
- Supplement Nutrition- I will be more disciplined in supplementing the bees' nutritional needs with pollen supplements when called for. This grates against my 'natural' tendencies but I am convinced now that my neighbor's on the west side of Winona are not providing my bees with a diverse enough diet.
- Monitor and Manage Varroa Better- I will be monitoring the varroa count of each hive regularly, removing drone comb, and using essential oil based miticides if the mite count calls for it.
- Carrying Capacity- I may have been pushing the number of beehives in the neighborhood to its limits, especially given the rainy and cold spring/summer we had. I will try to stay within a 4 hive limit (with nucs) in the future.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Biologist Bruno Borsari and his bright and eager students, dressed in the 'armor' of the trade, spent a good hour and a half examining both beekeeping equipment and the population of bees in Bee Glad....
I spent a good deal of time fielding some very intelligent questions concerning the ins-and-outs of what I do day-to-day with the bees. The class included some very keen observers who actually watched the bees carefully as they came and went from the hive.
Overall, the bees were on their best behavior, as I was the only one stung through the entire class.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
I finally was able to prepare both top bar hives for bee installation later this month. I took all the insulation off, leveled the hives, and removed all the old comb (three years old or older) from the hive. As I suspected, the bees in these two hives had not collected very much nectar last summer and fall and had probably died of starvation.
After top bar tasks, I went on to work with Bee Glad..., the one hive to survive this winter. I remove the quilt box, hive wrap, and other insulation. I made a very brief inspection (I did not remove any frames). The cluster is at the very top of hive with very little honey left. I reversed the top two boxes, left some pollen patties, and put on a top feeder with syrup added.
I did make one discovery doing all this: I am stronger this spring than I have been in the last three. My previous weakness, which I had attributed to age, was probably due to my unrepaired surgical hernias. My December hernia surgery was a success!
Friday, April 1, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
We need your help. Please take 20 minutes out of your busy day to complete these two surveys. Both surveys are only open from 1 April through 18 April 2011.
1. Winter Loss Survey This should take less than 5 minutes.
2. Past Year Management Survey This should take less than 15 minutes.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
An article from the Surrey Now website.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
The EU's highest court may classify honey containing traces of genetically modified material as "food produced" from modified plants. Such a ruling may enable beekeepers with hives close to GM crops to seek damages.from an article in Deutsche Welle.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I've just called B and B and ordered two more hives.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
In some sense, my survival rate ( one out of seven) does not surprise me. The two top bar colonies went into August with little stores and no amount of feeding seemed to help. The Metpropolis hive was never very strong throughout the season. I was hoping that the two hives I developed from my own mating nucs would survive but they never quite built up either. Surviving the winter depends on building up during the summer and the constant rain during last summer kept that from happening. The surviving hive this winter was also the strongest last summer and the hive with the most surplus honey in the fall. The survival rate is somewhat predictable then.
Friday, I will call B & B Honey Farm and order two more packages. I will use my surviving hive to start one or two others. Hopefully, if this year's weather cooperates, this survivor hive can produce some real solid stock.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
February Thaw and the bees are out II
Uploaded by WesBeek. - Watch funny animal videos.
I guess this is both good and bad news. It was over 40 degrees F in Winona today and at least one hive (Bee Glad...) showed a great deal of activity at the top entrance. In the next few days I will have to decide whether to order two more packages or will I increase solely through this hive.
February Thaw and the bees are out I
Uploaded by WesBeek. - Explore other animal videos.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
I have spent much of the winter recovering from surgery but, on those days when I can, I have been building 5 frame wooden nucs for spring expansion. I was not impressed by the cardboard nucs I used last year. Those I have left will be used for transport and any sales I have.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I am surprised how fast this became a non-issue. What began as a problem that seemed to need immediate attention from all parties involved, now quietly disappears from the City's agenda.
I will keep my eyes and ears open, however. As this issue illustrates, it often takes but one "squeaky wheel" to create an uproar. However, I think public opinion was against the ordinance from the start.