Honeybee Mindful

My Adventures in Beekeeping

July 23, 2016

I took sugar syrup to the bees this morning.  I saw Queen Isabella and put her in the queen catcher. A queen catcher is typically used since the Queen is heavy and does not fly (unless she is preparing to leave with her swarm in the spring. Which, if she is planning to swarm, then her attendants put her on a diet to get her light enough to fly). Since Queen Isabella is not preparing to fly, then if I am checking the frames and she gets out she can not get back in the box. If that happens then the colony is queen less and quite upset. I have to find a new queen and hope that the colony accepts her. To avoid all of the drama, it is easier to catch her so that I know where she is, inspect the hive, and then release her once I am done.

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I checked the top and bottom brood boxes.  I was more comfortable moving frames around – especially with Queen Isabella safely in the catcher.

Top Brood Box: Two frames with brood in all stages.  Comb was drawn out on the outermost frames.  Drowned bees in the sugar syrup feeder (will need to research how to keep them from drowning).

Bottom Brood Box: Not as much capped brood as last hive inspection (overall population increase in the hive though so hopefully Queen Isabella will continue laying eggs and there will be more capped brood at the next inspection).   There were also several small hive beetles (SHB).  I squashed a couple of the SHB but several scurried away.

July 19, 2016

Quick hive opening to give the ladies sugar syrup.  Immediately after removing the telescoping cover, I noticed that there are a lot more bees than before.  🙂  I did not perform any additional checks.

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July 17, 2016

Second hive check since the bees have been placed in the backyard.  Apparently I should have been giving the ladies sugar syrup every 3-4 days (not once every 3 weeks that I had been doing).  Oops!  Sorry ladies.  🙁   Below is the photo of me stirring the sugar syrup.

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I performed check on the top brood box where the feeder is.  I added sugar syrup in my 1-gal feeder and scraped off the excess burr comb and propolis.   I checked the top brood box frames and there were eggs, larva, pupae, and capped brood.  I did not investigate the bottom brood box since I checked it last weekend and saw Queen Isabella.

After the inspection, I cleaned my hive tools by soaking them in a bleach solution.   Although I currently have only one hive, I want to make sure to get in the habit of cleaning tools now.

July 15, 2016

It’s nice out.  The ladies are hanging on their porch.

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June 26, 2016

My purchase from Mann Lake included the 8 Frame Traditional Growing Apiary Kit.  I decided to go with 8 frames because I want to pre-protect my back.  10 frame is customary.  Part of me wanted to get the 10 frame and “prove” that I could easily heft those extra 2 frames around – or at least get some additional strength training exercise.

However, one of the speakers at my first beekeeper’s association meeting talked about how if you didn’t have back problems prior to beekeeping that you eventually would.  He then explained some ergonomics about beekeeping and ways to protect your back.  So, I quickly changed my mind and decided that all I would “prove” is that I should have bought an 8 frame kit instead of the 10.

My initial set up is to have two brood boxes – 8 frames per box.  I purchased 8 frames of bees from my mentor – enough to fill one brood box.  I provided one brood box to my mentor in the evening and the next morning picked up my ladies.  Once I received the 8 frames, this became my bottom brood box.   I moved two of the bottom brood frames to the middle of the top brood box.  My 1-gallon sugar feeder was placed in the top as well – to encourage the ladies to move to the top.  Once in the top brood box, the ladies should see how much room there is and start drawing more comb up there.  The goal is to encourage them to increase space vertically and then spread horizontally.

To summarize:

  • Bottom Brood Box : 6 frames with bees + 2 brand new Rite-Cell Foundation Frames
  • Top Brood Box: 2 frames with bees + 1-gallon sugar feeder + 5 brand new Rite-Cell Foundation Frames

As mentioned, my kit included Assembled frames with Rite-Cell foundation.  The Rite-Cell foundation provides a template/map for the bees to use.  The bees will still need to “draw” the beeswax on the foundation sheets – to make the 3-D space needed for a bee to complete its full metamorphosis from egg to adult.

The perforated corner on each Rite-Cell frame needs to be removed.  The bees like to travel in this space between frames.

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To encourage the bees to draw the wax on the Rite-Cell, the recommendation is to apply an additional thin layer of beeswax to the Rite-Cell foundation.   I purchased 16 oz of Beeswax plugs from Dadant (I used maybe 8).  I set up a double boiler system to melt the beeswax on my electric range.  This may be a “duh” moment for some, but wax burns!  You should NEVER melt beeswax over an open flame (i.e. do NOT use a gas stove to melt your beeswax.  You may need to purchase a hot plate to set up your double boiler system).

Also, the water does not necessarily need to be kept at a rolling boil – it just needs to be hot enough to keep the beeswax melted.  The photo below shows the beeswax still in the process of being melted.

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Once the beeswax was melted, I applied a thin layer to the Rite-Cell foundation frames.  It took me a few frames before I could easily tell where I had applied the beeswax and where I had not.  The goal is to apply a thin layer but not so much that the beeswax fills the cell.  There were a few cells that I had to remove the wax from because I had applied too much beeswax.  I only applied the additional beeswax to the 7 new Rite-Cell frames that I needed for my current setup.

Below is the final setup.  Note the strap to hold the hive boxes on the hive stand.  Most beekeepers place a stone on top of their hive.  Since the majority of our backyard is hillside (remember we  have a great snow-sledding hill) and there are several deer and other wildlife that meander on our property, we decided to strap the hive boxes down.

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June 23, 2016

After painting the hive boxes, my mentor recommending cutting a hole in the bottom board so that screening could be placed over it.  The screened bottom board will allow some ventilation to pass through the hive – ventilation is especially important during the summer months.

My husband made a little frame for the screening to keep it tight.

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My husband also made a hive stand.  Our property is quite hilly in the back (which is perfect for snow sledding in the winter), so the hive stand needed to have shorter legs on one side.  I provided requirements to hubby and he built it.  #1 requirement is that the hive stand needs to be level or slightly sloped towards the hive box entrance so that when it rains there will be no water entering and staying in the hive via the bottom board.

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Hive Stand (with room to add more hives): Check

Painted Hive Boxes: Check

Bees: Still waiting ….  🙂

June 19, 2016

After unpacking all of my newbee beekeeping supplies, the hive box had to be painted. I performed a Google search and read through several blogs for recommendations on what/how to paint all of the hive box parts.  The instructions that I found most helpful were on Beverly Bees website:  http://www.beverlybees.com/how-to-paint-a-beehive/

I went to the local Sherwin Williams and purchased the following Exterior Oil-Based Wood Primer:

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Below are all of the pre-assembled hive box parts that needed to be painted.  Clockwise from bottom left to right: Brood Box, Paint Supplies, Bottom Board, Super, Super, Brood Box, Telescoping Cover (with protective film on the stainless steel that would be removed after the painting was finished).  Note that the inner cover is NOT pictured because nothing on the inner cover should be painted since the inner cover is 100% located within the hive and should remain au natural.

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Following Beverly Bees advice, the outsides of the brood boxes and supers were painted – the insides remain au natural since that’s where the bees live and work.  The bottom board (standing on end within a super) is painted 100% on all sides since it receives the most “abuse” by the hive.  The telescoping cover is located in the top right of the photo – only the outside perimeter needs to be painted since the top is stainless steel and the inside of the cover remains au natural.

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Once the white primer dried (since it is oil-based primer it took 24 hours), it was time to apply the final paint (Sherwin Williams Resilience Exterior Acrylic Latex Gloss).  I chose a light green color because it would blend in with the natural landscape in the backyard and the color was light enough that I could paint other designs on the boxes.

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Photo below shows finished paint job.   Everything needs to dry hard and then my bees will have a nice home!

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June 14, 2016

My beekeeping order from Mann Lake arrived tonight.   My adventure in beekeeping is starting.

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