Monday, April 27, 2009

Building Bee Houses

I purchased hive kits rather than fully assembled hives because of the cost factor. The exception I made was to buy 20 fully assembled frames from Lagrant's in Ware because I ran into a time issue when I didn't get my frame kits in time to get it all together for Bee Day.

Now I am assembling the frame kits I received a couple weeks ago. It is a little tedious, but there is a certain satisfaction that you get from assembling these parts, knowing that in the end you will have built a perfect little house.

Anyway, I've started whacking the rivets into the sides of the frames. It's a begining.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sugar - oops.

Now that I'm thinking back, I may have made the sugar water mixture too light. Its supposed to be 1:1 and I think I did 1:2. Gosh, darn it! My poor bees are suffering! I'm so bad! I hope they forgive me.

My brothers little ditty, 'A pints a pound the world around' has been circling my head for days now. But I only just started thinking about my sugar mixture a few minutes ago. I used 5 quarts...I think. I should have used 5 pints.

Well here's hoping it won't irreparably damage them. Holy moly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

The well was dry when I finally got my bees their sugar water. I would have given it to them yesterday morn, but it had to cool down. I didn't want to scald their little gullets.

This morning I put on my new white jacket that I got at Walmart. I saw it in the store hanging on the rack, and it looked just perfect for the job. $28. Not bad. A whole bee suit can run into some $$. Then I put my hat and veil on, but couldn't find the gloves...oh well. Only one sting, poor bee.

Then I took my jug and salad tongs and the hive tool and went out to open the hives. It was quite chilly and I imagine the bees were not at all happy about the draft, but I think they will be happy to find their food supply restored.

I opened the first hive, filled the tank, then broke the queen cage free (the queen was out of it). Unfortunately the bees had really worked the cage into the comb structure. After it came out I found the frame had a rectangle shaped hole in the comb. I wanted to see if the queen was laying so I took a frame out to look. It was covered in bees and hard to see. I did see lots of cells partly filled with nectar and pollen, but I couldn't see eggs...and it was chilly too, so I didn't want to keep it out too long. Anyway, I put the frame back and closed up that hive and on to the next.

I was quicker with the second hive. I opened it, filled the water tank, then wiggled the queen cage free...this one came out easier. Then I closed it up again.

I know mornings aren't really the time to visit a hive, but I'm a little hampered time-wise, so I have to do it that way if its during the week.

I'll be able to take some good pictures soon. I found my old film camera and that does have a macro lens...I just need to get a battery and some film!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sugar Water

Well, I haven't refilled the sugar water tank yet and its been 9 days. I bought sugar last night, but this morning I had an appointment and could not fulfill my beekeeping duties. I shall have to do this tomorrow morning.

Hopefully my bees will forgive me. I've been reading that bees can recognize faces. This seems far fetched. I would think they more likely recognize scents, since they seem to sniff out pheromones of fellow workers and the like. Hopefully they won't associate my scent with the massacre of several bees in my last attempt to bee taking the cork out of the bottoms of the queen cages.

I've been making many lame bee jokes and puns lately. I hope this trait wears off after while. I'm not sure how long friends and family will tolerate the nonsense :}

I really must feed my bees though, they must be thirsty by now; although nectar is on the way. We have a fruit tree in flower in the front yard (I cant remember the species)...but there are so many to come...I wonder how they like Magnolias?-- although that's not a fruit tree, just a pretty flowering one.

Well, lets hear it for Saturday!! Its going to be 80!! The bees ought to love that.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Queens

On the mornings of April 14 and 15 2009, I opened the hives to dig the little cork out of the ends of the queen cage.

Now I trust to luck. I was surprised that the cages were hard to pull out of the hive and found it was because the worker bees were busily attaching the cage to the foundation with beeswax. I managed to break it free using a pair of salad tongs. If I was wearing gloves I probably could have just used fingers.

Unfortunately I think I accidentally smooshed a few bees when I was trying to re-seat the frames. I don't want to look. Well, I don't really have to look for a few days. Next time I open the hives will be on a nice sunny day when many workers will be out looking for nectar and pollen. I'll use the smoker. I saw a video on about smoking. I'll have to practice lighting the smoker this weekend. I might look on Sunday to see if the queens are out.

Now I want to take pictures of my bees, and found my current lens on my SLR lacking, I have ordered a new lens from Dell. Then I thought maybe I don't need a telephoto lens so much as a macro lens... so maybe... next week? The macro is actually cheaper than the telephoto...the two together are way outside my budget...but I would be able to take excellent pictures of my bees.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Installation 4/13 - 4/14 2009

Well, Sunday, my brother John and I built the bee hives...the deeps. My cousin Sandy painted them and set up the foundation and the hives on Monday day. Monday late afternoon, I picked up my bees from and transported them to their location. Monday night I installed one package, and set the other next to the hives for the morning. I tried to get all my bees in the hive, but some wouldn't go so I set that on the ground near the hive thinking they would go in...but they didn't. There were several dozen that perished in the cold night air, huddled together in their little box. I feel terrible about it, but I suppose it won't be the worst thing I end up doing to them from thoughtlessness. I'll try to do better for my little bees.

Anyway the second package went in this morning. I sustained one sting, which is great considering how inexpertly I banged and shook my little bundle of bees from their temporary housing into their brand new spic and span palace. I had a little difficulty when I dropped the queen's cage into the hive with all the bees. I had to pull it out with extra long salad tongs (Twice, because it fell back in when I wasn't looking).

They mostly spread out all over the comb foundation -- it was a sight. A number of them were facinated by the queen's special abode, apparently they wanted to break her out but could not extricate her. I'll give them a helping hand tomorrow. I'll pull the corks and then they can chew the candy away.

Frank Lagrant told me to make sure she stays in there for a week or the bees will kill her when she gets out(I would if I was requeening), but I think she has been amongst them in her safe little cage for a few days now, anyway, so I think it won't be too soon to pull the plug in the morning. The other bee keepers I've been listening to have said I could have pulled the plug right away and even could make a small hole in the candy to help speed the way. They say right now the queen has to get laying as soon as possible.

After I went to work this morning my cousin Sandy called to report the bees were flying happily about and coming back to their hives and doing the dance ye all have heard about...I haven't seen the dance yet, but hoping to soon.

Saturday I have to go get some more foundation to build up some frames for my new workforce!

(This was so easy, and I was so worried up til I actually got them in the I want some more)

Friday, April 10, 2009

In the begining

I have an alternating feeling of excitement and dismay. What have I done? I ordered the bees in February, signed up for Bee School courtesy of Worcester County Beekeepers Association ($30/family), and ordered some startup equipment (Brushy Mountain Bee Farm).

Two Sundays ago, I decided to run out to Lagrants Honeybees in Ware to get some prefabbed frames with comb, since I had yet to receive any supplies I had ordered. A week and a half ago, the box of wooden parts arrived. I picked up the nails at Home Depot last night. This weekend will include gluing, nailing, and painting (I still have to get the paint)...I should have done it last weekend, but I didn't get to it. I did however manage to watch a movie or two. They must not have been very good, because I don't remember what they were...just that at the time, I had to see the endings...oh yeah, one was Sean of the Dead or I said, it wasn't very good.

Anyway. This weekend will be all work. Work work work. Monday I pick up my bee's and hive them. They are on order from

I'm going to have to make some sugar water on Sunday...I hope I have will be Easter, and I think I'll have to cook. Ah well, If I can't fit it in, maybe the bee man will sell me some on Monday.