Archive for the ‘Honeybee Equipment’ Category

New Hives!

So me and the bees have been pretty busy over the past week or so.  Last Tuesday, March 27, I drove down to Stuart, VA to buy some splits and mated queens from James Sowers.  Those of you familiar with Patrick County will know where James’ is located even if you don’t know who he is.  His apiary is located on 58 at the bottom of the mountain.  He’s been keeping bees for 40+ years and has been selling his honey for probably as long.  He actually moved his house 1/4 mile further from the hwy because VDOT is supposedly going to make 58 four lanes up the mountain.  I’m not sure I’ll live to see it!

At any rate we opened up several of his hives (he has 70) and removed frames of brood from the strongest hives.  I got 24 frames of brood/bees.  Enough to start six new hives.  There are several strategies you can employ to provide a queen to the new hive.  In this case I opted for a mated queen which is the quickest method to get the hive up and going, but also the most expensive.  Mated queens cost $20-$30 each!  Since it’s early in the year and if things go well these hives should be strong enough by mid-May to hopefully produce surplus honey this year.  At least that’s the plan!

Here is a picture of my primary Apiary, the new hives are on the left side. I need to get my weedeater cranked up it's starting to get a little overgrown looking already!

Closeup of one of the new hives.
Nice color! I got the paint for next to nothing at Home Depot as a mistint.




Drone Layer

Last Saturday I attended a meeting at our local honeybee keepers association, the Highlands Beekeepers Association.  It was perhaps the biggest attendance they’ve ever had, I counted over 40 people.  Local extension agent Phil Blevins gave a good presentation on spring hive management.  The presentation touched on pollen and syrup feeding, and swarm prevention.  Feeling invigorated from all this honeybee talk I decided to come home and feed my hives.  Any that were close to running out of food have been feed since mid-February, but I was ready to start stimulative feeding to kick start brood production!  Most of the hives looked good.  I’m still amazed at 3 of my small nuc hives that made it through the winter.  They only had 4 frames of bees going into the winter, and honestly probably never had more than 2 frames worth of bees.  But that’s a story for another post….

Ironically the strongest hive from last year was the hive I identified Saturday as having the biggest problem.  A drone laying queen!  I had expected to see brood on 4-8 frames based on my other hives.  What I saw was spotty brood on 3 or 4 frames, and it was all drone brood.  The bullet shaped brood was sprinkled all around the brood nest, with no worker brood.  Not to mention the abundance of emerged drones walking around on the comb.  I know the weather has been mild, but this is still far too early for drone brood to be appearing let alone walking on the comb.  If you back up from Saturday to the date drone eggs (unfertilized eggs really) would have been laid you get something in mid-February.  Clearly way to early for drone production.  I actually had one of my hives do this last year as well, so I knew exactly what I was looking at when I saw all the drones, and bullet shaped brood.

Drone in green circle, note the larger eyes than most bees on the frame.


So I plucked the queen off the frame, and replaced here with a queen from one of the three small nucs that had survived over the winter.  Another reason it pays to keep nucs around!  I placed her in an introduction cage and added a top feeder with plenty of sugar syrup.  I checked on her quickly today and you can see from the picture below the worker bees have certainly found her.  They didn’t seem aggressive, but I figured I wait another 2-3 days to release her to be on the safe side.  Queens are pretty tough to come by this time of year!  This introduction frame is probably a little overkill, but this is cheap insurance that colony accepts her.  You can wait up to 2 weeks if necessary before releasing her.

You can see the clump of bees in the green circle huddled up around the new queen. At this point the frame and new queen has been in the hive for 5 days.

I’m not entirely sure how good a queen she is, but I know at least she is laying fertilized eggs.  If she doesn’t have good brood production by early April she will be replaced.

Getting Ready For Swarm Season

Put together a swarm trap today, or finished putting it together I should say.  It’s constructed from a Sono tub I picked up at Home Depot for $11.00.  I actually cut the tube in half so I’ll be able to make one more from the tube.  As you’ll see in the pic I rigged up the ends to hold frames so should a swarm find my trap they would be easier to deal with and move into another hive.  Cornell university put out an interesting study a decade or two ago regarding capturing swarms.  Worth reading if you’re interested in giving it a try.  Get the online PDF here.

All that’s left is to slap a coat or two of paint on this and get it baited up.

5 Mar

More new honey bee equipment

Posted by gmeadevt in Honeybee Equipment. Tagged: .

Here are some photos of recently made honeybee equipment.  Getting geared up for April!

I’ve found that some items (covers, bottom boards, mating nucs, etc) I can make much cheaper than you can buy them.  Other items such as hive bodies, honey supers, and frames I can’t even come close to competing on cost.

Most commercial beekeepers use migratory covers and no inner cover. I'm making about 20 of these for new hives and mating nucs. They are made out of 3/4 inch exterior grade plywood ($30) and you can make 9-10 from one sheet of plywood.



5 Mar

Building New Honeybee Equipment

Posted by gmeadevt in Honeybee Equipment.