Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

European foulbrood

My morning started off (after cleaning the house) by getting into the bee hives. I haven't gotten into our big strong hives for a couple of weeks now. The last time was when we found that we had new queens that hatched so we wanted to leave them "bee" for awhile. :O) This morning hive #1 is doing just fine...went on to # 3 hive (#2 hive is in different location and still on the small side) Hive 3 I found spotty brood and all of it was drone brood! Even in the honey super......somethings not right! Further investigation revealed dead uncapped brood....looking dark and twisted....stuck even on the wall cell..I went on in further looking solely now for the queen. The whole hive was full of spotty drone brood....some dead...and dark. I couldn't find the queen....So this means that we either have a drone laying queen which is an (unfertile) queen or a worker turned into a laying bee. BOTH of which are NOT good! By the time I had gotten into them today it was already sweltering hot, I was drenched...even my blue jeans were I took mental notes :O) pictures and some samples of the dead brood and put the hive back together. Came in, took a quick bath, put supper on to cook, my son stopped in for a quick visit. Then I set out to find out what we have in the hive....After much comparing and reading I came up with European Foul brood. (Never did find out how they get it) What it boils down to is I need to go back in look really hard for the queen(if she's there) and get her out. I also need to get as many of the dead brood out as I can to "help the bees out" (it said so in the book Penny):O)
We may also need to medicate the hive. (something of which I am TOTALLY against) but sometimes you do what you have to do. In the top pic can you see the dark spots inside of two of the cells? There was actually three but the bees are in the way.
Here's the "spotty" drone brood. The drone cells stick up higher than the worker cells because the drones are a lot larger than the female worker bees. Have I mentioned that the drones are males? The worker cells are capped even with the top of the cells. I'll try to get some better pictures posted.
On a brighter note I'd like to show some colorful pics of some "other" pollinators that we have.
A bumble bee on some of my lemon basil...... Sorry about the blurriness :O)
One of our Honey bees on my licorice basil
and a Gulf Fritillary on my zinnia

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Small hive beetles

This is small hive beetle larvae.
They are just as destructive as the wax moth.
The thing with these two pests is it's very hard to distinguish between the two at first. I had to put a few in a small jar with some alcohol in it so I could bring them in and google. I just love this information age;o)
Anywho....getting back to the hive. This is a hive we rescued about a month ago. Actually there were two small swarms(different locations) they had lost their queens by the time we got to them. I ended up combining them and if you go back to my previous post it's all there, the new queen rearing, etc. They had one frame of comb in
which the new queen had started laying. Again as I said earlier you have to stay in your small hives, they are weak because there is not very many of them to fight off pests and do everything else they have to do too. It's tough being a little honeybee:o( These pictures to the left are adult hive beetles. they have hard shells and are very hard for the bees to remove. I even have a hard time killing them, they are extremely fast and are great hiders. They can shimmy down into a crevice before you have time to blink. My husband has NO patients when it comes to me inspecting and finding these creatures. I will hold a frame for
the longest with my paring knife and nail tracking these pests down. The bees appreciate it too..I can really they jump on that wounded beetle with all their might and carry it off! It's the neatest thing to watch. One of the reasons my husband doesn't take the time to do this is my hands are smaller and I can take our "southern" heat better than he can. So he tells me:O) I know that there are a few or at least ONE of you that reads my blog, that thinks I stay in them too much....SEE what happens when I stay away?I haven't been in the hives in over a week:o( The pee-wee hives need my attention..I am a BEE
keeper after all it is my responsibility to look after my girls and give them a helping hand:O) Today after finding this mess I took some brood and comb from a bigger stronger hive and gave it to the "pee-wee" hive. They seemed so much happier. And I felt better too.
I put together a new hive box for them with new frames and discarded this bottom board (bottom picture) The reason it looks wet is because it is ;o)
When the larvae eats into the honey comb honey leaks out and gets all over the bottom. When the bees try to clean it up some of them start trying to build comb which is the darker stuff on the
bottom. Can you see the larvae? Did you see
them in the top picture? Just checking.... ;O)
I'm a "newbee" beekeeper with a lot to still learn, that's another reason why I like to much info out there, but if you have a question for me just post a comment or e-mail me, it's in my profile link up top.
So until next time... BEE STRONG ;O) Julie

Wax moth larvae

This is just one of the reasons we stay in our honeybee hives during the spring and summer months. We had a small hive that had been struggling since we rescued it. When a hive is small they are vulnerable to attack from virtually every pest there is. This one got attacked by the wax moth. I'm not a very good photographer so these pics are not as clear as they could have been. Sorry...anyway, I caught them in time to save the hive. These things look like maggots and I was devastated when I found them. I've seen one or two in our other hives(but they were on the bottom board where they couldn't get to the frames) and that's supposed to be "normal" or okay as long as you don't see anymore than that and as long as it's in a strong hive. The bees will find it an take it out of the hive where it will die.

The larvae doesn't like sunlight and will try to scurry away when you pull the frame from the hive.

The adult wax moth gets into the hive and lays her eggs, when they hatch they penetrate into the honey comb and eat everything in it's path including honeybee larvae right on into the wood of the frames and box. Ruining everything along the way.

We were fortunate that the larvae was only on two of the frames. The frames had to be destroyed but the bees were safe. A couple of days later I went back in and found more on a new frame of honey. I was able to pick each larvae off with a pair of tweezers then washed the frame really well with water to save the comb.

All of the comb and frames in these pics were destroyed.

If you look in the left hand upper corner of this last picture you can see a group of the larvae. The rest is the destruction made from the older ones that hatched.
Feel free to ask questions or comment. You can even e-mail me.
I am by no means a pro at this. I just go with my instincts and hope it's right.
Until next time...
BEE Tidy:o)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


To be continued.....

Due to the acknowledgement I want to give to the honeybees, from now on when I post about them it will "bee" in my new blog:
In the meantime sit back....relax.....and enjoy something cool to drink;-)
And to all beekeepers out there please remember your bees need fresh water daily as well;-)
It's wise to put it near their hive so they won't be drinking out of you or your neighbor's swimming pool......people tend to freak out when they see bees especially when they are buzzing around their swimming pool;-)
More in my new BEE blog........
to be continued......

Honeybee wall removal

As I said before we have learned allot about bees from the internet BUT we have learned even more by diving in head first and by doing it (knowing of course some of what we might be up against). My husband found a pdf file on the "net" that gave instructions on how to make a bee vac. He and a friend made one and it worked like a charm! The suction is very low and in the back we put a soft foam so the bees wouldn't fly and hit the back of the box. If you want the instructions let me know & I'll get them to you or post them to give credit to the guy that had them on the web. We've made another one since then with some changes of our own.
One of the things that kept going wrong was the hose kept clogging up because of the honey so we had to have two hoses. When working with bees it's best to always be prepared. When I say it clogged because of the honey my husband had to cut the comb because the bees had built several layers of comb one behind the other and in order to vac the bees we had to cut the comb in sections as we vacuumed them, therefore when the honey dripped down it got on the bees that were below and when they got vacced in it clogged the hose.
As you can see the bee vac can be used by both female and male ;-)

We got the bees out safely along with the honey and comb and all with only two stings and that was on my back side when I went to take off my suit two little girls had crawled on my back and
I didn't know it until I rolled them.
This was our first ever wall extraction and it was the most pleasant experience. But, boy was it a sticky, sticky mess!
We got the hive home and into their new home. I took the comb we retrieved out of the wall, cut it to fit the inside of empty open frames and tied it with string (not a good thing) the best thing to secure it in with is small wire, but I didn't have any and was in a hurry to "fix" it up before night fall. But even though the string wasn't a good thing it did hold up pretty good...long enough for them to propolise the sides, top and bottom to hold it in. Then they chewed the string off and carried it out of their entrance, all in a matter of a week or so. Honeybees are amazing creatures! I don't think we really grasp the concept when we say we're "busy as a bee". This hive we call our # 2 hive because it was our second hive. It has gone through so much though since we rescued them in March of this year (2009). The day after we brought them home we got a call to please come get a swarm of honeybees. Boy, news travels fast! My husband got these on his lunch break and called me to come get them to bring them home. This happened for the next three days. So within a week we had 5 hives, three of them were swarm hives. Anyway, getting back to hive #2 I believe they were robbed within a day or two of setting them up because I saw a large amount of dead bees on the ground around their entrance and the number of bees had dropped drastically. That was their first battle. The next was they lost their queen, then a worker decided she would take over the role and every time I would put eggs in for them to hatch their own queen she would chew the sides of the queen cell and kill the queen. I'll post all of this next time because I have pictures. This blog wouldn't let me post but four pics at a time. So to be continued........
Bee Busy as a BEE ;-)

MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2009

My honey last

I can't believe we have been official beekeepers for 14 months now and just today I finally harvested our first bit of honey! I have been waiting on this day for 14 months!;-) To make it worse I had to fight with the extractor. I had thoroughly cleaned it and fought like a wet settin' hen trying to get it put back together again. Finally everything is ready for me to get the frames from the hive. I suit up....but before going to "the" hive I stop in to check on our two "newbee" hives that we rescued last week. Both of them are only about a frame a piece, but I can't help it, me and my husband can't see or stand to hear about someone spraying them to death, so we rescue them no matter how small the swarm is, besides when their queen hatches (if they don't already have one) they'll be growing before we know it. I have pics of them too that I'll post. ANYWAY....they are fine so I head for "the" hive take the top off everything is looking great, I was just in them yesterday telling them what the plan was, and started hearing pops on my hat.......I wasn't really seeing them swarming me then after a few minutes it dawned on was starting to rain! I could not believe it!!! So I grabbed a frame (when I say grabbed...I mean I carefully pulled it up) ;-) Brushed of the bees and ran it inside so I could get back out before it started raining to hard, I carefully pulled another frame and brushed the girls off set it down pulled another one making three. Put everything back like it was and made my way back inside to harvest. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to extract the honey and be able to put the frames back in the hive before it got to late in the evening. Mission accomplished. The girls were happy and so was I. We have been sooo "bizzy" with saving swarms for people that want to see them die or "bee" anywhere except where they are, that we haven't been taking any honey for ourselves but just giving it to the "newbees" to give them a better start. I actually only took three frames from one of our swarms that we rescued the first of April. They have been without a queen for a few weeks now but a new one should be hatching out any day now. A couple of weeks ago I put a frame of eggs and brood from one of our other hives in with them so they could produce their own queen, and so far so good. I had done this in a couple of our other hives that lost their queen as well and it has worked wonderfully. This way we don't have to worry about them excepting or NOT excepting a purchased queen.
Getting back to the hive I harvested from.....They have the brood box and shallow box (honey box) full of honey and pollen, so I needed to pull some frames and extract the honey so they will have some room for brood when their queen hatches, mates and begins to lay her eggs. After I harvested the honey I put the frames back in their box to be filled again. This time things will be faster and easier because they've already pulled the cells (comb) out. The first picture is of one of the frames of capped honey. This second picture is the cap being cut off. You can purchase a heating knife but I'm not usually near an outlet so to me this would've been a waste of money when a bread knife or serrated knife works just as good. The honey looks so golden here but when it ran it was so clear.

Here is a picture where it came off in such beautiful sheets, I was thinking if I could rinse it very carefully I might could roll them up and make candles(?) We'll see. I'll let you know how that thought comes to life.

This is the finished product. The pics make it look darker than what we see it, maybe because it's dark outside and the lighting isn't that good for these pictures. tastes soooo good! I know I won't ever buy honey again. This is better and healthier than any honey you can buy in the store! We were reading allot about store bought honey and what they do to it before it gets to the store is not good. That story is for another day.
I got 18 4-ounce jars plus 2 pint jars and an 8 ounce jar out of just three frames. Not bad for our first harvest. In this bottom pic (between the two jars up front) that's a honey comb that I took out of one of our hives a while back. We were waiting on a shipment of frames to come in because we didn't have enough for one of our hives and they started building their own;-)
We have learned allot about bees over the internet, but most of the info is from colder climates. I'm here to tell ya that the heat can take it's toll on a hive and plastic frames. Our poor girls have battled so much here in the deep south. Last year we only had one hive and battled small hive beetles all summer long. This summer I almost lost "our wall" rescue hive to wax moths. I have pics and will post them next time. I have sooo much to write about and soooo many more in pictures. I will try my best to be more diligent in writing more to this blog.
Until then TTFN!
Lots of HONEY you'll need to eat;-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Honey donuts and spelling Bees ;-)

I know I sound bias when I say I have intelligent honey bees but this is my proof:-)
Could this mean that I have "Charlotte" Honey bees? Are they going to start forming messages for me like Charlotte did in "Charlotte's Web"?
If you put the Y then the O they might be saying "yo" ;-)(no comments please;-), I've already thought of them all:-)
These letters are actually from two different hives, I thought it was pretty neat.
As you can see on this frame with the donut shape the string I was talking about in one of the other posts. They covered over the old comb but still have their paths through it. That's why I said it's not a good many things can hide in there from our (my) view.

If you look to the right of the "Y" at the top you can see where they are starting to pull out a queen cell. It looks like the top of a peanut shell, they haven't finished it yet and as soon as the rain is over I've got to get back into their hive to investigate. This was our pee-wee hive and has now grown bigger than their box. I think they're wanting to split, hence the queen cell. I also found several others the day I took this picture but I couldn't find the queen either so I'm not sure what's going on. Can't get in there again til the skies are a little clearer......that's why we get rain every once in a while.......the bees are sending messages to keep me inside to clean MY house and stay out of theirs =+)
Until next time.......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rescuing a swarm

This is a swarm we rescued from outside of a building. Everyone was freaking out because the bees were flying around trying to get to the rest of the swarm. People don't realize that bees are at their "best" when they swarm, they're not out to sting you especially on purpose. The reason they are grouped together in a clump is they are protecting their queen. When the rest of the bees arrive and the scouts come back with the information on how to get to their new place, they all take off again. Sometimes this can be an hour or up to two to three days. The bees are really gentle especially during this time. They gorge themselves on honey before they leave so they will have enough energy to make it to their new home. You are the last thing on their minds. And they are not seeking you out to sting you, if you get in their way you might have a collision but no sting;-)

When we get to a swarm we lightly spray them with sugar water, a one to one ratio(1-sugar1-water)let it get to the outside temperature, you don't want to freeze them or boil them.
Depending on where they are depends on how you get them in the container. It's very wise to make sure you have a container that has screen secured to it so the bees have plenty of ventilation, they need air, not directly blowing on them but they need to breathe. Since this hive was against a building and there was allot of crevices that they were going up into I used a fine brush to gently brush them out, this of course was after I gently swept the hanging ones with my hand into the cooler.
Once we got them home we set them up in a hive box with frames. We like to spray the frames with sugar water so it will entice them to start pulling out the comb. We also put a top hive feeder on and put sugar water in it to give them a head start until they can figure out where things are blooming near their new home, which doesn't take them long at all. I really enjoy watching them and watching their colony grow, they are truly fascinating creatures. This is my new therapy;-) "Bee Buzzin"

For some reason they kept climbing out and clinging onto the outside of the box, I do know they were without a queen but this is the hive that just hatched a queen....story was the first post. I'm a little backwards getting this together but that's me I always start from the end and go forward....go figure. That's how I read a magazine too;-)
You don't have to use a top hive feeder to feed them we also use jars turned upside down inside of a swarm box. Punch very small pin holes or very very small nail holes into the lid at least 20 or so, turn it upside down and set it on two small pieces of board or block so they can get under it to drink. I place this inside the box with them because when we first get them home we only put a few frames in the box depending on the size of the swarm. Close them up and let them "bee";-)
It's okay to check on them the next day just to make sure they're still there and every things fine. I'm noisy so I'm always in one or more of our hives. That's not a bad thing around here because of all of the pests (NOT ME) that are constantly getting into the hives. We have an awful time with wax moths(next post) and small hive beetles. I almost lost my favorite hive about a month or so ago due to wax moths. It was not pretty. I am happy to say that they are on the rebound and are doing great. That is one super hive and I am so proud of them.
Until next time, I hope you a bizzy life filled with hopes and dreams;-)
BEE Positive,

Friday, July 3, 2009

We have Queen Honeybees

A couple of days after we got these swarms of honeybees we noticed they didn't have a queen. Two of our stronger hives had lost their queens recently as well, to what we still don't know. Fortunately we had strong hives to pull frames of eggs from so I put a frame of eggs into each queen less hive, which at the time was just two hives. The hive that I got these queen cells from had already pulled about ten cells out and had them full of royal jelly waiting on the eggs (well not exactly full but more like a bed) I tried to take a picture of this because it's really difficult to explain if you have no idea what I'm talking about;-( but I couldn't get the lens in close enough. Anyway, this first pic is where I cut out two queen cells and put as best as I could onto a frame of eggs that I had given to the new swarm that we last rescued. The heat made it fall of so I later took a straight pen to hold it in.
Yesterday I went into the hive and found that the bottoms of both of the cells had been chewed out just as they're supposed to be. I turned the frame bottom side up so you can see how they're open. I immediately started looking for the queen. This is an extremely small swarm so it was very easy to spot her. We only have about five frames in with them as of now because of their size. They all can fit on one full frame. To my surprise I found BOTH queens! They were crawling on the bottom floor but in different areas. Highly unusual according to the books that we've read, but then again we haven't had very much in the "text book" area with any of the hives that we have. I couldn't believe my eyes! My husband came over and confirmed that indeed it was two queens, and I wasn't seeing things, but the smaller of the two was at the entrance, I ran inside to get something to catch one in but when I got back she had already left. From what we've read the first queen to chew her way out will chew into the other queen cells and kill them. I got pictures of them on the bottom but the one of the queen that left is blurry (naturally) I was fighting with my head suit when I snapped the picture, not to mention that I can't see through the lens window. I just knew I had the perfect picture. The queen isn't on the frame with the open cells but she's on the other frames here. Can you spot her? She's got a bigger dot on the top of her head , her body is longer and more of a solid color. You can probably spot her better in the pic with just a few on the frame. She is on the one with more bees but they don't really like the hot sun so she scurried on over to the other side of the frame that's when I snapped the pic with about a dozen worker bees with her.
This was such a good time to start off with this blog.
Just at dusk this evening I combined both of the small swarms that we rescued a couple of weeks ago. This will make them stronger and will help them to keep their hive and frames at the appropriate temperature. The heat is really hard on them this time of year. We just don't realize the things they battle. Not to mention dealing with us to get the honey they make. But, it's sooo good;-)