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Your host---For Sale--Bee Talk---Days Gone By
There are a lot of excited people out there right now because bee-season is right around the corner. A lot of you are busy putting equipment together and painting. The queen breeders are busy making-up breeding boxes and grafting. The bee supply companies are busy filling orders and shipping. We are all busy as bees.
I am also busy trying to put the finishing touches on my new book, "Beekeeping: Questions and Answers". I want to have it available for April. There are one-hundred and thirty-one questions with detailed answers, an interview with "Cletus" the beekeeper, odds and ends, glossary and an index section inside my new book.
Everyone should know what color marking should be on this year’s queens so I am giving you the color code that queen breeders are supposed to follow. If your queens come in with a different color marking on them, you should contact the breeder and request the proper color marking. Last year there was a breeder who sold queens in the spring that were produced the previous fall. Queens that are produced in the fall are usually superseded early because the drone count in fall is low so the queen doesn't get fully mated.
Queen mark colors based on year-ending numbers.
0 or 5---Blue
1 or 6---White
2 or 7---Yellow
3 0r 8---Red
4 or 9---Green_____________________________________________________
FOR SALE:Russian Queens, Nucs and/or Hives: I am a member of the Lone Star Farms bee club. I have never used any chemicals in my hives and I have been raising bees continuously for 36 years. I will be offering a limited number of Russian queens, nucs and/or established hives for sale. Queens-$25.00, Nucs-$145.00& Hives (Double brood boxes)-$375.00. If you are interested or need further information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org you may call me at 281.932.4887.
Does it make any difference what color you paint the bee hives. I got 3 more built just like the one I got for Christmas from Sonoma Williams. Thanks, Dallas
I try to encourage everyone to paint their hives any color that is pleasing to themselves. Most of my hives are colors other than white. The bees don't really have a preference.
I went to look at my hives yesterday since it has been 70 degrees for a week. Everything looked pretty good except for those bugs I showed you yesterday. I had lots of pollen coming in and the hives still felt heavy. I took your advice in the fall to put a full honey super under my single brood box hive, assuming they would move all the honey “upstairs.” I went to remove the super but it still had honey in it. I’m worried that the queen might come down and start laying eggs in it. Should I let them continue to use the honey or remove the super so they don’t lay eggs in it. I’d say 70% of the honey is gone.
We have had such a mild winter that the bees have not needed most of the honey in the bottom box, so far. I would leave the honey super in place until the first of March. I would be surprised if the queen moved down that far before March.
I noticed some black droppings on my mite board. They were smaller than mouse droppings and I have read that they might be wax moths. I have had the boards in all winter and removed them during a recent warm up. There were no droppings at that time. We had a cold night or two recently so the boards went back in. When I took them out yesterday is when I noticed the droppings. The hives look full and they are not in a cluster so I would assume they would be able to run the moths out. At this point what should I do? I wasn’t trying to do a full spring inspection yesterday but if I have moths I would assume I would need to go through every frame. Is that OK this time of year?
It is probably a little moth activity since the weather has been so mild. It is nothing at this point to worry about as long as you see a healthy population of bees in the hive. The bees will take care of it.
I also want to remove frames to make my brood boxes 9 frames so I reviewed my notes from class and got really confused. I looked all through your book and couldn’t find that technique spelled out anywhere. This is what I think you told us in class based on my notes, but please tell me if this is wrong: In spring you should move the top brood box down to the lower position. Take two empty frames from the now upper box, that was on the bottom and should be empty, and put them in the middle of the lower brood box where all the bees should now be, including queen.
You should wait to remove that tenth frame until you perform your first full hive inspection. Also, that is the time you divide the frames up like I talk about in my new book, "Beekeeping: Questions & Answers" which will be out this April.
Take the top box and set it aside. Remove 3 frames (or more depending on how much brood is present) of brood from the middle of the top box and place them in the middle of the lower box after removing three frames in the lower box. Take any brood frames left in the top box and squeeze the frames together to keep the brood together. (If you are wanting to end-up with only 9 frames per box, do so now by taking the extra frames from the side which is usually empty this time of year.) Then add the number of frames you want back on the sides of the brood frames.
Most beekeepers and books tell you to just reverse the top and bottom box to alleviate hive congestion. This is not good enough. When doing so, the same box will still be congested and the possibility of swarm preparation still exists. By performing my technique, hive congestion is immediately reduced and the pressure for the bees to start swarm preparation is eliminated. (most of the time)
Be careful not to perform this management technique too early, because, the cold temperature could kill some brood if there are not enough bees to cover the brood during the cold spell.
Last question – I have two 1-pound jars of fall honey that had a funny taste so I didn’t eat them, the rest was left in the super from above. What is the best way to feed this back to the bees to stimulate egg laying?
You could mix one part honey with two or three parts water.
Thanks for all your help. I couldn’t do this very well without having you as a resource.
I received your wonderful book yesterday evening and just finished my first reading this evening after church services. I thank and congratulate you on writing a book which is not only informative but also gives the reader a feeling of some of the pleasures of beekeeping and being out of doors in a quiet setting. I am retired and considering taking the plunge into hobby beekeeping. I am favorably impressed with your work to return beekeeping to a condition not requiring the intentional introduction of chemicals into the hive. Perhaps your work coupled with the organic farming movement will, someday, result in the possibility of truly organic honey. I hope to be able to take some of your classes.
Again thank you for your book and work.
Fred Keefer In the suburbs of North Zulch, Texas
I am really glad that you are enjoying my book. It took nearly fifty years to finally put it together. I really enjoyed writing it. I had one more book in me so, I just finished another book called, "Beekeeping: Questions and Answers". The book includes answers to questions that I have been asked over the many years of beekeeping from interested folks and from beekeepers alike. The book should be available in April. It will be sold here on our secured website, Walter T. Kelley and from Amazon just like my first book.
It would be nice to have you join the ranks of beekeepers that don't intentionally pollute the hive with chemicals. We certainly don't have enough chemical free beekeepers in the world right now. You should take classes and read as much as you can before you take the plunge. The initial cost is rather high but, if you learn how to properly manage your hives, you could be successful.
I am always available to help you in your new adventure. Thanks for your compliments and I hope that you decide to raise a few hives.
We had some pretty days a couple weeks ago. The bees were active and enjoying the sunshine. I decided to make an inspection but, ran into a problem. I was unable to break the frames loose from the hive body. I tried 2-3 frames to no avail. I inserted my hive tool between the top and bottom hive body and tried to twist the top hive box. No luck. I think the bees have attached the bottom of frames in the upper box to the top of the frames in the lower box.
Any suggestions would appreciated.
The easiest way to break the frames free is to pry-up the entire top brood box from the bottom brood box. This will break the burr comb loose allowing you to lift the frames from the top.
With this mild winter we are having the yaupon flow may come a week or so earlier than normal. We have had some good rains as well.
Tonight I went to the Montgomery County Bee Keepers Association Meeting'. Someone there that is supposedly in the know ask me about my bees. I did not volunteer any information throughout the night. However, this person told me when I got my Nuc's that regardless of having the plants (Yaupon) needed around the Hives I would have to feed them sugar water to get them to draw out the comb on the other six frames even though the Nuc's 4 frames would come with a lot of comb drawn out already. My question is would I have to feed them or will they get plenty of nectar and pollen from the Yaupon that is in abundance there and not 50 feet away.
It depends on when you receive your nuc. If the yaupon flow is going on, you will not have to feed them until the flow is over. The yaupon flow usually lasts for 3 weeks. The goal for us to achieve here in Texas is to get our hives in 2 brood boxes with drawn comb. Sometimes in order to do that we need to feed the bees until they reach that stage.
I recommend not feeding the bees if a natural honey flow is going on when the bees are drawing out their first 2 brood boxes. If you are feeding and the flow starts, remove the sugar water until the flow is over. It is better for the bees to gather natural nectar than to spend time gathering sugar water. When the bees have drawn out 2 brood boxes and have stored plenty of honey/sugar water, than you can quit feeding.
Days Gone By