If you are a member and have something to share that is "Bee" related such as a story or information, please send it to me by email.

Remember that the "Cletus Calendar" page will tell you what you should be doing this month and the "Archive" page contains all of the previous months of the "Newsletter and Cletus Calendar".

Please preview my new book ****** "Beekeeping: A Personal Journey" ****** on the book page. You can purchase it here on this site, in the classroom, Amazon.com or from Walter T. Kelley Bee Supply Company.

"Post your Lone Star Farms Bee club on your Face-Book Page.

Your host---For Sale--Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Your host

I would like to give a BIG "Congratulations" to one of our members "Robert Nelson" for receiving the Outstanding Citizen of the month award in his home town.

Outstanding Citizen of the Month - February, 2012

Robert Nelson

 Robert came in to existence August 8, 1930 on Bear Creek Road near I35. The area now is DeSoto but back then was listed as Cedar Hill. Robert was the 9th child and the 7th boy from a family of 13. Five of his brothers served in the military during WWII. When he was three his family moved near Joe Wilson and Parkerville and at age five they moved to the Tindle home located at the end of Ramsey St. In 1947, they moved to a brand new home on Hickerson St. that his older brother built for the family. Robert began school in Cedar Hill in 1936 and graduated in 1948. He married Virginia Ann (Jinx) Lusk and has two stepsons, six grandchildren and four great grand children.

Robert worked for Sears and the National Battery Co a while before he was employed by Federal Pacific Electric Co. where he was Manufacturing Engineer for 35 years. The Dallas plant closed and he then worked for American Circuit Breaker in North Carolina for 7 years. He retired at age 66 and moved back to Texas on Joe Wilson Road. As a hobby he started doing his Family Tree and has over 3400 names. His great,great, great grandfather George Nelson died in the battle of the Alamo. Alexander Hamilton is his first cousin nine times removed. His great, great, great grandmother Jane Hamilton married his great, great, great grandfather Captain Robert Cooper in South Carolina, ca. 1770.

About 1971 while living in Arlington he started a hobby of Bee Keeping. In 1974 he moved to Irving to be closer to his FPE job so downsized giving several hives to his brother Vinus and brother-in-law Roy Vincent. Just prior to his move to North Carolina he gave Vinus the rest of his bees. Moving back to Texas in 1996 he bought more bees and hives naming the hobby, "Honey From Robert". He currently has 10 hives, but has had up to 20 hives at one time in recent years.

In 1998, Robert, Leon Mobley and J.R. Hickman met to have a 50 year class reunion and decided to make it the beginning of an annual school reunion. In 2000 the 1950 graduating group signed on the project and it has developed into the Annual Cedar Hill 1931-1981 Reunion which meets on the 2nd Saturday in September. Robert is also actively involved with the Cedar Hill Museum/Historical Society.

Robert is proud of his family heritage and can tell you all about the Cooper's, Wisdom's and Nelson's all the way back. Cedar Hill is proud to have Robert and his family call Cedar Hill home.

For those of you who would like to congratulate Robert on his achievement, he can be reached at; rojigo@gmail.com

For Sale

 FOR SALE

Nucs:   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 35 years. I will be offering a limited number of nucs for sale beginning in April. The cost for each nuc will be …………. and can be picked up at Lone Star Farms in Bryan or in Houston at ……….  If you are interested or need further information, please call 281-932-4887 or email me at demosautomotive@aol.com

Costa Kouzounis

 For sale

I am making Warre hives for sale for 250.00 in either 3/4 or 1 ½ inch thicknesses. I am also making horizontal hives but have not priced them yet, they will be a shallow design for our summer heat to help avoid comb collapse, they will also be 3/4 or 1 1/2 inch thick.

   Dan Rowe   danandkelley@gmail.com       I am a member of the Lone Star Farms bee club.

Bee Talk

Hello Mr Brown,

Read with interest your reply to the article by Howard Scott in Mar ABJ.  And I must say that I agreed with all your points, which might be a rarity!  I do have a question though, Do you use Minnesota  Hygienic Queens?  I have started using them exclusively and am satisfied with their performance and I get mine from Olivarez in Ca.  By the way for information, I am 81 years old and have been keeping bees for about 40 yrs.  Don't know much but I manage to get by and harvest a few barrels of honey each year without the use of any chemicals. Only use powdered sugar. I am just curious if you use MHQ's.   I am not good on the computer but I plan on learning how to access your website as they seem very interesting, many thanks and have a good year bee keeping, thanks,   Doug

Hello Doug,

How did you find Lone Star Farms? It seems like there are a million different ways folks keep bees. When I read that article I just had to say something. There was so much misinformation in that one article that I felt compelled to say something. Most beginning beekeepers subscribe to those magazines and when they read these articles they believe what's in it because after all, it is written in a magazine. 

I have seen many beekeepers come and go over the last 48 years. A lot of the time beekeepers leave the hobby because they read crazy stuff like that article then try it themselves and never have much success with it so they give up on beekeeping. It is a shame.

I have spent a life time experimenting in beekeeping. My new book Beekeeping: A Personal Journey is a testament to how I do some things much differently than other beekeepers and am successful at it. Yes, I have tried "Minnesota Hygienic" queens and it is true that they are more hygienic than some other bees but, I did not have much luck with them after the first year. My mite counts began to increase in the spring of the second season. I like my hives to maintain a very low mite count for two to three years minimum.   Keep us posted on your activities.

Dennis

 Dennis,

I am curious as to what kind of queens you use?   I agree that after the first year the Minnesota-Hygienic queens seem to go down-hill a bit.  But the ones I have really preformed in that first year.  So I am wonder what kind of queen you like and if anyone in the club raises queens that you like, or anyone in the local area, if so could you give me their address?     Thanks, Doug  

Hello Doug,

For all of my non-experimental hives, I use B-Weaver queens and queens from the Russian Queen Breeders Association members. Both of these are listed on the club link page. These bees are the silver bullet in my opinion. I have been using these bees for years.  

Dennis

Hey Dennis,

I guess lightning strikes twice sometimes. After I caught a swarm of bees off a cedar tree in my bee yard Tuesday, I came home yesterday and found another swarm on the same tree. I figured the swarm I caught yesterday had left, but I checked them and they were still in the hive. I luckily had gotten up early yesterday morning and put together some more frames, so I had enough to put this swarm onto. However, I have been building more hives, assembling frames, painting hives, and trying to prepare for the honey flow until late last night and all evening today. When you said to get a plan together during the winter, I only planned on building up my existing hives and making a honey crop this year. I neglected to plan for swarms of free bees!

Is it common for swarms to be attracted to the same tree? Or do you think this was just luck? Do they leave behind some swarm pheromone that attracts other swarms to the same spot? It's going to be interesting to see if any more swarms pick this spot.

I wish I could have taken a picture of the swarms. They were huge and easily filled my hives. Looks like it's going to be a great year!   Later,  Jeff

 Hello Jeff,

Do you think these swarms are coming from your hives? It is normal to find swarms in the same spot or a few feet from one another. That is why when you place a swarm box out, you should use a box that has already had bees in it. (That's in my book.) The scent of a previous bee location is an attractant to other bees.

Remember to add a frame or two of brood to this new swarm as well. You should feed these swarms until they quit taking the feed. Swarms will draw-out foundation in a hurry if they have a constant food source available to them. Be prepared to have more swarm opportunities through-out the spring. I mentioned before that this year will be remembered as the swarm year. 

Dennis

Hello Dennis,

How's Lone Star Farms tonight? Have you gotten any rain? We have had some good showers tonight. Great weather for catching a swarm right? WRONG!!!

Let me tell you about my latest adventure. I went out to the bee yard tonight to check on a hive I'm doing a mite count on and out of the corner of my eye I see a swarm of bees on the same tree I have already caught a swarm from. They are all clustered together tightly and since it is almost dark, I figured I better hurry and get my gear together. I can hear thunder in the distance and it is beginning to rain. Luckily I have a hive put together.

With everything together and lantern in hand (my wife went to town with my flashlight in the car), I hurry out to the bee yard to capture more free bees. I set the hive on the ground under the swarm, take a five gallon bucket and put under the mass of bees, give the limb a shake, and dump my prize into the waiting hive. I wish it was as easy as it sounds. Now I don't know if the bees inside the cluster didn't like getting wet from the rain that was now falling steadily and saturating them, or if it was my bright lantern that awoke them from a restful sleep, but they became upset with me. I shook the limb again to try to remove the remaining bees and at that point I learned the hard way bees can't fly when wet. Yes, they rained down on me like hot ash from a mad volcano. Luckily I did have on gloves and my veil, but I neglected to tuck in my shirt. I think they wanted to get under my shirt to stay dry because that's where I got stung. As if that wasn't bad enough several stayed on me until I got inside. When I started taking off my clothes they began to sting me again.

I know bees swarming are supposed to be "docile", but I suppose that if some fool woke me and made me get wet, I'd be upset too. I'm glad you offer your class at half price to those who have already had it, because I'm probably going to be a repeat repeat repeat student. Seems like some where in all my schooling, I seem to remember you saying something about bees not liking stormy weather. Is that right?

Now, I have a question. I didn't have time (or pain tolerance) to put a frame or two of brood in the hive with them, but I did put a queen excluder between the bottom-board and hive body to keep the queen in. Do you think the swarm will stay? Seems like I also remember you saying that a lot of times when a colony swarms, they agitate the queen to lose weight in order to fly and this causes her to be able to fit through the excluder. Is this correct?

Oh, well. It's ok I suppose if I lose this swarm. I'm getting disheartened over all the swarms I've had this year. I know of seven that have been in my bee yard. I have managed to catch 5. I didn't have this problem last year. Have you had any swarms? I need to attend the next class you have that deals with swarming. I also had a call Sunday from my uncle who had a swarm hanging from a tree in his yard, but I couldn't get it because I didn't have any hives finished yet. If I get any more calls like this, do you want me to let you know and maybe send out an alert to all the members to see if they want them?

Well, better go lick my wounds.        Jeff

Hello Jeff,

That is one reason I love beekeeping so much. There is always something exciting going on. You are gathering great stories in your beekeeping endeavor that you will be able to tell your grandchildren.

 So far I have not had any swarms from my own hives. I know a lot of beekeepers have this year because of the warm winter temperatures we experienced. I got into my hives the last week of February and "equalized" all my hives. I worked them again a week ago (two days before the yaupon flow started) to make sure that there were no queen cells present. I did not want the bees swarming during the honey flow.

About a week or so before a swarm issues, the worker bees will restrict the queen from laying so her body weight will reduce for flying. If the queen was small in statute to begin with, the queen can sometimes fit through a queen excluder. I think that you did not have to add that queen excluder if you had put the brood in the hive. Usually, the swarm will not leave the brood.

Keep enjoying your bees. Someday you will look back at all these beekeeping stories and smile. (Take notes)

Dennis

Hi Dennis,

I read your book a while back and you have been nice enough to answer my questions from time to time. I have a few more if you don’t mind. I live in Austin.

1.I need to move some hives about one mile away. The books say a two mile move is the minimum distance necessary to keep bees from orienting back to their original location. I was speculating that I might be able to get away with one mile in light of the fact the bees have not had to go far for nectar right now since the bloom is everywhere. I was planning on keeping a single hive in the original apiary to hopefully capture any returning bees. I assume they will go back to any available hive that is close to their original hive location if some do orient back? What are your thoughts on all this?

It is always better to move the hive a minimum of two miles from the original location. Your bees have probably gone at least the two mile distance even though there is lots of flower bloom around you. However, if there is a hive located in the original yard, they will probably find it.

2.If I move the hive at sunset one day, is it acceptable to re-queen them the very next day. My gut feeling is that they will be stressed out the next day so it is not a good time to kill the existing queen and add a new one in a cage, however my time logistics are such I don’t have much choice. Is the re-queening likely to be unsuccessful?

Rushing beekeeping management is never a good idea. Trying to force nature to fit our schedules lessens the final result in your favor. Sometimes we need to do things when we can do them but we need to also accept whatever result we get. If I had to follow your plan I would find the queen the day before the move and kill her. If you wait until the day you moved them, your bees will be extremely angry when you open the hive and the chances of finding the queen will be reduced because all the bees will be running around like crazy including the queen. Then there is "What do I do if I can't find the queen?" You can't introduce a new queen without killing the original queen.

Find the queen the day before and kill her. Put the hive back together. The next day after the move, introduce the new queen. Don't run a nail through the candy like usual. This will allow a few more hours before the queen is released.

3.I found capped swarm cells in one of my hives so I did an emergency split. I took five frames of brood with the attached queen cells and put them in a new full size hive and added honey and pollen frames. I would like to re-queen that hive this weekend when my queens come in. However I realize that a colony in the process of re-queening itself behaves like a queen-right colony so they are likely not to accept a new queen. If I want to re-queen this weekend what do I do? I am bound to have a virgin queen running around or perhaps she will already be gone on her mating fight so not sure how to handle that.

You really like to push the envelope don't you? Starting a week earlier or a week later would have taken care of all these problems for you. Planning is the key to successful beekeeping.

There is no good way to re-queen that hive without killing all the queens/cells. Since you have no clue if there are virgins in the hive, it is not worth having a new queen destroyed by the bees. It would be better to wait until the hive settles down with their queen before you take a chance in losing a new one.

 Be careful when moving your splits less than two miles away. You could lose a lot of the population if they fly back to the original location. If the splits get to weak, they could get robbed out.

 I hope that this helps.

Dennis

Dennis,

Thank you so much for your help with this. I am in a Master Beekeeping program so although I have some books smarts on some of this I still have little practical experience.

Thanks, Lance Wilson

 Hi Dennis,

 Here's one for you, yesterday I went in the back yard, to work on the one hive that seems to have around 60000 Bees. I took the two supers off and the bottom super all ten frames was filled with brood and about 5 queen cells. My thought was to take the frame of Queen cells and put them in the brood box with four frames of brood, then all at once the Bees went crazy, stinging the heck out of me.

Today at 12:30pm I let the dog out and I stepped out and they came out of the hive again and went crazy. Could this hive have been taken over by African Bees? They also went over to my neighbors house and stung the son and their 21 year old. They just went crazy yesterday and seems to be doing it again. What do you think I need to do?

Thanks for your help.   Ralph

Hello Ralph,

When you say, "supers", are those brood boxes or honey supers? I have a few hives that are going crazy right now as well. It is not unusual for some hives to be more aggressive as the weather begins to change from winter to spring. There is not enough foliage around this time of year for all the bees to spend their time gathering nectar/pollen for the hive so they are upset. When was the last time you worked this hive? Did you notice at that time if they had honey stored in the cells?

Dennis

Morning Dennis,

 Last week I checked this hive and they had some storage, then when I checked again that's when I noticed I had two different bees and that was when they came out and attacked, myself and neighbors, relentlessly, for two days, so I wonder if they were taken over by a swarm of aggressive bees. Now my bees are black, these others look Italian and they do not stop coming after people they just keep coming.  Ralph

Ralph,

Was the queen you started off with marked? If so, do you still have the same queen in your hive? 

Dennis

  Hello Dennis,

   I have one hive that has so many bees that to conserve space they clump together. I broke down the hive, cleaned the burr comb, and examined the hive. This hive is aggressive and when I received them last year they were gentle.  The queen, I hope, really soon, will begin a new layer of eggs. The other hive that started out aggressive is now gentle and I saw very little capped cells. Should the queen be replaced?  Thanks,   Randall

 Hello Randall,

 Does this hive have plenty of food stored? If the food stores are low, the queen will quit laying. Is there eggs/larva present and is the brood pattern good?   

Dennis

 Dennis, 

No. On the gentle hive there is little honey. I presume with the spring flow this will change.  Randall

 Randall,

 The queen will only lay according to how much food stores are available. Sounds like the food supply was to low and the queen has not been laying. Give it a little time to see if the current flower source is enough. If it isn't, you will need to feed so keep an eye on it.

Dennis

Days Gone By