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Please preview my books ****** "Beekeeping: A Personal Journey" ****** and ****** "Beekeeping: Questions and Answers" ****** 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.

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

Your Host

 Hello Everyone,

Those of us in the South are in the middle of our bee season. Here at Lone Star Farms, we have just completed our first honey flow from the yaupon bush. This year proved to be a pleasant change from the last two years. We have had close to average winter rain falls which promoted plant growth on the yaupon bush and provided a nice honey surplus for the beekeeper. It is a wonderful feeling to raise your bees without the use of any chemicals and to make a honey surplus from healthy bees. That is what all beekeepers should strive for. Healthy bees, chemical free hive products and honey surplus. Who says that the "good old days" are gone?

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 For Sale

 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 purehoneyproducer@att.netor you may call me at 281.932.4887.

 Costa Kouzounis

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Bee Talk

 Dennis,

I enjoy reading your first book. I have a quick question! How long can you keep new queen bees in their cages before using them in new split hives? I want to order a nuc and queen bees? Brian

Hello Brian,

 I am glad that you are enjoying my first book.

 Of course it is better to install the new queen as soon as possible but, I would not want the queen (with attendance) to be in the cage before you install her for more than 6 days including shipping time. Remember, the hive bees will not usually begin to except her for another couple of days which will total 8 days. Then, the bees in the hive will begin to take care of her. After that time period, you will be taking a chance on her. Make sure you always have attendance bees with your caged queen. You should dab your finger in some water 4 times a day and dab your finger onto the screen. Do not drag your finger across the screen. Dab it.

 There are some queen breeders who have good luck storing queens in “queen banks” for months at a time. These queen banks (hives) work “best” if they are queen-less and are given capped brood every week to provide young nurse bees that will take care of the stored queens. A queen bank can store 100 queen cages at a time and more.

There has been a lot of controversy over using stored queen’s verses queens that have been caged for a much shorter time. I agree with using queens that have not been in a stored condition for long periods. I believe that to allow the queen to lay dormant for a long period after having been laying normal egg production, affects her ability to resume normal egg production. I have seen a lot of queens be superseded who have been in a queen bank for a long period.

 Dennis

Dennis,

 Question: Last year I had a hive supersede or swarm, the queen was new (not marked as I originally put in the hive). The hive got "hot" on me, but I didn't have time to re-queen last fall.

 I've checked them a couple of times and both times at least 50 bees come at me when I go through the hive. They are, to say the least...AGGRESSIVE. Obviously, I've been Africanized to some degree. They don't follow me all the way to the truck, but a good distance, more than normal. At least the hive is in a pasture area away from human contact.

 I will try to re-queen, but I've heard that Africanized hives and/or REALLY aggressive hives are sometimes hard to re-queen. They reject the "genetics" from w/o.

 Have you had to deal w/ a situation like this? What if I am unable to find the queen and re-queen, and/or they reject the new queen...should I just kill the hive out? I don't want to mess with them being SO aggressive. It's scary for me that someone might accidentally walk up to the hive and something bad happen.

 Thanks for your advice! Hope to make a class sometime!! We have a wedding potluck at our house on Sat. w/ setup in the morning, so I can't make this class. 

Chuck Durham  

 Hello Chuck,

 I thought you may have been taken away by all the aggressive bees that you seem to raise. I remember a couple of years ago when I visited your bee yard and your bees thought I was a pin cushion.

 Do you remember how we found the queen in that hot hive? Read my chapter called "Working with the devil" in my book “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey” again. I explain the procedure there. It would take too long and too many pages to address it here. You should not kill the bees outright before you exhaust all other measures.

 It was good to hear from you. Keep in touch.

 Dennis

Dennis,

I just realized my new queen and two new nucs are coming this weekend. I have the equipment ready but I’m not sure what to do about the queen. I bought her to do a split with my big hive that is busting at the seams but I just removed four frames to put into my weaker hive to give it a boost. With the Yaupon flow coming on I’m unsure if I should split the larger hive still or just re-queen. It has a ……… queen from the original nuc and that hive had some mite issues last year. They are also aggressive this spring, more so than last year. I feel re-queening that hive wouldn’t be a bad idea but it is coinciding with a honey flow so does that change things? If I continue with the split would any of the hives have a chance to make a surplus (a weak but boosted hive, two nucs and a strong but just split hive)? Any other suggestions on using the queen in another way?

I bought my queen from ………and he sent instructions about how to re-queen that I have never seen before. He talks about killing the queen by raking your hive tool over her against the comb and leaving her in the hive. I have searched your book and my notes and I’m pretty sure the only thing I could find was just kill the queen and get rid of the body. Install the new queen at the same time. What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks as always,   David

 Hello David,

 If I were you, I would re-queen the strong hive because of the high mite count and the aggressiveness. I usually give my bees the first week of a honey flow anyway before I super them so you would have time for the new queen to be released before supering.

 I would not count on producing any yaupon surplus right now but, you could build your hives up to make a surplus from tallow at the end of May.

 I am aware of the way ……….. kills the queen and drops her back into the hive. I don't see anything wrong with his technique of re-queening but, I don't see any advantages either. When a queen dies, her pheromones don't just disappear. They fade over many hours. The theory is that the bees will see that the queen is dead and will except another queen sooner. My thinking is that the queen’s pheromones are what the hive uses as a signal that the queen is still in the hive, not sight of the queen herself. I always remove the queen from the hive. I am sure that either way will be OK.

 Dennis

Thanks Dennis.

 Is there any benefit to killing the queen a day or two before putting the new queen into the hive? That makes sense to me but if the bees make a queen cell and I miss it they could supersede my queen.

David,

Most beekeepers will kill the queen 24 hours before re-queening. I am on the fence about that. I usually kill the queen and immediately insert the new queen cage. It takes from three to four days for the queen to be released and the bees will usually accept her by then. I find that the bees don't produce queen cells when I do it that way. (Just like you are thinking) But, I still go through the hive and look for queen cells just in case.

Another down side to killing the queen early is that the new queen may arrive dead in the cage (it has happened to me) and now you have a queen-less hive on your hands. By the time you can receive another queen in the mail, the hive is full of queen cells that will have to be removed.

 Dennis

 Dennis,

I just re-queened an aggressive hive with a Russian queen. The queen was released after four days and I did an inspection today. I found her in the bottom box on the 3rd to last frame I checked. I was worried she wasn’t in there because on top I found a dozen swarm cells and one regular queen cell in the middle of the frame. Only one or two was fully formed and probably two others were close to being closed up. The rest were under construction. None of these were there last weekend when I killed the old queen. The bottom box had no queen cells at all. Is it normal for all of them to be in the top box? Do you think this was a result of being queen-less for four days or maybe swarm preparations? They are not crowded since I removed four frames of brood and bees 3-4 weeks ago to equalize a weaker hive. But they have fully drawn out the four replacement frames of foundation and have filled them with honey. I just added a honey super today as well. I guess I’m just concerned about the new queen and need to see if this is normal behavior that I can control by removing the cells or if I need to take some other action.

Thanks,  David

David,

Sounds like that they made queen cells after you killed their queen. Make sure you find all the queen cells and get rid of them. It is obvious that the bees have accepted the new queen or they would have killed her. Check back on Sunday (three days) to see if the queen is laying and if the bees are constructing more queen cells. If there are any new queen cells, there is a problem which we will have to figure out.

Dennis

Dennis,

 Was nice to see you yesterday and to get a chance to meet Costa. The nucs made it back to Huntsville...only had a few bees flying around the inside of my vehicle. I set the nucs outside in the shade and waited a couple of hours. Toward evening I suited up to install the bees into my brood boxes. It all went smoothly. One nuc seemed to have a lot more bees than the other. Was able to observe a queen busy at work, but did not locate the queen in the other...so many bees on the frames and I did not take the time to search carefully. It didn’t take long to get the frames in the boxes, set the entrance reducers in place and slide in the feeders.

It was FUN! The bees are fascinating. I told them goodnight and then checked on them about 8 am this morning. There wasn’t much activity around the hives but could hear a lot of buzzing inside. A dozen or so bees were on the outside of each hive, exploring cracks and walking around the outside of the feeders. I carefully slid out a feeder to see if the bees had found the sugar water. I was surprised to discover no bees in the feeder or in the feeder opening. Checked the other hive and it was the same. I got some sugar water on my finger, and gave it to one of the bees on the outside of the box. I placed her inside the feeder and put it back into the opening thinking that if one bee found the feeder, the others would soon discover it. I did the same for the other hive. I checked them again about 1 pm and things seemed more normal around the hives, bees were buzzing around the entrance and a steady but small flow of bees coming and going. I slowly pulled a feeder and was happy to discover a lot of traffic into and out of the feeder. The other was the same. Costa said to leave them alone for a couple of weeks...I can’t wait to open them up to see what progress has been made.

 I have been fascinated by bees all my life and as a child wanted to have my own hives. Thank you for making the classes available to us. You gave me the confidence to jump in and get started. I know I’m still on a steep learning curve, but I’m having fun learning and already enjoying just watching the bees come and go. I would not have done it without your investment of time in your books, classes, and club. Thank you so much! See you Saturday,

 John Davidhizar

 Hello,

 I was just wondering if you use consider essential oils, or raw sugar a chemical in the hive? While both occur naturally some people do consider essential oils a chemical?

Kimberley Stowell  Stowell Farm  skiatook, OK.  Member of NEOBA , Tulsa, OK.  Member of:  OK. state bee keepers  kstowell6@aol.com

 Hello Kimberley,

 You pose a good question. I am not much of a chemist but, I do know that there are several chemicals on the market that claim to be Natural products. I suppose that the particular chemical itself in its natural state could be natural. However, those so called natural products are changed by the chemical company's and turned into something much stronger. If you read the label on these products, it will admit to killing bees and brood. It also states that you should wear your safety gear when applying the product. I don't believe they are referring to a bee suit.

I honestly don't know enough about essential oils to guide you in a direction. I never had an interest in using such things in my hives. Truthfully, there is no reason to. I devoted a chapter in my book, "Beekeeping: A Personal Journey" to raising bees without placing anything in the hive except powdered sugar from time to time when the need arose. Powdered sugar is definitely not considered a harmful chemical to honeybees. In fact, I have never heard of anyone to consider powdered sugar a chemical.

 There are so many of us that don't place anything in the hive out there that I hope you and everyone else will realize that the bees can live without using anything in the hive. It is all about knowledge and the management skills of the beekeeper.

 I hope that I have helped you and thank you for your great question.

 Dennis

 Mr. Dennis,

 You did a great job of preparing me. It went great! I do or will have a lot of questions during the break times, come Saturday. But, unless I am all wet, things look better than I could have imagined. I suited up today and transferred all the frames adding the 5 new ones so the deep would be full. It was early and the Bee's seemed to be so docile I did not use any smoke. I had it lit but just put it way away from them cause they were so docile. It was great all the way around. I know you have been through it many times but, this was my first and I have to say pretty exciting.    Paul

 Hello Paul,

 I am glad that it all went smoothly. I guess that you stayed awake at least for the important parts of the classes. When you first bought my book, I thought that you would probably just look at the pictures but, instead, you obviously read it. Good job. It is exciting and I hope that it will stay exciting to you.

 Email me if I can be of any assistance.

 Dennis

 Mr. Dennis,

I have a question.

I have a hive that I expect to have to put a second box on today. However, it had a lot of Hive Beetles in it when I checked it last week. (8 or 9) I killed most of them but, what do I do about that, or do I ignore them and let the Bee's take care of the situation.

Now I am about ready to have put a second box on that group of Bee's. Paul

 Hello Paul,

 Are your bees working on the two side frames? If so, it would be time to add another box. If your hive population is strong then the bees will take care of the hive beetles. If you continue to have a hive beetle problem, then you are giving the bees more space than they can take care of.

 Dennis

 To all of those who have had the opportunity to visit one of Dennis’s classes.  I have been going to Dennis's Beekeeping Classes since July, 2012. I am a retired teacher of 31 years.

I have to write and say that all of you who miss Dennis’s classes are really missing something. Few times if ever have I witnessed a teacher that cares more about their students and how they do than Dennis does. Also, he has another job and does not need to do this, I believe he is teaching these classes just to pass on the knowledge he has acquired over these many decades of being a Beekeeper himself. A quality that is seldom displayed by those that did something for so long for a living.

 Yes, he is a rebel or maverick but, in a good way, actually a great way, I would really label him as an innovator. He believes in being a Beekeeper without the use of chemicals. I have watched and read a lot of information put out by Beekeepers and the amount of chemicals used is mountainous. I do not know how they can spend as much money on just chemicals as they do, to do Beekeeping. If you are like me, then you know that many chemicals are not good for the human body. After all, the human body lasted for thousands of years without them. Only in the last 100 years have they become prevalent in our way of life. And I for one do not think they're good for the body. At least very few of them are.

 His classes are very organized and he is a much better than an average explainer of how to do things. You can see that in his book, “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey”. He also treats his students with respect and with a lot of humor thrown in. His classes are a joy to go to and listening to him is mesmerizing. One will forget to take notes, which he constantly encourages his students to do. He re-explains things if asked to do so or he detects that many of the students did not grasp the concept. He allows the class to take breaks and while on break he answers questions other than what his class is about at the time. In that, he is very good at staying on task in his lessons. I could spend all day saying how I like his classes but, one thing I am disappointed in and that is how few students are at some of his classes. I plan to go to as many as I can, because, I have a lot to learn in order to become a good Beekeeper and will retake his classes to get what I may have missed the first time or even the second time to re-enforce what I know to do. Bees are far more intricate than I ever thought they were. However, with learning the proper techniques I believe I can be successful in my beekeeping endeavor. There is so much to know in order for someone to become truly successful in the art of beekeeping.

 I really hope to see and meet you at his next class.

 Paul Bartlett

 Paul,

Thanks for the compliment. I couldn’t quite read the fine print though. How much did you say I owe you for those nice words? Ha! Really though, thank you very much.    Dennis

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Days Gone By