Your Host--For Sale---Club News---Bee Talk---Days Gone By

Your Host;  Hello everyone. I want to thank the new members for helping us make a difference. By now most of us have extracted once and are looking forward to a possible fall extraction. It has been a good year so far for us here at "Lone Star Farms". I hope that your year is going as good as ours. This is "Get to know your area club member" month this month. Go to the member list on the site and find the members who are close to you and introduce yourselves. It is always nice to know and visit other members in your area. You can share stories and information about things going on with your bees in your own area.

I would like for you to visit the new store page. It is finally complete. We have a few items listed that have your club logo's on them. Help support your club. Thanks, Dennis

                                            For Sale

Mega Bee--bee diet patties purchased from Dadant. 1 - 40 lbs. box. Each patty is approx 1 lb. There have been 4 patties removed from the box. That leaves 36 patties. The original price for the box was $58.00 plus $20.00 for shipping. The selling price is $30.00. If anyone is interested please contact Dennis at Lone Star Farms. The item is for pick up only. 

                                            Club News

I will be putting together another field trip for our members that will take place maybe in August or September. I will try to find a queen breeders operation that will give us a tour of their operation. I will keep you posted on my progress.

                                             Bee Talk 

  Dennis: 

I can’t even begin to tell you how glad I am that I joined the Lone Star Farms Bee Club!  The willingness of your club members to unite and help other members is truly unique.  As you know, I was struggling with the continued problems with my bees at my bee yard and I was getting worried.  Lord and behold, the club offered support to help me and the beekeepers in the club by setting up a club field trip.  Glad you had us all meet at the restaurant……….both as a central meeting spot and also, as it turned out, to see who had the biggest tape worm!  The camaraderie was great both at the restaurant and at my bee yard but most of all Dennis, the wealth of knowledge I’ve gained since joining the club and I’m sure the other members as well, is priceless.  I, no doubt am a better beekeeper from joining your club, interacting/learning from other members and reading the club’s monthly newsletter!  Jim Thompson and his nifty camera, Mark Short, Byron Short, Mark Hunt and yourself all joined in and were busy as bees to help in the diagnosis of the problem and in the requeening my hives with B. Weaver queens! Thanks again to you, the club as a whole and particularly the above mentioned members.  That’s what it’s all about………..members helping members.  

 

  Costa Kouzounis           

 

 Hey guy's, 

I just finished tackling the African hive. After Jim Thompson and I removed the hive from the original stand on Saturday and moved it across the bee yard to another stand, only about 10% of the field/older bees returned to the original stand which I placed a brood box with 2 frames of honey no brood and the rest drawn comb. A new queen was placed inside the box and the top went on. In theory, the aggressive bees should except the new queen more easily because they don't have any brood. We than split the original hive in half not taking time to locate the queen at this time. Our hope was that most of the field bees would return to the original hive stand thus reducing the amount of bees we would have to look through. It appears that the split with the queen had at least 80% of the bees in it today. Apparently the split with the queen sent out a scent that the other bees followed. It was obvious which split had the queen by the numbers of bees on the outside of the entrance. After saying a long prayer I went to work. I popped the top and the war began. It was hard too see through my veil because of all the bees blocking my vision. I was literally covered in bees wanting a piece of me. I remove the combs one at a time searching for the queen. Aggressive bees tend to scurry around more than calmer bees do. As I inspected each frame I would place and lean it up against the hive stand. By now the battle was raging. I went through each comb without finding the queen devil. I than laid the hive top on the ground placed an empty hive body on top of it. Then I placed a queen excluder on top of that. I went through each frame again. If I did not find her on a frame, I shook the bees off onto the top of the queen excluder. I would than inspect the top of the queen excluder for the queen. I did this process until at last I found her on a frame. I snatched her up before she escaped again. Even though she was by now repenting her sins with a higher authority her legion of assassins were still pounding my amour. I placed all the frames into the box and place a queen/cage inside. Then the top went on. The other half of the split will be placed back on the original hive stand (minus any queen cells that were built) after the new queen had started to lay.

After leaving the bee yard, I found a couple of bees inside my suit where they left a stinger in my arm and leg. How they got in is a mystery. My rubber boots were covered with stingers. I didn't know that a stinger could penetrate a rubber boot. Now in a few days I can revisit the hives to see how they are doing. Such fun.  The following is a picture of one of my boots. There were about 20-30 stingers in the boot before I walked through the grass. Incredible.Dennis.  

                                                                    

 Hello everyone,

I went and checked out my bee yard around 8 last night. Something caught my eye and I looked over in a tree and I saw the biggest swarm I had ever seen about 20 feet off the ground. This swarm was between 7 and 8 pounds. There was no way I was going to lose this big momma. It could have been 100 feet off the ground and I was going after it. To make a long story short, I grabbed some rope, top, bottom board, 6 frames, a 6 foot latter, a hoe and my truck. I parked my truck bed under the swarm. I stood the latter on the truck bed under the swarm. The swarm was still about 6 feet above the top of the latter. I used the rope to spread the lower branches under the swarm apart. I placed the bottom board on top of the latter. Then the deep super with 3 frames spread to the left and 3 spread to the right creating a hole in the center. I then stood on my truck tool box. I used the hoe to reach up and grab the branch that the swarm was hanging on. It was completely dark by now. I pulled the branch down with the hoe to where I could grab it. Then I pulled the branch down even further and positioned it over the hive box. I then gave 2 quick short jerks careful not to let the branch knock the hive off the latter. I heard a huge thud and the roar of that massive swarm. It appeared in the dark that about 85% of the swarm hit the inside of the box although I did have a bunch hit my veil and suit on their way down. Then I took the top and turned it upside down and carefully slide it across the top pushing the bees to one side. I stopped about 2 inches from the side to allow the bees on the outside of the hive to have a second entry point. At this point I had done everything that I could. I got down off the truck hoping that the queen was one of those 50,000 bees now located inside that hive box. The morning time would tell. This morning I raced out to look at the swarm. I felt this overwhelming thrill go through me as I approached the hive and saw all those bees coming and going from the hive entrance. I guess that feeling I had could be compared to a fisherman who just landed the big one.  "I'm the man". Even if it is just for the day.  I grabbled the hive and placed it on a stand next to one of my other hives. I removed the top. The box was completely filled with bees. It was very hard to put in those remaining 4 frames. Then the top went on and my job was done. What a great way to start a day. Dennis 

Dennis - what a great story well told!  Thanks! 

And thanks, too, for the great class yesterday.  This was the first time I've ever communed with other beekeepers and it was so informative and fun.  I learned so much about beekeeping in general - so much more than I have learned from all the books I've read.  And "thank you" to your lovely wife for the tasty vittles. 

I need your advice.  Just before mid April I purchased a Nuc and Queen from B Weaver.  I was going to split my original hive that was busting at the seams (two hive deeps, queen excluder, and a super they wouldn't go up into - yes, I know, I know...  super is now removed)  Anyway, as I walked behind the original hive with my new nuc,  the original bees swarmed - up up and away - about 30 feet off the ground into a ball larger than a basketball.  I put out an empty hive and a for sale sign, but had no takers, and they were gone in two days.  Had I known about your truck and ladder trick, I may have attempted such a feat. 

Anyway, the Nuc and new queen and the frame feeder that came with it I put into a hive deep with 7 empty frames (no comb), with the bees in the middle.  Yes, I know, (now)   that they should be in a smaller home, but I didn't have anything smaller.  I checked a week after they were interred and half the bees had drowned in the feeder (The Horror! The Horror!) and I couldn't find the queen.  I did find the empty queen cage, though, so I was hopeful she was there. 

Well, apparently she wasn't there, or if she was, she had gone to her syrupy death with the others?  Today there are few bees going in and out, no apparent eggs, larva or honey stores, and dead hive larvae on the bottom board.  They were not very feisty when I opened it up.  I put a hive top feeder on the top with 1:1 sugar water and a dribble Honey B Healthy, though I'm not sure anything can help them B Healthy.   I can't get back to the farm until late Thursday, but my plan is to pick up a queen from B Weaver on my way to Wilderville (farm location).  I will pull a frame of eggs/larva and bees (sans queen) from my original hive and put it in the new hive with the new caged queen. Is this the right thing to do, and/or do you have any suggestions?   

Molly Wilson 

Hello Molly, 

I am so glad that you enjoyed the class. I am a bit confused about the details of your email. If all of what you are saying took place in April and you have just recently looked in your hive and found your hive in the condition in which you just described, Then here are my thoughts. Since there has been no brood in the hive I think that the larva you have described is probably beetle larva not bee larva. Have you noticed any beetles in the hive? It would make since that there are some because the hive is very weak and beetles are opportunists like wax moths. I would inspect the hive for pest and disease. If this checked out ok and you are sure that there is no queen I would combine this hive with another hive using the newspaper system. This is where you take the top off a good hive and lay a piece of newspaper across the top bars then make a couple of slices in the paper. Then place the weak hive on top and put the top back on. Maybe around the first of July the hive will be strong enough to split into 2 strong nucs. The hives should have enough time to build into a strong 9--10 frame deep hive by winter. I hope that I have not confused you. If I have, email me with more questions. Dennis 

Hi, Dennis; 

No beetles, not a one in there - it looked very clean.  It's a new hive body, bottom board and top.  The original hive is very clean right now - I only saw one or two beetles when I looked through it yesterday.  

I am 98% sure that those were dried-out bee larva that were pulled from their cells on the bottom screen of the new hive.  Perhaps they were chilled and died, along with the queen? 

I had inspected the nuc at 1, 3, and 5 weeks after getting it, which brings me to yesterday.  I really didn't notice anything amiss at week 1, except for a great many bees in the hive feeder.  At week 3, it was very windy and I was in an out of the hive quickly and didn't see the queen, and I thought the bee population was down due to losing so very many in the sugar water the previous week. 

I suppose I will try the newspaper system.  I just removed the queen excluder from the original hive (after your suggestion in class) and put the super back, since we're having a good mesquite flow right now.  I suppose I need to take that off if I want to do the newspaper system and save the new bees? 

Can you think of a way I can take brood and bees from the original hive and put them into the new hive with a new queen or some combination thereof?  

Thanks, Dennis - for your time and patience. 

Molly 

Molly, 

I still feel the best solution at this time would be to make sure there is no queen and unite the hive. If you start pulling bees/brood out of the good hive, you will be reducing the good hives strength and there by reducing the amount of honey they will be able to collect. Let’s keep the good hive in tact and make some honey for now. Dennis 

Hi, Dennis; 

Well, when I opened the hive to check the bees to prepare to move them to the thriving hive (using the newspaper method) there was maybe 60 bees left, no honey, no larva, so sad.  I looked closer and all the bees were drones.  At least I’m 99% sure they were.  I compared them to the bees coming and going at the healthy hive and they sure looked like drones in comparison.  Does that make any sense?  

I flicked a few of them onto the healthy hive just to see what would happen and absolutely nothing interesting happened.  I saw some house bees come check the two of them out, but there was no aggression.  I dumped the rest on the ground. 

I looked all through the sad hive and found no bugs or beetles – a few ants is all.  No wax moths, the foundation smelled and looked good.  There was what appeared to be dead larva, dried out and some of them halfway out of the cell.  I took both frames I had received with the nuc, shook them out of any debris and put them in my freezer.  I put up the hive parts, storing them with the PDB I got from Kelley. 

Next time I see you I’ll bring one of the frames to see what you think of what was left behind. 

I’m thinking that neither the original queen or the “re” queen I put into that hive survived – the first maybe drowning with the 100’s (1000’s?) of bees in the sugar feeder.  The second one was chewed out of her cage by the remaining bees, but I never found her – only her empty cage. 

I really enjoyed your Africanized bee story!  It sounds like a harrowing adventure.  I saved the email because it was so detailed and so informative.  I appreciate it when you explain why you do something. 

Molly 

Hello Molly, 

You handled the remains of the hive in an excellent manner. Everything you did was perfect. It is too late to start another hive from scratch for this year so at least you have some equipment for next year. I am glad that your other hive is doing well. If I can be of any more help to you, please remember that I am only an email away. Dennis 

Costa, 

I don't treat my hives with powdered sugar unless they need it. It is easier for me to work my bees because they are at my home. I will slide in a monitoring board late afternoon because of the daytime temps. Then I will pull the board before it gets hot the next afternoon. If I see more than 10 mites this time of year on the board, I will dust that hive. I will dust it again in a week and again in another week. This will cover all the brood stages and you will have better success with this system. Never treat your hive before they need treatment. It is a disruption to the hive and cost you money. Dennis    

Hello again Dennis, 

We have a quick question for you. When Stephen came home from the class, ( extracting class ) we did an inspection and found that our two honey supers are full and ready to be extracted. 

However, we are not quite ready, as we didn't have all the supplies you mentioned. We had an extractor and uncapping knife, but needed to order the fume board, uncapping tank, and bee quick. 

These supplies are on their way, but in the mean time, our honey supers remain full. 

Do you see a problem with keeping them this way until we receive our equipment and can extract this weekend or next? Do we have anything to worry about if we can not extract immediately? 

Thank you for any thoughts you might have. And thank you for your invite to join the club. I will check that out. 

Jennifer Richardson 

Hey Jennifer, 

Is the honey flow over? If not then I would suggest that you add another super. If it is, there is no better place to store the supers than where they are. On the hive. Dennis

Dennis,

We started the winter with 10 hives and lost all but 2.  This was typical in our area and everyone noticed that the bees did not build up a large store in the fall in spite of heavy feeding.  Many blame the harsh winter, but I am not totally convinced that there was not something else going on.  The state bee inspectors are noticing more nosema ceranae in this area too.  Our local university is doing a study of just how widespread this has become, asking for samples to analyze. 

     We purchased 6 nuc's, collected one swarm in a little old lady's peach tree and have a "mystery" colony that took up abode in one of the empty hives that we did not get around to cleaning out.  So we are now back up to 10 again, about where we want to stay.  They all seem to be doing well so far.  We have a pollen trap on the strongest hive left from last year.  We have honey supers on 9 of the hives and they seem to be busy filling them up. 

     Our weather is different here in West Virginia than in Texas as you get an earlier start on spring.  We did not see any number of mites on the old hives and will wait until the end of this month to inspect further for mite population.      We were curious about a letter received from Michael, from IrelandI believe, stating"The one practice I do is remove the queen, trap her in a queen cage in the brood area for 5 days every so often.  This disrupts the Varroa Cycle."    This makes sense and I wondered if anyone does this.  Exactly how would you go about this and during what times...   and I mean exactly...  If you put her in a queen cage (do you mean the type that she is shipped in?) how do you assure that she is cared for?  - or is there something special you can get?      We really appreciate your club and wish we were able to attend your meetings, but in the meantime we will not use chemicals in our hives again.  Funny how things change when you have grandkids - and how much more aware you are of what you feed them.

Thank you,  Lloyd and Nancy Postlethwait

Fairmont,  West Virginia  2010 WV Beekeepers of the Year 

Hey guys, 

Sounds like last winter took a toll on you. Let me know how those samples turn out. Tell me how many boxes do you use per hive before you start adding honey supers and are they deeps or mediums? I believe Michael is referring to the "Push in introduction cage" This is a 5 3/4" x  5 1/8" screen cage that is open on the bottom. You push this cage into the brood area on a frame and introduce your queen into it. There is a place to plug candy into much like the other queen cages. The new queen is able to lay in the brood cells in that cage while the hive bees eat the candy to free her. The only place left that I know about to purchase this cage is through BrushyMountainbee supply.  www.brushymountainbeefarm.com  PG 32.

I am not aware of anyone who uses this cage anymore. 

How do you check for mites? What kind of plants/trees are your bees working?  You should email Michael. He is a very knowledgeable beekeeper. One of the things we should do more often is email the different members around the country and interact. I wish everyone would do that. It is one of the reasons I started the website so that everyone could take advantage of more resources. It makes for a good learning process. Every member is a resource. Try it out. Dennis 

 Thanks Dennis.  I'm getting a load out of your classes.  I'd be flying blind otherwise and, worse yet, I wouldn't know what I don't know.  

Chris, 

You are welcome. Your bees seem to be doing great. I will see you in the July class. Dennis  

Hello Gerald, 

   I am just checking with some folks too see how their bees are doing so far this season. How is the mite population this year and what are you doing to control it? Dennis 

Dennis, 

I do not have mites yet.  I use a fogger with food grade vegetable oil . Just two small puffs in the entrance once every two weeks seems to do the trick.

I use powder sugar sometimes  If you have a strong hive , I don’t think there will be much trouble. 

Gerald, 

How does that work? Are you using screen bottom boards? Where does the oil go when it gets into the entrance? Is it a mist? What is the concept behind it.? Dennis 

Dennis 

I do have a screen bottom board. The oil is a fog it travels up thru the hive putting a small  oil mist on the bees causing the bees to groom more. Thus dislodging the mites. This works.    Gerald    

 Hi Dennis,

I am a new member and I have a question.  I just went out to my hive and discovered a big, nasty mess.  My queen is gone and wax moths are everywhere.....and I mean everywhere.  What do I do?  Do I need to throw everything away and start over??  I still have probably 1,000 or so bees which are swarming underneath my cinder blocks now.  I have dismantled the hive and have all the comb stacked up against the cinder blocks.Thanks,    Danny 

Hello Danny, 

Sorry for your troubles. Since you don't know why the hive went down, you should not let other bees rob the frames out. If they had disease, it could be passed around the bee population. The best thing would be to dig a big hole and burn the frames. It would be a simple matter to just scrape the wax out of the frames and reuse them if you knew for sure that the hive did not die of disease. Is this a hive that you started this year? Should you decide to treat this as a diseased hive, you can reuse the hive bodies-top and bottom board by torching the wood until it is singed. You should also shove your hive tool down into your burning smoker to scorch and kill diseases before you use it in another hive. Are there any experienced beekeepers around you that might be able to identify diseases? Dennis   

Dennis, 

We're new beekeepers and purchased two hives from someone in our local beekeeping aassociation After we learned a bit more, we realized the beekeeper isn't as committed to natural methods as we are and he has used chemicals regularly for hive beetles and varroa mites. At this point, one of the hives (which has become very weak) shows signs of beetles. We are getting a trap to put oil into and plan to dust with powdered sugar. Any other ideas to help us try to save this hive?

 If you have purchased bees from someone who had to treat their bees then you will have to treat them as well. They will not be hygienic enough to care for themselves. I highly recommend that you requeen with a hygienic bee when you buy bees from treated stock. Most traps do not work. The best solution is to keep your bees strong. What do you mean by very weak? How many frames of brood are present and how many brood/mediums boxes are on the hive? If the hive is too weak to bring back and there is no disease present, then you may have to combine the 2 hives. Anytime you have a hive that has had chemicals placed inside it, then you should rotate the combs out as soon as possible. 

 Also, the other hive is very, very strong. In fact, we pulled out a feeder that the bees had built comb in -- not realizing we had to put a frame in its place while we cleaned it up and refilled it. In the meantime, they built brood comb into that space from the lid down into the hive. We are wondering if it is possible, after we treat for the beetles, to take this brood comb and place it into the weak hive to help it out.

 For the past couple of months the bees in your location did not need to be fed. You should only feed bees when they are light in weight and/or there is no nectar coming into the hive. Feeders provide good hiding places for the hive beetles. If the weak hive has a chance to make a come back, then you could cut the burr comb/brood out and place it in a empty frame and tie it in with string. 

 Finally, we have located a natural beekeeper in our area and will be acquiring additional hives in the future from him (he converted to natural methods 3 years ago, raises his own queens, etc). Do you recommend placing the natural hives well away from the ones that we are transitioning from commercial methods, so there is less risk of cross contamination?  

 Any suggestions or comments? 

Thank you. 

Mark and Karen Perkins 

The only time you should worry about cross contamination is when a hive gets weak and cannot defend itself from robber bees. Then the problem spreads to other hives. Or if you interchange equipment.

I hope that I have helped you and if you have any further questions, please email me back. Thanks, Dennis 

Dennis,

Thanks for the emails to keep me updated on bees. I enjoyed the Bee class you taught last month AND hope to attend more. I'll be able to take Saturday classes beginning in the middle of July and hope to learn about extracting, so let me know when those maybe scheduled.  

I have a couple of questions I'm hoping you maybe able to answer for me. 1st, I have 100-200 bees that 'live' on the outside of the hive. They stay there morning noon & night. I have my hive set up 1 deep super, 1 shallow then 1 deep super on top for my honey.  Any thoughts on why so many bees stay outside the hive?

Next question, they bees are more aggressive than I prefer, I have to wear my gear ANYTIME I open the top, because they attack. The other hive is much easier to work? (Note, this hive is 3 years old). I plan to replace the queen with a Russian queen in August.  

I'll wait for reply & thoughts.  

James Billingsley  

Hello James, 

I am glad that you enjoyed the class last month. I will be teaching a class each month so watch the class page on the website. Here in Texas it is always better to run your bees in 2 deep hive bodies then you can place any size box on top of those for your honey. The queen will rarely go above 2 deeps to lay so you don't have to worry about queen excluders. Right now I would guess that you have a queen excluder on your hive. Your bees right now do not have enough room inside to be comfortable. It is so hot and humid outside. The 2 brood boxes would office more area for air movement and would allow your bees to store more nectar for themselves. Right now the air flow is being restricted probably with a queen excluder and the limited space. Most beekeepers who run their hive in 1 deep and 1 medium have to feed their bees at some point during the year because the bees do not have enough storage area for themselves and they have to use queen excluders. I usually don't have too feed my bees. Honey is always better for the bees than anything else. It is their natural food source.

What kind of queens do you have in your hive and are you sure that the queen is the same queen you put in the hive? In our area there are a lot of African bees who mate with the virgin queens from swarms. If your bees swarmed, then the virgin queen could have mated with an African Drone.

I hope this information helps you and email me back if you have anymore questions. Dennis

                                       "Days Gone By " 

 

  

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