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".

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

I just posted the August class "BEGINNERS BEEKEEPING CLASS PART 1." If you know you can make the class, please register early.


For those of you who live within fifty miles of Lone Star Farms, take advantage of "Lone Star Farms Apiary Inspection Service." Contact Dennis for details.


Bee Talk

Hello again Dennis,

   Hope all has been well, and your hives weathered all that rain we had!  My apologies for never having gotten back to you, our business picked up around Valentine's Day and didn't let up until a few weeks ago. I bought both of your books from Amazon last week, finished the first, and am reading two books on bee history (one since ancient times and one following the bee's role in America), after which, I will switch back to the Questions and Answers book.  I'm glad I didn't buy a whole lot of other bee keeping books, because you seem to cover all of it pretty well in yours. I just signed up for your July 23 class, the day after I pick up my bees, which is perfect. 

   I also purchased a working beehive (9 frame box full of honey and bees)from R Weaver, which I am supposed to pick up on the 22nd of July.  After paying for the hive, but prior to reading your book, I found out that they do spray, mainly for varroa.  Thus, I have purchased myself a large hive of bees that you don't seem to recommend.  By the time I got to B Weaver, they were sold out for the year.  I have no desire to spray my bees, but it seems that my only recourse is to re-queen them?  And then slowly switch out the frames, as well?  Would not the entire hive box itself not need to be replaced?  Any chance those bees will just get stronger on their own?  I understand the powder sugar treatment won't help in the long run, not if they have been previously sprayed?  Have you heard of this Thermosolar Hive?  I wasn't planning on buying the hive, just using the idea and our Texas heat to do the trick.  Or, in your opinion, is the heat killing going to be the same as the powder sugar, and, since they were previously sprayed, the varroa will just come back?  If re-queening is the only option, would B Weaver be a good place to get one? 

Finally, depending on what Jon at Miramont wants to do with the bees, I might be going to go collect that hive next week.  I went to take a look at them today, and the hive looks happy and healthy (from what I could see).  Plenty of pollen-laden bees flying in, and plenty more flying out.  However, it looks like they are in the hollow of the brick wall, so bricks are probably going to have to be removed.  If Jon wants to do that, then we'll get them.  I'm not sure he wants to remove all the bricks that we might have to in order to remove the hive - it looks like it's going to be more than just simply removing a board or two - I bet almost a quarter of that wall is going to have to go.   If he does decide to go ahead with the removal, it will be relatively apparent if the hive is diseased or not, correct?  It wasn't there last year, so I bet it swarmed there in March or April, so it's not any older than that, and the Miramont property is covered in flowers and flowering trees, so the bees seem to be well fed.  I know you don't normally recommend removing entire hives and bringing them back, but I don't have any other bees right now anyhow, and that seems like a good place to start.  

Anyhow, sorry for the long email, just thought I'd check back in and say thanks for writing the books and that I'm looking forward to the class in a month. Thanks again, Brian Light

Hello Brian,

Good to hear from you. I’m sorry for the slow response to your email, but I was out of the state for a while and I’m just getting back. I hope you get many years of practical beekeeping knowledge from my books. I’m sure you don’t really want to hear what I’m fixing to tell you, but if I were you, I would cancel my order and get my money back on those bees. Anytime you purchase bees from someone who dumps chemicals into their hive means that the bees are weak and not able to take care of themselves without you dumping chemicals into the hive as well. Sure, you could purchase the hive and then re-queen it, but understand that all the comb in the hive is polluted with chemicals which will affect future generations of new bees that are raised in that comb. The wax (and the honey) will absorb all those chemicals and will remain there for the life of the comb. Starting right in beekeeping could be related to house building. If you don’t have a good foundation, it doesn’t matter how much money you sink into the rest of the house, you will always have a bad house. Same with beekeeping, you should always start with chemical free bees and equipment. I know how exciting it is to start in beekeeping, but don’t let your excitement over take good judgment. Be patient. If I were you, I would cancel that order, not get bees this year and spend the rest of the year learning how to raise strong healthy bees. Build a good foundation on the subject to work from and your chances of success will be much greater. There are fewer disappointments than to start in beekeeping and then shortly after lose the hive.

Typically, most people lose interest (and the initial investment) in beekeeping when that happens. Something else to consider is the time of year it is now. (July) Buying a chemically loaded hive now and expect to have all the poisoned comb completely out and replaced by winter time is expecting more than the bees are capable of doing. Normally, I would say; “I hope that I didn’t bust your bubble,” but in this case I’m thinking more about the bees. If you do decide to move forward, I will always be here to answer any questions you may have, but don’t expect to be successful with this particular situation.

I hope this helps.



Hey, Dennis-

I've been meaning to hit a class or two. Spring has been too stinking busy. I do want to let you know how Costa's nucs are doing. The three hived nucs have completely filled the brood boxes and are working on the second deep. There’s lots of brood, honey, and pollen. They're taking sugar syrup and we keep it full.

The one thing they don't like is plastic foundation. On the two plastic frames we have in a nuc, they build up, then try to build parallel to the plastic foundation. There's not enough space, so it ends up being one big chunk of bridge comb. I keep Costa updated and let him know how much the bees hate the plastic. You know, that guy is a class act. He has gone out of his way to make sure that me, the Denison's, and another friend have gotten quality bees. If there's a problem, he fixes it, either with a replacement nuc or with frames of brood. Costa's bees are great, too. Hard workers and hate SHBs.

In other news, we hived a swarm earlier in the spring. We were careful to control the amount of space they had to care for and kept 2:1 syrup on them. It got to the point, however, that we were babying them. SHBs abounded in that hive. Costa's bees had very few. Even though I hated to do it, I combined the swarm with a hive of Costa's bees.

This weekend, a guy interested in beekeeping came out to see our bees. We started him off helping us build frames, then suited him up and went out to the bee yard. We tried to be as hands-off as possible and let this critter do the work. Here's what he said after the four-hour visit: 1) Making frames is therapeutic and it feels good to make things with your hands; 2) He had no idea how hard some beekeeping tasks were to do, like keeping a smoker lighted; 3) He thought it was cool watching the girls come in loaded with pollen. When he got into the hive, he was amazed. 

We had extra copies of your books and sent them home with him. 

It has been a good spring over in Bastrop County and we are going into summer with everything still green. Nice change after the years of drought. Hope your spring was great and hoping your summer will be great.

Will come to class if the tomatoes and cucumbers ever stop producing! 



Hi Dennis,

Thanks for always being available to help us new-bees. I checked my weak hive Sunday and I don’t know what’s going on. It appears they are not drawing out new combs on the foundation. All the sugar syrup is going into any available cell in the brood nest in a random pattern, not just in the honey arch. There is plenty of capped brood and I see some grubs too. I found the queen on a honey frame just walking around aimlessly. I know she’s laying but I wonder if she’s run out of brood cells. Does it make sense to put a fully drawn frame from my big hive into the middle of the brood nest to give her some more space? Why wouldn’t they draw out new frames? There is plenty of pollen coming in and I’m still feeding this hive. Everything else looks normal. Cindy P

I’m definitely thinking of splitting my big hive. I re-read your chapter on splits (Beekeeping: A Personal Journey.) and I think I’d like to have at least one more hive before spring. While I’m pulling out frames for the splits, should I use any of them to help the weak hive? I remember you said something about rotating them out.

Hello Cindy,

Are there any cells filled with sugar water between the brood cells? How many frames of bees are there in the hive? Do you see any eggs in any of the cells? How many boxes does the hive consist of?

Response: It's a standard ten frame brood box with four nuc frames. At least two new frames were drawn out but that's where they stopped. Two more might have the tops drawn out but only on one side. So there are six frames of bees and some leftovers. Sugar water is in every available free cell, including in the brood cells. I can't see eggs but plenty of grubs and lots of capped brood.

Cindy, it appears that your original nuc came with a bad queen. If it were me, I would order one queen, make your split on the strong hive then get rid of the weak hives queen. (Destroy any queen cells that may be present.) Then I would combine (unite) the weak hive between the two splits using the newspaper method. This is assuming that there are no diseases in any of the hives. You will still have only two hives, but they should be able to get strong before winter gets here. (July now) You will have two strong hives going into the spring. Make splits again next year to increase hive numbers.



Days Gone By