Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Washboarding - Cleaning the hive

videoIt's late August and the bees on all the hives are washboarding,

They move almost in synchronization back and forth.  It looks like a dance.

I find this a good sign of a healthy hive because they are doing well enough to spend time cleaning the outside of the hive.

This particular hive had the bees lined up in rows.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Lazy Bees ...Not


Have you ever seen your bees all standing around on the front porch and thought, are those bees lazy?

Well guess what - they're not..

Foragers will hang out on the front porch ready for duty. What they're waiting for is a forager to return and dance about a great location. Then all these workers will leave and take advantage of it.

What they're waiting for is a good enough patch to be worth their while so they're not just waiting for any dancing bee. They want a large grouping of the same flowers for their call to duty.

So, if you see bees waiting around that's what they're doing. Waiting for that sweet dance.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Chart of bee growth for all castes

This chart shows the daily progression of honey bee growth and cell building for workers, drones and queens.

It comes in very handy for queen breeders who refer to the chart when looking for young eggs that are between 1 to 3 days old to use for grafting.  The age of the egg is revealed by it's position in the cell (upright, slanted downward, etc)
I have my chart laminated and keep it with me in the bee van.  It's hard to remember all the details of when cells are capped and when they hatch so referring to the chart while at the bee yard is really helpful.

Note that queen cells always point downwards on the frame so the queen comes out from underneath, as picture.

The scan is a bit cut off on Day 24 where it shows the drone hatching.

I did a review of the book The Biology of the Honey Bee written by Mark L Winston.  It's a really good book and has a ton of information which you will find useful.  It's well worth the purchase.


Book Review: The Biology of the Honey Bee - this link is to my review on this blog.  It's worth a look because it mentions some bee glands and such which you may not know about...



Friday, August 18, 2017

Bees Hanging out on the front porch: Bearding


New beekeepers can get a little worried on hot summer days when they see a thick mass of bees that resembles a swarm hanging off the edge of the hive or hive platform.

That's not a swarm because when swarming the bees fly out away from the hive and land somewhere else close by and then gather together with the queen in a mass.

On hot days when the fanning bees are busy cooling the hive, the other bees that are home and not doing chores stay out of the hive.  Sometimes they hang out on the front porch.  Other times they gather in a mass.

Bees create air conditioning by bringing water into the hive.  They coat the water on the combs and then fan it.  You can try this at home by spraying water on concrete and then setting a fan on it at a safe distance.

Having the extra bees out of the way gives more room so ventilation is greatly improved.

And who doesn't enjoy sitting on the front porch on a nice day?

The bees will go back inside when they're ready.  Sometimes they'll stay out all night.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Something Really Simple to have on hand: Water

I keep any large water bottles and refill them with tap water.  I keep a couple in the bee vehicle and also in each beeyard.  Here's why:


  • in case of a spark or fire from the smoker
  • to poor on myself to cool off
  • to wash hands
  • to wash the bee brush which gets stuck up with honey as I sweep the bees off the combs
  • to rinse off a bee that's covered in too much honey
  • to refill any water dishes set out for the bees
  • to drink in case I don't have anything else with me

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Maybe we need to rethink how we keep bees



Here's a really interesting article on how beekeepers in Slovenia keep their bees:  Slovenian Beekeeping

The article lists the advantages and disadvantages of keeping bees this way.  Major advantages are that there's no lifting of boxes.  It's designed so that the frames slide out from the back.  That alone makes my knees want to swoon!

You work inside the hut and from the backs of the hives.  There's ventilation, bottom screen boards, etc.  And there's no wind or rain inside so you can work any time.

A disadvantage could be that the frames aren't Langstroth size... but if you build an outfit like this yourself you could build it to Langstroth size.

I'm an older beekeeper with really bad knees and a sometimes bad back.  I must admit that this set up is super appealing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

We Wear Socks in the Bee Yard for a Reason

One thing I know for certain: Bees will never go up your pant legs when your hands are empty.

It'll always happen when you're holding a super so flowing over with bees that you can't set anything down quickly to deal with the little runner going angrily up your leg.You won't even have a hand free to (God forbid) squish her.

When Dad was new to the bee yard he wore the bee gear to use the whipper-snipper to clear grass from in front of the hives. But he forgot one minor detail. To put the socks over the pant legs.

The bits of grass where like shrapnel on the fronts of the hives (I got him to stop and to only use the lawn mower out front) but it was too late for him. Angry bees had gone up his pant legs. He ran to the car and the next minute his pants were around his ankles while he shooed no more than five bees out of his pants.

For me, it happens frequently when I'm shaking bees off something over the hive. There's always a few that hit the ground and often they end up my pant legs. I try stamping my feet really hard which can often knock them down. Then I raise my leg and shake. But more often than not they're still there.

This frustration is easily avoided by pulling your socks up over your paint legs.

One time I had bare feet in my work boots and I ended up later in the day going up a ladder to collect a swarm. This kind of unexpected activity is where you get caught. I had no socks to pull up over my pants. So put an extra pair of socks in your bee vehicle.