Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Blog

For those of you interested in how the Alfa is coming, check out my new blog at


Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Good News" or "The Return of the Queen"

Well, after the boy scout trip to my hives, I was concerned! The new package I had installed two weeks previously showed no signs of a queen, with no eggs or larvae in sight. And I could not find the queen anywhere for the scouts. I thought that surely after two weeks, there would be some sign of activity!

When I checked my other hive, I found evidence of a drone layer. How I hate those! You can tell you have one when you see eggs in the cells that are not in the center of the cell, and sometimes you will see two or three eggs in a cell. This is because the worker that has taken it upon herself to lay eggs is not built for the job. Unfortunately, the other bees then think they have a queen, which makes it difficult to introduce a new queen.

So I ordered a queen from Rossman Apiaries ( and had them mark her!). She arrived on May 28th. I hadn't decided which hive to put her into. I opened the new package hive, and found eggs!! My enthusiasm at this discovery was tempered, however, by the thought that maybe I had another drone layer after two weeks without a queen. But as I looked further, I found no double-egg cells, and all the eggs looked to be fine. So I kept looking. The next frame was full of eggs and little larvae, with just a few capped cells. On the third frame, I found the queen!!! An actual queen!! YES! I was quite excited!! Apparently, she needed some time to acclimate to the new surroundings, but there she was, working away!! I carefully put the hive back together so as not to squish Her Highness, and closed up the hive.

In the third hive, I found the same situation as reported earlier. No queen, and double-egg cells. So I have introduced my new queen into this hive, and plan on going out in a couple days and checking on her. I don't have high hopes, as requeening a drone-laying hive can be spotty at best, and my last attempt failed miserably. But I at least have one successful queen working!!

Here's to a great summer!!
Heavy Hives!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday update

Checked on the package today.

The queen was still in her cage, but the bees had opened the candy. So I thought I would take my hive tool and remove the screen to help her out.

As I set the cage on top of the frames, I attempted to brush the bees away from the cage. So I thought I would use my handy-dandy bee persuader (aka the smoker). I gave the cage a little puff, and POOF! Out the queen went through the candy like a rat out of an aqueduct!! So she is now in the hive. Go, baby go!!

On a bit of sad news, my hive that survived is now apparently queenless. I'm checking to see if I can get a new queen soon, as there are many bees, but no eggs or brood or sign of the queen. And she really should be going like crazy right now! I've contacted Purvis brothers to see if I can get a new one by next week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New package installation

Yay! I now have two pounds of new friends!!

I went up to Lula, GA today to visit Don (Fatbeeman) at Dixie Bee Supply. What a setup he has! Wow! Don was great, he let me choose the package, and then took me out to the bee yard (without veil or smoke, as is his trademark) and made sure I knew how to install a package properly. My son, Owen (6) went with me, and was amazed at the number of hives there.

So I got home, mixed up a quick 1:1 syrup mixture in a 20 oz. soda bottle (an inexpensive sprayer!! Thanks Don!), punched a couple holes in the lid, and then went out to Floyd's to install the package. So they are there now, and I hope they are happy! I plan on stopping by after school tomorrow to make sure they are acclimating well. I'll also check to see if the queen is out yet.

I also need to buy some sugar to mix up a larger batch of syrup for them tomorrow.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CRCT week update

Well, there's not been much to report on lately. And with spring break and now CRCT testing going on, I really haven't had much time to type to you, my loyal readers. For that, I apologize!

It's official, I only had one hive make it through the winter. Italian hive #3 survived! It has been building up nicely, so I decided to try a split the other day. I've never done one before, and I'm sure I did it wrong, but here goes:

I opened up hive three and pulled two frames with capped brood, larvae and eggs. I also noticed that there were about three queen cells started on these frames. After checking for the queen, I moved them over to one of the now empty hives, and replaced them with empty drawn comb. There are honey and pollen stores available to them as well.

So now I wait. I'm praying that it works, and that I haven't completely messed up the only working hive I have!

I'm also planning on getting a package from Don at Dixie Bee Supply this week. I have my son's scout troop coming over, and I need to make sure they have something to see! Don has some pretty docile bees, of the Russian/NWC mix. I'll be interested to see what I get, and I'll be sure to keep you informed.

Until later!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Well, one out of three ain't bad! I guess....

So I went out today and did a full inspection. It was sunny and 80 degrees! Here is a picture of the hives:

The apiary, March 2009

As I've stated earlier, I was encouraged that all three hives were active, and that they were all bringing in pollen and nectar.

Well, with my first inspection, I was to be quite disappointed.

In Jabez, I found quite a few bees, pollen, and nectar. However, as I delved deeper into the hive, not only did I not find the queen, I did not even see SIGNS of one! There were no eggs, no brood, no larvae...nothing!

Disturbed, I put the hive back together and went to hive 2, the Russians. When I opened it, I saw more bees, but still not too many. And my following inspection revealed the exact same situation as in Jabez!

Finally, I gave hive 3 a shot. When I opened it, there were twice as many bees looking at me! So I started into the medium super that I had left on over the winter. And what to my wandering eyes should appear? Larvae!! Capped brood!! Eggs!!! About the fourth frame in, I found this:
Can you find the queen?

What, you can't see it?

How about this:
The only surviving queen!

There she was in all her resplendent glory! Her Majesty the Queen, going about her duties with her attendants in tow! Hooray! Hoorah! Long Live the Queen!

So, I am relieved that there is a hive that is starting to boom, but discouraged about the other two. I'm now trying to decide whether to get some new queens, or just let them go.....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bees and Boy Scouts

I am very excited! It seems that all three of my hives have survived the winter! This may be the first year I will not be buying bees!!
I had some "leftover" honey, and put it in some hivetop feeders to give back to the bees. They are bringing in lots of pollen, so I want to make sure they have something to eat as well!!

Near the end of March, my son's Cub Scout troop (Tigers) will be coming out to see my three hives. Does anyone out there have some ideas for activities I can do with 10 first graders while they are out there? I'm thinking of contacting some other local beeks to see if they want to come over and give me a hand.
If you have any tips, please let me know!!!