Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dog days of Summer

On Thursday August 7th, 2008, we were witness to Hive #1 defending their front door. There happened to be three or four Robber Flies (Hanging Thieves) that attempted to enter the hive. They failed and what we got to witness was very educating. The bees came out in full force and attacked the robber flies and destroyed them. The was a few Honeybees that died in the process of the insuring attack and they were laying in front of the hive after the fight was over. I found a total of nine honeybees and three-robber thief’s bodies in front of Hive #1 after the fight was over.

I can finally say we have some honey. It’s not going to be much, but we did actually get some. On Friday August 8th, 2008, we pulled our first frame of capped Honey from Hive #2’s Shallow Honey Super. It looked great, almost to good to put in a jar. Even though we still decided that we were going to crush and strain the first frame, just to get an idea as to the clarity and as to how much honey we would get from a frame. Hive #2 has done exceptionally well ever since we set it up, the Bees seemed to draw the comb faster, and they seemed to fill the hive up faster, with Honey and with their population of bees. Hive #1 has done great too, but it just hasn’t performed in the manner that Hive #1 has been able to do and will not be making any surplus honey for us to take this year. The amount of honey both of the hives have stored looks like they will have an ample supply of food for the winter. Even though, we placed a Top Feeder onto Hive #1 and started feeding a 1:1 Sugar/Water Syrup mixture to help in drawing out the honeycomb on a few more frames.
As summer begins to come to a close we now want to place our focus on getting the hive’s food stores built up above what the bees will require for winter. Being as this is our first year of Beekeeping I figure we should be more than prepared when we get ready for the winter months ahead.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Today July 6th, 2008 was the 64th day that we have had our Honeybees in our two Hives that we purchased back in March of this year from Long Lane Honey Farm. So far everything is still going very well with both of the Beehives. The Hive Bodies on each of the Beehives are almost completely full of Brood and Honey and the Frames in all four of the Hive Bodies were completely covered in Bees. It looked like we have a really good population in both of the hives, so far. Today is also the day that we got to add our first Honey Supers to both of the Hives. We used the Shallow boxes that we made to hold our feeders earlier when we were feeding the bees to get the comb drawn out quicker. The frames that we are using in the shallow supers will be for cut comb honey. They have no foundation, but we used 40lb. test fishing line to cross wire the frames to support the comb that the bees will draw out to store the honey. We had our cut comb foundation ordered over a month ago from Dadant in Hamilton, IL, but due to the bad weather they have had and the high water from the Mississippi river, we have not received our order of the foundations as of yet. We started of this morning by doing our regular checks of the hive's bottom boxes. We were checking them for their brood pattern and for anything that looked out of the ordinary. We were also checking to make sure that the Queens were still in both of the hives also. We did not see the Queen in either of the hives, but with the brood pattern that we found on the frames, in both of the hives, she surely has to still be in each of the two Beehives. After doing our checks we added the Queen excluder to both of the hives, just above the top Hive Body. This is used to keep the Queens below where the honey will be stored. Otherwise the Queens will lay eggs in the frames and will not be good with the honey. Now it was time to add our Shallow Supers on to the top of the Queen excluders. After adding the Shallow Supers we installed 10 frames into each of the Supers and then replaced the inner covers over the top of each Super that the bees will use to draw out the comb, used to store the honey. With the Supers full of frames and the inner covers replaced back where they belonged we then replaced the Top Covers and our Concrete blocks back on top of both beehives. It sure was getting hot and humid outside by the time we finished up today. Looks like we are done for the day. With great results and being very pleased with how everything was looking in both of the hives. So far the bees have been some work, but our entire family has had a ton of fun working with them and just sitting outside watching the bees work the yard and fly off to wherever to bring back their stores for the hives. We also got to see two bees emerging from their cells today to join the ranks of the hive, but the pictures did not turn out well enough to see the new bees.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Honey flow is here...

Sorry, it's been a few weeks since we updated the blog, but we have been fairly busy and hadn't had a chance to get it done.

Well here's our latest update on our hives, for June 22nd, 2008.

We opened up hive #2 first to see how its progress was going since we had added the second hive body to it.

We started out by pulling the top hive body off of the hive and setting it out of the way so we could check the bottom hive body first.

It looks full...there is still plenty of capped worker cells and very few drone cells and it looked like we have had a population boom.

There were also lots more bees in the hive than was the last time we checked them.

So far the frames in the hive body on hive #2 are looking really nice and the honey flow seems to be on...The bees were capping honey in the top hive body and it is looking nice too.

Makes me want a sample, but this is their honey for winter and we can't touch it. Hopefully in a week or two we will be able to add our supers if the bees get the hive body frames filled by then.

It looks like we have around half of the frames in the top hive body, either capped or in the process of being capped. We were also able to find the Queen in hive #2; she was on the last frame that we checked in the bottom hive body.

After putting everything back together on hive #2 we took a short break before moving on to hive #1.

As soon as we got done with our short break, we pulled the top hive body off of hive #1 and set it to the side as we had done with the first hive.

The inside of the hive looked almost identical to hive #2 with all but maybe one or two frames empty or partially filled. There were also quite a few worker cells capped in the frames that were filled. We also noticed that this hive also showed very few drone cells, which is nice.

This hive must have the elusive queen...We couldn't find her again, but there are signs that she's still there. This makes the second time out of three that we were not able to locate the queen in this hive. There are still plenty of fresh cells so the probability that she's missing is very difficult to say. Hopefully not, we will just have to wait and see.

That’s all we have for today. At least we got done before the thunderstorms moved in to the area this evening.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We found our other Queen and got a surprise...

May 21st, 2008...We are moving on up on Hive #1. Hive #2 is not quite as strong as Hive #1, but we have had some unusually cool weather for the month of May too.

Today we checked and filled the feeders in both of the hives, and was going to try and locate the Queen in Hive #1. Being as we had not seen her in the last couple of times that we were in Hive #1, I really needed to locate her today.

What we got today was a couple of really nice surprises. First of all, we did find the Queen in Hive #1. This ended up being quite a chore. We had inspected nine of the ten frames in the hive, and still had not seen anything of the Queen.

Now I was starting to get kind of worried, that we had somehow lost the Queen in Hive #1 and that she was not with us anymore. When we made it to the tenth frame on Hive #1, we found her. There she was, strutting her stuff, like she owned the place or something. Just cruising along taking care of business over the honeycomb.

Now I am really am glad that we went ahead and had our Queens marked. This made it a whole lot easier in finding the Queens in both of our hives. When all you have to do is look for the dot on their back, they are a lot easier to see.

We also received yet another very welcome surprise...The workers have been extremely busy in this hive too. The Hive Body on Hive #1, was almost completely full of frames loaded with Brood, Pollen and Honey. The frames in Hive #1 had at least 80%, if not more of the frames full.

I already had the extra Hive Bodies loaded in the bed of the truck in anticipation of being able to put them on today. We readied only one of the extra Hive Bodies and placed it and the frames onto Hive #1. Hive #2, just is not quite ready for the second Hive Body yet.

Hopefully the weather will change and it will stay warm enough so that Hive #2 gets going as good as Hive #1 is so far. Hive #2 only looked like it had somewhere around 50% or so of the Frames filled. It is still not quite ready yet for the second Hive Body.

It is going to need to get a few more of the frames filled before we are able to add the other Hive Body to it.

Both of the hives are still looking really good and both are still going through the sugar syrup at a pretty good pace too. So far we have had to fill the feeders back up every four days, with each of them being between 1/2 to 3/4 empty.

Well it is just about time to call it a day, so stay tuned, there will certainly Bee more to come in our adventure into the world of Honeybees.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It was a Beautiful day in the Bee yard...

Today May 16th, 2008: We had a peek at the inside both of the hives, just to get an idea as to how the Honeybees are progressing with filling the frames and how our Queens were doing. We were able to spot the Queen in Hive #2, but I could not find the Queen in Hive #1. We will wait a couple of weeks and take another look for her again in Hive #1. (hope she is still there) The Frames in the Hive Bodies are really starting to fill up, looking like almost half of the frames are full in both of the hives and it also looked like we had some capped brood in some of the cells on both of the hives. When we get a couple of more Frames filled up in both of the Hive Bodies we will add another Hive Body to each of the hives. We also noticed that there was lots of Pollen coming into both of the hives today, and from what we could tell, it is most likely coming from all of the Dandelions that we currently have in our yard. I think I may have found me a new Photographer too,with my youngest son was taking some really great pictures of the bees as they were landing on the Dandelions and also some really nice pictures of all the happenings inside both of the hives.My youngest son was my helper for today, not only taking pictures, but he also lent me a helping hand in checking both of the feeders and the removal and replacement of the frames in both of the hives. After checking both of the hives, we topped off the Feeders with our Sugar Syrup and put the Top Covers back on. I hope everyone can bear with me with this Beekeeping adventure, being as I’m still fairly new at this, and I am still learning quite a bit as we go, but from what I could tell, as we were looking into both of the hives, that they are looking really well for no longer than they have been set up and if the weather holds out and stays nice they should get going even better. Between the rain and the chilly nights, I think it has slowed the bee’s progress a quite a little bit. Hope you enjoy the pictures we have for today, because they are some of the best ones we have taken so far. There are some really nice shots of the frames from both of the hives, the Queen in Hive #2 and also some of the honeybees collecting pollen from the dandelions in the yard...After seeing how many of the bees were out and about in the yard collecting pollen, it almost makes me not what to mow...and with fuel prices where they are it didn't take too much to convince me into not mowing this week. Click on the images to view it in a Larger size.