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" Ian's Bee Journal "
November 20 , 2013
It has been cold at night lately so we decided it was time to wrap the hives today.
We use the insulated Bee Cozy made by NOD . We like the idea of the dead air space created
by the seam at the front of the hive. The Bee Cozy covers the top and bottom entrances so
that the wind is blocked from blowin' in the holes. The bees have access to the hive through
either upper or lower entance , and any moisture can be vented out through the upper entrance.
We also like to put a piece of plywood on top of the outer cover overhanging the front by a few
inches to keep any snow or ice from getting into the dead air space at the front of the hive. As we
put on the winter wraps we checked all the feeders , and to our surprise most hadn't been touched.
Still lots of syrup in the feeders. This tells us that they put away a lot of honey for Winter and
don't need the syrup right now. We will leave the feeders in place , and check periodically through
the Winter. Last two years the bees ran out of food at the end of January and started taking the feed .
October 3 , 2013
Today we noticed a lot of activity around the hives , so I ventured out to take a look.
We have been experiencing some nice warm Fall weather. Didn't see any drones or bees
bringing in any pollen, and most important didn't see any brood left in the hives that I
inspected. The last of the field bees are still buzzing around but the hives are full of
Winter bees. Looks like a good time to put on the pollen patties and the feeders. This year
we will be trying something new , it is a natural feeding supplement that has been around for
several years. Honey B Healthy is also supposed to keep the syrup from growing mould. We will be
mixing our feed - one kilogram of cane sugar to one litre of water - and adding 1 teaspoon of
Honey B Healthy along with one teaspoon of Vitamin Boost to every litre of syrup. When we prepare
our syrup , we first bring the water up to temperature , turn off the heat and then add the sugar
being careful not to caramalize the sugar. Caramalized sugar may irritate the bees stomach.
The other thing we do this time of year is block off the screened bottom boards to keep out any
drafts. We use a sheet of Reflectix which we commonly know as shiny foil coated bubble wrap.
Although Reflectix's R-value is very low , its real benefit is its ability to reflect any radiant
heat back up into the hive.
September 18 , 2013
Beautiful warm , sunny day. Went out to the beeyard to put the mouse guards on the hives.
I have some empty boxes that I keep out in the beeyard , so I checked them out, and sure
enough there were mouse nests and mice in some of them. The other concern this time of year
is wasps. I have been hearing from other beekeepers how wasps are taking over beehives ,
robbing the honey and killing the bees. Doesn't take long for wasps to overpower a weak hive.
By reducing the entrance the bees can defend the hive more easily. I watched the bees for
awhile and noticed bright yellow pollen still being brought into the hive. The purple asters
and goldenrod are still in flower so they are also bringing in nectar.
Sept 9 , 2013
Honey harvest time.
We look forward to this all summer. We take with us a plastic pail for wax scrapings and
a smaller container for propolis scrapings. First thing we do after we take off the outer
cover and inner cover is to scrape burr comb off the underside of the inner cover and top
of the frames. Then we scrape propolis off the tops of the ears of the frames where they sit
against the end of the super. Once the honey supers are removed we also remove the queen excluder,
and scrape the burr comb off the top of the frames of the upper brood box.
We use the " Bump and Run " technique to take off the honey .This refers to " bumping " the
frame on the top of the honey super to knock the bees off and " run " to the truck and hide the
frame of honey before the bees figure out what is going on. This is a simple technique that works
well with a few hives. We have several plastic totes made of food grade plastic that come with
lids that we keep in the truck. The lids prevent the bees from robbing the honey in the bee yard
and in the honey house. Once back at the honey house , we can leave them sit for awhile before we
extract the honey without a mess.
We use a cappings scratcher to uncap the frames . This year we tried a new electric 6 frame
extractor that has a 25 inch diameter barrel. It extracts the frames tangentially so we have
to flip the frames to extract the second side . We were able to extract the frames at a rate
of 2 minutes per side. With the wider barrel the basket spins faster than the 21 inch extractor
we used last year. As the honey flows out of the extractor , we strain the honey with nylon
strainer cloth inside a spagetti strainer sitting on a honey pail. It sits just under the honey
gate on the extractor . Our harvest was better this year compared to last year. Last year was
so dry in July and August we didn't get much honey.
One thing we noticed during our hive inspection while we were taking off the honey , was that
the bees are putting away lots of honey for Winter. The hives look very strong and in good health
going into Fall. If the weather holds , they will have at least a month to fill up the brood boxes .
August 12 , 2013
Lazy , hazy days of summer . Not much to do these days. Monitor honey levels in the hives
and make sure they have room to store the honey that they do bring in. Another chore this time
of year is keeping the grass cut short around the hives.
July 16 , 2013
Today is a hot and humid day with outside temps. hovering around + 32 C . Conditions have been good
lately for honey production. Lots of moisture combined with heat and the abundance of wildflowers .
I always like to take off some honey in July , the early honey is usually lighter in taste and colour.
It will be a good opportunity to try out one of the new 9 frame radial extractors from Italy that
arrived last week. The honey is quite warm which makes for easy handling. Warm honey is thin and
spins out of the frames, and runs through the strainer cloth quite nicely .
July 3 , 2013
Today is a nice warm summer day , partly cloudy with outside temp. + 26 C . I was out in the
bee yard gathering up old honey supers and bringing them in to get painted. As I was walking
past a hive I re-queened on June 20th , I noticed a commotion on the land board in front of
the hive. Upon closer inspection I discovered the new queen being kicked out of the hive. I took
a closer look at the hive and inside were 3 full frames full of capped brood and lots of larva and
freshly laid eggs. After 12 days of heavy egg laying the newly introduced queen is being replaced.
June 26 , 2013
Today is another nice sunny , warm summer day. Today outside temp. +28C . All the hives
are very busy bringing in honey. I checked the hives and nucs that I introduced mated queens
last week. They all seem to be doing fine , except a couple. Fresh laid eggs , and nice quiet
calm hives. Last week I came across a queenless hive , which roared like a jet engine and was
very cranky. I received several stings in a short time , so I left it alone for awhile to settle
down and then I introduced the new queen. Today it is buzzing along , calm and gentle. I plan to
keep most of the new nucs that I made last week and let them build up strong before Winter sets in.
It is getting late in the season to start new hives. If we have good weather over the next two months
they should manage just fine.
June 20 , 2013
Today is a nice warm day , outside temp. +26 C . Queens arrived in the mail today ,
so we pulled some nucs and re-queened some hives. We'll check back in a week to see
how they are doing. I put together some nucs a few weeks ago with queen cells , and
four of the eight have been successful and are doing well .
June 17 , 2013
Today the clouds have parted for a brief time and we see the sun and blue sky.
Outside temps. around +20C . It has been a cool , wet week with only few good
days to fly. We looked out the shop window and saw a swarm starting to develop ,
by the time we got out to the beeyard the swarm had landed in a tree about 40 ft.
above the beeyard. Too high up for us to attempt a retrieval.
June 8 , 2013
The past week has been very busy with beekeepers picking up their nucs and queens.
This weekend the last of the ordered nucs are being picked up, with a new order
of nucs coming mid week.
June 1 , 2013
Today is a warm , sunny day. Outside temps 26 C . We have received word from our
nuc supplier that the bees are ready for delivery. So off to the bee yard to clean up
around the hives and empty pallets , where the nucs will be stored until customers
come to pick up. Our beeyard is on the edge of one of our hay fields. With the warm
weather and some rainy days the hay is getting quite tall.
May 26 , 2013
Went out to the bee yard to check on the hives. As I was looking through the frames
I came across some queen cells , so I cut them off the frames . I then pulled two
frames with brood out of the hive and put them in a nuc box. I then placed the queen
cell between the two brood frames and then added a frame of honey and an empty frame.
I will check back in a couple of weeks to see if the queen emerged , mated ,
and started to lay eggs.
May 20 , 2013
Today is a bright and sunny , warm Spring day. Outside temps + 24 C .
We have had some nice warm days lately with lots of fruit trees and bushes in
blossom , and dandelions galore. Dandelions are a very important early nectar
source for bees in the Spring. We have been fortunate with the weather to have
been able to give some introductory workshops during the past week. We checked
the hives today and decided that they were full enough to put honey supers on.
We use the " 70% rule of thumb " to tell us when to put on extra boxes. When the
lower brood box reaches 70% full we add a second brood box, when the second brood
box is 70% full we put on a queen excluder and add the first honey super . When the
first honey super is 70% full we add another. By keeping one step ahead of the bees
we discourage the hives from swarming . Everything looks in good shape for
a good honey season . Spring was slower coming than last year but now that it
is here , there is lots of moisture and flowers and the hives are strong.
May 13 , 2013
Today we woke to a cold , bright morning with outside temps. +1 C . In many
areas around the yard there is ice/slush on most horizontal surfaces, which
indicates freezing rain/wet snow fell overnight. The cold weather will set the
bees back some more after a slow Spring build up. There was some warm weather
recently that brought out the dandelions and fruit tree blossoms , that was
encouraging. However , this cold will set the nucs back another week and
postpone several introductory workshops that were planned this week.
May 1 , 2013
Today is a bright and sunny warm day , outside temp. + 20 C . Today we clean
the bottom boards , scrape off burr comb , open up the screened bottom boards ,
remove the mouse guard/entrance reducers and reverse the brood boxes. Through
the Winter months the bees move their way up into the top of the hive. The
queen starts to lay eggs in the upper brood box early in the Spring and by
now may have the upper brood box almost full. The lower brood box is usually
empty in the early Spring, so we reverse the brood boxes to give her room .
The bees are bringing in lots of bright yellow pollen.
April 17 , 2013
Today we woke to clear skies and about + 1 C with inside hive temp. + 10 C.
Forcast looks good for the next 14 days so we have decided to unwrap the
hives today. All feeders required filling and we put pollen patties on every
hive. All hives look good and strong with lots of bees buzzin' around.
Looks like Spring is near , but no flowers in our area as of yet.
April 12 , 2013
Freezing rain storm blew through the area today, leaving behind some crystal art.
Sure are glad we left the winter wraps on.
April 10 , 2013
Today started off cool with outside temps of + 2 C and inside temps of + 12 C .
We filled up the feeders and cleaned those with mould. We are getting anxious
to take off the winter wraps , however , we must ne patient and wait for the
warmer weather. Other beekeepers south of us are reporting that their bees
are collecting pollen. But , so far the pussy willows aren't out in our area.
We have had some rain lately so let's hope that this moisture will translate
into a good honey crop later in the season.
March 29 , 2013
Today we removed the " deadouts " from the beeyard for a closer look. When we removed
the winter wraps it was very clear why one of the hives died. As you can see from the
"bee poop" on the front of the hive in the picture. Nosema was the culprit here. There
was about 40 pounds of honey still in the hive. An indication that the hive died earlier
in the Winter. We scrubbed the " bee poop " off all the hive parts , inside and out.
We will be treating all the surviving colonies with Fumagillin-B this Spring .
The second " deadout " was completely empty of honey. Thousands of dead bees with
their heads stuck in the cells searching for that last drop of honey. Strangely , only
a few inches away was a hive top feeder full of syrup. We scraped off the comb with
the dead bees in preparation for the upcoming season.
First week of June 2012 we lost 4 hives due to contamination , either by spraying
or planting of nearby crops. This hive was a result of two weaker hives that we had
combined. This year we will be better prepared , and will be monitoring and reporting
any similar losses. We didn't realize , until after the fact , the wide spread losses
across the Province with similar circumstances. If we had reported our situation , to
the Ontario Beekeepers Association and the Provincial Apiarist , they would have had
a better picture of the situation. From what we have been hearing from other
beekeepers around the Province , the situation is worse that originally thought .
Dead hives in the summer , and Winter losses as a result of weakened colonies going
into the Winter , will translate into higher losses than normal .
March 28 , 2013
Today is a warm Spring day , and we noticed bees flying around in the yard today.
Outside temp is + 9 C and inside the hive the temp is + 19 C . Lots of bees flying
around the hives. We checked syrup levels. Today we noticed two hives with very
little activity so we took a closer look. Our initial impressions were that there
were bees on the frames near the feeder holes but upon closer examination those bees
were dead. May have been dead for awhile , even though we could see them through
the feeder hole during the Winter we thought they were just " sleeping " . Lesson
learned the hard way. So now we have 30 really active , healthy hives that are taking
syrup at a good rate. Next week we will put on the pollen patties if it warms up.
March 22 , 2013
Today the outside temp. at 7:00 a.m. was - 4 C while the temp. inside the hive
was + 5 C . Sunny with cloudy periods. We waited until after lunch to go out
to the beeyard to top up the feeders. Outside temp. at 1:00 p.m. was + 4 C and
the inside temp. was + 12 C . Bees were flying from most hives. We noticed
several of the hives with low syrup levels with most hives taking syrup. There
were a couple of hives that needed the bottom entrances cleaned out of dead bees.
As the weather gets warmer and the bees become more active we will put on pollen
patties and switch the syrup to 1:1 ratio. We still have 32 hives that are alive.
March 9 , 2013
Today we awoke to a bright sunny morning with temps around -5 C. At
the beginning of January we installed a temperature sensor in the
spacer box alongside the hive top feeder in the hive closest to the shop.
Today the inside temp. is +4 C . Next year we are planning to put the
temp. sensor inside the brood chamber down where the bees are. Today
we are topping up feeders and clearing bottom entrances. Lots of brown
spots in the snow. My wife Jo-Ann has received her first bee stings of
February 17 , 2013
Today the weather is - 15 C and clear. Just after lunch we went out to
the bee yard to check the levels of the syrup in the hive top feeders.
As we approached the beehives we could see evidence of cleansing flights
all around the hives. This is our third vist to the beeyard this Winter
to check the feeders. During our first visit at the end of January , we
noticed eight of the 32 hives were starting to take some syrup. Today we
saw bees near the feeder holes in almost all the hives , with bees feeding
in over 50 % of the hives. We topped up those feeders that were low on syrup .
There were 4 hives that the syrup had some mould floating on the surface so we
replaced the feeders and filled them up with fresh syrup.
We put our feeders on back in the Fall of 2012 to help the hives put away
a little extra stores for the Winter. We had a very dry July/August so the
harvest was very low and bees didn't get much opportunity to put away any
stores in September/October. We like to leave the hive top feeders on all
Winter so as to make sure they have lots of food. Nothing worse than having
a strong hive make it through the Winter months only to find out it starved
to death in early Spring before the first nectar sources are available.
The other task we performed during this visit was to make sure that the
lower entrances were cleared of any dead bees that might block the slots
in the mouse guard/entrance reducers that we use. Good air flow is very
important in the venting of moisture out of the upper entrance.
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