Update long past due…. supercedure cells

It’s been an awful long time since I’ve written here; been building a house near our bee yard, mostly on our own (literally); it’s an ICF house (Nudura is the product and Holdfast is our local distributor and technical support…. cool stuff…. good people!)….

Every spare moment it seems is spent on the build… and we are waaaaaaayyy behind where we would like to be, but that’s part of the journey right? (“How hard can it be?”)….

But, we went into winter with 8 hives, and have come out of winter with 8 hives; all are thriving, and the nectar flow is happening (has been for the last 2 weeks at least).

We were inspecting this past weekend, doing general checks, looking for queen cells, signs of laying, queen, volume in the supers, etc. Swarm signs are very low at this point (but we are watching); nectar flow is good; all hives have good queen laying patterns, and all looks well

But, one of our best hives (our blue styro-foam hive) had 3 of these:

Supercedure cells; hmmm…. she was a good queen too; maybe 2 years old?

Based on the capped brood and other signs of recent laying, she’s still active and doing some laying, but the other girls know that she’s on her way out….

We left 2 of the cells totally alone, and put them back into the hive; we took this one, and made a split into a small Nuc…. hybrid split… food, brood, THIS frame, shaked a bunch of bees, etc……making the small Nuc on the right of the picture below….

Now we have 9, and now we wait….

And then there were 14…

It’s been a long, busy, and odd week in the bee yard….

We’ve had 4 swarms that we have been able to capture, and are darn near running out of equipment. Today, after Anita checked the yard around noon, I checked the yard around 4:00… walked around, looked, and “voila”! (Swarm number 4)…

I was finishing up our annual flail-mow of the flower field on Saturday, and watched as the Blue Hive swarmed….and now this….

It’s a good thing, and gets us extra hives, but I was hoping that us using the Pagden method a bit more disciplined this year, would have had a more “tame” effect (less swarming); I don’t think that is really the case.

We’ve also seen some strange things… for example, after we “Pagden” split our Blue Dots on Yellow hive, we left it alone, and waited about 15 days, and inspected, expecting to find a laying queen, brood, eggs, etc. What we saw instead was NO signs of laying, NO queen, but a handful of decently made queen cells, and one supercedure cell (NOT on the bottom bar of the frame, but made near the center-middle of a frame).

So, what does THAT mean? All we can figure is that while we were giving this hive the time it needed for queen emergence, mating flight, and laying, all she was able to do was to squeeze out a few replacements (worker brood takes the longest to emerge, so we would have seen brood). Did she get hurt on her mating flight? (Possible). Did she know she was hurt, so layed some girls with her last breaths? (I don’t know).

Today, the swarm was in a more difficult place, and don’t think we got the queen on the shake of the tree limb they were on; I think she missed the box, cause the swarm did not show the pattern of moving into the box (it was near the ground). It appeared that the hive was clustering on the outside of their new home, near the top, so we smoked, brushed, etc. to get the bees into the box… It still did not look like they were moving into the new hive…. So, I picked it up and moved it to its new location, and then what do I see? I see a (the?) queen on the ground with some attendants, just kinda hanging out; not scurrying, etc. I pick her up carefully with my fingers, place her close in front of the entrance, and watch her walk in…. Man, I hope she’s not injured!

Anyway, then they all started the “walk” into the hive.

I think all the swarms are due to the multiple queen cells we left in the hives, after moving the existing queen into the Nuc (as per the Pagden method). Each one seems to cause subsequent “Casts” from the hive (hence multiple swarms from the same hive?). Our thought process was to stay conservative, and ensure the hive without the queen had plenty of viable queen cells to work with; but like last year’s experience with multiple queens and multiple casts from Blue, I don’t believe that emerging queens ALWAYS kill off all the other queens (queen cells) in the hive…. What else explains this swarming behavior? (We checked these hives every 5 days, and made the splits when we saw charged (or capped) queen cells…. What’s the likelihood that the hive with the queen cells, would swarm again, within the emerging, mating, and laying timeline of the new queens? Seems unlikely, but they certainly are hard to predict sometimes).

I’ll write later on how all these turn out; we exited winter with 5, and are now up to 14 (outside of our goal of 10; however, to operate 10, you probably have to be prepared to operate 13, and do something with the many swarms from the splits. This year, we will be giving away one of our swarm / splits to Mark (who helped us catch the Feral hive in Newark); we’ll sell some of the others as functional hives, and/or we’ll keep the rest for emergencies (cause we WILL have them).

From 5 to 7; Pagden’s Artificial Swarm Method

Following some advice from a beekeeper I listen to, we’ve been checking our hives every 5 days since the first of April to check for signs of swarming (trying to stay ahead of it, and improve on last year’s panic and swarm-fun!).

Tonight was another scheduled check, and up to this point, we were seeing nothing; I’m in the bee yard on my own (Anita was watching “the boys”), and the plan was to do what we have been doing; quick check, barely disturb the hives by taking off boxes quickly, tipping them, and looking at the bottom bars (NOT inspecting each frame).

Voila; on the first hive I check (Blue dots on Yellow) I see 2 viable queen cells, with royal jelly, and I see 2 others (both closed, but 1 a little smashed). So now, the fun begins.

Last year, we used a “walk away” split method, where we take the frames with queen cells, and put them into a new hive, leaving the old queen in the old hive; it produced viable hives, but we had a LOT of swarming in our yards; I think I wrote about how “Blue” had 4 swarms come out of that thing!

This year, due to local COBA beekeeper feedback from “Mike”, Dan Williams, and our own research, we decided to try something different (wanting different results), and adjust to “Pagden’s Artificial Swarm Method”; “The Apiarist” has the best explanation I’ve seen for this, so I won’t repeat that gem here (but here’s the link): https://theapiarist.org/pagdens-artificial-swarm/

I won’t repeat the details, but basically, find the queen and move her to a “new” hive, but leave it in the same place, and move the “old” hive-with-queen-cells to a different (but close) location, wait 7 days, then move the “old” hive-with-queen-cells again.

Finding the queen in Blue dots on Yellow was fun…. yep, very last box I checked, top-most box (#4) below the queen excluder, there she was; made the split and move. (Had some spare boxes, and put frames with queen cells in that box while we searched for the queen; when found, (made sure there was no queen cells on THAT frame, and quickly moved her to another box; filled “her” box with open comb, shook some bees in, etc.) (as per instructions at “The Apiarist” link.)

Went on to check Blue dots on Green; it had about 4 viable cells, better shapes, better positions. Found that queen very quickly (bottom box).

We were probably close enough to get some of it right; but we were fighting with time, effort, etc. So we made moves, and did our best (but did not rearrange the entire yard). We’ll wait 7 days, and then switch them around again (but we will probably just switch the positions of “Old” and “New” for the Copper Nuc.

Where are things now (see the picture?)? The Copper Nuc has the queen from Blue Dots on Yellow, and the Blue Stripe on Yellow Nuc has the queen from Blue Dots on Green.

We have to get into the bee yard quickly tomorrow and check Yellow and Blue… see if we need to do the same….

High winds today….

Dang it!

Winds gusted up to 64 mph today… temperature around 43 degrees.

Got a call from my Son-In-Law that he couldn’t see the tall hive from his house (an emergency combine to our “Feral” hive, perhaps a bit too tall to go into winter, but this is what we had to do).

Went to look and it was toppled over but mainly intact; (the left-most, tallest one in the picture).

Vivaldi board was off and about 4 frames lay on the ground; various piles of live, dead, freezing, wet bees.

Did our best to work quickly; didn’t see the queen in the piles; hopefully she was still inside of the lower inside of the hive, and didn’t get crushed

Put it back to upright, and strapped it to blocks underneath (8 cinder block base), so it should be bottom-heavy enough to no topple over…

A small number of bees were “hitting” as we tried to raise it back to upright; they were agitated, but due to the cold and wind, were not able to do much…. but the brave ones still tried

Probably my fault, cause I checked it after Church this morning, saw it wobble a bit, so I put some cinder-blocks on it. Mad at myself cause I didn’t trust my first reaction to just strap it down; instead, I probably raised the hive’s center of gravity by putting the cinder blocks on it.

Moral of story: trust yourself and listen to your knee-jerk, first-thought reaction.

Getting Bees out of a Tree; a story…and comparisons of last year…

On Thursday, 23 July 2018, I get a nudge from a bee-less beekeeper about a tree in Hebron that is being cut down, and the folks cutting it had to stop, cause they found a beehive, and wouldn’t continue until the bees were out.

He asked me if I wanted to get the bees. “Sure”, I said; how hard can it be? (we discussed)… Find the queen, put her in a new hive, all the bees follow right?

“How high up in the tree is it?”

“About 10 feet.”

“I’m not working 10 feet in the air; what about cutting it?”

“Sure, I have a chainsaw, we’ll cut that part down”.

So, the plan was:

(a.) Get up in the tree with the chainsaw;

(b.) Use ropes to tie around the log we’re gonna cut, take the rope up over a limb to create a pulley, and tie the other end of the rope to the truck;

(c.) Cut the tree, and gently lower the log down; (d.) Find the queen, catch her, and put her into a new hive; the bees will follow.

Watch a short video on plans a, b, and c. here.

What you can’t see is the fun that started right after this puff-ball of bees started making their rounds….

My buddy in the tree got stung about 30 times in the wrist, cause he was wearing regular work gloves instead of beekeeping gloves, and quickly got off of that ladder; the homeowner who was watching from his porch started swatting and had to go inside; folks driving by slowly to watch (it is Hebron) started rolling up their windows, Anita started laughing cause I’m watching all this while holding the dead rope, and the fall hurt a lot of the bees.

When we got it down, we realized we had to cut it again, cause we could not get to the bottom of the hive.

Part 1 and Part 2

After things settled down, I started digging through the hive. Messy, messy, messy… (always have plenty of buckets with you).

I saw the queen 3 times, grabbed for her 3 times, and missed 3 times.

This was part 1 of the hive, after missing the queen and taking the comb out of the hive and putting it into frames (held in by rubber bands, etc.).

After admitting that our plan now needed to change, we setup an empty hive box near the now Part 2 of the log, put some of their comb in it, shook some of the bees, and decided to come back in a day or 2. (Coax them into the new hive).

We were totally unprepared for this, and felt like total amateurs at this point.

I also started planning on building my own bee vacuum (cause buying one would take too long, and I did want to own one for ourselves). Planned what I was going to do, went to Lowes, bought a bunch of stuff on my plan, used some of the bee boxes and stuff I had laying around, and worked into the wee hours Saturday morning to build my own.

On Saturday, the plan was to go and see if the bees had abandoned their heavily disrupted hive, and move next door to where (we hoped) they would smell their brood, etc.)… Well, they did not; they were still hanging around the log; not a single bee was in the hive we placed next to them.

Onward then with the bee-vacuum plan.

It worked quite well, until the bees started to clog up the intake screen (that prevents them from getting sucking into the shop-vac itself; so we had to wait a few minutes, and restart the process. (I have since redesigned and modified the bee-vac so that is no longer necessary).

We put this hive into a 2 stack, 5 frame nuc on that Saturday; saw the queen, and marked her. (It’s the small nuc on the left in this picture). Success (relatively).

What’s the number 1 that I learned from this?….. Make, Get, or Buy a bee-vac before trying to extract feral bees from anywhere.

As far as taking the existing comb, and tying it into frames with rubber bands, or string; we had those frames, with brood, and honey in the bottom box of the nuc for about a week; the bees abandoned those frames… they were always empty when we would check, and were working only the new foundation we gave them… It did not work for us, and for these bees.

We eventually extracted the hone from the good comb. The honey from this hive was probably the most unique honey we’ve ever tasted. It was a dark honey, and had a “woody” and “smoky” tinge to it… it was very popular, and is all gone. However, extraction was manual, and although we tried to NOT get larvae, NOT get small hive beetles, NOT get parts of the bees that were damaged during the fall, and/or stuck in the comb, etc., the best way to get this honey was to just squeeze the combs with our hands until most of the honey was removed.

We micro-filtered this honey 3 times, and still had bits of “bee-debris” in it. I advised folks who asked about it (and wanted some) that it was similar to liking sausage, but not wanting to see how the sausage is made…. you don’t want to know how we extracted this….(Hahahaha…. After watching what we were doing, and how we got the honey out, my son-in-law wouldn’t even taste it)….)

These bees also behaved very different from our other hives; for example, they would take dry sugar for feed, but confounded us by taking almost NONE of the sugar syrup we feed to all our bees. This remained true whether the syrup was 1:1 or 2;1 (thick)… (remember, this was end of July; they usually don’t reject sugar syrup in August and September).

We had to combine the “feral” queen-right hive with a queen-less hive LATE in the season (28 October 2018)…. This wasn’t a guess; we had a queen-less hive that late in the season.

We had been monitoring that hive for a few weeks, cause we saw the queen and thought she was injured (or injured her ourselves), did not see any laying for that time, and on 28 October 2018, found what was left of her in the bottom of the hive…(Another good reason to mark your queens).

Overall, due to other mishaps in the bee yard, and combining hives, this is what our bee-yard looks like going into winter.

I’ll probably get out there tomorrow, and put the cozy around this last feral-mix hive; as you might be able to tell, all the other hives have their cozies on, and are winter-prepped.

So, this season (our 2nd year of going into winter), we have gone from 2 hives, swelled to 8 over the season, and are going into winter with 5.

Our first year we got about 13(?) lbs of honey directly from our hives, and this year we ended up with about 90 lbs total (NOT counting the Feral batch).

Partial Honey Harvest (Our First Spring Harvest); Anita gets stung again…

We went into the bee-yard today to do several things.

We’ve started using index cards to serve as task-reminders for each hive; we write what we need to do (BEFORE going to the yard); we didn’t need to do this when we had just 2 hives, but now we have 5 (want to get to 10), and will probably get lost in the yard if we don’t write it down, by hive.

Part of our work today was to determine if Yellow and Blue were ready for harvest (each has 6 stacks of 10 frame-mediums, with a queen excluder on the top of the 3rd box).

I’ll call this a partial harvest because we did not take all frames above box 3 from them, but were selective about harvesting only really well-capped frames, and leaving enough to take them through the summer dearth (so we don’t have to feed them), AND because we plan on harvesting some more frames next week as they cap them.

Yellow is chock full, and Blue is working on it; we took 13 frames total (from both Yellow AND Blue), all were well capped and some were bulging due to having slightly more spacing between the frames.

After de-capping and extracting, we ended up with 47 pounds of honey, from only 13 frames…. that’s a pretty good yield (and we aren’t done harvesting yet)….

Incidently, you can buy those hand-held, plastic spacer tools to help get bulging frames of honey (they are much easier to uncap); the idea is to put 9 frames in a 10 frame super, or 7 frames in an 8 frame super, etc., and use the tool to space the frames apart a little farther than touching; the bees will fill the space with more comb and honey during a flow)… They Do Work.

By the way, Anita got stung in the hand; not sure what she did, but hands were in the hive; she got the stinger out pretty fast, but she still swelled up…. Guess which finger:


Forgot some swarm pictures from this season…

I meant to add some of the swarm pictures….

Probably our first swarm of the season (29 April 2018):


What this first swarm looked like as it was happening (trail cam):


Yellow swarm beginning (7 May 2018):

Maybe the same swarm after landing:


Another swarm the next day:


Swarm on Blue (10 May 2018):


Swarm issuing out of Blue, as we stood there watching (12 May 2018):


What this swarm did (we saw 3 queens in these masses):

Hopefully swarm season is over (for a while)…it’s been crazy…

We have been trying to keep up with managing our initial 2 hives during this past swarm season. We were looking forward to it, cause if managed properly, you can make increases (get more hives)… our goal is to get to 10 hives.

A swarm is a naturally occurring event that hives exhibit; it is commonly believed that hives do this as part of the natural adaptation and procreation process. It is thought at that bees do this for many reasons:

  • The queen is sick, injured, aging, or dying.
  • They are out of room (too many bees, not enough space).
  • There is something wrong with the hive itself (infestations, damage, etc.)
  • They simply feel like doing it.

So, our plan was that when we started to see that the hives were preparing to swarm, we figured we would do as many increase splits as was reasonable for the number of good/viable queen cells they made, and the equipment that we had on hand… (We aren’t in the habit of buying queens (yet)).

Based on our inspections and the weather, we walked into the yard on 29 April to start making our splits; boy were we surprised to find our first swarm; it was on Blue hive. Heck, we just finished removing winter feed, and doing some hive box reversals on 14 April, and we checked the next week and removed queen cells (rather than split, cause we thought it was still too cold at night for a swarm to survive).

We captured that swarm into a nuc, and continued with planned splits; we ended up with 4 hives that day.

Then it got crazy in the yard…

7 May, 2 swarms, one on the ground (yellow marked queen) and one in a tree; captured both.

8 May, 1 swarm up in a high bush, captured.

12 May, 1 swarm with 3 queens in it, marked one, captured, other 2 crawled back into Blue, putting away Flowhive we found another queen, tried to mark and catch but she got away from us.

13 May, 2 swarms; saw queen come back from mating flight (followed by drones), go into wrong hive (and we didn’t know it was wrong hive until later)… so we “helped” her stay in the wrong hive…she was one we had marked earlier….

We started Spring with 2 strong hives, and entered Memorial Day with 8 hives (in various stages of viability).

Anyone who tells you a hive can have only 1 queen, or says that the first thing queens do when they emerge is kill the other queens, is being incomplete or is simply wrong… Most of the time, those statements might be true; however, the bees have their own way of collaborating and negotiating… We counted 4 queens in “Big Blue” (we marked them), we witnessed 2 swarms issue from “Big Blue” as we stood there, as they formed 2 separate masses on the top and side of the hive (with their queens), and then decide to simply go back into the hive through the open top, and we witnessed them crawl back into the hive; we captured swarms forming on “Big Blue”; at one point we saw swarms with multiple queens and multiple swarms with individual queens.

Lost some queens, flew right through our fingers…. it was crazy.

They seem to be settled down now, as we finish our day of combining the weak/tiny and/or splits/swarms where the queen simply didn’t make it back, with viable with splits/swarms.

We started the Spring with 2 strong hives, went to 8 hives, and after the combinations (honey soaked newspaper method) we have 5 thriving hives. If we can get these through Winter then we are well on our way to our 10 hive goal!

What are some of the things we learned?

1. Don’t try and out-guess the bees; they are smarter than us; if they make swarm cells, make your splits.

2. If you think your hive, swarm, (or split) is queen-less because for 2 weeks after your queen emerged you see no signs of laying, nor do you find the queen, then look for 2 other signs; A. If you are carefully inspecting and some bees are a little defensive and buzz your veil, AND B. You see that some of the frames that were honey-bound now have a nice pattern of open cells (as if the bees are preparing space for the queen to lay), then she’s probably in there, and you have just not been able to find her. They will provide us signs if we know what to look for; have patience.

3. For walk-away splits, some texts (and beekeepers) say to put swarm cells into the new hive and give the old hive more room, while some texts (and beekeepers) say to put the old queen into the new hive and let the new queen run the old hive. I was doing the first, but I’m now switching to the second; I believe you should get the existing queen out of the old hive, and put her into a new one; that is probably more aligned with the natural concept that the hive swarms with the the old queen (usually); each of our original queens and even some of the newly hatched queens swarmed out of the hive they were in. Also, put a queen excluder at the bottom of the new hive for a few days).

4. Bees don’t like frames with wax foundation with exposed wires; I’m not trying to put additional wire on my frames any longer; it’s not needed; crimped wire wax foundation is just fine… I’m not very good at embedding wires into my frames. Worked through the winter trying to make my frames “better”, but ended up having to rip all those wires out, while bees were flying all around.

Insulated hives, thermal camera…


So I got a wonderful Christmas present; a FLIR One Pro thermal camera!

It connects to my iPhone 8 Plus, has its own lenses, and has a decent application to help take pictures, etc.

I’m still learning how to use it (so many features I haven’t properly used yet).

I was hoping to get a thermal picture of the bee cluster inside the hive, but realized that the insulation I used to protect the hive is doing a pretty good job.

The first picture is the visible image taken with the FLIR, and the second picture is the thermal image (and I’m still learning how to adjust the Infra-red settings on the camera).

These pictures were taken when the outside temperature was about 10 degrees Farenheit; the hive has 2 inch styrofoam insulation on 3 vertical sides and on the telescoping cover; I put 30lb roof paper (black tar paper) on the front of the hive; it also has a Vivaldi board on the top, with the openings exposed by setting the telescoping lid on the inner cover, on TOP of the Vivaldi board.

Based on this image (and others not posted) there is clearly heat in the hive, and possibly a bit of warm vapor coming out of the Vivaldi openings. Hive is warm and dry; I’m really glad we decided to insulate the hives…. it’s frickn cold!

If you have a non-insulated hive and you want to see a picture of your hive cluster, let me know; I’ll come over; I get to experiment with the camera, and you may get a picture you can use.

Drones in winter…

Ohio, 9 degrees Fahrenheit, 4:00 pm, 2 January 2018.

It looks as if these 2 workers were removing this drone, and died (froze) in the process; my own personal learning is that there will be drones in the hive until 2 January, and that these girls are pretty focused on kicking the dude out.

I wonder how many drones are still in there….

Winter Prep…

I’ve finished building the insulation for the hives to prepare for Winter.

2 Inch styrofoam panels on 3 sides and completely on the top; lightly bolted to the hives, with 30lb tar paper on the front; Vivaldi boards with opening exposed via topping it with inner cover, then telescoping lid; burlap in the Vivaldi, and fondant and/or pollen patti in the feedbox within the Vivaldi.

Why are there 2 hives instead of 3?

Yellow was having issues late this summer; lost the queen, so we had to combine the Nuc back into Yellow;

“Almost every emergency of management can be met forthwith by putting something into or taking something out of a nucleus…”

– E.B. Wedmore, A Manual of Beekeeping

Trying to catch up on this Bee Log (Blog)…

It’s been a long time since I’ve written; we’ve been very busy.

What have we learned most recently? Well, we attended the ECOBA annual conference in Zanesville, Ohio last week, and listened to Dr. Seeley describe the beehive as a honey factory, and take us through his experiments to answer the questions he had; fascinating guy, with fascinating stories.

If I hadn’t seen the video and heard the sounds, I would think he was pulling our leg.

Anyway, we know of 5 signal behaviors that Honeybees use, and each one seems to have a specific function in the “factory”:

  • Waggle dance
  • Shaking
  • Tremble
  • Beep and Hit
  • Washboarding

Post a comment on the “About” page if you want to know more; fascinating stuff.

And… did you know that biologists have found only 2 species that can communicate the location of food without taking members physically to the food? (Humans and Honeybees)… wow….

There were many other great speakers there also.


But to catch up on our bees:

  1. Around 20 August we started seeing a lack of laying in both of our medium 10 frame hives, while the Nuc was laying like crazy; we saw some larvae, and the queens, but very little laying. We worried, but then didn’t think much of it because we saw the same behavior in our bee-school bee yard; that’s what happens sometimes during dearths. We were inspecting because this was the day we started our one-half style of treatments with Miteaway Quick Strips.
  2. After all the 2nd half of treatments (total of 21 day spread, with a 1 week break in the middle, we noticed that the Nuc is super strong, Blue is about the same, but Yellow has ZERO larvae, ZERO capped brood, ZERO eggs, and we could not find the queen. (Dang it, that’s Blue AND Yellow needing new queens).
  3. We took our Nuc and put all the frames (and queen, etc.) into Yellow, using the newspaper method, and sandwiching the 10 frames from the Nuc between Yellow medium boxes; the newspaper method is when you separate the new bees (from the Nuc) from the current bees (Yellow) for some time to gradually let them combine; spray newspaper with sugar water so that the old and new bees mingle gradually; within 24 hours they will eat through the paper and start taking it out of the hive.
  4. So, we are back to 2 hives.
  5. The Goldenrod and asters are numerous, so we are getting a honey flow in Yellow, but Blue is hanging steady, and hasn’t quite filled out all of its frames in the top box. But boy does that Goldenrod make stinky honey!
  6. At this point, I expect that both hives will make it through winter (each one weighs over 180 lbs (3 and 4 stack, 10 frame mediums). There are tons of bees. We’ll check on Saturday to see how the queens are laying, etc.
  7. We put our mouse-guards on, and apparently September is Yellow-Jacket month; we are trapping those critters all over; they are everywhere.

Bad News at the Bee Yard; there’s been a bee-kill

We had bee-class tonight, and as usual before we go, Anita does a quick check of our bee yard, and takes Broodminder readings; I had to take our dog Tillie to the Vet tonight, so we didn’t get a chance to talk or review until bee-class.

I’m looking at the data and see ‘yikes’, our Blue hive might have swarmed…. we see a 10 lb loss in about 6 hours (but it’s hard to tell on the iphone view). Anita says everything looked fine at about 2:45, so we’ll just stop by and check after our bee-yard class.

We did, and what did we see? We saw a bunch of dead bees under the hive; some dead in front, but most were under, but only on Blue hive. It appears that Blue bees got into some pesticide either directly sprayed, or indirectly due to foraging; its been 3 days since heavy rain, and that is often when plants have nectar again, so it makes sense that they were foraging. We’ve seen this at the Bee-Class yard too, where a bunch of bees died off under the hive; the ‘old-timers’ said it was probably a pesticide kill.

It was getting late, so we did not have time to inspect, but we did check the windows on the flow hive; as late as 2:45, Anita saw what we typically see there: (a ‘crap-ton’ of bees, actively working to close up the seams in the cells (there is no honey flow for us yet)). But when we looked about 8:30 pm, there were 4 (four) bees in the flow hive that we could see.

Dang it!

Blue was doing so well; we even took 1 frame of bees and capped brood out of it this past weekend, and put them into the Nuc, cause Blue had 4 capped swarm cells. It had a TON of bees.

There is still a bit of activity at the front of the hive, but a LOT less than usual. I’m hoping the dead bees were mainly the foragers, the house bees are still tending to the brood, and the queen is ok; however, I’m concerned that the foragers brought the pesticide back into the hive, and affected all the other bees as well; no foragers, no house bees, no bees to keep the brood warm… Dead hive.

Due to heavy rain forecast tomorrow, we may not be able to get back to the yard until Friday, to do a more proper assessment. I hope this hive can recover; however, if not, we have the Nuc that we can leverage.

“Almost every emergency of management can be met forthwith by putting something into or taking something out of a nucleus, while nuclei themselves seldom present emergencies.”

– E.B. Wedmore, A Manual of Beekeeping


But this still Sucks!

Almost forgot to blog on the Mite Treatment

We treated for mites on June 24; took mite readings earlier in June, but figured we would have to treat anyway based on our previous counts, so no use counting again.

However, during the Mite-Away treatment, we saw the following Mite drop on the grid bottom boards at the end of 6 days:

Blue – 70

Yellow – 43

Blue on Yellow Nuc – 16

They certainly needed treatment; following advice, we will treat again in August, and use vaporized Oxylic just after Thanksgiving.

Since we monitor the temperatures (and humidity) on the hives, you can see the effects of the Mite-Away treatment (shown below on the Blue hive) …. it really affects the bees…they seem to get out of the hive a lot…