One of our first mistakes

So I was going to the bee yard, everyday, observing (leaving the hives alone), and taking Broodminder readings; we noticed the inside humidity was fluctuating on both hives, and we saw some bearding on the outside of the hives; then it dawned on us…..

We have screened bottom boards, but we forgot to remove the mite boards from them, and the airflow was a bit restricted; so, we removed the mite-boards, and opened up the entrance reducers to the next size.

We had to get to the hives anyway, because today was when we decided to remove the queen excluders that we had put at the bottom of the hives (between the bottom board and the bottom of the brood box (the bottom-most box)), to ensure the queens did not leave over the first couple of days.

This should make it a bit easier on the bees to regulate the inside conditions.

Our Bees Have Arrived!

You are looking at 1 frame of bees (out of 8 frames) from our overwintered Nucs that we put into our Blue Hive today! Strong; we are very happy with how this has turned out, especially compared to the experience of installing (and tracking) packages at the Ohio State Open Bee Yard.

When we picked them up, Dan Williams found our queens, showed them both to us, put them into protective transport cages, while he transferred frames from his nucs into our boxes. Then he put the queen cages back into our hives, we strapped them into the truck, and drove them to our bee-yard (about 50 miles away).

We showed up with our Blue and Yellow hives (screened bottom boards, 10 frame, Mediums, 10 wax and wired foundation frames, inner cover, telescoping lid, and queen excluder between the bottom board and the first (and only) medium box).

We (Anita) had to reach into this mass of bees to let the queens out when we got them into our bee yard. (That was an experience that Anita was just fine at doing for us both).

Dan advised that Blue was probably ready for another super, so we put another Medium with 10 frames of wax and wired foundation, before we finished closing up Blue.


And this is Anita holding one of the frames in Yellow hive. Chock-full of bees; good pattern, good brood, pollen, honey, etc.

We installed top feeders with wire mesh so that the bees can be fed without bees getting out, 1 gallon of sugar-syrup each, we removed the inner covers, and put the telescoping lids on.

We have our Broodminder devices all ready to go, so I’ll give it a few days, then describe how those are working out, and how these hives are behaving. We’ll have to come back in a couple of days to remove the queen excluders.

The Real-Live part of the journey has finally begun!

Our Flow Hive has arrived!

We are going to have 2 hives to start, so we are going to have 2 plans for honey harvesting as well; one of the hives will have “regular” comb-honey supers, and the other will have a Flow Hive.

I was going to wait until later to order it, but they were running a special, so I went ahead and got the 7 unit flow super (it’s for a 10 frame Langstroth) and a super box from them; said it would ship in 7 days, but we had it in less than 7 days…. Ours shipped out of Memphis…

Nuff said…  See the video…


The Bees we are getting (and Ankle Biters don’t bite your ankles)

So, I get an email from the Bee guy up near Findlay about Nucs, but I thought I had emailed him already; apparently I hadn’t. He has some nice stock;  some Latshaw hybrids, with some Ankle Biters and Buckfast mixed in.

I first heard the term “Ankle Biters”, at the very first Bee seminar we went to (the Ohio State Beekeepers Association in November of 2016); I remember thinking, “Ankle Biters? Shoot, I don’t want those kinds of Bees; I’ll have to wear boots; it must really hurt to get stung in the ankles! That’s crazy; why would the bees go for your ankles?!”. Ha Ha, but I’m not trying to be funny; I actually thought that.

After researching, I learned that Ankle Biters were developed by Purdue University, and have the behavior of biting off the legs of the Varroa mites, the mites can’t hang on, fall to the bottom board of the hive (or through the lower mesh if you have that setup), and starve and die. Some beekeepers report good success.

That is only part of the problem though, in that the mites love to go after brood too, and attach themselves to the larvae; once the bee cell is capped, the mite will stay there and thrive.

So, I looked again at the literature on the bees we are getting, and feel really good about the Nucs we’ve ordered. These are based on stock that have survived a lot of stress that include being shipped by truck for pollination, and having to deal with Varroa mites; seems that they go after the mites in brood cells, and have other surviving qualities.

The layman’s description of our bees is here, and the more scientific description is here.

Some cool sites on these bees include:




Today was planting day

Had an atypical day; temperature was up to 70 degrees (F); it was cold before today and will be cold after; perfect day for a December planting of bee-friendly prairie flowers.

We planted about 2000 square feet of:

  • West Virginia Beekeepers Seed Mix
  • Ohio Pollinator Oasis Seed Mix
  • Lemon Mint
  • Sky Blue Aster
  • Sneezeweed (Helen’s Flower)
  • Blue False Indigo
  • Partridge Pea is where I sourced all the seeds; easy to navigate site, fast delivery.

I’ll take pictures in the Spring; they say it could take 2 seasons before the prairie really takes off; we shall see.

Man, I’m going to be sore tomorrow (lots of raking ground today)…

Bee Yard looking East:

Bee Yard looking North-ish:

Resting in the Bee Yard:

Our Bee Crisis

Due to having some vacation time (where I’ve been totally unproductive), I’ve caught up on some movies, documentaries, and Bee DVDs that I’ve been wanting to watch.

We just watched “More Than Honey” – Imhoof, and there are some things there that are interesting, and disturbing.

Disturbing (for example) is the displayed mindset of the South Dakota migratory beekeeper, who is in the California almond grove; he’s dangerously misguided, and confuses his selfishness and greed with capitalism; there is a difference between being a capitalist, and being a bad person.

Disturbing also is the plight of the honey bee here in the US. We have lost our minds in this situation, and the USDA, and the almond growers are not solving this issue effectively (but have probably a very large impact in having created it).

I know this problem with our bees (disease, shorter queen life, diversity, etc.) is multifaceted; however, this concept of mono-farming mixed with mega-farming is just a thread away from turning catastrophic with regards to our food supply and our pollinators; it’s not a sustainable cycle, and it will break. The question is not if it will break, but when it will break. Shipping bees from all over the country to California for the almond crop is not natural and is having negative effects on our entire honey bee population; it helps to spread disease (it is certainly not helping to contain disease), and does not scale. The almond growers need to develop their land in ways that enable sustainable farming; same with apples and other crops.

After watching that video, here’s where my thoughts go:

  • I am boycotting almonds; I won’t support them until the almond growers become more responsible.
  • I will greatly resist treating my bees with chemicals; though it might seem that we would “help” them, it really makes them more dependent, and weaker (not stronger).
  • I will not EVER put my bees on a truck and haul them to a farm that uses pesticides, fungicides, etc.
  • If I ever put bees on a truck and haul them to a farm, it will be to permanently place them there, to help the farmer sustain.

I will probably never be that guy who puts his bees on a truck and hauls them to a farm for pollination; it’s just not my thing.

I think I’m turning into a “tree-hugging hippie”… 🙁

Ordered our first Nucs

Went through the Ohio State Beekeepers Association list of Bee Nuc suppliers, and contacted each of them; Nucs (Nuclear Colony) typically have to be picked up, so proximity is a factor, as is the type of bees they have, availability, and the certainty they have about having bees in the Spring.

All things considered, I’m going with William’s Bee Farm near Frankfort. ( and Dan was responsive, and seems to know his stuff; some of the email interchange:

“My overwintered nucs either have VSH Pol-lines or VSH Carniolans in them. Pol-lines are more italian like, more information can be found online about them. Both the VSH strains were developed by the USDA and are being propagated by VP Queen bees where I obtain my pure Instrumental inseminated breeding stock. I run a sustainable operation and only replace my losses with my own nucs. The mating yards are flooded with drones from overwintered colonies. So the pol-lines and carniolans are both mated with high quality drones from my area from Italian and Carniolan lines. This results in a worker force that is both genetic diverse and accustomed to my conditions. ”

I like what I’ve researched on these (though a close second was some Ankle-biters and Buckfast from a Beekeeper up nearer to Cleveland; if these don’t work out, that will probably be my next choice). My only concern is these bees’ ability to groom themselves of the Varroa mite; is it stronger in the other types?

He’s even going to get some medium Nucs started, since most of his Nucs are in deeps, and all my equipment is mediums; we are going to start with 2 Nucs in the Spring (Yay!).

(We are keeping the bee kit we bought from Tractor Farm and Supply though (which is a deep); in case we change our minds and want to go with deeps, or need a place for a swarm or something).

Bee Garden

Anita and I have been thinking about, and designing a Bee Garden; my daughter is close and has about 3 acres, so we are going to keep the bees there instead of at our yard, so this is much better for all involved.

We’ve purchased some bee friendly seeds from Ohio Prairie Nursery, and are figuring out where to put them (; they had some really neat seed packets, endorsed by Ohio State Beekeepers Association and West Virginia Beekeepers; I got a handful of those packets, plus some others that have different blooming periods. This will help in a small way (cause you really need acres and acres of flowers for a colony), but in time, perhaps this can expand.

I’m big on perennials because of lower maintenance, but there are trade-offs with annuals; these mixes have both; hopefully, by the 2nd season, the perennials will be well-established; with more acreage, hopefully we can create a really nice place for both us and the bees.

Central Ohio Beekeepers Association

Went to the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association meeting tonight.

Apparently there is a “Bee School” in February; I’m sure Anita will sign us up.

Dinner, awards, and networking with more peeps.

1 guy, first year, put his name on a list to collect swarms, quickly went from 2 hives to 10; he’s doing quite well; don’t put your name on a list indicating you will collect swarms, until you are sure what you are going to do with them, and can handle them; I asked someone about the volume, and he indicated that if you include “cut-outs” (swarms in walls of buildings, etc.), he said that the metropolitan Columbus area has 3 swarms a day…. wow….. I hadn’t figured there were that many.

Bee Equipment has arrived

Been putting together the hive boxes and the frames (and foundation) from Brushy Mountain; 5 boxes of cool stuff, absolutely no missing parts, but this can get tedious… 70 frames to put together….

Decided to paint the boxes different colors; that, and separating the hives should be very good at preventing any colony drift as the bees navigate.

We are going to try 2 systems; one of the hives will have a medium super for honeycomb honey, and the other will have the flow hive for harvesting any surplus honey; it’ll be a neat experiment. The FlowHive is cool, but you don’t harvest any wax from it; so if you want wax or pure in-the-comb honey, then the FlowHive is not what you want.

My fingers are a little tore up…. 70 frames with tiny little nails…. buahaha..

Brushy Mountain has plenty of videos online to help understand how to put those things together, but you might have to search YouTube to find them.

Ohio State Beekeepers Association Annual Meeting

Went to the Ohio State Beekeepers Association Annual meeting at Tolles Technical Center; this was a neat event; got to meet a lot of peeps, look at and touch equipment, talk to the vendors, etc.

The talk on the how bees mate was fascinating; I had no idea; and kudos to the speaker (Dr. Ellis; University of Florida; really knows his stuff).

After looking around, and talking to folks:

  • I think the polystyrene hives (though a good idea) are still being proven in this area; I wonder what winter ventilation issues there may be; plus, I’m not sure that should be our first set of equipment, cause once you jump onto that bandwagon, you are pretty much locked into that system (they don’t seem to interchange very well across manufacturers); I think I’ll follow advice to start with standard stuff.
  • I liked the discussions I had with the folks at the Brushy Mountain Bee Farm (, and the quality of their equipment for the price. I bought a bee suit from them (even though a stranger was telling me that I only need a bee jacket as I was trying it on.. maybe so on that one, but I’ll error on the side of caution until I can form my own opinion). Got started with a whole set of stuff; they’ll ship it to the house, I’ll have to put it together; they made it interesting with free shipping and a 10% discount on the whole deal; 2 complete hives, all mediums (my idea; I liked what some beekeepers advise on standardizing on mediums, cause then the equipment is all the same, and 3 mediums is approximately the same size as 2 deeps).
  • Talked with the guy at BroodMinder, and bought 2 completes (1 for each hive) for monitoring hive temperature, humidity, and weight; felt it was superior to some of the other gadgets out there (smaller, synchs to bluetooth, then synchs up to web when you are near wi-fi; this was a much better answer than the vendor selling a physically huge unit, and advising me to install wi-fi repeaters in my bee yard…. big NO on that one). Plus, I liked their story and what they are trying to do, so I’ll support them where I can. Especially for starting out, I like to quantify and track parameters as much as I can.
  • Put my name in with some vendors on getting some Nucs for Spring; seems they are almost ordered – out already; now I’m worried I won’t be able to get bees; not crazy about the packaged bees; would prefer to get an established, over-wintered colony AND get local bees instead of bees from California, or Georgia, etc.
  • Anita got stuff too… (hahahahaaha)… I’m like a kid in a candy store….


Been reading a lot of books and stuff that Anita has gotten from the library; figuring out and learning stuff; fascinating.

The books we are reading (each of us) and the DVDs we are watching include:

  • Beekeeping; A practical guide – Bonney – ISBN 978-0-88266-861-1
  • Honey Bees; Letters from the hive – Buchmann – ISBM 978-0-385-73770-8
  • Storey’s guide to keeping honey bees – Sanford, etc. – ISBN 978-1-60342-550-6
  • The Bee Book – Chadwick, etc. – ISBN 978-1-4654-4383-0
  • The Biology of the Honey Bee – Winston – ISBN 0-674-07408-4
  • The Complete Idiot’s guide to beekeeping – Stiglitz, etc. – ISBN978-1-61564-011-9
  • The Hive Detectives – Burns – ISBN 978-0-547-15231-8
  • Victory Gardens for Bees – Weidenhammer – ISBN 978-1-77162-053-6
  • Wisdom for Beekeepers – Tew – ISBN 978-1-62113-761-0
  • DVD – More Than Honey – Markus Imhoof
  • DVD – Saving The Life Keepers – Brian Cambell, etc.
  • DVD – Queen of the Sun – Jon Betz

I’m not going to go into the large hand-fulls of you-tube videos we’ve watched as well; all that information can be confusing since anyone with a camera and a bee-suit can end up with a posted video; not that the information isn’t useful (because it is) but there’s an awful lot of stuff out there. [The FlowHive stuff seems intriguing; THAT’s a neat gadget!]

Based on our county rules, we can have beehives in our yard (we’re on about 3/4 of an acre), and will have to get permits (but that’s easy to do); our only contention is that we don’t have our own fence, and any hive within 10 feet of a neighbor’s yard, needs to have a 6 foot fence; I can move the hive in (now were are thinking of getting 2 hives based on what we read), and have been designing some layouts.

She’s signed us up as members of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association, and to the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association, and will be going to the annual meeting on 5 Nov. 2016; I’ll write about that one when it’s over.

Our First Bee Kit

Well, there we were at Tractor Farm Supply; Anita has been doing a little research, and wants to look at Bee supplies out there.

We bought a bee “kit”; has a smoker, lid, hive tool, 10 frames (with foundation), 1 deep box, and an entrance reducer (already assembled).

I laugh because on the box (trying to make this seem easy) is a blowout that says “Just Add Bees”…. I’m sure its not that simple, but the marketing cracks me up.

Sent a picture to the kids with me opening the box, pretending like bees are flying out of it (cause I’m so awesome hilarious)…..

Pig On The Hill

Here we are in Georgia for the Annual Pig On The Hill pig roast; we’ve been coming to this on and off for about 30 years, going to where ever the hosts have lived….

One of our Ohio neighbors is here as well; he’s gotten his first bee hive, and is telling us about his first honey harvest of 50 lbs, how he bought his bees (they come in a package?), where he has them, and what he’s been doing.

Seems he’s got this bug (mite) problem, where he’s got to dust the bees with powered sugar, and then count the mites that fall off onto some grid; based on the numbers of dead mites on the grid, he’ll have to figure out if he needs to treat his bees with chemicals (or something).

I’ve heard of bees getting these mites, but didn’t know about the powdered sugar thing; that’s kinda neat.

Anyway, Anita and I talked about it on the way home; he talked with us about the bees for probably a half hour; we’ll call him when we get home; start asking him how we can get started.