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:


The Nuc has her queen!

We inspected our hives today; the goal for the Nuc was to find evidence of the queen laying, find the queen, and mark her.


Though we did not find signs of a laying queen in the Nuc (in fact, some swarm research says that signs of a missing queen include the workers back-filling brood cells with food (pollen, honey, sugar-syrup), and that is exactly what we saw.)

But, there are a LOT of bees in that Nuc, and we found our queen, and marked her (Yellow for 2017); we believe she is mated, based on the size of her abdomen; we have had some rainy days, so that probably explains why she is later in laying than expected (which is also what we found to expect in our research).  We’ll continue to feed this Nuc, but we are not going to open it up for another 2 weeks.

In the other hives (Blue and Yellow), it appears that the queens have slowed down their laying; we still see young larvae, and saw both of the queens, but there’s a lot of empty cells…. Perhaps it’s part of the cycle, and we just had a bunch of brood emerge?… We’ll just have to be comfortable with letting them handle this…


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!

Bees as endangered species?

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has recently listed the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as an endangered species (see the fact sheet); that brings the total number of Bee species listed as endangered to date at 8.

In September 2016, the Service listed a group of 7 yellow-faced bees in Hawaii as the first bees in the country to be protected under the Endangered Species Act (see the Federal Register). You can also read a nice article at the Xerces Society website.

Now the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has the notoriety of being the 1st Bee within the continental United States declared as endangered.

I hope we are not witnessing the beginning of a tragedy in our lifetime, but it is troubling to note that this is the first time since 1967 (50 years) that Bees have been listed as endangered; however, these are not the first pollinators to be listed, as we have bestowed that honor to some of our Butterflies.

This is a good thing for Honey Bees as well because it aligns additional resources and more sense of urgency to some of the same issues that may eventually land other bees onto the list.

Interestingly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ECOS (The Environmental Conservation Online System) where you can peruse its listings of threatened and endangered species; a bit slow, but very informative…