Monday, June 30, 2014


We were away for a four day weekend. Before we left, I replaced our orange Home Depot water bucket with a blue Lowes water bucket. Both were 8-gallon buckets. I've been keeping a bucket full of water with a coil of chicken wire in them to help drowning bees climb out, and plenty of long sticks of wood to help with the same, just in case the bird bath ran dry.

I replaced the orange bucket with the blue on the theory that the bees might prefer the blue.

When we got back yesterday, the bird bath still had some mirky rain water in it, and the new blue bucket was half empty. I was surprised that the bees drank so much! Apparently, they do like the blue better.

I emptied out the bird bath and the blue bucket, and refilled them both with water straight from our lawn hydrant. That was yesterday evening.

This evening, I went out. The bird bath was mostly empty. And the blue bucket was 7/8 empty! There was only about a gallon left in the bottom.

Brenda guesses that the deer drank it almost dry. So I refilled it and also put the orange bucket next to it and filled it with water too.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Find the Benedictine queen

We took apart the Benedictium today to find evidence for a queen. We saw no eggs or larvae, although we did see plenty of uncapped pollen.

First we inspected every frame in the upper deep. As in the Valentinium, we saw nothing in our new, foundationless drone frames, and we saw few bees and little sign of activity in the upper deep at all.

The lower deep was much more crowded. As at the top, the drone frames were not being used. Well, there was a tiny bit of burr comb on one of them. In one of the foundation frames at the bottom. We saw five queen cups, one of them empty, but saw no sign of laying. That's a worry. I wonder how long it should take for a new queen to start laying? Our swarm was on June 2nd.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Re-arrange frames in the Valentinium

The crown vetch is beginning to bloom.

We took apart the upper deep of the Valentinium today. The thought was that we might need to move some frames from the lower deep into the upper in order to encourage the bees to move in. After inspecting all of the frames in the upper deep, we concluded that they have already moved in. We saw plenty of honey and brood.

We did see a tendency to crown into the western portion of the body, so we shuffled some of the fuller frames towards the east to spread out the density.

The bees have done nothing with the foundationless drone frames on the eastern and western periphery of the hive.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Feeding time

I pulled the feed buckets out of both hives. The Valentinium had drunk most of their, and the Benedictium had drunk all. The Valentinium bucket had some mold in it, so we replaced their feed, and put in another gallon into the Benedictium. We used our standard recipe, 4 pounds of pure cane sugar per gallon. I cooled them off, and then Lucy and I put the buckets back in. I put on my disposable blue nitrile gloves, but no other gear. I think next time, I'll wear a veil. Some of the bees did not appreciate being shooed away from the floor of the supers to make room for the bucket.

I'm doing this a day early since we expect thunderstorms tomorrow.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feed for the Valentinium

The clover are in bloom in our yard, as are the climbing white roses. (Sally Holmes?)

The bucket was empty at the Valentinium, so I cleaned it out and put in four pounds of cane sugar and topped it off with hot water., and then let it cool before putting it back in.

The bucket in the Benedictium still felt half full, so I left it.

Monday, June 2, 2014


"Mama! Look at the bees!"

That is what the apiariella said to Brenda as they sat at the table. The Benedictium swarmed today. Brenda called me to tell me at work. The kids and she described it as "a tornado of bees." After work I stopped up at the hive to see how it looked. It looked happy; foragers were returning to the Benedictium laden with pollen. I hope their new queen works out. I wonder if she's mated and back at the hive yet.

It looks like we were a week late adding the extra room.

I still haven't seen bees of either hive using the new water bucket yet.

This is a photo Brenda took yesterday of the Benedictium. Is this a sign of the coming swarm?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bee space

Today we added another deep body to our brood chambers. Actually, we took the feed buckets out of the upper deep, removed the inner cover from the hive, and pulled the two outer frames out of the brood body. The bees of the Valentinium had drawn the wax out of the outer side and there was uncapped honey on the inner side.  We inspected one of the central frames (the sixth one going from east to west) and saw plenty of capped comb (Brood? Pollen?) but also, on the other side, plenty of uncapped honey; the frame was so heavy, I had trouble gripping it with my fingertips. We made two outer frames (the first and tenth, going east to west) the center of the upper brood deep, and replaced them with foundationless frames for drone comb. We then added 6 deep frames with foundation to the upper deep, with two foundationless frames in the outer position and placed it above the lower deep. Then we placed the inner cover, upside down as usual, on top of the upper deep, and placed our two shallow supers over it, and the feed bucket in the two supers. We needed two supers, because the bucket is too tall for one. It felt like half a gallon left in the bucket. Then we placed the outer cover on top. Oops, the inner cover is on backwards; the exit faces forward (north) just like the main entrance. Oh well.

We did the same for the Benedictium. I saw no ants to speak of in there, whew! Their outer frames were less drawn out than those of the Valentinium. We did not remove one of the central frames to look at it. It felt like most of the feed was left in the Benedictium's feed bucket. I wonder if that was because their burr comb had blocked the entrance to the bucket?

I hope the bees enjoy all their new space. I wonder what they will do with the foundationless frames? I hope this fulfills their apparent drive to make burr comb.

Addenda, frames and supers:

Putting new supers on the Valentinium with the Apiariella:

Pulling a frame from the Benedictium while the Apiariulus looks on:

Closing up our now taller hives: