Monday, September 29, 2014

Still robbing

Today, the bees were still robbing. I moved one empty frame which still had plenty of bees on it away from the hives. Brenda stuffed the entrance of both hives with grass. That was this morning.

We went out this evening and saw a wad of bees at the Benedictium's small upper entrance. The bees in the wad were clearly too stuffed to fly. I wonder whether they are thinking of swarming?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


We placed our empty frames out in the orchard for the bees to clean off. This may have been a mistake. An hour later we saw a lot of excitement at the hives. Was it robbing? I placed a couple of slats in front of the entrance of the Valentinium, our weaker hive, to see whether that would help.

Our frames over in the orchard were licked spotless.


We don't have access to a honey house right now, so we are working in our kitchen.

We tried the salad spinner, the potato ricer, and the food mill. They all did the job, but they also left small flakes of wax suspended in the honey.

We also placed a colander over a bucket, and lined the colander with cheese cloth. The honey was beautiful and relatively wax free. It is a slow process, however, and it will take hours to finish.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We pulled the supers off the hives today. Joachim came over to help.

We started with the Benedictium. The top super was laden with honey, no brood, very nice. The lower super was empty, and we removed it. We sandwiched the laden super between two jerry-rigged telescoping covers. They had a few bees in them, but not many. We left the empty super in front of the Benectium for the bees to clean. We inserted four bits of a thymol package between the two brood chambers and took the laden super inside for extraction. Then we let them cool off for an hour or so. The honey was very dark and very tasty.

Then we went out to pull off the Valentinium's super. Not much honey there, but a fair amount of uncapped nectar. We left some of the emptier frames out for the bees to clean, and took a few in, probably too many. We left the remaining four bits of the thymol package between the two chambers. I think many of the frames which we brought in were of uncapped nectar. Unfortunately, while I was monkeying around with the thymol, I neglected to cover the frames, and so we picked up quite a few bees and yellow jackets. I guess we'll get to swat them later during the extraction. What a drag.

But we now have honey in our house!

Dead bees

There were a bunch of dead bees on the landing of the Valentinium this morning. I commonly see a dead bee or two on the landing. That's where their sisters toss their corpses. But this was eight or ten, and some where still twitching.

Robbers? Guard bees killed by yellow jackets? They did not look like drones. A plague?

I went back out to take a picture, but they were gone.

Walking back down the path I saw a pair of crickets, one of which had clearly been stepped on, and was dead. The other cricket was staying with it. It ran away when I approached, and then came back out to stay with its dead partner. When I told Brenda about it, we saw the live cricket dragging away the dead one off the path. Interesting.

The golden rod is just about done flowering.

Monday, September 15, 2014

One yellow jacket

I went out to see how the war was going, and it looked pretty calm. After a while one yellow jacket showed up and tried to get into the Valentinium, but she was thrown out. So she went to the Benedictium, where she received a vigorous greeting and then fled.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yellow Jackets

Yesterday, the apiariulus spotted a yellow jacket hanging out in front of the Benedictium. This evening I saw the same thing. Two or three of the buggers were trying to get in the hive. There was a lot of fighting, but at least one of them got in.

I wonder what's up with that? I am sometimes disappointed by the lack of aggression shown by the guard bees of our colonies.

Bee huddle

Joe had a bee huddle today and talked about winter beekeeping. He suggested feeding beginning on October 1st after the threat of swarm had ended to get enough honey for the winter. Winter feed should be two-to-one sugar to water.

He also talked about wrapping hives for the winter. He hasn't seen any increase in winter survival due to wrapping, but he has noticed that wrapped bees greet the spring in a more flourishing colony. He got me thinking. He wraps his bees in November, since he doesn't want them to get complacent in October.

I picked up another packet of Apilife Var, so we are now up to three, enough to treat our two hives, which we should do soon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mouse guards

I closed up the mouse guards on the hive. The day before yesterday I closed the Valentinium's. The bees were a bit more upset by this than I was expecting, I wasn't wearing any gear or even a veil, and I beat a quick retreat after completing the task.

The Benedictium has been bearding lately, and so I did not dare approach it after my experience with the Valentinium. So I waited till evening and things had calmed down somewhat, but there were still quite a few bees hanging out on the stoop. I wore gloves and reached down and grabbed the mouse guard, but could not move it. So I pulled firmly on it until I broke the propolis with a snap, which was immediately followed by loud hum coming from inside the hive. I decided not to stick around.

So I came out yesterday morning before dawn and took a look, but there were still bees guarding the front stoop, so I left them alone.

This afternoon I fired up the smoker and put on a vail and completed the operation.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Honey! And some complications

We looked in the supers of our hives today. Most of the frames in the Valentinium's super were empty, but those in the middle were full of capped honey, while those just off from the center the frames had some uncapped honey in the middle of the frame. The two easternmost frames and westernmost frames had nothing but foundation and a bit of drawn, but empty comb. None of the frames in the super had any brood.

The super on the Benedictium was chock full all the way across. About half of the frames in the Benedictium's super had foundation in it, and the other half were foundationless. The foundationless frames were fully drawn, but unfortunately these frames had a bit of brood at the bottom of them.

The Benedictium has definitely been the busier of the two hives for the last few weeks as seen from the outside. It has consistently had more bees coming and going.

So what do we do about our frames with brood in them?

We reassembled the Valentinium as we had found it. We put an empty super with 6 frames in it underneath the Benedictium's to separate it from the brood chambers. I hope that when these brood hatch, they won't be replaced.