Beehives – Top Entrances

We are using top entrances on out beehives. Conventionally, langstroth hives (modern hives), have a bottom board and a spacer that allows the hive to set up just enough to make an entrance. We remove this space above the bottom board and put it at the top. This keeps us from having to keep the grass cut as short so fewer cuts during the year, or less time required. This also gets the entrance further from the ground. Further from the ground means that the skunks have a much more difficult time reaching the bees. Skunks will camp in front of a hive and scratch around the entrance to get bees to come out and then eat them and can put a hurting on a hive’s population.  Here’s a terrible picture of hive #6.  Next time I’ll try to take a picture with the sun at my back 🙂

Honeybee Hive

No honey for me :(

This post got lost somewhere and I just found it!

Well, we did another inspection on Oct 6 and were very disappointed to find that during the continual weeks of rain, the bees have consumed quite a bit of what I was hoping to extract.  I was really expecting at least 5 frames and optimistically hoping for a whole super, but it was not to be.  Judith and I went through the whole thing and re-arranged things to get them ready for winter since some of the nights have been in the mid to low 30’s.  I restructured the bottom two supers to have 9 frames each, so now all the boxes have 9 frames.  I know most people don’t do this, but after reading some of Walt Wright’s stuff, ok, well all of it, I’m changing some of my practices starting with 9 frames in all boxes.  Anyway the inspection led to a discovery of about 4 frames of brood, total, and the rest was empty or honey.  There was very little uncapped nectar, and there was a bit of pollen.  All of the nectar that was previously uncapped and occupying several frames and almost one entire super was gone.  Here’s the structure as it stands now:

box 1 (counting from the bottom) has some brood and pollen
box 2 has honey on the outside 4 frames and a little brood and empty comb in the middle
box 3 has honey except two middle frames
box 4 is 1/3 full of honey and the rest empty or nectar
box 5 is empty drawn comb
box 6 is empty mostly drawn comb, but poorly drawn comb

The next step I think is to put the inner cover down with the bee escape, or catch them on a really cool (not cold) day and yank box 5&6 off for the winter. After that, put down the entrance reducer to keep the mice out for the winter and cross our fingers and hope to see the little gals again in February or so.

Honeybee update, Fall 2011

We did our big pre-winter inspection on Saturday and have good news and bad news. The “bad” news is that we won’t have any honey to extract this fall, but the good news is that all three hives seem to be in good shape for the upcoming winter! Hive two is getting re-queened in the spring; they are mean and have produced nothing for me and just generally need an upgrade. The other two hives seem strong and have good attitudes. Hopefully we’ll add one hive in the spring and re-queen #2 and have more of a harvest next year!

Reunion Day

Today it’s been seven days, the vet prescribed quiet time, since Maggie got spayed. This evening we’ll be taking her back over to the farm to be reunited with her best friend who has been the definition of a “lost puppy” since she’s been gone. Merle is so pitiful and depressed and it’s just sad to watch him, but that ends TODAY! We’re also doing a full bee inspection this afternoon making sure things are in order and going well and adding honey supers in anticipation of harvesting some honey early this summer. It’s going to be a beautiful sunny mid 70’s day and we intend to take advantage of it!

Honey Haul

We harvested honey this year!  This is our second year managing honeybees and we harvested a bit of honey for our efforts so far.  We just finished bottling our haul this year and have about 1.5 gallons of honey.  Unfortunately the honey we harvested has already been spoken for, but hopefully next year we’ll reap more and have some extra to sell!

2010 Honey Harvest
2010 Honey Harvest

New Hives

We started three new hives on March 27th of this year! The location has changed due to the possibility of construction traffic and the placement actually lines up with what our landscape architect had drafted on the plan. Since we started with drawn comb from last year, the bees are off to a great start. We did a full inspection yesterday and found brood of all stages in two of the hives, and one hive is just a wee bit behind, but coming on strong. All hives have put up quite a bit of nectar and we added a second box to each hive yesterday. The box that was added to each hive had drawn comb, somewhat ratty, but drawn none the less, so it shouldn’t take the ladies long to get it ship-shape and nectar and brood added. I think we’ll add another box on Thursday since I won’t be in them for over a week after that.


Well, all had been going fine and seemed great the last time I checked on the bees a few weeks ago, just before the really cold snap.  Apparently I did not do a good enough job inspecting and keeping a good feel for what was going on because yesterday when I checked on them there was no buzzing or noise of any kind and no response when I rapped gently on the hive.  Talk about a sickening feeling.  I started taking it apart and discovered that all the bees, save for about 10, were dead.  Looking at how many bees there were it seemed like an awful lot.  I think I could have filled 3 or 4 shipping packages to the brim with dead ones.  They were lots of bees buried in the cells with the little tails sticking out, a classic sign of starvation.  After taking it all apart and inventorying what was left there is still a box and a third full of honey, but it wasn’t close enough to the bees for them to eat it without breaking cluster.  It is VERY disappointing, dishearting and downright depressing, but I’m going to take it as a lesson and hope for a better year this year.

On a positive note, I’ll have 6 boxes with drawn wax to get the new packages started on this year, so hopefully if the weather is a bit more cooperative this year, we should produce a decent amount of honey.  Unfortunately, Matt Taylor is not selling maple syrup or the organic scrap sugar this year, so I’ll have to locate another source.  I think I’ll just purchase standard sugar instead of the organic this time due to cost and the fact that there is no food product being made directly from that sugar.  Here’s to hoping that the packages coming at the end of March are more successful than the last!

Official Inspection

We had our first official inspection by a state sanctioned inspector yesterday and it went GREAT! She went through the hive and we found the queen, checked for mites and hive beetles and only found one beetle. She said that the hive looked very healthy and there was a moderate to heavy amount of adult bee population.  It was EXTREMELY encouraging to hear good things from someone who knows bees!  She also suggested that if I am going to split in the spring, and I intend to, it would be a good idea to go ahead and feed the bees so they can have as many stores as possible to get them off to a better start, so I intend to start feeding solid food this week.  All in all a good report and emotionally uplifting 🙂

Another Bee Update

This past weekend (Sat Sept 12) I got back in the bees again to check the progress and see how things were going.  So at this point I have one hive with seven supers total.  The combined hive was on top of the good hive.  So looking in this weekend revealed that the third box (counting up from the bottom) now has brood and not so much capped honey, the fourth box has considerable brood (three frames) as well as lots of dark pollen left over from when it was a separate hive, but there is quite a bit of nectar in it, not capped yet, but certainly getting close.  The fifth box was looking like 1/3 capped honey and the sixth box was all capped honey.  The seventh box has one frame of capped, one frame of nectar and 7 frames of foundation.  The drawn frames came from re-arranging the other boxes to 9 frames each.

So I guess what I’m hoping for now is another few good weeks of beautiful weather and the bees have enough time to get all the inside filled up with nectar and hopefully get some more frames drawn out on the seventh box.  Who knows, if it’s all full at the end of October, I’ll be able to extract my first honey.  Maybe I’ll even have enough to extract a whole super!