I attempted to make a video of how to unload a busting swarm trap into a new colony. Unfortunately, the phone overheated and cut off midway through (before I got the second deep on). It still had enough good info to achieve the intention. This trap had combs built off the bottoms of each frame that had to be cut and rubber-banded into additional frames. Overall it yielded about 6 to 7 frames of brood and eggs. It’s a colony in a great position to build right now (during a great nectar flow here in SE Indiana). I’m happy to answer any questions I may have left anyone hanging with.
I lost one hive out of 13 over the winter. In fact, I lost it mid to late February… AFTER I put a candy board on it. This hive came out of the winter nice and strong. It was one of my larger colonies. They were bumping the lid after going through a full medium of honey. So, I added on a candy board just for some food before were out of the cold. To be clear, I’m an advocate of candy boards and will continue to use them for all their benefits. Below is a recent negative experience based on my specific application and circumstance.
I was in this colony about three times prior to the deadout. I put a little piece of pollen patty in on a previous visit (I start with a little and see if they take it) and there were a LOT of bees up in the candy board. I came back about a week later and they were all dead. They were loaded in the candy board, on each deep level and even a carpet of bees on the bottom board. It looked like they had been poisoned. Yet, the 4 other hives next to it were fine.
I did my mite wash and it was fine. No mites in the wash! There was plenty to eat in the candy board. So, I sent off a bee sample to the Beltsville lab for good measure. See the report below. It’s exactly what I expected. Very low mites and no nosema. So yeah, a nice clean hive otherwise!
This is the one and only candy board that I used 1/4″ hardware cloth on. I have used this same board for 3 past winters with no issue. However, this particular colony was very strong. It had a ton of bees that ate a softball sized hole up through the center of the candy. The bees flowed up and over the top of the rest of the candy totally covering the sugar. It appeared to be a carpet of dead bees when I pulled off the lid. I couldn’t see any sugar… just a tray of dead bees.
I believe that the majority of the bees were up there and on the next cold night, they couldn’t get back down through the hardware cloth fast enough… essentially keeping them from clustering and staying warm. That night, there were bees stuck up top, and not enough bees back down around the brood. Look at the captions on the following pictures as I try to indicate the play by play.
So, as you can see, this was beekeeper error. What’s even sadder is that I added this candy board to the colony about 1-2 weeks before it caused their death. I didn’t notice this until I got the board home and emptied off the bees to see the sugar remaining. I thought they had completely consumed the sugar in the board and it was just all bees. In reality, the small hole through the center of the sugar (along with the 1/4″ hardware cloth) acted as a choke they couldn’t pass through fast enough in time to cluster.
Lesson learned. I’ll be replacing this with the 1/2″ and I hope this helps anyone else who may be using something similar.
I got together with a beekeeping mentor to make up some OA shop towels for combating varroa this season. The following is based on the research Randy Oliver is doing using OA, glycerin, and water mixed up to a certain volume and absorbed into rolls of Scott Shop Towels. While this method of OA application is not yet an approved method of application to honey bee colonies in the US, Randy is working with the EPA to get the method approved. The results Randy reported are pretty compelling, so we wanted to make some of these up in preparation to test out this season.
We know that OA vaporization and dribble are both effective methods for knocking back phoretic mites (mites on the bees). Unfortunately, neither method does anything to the mites in the cells which as we know are upwards of 50% of the mites in the colony. In addition, due to the short-lived presence of OA in the hive after these treatments (1-2 days), several follow-up treatments are needed in order to expose upcoming generations of mites to the OA when they come out of the comb. We’ve found that the variation in timing could allow enough time for a mite to come out of one cell and go into another before the next treatment, making vaporization and dribbles less effective as long as there is brood present in the hive.
The idea behind the saturated towels is to keep the OA present in the hive over 30-40 days (about the same length of time as other treatments) while it takes the bees that long to chew and tear up one full towel to get it out of the hive. As they do that, they spread the OA around the hive making it difficult for emerging mites to avoid contact. The fact that the beekeeper doesn’t have to go back into the hive to remove it is a bonus. This method of application can also occur while there are honey supers on the hive.
It’s important to understand there is a calculated amount of OA added per towel. This information can be found on Randy’s site, but I’ll list it below as a basis for what I would build on as I better understand the practicality of this application. Randy has asked any beekeepers who have ideas for improvement to let him know so we wanted to give it a try to see how this process could work if a beekeeper had to treat 100 hives in a given fall.
We don’t want to get Oxalic Acid in our eyes or on our skin. So, put on your safety glasses and nitrile gloves. The glycerin is really sticky as well. Also, have a bowl of warm water with some baking soda in it along with a cleanup towel handy. Baking soda will neutralize oxalic acid.
Make sure your roll of towels is cut in half. The following mixture is for a half-roll of towels.
- 336g OA crystals
- 364 mL food-grade glycerin
- 140 mL water
The water helps the towels absorb the solution better. Add the water to the glycerin and heat on the stove to about 140-160F. No need for any hotter. Once the solution reaches, 140F, add the OA crystals, stir with stainless steel spoon until the solution runs clear. Remove from the heat. Preheating the roll of towels a little in the microwave also helps the towels absorb all the solution. A minute in the microwave works fine.
Drop the half-roll of towels into the solution and allow time to absorb as much solution as it can. Ideally, it will come up the roll about halfway. Use a pair of tongs to flip the roll and allow it to absorb the rest of the solution until the entire roll is saturated.
Once done, allow to cool and dry. It will not dry out completely. The water will evaporate out, but the remaining glycerin will keep it oily to the touch. You can store the roll in a ziplock bag until use.
On full towel (or two half towels) is a single treatment for a colony. Place the towel on the top bars of the frames and close it up. I’ll update this post again later when I have some results.
2017 Beehive Christmas Ornaments are ready to ship. The style has changed this year. They have flat lids just like the original Langstroth style bee hive. The price also has increased by $1 this year as I’m “co-making” them with a friend. We calculated the labor and materials to come up with this price adjustment.
Christmas Ornaments for 2017
$9 (not including shipping)
As much as I’d like to claim this idea, I cannot. I was at my beekeepers Christmas party and a member came in with pieces that he said he made 5 years ago. They were just cut pieces of pine, un-assembled, and unpainted. They were single deep box Langstroth bee hive Christmas ornaments. Each had a bottom board, a deep box, and a garden-style lid. He allowed members to take them and assemble them at home. Of course, I took one and immediately thought of all the changes I wanted to make to it.
First, was some additional boxes… more deeps, or mediums? Definitely one more box. I experimented with a number of boxes, 3-deeps, a deep and two mediums, but finally settled on one deep and one medium. Then, I also experimented with the finish… did I want shiny and new, or worn and rugged? I entertained wood-burning and added the nails on the corners of the boxes. Then last, I burned in the Christmas message on the bottom of each.
In this fast-paced world where everything is mass-produced and disposable, it’s nice to have something that can be seen and appreciated each year. Rarely lost, ornaments get packed away with the Christmas stuff, only to be pulled out and appreciated for a while the next year. The beehives strike a chord beekeepers, but also are most appropriate as gifts from a beekeeper.
I keep no secrets here… the process I used to replicate these was simple if you have a workshop and some basic tools. Here is the process I used, and I’m sure anyone could make improvements to make these their own.
I started with a simple 2×4 and ripped it down the center to have two equal halves. I cut my cubes off of that… and struck lines and filed them out to make it appear as two boxes stacked on top of each other. I also ripped the roof material from another 2×4 into the triangle shape. It helps to have a table saw whose table can be adjusted at an angle to cut these pieces. For the bottom board, just as you might suspect… another long strip about 1/4″ thick. Basically, all the pieces were cut into lengths. That’s the hard part. Then, you will make cross cuts to cut off each individual hive body, roof, and bottom board.
The bottom board was a little more involved… at least, my approach was. I used a stationary router with a flat bit and made up a make-shift jig to allowed me to stick the wood in, and route out the small notch for the front of the hive. Because these pieces are so small, I routed each piece individually while still connected to the length of wood… stuck it in the router to take out the notch… and then ripped the piece off individually. I went back to the router to make the next notch, then ripped that piece off again. I repeated the process here for each piece. One could maybe use a Dremel (that would render a cruder cut, but may add to the character of the ornament).
See the pics below. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have… and, Merry Christmas!
I’ve been wanting to set up a very portable observation hive for a few years. To date, I have borrowed them from fellow beekeepers to do bee education presentations for various groups. Since I didn’t want to wear out my welcome with the generous people who have loaned them to me, I finally have one ready to add bees to.
After seeing, and using various styles of observation hives, I settled on the style I found best for what I am doing. This style stacks two deep frames and two medium frames inside a case which I think is the perfect cross-section of a typical Langstroth hive. There’s little place for the queen to hide once I take the covers off. Some fold-away feet turn on central pivots on the bottom to make a stand while it’s off the dock.
A simple piece of tin slides under the front door in some grooves to block the entrance coming in from the bottom-center before un-docking the hive. Both this piece of tin, and the doors are fastened with screws so no one can open it while it out in the public.
When the feet are turned out, they will be clamped to the table for extra stability. There are multiple vents on the top, and two sides to allow good air circulation. Two blinds, one for each side were made out of foam insulation, that I’ll plan to paint black, or add a layer of cardboard to ensure it’s dark inside while the sides are on and the hive is not in use.
Most importantly, I wanted to be able to park the observation hive at home, and let the bees reside in it all season. Being able to rob out an occasional frame of brood, or honey to bolster another hive while keeping the observation hive from swarming is an added benefit.
Of course, parking the hive outside, I also want to keep it out of the direct elements so it doesn’t wear out so fast. The solution for me was to build a dock off the front of my south-facing chicken coop. The overhang from the roof above comes out far enough to keep most of the rain off it, but yet it still gets plenty of sun to help thwart hive beetles.
For the dock, I wanted to emulate the typical landing board of a langstroth hive. This allows any bees that were out and about before I closed it off and took it to congregate until the hive returns. The idea would be, returning the hive to its position at the end of the day would allow the bees that have gathered, or bearded on the landing board to find their way into the hive.
The observation hive sits on top of the dock and a 1.5″ PVC pipe comes out of the dock and into the bottom center of the observation hive. You would sit the hive on the pvc pipe, then a pair of handles on the top of the hive engage with some latches at the top. This holds the hive in place on the dock (see pictures in gallery).
I took the liberty of making the entrance travel off to one side so that I could stand in front of the hive and latch/unlatch it when I’m docking it. Straight to the other side of the dock is an area that accommodates a feeder jar if needed. It’s screened off with #8 hardware cloth and can be left open without a jar. So, the bees come into the entrance on the left, travel through PVC that has been roughed up on the inside (for traction). They can choose to go up and into the hive, or straight to the feeder area. The feeder area is located well away from the entrance and the entrance hole has been left a reasonably small size. See the pictures in the gallery for more detail.
I think it will work very well and we’ll just see. I hope I give someone else some ideas or encouragement to finally build the observation hive they have been thinking of. See a video of the virgin queen tearing down a another capped queen cell with some other worker bees below the pictures.
What are some of your thoughts on the ideal observation hive?