Wednesday, August 21

No Protection

I'm getting quicker at routine syrup feedings. I had 8 quarts of 2:1 sugar syrup leftover from canning.
This time I did it without any protection. I open the cover, remove three to four bars, take out the empty jar, take a photo of the comb, observe the bees, put the new syrup in, close up the bars, and replace the cover. It takes about five minutes if I drag it out.
There were bees all over the patty I fed them last week.
No new comb. There are still about 8 empty bars at the back of the hive.
I'm having trouble keeping the water clean and to keep the bees from drowning. We seem to have a visitor to the water that removes marbles and skewers.

I wonder when the honey harvest is...? I'm not expecting anything, though I think it would be interesting to try at least one bar.

Tuesday, August 13

Pictures Anyone?

Can you see the pictures I post? I am unable to see them and it makes posting very difficult....
Just wondering if it's different on different computers.

Saturday, August 10


Tracy visited the bees, even poked her head in to see the comb. She's so brave!
No new comb, just more honey.
I replaced a moldy quarter patty with a previously used half patty from earlier in the season.

Wednesday, August 7

Busy Berry Season

I sure hope the bees are doing okay. It's been a madhouse here in berry season. Picking and preserving stacked onto the normal chores of a family keep me so busy  that I barely have time to think of the bees. So I hope they can make it on their own until everything else slows down.

Monday, August 5


Fed the bees another quart in the morning (leftover from canning).
Bar #14 is mostly filled with honey and some pollen.

Friday, July 26

Last Comb

Fed bees another quart of 2:1 sugar to water; leftover syrup from canning apricots.
Bar #14 is finished but no other combs are started.

Wednesday, July 24

Wednesday, July 17

Drone Strike

This morning I awoke to NPR's news of a drone strike. Sure enough I went out this afternoon and there was a number of drones getting evicted again.

Saturday, July 13

Flight School

A buzzing commotion at the hive.
Bees are at the entrance landing fanning with tails up .... orientation flight.
A new brood has hatched and ready for foraging.

Wednesday, July 10

Dead Bees and New Comb

This time I fed them 1 quart of syrup. I noticed a dead bee get drug out and then looked on the ground to find dead bees scattered on the ground.

Bar #14 is just started.
Bar #13 is half comb.
Bar #12 is full comb.

Thursday, July 4

Saturday, June 29


Since the bees are now using the pet waterer - I cleaned it out. I replaced the removed the water, rocks and sticks which were very grimy.
And replaced the feeder with clean fresh water, marbles and skewers. Hopefully the checkered pattern of skewers will keep the bees from drowning. 

Friday, June 28

Outside Activities

In my online reading, I learned...

Bees fanning with bottoms up, are helping new forager bees to orient to the hive.
Bees fanning with bottoms down, are circulation the air.
Bees washboarding (appearance of licking) are cooling off the hive.

Hot Temperatures

Earlier today I watched as several bees stood on the entrance board with their heads pointed in and their tails pointed down and their wings beating rapidly.
Temperatures reached 90 degrees today. I wondered why the bees were fanning outside the hive. Were they robber bees, telling the gang where to find the honey? If they were fanning to cool off, why were they outside the hive?
Upon opening, I can see the hive quarters are very crowded.
There are even many bees at the back of the hive near the camera. I used to adjust the camera with bare hands, but I won't be doing that today.
I took out the false wall and opened up the whole hive to the bees.
Using the crowbar, I shifted all the bars back far enough to insert two empty bars in front. The bees festooned from the front wall to the moved comb.
Before I inserted the two bars, bees were bearding at the entrance. Afterwards they moved in.

Thursday, June 27

One in Three

Reading in American Bee Journal, it sounds like I have a 1 in 3 chance that this hive will survive through the year. That's pretty bleak. With all the mistakes I make as a beginning beekeeper, it must be a miracle I still have my bees. I think of it as a blessing.

Wednesday, June 26

Saturday, June 22

Inspection noVideo

Today was the last day before the rains were to start up again. I have wanted to get in since seeing the dead larva outside the hive. I haven't noticed anything else to be concerned about from the outside view, but it has been several weeks since I have made an inspection and I was curious how they were really doing.
As always, my inspection didn't start until late in the evening. I suited up while the cameraman setup his station and got the smoker puffing. The bees were very calm. My boys were walking around me in their bare feet the whole time, making me think I was overdressed. Sometimes they even stood directly in front of the entrance. They have no fear. Neither of them have they been stung before.
I really wanted to upload the boring video, but it was too large.
Inspection Report:
8:00 pm - 8:20 pm
mostly cloudless sky
Bar #0 - new full comb, most empty, uncap honey at top
Bar  #1 - front full cap brood, back sparse cap brood
Bar  #2 - front 2/3 cap brood, back 1/2 cap brood, some uncap larva, festooning
Bar  #3 - 1/3 cap brood
Bar  #4 - drone comb, uncap honey at top, many empty cells
Bar  #5 - 3/4 cap brood
Bar  #6 - 1/3 cap scattered brood, larva
Bar  #7 - 1/3 cap scattered brood
Bar  #8 - empty, few cap brood on bottom
Bar  #9 - heavy, 1/2 cap misc, some cap drone, some uncap honey
Bar #10 - eggs, few cap drone, 1/3 uncap honey at top 
Bar #11 - new comb, 1/3 uncap honey, rest empty
Bar #12 - 1/2 new comb, uncap honey at top, rest empty, festooning
Bar #13 - tiny new comb, empty, festooning
Bar #14 - no comb, festooning
Bar #15 - no comb, few bees
Notes: quarter patty 1/2 consumed, replaced pint feeder syrup, no queen found

Thursday, June 20

Finding Drones & Larva

This afternoon we went out to see the bees and found this hollow larva lying below the hive. I wonder if more experience would tell me what the dead larva signs mean or if it will always be a mystery. 
I told the boys that drones can't sting.
So when we found a half-a-dozen crawling under the hive, we coaxed them into our hands and enjoyed them close up. The boys got a kick out of being able to handle the bees.

Tuesday, June 18

Rains Return

 The rains are back. They come for a few days and then give us a break and return again.
Lots of bees chilling out on the entrance when the rains subside. 
Here's our hive orientation...the front faces East.

Thursday, June 13


Perhaps I should keep a forecast of the weather. The rains are back and I haven't prepared enough syrup. It's rained the last three days. I made some syrup today. Just my luck, it will be sunny the rest of the week and I'll have missed the window again again. Sorry, no pics today. From the entrance it looks like comb #0 is completely built.That was fast!

Saturday, June 8

Hive Growth

 I opened the hive to peek inside the back.
Syrup was empty and a few bees were feasting on the patty.
The bees just began comb on bar #11.
I wanted to see the activity level on bar #0, but as I started pulling the bar up a beard of bees spewed out and startled me since I wasn't suited up for that kind of job. I carefully closed it up.

Thursday, June 6

What Is Too Dark?

How dark is too dark to keep?
I can't decide whether to cut the dark comb (all comb) or leave it for the chance that it could be used. 

New Coat of Paint

I painted two brood boxes. The round comb box that I painted a few years ago sits under the newly painted yellow brood box. And the two boxes under those are supers of original color.

Eviction Complete

No more drone are being evicted. Seven days to evict the drone. Must have been a lot of drone.

Monday, June 3

Eviction Continues

Upon arriving home, I found the bees still evicting drone. The hive wafted a sweet smell. I worry that when I go out of town the bees will swarm or die.

Saturday, June 1


I made up a new 1:1 syrup, putting it in a pint jar this time around and cut a new patty out. Then placed those in he back of the hive just before heading out of town.

Friday, May 31

Quickie Inspect

So much for making a plan for my inspection today. I didn't find exactly what I expected. All the combs were practically empty. No honey. No eggs. Just open and empty.
I wondered if the drone were being evicted because there was no more honey stores. Did the bees consume all the honey during the past two weeks of rain?!
Having not fed them syrup in a while made me feel worse. There were a few combs with a handful of capped brood and scattered larva, in no specific pattern.
I was pleased that my smoker, I lit myself, stayed lit through the whole inspection which didn't last all that long; but the smoker kept on going.

Drone Eviction

It's obvious the drones are being evicted. Here a worker bites the wings of a drone and drags him out. Only to drop with him to the ground, risking her life to dispose of the not-so-needed drone. 
Another gets mauled by several workers. He must have been resistant; called in the backups.
I don't mind there being less drone in the hive.
Now they lay dead in the grass or on the sprinkler box, which sits directly under the entrance.

New Larva

The boys enjoyed examining this specimen with the microscope.
I can't tell if there is anything the matter. It's too small. Everything on the outside seems to be normal.

Thursday, May 30


This evening we noticed the bees spilling out of the entrance as if there was not enough room in the hive. I know there are at least six empty bars of room at the back of the hive.
In an attempt to fix the problem, I slid all the bars back and inserted an empty bar in front, we call it bar #0. It didn't take long for the bees to move inside. I finally removed the old pollen patty substitute and the empty syrup jar that is over a month old with mildew.

Wednesday, May 29

In Need of Space

It only shows that the bees are getting really tight.
I've been reading Les Crowder's book Top-Bar Beekeeping and I plan to implement his Spring Hive Maintenance 2 illustration in my hive (this Friday) to give the bees more space before they swarm.

Tuesday, May 28

Rain Reduction

The rains have let up a little.
Or at least they were better than we experienced at Cape Lookout over the weekend. I removed the entrance reducer now that the lows are back in the high 40s. Still seeing what seems to be too many yellow and orange bees. It's been almost two months since installation and bees only live for 4-5 weeks! Do I have bees moving in from other hives??

Wednesday, May 22

Coldest Day

Today was the coldest and wettest day. I've been going out every other day or so just to see the activity level at the entrance = not much. I plan to spread out the comb once the bees have 12-14 combs built, to reduce the swarm tendency.
We've had the heater on the last couple of days. Figured it's only fair to the bees to reduce their entrance again and help them conserve heat.

Sunday, May 19

Flying Drones

Lots and lots of giant drone flying to and from the hive. It caught me off-guard as I thought drones only leave the hive to mate and do not return. But a quick reading from my book reassured me that this was normal and that drone can make up 15% of the bees in a hive.

Friday, May 17

Mini Inspection

I saw one dead larva at the entrance of the hive in the morning. I wasn't planning to get in the hive this weekend, but decided it best to make a quick look before heading out of town.
It was good to get in too, because we were able to get the camera dried out and back in focus. The weather the past week has been all rain and more is in the forecast. We raised the back of the hive so that moisture wouldn't be to blame for more dead larva. Speaking of the legs of the hive, I haven't noticed ants in the hive since I greased up the legs.
The quarter-patty inside was about one-quarter consumed, but no bees were currently eating it.
I didn't dress in a full suit, just a light colored top, taped pant cuffs, gloves and a veil, though I found it easier to fix the camera without gloves.
We videoed the short inspection. I pulled bar #8 up and we found capped brood and capped honey:
bar #9 was found with open honey:
bar #10 was 1/4 new comb:
and bar #11 was empty. I did see another larva out of the cell but still on the comb edge, but later realized that the wax had torn from the side wall. There were a lot of drone roaming the comb - they're huge! There are still a lot of yellow-orange bees in the hive.