Hive at the garden is making up for the other 5 that died during winter. Pulled 6 frames of honey with at least another 6 frames that were not entirely capped.
Faith Mountain Farm – Backyard Bee Hive
I stumbled across this site tonight after getting severely side tracked. For a while, I have been tinkering with the idea of getting hives in to more backyards with the goal of spreading out my hives and encouraging more people to become beekeepers. I am pleasantly surprised to learn that Faith Mountain Farm, located a few hours away in NC is already doing something similar. They have a program where they lease and/or sell hives to people to put in their backyard. Provided with the hives is the opportunity for the client to acquire the skills and confidence to learn how to be a beekeeper. Or at the very least, help finance the ability for others.
Honeybees obviously produce delicious honey, but they are also necessary for one third of the food we eat. The plight of these critters has caught the attention of the world with recent large bee loss…
Lost the third hive (of three) in the backyard.
This was the strongest hive, which had about half a box of capped honey, no sign of brood, and only a handful of dead bees on the bottom board. The bees have been collected in to a jar. Time to put my tax dollars to work and get the state inspectors to help me figure out WTF happened. Anyone else experience hive losses this winter?
A heap of dead bees was supposed to become food for a newly captured praying mantis. Instead, the pile ended up revealing a previously unrecognized suspect …
This winter is off to a bad start.
Sadly, I discovered today that two of the three hives in my backyard have failed. One was my strongest hive, Hegemone, going in to winter with nearly two medium boxes full of honey. There were 2-3 dead bees total on the frames, lots of capped brood, no honey stores, lots of pollen, and no signs of major bee die off. It is very odd and very sad. My guess is that the numbers were too high for the early cold weather. The light activity at the entrance that I saw at random times was most likely foragers from other hives.
The other dead hive was my top bar hive. A dozen or so dead bees on the bottom of the hive, no stores, with capped brood and plenty of pollen. The few frames at the entrance of the hive had what appears to be a bacteria/fungal infection that looks like it is eating away the comb. I wasn't confident that the hive would make it through winter, but the rotted wax is unexpected. Due to the infection, the box is most likely headed to a fire pit. I took pictures and bagged a frame or two to pass along to the state inspectors to see if they can shed more light about what it is and what happened. I also bagged sections from hegemone that contained brood.
The third hive in the backyard is strong and feisty. I lifted the outer cover to check for signs of life and they almost immediately took to the air to let me know I wasn't welcome. I refilled their entrance feeder and also gave them another jar above the inner cover to make sure they have access to syrup at all times. Due to the failed sister hives, this hive will be pampered throughout the winter to help ensure it is strong enough to breed queens and make splits next spring.
This is a good trend that has been taking place over the past few years. Are there any businesses in your area that are keeping their own hives to enhance their core business?
— Thanksgiving dinner guests at Carmel Valley Ranch can expect the Central California resort to serve a honey of a meal.
It would be nice if all honey was inspected on the way in to the country. The illegal honey from China and a few other asian countries makes it difficult for US beekeepers to make a living and it subjects US consumers to a disturbing amount of antibiotics and chemicals.
The only way to be sure that what you are buying is actually honey, buy local. Most farmer’s markets have local honey available. Prices vary, but the flavor will be much richer than the imitation “honey”.
Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey. Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins. by Andrew Schneider | Nov 07, 2011. More than three-fourths of the honey sold in US grocery stores isn…
The combination of a busy schedule and a heat wave (over 100 F) has kept me away from the garden hives for much longer than I wanted. I made it out there this past weekend expecting the worst, but the hives were all quite strong. Immediately upon parking the truck in front of the hives I could see lots of activity at all of the entrances.
Both langstroth hives had a limited amount of capped honey and the extended heat wave prevented them from being able to fully draw out all of the frames in their topmost box. They’ll most likely need to be fed at least a little bit to prevent them from reducing their stored honey even more during this hot weather. I quickly found signs of laying queen in both hives. I stopped the inspection on the middle hive after finding a frame full of eggs on both sides. This frame was found after looking at a frame full of capped brood. That hive has a really good queen.
The long hive is doing well, despite a poor hive design. I managed to snap a picture of the queen despite only inspecting a total of five frames from the hive. I noticed some tiny wax moths living on the tray beneath the mesh. There was also a dozen small hive beetles being corralled behind the follower board. I caused a jail break when I moved the follower board. I made amends by crushing all of them. Seriously, why do bees not kill the beetles or at least bite off their legs.
Long hive beetles really like to hide in the grooved bottom portion of frames. As soon as I find a frame manufacturer that sells solid bottomed frames, I’ll buy from them. Frames are not cost effective for a hobbyist to make. It might be feasible to buy frames and make the bottom piece myself since those can be batched out quickly with a table saw and router.
There are a few significant flaws that have led me to the conclusion that the next time I visit the garden, I will most likely move the frames in to a vertical hive. Here’s a short list of some of the more significant flaws.
Pests can hide between the mesh bottom and the bottom tray, but the bees cannot easily get down there
I could increase the space between the mesh and the tray to allow bees to easily climb down there. This would require completely rebuilding the rails and I’m not sure it would help. Small hive beetles and wax moth can easily move through the mesh to escape the pursing bees, but the bees have to exit the hive and hike from one of the ends. Increasing the space would allow more and larger pests to get down there.
The bees propolised the tray in place
Bees put propolis over almost any crack they can. The only way to prevent this would be to use a non wood tray to see if they don’t propolise it. Or to slide the tray frequently to prevent them from sticking it in place.
The single piece top is too heavy and bulky
I could make multiple top pieces, but that means more tie down straps to keep the wind from blowing them off and that provides a crack for rain to get in to the hive.
It’s almost impossible to replace the front inner cover without crushing bees
The bees enter the hive from the top and crawl to the inner cover opening. The outer cover is propped up in the front to allow the bees to enter anywhere on the front third of the hive. Whenever I remove the front inner cover, the bees pour out and a traffic jam starts to happen at the front edge of the hive. Any attempts to move the bees is a futile effort because scurry up from the frames and scouts continue to return home. I could possibly drill entrance holes in the front of the hive in the hope that they use those instead. That would at least reduce some of the returning bee traffic, but still doesn’t solve the problem of trying to place down a piece of wood that has four very large crush zones. The normal trick of turning the inner cover in to place can only work if I also remove the middle inner cover.
Moving frames is a pain
One of the management strategies for a long hive will require me to move the honey frames towards one end of the hive and the brood nest to the other. This needs to be done before winter because the bees will only migrate through the hive in a single direction. If there happens to be a few honey frames in the front of the hive, I need to move about 20 frames to get them positioned in to the back. The way I have been inspecting the hive has been to start in the back and deal with the jailed beetles and check their stores. I then skip to the middle to find the edge of the brood nest to make sure the queen is laying. I could switch to starting at the front and working my way back. This would mean I would pull aside the honey frames and adjust everything to the front and then add the honey frames to the back. This doesn’t work if I need to then move a frame forward.
I finally managed to check on the hives again today after way too long of a lapse. Both splits that I made from the super queen are no more. The 10 frame hive was failing during the last check and it had completely failed and wax moths moved in. The split in the double nuc seems to have lost their queen and the population dropped drastically. There were multiple eggs in cells, so there is a chance of a laying worker. I moved the hive and shook out all of the bees to let them find a new home in one of the other hives. The swarm pulled from my neighbor’s pine tree is doing well. It’s built up from a tiny hive to a weak hive. I’ll give it a few frames of capped brood on my next trip out to the hives.
The top bar hive is doing amazingly well. They’ve drawn out almost every frame. They haven’t drawn any past the east side of the entrance space. I merged the ~6 frames in and moved the entrance space to be in frame positions 2 & 3. The entrance frames were not drawn out straight because of the gap and I don’t want to give the bees a chance to mess up any more. I checked every frame and they are still attaching honey comb to the sides, but no attachments at the bottom. It helps to scrape the wall next to the frame to make sure nothing is connected before pulling the frame. Every frame has capped honey at the top and brood in the center, except the last 2.5 frames on the west end of the hive. Those are honey frames with the larger cell sizes and no brood. Unfortunately, there is only space for 2 more frames. Hindsight, I should have moved most of the frames to the very end of the hive instead of spacing them in the ~20 frame brood nest. I guess they’ll just have to start back filling.
I pulled three frames of capped honey (~4 quarts) from Hegemone and the super hive. Hegemone has many more frames of mostly capped honey that should be ready for harvest soon. The long hive at the garden should have ~10 frames of capped honey for me to harvest.