Sunday, August 22, 2010

National Honeybee Awareness Day

Saturday August 21st was a national day of outreach and education for honeybee awareness.
I had pulled what little honey stores I could take from my only hive the evening before and was able to take 4 partial frames of honey to the bee event that our local Beekeepers asssociation had at a local park. Other club members had an extractor and were demonstrating how honey is taken from the comb. I was able to extract the frames I had brought ... and secured about 3/4 gallon on honey. I stayed for a while chatting with visitors and helping to extract addtional honey from other members' frames. The event was a success with honey samples and raffles, native plant sales, an observation hive and information about this amazing insects. It was a good day.

G-farm Bee move home ...

Where has this year gone ... its nearing the end of August and my beekeeping has changed quite a bit of the past year. Over the winter I lost 2 of 3 hives at G-farm. The remaining hive I moved the evening of August 17th. Jake and I arrived at the farm just before sunset. A large number of bees were congregated on the outside of the hivebody ... a little smoke and they all returned into the hive. We easily placed a entrance reducer, wooden plug in the smaller opening and tie-strapped the hive together for the 30 mile trip in the back of his pickup to my home in Sarasota.

Over the summer I lost the wild hive of bees that I had captured over the winter. Wax moths, and placement too close to a A/C unit were the probable causes.

I now have only one active hive.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

News and Video Training from the Florida Melitto Files

I received my most recent copy of the Florida Melitto Files: News for Bee Lovers in the mail.
Its a great resource for news and updates on the happenings in Florida. Dr. Jamie Ellis from the UF Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory announced a series of videos: A Video Field Guide to Beekeeping. They have created 4 training videos with a 5th on its way. The four are:
  1. Varroa Mites
  2. Small Hive Beetles
  3. Traceal Mites
  4. Nosema
The fifth will be on American and European Foulbrood. These are 100% free and available from their website: Click on "Extension" on the left of the page and you'll find where they have the videos posted or here:

View the current and past issues of the Melitto Files at:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day with the Farm Bees

I decided to head up to the farm today ... in between volleyball matches at a local tournament at State College of Florida. While I was at the farm, I picked up my share of veggies. Adam the farm manager and others stopped my while I was working around the hive.

I only have one hive at the farm, since two others died out from CCD early in the year.

The remaining hive was overgrown with grasses and a large Brazilian Pepper tree and quite shaded. I spent an hour or so carefully cutting the branches so as to not disturb the bees. I also trimmed the grasses around the base of the hive. Hopefully the additional direct morning sunlight will get the bees active earlier and more productive.

A volunteer, Mike came over to observe and lend a hand after I had offered for him to have a look. The 2 top regular supers had drawm comb and a little honey, but not full frames or any capped. The Ross Round super below was also not with much activity since the last visit. Foundation still had yet to have comb drawn. The brood chamber was active and my inspection showed eggs, larvae, and capped brood. I found a few hive beetles, and some ants had nested in the rotting portion of a corner of the brood box ... Several frames contained queen cells which I removed. In the near future I plan to replace the brood box with a new one and exchange the solid bottom board with a screened bottom board.

Adam said the field of clover had just been cut, so the bees had a good amount of flowers with nectar for the past several weeks.

Today we went from spring to summer ... temperatures up near 90 with a return of the humidity so familar during our summer season.

I returned to the volleyball tournament with a large bag of veggies ( zuchinni, yellow squash, sunburst squash, onions, 2 types of lettuce, turnips, carrots, and mustard greens ) and a single bee sting to my left ring finger.

A good day ... happy to see that this hive made it through a particularly difficult winter and will hopefully put on a good amount of honey of the next several months.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Wild (Starfruit) Bees Move into permanent home

Thursday April 8, 2010

The plan was to move the wild bees from the temporary waxed cardboard nuc that they have been living in since Stacey and I captured them in early December into a newly assembled and freshly painted hive body.

I thought we would have to completely rip apart the existing comb, brood, and honey in the existing network of comb that the honey had originally drawn out on the branch that we took from the starfruit tree and just placed down inside the nuc box along with 1 frame with foundation and no comb. Since December, the bees have drawn at least 3 times as much comb out in irregular pattern (at least to me) within the enclosure and a bit on the one frame that we placed in with the existing hive.

Luckily, another beekeeper, Earl, stopped by and had a much better idea. He had cut a piece of plywood about the same size as the hive body with a square cut out in the center. We place this board on the top of the new hive body and then place the waxed cardboard nuc, top down, on top of the board. This setup will force the bees in and out of the new hive body and allow them some time to drawn out new comb on the 10 frames with wax foundation in the new hive body and still allow the brood in the old temporary quarters to fully develop and the new bees to emerge, allowing the bees to use the existing pollen and honey stores as well as time to gradually get used to and migrate into the new digs. It worked great and was much less stressful on us and the bees and quick.

The bees are quite active now with the days warming up into the 80s ...

I've refurbished the older hive bodies from the 2 hives that died out, repainted them and I'm now ready to find 2 more wild hives and get a total of 4 hives up and working for me. I purchased 2 new screened bottom boards for these older hive bodies and hope this will help with the moderation of the summer heat in the hives as well as helping the bees to manage the mites and other pests in the hives.

Mini-Nuc Comes Home

Wednesday April 7, 2010

I was able to go up to Bradenton yesterday to pickup a mini-nuc ( 2 frames with brood and a bit of honey) from a friend that had recently re-queened one of her hives and instead of killing off the old queen, just moved her and a small entourage over into a temporary nuc box.

Moving them was quite easy and I drove the 25 miles home and setup the waxed cardboard nucs in the backyard near the other nuc of wild starfruit bees (see previous posts).

It will take quite a while for this hive to grow in size and drawn out the other 3 frames in the nuc box, but its a start and with the spring nectar and pollen, I'm hoping they will get at it right away.

Watching bees is very relaxing and the sound of the "buzz" inside the hive is a comforting sound to the ears. Thank God for bees!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two hives die

Yesterday, Saturday Feb 20, 2010, I stopped at the office to pick up the last of 3 packages, a hive body on backorder. Most of the afternoon, I worked on assembling 1 hive body, 2 supers and several super frames, glueing and nailing each to ensure their strength. I then got a first coat of primer paint on the hive body, supers, bottom board, inner cover and telescoping outer cover. I decided to drive up to the farm … they were having a Movie night, Food, Inc. … and I wanted to check on the 3 hives. I got there about an hour before the movie and with a enough daylight to see the bees coming in for the evening. To my surprise, 2 of the 3 hives had absolutely NO activity. I pulled the tops and found both of the hives “dead” … both with lots of rotted comb, wax moths, ants, cockroaches … ugh!

I didn’t have time (or my equipment with me) to inspect the other 3rd hive, but bees were coming and going and I could hear a strong buzz when I put my head up side the hive body. I’m not sure what happened … cold weather and not enough stores of honey? … colony collapse disorder? … a queen that died off or wasn’t replaced in time? I grabbed a stick and attempt to scrape off as much crap as I could from the hives and placed the hives unassembled as they would fit and the blocks there were on into my car to bring home.

Today, I spent most of the day working on cleaning up the hive body and supers that were up at the farm ... scraping the wax moth silk and larvae from the frames and boxes. It was nasty work. I also worked on painting the 1st coat of exterior white on the new hive. This will be the new home for the Carambola bees.

Stacey came over this evening and helped. We inspected the wild bees in the waxed cardboard nuc and they we gentle, but active in the hive with new comb and more bees ... a good sign. We assemble more deep brood frames and added foundation to some of the super frames. I'll continue getting the new hive ready and we hope to move the bees into their new home soon.