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Archives: March - April 2009


April 30th, 2009

I have been very busy today. I had a tour of 3rd graders this morning, you can view pictures in our picture section. So far all of kids that have been here on tours this year have been very well behaved which makes giving the tours more enjoyable for me!

Our drivers are picking up the packages bees as I type this and should be in tomorrow around noon. I have been trying to get ready for package bee day by setting up all the equipment we need to unload the bees and then sort them before the beekeepers start coming in. We will undoubtedly have some come in Friday afternoon to get the bees. We typically are very busy on the arrival day and definitely on Saturday so I may not be able to find the time to post anything until it's all done with. I will take some pictures of the whole process and post them up as soon as I can.

April 29th, 2009

It's much cooler today and much nicer to work in, for me that is, the bees love the hot temperatures as the nectar flows better when it's warmer out. The bees in observation hive that I put new frames in yesterday, did indeed stay up up all night building comb. They have the 2nd frame up almost completely drawn out ("drawn out" means that the bees have built the hexagonal cell out from the foundation to a depth of about 3/4" of an inch). They are even working on the 3rd frame up. Below is a picture of the 3rd frame, I couldn't get a picture of the 2nd frame as it is totally covered with bees. By tomorrow the queen will be laying eggs in the new comb.

I had a tour of school kids here for about 2 hours this afternoon and they were great! I also have a tour tomorrow. So much to do so little time!

April 28th, 2009

It's another wonderful day! Our driver's are on their way to pick up the first load of package bees in GA that will be here for pick up this coming Saturday. We will be praying all week that they get back on time with the bees in good condition. With all the heat we are receiving some more reports of shipped package bees arriving dead. We sure hate to hear that... I feel bad for the poor bees. I do have to say that overall not that many shipments have arrived dead... but we hate to have any bees die in transit. Thousands of packages get shipped each year and the annual numbers of losses are still below 5%. Most of the losses are do to improper handling during the shipping process and not always the outside temperatures, but the bees defiantly ship better when it is cooler out.

This morning we had a gentleman stop in for some bees to fill an observation hive at a local nature center, so we split a hive that we had for him. The hive we split was from a package of bees that we received just 2 weeks ago. Because he only needed a a couple of frames of bees and a queen, I decided to work on our observation hive today. I took out 2 frames, 1 frame with bees the other I shook off the bees at the entrance. We added the 2 frames from our observation hive to what was left of the hive we split this morning, thus strengthening that hive and preventing our observation hive from swarming. Below are pictures of our observation hive just before I removed the 2 frames and with 2 new frames and foundations. The bees will undoubtedly have most of the wax built up on the second frame up by tomorrow. They really go crazy when we put in new frames in for them.  

 

  

 

I mowed my whole yard for the first time yesterday. I kind of enjoy the mowing until it gets to the point that I have to mow 2 times a weeks plus fight off the mosquitoes, then it gets to be a pain and I wish it was winter... lol! I planted peas and beans in the garden yesterday. The peas are pretty cold hardy, but I sure hope that I'm not going to have a problem with the beans. This is the earliest that I have ever planted them. The ground was warm in the garden so I'm sure they will germinate, just afraid that we will get a cold spell that will kill them. If it happens I will just replant them, it wouldn't be the first time I've had to replant.

April 25th, 2009

It's above 80 F today... the bees are out working hard and I have been very busy today with customers and phone calls. Most of the phone calls are about package bees arriving dead which is not a good thing. The Postal Service is not doing a very good job this year. The packages are being sent by Priority Mail which is supposed to be a 2 day service and they are all taking 3 or 4 days to arrive. I'm afraid that package bees are going to have to start being sent by guaranteed next day air shipping, which is going to be expensive, but necessary to get the bees through in good condition. In fact if this keeps up some of the producers may just get out of the business altogether and that's not good for the bee industry!

I did go out and pick some leaks last night, we cooked them up and had them with some polish sausage and even my teenage son loved them. We did transplant some of the leaks down on to my property as well as some wild teaberry plants we found. It's closing time here so I think I will go out work in the garden and probably get a sun burn this afternoon!

April 24th, 2009

It has been a bee-utiful day today! It has to be some kind of record temperature increase, it went from in the 20's F to the 70's today. The dandelions are opening up all over and I even saw some flower heads on the wild mustard plants, which I may pick and eat!

We unloaded an order of woodenware that we were waiting for and I spent most of the afternoon pre-counting some of that woodenware in preparation for package bee day. I will be doing more next week too. It's so much easier to do it ahead of time instead of when there are 50 people waiting for you to count out their orders.

I plan on picking some leaks tonight and cooking them up. Leaks were always something my grandfather loved in early spring, cooked with a little bacon... yum! He even liked them raw, however leaks are very strong, like garlic, eaten raw and you could smell my granddad coming from 200 feet away... lol! I might even dig some up and transplant them a little closer to home. Right now they are way up in the far corner of the property. It would be nice to have them a little closer so I could just run out and get some when we want them. They are great in mashed potatoes, on hamburgers, in salads... really they are good on or in just about everything... well probably not ice cream! 

April 23rd, 2009

I was busy again today. I went and did a lecture about honeybees for some kids. I also have been on the phone most of the day with beekeepers about package bee shipments. I've come to expect to be on the phone all day this time of year.

The weather is looking great for the rest of the week!

April 22nd, 2009

Well... I just saw snow flurries out my window, I sure hope that doesn't continue through out the night.

I have spent most of my day "glued" to my chair sending emails to beekeepers about their package bee ship dates. I did get about an hour break when I had some new customers come in that want to be beekeepers. It was a much needed break for me to talk with them about what they needed and about the bees in general.

The observation hive that had the 2 queens but now just 1 is doing great now. All the bees have joined forces and are getting stronger every day as there number increase. The bee in our other observation hive have doubled in number in just a week or so and I will have to divide them soon or they are going to swarm. I will post up some pictures when I work on it, hopefully later this week.

April 21st, 2009

Since I have Mondays off, Tuesdays are my Mondays... if you know what I mean?!! My desk has been covered with things to do and the end of the pile is not in sight yet! I have received orders for and printed over 5000 custom labels today alone and I'm still not done. Plus the phone has been ringing every couple of minutes, most of the calls are people inquiring about their package bee shipment. I totally understand wanting to know when your bees are coming, but I can't believe how many people have taken vacation time to install their package bees based upon a proposed ship date. It is rare that the bees actually ship on the proposed date, there are too many things that can change the ship date in particular the weather, which has delayed some shipments by 1 week now. Oh well there not much we can do but tell it like it is.

We had a very cool couple of nights and some rain, but the sun was out for most of the day today and we are looking forward to the upcoming warm weather later in the week. I think we got just enough rain to really get things growing and with the upcoming warm weather I hope to see some leaves on the trees after this weekend! I know my Garlic is starting to poke through the ground now. Can't wait to start planting the corn!

April 18th, 2009

I saw my first Dandelion this morning and there was a honeybee on it!

Not much to report today. I have had at least a dozen walk in customers this morning but the phones have been quite.

I plan on getting my lawn tractor running this afternoon. I'm sure it needs a new battery this year and an oil change. The grass here isn't high enough to cut yet but I need to roll the yard and now that I've seen a Dandelion it won't be long before it's time to start mowing. Just so you know, when I'm mowing if I see a honeybee in my path I always try to go around her or stop and chase her off. I always have the mower deck up high so that I mow above the flowers in the yard. Got to do everything I can to help out my girls!

April 17th, 2009

Another bee-utiful day out there! I had a tour this morning of 2nd grade kids from a local school. It is so nice outside that I decided to have part of the tour take place outside. You can view pictures in our picture section. They got to see the bees collecting pollen from a willow bush. They also got to try some crystallized honey right out of a 55 gallon drum and I even bottled some blueberry flavored honey into jars and let them try that. They were well behaved and we all had a good time!

We are also a dealer for Senco Products (staple, nail guns and supplies). We became a dealer because we use their products to assemble our equipment. I therefore had to become familiar with how the guns work so that I could make repairs when needed. Because there aren't too many local people who know how to fix the guns, I have begun to fix them for the local contractors. I fixed 2 this afternoon and did 2 last week.

Busy, Busy, Busy as bees we are!

April 16th, 2009

Sorry... didn't post yesterday... just too much going on! I spent most of the day working on vehicle maintenance... oil changes, checking the brakes, tire pressure, etc.

It truly is a gorgeous day out there! We are expecting near 70 degrees today. The bees are bringing in pollen like crazy today. The observation hive with 2 queens still hasn't changed much, although the bees on the top half of the hive are nearly out of honey. They are going to have to go south into the other bee's territory to get some soon and undoubtedly something will have to happen then.

I plan on getting the van ready this afternoon for the upcoming package bee run to Georgia. Every year I have to put up some window screen between the cab and the back of the van so the bees can't get up front with the driver. Back in the day when I would pick up the package bees we didn't use the screen and on more then one occasion I would get a bee up my pant leg and get stung in the middle of the night on the way back home. Believe me that is not a good thing to have happen if you are in heavy traffic. Bees in your trousers BAD... bees behind the screen GOOD!

3:15 PM I have an update on the observation hive with 2 queens... the battle for dominance has taken place, unfortunately I missed it! The winner was the unmarked queen from the bee removal that was residing in the top half of the hive. I was over looking at the hive when I noticed an unmarked queen near the bottom part of the hive. I went outside in front of the entrance to the observation hive and found the looser... pictured below. I feel bad for her, no funeral, flowers or anything just tossed out on the ground.

April 14th, 2009

We are officially sold out of package bees today. There certainly isn't much bee activity today. I hope it warms up!

We have spent most of the last couple of days calling our customers that have bee orders in with us for pick up, to let them know about the delays. So many people plan their vacations around picking up their bees and many of them haven't been happy about the delay. There's not much we can do about it though. All you have to do is look at the weather down south and you can see why there are delays.

On a more personal note; I tilled up the garden and planted potatoes, garlic and carrots yesterday. We had a great harvest last year (thank you honeybees!) and are praying for some good production again this year as we have expanded our garden...uuggh more work to do! I ordered in a load of double ground bark to put around my plants that came in today just before lunch time. I love the smell of the bark! I spent my lunch break spreading the bark over our Lilly of the Valley flower bed. The plants are just starting to come up so this is the perfect time to put the bark on. If it doesn't rain I should have the whole truck load used up before the weekend.

I think I will have to start archiving the blog posts soon as the page is getting pretty big. 

April 10th, 2009

Not such a Bee-utiful Day today with showers and clouds. The observation hive has calmed down after yesterday's disruption. They are already building up some beeswax on the glass. I don't mind some beeswax on the glass because it gives you a cross view of the cell structure and you can see them putting honey and or pollen in the cell, which is fun to watch. Their still is no change in the observation hive with 2 queens, but there are bees hatching out now, so it can't be too long before something happens.

We are still getting orders in for package bees. We expected to be sold out by now but our producer says they feel that they can handle a few more, so we hope to be able to go another week. 4:30 PM - What a shock to get a call for our package bee supplier informing us that we will not be able to get our package bees on schedule as planned. Apparently the bees are not building up as fast as they had hoped thus all shipments and pick ups will be delayed by 1 week. 

Not as many walk in customers today being Good Friday and all. In fact, I think that I might take off early myself. I will be in Saturday morning if you want to stop by.

4:30 PM - I did go home early... but I'm back. What a shock to get a call from our package bee supplier informing us that we will not be able to get our package bees on schedule as planned. Apparently the bees are not building up as fast as they had hoped, thus all shipments and pick ups will be delayed by 1 week. I felt that I had to post this new information up on the website A.S.A.P. This situation is beyond our control, but it sure causes us some stress as we now have to inform everyone we can about the changes, which is no easy task. I'm certain that it will stress out many of our customers that have made plans around the ship to or pick up dates. Please don't blame us as there is nothing we can do! If the bees aren't ready they aren't ready. We just have to think that by waiting we will get better packages then if we rushed it... think positive!

April 9th, 2009

It's a Bee-utiful Day out there! It got warm enough today that I decided to clean out the other observation hive this afternoon. This hive has been alive for over 17 years now and it needed to be cleaned up before the bulk of our spring tours come in. You can click on the images below to view a larger image.

I took the hive outside and opened it up and removed each frame carefully while looking for the queen bee... I needed to mark her. I was able to find her and put on a fresh coat of paint.

After marking the queen I put all the frames into a nuc box temporally while I cleaned the observation hive up.

There is always a lot of beeswax on the glass after a long winter. I use a razor blade scraper to get the beeswax off the glass and then I hose the inside out with hot water.

After I got the hive cleaned up, I put the frames back into the observation hive, with as many of the bees as possible, then I shook the rest of the bees out of the nuc box at the entrance to the observation hive.

I took the hive back into the display area and put them back on the base and opened the entrance to let all the bees in that were patiently waiting outside. Everything went according to plan and I only got stung 3 times... it feels so good!

April 7th, 2009

Hello everyone! Hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

I had another tour here this morning. They were preschool kids and for their age they were very well behaved and seemed interested in the bees.

As I mentioned on the 4th it was very windy and the good news is that we didn't lose any of the covers on our hives, thus the bees are staying nice and warm in the much cooler temperatures we are getting now.

We were able to get a few more packages of bees for the local beekeepers to pick up here at our location in May, so if you would like to pick up some package bees this year give us a call, I'm certain they won't be available for long.

Still no change in the observation hive. There should be bees hatching out from both queens within the next week. The increase in population will have to force the queens to confront each other.

April 4th, 2009

It's not raining... but boy is it windy! I'm afraid that we will have to go around and check all of the covers on our hives. When it's this windy we often lose a few covers which can be bad for the bees if it then rains or simply gets colder, which is exactly what the forecast is predicting.

I once again had a very busy Saturday with walk in customers. Not as many beekeepers as the last 2 weekends, mostly people stopping in for honey or their "bee" vitamins (pollen, propolis, royal jelly).

Have a Bee-utiful Weekend!

April 3rd, 2009

It's rainy and cold today...yuk! We are expecting around an 1" of rain, which is nothing compared to what they are getting in other places in the country, but even still, it's depressing.

Package bees have started to ship now. Our biggest concern is the poor weather conditions across the country. To install package bees in cold weather I recommend that you have an internal feeding device of some kind to support the bees during cold weather. A sugar block for the bees to cluster on is ideal, but you can also put a jar or pail of sugar syrup in an empty super on top of the hive body. The importance of feeding the bees when installing a package is particularly important when you are installing it in new equipment. I say "feed, feed, feed" it will only do the new hive good!

The observation hive has brood hatching now. It shouldn't be much longer before the 2 queens meet.

April 2nd, 2009

The lecture yesterday at the Wellsboro Art Club was a lot fun. I took one of our observation hives over and everyone liked seeing the bees up close. I didn't get home until after 4:00 pm and by the time I got all my stuff unloaded it was past 5:00, so I didn't get a chance to enter anything on the blog.

So far we have been very busy today. The sun is shining but it is still quite cool outside. There still is no change in the observation hive. I have to go out and pack up some bulk bee pollen as soon as I finish typing here. We are hoping for the 2009 pollen to come in before too long because bee pollen sales have been up and we are running low. So if there are any beekeepers out there that want to make some extra income you may want to think about collecting bee pollen. We would be interested in buying it! We do have a video available that shows how to collect and dry bee pollen.

March 31st, 2009

The lecture at the Lions Club went great. They treated me to a good meal at a local restaurant. I have another lecture to give tomorrow and they also have offered to take me out to lunch. If I keep this up I will have to get a bigger bee suit...lol!

I have seen both queens in the observation hive today. They are still avoiding each other and I don't plan on doing anything to eliminate one or the other as both now have sealed brood around them. That means that the hive will increase in population faster, which is exactly what they need. Below are pictures of both of the queens that are in the observation hive. The unmarked queen is on the top 2 frames and the marked queen is on the bottom 2 frames.

March 28th, 2009

I've had one heck of a "buzzy" day today! Lots of beekeepers in, which is great to see! The bees are flying today and bringing in pollen, that's a good thing to see early in the season. The 2 queen observation hive is unchanged.

I have a lecture about bees to give this weekend to a local Lions Club group, I will let you know how it went next Tuesday. Have a Great Weekend Everyone!

March 27th, 2009

There are 2 queens in the observation hive. I saw the second queen this morning while setting up for the tour that will be here at 10:00 am. There is a marked queen in the bottom half of the hive and an unmarked queen in the top half. It will be interesting to see which queen takes over the hive, I will keep you updated.

The tour went great! We had a lot of people here, so many in fact that I didn't get to take pictures of all of them. I did get a picture of the last group that I took around. You can view it in our picture section.

It has warmed up a bit this afternoon and the bees in the observation hive are starting to intermingle a little bit. I can now see that there is sealed brood in both the top and bottom of the hive, so that means that both queens are laying eggs. I foresee a confrontation between the queens coming soon! Maybe I should sell tickets...it would be like a W.W.E. match. Let's get ready to RUMBLE!

March 26th, 2009

There is no change in the observation hive yet, the bees are still divided into 2 camps. Hopefully when it warms up a little they will get moving.

I have been working on counting out frames and foundations in preparation for the day when we have package bees available to be picked up by our local beekeepers. We will be having 2 loads of bees coming in this year one in April and the other in May. We usually sell some bee supplies on those days and that is why I have been counting out supplies, it just is easier to do it ahead of time.

We have a big tour of 66 people coming in tomorrow morning. These are home schooled kids and their parents. I just hope it isn't raining!

March 25th, 2009

Last nights tour went really well, the Daisy Troup was well behaved and seemed interested in the whole process and particularly the free honey samples! They liked the crystallized honey and the orange blossom honey the best, very few of them liked the comb honey. I think mostly because they didn't like the unusual feeling of the beeswax in their mouths. I love to chew on the beeswax once the honey is gone. I even swallow the beeswax, it's good for the digestive system. After the tour I let the girls make their very own rolled beeswax candle to take home. I took their pictured and posted it up in our picture section if you want to see it. They all went home a little sweeter!

March 24th, 2009

The bees in the observation hive has still not joined together. It has been very cold here at night which may be part of the problem, it was 12 F this morning.

We have been very busy around here, now that spring has sprung. Package bee orders have been coming heavy and we expect to be sold out soon. It is great seeing the demand for honeybees, not only because that is part of our business, but it is good for everyone to have the honeybees out there pollinating all the fruits and vegetables that we all depend on for good nutrition. I seems to me that a lot of our orders for bees are from first time beekeepers that have realized that their orchards and gardens are not producing as well as they could be just by having a hive of bees near by. This is a good sign! With these tough economic times people are looking once again to being more self sufficient by producing more of their own food. This will make people healthier. I find that producing your own food, although hard work, is very satisfying and best of all, you know what has or has not been sprayed on your food. The point I want to make is the chemical spraying on our food crops is bad for honeybees thus bad for all of us! For those of you that don't know; honeybees are responsible for pollinating 80% of the food crops that need pollination. Without the honeybees we would lose 1/3 of our food supply within 1 year, so love your neighborhood honeybees!

I have a tour of Daisy Girl Scouts stopping by tonight to learn about the bees. They will be the first of many tours that I will do this year.

March 22nd, 2009

The bees from the Friday's bee removal have yet to join forces with the other bees in the observation hive. As you can see in the picture below they have split up into 2 camps. The bees on the top are from the bee removal job, the bees on the bottom are the original occupants of the observation hive. I still don't know if we have the queen from the bee removal job in the hive or not. We now just have to wait and see what happens.

March 20th, 2009

This morning Al (employee) and I went to do a bee removal from a house. The owner had called last fall and wanted us to take the bees out of her house. At the time we were busy with extracting honey and getting the bees ready for the winter and told her we just couldnít do it right then and that the bees might die over the winter anyway and to call us in the spring if the bees made it through the winter. They did indeed make it through the winter and she called last week because she saw the bees flying around and they were even getting in the house on that warm day.

When we arrived at her house this morning she was waiting outside for us with lots of questions about the honeybees. She is an expert gardener and appreciated the honeybees but didnít want them in the house. She took us over to where the bees where coming in and out. Her husband had already removed some of the siding on the house. That was a big help as we usually have to do that ourselves. We got all of our supplies ready including empty pails, smoker and our bee vacuum. After looking at the beeís entrance we decided to break out the circular saw and cut in the joist to see where the bees were located. As soon as we removed the block of wood we could see a large honeycomb. I should have taken the camera with meÖ oh well next time. Seeing the bees down low was nice, itís not fun removing bees when you have to climb up a ladder. I started breaking out the honeycombs. The first row was an older brood comb from last year and didnít have any bees on it or honey in it, but as soon as I removed it there were the bees. Al already had the bee vacuum going so he sucked up the bees as I took the honeycombs out. The bee vacuum doesnít hurt the bees it just sucks them into a screened cage. The second row of comb had a little bit of brood (baby bees - for you non-beekeepers) in it. Upon pulling the comb out, I could see that the bees had built combs spanning at least 5 or 6 feet along the joist. I smoked the bees as Al cut off some more of the wood out of the way. Using my hive tool I was able to scrap off most of the honeycomb and we did get 98% of the bees, the rest were out flying around. To say I was sticky is an understatement.

We actually filled 3 - 5 gallon pails with the honeycombs from that colony for a total of about 40 lbs. of honey. Upon returning to our place we dumped the honeycombs into our wax melter where the honey and beeswax will be separated. The bees were not wasted either, I added them to one of our observation hives. The observation hive needed some more bees because we have been removing bees from it all winter to be used for bee venom therapy. I took the observation hive outside and opened it up and removed a frame with some honey on it. I then placed that frame into a nuc box and then dumped the bees from the bee vacuum onto it and gave the bees a few minutes to climb up on the frame. While I was waiting I found the queen in the observation hive and decided to mark here. I caught her and put a nice yellow mark on her back. I was not sure if we had gotten the queen with the bee vacuum and by marking the old queen I will be able to tell in a few days which queen took over the hive. After putting the marked queen back into the hive I checked the frame in the nuc box and sure enough the bees had clustered on it making it easy to just lift the frame up and put it into the observation hive. I will let you know what happens.  


 

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