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Archives: May - June 2009


June 30th, 2009

12:30 PM - Surprise, surprise it's raining again! This is really getting depressing...but I'm sure all the mold and algae out there is happy with all the rain.

I was able to get quite a bit of wood cut over the weekend, but if the ground doesn't dry up there is no way I can get up into the woods to haul the wood out. For now I just have a bunch a big piles that need to be brought down to be split and stacked. I can get up to where I'm cutting with the 4-wheeler but I sure couldn't get out with a heavy load of wood.

The bees are just as unhappy about the weather as the rest of us. I went up this morning to get a couple of queens to ship out and I'm glad that I put on my bee suit as the bees did not offer me a very warm welcome. As soon as I opened the hive there were coming out to let me know that they weren't happy. I did get stung 3 times but if I hadn't taken the smoker with me I would have gotten a lot more.

2:30 PM - The sun is trying to come out...I hope it stays for awhile! We have been very busy with shipped orders. I need to cut 360 pieces of cut comb honey for an order but I just haven't had time to get it done. The cut comb honey that we have in stock comes from Florida right in the super. Using a cookie cutter like device, I cut the comb right out of the frame into 4 equally sized pieces and place them into a plastic box. It is a very sticky job! When I get around to doing it I will take some pictures.

We just had a local beekeeper bring in some round comb honey that was produced last year, so we now have them for sale again. Here is a little secret that you may not be aware of: If you store honey in the freezer it will never crystallize. The comb honey we received today was stored that way and has not crystallized at all.

4:20 PM - Well the sun didn't hang around very long and it's raining again...ohhh joy!

June 27th, 2009

I got the driveways repaired yesterday and what a mess it was. On the township road there was a foot deep hole by our mailbox, I did my best to fill it in but they sure need to get up here with the grader.

I continue to hear from beekeepers with queen bee problems. The main problem seems to be that the queen that was installed with the package bees started out great, with a full brood pattern, but then just stopped laying eggs. We have had this same problem ourselves in some of the package bees that we installed. I would guess that it is caused by the fact that the queen was not properly bred because of the poor weather conditions all spring. We have had to requeen quite a few hives ourselves and Bill will be going out again this next week to check the hives and make sure they all have good queens. This year has been very challenging to say the least. With all that said we are still trying to be optimistic and are hoping for a good honey flow late in the summer and into the fall. That is when we make the majority of our honey mostly Goldenrod blended with Knapweed, Aster, Clover, Bamboo...etc. It would be nice to get some Basswood honey this year, it typically blooms in July so it won't be long.

I just got a call from one of our previous landowners. Years ago we had bee hives on his property but when we reduced our hive numbers we arranged for a former employee to put some of his hives on that location. He called to inform us that some of the hives got blown over by the high winds that came in with the thunderstorm. I called and left a message with the the guy that owns the hives. I sure hope he can get over there and stand the hives back up. Being exposed to the weather for too long can kill the bees.

After work today I plan on cutting wood, it's just to wet to work in the garden or yard after that storm yesterday. I like being out in the woods cutting, it's a lot of work but it's good exercise and good for the woods to keep the dead wood cut back.

I'll "bee" back next Tuesday to continue blogging! Have a Great Weekend!

June 26th, 2009

2:00 PM - We are having a major thunderstorm with hail and heavy rain right now. Looks like I will be fixing the washed out driveways again. I'm hoping that the hail isn't totally destroying my garden. It has been a bad year so far for the bees and gardeners.

Good news...I saw the queen in the observation hive laying eggs this morning. I hope to open the hive up and mark her sometime next week, that is if we get any nice weather.

June 25th, 2009

Wow! It's hot out there today! 11:55 AM - I just came in from trimming back the multi-flower rose bushes along the driveway with a power hedge trimmer and I think I will have to jump in the pool during my lunch break. I hope this heat helps to dry up all the water that is still in my yard.

We have been working on shipped orders this morning but the phones have been somewhat quite. Which has been nice because we are getting a new printer tomorrow and I am trying to use up all the toner in our old one before it comes in; by printing instruction sheets, coloring books, labels, etc. The ink for the new printer only costs $ 16.00 per color where the toner for our old printer costs $ 130.00 per color. I'm hoping the new printer works as good as they claim.

3:00 PM - Well I didn't get to go swimming...instead I had to clean the pool filter...yeah...not!

I just finished up giving a tour and dang the bees are grouchy! I took the group out behind the building to see one of the bee trees. I stayed away from the one grouchy bee tree but got stung in the arm by a bee out of the other bee tree. I'm glad that the people I was showing around didn't get stung! Below are pictures of the 2 bee tree hives that we have out behind the building.

 

I was watching the new queen in the one observation hive today. She was just walking around the hive and occasionally looking in a cell, but I never saw her lay an egg. If she doesn't start soon I will have to eliminate her and put in a new queen.

June 24th, 2009

Another nice day out there and it is warm enough that the kids are in the swimming pool right now - 2:50 PM.

The bees are out working the clover but are somewhat "grouchy" today. Bill and I have both been stung, for no apparent reason, by the same hive that stung my daughter last week. The hive of bees in question is in an old log that we have on display. If they were in a normal bee hive we would probably requeen them but since they are in a log there isn't much we can do. If they don't calm down we may have to split the log open and remove the bees.

We have finished our mite treatment for the year and upon checking our bee hives, that we have here at the business, it looks like it was successful. Bill couldn't find a single mite in the hives. We put on some herbal mite treatment that can be used all season without affecting the honey yet it still eliminates the mites.

We have sold 3 observation hives this week. 2 of them have been shipped by U.P.S. and the 3rd our driver is delivering to the customer this week. The observation hives seem to always sell in groups, we may go for 2 or 3 months without selling one but then - BANG - 3 go out all within 4 days.

I will be mowing the grass tonight. Mowing is one of those chores that you can never finish and this year we have had to mow at least twice a week. I replaced the spark plug in my push mower at lunch today. It was running rough and changing the plug made a big difference.

June 23rd, 2009

I have finally found enough time to post on the blog...although I do not have much time as it is already after 5:00 PM and I have things to do at home.

We have got some decent weather here in Northern Pennsylvania and it's about time - Happy Summer!

I have found the new queens in both observation hives today. I hope to be able to do some work on the observation hives later this week. At that time I will mark the queens, clean the beeswax off the glass and maybe put in some new frames.

While getting queens out of the "queen bank" today I decided to check the hive and for some strange reason the hive itself is queenless. I didn't have time to do anything about it at the time. Bill is up there right now moving some frames of brood over from another hive to get them going again. This has not been a good year for new queens, we and many other beekeepers have lost a lot of queens this spring.

Well I need to get going. I should have time to post more tomorrow...see you then!

June 19th, 2009

First thing...my daughter is fine and has been prescribed an Epipen by her doctor. Hopefully she will never have to use it...but better safe then sorry.

The sun is peeking out a little right now...I hope it I can get the yard mowed tonight.

Today has been a label printing day. I have had lots of orders for custom printed labels come in yesterday and today. So far I have been able to get them all printed and shipped. I have only had 2 walk in customers today so it has been easier to keep up with things.

The economy sure isn't looking any better...we got a letter today informing us that Senco Co. is filling for bankruptcy. Another one bites the dust. We have sold and used products for years. I figured something was up because I have had some repair parts on order for over 2 weeks now and they still haven't shown up...now I know why.

Al finished up mowing around all of our bee hives and delivering honey to the landowners where we have are bee hives today. It's a big job but we like to keep the beesites looking nice.

June 18th, 2009

I thought today would be a calmer day as Thursdays usually are, but it seems things just happen when everyone is on vacation. Things were moving along at a good pace until just after 12:00 when I started getting orders in from people that all wanted their orders shipped today, so I was busy trying to get orders done when we had a walk in customer come in that wanted to look around. My daughter was showing them around and for some reason she got stung on the neck, which is a bad spot to get stung, and she had a anaphylactic reaction over her whole body but fortunately it didn't effect her breathing, but her ears and face got really red and her eyes were watering. I sent her home to get some liquid Benadryl and by the time she got up there she was getting hives all over her body. My wife gave her the Benadryl and she got into a cool tub of water to help the itching associated with the hives. She is doing better now but man it's not a good thing to have someone in the family that is sensitive to bee stings! She has been stung many times before but never had a reaction like this. We are going to get her a Epipen just in case.

I still haven't been able to find either of the new queens in the observation hives...little stinkers are hiding in there somewhere...I'll find them one of these days and then they will get their bright marking and won't be able to hide anymore.

June 17th, 2009

Well it's raining again...how depressing!

We have been very buzy again today with a lot of walk in customers. The phones haven't been ringing as much today, but the calls I have gotten have taken up lot of my time. I received a lot of calls with questions but not so many orders, however that's what we try to do here, provide a place where people can get their beekeeping and bee product questions answered.

The queens have finally hatched out in both observation hives, however we have not been able to find them yet. The new virgin queen is small and can be hard to find. I know they hatched because I can see one queen cell that is open at the bottom and the worker bees are now destroying the other queen cells. The new queens will be going out for their mating flight soon and when they return to the hive they should be easier to find. Once they start laying eggs the queens get larger and don't run around as much as they did after they first hatched out, making it easier to find them. I will let you know when I spot one.

Here's a bee joke for you:

What does a bee say before she stings you - “This is going to hurt me way more then it hurts you!”

June 16th, 2009

8:30 AM - I'm sorry that I didn't get time to post yesterday...we had one heck of a day. With everyone on vacation I was so busy that I ended up working 11 hours straight and I started this morning at 5:45 AM. Yesterday we had a surprising amount of walk in customers and one of them even purchased a brand new observation hive. My daughter did come down to help me and I'm glad she did or I would have never gotten all of the queen bees shipped out. She answered phones while I went up and got the queens and then I had her tape the queens into their shipping boxes and apply the shipping labels. We had a good system going and were able to get all the queens that were ordered finished in time to be shipped out.

The weather was great yesterday and it looks like today will be the same, unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy it at all yesterday and I doubt I will today either, but the bees are certainly liking this nicer weather, they were all over the clover yesterday.

No queens have hatched in either observation hive yet...at least I don't think so, sometimes they have a queen cell hidden away that you just can't see. I will keep my eye on them and let you know when I see something.

I had to mark some queens today and took a picture of a Carniolan queen just after I marked her. It is a delicate operation, I have to be very gentle but yet I can't let her fly away. I always end up painting my fingers as I mark the queen. Once she is marked I put her back into the cage by herself for a few minutes while the paint dries. I will then add 7 worker bees to the cage to take care of the queen during shipping.

It's been a good day. Everything was spaced out nicely so that we didn't get overloaded with tons of customers or orders that had to be shipped all at once. We certainly didn't have any down time and have been very busy but everything went very smoothly today.

One thing that really did bother me today is my allergy to the multi-flower rose bushes that are in full bloom. I started out this morning with a runny nose, itchy eyes and lots of sneezing, in fact, I got into a sneezing fit and pulled a muscle in my neck. I finally had to break down and take a Benadryl, that helped my runny nose but my neck was still hurting so I went out a got a honeybee and stung the back of my neck...it already feels better...thank you honeybee!

June 13th, 2009

We are seeing some Sun today and the bees are happy to be out working.

I have had customers in here non stop all day long, which makes the day go by fast but I sure didn't get anything else done and with everyone on vacation next week I can see myself working on Sunday to try to get some things done before the official work week starts up on Monday. My daughter is coming down on Monday to help me out so I should be able to get some orders done if she can answer the phones.

No queens in the observation hives yet. A new queen should be hatching out any day now. I counted the total queen cells in both hives and there are a total of 16 sealed queen cells. The bees are going a little overboard on the queen production, but they should be guaranteed a new queen with that many cells in there.

It's 12:55 PM right now so I need to finish up so I can head home and do chores...yeah!

June 11th, 2009

It's another gloomy day out there, it seems that we are getting more then our fair share of bad weather this year.

I've spent most of my time today divided between printing custom labels for our beekeeping customers and talking on the phone. I've printed 2750 custom labels today and shipped them to Iowa, Maryland and as far as Washington State. Most of the phone calls today have been from beekeepers that have had questions or from our wholesale customers in and around the Philadelphia area that need honey. We will be making deliveries down that way next week.

I won't be working tomorrow because Bill & Bonnie are going on vacation next week. I will be working a 6 day week with no lunch breaks and lots of stress and I need to get a few things done before next week, so I am hoping to get those things done tomorrow. I'll be back on Saturday to continue bloging.

June 10th, 2009

It's been another busy day. I just finished up giving a tour to a couple from Philadelphia, PA. Queen bees as well as honey and bee supplies continue to ship out and those orders are keeping us very busy.

Bill had a little problem on Monday that I just found out about, he had a queen escape her little cage while he was attempting to mark her and she just disappeared. Bonnie found her this morning dead by the observation hive...the poor thing. Sometimes trying to catch them can be a challenge. I haven't lost any this year yet but I did lose one last year. I was marking her with a paint pen when a worker bee stung my hand, I just opened my hand in reaction to the sting and away went the queen. That's the money I could have saved by switching to Geico...no wait that's wrong...that's the money I should have in my pocket if I had just held on to her. Those Geico commercials are odd but they work because here I am thinking about it.

We had a visitor today, an Eastern Milk Snake stopped in to say hi!

I spotted the snake right by one of our bee hives, I don't think it was after the bees but a frog that was a couple of feet away. I'd have to say that it was about 2 1/2 feet long at least. Some may find them scary but they eat rodents so as long as they aren't in the house they won't have a problem with me chasing them around with a shovel.

June 9th, 2009

Hope everyone had a good weekend! It is warm and humid out there today and we are expecting thunderstorms this afternoon.

Yesterday, while I wasn't here, the other observation hive decided to swarm. They guys were able to catch the swarm and hive it. Now both of our observation hives have swarmed within the last week and both are without queens at this time. I just checked the queen cells in both hives and none have hatched out yet, it shouldn't be too much longer before we have a queen hatch. Once the new queens go out and get mated I will have to open up the observation hives and catch the queens and mark them, well at least the one in the observation hive that I take with me to schools and the lectures that I go to regularly. It is easier to find the queen when she is marked.

The overall size of the blog page was getting rather large so I decided to archive some of the blog and will do so every 2 months or so. There is a link to the archived files at the bottom of the page.

I had a busy weekend working in the garden. I unfortunately had to replant nearly half of our corn. Right after I got it planted last time we had a dozy of a rain that wash up a lot of the corn seeds. I'm hoping it doesn't happen again because I don't have enough seeds left to reseed. Our potatoes are doing great, the weather has been just right for them. Now we just have to come up with a good way to store them over the winter as we don't have a root cellar. I think we will can some of them and make French fries out of some and freeze them, maybe we will be able to store the rest under the stairs in the basement.

My wife and I finally opened the swimming pool today during my lunch break. It just hasn't been warm enough to swim, but the sun is now pretty warm during the day so the solar heater should get the water warmed up quickly.

June 5th, 2009

A little cloudy out there today and we are expecting some showers.

The swarm I collected yesterday stayed in the nuc box that I put them in. Sometimes we have swarms that just aren't read to settle down and take flight again. I took some time and got a closer look at the observation hive that they left from and there are 2 sealed queen cells, we expect a new queen to hatch any time now. I hope to be fortunate enough to see at least one of them hatch out. The observation hive that swarmed is the one that I have the Bee Cam on. There are a lot less bees in that hive now, I would have to say that at least 2/3rds of the bees left with the swarm. There is a large amount of brood ready to hatch so the number of bees in the hive will increase rapidly, they may even swarm again by next month.

Today was the last day of school for our local kids and we wish them all a safe and fun summer break!

June 4th, 2009

It's been an exciting day! We have been very busy with walk in customers. We had one beekeeper bring in a super of honey to be extracted. I think this is the earliest that we have ever extracted honey for someone. Also one of the observation hives swarmed this afternoon. Below are some pictures. Click on the image for a large view.

 

The bees landed right on the trunk of a partially dead bush. This kind of makes it hard to get them. I like it better when they are just hanging on a branch... but they had to be difficult. What I decided to do was cut that section of the bush right out.

A close up of the swarm before I disturbed them.

Ahhh... there's a bee on my face! I love getting swarms they are so gentle.

This is the 5 frame nuc box that I shook them into. This sized box is perfect for catching and transporting most swarms.

A close up of the bees on the top of the nuc box. I must have gotten the queen because if you look close you can see the workers have there bee-hinds up in the air and are fanning. What they are doing is fanning the queen's scent up into the air to tell the workers that are flying around "Hey the queen is down here!".

Now we have to watch the observation hive that the swarm came from, to make sure that a new queen hatches out, gets mated and starts laying eggs.

It is a beautiful out there today, it's about time! The bees are happy and so am I!

June 3rd, 2009

I got my lecture done today at the senior center in Mansfield, PA and now hope to get some things done around here, although I have received orders for over 2500 custom printed labels which will keep me busy tomorrow. Bill is out checking the hives that he had requeened last week to make sure the queens got out ok. He is also checking to see if any of the hives need honey supers. The bees are bringing in the Autumn Olive honey like crazy right now. It was raining earlier today but the sun is out right now... hope it warms up!

June 2nd, 2009

We had another tour of kids in today, we took some pictures and posted them in our picture section. We have been very busy this year with tours as well as I have to go and give another lecture tomorrow in Mansfield, PA. Tomorrows lecture is the last thing I have scheduled for the month of June, unless of course someone calls in and wants to schedule something, I may though have to turn them down for awhile anyway. There are a lot of things that we need to get done around here. We will once again be busy in July as we have a lot scheduled for that month plus I will be taking a weeks vacation.  I was able to get caught up on my label orders this afternoon and I even had time to replace a broken electrical outlet that has needed to be done for the last month.

The bees are looking good but things could be better if the weather would improve. We had to cover the garden because of a possible frost on June 1st, it seems to be an unusual year as far as the weather is concerned. We haven't even opened the pool yet.

My son and I spent yesterday building a tree house. He has always wanted one, but I wanted to wait until he was old enough to help build it. It's much nicer then anything I built as a kid. It is 8 x 9 and is perfectly level! We always had to tie ourselves down on the ones we built as kids so we won't fall off... lol!

May 29th, 2009

We had a large tour of kids in today, we took some pictures and posted them in our picture section. The tour went great and the kids were well behaved. They were lucky and got to see some package bees that came in today via the post office. We don't do tours when we have package bees in here, so unless you are a beekeeper, most people don't get to see the bees all packed up, but since we had them I saved a package out to show the kids. There were impressed that there was nearly 10,000 bees in the little package.

We had a lot of rain last night and this morning, not sure how many inches we got but our driveway was washed out in many places. I will be out after work fixing it, if it doesn't rain that is.

The bees are in a major honey flow right now mainly from the Autumn Olive Bush.

May 28th, 2009

I came in at 7:00 AM this morning to try to get some things done before the phones started ringing, unfortunately I wasn't able to get things caught up, particularly the custom printed label orders and to those customers that are waiting for their labels I apologize, we have just been overwhelmed with... well everything. I had to spend most of my afternoon getting ready for the big tour of kids coming in here tomorrow. We are expecting 150 kids at least + the teachers and any parents that tag along. So that means that I won't be doing anything tomorrow, except the tour, so if you want to talk with me you will have to wait until next week... sorry!

I have to leave here today at 5:00 PM because my daughter is getting some awards at her high school tonight and I don't want to miss out and look it is 5:00 now - I'll let you know how the tour went tomorrow!

May 27th, 2009

Just got back from doing a show at the local elementary school. I did take a few pictures, you can see them in our picture section. My daughter went with me and was a huge help! I let her read the bee stories to the kids and talk about the observation hive... she did a great job! I hope that she will be able to take over all the school shows for me soon, not that I don't enjoy doing them, it's just that I have so much to do that it is getting hard to be away from the office for very long, things seem to pile up fast. The queen cooperated most of the time so most of the kids were able to see her. Some of the kids have been to our place in the past and remembered at lot of the information, which is great because it means that they were listening!

May 26th, 2009

I hope everyone had a fun Memorial Day weekend! It was a perfect day for it here in PA. It is raining here now and it looks like we are going to have a few days of it.

It has been crazy around here today again. Over the long weekend we got in orders for over 40 queens to be shipped. This morning I rushed out, trying to beat the incoming rain, to get queens ready. I have to mark 16 of them and put attendant bees in with each queen. It took a while to get all that done and I did get stung 4 times, but we were able to get all the queens shipped out today. We hope to have some more queens in here tomorrow or Thursday.

I have to go and give an all day talk at the local elementary school tomorrow. I may take the camera and get some pictures. I plan on taking our glass observation hive with me so the kids can see the honeybees up close. Since it's an all day event I am going to need to take some bee pollen to give me some energy! The kids just seem to suck the energy right out of you.

My son and I did get our corn planted this weekend. We planted every seed by hand and it really wasn't too hard, we just planted 322 seeds... but if we can get 644 ears of corn that should last our family all through the winter. We are obviously hoping for good weather all summer, not only for the garden but for the bees as well.

May 22nd, 2009

Today I have been able to get some things done. Bill finished the spring management on our hives yesterday so he has been here all day. I was able to get the 2500 custom labels printed and shipped out today. I then did a label inventory and had to order a bunch of labels for stock. I updated some things on the website. I also serviced our "bee" truck and delivery van. We have had plenty of customers in today getting various items like honey, burn barrels, queen bees and beekeeping supplies.

The weather is great today, but the frost we got the other night really damaged a lot of the plants that the bees like including the black locust trees, sumac and bamboo. I was really excited about the black locust blossoms, the trees on my property were loaded with little buds and the frost just destroyed them. Because of the frost we may not have any of the Acacia honey (black locust) this year... bummer!

I plan on planting the corn in my garden tonight and, if I have time, mow the grass. I had put a black tarp over the soil where we are going to plant the corn 2 days ago to help heat up the soil to help with germination and today at lunch I checked it and it was nice and warm. I just hope we don't get another frost!

May 21st, 2009

It has been another one of those days... you know the ones that you would like NOT to have very often. Bill was out working bees and everyone else had some kind of appointment or something going on and I have been here by myself. To say today was stressful is an understatement! I never was able to get all the U.P.S. orders shipped out like I had hoped. I did get all the queen orders out. I was really surprised to get so many orders for queens this late in the week, we don't like to ship queens unless they can arrive before the weekend and all of today's orders are within the next day delivery range and the customers all wanted their queens before the weekend. I had to have my 14 year old son come down 3 times and just sit in the office to watch over things while I went up and got queens out of the "queen bank" hive. I also had to clip the wings on 4 of the queens. This is done to keep the queens from flying away. Clipping the wings doesn't hurt the queen but it does take some time to do correctly. It will not though stop a hive from swarming and is really just for the beekeeper that is afraid the queen will fly out during installation. The phones just never stopped ringing today, I had a few walk in customers and the emails were coming in one right after another. I have orders for over 2500 custom printed labels that I just haven't been able to get to. I need to order office supplies and complete an order we've started with a clothing manufacturer in India - they make some customized bee suits for us. There just isn't enough time in the day! When I get home today, I have to get ready to go to a concert that my daughter has a solo part in, that I don't want to miss, I just hope that I don't fall asleep in the auditorium!

May 20th, 2009

It is beautiful out today and I wish I was out working the bees or even mowing the yard! We have been getting swarm calls all day and I have had to pass on getting the swarms because we are so busy. I had back to back tours this morning of school kids and I was talking, loudly, for 4 hours straight and now I can barely talk. As soon as we were done with the tours I had to get queens ready for shipment and do some U.P.S. orders. We are so busy that I didn't even take a lunch break today. I'm definitely ready to go home and take a nap! There are no more tours this week, so we should be able to get some other things done tomorrow and Friday.

Our driver just got back with some Buckwheat honey from southeastern PA, that we badly needed, and some lids for our honey jars. It's nice that we are able to have our driver pick up items on his way home from making deliveries, by doing this we save a lot of money on shipping costs.

May 19th, 2009

What a crazy weekend! We had tornados locally and then record low temperatures in the span of 3 days. We continue to be busy shipping queens and regular honey orders. Our driver is delivering honey in and around Philadelphia, PA this week. We also have been checking our hives and adding honey supers were needed. The first spring honey flow is happening now with the Russian Olive, Mustard and Dandelions in bloom.

Both observation hives are doing great, in fact I will have to be in them soon to prevent them from swarming or I may just let them swarm and hope to catch them before they decide to move into the walls of my house. They tried to do that a few years ago and what I pain that was!

We had to cover all the garden plants last night because it dipped down into the 20's last night. I don't see us opening the pool anytime soon.

May 16th, 2009

1:30 PM - Just about done with the package bees, we have a few beekeepers that are still on their way here to get their packages. We hope to be out of here before 5:00 PM so we can install the left over packages, although it looks like it might rain which will  My wife was nice enough to bring us some pizza for lunch today, which was great!

I need to get my lawn mowed soon or I'm going to have to hay it!

2:30 PM - I'm amazed at the amount of local people that show up after regular business hours. We normally close at 1:00 PM on Saturday but because we have the package bees here we are open until the packages are all gone. We have had at least a dozen people in here after 1:00 PM that were not after package bees. Makes me wonder if we should be open all day on Saturday too, we may be missing out on some sales by going home at 1:00 PM.

3:00 PM - We are waiting on just one guy now to show up for his package bees. I think we will just put a note on the door and go home. We are all really worn out from the last week and are looking forward to getting back to normal operations.

4:25 PM - Our last beekeeper has just left with his bees and I'm going home... be back next week!

May 15th, 2009

It's 1:10 PM right now and we have been so busy that I haven't had anything to eat yet today and am about ready to fall over. I guess I will have to eat a couple of honeystixs to get me through. We are getting a lot of people in today who want to talk, which is great, but it is hard to get anything else done. It's a beautiful day out and perfect for installing package bees.

4:55 PM - I'm ready to go home...what a day! My throat is getting soar because of all the talking I've done today. We still have another day of package bee pick up to go through. I'll be happy when we are all done!

May 14th, 2009

It's 5:45 PM and I'm still here, my last customer just left. We got another load of package bees in this morning and people have been coming in to pick them up. I can't spend too much time blogging today because my wife has just called me and ordered me to get home... she is the queen bee after all... so I'm going home as ordered!

May 13th, 2009

What a great day! I love it when we are busy! We had a batch of 100 queens come in today and we sent 25 of them right back out to customers all of the country. I don't expect the ones that are left to be here very long this time of year. Below is a picture of how they arrive to us via U.P.S. Next Day Air from our supplier in California. I have to catch the workers and insert them in the queen cage one at a time before we ship them out, as the queens are all alone in the cage and we don't want them to be lonely... really it's because the workers we put in the cage feed and care for the queen during the shipping time. Believe it or not I didn't get stung once even though I had to catch 175 workers to fill the 25 queen orders that we shipped out today. I didn't even were a veil, the bees were very calm today.

We just got a call for the first swarm of the year and it happens to be a swarm from one of our own hives, so I had to load up the truck to go out to collect the swarm and do some more spring hive management before we get any more swarming.

May 12th, 2009

I'm on my own today as everyone else is either making deliveries or picking up package bees in Georgia. The guys will be picking up the package bees tomorrow, driving straight home and should be in Thursday afternoon. I have so much to do that I just can't see any possible way, short of staying all night, of getting it all done. We have sold over 100 queens in just the last week and are now sold out until the next batch comes in this sometime in the next couple of days...we hope!

There is a frost warning out for tonight which means I'm going to have to go out and cover some of the garden plants...GREAT...NOT! It is such a pain having to cover stuff up!

My wife and I went up yesterday to check on the raccoons and the good news is that Mom did come back and move them, hopefully to a safe location.

May 10th, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

I had to come in to work to get a queen bee for a customer that is driving by this afternoon and he asked if he could pick it, so I thought I would make a quick post because something interesting just happened... I was up in the woods cutting down some old trees for firewood. I felled a large beach tree that was mostly dead, upon walking the length of the tree after it was down I happened to see something moving... it was a baby raccoon and then I saw another and then another, for a total of 3 raccoons. Needless to say I felt bad for cutting down their home... but they sure are cute!

I put them back into their nest.

After I took the above photo, I put some leaves around them and then covered the opening with a couple of logs and some brush. I sure hope mom comes back and finds them.  It would be nice if she moves them to a new location, but if not I will just leave the tree there until they move out. I'll check on them tomorrow.

May 9th, 2009

Another "Buzzy" day! I have had people in and out all day, some beekeepers and some just getting honey. I'm glad that they didn't all come at one time, that makes it hard to deal with them on a more personal level. Today all the customers were spaced out nicely, as I was just finishing up with one - another would walk in the door. I wasn't able to find time to pack any U.P.S. orders which means Monday is really going to be crazy! I have a tour of Boy Scouts coming in today at 2:00 PM... so if it rains this afternoon here I may stay and get some orders done instead of mowing the grass. I am now on Facebook too for those of you that use it.

3:14 PM - I just finished up with the Boy Scout tour and unfortunately it's raining. I guess I will just stay here and do some U.P.S. orders and forget mowing until tomorrow. I sure hope I can get it mowed soon, I don't know why I do it... but I fertilized and limed my yard and it seems that the grass grows 2 inches every day.

6:50 PM - I'm still here... ZZZZZZZZ. I finally got all the U.P.S. orders done except for the queen and royal jelly orders that will have to be done on Monday. The sun is still shining out there... so I think I'll try to mow the yard now. I should sleep good tonight! Have a nice weekend everyone!

May 8th, 2009

The program at the high school went well, the only thing I don't like is the fact that I had to repeat everything 4 times. I would have one group for 30 minutes and then another and so on. The problem I have is that by the time I got to the 3rd group I wasn't sure if I was saying the same thing to them twice or not. I would rather have a large group and just do the presentation once.

Upon my return to work the phones were ringing, customers were in the office, a stack of papers was on my desk and poor Bonnie was all alone because my father was out working the bees. He is making spring splits of the hives that survived the winter to replace the hives that didn't make it through the winter. We lost almost 40% of our bees over the winter which is much better then 2 years ago when we lost almost 70%. Hopefully we will be able to replace most if not all of our winter losses with splits.

It's 5:15 PM now and I still have to go and check out the van to make sure it is ready to head to Georgia to pick up the second load of package bees this next week. The driver will be leaving Sunday afternoon so I have to get it ready tonight because I won't have time tomorrow. I have a tour coming after hours tomorrow and then we have some things at home that I have to get finished up.

An update on our garden; the potatoes, carrots, and peas are coming up as well as some unwanted weeds... darn those weeds! I just wish the garden plants grew as fast and as abundantly as the weeds!

May 7th, 2009

What a day! This time of year is crazy! The phones have been out of control today - I answer the phone - I help someone with their bee problem, I get off the phone, I try to get up to work on a shipped order but then the phone rings again... it's another order... great but I never got the first order done... and this continued all day.

It is now 5:35 PM and I am trying to get my stuff around to take to an all day "Career Awareness Event" at a local high school tomorrow. They asked if I would come over and talk to the kids about other jobs that are out there that need to be done besides computer related careers. They said there will be 400 students there. I plan on talking about beekeeping... maybe not as a primary career but as a secondary one. We certainly need more beekeepers out there and you can make good money on the side by having a few bee hives. I'll let you know how it went tomorrow when I get back.

May 6th, 2009

Since we are now stocking queens we have been overwhelmed with orders for queen bees. We must have sent 30 queens out today via U.P.S., plus all of the regular honey and supply orders. It's good to "bee" busy!

I did have just enough time this afternoon to work on the observation hive again. I wanted to replace the last 2 frames that were in the hive all winter with new ones. Now all of the frames in the hive are brand new and they look great. The main reason I wanted to get this done is because I have a lecture this Friday in Elkland, PA and I plan on taking the bees with me. We also have a bunch of tours coming in in May and I like the observation hive to looks its best!

It's already after 5:00 PM and I have lots to do at home, so talk to you all tomorrow!

May 5th, 2009

It's cool out today which is actually nice for the shipping of package bees and queens. We got in 100 queen bees today... 50 Italian and 50 Carniolan. We shipped a lot of them right back out to customers all over the country, the rest got put in the "queen bank". The queen bank is a very strong colony of bees that we put the individually queens in on a specially made frame, each queen is in her own little cage. The worker bees in the queen bank will take care of all the queens until we have an order for one. When we get an order we will just go up to the queen bank and remove one queen and ship her out.

We have a Hemlock log out back that has had bees in it for a few years now, but there hasn't been much activity in the last couple of weeks thus they may have died out. The queens that came in today come in a bulk box with lose bees around the queen cages. We decided to add those bees and a new queen to the log. We did it just because it is a neat thing to show tours groups what a wild hive may be like.

Below is a picture of the bees on their way in to the log from the box. We released the queen first into the log... the worker bees were happy to follow her in. Hopefully they will get established and do good this year.

I got my Blueberry, Raspberry and Blackberry plants in today by U.P.S. I was able to get the Blueberries planted during my lunch break. The Raspberries and Blackberries came in as bare root stock so I've got them soaking in water and will plant them tonight after work. Now if I can only keep the rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, grubs, moles, bugs, dogs and kids away from them, we may get something sweet to eat!

May 2nd, 2009

It's been a perfect day for package bees! We have had a lot of people in today getting their bees and we have had a few that could not make it, so we are installing their bees in new hives right here at our place. They can then pick them up anytime in the future.

Below we have removed the top and are lifting out the can full of syrup that is used to feed the bees during transport. We have removed 5 frames from the hive below in preparation to install the bees. We also pulled the queen out and set her aside, she is in her own little cage.

below we are shacking the bees into the hive.

and below we are releasing the queen at the entrance. Normally we would remove the cork from the candy side of the queen cage and insert her, still inside her cage, down between the frames and then let the bees eat the candy out to release the queen. However, this queen has been with the package of bees for 3 days now so we feel that we can safely release her now.

It's now just after 2:00 PM and we still have another 40 packages here waiting to be picked up. I expect we are going to have a rush of people very soon. Overall things have gone very smoothly today. One of the things I like best about package bee day is that we always get jelly filled donuts for the customers and for us too. All I can say is that there sure are good and it's a good thing that we don't do this too often! I have already had 4 or 5 today, it will probably be closer to 10 by the end of the day... I may need to loosen my belt!

May 1st, 2009

The Bees Are Here!

The guys pulled in around 1:00 PM. Below are some pictures of the bees arrival.

We bring the bees up in one of our delivery vans. We used to bring them up 1000 packages at a time on our truck, but we don't sell as many as we used to. There are 270 packages of bees on the van, that almost 3 million honeybees! It's a good idea to drive careful when you have a load of 3 million honeybees in the van with you, because if you have an accident I don't think you would get much help!

 

We unload the bees on to pallets and wait for the local beekeepers to show up. We have already had 20 or so packages picked up. We expect 150 or so more beekeepers to get their bees between 8:00 and 5:00 tomorrow.


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