Today it warmed up to 36 degrees and we still have so much snow on the ground. We took today as an opportunity to open up the hives quickly and feed the bees.
The twins helped Mama assemble the sugar boards. First we braced the bottoms of the boards; then laid foundation paper across the bottom (the bees will clean this out). Each board got a pre-made pollen patty. Then we packed moist sugar into the boards. The mason jars were used to leave a hole left for ventilation.
Finally we went up to the bee yard and Eric shoveled it all out. Sadly we do not have good news to report. Both hives appear to have died.
The right hive was our stronger hive going into winter (Beeonce’s). The cedar shavings we added seemed dry and were doing their job with moisture. I popped off the inner cover and there were a lot of dead bees in a cluster; my best guess is they starved. There is a small chance there could be live bees because we did not take out any frames to find out of there was a smaller cluster. We could not hear any buzzing. To be hopeful we left the sugar board on. 🤞🏻
The left hive (Britney Beech) wasn’t a huge surprise. This was a weak hive with very little food stores. We did make sure we left enough extra food for them. It’s possible they died earlier in the winter. They did not touch the food we left them in the top super. Eric did notice it was wet inside; likely a condensation issue with this hive.
My Beekeeping mentor is having a workshop in the near future on autopsy die outs. We hope to learn more definitive information. There are so many lessons to be learned in beekeeping whether it goes in our favor or not.
We will definitely tweak our process for next year. We plan to add Saskatraz Bees. They are gentle (great for the bee allergy), super honey producers, known for their overwintering ability and resistance to mites and brood diseases. They will be here April 28th! We have lots of work to do to get ready for them.
But for new Sugaring season is almost here! Maple Syrup anyone?? 🍁
Hey all! Sorry it’s been so long since we have posted. It’s been quite rainy in Vermont and lots of obscure sickness at the homestead. Thankfully we are on the up and up!
We started preparing for winterizing last month. We built quilt boards and candy shims. On Saturday October 6th we started by reversing the bottom boxes on the hives; you want the heavier box on the bottom so the bees work their way up in the winter. Once they go up they do not go back down to the cold for any honey left. We also placed heaters our friend Scott sent to us to help with winters sub zero temperatures. Below are some pictures of that day. I also included a photo of the most epic bee-sting we affectionally call BEEtox. That bee stung me right though my veil. It made for one entertaining evening at the house!
The beginning of the quilt boards. I’ll explain them more soon but the candy shims look a lot like this as well. We won’t use them until the end of January/early February to feed the bees some more.
I promised back in July to talk about mites and why we treat for them. We treated in July, late August and while winterizing. When honey bees are infested with mites its like walking around with a rabbit on your back. Now imagine if you had to carry around more than one rabbit on your back all day? This YouTube video explains why we treat for mites, diseases that come with them and the worst case scenario; entire comply collapse. The great news about treating for mites is there are organic options available that won’t harm us, the bees or the honey.
These shop towels were placed on top of the the second from the bottom large deep hive.
The next step in winterizing was to make sure the bees have enough to eat. We mixed B-Pro (a pollen substitute) in the center of the plastic frames. Then filled the rest with a thick sugar and water mixture.
Each hive got two of these plastic frames in the medium size deep which we placed them on the outer edges.
Next was the quilt boards. Bees biggest threat in the winter is not the cold but moisture that builds up in the hive. They have 1/2 inch metal screening on the bottom (Sorry I didn’t get a photo). The boxes were then filled with cedar shavings to absorb moisture. In the center is a small piece of pvc to create a chimney for moisture to escape the sides. On top of the chimney piece is foam insulation. The insulation has a hole to hold the pvc piece and some of the center carved out for ventilation.
Finally we stapled on tar paper to help with blocking the winter winds and put a piece of wood on top to block snow build up. We then secured it down with a strap and put a cinder block on top.
Here’s to hoping we make it though our first winter ❄️ 🐝 Bee well!
Hey all! Sorry we have been missing in action. We have been busy bees and enjoying our first summer as Vermonters!
We added a girl to Twin Bears Maple Works. Say hello to Lucy!
Momma Bear went back to school and Papa Bear celebrated a birthday! Memeré and Peperé visited from Florida. We treated the hives for mites. Luckily the weather cooperated and the treatment went well. I will do a follow up post explaining why we treat and the issues mites can cause.
I finally weed wacked the bee-yard (jungle) and noticed one hive was running out of room. This past Saturday Grandpa and I added an addition onto the hives. This third hive box is an important one. This is the box that will get the bees through winter for the most part. It should have at least 50 pounds approximately of honey for them to survive. Along with us feeding them hopefully we will overwinter these bees and be able to extract some delicious honey next summer! You will notice in the photo with the taller hives there is a 4th box. This is a feeder box. My father and law and I decided we should be cautious and feed the bees to hopefully deter swarming. (Swarming is when there are too many bees in a hive and half decide to move out and they form a new queen.)
Our next thing to worry about is robbing. The next few weeks is when other honey bees, hornets, you name it rob hives. I will tell you how we deter this in the follow up post along with why we treat for mites.
Thank you for reading! We hope you are enjoying your summer! ☀️
No no, not that weed! Let’s talk about weed killer. I was not aware until recently that a lot of weed killers on the market kill honey bees too. Most of the commercial weed killers contain a chemical glyphosate that is responsible for killing the weeds and also honey bees. Farmers have run into issues since honeybees are needed to pollinate a good amount of their crops. Fixing one issue has only caused another. Here is a bee friendly weed killer, thanks to VT Beekeeping Supply.
This weeks beehive inspection my father in law and I weren’t messing around. We got the smoker ready and dressed in full protection. Here is a small video. At the end you can see Queen Bee-once! I wish I got video of the bees after you smoke them. It puts them in a state of calm confusion (I will get a video of that next time.) The queens are busy and the bees have been busy building out comb. Lots of eggs, honey and nectar!Check her out! We have yet to spot Britany BEEch but we know she is there since there are blood chambers!
It was a beautiful day for a beehive inspection class. I even got a little sunburn. We learned what too look for while inspecting. I saw for the first time bee eggs, larva,pupa and actual fuzzy baby bees hatch! I didn’t succeed at taking photos of these, but thanks to Encyclopedia Britannica we have a good explanation of a bees start of life.
The baby bees are born polite and clean their cells right out. You will see their bums in the air while cleaning. Check out this Nat Geo time-lapse of a bee egg to adult
We also learned how to differentiate capped brood (closed cell for the pupa stage), nectar & honey. Look at the honey 🍯 photo I got at class below.
In my last blog I talked about being able too see the bees carrying pollen in their pollen baskets. I was able to get a decent picture of this at class.
In class no one wore bee protection. The bees were so calm and gentle. I got stung once but that’s because a bee flew into my pony tail and panicked. (Ouch)
When my father in law and I got home we were overly confident and didn’t wear protection while inspecting the hives. BEE-once’s hive was calm and all went well. We got some pictures of all the bees work.
Do you see the honey? Yay! This honey isn’t for us but for the bees! The second hive It’s Britany BEE-ch didn’t go as well. They were quite angry. I got stung in the face, my father in law on the arm and another bee got stuck in my hair and stung me. Her hive was put back together very quick and we will inspect another day. We planted a rhubarb plant and some tyme (both great for bee health). Then called it a day.
My bee sting count is up to 4 for the year. We made two rookie mistakes today. Suit up and don’t inspect the hives too late in the day. Always learning!
It was another busy weekend and finished painting the medium supers & assembled the rest of the deep hive frames.
The hives were also very busy this weekend.
Today when I removed the entrance reducers (if you look where all the bees are toward the bottom there is a piece of wood with a small cut out. Those are entrance reducers. ) I could actually see the pollen baskets some bees were carrying in. It was so neat. I tried to get a photo later in the day but didn’t have any luck. Luckily we have google and below is a snap shot from a quick photo search of what they looked like.
We added the second deep hive body and got some video of what’s going on in he hives. Busy busy bees 🐝
The NUC installs went extremely smooth! In the video below the sound you hear is what happy bees sound like.
I am so relieved we didn’t have any Mariah caBEE moments this afternoon!! We were able to spot BEEonce the Queen bee in the right hive. She was about 2.5 times the size of all of the other bees. We didn’t spot It’s Britany BEEch but we know she is there since the bees are working. There is no standard NUC bee count size but everything on the internet estimates there are approx 9k-10.4k bees in a NUC. In roughly one month time they should each increase to over 18k bees. That’s a lot of bees friends!
The bees started building comb in the open spaces of the NUCS. How cool is that?🐝
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend!
***5:20pm update*** They are slowly still filtering into their hives and happy.