This years bees have us baffled! πŸ

We all know my track record for keeping bees hasn’t been awesome. But I’d like to take credit where it’s due. I can decorate a hive and paint it in a useful manner. πŸ˜‚

This year we used The Real Milk Paint Co’s Milk Paint again. It has less fumes and off gassing, hypothetically translating to bees happier with their home. (A beekeeper in Elmore, VT gave me this tip.)

Each box received two coats of the β€œSandstone” color.

The next step has me question how can I put a design on my hives but make it functional as well? Arrows! You should always put the boxes facing the same way you removed them since the bees remember the location.

Colors are: Betsy Ross Red and Stone Blue.
Add in some vinyl work from my circuit and some Of my favorite Ellen quotes!
Also some Oprah quotes!

Bee package installation day! All went as planned. The bee packages were handed out randomly. I was told they were inspected for health. Last year we received certificate proof, this year verbal. Both queens seemed ok, they were put in their hives with the cork in their smaller screened box. This gives the bees time to accept her as their queen.

The Saskatraz bees came in plastic bee packages. They can snap together for ease of moving. I think this made it safer for their trek across the country. The bees were from California but, the queens were from Canada. This trip can be very stressful for all parties involved…even the beekeeper. This isn’t a cheap hobby but as you know any beekeeper doesn’t do this because of the cost.

Shout out to Eric for mulching the bee yard and expanding it outside the electric fence… all in the pouring rain!

This video was right after install. You will see lots of bees “setting their gps” oriented themselves to their new location.

The next afternoon we had to release the queens. When we got to the hives we noticed there was a good amount of dead and barely moving bees in the package that was installed on Ellen BEEgenerous’ (left) hive. My father in law and I found this odd but also thought they may have had a really rough trip. When we released Ellen instead of trying to go directly into the hive she went back into the box. I think if I was trapped in a small box for several days I’d be disoriented as well. We peeled back the screen and got her in. Oprah WinBees’ release was text book. We released her and she went into her hive to work. (So we think.)

See all the bees in the left package verses the right?

My friend Carey in Morrisville worked with the same beekeeper as us. When she released her queen it appears she flew away. In hindsight we wish we both knew of an alternate method of releasing the Queen. On installation day we could have removed the corks and inserted a mini marshmallow. The worker-bees would slowly eat through it to release her. Thus having less human involvement in the beginning but also allowing time for the bees to get acquainted with the queen.

Here comes the bad news….

Did you notice anything in the above video?

No bees are flying around Ellen BEEgenerous’ hive. Upon inspection they were all dead at the bottom of the bee box. I contacted the beekeeper I work with and she said this just happens and in two weeks we can split the other hive. I have been researching splitting a hive quite a bit. There is a local beekeeper in town that runs a class specifically on doing this correctly. There are so many trains of thought on this. Do we try and maintain one strong hive we can get though this winter? Do we watch for signs or a swarm and only split them if that happens? Do we go ahead and split them because two is better than one? All great questions and I honestly don’t have an answer.

The hive that died was the same hive that was our weaker colony last year. The only difference between the two hives is the location (two feet) and the bottom boards. The left has a screened bottom board and the right has a solid one. The screened bottom board has a removable insert. Is is handy when checking for mites. See picture below. We are suspicious where our hives are placed perhaps a screened bottom board allows for too much airflow. Especially with the cooler temps we had this winter and the cool and rainy spring this year.

Photo credit: https://beebuilt.com/blogs/backyard-beekeeping-blog/solid-vs-screened-bottom-boards-which-is-right-for-you

The awesome garden Eric & my FIL made me. How can the bees not like this home?🐝

This video was taken Thursday May 30th. The bees look super happy and busy. We inspected the hive today June 1st. There are a ton of bees and they all seem very happy. My father in law and I were shocked to see no brood nest. No eggs, larvae…and no queen spotted. This is why we are baffled…A queen less hive that is happy? I suspect the queen was laying eggs at one point since there are so many bees. Also my father in law thought he saw brood when we inspected a week and a half ago. We did however spot two queen cups on one of the frames (example of a queen cup below). I took to the Internet after the inspection and learned I should have looked inside the queen cups for a growing queen. Since we have never run into this before I was clueless. The few blog posts I read said if the bees are happy and not agitated that means they could be re-queening. I certainly hope this is right!

Photo credit: https://www.foxhoundbeecompany.com/beekeepingblog/what-is-a-queen-cup?format=amp

Incase you are wondering why I haven’t gotten any close up photos or videos this year. This is a reminder of how allergic I am to bees…luckily my parents bought me a new bee-suit for Christmas. My gloves don’t allow for touch screen use. Hopefully I will figure out a solution soon!

Fingers crossed for a new laying queen when we check the hive next week or maybe the original Oprah WinBEE needed a break!πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

Happy June all! 🐝

Winter Bee 🐝 Update

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?? 🍁

It’s been a while!🐝🐝

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! MemerΓ© and PeperΓ© 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.

β€˜This was taken at our last bee class in June. Look at the pollen this bee is carrying!
So hard to get a good picture these days!
Look at me being all safe!
Yay! We can walk around the beeyard again!

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! β˜€οΈ

Beehive inspection class πŸπŸ

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!

We hope you had a great weekend!

Tiffany 🐝🐝

Will the real BEEonce & It’s Britany BEEch please stand up!🐝🐝

Another exiting day! We pick up two NUC’s. These are established mini hives. Since our old queens absconded we will call them Fleeonce and It’s not Britany BEEch. Bring on the real queens!

Wonder what a Nuc is? It is short for nucleus colony. Check out Wikipedia! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuc-Tiffany