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Spring has sprung, and bee season is here.  Not much to do to them from November till March. 

Started last season with three hives at the farm.  I bought 2 hives for the house to start the season at 5 hives.  I split the hives early at the farm and brought 3 back.  They prospered thru the summer and around July, I made 2 splits at the house to make a total of 10 hives going into the winter.

Christmas day was abnormally warm this year and the bees were flying.  One of the late splits were not flying.  Opened them up and all were dead, quick frozen in time.  They had the brood on one side of the hive and the honey on the other.  A cold spell made them cluster on the brood and they starved out.  Instinct will keep them on the young to keep them warm, they all died together.  I broke that hive down today and cleaned it out.

Entrance reducers came off today.  Bees were pretty pissy, it clouded up here this afternoon and they don't like that.  They know that weather is coming in and they are going to have to sit inside until it passed.  But no stings, just bumps and buzzes.

Put together some frames and went thru my backup boxes.  Did an inventory on equipment to see what I may have to order and make this spring.  Right now, I am ahead and ready for spring buildup when the flowers start blooming.  Right now, all they have is maples to feed on.  But danderlions will be popping soon with a few more warm sunny days.   I am going in with 9 good hives.  The 3 farm hives will get split up this season.  They have been there for 3 years or more now without a new queen and have old comb.   I will probably tear them all down and make several starter hives out of them, forcing them to make new queens.  Going to be a fun year.

 

 

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       Ok JD here is what I am up against. I may of asked you before but I have slept since then. I still have the two hives I started with three or four years ago. One on a guys property across the road. Don't get over there very often to check on it. Then this one in the yard I enjoy watching. Both wintered fine I suppose . Won't peek in until it gets much warmer. The one across the road had both big bodies filled but never did anything in the super. I have been told that bees sometimes don't like to build on the wax coated foundation that some super frames come with. I am going to buy some pure wax foundation to put in those frames this season. Then I have this hive pictured in the yard. I did get a bit of honey from it. Kind of thin but real good. On this one I need to pit a new bottom board on it. So I smoke them. Remove top frame. Put cover back on. Disconnect bottom frame from old bottom board and slide frame onto new board? 

  Thanks,

    Marty

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It may be the color of your box.  They see red as black.  And black irritates them.  I made the mistake of wearing some black latex gloves one time.  They swarmed them like mad.

What colors do bees see

I use plastic in my coated with wax.  They will draw it in the spring and when they are building on a young queen.  You can always melt some beeswax and brush some more on to get them to work it.

Your queens may be getting older, most keepers requeen every 2 years or so.  I would make some splits this spring and they will make a new queen if you do a walk away split.  I usually take a frame of eggs and brood, a frame of capped brood, and a frame of honey out of a good hive and move it away.  Fliers will return to original hive, nurse bees will stay to tend the brood.  Feed them well and check them in 3 weeks.  If you have new brood, they have made a queen and all is well.  If not, add another frame of brood and eggs and give them another 3 weeks.  Or buy a queen and put her in the split when you make them.  They will release her and the cycle will start much faster.

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9 hours ago, fishinwrench said:

Do the bees that nest underground make honey underground, or do they do their honey business somewhere else?

They say bumble bees make honey out of the pollen they collect.  They have underground hives that are not as complex only containing several hundred bees max.  They don't store as much food as usually only the queen winters.  Honeybees have many hundred of thousand bees and winter above ground in great numbers.  They rely on the stored honey to survive the winter as a group and keep brood raising all winter.

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Waded back in the bees today and made another hive out of one in the yard.  When they make a queen, I will be up to 10.  Weather was nice and flowers were blooming, bees were gentle and calm.  I could have worked them today without a suit.  Added supers and did some spring cleaning.  Honey is being made and hives have wintered this year better than ever since I started keeping bees in 2013.

Sometime between removing the winter entrance reducers and now, field mice have been packing pin oak acorns into 2 of the hives. Entrance reducers choke the hive entrance down to where a mouse can't get in during the winter.  There were a few nights that the temps dropped below 40, bees clustered up and did not protect the entrance.  Field mice packed acorns out to the entrance board and inside the hive.  As temps warm up, the mice would have been driven out by stingers, but the nuts stay.  The bees had pushed a few acorns to the front landing board.  I cleaned out about 30 to 50 nuts on each bottom board.  Busy little hoarders.  You would think all of the feral cats around would control the critters!

This year will start to be my fun year with bees again.  I am planning on raising spare queens and making a few starter hives.  I plan on expanding to a few more out yards and placing bees in several more locations.  I have a friend that wants to host a few hives.  I hope to spend more time with them and build up hive numbers.  Maybe even make some honey.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity again to visit a commercial bee keeper locally.  My bee mentor needed a queen and he needed my help finding him.  At 95 and over 40 years of beekeeping, he is still going strong.  We pulled into the keepers house and drove past a cloud of bees flying around several hundred starter hives on the road in front of his house.  I put on a lightweight suit in the truck before I opened the door.  My mentor walked around un suited and never took a hit.  I had bees bumping me the whole time.  This keeper has hives in several states and trucks bees by the flatbed truck load.  His son has become involved in the business and raises prime queen bees.  His hive count is over 2000 or more in many locations.  100 starter hives were leaving his front yard after we left last night to other beekeepers.  We picked up the queen and her attendants in a little wooden box and headed home.  By the time we got home, that box was humming like a little engine, a combination of wings fanning and the queen making a strange noise.

Spring is starting in full bloom.  Hives today stunk of Bradford Pear, smells like rotten feet.  Lots of stuff blooming, red buds, plums, danderlions.  Soon the clover will bloom and the yard will smell sweet again as they make the best honey for my use.

 

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Love reading these posts JD!  Thank you for sharing, we have a few hives around here at work, and I am starting to learn more about the keeping process.  Very cool!

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They are a real organized society.  Fun to watch work.

There are so many things to do with the bees besides make honey.  You can make them draw wax and harvest it for candles or other stuff.  You can harvest the pollen they bring in for sale.  Or you can just make more bees and sell them to others.  Or sell the bees to the ones that like to sting themselves with them as therapy.

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I have split the hives at the farm and put the honey supers on.  Later on in July, I will probably break those hives down all of the way and replace the queens and start them out fresh.  They have been running on there own for the last few years, the comb is getting pretty old and who knows how old the queens are in the boxes.  They have not produced much honey last year and it is time to change things up.  A queen is normally only productive for a few years.

At the other place, I have been nursing the 3 splits and getting ready for expansion.  I went down to feed the splits on Monday and heard a buzzing noise.  Noticed a few more bees in the air where there is not normally bees.  One of my hives had swarmed, I had a clump of bees about the size of a coffee can on one of the trees at about waist height.  Perfect, grabbed a nuc box and a bee brush, then sweeped the clump into the hive.  Of course, that made several hundred bees to go airborne, but the queen dropped into the box perfectly and the rest joined her.  I put the lid on the box and sit it beside the tree.  The remaining bees started flying and walking into the box.  Her pheremones were strong that day, I could smell her scent in the air.  It was a strong fruity smell.  The alarm smell reminds me of bananas, but this was different.  That became hive 14.

Today I added more honey supers to 3 hives.  All of the hives here have younger queens and are stronger.  The 2 I bought last year have different genetics than the ones I have been working with from the first and they have better characteristics.  Calmer and more intent on making honey.  Spring is looking fine for the bees.  Too wet for anything else.  Can't mow, till garden, or get alot of things done.

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