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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Trying to Build a Nuc

Ok, so for the last week or so, I've been trying to build a nuc hive.  I have a lot of tools, but my table saw, which I'm using to cut box joints, doesn't want to cooperate.

First, i tried to build a jig to make my box joint cuts easier and more accurate.  Then, after realizing that things could go easier with a dado blade, I decided to check into that.  The arbor on my saw blade is too short, so no dado blade can be used.

Next, I tried using my router with a 3/4" bit, but the wood likes to chip out.  So, that seems to be out.

Next, I'll look at buying the aluminum box jig and trying that with my saw.  If that doesn't work, I may have to look at stepping up in saw.  Well, funny how it works because it's still cheaper than buying hives.  I'd still rather build them myself and I'm not giving up just yet.

It's just frustrating...but as I told my older son, if it was easy, it wouldn't be worthwhile.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Next Year's Plans

I'm already thinking about next year and if I want to increase the number of hives I manage. Realistically, I'd like to add at least one more hive, possibly two, but as other beekeepers know, equipment is expensive. I'm just hoping that I can break even this year with a little honey from my two existing hives. That's why this weekend I stated building a nuc hive. I thought I'd give it a try. The cost is exponentially cheaper and with the help of my woodworking neighbor, I think I just may be able to build them myself.

Another question is where to put any new hives. I'm sure I'd have no trouble adding them to my existing beeyard plot, but a little closer to home would also be nice. I'll have to think on that one for awhile.

I'm just hoping that I can break even this year with a little honey from my two existing hives.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'Exodus' Videos

Here are two short videos I shot of 'Exodus'. I really like the idea of taking video of the hives and will have to think about developing this further.

Orientation Flights and Entrance:

Top of the Brood Frames:

Hive Check

Date:  Thursday, June 19, 2008
Time:  1:30 PM
Weather:  77', Slight Wind

I stopped by the hives today to pick up the bottom boards, feeders, and completely remove the entrance reducers.  The colonies should now be strong enough to defend themselves as well as utilize the larger entrance for better ventilation.

Both hives had great activity outside the hives with lots of bees taking orientation flights and foragers  returning from gathering nectar and pollen.  I saw several bees with full pollen sacks in each hive.  

I only checked the honey supers and the top brood boxes, of which neither hive had any evidence of drawing out comb.  Each hive had strong brood patterns, eggs, and lots of activity in the honey portion of the frames.  In the Genesis hive, I switched the end frames to encourage more building on the remaining portions that had not been built upon.

I'm not sure how the cooler weather we've been having (low 50's and high 70's) will affect the honey flow, but I'm pleased with the health and progress of each hive.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Great News, Varroa Analysis

I received word back from Dr. Tom Webster from Kentucky State University.  Here is his e-mail:


These sticky board counts look pretty good. They come to 26 per day and 10 per day. If the counts come to 50 per day or higher be aware that they are getting in the danger zone.

The fall of mites is higher during very hot weather (above 90, as we have had recently). If your sticky boards were in the hives during this hot spell, the numbers will give you over-estimates. In other words, the mite populations are not as high as they appear to be.

Are you using screened bottom boards? If not, I recommend that you get some and swap them for the solid bottom boards. This is a good way to get rid of live mites that fall from the bees. And they are especially useful during hot spells when the mites tend to lose their grip on the bees.

Also, you do not need to feed syrup now. The bees have had plenty of time to find flowers and there is a good honey flow on in most parts of the state.


So, I'm in good shape.  I'll continue to monitor the Varroa Counts.  I'm thrilled that my supers are on and the bees are now busy collecting my honey. 

Friday, June 13, 2008

Varroa Sticky Board Test Results

I stopped by the hives after work today.  Both hives had bees busily milling about at the entrances.  I simply slid out the screened bottom board from the back of each hive and headed home to check the results.  Using my fly-fishing magnifying glass my oldest son and I counted each sticky board. 

Here are the 48 hour test results: Genesis: 52 Exodus: 20

Here's another close up of the mites.  They are the oval dark buggers.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Installation of Screened Bottom Boards

Temperature:  Mid 80's
Weather: Sunny, Slight Wind
Time:  2:00pm

Today was the first day in quite a while that my schedule and the weather synced up and allowed me to install the screened bottom board as a defense against Varroa.

Genesis and Exodus were both abuzz with activity.  Bees were busy flying to and fro.  The syrup feeders were both completely empty and lots of burr comb was built up in between the screen and the frames.  The bees didn't even seem to notice me while I was doing the inspection.  Eight out of the ten frames in the new chambers either had honey or capped brood in it.  Some of the frames were very heavy, laden with honey for the bees.  I checked out all twenty frames, never seeing the queen, but plenty of eggs, larva, and signs of a strong queen.  The brood pattern looked good.  Most of the frames in the bottom brood chambers were empty and the bees seemed to be cleaning them out or repacking them with...pollen?

The only thing  that got the bees stirred up was me taking apart their whole hive to install the screened bottom boards.  It only took a few minutes, but the bees were flying all around and surely would have stung if I was not in my full bee suit.

Since the second brood chambers were full, I removed the syrup feeders and added queen excluders and a honey super (this will be be where the honey that I take is stored by the bees).

I installed a 'sticky-board' to conduct the 48hr test and will send the results to the state apiarist, Phil Craft.

It's just my observation, but Exodus now seems just as strong in temperament, building levels, and population as Genesis.  Perhaps the funk they were in is over, perhaps not.  Whatever it is, it looks like it just may shape up to be a good honey year.

Here's a short clip of Genesis I took with the Flip-Video camera.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm in the Local Paper

On Sunday, June 8, 2008 I made it on the front page of the local section of the Cincinnati Enquirer. I'm quite proud of that. My mother-in-law gets the credit for taking the picture.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Meeting

Tonight I attended the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers meeting at the local extension office.  There were about 25 people there, although not all of them beekeepers.

It was great meeting all of the local beekeepers and I was encouraged by the willingness to assist new beekeepers such as myself.

It was a coincidence because Phil Craft, the Kentucky State Aparist, was there to discuss Varroa and treatment options.  Wow!  I could not have planned it better.  Phil went through a great presentation and discussion about Varroa.  It was just what I needed.  He also answered some basic questions I had about inspecting the hive and how to best accomplish it.

I highly recommend getting to know other beekeepers in the area.  I think building those relationships will prove invaluable in the future.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Letter to the Editor of Bee Culture Magazine

Bee Culture magazine is a great resource for beginners.  I've had my subscription since early this year and always look forward to reading each issue cover-to-cover.  Once and a while, I feel compelled to comment on an article(s) I read.  Tonight was just such a time.  So, I sent the following e-mail to the editor;

In Defense of Chemicals

I’ll preface this by saying that I am a first-year beekeeper, and quite possibly, very naive when it comes to the long-term issues regarding the use of chemical treatments. I’m also a hobby beekeeper which means that my two hives aren’t going to break me financially if things go bad. That being said, I’m simply astonished by the overwhelming ‘hysteria’ and negative stigma that chemical treatments get. Those who decry treating with anything less that a full ‘organic’ or mechanical means must surely must know that hiving bees in wooden boxes is just as ‘unnatural’. Has the global warming fervor of ‘natural at all costs’ despite proof spilled over into beekeeping as well? Or perhaps a better analogy would be those who don’t believe in inoculating humans against diseases such as smallpox, measles, etc. because it too is unnatural. As a beginning beekeeper with numerous questions about how to keep healthy bees, I implore those who truly know the science to step forward and raise up the knowledge base of the next generation of beekeepers.

Darcy Pach
Burlington, KY