Tag: Beekeeping

Another swarm

I woke up this morning to another swarm hanging from the magnolia tree in the exact same place as the previous one. I believe this swarm cam from the original hive with the now Russian bees. Having seen the overwintering and spring buildup that they achieved, I didn’t want to lose them. I had previously assembled a medium super to start building on top of the lang I put the other swarm in. I had heard of placing a second colony on an existing colony to end up with a two queen colony once the pheromones mixed. Since I don’t need / can’t have another hive, this seemed like the only logical choice. After some fast reading to answer a few questions about separating the colonies with newspaper, I pulled off the cover, placed a single sheet of newspaper, cut a few holes with the hive tool, and added the medium super to the stack. This time instead of dropping the swarm in a container and then dumping it in I simply cut the branch and shook the bees into the hive with one swift bump. Unfortunately I didn’t have help this time, so no video. I had already pulled a couple of empty drawn combs from Hive #1 a few weeks ago and froze them in preparation to band them into the new super.

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Hive # 2 Swarmed

My neighbors noticed a swarm of bees on the chain link fence and gave me a call. I was getting prepared to capture the swarm and they began to fly up and away. I noticed the entire garden was filled with bees. Then I saw that they were clustering on the front of hive #3. They covered the front and all entrances. I later discovered that they came from hive # 2. I guess this means that the swarm preventing measure didn’t work. Two weeks ago I added blank bars between bars 5 through 12. I’m fine with them swarming as long as the colony raises a new queen. Now I’ll have to check on them regularly to make sure there are eggs in the next 4 weeks.

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March CABA meeting

Jimmy gave an excellent presentation on how to install packages in a new hive.
David gave a very thorough presentation on how to make splits to increase your colony count. The important takeaways here are:

  • It takes 2 days to start raising a queen then 16 days to hatch, 3-4 days to mate, 3-4 days to mature.
  • The old queen always leaves with swarm.
  • If a hive does swarm it is best to re queen, since there is no way to determine that the queen the colony raises will be of good quality.
  • You should have at least 7 frames of good pattern brood before a split.

David went into depth with pictures on a number of different techniques for splitting colonies.  He discussed Out Yard, In Yard, & Adee splits, which I have heard of.  He also discussed Harbo, Katrina, & Ferguson splits.

The Katrina split was developed as a result of the hurricane losses and involves making a split every 14 days.  With this method they were averaging 4 new hives from one original hive.
Ferguson splits are done on top of each other to increase output of drawn comb and two queen hives to increase honey production.


Apiary redesign

I have been planning to move the beehives around in the garden to keep the flight path of the bees from being directly through the garden. The plan was to point the entrances towards the back fence instead of at the garden. I also spoke to a friend that had to get rid of his hive due to an uncooperative HOA and neighbors. I helped him build the hive at the beginning of this year so I offered to fit it in so he could still have them and come work them when he wants to. We laid down landscape fabric and a heavy tarp to keep the weeds back and I plan to eventually fill the area with rocks so I won’t have to mow or weed under the hives. Now I have a dedicated 12×10 apiary with lots of room to work the hives and the bees shouldn’t fly directly through the garden.

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December CABA meeting

I skipped the meeting this month. It was just a showing of the Vanishing of the Bees documentary, which I have already seen. Plus we had a lot going on at work and home this week.


Honey harvest

I pulled a comb of honey from hive #2 yesterday and got 3.5 lbs of honey. We crushed strained and bottled for sharing at work.

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October CABA meeting

Chris Frink got alergist Dr. Nordy Redhead to speak about bee stings. He explained that localized swelling is not a true allergy from allergist perspective. An allergic reaction is classified by life threatening symptoms within minutes. In cases of a bee sting allergy the body creates antibodies that it should not create. The next time a person is stung these antibodies are in place and can cause a massive systemic reaction. Respiratory symptoms and swelling of any body part is possible including the tongue or throat. He also explained that honey bee venom is in a separate class and does not cross react with hornets wasps etc. So, if you are allergic to one you are not necessarily allergic to another. There are bee sting allergy tests that test for the antibody presence. If you are allergic desensitization is an option as well. This consists of a series of dilute venom injections up to the equivalent of two bee stings. Once you reach the target dose the desensitization continues with a dose every 6 weeks for 5 years. This course has ~80% efficacy of reducing a life threatening reaction. This same desensitization is even more effective for other stinging accidents. When the question was asked about honey being good for people with allergies Dr. Nordy said he has not seen any conclusive studies either way. On the contrary he recounted two events of people eating raw honey and having an allergic reaction. Dr. Nordy recommended Benadryl or NSAID to counteract minor reactions. For those with an allergy an Epi-pen can be prescribed.
All of this became immediately relevant when I went out to check the beehives Wednesday evening. As I crouched down next to hive #1 the whole colony fluttered and one bee instantly attacked my left forearm. A few minutes later I checked the hive with no consequence. Within 10 minutes I had taken a Benadryl, so the reaction was limited to minor swelling and itching.


September CABA meeting

Light crowd this evening. Jimmy gave a presentation on early Louisiana beekeeping. Beekeeping in Louisiana started in 1750 with the first concrete documentation in 1804 and detailed commercial records in 1860. Some of the prominent names & events in LA beekeeping:
Paul Viallon Sr. 1870s – 1890s queen producer.
Shaw brothers from Iberia late 1860s sold bees & honey related products.
Southwestern beekeepers association started October10th, 1876 in Shreveport.
International beekeepers convention 1885.
Renewed interest in queen rearing and package bees 1915.
George Bohne led the movement to movable frame hives.
LA beekeepers association founded 1918.
1922 many laws regulating beekeeping passed around the country.
Walter T Kelley started beekeeping 1924 in Houma. Began selling hives in 1926.
If you are interested in the history of hives and design I highly recommend reading Gene Kritsky’s The Quest for the Perfect Hive which can be found at the library.

The annual Bee lab field day will be October 20th 9:30 – 3:30 at the Bee Lab on Ben Hur Rd. This was a great event last year and I’m looking forward to attending this year. You can sign up to attend and get more information at www.labeekeepers.com


Cleaned comb and a new queen

A few days ago I put a tray with oil and a screen over it underneath hive 1. I didn’t see any mites, but I’d need some better light to be sure. I did see a discarded larvae in the screen though. That means there is a laying queen in the hive. Based on that and the straight comb I decided not to do a full inspection. I also did a quick inspection on hive 2 just to remove the pan I left the fallen comb in. The bees had completely cleared out the comb and began attaching the comb to the pan. This colony is a honey making machine. They relocated the honey from the fallen comb and have built out better than half a new comb in under a week.

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July CABA meeting

The July meeting for the CABA was interesting. There was a request for volunteers for the honey harvest at the club apiary this weekend. The plan is to harvest Friday and extract Saturday. I couldn’t volunteer since we have family in town. There was a round table discussion with Bobby, David, and two researchers from the Baton Rouge bee lab to answer questions. The discussion was mainly centered on IPM and other means of pest management. We focused on varroa control with lots of talk about burning small hive beetles. Controlling varroa by using Hopguard was recommended by Bobby. I have never used it personally and would hesitate to do so unless there was a large population of mites in one of my hives. One of the things the geneticist and Chris Frink discussed was the use of a screened bottom board with a pan of oil beneath it. This allows the mites to fall through and die in the oil, but does not allow the bees access. I have read about this before and actually purchased a long shallow pan to place under my top bar hive. I haven’t implemented it yet primarily due to laziness. I’ll have to get it set up to see if there are many mites in either of my colonies. David’s recommendations included resistant strains such as the carniolans. They slow down brood production with the dearth which disrupts the varroa laying cycle. The use of diatomaceous earth under and around hives caused quite a stir. This is something I have read about, but never experimented with. This is allegedly effective against small hive beetle larvae as well, so it may be worth looking into. Quicklime and the use of essential oils were also briefly discussed. I forget who brought it up, but someone mentioned a pretty good site on beekeeping http://scientificbeekeeping.com/. It looks to have a bunch of good information on pest management for hobbyists as well as commercial beekeepers.