Welcome to Eddie O Bee Adventure


This should be interesting. I have no experience in beekeeping, except what I can glean from others.

For timeline . . . the install date will be April 22, 2012

Please comment. I need all the help I can get!

Eddie O.

Friday, March 30, 2012

+9 Days: Three Since the "Holy Comb" Incident--all is good

+3 Days since the "Holy comb" incident and it looks like they took the hint and are not trying to rebuild the comb on top of the frames.

A Beesource Member suggested I move the baggie feeder above the inner cover rather than below. I ran home during lunch (rain tonight) and took over the inner cover . .  . expecting more comb . . . and nothing! No evidence on the inner cover or on the tops of the frames.

Thus, I just let them be (bee) and did not move the baggie. It was still about 2/3 full.
Baggie feeder still about 2/3 full.
A lot of bees visiting the feeder

Drawing comb out nicely

Evidence of comb from "Holy Comb" incident

Thursday, March 29, 2012

+6 Days: Beesource to the Rescue!! & Recycling the Comb & Syrup

Holy Comb Suggestions:

The Beesource members were great. They suggested I fill the void at the top so the bees won't. They also suggested a different style feeder, but I am going out of town and won't have the time to get a new one. Lastly, someone said they moved the bag feeder above the inner cover, thus creating it's own compartment, discouraging the bees even more.

Balling the Queen:

Also, some thought that what I was calling "balling" they were thinking it was more of a cluster. I searched for more info on "Balling" the queen. For the bees, the goal of "Balling" the queen (insert 13 year old humor here) is to kill the queen through a combination of heat from the tight ball, biting her, and starving her. Hopefully it seems like mine is not a "balling" situation just as cluster.

Here are some pictures of the comb that I had to scrape off the innner cover. I let it fall to the cavity between the screened bottom board and the slatted rack .

Unfortunately, some of what you see are dead bees that got pinned between the bottom screen and sugar syrup filled comb.

I placed the frame below to show how much wax was falling to the ground. This was only about 20 mins worth. They are working fast.

Another shot of the underside of the hive.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

+5 Days: Holy Comb in the Wrong Places!!!!! First Inspection 3/27/12

All I can say is wow!!!  I am +5 days since install of 3 lb packages

I started with the first of two hives. We call this one "Busy Bee".

My 9 year-old enjoyed lighting the smoker with pinestraw while I got everything ready for the first inspection. All day, the upcoming inspection kept popping into my mind about what to do. During lunch, I visited several sites including Linda's Bees and some others for some quick advice.

I piddled for a couple of minutes after the obligatory 3 puffs of smoke at the entrance. I puffed the inner over and waited another minute. The bees buzzing roared and stayed there during the rest of the inspection. I took off the top cover and placed it upside down on the ground. Using the unfamiliar hive tool, I gently pried the inner cover off and lifted it up . . . and it had a mass of bees attached to it about an inch thick and approx the size of my hand. They spread like thick pancake batter and revealed the queen! What is she doing here? . . in a mass attached to the inner cover? What do I do now?

Why was the queen in this mass attached to the inner cover?
UPDATE: (this is called "Balling?")

The queen was revealed as the mass spread
(she is in the middle with yellow dot)
Another picture of her:

I coaxed her back onto one of the frames below . .  careful!

OK, so this totally threw me off, but I settled down and knew I needed to verify if she was viable queen . .  so I pressed on.

You can see the empty zip-loc and small riser for the zip-lock feeder . . ..
 . . .remember this dimension for later

During my installation, I left a frame out by mistake. I figured this out a day later when I found a random frame leaning against the hive .  . . I decided to wait until the first inspection rather than bother them. I was worried about what they would do with the extra space:

You can see the comb they built with the extra
space that I accidentally gave them

Here is another view of the comb and queen cage in the background:

I removed this comb ( it had eggs in it)

I checked all of the frames and found many eggs in a regualr pattern. They were very difficult to see against the yellow plastic foundation. I'll never buy yellow again. The other hive was black.

I figured that one was pretty rough and for some reason felt the "Big Bee" hive was going to be a lot better. . .  boy was I wrong . . . Holy comb in the wrong place!!!!

Ready to open Hive#2: "Big Bee" . .  Holy Comb!

I took off the inner cover and here is what I saw: Comb filled with sugar syrup top to bottom . . the small riser was from Brushy Mountain specifically for bag feeding.

They built 3 combs from top to bottom
And here's a shot of the underside of the inner cover:

underside of inner cover  . . . the comb attached
to the previous picture
 I was unsure what to do with this comb and took a guess that I should remove it since it would be a mess if they decided to produce brood in this comb. I'll have to ask Beesource this question.

My gut was telling me to just remove all of this comb. Fortunately, I was also installing a slatted bottom board, thus I was able to scrape all of this sugar syrup filled comb into the space provided by this new addition. It was still leaking everywhere. Later, I went back several times to see if it produced a frenzy and everything looked pretty normal.

After all of this, it looks like we have a very good queen: with the black foundation, you can really see all of the eggs very clearly.

I'm afraid that that my bees with become very defensive after all of this intrusion.

Thus . .  lessons learned:
  1. Don't forget to add all of the frames back when you install bees
  2. I should have installed the 1 gallon zip-locs instead of the quart ones since they were totally gone
  3. Puff the smoker every so often
  4. The black foundation is the way to go--the yellow makes the eggs very difficult to see.
Questions: (I'll ask the Beesource Members)
  1. Why would the Queen be in a cluster attached to the inner cover? (I read on Beesource that is is called "Balling" but she is laying eggs in regular pattern?
  2. Why would they build comb in the space where my zip-loc feeder was?

 And finally it looks like the queen is a good queen with quite a few eggs.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 0: Installing 3lb packages for both hives

I timed a business trip so i could stop by H&R Apiaries in order to pick up my bees (about a 4hr drive). They had just boxed the bees earlier that morning and they were everywhere!!

I used a bungee cord to keep the trunk propped open a little so they would not overheat for the trip home.

The bees were not aggressive at all . . . I suppose it was because there wasn't any honey/stores to protect. I have to admit I was initially pretty apprehensive about it all during my 4 hour trip home . .  but once I started, I totally forgot about it all and just went with it.
Here is a video of most of the installation:

Lessons learned:

  1. No need to be nervous since they were not aggressive at all
  2. It was a lot easier than I thought.
  3. The kids were surprisingly brave about it all.
  4. Bring a screwdriver to pry the staples off instead of the hive tool
  5. Beekeeping for Dummies is by far the best book for beginners
  6. Ask myself again--how did I get myself into this?

Packages of bees ready for pick-up

Here is my water source. I got this
 masonry mixing tub for $5 at Home Depot.
 It's located near bagged cement.
Successful installation!! (so far......)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Swarm trap--First Attempt and learning that I need some help

While getting ready for my two hives, I noticed a lot of honeybees visiting me in the garage when I was painting some of the hive components. They must have been attracted to the sweet smell of the foundation wax . . because there was no honey around and all of the hive components were unused.

Here are some things I learned:
  1. It shouldn't be sitting on sitting on the ground
  2. Lemongrass oil is harder to find than I thought (I found it at Whole Foods--holding my nose since that aisle is an attack on your olfactory sense--whew!)
  3. Since the oil evaporates fairly quickly, I found a recipe for a grease pattie: see below
  4. I used a paper towel to clean the grease pattie pan and added it to the hive
  5. I still have more bees visiting my garage than my swarm trap
Swarm Trap Lure Grease Pattie Recipe:
  1. 15-20 drops of lemongrass oil
  2. Beeswax (I used half of a candle that was in the "goodie" bag from the Atlanta Beekeeper's short course)
  3. Olive oil--not sure how much I used (2 tsp?) it helped to "thin" the wax to make it more like an ointment (my wife hates that word)
  4. I melted the wax in a throw-away pan and added the olive oil and 15-20 drops of lemongrass oil.
  5. I poured it into a used coffee cup and let it cool.
  6. I smeared it at the entrance of an unused brood box and on top of some frames.
  7. I used some Saran-wrap to cover the unused portion.
the grease was also spread on bottom board


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hive location! One week and I pick up my bees!

Armed with just enough knowledge to be dangerous. . . .

Here is the location of the two hives (yet to be named). It sits back away from my back yard and faces SE (not visible from the neighbors). Also, I tried to aim the bees flight path between the neighbors house and mine.

I will be picking up my bees in Jesup, GA on March 21st from H&R Apiaries  . . . it should be interesting since it is about 4 hours away (I have some business nearby). It will be two 3lb packages.

Looking over back fence (just cinder blocks for now)

My Inspiration: "Daddy why are no bees visiting our Garden?"

First off, I want to give credit to three people . .  my 9 year old daughter, Maxine Watkins,  and Linda from Linda's Bees.

Eddie with one of his beekeepers
My bee story starts with me trying to explain (and stumbling along the way) to my daughter about how vegertables start with blooms, bees visit the blooms . . . and that's where the vegetables start. Two days later she walks up to me with a very concerned look and says: "Daddy, why are there no bees in our Garden? . . now we won't have any vegetables!!!". I assured her with a few words . . . but it got me thinking . . . and that was the start of it.

About the same time Maxine Watkins had a top-bar hive in the rear of the parking lot at our office. I had never seen one, but was very interested in it.  It had a sad ending, the bees swarmed, right before it got cold, thus I don't think they made it through our winter.

Although, I have never met Linda from Linda's Bees personally, I have learned a lot from her blog and take a lot of inspiration from it. She writes in a way that is easy to understand. Thanks Linda!