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Checked on the girls again this afternoon. The hive on the left is just buzzing with activity — and I mean buzzing! I’m seeing workers and drone but I don’t want to take the hive apart at the moment to start hunting down possible queen cells. It’s the middle of the nectar flow and they are going great guns. I’ve added another super with 10 new frames (wax foundation – not trying plastic yet and certainly not using Duragilt) to the hive on the left. The hive on the right seems to be sluggish – it’s starting to get more active but it’s behind the other hive in terms of the number of bees as well as activity. I’m leaving the Brood Builder patty in there (they’ve only eaten about 1/3 of it – the other hive has polished it off completely) and will check again in a week. Don’t know if it’s worth putting another super on until next Friday. We shall see.

In other news I’ve built two Salad Boxes using the University of Maryland’s instructions found here as well as started on a Salad Table. Some pictures of the Salad Boxes are here:

I still need to finish the Salad Table but I’m really stoked about these salad boxes. I’ve got a lot of other garden projects to complete including finishing digging the garden beds, finishing the rain barrels, and expanding the garden to add one or two more beds this year. Lots to do!

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Well, I’ve been caught somewhat unprepared for the nectar flow this year. For some reason I thought I still had time to get things moving — I thought the nectar flow was from May to mid-June. I was wrong. The nectar flow around here is mostly mid-April to end of May. I went to check on the bees yesterday as well as to refill their hive-top feeders and found this out the hard way. The hive top feeders are still pretty full — as well they should be if the bees have nectar to harvest. On top of that I should have had the new supers ready to go (which I don’t — I have the supers but not the frames) and I should have started feeding the bees back in February — never mind the fact that the temperatures in February were extremely cold and there was a whole boatload of snow on the ground making it hard to get to the hives. I’ve now realized my mistake.

I found some articles written by Master Beekeeper George Imirie (who lived here in Maryland until his passing away in 2007) on the Tennessee beekeepers website and learned alot from two articles about the timing of the nectar flow and about when I should start preparations for the nectar flow. Ok…there will still be a nectar flow this year…I just need to keep working and accept that I’ll just probably have a much smaller harvest. If anything I’m not upset…I’m not doing this for the harvest…I just love the bees as the wonderful creatures they are.

Bees and Garden

Well, I finally got out to take care of the bee hives. I’ve put down paving stones and moved one hive onto them and I’ve got 4 more paving stones (16″ x 16″) and I’ll put them down as well and move the second hive onto them. This way the feet of the hive stands won’t sink into the ground anymore and the hives won’t be tilted (although I have to shim the hive that is currently on paving stones to completely level it).

I’ve put an insert between the hive bodies and the honey super I left on during the winter on both hives and I’ve put some MegaBee patties in there. I’ve also put the hive-top feeders back on the hives. I whipped up a 1:1 sugar syrup and added 4 tsp. of HoneyBee Healthy as a supplement. I also will mix up some VitaGold as well. The bees seem to be doing well, I changed the entrance reducer to the larger opening (from the one-bee sized opening) as well as removed the bottom board inserts that I had put in to provide more insulation. Overall things look good…although I did see signs of Varroa…so I’ve decided to treat with ApiGuard for a couple of weeks. I’ll need to remove the ApiGuard trays though when I put the honey supers on (I built and painted two more and need to order another two). If everything goes well I should have some honey this year!

With regards to the garden Diana spent a good part of the day double digging 3/4 of one bed (I did the final 1/4 after I finished taking care of the bees). I’ve forgotten how hard that is…and we still have three more garden beds to do (as well as move the Bee Balm plants and the Butterfly Bush so that we can expand the garden). Still it feels good to get out there again and to work with my girls and the earth. Looking forward to this year with a lot of enthusiasm.

Pollen

Got word today from my wife that she went to the backyard to put some compost out on the compost pile and saw the bees flying into the hive with full pollen sacks. That’s awesome news as it means that the hives have brood and the queens are laying. Another good sign!

Woohoo!!!!

I just checked on my girls and they’re still going well. I can hear them inside the hives (both of them) and they still appear to have a whole super of uneaten honey on top of the hives! I’m SO relieved…I’ve been dreading the possibilities. Still there are a lot of dead bees out by the entrance of to the hives which is very depressing to see…but the fact that they’re still alive makes me hopeful for the coming year. Right now I’m doing the “happy dance” 🙂

Nice Warm Day

It’s gotten up to 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11.1 degrees Centigrade) today…sunny and beautiful. The girls have come out of the hives and they are enjoying it immensely! A great day for some cleansing flights as well as a chance to look around. Considering that it’s been pretty cold here for the past few weeks I’m sure they are very happy (ok…maybe I am anthropomorphizing a little but I’m very happy to see them out and about!). The temperature is going to drop tonight to the upper 30s but then it will be back to the mid to upper-40s tomorrow. I guess I need to start preparing things for the coming year so that the girls will have plenty of frames to put honey into!

Happy New Year 2010

It’s a new year finally…2009 is finally over and thankfully so. I still worry about my girls in the backyard but the good news is that we can hear them in the hives (just need to listen carefully 🙂 ). I have about 50 lbs of fondant that I haven’t even touched as there’s plenty of food in the hives and with the cold weather my thoughts only turn to the coming spring and all the work I will have to do with the hives.

The weather hasn’t improved very much since I last blogged a couple of weeks ago. And the forecast for next week isn’t looking much better — highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s or upper teens. Oh well. I have a lot to do between now and spring though — clean the smoker (as well as some other equipment like the excluders), repair equipment, assemble and paint more supers as well as assemble the frames for those supers.

I also just stumbled upon an interesting site (actually, this gentleman commented on my last post and I followed his comment to his site) — Mark’s Bee Haven which then led me to look for more information about the Warre hive. You can find more information here. Overall it looks interesting and I may consider trying it — probably not next year but possibly the year after that. Once I’m more confident in my ability to shepard my hives through winter.