I had a lot of fun this summer as a beekeeper! The bees were much more active during the summer because it was a lot warmer than the spring when we first got them. We started with one box in the spring and now we have three. Over the summer we opened up the hive about every 2 weeks just to check on them. We got used to handling the bees so much that we stopped using a lot of smoke! Towards the end of the summer and into the fall, we really only checked on them once a month. I noticed that our bee population has probably doubled but they are not filling up all of the frames in the three boxes. The bees mostly seem to stay in the middle frames in each box, not the outer frames.
In early fall, we finally saw some good honey on two frames! We knew that we wouldn’t get much our first summer. We only took off a little bit to eat because we wanted to leave some honey for them to eat in the winter. It was really delicious! In the fall, we put lots of sugar water on top of the hive again to help the bees prepare for the winter. Now that it’s colder, and the sugar water could freeze, we have put sugar patties on the top frames for the bees to eat instead. We also put four hay stacks around the beehive to keep them warmer and protect them from the strong winter winds. I noticed when the bees are cold they are huddled together in the center frames and do not risk flying outside much because I think their wings might freeze.
We plan to check on the bees again very soon to make sure they have enough food, but we hope that they survive the winter so our colony can continue to grow in the spring!
Below are some photos from the summer leading up to the winter:
Opening the hive
Looking at the bees!
Checking the frames
Moving boxes, more checking!
Fall now! Put sugar water back on the hive.
The bees were busy!
Lots of real honey!
Sugar patties for the bees this winter. Hope they make it over the winter!
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I know my mom and I haven’t written about our bees for a while; I promise that will be the next post! By the way the bees seem to be doing GREAT! I just had to share my latest and greatest find: a massive millipede! Last week I was camping at Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin and this cool millipede showed up. I right away scooped him up and created a good habitat for him with dirt and leaves. They like to eat all kinds of dead plants and leaves. I would like to keep this guy for a long time because I am hoping he will grow bigger. If that happens I will share that with you too. : ) Hope you enjoy the video my mom and I made!
Two weeks ago we thought we saw mites on a couple bees : ( This was of course very scary and sad for us. Because we are new at beekeeping we were unsure what next steps were. After doing some research we found out that people recommend dusting the bees with powder sugar. We read that the powder sugar on the bees makes the bees clean themselves so the mites fall off them. So this past Sunday we opened up the hive and to our surprise we didn’t see any! We still dusted the bees lightly and put a tray under the hive, with sticky paper in it, so if any mites fall off we will see them and get them for good! We already have a bottom screen installed so hopefully that will help us with any mite issues too. Any feedback and/or recommendations is greatly appreciated.
This past week was a great week for observations!!
• We noticed that our sugar water box on top of the hive has started to mold. We had to scrape in-between the slates to get it off. Has this happened to anyone before?
• We have 10 frames and still only 4 1/2 frames are being used by the bees. This worries us some because it has not grown for weeks. We are hoping it is because of the colder weather we have been having. We decided to move one of the empty frames to the front of the hive where all the action is to hopefully encourage the bees to build on the new empty one.
• We saw many more different stages of the larvae, lots more capped brood, and we saw the queen again. She is BIG!
• We saw different shades of pollen which was cool.
• We noticed a build up of wax on one of the frames.
• When it is warmer, the hive is so active!
First off, LOOK AT THE QUEEN! Can you see her? She is so black and big!
What do you think of our brood patterns? If you click on the image it will enlarge and you will see lots of larvae too!
Here is the frame that has the extra build out of wax. Should we remove that?
My mom took a cool shot of the different shades of pollen in our hive. This is so cool because it shows us possibly what plants the bees are getting their pollen from. This link shows what plants have what color of pollen:
I love my bees!
This week’s goal was to look to see if larvae had developed and what different stages it was in. That means we were looking for eggs, larvae and capped brood. “Capped brood refers to larvae cells that have been capped with a wax cover, enabling the larvae to spin cocoons within and turn into pupae” (From Beekeeping for Dummies). We did not think we would see them in the pupae stage yet. If we see eggs then we know the queen is alive!
• We saw the queen! She had a big black abdomen.
• Only 4 frames were filled out of the 10 which was the same from last week
• We noticed lots of eggs! They looked like a tiny grain of rice in each cell, only about one-eight of an inch long.
• We noticed some capped brood
• We noticed that when you don’t use as much smoke, the bees are not as active so we plan to not use too much in the future
• We think we have been giving the bees too much space between their frames because on one of the frames they are building outward and we do not want that to happen. Has anyone else had this problem?
Click on the image below to get a close up of the queen. We circled it on the photo because you can only see her abdomen in this shot. So cool!
In entomology, the term brood is used to refer to the embryo or egg, the larva and the pupa stages. I found this cool brood cycle chart for bees:
This past weekend we opened up the bee hive for the first time. The bees have only been in their hive for one week. Before we opened up the bee hive we got our smoker ready. I read that it’s important to smoke the bees so they become less active and don’t get too mad at us. Once the smoker was ready, I stuck it in the bee entrance, pumping in smoke. Then I opened the lid of the bee hive, continued smoking around it, and observed lots of bees. There were bees under the lid with white honey comb too. The white honey comb was really cool. I helped to scrap it all off. I read in my bee book that we need to get rid of all the white honey comb that is not in the frames. We need the bees to build honey comb on our frames. We have a total of 10 frames in our first box. After observing the bees and frames, I poured more sugar water into their hive and then closed it up. Next weekend I hope to add another box on top! Read my observations below and see the photos my mom took. Make sure to click on the photos below so you can see the bees bigger!
1. I noticed some dead bees on the ground around the hive
2. The smoke made the bees buzz a lot
3. Lots of bees were on my dad’s back
4. There were only 4 frames filled with honey comb which means that 6 weren’t filled yet
5. We didn’t see the queen because there were so many bees on the frames
6. We didn’t see any eggs because all the bees were covering the frames
7. I sucked out the nectar from one of the pieces of white honey comb and it was pretty good
Me, my uncle Matt, dad and mom have been waiting for a long time to get our bees! In preparation, we painted all our bee boxes white a couple weeks ago and I got my special protective bee suit in the mail. Today we put our small white wooden fence up around the hive so our dog Joey wouldn’t disturb them. We also made special sugar water today to spray on the bees so that they wouldn’t be able to fly away when we emptied them out of their shipping box into their new home.