Training Yard

11Jul2107 – Weak queen

Thanks for your help with the Clermont hives.

The decision to add a 3rd super to both the Clermont five frame swarm nuc and the Berryville eight frame swarm hive should put us in good shape for over wintering storage space for all the hives. All the bees need to do is fill it! The use of drawn comb, some with honey and nectar should be a plus. As discussed, the top super full and the middle super somewhat full would be the ultimate fall situation. Somewhere around 35 to 40 pounds of capped honey would be my goal. We will continue to feed syrup until cooler weather.

There was no indication of mite issues. The 24 hour mite drop board and drone brood check finding no mites was a bit of a surprise to me! We will continue to check for mites, small hive beetle and brood production as part of our normal visits.

Brood status in three of the hives was very good with frames of capped brood and lava. Eggs, which are normally hard to see, eluded us this visit. The fourth hive (from a package) appears to have a failing queen. This was determined from the spotty (or shotgun in bee speak) brood pattern. The brood was noticeably lower in quantity and has scattered drone cells mixed into the worker brood. One way a queen can fail is to run out of sperm from her one time mating flight. Unfertilized eggs produce male (drone) bees. This hive is currently sill strong with good bee coverage but will fail if not re-queened quickly.

It takes 18 or more days for the bees to produce a queen from an egg, plus the time for her to mate and start laying, plus the 21 days for the first worker bee to emerge from the new queen’s first laid eggs. This process, while an option would create a weak hive that likely would not survive. The better method is to introduce a new fertilized queen either purchased or from a “banked” queen, typically from a nuc. We will be getting into nuc production and other bee yard management methods next year.

This year and for my first time, I setup a “queen castle”, purchased from Brushy Mountain bee supply. It is basically a 10 frame medium super divided into 3 sections that each hold 3 frames. Each section has its own entrance and the bees cannot move between the sections. I have used it to hold (or bank) extra queens, most recently two weeks ago when I purchased queens to replace some of mine that were failing. I checked this morning and found that I have a spare queen happily laying eggs with a reasonable brood pattern.

If my plan works, I will collect this queen and bring her to Clermont this coming Saturday, July 15 at 10:00 AM. It should be an interesting exercise in beekeeping because we will need to find the failing queen and remove her from the hive before introducing the new caged queen. We will let the bees get accustom to her then manually release her after a few days.

I hope your bees continue to do well. Feel free to send your questions. There was a good bit of pictures taken at our last meeting which is an excellent way to record what you are seeing in your hives. We can pass around photos to get other’s opinions.

Happy Beekeeping.

10June2017 – Clermont visit

Many thanks to the Clermont team for Saturday’s successful hive inspection. It was a beautiful day to check bees!

We found all four hives to be in good condition. Feeders were changed out in all four hives and clean ones installed. Before closing each hive, the feeders were filled with approximately one quart of syrup.

The two hives started from packages are now 3 supers with comb, nectar, pollen, capped honey and brood in good supply. We decided that the hive strength was medium strong with good bee cover and properly drawn comb. As expected, there is still some foundation on the outside frames and possibly in the lowest super. We only inspected until it was determined that the queen was laying after finding eggs.

The Berryville swarm is still 2 supers with comb, nectar, pollen, capped honey and brood in good supply. This hive was also determined to be medium strength and has some frames of foundation. Capped brood patterns are solid so emerging bees should help with comb building and boost the house bee numbers. The queen’s productivity was determined to be acceptable. There were some empty cells in the brood nest but not enough to be cause for concern. This will be watched for the first sign of queen issues.

The Clermont swarm is in a 5 frame nuc box. It too is doing well with, pollen, capped honey and brood in good supply. We found a small hive beetle and used a Scotch-Brite cloth to (hopefully) trap them. We will probably add a beetle trap on the next visit.  The likely plan for this hive is to overwinter it in the 5 frame hive as it likely won’t be able to produce enough to move to 8 or 10 frame equipment.

28May2017  Hive check

Yesterday we checked the four hives at Clermont. As has become the norm, it was raining. Here is what we found and changes we made:

  1. The two hives started from packages continue to do well. Both have 4 – 5 frames well covered with brood and a matching number of frames that have some amount of drawn or partially drawn comb. The comb with no brood is filling with nectar and capped honey. There is a bit of pollen stored next to the brood with the standard arch of brood (larva and capped), pollen, and honey in the brood frames. Observing the landing board revealed bees bringing in pollen (mostly red and yellow) even through it was raining a bit. We made the decision to add a 3rd super of foundation above the brood leaving the existing supers in the same order. The feeder was moved to the newly installed super and the space it occupied was back-filled with two frames of foundation. The two back-fill frames were put to the outside of the 2nd super which centered the brood nest. The current arrangement is three supers tall (22 frames) with the feeder in the top super. The feeder was filled with syrup.
  1. The Berryville swarm has filled the 8 frames in the nuc box it occupied and started to add burr comb in any available space including the feeder tubes. We saw the queen and confirmed the brood nest looked strong, with 3 – 4 frames of brood. This nuc is mostly on drawn comb so space for comb production was limited. We made the decision to move it into 8-frame equipment two supers tall. The frames were kept in the same order. The feeder was put in the top box and a frame of foundation was inserted between it and the brood frames. The feeder was filled with syrup.
  1. The Clermont swarm is not strong and we did not look too deeply as it has only been a week since it was moved into the 5-frame nuc box. The feeder was filled. There will be several options available depending on what the next full inspection shows.

I plan to check the hives next on Saturday June 10th at 10:00 AM. Hope to see you there.


21May2017 Swarm install

Yesterday, a medium-sized swarm was moved from a swarm catch box into a five-frame “nuc” hive. This is the fourth hive for the Clermont bee yard.

I’m not sure where these two swarms are from, but Berryville has been prolific in producing them! First on April 22nd the day the packages were installed, a swarm flew over and disappeared. On April 30th, I got a call to catch a swarm in Berryville, which I did. I put that swarm in a nuc box and moved it to the Clermont bee yard.

Two weeks later, after our May 13th hive inspection, I noticed a swarm had moved into the Clermont swarm catch box that I installed in a nearby tree. Yesterday, that swarm was moved into a nuc hive at the Clermont bee yard.

So, currently at Clermont bee yard we have the following:

  1. Two eight-frame hives supplied by BONS with package bees. Both of these hives have a total of 14 frames plus a two-frame internal Boardman style feeder.
  2. One five-frame nuc hive with a two-frame space feeder for a total of 8 frames. This is the April 30th Berryville swarm. It is heavy with brood.
  3. One five-frame nuc hive with a two-frame space feeder for a total of 8 frames. This is from the swarm catch box and was installed yesterday, May 20th. The swarm catch box was refilled with a frame of comb and 5 frames of blank foundation for a total of 6 frames. The swarm catch box was then returned to the lucky bee tree – we will see what happens!

All these hives have multiple frames of capped brood and larvae in various stages of development. The package hives have the most frames of brood as they have a two week lead on the April 30th swarm and a four week lead on yesterday’s swarm. Because the two swarm hives have drawn comb there is a good possibility that they will quickly catch up to the packages. The package bees, started on blank foundation, have to draw comb before the queen can lay.

I plan to check the hives this Saturday May 27th at 10:00 AM. During this visit, we will determine if the package hives should be reversed and frames rearranged to put empty foundation above the brood nest. It is also possible that the April 30th swarm will be ready to move into a standard 8-frame hive from the current 5-frame equipment. This swarm is doing well and has brood in at least 3 frames including the outside frame of the top super.

The newest swarm will also be checked. All the hives continue to be fed syrup in my standard 25 pounds of sugar mixed in a 5-gallon bucket ratio with a healthy shot of my home-made essential oils supplement.

Happy beekeeping!


14May2017 Hive check and progress notes

Yesterday’s somewhat cold and overcast Clermont hive check was successful. Both package hives have at lease two frames full of capped brood with a good pattern. I say at lease because we only pulled two frames due to weather but I would guess there were additional frames with uncapped brood as the comb production is progressing normally. Bee activity was mostly in the top super and there was only a few bees flying. The sun broke out a bit and bee activity picked up around noon just before we left Clermont .

I expect there to be a burst of new bees emerging from the frames of capped brood this week. Weather is forecast to be favorable for flight and with the new bees joining the existing package bee both comb and nectar production should increase.

The feeders were filled about 1/2 full. The bees are using a lot of syrup most likely because the cooler temperature and rain has slowed down flying.

I added a 5 frame x 2 medium super nuc to the mix. It contains a swarm that I caught last Sunday in Berryville. We didn’t see any eggs or larva but did see the queen.

Basically the hives are progressing as I would expect.

If you haven’t checked you hives in the last week or so, it might be good to have a look today or tomorrow and as a minimum, be sure there is syrup in the feeder. As all the BONS package hives were started about the same time, you should be seeing something similar in your hives.

If we stick with the current hive check schedule, I’ll see you May 27th, 10:00 AM at Clermont. There is a good possibility that the next visit will include super rotation (bottom to top) and a bit of frame movement to keep  the feeder in the top box.

The end goal for this year’s beekeeping plan is to have 3 supers minimum on each hive with somewhere around 50 -60 pounds of capped honey in each hive for winter. Everything we do will be to meet this goal.

23April2017 The 2nd day after package install was a bit better weather. Bees were flying:

Training hives day 2

22April2017 Today I picked up and installed the two packages at the Clermont training site. Weather was not the best but I felt the bees would be better off in hives as opposed to the  screen box while awaiting better weather. At least they can take cleansing flights if tomorrow’s weather is better.

The the first hive install went well. I added about a quart of sugar syrup to a two frame internal feeder. Both hives are currently two 8 frame supers minus the two frames taken up by the feeder for a total of 14 frames.

The queen cage for the 2nd hive had only dead bees in it. Not good, but the club had a few extra queens just for this problem. I went back to the package distribution site and got a new queen cage with all live bees. I installed this queen into the 2nd hive.

Tomorrow morning is forecast to be a bit better weather with some sun and 60 temperature. I will probably drop in just to be sure thing are normal but won’t open the hives until later this week most likely not until Saturday. That visit will be to see if the queen is out and get an idea of how the install is progressing.

Because most of your bees are on empty foundation the production of eggs will not start until there is some drawn comb for the queen to lay in.  As I have clean drawn comb available, I took the liberty of adding a frame of it to each hive.

So I plan to open both hives next Saturday 4/29 around 10 AM weather permitting. The purpose of this visit is to remove the queen cage and do a general check of the progress of the package. I would expect to see the beginning of comb production and with some luck, eggs in the drawn comb.

Please let me know how things are going for you and feel free to email any questions you may have.

Welcome to beekeeping,