A link to an NYT article on Bees and their plight!

Filed under: Bees,Gardening,Prairie Garden — March 25, 2010 @ 4:29 am


Taking lesson to the hive.

Filed under: Animals,Bees,City Farm — May 3, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

So this morning, I took the knowledge that I got yesterday and put it to use. I took my time and prepared everything in advance. I even remembered to get the camera and my wife agreed to take some pictures. (At a safe distance of course!)

I didn’t have much trouble finding the queen in either hiv​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​e​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.


Here I have the queen from “New York“ and am placing it in the new nuc. I am using full sized boxes for these first 2 splits, as these queens are really laying and I expect will be built up in no time. I hate to lose these 2 old girls. Though to be honest, this is probably their last year, as they will probably begin to decline by fall. I am planning to re-queen the original hives in late summer or early fa​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ll.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ I had already moved a second frame of capped brood into this hive as I was looking for the queen.


Now I am picking out some good brood frames to get some nurse bees into the hive. This is also a good shot of where the bees are in the backyard.


This has to be the most counter- intuitive thing to do. My wife got this pic at just the right moment. I am banging off the nurse bees into the new nuc. You can see them falling off the frame and onto the top of the frames.


Here they are waiting for the top. You can see that I already have the reduced entrance covered with debris to keep the bees inside. I ended up having to truly block the entrance as the bees were far too quick at getting out.

Mel Disselkoen Field Days

Filed under: Animals,Bees,City Farm — May 2, 2009 @ 11:40 am

Today was the first day of Mel Disselkoen’s Field Days. There were quite a few people there. Mel had a camera set up to take some video. Since no one else was taking care of it, worked the camera while I was watching. Hopefully I can get my hands on some of the video and post it. But here are a few shots as the proceedings started……. before I was running the video camera.

So many questions, so many answers.


Mel at the beginning of his workshop.

Beginner’s Mistake

Filed under: Bees,City Farm — April 22, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

My friends, Roger and Gina have offered to host some hives at their place in the country. With three hives in my backyard at present and my wife’s continuing discontent of this fact, I decided to move the smaller hive out to their place.

I packed the hive into the truck on a warm day and took them to the country. All seemed well, I removed the bottom super, as it was empty. BUT in the process, I managed to split the brood nest. i had a feeling I did it as I was driving home later, but didn’t go back and check.

Of course only half the brood survived this error, with the continuing cold snaps we were experiencing.


When I checked them again the following week, they were failing. As you can see there are not many bees hanging out here in this picture. I tried adding a couple of brood frame from my other hives, but the day of that move it got really cold at night. When I checked them again. The hive was dead.

I felt like such a fool, but sometimes the best lessons learned are from our mistakes.

I am going to be taking a course on splitting hives with Mel Disselkoen though the Kalamazoo Bee Club in early May. So, hopefully I can make up for the losses with Mike’s splitting techniques.

Quick Spring Check

Filed under: Bees,City Farm — March 30, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

We got a few really warm days in early March. Managed to check all 3 hives, they were all building fine and I moved honey around in the hives to be sure there were plenty of close stores for the cold snaps that were sure come. I was able to move boxes around as well, or reverse them as some would call it. the bottom super of each hive was empty, so I just moved it to the top to let them move up. It seemed like a good time to do it,a s things were getting ready to bloom and the queen was getting ready for the spring build up.

I didn’t harvest any honey last year to be sure all of these new hive had plenty to get them through the winter. With the dead out, I now have plenty honey to support these hives and maybe even some for starting nucs in the spring.

A long over due Update

Filed under: Bees,City Farm — February 28, 2009 @ 5:17 pm

Well, I didn’t do a very good job of updating this blog in the fall. I went into the winter with 4 hives.

This is what 3 of them looked like in November ‘08. Yes, I said 3. One of my splits from July was pretty small going into the winter, so I made a double screen to separate the the week hive from my strongest and stacked the 2 together. Those 3 blue supers sitting on top of the rear hive are the weaker hive.

I wish I could report that this worked to winter the weaker hive, but that is not so. When I finally got a chance to peak into the hive in late February, I discovered that it had died out. It looked like they got too much moisture from the combo. I later learned at the Michigan Beekeepers conference from ??? that if you want to winter a hive like this through the winter, you need to provide some top ventilation to let out some of that moisture.

A shot of the hive during our long and cold winter in Michigan this year.


Here is a shot of the double hive. The bees you see on the ground are from the top dead out. The bottom is the strong hive, making a long awaited cleansing flight. This was February 7th, 2009


So by the time spring really rolled around, I had 2 strong hives, a dead out, and a smaller hive that seemed in good shape.

Busy as a bee and so are they!

Filed under: Animals,Bees,City Farm,Gardening — July 24, 2008 @ 8:15 pm

It has been a crazy week. The garden looks amazing after being away for almost 2 weeks. I had hoped to get some pics, but that will ahve to wait for next week, since we are getting ready to leave for Chicago for thge weekend.

I have been meaning to update you all on the bees, since I did get a chance to go through the hive last Sunday. Indiana II, the hive that swarmed and had all the queen cells, managed to requeen it self and is doing great. I saw the queen and the second super is almost full. I managed to add a third super on tuesday as I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to do anything this weekend.

Icarus and Isis (the 2 nucs I started with the extra queen cells from Indiana) are also doing well. Isis had a new queen.. I couldn’t see any new eggs but they have plenty brood and are building comb like crazy. This nuc is also eating almost a quart of syrup a day. I could not find the new queen in Icarus, but it appeared that they were ready for her as there was a lot of clean comb. I think she may have been on her mating flight. This nuc is not eating as much syrup as the other, but it is still acting queen right.

As for the New York hive. One was doing amazingly. I opened the other one up completely and found out that it did not have a queen. There were really very few bees in the hive and I thought that I should add a frame of brood from the other NY hive, hoping that it would raise a new queen. I also found small hive beetles in this hive. Opportunistic as they are, I was not surprised to find them, but I reduced the hive to 1 super and figured I would see what happened. Well, as I was manipulating the Indiana II to add a super and was planning on doing the same to the other NY hive; I checked the failing hive and found that the beetles managed to eat their way through the new frame of brood. Since this hive had small hive beetles I assumed that the other NY hive probably did to… and decided to combine the hive and get rid of the deep frames from this hive. That worked fine, and the remaining NY hive now has a third super, with the drawn out frames from the other hive along with some new frames. I knew that I would be adding some SHB (small hive beetles) from the other hive, but this hive is strong and I figured that it could handle controling them

So that is where it stands right now. I have 2 hives that are going strong. They are eating their syrup from the division board feeders at a rate of about a gallon a week. The 2 nucs seem to be fine too. I am hoping to go through them again on Monday. I have peeked in and they are drawing out the comb on the second level, so I might need to make them into real hives. I have one waiting and plenty of supers, but I am going to have to make another screened bottom board.

I gues that is enough for tonight. I will try and post from ChiTown. There has to be some ind of green story while we are there that is worth writing about.

Have a great weekend.


Filed under: Animals,Bees — July 20, 2008 @ 8:38 pm

Got back from my trip to Canada in the early evening on Saturday. After a quick dinner, the unpacking of the car and sorting out stuff, I finally got around to looking at the bee hives. It was raining off and on all evening and had been all day, so it was going to be just a peek before calling it a night.

On first blush, things appeared to be great. The two nucs I started before I left had eaten all their syrup from their boardman feeders and there was plenty of flying from the others. But as I took a closer look into the hives to check the feeders, one of the new hives from NY appeared to have maggots in the syrup along with a lot of dead bees. SO I removed the division board feeder and when I emptied I also realized that it had gone sour.

I took a closer look in the hive as there did not seem too many bees up in the second super. When I lifted it off, I found it hard to believe that there were so few bees. I pulled out a frame and it was completely empty, no brood, no stores, (as my grandfather would say) no nothing .

That was all the time I had. It was getting dark, so I would have to check more thoroughly tomorrow.

3 hives from 1

Filed under: Animals,Bees,City Farm — July 7, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

I posted my queen cell discovery to the Indiana Beekeeping School listserve. The advice I got was to go for the split, if there were enough bees and brood. So I went for it. I made two 5 frame medium nucleus hives from the existing hive. There was not really that much drawn comb, but I put what I could in each of the nucs.

That was on Saturday. Results appear to be mixed at this point. The original hive seems to be the same as it was, although it has one less super on it now. The bees wouldn’t cross into the third super the last time, so hopefully they won’t build it too fast before I return.

I am feeding all of the hives I have in the hopes that it will help them to build up quickly. One of the nucs is eating syrup like crazy……. quart in 2 days. I am using division board feeders in the big hives but don’t have enough for the nucs. The second nuc hardly seems to be taking any syrup and there are not many bees flying out. Keep peeking in and they are in there doing what they do.

I need to start keeping better notes on each hive, as I now can not remember what got put into each of the nucs. Maybe #2 has plenty of honey and they are happy with that and they got mostly nurse bees, so there is little flight activity. The field bees may also have migrated back to the main hive, since they are really only about 3 yards away from the original hive. I did put branches in front of their entrances after the split. It just goes to show how quickly a hive and reveal its personality (if you can call it that).

As I said in my last post, I am going to Canada for 10 days or so and won’t be able to check out how they are doing until those queen cells hatch. In fact, the Queens may have mated and be laying by the time I check them when I return. I am sure they will be happy to have some peace and quite while I am gone.

Oh No……. Queen Cells!?

Filed under: Animals,Bees,City Farm — July 7, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

I did a full check of the hives on Saturday. It has been a week since I returned with the 2 new nucs from New York.

The great vigorous hive that I got from Danny Slabaugh appears to be queenless or is getting ready to swarm, or maybe even already swarmed. I have not been in this hive in a couple of weeks and upon taking a look today. I found quite a few queen cells, some capped some not. I did not see any fresh eggs, so I must have “rolled” her the last time I was in the hive. That is the only explanation I can come up with, since she seemed too fat to fly when I got her. It was a couple of weeks ago that I saw a lot of bees in a flurry outside the hive, but I just thought that was a large group returning, as it was a hot day. Maybe it was a swarm?

I know that I am going to lose a month for the queen to be born and mate and all that. (I am not sure that I have time to introduce a new queen into the hive, as I am leaving wednesday for a 10 day vacation.) There is a lot of capped brood in this hive and there was a lot of room, as there was a whole medium super on top that had not been touched.

So the question is….Should I take this opportunity to start a nuc, or even 2? There is still lot of brood in the hive and plenty of queen cells to do this. And there are plenty of bees. This hive has been strong from the very beginning, as that is the kind of nuc Danny likes to sell.

I have 2 other hives started from a couple of not so nice nucs that I picked up in NY last weekend. (That is a story that I should have written about. I will try to do so soon.) They appear to be doing fine. No queen sighting in those, but they were not marked. There is definitely brood in there, and I believe I saw eggs as well. I had to go back a second time to confirm this. So I am thinking that, if these 2 mediocre nucs are doing well, then I should be able to nurse a new nuc or 2.

The weather here has been great plenty of rain, lots of blooming and I am in the city. Field bees have been returning with plenty of pollen and I am feeding syrup through the summer anyway, to get these hives nice and strong before winter.