Showing posts with label bee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bee. Show all posts

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What you might Find in the BeeHive

You have set up your hives and installed your bees with the queen cage attached to a frame. We know that you are eager to check on them to see how they are doing but disrupting the colony will hinder them. Give them time to acclimate to the new queen and release her on their own (will typically take 5 to 7 days). Once you have given them time to release the queen on their own, you can open up your hive and see your bees hard at work!

When you first open your hive to remove the queen cage, you may notice no substantial changes, but your bees are working frantically to draw out comb, allowing space for the queen to lay her eggs and room to store their nectar. There will be some foraging bees sent out to bring in nectar and pollen but the majority of the force will be building up the frames. Providing feed during this time is vital. As the bees work the frames, they will be consuming feed almost as fast as you are providing it for them. Keep the feeder on the hive!
Other things to be aware of:

 Don’t be frightened to find that your colony seems smaller then when you installed it. This is a new colony and it will take them time before they will grow in population. The population will begin to decrease before it starts increasing because the newly laid eggs must be raised out to replace the older bees.

As the bees begin to work the frames, drawing out foundation, they may draw out a queen cup. There is no reason to fret. A queen cup does not mean your hive is queen-less, but is a precautionary measure your worker bees take to ensure they can raise a new queen quickly if something were to happen with the current queen. A queen cup is a single cup which is located in the middle of the frame. It should not have an egg or larva inside.

When you begin working your hive, your first instincts are to look for the queen. The queen is one of thousands of bees throughout the hive. Although she is much larger than the worker bee, she will be extremely hard if not impossible to find. An alternative is to check the frames for eggs. Eggs signify that the queen has been released and is laying. Eggs are also difficult to see (less difficult than finding the queen) but they appear as small white kernels that are similar to rice.

You will tend to see other insects in your hive that you would not expect. Most hide out on the inner cover, away from the colony. These can include earwigs, spiders, roaches, and many more. These common insects do not cause any damage and tend to stay for the heat, dark and shelter of the hive. There are some insects that can cause damage within the hive. These would include the small hive beetle and wax moth. They will lay their eggs in the hive and can destroy comb. The wax moth is more of a concern in late fall when equipment is being stored. Small hive beetle is a year round problem that can be maintained. A strong colony will keep a check on the hive beetle but if there population begins to rise, insert a beetle trap into your hive.

After installing your bees, you will place frames back into your hive. Inevitably one or two frames will be spaced too far apart, leaving room for the bees to draw out excess amounts of comb. You can leave the burr comb in the hive and the queen will lay eggs or workers will store honey in the cells, but the burr comb will limit what can be worked on adjacent frames. For the best results within the hive, remove the burr comb and take the time to space out your frames evenly. Burr Comb can be melted down and used in candle or lip balms.

Installing your package is just one of the first steps into this exciting hobby. Once your queen has been released and starts laying eggs, you will begin to see a large field force in your garden, buzzing from flower to flower.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bee Classes

We want to provide as many resources to help beekeepers succeed. Every year we host an Online Bee-Ginner's class that typically consists of 4 sessions in which we go over the basics of beekeeping and explain what being a beekeeper entitles. 
If you are unable to attend the online class, we record each session and offer a DVD after all sessions have been completed.

For those who are in the surrounding areas of our North Carolina Branch, we hold an on premise Bee-Ginner's class where you will be able to learn the fundamentals of beekeeping. We want to ensure you are well informed before you set up your hive and install your bees. We host this class in advance of our Bee Days so that you will feel more comfortable installing your Packages or NUCs. 

For those in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, we offer a Bee-Ginner's Class at our PA Branch. We know that the beekeeping season in the north is different than the south, so our Bee Class and Bee Days are later in the year. 

These are great opportunities for novice beekeepers as well as those who have been keeping bees for many years. We provide great information and our knowledgeable staff will answer your questions and give you the necessary information you need to succeed.
Our Retail Store is open during Class Hours (on premise Bee Class) and on Bee Days to fulfill any orders that need to be placed.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Checking back with your Colony

By now some of you have already installed your bee packages and are antsy to get back in there to check on them. Try to hold off for 4 to 5 days before you revisit your hive. This allotted time period will give your colony ample time to become use to the queen and release her on their own. Being a new colony that has not drawn out comb to store food, it is still necessary to check and make sure that your feeder is filled for their convenience ( this needs to be checked every other day without disturbing the hive).

Pulling Out Frames

As you get back into your hive to check your queen cage, try to notice how your colony is reacting and be prepared to check for laid eggs. This is still a weak colony and your outer frames might be bare with no drawn comb but as you move into the center of your hive you should notice frames in development. As you are removing the frames, be very cautious that the queen is not on the frame you are handling. Working your way from your outside frame, begin to check for nectar and laid eggs to make sure your colony is doing well and your queen is laying ( there is the possibility that you might see your queen). With everything checked out, remove the queen cage and reassemble you hive.

Your colony is doing well and you are on  your way to becoming a better beekeeper.

That would be a nice scenario to go through but because honey bees don't follow a text book, everyone's experience is going to be different. Some things to be cautious of as you go back into your hive:

Bees in Hive

1.  If you notice that your queen has not been released but yet your are still seeing eggs within your frame, there was a queen in your package other than the one in the queen cage. You do not know about the queen (not in the queen cage) that came with your package: how old she is, is she strong, or how she will do with your colony. From this point there are many options that you can attempt.

    • Pinch off the queen that was not in the queen cage and let your colony accept the other
    • Release the caged queen and let them find a victor (this is not reliable because the weaker queen could fight off the stronger which would not be good for your colony)
    • Remove the queen cage a create and split from another colony or re queen a separate hive ( more advanced but would end up giving you two colonies)
The queen that with your colony now is a working laying queen. They have accepted her and if there are eggs it is best to leave her be. The best option would be to remove the queen cage and introduce it to a separate colony or create a split from a different hive.

Photo taken from Mark's Bee Blog 

2.  When checking your frame you begin to notice queen cells. This indicates that your colony finds your queen insufficient and are trying to replace her. This can happen when introducing a new queen to a new colony. Your queen is caged and is not laying which projects to your colony that she is weak and needs to be replaced. Once she is released and begins to lay, she will kill off the queen cells and everything goes back to normal. Simply remove the queen cells and check to make sure your queen is properly laying.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bee Informed Partnership and Colony Loss

We recently held a webinar with Dennis vanEngelsdorp from Bee Informed Partnership (BIP)(below is the link to the recording). BIP is a five year project which is focusing on which management practices have less winter loss. Information from anonymous surveys, taken by beekeepers, are analyzed and formed into reports that are posted for public review. These reports hold data that interpret different management practices to the amount of winter loss.The success of this project and these reports hinges on beekeeper participation. 

Bees in Hive

Ever since varroa, beekeepers have been looking for the "Silver Bullet" to solve our winter loss issues. Well, there is no "Silver Bullet" product that will do the trick but this survey and the results which come from it is the closest we are going to come. As beekeepers, we have a vested interest in this project and should participate in the survey. Stop waiting for some magic product, be part of the solution. Participate Now by Clicking Here. 

Still not convinced? Here is a sample of one of the 200+ reports that will be released. 

For those who were unable to join the webinar we have uploaded the Broadcast  or check out Bee Informed Partnership for more information.

Frames in Hive

Pesticides and honeybees
In recent years there have been numerous claims that a class of pesticides know as neonicotinoids is the cause for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While they have been shown to have a detrimental effect on colonies, few are saying they are sole cause. Just within the last week there have been a few studies that provide insight into just how detrimental. 

The first two were released on the website for the journal of Science. Both studies looked at the sub-lethal effect of pesticides and levels which they are exposed to in "the wild". They first found that exposed honeybees were 2-3 times more likely to die while away from the hive than the untreated bees. This finding as well as others suggests that they are unable to navigate home. The second study was similar but used bumble bees. It found that colonies treated produced 85% fewer queens and were 8-12% smaller than untreated colonies.

A third study looked at strawberries grown on conventional farms versus those grown on organic farms and the pollination success. It found that the organic farm had about 45% full pollination compared to 17% conventionally grown. While the study was not designed to answer the question why, they do discuss the possible higher abundance and increased diversity of the pollinators. 

The answers are out there. Be apart of the solution. Take the survey.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bee Days at the Bee Farm

We have had two Bee Package pick up days thus far with another coming this Thursday (March 30, 2012). These days have been buzzing with exhilaration as customers pick up their packages of bees and watching the demonstration of an installation. 

Keeping Packages Cool

Having 300 packages of bees with two industrial fans keeping them cool was a great reason for customers and spectators to stop by the Bee Farm and see the excitement in the air.

Holding the Queen Cage

For those customers who missed out on the demonstration or for those who are interested in how to install a package of bees, Brushy Mountain offers an online video (an updated version is soon to come) that can be accessed on our website:

Showing a Drone

Holding a Drone

Difference Between Working and Drone

During the demonstration, spectators were able to overcome their fears and hold a bee as a Drone was passed around. This brought on many questions and an understanding of how harmless Honey Bees actually are.

Our NUC pick up days are coming up at our North Carolina location. For those who are new to purchasing a NUC rather than a Package of Bees here are some advantages:
  • Queen is already accepted within colony
  • Colony is established with 5 frame of drawn cone
  • Little wait before colony brings in their own food supply
  • Have a NUC box for future use (or credit upon return)

This is the first year that Brushy Mountain has offered NUCs for purchase and pick up. We will be holding a demonstration on each pick up day so if you are unfamiliar or unsure about the installation process of a NUC we welcome you and recommend you stay and ask questions.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Seizing the Swarm

With such mild winter weather there have already been many reports of swarming. If you have come across a swarm or have been notified of a swarm and unsure on what to do, call your local Bee Association for assistance.  There are many beekeepers that enjoy capturing swarms (mainly because they are FREE Bees), so do not hesitate to ask for assistance. Swarms can be astounding and frightening in appearance but know that because the bees are not protecting any brood and are looking for a new home, they are not aggressive and can be harmless if they are not threatened.

Swarm in Tree

Swarming is a natural occurrence that produces a new colony of bees. During a swarm the old queen leaves with about half of the worker bees and it is caused by three primary factors: overcrowding of the hive, over heating with poor ventilation, or a lack of pheromone in the old queen. Swarming is a vulnerable time for the honey bee. Leaving the hive limits their food supply to what the bees can carry and leaves them unprotected from weather conditions.  They will begin fairly close to the hive until they can scout a sustainable living space.

Helpful hints to help manage swarming:

  •          Provide more room for your bees before they need it by adding more supers
  •          Adding new frames with undrawn foundation
  •          Reverse your hive bodies
  •          Keep a constant airflow throughout your hive
  •          Check your hive for swarm cells

BIP - Reducing Colony Losses

The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) is 5 year grant which is focused on reducing colony losses. There have been numerous projects before this one which have attempted to gain an understanding as to why we lose a 1/3 of our colonies each year; however, BIP is taking a very different approach. Their whole approach is to collect information from you, the beekeepers. Each year a survey is opened and beekeepers fill it out. The information is analysed to see what works and what doesn't. With more beekeepers participating, the better and more robust the results.

As a beekeeper, you have a vested interest to participate in the survey. Want to hear more? Tune into Brushy's webinar with the BIP Project Director, Dennis vanEngelsdorp on March 27. Registration is free but you must register in advance.  Click here to register

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome to the Bee Farm Blog

Brushy Mountain Bee Farm is committed to helping beekeepers succeed. Over the years we have published newsletters, used social media, and online webinars to provide information to the beekeeping community. We are now adding a blog as yet another way to reach beekeepers and offer information which helps us all. We hope you will stop by to get the latest information from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm and the industry.

Shane Gebauer
General Manager