Another Dead Hive: Broken Comb on Foundationless Frames

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We noticed the new hive had many dead bees at the entrance. When I opened it up I found that 3 of the biggest combs in the brood nest had broken and all but a dozen bees were dead. We are so disappointed.

Factors contributing to this failure:

1. We did not wire the frames. They are deeps, so wiring probably is necessary and would have prevented the breaks. The broken frames made up most of the brood nest and probably caused them to get chilled.

2. The weather has been typical Pacific Northwest spring which means wet and cold.

3. The hive had consumed all the sugar syrup in their feeder.

I measured the cells on the comb and sure enough, 5.2mm, the same as the remaining strip of plastic foundation I left in as a guide. I’ll have to figure out a new solution for a top guide, and good way to wire the frames. Maybe something like this would work with the plastic frames. I could drill holes and insert heavy wires. I would probably want to put in at least 2 since they are deep frames.

Good progress in the new hive

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We removed the newspaper remnants from the combined Oceanic815 hive. They look like they are doing very well. We added a honey super. I think I’ve waited too long to do this in previous years, so it may be too early but I’m giving it a try. I the other 2 overwintered hives looked strong as well. I added a honey super to The Black Rock.

The swarm hive is doing great on the cutout frames. They are building up some beautiful, straight combs and have brood, pollen and some honey too. Fed 3 quarts more 1:1 syrup.

If you look at closeups of some of these photos you can see that it looks like they are starting out using the cell size on the remnant strip of plastic foundation. This is not good. I may need to do something different for a starter strip.

Feral Hive Progress

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The new hive is very busy. They have consumed about half the syrup. We’re enjoying watching them and curious about how they are building up but don’t want to disturb them too soon.

A Feral Swarm on Foundationless Frames

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Philip called me mid day yesterday, he had captured a swarm by the Snohomish River.

It was Mother’s Day, Sunday, we were already headed home so it could not have happened at a better time.

We combined the two weak hives by removing the nearly empty second brood box from each. At the same time we swapped some of the moldiest frames so we could get a good cleanup done at the same time. What we are left with is a very healthy hive with a sufficient population. And 2 queens to boot. Wish I could watch the drama. We put a sheet of newspaper between the 2 brood chambers. They will chew through the paper in a few days. The queen from the top chamber will usually win out, I’ve heard. Hive4 was placed on top of ‘Oceanic815′.

The next step was to cut out the centers of the plastic frames. We removed the old brood nest comb, and used a few different methods to cut the centers out of the frames, leaving about 1/4 inch of the foundation at the top as a starter. We wondered if they would use the cell size remnant to base their foundationless cell size on. We only broke one frame out of the 20 cutouts we did.

It was dark when Philip arrived with the swarm. He had placed them in a cardboard box with a piece of burlap taped to the top. I did not want to mess with them in the dark. Although swarming bees are very unlikely to become aggressive, I have heard  stories of bees extremely disgruntled at being disturbed at night and didn’t want to experience it myself. So we just lowered the cardboard box into the empty hive box on top of the waiting hive, opened the top of the cardboard box, put the hive cover on, and left them for the night.

This morning, Gavin and I got out early before work and dumped them into the lower box with the waiting cut-out plastic frames.

We brushed the bees from the blackberry branches they were clinging to, and removed the beautiful little 3″ piece of comb they had built in the cardboard box overnight.

Then we installed the hive feeder with 1:1 sugar water. The bees look healthy and it is a good sized swarm.

Combining Weak Hives

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I am considering combining the two weak hives and cutting out the centers of the brood frames in the new empty hive to try foundationless natural cell. The cells in my one-piece plastic Pierco frames are 5.2mm. I would like to try a method recommended by Michael Bush. I read his book this winter and so many of his methods make sense.



Spring Hive Inspection

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Here are my 4 hives as of May 12th 2012:

1.The Black Rock: Started from a 2011 split of my original The Others hive. They initially killed 2 introduced commercial queens, then, after being queenless for months, accepted a queen from the secondary swarm from last years new package hive ‘Oceanic815′. Or, the queen came off of the frame of brood with a queen cell on it that I transferred after the first swarm, weeks before I placed the secondary swarm in the hive. The bees are more active earlier in the day than the other hives, and they are a darker color.

2. The Others: This is the original surviving colony from 2010. My other 2010 colony, FlashMob, did not make it through the first winter. They do not have their original queen, as this hive has swarmed a few times.

3. Oceanic815: Stared in 2011 as a 4# package. Built up very quickly last year and had a few swarms last year. One started a new hive, and the other supplemented The Black Rock and provided a queen.

4. 4th hive does not have a name. Stared from a swarm from the new package hive last year – 2011.

Status of hives as of May 11:

1. The Black Rock is the busiest hive. Early risers. Queen spotted. Lots of eggs, lots of capped brood, a little honey. I removed a frame of capped brood to build up one of the weak hives.

2. The Others Busy hive. Queen spotted. Eggs, lots of capped brood, a little honey.

3. Oceanic815  Queen spotted. Sparse population. A few eggs. A little brood. Lots of honey. Lower brood box is empty with some mold. We reversed the brood boxes.

4. 4th hive No queen spotted. A few eggs. Very little brood. Sparse population. Lots of honey.

So all 4 survived the winter. This is a victory. And all have new eggs. This is good.

This is a drone from The Black Rock. They look a little different than the drones from the other hives. Look at the cute grey fuzz on his ‘butt’.

Click on the picture to view a larger photo so you can get a better look. He’s really quite enchanting.

February Sunshine

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Life in all 4 hives in februaryLow 50s again today. Activity in all the hives! #1 The Black Rock hive is by far the busiest, (the one with the dark, small bees, originally split from The Others and killed 2 commercial queens. Their natural bred queen came from Oceanic815 in June 2011 – an after-swarm queen cell I moved over, or from the secondary swarm I combined with ‘The Black Rock’ a few weeks later) and seems to have had the fewest dead bees on the bottom board screen and landing board. #2 ‘The Others’ is the quietest, and judging by the evidence on the bottom board, the colony is very small. #3 Oceanic815 (New 4lb package hive from 2011)  and #4 (815’s June 2011 swarm) have had the highest number of dead bees at the entrance and on the bottom board screen.

Heather with insect gathering pollen or nectar

I saw a few bees bringing in pollen today. I wonder what they are finding. My heather is starting to bloom, but that’s not a honey bee on it.

Don’t know what that is, I’ll have to look it up.

Lots of activity in the hives on a warm February day

January Snow

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January snow on the hives

We had over a foot of snow. Life in all the hives as of a few weeks ago…

A new race

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They don't look like Italians

The #1 hive The Black Rock (the 2011 spring split from the original The Others hive) seems to have changed race. They are darker and smaller than my original Italians. They seem to be a little more ornery too. The hive has some that look like the original Italians too. In the photo you can see the top one has more orange and is larger than the others.

They didn’t go far

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Feral honey bee swarm in a fir treeMy daughter was housesitting for me when I went on vacation at the beginning of August. She saw that the bees were swarming but she could not tell which hive it was or see where they ended up heading. She looked for them in the trees later but did not spot the swarm. When I returned from vacation I was sure they were long gone. 3 weeks later Gavin and I were in the hammock under the big fir tree in my backyard, and I spotted insects flying around high in the tree. Sure enough there was the lost swarm. Already building comb right there on the branch of the tree.

Knotweed Honey

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Honey super with frames of knotweed honeyThe honey this year was very dark. And very scarce. Only one hive had enough honey for harvest. We harvested about 13 pounds of honey from the 2011 new package hive #3. I did some research and the dark colored honey around here harvested in late august comes from Knotweed, not blackberry fruit like I had thought. It is delicious. Stronger flavored than last years very light (blackberry flower?) honey.Frame with honey ready to extract

Crush and strain method of honey extraction

Knotweed honeyDelicious knotweed honey

Swarming again!

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Garrett called me at work this afternoon around 3:30pm. The bees were swarming again, this time around the little pine tree. When I got home at 7pm I looked for them in the tree and did not see them, thought they were already gone. Then when I was looking at the yard from inside the house a few minutes later I noticed there were bees mildly circling around the far side of the pine tree. I climbed up inside the tree and there they were, very mellow, all in a cluster. I got the extension ladder and the big cardboard box and the pruners and the masking tape and Garrett to hold the box, put on my gear and climbed up the ladder. I had to cut in 4 or 5 spots to get the entire cluster loose but it lifted right out without knocking too many bees loose. Garrett snapped a picture with his cell phone. I felt like I was holding a large fish I had caught!

A swarm in the hand is better than 2 in the pine tree
I know it looks like a giant pinecone!

It must be a secondary swarm from the new package hive (Oceanic815). I placed a sheet of newspaper on top of the weak, queenless hive’s (Black Rock‘s – the winter split from The Others) brood chamber, and placed the swarm on top with an empty brood box with new frames in it. The bees that were left flying also found their way in. I noticed the front of Oceanic815‘s hive had a gathering of bees fanning (what they do to call other bees back to the hive) so this made me sure it was that hive that had swarmed. In my inspection yesterday I saw a few empty queen cells, so they probably have an extra queen or 2. Maybe they will swarm again? I can’t imagine there would be enough bees left for much of a swarm. I was surprised how big this one was!


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The weather has been wet and cold this spring. I inspected all the hives today, and they are all entirely out of honey except for Black Rock. The only one with new eggs is the new swarm hive. (I have been feeding them sugar water) Flight815 has no eggs, but signs of recently emerged queens. (empty queen cells) Black Rock still has no eggs, but the queen cell I added to their hive is empty now, the queen has emerged. Hope they did not kill her too. The Others has no eggs, a very few larvae, and we saw one group of workers feeding on something white that could only have been what was left of a larvae. Is this what they do when they are starving? I put feeders on the hives immediately!

Queenless, continued

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Looks like Black Rock killed their second new queen. So when I inspected Oceanic815 (the new package hive that swarmed) after their swarm, to remove extra swarm/queen cells (Leaving one), I moved one frame that had brood, eggs, and a nice queen cell into the queenless Black Rock hive.

Swarm Capture

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Swarm of bees in the holly tree
The third and final cluster was close to the ground
Raised garden beds
New raised beds

We were outside building new raised beds for a vegetable garden in the front yard. The hives are close to the new raised beds so we were aware of the hives being lively on a warm sunny day. One of the hives (Oceanic815), the new 4 pound package installed this spring, became busier and busier around 1:30pm. We realized they were swarming. What an amazing thing to watch. The air filled with bees, flying around and around, and you could see the gathering moving as a whole, edging closer to the holly tree which is about 30 feet from their hive.
They settled high in the holly tree. It turns out holly is not the easiest tree to remove a swarm from.
Gavin climbed up a ladder with hand pruners (no safety gear) while I stood on the ground with a cardboard box at the ready, in full beekeeping geek attire. He clipped the branches and placed the swarm into the box. By then many bees had dropped or flew off. So they began to congregate again below where the first cluster was. We let them gather a bit and repeated the process. Gavin only got 2 stings.
We let the remaining bees settle again and this time the cluster was within arm’s reach of the ground, in the same holly tree.
The final group of bees was much easier to capture.

Capturing the swarm
The swarm settled in the holly tree

Then a trip down to Beez Neez Apiary Supply to purchase a new hive. I had originally intended to get a nuc box to have ready for this kind of occasion but Jim at Beez Neez said my swarm was too big, nuc boxes are really for splits. So I ended up buying parts for a new hive (#4!). While they were being painted we set up a temporary hive, which was an extra deep brood box I have ready for my new split hive, a make-shift bottom Gavin constructed for me, and a piece of plywood for a top. And a feeder I’m not using on the other hives. Works great.

Gavin shoveling purchased topsoil for raised garden beds
Mmmm… topsoil

So back to gardening! These raised beds we built out of discarded Trex (plastic decking material). We purchased topsoil for the 3 in the lower yard since the soil there is very shallow, and amended the soil with commercial steer manure. We are going to plant our sun-lovingest plants down here. Tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, basil. I have rarely had much luck with tomatoes, and I have high hopes for this new location with the raised beds.


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Still no sign of a queen in the new split hive (The Black Rock). No eggs, no new larvae. They must have killed her. So I installed a new queen. The smoker wasn’t working very well, damp fuel. So we decided to try it without smoke. Big mistake. They were not happy, charging us. I got stung and couldn’t brush her off since I was holding a frame full of bees (she had pinched between a fold in my bee suit right against my wrist) so she gave me a full dose before Gavin could get to her to brush her off. The sting swelled up by the next day more than half way down to my elbow and itched like crazy. Hope I’m not developing an allergy.


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FlashMob hive is dead-out. I bought and assembed a new hive, and purchased 1 new 4# package (Oceanic815) and installed them in the old FlashMob hive. The Others hive is looking fine. I did a split (put them in the new hive – The Black Rock) and purchased a new queen, so I have 3 complete hives now.

Lots of Dead Bees

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Beehives in january snow

January 1st. I noticed large pile of new dead bees a few times this winter, both when it’s been very cold. These photos were taken after a fairly cold few days and I noticed how many new dead bees there were within a few days because they were all on top of the fresh snow. How many dead bees are normal? Today I cleaned up the accumulated pile in front of ‘FlashMob’ and it was more than an inch thick in the center. I can still hear buzzing in both hives when I hold my ear up to the side. When I slide out the removable bottom board on The Others there are fresh wax bits across all the frames. On FlashMob the fresh wax bits are clustered to one side. Can’t wait to open up the hives!

Lots of dead bees in the snow in front of the hiveThere is also a lot of mold in FlashMob and a little mold in The Others. I tilted the hives forward a little today, since I saw just a little water on the bottom board when I pulled it out. Around November I noticed a lot of condensation in both hives, on the inner covers and outer covers. Then the mold an mildew started. FlashMob was the worst so I raised the cover just slightly to give them a little more ventilation. Not sure if anything else should/could be done about that but the condensation stopped when the weather got colder, so I put the top cover back down tight so the hive would stay warmer.

Honey Harvest

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Removing the honey from the frames

Honey harvest September 5th. FlashMob gave us about 22 pounds of honey, The Others gave us about 3 pounds.

The Darker honey in some of the cells in this photo tasted like blackberries.

Anita and Garrett harvesting honey

We used the crush and strain method for extracting the honey. Messy delicious fun! My kitchen was sticky. I also ended up with about a pound of beeswax. Gavin made biscuits and corn bread a few times over the next week. Can’t wait till next year!

FlashMob‘s honey was much lighter in color than The Others‘ honey.

Fall feeding and treatments for Nosema and Mites are done. The colonies look healthy headed into winter. Lots of dead drones outside FlashMob‘s entrance last week. The workers boot them out before winter.

Crush and strain method of honey extraction


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Flashmob‘s first honey super has 8 frames full of capped honey! I added another super. I opened the hive just to check how many empty frames they had, it was early evening, and I didn’t think I needed the smoker. But they were a little pissy.
The Others honey super had next to nothing. I wasn’t surprised with the swarms earlier this summer. I just hope they survive the winter.

Honey Supers and Queen Drama

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I added honey supers to both hives. The top brood box of FlashMob was so full of capped honey and nectar (90%) that it was all I could do to lift it off to inspect the bottom brood box. And it was very difficult to get it back up on top, I’m afraid I squashed more bees during this inspection than in all the previous inspections combined. I guess I will need a helper during my inspections from now on. The boxes won’t be getting any lighter.
No new eggs in FlashMob. I saw 2 queen cells when I was inspecting the top box, as I was removing them the queens dashed out. I was able to capture one of them. I inspected the bottom box and saw no new eggs so not knowing if either of the new queens was healthy enough I let the second one loose in the hive along with the other one. I guess they will battle it out and the stronger one will survive? Or we will have a swarm.
The Others had the top brood box 60% full of nectar and capped honey. In the bottom box I spotted new eggs. Not sure if the queen is the returned swarm queen but the hive should be fine now. The weather has warmed up and blackberries are blooming.


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June 22 Garrett called me at work. “Mom, the air outside is filled with bees. I stick my head out the window and I hear buzzing.” I could not leave work so I called Philip and he went right over to the house to try to capture the swarm. They had settled in the hemlock tree. He and Garrett went to gather some gear but by the time they got set up the swarm had vanished. I was not prepared for a swarm, everything I read said that a swarm would not be likely in the first year. The first swarm was The Others. July 5-6 another swarm. This time in a low branch on the cherry tree. We had just arrived home from camping and Gavin was going to help me with my overdue hive inspection. We were sitting in the garden serenely watching the hives, contemplating lunch and Anita came down and asked oh by the way had I had seen the cluster of bees over in the cherry tree. It was a surprise to us but thrilling to see. We simply lowered the branch into a box, cut the branch, and returned them to The Others hive after a thorough inspection. Lots of swarm cells, lots of drones, lots of larvae and capped brood but no new eggs in either hive. I spotted a queen in FlashMob. So hopefully both hives have queens now. I removed the entrance reducers and added some spacers in the lids to give them some extra ventilation – warm days coming up. Not sure what they’re up to. I removed the feeders. They’ve had over 100 pounds of sugar between the 2 hives. I will check for eggs and queens next week.

2nd Story

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I was not able to open up the hives all weekend until Monday – (Memorial day) because it was too cold and wet out. The sun came out Monday afternoon and I added the second story (second deep brood box) onto the Flashmob hive. The Others colony seems to be a little behind as far as numbers so I will wait until next week to add on to their hive.
Tried out my new phone’s video camera. As soon as the rain died down to a sprinkle the girls all came out of the hive and had a very busy afternoon. Busiest I’ve ever seen them. Then Garrett and I took a drive through the Snohomish valley to pick up some coffee sacks from a local coffee roaster.(They make good smoker fuel and also you can fill them with dirt and plant tomatoes in them, or use them to mulch the paths in the garden.) What a spectacular drive.

Day 29: 45 Pounds of Sugar

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Honey bee drone

Both colonies are still taking plenty of sugar syrup. 45 pounds so far! I guess this is not unusual. I think next week I will need to add the second-story deep brood boxes to the hives. Today both hives still have 4 or 5 frames not drawn out with comb.

I spotted a drone again today. Look how big his eyes are!

Honey bee emerging from a cell

I also spotted a bee chewing her way out of a cell. She’s right in the center of the photo.

Day 23: Newborns and Capped Honey

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Newborn beesA honey bee develops from egg to newly emerged adult in approximately 21 days (Range: 18-22days) for a worker bee or 24 days (drones) or 16 days (queen bee). So if I released the queens 21 days ago, there could be newly emerged workers today. I was surprised to see bees in the hive today that looked smaller and lighter colored than the rest. They have more fuzz between where their eyes are and where their wings attach. They hold their wings in towards the center of their bodies. Their abdomens are lighter colored and smaller, not as shiny and the stripes are not nearly as defined. (You can see one of these in the photo, near the top center.)

I also saw capped honey in a few of the frames. I moved a few of the frames with pollen, nectar and honey only (no brood) out to the outside of the brood box. This is supposed to encourage them to draw out the empty frames in between. I hope next week to add the second set of deep frames to each hive! Flashmob still has 4 empty frames and The Others still has 5 1/2 empty frames.

Day 22: Fanning, a Sting and a Drone

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I noticed a bee at the entrance fanning. She was just standing in one spot (right in the center of the entrance) beating her wings so fast you could not see them. The other bees (busy because it was a hot day!) were pushing past her. She was kind of in their way. I decided to switch the entrance reducer to its middle position, allowing a larger entrance for the bees. When I was removing it, (no gloves or safety gear) I repositioned my hand so that I could get a better grip and did not see the bee on the other side. She stung me. My first sting. tip of my middle finger. Smarted for a few minutes but that’s all. I waited till the bees quieted down for the evening before put in back in. When I went to push it back in, just making a little noise, lots of bees came out to just inside the entrance, and just looked at me. Some of them were upside down, all lined up and looking out – so cute.

Fanning is done for the purpose of regulating the temperature (they keep it at 93-95F) in the hive and also to help in curing (removing moisture from) the honey. I was describing to my daughter what fanning was and she said “they’re so smart”. I know it is instinct but how do those particular bees know to do this?

My raspberries are coming into bloom, and my bees love them! Also they are mobbing my holly tree. I’ve seen a few on my rosemary, forget-me-nots, and heather as well.

I also spotted a drone. He was outside the entrance, and crawled in, so I assume he was out flying. He looked large, bumbly and comical compared to the svelte and graceful sisters. I laughed. But I also wondered if he flew in from somewhere or if he came with the package? I hadn’t seen any drones at all yet.

Day 16: Capped Brood and Queen Sightings!

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Sean and Kelsey in the bee suits

Mothers Day today. My daughter Kelsey and her husband Sean came to visit and helped me with the hive inspection. Beautiful warm sunny day again today.

Kelsey with a frame of bees and broodI have 2 extra sets of safety gear so we all suited up and had a great time inspecting the frames.

Lots of capped brood! New eggs too, and brood in all stages in between.

We spotted the queens in both hives. I was not expecting this because last week I looked and looked and didn’t see either one. Sean spotted the FlashMob queen on the side of a frame and I spotted ‘The Others’ queen.

Queen bee sighting

You can see the queen in this photo near the center. She is longer/larger and has a pointed abdomen.

Lots of capped brood in this photo.Lots of capped brood

Honey bee larvae in a new hive

You can see large larvae in most of the cells in this photo.

Removing the burr comb with a hive tool

I put the inner cover on shallow side up by mistake last time I filled the feeders on The Others. They built some extra comb on top of the frames which we removed and saved for candle making.

Nectar / Pollen sources list!

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I found a list for nectar/pollen sources on the West Sound Beekeepers Association website.

This is from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association:
1. Oregon Grape – April, pollen and nectar
2. Cotton Wood – April, pollen
3. Willow – April, pollen and nectar is warmSee More
4. *Maple Large Leaf – April-May, pollen and surplus nectar
5. *Poison Oak – May, nectar surplus
6. *Snowberry (Buckbrush) – May-June, surplus
7. *Vine Maple – May, surplus
8. Cherry Tree – April, nectar and mainly pollen
9. Deciduous Fruit Trees – April-May, mainly pollen
10. Mustard – March, pollen
11. Fire Weed – July-August, no pollen and variable nectar
12. Raspberry – June, surplus
13. *Blackberry – June-July, nectar and pollen
14. Thistle – June, nectar and pollen
15. *Cascara – May-June, nectar
16. Cabbage – May, pollen and nectar
17. Crimson Clover – May, pollen and nectar
18. White Clover – June-July, pollen and nectar
19. Madrene – May, nectar
20. Manzanita – May, pollen and nectar
21. Dill (oil) – July, pollen and nectar
22. *Hairy Vetch – May-June, surplusnectar

Day 15: Forage

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On my jog-walk last weekend I was noticing flowers on plants that I never really noticed before. So much is in bloom right now. In the wild areas around here blooming now are salmonberries, wild blackberries, trillium, bleedingheart, elderberry, scotch broom, vetch, huckleberries, maple of different varieties, and more. I wish I knew which ones my bees are visiting.

Honey bees bringing in pollen

I watched them today coming in all day long with pollen. Many different colors: tan, off-white, yellow, bright yellow, brownish, and this neon-bright orange, Some of the bees with this bright orange pollen were also covered all over with more of it.

(I’m looking for a list of approximate bloom times of preferred forage for our area. When I find a list I will post it.)

Bees have been out foraging

Some were so heavily loaded that they had a little trouble getting back in the hive. One I saw on the landing board trying to crawl up the slope, then slid off into the grass. With difficulty she finally took off and landed back up by the hive entrance with her booty.

Day 8: Pollen, Nectar, and Eggs

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Bees between the frames
Opened up the hives to check on the queens, make sure that they survived. Our extra safety gear arrived so Garrett helped out.

New honeybee eggs in the cells

Each hive had the center frames build halfway up with comb and many had nectar, a few had pollen, and many with eggs. A good pattern of one egg in each cell, with no multiples. I’d only be happier if I had actually spotted the queens! They’re obviously thriving.

A beautiful piece of natural comb

FlashMob had 2 of the center frames spaced too far apart last time I closed up the hive. They build a beautiful piece of comb between the frames that I had to reluctantly remove. Cool to look at though. I made sure to gently crowd the frames snugly together this time.

Garrett in his beekeeper duds

When I bought the frames, they suggested black frames for the brood boxes. It makes it much easier to spot the eggs. Now I can see that it would be very difficult to spot eggs on a white or light colored base. And this was my only way of knowing today that my queens were alive and well.

Day 3: Uncage the Queen

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Ready to remove the queen from her cageOpened up the hives to release the queens. They were very calm. Garrett took pictures.

Lots of activity around the entrances – we have had a few partially sunny days. The queens look healthy. We named the NE colony ‘FlashMob’.
Garrett had said he liked the ‘FlashMob’ colony better than the other one when they were still in the cages. He said ‘They look more organized’. I noticed they seemed a bit peppier than the other colony at first. The SW colony is named ‘The Others’. When I lifted their queen cage out to remove the cork and release her, there was a chain of bees clinging to the cage and each other about 4″ long. Reminded me of those plastic toy monkeys. (‘Barrel of Monkeys!’)Bees on the inner cover

Garrett lighting the smoker

Lighting the smoker! The book said to put in paper, then put in twigs for kindling, tend the little fire for 10 minutes to get it going! Say what??? Bob Combs, the instructor for the class I took at Meadowbrook said to just get a propane torch. I am now the proud owner of a propane torch. Garrett likes it.

Day 1: They’re Here

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New packages of honeybeesWe are now the proud hosts of 2 colonies of sweet mild mannered Italian honey bees. Hived them yesterday. My daughter Anita took some great pictures. The extra safety gear didn’t arrive in time so she had to go veil-less. Not a touch of fear. She’s a natural. No stings at all. I
guess this is typical – they have nothing yet to protect. No honey, no brood.Preparing to install the package of honeybees

My best friend of all time from elementary school posted this on facebook today

‘We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, “here and now” without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point blank.’ — Jose Ortega Y Gasset – (Spanish Philosopher)

I was reading a little about his philosophy (thanks Wikipedia):

famous maxim “Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia” (“I am myself and my circumstance”)

Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote that “life is at the same time fate and freedom, and that freedom is being free inside of a given fate. Fate gives us an inexorable repertory of determinate possibilities, that is, it gives us different destinies. We accept fate and within it we choose one destiny. In this tied down fate we must therefore be active, decide and create a ‘project of life’—thus not be like those who live a conventional life of customs and given structures who prefer an unconcerned and imperturbable life because they are afraid of the duty of choosing a project.”

Locked out of the houseIn all the excitement, we locked ourselves out of the house. The hive tool came in handy! Before it was ever used on the hive!

The buzz around basecamp these days is Avatar the Last Airbender – M. Night Shyamalan is making a trilogy the first of which comes out on July 2. We are watching the original cartoon series right now. In a book 2 episode, Prince Zuko is complaining to Uncle Iroh about their present circumstances.

Zuko says “..This city is a prison. I don’t want to make a life here.”
Wise old tea swilling fire bending peace loving Iroh responds: “Life happens wherever you are whether you make it or not.”

This is the queen from our ‘FlashMob’ colony. She will need to stay in her cage for a few more days. They have only been together for 1 day and if she is released now,they will most likely kill her!

Dumping the bees into the hiveQueen bee in her cage

My house smells like sweet beeswax, pine and cedar. Latex paint too.

by Ginny. 0 Comments

Painting beehive boxesArriving tomorrow:
2 packages of sweet tempered Italians!
Hives are assembled and ready, safety gear is good to go, site with good morning sun selected.
My beekeeping 101 class was last weekend. A 2 day class at Meadowbrook Farm in North Bend, through the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. There is an apiary there and part of the class included a demonstration of installing a new package of bees. Just what I needed. I never really had any fear of the whole concept of being surrounded by the little darlings but I was a little intimidated by the whole concept of being responsible for them. I’m ready now. The class was just what I needed. Still a lot to learn.

Building beehive boxes

My son helped assemble the boxes

One of my honey supers is not square. It is skewed by about 1/8 inch. I think this is the one I assembled with only half the nails (I ran out) and put them in later after the painting was done. Doesn’t seem like a big deal and probably will be fine. ‘Bee space’ is very important in a hive, any less than 1/4 -3/8 inch they will fill with propolis and any more, they will fill with burr comb. But I’ve heard the spacing on the outside edges of the hive is not so important as in the center so I’m not going to rip my box apart and reassemble. I am, however, now the proud owner of a carpenter’s square.

Now I’ve Really Done It

by Ginny. 1 Comment

Last week, I ordered bees. I placed an order for 2 packages of 3 pounds of bees each and each and each with a queen. They will be arriving at the apiary supply store in 2 weeks. Lots to do.

I signed up for a class for next weekend. (At Meadowbrook Farm in North Bend) Last weekend I made the first trip down to the apiary supply store – BeezNeez in Snohomish – (so pleased to find one local and so close, they are few and far between) and purchased brood boxes, honey supers, bases, roofs, for 2 complete hives. The staff were so helpful! I think they would have spent as long as I needed them too answering my questions.

And then I spent most of the weekend assembling, painting, selecting a location for the hives (lots to consider).

Until one is committed
There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back
Always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and Creation)
There is one elementary truth
The ignorance which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

That the moment that one definitely commits ones self
Then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one
That would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision
Raising in one’s favor all manner
Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
And material substance
Which no one could have dreamt
Would have come your way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.