Severe Storm 6-29-2012

On Friday 6-29-2012, a severe thunderstorm ripped through Findlay, Ohio. Power may trees and power lines went down and most of Findlay lost power. As of today 7-4-2012, I am sitting in a 90 degree F room with a generator running to post this. Our power is not scheduled to be back online until July, 7.  So far the generator is costing about $35 a day to run keeping the refrigerator running, a tv, a small a/c unit, and powering my laptop and internet service.

My wife had children have moved into another home that has power. I am more or less holding down the fort.

Power was restored to several homes within 100 yards of my home. However, due to the manner in which the power lines have been damaged, my home and most of my street are still without power. Trees are being cleaned up, and most have been removed from the main street beside our home. Our street still has trees limes and trunks sitting in the grassed areas along the road. I do not expect any work to be done on the power until these trees have been removed.

Everyone here is ok, we lost a couple of fish when the power was out and before we could borrow a generator. I expected to have several beehives in the area blown over, but I was very happy to see each and everyone standing and the bees doing what bees do.

Power was fully restored on 7-6-2012 at about 2:30PM. Some areas of Findlay are still without power.

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Findlay Ohio Apiary Inspection:

The swarm is doing well. The 10 frame medium is just about full of brood and stores. I have a second box on them that is a deep (all I had at the time) and they are just starting to work on it. If I do no see any progress later in the week, I am going to swap the deep out for a medium and start feeding. It has been above 87 degrees and very dry the last 3 weeks. The wild flowers in the field directly behind the hive is blooming, but the dry ground as not been helpful in nectar production.

One hive has been struggling since it was installed as a 2lb package. They superceded the queen right after she started laying. She was not marked, but the current queen is much lighter in color and not laying the best at this time. This is partially due to be bees refusing to build any more comb. I am feeding, but they just fill up what they have and refuse to draw out any additional combs. Today I added a frame of open and emerging brood with nurse bees in hopes that this frame will boost the hive and give the queen a new place to lay.

The oldest hives from 2lb packages are doing ok. One hive is 1 deep and 1 medium and they are slowly building up. The other hive is 1 deep and 2 mediums. Still overall slow to build up, but these hives are bringing in their own resources and do not seem interested in sugar water feedings.

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First Successful Swarm Capture 5-25-2012.

I got a call shortly before 7 on May 25, 2012. Guy called saying they had a swarm of bees at his workplace. Apparently a swarm of bees had landed inside their forklift propane storage shed. After asking a few questions to make sure they were indeed honey bees (never know if they simply found a yellow jacket nest), they were confirmed to be honey bees.

I told the fellow I would come and get them. However, there was a catch in that the had to get permission from his supervisor before I could come. A few minutes later I got a call back saying I could come and get them. These bees were located at Trinity Highway Products, in Lima, Ohio. I live in Findlay, Ohio and it takes about 35 minutes to get to Lima from my place. Since the bees had just settled in, and it was getting late, I figured they would still be there.

When I arrived, there were several people waiting for me. I called the fellow back and he knew it was me pulling up in the truck, guess I would be the only one coming at that time.

Found a nice cluster of bees in the propane shed. I put on my protective gear as I was going to have to brush these bees in to my box. It took about an hour to get most of the bees into the box. I got a good amount in when I first brushed them. However, they are on a expanded wire sided shed and each time I brushed them, more moved to the outside of the shed. The shed was located next to another solid sided storage shed and I could not easily get between the two, about 6 inches of space between them. I ended up putting my box on the other shed’s roof and pushed it up against the other shed. Over time, most of the bees just walked into my box, which means I most likely got the queen.

Once most of the bees were in my box, I sealed up the box top with duct tape. My box has a screened bottom for ventilation. I would like to thank Tim at Honey Run Apiaries for this box. He sells nucs in 10 frame mediums. The bottoms of his nucs or starter hives have a shim added and a screened bottom stapled on. This hives bees space at the bottom of the box and was originally intended as a temporary bottom. However, I found these to be useful as swarm boxes as a flat lid can be taped down for transportation.

Update 5-26-2012:

The swarm spend the night in the swarm box. I moved them today and put them in a regular hive body. I was surprised the see the amount of comb they had built overnight on the new rite cell foundation. I did have some drawn comb and three frames of honey for them to use. Unfortunately, I did not see a queen or any signs she had started laying in the drawn comb that they did have. However, it may take a few days for her to get use to her new home.

Update: 6-15-2012:

The swarm has drawn out and filled all but 3 frames of the 10 frame medium brood box I installed them in. I added a deep box I had laying around with new black rite-cell foundation. I was no expecting them to be built out this far as it has been dry and I did not see an abundance of flowers in the area. They are located near a wildflower field that I was expecting to bloom in another week. I found the field was in 1/2 bloom of various wildflowers with more to come at a later date. All but one of the new hives at this location has filled out their boxes and are in need of additional supers.

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Checking on a 5 frame nuc I made up in hopes it would produce a queen.

Made a 5 frame nuc on 4-29-2012 at my Ada apiary and was able to check on them today. The day after I made the split the night time temperature fell into the low 30°F. It was apparent that I did not have enough bees to cover the 3 frames of brood I added to the nuc. I had hoped the bees would have made a new queen and that the brood had mostly hatched. I could see that there was a good amount of brood that the bees had started to uncap and remove from the hive. There were 8 queen cups started, 5 of which where along the bottom of one frame. The other 3 were close together at the middle of the frame. Only one cup appeared to have anything in it as it was the only one that bees would constantly enter. However, I was not able to see any larva in the cup.

I added another frame of bees and open brood to the nuc in hopes that they would have enough eggs or young larvae to start a new queen if the one cell they had not not amount to anything. It will be much warmer at night  now so I hope they brood does not get chilled this time around.

All my hives have small hive beetles in them. I am only seeing a couple of beetles in each hive now. Even the two nuc boxes have at least one beetle in them. I was able to crush what I saw. I did see one hive with bees working on removing beetles. Two bees worked together to surround the beetle and fly out of the hive on their sides. I am sure the beetles just ended up flying back into the hive later.

The weaker of the two nucs had a small ant invasion. Apparently the ants had made an attempt to hide in the hive away from the active bees. When I opened up the nuc to check on things, the ants ran and the bees soon noticed them. I saw two bees removing one ant from the hive. I thought the bees looked odd removing the ant so I took a closer look. One bee had the ant balled up and was attempting to remove the ant. The ant in turn had its mandibles stuck into the rear end of a bee and would not let go. So we had a bee with an ant holding on to it with another bee attempting to remove the ant from the other bee. They eventually succeeded in removing the ant.

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First Mail Ordered Packages Arrive!

Earlier in the month of April I ordered 2-2lb packages of bees from Gardner Apiary. The expected ship date was April 25, 2012. The bees did ship on that date and arrived on April 28, 2012.

I did expect a phone call from the post office. However, I did not get a call from the post office. Instead, I found the Postal Carrier waiting at the front door. He was waiting as I had our dogs out to do their business and they were in is way. I brought them inside, and went back out to meet him. I was carrying my packaged bees. He told me that he had delivered many different things before, but never bees. They arrived around 9:35AM.

The bees did arrive in good condition. It is a bit chilly today, 40°F and was a bit cooler when the bees arrived. I placed them in my garage and gave them a light misting of sugar syrup.

As of 2:45PM, the bees have been moved to my basement and have been giving another light misting of sugar syrup.

What is interesting is that there is a smaller cluster on the opposite end of the box than the rest of the bees. I do not know if they got separated when the temperature dropped,or they are clustered around a queen that had been mistakenly shook into the package. I am crossing my fingers it is a queen as I can split one of my hives and have a queen available right away.

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New Queen to replace the one that flew away.

Well, it was official, the Queen had flown away. It had been about 10 days and I finally had a replacement Queen, thanks to Tim at Honey Run Apiaries. Tim was kind enough to sell me a overwintered New World Carniolan Queen and bring it to me at the NWOBA meeting on Tuesday.

I was able to install her on Wednesday after work. However, it was raining and not really the best time to install a Queen. However, I was worried about laying workers and installed her anyway.

One thing about a hive that has been queenless for 10 days, they are very upset and pissy. I did not use smoke as I was running out of daylight and it was starting to rain harder. I opened up the top of the hive, pulled the inner cover off and… 20 bees came zooming right up to my veil (yup, I did wear a jacket and veil). I moved things about to get the JZBZ cage installed. As I was working, I could feel a bee on my hair and figured I just had a bit of hair sticking out my hat. As it turns out, I did not have my tie on veil secured very well and one got under and crawled up to my hair. A few seconds later, she had worked her way down to my neck and that is when I realized she was inside the veil. Felt the sting, and heard the buzzing. She then flew up in front of my eyes, which I closed as I didn’t know it was the same bee that had just stung me. Without too much panic… I quickly put things back together, walked quickly away, took off my veil, got into my car, pulled out the stinger, and… two more bees had followed me into the car. I rolled the windows down, on flew out and landed on the windshield getting stuck in the raindrops. I did not see the second bee, and got out of the car to check. Turns out she had her stinger embedded into the driver’s seat just behind left arm. All in all, a fun time.

The bees knew right away I had a queen in my hand. They surrounded the cage and I had to watch that I didn’t squish any bees. They did not seem too aggressive towards the new queen. I will be checking back over the weekend to see if they released her.

A couple of lessons learned:

1. If wearing a tie down veil and it does not feel right, triple check to make sure it is on correctly. I double checked, but things still felt odd. Turns out I had left a nice opening over my collar for the bees to get into my veil.

2. Smoke a queenless hive when you are getting into it. Monday was the first day I could get out and check to see if the queen had come back. Got stung on the hand, but otherwise the bees seemed good. However, no eggs or brood. Wednesday, I had the new queen in hand, opened up the hive, and,  pissy bees everywhere.

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4-18-2012 Ada Apiary

Checked on my Ada Apiary today.

Found that it was indeed a raccoon that had damaged and killed my 3 top bar hives.

I checked to make sure the queen was released from her cage in the packaged I had installed. She had been released and I found 6 queen cups with eggs. Not sure if the bees created these to replace the package queen or if they had built them due to the queen being caged and not having any eggs or brood for the time she was caged up. If all goes well, I plan on using 2 of the cells to start another 5 frame nuc. However, the bees may not raise all the cells or they may tear them down. Frames with the cells were marked so I could find them easier.

The 5 frame nuc I made out of the hive that had become honey bound early this season has now expanded out with enough bees to cover all 5 frames. The 2011 queen is laying well. I am debating on moving them to a larger hive or moving 4 frames to another nuc and allowing them to raise their own queen or using a cell that the packaged bees have starter. The current queen would then be allowed to repopulate the nuc she that she is currently in.

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I Released the Queen from Her Cage in Findlay, Ohio Today.

Checked to see if the bees had released their queen in my Findlay Apiary today. Bees were hived on 4-11-2012 and I wanted to make sure the queen was released today, 4-15-2012.

I opened up the hive and found a good amount of burr comb, and a large cluster of bees over the queen cage. I could tell the queen was still in the cage and that the bees apparently had decided that they wanted her in that cage. They had placed a nice fresh comb over the bottom of the cage, and also a nice amount of comb in the open candy end of the cage. They basically sealed her right back into the cage. From the looks of the candy in the cage, they were just about ready to release her when for some reason they sealed her right back up.

Seeing this situation, it was time to release the queen myself. I held the cage a few inches above the frames and pried off the screen. I had hoped to lower the cage quickly to allow her to crawl into the hive. Instead, as soon as the screen was opened enough for a bee to get out, the attendants and the queen flew off.

I remained in the same spot for about 15 minutes in hopes the queen would return. I did not see her return, but hoped that she had. I closed everything up and went home. What I am really hoping is that the queen flew off onto the corner of the hive and crawled down between the frames. I will know in a week.

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4-13-2012 Packages Installed.

Today I installed two packages of bees. One package in Arlington, Ohio, and one in Ada, Ohio.

Tips on Packaged Bees:

  • Packaged bees come with a can of sugar syrup. Do not rely on the can as a source of food for the bees. Make sure you mist the bees with a light sugar syrup a couple times a day until they are hived. Otherwise, they may starve before you can get them into a hive. I received three packages of bees this year and I hived one package on the day I received them (4-11-2012) and they did not have any sugar syrup left in the can. The other two packages were hived on 4-13-2012, both had no sugar syrup left.
  • If you happen to get stung while installing your packaged bees, do not drop the package. You will find many more angry bees.
  • After getting your packages bees installed, make sure you feed your bees until they no longer take any more feed.
  • Use an entrance reducer to help the newly hived bees to defend their new home. A smaller opening is easier to defend against robbers or other threats.



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Ada Apiary 4-7-2012

I went out to my Ada Apiary today to see how the nuc box was doing. I did not see any bees at the entrance of the nuc. This worried me as we have had two nights of freezing temperatures and frost warnings. I opened the lid to find two frames of bees and I did see the queen. I shook another frame of nurse bees from my other hive to help boost the nuc.

4-12-2012 Update:

A raccoon or some other critter destroyed the top bar hive I am talking about below. All the comb and bees have been ripped out. Only 5 worker and 6 drones remained in the hive. The Queen is dead :(.

4-18-2012 Update:

A raccoon was the culprit in the destruction of 3 top bar hives.

The Raccoon that Destroyed 3 of my top bar hives.

The Raccoon that Destroyed 3 of my top bar hives.

The top bar hive that had the small handful of bees was my next task. I figured they were about dead and I started to cut out the honey that was left. As I moved toward the area where the bees had been, I was soon greeted with a small group of bees. Turns out there was still just a handful of bees left in the hive, but there was also a Queen. I was happy to see her as this was the Daughter of the swarm queen from 2010. She is an Ohio Queen and I was sad to think she was lost. I had my other nuc box assembled, but I did not bring it with me. Next time I am in the Apiary, I will be bringing the nuc box, a queen cage and feed. April 11th is when I will be getting my first packages of bees for 2012. I plan to use a few of those bees to help boost this queen when I add her to a nuc box. I am hoping to rid myself of top bar hives soon. I plan to cut the comb out of the top bars and fasten them to frames.

I killed 8-10 small hive beetles in the nuc box and 3 in the full hive. I need to remember to get my beetle traps ready for my next visit.

I brought 3 drones home for my daughter to play with. Found one varroa mite on one of the drones.

Drone Honey Bee with Varroa Mite on Thorax.

Drone Honey Bee with Varroa Mite on Thorax.

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