Final Submission by Josie Keller
I have struck a goldmine! I have extracted about 20 pounds of black locus honey along with about 1.5 pounds of early spring honey. But let me backtrack and start off at the beginning of this Spring.
My Bridwell hive made it through winter, but it was weak and I was counting practically every single field bee. I kept the candy board on them just in case and also noticed some signs of robbing, so I added an entrance reducer. They were still weak at the beginning of May; the queen was only laying eggs in 4 medium frames. Suddenly their numbers grew exponentially and in one month she was filling 30 medium hive frames. However, on the down side of things, they have become much more aggressive as their population grows.
Because this is still first year of the hive (they arrived very late last summer) there is very little drawn comb. The lack of which seems to be my biggest problem. There are not enough cells for the queen to lay because the bees are filling them with honey and pollen instead. Every super has fresh foundation which they must first draw out. The queen doesn’t have enough space, so I am forced to extract uncapped honey to make room for her. This is where the honey extraction comes into play. I have extracted three times now and nothing has been capped. In order to avoid fermentation, Mom and I poured the honey into a jelly roll pan and put the lid of the food dehydrator on top of the pan. After of few days and nights of drying, it thickened up to a normal honey consistency.
Once the hive grew stronger, I decided to split them on May 21 (today is June 4th). The split produced two queen cells which are drawn and capped. I have slowly added capped brood to the split because the other hive is prolific and I want to build this hive up as quickly as possible. The capped brood hatched within a few days and the nurse bees graduated to field bees, so now I have a flourishing hive.
Earlier this spring, Roy had a Bridell hive that swarmed. Mom, Sam and I went down to his house and sucked them up into my hive boxes. We brought them home, but the next morning they swarmed again into the woods.
This summer I need them to focus on drawing out comb in order to build honey production. I need to figure out labels, how to get bottles without paying an extraordinary amount for shipping, and how to mark queens. I hope the new split will take off and by either this fall or next spring there will be capped honey to extract from two blossoming hives. Thank you so much for helping me with this endeavor and making it financially possible. I have learned many things associated with beekeeping and I have been able to educate others on the journey.
Submitted by Josie in Q2
Winter is over! Since the last bee update, I have been patiently waiting for the bees to start flying again; however, I have not been idle. Mom and I made 9 pollen patties (a little excessive for just one hive) and slipped them into the hive during one of the freak warm spells in January. We also took inventory of all the bee equipment in the basement to make sure we were prepared for spring.
The hive still has about half of a candy board left and most of the one pollen patty that was inserted back in the beginning of January. I didn’t expect this to be enough for winter, demonstrating the fact that I am still trying to figure out how these strange creatures work.
The bees have been flying around and visiting all of the purple crocuses that cover the front yard. They have been bringing in lots of yellow and orange pollen and have a little capped honey. When the weather was about 60°F, I got into the hive and found the queen, a small amount of brood, pollen, and uncapped/capped honey. The queen and brood were already up in the medium hive body and the workers were using the deep for storage. When it gets warm again, I will take advantage of her move and replace the deep with a medium. I also noticed a bit of mold and got very worried about condensation. Sam reassured me saying that it was to be expected at this time of year. He also recommended inserting a hive reducer into the opening to discourage robbing.
At the Bee School in February, I bought a few disposable hive beetle traps upon the recommendation of a fellow CIBA member. These were inserted at the top of the hive super between the frames of honeycomb. They have oil inside and a light piece of felt lying over the top. Supposedly, either the bees will chase the beetles into the trap or the beetles, wanting a dark crevice, will crawl into the trap. Either way the beetle drowns in the oil. I still have the Freeman Beetle Trap on the hive and just recently dumped out the oil mixture. There were lots of beetles and bee parts in the oil. When warmer weather comes along, I will start getting into the hive more often and tracking their progress. I also hope to learn more about nectar flows, what plants are blooming at what time, and figuring out what flowers my girls are visiting depending on the color of the honey and pollen. I am so excited for their first spring and I cannot wait to see how they will handle it.
Thank you so much for giving me this hive and opportunity. This is the only hive I have right now (I hope to expand this spring) and I have learned so much, not to mention I have been able to take the opportunity to educate others too.
Submitted by Josie in Q1
This has been an exciting and educating adventure since the very beginning. Thank you very much for giving me this hive and opportunity. This fall was difficult because my bees didn’t have a chance to gather a great deal of nectar in the summer. Not only were they new, but the drought made gathering nectar harder. Also, my bees didn’t want to reproduce very quickly. So they were working with very few bees during the nectar flow. When I got into them at the end of October they were running out of honey and I had to find a way to supplement them inside the hive. In October my group made candy boards. I needed to use one of mine prematurely and inserted it into the hive in early November. So far about one quarter is eaten through. I will make a pollen patty and put it on top of the candy board over Christmas break. I had one hive that died this fall because of lack of honey. I had put a top hive feeder in the hive, but a couple weeks later I found the hive dead with frozen bees on the feeder. My guess is that they could not get to the sugar water because of the cold. So I had to find a way to feed my Bridwell bees without them freezing. Sam recommended that I fill up a super with sugar water.
Dad and I at first made it 6:5, sugar and water respectively, and sprayed it into the comb of a few frames with a squirt bottle. We were then worried that the ratio didn’t have enough sugar in it, so we made it 2:1. This was too thick for the squirt bottle and we therefore attempted several other methods. We tried pouring it in the comb, brushing it onto the comb, dripping it with a turkey baster into each hole, and nothing worked. The comb looked full, however, the syrup had glazed over the top and the cells were completely empty. So we watered down the syrup a little bit and tried everything again. It was now evident that only the squirt bottle would work. We added water several times and each time attempted to squirt it. We finally came back to the maximum sugar and water ratio which apparently was 6:5. The next eight hours were spent filling up each cell with sugar water. Mom made the syrup for me once we figured out the magic number.
In November there were three days when it was between 50 and 69 degrees. This was when I put the extra full super on the hive. I also took the opportunity of the bees flying around to fill a container with thicker syrup and place it in front of the hive. No insect found it. So I put a couple bright red baby peppers on the edge and dribbled some syrup on them. The bees were swarming around it. It was soon dry and I couldn’t get to it because of the bees, so I placed a few more containers beside it. They were all almost empty by the end of the warm spell. I found out later from Sam that this might have encouraged robbing, so we will see and learn from the mistakes. When the temperature was about 69 degrees I got into my hive and found the “extra” super mostly empty! Below, the first hive body was mostly uncapped honey. I assume that they moved the syrup down and started capping it. About a week ago the bees were flying around again and so I put a container of syrup outside and another one inside the hive. I don’t know how much is left. I did see them bringing in pollen during both warm spells. In the spring I plan on attempting to transfer them into a medium hive body once again. I bought all of the necessary equipment and it is ready to go. I will also start experimenting with hive beetle cures.
In September Sam and I sprayed nematodes on the ground and we plan on repeating the process in the spring. The Nematodes are called HB Nematodes and they are a beneficial parasite. They kill flea larvae, fungus gnat larvae, caterpillars, weevils, bores, Japanese beetle grub, and chafer beetle grub. The nematodes release bacteria that kill the host. They then multiply in the body and send young to find other bodies. I have also tried a couple traps. I was told by a man in our group that the Beetle Blaster trap doesn’t work because the beetles hide under the lip. So I tried the Freeman Beetle Trap instead in November and so far I have seen about twenty beetles lying in it. I also tried corrugated signs cut into strips and filled with diatomaceous earth. This did not seem to affect the beetles at all. It has been quite an experience raising bees. It is exciting following a path that I have never tread before. I have learned so much and have been able to teach others about it. Thank you very much not only for the gift of the hive, but also for the numerous opportunities that beekeeping has given me.
Submitted by Josie in Q4
I first became interested in beekeeping in February 2012. Everything happened at once: a friend of mine was thinking of starting beekeeping, another friend was asking if anyone wanted to split a hive, and my mom had run out of honey. I had never even thought about beekeeping until those events. I became a member of the IBA and decided to try out a meeting. There, I unexpectedly came across my future mentor Sam Dodd. I went to his house and he gave me a tour of his equipment and also had me extract honey. A few weeks later I actually worked the bees for the first time. I wanted to have 2 hives, however I could only afford one with my own money. So Sam recommended I apply for the Bridwell award to help me get started. It was now the end of April and I had decided to go ahead and buy 5 medium supers, inner/outer cover, suit, frames/foundation, and wood preservative for my first hive. It was turning out to be an expensive hobby. Sam taught me how to build everything.
In the mean time, somebody had bought an extra package of bees, so Sam gave them to me and we established them in his hive. When my equipment was finished we transferred the bees from his hive to mine and about 3-4 weeks later we transported them to my house. While I had been building my first hive, I had found out that I had been selected for the Bridwell project. I was so excited that I would have 2 hives. All in one day, we had transferred my first hive to my house and we had driven down to Mike Seib’s house to pick up my Bridwell hive. I was/am very thankful for this hive and equipment. I was extremely excited to see a shiny smoker and brand new gloves that fit. I completed all of the building and Mike delivered the bees. We are in the process of moving them from deep frames into medium. Sam has a wooden nuc box and a handy board that transitions them from a deep nuc to a medium super. I am going to spray sugar water on the frames in the medium because they have not yet moved up. The first batch of brood hatched just a couple of days ago, so maybe there are just not enough of them. These bees seem easier to irritate then my first hive, but I still need to get to know them and figure out if they need to be smoked. So far the queen has a nice laying pattern and I haven’t seen any sort of insect that isn’t a bee in the hive. Thank you so much for giving me this hive and encouraging a life changing and forever learning experience.