Honey Bee Keeping and other pollinators

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blissful

Master Chef
Joined
Mar 25, 2008
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We put our bees in last night.
They are great pollinators for about 80% of trees/plants, and not tomatoes or peppers! We grow a lot of tomatoes and peppers but many other things too.
Our dandelions are in full bloom. The pear and cherry trees are in bloom right now too.

I would have loved to take pictures last night but we were in a hurry to get three hives in before dark, as there was rain forecast for last night and today.
We both suited up. Even with being very careful we did haul 2 bees into the house afterwards. One was let out and the other one is still wandering the house. I'll let him out when I find him or he finds me.

We moved the bee frames from the nuc (nucleus) into the hives. We had the queen marked to make our first year easier, to be able to find her. I sprayed the frames of bees with sugar water, they don't fly when they are wet.
We put them in our double high hive and a box on top, the brood comb into the hive, the extra frames into the top box. There is a sugar water feeder in the main hive (at least for now).

This is a picture of the back of the 3 main hive bodies. If I get some sun I'll get pictures of the hives with the extra box on top.
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Honey bees are pretty friendly and generally don't sting unless they are squished between things against your skin, or if the hive feels attacked. The guard bees were a little upset last night in the gold hive and slammed my veil netting a few times. I backed off for a minute and they calmed down. They'd traveled from Georgia to Wisconsin, then from the Bee Place to our home, that's a lot of moving for them. I can't wait to see how they are doing outside the hive today, going in and coming out.

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This is a frame for the deep hive. The deep hive is the height of a deep and a medium. A little wood block is placed between the pieces of foundation and it holds them in place.
hivesrecyclednew-001.jpg

The left foundations is black brushed with wax, the right foundation is drawn comb for this one frame. Some frames are all waxed foundation and no drawn comb. 8 frames across.

New beehives: 5/7/2023 SE Wisconsin
 
Blissful, we kept bees for several years, just two hives here on the farm. We so enjoyed having bees and having great honey to share. Unfortunately the guy across the road decided to have bees--bees he got from water meters. He wondered why our bees were so docile, and his so aggressive. You have Africanized bees, you idiot! The inevitable happened, and we ended up with aggressive bees. We had to get rid of our hives. I still haven't forgiven that idiot.
 
Congratulations on the new beehives, blissful! You probably know this, but the foragers fly up to two miles from the hives to find nectar. I'm sure you have plenty of other pollinators for the plants the honeybees aren't interested in.

I thought people who aren't familiar with how honeybees communicate might like this video. When DH and I took the beekeeper classes several years ago, the instructors showed us something similar.
 
thanks for the supportive posts!
Our bees are Carniolans, though the bee place has 4 kinds brought in from different parts of the country.
Mr bliss joined the bee club, once a month meetings with speakers. He signed up for 2 six hour classes which he took, and at the end of the month another 3 hour class on varroa mites. The bee seller recruited him to work (during retirement from jobs) when he wants this past 2 months with semi's of bees and supplies and working with customers. Many of the people from the classes are working there too on an as needed basis. That's a lot of hands on learning.

Mr bliss built the hives this past 4 months and we have more painting to do on the supers (for honey).
@Marlingardener I'll pass on your compliment to mr bliss on his hives, he'll like that.

The apple trees went into blossom today, so there's lots for the new bees to find.

@Marlingardener Having such aggressive bees would be terrible and I'm sorry you lost your bees. We have 5 swarm traps hung in the area. Our area has a lot of beekeepers and many of them get their bees from the same Bee Place that mr bliss works at. We're hoping that if we get a swarm it will be a calm bunch!
 
Good luck with the bees, @blissful! Hope everything goes great with them.

I tried mason bees a while back, but I should have researched it more - they are more for early things, like fruit trees, which I don't have. So now I raise leaf cutter bees, which are for later flowering plants, like my vegetables. I put the "house" out for them a while back, but haven't seen them yet - still a little early. But warm enough now for them to be coming out of the "tubes" that some of them over-wintered in, so I start watching them.
 
Here's the LIVE set up.
The lower hives is insulated around the boxes then a layer of reclaimed wood from pallets on the outside. The upper box is just a deep, no insulation because we'll be removing it once all the brood is in the lower box on longer frames.
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We checked out the wood pile under the linden tree and it looks like another kind of honey bee, the italian type, more yellow, less black like the carolians.

We checked out our apple tree, and it was HUMMING with bees. I caught a picture of it when the sun came out in the early morning yesterday.

floweringtrees-020.jpg
 
I don't know how I missed this thread. Everything's looking great! I'm envious of you with those bees and hives. How much honey do you think you can produce with the 3 hives in a season ?
My mason bees are finishing up and just released my first batch of leaf cutters. Not sure if I'll ever do the honeybee thing, so my experience is through you a your posts . Keep them coming !
 
@pepperhead212 , and @larry_stewart I was watching a video on a beekeeper in hawaii. She makes money by setting up hives on hotel properties, or restaurant properties, charges per month and all the equipment is theirs (and their cost). The honey is also theirs. She said sometimes a 'bee keeper' of some of the properties doesn't want the expense (and they are an investment) or trouble (work) of hives and honey and she sets them up with other types of bees, like you mentioned, just for pollination. Another attraction to the bees, they are fun to watch!

About the mason and leaf cutter bees. The article I was reading said that any hollow tube like structures like bamboo (very small bamboo) will work. They mentioned dried out raspberry canes will work. I have raspberries and I'm wondering if those are easy to work with, cut them, close off one end, and put them in a small box with the open ends showing. Do you think this will work or have any of you tried it?

There is a symbiotic relationship between the honey bees and the queen. While it seems that the queen is the manager of the hive, the bees are also the manager of the hive. She is responsible for laying the eggs but also for sending out pheromones so the hive knows her. If she does a poor job laying eggs or stops sending out enough pheromone (becomes weak) the bees decide to get a new queen and grow one. They actually grow more than one and let them fight each other off to the death. (there are more reasons a hive will make queens)

We cleaned up 17 supers of old comb. (gift from fellow beekeeper) We saw a perfectly formed queen cup on this frame. They formed it and a depression in the comb surrounding it.
queencup-001.jpg


It was cool to see.

@dragnlaw dandelions and apple blossoms happen early in the season. During this part of the season the brood is being grown, bees are making comb, filling comb with nutrition including honey. So that honey is apple blossom and dandelion and it is on the frames, on the outside edges of the frame surrounds the brood, and on the outer frames in the hive. (sometimes you can see the yellow from dandelion in the frames when the dandelions bloom) This is used for feeding the bees if they need it. Of course they save the best for themselves. We won't put a super (to collect honey) on top until the end of June here in WI. Our honey flow is usually in July.
 
@larry_stewart I don't know how much honey. It is recommended that first year bee keepers concentrate more on the health of the hive before the honey. Some bee keepers only harvest enough honey to eat for their home using the crush and strain method of harvest. Some make it into a honey selling business. I'm not sure what exactly we'll do. If things look good in July, we'll put on supers and see how much is made. The bees need honey to make it through winter so some of that stays with the hive.

I'll keep y'all up to date.
 
Our first beehive check since putting them in. The objectives: look for the eggs, larva, pupae, look at the laying pattern of the queen, keeping the queen in the lower hive box and switch out a deep frame and put in an extra long frame, fill the sugar water gallon frame, put in the varroa mite pesticide strip.

There is capped honey in the right upper hand corner and brood capped in the middle. The way the bees cap them is very different and you can see the difference.
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The queen is in the middle, she has a dot on her back, she is marked. (queens don't need to be marked, it is for convenience so we can find her quickly)
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This Mr bliss moving a deep box off the main hive.

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This me holding the smoker.
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Wagon with bee things we need to do our bee work.
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This is an extra long frame of a deep foundation on the bottom and a medium foundation on the top with wood blocks between. There is space between them and the bees will cover both foundations (both sides) and also most of the empty space between them. They will leave at least one hole to make their travel in the hive easier.
hivecheck51323-019.jpg


This is a frame with JUST a deep foundation (standard way most hives use them). Our large hive and extra long frames are non-standard by design.
hivecheck51323-014.jpg


Questions welcome and if there are pictures of anything you'd like to see, let me know. Enjoy.
 
We check the hives every 7-10 days. Last week was bee check #5. Usually we both suit up but this time, mr bliss wore my bee suit, our neighbor kid/man used mr blisses jacket veil, and I went unsuited with a pad of paper, pen, and camera. I wanted to make notes on each frame of the deeps and each frame of the hives. It took us about 70 minutes.
This is what we want to see, both the upper and lower foundation with brood growing on it.
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This is our neighbor guy getting up close and personal with the bees, his first time.
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The middle hive has a smaller population than the two end hives. We found the queen in each hive which is nice, so we know she is there and laying more brood. We added supers (box for honey) to the top of the structure of beehive, then deep box, then the super.

We might start rendering wax from the 17 retired supers gifted to us by an old bee keeper. We already have it torn off the frames in bags ready to go. I'll be using my old electric roaster to do that. Between heating and cooling and adding fresh water, we figure it will take 3 days. We'll use the wax on the foundations that need more wax, so the bees don't have to work so hard at making wax.
 
Interesting!
I'll be following
I would like to have some beehives, but I think it is too dry here
And then there's that post about African wild bees taking over.....
 
@Badjak what country are you in?

Water sources for bees. Bees like water from 15 feet to 100 feet from the hives. They aren't picky on the water. They don't even mind smelly water, so standing water is okay. They need places in the water to land, so rocks or sand on edges, towels thrown over the edges, anything to make it easy to get water without drowning. We have a temporary water source, a 4 foot kiddie pool with rocks and a towel over the edge, and a few inches of water for them. We want to make a shallow nice looking watering station for them in the same location when we have time. It would be like a very large birdbath that is low to the ground or many of them. We want it to have a natural shape and blend into the area. Right now we are thinking of making large leaf shapes from concrete.
 
This is a sample of notes from the hives.
A blank frame has foundation with no wax comb being made on it.
A drawn frame is the comb being created by the bees for eggs-brood, nectar then honey, bee bread-food like pollen.
Nectar is heavy and wet, once it dries the bees cap it off as honey.
Brood might be eggs laid, larva growing, capped brood, those are the stages.
The Deep has 8 frames and sits on the Hive which has 8 frames. We didn't see any signs of webs, moths, disease, beetles, ants or anything weird which we'd have to look up.

Hive 1, Green Southern Most

Deep Frames South to North

1 partial honey capped, one side

2 partial honey capped, both sides

3 corners honey capped, heavy w/nectar both sides

4 corners capped, heavy w/nectar, both sides

5 last of brood 3-400, nectar, both sides

6 corners capped, heavy w/nectar, both sides

7 drawn out, nectar, both sides

8 drawn out, nectar, both sides

Long Hive Frames South to North, virus strip stays, swap out sugar water feeder for new frame

1 some drawn comb w/nectar and blank

2 drawing comb on one side, Queen

3 brood top, blank bottom, both sides

4 drone brood hatching, drawing comb, both sides

5 brood top full bottom drawing comb, both sides

6 brood one side, drawing out on both sides

7 drawing comb inside and blank

8 feeder removed, replaced with blank frame
 
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