March 04 - weeks 1 & 2


March 1, 2004

I'll start this season off by announcing my updated and really awesome Beekeeping Forum. Many of you may remember the old forum which had more glitches than functionality, I'll blame most of the problems with the old server that hosted my site. It crashed too often, leaving me to chase down the IP guy almost every day.

But now I have a solid server that (so far) works perfectly and luckily the software also was updated. The forum is an educational learning experience for anyone who visits. I'm learning new stuff every time I get a notice that a new post has been added. Even though we are only 12 members strong, the forum is also only days old and it will take time for members and guest to get back to my site and find the forum.

It was sad to be away from writing so long. I enjoy photography and I'm pretty good at it, but writing is my passion and great therapy too. My whole software collection is updated and much more user friendly. I can update this or any page at a single click of the mouse - previously, I had to run separate software for file uploads and it became a hassle just to update a page or add a photo.

The forum is broken down into many categories. Each category is divided into topics that the administrator (me) Moderators (Trail Twister - who is the Robin in my Bat Cave), members and guests can all post and reply to. Guests (non registered members) can post and reply to almost every category. Registered members can post, reply, create/ take part in polls and use the internal mail system in all but one category.

The only off limit category is THE FINAL WORD which I made for moderators to communicate directly with me and each other. This important category is where the internal magic happens. We decide where topics need to be placed, brainstorm ideas and where (when necessary) we decide if a member has PUSHED THE BOUNDARIES to far, and deal with it as necessary. I insist on keeping the content of the forum family friendly, when members or guests break that one simple rule, they get warned once - a second warning does not come, they simply go away.

You may ask, can't they just sign in with a new user name and password? Well, they can try, but I can FLAG their IP Address and if ANY USER tries to sign on from that IP address, they are blocked. So be nice or be gone - the integrity of this site will not be compromised by some Ying-yang with a bad hair day.

My website and the forums are all commercial free and family friendly. Don't be afraid to let the kids share in the beekeeping experience. I do my very best to keep the content on ALL THESE MANY PAGES clean enough for the youngest member of your family to read.

March 2, 2004

I'm slowly making my way to getting the bee yard ready. I'm ordering 5 pounds of bees and 2 marked and clipped queens this week and having them delivered around April 1st. That gives me just under 4 weeks to get everything setup and ready. I'm banking on that April 1st delivery date to coincide with the blossoming of our main pollen source during the Spring, a row of 40 trees that align the main street in my home town. These trees bloom for about 2 weeks and an active hive can collect enough food for the first wave of larva when the hatch from their eggs.

Larva are ravenous, they double in size every day until they final are capped over and go through the pupa stage. The amount of pollen needed to feed these eating machines is relatively massive and a good source like this row of trees in necessary to give the hive a BOOST when starting from packaged bees.

Remember too that I have full frames of honey and plenty of drawn out frames ready for the queen to get egg laying. She'll emerge from her queen box in a few days after installing the bees and go right to work laying eggs around the clock. With in days you can see the tiny eggs filling the cells and a few days later the larva  are ready to feed. Having drawn comb greatly increases your worker activity as they go about tending to the queen and brood.

When starting with foundation (stamped sheets of wax that the workers draw out into cells) the queen can only lay eggs as fast as the comb is drawn. It is interesting to see eggs that are in cells that are barely formed. The queen will lay eggs in cells that are shallowly drawn and then the workers continue to draw the comb out as the eggs mature. Often the comb is STILL incomplete when the larva are hatched - but it all comes together by the second wave of eggs 28 days later.

With complete drawn frames, I expect a bumper crop of workers in just a month and a few days from installing the packaged bees. The hive will be filled with young workers by early June and possible swarming (natural division of the hive through prolific growth) in late July.

March 3, 2004

Well, today was the last of the beautiful days for a while. We had temperatures in the 60s and low 70s  for 5 days - but today it is raining and cool. As I've mentioned,  I Beeless now and ordering them tomorrow. I did a weigh-in today and my supers weigh in at just over 210 pounds - subtract about 20 pounds for the supers and we still have 190 pounds of honey ready for a new home and a bunch of bees to tend it.

I looked at the stats on our Beekeeping forum and with 140 posts, almost all come from three members, Beth, Al and Me. I'm glad I have them aboard or it would be a lonely place. It's amazing how your following can disappear when you disappear for a long time. Of course, I can't blame them since the web sites content didn't change for a very long time.

I'm going to go to my email list from my newsletter which is stored in my notebook PC hopefully later tonight when I get home from work. I have over 3000 addresses that I can drop a quick email to just to let them know I'm back. Lots of those email addresses though are probably invalid, people tend to move services, email addys, etc., about once a year - so I'm thinking maybe (if I'm lucky) I'll get a 1000 that will make it to the old members.

But I'm happy with the forum and eventually it will grow. The content is quality stuff already! The images that I see posted there are all awesome and the written content is informative. It's amazing how it can grow once it makes it to the search engines. I mentioned how my Beekeeping Course is almost always on the first page of a search engine when just typing the word BEEKEEPING in the engine. That is down from always being the "second site found" for the topic, to around the 12 in the listing. I'm just happy to be on the first page still.

I'm gonna keep you updated as my listing climbs back toward the top - hopefully right there under Bee-Commerce which is Howland Blackiston (Author of Beekeeping for Dummies) on-line business website which gets a tremendous number of hits. I do ok too at nearly 3000 hits a day to the beekeeping site and 2500 to the page.

March 5, 2004

Just finished adding some new features to the Beekeeping Forum. Members can now add avatars (small images that automatically are added to each of their posts) so that other members can spot them faster and it also makes it more fun!

Also, I opened the html option which allows html coding to be done within a post. I'm not sure how that will work out, up until now we have use the BBC coding method which most user have no problem using. Finally I'm working hard at customizing templates - which are the background colors, unique buttons and all around interface of the forum. It's a complex operation and something new to me - so it may be awhile before I can let the members use the different backgrounds.

The Forum has 18 members as of today, adding 4 new people since yesterday! I'm really happy with the way things are going and I'm doing all I can to keep the forum interesting and attractive to the members. What is great though, is that the membership really makes the forum exciting - the photos, questions, answers and commentary really make the forum, not fancy avatars or flashy backgrounds. We have a small but dedicated group and each day we see more people jumping in.

I moved a few full frames of honey around into different boxes today. My final setup will be alternating drawn comb frames with honey filled frames in the top super and mostly just drawn frames in the bottom super of each hive that I buildup. I expect the bees to stay mostly in the bottom box when the arrive. The top empty frames will be filled up as the colony worker count rises.

The bottom boxes will be ready for the queen to start laying immediately and she will as soon as she is released from the small queen shipping cage. A note on the shipping cage: rarely have I found that the workers successfully release the queen on their own UNLESS the queen is shipped with workers in the cage with her. Some bee farms ship the queen alone in her cage and I am NOT keen on that idea.

The queen needs workers in there with her, if for no other reason, she need something soft to bump into as the cage gets moved around. The workers on the outside of the queen cage feed her through the wire of the cage, but the workers in her queen cage keeps her safe and also helps chew the way out of the cage once it is placed in the hive. Read more about shipping and installing bees.

Today was a busy day replying to emails. I don't mention it often, but a typical day here at Beemaster Central (lol) may include 50+ emails, all of which I personally reply to. Sometimes I'm a week or more behind, but I give every email the same attention.

March 7th, 2004

Just hanging really. It snowed 3 inches this morning, maybe the prettiest snow all year and it was gone by noon. I was just talking to Jeannine (you know, Fred's sister) she is 15 and NOT going to be a beekeeper, but we like her any ways - lol. Tracey and She went shopping at the outlet store I mention earlier in this months logbook somewhere - they get so long I lose track of my own writing after a while. She told me she did really good on a project for school I helped her brainstorm - the topic was GREAT INVENTIONS of the 20TH CENTURY.

This was a no brainer for me - I suggested the TRANSISTOR, which change the world in the late 1950s. The transistor was the answer to miniaturizing the vacuum tube, reducing size, power requirements, unnecessary heat production which is pure wasted energy and most importantly - opened the door for the Integrated Circuit Chip and eventually the micro-processor. Without the transistor, computers would still cost millions and take up entire football fields worth of space and costing thousands of dollars an hour to operate. Thank you Bell Labs (AKA Lucent technologies) for this really cool breakthrough. Jeannine and I went searching, got some great text and images and BINGO a 2 page report that anyone would be proud to hand in.

So we finally got Jeannine up here for a visit - we've been trying for a few Summers now, but something always prevented it from happening. Now she knows what kind of fun her brother always has here and I know she'll be back soon! Jeannine lives about 60 miles away, so getting her here isn't always going to be easy Fred started taking the bus up here two years ago now, he lives about 45 miles away. He don't mind the bus too much and I don't mind the 6 mile ride to the bus station to get him. Now he has his license, but still no car - it's just a matter of time though.
I'll have him up here to help install the bees when they come. I think I'm going to let him have his own hive, which I'll lend a hand with IF he can't make it here for inspections, etc., but he will still have the thrill of doing all the beekeeping stuff when he does come. You'll see that he isn't really a big kid, but he's got that lean muscle that us old folks would kill for. I don't doubt that he could take me in an arm wrestle these days, but I'll never admit that to him - lol.

I also checked out the Motorhome "The Bus" as we call it after the storm. Just a walk through to see that nothing leaked anywhere - it didn't. What a beautiful coach it is, we were soooo lucky to get it at a price that we could swing. I got a tire though that needs fixing and also a few questions on the Inverter system (converts DC battery cells into AC electric) not a biggy question, but it has this $4000 add-on computer panel that controls the output and it's one of those "4 buttons do 90 things" keypads. The original owners had this installed and I can't figure how to get the power to the front entertainment center without the generator on. I know it's a simple fix, the book just isn't very helpful. More later, I can't wait for warm days that stay warm - unlike the mini blizzard we got today again. ugh..

March 16, 2004

Another 3 inches of snow today after being 65F yesterday - go figure. Nothing is really blooming or even budding out there to worry about. It's been a few days since I wrote, I'm not skipping out on the logbook, just been really busy working on the Beekeeping Forum  and even added a Chartroom that anyone can use.

The Chat room is pretty limited in features, but it's real time chatting and works for anyone wanting to talk live without having to send private messages or emails back and forth. I STRONGLY suggest you contact me using AIM which is always on here at Beemaster Central (my corner work station in the kitchen).

Well.... I just went and picked up the motorhome in 3 inches of slushy snow, had my usual argument with the service people and got out of there with the things I needed done. It's about a 6 mile ride going and 8 miles coming back - you can't make a left out of their parking lot because traffic is never ending across the two lane highway. So you need to make three rights to make a left - ugh.

I checked out their work when I got home and they did everything scheduled - believe it or not though, they didn't do tire repair there, what on Earth is THAT about? I have a pretty bad leaker and they had to pump it up BEFORE I could drive it home. I keep a compressor aboard the bus but no way was I gonna stand out in the slushy and pouring rain to blowup my tire because it sat there for a week while they did their repairs.

Check this out - parts $0.60 (yep sixty cents) for a shear pin that is designed to fail if the bedroom slide were to hang up for some reason - rather than burn up the slide motor. Labor $299 of which $180 was covered by warrantee plan.

I promise there will be beekeeping stuff coming soon - I'm still dealing with snow every other day here in New Jersey. Keep reading the forum for beekeeping in warmer areas, we have members from around the Globe in all climates and many here in the Southern United States who are lucky enough to keep bees flying year round[/b]


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