April 04 Weeks 3 & 4


Ok, so I'm not exactly on the ball starting Part Two - been a hectic time now that Spring has finally arrived. I'll backup a few days, and in hindsight write the current log to catch up with we are now.

April 16, 2004

I received a call from my bee supplier stating that there was a delay in shipping of my bees. I had ordered (and still have) two 3 pound packages of Italians and queens which were to arrive by the 20th. The shipper informed me that weather concerns for our area had cause backlogging and I understood his concern knowing that we have had night time temperatures in the high 20F to low 30F off and on for several weeks up to the shipping date.

Since bees are shipped on a first come first served ordered basis, I had to await a "Window" of delivery and I accepted the excuse knowing that it had great merit. Meanwhile, every blasted tree that I depend on for my main pollen crop is blooming and I'm sitting here with nothing resembling a honeybee to enjoy the harvest - ugh.

This happens often, you can't expect to live and die by a calendar in beekeeping - there are variables and contingencies that need to be worked with and around. Knowing that your dates are not locked in stone, especially in the Northern tier of the United States (as compared to the fairly predictable South) you have to be able to bend a little and hope for the best.

I had most of the equipment cleaned and ready from last season, the hives were stored in a shed I had adapted with a humidity control unit - a simple high impact "Home Depot" type plastic tool shed with a dehumidifier mounted thru the framed window which automatically came on by a humidistat sensor. This customized upgrade to the shed was a gift from a friend/coworker who knew that I wanted to stored whole frames of honey without fermentation spoiling the honey. It is seriously home-brew, a Ron Popeil dehydrator and a few sensors and there you have a 25% humidity controlled room - just like a humidor for cigars.

I have store 22 full frames of honey, now 3 years old and as fresh smelling and tasting as the day I stored it. In the winter it isn't had keeping the humidity low, but when snow and rains come - it can be challenging. This was a really fine solution for my storage problems and it kept ants out (through a screened mesh over the fanned window) and was fairly cheap to operate.

April 18, 2004

It was a whopping 94 today, up 60 degrees from 3 days ago - lol. That's what I mean about the weather not being suitable for shipping, shocking a clustered package is not a good thing to do - sometimes you can get your bees installed and they just start dropping dead 2 days later, it's almost impossible to prove, but chances are that they were subjected to something during shipping that caused their untimely and delayed death.

So I started mowing the lawn and I got the milk crates in place and back where I prefer to keep the hives. I even broke out the C1 and C2 Supers themselves, got the frames assorted so that I have good clean and healthy looking drawn comb for the bottom supers and at least 5 frames of honey, staggered with 5 drawn frames of comb on the second story of each hive for the bees to go right to work.

So, I have 2 hives ready, once again - the lower ten frames of EACH HIVE are fully drawn and totally empty frames ready for the queens to start laying ASAP. The second super on each hive has a honey filled frame followed by a empty drawn frame next to it - a total of 15 drawn frames and 5 honey filled frames per hive.

If I were dealing with new foundation, I would not have a second story on either hive, I would simply have 10 frames of new foundation in each hive to place the package bees into. But, having the luxury of plenty of surplus honey and lots of frames fully drawn with comb, I can give them a home ready for mass production in both the brood and the food departments.

I want them to store their nectar up top without the need of queen excluders. I'm not a big fan of excluders in a hive, unless you are using it as a tool to restrict the queen from leaving the hive, or using multiple queens within the same hive. But if all you want is to have your honey frames SEPARATE from your brood, the bees do a really fine job all by themselves.

Giving the queen free run of the lower story keeps the younger nursing bees and brood downstairs, while the second story is used for nectar/honey storage. Mind you that foragers return with nectar, pass it off to in hive workers who take it and store it. The older in-hive workers do the majority of storage while the younger workers tend to the larva. To remember this, just think of the older workers slowly making their way to the entrance and out of the hive to be foragers. So the older workers MEET the foraging workers near the entrance, pass off the nectar and then store it - soon, these storing workers will be the next to forage and the cycle goes on.

April 21, 2004

It's less than a week from the delivery date of the 26th and Tracey and I are on vacation that week. We had hoped to get my Mother out to Amish Country in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a few days, but after taking my mom for a short test drive I realize that she is just too sickly to go on such a trip. We are probably going to stay around the house and catch up on landscaping the yard.

I have several places that have plantings that need to be replaced and a few ideas t improve the property look and this will give us BOTH a break from work and a chance to get some fresh air and sunshine. I'll be picking at Al and Kare at for their knowledge as I spruce up the property.

Living on a small lot has many advantages and disadvantages - I like the fact that I can cut all my grass in less than an hour, although it isn't straight lined cutting, I'm zig-zagging in and out of small trees, brick bordered arrangements, etc. all the time - making mowing a pain. But at the end of last Fall the borough of LAkehurst finally poured us a new road and put in sidewalks and curbing. I'm tracking in a lot less dirt into the house now, it was always a problem before, but not it is barely an issue at all.

Plus I have nice bordered areas to touch up my lawn and make the place look really nice. As I've mentioned before, our yard is 55'x110' and the house with three porches and a 37ft motorhome and 2 8'x10' sheds all fit in there somehow - still leaving enough room for 2 bee hives and 5 defined areas for plantings. It's a miracle what you can do with a small yard - although I am envious of people (who shall remain nameless Beth and Al/Kare) who have property out the wahzoo.

But we do ok, and I'm gonna do magic with year with what little bit we have. I'll be adding photos soon, I just needed to get this page going.

April 23, 2004

So it's finally today (real time posting, end of hindsight for now) and it's cold and clammy outside again, the trees are just about done blooming and I just started vacation about 2 hours ago - life is good!

Since we aren't going to go anywhere (most likely) I'll be able to get at that yard work I bragged about up in this post a few paragraphs ago! But I was just answering  an email from young NICK - here is the link it's a sad story and a bit puzzling.

I hope Nick follows along, I only wish when I was first into beekeeping that I had such resources as the Internet, Beekeeping Forums, Message tracking like in this forum in my Beekeeping Brainstorming section - by the way, I still think that my Brainstorming section was the best single Idea I have had in a very long time - it really allows the people who write me get more than just my advise or my opinions. So cross your fingers for Nick and if you have a solution to his problem, please follow that link and help.

I was watching these little ants we have here marching off with some of my honey stores from C1 & C2. I can't keep them out, they are just soooo small that they can get into the hive in a million places. So, I just let them steal some, but once the bees come I'll stomp there little noses in if they mess with me then - lol.

Ants are a real issue to beekeepers. I know that they can clear out a full super of honey in a weeks time if left unchecked. All hyped up on sugar, they go into triple overtime and jog back and forth clearing out the hive and taking it home. Luckily, these little ants aren't doing much damage, I highly doubt they are attacking the sealed honey, instead just robbing anything that is in uncapped or drippy cells.

I'm getting ready for adding about 30 foot of sidewalk to the yard too - I was measuring it out today and I'll be framing it out this coming week if I get the time. I mentioned earlier that we just got sidewalk, curb and a new road - well we park both cars in front of the house and use the sidewalk to get in the house, no fuss, no muss. But the trail to the RV is across the grass and when it gets rainy, it floods and gets muddy in front of the RV's welcome mat.

So our next project is going to be a length of sidewalk running parallel to the bus and tied into the front two walks and rear sidewalk, making it a concrete path keeping the RV and the house dirt and grass free. Well worth the 2 yards of concrete it will take.

Something I rarely talk about is my Dad and his skills as a master mason. My dad passed away back in 1998 but I still have all his trowels, floats and other tools and proudly will use them to keep the house looking better and better. I have a dedication page for him at which I think everyone should read who is dealing with a sickly relative and having trouble dealing with aging parents. He was a great man, something that I appreciated way too late in life, I hope you get a chance to read this dedication.

So it will be a busy week next week. I'm so impatient waiting on the bees, but every crappy day we have had this Spring reminds me of how lucky I am to have NOT gotten them a month ago. There are a few members from our area in the forum, all of them know what I mean - it's a really unusual weather pattern and not one that makes beekeeping a snap!

April 24, 2004

We got sad news today after returning from the local garden center. Tracey's Aunt Jane, her late mother's sister passed away this day. The next few days will be hectic as we visit with family, attend the viewing and burial. I liked Aunt Jane a lot - she was much more accepting to me nearly 20 years ago into Tracey's life than Tracey's mother was. I'm not saying Tracey's mother hated me, that probably was too strong a term, she just expected a bit more doctor or lawyerist than I was - lol.

But seriously, Jane will be missed, I saw her last just before Christmas when the whole family got together to celebrate the holiday and to also host an away party for "Cousin Kenny" who was scheduled to go to Iraq right after the new year - he is there now and BEST WISHES and safe times to him while there trying to bring peace to a country that couldn't care less that we have more interest in their future than they do. The only thing the Iraqi's agree about is that the United States sucks, so I don't have any love loss for these people and I wish every American a speedy return home - although I'm sure we will be there for many years.

The scary part about Iraq is that EVERYONE has guns, that isn't something that America has ever dealt with in a war-front. You can't tell one religious zealous from another and anyone could be the one that will either blow you up or shoot you in the head - it's a different war, but I can't imagine us getting out of there without totally seeing the whole country falling apart into a civil war.

On to lighter issues, we planted some Phlox plants, which are small flowered, tightly bunched grown dwelling perennials that spread out and fill areas up nicely over a few seasons. I placed them around the front lamp post and will be adding them to additional planters that ornate our sidewalk.

April 26, 2004

The viewing is tomorrow, today was a bad headache and earache day for me - rained all day and was chilly - Bees come in 2 days and we told the mail lady today that as soon as they arrive to either bring them or call and I'll pick them up. This will be the day of the burial - ugh. I'll be up in North Jersey about an hour or more away, and I'm sure I'll be with lots of family for a while - hopefully the bees will be delivered and I'll have my Mom here to bring them inside where they can be kept out of the sun or cold or who-knows-what the day will be like.

April 27, 2004

Long day today, I got to say goodbye to Tracey's Aunt Jane who passed away a few days ago. We went with Tracey's dad Pete to the viewing tonight, got to see most of my in-laws who I hadn't seen since Christmas - the same visit when I last saw Aunt Jane - sad.

You just never know, back then we had the away party for Cousin Kenny - who is serving in Iraq and Jane asked me to take some photos, which I gladly did. Now Jane is gone, tomrrow is the burial and I won't be going to that, I'm expecting the honeybees and dealing with a really bad ear infection, a 2 hour drive, long service, family get together and long ride home is too much when you are sick. I was glad to go tonight, showing respect for her was important to me.

So I'm sitting here, probably 12 hours at best from the arrival of two 3 pound packages and queens. I'm sure hoping that I don't get the crazy packing method that I have read about in the forum - where the queen is instantly released into the hive with the package. That goes against everything I have ever taught or knew to be proper.

This seems to be a West Coast thing (like pine-apple on pizza) but I'm not going for it. If the queens are NOT candy blocked, they will be when I'm through with them - lol. I can't afford to lose a queen now - it's practically April, I've lost a full month due to crap weather and shipping delays - to lose a queen not would set me back to July for my first brood emergence and THAT would leave very little time for them to build up enough bees to Winter properly.

This coming Winter, things will be different too! I'm going to store the hives in a 8'X10' dormered shed to fully wind-break them, leaving enough of an opening for any cleansing flights, but giving the about a 30% improvement survival according to testing done with exposed hives compared to protected hives. I plan to have two hives survive this following Winter and what ever it takes I will do to get them alive and strong NEXT Spring for an early pollen flow, which I totally missed this Spring.

About the Forum

Can you believe the content and popularity of the forum!!! I'm very impressed at the photos, the text, the overall content that you see on every single page now - the members and guests are really going to town, building a community where they share all their information in open forum and without any guidance from me - that is an Admins. dream, to sit quietly behind the scenes and just let the forum do its thing.

That doesn't mean I'm not posting, I do a lot of that - but when members voluntarilly create great content, supply images, assist others in getting their images on the site - I feel like this is the greatest forum of its type and I'm proud to be the guy hosting it. Again, their's no special skills involved on my end, it's good software that makes the forum so user-friendly and the membership that makes it magical.

I've been to several Beekeeping Forums, there are two with a great deal of members and frankly one of them has some serious content (literally 30,000 posts) but their topic structuring and lack of image posting ability makes it a bit sterile looking. The other, again with a huge membership is aimed at general beekeeping issues, but the interface was a mess - sloppy and full ad pages had to be viewed between EVERY post you wanted to read, plus embedded ads on every page besides. Shame on them all.

I got to meet again Kevin and Emily,  two of the grand children of Ant Jane who also attented the viewing - I got the both outside and let them play with my Garmin Etrx GPS - they ran up and down the street trying to out run or walk each other using the MPH meter. They had a blast and I handed them business cards - so hopefully they will right after checking out the site. Both in their young teens were impressed by the beekeeping part, but Kevin seemed really interesting in the RV that I explained.

So ends a long day - tomorrow the bees come! You can expect a great deal of content to follow BOTH here in the Logbook and throughout the Forum! Hope you are following along and I hope you enjoy this rather airchair version of my fairly lame life which somehow keeps the site up and running!

April 28,2004

The Bees are here, it is 7:20am est and the mailmain knocked on the door delivering the bee to my wife. Heck, I didn't think my mailman got up until at least 10:30 but there he was. The temperature outside is a miserable 41degrees, so I'm hours away from installing the bees.

So they are sitting on the kitchen table, two 3 pound packages - one seems to be a little lighter in bee count than the other, I think I'll weight them before installing JUST to satisfy my own curiosity. I'm going by the clustering, one is streched from one end of the shipping cage tot eh other and covering the sugar syrup can totally, while the other also reaches end to end but isn't covering the can.

Mostly in the past I have ordered 5 pound packages, which is a lot of bees in a shipping cage. The difference being that the 3 pounder has a better chance at getting at the sugar syrup can than the 5 pounder, but the five pounders can retain thermal heat better.

So, I'll be updating later today. And I'm thinking about reversing the order of the posts in the forum so that you will be reading the latest posts at the top of the page and not the bottom - these long winded posts of mine can cause SCROLL-FINGER and I don't want anyone of you getting that - lol. Talk soon.

April 29, 2004 BEE DAY

Here is a page with many photos from the installation of bees into C1&C2

Banner day today, as stated before yesterday the bees arrived in good shape and the only thing stopping me from installing them was the weather. Today though, it is 80 degrees F outside, sunny with a light breeze - perfect day, perfect installation weather.

Well.... after a 3 week delay getting them, and only a one day delay due to weather - I finally got C1&C2 (Colony One and Colony Two) in their respective homes.

All went smooth with the installation and YES I did have candy plugs in my queen cages ALONG with ATTENDING workers in each queen cage.

Then I removed the cork from the queen cage and stapled the short metal strap to a frame (I don't like the short metal strap - give me the nylon strap any day) then put the frame back in the hive, leaving out 3 frames to pour the bees in through.

I started with C1 and almost made the mistake of shaking the bees out through the feeder can opening - I strongly suggest you never do this, although MOST if not ALL other websites tell you to. I took out the queen cage, retopped the cage with the outer cage lid and laid the shipping cage on its side.

Then one by one I removed the wooden rails on both sides of the screen and then the bottom of the screen and with one good bang - nearly every bee fell right into the hive without having to shake and tumble them and frankly Pee them off bigtime they just rolled out and into place - I then replaced the frames, closed it up and went on to C2 repeating the process.

So the season at begins - finally. Hope you all follow along in my logbook (when totally bored out of your mind) and I'll be posting regular updates on how well the hives are doing here.

By the Way... It is almost 80 degrees, light wind and super duper sunny out - what a difference a day makes!

Tracey took about 60 photos - every one perfect! I'll be adding those a bit later both here and in the logbook section. All in all a great day for Beekeeping here.

April 30 & May 1, 2004

I've mentioned before to leave the hives alone for a few days after installing the packaged bees and queen, and so I have. I have been using entrance feeders to gauge the activity in the hive, here is a short article about this method in the forum it will help you understand the following.

So for 3 days now I have been watching C1 take on TWICE the sugar-water as C2 - that tells me one of three things:

1) the frames I placed in C1 are better suited for storing sugar-water.
2) The HIVE MENTALITY is stronger in C1 - possibly due to a stronger queen scent.
3) C2 may have a dead queen.

A lot of this is assumption, it is too early and too rainy to go into the hive looking to see if either queen has been released yet, even if they have - I would give them 2 more days before interacting with the hive.

It could just be that I placed better drawn out frames in C1 allowing the workers there to place the sugar-water away faster. Maybe C2 has more OLDER BEES who perfer to forage rather than take in suga-water.

Lots of things could be happening in there, but it is NOT my job to interfer yet! In a few days, I'll know for sure WHICH hive is doing best - C1 is the apparent winner so far (I see flashbacks to 2001 and I don't like that at all) but we will not know until I see a queen or signs of a queen in either hive.

Again, this early on, if I don't see a queen it isn't that important, I can look for eggs (too soon for larva) but I'm a good egg finder and the frames I placed in the brood box were well cleaned and fully drawn comb - she will be ready to lay eggs as soon as she gets out, so I expect to find the queens or eggs upon first inspection.

If you go buy activity (actual foraging - or at least hive entrance and exit activity) then neither hive seems to have an advantage - bith are foraging well. So using the feeder as a gauge is an idicator, another piece in the puzzle to use to help you determine what is happening. None of these are set in stone, all indicators are helpful, but NONE paint a picture as well as actual inspection and finding eggs in the colony this early on.

If I find the either queen hasn't been released, I will break through the candy plug, replace the queen cage into the hive and give it two more days BEFORE I look to see if they nudged her way out. AT NO POINT do I let her out, the queen should not be released while HUMANS have their hands in the hive - no matter what some West Coast Bee Suppliers may say. This is something that they bees should do, not us. Remember to always let them do the bee stuff, you inspect and harvest - but all be stuff, especially related to the queen should be done by the workers, not by you.

That ends April... Hope you enjoy following along. I still need to add photos from the installation here, I haven't forgot. Remember these logs are used as SEASONAL REFERENCES - you can go back any time and find out WHAT happens in April and WHAT happens in MAY around the bee yard - well at least here in my part of the country during these particular weather conditions. See you in May log!



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