Hive Assessments and Taking Notes

The purpose of a hive assessment is give you a idea of what is going on in the colony and to see if you need to do any type of management. Taking notes on the results of the hive assessments helps you remember what the colony looked like on a specific date. I gave a talk at the Eastern Apiculture Society last week where I talked about performing hive assessments and taking notes. I showed a general checklist that people expressed interest in, so I am posting it here. Here is the checklist of what I look for and record. Yard information: Date Name of…

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Solar wax melter made even easier…

It is hot, oppressively hot.  At this time of year in Maryland, no one wants to work in the colonies and the bees don’t really want you in there either – they make that perfectly clear.  Most beekeepers have extracted some honey by now and may have a stockpile of wax lying about.  It is on these hot sunny days that solar wax melting season begins at our home.  My background and training is in engineering so I’m not likely to go out and buy a solar wax melter – I’d rather reuse something I have and make it work with very little work from…

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Keeping Records 2

You have read my last blog on “why bother to keep records while beekeeping” and you’re convinced. You want to keep records. That’s the attitude! So, how do you keep - good, detailed, relevant, informative, not-too-much-of-a-hassle - record? Short answer: the way you want. Longer answer: You have to pick the method that speaks to you best. Don’t start with too complex a method or you won’t stick to it. If you start by a simple method and notice how it helps you, you will, by yourself, start taking more complex and comprehensives notes. Some beekeepers use a notebook they leave on the hive itself…

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Keeping Records

Every beekeeper is a citizen scientist. Have you noticed how in a beekeeping meeting everyone is sharing tips, experience, and advice? We are all comparing our practices, our successes, our failures. We want to hear about other people mistakes (and learn from them). We want to try their recommendations for ourselves. When taking my beekeeping class, the most repetitive advice that our mentors provided us was to keep detailed records. Not only is it a requirement under Belgium’s legislation for hygiene of food products (yes, we do have legislation for everything in Belgium, that’s one of our oldest traditions, along with beer) but the advantages…

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Preparing frames for foundation

In the next few months beekeepers all over the country will start to inspect hives if they haven’t already. Some pests can be destructive over the fall and winter months. There are two common pests that cause damage during this time, mice and wax moths. Both pests cost beekeepers valuable time in fixing the problem and also money to replace the foundation if the frame is salvageable. Below is a video of me using my modified hive tool to clean foundation from top and bottom bars on frames. For more information on my modified hive tool, visit my blog "here". . I have included some…

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Nectar, Pollen and Pollen Substitute: Keys to a healthy colonly

In this blog I will talk about nectar, pollen and my theories on how honey bees utilize pollen/substitute patties and dry pollen substitute. So why do honey bees collect pollen? It would be hard to ask this question without asking why they collect nectar. Honey bees collect nectar from the nectaries of plants, which are glands that produce nectar. A honey bee uses her proboscis (mouthparts) to lap up nectar from flowers. There are some flowers in which the bee’s proboscis is not long enough to extract nectar, one example is the honey suckle flower. With this flower, bumblebees will chew a hole in the…

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Whats wrong with my hive?

To determine if something is wrong with your hive, you must first know what a healthy, productive hive looks like. Knowing what a healthy colony looks like takes time, patience, and many hours in the hive to get a feel of what is going on in the colony throughout the year. Sometime the colony does not look so great and the size of the colony starts to dwindle. You can do two things here, panic or take a look at what is actually going on. Look at the brood, look at the bees(size, wings, uniformity, behavior), look at the sealed brood, look at the food…

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Smoker Plug

It has been really busy out in the Midwest recently. Liz and I visited nine beekeepers in North Dakota the past week. Once I catch up with the work, I will write more about the experience. But for now, here is something on smokers. Having your smoker puff billows of smoke out of your truck bed can prompt concerned drivers to warn you your truck is on fire. To prevent your smoker from getting you pulled over, you can either put it in a metal box or you can use something to plug the hole. To plug the hole you can use something like grass…

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Moisture Control

In some locations in the United States moisture can kill honey bee colonies over the winter months. This moisture is caused by the condensation of the water vapor as it rises from the cluster and cools at the interface between the warmer and colder air. This interface is usually at the inner cover in most hives. Bees can be killed by moisture if it builds on the inner cover and rains down onto the bees when clustered. The bees can tolerate the cold but not when they are wet. Many beekeepers will place an empty hive body above the inner cover for added protection against…

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How to catch a swarm

When someone informs you of a swarm, it is critical that you ask some important questions and take down some information before heading out to catch it. These important items include the following: • You need to know the height of the swarm to determine if you can reach it by standing or if a ladder will be required. • It is also important to determine that they are actual honey bees; the best way to do this is ask questions. Many calls come in but in fact, are for wasp nests or some other insect. • Are they on a branch you can cut…

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