Monday, July 29, 2013

Honey Bees cleaning wax 7.29.13

After crushing and straining the honey out of the wax, I let the bees clean all the utensils I used.

The white stuff in the top of the jars is the wax that is separating itself from the honey. The honey then filtered thru a paint strainer into the jar below. (duct tape prevents it from getting knocked over).

That honey tastes even better than it looks.


Yesterday I started putting out a small plate of the wax for them to clean out.


This morning I put out another….within 4 minutes there were a few bees on it…..they must have been waiting for me.


Most of the time they work together to move flakes around…some even get carried off. I find them in the grass.

Once in awhile you will see a couple fighting….not sure if they are from different hives or just fighting over a piece of wax.

This may look like a lot of bees……but believe me….it’s not. Just open up a hive and look inside…..and when we watched them swarm, we couldn’t believe there were any left…but there is. Sure hope they made a nice Queen to take over.

Friday, July 26, 2013

They swarmed …. and our first Honey Harvest ….. 7/26/13

Had my game plan all down…started gathering things that I would need about 8:15 this morning….before I could get suited up they started pouring out of the hive….the air was again filled with bees.

Tried to take some photos but the batteries were dead.

They’ve settled in the top of the tree by the hive. I have a second hive cleaned out and set up just in case they like that for a home.

After those left in the hive had settled down I opened it up and removed 3 frames of honey. The super was full of capped honey.

Evidently they have been back-filling the brood nest and the Queen had no place to lay. Don’t know why they didn’t build in the empty super above.

Once the frames were removed, Jim lifted the super off so I could get a frame of brood from the deep hive body. It is a much larger frame and when put in the medium super it will hang down into the main hive….acting like a ladder to help persuade the Queen to lay in the super above. I want the deep and one medium super for their brood box.

Empty frames were put into the super to give them a place to build and hopefully she’ll (if there is a new Queen) start laying.

We brought the 3 frames of honey inside and tried a crush and strain method I read about on

This is what it looks like.


We also filled 2 small honey bears. Made a little mess in the kitchen but with 2 of us working and continually wiping up it wasn’t too bad.

I may not have crushed it good enough. I thoroughly washed new window screen for 2 jars. I will restrain those thru the paint filter that is on the other 2.

They will sit like this overnight. If it looks like there is any honey left in the wax tomorrow…I’ll crush it again and strain it again.

Jim was like a kid with a cake batter bowl. He was cleaning out everything he could. The little he left was put outside for the bees to cleanup.


Our first honey harvest. Didn’t think we would get any this year. May get a few more frames if they fill it up again.

Jim says “ wonder why your own honey tastes the best?” I don’t know…but it sure is good.

What a day….hope the bees move into the other hive…but if not…there are hundreds of big old trees in the area.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Trying to swarm?

I was watching the bees this morning while having a cool water break on the back porch.

They normally have their orientation flights around 3:30 in the afternoon but they were coming out of the hive at 11am….and they kept coming and coming. The air was full of honeybees, all swirling around. This didn’t look like orientation……swarming??

I had read somewhere that banging on a pie tin would drive a swarm to pick a lower place to swarm so I grabbed my tin and started banging away.  Before long they were all circling downwards and landed on the hive.

This is what it looked like as they all started marching back inside. Whew!! Thought they were moving on to greener pastures.


I had removed the cover and the top 2 supers yesterday. Only one frame had a tiny piece of comb built. The bees did have some small hive beetles corralled in 2 corners. Moved the bees off and killed them with the propane torch.

So…tomorrow I will check the rest of the hive. Need to make sure the hive beetle larva isn’t messing with the super that is filled with comb and hopefully honey.

I’ve been checking the website and every other bee site I can find….it sounds like the bees have been back filling the brood nest. Maybe the Queen has no room to lay and is considering leaving with a large part of the population. Will work on that tomorrow.

You would not believe how many bees were flying in the air.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7.24.13 A lively Honey Bee Orientation

Around 3:30 each afternoon there are several Honey Bees that come out of the hive for orientation.


This is how they learn the location and surroundings of the hive.


Some days it is larger than others. Today it was great!! They pour out of the hive….climb up the front and take off. Most fly around facing the front of the hive….others spiral up and come back down. Perhaps they’ve been out before.


I look forward to watching them every day. Looks like a large bunch of foragers getting ready to go.


Monday, July 15, 2013

I still have Honeybees 7.15.13

We spent the last 5 or 6 weeks visiting family and friends in the North East. Jim’s family, and my father are in NY and my kids, grand kids and great grand kids are in VT. We used the Buick for transportation while up there…put almost 1100 miles on it.

We had a great time. Lots of great grandkids to play with. They get big so fast.

Spent time with Tom and Regina and their new project….sheep. They have a great setup going. Lots of fields to rotate them in.

Had a good time with Jim’s cousin Arlene and her husband Dick. They run a Senior Club, “The Silver Fox”. A great place for seniors who can’t stay home alone while care givers are working, or for those who just don’t want to stay home alone. Lots of things to do, and a staff that is fantastic.

I was concerned that my Honeybees might decide to leave home…but they didn’t…at least not all of them did. Don’t know if they cast off a swarm while we were gone or not. I had the smaller hive set up just incase some wanted another place to live..but it is still empty.


The stand is set in concrete. I had a few extra tiles so put them down to keep the grass down. The ratchet straps hold it to the stand in case of large critters or hurricanes.

The big box at the bottom (called a deep) is brood chamber. The super above it ( a medium) was built out with comb. I hope it also becomes a brood chamber. The super above it (also a medium) will be for their stored honey. We wont touch that. If there is anything in the top super we will take some or all of it for ourselves. We hope to leave them enough to feed themselves thru the winter. If they get low on stores and we have a few jars of honey…we’ll feed it back to them.


It has been pretty hot and the bees have been fanning the entrance to help cool the hive. I have a jar of water with beads in the tray to keep the bees from drowning. It is a short trip for them to get water for the fanners.


I read they put water on the fanners wings to help cool. I do have a birdbath within 15 ft. but this way is a much shorter  travel, and they put a lot of miles on those little wings.


It’s a bit tricky for those foragers returning….trying to get past those fanning.


There are several drones in this photo. They are the larger bees with the big black heads (eyes, I believe). I see 5 right in the center of the picture at the top of the entrance.


I took the top off and checked the super….no comb or honey in it yet. Will look again next week, and also check the super below it. I need to put a Queen excluder below the top one. The Queen excluder looks like a metal grate. The openings are large enough for the workers to go thru but not the Queen. That prevents her from laying eggs in the super we want to extract honey from.

New at this…hope it works out the way we expect it to. Right now there are a lot of palms blooming. Hopefully they will fill up that top super….or at least a few frames.