Monday, April 28, 2014

Adding supers to the Honey Bee Hives 4.27.14

My “blue” hive already had 2 supers and several frames were drawn with nice white wax and some honey.

My “pink” hive only had one super and had several frames of drawn comb in it.

Since I don’t use any foundation, the bees have to make all the wax comb themselves…same as they would if they were in a hollow tree in the woods.

There are no bees in the Top Bar Hive so I used it for a bench to work on the supers.

I don’t know if one of the hives will swarm and have this set up just incase they need a home.


I wanted at least 2 drawn frames in each super so I stole a couple from the blue hive to put in one of the supers for the pink hive.

Because they were going into a different hive I made sure all the bees were brushed off.


I have windows in the back of each box so I can check on them without opening up the hive.

I had to cut part of the frame away for a better view so I put black dots on the end that goes to the rear. This also insures I put the frame back into the hive in the same direction it came out. I think it is called “housel positioning”. The twist knobs on the back let me remove the window cover for viewing.


Jim was suited up and taking pictures. He wasn’t sure the camera was working so he tried a “selfie”.


This frame is a little over half drawn and it looks like they’ve started putting honey in it..but it is not capped. The have to remove moisture before capping.


This frame is going in the 3rd super on the blue hive so I didn’t have to worry about removing the bees. Small amount of capped honey on it.


A full frame of capped honey.  You’d be surprised how heavy this is. Notice I’m using 2 hands.


This one isn’t fully capped but was quite heavy.

You can see the screened inner cover on the pink super. I put that there so the bees couldn’t get back on the frames I removed from the blue hive.


All of these frames are from the blue hive. Here I had to scrape a bit of burr comb off the bottom of the frame.


Each frame removed was replaced with an empty frame.


It was a stretch but I got it up there. With only a few combs it wasn’t too heavy.


This frame is just starting to show some capped honey.


As does this one.


The 3rd super had 4 frames with some honey in them and was quite heavy so Jim put that one up for me

The little box on the top of the ladder is my swarm catcher. They have a choice….Top Bar Hive or swarm catcher. Hope they choose one of them….or both. If they do…Jim will have to build another Top Bar Hive.


Getting it in place without squishing a lot of bees is the hard part. Looks like Jim got it.


I had to stand on a step to get the 2 inner covers and the outer cover on. We’ve decided we’ll make a walk way behind the hives. They have to be this high off the ground because this area can flood during a hurricane.


Once the blue hive was closed up I finished up the pink….and I managed to keep all the blue on the blue and pink on the pink.


I use 2 inner covers…the regular one with an oval hole in the middle and a frame with window screen on it to keep ants and wax moths out.


Almost done ..just need to put things away. Only used a little smoke…mainly on my hands. No stings…no angry bees.


Here are a few photos thru the windows. Even though it’s only been a few hours since I moved the frames around. It looks like they are already festooning..preparing to make more comb.

107cs 108cs

Look at that beautiful white comb.

111cs 115cs

The comb in the photo on the R shows new comb..very white and comb that is yellowing a bit because of traffic over it and I believe the top few inches has capped honey.

121cs  124cs

I cant tell you which super these pictures were taken in…but I do keep a list that shows where each frame was last check and where I moved them.

I had to put the extra supers on because last year late May the Cabbage Palms and the Chinese Tallow trees bloomed. I want them to have plenty of room to build and store.

I made sure each super had at least 2 drawn frames because last year I didn’t…and they filled the first super and never moved up to the empty ones above it. After they back filled the brood nest with honey and the Queen had no place to lay…she packed up and left with a lot of the bees. It is a natural thing for them to do. When the hive is over crowded…they make Queen cells ..then the old Queen leaves with half the bees to start a new hive. New Queen emerges …in a bit she goes on a mating flight…unfortunately..last year we had 2 swarms from the same hive and ended up Queen less. Perhaps the Virgin Queen was killed on the mating flight. We decided to buy a package of bees to add to it and another package for the second hive.

I hope that with a few drawn frames in each super they will be used to working in all 3 and continue to do so.

Our view from the back porch (screen room)…Jim thinks they look like the Twin Towers…now we have to worry about terrorists…(bears…bull ants) etc.


I have tie-downs over the hives and blocks on top to help prevent wind from blowing them over. Bear proof they are not. Hope none visit while we are away.

I used a thick layer of mechanics grease on the legs to stop the bull ants. So far it has worked.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Raccoon, Squirrels, Red Headed Skink, Red Bellied Woodpecker 4.27.14

I was watching the Raccoon work at digging up worms or whatever he was finding in the biodegradable hole, when this squirrel came down the tree.


When they spot one of the cats they flag their tails and chatter to warn the others.

It came down for a closer look.


It never flagged or gave any warning. I guess they know the Raccoon is not a threat. I was sure surprised.

It jumped down on the ground and started looking for seeds under the feeder.



Here’s one on the table top having breakfast. I put all of “Babe’s” (Lovebird) old feed out for them.


This is a Red Headed Skink.  It lives in and around this old stump. This one is only about 4 inches long. I’ve seen them as big as 6 inches. Great little bug eaters.


This is the first Blue Jay I have ever seen in my back yard. It gave me a photo op and then left.


The bees, butterflies and Northern Parula Warblers are not the only birds who feed on the Bottle Brush Bushes. This Red Bellied Woodpecker was finding something to it’s liking.


They also feed on the table top and other feeders. Cute bird.


We do enjoy the wildlife around here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

More Buntings 4.17.14

Downloaded pictures to my computer and found more Buntings. That’s one of my beehives in the background.


This Indigo Bunting is just molting. He’ll be a brilliant blue before long.


He is joined by a Male Painted Bunting and a “greenie”…greens are either a female or juvenile male that hasn’t yet molted.



Can you spot the “greenie”? The bottlebrush is the perfect cover for these little birds.


This one is either a female Indigo Bunting or a juvenile male.


I hate to see these little guys leave. They are so colorful.


If you look close….you can see 2 male Painted Buntings in the Bottlebrush.


Beautiful…aren’t they?


Had enough birds? Maybe the next post will have some Honeybees….or maybe a critter or two.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Morning at the feeder 4.10.14

This is how I enjoy my morning coffee.

Just before daylight the birds start calling each other and once the sun is up they start coming to the feeders. We have four feeding stations in the back yard…but this is the busiest during the winter and spring when the Painted Buntings…

snapshot_001 Painted Bunting

and Indigo Buntings are here…..snapshot_001 Indigo Buntings

The Titmice also show up…..they usually just grab a sunflower seed and leave.

snapshot_001 Titmice

The Cardinals are here year around.

snapshot_001 Cardinal

Here’s a video of the activity. The Buntings will be leaving before long.

The Painted Buntings are usually the first to get here. Usually see one late November. Then the Indigo Buntings show up. By May they have headed north.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Swarm Catcher…Solar Wax Melter 4.4.14

Jim and I moved the swarm catcher a little closer to the line of flight from the “blue” hive. They have really increased in numbers and if they do cast off a swarm I’d like to catch it for the Top Bar Hive. The hives are just behind the Bottle Brush bush.

See the squirrel on the table top? I put my Lovebird’s seed out there each day when I change her food.


The swarm catcher is on the top of the ladder. I have 5 “top bars” in it. If a swarm does move in and start building comb…I can remove them from the catcher and put them in the Top Bar Hive. The frames from the Langs hives will not fit the TBH.


To the L of the swarm catcher is an Owl box or Squirrel box that my sister gave me. If they don’t choose the TBH or the swarm catcher…maybe they’ll settle for the Squirrel/Owl box.


This is my solar wax melter. I have an old cast iron pot sitting on wood with window screen and a piece of fine mesh for straining the debris out of the wax as it melts and drips into a bowl with about an inch of water in it.

It gets so hot in there I have to use a pot holder to lift the pot out. That is why it sits on wood. Might melt through the rubber tub.


This is the first batch of wax. The wax  in the tray is flat because there was a smaller amount. Once the water cooled it floated and hardened on top.


Right now I am trying to melt some old brood comb (black stuff in pot in picture above). May not get much wax from it but wanted to try.

Once done I will remelt and make a candle.

Because we crushed and strained our honey last time we had wax left over. This year we are going to try a honey extractor and see if we can save most of the comb. It will make it much easier for the bees.  Once the honey is spun out we can put the comb back in the super and on the hive for them to clean out and refill.