Beekeeping

Homemade bee fondant

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of homemade bee fondant

With winter coming, it's time to make bee fondant (sugar candy) for the bees to consume while over-wintering. I found a couple of recipes on the Internet and combined them to come up with this one. I poured the mixture into plastic sandwich lunch containers lined with foil. This recipe was enough to fill two such containers to the top. You will need a good candy thermometer:

8 cups sugar
16 oz water
1 tsp white vinegar

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil.

Boil uncovered for three minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture should be clear when done.

Hive Inspection - Treated for mites and pulled honey

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of hive inspection with hives broken apart
Photo of brood chamber with Apivar strip in place
Photo of honey deep for winter

In my full hive inspection today, I found a VERY healthy and happy hive. The two deeps and top honey super were very full of calm, hard working bees. Temperature was 72 degrees and overcast but the skies were bright. The bees were calm and left me alone ... until I started shaking them off the honey frames. Then I found myself in a frightful swirl of bees but no worries - I was fully protected.

I have not noticed much of a mite problem but I know they are there, so I treated with two strips of Apivar in the brood chamber. I will come back and remove those strips in early October.

Beekeeping, 2018

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of Jim inspecting comb

After two devastating winter losses, here we go again ...

This photo was taken at the tail end of a hive inspection - here, I am inspecting a piece of burr comb I removed from the hive to see if there are any eggs (or worse, a queen bee) on it.

"Burr comb" is extra comb the bees build inside the hive. It's important to remove it regularly so they don't impede your ability to move/remove frames from the hive and to keep things neat and orderly. :)

Beekeeping - A devastating loss

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of dead bees on frame
Photo of dead frames
Photo of frames in fire
Photo of dead bees on frame
Photo of moisture quilt

I went into winter with two of the strongest hives I've ever had. Tens of thousands of bees in each, one hive stacked two high and one stacked three high - all loaded to the gills with honey. The bees had plenty of numbers and plenty of food.

Fast forward to now. The hives are dead and moldy. They are still full of honey (but some was consumed). In each hive, about two inches of dead bees in the bottom and dead bees scattered about on the frames. Small moldy cluster in each hive.

How to make a moisture quilt for your beehive

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of installed moisture quilt
Photo of burlap in frame

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winters aren't nearly as cold as they are in other parts of the country, but rain is constant throughout the season, making condensation a real problem inside beehives. Condensation can form beneath the top or inner cover and drip down on the winter cluster, killing bees that otherwise may have well survived the winter.

Beekeeping - open feeder

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of beekeeping open feeder with information

This late in September, while there is a nectar dearth shaping up in the Pacific Northwest, I have put out an open feeder for my bees. It's working out really well, so I thought I would share this with you.

It's important to put your open feeder at least 50 yards from your hives. 100 yards is even better. Mine is about 90 yards away.

Whoa ... hold the horses ... varroa mites?

Submitted by jimwcoleman

During my hive inspection yesterday, I pulled out the plywood beneath the screened bottom board on Hive A and saw ... a whole bunch of varrao mites! Some alive, most dead. How could this be? I hived the package only three weeks ago. Prior to that, the hive only had one season on it. Last year, the hive perished unexpectedly (there may be a clue here), and I packed the fully drawn frames and hive away for winter. They were double-wrapped in plastic trash bags and then sealed in a box. How can I have varroa mites so early in the season? Can they over-winter on wrapped, empty frames?

Can you spot the queen bee?

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of queen bee from Hive A
Photo of queen bee from Hive B

Here are two photos of queen bees. One photo is from Hive A (that will mean something to those of you who have been following the 2017 beekeeping season on www.friendswithgardens.com). The other photo is the queen from Hive B. Once you see them, you can't unsee them.

And that is the best way to learn to spot queen bees in your own hive. Look at photos so you know what to look for: the short wings, the extended abdomen, the large dark spot on their thorax ... and so forth.

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