Category Archives: Uncategorized

Letting Them Bee

Bee season has started in Michigan, but I’m ever-so-attentively managing a single bee—a ba-bee, in Oregon.

Grandma's future beekeeper
Grandma’s future beekeeper

Our first grandchild’s parents returned to work in April, and Grandpy and I are totally enthralled with little Thomas. I don’t know how we’ll ever leave him next week, but thank goodness we have bees in Michigan whom we suspect desperately need some attention. (Thanks to our beek friends checking in on them for us.) Continue reading Letting Them Bee

Honey, Bear in Mind: Mid-August Hive Considerations

Here are some things to consider for your apiary this time of year, if you live in a climate similar to SW Michigan …

 Watch out for the Small Hive Beetles:  Argh.  We’ve got way more than we’d like to find in a  half dozen of our hives.  In one hive, that’s understandable; they’re definitely weak.  We reduced their space by about 50%, allowing the bees to focus on chasing down these dang beetles.  The other hive seems very strong.  It yielded eight spectacular frames of honey, so I’m confused why they’re not keeping them under control, and there are lots of bees on all frames, so I’m uncomfortable removing a hive body.

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Small hive beetles … and they’re really not that small. Seeing this many on practically every frame is a message that the bees could use some help dealing with them.
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If allowed to flourish, the SHB will overwhelm a hive and ruin everything.  (Google ‘small hive beetle.’)











Continue reading Honey, Bear in Mind: Mid-August Hive Considerations

Happy Father’s Day Bees! (and Fathers!)

Here’s some things to think about for your apiary about this time of year–for colonies in climates similar to ours … in my opinion of course.  Beekeeping practices vary.

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Speaking of drones, we recently removed several from an in-roof thriving colony, along with their many sisters. This shot shows some of the comb we pulled with some of the huge drones. They were very content to go for a ride to a new hive.

1)  Wish a Happy Father’s Day to any friendly drones you see.  Hopefully those will be the ones “lucky” enough to become fathers by mating and sharing their happy genetics.  I say “lucky” because the mating act does kill them … which I think beats dying in the fall when their sisters kick them out in the cold, but what do I know.  While I tend to drone, I’m not a drone. Continue reading Happy Father’s Day Bees! (and Fathers!)

Honey Bear in Mind: Bees are Taxing

I’m lying.  To me, bees are anything but taxing.  But, having written a couple big checks this tax season, I’m trying to find some humor in the situation with a play on words.

Speaking of playing, we played with bees this weekend, when we helped some new beekeepers install their nucs.  As their mentor, I thought I was quite clear about when they should get back into the hives.  Bees communicate with scent, so you don’t want to dilute that too much with too frequent openings.

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Welcome to beekeeping A, M and C! What you can’t tell through the veils is that it is a Grandpa and two grandchildren. I’m delighted to be involved with a multi-generational effort. I’m second from left; Hubby Marshall is on the right. We have two deeps at this point because the top boxes house a jar feeder over the hole in the inner cover.

The guidance I provided was that they check the internal feeders (in these two cases) within 2-3 days at the earliest (and keep them filled), and check for eggs to ensure the queen is laying about 5 days after install.

I had to laugh when both groups of newbees called me 24 hours after install to tell me what they’d found.  Yep, they were in the hives, checking it all out—the very next day.  Yep, you could say they’re very excited about bee-coming beekeepers!

I am very excited for them, and very excited to be starting my eighth year.  I sat near a survivor hive recently for nearly an hour—mesmerized by their bringing in pollen and their ignoring of me.  I write for a living, yet words fail me when it comes to describing how magical this insect is, and how smitten with their fuzzy busyness I am…not to mention how appreciative I am of the species responsible for blueberry muffins and apple cider.

We are getting package bees on 4/29, and I’ll be sharing progress, reminders and milestones so others can gain some perspective.  If you already have packages installed, my insights can be found in older entries of this blog from about a year ago.  I did frequent posts last spring for what you should look for and what you should do.

For those of you with nucs installed – please keep providing them feed.  Ours aren’t taking it; they seem to prefer the natural stuff spring is bringing forth.  But, we could get some rainy days, so the option of 1:1 sugar syrup I feel is always a good idea.

Another thing I suggest you do at this time is check within a week of install to ensure the queen is laying properly—one egg / cell.

Multiple eggs per cell likely means you have a laying worker – a problem.

No eggs means either you can’t find them (a real possibility for newbees and we older folks!), or that the queen isn’t there, isn’t properly fertilized, or is possibly recovering from travel.  If you can’t find eggs, check again a few days later for larva (easier to see—the small white worms curled in the bottom of a cell.)  If you don’t find those within 10 days of install, you likely have a queen problem.

As always, the above are just my thoughts and opinions.  Good luck with your bees, and your taxes.   I’m available by email or cell for questions if I can help with the former.  I offer no insights on dealing with the latter!