Give Us a Break!
April 13, 2018, 10:43 am
Filed under: April 2018 | Tags: , , ,


April 13, 2018

Well, my ladies made it through a long winter, a crazy spring and were doing quite well. This morning, I find this. I first thought it was bear damage, but have decided that it is thanks to the wind and raccoons. I am beating myself up for allowing the wind to be a factor. The raccoons are just taking advantage of an opportunity. The bees however, have all died.

I will clean up the mess, assemble the hive after cleaning it all out and get it ready for a new batch of bees. I just am disgusted with this event. Folks, the honeybees need our help. They do provide honey, but the honey is a by product of pollenating our food! No bees…no food. This is perhaps a bit of an extreme statement, but is very close to the truth.

I will keep trying. I will upgrade my setup for the bee yard. I will even look at a better way to stabilize the topbar hives. I’m not going to give up, but I can say that I am mad about this!

Feeling Trapped
April 18, 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: April 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,


April 18, 2017

Whew, what a spring! New babies have been the “order of the day”. All of them, human, beef, pigs and sheep are all doing very well. Abby continues with her training. I am trying to balance work, great weather, early weeds and shifting priorities. Today, I spent part of the afternoon setting up a honey bee trap. I hope to convince the ladies that a hive is a much better place to live, than the wall of a house.

I have only tried this once. The last time I failed miserably. This time, I educated myself a little more. I also have the good fortune of the bees being closer to the ground. They are actually pretty tame and tolerated my interference very well.

I waited until midafternoon when many of the bees were flying. I pulled off the siding and found the bee entrance. I sealed up almost all of the opening. I used fiberglass insulation, torn into pieces and poked into place with a flat screwdriver. I left an opening that was about an inch and a half long. The bees flew in and out while I worked.

Next, I fashioned a funnel using a sanitary flange, a 4 to 2 reducer and hardware cloth covered with window screen. After assembly, I used duct tape to help keep everything in place. I screwed the flange right to the wall over the opening. I caulked around it with silicone and watched for a minute. Sure enough, the bees were soon coming out of the funnel opening, but they couldn’t find their way back in.

I placed a “nuc” hive on a stepladder and strapped it solid with a ratchet strap. I placed the hive body and ladder just a couple inches away from the end of the funnel.


After a couple of hours, the bees were confused, but starting to check out the new home I made for them. There are a few frames of drawn out comb. There are two frames of capped honey. Once the ladies start inspecting the new place, my hope is they will be convinced to stay. I will check on them in the morning. I believe this was a small swarm that invaded the house wall. I hope they will be convinced to stay in the hive before their numbers build up.

None of us like change, many of us feel trapped. I can see light at the end of my own tunnel. My hope is that the bees will see, not only their way out, but also their way in, as they leave one place for another. It is much better to relocate than to eradicate! My hat is off to the pest company that wouldn’t kill the honeybees!

I will keep you all informed of my progress. The worst thing that may happen, is that the bees will leave the house wall, swarm and fly off completely avoiding my hive body. That would be bad for me, but the homeowners still win as the bees leave their home. The bees will then hopefully find a great place to live, somewhere out of harm’s way. If they make the “nuc” their home, I will move them to my bee yard, watch over them and help them to survive….. in exchange for a little honey of course!

Hello Ladies!
April 27, 2015, 2:34 pm
Filed under: April 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
10,000 ladies arrive at the farm

10,000 ladies arrive at the farm

April 27, 2015

Last Friday my bee packages arrived. I of course was not ready 😮  Oh well, I dropped almost everything else and scrambled to get my new Top Bar bee hives ready. I want to try these old/new hive bodies for raising bees on the homestead. I sold or gave away most of my equipment that revolved around the traditional Langstroth style of boxes and frames. I just got tired of losing bees, maintaining equipment and storing stuff to keep wax moths out etc. I guess it was part of my trying to downsize some of my work…problem is… I miss having the bees here.

I ordered two Top Bar hives. My plan was to hive them with purchased bees. New bees, new woodware, new plan, everything should be great…right?  Wrong! I forgot to get my hives put together until I got the call saying my bees are here! Thank goodness my wife helped me prepare. She helped with assembly and she painted the beeswax on the frames. The beeswax guides the ladies where to build their comb.

Connie paints on the beeswax

Connie paints on the beeswax

We got the hives all built last Friday night. Other folks go out to dinner or a movie on Friday nights. We spent ours screwing……hive boxes together 😮 Once the were completed, all I had to do was get the bees put inside. I have handled many wild swarms, but this was my first experience with purchased bees. I give many thanks for the folks at YouTube. I spent some time watching and learning!

I placed the hives in a good location, sprayed the inside with sugar water, placed food in there and then prepared the bees for placement. On YouTube, nobody wore their bee suits…I sure as heck did. I am not afraid of the occasional sting, but I also know the kind of pandemonium that can ensue when working bees. Much better to be dressed and prepared than running like a madman for your veil.

I followed the instructions laid out in YouTube and it worked great! I twisted some grass and installed it at the hive entrance to reduce the opening size. I will remove it later, once the hive has built up and can defend itself from intruders. I dumped the bees into the hive after hanging the queen inside in her cage. The bees will remove candy cork that holds her inside. Then the work begins as the queen sets up housekeeping.

I placed the bees, installed the food then put the lid on the hives…yes, hives, I ordered two packages of bees! I waited outside the hives watching the new neighbors acclimate themselves to the neighborhood. As I left the bee yard, only about 1000 bees were in flight around the two hives. I am hoping all is well. I will check them on a sunny day next week. In the meantime they will settle down and settle in. Welcome home ladies!

Moving in day!

Moving in day!

Top Bar hives are not new. They have been used around the world for centuries. They allow the bees to draw honeycomb just as they would do in the wild. They make their bee cells the correct size for their larva, not larger ones like commercial hives do. The larger cells allow for Varoa mite infestation and other problems. Once the bees draw out comb and fill it with capped honey, all I have to do is slice it off and strain it. It is easy. It is natural and it is as good for the bees as it is for a busy farmer.

Bee Happy
June 5, 2013, 10:58 pm
Filed under: June 2013 | Tags: , ,
My Bee tree

My Bee tree

June 5, 2013

I got a phone call from a young man whom I have known for many years. He asked me if I could get bees out of a tree. He was to cut the tree down, but it ws full of honey bees.

We talked on the phone and I agreed to come look and see what I could do. The tree was a huge soft maple. It was a multi-stemmed tree. The trunk was over eight feet at its base. The tree stayed that thick for about four feet, then branched off into five large trunk pieces.

The bees were about thirty feet off of the ground. They were going in and out of the tree in two spots. The openings were about six feet apart. The openings were what was left of two old rotten branches, but made perfect doors for the bees.

We decided to just take the whole tree section rather than fell the tree and smash the bee’s home. The top section of the standing tree was a piece fifteen feet long. We cut it off four feet above the top opening in the tree trunk. We cut right through a section of honeycomb.

Holy crap! We were scrambling, but the day was very chilly and bees were real slow. We slapped a piece of pre-cut plywood over the two openings. Thank goodness for a power screwdriver and the cold… none of us were stung!

Next we had to take the bottom section of the tree down. We went about eight feet below the bottom bee doorway. A crane held the tree trunk while we cut through the hulking mass. Success! The center of the section we cut was a dark brown indicating rot, but it was still intact. I now had the entire bee home, in an eighteen foot log, laying on my trailer.

I did forget to mention that we stuffed cotton rags in the bee holes and duct taped them closed. This way I would leave no bees behind … and no bees would leave their stinger in my behind 😮  It worked out to be a great deal!

I brought the bee tree home to the farm. The bees were a bit rattled from the trip, but no worse for wear. Their house, I am sure looks a little bit different now that it is sideways!

I placed the tree out back near my woodpile. The holes are oriented towards the east and south. I laid it on a couple of logs so as to be able to work on re-homing the bees at a later date. Once the log was in place, I cut the duct tape and pulled the rags out of the holes.

I resisted the urge to look into the openings. This proved to be a good idea as several hundred pissed off bees flew out of their sideways house to attack the intruder who had caused all the havoc. I simply walked away letting them sort it all out for themselves.

Today the bees are happily and busily going in and out of the tree. They seem no way near as frustrated as they were that first morning. They are flying all over the fields of blooming clovers and plants on the farm. The job of getting them into more traditional hives will wait for a nice day when I have some time … and hopefully they will have patience.

I have no idea how much honey is in that tree, but I will estimate the comb to be at least 12 feet in length and eighteen to twenty inches across. Talk about a gold mine! That tree is laden with pure golden honey…to say nothing about the large colony of bees that I will split into at least two to three hives….. Now, that is something to  “Bee Happy” about  😮