Hive report: Swarm! by



Every year many people send me pictures or videos of their bees with the question, “Are my bees swarming.” Most of the time they are simply bearding due to heat and/or congestion. This post by has an excellent video of a swarm issuing from a hive. Warning: It’s quite exciting! 🙂

Yesterday (28 March) it was finally warm enough for me to do a hive inspection at the same time that I could take off work. So I inspected Hive A (affectionately knows as Dave’s Bees). The population was very heavy, there was brood in the deep, and in two medium supers.  I didn’t see much nectar in the hive, but there was pollen.  Unfortunately, the girls got really PO’d part way through and I had to let them calm down. I think that was partly nectar dearth and the fact that it was cloudy and fairly windy. So that inspection was not one where I pulled every single frame. But I didn’t see swarm or superscedure cells, but I did add another medium super to give them some more room.


Read entire blog post here:  Hive report: Swarm! —

How to Catch and Install a Swarm


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Source: How to Catch and Install a Swarm — Bee Thinking – Backyard Beekeeping Blog

by Grace Manger

Watch “How to Catch and Install a Swarm” and other beekeeping videos on our YouTube Channel!

via How to Catch and Install a Swarm — Bee Thinking – Backyard Beekeeping Blog

How to Catch A Swarm-N-A-Bucket!


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Source: Little Creek Bee Ranch

When you see a swarm of bees like this, over 12 feet in a tree, what to do? I’ve lost several very large swarms of Honey Bees, only because they where so high up in a tree (15 to 22 feet), that I had no chance of getting them back. It’s heart breaking to just stand there and look at them, knowing you aren’t going to be able to catch them back. They might stay there for a day or two, but that’s about it. Therefore, I came up with a serious plan for being able to catch them back. If you’ll pay close attention to how we go about this, I’m certain you’ll benefit from these tips.

Get your gear together, and setup. The pole and bucket that you see, is PRICELESS! The pole came from Atwoods, cost is about $15. It’s a paint pole, that extends. The bucket on the end of the pole was bought from Brushy Mountain bee supply company, here’s the link for the bucket,

cost is $35. Yes, you can figure out how to make your own if you’d like. I needed one, and quick, so I just bought my bucket.

You might need a helping hand in order to get this job done. Bees that have swarmed, are heavy with honey. Once the main swarm of bees hits the bottom of the bucket, you can’t just TIP the pole over and dump it into the hive….the aluminum pole will just snap. After the bees hit the bottom of the bucket, one person holds the pole upright, while the other person screws the black handle lose, and let the pole slide down into itslef, and THEN you can dump them into a hive.

Get the bucket positioned under the swarm and give a solid push. Make certain that the swarm itself is even inside the bucket, before you thump them off the limb. You’ll feel the weight hit the bottom of the bucket, and then it’s up to you and your helper to get the pole upright, and keep it that way. Once the swarm hits the bottom of the bucket, pull the chord hard and close the lid on top of the bucket. Before I put the bucket up in the tree, I spritz inside with some sugar water.

Once the pole is under control, losen the handle and let the bucket come down to a managable level. Then you can walk over and dump them into a hive body. Be sure to take out several frames in order for the bees to have plenty of room to make it into the box.

You may even have to go back up with the bucket in order to get another shot at the remainder of the bees. You may do this several times, at least. The point here is; once the initial swarm has been in the bucket, that BEE SMELL from the Queen becomes your “bee lure”. Use it to your advantage. The bees will come down into the bucket in order to find the Queen. You should have gotten the Queen in the first grab.

You might even leave the pole and bucket up against the tree for a few minutes, in order to the bees to settle in the bucket. You might even put in a few old, black brood frames if you have some extra. Bees love these black frames!

Have your helper take off the hive lid, and dump in more bees. This is repeated about 4 times, or more.

Notice on the hive above, the porch entrance is blocked with a towel. I have placed sugar water on them. I left the hole in the box OPEN. Once the bees get oriented inside this box, they’ll start coming out for a look.

You can go back up for more bees.

Dump them in the box. Each time, you must COLLAPSE the pole.

Leave the pole against the tree for a few minutes. Bees that are flying around, will settle down, and find their way into the bucket to have a look around. You can close the lid again, and bring them down. They’re a bit confused and lost. Help them find their new home!

Letting them settle into their new home.

Let the bucket lure in more bees.

Be patient. Let the smell in the bucket do it’s magic. The bees will look for their Queen BY SMELL. They’ll smell her in the bucket and go down to investigate.

Collapse the pole, bring down more bees.

Dump into hive body. Put the lid back on top of the hive body, but upside down…which makes it easier to remove and put back on. We want this lid to stay on while we work the bucket. I want the bees to come back out of the hole, and begin to fan. They’ll “pooch and fan”, telling their sisters to “Come home! Come home! The food is here, and the Queen is here! Come home!” This is what you’re looking for, so watch the bees closely.

Once most all of the bees are in the box, put the lid back on properly.

Give the hole a squirt of sugar water. Let them get oriented to the front of this box.

When you bring your bucket back down, with more bees in it, just set the bucket facing the front of the hive, or tap the bucket off upside down in front of the hive. They’ll quickly figure out where their new home is located.

All of these bees got up and made their way into their new home. After about an hour, these bees where all settled down in their new home. We left the hive in this wagon over night, giving the Scout bees a chance to make it back into their new home also. Later that night, well after sundown, I came out and plugged the hole with Cotton. Early the next morning, I gently moved this wagon to where I wanted to place them on my property. Sadly, within a week, we had a bad cold snap, and temps got well below freezing and we lost all of these bees. I was heart broken, after having done all that work. We fed them properly, but to no avail. They don’t always grab food that is close by. On the flip side, this was our first big catch with our Pole & Bucket system. We learned a lot, and felt much more confident about our abilities to catch HIGH SWARMS. If there are swarms that are over 22 feet up in a tree, we’ll just let them go. By doing so, I populate the surrounding area with “wild bees”, in hopes of a KICK BACK swarm in the next few years.

Get you a pole at Atwoods and a make you up a bucket or buy one from Brushy Mountain. You’re sure to need one, if you’re going to keep bees!! Otherwise, you’ll be standing there just like I did for 2 years, wondering what to do.

Source: Little Creek Bee Ranch

Swarms versus Bee Removals


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This week will most likely herald in the beginning of the spring nectar flow here in the Midlands of South Carolina. A few beekeepers will be caught off guard during the coming weeks, needing equipment, adding hive bodies, and tending to other management issues. Along with these urgent matters there will also be the unexpected swarm issue from hives. So far this year we have focused on preventing swarms and preparations which can be made prior to the swarm season to give the beekeeper the upper hand. We’ll now dedicate a week on how best to deal with swarms once they issue.

Occasionally, bees or wasps will make their home in the  walls  or a tree on your property. While getting them out may be tricky, it is worth finding out if it is possible.  Read more about why you should have them removed instead of exterminating them below.

Typically beekeepers do not do removals  from structures  or trees, but some do. Removals from homes are most often a fee for service situation.  Removals necessitate a specific skill set not taught in beekeeping.

Last year, while responding to honey bee swarm calls, on more than one occasion I arrived only to find that the owner had already sprayed insecticide on the bees. This is almost always a bad idea for several reasons.


17192_1627874757430601_1392422056088297712_nFirst, if it’s a swarm, local beekeepers will typically gladly lend a hand to help you remove the bees and often at little or no charge. You get the bees removed, save yourself and your family exposure to insecticide, and get to feel good about saving one of our environment’s most valued pollinators. If the bees have established a colony within your home things get more complex. Always consult the advice of a bee removal service before spraying insecticides.
Last year, I responded to a swarm call that turned out to be an established colony in a home. The lady of the house was standing outside the home spraying the colony entrance with insecticide. She had already depleted one can and was working on her second. While it may have been as easy as removing a small piece of soffet to extract the bees, I no longer was going to risk bringing back chemically laden bees to my home bee yard. But there is more to it that that. Aside from all her children standing around getting a good dose of the overspray from the can, she was killing the flying bees which feed and support the hive. This meant that thousands of larvae would die shortly thereafter and leave her with a rotting odor inside her home in the days that followed.

Another call I received in late summer had me arrive to find an inpatient landlord spraying inside an attic. He told me that he determined that the bees clustered on the outside were actually entering the house and had established a hive in the attic. He thanked me for coming, but said he didn’t have time to wait as he hoped to have the house rented later that day. Before leaving I told him that unless he wanted a damaged ceiling, drywall and furnishings, he should consider having the hive removed because without the bees fanning the wax comb, the comb would melt releasing perhaps gallons of honey, and he’d be receiving complains from his new tenants. (not to mention the smell of decaying bees and larva and attracting ants, roaches, and other pests for months to come).

In closing, consider that spraying the bees is a poor effort to quickly eliminate a complex problem, and will often lead to more expensive problems in the days that follow. The time spent consulting a local beekeeper or bee removal service first is time well invested.

We hope this external  link assists you in your search to find someone locally in the USA:

For more information on bees in structures visit Clemson Extension’s webpage: Honey Bee Colony Removal From Structures.

Beekeeping Calendar for April


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All beekeeping is local. These chores are for the Midlands of South Carolina. April  starts with the nectar flow in earnest and the beekeeper is busy with hive space management and swarm prevention and control. The bees will be in high gear growing populations, seeking opportunities to swarm, and storing excess nectar. Weather in the Midlands typically stabilizes with few surprises and the bees are actively flying longer and longer hours each day.

Beginning beekeepers get a “gentle” introduction to beekeeping as the bees are less defensive due to the availability of plentiful food. Also swarming behavior is not typical during a colony’s first season if space management is followed and the bees provided with proper space as the colony grows.

1) Monitor for queen cells – check suspect hives every seven to ten days for swarm cells hanging on bottom bar in boxes above brood chamber in hives with screen bottom boards and all boxes in hives with solid bottom boards.

2) Prevent swarms. Control swarming. Capture swarms.

3) Plan on checking every two weeks for hive body management i.e. space management.

4) If not yet added, place additional honey super(s) beginning of this month. On strong hives, install multiple honey supers if frames have drawn comb. Weaker colonies should receive less supers accordingly. If drawn comb is not available and foundation is used supers should be placed one at a time. Periodic checks should be made during the honey flow to see if additional supers are needed.

5) Install and feed any packages and nucleus hives purchased if given foundation. Feed splits. Feed captured swarms.

6) Unite weak colonies with strong colonies unless suspect of disease. Replace weak queens.

7) Make splits if increase is a goal with mated queens or allow colonies to re-queen themselves. Splits can be used to curtail swarm behavior but  may decrease  honey production. If increase is desired, split any hives not previously split and re-queen any weak queens. Queens should now or soon be available if needed.

8) Actively manage your hives designated for honey. Manage brood space allowing the queen room to lay. Utilize other methods of swarm prevention. There is no longer time for a colony to re-queen itself in time to raise foraging bees in time for the nectar flow. If needed, add a purchased mated queen or combine colonies if not diseased if seeking honey.

9) Begin IPM program. Place beetle traps or other hive beetle management items.

10) Watch for swarms daily and inspect for swarm cells every week to ten days.

11) If not already done, bait hives should be in position at various points 360 degrees surrounding apiary. Place bait hives at 50 to 150 yards away from colonies, edges of open fields, close to “bee” aerial landmarks, scent with lemongrass oil, 1 1/4″ circular entrance equals the 2 square inch recommendation.

12) Notice Dogwood blooming and azaleas in earnest the first week. Sassafras and Tulip Poplar blooming. Also, notice the greening up of many, many nectar producing trees.

13) Email your local club Secretary asking what you can do to help, or volunteer to lend a hand in your organization. Many hands make light work. If you’d like to see your organization grow as well as offer and maintain your current level of member services your help is needed.

For your viewing pleasure this month Kirk Anderson show us how to capture a swarm:

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Honey BBQ baked chicken tenders by National Honey Board


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You just can’t beat fresh honey! It’s great for so many purposes but we especially love it in recipes! These baked chicken tenders turned out great. Full of flavor and just delicious!

YIELD: Makes 4 servings


2 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken tenders

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

1/4 cup honey

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup milk

2 eggs,beaten

2 1/2 cups whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

non-stick cooking spray

Honey BBQ Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup BBQ sauce

2 T honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

In large bowl, mix flour and panko together with salt and pepper.

In another large bowl whip together BBQ sauce, milk, eggs and honey.

Dip tenders in BBQ/milk (wet) mixture and generously roll the chicken tenders in the Panko mix. Place the chicken strips on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip tenders over and allow it to bake until cooked through and outside is crisp, about 10 minutes. Cook chicken tenders longer if you want more brown.

Serve with the Honey BBQ Dipping Sauce (below).

To make the Honey BBQ Dipping Sauce, combine the BBQ sauce and honey, stirring together until fully mixed.

Tip: Spray tenders with non-stick cooking spray to help them crisp up better.

Full article here:  Honey BBQ baked chicken tenders by National Honey Board

Vegetable Gardening for Honey Bees by settling for bees


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These cold winter days don’t allow for much gardening time.   Like many of you, I’ve been considering the possibilities that spring planting offers lately, particularly as seed catalogs pile up and lure me into their pages with colorful spreads of summer’s bounty.

Last week, it was warm enough for bees to fly.  I went out back without the restrictions of a heavy coat, feeling as light and carefree as my honey bees navigating and searching for any available food sources.  I let the chickens out, watched my honey bees flying for a while and considered garden options for the spring.  I even brought a nice cup of hot tea outside, sweetened with my girls’ honey, of course.

For more excellent honey bee photos and suggestions for vegetable gardening plantings for the bees visit: Vegetable Gardening for Honey Bees — settling for bees

Happy Birthday Dr. Wladyslaw Zbikowski


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Birth: March 29, 1896

Death: November 1, 1977

Inventor of the Cobana round comb honey sections, later to become “Ross Rounds.”

The modern round plastic section appeared in 1954. It was called “Cobana” and seems to have been designed by a Pennsylvanian beekeeper named Dr. Wladyslaw Zbikowski, a retired physician.

From Badbeekeeping blog of 2010: The gentleman who receives the credit for the modern invention, a retired physician from (get ready) western Pennsylvania designed the round section device which he called Cobanas in 1954. Dr. Wladyslaw Zbikowski (1896-1977) was born in Beaver Falls, PA, but educated in Russia and Poland. He started keeping bees in 1953, after retiring from medicine. Dr Zbikowski made the modern plastic round section the very next year.

More on rounds sections here:

Honey Bee’s Proboscis by Christine R


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The bird’s water bowl and the top two tiers of my fibreglass pond dried up while we were away, even though the weather was predicted to be coolish.

Wandering around with the Nikon D3000 today, I spotted bees visiting the refilled ponds. I was surprised to see the unfurling of a red proboscis (tongue), not having photographed one before.

For more great honey bee pictures please visit: Honey Bee’s Proboscis — Christine R

Bees in Lithuania by West Kootenay Beekeepers


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Interesting article about bees in a different culture. SBF

Are Lithuanians obsessed with bees? – BBC Travel

Will Mawhood writes about bees in ancient Lithuanian culture and the enduring effect our favourite creatures have today. Photo: Rambynas/Getty Images

“Lithuanians don’t speak about bees grouping together in a colony like English-speakers do. Instead, the word for a human family (šeimas) is used. In the Lithuanian language, there are separate words for death depending on whether you’re talking about people or animals, but for bees – and only for bees – the former is used. And if you want to show a new-found Lithuanian pal what a good friend they are, you might please them by calling them bičiulis, a word roughly equivalent to ‘mate’, which has its root in bitė – bee. In Lithuania, it seems, a bee is like a good friend and a good friend is like a bee.”

Read the BBC Travel article here:

Above introduction via Bees in Lithuania — West Kootenay Beekeepers

Why did my bees die?


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Why did my bees die?

This is a question often asked and sometimes difficult to answer. The beekeeper looking at a dead colony is left with clues that can sometimes indicate the cause of death. More often though the beekeeper looks at the “crime scene” and makes an incorrect assumption. We’ve all heard it, “Wax moths killed my bees.” or “They got robbed.” or Small hive beetles killed them.” Most often though these are the results of problems that were missed or not addressed earlier.

I like murder mysteries. And, like in murder mysteries, what kills the bees isn’t always the most obvious suspects. It’s not the one the mystery writer wants you to initially think it is. After all what fun would that be? Instead the beekeeper must use some logic in backtracking the history of the colony to solve the mystery. Many times the downward spiral started some time back and we missed it before it lead up to wax moths, robbing, small hive beetles, or other maladies.

This past winter I had a 9% overwinter loss coming into the spring buildup. All in all, in today’s world of beekeeping that’s pretty good. Early in this season’s buildup, in February, I rotated boxes as a swarm prevention technique. I noted that a particular row of hives were not building up as fast as my other hives. As I rotated the hive bodies I inspected and found that they were all queen-right though so I just chalked the slow buildup up to “one of those unexplained things.”

That row of thirteen colonies coming into spring lost six colonies AFTER that first box rotation of spring. All of my other colonies continued to grow and expand.  Granted the ones lost were not the strongest but they had queens (I saw them). How were these different than the ones that were thriving? Time to put on my detective hat. They were unique in that they are all on same row, were not taken down in size last fall (I just ran out of energy), and had older queens. So what killed them? I don’t know but I suspect the stress of the box rotation on an already stressed colony. How were they already stressed? Why did they not build up like the other areas in my bee yard? Thinking about the differences: this group  had older queens, larger hives usually have/maintain higher mite counts,  and were in  an isolated  row in the bee yard.  I don’t know exactly which stressor was the largest but I suspect some or all of the above come into play.

Now my overall losses were at 27% instead of the 9% prior to this event and most likely because I failed to reduce size, monitor this row for Varroa better, and not re-queen in the fall. Which exactly? Beekeepers always want to know which one is the culprit. I don’t know. Maybe it was multiple stressors and not just one. But I do have some excellent suspects! Regardless of which stressor killed these colonies I failed to do that which a good steward should have done for these bees. Ultimately it’s on me.

So, after writing the above I was further pondering the possibilities while making up some sugar syrup, and I was thinking about the stressors and it came to me what killed those colonies. Distilling it down to a single element – laziness. I should have taken those hives down to 2 boxes post nectar flow last summer. I should have monitored Varroa better in that row instead of assuming it would be the same as the newer hives in other areas. And I should have re-queened as would have happened easily if I had made splits last year when I should have taken them down in size. My laziness killed those colonies. So there, I came up with a single cause, identified the culprit, and solved the mystery!

It won’t happen again. Maybe something else but not this.


Uses of propolis


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The varnishing of cells?

Where does this get a mention? It’s in the study notes..

They asked lots of people too.

In Ribbands, Chapter 27, Huber (1814) observed that new combs become more yellow, more pliable stronger and heavier and sometimes there were reddish threads on the inner walls. Chemical tests showed this was propolis.


Source: Uses of propolis

Banana Sandwich — Peanut Butter * Raw Honey * Apothecary


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A great tasting, super easy, healthy after school snack!

This Banana Sandwich was and still is a favorite!

*  banana sliced lengthwise

* reid’s gourmet peanut butter

* reid’s gourmet raw honey

* cinnamon

* raw cacao nibs or grated chocolate

spread nut butter on 1 banana slice and drizzle with honey
sprinkle cinnamon
sprinkle chocolate

place other half of banana on top, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze

Read the full article here:  Banana Sandwich — Peanut Butter * Raw Honey * Apothecary



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This week reports of swarms have increased indicating that swarm season has started in earnest. The flood of calls has yet to begin but will start soon. This picture, from last year shows a swarm capture utilizing my friend Dave’s combination arborist’s tree tool and a homemade bucket with paint strainer modification. These bees were about 28 feet up.

In the US, those interested in catching swarms should visit Bees on the Net which lists beekeepers willing to go out and retrieve swarms in their area.

The bees tell their story by The Obee Reardon


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Having been engaged in beekeeping for several years now, I find that many beekeepers look for a recipe timeline for much of their beekeeping. Instead it would often be wise to begin looking at the hive itself and understanding what the bees are telling us. Below is an excellent article by The Obee Reardon on reading the frames and observing what the bees are saying, what they are doing, and what they need. Enjoy!

There’s a well known saying: “A picture tells a thousand words.” Beekeepers also have a saying along the lines of going through a hive is like reading a book, the bees are telling you what’s going on on each frame. So what does this picture of a frame tell me? And is it a thousand words?

Read entire article here: The bees tell their story — The Obee Reardon

Smoking The Bees


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Source: World of Beekeeping – Smoking the Bees

When I first started beekeeping I never smoked my hives.  Somehow, somewhere I had learned that it was terribly difficult to smoke your hives correctly without burning the bees or some other weird idea.  I had some strange fear that it would be a little like operating a hand held dragon.  I’m not sure how that got into my head but it caused a ton of issues for me and thankfully I eventually started smoking my hives when doing inspections.

While you certainly can operate without smoking your hives it means putting new boxes, lids and other items onto the hives very slowly, pushing each little bee out of the way.  If you don’t you’ll squish a lot of bees and while unlikely, one of those could be the queen.

Eventually I fired up the smoker and realized that it really isn’t difficult to use.  The trick?  Let the fire die down before you start pumping the bellows.  You don’t want burning dragon fire coming from your smoker but it’s easy enough to avoid.

That’s really all there is to it.  If you’re at all paranoid you can simply blow the smoke over your bare hand… if it only feels mildly warm to you it’ll be just fine.

But why do we smoke our bees?

There are several thoughts as to what a smoker causes bees to do.  First many think that bees respond to smoke as they would a forest fire, gorging themselves on honey so they can fly off to a new home should they need to flee the hive.  Second the smoke is said to mask the warning pheromones given off by guard bees, keeping the troops from hearing the battle cry.

So how do you best use the smoke in your hives?

Well first you can use smoke to push bees where you want them to go.  When I first used the smoker this was really helpful when it came to adding new boxes to the tops of my hives… pushing them away from the top of the box meant very few if any were squished when I put on the new box.  The same idea holds true when it comes time to put on the inner cover.

But don’t smoke them too much!

Pushing them around a bit is fine but if you use too much smoke it won’t work for you.  Why?  Because if they are surrounded by smoke they won’t be able to “move away” from the smoke but will instead simply walk around disoriented.  Not what you were hoping for when you lit up the smoker!  So use smoke sparingly and both you and the bees will be happy.

Final thought.  If your beehives aren’t at your home (or even if they are) you have a burning thing you need to transport and/or store.  Make sure the fire is out before you put it anywhere and as an extra added precaution get a metal box with a lid if you need to put your smoker in your car.  We don’t want to see you on the news with a smoking car!

Source: World of Beekeeping – Smoking the Bees

A Bee’s Eye View of the Garden — Native Beeology


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Planning a Garden With Bees in Mind –

The sweeping vista of flower filled meadows is a sight to behold yet aesthetics are a side effect to the flowers true intent. Flowers are not seeking human admiration but seeking the attention of pollinators. Through visual cues, the flowers are shouting… “Pick me! Pick me!”   A closer look reveals that over evolutionary time flowers have gone to extreme lengths to get the attention of their preferred pollinators: whether insect, bird, bat or wind.    Many factors come into play in regards to attracting any pollinator including colorful (or not colorful) petals and sepals, nectar guides, good or bad smells (or lack of) and overall shape and size. These features are often characterized as pollinator syndromes and understanding them can clue you in as to who might be most likely to visit a particular flower. If you are planning a garden that caters to our native bees it important to understand the type of flowers that they are most attracted to. Here are a few pointers to understanding the bees-eye view of the world.

Read full article at: A Bee’s Eye View of the Garden — Native Beeology

Native North American Honey Bees? by Native Beeology


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The European Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) arrived in the Americas aboard European ships around 1622. In a way this was a homecoming, America had regained her long lost honey bees. It has always been assumed that honey bees are not native to North America until a recent discovery found a single fossil of a native North American honey bee in the Stewart Valley basin in west-central Nevada. The 14 million year old fossil was a female worker of the extinct honey bee (Apis nearctica) that lived in North America during the middle Miocene epoch and was found in a paper shale deposit along with other insects of the period. The fossil record proved honey bees lived in North America but for how long? And when did they go extinct? These questions remain unanswered.

Read full article here: Native North American Honey Bees? — Native Beeology

“At the Hive Entrance” free ebook


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It’s time to start enjoying your bees!

Do you like to watch behavior? Are you itching for more during this “leave ’em alone” period of time after package installation? Okay here’s your treat. Recently a friend, posted a positive review about a book link she had read titled, “At the Hive Entrance” by H. Storch. It was one of my favorites when I started beekeeping. And it’s something you can do now – watch the hive entrance. Just place your chair off to the side of the front entrance about 6 or 8 ft. away and watch. After a few days you’ll start to see the routine of the bees. You’ll notice different pollens coming in on different days. Some days they’ll almost jump into the air on takeoff and zoom in on landings. Other days they’re a little slow. You’ll start to relate this to the temperatures, the flow, the season, and other things. You’ll get a feeling for the range of normal behavior (which also varies depending on seasons). In time, you’ll also notice behavior that’s not their norm which may necessitate an inspection. Which brings up the single warning about enjoying this book – it is only one factor in your assessment – entrance observation. If it looks like something unusual you may have to open them up to take a look. Enjoy.

Ebook is available via: Brecknock and Radnor Beekeeping Association

Pancakes with strawberries and honey by Lizzy’s Food Corner


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Just fab! Pancakes with strawberries and honey. Smiling faces all around in the house. And I have to admit, I adore the picture. Definately one of my best shots. So proud!

via Pancakes with strawberries and honey — Lizzy’s Food Corner



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I’m jealous of bees. Everyday they wake-up driven by a sense of purpose and really important work to do. They belong to a network that supports every move they make. I am 58…still wondering.

#1 They make honey.

#2 In their quest for nectar they pollinate and inadvertently save the world.

Read full story here: Bee Here Now — RUMBLEBEE ROAD


Scientific Queen Rearing by Gilbert M. Doolittle (free download)


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scientific queen rearing

Scientific Queen Rearing by Gilbert M. Doolittle

I’ve been very busy lately preparing for the upcoming nectar flow and have been neglectful of Beekeeping365. For that I apologize. But after daily work in the barn and the bee yard I have had a few moments to read some each day. This week  I’ve spent my free moments reading Scientific Queen Rearing by Gilbert M. Doolittle. Written in 1889, it’s subtitle reads:

“Scientific queen-rearing as practically applied; being a method by which the best of queen-bees are reared in perfect accord with nature’s ways. For the amateur and veteran in bee-keeping.”

As I have read the book I can’t help but be impressed with the tenacity of Mr. Doolittle. It appears as though he rarely allowed himself to wallow in defeat. One instance of frustration is mentioned in the book whereby he goes home without success in a particular endeavor, the bees behavior having defeated him it would seem. But he rallies and in the next paragraph explains how he awoke the next morning with a new and fresh idea ready to try again.

Relentlessly he overcame difficulties and in the end gave us the product of his efforts which serve queen breeders to this day. I  recommend reading his short book, Scientific Queen Rearing, to increase one’s knowledge on the subject but also as a lesson in perseverance.

The book can be found in its entirety here: Scientific Queen Rearing by Gilbert M. Doolittle

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne


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Winnie the PoohIt’s a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,
They’d build their nests at the bottom of trees.
And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
We shouldn’t have to climb up all these stairs.



Whether laziness or cleverness, Pooh considers the shortest distance to accomplishing his goals.

Book Review: The Bee-keeper’s Manual, Henry Taylor


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beekeeper's manual


Bookish Chronicles

The Bee-keeper’s Manual, Henry Taylor

The Bee-keeper’s Manual,


Practical Hints On The Management And Complete Preservation Of The Honey-Bee;

With A Description Of The Most Approved Hives, And Other Appurtenances Of The Apiary.

This review was long due. “Review” would be a misplaced word here. How do you do a critical appraisal of a beekeeping manual written 166 years ago? A technical know-how book is hardly a thing of leisure reading, unless you have an inherent interest in the particular field. I don’t even do beekeeping; neither do I fancy myself taking up this occupation in the future. But this is precisely what is appealing about Henry Taylor’s The Bee-keeper’s Manual. To read the book, you don’t need to have an interest in beekeeping, just a healthy appetite for curiosity.

My curiosity in the subject of beekeeping was sparked when I read Neil Gaiman’s The Case of Death and Honey. Right after reading Gaiman’s Sherlock Holmes short story, I found The Bee-keeper’s Manual while browsing Project Gutenberg on a dull day at work. Enticed by the book’s fine Victorian woodblock illustrations (illustrator unknown) of beehives, I thought “Why the hell not?”

The Beekeeper’s Manual is about the art of beekeeping and not just the technicalities of the apiary—an occupation that needs a Zen-like dedication, for when dealing with bees, as the author says, “Entire quietness is the main requisite.”

Henry Taylor was an amateur bee-keeper extraordinaire. In his words, he took up bee-keeping to seek “occasional relaxation from weightier matters in watching over and protecting these interesting and valuable insects.” Following a friend’s request, he wrote the book as a brief practical handbook on the management of bees. The book must have been quite a success considering it went for six reprints.

Taylor starts off by introducing the poetic sounding Apis mellifica, the domesticate honeybee found in his native country, England. Although outdated to be adapted to modern times, the book covers every aspect of starting an apiary including, but not restricted to, how to deal with bee stings (in case you are attacked by a swarm of bees, stick your head into a nearby shrub). Clear and concise descriptions along with beautiful illustrations show how to construct different hives, protect the hives, manage the hives in different seasons, protect the bees from disease and predators and aid the bees in their work without annoying them.

Bees are sensible creatures. They follow a clockwork precision, yet adapt themselves to changing circumstances. Each bee has its function in the hive spelled out: build cells for the hive, nurse the larvae, lay eggs, and bring farina to make wax and honey, or impregnate the queen.

The last category of bees—the drone—is the most interesting one. The only job of the drone bee is to fertilize the queen bee. Once this is done, the drone bees are kicked out of the hive or killed. Although drastic, this is quite a practical measure from the perspective of space conservation. Additional cells are required in the hive for the larvae that the queen will lay. Also, the drone bees are pretty much useless after the breeding season, unlike the worker bee that works throughout the year. So, it is only prudent to do away with the unwanted drones than to construct new cells. Why carry the extra baggage?

During the swarming season (similar to migration session of birds), the combs in the hive are occupied by larvae. It is also the season when honey is in abundant. However, there is no room to store the collected honey. The bees can’t wait for the young ones to hatch and leave the hive. The flowers will wither and there will no honey to make. Te young bees can’t kick out too early, the brood will diminish. So how do to work around this dilemma? Although, preprogrammed by nature to work and live by a set schedule of weather, bees are clever little fellows. This is what Henry Taylor observes:

Mark the resources of the industrious bees. They search in the neighbourhood for a place where they may deposit their honey, until the young shall have left the combs in which they were hatched. If they fail in this object, they crowd together in the front of their habitation, forming prodigious clusters. It is not uncommon to see them building combs on the outside.

And they quite attached to their brood as well, especially the queen. As the queen moves around the hive, the bees show their affection by bringing their antennas in contact with the queens. She returns this gesture likewise.

She is the mother of the entire community, her office being to lay the eggs from which all proceed, whether future queens, drones, or workers. Separate her from the family, and she instinctively resents the injury, refuses food, pines and dies.

Henry Taylor’s humane perspective towards the bees makes the book a delight to read. The technicalities of beekeeping are quite extensive throughout the book. However, they are easily absorbed due to the author’s empathy towards his subject. Bees are just not the means to obtain an end product—honey and wax. They are “wonderful creatures” that teach “perfect organization and faultless adaption of means to an end, a lesson of humility; and finally, by the contemplation of their beautiful works.”

…How oft, when

wandering for

and erring


Man might learn

Truth and

Virtue from

the Bee!


Source: The Bee-keeper’s Manual, Henry Taylor

Dinner Rolls by The Ephemeral Bee


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The bread recipe of the week are these lovely buttermilk dinner rolls.  They are light, solidly formed, and subtly flavored by honey and lemon zest.  I added some sprouted wheat flour to the mix for some additional protein, but, if you do not have any on hand, feel free to use regular flour, or substitute in another whole grain flour.  Keep in mind that the density of the flour will effect the lightness of the rolls.


Full article and recipe at: Dinner Rolls — The Ephemeral Bee

Happy Birthday Émile Warré


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Abbé Éloi François Émile Warré ( March 9, 1867 in Grébault-MesnilDied on April 20, 1951 )

Source: Wikipedia

Abbe Warré developed the popular hive based on his experience with 350 hives of different systems existing at the time as well as on the natural behaviors of the bee In order to disseminate his works, he wrote several books: Health or the Best Treatments of All Diseases , Honey, Its Properties and Uses , Health, Guidebook for the Sick and Well- Being and especially the Most Important ‘Beekeeping for all’ , a new edition was published by Coyote in 2005. The previous edition was published in 1948.

Its goal was to obtain a hive closest to the natural conditions of the bee, while being practical for the beekeeper.  He preferred to make savings rather than profits and was looking for savings instead of productivity. His hive was thus based on a small financial investment for its manufacture and its exploitation. He hoped that everyone could have a hive and harvest honey without having to equip themselves with many tools of extraction.

Source: Wikipedia

Happy Birthday William Woodley


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Happy Birthday William Woodley born at Oxford on March 9, 1846.

Source: originally written in the Obituary British Bee Journal – 25 October 1923 and presented here as found at: Beehive Yourself

From Mr. Woodley’s Obituary Notice in 1923:

Thirty years ago Mr Woodley had become famous as a bee-keeper. He specialised in sections with great success, and for years carried off the best prizes at the biggest shows. He was no jealous guarder of secrets, but for many years by his contributions to the “Bee-Keepers’ Record,” the “Berkshire Bee-Keeper;” to this journal, and occasionally to the American bee-keeping magazines he placed the advantage of his knowledge and great experience at the disposal of those who were seeking success in bee culture. Until the last he was a reader of current American bee literature, but his habit of thought saved him from the error of imagining that methods and practices that suit America are equally suitable for this country, with its different climate and flora. Years ago Mr Woodley worked over 200 stocks, and did a large business in honey and in supplying swarms of bees, many going to Scotland, where they were worked for the heather. Acarine disease robbed him of the whole of his stock, but he had began to work it up again, without any intentions, however, of going so extensively as formerly into the business.

Mr Woodley was led by his cousin to take an interest in bees. Mr A. D. Woodley’s father promised him a hive of bees, but for some time he did not accept the offer. An article in “Chambers’s Journal” which he read in 1879, and the subsequent possession of Cheshire’s “Practical Bee-Keeping,” published about that time, filled him with enthusiasm. He accepted the offer, and got his father during the Easter holidays to help him make a frame hive, into which he transferred the combs and bees. He persuaded Mr Woodley to take an interest in the bees his great-aunt kept at Beedon, and at Whitsuntide of the same year went over to Beedon and made him his first hive. This hive Mr Woodley called “Jumbo,” and it is in existence today. Mr Woodley secured some most beautiful honey in bell glasses, which were exceedingly popular in his novitiate days, and the products of his bees were soon on the show bench at the Crystal palace and elsewhere. Until disease swept away his stock Mr Woodley had been a regular exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Show.


Read the full article originally written in the Obituary British Bee Journal – 25 October 1923 at:  Beehive Yourself. There you will also be able to further explore the life and works of Mr. William Woodley.

Resource – MAAREC Fact Sheets




Honey bees coming to pollen feeder

Source: Resource – MAAREC Fact Sheets Posted in useful references

Basic Biology and Management of the Japanese Hornfaced Bee

Pollination Contracts – 5.4

Moving Bees – 5.3

Pollination – 5.2

Bees and Bears – 4.10

Bee Diseases and their Control – 4.9

IPM for Beekeepers – 4.8

Varroa Mites – 4.7

Small Hive Beetle – 4.6

Wax Moth – 4.5

Stinging Insect Control – 4.4

Pests of Honey Bees – 4.3

Tracheal Mites – 4.2

Chemicals and Drugs – 4.1

Beeswax – 3.9

Honey – 3.8

Bait Hives – 3.7

Removing Bees – 3.6

Transferring Bees – 3.5

Swarming Control – 3.4

Dividing Honey Bee Colonies – 3.3

Fall Management – 3.2

Early Spring Management – 3.1

Keeping Bees in Populated Areas – 2.7

Sources of Information and Assistance for Beekeepers – 2.4

Queen, Nuc and Package Bee Suppliers – 2.3

Beekeeping Equipment and Supplies – 2.2

Tips on How to Handle Bees – 2.1

Honey bee nutrition – 1.4

What is the Africanized Honey Bee? – 1.3

Information for Bee-ginners – 1.2

Bees are Beneficial – 1.1

Source: Resource – MAAREC Fact Sheets

The Importance of Swarm Control


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This was done online at canva – I was full of ideas until I started playing with it, it’s not the final one .. but was interesting to have a play with. It needs making more even. The templates are there to play with so I might have another go and see what I can […]

via Playing at infographics… — bbkamodules

The Eternal Question – How to prevent swarming? by The Walrus and the Honeybee


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How to prevent swarming?

I previously wrote about some potential factors involved in the swarming of honey bees and why swarm prevention and control are so important for the beekeeper. The idea that we can prevent swarms is probably misguided; it is after all what bees are programmed to do, it is how they reproduce, but we must nevertheless educate ourselves and do what little we can in this regard.

The people who are most qualified to advise on swarming, or any other honey bee management topic, are the commercial honey farmers who manage thousands of colonies and rely upon their efforts to earn their living from it. This is why I will be quoting from such people extensively here – they have lived and breathed a life with bees and I would rather take heed of their words than those of a keen hobbyist or a well read scholar.

“If I were to meet a man perfect in the entire science and art of bee-keeping, and were allowed from him an answer to just one question, I would ask for the best and easiest way to prevent swarming.” C.C.Miller, Fifty Years Among the Bees


Read full article here: The Eternal Question — The Walrus and the Honeybee

Moving Bees by Jennifer Berry



There are many reasons we find ourselves “having to” or “wanting to” move bees. The “have to’s” might occur when a neighbor complains they are bothering the children or the hive is not in the right location. The “want to’s” might be moving bees to fulfill pollination contracts or to take advantage of different nectar flows. Whatever the reason, moving bees, whether a few feet  in the backyard or across several thousand miles, is no easy task. Not only is it hard work (hives are heavy), it’s also a bit intimidating to think about picking up a box with hundreds, no thousands of insects that when disturbed or agitated, will become stinging agents of pain. Since this can be a tricky job, let’s talk about how we can move hives without harming the bees or more importantly, ourselves. But Wait!! Stop the Presses!!!! Placing hives in the right spot, the first time, will save a lot of headaches, backaches and work down the road. So, before we ever move in the first hive of bees, let’s consider the following things.

Read full article here: Moving Bees — BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years

Bee Behavior – Festooning


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Source: Bee Behavior – Festooning

Bee behavior is my favorite part of beekeeping. It’s such a neat experience to watch and learn from the bees. It’s also interesting to have scientists explain (or in this case fail to explain) what is going on inside the mind of the bees.

Festoon is defined as “adorn (a place) with ribbons, garlands, or other decorations.”

In this case, that decor is the bees themselves, dangling like chain inside the hive. The video below shows a short clip of this activity.

At one point or was hypothesized that this pose promoted the production of wax from the wax glands – that has since  been debunked.

It’s purpose is deemed unknown to scientists and although there are speculations. Bees tend to do this when building new comb in their hive – some people think it’s a type of acrobatic scaffolding, that they’re measuring to build the comb the proper size, or that they’re just beat friends clustered together. Either way, it’s pretty neat bee-havior.

Source: Bee Behavior – Festooning

Fragrant chicken with vibrant Asian slaw and honey in Marinade by Nicole’s Kitchen Diary


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I’ve made this dish twice, once for my husband and once for my best friend. Both times I was met with amazing feedback, and I have to admit, it’s one of my best yet. I’m a huge fan of Asian flavours and this really has it all going on. It’s fresh, zingy and sweet. There are no carbs and the veggies are served raw so it’s super healthy. Using medium chillies in raw form adds a nice heat, not too much, but enough to let you know it’s an Asian dish. There is something fun about food you can eat with your hands, just load up the Romaine lettuce cups with crunchy Asian slaw and top with some sticky fragrant chicken. Roll it up and get stuck in.

This recipe is great for when you’re entertaining because everything can be prepared in advance. The slaw can be prepped and stored in a container in the fridge (undressed), the slaw dressing can be made and popped in a jar with a lid (no need to refrigerate). Prepare the chicken by slicing and covering with the marinade in a glass bowl, wrap with cling and store in the fridge until needed. When you’re ready you can have everything ready and on the table within minutes.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, because some of it is store cupboard stuff and the rest is mostly just veggies. I’ll be entirely honest, the preparation takes a little longer than most dishes I cook, but it’s just a case of finely slicing the veggies. Why not stick the radio on and practice your knife skills one afternoon? You’ll be glad you spent the time when you taste how delicious this dish is. It’s like a party in your mouth, seriously!


Read fully recipe here: Fragrant chicken with vibrant Asian slaw in lettuce wraps — Nicole’s Kitchen Diary

Swarming Season by Roads End Naturalist



The happiness of the bee and the dolphin is to exist. For man it is to know that and to wonder at it.

~Jacques Yves Cousteau

Just at closing one day this week, a coworker at the Garden sent an email alerting everyone to a swarm of honeybees just outside the back gate. I was getting ready for programs the next day so wasn’t able to get down there for an hour or so, but finally grabbed the camera and went out to see if I could find it. I asked a couple of people that were standing there talking if they knew the location of the swarm, but they had not seen it. About then, I saw some flying insects, and quickly found a ball of bees about 12 feet up on a small tree trunk.

Read more here: Swarming Season — Roads End Naturalist

Happy Birthday George S. Demuth




Born on 2 Mar 1871 to Elias Demuth and Susannah Miller. Died 1934

Worked as a Apicultural Assistant with the USDA Bureau of Entomology. Wrote many pamphlets and books on honey bees.

Commercial comb-honey production / by Geo. S. Demuth.

Five hundred answers to bee questions pertaining to their behavior and relation to honey production.

The temperature of the honeybee cluster in winter / by E.F. Phillips and George S. Demuth

Wintering bees in cellars / E.F. Phillips and George S. Demuth

The preparation of bees for outdoor wintering / E.F. Phillips and George S. Demuth.

Comb Honey 1917

George S. Demuth is buried in  Spring Grove Cemetery, Medina. Medina County, Ohio, USA

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for March


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All beekeeping is local. These chores are for the Midlands of South Carolina or a similar climate where the bees are flying at least a few hours most days of the year. March is full of action in the bee yard from growing populations in our hives to first swarms. Weather in the Midlands can still hold surprises – last year we had two unexpected freezes which disrupted swarming but also caused some early splits to fail. 

1) Towards the end of February, and the first of March, if not already done, place swarm traps with pheromone attractant or lemongrass oil attractant to catch swarms. Traps ideally should be 10 – 12 feet above ground but can be lower for convenience and safety.

2) On growing, overwintered hives, place first super at beginning of this month. Stop syrup feedings if they are making white wax indicating a flow is in progress. Plan on checks every 7 to 10 days to head off swarm preparations.

3) Inspect for laying queen, disease, etc.

4) Consider spring splits this month if weather is warm, drones are present, and you wish to increase your colonies.

5) Swap (rotate) brood boxes if not previously done. Disruption delays swarming.

6) Checkerboarding frames above brood nest with drawn comb alternating empty with honey also provides disruption as well as food availability in case of a period of unexpected colder weather.

7) Open up brood chamber with drawn comb.

8) Look for poor queen performance and mark for queen replacement for when queens become available.

9) Notice Flowering Tulip Magnolia, Bradford Pears, Pine pollen, Yellow jasmine, Oak pollen, Azaleas starting. Note lots of pollen coming in as brood expands.

10) If you ordered package bees make final preparations for their arrival – equipment, site preparation. Mark your calendar for package delivery day and prepare for the excitement.
11) Nucleus hive orders will close early this month. Place order if needed.

12) Renew your association membership.  Attend local meetings.

13) While you still have time, read a couple articles on swarm control here and here. Many more are available: Google search “Swarm Prevention and Control.”

Spring Management: March 1-15th (Temperature above 60 degrees):

  • Rotate brood boxes if two exist or add 2nd if only one exists. If you add a brood box, place it above existing brood box. Use drawn comb if available.
  • Check the brood comb and replace frames that have excessive drone cell, are old, or have other problems.
  • Check for queen cells. Repeat every seven to ten days for about four times. If you find an capped cell, verify hive is queen-right and consider making increase by moving queen to new hive to simulate swarm.

All month:

  • Inspect queen/brood status, if weak, mark colony for re-queening when new queens are available.
  • If running 2 brood boxes, rotate boxes to maintain space for queen to lay as well as for swarm prevention technique.
  • Last week of month, place minimum 2 empty supers of drawn comb or 1 super if using frames of foundation on strong colonies (assuming no major beetle problems).
  • Medium strength colonies should receive 1 empty super if using drawn comb to allow them room to both guard and grow.
  • Replace 2-3 frames of old drawn comb in each hive body with frames of new foundation.
  • Remember to remove all medications from colony according to product label directions.

14) Email your Association’s Secretary asking what you can do to help, or volunteer to lend a hand in your organization. Many hands make light work. If you’d like to see your organization grow as well as offer and maintain your current level of member services your help is needed.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Balance in the Hive


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It’s spring colony splitting time and one thing we should keep in mind as we delve into the congested and complex  hive is having the correct balance of bees of various ages within the hive or split. An upset in the balance of bees’ ages upsets the proper functioning of the colony. Ex.: who’s going to clean the cells and feed the young larva if the colony goes queenless for an extended period and all of the bees have passed that stage in their adult development? Reversible? I wonder to what degree, and about the quality of work that can be expected from a bee that has passed it’s normal period for the work expected.

I’ve read below and elsewhere that there is some flexibility in the bees’ ability to move forward or backward in their age defined activities. However, the quality of the work suffers based on the bees’ physiologically ability to perform a particular task.

When making splits during the spring buildup there isn’t any difficulty finding brood of various ages so as to provide a split with a diverse population. Done well, a split hardly misses a beat and continues to grow and build effortlessly, while poorly configured splits struggle to get going and sometimes fail.


A simple diagram showing the life history of the honey bee worker.
The schedule of worker bee activities is both flexible and reversible, depending more upon physiological age than on chronological age, and is altered according to the needs of the colony. Diagram Source: Sipa Honey Bees

Working With the Bees’ Natural Tendencies


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(All beekeeping is local. The dates given below are guidelines for the Midlands of South Carolina. Adjust to your local area as needed.)

This time of year both beekeepers and the honey bees are working towards the same short term goals but for different reasons.

Let’s start with some bee math. We can expect a bee born this time of year to have a life expectancy of approximately 5 or 6 weeks. Of those 6 weeks only approximately 3 weeks will be spent as a forager.

We also know, based on information provided to us by our seasoned mentors, that here in the Midlands we can expect our nectar flow to begin, in earnest, around late March / early April and to last approximately until the first week of June.

To gather the greatest amount of nectar (ultimately honey) and to get the most comb drawn during that 2 month window of strong nectar flow we must have all hands on deck on day one of the nectar flow. Meaning a colony at its peak of nectar gathering abilities, fully staffed to handle the challenge of millions of blooms occuring in a short period of time. (Think of it as having enough wait staff in a restaurant just prior to dinner hour. Too few staff and things just don’t get done.)

The bees want the same thing we do at the same time. They want a full staff on day one of the nectar flow. Missing the mark and showing up with a full staff at the end of the nectar flow is useless and, in fact, a burden on the colony’s ability to feed lots of bees after the nectar is gone.

So, it seems we have a mutual goal between beekeeper and honey bee – lots of bees on day one of what amounts to their work shift.

Let’s make a best guess as to when Day One occurs based on history as given to us by our mentors and say it’s April 1st here in the Midlands. Should I run an ad in Free Times advertising for Help Wanted to help with this year’s nectar flow?

“Seasonal Help Wanted: Honey Bees to help gather nectar during this year’s nectar flow. Must be willing to travel and be in foraging phase of life.”

No, probably won’t work. But using bee math and the bees own instincts for this time of year we can determine how to get those bees. I need a three week old bee available on April 1st. Given it takes 21 days from egg to birth and then allowing for the three week age requirement for the job, I can determine that a new foraging bee on April 1st was an egg exactly 6 weeks before the nectar flow began. Also, since the queen can only lay a set amount of eggs a day – perhaps 1,200 or maybe a bit more, I had better start even before that 6 weeks if I want a FULL staff on day one of the nectar flow.

Still with me? Great because the good, and bad, parts are coming soon.

What this means for you today (Feb. 20th), is that we are just now at that date when an egg layed today will get her work permit as a 3 week old forager on the first week of April. That’s good! Another thing that’s good is the bees have already been ramping up and your queen should be a laying machine right now. What you want to do is encourage that queen and that colony to continue this egg laying, brood rearing mania, tirelessly for the next 60 days. Important: Do you know how to do this?

Now for the bad news. Your reasons for the buildup are not the same as the bees. You both want a buildup and on that point you support each other’s efforts. However, because you have different end goals you have to understand each other’s motivations if you are going to be successful partners.

I’ll try to be gentle but, you see, they (the bees) want to move out. Not all of them; just about 60% and the queen. They’re preparing now for their move. You may have thought they were building up for the nectar flow and you’re right, they are, but they see the start of the nectar flow as providing the means for a successful move. We call it a swarm; they call it reproduction. By moving out at the start of the nectar flow it gives them the best chance of building a new home and surviving.

For the beekeeper this is like half of your employees leaving just as your grand opening day presents itself. And the amount of work to be done is so great that you’ll not get it done if you lose more than half those employees (well, you’ll probably get enough for them but not you).

So, the dilemma is to convince the bees they’d actually like to stay around in their current home for just a while longer. Very Important: Do you know how to do this?

Heck, convince them that if they stay, in June you’ll actually help them move (i.e. make split).

Lots to Do in the Beeyard


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11012250_10204623272476593_731496768_nThere’s lots to do in the bee yard today since mother nature has stolen at least two weeks preparation time out from under us here in the Midlands of South Carolina.

I had a few, okay maybe a half dozen, hives that were just too burr combed up in the feeding shim to properly handle when I should have ten or more days ago. Things weren’t better today.

The first venture into the hives after winter is probably one of the most difficult and dreaded for me each year. They have burr combed up all my violations of bee space and propolized everything together such that not much goes quite as planned. Then there’s always that space between boxes where the bottom bars of the frames above become connected to the top bars of the frames below. The bees, having not been allowed much in the way of drone comb find this a great spot to build drone comb and raise spring drones. That the hives in question today had been deferred spoke to the fact that I didn’t really want to deal with them ten days ago as I should have.

But things must be handled and there’s always the knowledge that afterwards the hives are easier to work for the remainder of the season.

My first adventure today was into a well populated two story nucleus hive I overwintered. They objected somewhat but adequate smoke kept them in check while I rotated a full box off the top and replaced it with drawn comb and returned some of their stores. I was happy to get out of there though as I was spending far too long performing my tasks being a little rusty and not having every widget available I normally like.

I did the same for several more nucleus hives and started in on the ten framers that still had feeding shims in place. That’s when the trouble started. Entire feeding shims filled with willy-nilly comb in all directions and filled with honey and drone brood. And black with bees covering everything and spilling out over the boxes. A little smoke helped move them but nothing short of a rap of the inner cover on the box dislodged them back into the uppermost hive body. Unhappy bees; unhappy beekeeper. Usually though they settled down shortly. Once I had to take a walk with them following me for 100 feet or so. I was probably not working them slow enough in the hive nor fast enough overall to get out of their domain. Get ‘er done, and I was almost there.

I had passengers in the truck with me as a drove away from the last hive. Windows down, suit on, and proud of myself having gotten the deed done without a sting through my glove or on top of my head as sometimes happens with the veil pulled down tight.

Oh, what’s that? A hive over by my main stretch of ten framers with it’s brick standing on end. Usually I use this brick position to indicate a queenless condition but I remembered from ten days ago why I stood it up then. The bees were too thick and they were too irritable to bother so I deferred and stood the brick up. Having completed all except this one hive I decided to stop and complete today’s task list. Only take a minute – probably.

The bees were still thick under that inner cover and they had the entire feeding shim filled with honey comb and drone brood. Most of it hung down off the inner cover. I smoked them down and waited. They kept coming back up in short order. As mentioned earlier, there tends to be an overall time limit for bees after which they just say, “You’re done here.” I was running out of time and knew it. I had a thought to go back to the barn and get a bottle of Bee Go to run them down out of that shim with its unpleasant odor. But my dilemma was time. Things weren’t going to get better in ten minutes. I was already taking a heavy bombardment of bees against my veil. I decided it would be best to bang the inner cover against the shim and smoke them some more. After a couple raps most of the bees dislodged and I was able to get the inner cover and the shim removed. I scrapped the honey and drone comb into a ready bucket and thought I’d better close up. Then, as one does when they are tired, a bad decision presented itself to me. While it’s good to know that I’m still capable of decisions at my age, bad ones just stink. I decided as I reached for the replacement inner cover that the bees were so thick I had better check for swarm cells between the boxes. Okay, that’s a quick hive tool between the boxes, a tilt upward, and I should be done – right? Well, there was drone brood between the boxes as I should have known, and maybe in my haste I forgot to smoke them down. Or maybe I did and they were so thick they had nowhere to go. I took my hive tool and scrapped the first top bar and my gloved had was covered. Second top bar and they have decided to cover my entire right arm. Third scraping and they are like Velcro on my jacket and veil. I can’t remember the final strokes as I was in get ‘er done mode. I did get the box down and in place when I started to feel the stings though my jeans and forearms. Oh my! Folks, when they decide they have no place left to light on you other than your jeans you’ve stayed far too long.

I started walking, stopping occasionally to brush some off. New beekeepers, remember I told you to buy a brush! I walked and walked and covered a hundred yards. Finally I headed back. I still had to replace the inner and telescoping covers. I did so and had to walk again with irritable bees. I had made every mistake I could have, overstayed my welcome by a stretch, rapid movements, and kept coming back when they said, “GO!”. One last trip and I eased into my waiting truck and drove off fully suited with about twenty bees that decided it best they give me an escort.

Done but not proud of my finesse on this one. Maybe I’ll go back for my smoker later, or tomorrow. Wonder where my hive tool is?

It’s Bee Lining Time


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Source: Tom Seeley’s Following the Wild Bees

Here is a super cool beebox for bee hunting, made of two Altoids tins. Ingenious, and fun! The inventor, Frank Linton, also provided instructions for construction.

See Plans here:

Source: Tom Seeley’s Following the Wild Bees

Surprising health benefits of Honey by Andaman Plantations and Development


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The advantages of honey go beyond its unique taste. It’s really a wonderful natural source of carbohydrates which supply strength and energy to human bodies, honey is known for its efficacy in quickly boosting the performance, endurance and reduces muscle fatigue of athletes. Its natural sugars play a significant role in preventing fatigue while exercise. Human body absorbs the glucose in honey very quickly and supplies an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more gradually providing sustained energy. It is widely known that honey has also been found to keep levels maintained of blood sugar compared to other types of sugar.

Read entire article here: Surprising health benefits of Honey — Andaman Plantations and Development Corporation Pvt. Ltd.

Sustainable Beekeeping thru Nucleus Colonies “Beekeeping 357”


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Early on in my addiction to all things beekeeping I listened to podcasts. Essentially a podcast is similar to a  radio interview recorded for listening anytime via the internet. Podcasts are great to listen to at times when reading a book or watching a video aren’t possible. So, while building frames, mowing the lawn, or driving the car you can still be immersed in learning more about beekeeping. The Kiwimana Buzz Beekeeping Podcast is one of several podcasts available to listeners (links below).

Some time ago I listened to a local beekeeper give a lecture about flexibility in beekeeping. One of the points of his lecture was going with the natural rhythm of the bees and nature. Experienced beekeepers, having kept bees over many seasons, know these things. Spring is the time of increase, a time of plenty, growth, and expansion. Summer follows here in the South Carolina Midlands with dearth and a time for the bees to tighten the belt on resources. Fall and Winter are times when the bees depend on stored resources. This is also when the stress on the hive is greatest due to the climate, pest pressures, viri, and lack of food stores all of which sometimes leads to colony failure.

Going with the flux described above means making increase when the bees want to  make increase. The beekeeper goes with the flow and capitalizes on the ease with which nature and the bees expand during times of plenty. The idea being to capitalize during times of plenty so you too, the beekeeper, have resources during the harder times of seasons ahead. Joe Lewis describes such a method in the podcast below titled Beekeeping 357.

This week we are talking to Joe Lewis from Maryland in the big Ol’ US of A. This is Episode Ninety Nine of our beekeeping podcast.

You can download the podcast directly HERE, or click here to play. Feel free to share the show with your friends.

Welcome To the kiwimana buzz…

Hi, it’s Gary and Margaret here, We are beekeepers from the hills of the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland, New Zealand. Our podcast is about beekeeping, Gardening and bit of politics about environmental issues. We also have been known to go off on tangents about other issues.

This interview was recorded in October 2016.


Joe is a Beekeeper and writer from Bel Air, Maryland which is between Baltimore and Philadelphia in North America. He has a passion for the Honey Bees and took up the hobby after retiring from the US Army. He was self diagnosed with the “Not enough bees disease” over eleven years ago and spends his days trying to locate a cure.

Sustainable Beekeeping thru Nucleus Colonies “Beekeeping 357”

Click one the video below to see a video lecture by Joe Lewis

Here is what you will discover

  • How to cure “The Not enough Bees Disease”
  • The secret to keeping lots of bees and working a full time job
  • Why Five is the right number in Beekeeping
  • What the Beekeeping 357 principle all about
  • How Joe started writing for the American Beekeepers Journal

Resources mentioned in the show

  • Joe Business is Harford Honey, the web site is HERE
  • Book Following the Bloom by Douglas Whynott can be found HERE
  • The Book Beekeeping in coastal California by Jeremy Rose can be purchased HERE
  • Susquehanna Beekeepers Association has a website HERE
  • Joe Lewis Queen rearing Calendar Wheel, download PDF HERE
  • The fifty two most important people in your BeeClub, have a read HERE
  • Our interview with Randy Oliver from Scientific Beekeeping can be found HERE
  • Randy Oliver’s Article Queens for Pennies, read it HERE
  • North West New Jersey YouTube Channel can be found HERE
  • Landi Simone Nucleus Colonies Presentation can be found HERE
  • Our interview with the Great Frank Lindsay can be listened to HERE
  • J Smith – Better Queens Download from Michael Bush Website HERE

Source: Kiwimana Buzz Beekeeping Podcast Episode 99

Pushing for Colony Reproduction


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Not long ago, someone asked when we should start feeding the bees. The answer given was another question – What are your goals?

We want to building strong colonies but for what purpose? To catch the nectar flow? To make splits?, nucs?, or early pollination purposes? Each goal has a different start date.

Much of what we do with our bees involves looking forward. Last year I wrote a piece on when we should start the push towards building them up for purposes of capturing the nectar flow. I’ll bump that article to the top at a later date when it’s more relevant. Today, though, I’d like to think through another planning exercise for the beekeeper wanting to make strong splits from overwintered colonies.

I like bee math!

An experienced mentor and bee buddy of mine called me recently to ask if I wanted to order some early season queens. He caught me off guard just a bit because I really had not done my math homework for the coming splits season. Well, I’d better get hopping and decide if I’m going to order queens or make queenless splits.

And if I’m going to make spilts, when do I need to get busy?

Framing the issue:

We know from prior swarm seasons and winners of the “Golden Hive Tool Award” (given to the first captured swarm of each season) that swarming in the Midlands starts as soon as late, late February but typically early, early March and will remain strong for a month to six weeks into April then taper with an occasional spurts and sputters along the way.

We know that nature provides natural pollen and nectar for buildup in the Midlands around early to mid February (give or take). Some people see some earlier and this is climate and location dependent. So in nature we see feed for the bees a ~ month or so before swarming.

We know that the climate is still a bit dicey March 1st with occasional surprise freezes which could impact the survival of splits. I’m not sure I want to tempt Midlands weather.

March 1st looks to be an intersection between climate and colony readiness.

So, with natures help,some colonies are ready to swarm as early as ~ March 1. What constitutes being “ready?” Well, colony swarm preparations are a topic in itself but one hardwired componet is drone production. So we deduce that swarming colonies will have made drones ready to mate. I presume nature and the bees assume other colonies have done the same so as to provide some genetic diversity. But back to the point. If a colony is ready to swarm with ready drones when did they start those drones? The answer might help me as to when to start pushing buildup.

Let’s try to nail down a date to promote drone production by reviewing our bee math for drones: 3 days as an egg; 6 1/2 days as a larvae, and capped by day 10. 14 days as a pupa – 24 days. Right? Oh, but we must not forget that that drone is but a wee tot when born and needs to get to his “adolescence” to be ready for mating. That occurs after another 14 days give or take. Okay, I need to start making drones 38 days prior to making queenless splits. Right?…Wrong. Remember that if I make a split the bees will have to begin queen cells and we don’t need ready drones at the start of queen cells. We need them to coincide with the time it takes to make a queen and allow her to “harden” ready for her mating flight. Oh my, that probably negates some of my original calculations.

Nature tells me it will start making the splits for me (i.e. swarm) around March 1st. Let’s use that a  date that nature chooses as the earliest date swarms are likely to survive and use subtraction to come to the date I need to start building up my hives in order to maximize my success with queenless splits. March 1st minus 38 days leaves me at January 16th. I know this date as the birthday of Johann Dzierzon, father of parthenogenesis. (In animals, parthenogenesis means development of an embryo from an unfertilized egg cell. Ain’t that a coincidence?) But, as much as I would like to start pushing for drone production on Johann’s birthday, remember I need to deduct (or add back) the time for the colony to create a mating ready queen or approximately 20 to 24 days. My head is starting to hurt. Okay, January 16 plus 24 days = February 7th (or three days before Ormond Aebi’s birthday).

Isn’t it a curiosity that my efforts at calculations results in a bunch of needless time wasting when mother nature gave me the buildup date to begin with – the bloom of Red Maples! That is, when the maples bloom is the start date when nature itself provides the necessary ingredients to maximize successful colony reproduction on a date conducive to climate and impending nectar flow. You can’t fool mother nature. I’m exhausted but it serves me right. Beekeepers should probably reply to questions like this with bloom dates rather than calendar dates.

The Rule of 72 and Mite Control


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The rule of 72 and mite control.

The rule of 72 is a financial rule of thumb that says that 72 divided by an interest rate will tell you how long it takes for any given amount of money to double.

There are a lot of factors involved but this is also true with many other things in life. For example, we could determine a similar calculation for mites in honey bee colonies.

How is this relevant? The relevance is in the doubling effect. A financial planner will tell you to start saving early for this reason. No matter how much, or little, it matters to start early. Why? To get more doublings.

Your first year’s savings may take 7 years to double. That may be doubling from $1000 to $2000. Not much in the big picture of retirement, huh? But remember there’s another $1000 for each year you saved after your first year. And so it goes. Compounding takes effect and the total grows.

In ten years lets say you have$15,000. That $15,000 doubles in another 7 years plus any additional you have added. By the second doubling you’ll start to see the effects of compound interest.

So, here’s the kicker. By the time you are ready to retire, let’s  say you have $500,000. That’s great but what if you had started 7 years earlier? Think about this. The answer is you’d have another doubling in the equation. That’s right, $1,000,000. The big One Million. Or an additional $500,000 in just seven years. Crazy huh?

And to the point of this post. A mite population has a rule of 72 which can be calculated by it reproductive rate. What does that mean when it comes to mites? It means, just like the rule of 72 and money, it isn’t the first doubling that kills the colony, it’s the last doubling. Now doesn’t this explain some things that sometimes seem unexplainable? Like sudden colony crashes and what appears to be abscondings? That last doubling is simply overwhelming. The viral load transmitted by the mites becomes unsurvivable by the bees. Of course, with bees, the rule of 72 with mites in beehives has a limiting factor – the survivability of the bees.

Landi Simone – Reading the Frames


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Landi Simone – Reading the Frames

I found this interesting. She says many things that I say to new beekeepers – listen to and watch your bees. They’ll tell you when they’re not happy! The frame pictures are excellent and well worth a look at from a healthy honey bee perspective.

It’s quite long at 44 minutes, but worth a watch!

Source: Landi Simone – Reading the Frames

Shallow frames in medium hive body, oops!


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shallows in medium box

Bees fill voids greater than 3/8″ (1cm) with comb. When not given a guide to work with they build it according to their own liking. Hence the marvel of Hoffman frames and hive designs that encourage them to build within the design guidelines.

I made this mistake last year, discovered it, and left it until this year. Somehow I placed six shallow frames in a medium hive body located in the center brood box position. On inspection last year I realized my error when I tried to remove the frames. Oops! Since last summer I have spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning anxiously awaiting 2018 spring inspections when I hoped the box would be vacated and I could remove it. Yesterday was the day and last night I finally had a good night’s sleep. 🙂 BTW: These bees get an F for maintaining proper bee space.

Letters to a Beekeeper by Honey Hunter


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Letters to a Beekeeper is a delightful book for anyone interested in beekeeping, bees, gardening or indeed letters.

The book follows the journey of two people over the course of a year and the sharing of their passions.  

Alys learns how to keep bees and Steve learns how to plant a pollinator-friendly garden.  Steve Benbow is the founder of the London Honey Company and Alys Fowler is the Guardian gardening writer.

Read the entire review at:  Letters to a Beekeeper — Honey Hunter

Ancient Olympians ate this honey cheesecake as a post-workout snack, and we have the recipe By Noël Duan & Elan Kiderman


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Some may say that cheesecake is food of the gods—those people include the ancient Greek Olympians, who feasted on a flour cake filled with cheese and honey after their pentathlon competitions. The ancient Greeks were already aware of the connections between physical aptitude and lifestyle choices—and the athletes engaged in a variety of restrictive diets believed to enhance their performances, such as xerophagia, a diet consisting of dry foods. Like the modern-day cheesecake, the ancient Greek version was an indulgence, something you pair with your wine at the end of a languid feast.

In 250 BC, the Greek poet Archestratus wrote a gastronomic travel guide called Life of Luxury that is only preserved in fragments. In one piece that has survived, he makes mention of the dessert: “Yet accept a cheese-cake made in Athens; or, failing that, if you can get one from somewhere else, go out and demand some Attic honey, since that will make your cheesecake superb.” But, alas, he did not include any recipes.

As with the classical sculptures we now find in museums, we can thank the Romans for preserving the Greek cheesecake into posterity. De Agri Cultura, Cato the Elder’s 160 BC farming manual, is not only the earliest example of surviving Latin prose, but a glorified food blog—it includes not one but several recipes for cheesecakes.

“Cato is a proud Roman, writing in Latin,” Cathy Kaufman, food history and author of Cooking in Ancient Civilizations, explained over email. “Nonetheless, there seems to be an overlap between Archestratus’s gastronomic descriptions and Cato’s recipes.” The only possible difference between an ancient Greek cheesecake and an ancient Roman cheesecake, classicist and food blogger Andrew Coletti added, is that the early Greeks didn’t use chicken eggs.

Cato’s cheesecake recipes include a sweet version called savillum and a savory cheesecake called libum, the latter being related to our modern-day word, libations. “They were often made as religious offerings,” Coletti explained. These were simple baked mixtures of baked cheese and flour that could be eaten with a spoon. Another more complex version from Cato, the placenta cake, involves layering cheese, honey, and dough together and flavored with bay leaves. According to Coletti, black poppyseeds were also used as cheesecake toppings. Think of them as ancient sprinkles.

This was Cato’s original recipe for placenta cake:

Read fully article and get recipe here:

Ancient Olympians ate this honey cheesecake as a post-workout snack, and we have the recipe By Noël Duan & Elan Kiderman