June 25 2017

We now work a weekly graft which will continue throughout the remainder of the season. The cells will be used in our minis to mate and the extra cells will be used to fix up problem hives within the apiary as we find them. We have simplified our cell starter unit.  The starters are simply queenless with a continuous rotation of brood frames through and shook bees into it. The incubator helps us keep the starter working to our weekly schedule.

A couple more days inserting excluders and then we get into the long over due split hive queen checks.  These units will get supered, regrouped and moved out to the fields.  Spot checks show good things…

June 20 2017

Today we started to insert excluders. We worked through 240 hives today which leaves 1000 left to go. The hives are in tremendous shape. We are adding thirds to everything. As school finishes up my summer staff has started to file in for work. My work schedule is flexible to accommodate time needed for exams and grad. With my two guys now, this summer I’m adding another four.  Busy times ahead

June 18 2017

This time of year everything happens so fast! I’ve been putting in the extra effort these last few days skimming the boomers and boosting the smaller in an effort to relieve my swarming pressure. I’m having trouble harnessing some of these yards…
The flow began on one side of my apiary this weekend and it’s close everywhere else. These hives are ready to explode!! Over the next 10 days we will insert excluders and super everything up into thirds. Queen checks on the splits start asap, new yards will be gathered, supered and moved out to their summer yards.

June 17 2017

Our livestock nutritionist brought me some of their companies honey bee protein supplement, Bee Pollen-ate.
A yeast based supplement formulated by AllTech. Mixed with HFCS, the product mixes like water ( I mixed 100 lbs batch with a power drill), poured into moulds and it set up like cake in about an hour. We cut and wrap with wax paper.
Bee uptake is the best I’ve seen. We are near the end of a heavy dearth, one pound of patty placed last week is GONE, replaced with sheets of lush larvae.

I’ve found my protein supplement, scratch the need for a mortar mixer.

June 16 2016

Mite biting, legs torn off, body cutting

I finally got some microscope images of mites from a biter colony. Unfortunately the lighting prevents a good view of the legs, but some detail can be seen. There are various mutilations, but the most common was a bite across the shell, or a missing let or two. Some had massive damage (no legs), while most were minimal. I did see a mite fully intact but dead, or so I thought. As I staged a photo, I noticed the mite’s legs twitching. Over time it began increasing movement but very uncoordinated. I’ve heard the bee’s bite contains a chemical that paralyzes it’s target so it can be discarded from the hive without a fight. This appears to be the case. I never saw the mite regain normal mobility over about a half hour. There are often bees in the bottom of these hives cleaning the mites out with other debris, so I assume most paralyzed mites are removed before they can awake. This would explain why I’ve had a hard time catching many on the boards to photograph. I hope you find these photos useful. Did you get any biters to try out this season?”

June 12 2016

We are heavy into derth and the bees are bringing in very little. We feed protein supplement to bridge our spring and summer flows. High time for supplemental feeding. Large nests have been stimulated by our lush spring. I want to maintain that growth right into summer.

We started with patties and pails today and followed with brood shifting to equalize the yards. 70% of the hives are perfect 25% need brood pulled, 15% need a boost.

June 11 2017

Queenless starter, 95-98% acceptance rates, switched to a queen right finisher at 24 or 48 hrs after graft. Cells filled nicely with RJ, built out beautifully, until capped, then day after capped the bees tear every cell down.
I have ran 12 consecutive grafts each in their own builder with no trouble at all, now, 4 consecutive grafts each in their own builder torn down. Heavy enough feeding to promote webbing, fresh pollen frames and a patty in the hives.
Cells torn down and larvae consumed the day after capped…What is my issue?

Regardless of the problem here (damn virgin queen issues) I have a back up plan, which is to contact a cell producer I know and send a frenzy of panicked texts, lol
Cells were available for next day pick up, so while I was in transit the next morning to get the cells I got a frantic message that her incubator thermostat malfunctioned and it cooked all the queen cells…bad luck…  So as part of her back up plan she contacted another local cell producer and fix me up with 100 cells that will be ready early this week.

This was merely a detail in the whole scheme of things but the silver lining to this cloud is the massive conversation it created over the number of commercial bee related Facebook groups I post to.  I’m not afraid to ask questions, and more importantly, I’m not afraid to accept feedback.  Commercial beekeepers are a dedicated bunch and love to tell everyone their brilliant techniques.  As to my questions posted, there was no difinitive answer other than the “blame the Damn virgin” bit.   So my best plan of action is to tear my entire yard down and start fresh.  I’m also going to employ another cell builder technique which may make life a lot easier and potentially avoid this problem again.  I’m going to test it out before I vouch for it here on my blog!

June 8 2017

Saskatraz queens shipped out of California straight from the hands of Ray Olivarez. Picked up at BeeMaid. I dropped these queens into a selection yard to choose a breeder queen from for next year and add another breeder to the mix. These assessments will run over a full year…as long as I do them!!! I will see if these grading cards are relevant and provide useful information or if they are simply cumbersome and redundant.

We are midway through our nucing program. We are cutting 2 yards, 80 hives into 250 nucs. Even without the pressure of mated queen delivery on my work schedule we are still whipped by maturing cells and the clock.  These units are made up with 2 brood frames, honey, a queen cell and a gallon of syrup.

Mating yards.  I’m fussy where I scatter the nucs for mating.  Shelter, space, diverse landscapes, nearby bee yards… this ezyloader takes all the work out of placement and with it being on the truck I can go pretty much anywhere.

June 6 2017

I’m a sucker for these pictures, bees lined up like cattle at the feed bunk!  I say it every year… now is the time, those patties should of been on last week.  We will spend a couple more days on nucs then we will spend a day (hopefully a rain delay) making patties, then it’s out for our LAST round of feeding before the summer flow begins.

Saskatraz qu

June 5 2017

The spring flow is over at Deerwood, heavy robbing has begun. These hives carry a tremendous nest which will require a continuous inflow of resources. I figure right now is one of the most important times to provide supplemental feeding. Patties have been devoured but the hives still sit on a pollen reserve. SOON as the nucs are made up we will head out with the last spring pail of syrup and a pound of patty to keep that brood nest moving forward right into the summer honey flow.

A rouge virgin has caused us headache…things aren’t always peachy around here.  This is why we always graft more cells than we need at any given time.

Lazing cows, busy bees

Pastures make the best mating yards. The grass is typically trimmed, they have lots of trees for shelter and provide a nice diverse landscape for orientation. All my splits are off and cells have been placed. I find cutting the hive in half and adding empty space uptop is the only way to knock that spring time swarm urge out of them. It’s a challenge staying ontop of work this time of year hence the 15/7!

The farm is in full swing herbicide spraying…hoping to get shut down by rain!