Monthly Archives: May 2017

May 31 2017

Our cell builder busting with bees. 60 cell grafts require large builders, the claim is each cell receives 10,000 visits… seems like a lot??

“During the 8-day period from the laying of the egg until the full grown larva is sealed within its cell, Lineburg (Nelson et al.,1924) found that nurse bees visit individual larvae an average of about 1,300 times daily – more than 10,000 visits in all. On the last day before the cell is capped, they visit it nearly 3,000 times, spending a total of 4 3/4 hours within the cell. Lindauer (1953) calculated the time for rearing one larva from the time the egg is laid to the capping of the cell, and also, the number of bees that were involved: 2,785 bees spent 10 hours, 16 minutes, and 8 seconds in caring for the cell and the larva during the period.” Hive and the Honey Bee

Sitting in on a lecture of Mike Palmer’s at the last MB beekeepers Convention reinforced this very fact when building out cells. Ontop of the busting double story hive, we gathered roughly 3 lbs of shook bees from a donor yard to add to each builder. Add feed, plenty of incoming pollen and we have consistently achieved near perfect acceptance rates. This side of the equation has been achieved…it’s the other side of the equation which is out of our hands.

48 hrs old

May 29 2017 – 2

I find it interesting how much I move my hives. Or maybe it’s just I have more hives now to move.  I’ve built my operation around the ezyloader.  In this picture we are taking splits.  I swing the empty pallet close, pull the box, drop it onto the pallet, and then up onto the truck deck.  We pulled nearly 100 splits today  through the cold and wet drizzle.  I scattered these splits throughout a sheltered pasture close to three bee yards to mate, tomorrow they get mature queen cells.  This evening I reorganized three bee yards and moved out two.  All the work was done with the ezyloader.  This piece of equipment is probably why I am continually moving hives.  This set up is helping me keep my apiary altogether nicely.

May 29 2017

I was talking to a queen breeder about whether or not to prime queen cups for a graft. The answer was no, mostly because of wasted time but also disease control (BCQV). There is no need to prime cells if the breeder hive is set up properly. A trick to float larvae is to have the breeder hive lush with feed. It’s easier to pick the larvae in cells full of jelly to float into the graft cell. A simple little trick to achieve high acceptance rates.

May 27 2017

I was given some cells a couple days ago which were destined for the melter to give my incubator a trial run.  The incubator works perfectly, the cells nearly all hatched out today.  On Monday our cells start to cycle through.

May 26 2017 -2

We started sorting boxes for the split today. The first graft of cells will be ready to transfer on Tuesday…and the forecast looks terrible, so we work when the sun shines!  Im glad we topped the hives with syrup this last week, I’m almost thinking of feeding a bit more.

I’m tired of finding queens, she can be a real time killer and keeping good time is critical during this work.  So instead I shake.  I quickly count the brood frames top and bottom, equalize and then shake all the top box bees (split) into the bottom.  An exluder is placed between the two and the hive is closed up.  I’ll give the hives some time to equalize and we’ll typically pull the split off in the evening when the hives are full.  The shaker box was made out of a laundry tub and it works great.  There is no chance that the bees or queen will miss the box while shaking.  40% of the time I’ll find her during the equalizing work which then saves the shake.

I’ve been stocking the minis with old cull queens to help stick the bees to these mini boxes. Old queens which are found while we work through the yards typically get pinched, but I have been putting them to use one last time. She will hold the frames of shook of bees, lay a little brood nest and have the colony in good condition for the arrival of the fresh queen cell. I’ll let the virgin simply kill her off.

May 26 2017

Yesterday I traded a breeder hive with a beekeeper neighbour. We will keep the hives for a few weeks which will give us enough time to graft a few queens from.   I’m not going to pretend my breeding project is going to yeild brilliance but it’s adding an entirely new dimension to my honey farm.

Yesterday was a drive around day.  I was at another neighbours yard on business.  He had a few cells which were destined for the melter (extras).  I salvaged them to hatch out and test my incubator.  Probably a good idea to run a few cells through before hundreds get sent through!

May 25 2017

Our second 120 cell graft has now been through the starter and has been shifted into the finisher. A quick check shows a 97% take which floods our need for cells through the start of the split early next week. We will probably skip the graft today due to weather and keep a 60 cell per day pace from here on until done.
We are temporarily caught up, equalizing and adding seconds is done. Most everything sits in two boxes now and has been capped with a bit of syrup. Starting Saturday we will be scrambling and once again way behind!

My job on the honey farm is two fold; work and get work done. I’m real good at the work part, the get work done part is a work in progress. Ive come to realize to effectively manage a larger commercial operation systems and programs must fall into place. It’s a strategy we have also adopted through out the other sectors of the farm. Farming is all about getting work done. It does not matter who gets it done, it just needs to get done. Once systems are developed, programs can be put into place by setting up facilities to manage the work. It’s a beautiful thing!

I dont do any of the queen rearing work, I’ve set Carrie (my apiarist) up to do all that work.  It’s my bees, my system, my plan, but with her input she manages the queen rearing program as she sees fit.  Carrie is three years into queen rearing now and has brought me success, and with success comes $$$$. 🙂

She chatters away on Instagram under the name rashorchid906, look her up!

May 24 2017

20 days ago we set up the strong hives with a second brood box. That second was made up with 6 comb and 4 foundation, 2 on each side of the comb. This is the reason why. It gives my strong hives a place to put wax and buys me some time.

May 23 2017


90% take, we have a start! 110 cells ready for placement a week from today. Another 120 cells grafted today, 60 everyday after until we finish.

Adding seconds and pails today to the 5 frame nucs, space and feed.  We’ve been hustling these last few days regardless the weather equalizing, adding seconds, and topping the apiary up with syrup.  We will be caught up after tomorrow, then so far behind by the weekend we will not know which way to turn!