Building and Painting Nucs and Swarm Traps

We chose to make our own nucs because it is cheaper and that is what our mentor does. When you are not a professional, follow the person that is right? And thankfully we got lots of help from our mentor and our friends. Making connections really does help.


We started working on our project at the end of March by cutting wood with our mentor.

Here is Abigail, Nathan, and Mr. Sander working on cutting the wood. We used a table saw that Mr. Sander has.




Here is Nathan, Mr. Sander, and me working on cutting wood. Yes, I was very cold in my defense it was way warmer earlier that day.




Abigail trying to measure an almost impossible cut.



For almost a month we forget about the nuc boxes than we have our bees. We thought about our future plans and realized we needed those nuc boxes. In April we start assembling nuc boxes.


Here are Abigail and Mom assembling a box together.




Here are Nathan and Josiah (a friend) assembling a box together.  I am assembling a box by myself. It would have been easier with help but I did get help eventually and it was Dad so it was all good.




Here is Abigail helping Matt (another friend) and Olivia with the nuc box.




A stack of nuc boxes finished.



We didn’t have painting pictures but it took us two more days to paint all the nucs and swarm traps and one more day to assemble the swarm traps. Now we have one swarm trap sitting in our yard waiting to go to a friend’s house.




April 27th Hive Check

On the 27th of April 2018, we checked our hives with the help of Mrs. Sander. In this hive check we expected to see an empty queen cage, partly built out comb, and maybe eggs.


This is what Bethany’s hive, Lakti, and Maylyn Sorority looked like before we checked the hives.




This is what my hive, Green Gables looked like before we inspected it.




This is what one of the outside frames looked like. The bees had not built out very much on the outside three frames.




As we got closer to the middle of the hive more and more of the frames were built out. There were a lot of bees on the middle three frames.




At the bottom of my hive some bees were by a weird chunk of something. When we pulled it out of the hive it was beeswax! The bees had to have either made this beeswax while they were in the package or it may have come from the hive they came out of.




Here I am looking at a frame. Notice the white wax the bees have drawn out on the frame.




My queen, Anne, is on this frame. She is two inches down and four inches from the left. She has lots of stripes so she blends in with the other bees.




Here is Bethany beginning her hive check.




Bethany’s bees had built out their frames a little faster then my bees did.




This is a picture of Bethany looking for eggs on a frame. Bethany found eggs in her hive. I did not see eggs, but we think the queen had lain eggs.




As we checked the hive, most of the bees continued doing their normal jobs.




Here we are crowding around Bethany to see the eggs on the frame.




The bees built the middle frames out first then the outside frames.




At the end of the inspection, Bethany fed her bees.




Here we are cleaning off the top of Maylyn Sorority. We removed all of the sugar because the bees were not eating it.




After a few minutes, the bees that left the hive during the inspection began returning.




Here we are getting ready to pull the first frame.




Olivia searched for the eggs. Because Maylyn Sorority is a established hive they had lots of brood in all stages.




Here is a picture of one of the frames in the top box. The bees were mostly in the top box. Because bees do not move down, we switched the boxes around so that the box with the bees in it is on the bottom and the box without bees is on the top. This gives the bees plenty of space to grow.




Here is Olivia and me looking for eggs on a frame.




This frame has lots of capped brood on it. One of the decisions that had to be made concerning Maylyn Sorority was if the queen should be kept or replaced. Because the brood pattern was so good, we decided to keep her.



Here we are closing up the hives. We put ratchet straps around mine and Bethany’s hive to ensure the hive would stay together. Maylyn Sorority has a concrete block on top.




Here is Mrs. Sander, Olivia, Bethany, and me after the hive inspection confident that the hives are doing well.





CIBA Auction

Every year in April the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association (CIBA) puts on an auction where beekeepers can buy and sell used equipment. Mr. Mike is the president of CIBA and Mrs. Julie was in charge of the auction. They recruited us to help with the CIBA auction. We helped set up and sign people in.


Bethany’s job during the auction was to shadow Mr. Mike. Basically she was there to help him with anything he needed.

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Andy Joseph, the state apiarist checked all the equipment to make sure none of it had diseases in it.


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Olivia helped mark the equipment with the buyers number during the actual auction.

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I took pictures which is why I am in none of them.



The First Inspection of Our Hives

23 April 2018


Two days after installing our bees, we inspected them. In this inspection we switched the cork out for a marshmallow.

Here we are lighting our smoker.




Here I am smoking my hive to calm them down.




Here is what the hive looked like when we opened it up. The bees seemed to adapt well to their new home.




We added the leftover sugar syrup that came in the package with them to the feeder.




A pollen patty is fed to packages so that the bees will have plenty of pollen to feed the brood.




Here is what the bees looked like at the end of the hive inspection.




Here we are beginning to inspect Bethany’s hive. Olivia smoked the hive.




Here is what Bethany’s hive looked like when we opened it up.




Here is Bethany adding the leftover sugar syrup to her hive.




Here is Bethany looking at her frames. The bees had built out just the littlest bit of comb.




As we pulled the frames apart the bees held on to each other and made bridges. Two bees in this picture are holding on to each other.




Here is what Bethany’s queen cage looked like when she pulled it out. We were afraid maybe the bees did not like the queen so we shoved two marshmallows in the hole. We thought this might make sure they would not release her before they were used to her.




Here is Bethany getting ready to put the marshmallows in the hole.




Here is Bethany taking off her gloves so that she could shove the marshmallows in the hole easier.




Here is Bethany actually switching out the cork. She is not wearing gloves because the marshmallows were sticking to her gloves.




This is what the bees looked like right before we closed up Bethany’s hive.




We only have nine frames in our hives because the feeder is in the hive.

Bethany named her hive Lakti and her queen’s name is Perry. I named my hive Green Gables and my queen is Anne.


It was really exciting to see how our bees had already built out comb and were getting ready to collect pollen and nectar.





Installing Our Bees

On Saturday, April 21 we got out bees. We got our bees from Spring Valley Honey Farms and Beekeeping Supplies in Perry, Iowa.


Here is Olivia, Bethany, and Abigail with the packages.

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Look at all the hives at Spring Valley Honey!  You could hear the bees buzzing and smell the honey in the air.

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Here is Bethany with her package. On the way home we held them on our laps.

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Olivia got to hold the pollen patties.

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Here I am holding my bees.

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Here is a close up picture of the bees in the package.

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This is a video of the bees in there package. (click the picture to play the video and see the craziness that is our home.)




Here I am filling the feeder in the hive with one to one sugar syrup. We fed our bees because very little was in bloom and the bees had no food.




Bethany poured the sugar syrup into the feeder outside the hive. She made a lot less of a mess by doing this.  Next time, we’ll use a funnel.




Here is a video of me spraying the frames. (click to play the video)




This is a video of me filling the feeder. I made a huge mess doing it. (click to play video)




I then put the queen cage between two of the middle frames. I made sure not to face the screen on the queen cage toward the frames so that the queen would have plenty of air and so that the bees could easily tend to her. We decided to not switch the cork out for a marshmallow because the queen had only been in the package with the bees for a day. We decided to come back a few days later and switch out the cork.

Here I am getting ready to pour my bees into my hive. I removed four of the middle frames so that the bees would fall to the bottom of the hive and not get squashed between frames.




Here I am pouring the bees into their hive.




Here is a video of the bees going down into the hive. (click to play video)




Here we are finishing up the installation.
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We tilted the packages at the entrance of the hive so that any bees that remained in the package could go into their hive.

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Here is what our hives looked like after we finished installing them.




We were super happy to have installed our bees and were super excited to check on them in a few days.

We actually forgot to put the pollen patty on. We had to go get them and put them on even though we had already closed up the hive. We also forgot to put a brick or ratchet straps on top of the hive. We did this a few days later when we checked on the bees. Next time we install a package I would try to put the queen more in the middle of the hive. I made her hang off frame number two and I think it would have been better if she hung off frame three or four. We were a little concerned that some of the bees left in the package would not make it to the hive and would freeze overnight, but they ended up being fine even if they were left outside the hive for the night.

I am so excited to have our bees in their home and am even more excited to check on them all summer long.






Preparing for Bees


We set up our hives for the bees two days before we got them. We got the boxes on top of cement blocks and evened them out.


Here is Abigail sanding out the extra paint on the bottom board.




Now Bethany is sanding the bottom of the deep box.




Here Bethany is trying to even out the bricks. We set up our hives so that they were leaning slightly forward. We did this so that the water would drain out of the hive.




Abigail checking out to see if the bricks are even.




Here are the last checks.

We marked our bee boxes with the date and DA for Dassel Acres. This was suggested during the bee class to know the year the frames were in and to help know who they belong to if stolen.



After we finished preparing for bees all that was left for us to do was wait for our packages to be ready.















Gluing and Painting Bee Boxes

We are in full bee preparation mode.  In march we needed to finish getting out equipment ready.  Today we are going to put extra glue on the joints of our boxes before painting them. Not every one glues bee boxes. We glued the edges of the bee boxes to prevent them from soaking up a lot of paint. We also wanted to make sure these boxes will last as long as possible.  We used Titebond III because it was recommended by veteran beekeepers in our beekeeping class and of course, Mr. Mike uses it and since we are his protegees, we must use it also.


Here are Bethany and Abigail gluing bee boxes on cardboard.




Abigail using a rag because we could’t find any good brushes for gluing.




Bethany carefully gluing the box and her pants.




Bethany handing glue to Abigail.




Abigail and Olivia dancing to the music.  What else are girls to do in a large open space when no one is watching?




The source of the music.




Abigail and Olivia dancing more with the spare time and the no one supervising.



I danced too but I made sure no pictures of me dancing were taken.



On a different day in March we painted our boxes and bottom boards. Painting helps your hive last longer just like any thing else you put outside. We wanted to make sure our hives last a long time. We also painted a couple bees.  Mom purchased this paint at Lowes.  It was a mistint and therefore cheap for good outdoor paint.  $35 for a 5 gallon bucket makes beautiful hive bodies.


Our younger sibling watching Bethany and older sister paint deeps. We were fortunate to get mistint paint and primer in one.




Abigail painting bottom board sides and front.




A younger sibling helping with the painting job. My family is awesome!




Abigail  is done with the first coat of paint on the bottom board.




Abigail doing another coat of paint on the bottom board. See how Abigail didn’t paint the middle of the bottom board?




Olivia is helping with the second coat of paint on the deeps while Bethany takes her turn taking pictures.




Look a bee! I guess she likes paint more than flowers.




Or maybe she likes Abigail’s hand.




This bee has pollen in her pollen baskets.




A bee we successfully marked.




Now we are painting the top of our hives just to be sure we weather proof it. Some people don’t paint the tops it doesn’t matter much either way.



We had a blast painting and preparing to bring the bees home.