Putting Up Swarm Traps


If you want bees what is better then “free” bees! Of coarse after a while you end up putting lots of money and time into them but whatever. Swarming is a hives natural way of reproduction. You had one hive to start now you have two, okay you get it. So as beekeepers we want to take care of more bees so we start by making the bees think they are swarming by splitting them. Splitting is taking bees out with the queen (usually) and putting them in a different hive setting, bottom board, deep, outer cover, or in a nuc, a  box half the size of a deep. So now the bees think they have swarmed right? While if the bees read the same books as us yes, but sadly that is not always the case. Some bees will stay in the box thinking it is their new home some bees will swarm again and sometimes you don’t figure out that they are swarming till it has already happened. In those cases beekeepers will set up swarm traps to catch their swarm or possibly other beekeepers swarms.



Here we end up at a friends house who lives in a neighborhood were lots of beekeepers live. We asked her if we could put a swarm trap to catch those other beekeeper’s bees and she said yes.  Now we looked for a good spot where it will not get played with, were the bees can pollinate (if possible), and where we can reach it easy enough.IMG_2414



Here are Mom and Dad putting up a Swarm Trap in the selected tree. Note the flooring over the top of the swarm trap. Hey, guess what it was free! We choose this tree because we could face it south, the tree had a branch low enough that we could easily reach it, and it was inconspicuous.




Dad carefully tightening the ratchet strap to keep the box secured to the tree.



Abigail helping Dad keep the stable while he deals with the ratchet strap.



Our first swarm trap up and ready to go.

We also put up a swarm trap in our yard because after all we are first year beekeepers and we do not want to loss valuable bees. We have seen bees visit the swarm trap but no swarms yet.


Bethany Kelly


May 4th Hive Check

On May fourth, seven days after our last hive check, we checked our hives again. We try to check our hives every seven to ten days.



Here I am looking at a frame I pulled from my hive. The frames were built out and we saw eggs.




This is another frame in my hive. This frame had nectar at the top and eggs in the middle.




This frame had lots of pollen on it. The pollen is the orange and red stuff. Bees collect pollen from flowers. They use the pollen to feed the larvae and brood.




You can see the areas the bees have not built out on the outside of the frame. They eventually filled these spaces out.




This frame from Bethany’s hive had capped larvae on it. These larvae are between nine and twenty-one days old.




We spotted Bethany’s queen on this frame. Can you spot her?




If you thought the queen was the long, dark bee than you were correct!


In this picture, the queen is laying an egg in the cell. When the queen lays an egg, she finds an empty cell and inspects it to see if it is clean and ready for an egg. If the cell is acceptable she than backs her abdomen into the cell and lays an egg. It is a very rare thing to see.




Here is Olivia beginning her hive inspection.




Olivia is an egg spotter and had no problem finding the eggs.




This picture shows nectar and pollen. The bees are busy filling up these cells.




Here we are looking Olivia’s shoulder to see what she sees.




This is a frame that is just full of capped brood.




Here we are bushing all the frames back together to prepare to close up the hive.

I was very happy to see that our hives had eggs, capped brood, and plenty of resources after such a short period of time.





Challenges With Smokers

Smokers are used to calm the bees by making them think there is a fire (that wouldn’t calm me). They eat when they think there is a fire because if it was a forest fire, they would need enough supplies for when they move to a different location to create a new hive. Eating keeps the bees busy and calm.   We need to make smoke which starts with a smoker. Now not everyone likes smokers; they think that they are to much trouble for what it does. Some beekeepers use smokers only on bad days (cold, rainy, etc). Well since we use a smoker we need to know how to use it without getting really hot smoke.



Here is our smoker Abigail got given as part of her scholarship.




Here is a picture of the fuel left over from the last smoker use.




Here is the fire we made that we are about to smolder. The next time we use the smoker we use pine chips instead of pine needles which works better.




Here are Abigail and Bethany trying to get some white cool smoke.




Here is our smoke lit and ready-ish to go. It went out not to long after we lit it.



I prefer the pine chips that were given to us by our mentor but you can use almost any fuel to light a smoker. I also have found that it is better to have someone pumping the smoker while it is being made, which as you can see we were not doing here.