Adventures with Ed and Cathy

On May 24th, Bethany, Abigail, and Mom helped Ed and Cathy with a unusual swarm situation. While we were at their house, we looked through their other hives with them.

Here we are looking at a flourishing hive. The bottom box was full of bees so we added a second deep.


Here we are looking at a frame. We helped Ed and Cathy spot eggs on their frame.


This is the hive the swarm came out of. The swarm moved to the tree.


As we were about to leave, we looked at some bees on the ground and spotted a queen with a cluster of bees. We caught the queen and put her in a plastic container.


Next, Bethany and Cathy took the queen into a car and caged her.


Here we are with the container with the caged queen and attendants in it.


I believe we put this queen with some of the frames from the table hive in a nuc. Last I heard, all three hives are doing well. Hopefully, they continue to do so.


Queen Presentation at AG4KIDS

As the Central Iowa Beekeepers Associations Honey Queen, I, along with another beekeeper, talked to almost three hundred 5th graders from three different schools about the importance of honey bees to agriculture at the AG4KIDS Day in Madison County. AG4KIDS is an all day event where students learn about different aspects of agriculture.

Here I am explaining to the students that one in every three bites of food we eat would not exist if not for honey bees.


The students most asked questions were “Why is the queen marked?”, “What is propolis?”, and “Is that mating?” pointing to a picture of a queen and a drone mating. Eventually, the other beekeeper and I started our presentation by explaining why the queen is marked. The queen is marked so that she can be spotted easier and so that the beekeeper knows how old she is.


I really enjoyed sharing the importance of honey bees with the students. This was my first presentation I gave and I learned a lot from giving it.


The Importance of Dandelions

Dandelions are important because they are the bees’ first foods. Dandelions have both nectar and pollen. Honey bees go to dandelions because there is usually not much more in bloom.


Here is a picture of a honey bee on a dandelion.


This is a video of a honey bee on a dandelion. Click on it to watch it.



Putting Swarm Traps Up at Our House

Swarming is how a colony naturally reproduces. We do our best to prevent our hives from swarming, but just in case the bees get ahead of us we put two swarm traps up at our house. In this blog post, we show how we made our swarm traps.

We put on swarm trap between our garage and our chicken coop in a tree on the edge of our “woods”. Our dad got up on a ladder and put them up for us.


The other tree is also on the edge of our “woods”, but on the other side of the chicken coop.


We ratchet strapped the swarm box together then ratchet strapped it to the tree. We pointed them southeast as it is the bees preferred orientation.


As of now we have not caught anything in these traps, but as they are just in case one of our hives swarm, we are okay with this.


2019 Central Iowa Beekeepers Association’s Auction

Every April the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association has an auction. Beekeepers consign their beekeeping equipment they no longer use and other beekeepers buy them. Mom helped with the auction, Bethany took pictures and helped in the Queen Cafe, Olivia was a runner, and Abigail helped in the Queen Cafe.

Quite a large group of beekeepers come to the CIBA auction.


Here is Abigail working the Queen Cafe. She made sure there was plenty of food out and helped serve lunch.


Abigail sewed her honey bee apron for 4-H. It is perfect for beekeeping events.


We love being at the CIBA auction. It is a great way to get to know other beekeepers. We ended up buying some bottom boards, inner cover, outer covers, and super frames.


Spring 2019 Mite Check

In April, we did a mite check. A spring mite check is important because it tells the beekeeper if he needs to treat his bees for varroa mites in April to May. Because we have struggled with mite checks in the past, we researched a different way to check.

We lit our smoker because we knew the bees would be annoyed after we shook them from their frame.


Mom helped Bethany as she inspected her hive, Bamarre. Bamarre appeared to be queenless at this point so we gave them a couple frames from Maylyn, Mom’s hive.


Mom inspecting a frame of honey and nectar.


Bethany inspecting a frame in her hive and not finding any brood.


To do the mite check, Abigail found a brood frame with lots of bees on it. She double and tripled checked the frame to make sure the queen was not on it.


Next, she shook the frame over a dish tub. All the forager bees flew out of the tub and the nurse bees remained behind. The nurse bees stay behind because they do not fly.


Abigail then scooped half a cup of bees into a jar that had rubbing alcohol in it. She then shook it vigorously and poured out the bees and alcohol. Next, we counted the mites. Abigail’s hive, Green Gables had zero mites.


All the foragers rushed to get back in their hive.


Because Green Gables had no mites, we did a mite check on Maylyn as well. In this picture, Abigail is shaking a brood frame without the queen on it into the tub.


Abigail put the frame back while Bethany scooped up half a cup of bees.


Here is Bethany shaking the bees.


A close up picture of what the jar looks like. All the bees sunk to the bottom.


Maylyn had two mites in the sample. We decided not to treat for varroa mites because the results of the mite check was so low. We think the mite counts were so low because we treated with oxalic acid in January.


Going Though a Dead-out Hive

Bethany’s hive, Lakti, went into winter with a failing queen. We had tried multiple times to help the bees queen right themselves, but they eventually ran out of time. Unfortunately because they did not have a good queen, they died over winter. We went through the dead-out in early April.

After we Lakti died, we were down to four hives.


There were quite a few dead bees on the bottom board.


Here is Bethany pulling out the first frame with the help of Olivia.


They had plenty of pollen in the hive. This frame is full of pollen.


They also had quite a bit of nectar.


We new they did not die because of a lack of food because they had plenty of honey and they had dry sugar on top of the second deep.


The bees actually froze to death. The bee on this frame is dead.


More honey and nectar is on this frame.


Lakti had two queen cups from before winter.


Here is the frozen cluster. It was incredibly small which is a sign of queen failure.


A closer up look at the cluster. The white is moldy bees. We removed the cluster from the hive so the next bees would not have as much clean up work.


More honey and frozen bees are on this frame.


We will reuse these boxes after we split a hive.


Losing a hive is always hard, but often there is nothing you can do about it.