Sometimes There Is Nothing You Can Do

We try to inspect our hives every week to every other week in the spring in summer. Unfortunately, sometimes something awful happens to the bees during a week and there is no way to fix it.

Here I am closing up Mom’s hive. Mom’s hive is doing wonderful. The rest of the nucs at our house were not doing so great.



Here I am inspecting the nuc up by the garage. The nuc had no bees left in it. The bees had not raised a viable queen so they died.



There wasn’t even a handful of bees left in the nuc. We froze the frames to prevent bugs from moving in and put the nuc box away in the garage.



This nuc died due to queen failure which was probably in part due to small hive beetles and the time of year (late August).

Abigail

Removing Supers from the Squash Hives

Around the beginning to middle of August in Iowa, the nectar flow was coming to an end. Right after the honey flow is over you take off your honey supers and start treating the bees. All treatments take a certain amount of time to be completed and most need to be done in a certain temperature.

First we looked through our supers to see if there was any honey to harvest. We worked as a team going through one hive at a time so it would be easier to clear all the bees off any frames we would want to harvest.



We also carefully examined the frames to make sure that the frames had no brood on them. If they did have brood on them, we would have to decide whether to keep the frames in the boxes and either wait to treat the bees or treat the frames and not use them for honey or we could take the frames out and kill the brood.



Abigail (wearing the orange gloves) Is taking off burr comb. While Bethany is scraping off cross comb. Burr comb is comb built where the beekeeper does not want it. Cross comb is comb that is built the wrong way on the frame.



We decided to wait another week to hope for a late honey flow. Here Abigail is picking up her supper boxes and looking to see if there are any honey frames.



Abigail is now looking for eggs or her queen in the hives deep box.



Bethany is making sure her frames are spaced properly. After you have drawn out super frames, you keep nine frames in the super rather then the usual ten.



Sometimes the honey flow is early or late depending on the year and nectar sources. As a beekeeper, you try to keep ahead of it. Unfortunately, last years honey flow was late and we were unable to harvest any honey.

Bethany

July 30th Squash Hive Check

July is right in the middle of the honey flow and in beekeeping you want to stay ahead of the flow by adding plenty of suppers. You also do not want to get to far ahead where you add to many boxes making it harder for the bees protect from pests.

Here is Abigail and Bethany starting to open there hive boxes. Notice the sunflower in the corner! Bees love sunflowers.



From above you can see which frames are starting to get honey and which aren’t. If the frames do not have honey, we move to the next box which is what Bethany is doing. Abigail is pulling out frames from her top box.



Here Bethany is looking at a honey frame that possibly has brood or pollen on it. Abigail is moving her box over to the outer cover.



Bethany and Abigail are looking at frames from the brood box.



In the flower below you can see a squash bee in a squash blossom!



This is another squash bee on a flower blossom.


It was fun to see our bee hives growing! It was fun to see different bees on many blooming flowers.

Bethany

Adding a Queen to the Science Center of Iowa’s Observation Hive

In 2019, the Science Center of Iowa started a honey bee exhibit. The exhibit started out with one observation hive. Because beekeeping is such a specialized skill, the Science Center wanted to have a volunteer beekeeper to work with the bees. Mom and I are the main volunteer beekeepers for the Science Center, but Bethany and Olivia often help.

When I first visually inspected the observation hive, I noticed that they were queenless. The Science Center employ in charge of the exhibit ordered a new queen and we installed her in late July. In the picture below, we are deciding where to put the queen cage.



Here I am pressing the queen cage into the bottom frame where most of the bees are. I was careful to make sure she could still get out.



The worker bees quickly smelled the queen’s pheromones and started accepting her.



We closed the observation hive. The bees on top of the cage had to move out of the way.



The bees accepted this queen and started building up for winter. It was interesting working with an observation hive.

Abigail