Beehives re-treatments and feeding

We did a quick half-hour visit to our beehives today, to swap out the mite treatment strips and add “bee juice”, a syrup of sugar water to help the bees build up their winter stores, since there aren’t many flowers blooming at this time of year.

We were a little concerned that the bees may have evacuated from all the wildfire smoke, but they’re all still there. They may have eaten a bunch of their honey stores, though — fun fact, that’s why beekeeping smokers work; the smoke makes the bees go down into the hive and eat honey, in preparation for flying away from approaching wildfires. I guess they decided the wildfire smoke wasn’t intense enough to justify leaving, for which we are glad. Or maybe their scouts told them it was just as bad everywhere.

Here are a couple of pots with 1:1 sugar water and health additive (we should switch to 2:1 next time; that’s a lot of sugar):

Sugar water

The old treatment strip, about to be removed:

Old treatment

The new treatment strip (it’s pretty smelly stuff):

New treatment

The top feeder, with the fresh bee juice (and some floaters; sorry about that):

Feeder

That’s it for this time; we just swapped out the strips and added juice for all six of the hives.

We shouldn’t need to open up the hives again till next spring, other than adding more sugar syrup as needed.

Beehive treatments and feeders

Today we added mite treatments and top feeders to all of our beehives, preparing them for fall and winter.

I didn’t take many pictures today, since we were doing the same thing to all of them. Here’s a top feeder (the white box); it contains a trough where sugar syrup can be added (1:1 sugar and water currently, with a health additive); the bees can access it from inside the hive via a mesh in the middle:

Adding feeder to beehive

Behind the scenes:

Behind hives

All hives with the top feeders, ready for fall and winter:

All hives

All hives

Cedar, Hot Pink, and Orange hives:

Cedar, Hot Pink, and Orange hives

Purple, Turquoise, and Yellow hives:

Purple, Turquoise, Yellow hives

Flow honey harvest and removing supers

On Friday we harvested honey from our beehives.

We currently have two Flow honey supers, which are a special kind of honey box and frames where one can crack apart the frames and pour out the honey without disturbing the bees.

Here Jenn is using a big metal key to start the flow:

Starting the flow

Three tubes open:

Three tubes open

Honey starting to flow:

Honey flow

Meanwhile, we swapped out the jar-style top feeder on the Orange hive for the trough-style, as the jar-style didn’t really work well, since it wasn’t possible to refill the jars without bees coming out, while this trough-style can be topped up without a bee suit. The white stuff is some frozen sugar water with a supplement added:

Feeder

We also removed a couple of other honey supers. The bees for one of them had been a bit over-enthusiastic in their building, resulting in broken honey comb attached to the queen excluder; you can see what the inside of a honey comb looks like:

Broken honey comb

Nice frames of honey for us:

Honey frames

Checking in on the Flow again; we had to keep an eye on it to swap out the jars as they got full, and rescue bees that decided to go for a swim:

Flow

(We keep talking about a solution involving a bucket with a lid and flexible tubes, but keep forgetting about it until it’s too late.)

A sticky bee, having been rescued from falling in a honey jar:

Sticky bee

We stacked up the removed honey supers, with a bee escape on top:

Honey supers with bee escape

The bee escape lets the bees leave, but not go back in:

Bee escape

Next I added shelf brackets to the Yellow hive:

Adding shelf brackets

The shelf brackets installed:

Shelf brackets

The door of the Flow hive then becomes a shelf:

Shelf

Jars and tubes in place:

Jars

A couple of tubes flowing, and one more just starting:

Flow

Even while the honey is flowing out, the bees are safe and happy (if a little confused) inside:

Bees inside

Honey flowing:

Honey

Bees are attracted to the honey. Some are clever like this one, perched on the end of the tube, sipping some honey:

Clever bee

After removing a tube, a little honey leaks, so a cleanup crew takes care of that:

Cleanup crew

Some bees are not so clever, trying to fly into the stream:

Not so clever bee

Another clever bee:

Another clever bee

We also added entrance reducers to the hives, to make it easier for them to defend against robbing by other bees:

Entrance reducer

The hives now have had their honey supers removed in preparation for fall and winter; the bees have completed their service to us, and now can work on building up their stores for the winter. We left the queen excluders out so they can scavenge honey from them:

Hives

Hives

Hives

Hives

Super stack:

Super stack

Harvest total: about twelve quarts of honey from the two Flow supers, plus eight frames from the other super:

Honey

The next morning, we suited up again, and went back out to collect the supers, now that most of the bees have had time to leave:

Hives

We put the box of honey frames in the shop freezer, to kill any bugs that may be lurking, and store until we decide how to extract the honey (e.g. via a spinning extractor, or cut into comb honey):

Honey frames

Yesterday was very hot, so the bees were hanging out outside:

Hot bees

And drinking from the pond:

Bees drinking from the pond

Ducklings day 53

Today’s the day! Today I opened the pop door of the duck house. But it didn’t go quite as expected.

As mentioned yesterday, I didn’t expect them all to go into the pond… but I didn’t anticipate what actually happened: instead of the new ducks joining Bert in the pond, Bert joined them in the duck house!

We began the day the same as usual, opening up the duck house and refilling their waterer and pool:

Ducks

And the usual treats:

Treat time

Sven, Sonja, Cora:

Sven, Sonja, Cora

Then I opened the pop door, that little door that leads to a ramp into the pond; here it’s partway open:

Opening pop door

Looking in through the pop door at some surprised ducks:

Looking in through the pop door

Almost immediately, Bert hopped out of the pond onto the ramp and into the house. He really wanted to be with them. Here he’s to the right of Betty:

Betty and Bert

Bert in the duck house:

Bert in the duck house

Bert in the duck house

Bert’s the one at the back:

Bert in the duck house

Bert in front:

Bert in the duck house

Bert

Looking through the vent of the duck house:

Looking through the vent of the duck house

Bert is on the ground, Betty on the steps:

Pool

He didn’t show any aggression towards them, or vice versa; they seem to have successfully gotten used to each other through the fence.

I decided to add more ceramic pots to the pond as islands, anticipating the new ducks sleeping outside (in due course); these are three spare pots:

Pots

I added two of them near the existing one (the square one on top of a concrete block):

Pots in pond as islands

And the third in a shallower part, since it was smaller:

Pots in pond as islands

While wading in the pond, I took some pictures of the ducks; here Bert is watching me from the pop door:

Ducks from pond

Ducks from pond

After lunch, back at the duck house, I noticed lots of bees drinking from the pond; it’s a hot day today (95° F), so the bees are extra thirsty:

Bees drinking from pond

The ducks still hadn’t ventured into the pond, so I opened the run fence on the pond side, to see if that’d help. Spoiler: nope:

Opened run fence on pond side

The ducks watching from the house:

Ducks in house

View from across the pond:

View from across the pond

View from across the pond

As I write this, the new ducks still haven’t ventured into the pond. We’ll see if they do later, or maybe another day.

Beehive tweaks in July 2020

Yesterday we did some tweaks to the beehives: adding a top feeder to the orange hive, a queen excluder to the hot pink hive, replacing the base of the turquoise hive, and replacing a few temperature sensors.

Here are the components we brought to the hives:

Hive bits

We replaced the Boardman front feeder on the orange hive with a top feeder that consists of four glass jars in a frame. The sugar water (1:1 ratio) can be accessed by the bees through a hole in the inner cover below:

Top feeder

The feeder is enclosed in a box; we use white boxes for feeders:

Top feeder box

Here’s the orange hive with the feeder box from the front:

Orange hive

As previously mentioned, we ordered a base for the turquoise hive, but it was the wrong size, so we got another one. Here’s the hive with the temporary base:

Turquoise hive temporary base

And with the new base:

Turquoise hive new base

From the front; much better (you can also see Jenn with her bee jacket, which will be relevant later):

Turquoise hive new base

We peeked at the yellow hive while replacing its temperature sensor, and noticed a little comb under inner cover; not approved, but not a big deal (this shows the inner cover hole like I mentioned above):

Yellow hive comb under inner cover

The hives:

Hives

Hives

Last night at sunset we added an anti-robbing entrance screen to the orange hive, since it is the weakest hive, and has the feeder. This screen has an entrance hole at the top, with a second one in the normal place that is closed. The idea is that this unusual arrangement prevents alien bees from invading the hive. We added it at sunset so the bees would be home, so they learn the new arrangement when they leave in the morning:

Anti-robbing entrance screen

Anti-robbing entrance screen

This morning Jenn cracked a couple of hives to add temperature sensors that had to be reset, and was rewarded with a couple of stings on her legs (as she was wearing the bee jacket, as above, instead of full suit). One of the joys of beekeeping.

Beehive inspection in July 2020

A couple of days ago we did a beehive inspection. Jenn was rewarded with a couple of stings through her glove, though fortunately she appears to have only got a little of the venom before dislodging the stingers, since they didn’t swell up too badly.

Cedar hive: we checked on the Flow super; it is fairly empty, so we didn’t harvest it. We’ll do one harvest when we remove it next month:

Cedar Flow super

Cedar honey and brood frame:

Cedar honey and brood frame

Cedar honey and brood frame:

Cedar honey and brood frame

Cedar brood frame; adequate capacity:

Cedar brood frame

Cedar brood frame:

Cedar brood frame

Hot pink hive: a very nice honey frame:

Hot pink honey frame

Hot pink brood frame; look closely towards the top in the middle, you can see a baby bee emerging from a cell:

Hot pink brrod frame with bee emerging

Hot pink brood frame:

Hot pink brood frame

Orange frame:

Orange honey frame

Purple honey frame:

Purple honey frame

Turquoise hive: a nice honey frame:

Turquoise honey frame

Turquoise brood frame:

Turquoise brood frame

Yellow honey and brood frame; the yellow Flow super also didn’t have much honey, so again we’ll harvest when removing it later:

Yellow honey and brood frame

Here are all hives; the pink and turquoise hives were looking a little near capacity, so we added a Ross round super to the pink one, and regular honey super to the turquoise one; they probably won’t have time to do much with those, but that should relieve any pressure to swarm:

All hives

All hives

The left three hives; the orange hive is still looking weak, so we’re continuing to feed it. They better get a move on if they want to survive the winter:

Left three hives

The right three hives, all with honey supers. We still need to add a proper base on the turquoise hive; we got one, but they sent the wrong size (10 instead of 8 frame), so we’ll have to get another one sometime. The temporary base is fine for now, though:

Right three hives

The grass was getting rather long around the hives, so after the inspection I mowed while wearing my bee suit, and used shears to cut the grass under the hive stands:

Mowed around hives

Beehive inspection: new roof, a couple more boxes, etc

After lunch we did an inspection of the beehives, to check for queens, replace the lid on one of the new hives, and add some temperature sensors.

Yellow hive honey frame; they’re building the cells rather deep, which isn’t ideal, but not really a problem:

Yellow hive honey frame

Yellow hive very nice new comb:

Yellow hive new comb

Yellow hive honey frame:

Yellow hive honey frame

Turquoise hive getting some smoke:

Turquoise hive

Turquoise hive brood frame:

Turquoise hive brood frame

Turquoise hive frame with some interestingly colored bees; brighter yellow from pollen:

Turquoise hive colorful bee

Purple hive brood frame:

Purple hive brood frame

Purple hive queen spotted; the non-stripy bee on the edge a bit above the shadow:

Purple hive queen

Hot pink hive brood frame:

Hot pink hive brood frame

The hot pink hive had a weird thing where a dome of bees gathered underneath the bottom screen. Bees naturally form a globe, so this is just the bottom of the globe, though they’re usually smart enough to do so inside the hive. Here’s a picture from May 13:

Hot pink hive bees underneath on May 13

Over time, they have slowly reduced it; here’s a couple of days ago:

Hot pink hive bees underneath

Today, we brushed the remaining ones off, and installed a wooden base, that should prevent this:

Hot pink hive base

Cedar hive brood frame:

Cedar hive brood frame

Here are all six hives from the right side; the roof on the turquoise hive (second-from-right) is new — still waiting on the proper base — plus we added a second brood box on that hive, as they were ready for more space:

Hives

From the other side; we also added a second brood box on the hot pink hive, the other new nuc:

Hives

Two new nucs

Yesterday we drove two hours to Eugene, Oregon (and two hours back) to pick up two nucs — nucleus bee hives, i.e. small starter hives.

The bee pickup was quite a streamlined production, with a line of cars, and people loading the nucs into vehicles:

Bee pickup

Interesting plastic nuc boxes:

Plastic nuc boxes

A sign of the times on the way home:

Stay Home, Save Lives sign

We stopped by the feed store on the way home to get some chicken and duck supplies, which resulted in some escaping bees (here our truck is parked on the grass near the hives):

Escaping bees

The straw and other supplies squeezed the left nuc box enough to let some bees escape. The lids weren’t as secure as they could be. It looks like a lot of bees, but isn’t all that many really:

Escaping bees

We’ve ordered components for a sixth hive, but they haven’t arrived yet, so we used a temporary base and a bit of plywood for a lid:

New hive

Opened nuc:

Opened nuc

Frame with queen. Can you see her? We didn’t spot her at the time, but noticed her in this photo, at the bottom just right of center (the long dark bee):

Frame with queen

A brood frame:

Brood frame

The new hive with the five nucs frames added, and a pollen patty for extra food to get them started:

New hive

Nuc for the “hot pink” hive:

Nuc for hot pink hive

Some nice brood frames:

Brood frame

Brood frame

Brood frame

We spotted this queen; the long dark bee on the left of the picture:

Queen

A closeup of some bees:

Bees

The empty nuc box; we shook most of these bees onto the top of the hive, so they’d find their way inside:

Empty nuc box

We took a look in the older hives. In the cedar hive, we saw their queen (near the top):

Cedar hive queen

Nice new comb in the yellow hive:

Nice new comb in yellow hive

We didn’t see a queen (or sign of one) in the yellow hive, but saw many queen cups, so they’re working on making one. Remember, we recently split the yellow hive to the cedar hive, so now we know which one got their queen, and which one is making a replacement. We’ll check again later to make sure they’re successful:

Many queen cups

A nice honey frame:

Honey frame

We now have six hives:

Six hives

A closer look at the purple, temporary new one, and yellow hives:

Hives

A closer look at the cedar, hot pink, and orange hives:

Hives

All six from the other side:

Six hives