Beemused: A Blog

Hobby beekeeping in central Massachusetts

15th April 2012

A sad day for a beekeeper

Yesterday was a very sad day: we lost 2 hives, apparently to CCD.  There were virtually no bee corpses, but no live bees either, while 2 weeks ago both hives were thriving.  This is the first time we’ve lost hives in a manner consistent with Coony Collapse Disorder, and it most disheartening.

I’ve tried to place an emergency order for bees, as it is still early enough to establish new hives.  Unfortunately almost all  the bee suppliers in the area are sold out for the season.  One outfit was claiming to offer nucs (basically, a queen and 4-5 frames of brood/bees, the “nucleus” of a hive), and I placed an order, but I fear the website was not up to date.  But I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

The new supers arrived (how’s that for timing?) and they look great.  Already assembled, and with one-piece plastic frames with integral foundation, beeswax-coated to encourage the bees to build comb.  These will be low maintenance and can be put in a extractor, which will make harvesting the honey much quicker and easier.

Now we just need bees!

posted in Our Hives | 1 Comment
23rd March 2012

Giving the girls some syrup

Earlier this week we gave each of the hives a supply of sugar syrup (the 1:1 ratio for spring).  I can’t believe how warm the weather has been, but I want to be sure the hives are at full strength going into the nectar flows.

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
18th March 2012

First post for the 2012 season

Today I put pollen patties on each of our 3 hives.  The hives have all survived the mild winter with strong colonies: the two strongest are at reasonable numbers of bees, we are going to have to put supers on those hives early.  The weakest hive, which I had left a super of honey on for food over the winter, has survived and was successful in using the extra honey.

Since the hives are doing well, I took off the mouse guards.  That way the girls can clean house.  The interiors can get cluttered over the winter!

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
9th November 2011

Beekeeping in New York City


More and more people are beekeeping in the city - it’s a great hobby, and at $15/half pound, pretty lucrative!

posted in Readings | 0 Comments
25th October 2011

Bees’ Migration Holds Clues to Geologic History

This is a very interesting article from the New York Times about how bee species give a clue to how early North and South America were joined by a land bridge (it’s earlier than geologists thought).

Bees Migration Holds Clues to Geologic History
Two new bee species shed light on Panama’s history as a land bridge
between South and Central America, scientists are reporting.
Published: October 24, 2011

posted in Readings | 0 Comments
10th October 2011

Powdered sugar treatment - first dose

I took advantage of the nice weather and the Columbus Day holiday to take off the remaining honey super and to give the girls their first powdered sugar bath of the season.  The theory is that the powdered sugar causes the bees to groom and in the process to dislodge varroa mites, which fall through the grating at the bottom and can’t crawl back up into the hive.  It certainly doesn’t seem to bother the girls much.

The last honey super was pretty light, actually lighter than I remember it being the last time I checked.  So I guess the bees have robbed from themselves a bit?

I had put an empty super on our best honey producer, and they’ve already made considerable progress on it.  I wasn’t expecting it, because it’s really getting late in the year for honey production here.  I’m kicking myself, because I could have put several supers on that hive a bit earlier and had much more harvest than we got.  Well, next year I won;t make that mistake!

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
27th September 2011

Removed honey super from Amelia

Well, the time came to take the honey super off Amelia.  The bee escape had allowed most of the bees to migrate down to the brood chamber, but not all.  I was able to remove the super and brush the bees off the frames, so that part went OK.

The next step was to put the bee escape board on the other new hive (Susan having once again failed to store any honey beyond her 2 brood chambers).  Unfortunately, the girls had created a matrix of burr comb between the super and the top brood chamber, which I had to remove before I could install the bee escape.

Well, let’s just say this didn’t go over well.  As I scraped off the burr comb the girls got increasingly upset, and eventually found their way inside my bee suit!  I ended up being stung at least 7 times (6 times on my neck and one on my leg).  Nevertheless I persisted and managed to install the bee escape.   Next time I make 100% sure I have the veil on the helmet correctly!

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
19th September 2011

Time for harvest

We wanted to take off the supers this weekend, and found that 2 of our 3 hives had filled their super to capacity, while Susan (always the poorest producer) had stored almost nothing.  Interestingly, Susan’s brood chambers look great, the hive appears healthy but unmotivated.  I have had a series of medical problems this year that made working with hives difficult; the good news is that hives are thriving, the bad news is that we didn’t put on extra supers when we should have.  Next year I am not planning on having more medical issues!

Unfortunately the bee excluder didn’t exclude any bees this year (did the hive figure out the maze?), so I’m going to have to resort to stronger measures in a week or so.

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
15th August 2011

Bee alert!

This is utterly shocking and frightening -US honey producers are being undermined by cheap, contaminated, and adulterated honey from China.   Meanwhile the push is on the cut FDA staff and budget.  Get real, people!  It is the responsibility of the FDA to protect our food supply, they need the budget to do the job.

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments
18th June 2011

2011 Season really underway now - written in April, forgot to post!

Yesterday I picked up 2 packages of bees (3 pounds of bees and a marked queen per package) and installed them in the two hives that starved over the winter.  We had guests to observe the installation, and their toddler was utterly fascinated.  When a package is installed, the bees pour like honey, and if you haven’t seen that before it is quite a sight.

Today I gave the 2 new hives a full feeder of syrup, and put a super on the hive that made it through the cold - she was already honey-bound.  We had to give her something to keep her busy!

posted in Our Hives | 0 Comments