Thursday, March 31, 2011


Earlier this week I took down the dead Green Hive and cleaned out the frames of the dead bees. I stored the hive in my garage for the time being, until I have a need of making a new hive.

Looking out my back window, those other two hives look so lonely!!

Also, this is the last day to follow this blog in order to be eligible to win my last jar of fall honey! This evening I'll use to pick the winner, and the jar will be on the way!

Friday, March 18, 2011

So far so good...

The weather was warm last Friday, and the bees were out. You can see they hanging out on the front of the hive, with the snow still visible in the background:

My wife was out on the front porch that day, and told me a bee came up and landed on her arm to rest. I told her that 3 years ago she would have probably freaked out and frantically tried to brush/shake off the bee; but now she just waited for the bee to decide to take off on her own!

Today was even better for the bees - the weather was great, a lot of bees were flying, and some even managed to find pollen from somewhere. There were a few bees (not many) coming in with a dark pale yellow pollen. I couldn't get a picture of the bees with pollen (those bees are fast!) but you can see in this picture the bees coming in:

I also had an interesting thing happen today; last week I took off the top box of the dead green hive. I took pictures of the dead-out for my last blog post, and I just put the box on it's side in the back of the garage.

Well, with the weather so nice, we had the garage door open all day. My bees managed to find that box of frames (which still had nectar and honey in it) and told all the other bees, and we had a bee smorgasbord (FREE FOOD!!). My son Jacob was not pleased one bit with a garage full of busy bees! I walked over and grabbed the box and moved it out to the back deck so the bees could have it, but it took hours before the bees stopped checking out the garage (where's the food? where's the food?). I should have known better, as something similar happened last year.

Don't forget I'm giving away a jar of honey at the end of the month; see the blog post here for all the details!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

This is What a Dead Hive Looks Like

I mentioned in previous blog entries that one of my backyard hives is dead. The weather was nice enough that I started taking it apart (this spring I hope to start a new hive in it, so I need to clear it out).

I took off the top super, and started taking out the frames. Here's what I found:

If you look carefully, underneath the dead bees on the comb surface, are dead bees head-first in the cells. The poor dears died trying to get the last licks of honey out of the cells. This is the classic evidence of starvation. Every beekeeper knows it, and every beekeeper dreads it.

Also, you can see not too far away from the mass of bees the light glistening off of liquid in cells. I do not know if this is honey/nectar, but it very well could be. In very cold weather, bees won't "break cluster" to even go inches away, and can starve in 3 days if there is no food.

In the second picture you can see the blue dot on the queen's back. She was in the middle of that cluster, nice and warm originally, but she too died with her daughters. Very sad. That was one of the queens that I reared.

I can learn from this experience that I need to put the bee candy on the hives (as food insurance) a lot earlier than I did. The weather was so cold so quick, I thought the bees had enough food. But obviously not.

In the Home Stretch...

It was a nice balmy day today, with the temperatures in the mid 40's (°F). I did a quick check of the bees in the backyard, just lifting up the cover, and you can see above what I found. There's a 2" shim above the frames that you see there, so that's the space the bees (and sugar) are occupying. Both hives looked about the same - that is good. The white you see is the "bee candy" (sugar patties). Also in there somewhere is a pollen patty - I'm not sure where it is; it could be that gap in the middle.

So unless something drastic happens, I think these two backyard hives will make it. I'll keep checking during the cold weather to make sure there is enough sugar. When the weather warms up, and is relatively steady, I'll start feeding sugar syrup. Also, I haven't seen moisture building up (which is the other thing - besides starvation - which can kill a hive in the winter).

In a related note, I placed an order for two packages of bees (with queens) - the owner of the Sutton hives wants to re-populate them. They should arrive in early April.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Honey of a Giveaway!

For most of my life, I didn't care about the various seasons. When it got warm, it got warm. But since I have been keeping bees, I have been more aware of the life cycle of the bees as it relates to the seasons.

Spring is when the bees come out of their hives and start looking for pollen. It's the start of their season.

In celebration (and encouragement) of Spring to come as soon as possible, I have decided to give away a jar of honey!

Here's what you need to do to win a half-pint jar of Steven's Bees honey:
  • You can get one entry by clicking "Like" on my Steven's Bees Facebook page (see the "Find us on Facebook" banner at the right)
  • You can get an additional entry by "Following" this blog with Google Friend Connect (look for "Followers of Steven's Bees" a little lower on the right)
  • So you can have up to two chances to win if you both "Like" the Facebook group and "Follow" this blog (note: you do not have to leave a comment on the blog like other blogs' contests. It won't change your chance of winning)
  • On or around March 31, 2011 I will have a random number drawing for the winner of the jar of honey
  • I will then mail the lucky winner the half-pint jar
So that's it! I look forward to finding out who will receive the honey!

(I am solely responsible for determining the winner, and all decisions are final. It's only honey, after all!)

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