Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bee Installation - Success So Far

I got two new hives this year, and did the installation on Saturday.
Trees N Bees - Auburn, WA - Package Bee Delivery
I ordered my packages of bees from my friends at Trees N Bees in Auburn, WA.  They had between 4 and 5 million bees in this delivery, and there were a lot of folks excited to pick up their bees.

I helped out a bit, and then headed back to the ranch for the install.  The weather was not cooperating much in Washington State.  We've had the coldest April on record, but there was a bit of a sun break and the temps were in the high 40's - low 50's... so I went ahead with the install.

It's a pretty straight forward process.  You need to get the bees and the Queen into their new box.  You take the Queen cage out, remove the cork that's keeping her locked in, put a mini marshmallow in the hole, and attach the cage between two frames.  Then you just shake the bees out of the shipping box into the hive box.

The girls will eat the marshmallow in about a day or so releasing the Queen.  That gives the bees enough time to become familiar with the pheromones of this Queen and accept her as their Queen.

You then come back in three days and make sure the Queen is out of the cage.  I just did that this morning and I got two empty Queen cages... nice.

Now, I'll go back in this weekend and make sure she's in there laying eggs.  Once you verify egg laying - you have a successful install.

Here are some more pics from the install.


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Jimi Yard, finished in the nick of time...

I'm cutting it close, but nothing like a deadline to get you moving.
Finished up the Jimi Bee Yard this morning.
Got a little carried away with the decorations, but I think it turned out pretty cool.  I'm sure the bees will appreciate it.

Here's how it all turned out.

Bees come in the morning.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Countdown to new bees... 2 Days To Go.

Dan dumping gravel in the new bee yard.
I'm adding two new hives this year, my packages of bees will be here on Saturday.  So I've been busting my butt to get everything ready.  I'm sure most beekeepers are doing the same thing right about now.

I learned my lesson when I placed my first hive... choose the location carefully.  My first hive location was awesome in May, but in the winter time, there was standing water all around it.  I ended up moving those hives about 20 yards to higher ground.

So for my two new hives, I wanted to do it right the first time.  I chose a south facing location and got permission from the boss, then trucked in 2.5 tons of crushed gravel for drainage and to make everything flat.   I'm curious to see how this location does in reference to my other location.  This one will get a bit more morning sun, and the other hives will get more late afternoon sun.  I don't know if that will do anything in terms of health and honey production, but it will be interesting to compare.

I know I'm not the typical beekeeper in this regard.  Most people just put a pallet or a few cinder blocks on the ground and place their hives on it.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing it that way.  But I'm going to go by this spot just about every day, and we've got a lot of critters running around out here, so I wanted it to be secure and look presentable.

Last year I had a hive knocked over by something.  Might have been a skunk or maybe a bear cub.  It was not fun putting that hive back together in the dark.  I had some fence installed around my other two hives, and decided to fence in this area too.  I put down some landscape fabric so I don't have to deal with a bunch of grass growing up right in front of the hive.  Again, I realize it's overkill, but that's kind of how I'm wired.

I'm really happy with how it all worked out.  I'm calling it the "Jimi" yard.  I decided to decorate the hives with a Hendrix stencil that I made with my new Silhouette SD (I'll put a video up soon of that machine... it's really cool.)

So I just need to put a deep box on the other stand tomorrow and I'll be ready to install the girls on Saturday.

See you next time.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Jimi Hive...

So I was listening to a Commercial Beekeeping Old Timer and he was talking about how he paints a contrasting stripe on the front of his hive to help foraging bees find their hive when they return. The contrasting stripe is used by the bees as a "landmark". The Old Timer I was listening says he's been doing it for years.

I figured I'd do something similar, and pay tribute to one of my favorite music artists of all time. Introducing my "Jimi Hive".

I made a stencil based on a pretty famous photo of Jimi, and spray painted it in purple (of course) on the front of this year's hive. My bees get here in less than 2 weeks (April 16th), and I'm putting the final touches on everything.

To make the stencil, I finally broke down and bought a machine that I've been eyeballing for a long time.  It's called a Silhouette SD.

It hooks up to your computer just like a printer, but instead of ink it has a little exacto knife in there.  You can put paper, vinyl, or sticker material in there, and it will cut out a pattern for you.  It comes with quite a few patterns, but I went straight for the custom Jimi Hendrix graphic.  I've been wanting to paint this image on an old acoustic guitar I've had for a long time... thought I'd try it out on the bee hive first.

What do you think?


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bee Class...

I took an interesting beekeeping class this weekend through the Washington State Beekeepers Association.  It's part of the Master Beekeeping Certification Program.  I'd taken a similar class before but didn't bother to take the test last time.  This time I took the test to get the Apprentice status.  And no, Donald Trump wasn't there to say, "You're Fired!"

Shout out to the instructor David Pearson.  His beekeeping blog is http://davesbeeadventure.blogspot.com/
and his Honey Farm Website is www.colonialhoneyfarm.webs.com if you're interested.

So I got inspired after the class and got the rest of frames assembled for my two new packages of bees that are coming next month.  Got another coat of paint on some stuff I'd been meaning to paint, and ordering some parts that I realized I need.

Here's the color of the hives this year... made this in Jan:

See You Next Time...


Monday, March 21, 2011

Bee Up My Sleeve...

I got this illustration done for $5 on www.fiverr.com 
But I didn't get stung.

I'm glad to announce that both my hives made it thru the winter.  My first year I didn't insulate the hive, and it died when a brutal storm came through late in the year.  After that, I've been insulating the hives every winter and have had more success.

This year, I saw that one hive was not doing very good in comparison to the other, so I made up some emergency fondant.  Similar to what you see on Ace Of Cakes.  It's basically just sugar frosting that you can set right on top of the hive. 

I think the fondant saved one hive, and it has my second hive thriving right now.

As soon as the night time temps are in the 40's, I'm going to take the insulated covers off.

If you're into beekeeping, I have a beekeeping website that sells my Basic Beekeeping DVD - it's  www.worldofbeekeeping.com

Or you can buy it online with this link.

See you next time.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Help Japan

If you haven't done it yet, consider a $10 donation with your cell phone to help the People of Japan.

Text to 90999 and enter the word "REDCROSS" for $10 to the Red Cross.

Text to  80888 and enter the word "JAPAN" for $10 to the Salvation Army.

As someone who lived thru Katrina,



Sunday, March 13, 2011

Organic or Not Organic - that is the question...

I've been doing a lot of reading & studying this winter about organic beekeeping, or managing a hive with as few chemicals (or no chemicals) as possible.  I realize it's along the same lines being a vegetarian or buying "organic" at the grocery store, but a few thing really resonated with me.

1)  Beekeeping was the last agricultural endeavor that adopted chemical pest control. Up until the late 1980's, beekeeping was virtually chemical free.  That's when the Varroa mite was introduced to American hives.  Commercial beekeepers wanted fast answers, and in short order, there were chemical solutions.  If you look at it another way, for hundreds of years, there were no chemicals or pesticides used in beekeeping.

2)  You are what you eat.  I've been told this, as I'm sure you have been, since a young child.  If the bees are eating chemicals, then it's inside the wax and inside the honey.  That seems to defy logic.

3)  If there are relatively simple ways to manage pests, and get unadulterated products from the hive, that seems superior to me.

I can understand why commercial beekeepers rely on chemicals: time is money.  But for the rest of us, I think we can invest a bit more time, and keep the chemicals to a bare minimum.

I just bought Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Beekeeping by Ross Conrad after listening to a speech he gave.  So far I think he makes some really good points.

So I'm hoping to try some Organic pest control this season, and if there's anyone else out there that wants to experiment, let's compare notes this year.

Talk to you soon...


Curiosity Killed the Bee?

So I'm super curious to see what's going on inside my beehives, especially during the winter.
And being a tech nerd, I bought a USB mini camera. Kinda like this one, but the camera part is a bit smaller.   Then I went all McGyver on it and rubber banded a small flashlight to the side, and took it and my laptop out to the hives.

 I was thinking I could just feed it into the front of the hive, and get a good look at what was going on.  It didn't turn out as good as I thought.
But it's still interesting.

Here's the videos I got.

I was using my Macbook, and it seemed like there was a problem recording with Quicktime... I might try it again with the Cowgirls PC laptop...

Spring is almost here, and I'm getting two new hives. 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Frogger! Who turned on the frog switch?

So I got home tonight and was feeding the dogs when I noticed a very loud drone of frogs. I don't remember them last night. It's almost like someone flipped the "frog" switch for them to all turn on tonight.

Here's where I need your help. How does one get a good look at some of these frogs? I pulled this picture from wikipedia - supposedly the North American Bull Frog should be in my area, but I really have no idea what frog is back there.

I don't really want to capture any frogs, but I would love to take some photos or video.

Any one know how to do this or what kind of frog would be in Maple Valley, WA?


From City Boy Starts Farmin'

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Nieces started some blogs...

So I was visiting my sister this weekend and my two nieces started blogs.

The first one is Hannah... she's quite the crafty person. She shows kids how to make things.

Very cool stuff. I already bought a bracelet.

My other niece is Mackenzie. She has a blog about living her life with Crohn's. You can check out her blog here.

See you next time..


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Long time - no posts...

Hey everybody.

It's been forever since I've posted on the blog.
But it's actually for a good reason. My beekeeping website it really taking off.

It's www.worldofbeekeeping.com - a website for beginning beekeepers. We have almost 700 people that have joined the forum.

We've sold hundreds of my Basic Beekeeping DVDs. So, that's been taking up most of my free time.

And speaking of bees, I'm going to adding 2 new hives this year, and I want to plant a bunch of "bee friendly" plants.

Before I can do that, I need to clear out a bunch of wood that was left on my property from the previous owner.

So I rented a log splitter and got a few guys to split wood all weekend. And while I should see all this wood as a blessing, it seems like it just keeps multiplying on me. I must have bucked at least 25 cords of wood out of the back of the lot, and there's still more to go. Ugg.

But I made some good progress over the weekend.

So up next, I get a soil test done, then meet with a master gardener, and start planting some clover... That's what I think I'll do first.

See you soon.