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?