Friday, November 28, 2008

So far so good...

So far the bees are doing good in the cool darkness of the blacked out garage...ventilation is good and the window has been blacked out in there. We rarely go in there apart from to let the dogs out in the morning and in at night, so they are relatively undisturbed. All signs are good :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Almost settled.....

Here is the hive in place - just needing to be straightened up and to have the straps removed and the lids put in place etc etc.....the winter lid has plenty of ventilation because it's condensation and moisture that kills bees in winter....we checked on them after their journey and they were buzzing about but were fine - just wondering what was going on :)

This morning they are doing fine - quiet in the hive - you can hear them deep inside but thats about it :)

Heading to its winter home!

Occasionally the hive would swing out and I watched in horror imagining it falling and having bees flying everywhere!! But Lloyd would just stop the tractor and wait for it to stop swinging. Really he was going so very slowly that it was barely moving - it was just me stressing for nothing!

Strapping up the hive!!

Lloyd strapped up the hive nice and tight using boards to keep it all together and then attached it to the teeth of his tractor. He then lifted it up in the air where it hung and carried it that way up the hill towards the house and garage.

Away for Winter.....

Well its been a long time since I updates but really there hasn't been anything to update about. Fall is really a time of just feeding syrup to the hive and leaving them be. I did notice that the bees are much more aggressive in the Fall - they seem very protective of the hive in the Fall - protecting the honey stores in preparation for Winter. I also noticed all the dead drones when they kicked them out of the hive.

We had a skunk visiting the hive for a while - not often but we noticed the scratch mars and that the syrup feeders had been tossed aside.

We had a nice long Fall this year with good temperatures right up until the start of November and no snow yet which is wonderful, and so we did not move the bees inside until last night. We couldn't decide what to do with them still, but we did finally decide that with just one hive it was best to put them inside. So last night, after dark, we moved them into the garage. There is good ventilation in there, they will be out of the wind, we can keep it dark, maintain a low, steady temperature and keep an eye on them too.

It may not may be the wrong thing to do - but its what we've chosen to do. The next few posts will show pictures of our adventure in moving the hive last night - my amazing husband Lloyd did a fabulous job!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where I buy my bee supplies

Corinne from Virginia was asking where my plastic feeders were from, and so I thought I'd post a link to where I get most of my supplies from so far.

The large plastic feeders are from Beemaid, in Spruce Grove, Alberta. They are not on the web page, but I am sure they would be able to help you if you phoned or emailed them. They are VERY light so would not cost much to mail I would think despite their size, however I am sure you could find them at many of the US bee suppliers online.

I have no idea how Beemaid compares price-wise with other bee suppliers across Canada or the US - we use them because they are close to us - less than an hours drive away, so extremely convenient when we need something TODAY!!! ;)

Thanks for dropping by my blog Corinne - I hope that was of help!!!!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Why eat unpasteurized honey?

I thought this article might interest some of my readers ;)

As you can see by reading this and many other articles online, it is actually far more beneficial to eat UNpasteurized honey!! Pasteurized honey has had all the goodness cooked out of it and is literally JUST sugar!

Raw honey is already cooked for you - by the bees - to the perfect temperature - they fan it themselves until it's just right and only when it IS just right do they cap it and seal it!!!!

This is why unpasteurized honey is more expensive and sold in health stores and direct from beekeepers mostly.

I guess it's like most foods - the more natural, the better - and the more you heat them and the more you 'process' them, the more you remove the goodness, nutrients and health benefits from them.

Enjoy honey - naturally!!



Thursday, August 28, 2008

soap dispenser

My new soap dispenser for the kitchen :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Comb honey!

This is the comb honey that broke off and fell and the children joined in with the bees and ate it up! Yum!!!! :) I had some too and it was delicious :)

Opening up the hives

Trying to get the smoker to light:

Vals Dad looking extremely bemused by things - he was probably thinking he was at a mad house ;) bees flying around, my three year old eating honey from a plate covered in bees and a mother not really paying any attention ;) Just a normal day at my house (lol) Thank goodness Val is used to us!!! Actually Cliff was probably mumbling 'Crazy British Bee Lady' hahahaha!:

Checking out the pattern of capped brood on a frame - and the capped honey in the top corner. This is from the lower box of Flora/ Fauna:

A frame of honey from Freya on a foundationless wooden frame - makes beautiful comb honey - some of which we got to eat today - but not from this beautiful frame!!!:

Sam using the hive tool to try and get a frame out of the Super (which he didn't manage to do but it was fun watching him try - Val and Cliff enjoyed watching him try anyway and I think they liked seeing that he is confident around the bees and not scared of them at all. At one point he got a bee down his shirt but wasn't too bothered - he just got it out and then carried on doing what he was doing! He sometimes wears the hat and veil but finds he gets more scared as the bees then get trapped inside the veil which scares him more. So far we have found it better to just let him get on with it and just never let him be there alone:

Visitors to the hives!!!!

This morning we had some special visitors to our hives! Vals Dad is in town from Vancouver Island, and he treated Val and I to breakfast (thank you so much) and so in return I treated him to a taste of honey from each of the hives!

The combined hive of Flora and Fauna continues to not do well, and so I plan to combine it with my Swarm hive Freya for the Winter to enable the bees to make it through winter with Freya's honey stores. They will kill off one of the Queens (hopefully the Flora/ Fauna Queen which is obviously not the stronger Queen at this time but that is something that will be left to the bees to fight out). They really are struggling badly and quite aggressive now and protective over the hive so I think I won't wait and may well combine them tonight while I know the frames are separated easily from the inspection.

Then in the Spring I will split the hive and then hopefully next year they will do well and be quick to get going as they won't have to draw up all that cmb again as the comb will already have been drawn up! (they will have eaten all the honey and emptied the comb over winter and will again start to fill the comb that spent all that time making THIS year). we opened up the smaller hive first and tried some honey there and looked at capped brood and saw how dark that is compared to capped honey which is all golden and light here right now (although it can be quite dark depending on the nectar flow). We saw how empty the first hive was and how crazy the bees were. I had problems trying to get the smoker going (normally Lloyds job - if I'm alone I don't often bother but as you get closer to Fall the bess tend to get more protective of their honey so you tend to have to use your smoker a little more - especially on a hive with very little honey!!!!)

Then we opened up Freya and Val and Cliff were able to see the difference ina good health hive compared to a poorly producing hive. Freya is working beautifully! This colony is just doing what it should! They are now filling all the foundationless wooden frames and they just look gorgeous! The honey filled frames are sooo heavy! The honey is such a beautiful colour! The bees aren't aggressive at all now.

We lifted off the top box and one of the wooden frams was attached at the bottom and the bottom of a frame came apart falling to the ground and a lot of comb honey came away! Val ran up to the house to get a plate and the children all stood around with a plate of comb honey covered in bees and ate it - literally sharing this honey with the bees - bees so drunk on honey they couldn't move! Several bees died in the honey where they were stuck in it :( After everyone had had enough we put the plate by the front of the hive and the bees will clean it up for us. I hear they do a good job of cleaning up frames so I will take a picture later and add it so Val and Cliff can see how good they clean it up themselves!

Val did very good by the hives - The hats and veils were there for her to wear but she didn't!!!! She came pretty close a few times and she DID put her finger in the frame to try the honey - and the bees were on the frame at the same time! And at times the bees were flying around all over the place so I was impressed :) Although much of the time Vals hands were tight around her neck ;) But she didn't call me names like my friend Holly that came over last week - Holly called me 'The crazy British Bee Lady'.....

Ok so the next few posts will be pictures from this morning :)

Thanks so much to Val and her Dad Clifford for coming over this morning - I had a great time!

Monday, August 11, 2008


It's lovely to see you here at Bee Tales and I'm happy to hear my bee blog has helped raise an interest in bees with you and your family! And perhaps even helped with your fear of bees in a little way!

If you'd like to come and visit my bees ever then you'd be very welcome - they're down by the pond!! I have hats and veils and gloves so you'd be very safe! And you can stick your finger in a frame if you're feeling up to it and taste honey straight from the hive!!!

Did you see the free poster of bees of Canada that you can send off for? There is a post about it a little lower down if you keep scrolling down. If you are ever near Langley in BC there is also a WONDERFUL Honey Bee Centre that is well worth visiting!!! And in Stony Plain the Beemaid store has great colouring books and childrens books etc as well as just interesting things to see if you are ever in the area as well as all the equipment that is interesting to see. The Magic School Bus book 'Into The Beehive' is worth getting out of the library if you want a good childrens book about honey bees too!

Thanks so much for leaving your comments - I hope you keep reading - I have really enjoyed bee keeping this year and can't wait to have more hives next year! The highlight this year was definitely catching a swarm right outside of my front door!

Freya's foundationless frames....

We checked on Freya's upper Super to see how the bees had accepted the foundationless frames - they had only had them for 4 days so we didn't expect much progress. They had been used to all plastic frames in the lower boxes, so we weren't sure how they would take to the wooden frames - let alone foundation free frames!

We were really happy to see they had accepted them and already started to draw comb on them!

Woohoo! Way to go Freya!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Freya and I

Last night we added a second Super to Freya, and to celebrate, Susannah took a picture of me next to her!!! I am so proud of how well this hive has done in such a short time :) My first proper hive - my first swarm 'catch' :)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Todays inspection

Today we did a thorough inspection of both Fauna and Freya. Fauna is doing great since we combined her with Flora - both hives have accepted each other well - we removed the rest of the newspaper and checked both hive boxes - there is a laying Queen as we saw brood in all stages and there is plenty of honey now so the hive is doing well at last. We put the brood fill frame sin the lower brood box and as there were at least 7 - 8 filled frames, we kept the upper super in place and put a couple of honey filled frames in it to entice the bees up...we'll check again in a week or two.

We checked on Freya - the swarm hive as well today - this hive is SUPERB!!! We gave it a super just a few weeks ago before we went on holiday and it is FULL!!!! So today we are adding a second super!!!!!! The super that is on right now is full of frames of brood and honey - the most BEAUTIFUL complete frames of honeycomb I have ever seen :) What clever bees :) and so much brood it's unreal! In a couple of weeks if the other hive is not doing well I plan to give them a frame or two of brood from Freya. This hive has soooooooo many bees it's amazing and they are friendly bees now :) I love this hive now - my favourite I think :) probably because they came to me :)

Again we did a complete inspection of both levels. They have an active Queen still and brood at all stages.

We have no more plastic frames left but we have a box of wooden frames to make up but no foundation so for now the bees will have to go foundationless - this will be interesting! We can actually eat some comb honey :) we will have to be careful at handling it.....not that we are planning on harvesting any anyway - and we will have to be careful when moving the hives. Hhhmmmm not a good idea really - we will have to get over to our supply store soon and get some more frames! Or maybe I should switch some around in my other hive where they are less likely to use their frames....

Anyway our inspection went well and we are very happy :)

Our bees are doing very well as Summer draws to an end!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Quick update!

Lloyd and I sat down by Flora and Fauna last night and watched the bees come and go. Not one bee used the upper entrance to go back in - not one!!!!! So we figure this is a sure sign that they are ALL using the bottom entrance where the guard bees are and this MUST mean that they are ALL blended. Surely??????? We sneaked a look inside and the bees are busy ding what they do. Just going about their business. And they are going in and out, some with pollen on them.

There are no newspaper bits on the outside of the hive which we expected to see - we thought we would see signs of housekeeping as thye eat their way through the paper while they blend.

The first day bees were using the upper entrance to in and out of Flora. Now they are only using the bottom entrance. We will give it two more days and then we will close up the upper entrance all together and assume the hive has completely blended.

Success? WE figure this is success :)

WE are so enjoying beekeeping :) Lloyd took my hand as we left the hives and said that he can't wait to get more hives next year :)

From someone who wasn't too keen on getting me these hives this year, I count this as a HUGE success :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Forecasting tornadoes by watching my bees?

I've been catching up on my bee forums and was reading about how to protect your hives (or whether you actually can!) during a tornado.... poster wrote the following and I thought it was very interesting:

I read somewhere that bees actually can sense bad weather and will glue everything together even more to prepare for it. I think it made reference to approaching hurricanes.

I was watching a Nova on PBS about animals sensing natural disasters and this retired geologist in Central California has been predicting earthquakes with near 100% accuracy for years. Would you believe how he does it? He actually tracks missing pets in the newspapers and watches for trends. That big Earthquake in San Francisco in 89 he predicted because the area was averaging a handful of missing dogs and cats and all of a sudden it went up to 75 in one day. He said within 3 days they would have a major earthquake, and voila. His prediction was right there in the paper. "So and so predicts World Series Earthquake." Fascinating!

So I could use my bees and the amount of their propolis to see whether we are going to get a BIG tornado! And I thought it was fascinating that pets go missing before earthquakes and such natural disasters etc....

Animals are so clever!

Sam the beek :)

Various bee and frame pictures

Some pictures from our inspections today - various frames showing various cells from various hives :)

Not such good news for Flora and Fauna..

After inspecting Flora and Fauna we made a big decision.

Given that it's August this week. Given that Flora is on her third Queen now. Given that the nectar flow is sooooo short here and that Summer is just a few more weeks long here. There are VERY few bees in the hive now and no time for them to build up their number really before winter.

Given that Fauna is doing a little better but still is on hr first brood box, has not built up her numbers and has very little honey stored - is no where near ready for her first super to be added....

Well, we decided to join the two hives together. It's something we've considered for a while. It will give them at least a fighting chance of surviving the winter - of having enough numbers to ball up together - to huddle together and keep warm for inter and maybe bring in some more supplies in time before the end of the nectar flow. I can feed them through the winter yes but they can huddle in their ball together too and there won't be such a small number now I have put them together.

Basically you join them together with a sheet of newspaper between them that has slits in it and they slowly make their way through the paper....


Freya, my swarm hive, continues to do really, really well! Such a great hive! Lots of hive, soooo many bees - plenty of babies and I think this hive will do really great through the winter!!!!!!

chain links...

Bees link together as they make comb.....they look like little paperclips linked together!

A baby bee in the making!

This ia bee larvae in some comb - it comes from Freya and it actually fell from a frame when I took it out. The swarm has been so busy the last two weeks and they build so much burr comb and lay brood in it all that when you take the frames out some of it falls off. IN fact this hive is quite hard to inspect and the only hive I have to use my hive tool on. I have to prise open the hive because the burr comb and the propolis seals everything up tight every time and the comb sticks the frames together and the poor little babies are in all the comb as well as on the frames!

this little larvae fell on the ground so Lloyd wanted to bring it home ad feed it (??????) and see if he could raise it (??????) and I just wanted to get some macro pictures of it!! On the frame above at the very bottom you can see the part it actually fell from and if you click on the picture and see the bigger version you can see all the other pink larvae baby sisters of this larvae!

A long time over due update!

And an apology to Vals Dad for not updating before!

Not a lot has really been happening that has been worth updating! Summer continues - the bees have been doing their thing! We insect them weekly although it has now been two weeks since our last inspection due to our holiday in the Rockies (we went to Canmore for a few days and then last weekend was busy so we have only just got around to inspecting the bees).

Anyway, when we last inspected the bees we noticed two things. Flora (hive one) had a Queen cell almost ready to be born. This meant that either their Queen had died or they were not happy with their Queen and were planning to kill her off. It was unlikely they were going to swarm as there no signs they needed to swarm. And they have not swarmed so I was right! I didn't get a picture of the Queen cell sadly but it was a beauty - you could see the Queen bee inside in all her glory! It was a big Queen cell. I wish I had my camera with me! Next time!

The other thing we noticed was that Freya, my swarm hive was ready to have a super added (another box) as they had filled 70% of the brood box. So we added another box before we left for holiday. We added two of their filled frames to the upper box to entice them up to the higher level and this worked wonderfully as they are now using both boxes well :) in fact both boxes are now almost full of brood and honey :)

So now I will continue with my updates and lots of lovely bee pictures for you all! And sorry Vals Dad - Val tells me you're not happy that I haven't been updating :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Freya has a Queen!

We did an Inspection on Freya, the swarm hive, and she is doing great! Plenty of eggs, larvae and capped brood, so obviously a laying Queen who is doing great! They are drawing comb beautifully and will soon need a new Super added. They are getting through a full jug of syrup every day!! But the comb is also full of pollen so I know they are bringing in plenty of nectar too....I would stop feeding but local beeks advice is to feed feed feed the I think I will take the advice I am given by the local beeks - especially with the shorts season and given that we are soooo behind! It's July and we are still only on the brood box on all our hives! In the Southern States they have endless Supers on and many have extracted honey already.

Anyway - I am very happy with our progress - three happy Queens in three happy hives now - plenty of brood - and we saw baby bees hatching in Flora today which was pretty amazing :) Canada Day babies :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


We went down to top up the syrup in the three hives last night, and while we were down there we opened up Freya, the swarm hive. It had been 6 days since we caught the swarm and I was just desperate to open her up and find out what they had been up to - actually it had been 5 days since they had been in the actual hive maybe a bit premature to go in but I was just keen to go in and see.

For five days they had been BUSY! We have no inner cover yet and they had built a bit of burr comb up under the lid so when I lifted the cover one of the centre frames came up with it (oops) but it wasn't too bad. I removed much of the burr comb and brought that back up with me and added it to my collection (I have a plastic tub that I keep it in).

They have drawn comb on both sides of about four frames maybe part of five......filled much with syrup which I am feeding them with (recommended to me) and have filled some with pollen. We couldn't see any eggs but then it was evening and cloudy and cool and we didn't want to have the hive open long so we didn't have a proper look. I just wanted a quick look to check they were building comb. It HAS only been five days anyway so I shouldn't really expect to see anything I guess. It really is very early days.

The bees aren't the friendliest still -not like my package bees and are different in appearance to my other bees. Still not sure what kind they are. My package bees are Italians. The nasty bees are Africanised - I don't think these are those as they don't seem REALLY nasty but they aren't the gentlest and I think I will always have to veil up etc when I inspect them. Or maybe its just because they are a bigger colony compared to the packages I have - maybe bigger colonies react more like that - I have yet to find out.

Lloyd wants me to look for more swarms - he'd like to advertise for swarms. He tells people 'we' caught a swarm...funny how I don't remember him being! As far as I recall, HE was at work ;) but I love that he's as excited as I am :)

Anyway, the bees have been very busy, four frames drawn in 5 days, no signs of eggs but in five days I'm not surprised I'll leave them and check again next weekend (not this weekend coming but the weekend after. By then we should see eggs as a sign of a laying Queen.

I'm going to inspect my other hives Flora and Fauna on Canada Day.....we may even see baby bees being born! THAT would be amazing!

So far I am very happy with this swarm I captured and hived - free bees and they are settling in well - guzzling syrup, drawing comb nicely and collecting pollen...hopefully next time I check there will be eggs to see :)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Goddess Freya..

This is a painting of the Norse Goddess Freya, that my new hive is named after - isn't it beautiful? It is by the artist J Penrose.

More frequent inspections needed!!!

When we opened up Flora last night we noticed that two of the frames had been joined together by comb - as you can see in the above picture. I guess you'd say burr comb because its comb made in the wrong place.

We were puzzled as to why the bees had done this but didn't think much about it. Then this afternoon I was reading my bee forum while I was waiting for Lloyd to get home and I see another beek has posted asking about the very same thing!

Turns out that it's because we haven't gone into the hve and inspected often enough! And thisd is true! Normally we go in every few days - normally at least once a week but after we requeened I wanted to leave them totally alone to give them time to accept the Queen and get on with egg laying and comb building and just settling down (which worked well....but by not going in and lifting out the frames, they built comb joing the frames together :) Not a big problem but kind of neat to see and funny :)

One thing I've noticed is that I haven't ever had to use my hive tool to remove propolis (waxy substance like glue the bees use to seal up the hive). I was expecting to have to use it a lot to get frames out and lift the lid etc but I've never had to use it. I've stopped wearing gloves much of the time too as they are a pain and now I've been stung I'm not so worried anyway lol.....Like Cindi at Beemasters says, each sting just helps against arthritis anyway :)

Bees of Canada poster!!! - free

Carla told me about this a while ago - Thank you Carla!!!!

If you Email and ask them nicely :) and give them your mailing address, they will send you a beautiful poster (one side English and one side French) of all the bees in Canada. It's a stunning reference poster that will allow you to figure out what bees you have in your yard :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Flora and Fauna!!!

Two weeks ago we re-queened the original two hives, Flora and Fauna. We still have no idea what happened to the two Queens that came with the packages, but for whatever reasons, those Queens failed to lay eggs or be accepted by the colonies. We gave them plenty of time, but three weeks in there weas no sign of eggs, larvae or Queens in either hive.

We ordered two new Queens and placed them in the hives and a few days later they had been released.

Today (over two weeks later) we did an inspection on both hives to see what progress had been made. We REALLY hoped we'd find signs of eggs and larvae as we really need these colonies to build themselves up so there will be large numbers of bees for a big cluster in winter so they can huddle together to keep warm in Winter.

The bees will start dying off soon so new baby bees need to start being born quickly!

Well today we had a look and were so THRILLED to find baby bees developing in ALL stages! There were eggs, and larvae and capped brood - all stages :) In both hives :) This is sooooo wonderful :) Yay!!!We are thrilled :) It won't be long before there are baby bees :) So we have two wonderful Queens working hard for us in our hives :) And long may they last :)

So click on the pictures above to see them bigger and you will be able to see the eggs and larvae too. The eggs look like little grains of white rice in the cells. The larvae look like curled up maggots in the cells and are all different sizes :) When these get quite big the bees cap them and then they start developing into almost ready to be born bees :)

Amazing huh?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The new hive.... new hive, and the bees waiting their turn to go in :) Right now the hive is just inside the doorway of Lloyds workshop to protect it from the rain, but once the roof has a waterproof coating it will then go outside by the vegetable garden. I will give the bees their own little pond or water supply too!