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!

On the wall

And the bees today - settling in!

And here they are settling in! Here they are in their new home - Freya!!! Chris, my scrapbooking friend from Scrappers Haven chose the name for my new hive Freya is the Pagan Goddess of Love :) And like Chris says, I love my bees :)

So I now have Flora, Fauna and Freya :)

Sorry Sharon, I just couldn't pick Merryweather because I live in Alberta lol! there is NOTHING Merry about weather in Alberta (lol) ;) lol but forgive me and please throw in a few extra scones for me every time you bake some because they are soooooo yummy :)

This morning I took the bees out of their temporary home in the plastic box by lifting out the two frames and pacing those frames in the centre of a brood box and surrounding it by more frames. A bottom board was underneath and a cover on top. A little entrance at the front and they have a feeder with some syrup and a landing board. They seem quite happy and all the ones not on the frames were all seeming happy to go in in the new hive.....lots of bees were flying around and there were quite a few on the wall of the workshop...they'll settle down later today though and tonight will go on in the hive. Lloyd will add a waterproof roof to the hive and then we can move it out to te vegetable garden and its permanent place.

Their first night!

This is how the swarm spent their first night! A thunder storm swept through early evening, so we carried them in to Lloyd workshop as the plastic tub would have blown away and we couldn't risk water getting in to them anyway! So we carried them inside and they were all settled in there and were fine....They had all gone into the box before we moved them anyway. I had already placed two frames in there and they had settled onto the frames quickly - I sprayed the frames with syrup so they attached to the frames quickly :)

Lloyd built me a bottom board and lid for one of my brood boxes, so that today I could get them into a hive. So 10pm last night we were out in the workshop cutting wood for that :) We have a Swallow that lives in our workshop and he was not too happy with us for using power tools in the workshop that late in the evening...he would fly in and sit on the light fitting and then fly out and fly around the workshop a few times and then fly in again and then out and do laps again and then repeat.....NOT happy!

Pictures from the Swarm....

Charlynn kindly sent me these pictures that she took yesterday while I was catching the honeybee swarm. I can't believe how lucky I was that the timing was so great for this swarm. Firstly that I was at home and that the swarm was right outside the front door! And then that I had friends here! That we had JUST inspected my hives so I knew they weren't my bees! Then that Chris was home from school to video the swarm. And then that friends were here to watch it happening - and THEN that Charlynn was here with her camera to take pictures!!!! I mean - how perfect was all of that??????

And I actually kind of look like I know what I'm doing ;)

Isn't a swarm of bees on a branch an amazing thing to see? And to think that this swarm came to rest right outside my house! What are the chances?

Lloyd and I were talking last night and we were wondering if they are attracted by the pheromones of our other bees....we were talking about the beekeepers on Beemasters who have had swarms in their yards or their neighbours yards and it does seem quite common - so perhaps it is the pheromones from our bees that attract them?

Anyone know?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My first swarm...

Today I caught my first swarm! I had some friends over for a picnic and so I had an audience too! We had just been down to look at my own hives so I know the swarm wasn't from my own hives which looked fine. We walked back up the hill from my hives and I was walking over to admire a Lily that had flowered when I saw something flying around by a flowering I got closer I realised there was lots of things flying around! Then I realised it was a swarm! A Honeybee swarm! OMG!!!

I couldn't believe it - this swarm was less than 10 metres from my front door! How wonderful! Imagine a honeybee swarm choosing to settle so close to a beekeepers front door! How perfect is that?

I got a few things together - a box, a sheet and some sharp scissors, put my veil and gloves on and then sat beside the swarm and cut the branches off and placed them in the box.

I scooped up the bees on the ground and placed them in the box or on the sheet and then closed the lid leaving a gap just big enough for the bees to get in and out.

I placed a feeder can of syrup in the box and also placed two frames in the box that I sprayed with syrup. (when I checked on them later the frames were covered with very happy looking bees by the way)

A thunderstorm came in this evening and by this time all the bees had entered the box and none were flying around any more. It isn't a stable box at all so we couldn't leave it out for the storm so we carried it to the workshop and its in there is the dry and shelter. The bees can get in and out but they seem quite happy in there so I don't think they're going to leave.....they have syrup and they have frames. What more would bees want??? ;)

I know I didn't do things perfectly.....I wasn't prepared at all lol - it was totally unexpected....I got one sting (which didn't hurt at all lol...maybe it was all the adrenaline running through me lol)! But I was so excited and so thrilled and I did my best and I was happy to do it :)

I'm glad I got to share the experience with friends - I'm glad Chris was here to film it for me. I'm glad I was home to find the swarm. I'm so glad I got to experience yet another part of beekeeping :) It truly was a wonderful thing to find and a wonderful thing to experience and I am thrilled to have three hives - two from packages and one from a swarm.

And yes, as Cori has reminded me, now I need to think of another name!!! Flora, Fauna and.........any ideas????

Thursday, June 12, 2008

How to make a bee-friendly backyard habitat!!,15975.0.html

A great post about creating a backyard habitat for bees!!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great pictures

The guy that lives in the village where I grew up finally got to spend some time with a local beekeeper and took some macro images of their hives! At the above link you can see some of the pictures he took - aren't they great????

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Burr comb...

Today we finally had a break in the weather and our timetable that allowed us to check on the hives and to check if the Queens had been released from their cages! It had been 5 days since we had put the Queens into the hives!

Thankfully yes, both Queens had been released from the cages. The worker bees had eaten through the marshmallows and the Queens were no longer in the cages, so we removed the cages and let the few bees that were walking about inside the cages, back into the hives....then we quickly closed up the hives again as it was cold and damp. We are still having such horrible weather here.

Both hives look to be doing really well...bees look to be well, busy building comb wile the weather is bad. One feeder is empty so I will refill that tomorrow - one has a little syrup left in it but I will top that up tomorrow too. The bees can't get out at the moment as the weather is just so bad.

We will leave the hives alone now for a week or two and then do an inspection and see for eggs and larvae. Hopefully then there will be signs that t he Queens are doing well and have been accepted by the hives and both hives will be doing good!

When we took out one of the cages - from Flora, we found it was covered in burr comb! Burr comb is comb the bees have built anywhere OTHER than on the frames - ie comb built in the WRONG place ;) Isn't it beautiful? Howe clever of them to build this amazing comb so fast!!!! :) On the Queens cage since Thursday night :) Like a gift for their new Queen :)

Susannah is taking it to school tomorrow to show her teacher and her class :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Last Sunday we did another inspection. It was then three weeks since we had installed the hives. By then we had given both hives plenty of time to settle in and they should have had plenty of time to draw comb, and have brood at all stages from eggs to larvae and maybe baby bees almost ready to be born...

Unfortunately there were no signs at ALL of any stage of brood. We had not seen either Queen and could see no eggs at all. Having taken advice from other beekeepers we had given them plenty of time and not rushed into requeening as many people do. The hives were not showing signs of being Queenless apart from not having brood which is why we had not rushed into anything

However, with our short Summer season it was now time to order Queens. So we ordered new Queens on Monday and on Thursday evening Lloyd picked up two Californian Queens from Beemaid. We unplugged the corks and plugged them with marshmallow and hung them in the hives so the hive bees would eat the marshmallow over the next day or so - this again gives the hive time to get used to the Queen and accept her before she is released into the hve from the cage.

Today (three days later) we will open the hive just to check she has been released. If not then we will carefully release her. Then we will close the hive and leave them alone for a couple of weeks and then next time we open them up HOPEFULLY we will find eggs-aplenty!!!!!

Oh please let us find eggs! these hives really need to build up their colonies now so they have a nice big number to huddle together with in winter!

The nails in the top of the cages are ones Lloyd carefully added so that we could hang the Queens cage over the top of the frames in between two frames in the hive and the other bees could climb all over the cage and get to know the Queen :)

The Queen is in the cage with several worker bees who care for her - feed her and act like her maids!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Learn to love your Dandelions!

Bees and other pollinators LOVE them!!! Relax a bit and leave them in the lawn a few extra days - don't stress about the odd one or two - remember you are helping the environment - DON'T reach for weed killer! Find an environmentally friendly way to remove weeds - remember that many weed killers are HARMING our pollinators!!!!

Learn to love your dandelions the way our honey bees and other pollinators do :)

Buddleia Beauty

The scent from my Buddleia Trees is incredible, so I can quite see why my honey bees are drawn to it - these trees are filled with buzzing honey bees and bumble bees well as tiny little pollinators of all kinds! All with their heads buried in the perfect lilac coloured flowers!

My other tree is a slightly different shade of purple and isn't flowering quite as much yet because it doesn't get as much sunshine it also needs to be moved before TOMORROW!!!!!! YIKES!!!