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January 28, 2018

Creating a bee hive journal to improve results


It is man's doom that each person and usually each generation ignores a common fact.  Man repeats history.  This why military strategists study past battles and wars, it the learning of what went right and what went wrong we learn from.


Beekeeping is no different.  To be better beekeepers you must be able to look at YOUR loses and victories and into each battle.  What battle you might ask. Simply what each beekeeper has always desired: health, growth, production, and survival with a splash of attitude. Splash of what? The Attitude best described as a combination of aggressiveness, mannerisms, defense, and cleanness.


As winter is ending, its time and some cases, past time to begin your journal.  If you are one of the millions with a camera phone, use it as part of your documentation.

Your winter journal section should have two sections which I will cover in depth later, but for now: one comes the prep for winter, positions, and so on and the second the end of winter.  Don't confuse the end of winter with the beginning of spring.  The tasks are different and because of occasional cold spells, it's different.

So let's start:


Step one:  If you aren't subscribing to a bee magazine, do so now.  Not only will this broaden your understanding and knowledge of beekeeping, but this helps support the industry.  Use the internet also if available. Remember, no person is an island.


Invest in a journal.  Decide if the journal will be bound or not bound (notebooks).  I suggest, not bound if you are going to be using or use a computer.  Its easier to print articles, photos, and things then simply insert them into the appropriate areas.  Taking notes by hand is better than taking notes electronically for quick information over the long term.  Bound works best for bullet style journals, handwork, and startup, but also works for field notes if your apiary is distant.  TIP:  If you are going to use a handwritten ledger, use either a pencil or a pen with waterproof ink.  If you don't you will lose your work and be very sad.  You have been warned, don't repeat history.


You could also create separate notebooks for each module.  The choice is yours.  Today in our quick paced world a bullet journal might be your ticket to success.

Since we are starting this topic with the ending of winter lets move on to that section.  Click HERE for that chapter. (in progress)

In the meantime, add  N S E W to each side of each hive (use a thumbtack and letter) then take a picture of your apiary.  Take photos as you open each hive box or component for inspection, dead bees? take a photo before you disturb them, weigh or count them.  Can you imagine the CDC or WHO reporting a "bunch" died?  Records become facts, facts become the foundation for solutions.

Note for each, is the queen there?, mites?, food? if food is still present is it near the cluster? weigh leftover food, mice?, bugs?, brood present?, nosema?, what level(s) was the cluster in? Insulated, how and with what? What exterior colors were used? Was there any pollen in the hive?

If this was a crime scene, be the detective.  If not what do they need?

Bee hive exterior insulation

If you are using beehives with exterior insulation around all sides of your hive you should look back at history and beware.

Years ago, there was a time when hives with insulation became very popular and were used, you can see them on this site.  These hives had double walls filled mainly with wood shavings but sometimes other materials.  But you have to know WHY them came to be.  During this time frame bees were often stored in the cellar during winter or special insulated buildings were being built.  Neither of these approached were bleased.  I'm not saying they did not work, only that they had labor and more issues.  What happened?

Over time, beekeepers learned that the insulation was both a plus and a curse.  The insulation did offer protection to the hive and the cluster, but it came at a high price.  The insulated sides PREVENTED the bees from reacting to the changing weather.  This is part of the reason black tar paper became popular.


Bees gain insight to the outside weather by the sun hitting the hive.  Air flow temps does not effect them as one might think because air flow during winter is restricted and the ball of bees are not directly effected by it.  The side of the hive being heated by the sun provides radiant heat that is FELT by the bees.  You can see this both in winter and summer.


The bees in an insulated hive would often be tricked into cleansing flights only to find temps below 55 degrees which would then paralyzed them external to the hive, thus never returning. Sometimes it was the reverse, them not realizing the warmer weather had began, which lead to a late start.

So what to do:
Remove any external from the sunny side of your hive now (near end of winter).  Adjust air flow (enlarge).  Check for food stores, don't let them starve.  If the hive is turned funny or wrong, turn it so the front faces the sun.  If out of level, fix it.  Check for availability of water, no water equals dead bees.  If nosema is present, serve only white sugar with no additives.

There also are ways to make the cluster break, but that's another posting.  Once the cluster breaks, food and water must be present or they will die in days.  Watch out for breaks in winter of warm days.

Don't forget to get those wasp traps ready either.  Consider raising quail or adjusting your chicken/fowl runs under your hives.  If you are in a windy area, install some wind protection but not to close to the hives.

May 24, 2015

Government acts to help honeybees and Pollinators

A few years ago I explored the use of Federal land for beekeeping. It was a success, but was a bit of a hassle.  The government may make more land available. It is worth a shot, you might be surprised, but hey don't get greedy and try to tank or block others.

It's not a new or a "brilliant" idea. Since this site often deals with good ideas long forgotten,

Beekeeping on federal land in fact it was at one time common practice under Land Management in the late 1800 and early 1900's. Like many things, a few people made trouble, the government got no money out of it and it passed from time. Just like the original "fake honey" cries that lead to laws against adulterated food. Who won that for all? BEEKEEPERS! But tell that to KFC or Popeye's next time you squeeze some "honey sauce" on your biscuits. Yea, that's right, fake honey, I don't eat it or support it.

Hey it only took a few years for them to act. Maybe when they saw all the flowers in Washington had no bees, maybe some bean counter finally put it together. Duh! What happened? Did the Obama hive crash? Were your bees giving Varrora a piggy back ride?

So, how much land are we talking about just on the "land" side?

All that aside, we thank you and your staff for the help.


Here's the link to the main story.


Natural insect hotel

Sometimes a few friends are welcome near or hives and gardens, sometimes not. As the world becomes more developed its not a bad idea to add a little chaos for our small friends.  Just watch out for the wasps.



October 28, 2014

Solitary bee home DIY