This page used to be called “Beekeeping Q&A” and was set up as a forum for beekeepers in Newfoundland. Now it’s simply called “Bee Notes” for general comments and small news items about beekeeping.


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225 Responses to “Bee Notes”

  1. Phillip says:

    I don’t know if I have Chalkbrood Virus in Hive #2, but I noticed this morning what appeared to be a white piece of a dead baby bee. I noticed this a few times when I first got my nuc boxes. It looks like an almost fully formed bee, but completely white as if it hadn’t emerged from its cell. I think it’s probably just a couple dead baby bees here and there. I’m not going to worry about yet. I’ll check the hive at the end of the month and see how its doing.

    Here are some links on Chalkbrood:

    They make it sound bad, but I’m guessing the bees know how to deal with it before gets out of control.

    Still, if better ventilation helps, I wonder why we don’t just use screened bottom boards?

  2. Jeff says:

    chalk brood can be black, white or a bit of both. also when dried reminds me of the rings on a leach. The physical appearance, not so much colour reminds me of a leach.

  3. Phillip says:

    I’ll take a close up photo the next time I see one of the dead white bees.

  4. Phillip says:

    Hey Jeff,

    You said: “I think I need some sort of shallow super to help get the hive over the winter (so I can add a bit of insulation in the top for the winter).”

    So you’re talking about adding a shallow super on top of your two brood boxes (or brood chambers)? That’s interesting.

    That’s something I don’t have enough information on now: wintering the bees. I did all kinds of research before I got into it, and what I found is that most beekeepers use screened bottom boards to control mites but also to ventilate the hives, especially over winter. Good ventilation means no condensation builds up — and it’s the condensation, when it freezes and turns to ice in the hive, that kills the bees more than the cold.

    But then I saw that Aubrey and Andrea use solid bottom boards and they seem to drill holes in the top of their hives for winter ventilation.

    So I’m not sure what the best approach is now. For feeding the bees in the winter, though, I’m thinking about buying one of these top hive feeders (I know Aubrey uses them too):

    Here’s the description:

    “The heat of the hive keeps the syrup warm. The bees are free to come up through the center entrance at anytime… The beekeeper can check the amount of feed without disturbing the bees. Fits in place like a super… Holds 4 gallons (or about 18 litres) of syrup.”

  5. Jeff says:

    There is a good chance that I may be in town labour day weekend. If so I need to talk Aubrey if h is not busy. And maybe yourself if you are around.

  6. Phillip says:

    We added a second brood box to Hive #1 and, as far as I can tell, it went well. The bees were extremely calm being misted with sugar water. Way less agitated than when we’ve used the smoker. We put about half the drawn frames in the new box with empty foundation framed between them. We installed 4 foundationless frames in the original box, placing them between drawn out frames. The honey and the brood seem to be mixed on the frames, so there were no all-brood frames or all-honey frames. There was brood in just about every frame. Hive #1 appears to be doing great. We’ll see how they adjust the new box and having all their drawn out frames spaced out. The big experiment is the foundationless frames in the bottom box.

    I’ll probably copy and paste everything I’ve written here once I upload the photos and videos, which might not be for a few days. I have a busy weekend.

    We couldn’t spot the queen (we didn’t look to hard). Again, I hope I didn’t squish her.

  7. Phillip says:

    I’ve been feeding my bees a sugar-water mixture, sometimes a honey-sugar-water mixture. But I just read that it’s better not to feed them honey unless the honey comes from their hive. Honey from grocery stores can contain spores for American and European Foul Brood. Not good. I’ve used pasteurized honey, so I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about it, but to be safe, no more honey for my bees.

    All the foundation and many of the hive pieces I purchased from are waxed dipped. I’m wondering how clean the wax is now. Oh well. Not much I can do about any of that now.

    Anyway, I’m sticking with a sugar-water mixture for now on. Is there any other type of recommended feed for the bees?

  8. Jeff says:

    While not an issue now as there is lots of pollen, but at some point you may want to consider some pollen patty substitute. Especially later in the fall, early in the spring.

    Also as for the supers. My brother is cabinet maker on the burin peninsula so the plan it to make some additional supers over the winter for summer growth and expansion. I’m debating whether to use ban saw pine or cut some Fir logs in the Clarenville area this fall and have the ripped ans kiln dried. My neighbour has a sawmill and kiln. I just need to deliver the logs. I can dress the material at my brothers and build the supers and shallow supers over the winter.

    I do like the idea of wax dipping the components on the inside. Maybe I can use some of my own wax to do this when the boxes are complete.

  9. Phillip says:

    I’ll have to have a meeting with Aubrey soon if he has the time. Hive #2 isn’t as far along as Hive #1. I took a quick peek under the hood yesterday when I flipped the inner cover, and at least 3 frames haven’t even been touched, although the rest seem okay. I won’t be adding a second box until the end of the month now — that’s two weeks behind Hive #1.

    That’s when I’ll call Aubrey. I want to ask him what’s the best way to add a second box, how late can I add a second box (should I just leave them with one really good box all winter?), etc. I’ll ask about what and when to feed the bees, how to winter them — all that.

    Generally, I think I’m doing alright so far. Hive #1 seems to be in great shape even after I added the second brood chamber and checkerboarded the frames. It’s cloudy but warm today, and they’re going like made out there. As long as the good weather holds up, I’m not worried about Hive #1.

    …at some point you may want to consider some pollen patty substitute. Especially later in the fall, early in the spring.

    Did you order pollen patties from the N.B. supplier?

    I can dress the material at my brothers and build the supers and shallow supers over the winter.

    I would make my own supers if it was cheaper and worth the trouble. It involves some precise cutting. Everything has to fit snugly together. For me, it’s less time-consuming and probably just as cheap for me to order them. If there was an economical way to make large numbers of them, though, I’d go for it.

    I do like the idea of wax dipping the components on the inside. Maybe I can use some of my own wax to do this when the boxes are complete.

    The components I got from that are waxed: foundations, bottom board, inner cover, outer cover. I tried melting some of the burr comb from one of my hives to make waxed starter strips — it was messy.

  10. Jeff says:

    Hey Phillip,

    My pullets (you laying chickens) hatched their first egg today. I’m quite excited. Just waiting for the other 4 to start laying now.

  11. Phillip says:

    I picked up a wireless digital thermometer for $7 on sale at Canadian Tire a few days ago. A gage outside underneath Hive #1 wirelessly transmits the temperature to me inside my house (I also have a temp. reading for inside the house). It’s pretty nifty. Anyway, I was working from home yesterday and kept looking out my office window at Hive #1. I noticed the bees became active around 16 degrees C. By 18 degrees C, they were in full swing. Later in the day when it cooled back down to 15 degrees, they were all back in the hive. It’s 15.3 degrees at the moment. Only a few stranglers coming and going. The weather is supposed to be cold over the next few days. I don’t expect to see much activity around the hives, but I’ll keep an eye on them when I can to see how much the temperature affects them. I’m amazed that they somehow manage to survive through Newfoundland winters.

    UPDATE (11:22am): It’s 17 C and they’re going at it again. By the time it goes up to 19 degrees, they’ll be all over the place. Nice.

    UPDATE (11:48am): 18 degrees now with sun shining on the hives and Hive #1 is going at it full force. I have no worried about Hive #1 as long as the weather holds up. Hive #2 is active, though not as much; I think that colony just doesn’t have the numbers.

    UPDATE (3:30pm): Back to 15 degrees, cloudy and windy. The bees are closing up shop for the day. So far 15 degrees Celsius seems to be the magic number.

  12. James says:

    Hey Jenny, Philip.

    I seem to have some traffic coming from your website so I just wanted to thank you as you must have put a link somewhere on your site to mine

    Thanks and I have now set up an RSS to your site as your posts look really interesting.

    Best wishes from the UK.

    James AKA surreybeekeeper

  13. Phillip says:

    Hi James,

    I’ve been keeping tabs on your quest for that elusive jar of honey since one of my loyal readers posted a link to your site. Your site is now listed under “Beekeeping Folk” in the side bar on the right.

    I have no chance of harvesting any honey this year. My bees have only been around for 37 days. The only taste of honey I’ve had is from burr comb. But was it ever good.

    All the best,


  14. Jeff says:

    Did you ask the city if you could have bees? Just curious as I did not.

    • Phillip says:

      Nope. I didn’t have to. Aubrey told me I don’t need a license or permission from the city unless it’s a commercial operation.

      If I have honey to spare next year, I might sell some at the local farmers market, but I don’t know if that counts. I know plenty of vendors at the market selling food made in their kitchen without any kind of permit. Anyway…

      I asked my immediate neighbours if they minded having bees around, and they didn’t care. My tiny backyard is loaded with bees now (when the sun is out). Not a day goes be when I don’t flick a few bees out of my hair. The bees are abundant (at least near Hive #1), but my neighbours haven’t seen any bees in their yards at all.

      We’ll see if that changes next year when we add two more hives (if we can find room for them).

  15. Phillip says:

    Home for lunch, I just checked the bees. It’s 19 C out there now and I’ve never seen so many bees outside the hive:

    From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

    It’s a steady of stream of bees coming and going, and the photo doesn’t capture it well. Crazy. I assume they’re just really healthy bees and not bees getting ready to swarm.

    • Jeff says:

      I have seen similiar when the sun has been shining directly on he supers. Although that is a good pic.

      • Phillip says:

        I just got home. Something else I noticed when I took the photo: road salt, or what looks like road salt by the entrance. I removed one of the entrance reducers (just an old piece of wood) and behind it was a line of what looked like road salt.

        So I stuck my wet finger in there and tasted some of it. It’s not salt — it’s wax. The sugar syrup I’m feeding them must be over-stimulating their wax glads. I guess that’s nothing to worry about, but it’s interesting.

  16. Phillip says:

    I’m adding a second brood box to Hive #2 this weekend, weather permitting. I wish I could just move the whole hive to a sunnier part of the yard, but alas, I learned I can’t do that unless I move the hive either more than 3 miles or less than 3 feet, and I want to move it about 20 feet. Still, even without the sun, as long as the warm weather holds out, I think the colony will be ready for the winter. (I hope.) Stay tuned for exciting video of the hive expansion!

  17. Jeff says:

    Apparently you can. But you have to get them to re-orient themselves. Apparently using a piece of brush or shrub to cover teh entrance fora couple of days or keep them pinned up for three days (assuming bad weather). Some rading I have been doing indicate they will have to re-orient themselves before they begin flying again.

    NOt certain how much truth is to it and not something I want to experiment with only one hive.

    • Phillip says:

      Yeah, I know they only have a 3-day memory. But I don’t want to lock them up for 3 days when we’re having such good weather. I’m adding the second box today. I’ll quickly check on them next week. If they’re doing okay, I’ll leave them alone. If they’re still slow to grow, I’ll consult Aubrey about moving the hive.

  18. Phillip says:

    Temperature under Hive #1 is 26 C. The bees in both hives are flying everywhere. It’s a hot day to be stuck inside. To give them a little fresh air (I don’t think there’s any danger in them getting too cold today), I pulled the outer cover off.

    From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

    I put a queen excluder on top of the inner cover and placed an empty Boardman feeder over the hole so no direct sunlight will fall on any honeycomb (only creating shade over the hole, not blocking the hole). So far they don’t seem to mind. Next summer I’m going with screened bottom boards. On days like this, the bees spend most of their time beating their wings — and wearing themselves out — to keep things cool. That’s just wasted energy.

  19. Phillip says:

    We added the second brood box to Hive #2. The colony is doing okay, but not at all in the same league as Hive #1. We also did a full inspection of Hive #1 and they’ve filled up 3 of the 4 foundationless frames. I wish I’d put in all foundationaless now. The comb looks great and they build it just as fast, if not faster, than the comb on foundation. I’ll upload photos and videos sometime tomorrow.

  20. Jeff says:

    Hey Phillip,

    John Chatterton was down today for a visit to look at the bees. I pulled open the hive for a look again. One frame has no foundation but the remaining 9 frames are either fully formed or better then 50% formed. We actually found the queen on the top super. I had no intention to look in the bottom super as I was trying to minimize the disturbance. There were fresh eggs laid on the white base. Hard to see but I could see them there. Over the next few days I have a feeling she will be busy laying eggs. I am getting a little concerned that I am going to need a shallow super. Once I remove the frame feeder there will be one more frame to fill with comb and wax/brood. But the way they are going they are filling the frames fast. I’m also wondering if I should pull a few empty frames that have the wax extracted and put empty base back in for next years split. Empty new comb would give a great start on a new split. Do you have thoughts on that. I have four frames with no comb on the foundation. Might be a good time to fill it up.

    Once again the single frame feeder was empty. So I filled it up for the last time.

    • Phillip says:

      Once I remove the frame feeder there will be one more frame to fill with comb and wax/brood. But the way they are going they are filling the frames fast.

      I’ve noticed this already with Hive #1. The frames are being filled fast and then I still have 2 frames for them to fill up once I remove the frame feeder. I may have the frame feeder in for another week, two at the most.

      If you’re dealing with the same situation, then you might just want to put on a Boardman feeder. They’re easy to make. I have the measurements laid out in this post:

      I plan to start up two more hives from nuc boxes next year. But I’ll use frame feeders from the start.

      I’m also wondering if I should pull a few empty frames that have the wax extracted and put empty base back in for next years split. Empty new comb would give a great start on a new split.

      Go for it if you think the bees are building comb quick enough. At this point, though, your bees may need everything they can get. Pulling comb may be an unnecessary risk.

  21. Phillip says:

    I don’t know what I did to disturb the bees today, but a few of them have been in a bad mood since the day started. It’s only one bee at a time, but whenever I sit down on the steps of my deck, about 6 feet from one of the hives, almost immediately a bee will come buzzing around my face. I’ll get up to leave and it will follow me to the house. One bee behaving the same way, stung one of my cats in the face. The cat wasn’t doing anything, but the bee went for him and stung him.

    I wonder if aggressive bees are a sign that the queen got squished.

    Either way, I decided after yesterday’s full inspection of a 2-box hive that I won’t bother to inspect the bottom brood chamber anymore. It’s too disruptive and it increases the likelihood of me accidentally squishing the queen.

    I’d like to learn how to catch the queen and mark her. Whatever nucs I get next year, I’m asking for marked queens. I imagine it’s easier to avoid squishing the queen when you can see her.

    • Jeff says:

      I had Andrea mark my queen. She was on in the second super laying eggs yesterday. Also she mentioned that as the summer goes on into the fall the bees don’t get aggressive but a little more assertive about their hive. I mentioned that as I pull frames they go for the fingers these days. And since I don’t wear gloves, you know what that means. I have a welt on my arm today the diameter of a baseball. It is the worst sting yet. I was talking to Andrea and she mentioned that using a frame feeder any split or nuc will build comb fast. And that is good enough for me.

  22. Phillip says:

    …as the summer goes on into the fall the bees don’t get aggressive but a little more assertive about their hive.

    Well, I’m definitely noticing this. 8:30am. Just about to leave for work. I went out to take a look around the yard, and as I was coming back to the house, a bee started buzzing close to my head again and followed me right to the house. Kind of annoying. I hope it doesn’t keep up.

  23. Jeff says:

    It probably will. On a side note. Don’t try to swat it away. Really one of the worst things to do. Just ignore it. I swatted one away one time and it followed me for 130 to the hosue and decided to sting me under the armpit there. I learned my lesson after that.

    I was out the weekend looking at mine and one was circulating the same way. It decided to land on my head. That’s all fine and dandy but with no hair on my head made me a little nervous. It walked over the side of my head for 10 – 15 seconds and then flew off. So if I tried disturbing it I probably would have been stung.

    I found a website takling about the 10 things not to do around bees. The few times I have been stung I have been those things, swatting bees away, wearing dark colors, inspecting hive on windy day, etc.

    This is one big learning lesson.

    • Phillip says:

      It probably will. On a side note. Don’t try to swat it away.

      The last time it happened, I stood my ground and the bee flew away after about a minute. Still, not my favourite bee behaviour.

      …sting me under the armpit there. I learned my lesson after that.

      You got me beat for number of stings.

      It decided to land on my head. That’s all fine and dandy but with no hair on my head made me a little nervous.

      I have the opposite problem. The bees land in my hair and get tangled in it. The only way to get them out is flick them out. Next summer I’m getting my hair cut short.

      This is one big learning lesson.

      Tell me about it. I’ve learned quite a bit, though. I’ll have a much better idea of how to start my hives from nucs next year. I’ll buy a few extra brood boxes and medium supers so I can use them to house internal feeders. And then basically, I’ll keep my nose out of the hives as much as possible.

    • jody says:

      I learned at a young age to be still when insects that can sting fly around you. My kids are good at it now: seeing my 5 year old son still as a statue with just his eyes stuck to a bee hovering around him is funny, but he hasn’t been stung yet!

      • Phillip says:

        I got stung today. I took a quick look under the roof to see if the bees were drinking from the Boardman feeders I but on top of the inner cover. I was quick, but not quick enough. I got stung in the leg and another bee buzzed around my head and followed me to the house.

        The sting hurt the most for about 30 seconds and went away completely after about a minute. Bee stings are still pretty mild compared to wasps and bubble bees.

  24. Phillip says:

    Except for refilling the feeder, I’m not going to mess with my bees too much for the rest of the year.

    I’m concerned about ants, though. I’ve seen a few ants around both hives, but for the past few days I’ve seen them all over the outside of the hives. Sometimes I see them crawling into the hives.

    It’s probably nothing to be concerned about, but as usual, I don’t know. I read that putting cinnamon around the hive discourage ants. I’ll see if it gets worse.

  25. Phillip says:

    I took a quick peek at the frame feeder in Hive #1 when I got home today just to see how much was gone. It was almost all gone. So I poured in another two litres, and I must have killed another small handful of bees in the process because so many were huddled along the mesh tub (or bee ladder). I poured the syrup in with a funnel, but I probably squished a few with the funnel and then drowned some more just pouring the stuff in.

    Now that I’m looking at it, I wish I had an extra brood box. I would use it just to install the frame feeder on top of the 2 current brood boxes. The bees would have to walk a little further to get to it, but I’m pretty sure they’d get to it, and I could refill it without lifting up the inner cover.

    I’ve got great plans for next year.

  26. Jeff says:

    I’m planning to build some wooden top feeders this winter. I have been studying pics and I don’t think they are that hard. Having one of those the spring would mean a big jump on getting the hive numbers up. I think I have even come up with a way to get some wooden floats in there. If I can round up enough beeswax I may try to coat the inside of the top feeder to help waterproof it.

    Andrea also mentioned that as long as the bees are taking syrup don’t worry about feeding them.

    This bee stuff is additive.

    • Phillip says:

      I’ll probably order my top feeders from Beemaid. I don’t trust my carpentry skills. If there’s any way to create “bee ladders” for the top feeder, that might be the way to go. They seem to work extremely well in my feeders.

      I ordered a couple pounds of raw wax from Beemaid for making starter strips. It’s easy to melt in an old pot.

  27. Phillip says:

    The days are definitely getting shorter. A few weeks ago, I could hang out in my backyard until 7:30 or so and the bees would still be coming home. Now I get home around 5:30 or 6, and looks like most of the bees have flown away, just a small trickle coming and going. It’s getting colder at nights too.

    Then winter will kick in and they won’t move from the hive for 6 months? That’s nuts.

    I read about beekeepers in California and other warm places where people never have to buy bees because they can just capture feral swarms. And then they don’t have to worry about feeding their bees all winter, because they don’t have any winter. That’s just too easy.

  28. Phillip says:

    Topic: Wintering Bees.

    Hey Jeff (or anyone listening): What are your plans for wintering your bees?

    I just emailed Aubrey (local beekeeper) and asked him if I could drop by sometime to talk about it. I’m looking for a fool-proof method for wintering the bees. My bees have done so well. I’d hate to lose them over the winter. The poor bees will be huddled up for at least 6 months in the cold and the wet. Talk about hardships.

    I’ve done a lot of reading on wintering bees, and everyone seems to have different methods. But I need to know what works in Newfoundland.

    The only consistent point I’ve read is that it’s not the cold that kills the bees — it’s the wet, the condensation that builds up over the winter. The hives need to be well ventilated.

    Some beekeepers ventilate simply by using screened bottom boards. Others drill holes in the side of the top brood box. Others insert Styrofoam insulation. Then there are hives designed specifically for better ventilation all year around like the D.E. Hive listed here:

    Basically, it seems to have a small box with ventilation holes on top of the regular hive. I’m tempted to order one for one of my new hives next year and see how it works, and then build additional ventilation boxes myself.

    Jeff, did you say you were going to build a screened bottom board with a sliding board underneath, like this one from Country Fields?

    Those look great to me. I thought I’d just order a regular board and cut and install a screen. Nothing fancy but it’ll do the job. But now that I’ve seen those sliding boards, well, they look even better.

    I gotta talk to Aubrey. It’d be great to see him this weekend.

  29. Jeff says:

    Had a big summary written. Lost it becuase I forgot the anti spam word. Not going to re-write it.

    Call me sometime. I’ll email ya.

    • Phillip says:

      I’ve removed the anti-spam word. For now on, I will approve a visitor’s first comment. Once they have my approval, they can go nuts.

      Mud Songs is a low-traffic website (I assume), so until it become world-renowned and out of control, I think I can handle moderating first-time comments. I often put comments through a spell checker too.

  30. Phillip says:

    I got stung again today just walking past one of the hives. September is definitely not the friendliest month for honeybees in Newfoundland.

  31. Jeff says:

    I’ve stopped walking in front of the hive after reading some websites. Basically you set yourself up to get stung. Especially in the fall.

  32. Phillip says:

    Basically you set yourself up to get stung. Especially in the fall.


    It wasn’t a problem earlier in the summer, but the population probably went from 9,000 to something like 40,000 bees now. And it’s the fall. Good one, Phillip.

    I used to always stay out of the bees’ flightpath, but now their path is pretty much everywhere.

    I’ve selected better locations for all my hives for next year (I plan to have 4 in total), all of them far away from any walking area.

    I expect to get stung about 100 times between now and December.

  33. Jeff says:

    Nah, maybe 5 – 10 times. You’ll be more careful and the bees will become less active. That makes for a big difference in sting rate.

    Worst thing about a sting in the itch the day and a half later.

  34. Phillip says:

    We’ve had some heavy rain for the past 24 hours, and it looks like we’ll have a wet weekend too. I was concerned that maybe some water would get in through the upper entrance that is no longer protected by the outer cover since I added the medium supers to my hives for extra ventilation and for weather-protected Boardman feeeders.

    From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

    But it was no problem. Heavy rain and strong winds. The inside of the hive, at least inside the empty medium super, was dry as a bone.

    I also picked up two 20kg bags of sugar at Costco today through a friend’s membership for $21 a bag. After taxes, that’s $1.20/kg, which is the cheapest I’ve paid for sugar so far, though I think it can be had for even cheaper. It should last awhile.

    From Miscellaneous Beekeeping Pics

    Not much else to report. Gone for the weekend.

  35. Jeff says:

    Check to see if you ahve any dead drones on the outside of the hive. Over the last few days there have been quite a few.

  36. Jeff says:

    I noticed the weekend the workers dragging the drones out of the hive. They they’d try to fly back in and the workers would kick the drones out again.

    Lo and behold Saturday and Sunday morning there were dead drones outside the entrance of the hive.

    Also I checked my top standard super the weekend. There is a good amount of honey/syrup capped. The one frame that was not drawn out is now drawn out with a minimal amount of honey in the cells. That being said I’m starting to get concerned about being “Honey Bound” So the next time I check if the bees have one of the frames in question capped with honey I think I will pull that one out and put an empty frame in. That way I can have that drawn out.

    It is amazing how fast they can collect nectar when the numbers are there. Oh next year is going to be some fun watching the numbers grown with a good hive to start with.

  37. Phillip says:

    I noticed the weekend the workers dragging the drones out of the hive.

    I suppose that’s normal for this time of the year.

    That being said I’m starting to get concerned about being “Honey Bound.”

    I’ve been thinking about this with my bees too. I’ll check out both hives next weekend. Hive #1 may have all their frames fully drawn out now. Hive #2 will still have at least 2 empty frames because of the double frame feeder that won’t be removed until next weekend. I’m not going to worry about anything until then.

  38. Jeff says:

    Placed an order with Beemaid yesterday

    100 standard frames and foundation

    100 shallow frames,

    couple of queen excluders.

    30 frame rests

    4 frame feeders (for nucs next year)

    going to be a busy year next year.

    • Phillip says:

      I have to place an order soon, too. I need to work out all my plans first.

      I know I want to buy some extra standard boxes. I realize now, it’s good to have one or two extras around.

      You have one hive now. Are you planning to start up 4 more next year?

      I know I’m starting two more from nucs next year. And if one of my colonies is really strong next spring, I might think about doing a split. Don’t know. It all depends on the winter.

  39. Phillip says:

    I noticed the bees pulling out what looks like white dead baby bees today. I wonder if they’re drone larva, saying bye bye to the drones for the winter?

  40. Phillip says:

    Jeff, have you pulled out any frames out of concern for your queen getting honey bound?

    Hive #1 for me has filled most if not all of their frames already. There’s still probably plenty of room for eggs, but I’m not sure. And I definitely don’t want to take away any honey from the bees if they need it.

    I wonder what would happen if I installed a medium honey super.

  41. Jeff says:

    I would go and install the medium honey super. That way if they have extra they can at least lay down some wax for next year.

    Yes I am planning on adding an additional three or four hives next year. I’m hoping to make a couple splits of my exisitng hive and look at goetting two nucs.

    I have seen two dead larve and a bunch of dead drones.

    I opened up my hive to check on the frame feeder and it was empty. I pulled hte single frame feeder and added the last empty frame with foundation

    So there is still a little room, but the frame the empty frame I put in a week ago is capped and all the other ones are full of brood and honey.

    when I opened the cover they streamed out over the top. There are a lot of bees there now. I have found some good info on over wintering too.

  42. Jeff says:

    I think you should install the shallow super. The bees may not fill it but they will at least build the comb, or a portion. At worst case you can always put the frame in teh freezer over hte winter and put it in the hive during the spring or summer.

  43. Jeff says:

    I would install the medium super. Worst case they may build some comb. Give you an edge next year for a honey crop.

    I had a couple of dead brood. Maybe drones, or maybe it is a hygenic queen identifying some dead brood. Either way a few dead bees like that is not a bad thing. Tells you they are doing their job. If you do an inspection in the hive and notice dead bees then I would get concerned.

    Opened up my hive yesterday to remove the frame feeder. Man were they feisty. I decided to put my gloves on. Glad I did as I noticed a few bees leaving their stingers. Evertime you pull a frame 20 or so bees would lunge after your hand and tool.

    On a good note when I pulled off the inner cover 7 of the 10 top frames were covered in bees. That’s a good sign of brood and indicating a good number of bees below. Looks like the hive is well packed with honey and I assume they were getting enough pollen over the year as there was a lot available and they were moving a lot.

    On a side note I was reading on Pollen substitute. It cannot replace pollen usage but can be used as a pollen suppliment. Anymore that 6 week usage can have a major impact on the bees production potential.

    • Phillip says:

      I would install the medium super. Worst case they may build some comb. Give you an edge next year for a honey crop.

      I might give it a go. Now that I think about it, what harm could it do? They’ve already built comb on all the frames in the brood chamber. The bees know what they’re doing. If they run out of room for eggs, they’ll probably just empty some honey cells. As long as I keep feeding them, they should be alright. I would remove the honey super before winter, though.

      I had a couple of dead brood. Maybe drones, or maybe it is a hygenic queen identifying some dead brood. Either way a few dead bees like that is not a bad thing. Tells you they are doing their job. If you do an inspection in the hive and notice dead bees then I would get concerned.

      I looked out back just as I was typing up this comment. You’re not going to believe what I found. I’ve never seen so many dead larva. I hope they’re just house cleaning before the winter. It’s scary. Stand by for my next post…

  44. Jeff says:

    Hope you have not piced up AFB. You may need to look inside the hive and examine the brood. If it is you have to nip it in this brood cycle or you are in trouble.

    Andrea mentioend on one or two occasions she has seen AFB on the island. Not common but when present it has to be nipped in the bud.

    For the time being make sure you clean/heat strealize your hive tool between hives.

    Keep me posted. I’m feeling for you man.

  45. Phillip says:

    I usually only cut my hair once a year. It gets long by the end of the summer. But I might stick with short hair for now on. With long hair, the bees easily get stuck in it. Then they get alarmed and sting me in the head. It just happened again. I might shave my hair down to the nub today.

  46. Phillip says:

    I have to meet up with Aubrey soon. I have at least 10 questions I want to ask him, and need to see exactly how he winters his bees.

    I just got home (5:30pm) and checked under the hood of each hive. Both hives have two Boardman feeders sitting on top of the inner board under the roof sheltered inside a medium super. The feeders in Hive #2 were empty, probably because I recently installed the last two empty frames into the top brood box and they’re probably working hard to fill them with comb. The feeders in Hive #1 were half-empty. So I took one feeder from Hive #1 and put it into Hive #2 and refilled all the feeders. Hive #2 probably needs more feed at the moment.

    Anyway, I noticed condensation on the inside of both outer covers. I haven’t seen that before. So whatever is happening there, I have to find a solution to it before winter kicks in. The only thing I know for sure about wintering bees is that it’s the condensation, not the cold, that kills them.

    I have to see Aubrey as soon as I can.

  47. Jeff Harris says:

    Checked the hive today. Bees haven’t build any comb on eht last frame. I need to build a boardman feeder tonight to get things moving. I sprayed some sugar syrup on the foundation today in hope that will encourage them to build some comb.

    I’d like to see that comb drawn before winter comes.

  48. Phillip says:

    If you need to build a Boardman feeder in a hurry, look at this photo. It’ll show you a quick and easy version of it. Took me two minutes to make it.

    It might attract wasps, but it’ll work, and it’s better than nothing.

    Left a message with A today. No word from him. I’ll call again tomorrow. I’m placing a large order for everything I’ll need over the winter and for next spring. I was planning to wait until I can see exactly how A winters his bees, but I can’t wait any longer.

    Both of my hives were acting funny today. I may do a full inspection of Hive #2 tomorrow. It’s been a least 3 weeks since I did a full inspection on it.

    I need to flip the bottom boards for winter too.

  49. Phillip says:

    I just inspected Hive #2. It’s been at least 3 weeks since we gave it a full inspection, and I wanted to inspect it one more time for the year and flip the bottom board for winter while I was at it.

    I still need to flip the bottom board for Hive #1. I wonder how important it is to flip the board? Seems like a pain at this time of the year when it’s probably just best not to take apart the hives.

    Anyway, Hive #2 was always a bit behind Hive #1, but now that I’ve seen what they’ve been up to, I realize they have a lot of work ahead of them. We found at least two completely empty frames, maybe three, and several others that aren’t finished. Unless the A-man tells me different, I’m going to feed them for the whole month of October. They need it.

  50. Phillip says:

    Don’t hang around the bees this time of year while peeling an orange. I’m not sure if the orange was the final straw. It could just be the time of year. But the bees, which normally stay close to their hives, are everywhere in the backyard these days — and they’re mean. I’ve never seem them buzz so close to my face before.

    So I was out on my back deck peeling an orange and decided I’d take a look at Hive #2 — the hive that’s been slow all summer and then suddenly became massively active over the past couple weeks (while Hive #1 went down to a trickle).

    Anyway, I was just walking and a bee flew into my chin and stung me instantly. It must have been flying backwards to get its stinger in so fast.

    Is it just Newfoundland, or do all bees become psychotic this time of year?

    I’m also thankful for the sunshine we’ve had for the past few days, and I’m glad to see there’s more in the forecast. Both hives are active. Hive #1 not so much, but I do see bees bringing in pollen, so I’m guess it’s not completely dead and hopefully not queenless. Hive #2 has a cloud of bees around it, like it’s been for the past couple weeks, though I can see it’s starting to slow down.

    I plan to build winter inner covers and mice-proof entrance reducers for the winter this weekend. Then I’ll wrap them in felt by the end of the month and that’ll be it.

  51. Phillip says:

    I won’t be building my insulated winter covers until Oct 13 or so. What a pain trying to get some 1-inch thick R5 hard insulation. Seems like every hardware store in St. John’s is sold out of it, and the one place that said they had it didn’t actually have it. So out of frustration, I bought some with an R 7.5 rating at 1.5 inches thick. I figure it’s just as good. It better be.

    I still need to make two entrance reducers with a mesh opening to keep the mice out but big enough to allow the bees to come and go. I don’t even want to think about that right now. What size mesh is that? Blah.

  52. Phillip says:

    Oct. 28/10. The bees are no longer taking up any syrup, or if they are, it’s barely a trickle.

    So the next day it stops raining, I’ll plan to remove the feeders, add some insulation, check for mice, brace the mouse-proof winter entrance reducer on, and then wrap the hives with tar paper.

    Then I probably won’t touch the hives until some time after Xmas.

    It’s 17° C today but pouring down rain. The average temperature for this time of year is well below 10° C.

  53. Phillip says:

    We had some warm weather that allowed the bees to take up more syrup. But now there is very little chance of any warm weather coming our way. It’s supposed to go above 10° this weekend. So unless it pours down rain, we’ll be wrapping up the hives for winter this weekend. Then we cross our fingers for the next three or four months and hope for the best.

  54. Phillip says:

    The sun came out over lunch, so I went out back and removed the jar feeders, slipped some insulation over the inner covers (quickly so the clustering bees didn’t come pouring out of the inner cover hole) and put the outer cover on. I’ll write a more detailed post in a week or two that outlines everything I’ve done to winterize the hives. But here are some new photos that show what I did today:

  55. Phillip says:

    I’ve been busy with work, life and house renovations (the latter being the worst of the bunch). I still haven’t wrapped my hives, but when I do, I’ll probably follow this lesson from Long Lang Honey Farms:


    More later when I have a chance to come up for air.

  56. Jeff says:

    Mine are still sucking back the sugar syrup. They took back another 2 liters on Saturday and Sunday with the good weather and no wind.

    I know I’ve added 60 – 70 lb of sugar syrup already. There can’t be room for much more. It’s calling for 8°C so I’m hoping they will continue to suck back the syrup to top everything up.

    • Phillip says:

      2 litres? Wow. That’s a lot.

      There’s no sign of my bees when it’s below 10° C. They’ve been out a couple times in the past week. I had some Boardman feeders out for a few days, but haven’t bothered giving them more syrup. Mine were taking a bit of syrup, but nowhere close to a litre a day.

      I mix up some more syrup just to have on hand in case they need some more. With all the syrup I’ve given them, though, it’s hard to believe they need any more.

    • Phillip says:

      Jeff, check out this comment from Sam:

      He said: “You don’t want to feed too late into the season because the bees might extend their brood cycle too far…”

  57. Jeff says:

    Thanks Phil.

    I took the two boardman feeders out of the standard super today. Since the temperaures have dropped again the feeding has really dropped off.

    I think I’m done now until Late Januray or early Feburay. Depending on weather. I hope my pretties make it through the winter. They cannot be babied anymore than they are.

    On a serious note it would suck to loose my first hive the first winter.

    • Phillip says:

      On a serious note it would suck to loose my first hive the first winter.

      Yup. What annoys me the most if that everyone does something different to winter their bees. Some wrap, some don’t. Some insulate, some don’t. Some feed, some don’t. Some go with screened bottom boards, some don’t.

      Mine will have a bit wrap, a piece of insulation on top, a mouse-proof entrance reducer and a top entrance / ventilation hole. It’s not the deluxe suite, but it’s something.

  58. Jeff says:

    For the time being I have wrapped the hive. Have a 3rd super on the top. I intent to add some fibreglass insulation and then Styrofoam over the top of the fibreglass. I’m cutting a piece of 2″ PVC pipe the weekend to allow an air hole to slant down to the top air vent. I have the little wedge cut in the inside cover. At least with the PVC cut that way if any moisture were to condense it would run out to the top vent hole. But with the fibreglass and foam on top there should be no moisture condensing inside there.

    Also I have 1.5″ EPS foam to go on the non-south facing sides to minimize heat loss. I may do the rest in but at least that will protect from the prevailing wind.

    I’m just hoping the bees have enough food to last them until late winter/early spring.

  59. Phillip says:

    I used a free service to create a website called Beekeeping NL. I set it up as a test to show a friend how easy it is to build their own blog using WordPress. (It took me about 10 minutes to sign in and create the site as it is now.) I was planning to remove it afterwards, but I’ve decided to leave it alone. Who knows, it might become a legitimate website some day. And I love the image I chose for the banner too much to take it down.

  60. Phillip says:

    Has December been the wettest, dampest month of the year or what? I sure hope it’s dry in the hives.

  61. Phillip says:

    I just got back from spending a week in Cuba, my first time travelling outside North America. My last day there, I was lying on the beach and a honeybee landed on my leg. An hour or two later, another bee came by. Both bees were small and smooth, probably older foragers. Tropical bees are supposedly more likely to sting, but in this case, they walked on my leg, drank some of the sun screen lotion and gently flew away.

  62. Jeff says:

    You’re just a bee magnet, Phillip….:) Have you checked your girls since you have been home? I think they will be sogged out like mine.

    When I am in town in January, I am picking up some Fondant to put on top of the frames a little later. It’s an insurance policy.

  63. Phillip says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Nope, I haven’t checked my bees since I got back. When I left on Xmas day, the weather had been wet and sogggy for two weeks. Now that I’m back, it’s the same forecast: wet and soggy for the next two weeks. And it was wet and soggy for the week I was gone. Newfoundland can have some of the lousiest weather anywhere.

    I’ll check the bees today. I’m guessing I’ll find a thick layer of dead soaked bees around the bottom board. I won’t be surprised if both colonies are dead. It doesn’t take much moisture dripping on the bees to kill them in the winter. This may be the worst stretched wet miserable weather I’ve seen in Newfoundland since I moved here in ’96.

    Where can you pick up Foundant? You can make Foundant yourself, can’t you?

    I should call Aubrey and see how his bees are holding up. Maybe he’s taking some extra precautions.

  64. Phillip says:

    I just checked the bees. Plenty of dead ones on the bottom as far as I can see, but colonies are still alive. One top entrance was full of guard bees sticking their butts in the air as soon as I took a look. I had to blow into the top entrance of the second hive and then the guard bees showed up. I’m impressed.

    I still have no intention of opening the hives until February — if we ever get a day that isn’t soaking wet, and it’s a warm day above 10°C.

  65. Jeff says:

    I purposely rooted out a guard bee and let her sting me. I find it takes the edge off the Neuro Sarcoid. Maybe I am just imagining things.

  66. Jeff says:

    Also you can buy fondant at teh bulk barn by the village mall.

    Sorry I forgot that.

  67. Phillip says:

    We’ve at least a month of rain and snow and temperatures between -5° and 5° C. I’ve checked my hives and the colonies are still alive, so I guess they’re not too wet.

    But I wonder about the temperatures. It’s cold enough to keep them clustered all the time, but not so cold that they’ll need to gorge on honey to generate lots of heat from freezing to death.

    Are these optimal temperatures for the bees?

    (I’m trying to a find something good in all this lousy weather.)

    • Jeff says:

      Latest Blog on Long Lane Bee Farms discusses these temperatures. I think it is Lesson 90 or 91. Some good infomration there.

      • Phillip says:

        I just read over their last two lessons. Good info, though I’m really tired of Americans who don’t realize that the rest of the world, along every scientist on the planet, uses the Metric system for general measurements and the Celsius scale for gauging temperatures. The Fahrenheit scale makes no sense. (Water freezes at 32° and boils at 212°? WTF?) I had to keep using Google to convert the temperatures into Celsius. For example, by typing in “57 F in C,” Google spits out “57 degrees Fahrenheit = 13.8888889 degrees Celsius.” It works just as easy the other way around too. I go out of my way to include Fahrenheit measurements whenever I post anything, but most Americans don’t seem to realize that every other industrialized nation in the world uses the metric system and the Celsius scale, and the internet is a world wide community. What is it with the USA that they can’t give consideration to anyone beyond their own backyard? End of rant.

        Anyway, I read “The Biology of the Honey Bee” by Mark L. Winston over Xmas. It’s scientifically researched and written — i.e., all measurements are in metric — but the language is clear, precise and easy to grasp. Too bad most academic books aren’t written so well. Most of the research is from studying honey bees in their natural habitats, but it’s easy to apply the information to beekeeping. I’ll write a review of the book as soon as I can. I consider it essential reading though. I learned a lot about honey bee behaviour in regards the full season of behaviours: wintering, clustering, brood rearing, swarming, and the differences between the various races. The behaviour of my bees this past season makes a lot more sense now. I wouldn’t have been nearly as worried about them had I read this book before getting into beekeeping.

  68. Phillip says:

    I added a new feature to Mud Songs today: those little share buttons at the end of each post for anyone on Facebook and Twitter and all that other social networking stuff. I have nearly zero interest in Facebook or any of it, but the buttons aren’t complicated and they don’t get in the way. As long as they stay that way, I can live with them.

  69. Jeff says:

    I caved last night Phil. I went and made a candy board for the bees. I also added a small amount of pollen substitue to the sugar board just in case they are low on pollen.

    It’s suppose to go to plus 5 no Friday night or Saturday morning. I think I am going to add it to the hive just in case. I’m not seeing much in terms of die off yet either.

    I took the outer cover off last evening to check the fiberglass batting and measue the verify candy board dimensions are good, and the bees deciede to come out and greet me. No fly bys though.

    • Phillip says:

      Hey Jeff, I was going to email you today about this very topic. I’ve got a recipe for candy, but I don’t have any pollen substitute yet. I need to order some soon along with some bottom and tops for my new hives. (Damn shipping on that is going to kill me. I have to find a way to build my own after this year.)

      I haven’t lifted my hives yet, but I will as soon as the weather turns warm in a few days. If the hives are heavy, I probably won’t add any candy. But I definitely plan to give them pollen paddies sometime in February or March, and I’ll probably start feeding them with inverted jar feeders or my top hive feeder after that too.

      Or maybe I’ll cave, too, and give them some candy. (I’m trying not to worry so much about them like I used to.)

      Do you have any recipes for pollen paddies? The basic recipes I’ve seen seem to consist of sugar, water, corn syrup and cream of tartar, whatever that is.

      The Beemaid store sells Bee Pro Pollen Supplement and Natural Bee Pollen. I’m thinking the natural pollen might be the way to go. I’m not sure. And I have no idea how much I’ll need for each colony.

      I haven’t don’t much research on pollen paddies.

      The A-Man told me he gives his bees pollen paddies, and sometimes they take the pollen and sometimes they don’t. And the only sugar feeding he does is in the early spring. He feeds them with top hive feeders until the flowers start blooming, and that’s it. No candy.

      I think I’ll order some pollen today.

  70. Jeff says:

    I will be in on the 29th for the Heart concert. I still have 2 1lb pieces of pollen substitue. If you need one or two you can take them and I’ll get some more before the spring. I keep it fozen and it is wax coated. I tasted it and it doesn;t taste to bad. They reccomend keeping it frozen.

    As for the Frames, bottom boards, etc. I was in the woods the weekend with my Alaskan saw mill ripping some boards. When everythign feezes up I intend to bring them home to dry out then plane the boards into usable material . Some of the trees have 15 – 16″ diameter trunks which will make great supers. Also If you need outside covers I know I can help you there. I think I may be able to help you with bottom boards too. We can discuss that.

    Andrea and Paige feed pollen substitue in late March. I have also submitted a question to long lane farms regarding top have split. When I get an answer I will forward it on to you.

    Take care bud.

    • Phillip says:

      Thanks Jeff. I’m going to visit you in the spring and check out your set up. Maybe we can go out together and pick up our nucs.

      I just placed my order with Beemaid, so hopefully I’ll have some pollen before you get here. I’ll let you know.

      I’ve decided this is the last time I order bottom boards and top covers for my hives. The shipping costs from Manitoba are high (though it’s still cheaper than if I bought it from the N.B. supplier).

      This is what I ordered:

      Bee-O-Pac Comb Honey Frames (7Bee-O-Pac)
      Quantity: 2
      Price: $7.95 ea.

      Metal Frame Rests (90 Degrees) (7Frm Metal Rest)
      Quantity: 10
      Price: $0.43 ea.

      Bee Pro (Pollen Supplement) – Per Pound (7Fd Bee Pro)
      Quantity: 4 [a pound of powder in each pack]
      Price: $1.45 ea.

      Wax-Dipped Hive Covers (7HIV COVR WAX DIP)
      Quantity: 2
      Price: $19.00 ea.

      Waxed Hive Bottom (Lewis) (7HIV BOTTOM WAXED)
      Quantity: 2
      Price: $9.65 ea.

      Bee Pro Patty (Approx. 1 lb.) (7FD BEE PRO PATTY)
      Quantity: 4
      Price: $1.20 ea.

      Manitoba Bee Pollen (7Poln Manitoba)
      Quantity: 1 [one pound]
      Price: $13.00 ea.

      Products $101.10
      Shipping $67.14
      Taxes $20.50
      Total $188.74

        • Phillip says:

          You can say that again. These are the challenges of beekeeping on an island in the middle of the North Atlantic. I’m willing to pay up to get my hives started, but this is it. I’ll still order frames, but bottom boards, inner covers, top covers (the heavy stuff) — I have to learn to make them myself.

      • Phillip says:

        I got confirmation today that the order is on the way. I might hold off on making any candy until the pollen has arrived. We’ll see.

        Here’s something else to worry about: Most of the pollen is usually reserved for brood. So if the bees get a load of pollen, you have to make sure it doesn’t stop, because the queen will continue to lay eggs as if the pollen source is constant. Remove the pollen source and all of a sudden you’re left with a bunch of starving baby bees.

        Hmm… maybe I will make the candy and just give them pollen in the spring, probably late Feb. or March. I have no idea how much I’ll need. I bought four 1-pound pollen paddies, 4 pounds of powdered pollen supplement and 1 pound of raw pollen. I guess that’s enough. I don’t know.

        This first year of beekeeping is a one situation of I-don’t-know after another.

      • Phillip says:

        The total came to $155 in the end. Apparently the shipping costs are approximate. I should write up a post about how much I’ve spent so far.

  71. Jeff says:

    Freeze your pollen in teh freezer first for a while. jsut in case.

  72. Phillip says:

    I saw a manipulative and uninformed documentary called The Last Beekeeper during a plane trip over the holidays. The film follows three commercial beekeepers who lease their bees for pollinating almonds. (Most commercial beekeepers in the US are in the business of pollinating almond groves because it’s huge money.) The beekeepers spend half the film literally crying over their dying bees. They come across as good people, but when you see how they handle their bees, it’s no wonder most of their colonies are dying off. It’s borderline abuse of the bees. And this is where the movie falls short. Instead of investigating why the bees are dying (from chemical treatments and the stress of shipping the hives across country, for instance), the filmmakers focus on the beekeepers fighting for their livelihoods. They exploit the stress of people struggling to pay their mortgages — who happen to be beekeepers. The filmmakers provide little information on the actual methods of beekeeping. They constantly ask, “Why are the honeybees dying?” like it’s some kind of mystery. Just watch how the bees are handled when they’re shipped across the country. How is this a mystery? The beekeeping practices necessary for almond pollination are unhealthy. The bees aren’t even bees to the almond growers. They’re just things that happen to pollinate their almond trees, and that’s how they’re treated, like another inanimate commodity.

    Don’t bother with “The Last Beekeeper.” Watch this video instead:

    Much of what is mention in the video isn’t backed up by scientific research. But perhaps it will someday. Or maybe not.

  73. Phillip says:

    After general survival of the hives through the winter, my next concern is swarm prevention. I know beekeepers who have no problem re-capturing their swarms, but I do not want to re-capture a swarm from my next door neighbour’s back porch. That wouldn’t go over well. So swarm prevention is a priority for me, and I plan to follow the checkerboarding method:

    “A checker boarded hive consists of an undisturbed broodnest topped with boxes of alternating honey filled and empty frames.”

    “The objective is:

    — to break up the solid band of capped honey directly above the broodnest.
    — leave the broodnest undisturbed.
    — keep the cluster in contact with its food supply.
    — provide additional hive volume.”

    I wish I had more time to study up on all this. I’d like to quit my work and study and practice beekeeping full time.

  74. jeff says:

    Well Phil. I put my sugar board on this afternoon. There was no wind here in Clarenville but when I pulled the cover off a few flakes of snow fell.

    I counted up the bees. I figure I loss <50 that few out and probably another 10 – 20 i squished while removed the insulated super, inside cover, etc. When I took it off did I get a surprise. The foam on the underside of the super above the inside cover was covered in bees. Both sides of the inside cover were covered in bees. Then the top of the two standard supers was covered in bees. Up until now there hasn’t been a big sign of die off. after I opened it up I can see why. Everything was covered from left to right, front to back with bees.

    So right now they have another 15 lb of hard sugar within the hive, plus 0.5 lb of buried pollen substitute.

    Things look good right now but after everything was closed up again they were busy vibrating the wings. I guess they were trying to heat everything up as quick as possible due to being exposed to the elements. On a good note the candy board was in the house at 23°C, so at least this will radiate the heat out to help warm the hive back up.

    I was amazed to see the bees so farm up in the hive and not really forming a ball either. Not certain what to make of that.

    Also listening to a podcast from long lane bee farms, While in winter and no brood is being tended the bees only consume ~ 3lb of stores while at idea temp (5°C).

    When they start caring for brood the consumption goes way up.

    Anyway time will tell how this goes. Still looks like a lot of bees.

    • Phillip says:

      All that sounds really cool. I’m having a hard time visualizing your exact set up, but at least you didn’t find piles of dead bees. So they can’t be doing too bad.

      Also listening to a podcast from long lane bee farms, While in winter and no brood is being tended the bees only consume ~ 3lb of stores while at idea temp (5°C).

      I think I listened to the same podcast, though I find it hard to believe they eat so little. But I guess it makes sense.

    • Phillip says:

      By the way, did you simply add a candy board to replace the inner cover over the top brood chamber?

      Or did you put candy between the two brood boxes?

  75. jeff says:

    From bottom to top.

    Two standard supers, one candy board, one inner cover, one standard super with a groove cut in the bottom and 2 layers of R-12 batting then an outer cover. With a rock on the top.

  76. jeff says:

    Update: about 2 hours after the candy board was added I checked on the hive. The buzzing has subsided and the bees look comfortable above the inner cover.

    Everything is back to semi-normal, so it seems. I hope the bees on the underside of the foam find their way back down to the candy board.

  77. Phillip says:

    Well, I lifted my hives. Hive #2 seemed heavy. It could be 50kg or 100. I’m not sure how heavy it should feel. But it wasn’t light, so it’s probably alright.

    Hive #1 felt lighter than Hive #2. I have a spare inner cover I could use for making a candy board, though if I add candy to Hive #1, I’ll probably add it as a disc of candy using a paper plate as a mould. Then I can just lay it on top of the frames above the cluster with minimal disturbance of the hive.

    Hopefully my order of pollen and other goodies will arrive from Beemaid before the end of the month. If I add any candy or pollen patties to the hives, it won’t happen until February at the earliest anyway.

    If you consider that each frame in a deep super holds anywhere from 3 to 6 pounds of honey (about 2-3 kg), even if only 10 of the 20 frames have honey, that’s still plenty of honey to keep them alive, along with a few frames of pollen. The weather has not been cold, so the cluster shouldn’t have much trouble moving around to feed…

    I’m tempted to leave them alone and just give them a regular feeding with a top hive feeder or jar feeder in the spring. I’ll wait until February before I decide anything.

    I shone my flash light through the bottom entrance and saw plenty of dead bees down there. Which I assume is normal.

    My only concern (or area of paranoia) is that the bees seem to be clustering at the top of the hive. I thought they were supposed slowly work their way up to the top. But I could be wrong. I probably am.

  78. Jeff says:

    I know I have the paranoia issue too. That’t why I added the sugar board. I will not open the hive until mid to late march now. WHat ever the outcome is. So in 6 – 7 weeks we will see were it is. By that time we’ll be getting 7 – 8°C degree days and if they need any additional feed then ‘ll top them up and maybe even add a boardman feeder on the inside.

    • Phillip says:

      I’m pretty sure I’ll add a top hive feeder to both of my hives in the spring. I need to modify the feeders with screens and some floatation to prevent excessive drowning, but they should be alright as long as it’s not freezing cold. For colder weather, I’d probably go with a large inverted jar feeder over the inner cover hole so the bees can access the syrup without breaking cluster.

      I’ll remove the feeders once the dandelions bloom and then save them for my 2 nucs. I’m looking forward to the nucs this year (though I hope they arrive earlier than July 18th). I won’t mess with them as much this year. The plan is to feed them like crazy with a top hive feeder all summer and keep my nose out of the hive most of the time.

      I’ve spent my winter waiting for the spring.

  79. jeff says:

    We’ll head over the same time as discussed earlier.

  80. Phillip says:

    I did some reading and discovered that when the winter cluster is hanging out at the top of the hive, it often means they’re running out of food. Not necessarily, but I’m not sure if I want to chance it.

    I may cook up some candy this weekend.

    Hey Jeff, what recipe did you use for your candy? I’m thinking about following this recipe:

  81. Jeff says:

    This is what I used. 3 bags of sugar and 3 cups of water. Little bit of apple cider vinegar. Worked out well.

    • Phillip says:

      Man, that’s a lot of sugar. It seems similar to mine except mine calls for cream of tartar to minimize crystallization and no apple cider vinegar. I have the ingredients for both recipes.

      Did you do it without a thermometer? (I don’t have one.)

    • Phillip says:

      I’ve decided to follow this recipe. And I quote:

      “Heat 3 cups (0.7 liter) of water to boiling.
      Slowly add 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of sugar, stirring constantly.
      Add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of apple cider vinegar to retard mold growth.
      Boil until the temperature reaches 234-240°F, also known as the soft-ball stage (112-115°C).
      Remove from heat.
      Stir vigorously until the temperature drops to about 200°F (93°C) and then pour into the candy board.”

      I might add some Anise oil too. I’m not going to add any kind of pollen substitute. I’ve got some pro pollen patties on the way from Beemaid that should arrive before the end of January. I’ll put those in sometime in February or even March. That should make up for any pollen they’re lacking now.

      I have my doubts that the bees even need the candy cakes, but they’re living at the top of the hives now, so I’ll play it safe and give them some candy.

  82. Jeff says:

    yeah, I have a thermometer. To really make a good candyboard it’s good to have one as your boiling the crap out of it yet it is hard ot get the last water out. If it is not boiled out enough the candy board will slowly flow, as it is not quite solid, yet appears hard to the touch when cooled down. I was stirring mine for 45 minutes but the first time doing you are not cetain what you are doing. Next time I will add a little less water then teh recipe calls for. Keep in mine if the sugar burns on (Carmalizes) this creates solids. So no buring on, lots of stirring as sugar boils, the boiling is to boil the water out of the sugar.

    Also cream of Tartar is one of those things that make solids for the bees. If teh bees can get out to poop, great. If not that means they have to hold in their crap until they can go for a clensing flight. Cream of Tartar is also in Fondant, so many a beekeeper use that as supplimental feed.

    I was pretty pleased with teh first candy board. It seems like a lot of sugar, but if our hives are low on reserves 15 lb will only get them until march. At which point I intent to check the candy board again and potentially replace it or add some sugar plates.

  83. Phillip says:

    I’m starting to get more serious about honey bees, so I’m switching from the casual spelling of “honeybees” to the slightly more informed spelling of “honey bees,” and I’m slowly changing all the spellings of it on Mud Songs.

  84. Phillip says:

    You can follow Mud Songs on Twitter now:

  85. Jeff says:

    It was a bright sunny day in Clarenville but it was cold. I found dead bees about 50 feet from the hive. by the looks of thnigs I lost more bees today then when I put the candy board feeder on.

    Funny how it goes sometimes.

    • Phillip says:

      by the looks of things I lost more bees today then when I put the candy board feeder on.

      Maybe your bees thought it was warmer than it actually was.

      I may have lost a few too many bees when I added the candy cakes to my hives. It was only 0°C when I pulled the tops off my hives, but the bees were completely exposed to the cold air. Many of them from the first hive flew out and died immediately. I’m sure many more died from the cold just clustering on top of the frames.

      For now on if when I open the hives in the winter, I’m going to have someone standing by with the candy cakes or pollen patties to slip them in as quick as possible. My bees were probably exposed to the open cold longer than they should have been.

  86. Jeff says:

    I wouldn;t worry to much, there is the residual heat of the wood. That would help warm them up. Mine got chilled too, they were buzzing profusly after I put the lid on to warm things back up. If they stayed in the hive and you didn;t pull any frames I wouldn’t be to concerned about it. I think you will be pleasently suprised.

  87. Phillip says:

    I have no work today (making me think I need to find another line of work), so I’ve been hanging around the house getting into trouble. My wireless thermometer tells me it’s 2°C out by the hives, and there’s hardly any wind. If the temperature continues to rise, I may add the pollen patties and more candy cakes today. Could be a momentous day.

    Psst! By the way, I’m famous again.

  88. Jody says:

    “Beekeeping” or “Bee keeping” or “Bee-keeping”?

    What’s the consensus?

    • Phillip says:

      I never see “bee-keeping” and rarely see “bee keeping.” For me, “beekeeping” is the consensus.

      However, I see “honeybee” just as often as I see “honey bee,” though I think “honey bee” is generally more accepted.

  89. Jeff says:

    I’m getting eager for the spring to get and take a look at the hive. Trying a split and seeing some honey in the fall. It’s going to be a stellar year for beekeeping in Newfoundland for new beekeepers.

    Phil I’m soon taking a trip down my brothers to make some of the wooden wares.

  90. Phillip says:

    Linda posted about an online service called Hive Tracks. It allows beekeepers to take track of all the data relating to each of their bee hives. I haven’t tried it. I’m just pointing it out to anyone who might be interested.

    I use Mud Songs to record everything I do, though I might set up a more organized database eventually. A simple note pad would probably work just as well for backyard beekeepers.

    In other news, our bees are still alive. I can see them crowded around the top entrances of each hive. The temperatures have been mild (hovering around freezing), and the bees are probably active inside the hives and eating up all their candy cakes. They’re probably not running low on sugar just yet, but if we have an exceptionally warm day this weekend — like we did when I shot the cleansing flights video — we’ll probably load them up with as many candy cakes and pollen patties as we can. I’d rather not disturb the bees, but again, at this point in the game, I’m still more inclined to make sure the bees don’t starve before the spring. Once we load them up with new sugar and pollen, though, that will keep them happy until daily temperatures are averaging above 5°C, probably some time in mid to late March.

    Our priority after that will be to prevent the colonies from swarming. Any kind of swarming and my neighbours are likely to become less bee-friendly then they’ve been. I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet. I can’t remove frames and replace them with drawn comb to prevent swarming, because I don’t have any extra drawn comb lying around. If we see any swarm cells, I suppose we’ll remove those frames and put them in one of our old nuc boxes. Anyway, I’m looking into it, and I’ll basically cross that bridge when I get to it.

  91. Phillip says:

    The local weather is out of control:

    The high winds had the house shaking. The rain blowing around in all directions made it down our bathroom exhaust pipe and we’ve got a few leaks. I may need to make some repairs if the sun ever shines on Newfoundland again.

    If the top covers on the hives weren’t weighed down with bricks, they may blown off in this wind. I wonder how well the hives will stand up in the summer when they’re getting taller with honey supers. We usually get at least one hurricane level storm during the summer.

    I won’t be adding extra candy cakes or pollen patties any time soon. The wind chill factor today is -14°C, as low as -21°C tonight and -19°C tomorrow. It’s supposed to go above freezing later this week, but the highest predicted wind chill factor is -6°C. I hope the bees have enough to get through it.

  92. Jeff says:

    I agree with the weather there Phil. The hive was facing right into the wind that day and the rain was horizontal. I had to place a board slanted across teh entrance to block the rain form shooting in.

    As soon as teh board was across teh front the bees stuck their head out to look around and went back in. They’re interesting little critters.

  93. Jodi says:

    Do you put a strap around each hive? If a hive goes over but is held together, there is a chance it will survive. Whereas if it breaks apart in winter or rain, not so much of a chance.

    • Phillip says:

      My hives aren’t strapped down because they’re in a fairly well sheltered spot, and they’re half buried in snow that keeps them from moving. If I had them on my roof (which I may some day) or more out in the open, I would strap them down for sure.

  94. Phillip says:

    Here’s a cool video brought to my attention by the Backwards Beekeepers.

    Around the 6:35 mark the queen (or queens) start piping. Take a listen if you’ve never heard it before.

  95. Phillip says:

    13°C in the backyard today (53°F). The bees aren’t out and about because there’s no sun, but I like the look of these temperatures. I hope they stick around. No snow by April would be beautiful.

    UPDATE: Make that 15°C.

  96. Jeff says:

    Any bees now? That is amazing it is that high out that way. It is still cool out our way.

    • Phillip says:

      I can see a few of them out there, but no large numbers. They don’t move much these days unless the sun is shining hard. It’s warm not, but cloudy.

      I removed the bottom entrances to see if they can clear out some of the dead bees while it’s warm.

      I’m curious to see the insides of the hives in the spring, if there’s dripping condensation damage anywhere. Just looking at those bottom boards earlier, they’re not water logged, but they’re certainly moist.

  97. Jodi says:

    Someone in our local bee club makes and sells what is essentially a second inner cover made of homosote with an oval depression and a channel routered out to line up with the oval hole and the notch of the real inner cover. It is placed between the inner cover and telescoping cover. It absorbs moisture nicely. For extra circulation place large matchsticks or pieces of chopsticks at the four corners between the inner cover and the homosote. If you inspect during the winter and happen to find it damp, switch it out for a dry one.

    • Phillip says:

      That sounds similar to our insulated hive covers:

      We use a piece of hard insulated (e.g., homosote) between what is essentially the inner cover and the telescoping outer cover. The bottom boards look moist now, but that moisture might come from the melting snow seeping in from the bottom entrance. I haven’t seen any signs of condensation under the inner covers whenever I opened them to feed the bees. So it looks like the insulation is working.

      I won’t know for sure until our first spring inspection.

  98. Phillip says:

    Here’s a video of some Japanese honey bees warding off a giant wasp. The hive has a wasp excluder installed (I didn’t know there was such a thing). But watch the bees around the 28-second mark.

  99. Jeff says:

    Noticed the bees making some cleansing flights on Sunday. You could literally see the bees flying around with a string of poop hanging from their bum. Reminded me of goldfish in an aquarium. Also the bees were boiling out of the top entrance. During that time you could see that some bees abdoman where much larger than others. Then it came to me that might be the bees still waiting to take cleansing flights. Also it seemed like there were a decent number of bees with fuzzy back/thorax. Might be a sign of new bees. Maybe?

    I soon need to get some liquid feed to the girls to get things jump started ina a couple of weeks.

  100. Phillip says:

    We’ve got 15cm snow (half a foot) falling on us today. Man, just when the 3 feet of snow in our backyard was starting to melt away. I’m depressed. But like you, I notice our bees are all fuzzy, which means they’re young, which mean the queens in both hives have been laying. I can’t tell if their numbers are boiling over or not, but the top entrances are always crowded. They’ve been crowded for the past month, though, so I’m not what that means.

    As soon as I get a chance, I’m going to put some screens on my top hive feeders (to prevent drowning) along with some floats, and get them ready for a good feeding of syrup. It’ll have to warm up a little more first. Syrup loads up the bees’ digestive tracks faster than candy. You don’t want to give them syrup if they can’t go outside and poop.

    I also thought about adding a jar feeder. I have a big 4 litre jar. But I’m not sure I’ll go with that now. I did a test with it and noticed it constantly dripped. I can’t risk having cold syrup dripping right down the middle of the brood nest. That’s why I’ll probably go with the top hive feeders instead.

    I might put on some more pollen patties if I get a warm day this week.

    I wonder when and if I should rotate the brood boxes. It’s difficult to do anything with what looks like most of the colony clustered on the top bars.

    Man, is the snow ever coming down now.

    UPDATE: I got my answer about rotating the brood boxes from David Burns:

    Not until May at the earliest, and even then, I might not do it. (Read his lesson to see what I’m talking about it.)

  101. Phillip says:

    We plan to harvest most of our honey this year by cutting it right off the foundationless frames like this:

    We have plans down the road to expand our number of hives and try other things, but for now we’re not concerning ourselves with anything that’s happening beyond this summer. Hanging out with the bees in our backyard really is a wonderful experience, and we don’t want to ruin it by thinking of the bees as a commercial enterprise.

    Lately we began thinking of the bees along those lines, and I could tell it was taking the fun out of it. So our plan now is to enjoy the bees and just soak it up. There will be plenty of time to get serious about it later.

    I’m practically salivating looking at those cut combs. Man, I can’t wait.

  102. Jeff says:

    Looks good man.

    Soon you’ll run for Premier….

  103. Jeff says:

    In all seriousness it is pretty cool people are picking up on your website Phil.

    • Phillip says:

      Sorry, man, can’t talk now. I’m too busy organizing my campaign to run for Premier.

      But yeah, eventually other beekeepers in NL will get online and I’ll be just another NL beekeper with a blog, which is fine with me. But for now, I’m glad to see our little efforts here getting noticed, spreading the word and all that.

      Now let’s talk about this snow. I can’t believe this. I don’t know what it’s like in Clarenville, but my driveway is a snow drift this morning (again) and we’ve got a storm watch for tomorrow morning with close to 20cm on the way.

      I’m seriously concerned that the bees will get too cold to reach their food while keeping the brood warm. Judging from the last time we fed them pollen and sugar, they’ve probably eaten through all their pollen patties by now, though I think they’ll still have plenty of sugar cakes.

      Maybe this only seems like an extra long and brutal winter because it’s our first winter keeping bees. But it sure seems like a bad one. We plan to add more pollen patties on the first semi-warm day we get.

  104. Phillip says:

    It looks like Australian honey bees are in deep, deep trouble:

    “Scientists have predicted the spread of a wild and highly invasive species of bee across Australia, and being a natural carrier of the deadly varroa mite, will likely devastate current populations of farmed honeybees.”

    Australia used to be mite-free. Many US pollinator-beekeepers (who treat their bees like factory-farmed animals anyway) are going to go out of business in a hurry because they rely heavily on imported Australian honey bees to replace their sick colonies that keeping dying off in droves year after year. They are so completely screwed now, it’s not funny. The US almond industry will take a big hit, too, because it relies almost entirely on honey bees for pollination — honey bees that are trucked across the country, constantly on the move from one almond orchard to another. (Just saying. I’ve seen how they treat their bees and it seems bizarre to consider it beekeeping.)

    This also means Newfoundland is an even greater haven for mite-free honey bees.

  105. Phillip says:

    This comment is a copy of a post that I will eventually delete (the post, not the comment). So comments for that temporary post can be left here.

    I’ve heard so many good things about the Queen of The Sun documentary that I’ve decided to promote it for free. I also plan to attend a screening of it on April 26th at The Rooms, here in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at 7pm as part of the Best of The Planet in Focus Film Festival Tour.

    Quoting from the promo material: “The documentary follows passionate beekeepers and philosophers around the world as they grapple with colony collapse disorder, the crisis of the world’s bees’ sudden disappearance from their hives, pointing their collective finger at culprits like artificial insemination, pesticides, and monoculture farming. With daunting statistics, intimate conversations and luminous shots, Siegel [the film’s director] issues a wake-up call to audiences while honouring these ancient, sacred insects. At once uplifting and alarming, Queen of the Sun explores the problems and solutions we face as we strive to coexist with nature in meaningful and beneficial ways.”

    I won’t name names, but I’ve seen other documentaries about honey bees that were exploitative, manipulative and not well informed. If Queen of The Sun goes down that road, I will update this post and tell you what I really thought of it. I’ll tell you what I thought of it anyway, though I suspect it’s going to be a good one.

    Aubrey Goulding from Paradise Farms will be talking about beekeeping in Newfoundland after the screening.

    • Phillip says:

      Just got back from the screening and it was excellent. It’s a well informed documentary that is philosophical and inspiring. And I can’t say more because I have to go bed because I have to wake up at 5am to get ready for a film shoot.

      I wish I was a beekeeper.

    • Phillip says:

      Here’s an interview about the documentary:

      An interesting quote:

      “Biodynamic beekeepers only take honey in the spring. That’s a very big difference — most beekeepers take their honey in the fall when they want to sell it. They might leave a little bit for the bees, but biodynamic beekeepers would leave the honey all the way until the spring. If the bees survive the winter, then you take the excess.”

  106. Phillip says:

    Here’s another cool beekeeping movie. It looks beautiful.

  107. Phillip says:

    This has nothing to do with bees. Just a boring video of starlings in our tiny backyard as noticed by my cat, Winston:

    I hope you like your banjo music.

  108. Phillip says:

    I won’t have much to post about for the next week. We need to inspect Hive #2, but the temperatures aren’t supposed to go above 10°C (50°F) for another ten days. Uuuugh.

    I may refill the jar feeder on Hive #2 and put a little more syrup in the hive top feeder on Hive #1. But that’s it.

    And so it goes.

  109. Phillip says:

    No more Ads. I’m pulling the plug on the Google Ads that appear in out of the way areas of Mud Songs. They’re more trouble than they’re worth. They’ll be gone within 24 hours.

  110. Phillip says:

    An article about disease-free honey bees in Newfoundland:

  111. jim purdy says:

    I live in Goose Bay,Labrador and I need to buy a pkg. of bees, a smoker and some foundation. Can anyone steer me in the right direction? Thanks, Jim Purdy cellphone 899-3701

  112. Phillip says:

    TETRIS is now available on Mud Songs! (If you know where to look.)

  113. Phillip says:

    The forecast calls for rain until next Tuesday. It’s unrelenting.

    I also heard a statistic on the radio today. St. John’s gets an average of 124 days of fog a year. I don’t doubt it.

  114. Phillip says:

    I might start up a new blog, one where I give myself permission to cuss like a sailor and let rip on all my beekeeping frustrations.

    The first up would be the weather. It’s June 19th and I finally stopped feeding the bees. They’ve been stuck in their hives for — well, let’s put it like this: They haven’t been stuck in their hives for maybe five of six days in the past thirty days, and even when they did get out, they couldn’t forage far in the cold. The average temperature has been well below 10°C / 50°C F. On the rare occasion when the sun breaks through the drizzle, it’s never gotten past 12°C / 53°F for more than an hour or two. The bees did better back in April.

    Second up is the foundationless frames. I’ve had a foundationless medium super on top of each hive for the past month, and the bees have shown no interested in building on the frames. They must be ready to explode down in the two deep supers they’ve been stuck in all this time. They could swarm any minute. (Bees that swarm in our cold climate die.) I’ve ordered medium foundation which I will install as soon as it arrives, hopefully this week, and with any luck, they’ll expand into the medium supers.

    I see hundreds of drones, if not thousands, pouring out of the hives whenever the sun briefly shows its face. So it’s possible the queens have plenty of room to lay with all these drones emerging (and eating up all the honey stores). So swarming might not be an issue. But that could also mean, and probably does mean, most of the colonies’ resources are being used up on drone production, not worker production or honey production. And I’m afraid the short lousy summer we’re having will be over just as the drones are no longer a drain on the colonies, and that’s it. I’ll be left with two hives of bees with barely enough honey for themselves, let alone enough for me to harvest.

    Third up is my work. I’m working like a dog on a film shoot that doesn’t give me any spare time during the week. So if the weather is junk on the weekend, and it usually is, then there’s no beekeeping for me. No inspections, nothing.

    It’s been frustrating and not much fun. See you later. I’m going fishin’.

    • Phillip says:

      Note: I’ve been frustrated by certain aspects of my beekeeping experiences lately. I loved just about every minute of it last year when I first got into it. But this year it’s begun to feel like work, like another job I don’t need, even stressful at times. Which is the opposite feeling of what I used to get from it.

      And now I’m just too busy with work to continue blogging about beekeeping on a regular basis. Which is kind of a blessing in disguise because it’s given me some distance from beekeeping that’s made me realize how cool it is, how much fun it is and, really, how nurturing it is. Hanging with the bees, man, it soothes the soul. And that’s the track I plan to get back on as soon as my work allows me to settle into a more regular life again.

      Sorry to get all philosophical. All I’m really saying is that beekeeping should be fun. For a while there it was beginning to lose its charm, things got a little derailed, and it wasn’t much fun. But it will be again. I’m not worried.

      I’m just extremely busy with work at the moment. That’s all.



  115. Jeff says:

    Take care Phil. This spring would get anyone discouraged.

    • Phillip says:

      Home for lunch. What little sunshine we had in the forecast has switched to cloud and drizzle again. It looks like we might get some sunshine on the weekend, but the highs are only around 12°C. It’s brutal.

  116. Phillip says:

    Just for the record: St. John’s, Newfoundland, had FOUR DAYS in June 2011 that DIDN’T have some sort or precipitation. Most days were cold and drizzly. It was an extremely harsh month even for Newfoundland. We honestly had more warm days back in April, which so far has been the best month this year for the bees. It’s been hard.

    Supposedly the weather will improve in July.

  117. Phillip says:

    Also for the record, today is the first day of the year it was warm enough that I could wear shorts.

    Sunshine and high temperatures are forecast for the next week. It’s about time.

  118. Phillip says:

    Another just for the record moment: It’s 34°C in my backyard. That’s 93°F.

    Ten days ago we were lucky to see anything above 10°C during the day. Now we’re lucky to get anything less than 20°C. St. John’s, Newfoundland, is be a land of extremes.

    Maybe that’s why the bees are extra defensive today. We can’t go anywhere in the backyard without being pestered in the face by bees.

  119. Phillip says:

    In other news, I may have a queenless hive. The bees have been feisty, pestering me wherever I am in the yard. I also took a quick peek under the hood of each hive and one of the hives (the one that happens to be super populated with drones) has a deep rumble different from the usual clam hum. That, along with the unusual defensive behaviour, might be a sign of a queenless hive. It’s impossible to hang out in the yard without having at least one bee flying into my face or my head.

    I happen to have a queen on order that should arrive by Sunday if all goes well.

    It looks like I’m getting a taste of the bad side of beekeeping this summer. Just about everything that could go wrong is, well, kind of going wrong. But I guess I’ll be a better beekeeper for it. I can tell I’m leaning more and more to hands-off beekeeping with each passing day. I just don’t want to mess with the bees anymore. That’s becoming my general philosophy to beekeeping. I don’t think it’s a bad philosophy.

  120. Phillip says:

    Here’s a video that demonstrates a technique for creating an artificial swarm:

  121. Phillip says:

    I won’t have time to post any updates until August, but there should be plenty when I finally get around to it. I continue to make every type of bad move, messing with the bees when I should just leave them alone. It’s difficult at times to sort through all the contradictory advice. Some of us have to be bad beekeepers before we can become good beekeepers. That’s me. I’m loving our two nucs, though. At least I know what to do with the nucs. See you sometime in August.

  122. Phillip says:

    Hey beekeepers, I’m working out of town this weekend, leaving Friday morning. See you in August.

  123. Phillip says:

    A migratory beekeeper (I assume) lost a truck load of bees on a highway in Alberta. 104 hives. Bummer.

  124. Phillip says:

    24°C / 75°F in the backyard today. Hazy and humid with a bit of sun. The bees are virtually swarming outside the two full hives — orientation flights after being stuck in the hives for most of August. The weather until today has been junk, cold, wet and damp, worst than June which was a complete write-off (4 days of no precipitation for that month).

    The forecast for the next week is looking better. Higher temperatures and actual sunshine.

    I noticed the bees already bringing in loads of orange pollen. Could be Golden Rod. With a couple weeks of half decent weather, I might actually get some honey this year. I hope so.

  125. Jeff says:

    I was wondering about that too Phil. Due to being away for a week I was thinking about added some supers to my colonies just in case they fill things up. That is all that I want another swarm, especially this late in the year.

    • Phillip says:

      I checked my supers today. Hive #1 is working the super, but only partially drawn and some partially filled comb. Hive #2: No chance of honey from them this year. Nothing happening there at all.

      I hope to do a full inspection of both hives tomorrow.

      I added a brood box to both nucs today. One is doing great. Taking down syrup, eating up pollen patties, building brood comb everywhere. Perfect. The other not nearly as a good. Partially drawn comb, barely taking down syrup, untouched pollen patty. May need to steal a frame of brood from another hive to keep it alive. I added a brood box to it today, but I probably could have left it in one box.

  126. Phillip says:

    Someone sent me this video of David Burns doing his thing, inspecting a top bar hive without any kind of protective clothing.

    They asked me if I ever inspect my hives without protective clothing. The answer is no. We inspected one of our hives today and the bees were so calm and gentle, it was wonderful. We probably could have done the inspection without any protective clothing.

    But forget about that. All it takes is one bee to sting you in the face (or anywhere) and whatever communing with nature experience that’s happening goes poof. Bee stings hurt and I’ve been stung many times (usually from mishandling the bees). It doesn’t take too many stings to get turned off the experience.

    I’ll sometimes do a small bit of hive maintenance with minimal or no protective clothing, usually when I’m refilling a frame feeder in a nuc (the bees in our nucs seem to be gentle).

    But generally I’ll wear at least a veil and gloves. I don’t know how David Burns does so well without wearing protective clothing. My guess is he knows bee behaviour about a thousand times better than I do. He knows what he can get away with. I don’t. So I play it safe.

    It’s going to be awhile before I pull out frames full of bees with my bare hands. But that’s just me.

  127. Phillip says:

    We inspected our nucs and our foundationless hive today, and what we discovered is kind of amazing — to us anyway. I’ll write a post about it as soon as I can, probably in a few days.

  128. Phillip says:

    Hey, look at me. I’m famous:

    It’s a non-beekeeping blog post, perhaps a printed article, too, though probably not, from Kitchen Garden Magazine in the UK. It’s about the myth of growing potatoes in “potato towers.” Here’s the best part:

    “…a Newfoundland bee-keeper, and his wife, have put three years of effort into potato towers and blog about it at Mudsongs. Success has been elusive. This year they’re giving it a final try, and are letting the plants grow well into the autumn…”

    Some corrections: 1) Jenny and I aren’t married, but living in sin for eight and a half years is married enough, I guess. 2) Mud Songs is two words, not a compound word. It’s funny how often people get that wrong. Not that it matters to me. 3) I’m credited with a photo I didn’t actually take.

    Check out the Old Gardening Posts page sometime in October for the conclusion of The Mud Songs Potato Tower Saga. (Say that with the Muppet’s “Pigs in Space” voice.)

  129. Phillip says:

    Apparently honey in poisonous.

    It’s the best poison I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been eating it every day for the past month. It’s a miracle it hasn’t killed me yet.

    • jody says:

      My family has been eating honey forever, including the raw honey supplied from Phillip, which we’re eating regularly on toast – wax and all. No one has ever been sick. We’ve eaten multiple teaspoons – when we got Phillip’s batch for the first time.

  130. Phillip says:

    Someone recently bought me a Kindle, the basic no-frill model. It’s easy to use and easy to read from.

    I just figured out how to view Mud Songs through it. It’s not the greatest, though it’s probably not too bad with the larger Kindles.

    At any rate, I’m looking into implementing a feature that allows visitors to subscribe to a Kindle version of Mud Songs. We’ll see.

    • Phillip says:

      Setting up Mud Songs for automatic transmission to Kindles is a pain. It ain’t gonna happen.

      However, I have set up a Google Plus page for Mud Songs for those who prefer G+ over Facebook.

      I wish I could find an automatic method for duplicating Mud Songs posts on Facebook and G+ (I have to do it manually). I like G+ more than Facebook, but as a proud card-carrying anti-socialite, I’ve maxed out on social networking services. G+ is the final social networking service that I will accommodate.

  131. Phillip says:

    An article that explains why much of the honey sold on the US market isn’t honey (mainly because it’s heated and ultra filtered to remove all the pollen).

  132. jody says:

    I read the entire article:

    I’m never buying honey from a grocery store again. Only locally produced honey from now on.

    • Phillip says:

      I didn’t back check the sources, so I don’t know how accurate it all is, but I’ve read other articles that make similar claims.

      All you have to do is pick up a jar of Billy Bee honey or some other generic grocery store brand and smell it. Then taste it. It has more in common with a bottle of Elmer’s Glue than raw honey taken from a bee hive.

      There’s a lot of scamming going on. Even some farmer’s market type honey, which looks like the real deal, is often heated to clarify the honey so it will last longer on the shelf. But from what I’ve read (and experienced with our own honey), any kind of heating, even at low temperatures, will alter the properties and the flavour of the honey.

      A friend of mine let me sample some honey she bought at a farmer’s market in Owen Sound (yup), and it tasted like honey the way a blended scotch tastes like single malt. She bought the honey in a large bucket. Large-scale processing of honey, even if it isn’t super heated and super filtered honey, effects the quality of the honey. The more that’s done to the honey, the more likely it is to taste like blended gunk. At least that’s the impression I get. I could be completely wrong, but I think I’m right.

      • Phillip says:

        I’ve also heard of beekeepers who feed their bees sugar syrup while the honey supers are on, and then harvest sugar syrup from the comb and sell it like it’s real honey. Unscrupulous beekeepers will also mix honey with corn syrup or sugar syrup.

        Here’s a video that apparently demonstrates a simple method for detecting this impure honey:

        You pour the honey in water. Fake honey with sugar syrup will dissolve in the water. Real honey won’t.

  133. Jeff says:

    Everyone that has tried the honey I obtained from my colony this year was amazed of the taste and flavor and was looking for more. It is amazing how the taste is different. Then again maybe it is the flower type too? Yeah right….

  134. Barry Hicks says:


    Does anyone following this list have any information on the history of honey bees in Newfoundland? I am interested in finding out when, who and where honey bees were brought in. WA Munn & Co canned honey in Harbour Grace around 1900. If anyone has any info on this operation or anything like it please contact me.

    Barry Hicks
    College of the North Atlantic
    carbonear, NL

    • Phillip says:

      Hi Barry, my knowledge on this is sketchy. However, my girlfriend, who you already know, is sending some contact info for you now, if she hasn’t sent it already.

      I didn’t think honey bees were brought to the island before 1900. I wonder if that canned honey was produced on the island or imported and then canned here.

  135. Phillip says:

    Big news everybody: I’ve changed up some of the categories on Mud Songs.

    The “How-To” category is gone. Just about everything I post could qualify as “how-to.” The How To page will hold the most useful HOW-TOs for now on.

    The “Foundationless Frames” category is gone because it was too broad. It’s been replaced by Foundationless Hives to specify foundationless brood chambers. I also added Foundationless Supers to specify HONEY SUPERS with foundationless frames, or honey that comes from foundationless frames.

    I try to minimize the number of categories and keep them simple because it’s too easy for them to get out of control, but there’s not much I could do about these ones.

    As you were.

  136. Phillip says:

    I heard from a US beekeeper on Google Plus today who checked his hives over the weekend and found half of them dead. I think he said he checked them in January and they were all fine. The dead hives are full of honey but hardly any bees. Few dead bees near the hives too. It’s like the bees just flew far away and died. One commenter said it’s classic Colony Collapse Disorder.

  137. Barbara says:

    I was at Chapters on the weekend and skipped through the new book
    by Kim Flottum. Can’t remember the name of it, it’s more for commercial beekeepers, but had a couple of possible reasons for Colony Collapse. The perpetual moving around of hives was one, a major stressor for the bees, and another the placing of hives in a one-source nectar area, (agro farming I think it’s called) so the bees aren’t getting proper nutrition that they would from a variety of nectar sources. Interesting but scary stuff.

    • Phillip says:

      When I first got into beekeeping and actually had time to read those things made of paper — books, I think the’re called — I read a fair bit about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and then concluded that nobody knows the cause. CCD itself isn’t well defined. Colony deaths from various diseases that have been around forever are likely being attributed to CCD.

      But a common trait of what some call CCD is the disappearance of the bees from the hive. The hive may have a low mite count, it may have plenty of pollen and honey and a high population of bees. And then you look in the hive one day and all the bees are gone. Not dead in the hive, but gone. They’ve flown away and died. That’s CCD. And it’s weird. Or is it?

      When you consider the medications and chemicals that are given to bees to keep them alive, especially bees that are shipped around the U.S. for pollinating almonds, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to say there has to be a breaking point, a point where the bees just can’t take it anymore — and they fly off and die.

      Migratory beekeeping practices don’t seem ideal for maintaining the health of honey bees. There’s the obvious stress on the bees from being shipped and banged around to various locations for pollination. The shipping and mixing of bees from all across the world seems like a great way to spread disease too. Then the bees get to chow down on a single nectar source — thanks to monoculture agriculture. No diversity in the bees’ diet makes for even unhealthier and weaker bees. Then at the end of the pollination season, the hives are loaded on a truck back to where they came from (often bringing new diseases back with them), and the bees are often so weak then that it’s necessary to keep them alive by a variety of artificial means.

      It can’t be easy to be that kind of bee.

  138. Jeff says:

    Was it called “Better Bee Keeping”. If it is it is a nice read.

  139. Phillip says:

    To Chrome users with Kindles: I tried to find a WordPress plugin that automatically sends new Mud Songs posts to Kindles, but no one has written such a plugin yet. I also tried to format the How-To posts into Kindle format, but that’s way too much work.

    The simplest way to read Mud Songs (or any website) on a Kindle is through the Chrome extension called “Kindle It.” Here’s the link:

    It will send any page from any website to your Kindle. It’s not the greatest Kindle extension for Chrome, but it’s the easiest to use and it gets the job done. It doesn’t grab embedded links and it sometimes skips over photos, but the text is there and a link to the original web page shows up at the end.

    So it’s not too bad… until something better comes along.

  140. Barbara says:

    Hoping to be able to get to Rockets on March 11th to check you out and maybe have some questions. I know how you feel about public speaking but at least the people there will probably all be kindred spirits. It’s only from 2 to 3 p.m though eh?

    • Phillip says:

      Yeah, I’m not worried about it. I think it’ll be a relatively laid back gathering. It’s only for an hour, but if it happens to be a nice day, we might be able to take a trip to look at my hives. We’ll see what happens.

  141. Barbara says:

    Sounds great, I’ll look forward to it if the weather co-operates.

  142. Phillip says:

    There’s a small chance I might not be able to make it, and Jenny will have to do it solo. Very small chance. But it’s always possible I could get called out on a job. Working freelance means I never really know when I’ll be working. (Anyone know of any openings at the post office? Or ANY regular type jobs that don’t involve dealing with the public? I’m smart. I have a so-called degree of higher learning. I can do anything, and I’m always looking for a way out of freelancing. Anyway…) Even if I can’t make it, Jenny knows her stuff too. Right now I’m not sure what we’re going to say. I’d like to bring a hive along, but that could get complicated. We’ll bring some honey and certain hive pieces, talk briefly about how we got into beekeeping, the outline how it’s worked out for us, then get into the pros and cons of doing it in an urban environment. (If we get swarms this year and our neighbours freak out, realistically, it could shut us down completely.) Anyway, I think it’ll be fun. I hope the chicken lady shows up. I agreed to do this because I thought someone who has chickens in the city was going to give a short talk. I’d like to build a chicken coop for next year.

  143. Phillip says:

    I got my first sting of the season yesterday. I don’t know what it is, but if there’s any remote chance of getting stung, then the bull’s eye is on me. I get it every time. Then I’ll get it again like I did yesterday. Two stings in two hours, both on my left hand.

    My wrist and a part of my left hand became pink and swollen, stiff and painful. I’ve never had any kind of reaction like that before. I was told by another beekeeper (who happens to have Doctor in front of his name) that a bit of Benadryl will make it go away. He said it was my immune response to the first sting of the year and nothing to worry about.

    So I went out and got some Benadryl and took two of them, little pills. And it knocked me on butt. It was like I’d taken a shot codeine. I was zonked. It was not pleasant. It made me feel a little sick too.

    Today’s lesson: Benadryl may help reduce the swelling from the first sting of the year, but make sure to get the non-drowsy formula. Uuuh. The fully loaded Benadryl is hard stuff.

  144. Barbara says:

    Have you ever tried witchhazel for a sting. Not sure if it would work for bee stings but it works like a charm to take away the discomfort of wasp stings and nettle stings. I always keep a bottle on hand, not that we get stung that often but it’s good to have it when needed.

    • Phillip says:

      I haven’t tried witch-hazel. I usually just grin and bear it (with a sprinkling of profanities) and walk it off. This is the first time I’ve had this severe a reaction to a sting. I hear that some people become allergic to bee stings over time, instead of building up an immunity. I hope I’m not one of those people.

      I’ll have to get some witch-hazel on hand just in case I have this kind of reaction again.

  145. Phillip says:

    We just back from giving an informal talk with the St. John’s Slow Food club or association. I don’t know exactly what they’re called.

    Jenny and I were both suffering from a flu, and my head was heavily in a fog most of the time, but I think it went well. It’s always good to talk to like-minded people. For anyone who was there and is looking for more info, our How-To page is a good place to start:

    Beekeeping lessons from David Burns wouldn’t hurt:

    and neither would a few visits to Honey Bee Suite:

    I gotta say thanks to the couple (you know who you are) who brought us a sample of the maple syrup they made from maple trees around town. That’s amazing. I haven’t been able to sample it yet because my mouth is numb from cough drops I was popping the whole time, but my first point of business this afternoon is to clean my pallet and give it a taste. Jenny says it’s unlike any maple syrup she’s ever tasted. Kind of like our honey.

    And for those who offered to host a hive for us this summer, expect an email or phone call sometime within the next month or two. Thanks.

  146. Barbara says:

    I am so disappointed that I didn’t get to your talk this afternoon. I was involved with the CBS art show but was planning to drive out for the hour from 2 to 3. But my hubby’s mother is dying and he had to go, leaving me without wheels. Glad it went well. Did you find the chicken lady? I’m looking forward to getting my equipment in the next few days so I can paint it and get the feel of things.

    • Phillip says:

      The chicken lady didn’t show up, but it was a good crowd. We lost track of time and talked for more than 30 minutes, much longer than we anticipated. Sorry you couldn’t make it. Perhaps later on in the summer you can drop by and take a look at my bees, get a feel for them before yours arrive in July.

  147. Barbara says:

    I would love that, thank you.

  148. Phillip says:

    I added a new feature to Mud Songs. By the way, it’s Mud Songs, two words, not Mudsongs, one word. I commonly see Mud Songs referred to as Mudsongs. Perhaps it’s because I put the URL in my videos. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a not a big deal. Moving on…

    I’ve added a “Preview” feature to the comments function on Mud Songs. This very comment is my first time testing it out. You click the “Preview” button and scroll down to see the preview. If it works, you should be able to edit your comment if necessary before posting it. Okay, let’s see if it works…

    UPDATE: It works. The above comment was full of typos that I was able to fix before posting (I think I caught most of them). Excellent. It’s coffee time.

  149. Phillip says:

    Here’s a 60 minutes BBC documentary called “Who Killed The Honey Bee?”

    It’s about Colony Collapse Disorder. I haven’t watched it all yet, but the BBC is usually good.

  150. Phillip says:

    I had to checkerboard my first hive today. See Honey Bee Suite for info on checkerboarding:

    What I did wasn’t 100% checkerboarding, but it was close enough. It’s going to knock the colony back a bit, and may have done more harm than good, but I had to do something to prevent swarming. I’ve never seen so much brood and so much bees in any of our hives before, and hardly any space left for the queen to lay.

    If I had a nuc on hand, I’d simply pull brood from the hive and add it to the nuc and start up a new hive.

    It was an unexpected event and I don’t have any photos.

  151. Phillip says:

    If you live within the vicinity of St. Clare’s hospital in St. John’s, check our your flowers (e.g., dandelions) and blossoming trees (even maple trees) for honey bees today. Yesterday was a good day, but today should be even better. Peak hours are between 1 and 3 o’clock, but they’ll be out all day. It’s only 10am and the hives are bursting with bees. Here are some orientation flights from 5 minutes ago:

    Here’s the negative image of the same photo in case the bees are hard to spot:

    We’re hanging around the yard today. We may attempt a live webcam event of the hives through the Mud Songs G+ hangouts. Probably not, but we’ll see.

  152. Phillip says:

    Deep Thoughts From Being Stuck in The House All Day Waiting for The Hot Water Heater Repair Guy to Show Up — Part 1:

    Believe it or not, people actually write to me with questions from to time as if I’m some kind of big authority on beekeeping. I’m not. I’m a minuscule authority at best. And even when I do know what I’m talking about, I don’t naturally fall into giving advice because I don’t want to risk ruining the fun of discovery for anyone. I wouldn’t let anyone go forward with an obviously disastrous plan, but I’m generally inclined to hang back and let everyone find their own way. I wasn’t like that at the beginning, though. Back then, not so long ago, I acted like I knew it all. What a joke.

    I was obsessed about beekeeping long for before I got any bees. I spent several hours a day every day for many months reading as much as I could, mostly online. By the time my second spring of beekeeping rolled around, the obsession had settled into a healthy fascination. I know some beekeepers are obsessed from day one and never lose the compulsion to become a master beekeeper, to have dominion over the bees and everything they do. That’s not what motivates me to keep bees. I don’t enjoy the manipulation involved in most conventional beekeeping practices. I kind of hate it. Yet I can’t completely buy into the so-called natural beekeeping approach either because it seems irresponsible to just “let the bees be bees” and fend for themselves. Finding the middle ground has been a challenge at times. I want to understand the behaviour of the bees, but I don’t want to use that understanding to exploit the hell out of them every chance I get.

    Anyway, meditate on that. The repair guy just showed up. Gotta go!

  153. Phillip says:

    Here’s a news item from the CBC about beekeeping in NL.

    Last summer was the worst summer in 20 years for beekeeping. This year is the best.

    Our bees out on the farm aren’t producing this level of honey yet. Between the stresses of moving, swarming, requeening, etc., our bees have been knocked back a bit. Nonetheless, we expect (or hope) to harvest our first good batch of honey today.

    • Phillip says:

      Well, we didn’t get our first good batch of honey today. We got four frames. Of our four established hives, one had a failing queen all year and is only just beginning to get its strength back with a new queen. Two hives swarmed (and one may have swarmed twice), so that knocked them back in a big way — just not enough bees to make much honey. And the one hive that has been making honey was on the verge of swarming a few weeks ago, and then we made a split from it and added a new queen — and today we discovered that that queen is not laying. Wonderful. It’s a supposedly mated queen we ordered from the NL Bee Company. We haven’t had problems with their mated queens before, but this one is a dud.

      Anyway, I thought we’d have simple relaxing day with the bees (pretty much for the first time this summer), but nope. It was another marathon beekeeping session, and I’m beat. I’ll post photos later.

  154. Phillip says:

    I used pine cones as a fuel in my smoker today. Not bad.

  155. Phillip says:

    We’ve been slowly harvesting foundationless honey, some crushed and strained, but most of it as comb honey, for most of the summer. Today we did our first harvest of liquid honey from conventional frames — and we did it with a DIY extractor that cost about $100 by the end of the day. We got about 15 litres of honey so far (about a litre per medium frame). Here are some photos of the extractor in action:

  156. Phillip says:

    Some of our comb honey was recently sampled (and purchased) at a local upscale restaurant:

    Next year, if things go much better, and I sure hope they do, we’ll have about 10 times as much honey for them if they want it.

  157. Phillip says:

    An episode of NOVA about honey bees, if you have the patience to watch something on a computer screen for an hour:

  158. Dean says:

    Hey Guys,
    Being an avid backyard gardener for as long as I can remember, I’m now seriously considering getting into bee keeping.
    I’ve been doing a lot of web reading and wondering if you may have a few hints and/or ideas that you may like to share.


  159. Phillip says:

    I expect to harvest my first honey of the season tomorrow from my city colony (which has been queenless for at least the past three weeks). I could have harvested honey from my country hives today, too, but didn’t have time (I was requeening). Despite some setbacks, I seem to have plenty of early honey coming down the pipe. Nice.

  160. Phillip says:

    I pulled three shallow frames of comb honey from my city hive today (haven’t tasted the honey yet). The other frames weren’t completely capped, so I left them.

    I also found tiny ants all over the comb and all over the outside of the hive. What honey the ants steal is miniscule. If the colony was at full strength (which is won’t be for a while), it would be able to defend all that honey better. I doubt there would be so many ants inside the honey supers.

    • Barry Hicks says:


      What kind of ants were they? Red or black? Parts of St John’s have European Fire Ants (Myrmica rubra). I’m interested to know if the ants you saw are M rubra.

  161. Phillip says:

    Damn. I just installed an escape board on one of my hives, drove away and thought, “Did I put that thing on upside-down?” I sure hope not because they’re on their own for next couple days.

    Some info on escape boards to explain my concern:

  162. Phillip says:

    I’ve seen a handful of honey bee documentaries since I began beekeeping in 2010. “More Than Honey” may be the best so far:

    It’s guilty of idealizing beekeeping to a certain degree (similar to Queen of the Sun in that regard), but it shows the ugly side of beekeeping, too — namely all the evils of migratory beekeeping practices. The photography is unmatched as well.

    One of my favourites is “Heathland Beekeeping,” which is available online here:

    If you can sit through the whole thing (it’s a calm, slow documentary), then I’d say you’ve got the beekeeping bug.

    • Phillip says:

      More Than Honey has some of the best footage of honey bees I’ve ever seen, and for that reason alone, even if you watch it with sound down, it’s worth watching. However, they didn’t get all their facts right:

      I was too captured by the footage to notice what the narrator was talking about most of the time, though it doesn’t surprise me that a documentary that’s guilty of idealizing beekeeping wouldn’t be too strict about the facts.

  163. Phillip says:

    An argument for getting stung at least once a month.

  164. Phillip says:

    Possibly 180km gusts tonight around St. John’s, and we’ve got it easy. Newfoundland beekeepers, rachet strap down the hives if you can, load ’em up with an extra brick or rock. Anchor them down. If they’ll ever blow over, tonight’s the night.

  165. Phillip says:

    An article about the worst places to get stung:


  166. Phillip says:

    I performed a walk-away split on a 4-deep colony today.

    I didn’t plan it, but after it took me an hour to inspect the top 2 deeps, and the bees began to get a little grumpy, I cut my loses and said, “Yeah, let’s try making a walk-away split out of this baby.”

    I’ll know if it worked around this time next month because that’s how long it takes for the split without a queen to make a queen, for that queen to emerge, mate and begin laying new eggs. If I see new eggs in a month, we’re good to go.

    Both halves of the split hive were packed with bees. Many of them will fly back to the original location, but still, there are so many bees in both halves, I’m not worried about the brood getting cold at night.

    I found some much open and capped brood, and so many dedicated nurse bees, I’d say there’s a good chance the split will work out fine.

    • Phillip says:

      My walkaway split didn’t work. The half without a queen didn’t create a new queen cell from the open brood. If I were to try it again, I would place the half without the queen in the hive’s original position so all the foragers would return to that location. More bees getting in on the action might have helped. Either way, I added the half without a queen to another colony that needed the boost. So no harm done.

  167. Phillip says:

    Lots of well-presented honey bee basics from Miss Apis Mellifera for anyone who has the time.

    I used to know all this stuff by heart but I’ve slacked off since I had to move my bees to the country.

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