Tuesday, May 27, 2014


The bees don't really take much maintenance, but what they do happens twice a year -- spring and fall.  

At this time of year, the bees are reaching their maximum population, so giving them more room in their hive is the basic chore, but I like to have a box or two all ready to go in case of a swarm.  

As I look back at my blog, the time between the last week of april and the first week of june is prime time for bees swarming, and truth be told, that's not a bad thing.  They neatly divide the colony, produce another queen, and if you can capture the swarm, you've now added a new hive to your farm.  

The main bloom around here that produces a lot of honey is the blackberry bloom, and it's coming up pretty soon.  So adding the extra space now allows the bees time to draw the comb and be all set for the nectar flow that is coming.  

 I assembled enough frames and comb to be able to add boxes to every hive I've got active, and I also put together enough frames and a box so that I'm set to capture a swarm if one happens.  One of my hives is doing particularly well, and I think it's going to swarm, even though I'm trying my best to discourage it.

 I use wax with wire embedded in it because it holds up better over years of use.  In this case i'm assembling frames for a "deep" box.  Honey frames are smaller.  I use the smaller frames for honey because a full honey box weighs around 60lbs and is heavy enough.  I'd hate to think what a deep box would weigh.

Honeybees are susceptible to parasites, and there are a lot of ways to control them.  I prefer not to use any chemical or pesticides in my honey production.  So to control varoa mites, I put in a frame of drone comb at this time of year.  The bees will raise drones, male bees, on this frame, and that's where the parasite likes to reproduce.   I'll check this frame, and when it's capped I'll remove it from the hive and look at it.  If it contains mites, I'll put the frame into the freezer and take out the entire generation of mite larvae.  If it's free of mites, I'll put it back into the hive -- any bees that are mite-resistant should be encouraged, and having lots of drones around gives any unmated queen plenty of opportunity to get this genetic line.

1 comment:

Kim said...

If you have time, can you tell me how you determine if the drones have mites? I aspire to keep bees in the near future. Thank you. Great information on your organic farm!