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Bees of the Haven - a new beekeeper's log

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Talking about blunders, about a month ago, I'd visited a small site of just four hives and left with the thought in my head "I've got to re-Queen that hive". A couple of weeks later I arrived back with a Queen in the cage, and went to the hive I thought was a problem. I looked through a couple of frames and saw double eggs in cells and in my mind that confirmed my diagnosis. I then found the lovely Q and squashed her, and introduced the new Queen in the cage. As I put the hive back together the last thing I put on was the top feeder - I make my hive notes on the plastic underside of the top feeder - and I saw I'd written the earlier date and "VQ" - so there was a Virgin Queen there earlier and she had no doubt gone and and got well mated in the ideal mating conditions that existed at the time, and I'd just promptly squashed her. The double eggs were probably just her starting to lay. What an idiot. I then looked under the top feeder on the adjoining hive where it stated "needs Re-Q".

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Hahah, I like the support - thanks guys :)




Home apiary AFB check with Alistair - all well, signs of varroa but otherwise healthy hives confirmed.


Varroa strips put in both home apiary and in-laws' apiary today - start the clock for 10 weeks. 2 strips / box in the home apiary and 1 strip in each nuc at the in-laws apiary.


All looking good in the hives at this point - next things to do:

-a minor hive-moving operation from one corner of the garden to the other at the home hive

-put up a sign with apiary # (got the number from Alistair, didn't have it anywhere before)

-marking of in-law's queens x 2

-another 10 or so emptied honey frames to freeze before storing for winter (can only freeze 2 at a time - note: perfect excuse to get a chest freezer in the garage that can be used for beer brewing also)


The in-laws' nuc hives are pumping - one is already in an FD box, the other in the nuc looks like it should be moved into an FD also, as bees are pouring all over the show.


Honey harvest


Tutin results were good with less than measurable levels of tutin detected, so it was all go for honey packing a couple of weeks ago and the honey distribution has now begun.


Final honey count 25 kg's - not bad for a first year!






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  • 2 months later...


Varroa strips out. Started feeding heavy syrup and arranged frames for winter: brood in bottom box, honey in the top.


Bit of a problem with one of the hives: the weaker hive had an open queen cell last week, I left it there to see what happens - the queen cell has now been capped and it being actively looked after by the bees. Looks like supersedure: single capped cell in the middle of the frame. Old queen is still in the hive and laying - she's was born in October but was never a super great layer in comparison to the other queen.


It doesn't seem like a great time for supersedure: there are still drones in my hive so I assume they are still around but the weather isn't great. What are your thoughts, guys? Squish or let nature run its course?

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It is a bit tricky but I'd probably leave the queen cell.


With feeding 2:1 it is best to have finished this late April and May only if you have to. The reason for this is that the "Winter" bees live to about four months old and you want to avoid stimulating them and having them burn out / die with little or no replacements in late Winter You can instead feed them dry raw sugar which does not stimulate and they can use as they need it. I'm getting around hives at the moment doing the same giving them each about 2kg as a bit of insurance....hope all is good with you.

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  • 2 months later...



First check of the spring - one hive checked before rain surprised the beekeeper.


I need to somehow mark the hives as it seems my memory is poor enough that even with 2 hives, I can't remember which of my notes relate to which. Hence I'm unsure if the hive I checked was the one with the supersedure cell or not. I should be able to connect the dots when I open the other hive.


Hive is very busy. Beautiful oval brood patterns at the top box, bottom box patterns a bit patchier and older, in the process of hatching. I counted about 6-7 frames with some brood until the rain. Both capped and uncapped honey in the hive. The top feeder has plenty of raw sugar left but a number of bees were exploring up there so maybe they are taking some in. Met the marked queen from last year.


Some signs of hygienic behaviour suggesting varroa but overall the hive looked healthy. Apivar strips went in the inspected hive also.


Happy and excited about the state of this hive, look forward to inspecting the other one and getting ready for spring. :)

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Try using a red crayon on top of the hive and a wee note book. Write down as much as you need to remember long notes in the book, small reminders on the lids. It's great to have notes so that you can go back if you need to. I look back over notes from the year before on apiaries and/or hives. It's better to write too much than not enough until you find your comfort level.

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Checked the second hive. This hive is potentially even busier than the first, bees pouring over the frames nicely. Nice calm bees, it was only after going through most of both boxes that the bees started to get a bit impatient about me blundering around.


Both capped and uncapped honey, quite a bit of pollen, eggs, uncapped brood and capped brood. Quite a few drones also - isn't it a bit early for them? Not a lot of drone brood apart from a couple of damaged frames.


Unmarked queen found, so that's confirmed supersedure which took place in early June.


It is quite interesting: the superseded queen was only born in October last year so she was replaced in less than a year. The new queen has a good laying pattern and she's been laying up a storm with about 8 frames of brood across the two boxes at present.

It has been 2 months and 10 days since I saw the capped cell so she must have successfully mated sometime between then and now - I left the hive to get on with the supersedure in peace, which appears to have worked.


Also had a look at the honey supers I had put away for the winter on the deck. I stacked them up with newspaper between boxes and shadecloth at the top and bottom. Seems to have worked but it seems some moisture was trapped to the top boxes - they have a layer of mold inside. Is this just normal or is there a better way? I assume the bees shouldn't have too many problems cleaning that stuff up?

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Cheers @M4tt :)


I have a relatively relaxed evening for a change so going to catch up on Trev's bee videos and try to put together a spring plan of sorts.


Out of interest, I did the math on costs to date from the start (a nuc of bees, 4 hives of gear, beekeeping gear for me, my wife and my father-in-law, treatments etc.), which comes in a bit under $2,600 plus a few items I didn't track like hessian cloth for smoker etc. - I think around $2,800 - $3,000 for the first 24 months including the beekeeping course is relatively close to the mark.


That's not too bad for a new hobby, really. At 25 kg's honey yield you could hence call the production cost to date to be $120/kg, which isn't exactly market...but that's not the point, is it :) In saying that, a lot of the initial costs are done now with the gear, starter bees etc. purchased so there will be fewer costs this year, I think. I could have kept the costs a fair bit lower too by doing a bit less 'ooh, a frame holder, that's nice!' -type shopping.


If I wanted to make back the initial investment or even just make the hobby cash neutral, selling nucs would be the only route as I can't sell honey and there isn't really enough propolis / wax to make a difference.


I might do that in due course, but so far I'm more pleased that it looks as though winter # 2 is coming to an end and I still have bees - that's a victory. :)

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