Apr 09

Queens Delayed This Year

2013-04-07_11-38-29_938 (Custom)In a typical year silver maples would have bloomed several weeks ago and we would be seeing hives increasing in size significantly and a fair amount of drone brood.

This has not been a typical year so far.  And unlike last year that was several weeks ahead, this year is the opposite.  The silver maples just started blooming at the very end of March and the last of them finished blooming today. 

This past weekend we were able to inspect most of the hives for the first time of the season.  The good news is that the majority of hives survived the winter and losses were less than what I expected.  (Great news really given the reports of larger losses from some other beekeepers around the country).   The bad news is, given the cool March and late blooms, hives are easily 3 weeks behind in development.   Typically I’d expect to see a good amount of capped drone brood in most hives by the second week of April.  We found only a couple of  the 80 hives checked this past weekend that had drone brood .  We put more pollen patties in the hives to hopefully encourage drone rearing soon.

So why does this matter?  One of the big factor for good queens is having an ample supply of mature drones.   Grafting now to raise queens would be a futile effort and waste of time because there won’t be enough drones when the queens are mature enough to mate.   For early queens we don’t look for drones themselves, but for a good amount of capped drone cells when we graft.  These drones will be old enough to mate when the queens grafted are ready.


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Apr 04

Forgotten Swarm

SAM_0438 SAM_0435 SAM_0434As a beekeeper you normally try your best to make sure the hives are well prepared for winter.   You make sure the bees are healthy, hives have good populations, equipment is in good shape and that there is plenty of honey stored for the winter.

In spite of our best efforts, hives will still die over the winter for various reasons.   Sometimes though, a hive will survive in spite of the beekeeper.

Imagine my surprise when I did a quick check of the hives early this March when I noticed 2 hives among the weeds.   Not the brown and blue hive in the foreground of the first picture…. the 2 hives in the background, the second can barely be seen behind the first.

These two poor hives were swarms that landed on small trees or bushes sometime last summer.  They were hived in a single medium and then were promptly forgotten as the weeds grew up around them hiding them from view.  (This could be an argument for better record keeping).  

Surprisingly these two hives (again, in a single medium, with no winter preparation) where quite alive and well.  I have added a supper of honey to each on one of the few days in March warm enough for bees to fly.  As of a few days ago they still looked good and will likely survive in spite of my forgetfulness.  It’s a reminder that bees are still wild creatures and quite capable of living without our help, at least some of the time.

(The second two pictures are the two hives forgotten among the weeds)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/journal/forgotten-swarm/

Mar 29

New Web Host

With the new look to the website, we’ve also outgrown our old web host due to too much usage on a shared server.  Part of the high usage was self inflicted by using some non-optimal code, but even after fixing the problems I couldn’t get the usage down to where the host needed it to be.  

So, I pulled out my old unix hat from college days and moved up to a full fledged cloud/vps server.   It’s basically a virtual server running on a portion of a much bigger server.  So far it’s running circles around the old shared hosting in terms of speed, but the nameserver was just switched tonight to point at the new host so we aren’t seeing the traffic yet.

I do have to put in a plug for the new hosting service, togglebox.com.   Their prices were good, but their support has been even better.   Just tonight I contacted them twice and had an answer in minutes.   That’s a faster response than what I’ve gotten from our host at work where we are spending many, many times as much.  The jury is still out, but so far I’m impressed.  Togglebox (or any vpn server) isn’t for everyone as you need to be able to manage linux and setup and install your own web server, etc.   But for those who can and need that level of server, it looks great.

We still have a number of things to fix, in part due to the move from php4 to php5, but that will just take time.  

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/other-stuff/new-web-host/

Jan 23

2013 Beginning Beekeeping Class

The Northwest Ohio Beekeepers Association will be holding its annual Beginners Beekeeping class on Feb 16th.  This class is ideal for the beginning beekeeper, particularly if they don’t have bees yet or inherited a hive and don’t know an inner cover from a telescoping cover.  Topics covered will include basic honeybee biology, races of bees, package bees versus nucs and where to get bees, how to start a hive, new and used equipment, keeping bees in a residential setting, feeding, inspections, swarm control, disease and pest management, producing honey and other hive products and overwintering.

It will be held from 8:30AM to 4PM Saturday February 16th at the OSU campus in Lima, Ohio.  Cost is $30 and includes the book and membership to NWOBA. 

Last year will filled the room to capacity so space may be limited.   For more information see the NWOBA website.

For other classes and events elsewhere in Ohio see the Ohio State Beekeepers Association website.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/events/2013-beginning-beekeeping-class/

Jan 15

2013 Package Bees

packagesInformation on this years package bees are finally available.  Pickup Dates will be March 21st, April 4th and April 18th.

The March 21st date is generally not recommended for the beginner or starting a new hive on foundation as it’s typically too cool for the bees to draw comb well (2012 was an unusual exception to this however).   The march date is a great date for those installing bees on drawn comb, particularly if honey and pollen is available from dead outs.

Generally it will be warmer for the April dates making it a better choice for the beginner because it’s easier to install packages when it’s warmer and the bees will draw comb and forage for their own pollen.   It is still necessary to feed a new package.

More details are available here: 2013 Package Bees.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/2013-package-bees/

Dec 27

The Mathematics Behind Pouring Honey


Pouring Honey


Fluid dynamics was something I didn’t have to deal with as an electrical engineering student in college.  This is probably ok as the average beekeeper doesn’t need to know much more than it makes a sticky mess when you miss the bottle.

However, I did find this high speed video of pouring honey and it’s mathematical explanation pretty interesting.   I’ve been fascinated by the intricate patterns honey makes as you fill jars.   While I’m at a loss as to what the practical applications of understanding the exact physics of pouring honey may be, they have explained three different modes of pouring honey… Viscous, Gravitational and Inertial Regimes.  These have relatively simple explanations and equations.   The forth mode ‘Inertia-Gravitational’ is yet to be described mathematically (and may be the key to obtaining enlightenment, or not) and the best ‘guess’ is described as ’17th-order nonlinear two-point boundary value problem with two free parameters and 19 boundary conditions’.   Or in layman’s terms, ‘really, really complex’.

So until this mathematical problem can be solved, virtual reality beekeeping may have to wait.  It’s still a cool video.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/the-mathematics-behind-pouring-honey/

Dec 11

Hive Tool From Menards


The hive tool is used by nearly every beekeeper.   While it comes in a few styles, the most common version of the hive tool has made an appearance in home improvement stores in recent years.   It’s no real surprise as the hive tool has hundreds of uses and I always have one in my toolbox, even when I’m not working bees.

The standard hive tool makes a great pry bar for removing trim, tiles, etc.   A putty knife, scraper, and much more.  I’ve even used it to plant tomatoes and as a screw driver when I’ve been in a real pinch.  (I’m waiting to see one show up as a murder weapon on Bones or CSI)

I’ve seen them before in Sears (with the crow bars), Home Depot (with the paint scrapers) and most recently at Menards (on the right).  Red Devil makes one as well.  Typically they are more expensive than from a bee supply company by a few dollars.  The one from Menards did include two other small crow bars for $8.  Not a bad deal.  No idea if they are going to sell the hive tool/pry bar separately (but the carry the Red Devil brand for nearly the same price as the set by ToolShop). Note: The left most ‘pry bar’ in the picture is the hive tool.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/other-stuff/hive-tool-from-menards/

Dec 03

Cooking with Bees


Fried Bee Pupae, yum!  Ok, so it really doesn’t look that appetizing to me, but in the majority of the United States and other countries we have been taught that insects shouldn’t be found in our food.  Not so in other parts of the world where insects are either a staple or a delicacy.

In many parts of the world insects provide cheap and plentiful source of protein.  They are far more efficient source of protein (in terms of resource required per pound) than beef, pork and other meat usually found on or tables.  Nutritionally bee larvae are equivalent to a good lean stake and supposedly have a nutty taste (I’ll take their word for it).  Adult bees have somewhat less nutritional value than the pupae.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/cooking-with-bees/

Nov 15

Pollen on the Increase?

According to researches, airborn pollen has increased over the past 25 year and will more than double in the next 28 years.  According to the news article, temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide are responsible for the increase.   Other than the negative effect on those of us who suffer from hay fever what does this mean to beekeepers?

Unfortunately I could not find the news release referenced in the article mentioned above on the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website (or ACAAI for short), so we can only speculate at the moment.  Increased pollen may mean more resources available to honey bees, particularly protein that is needed to raise new bees.   This may mean larger, more productive hives and less need to feed pollen supplements.  (Sorry, it’s unlikely to produce large chihuahua sized bees, only more populous hives).   There is no mention that there would be any increase in nectar to feed the bees or result in larger honey crops in the article.  The cause of this phenomena listed in the article may have other negative effects on bees as well related to general climate change. In some areas beekeepers have noted certain flowers are producing less honey in recent warmer years than they had in the past.  The only thing I can say for certain is, beekeeping will continue to be a new adventure each season.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/pollen-on-the-increase/

Nov 11

A Skyride for Bees

Old beekeeping articles always fascinate me, both for the knowledge and insight that often was forgotten and has been reintroduced as a new things,  and also for the ideas that apparently didn’t seem to make it off the ground.   This is an example of the latter.   I have yet to see any beekeeper with a skyride or ski lift system to move supers from their bee yard into their honey house as this clipping from the March 1916 issue of Bee Culture shows.   It might have been more practical if  several hundred hives could be kept year round in the same location, but the hives would likely starve and produce no honey because there would not be enough forage to support them all.  The cost of $200 in 1916 equates to about $4200 in 2012, which would be enough to buy an entry level or used ATV with a small bed to transport supers in the bee yard today.   The other option, and the one we went with, was to simply widen the path leading to the bee year so that we can drive the truck to the bees.   This would be fun to see in operation though.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/a-skyride-for-bees/

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