Rogue Comb-Building

One of the disadvantages that beginning beekeepers have is that they are starting with entirely new frames with new foundation rather than drawn comb. Frames without drawn comb next to each other have excess space and frequently the bees will draw out comb off the foundation. 

Notice how the bees built hexagon cells sideways, with the long ends parallel with the foundation rather than perpendicular

Below is an example of comb drawn out normally, filled with honey, and then capped over with wax. (We added the butterfly, see “Bee Art” for more info.)

Bees will fill in spaces with comb until there is a 3/8-inch space between. This is called the “Bee Space.” The bee space is just the right amount of room for bees to move around in the hive. In Langstroth hives, the frames have been engineered so this space is created between frames after the bees draw out comb. 

In the sideways example, notice how bees created bee space between rows of sideways comb.

Honeybee Pests: Mice

Here is an example of mice getting into beekeeping equipment. They build a nest in this one. Mice are really only a problem if there are no bees in the box. This can happen if a colony dies in the winter, if mice can get to stored boxes, or if the wintering hive is clustering in the box above, and bees are unaware of the mice below.

To avoid this, store equipment in a pest free place, especially if the hive has died in the winter. Also, if the fall cluster is not big enough to fill two boxes, consider wintering in one box. This will keep out the mice and give bees less space to heat.

If this does happen in your equipment, it needs to be carefully cleaned as mice can spread disease to humans.

Honeybee Pests: Target Practice

This hive was damaged by bullets in a remote location. It seems that shooters were using this hive as target practice. No substantial harm can come to the bees unless a bullet hits the queen, which is unlikely. But damage to the woodenware can be significant and no one wants lead in their honey.  

To avoid this kind of damage, it is best to place hives where people can’t see them.

Honeybee Pests: Livestock

This bee box was in the same pasture as a horse. The horse kicked it and several others, damaging the equipment. Two of the three kicked colonies survived, including this one. 

Livestock will occasionally cause damage to beehives. Livestock are more likely to harm the colony in winter than in other seasons, because of chill. Horses can kick the boxes and break them, especially if the've just been stung. Cattle sometimes rub on boxes and flip the lids off, or knock over a box. Goats like to jump on top of boxes. 

If a beekeeper was trying to decide whether or not to use a location based on shared use with livestock, it usually doesn’t present a problem, but it depends on the animals’ temperament. Some beekeepers fence off bee hives within the pasture. 


Bee Art Contest Winner!

Congratulations to Rich Herout of Antioch, Illinois, winner of this year’s bee art contest. Thanks to all who entered and we hope to see more in the future! 


Bee Art

Can I brag a little about my man here? I am in LOVE with his bee art! He takes plastic foundation, cuts it into different shapes, and puts it in the beehive. Here are the results. What do you think?

He got the idea from his beekeeping grandpa, Arthur Andersen, who did a profile of Abraham Lincoln in beeswax. Here is Stan's version. 

By the way, if you see some really awesome photos here, the credit goes to 
Nina Cochran, of Studio 111.

Fish in Honeycomb

Stan entered the fish in honeycomb in the Springville, UT Art Museum Religion and Art Show. It is reminiscent of Jesus eating fish and honeycomb after he was resurrected.

This one is by far my favorite!


Happy Halloween

Stan carved this Three-Eyed-Bee-Eater from an irregularly-shaped knot hole in one of his nuc boxes. The bees really like having an extra entrance like this one. 

We wanted to remind any beekeepers reading this that fall is a good time to treat for varroa mites, if you are going to be treating. 


Transferring a nuc into a hive body

Transferring Nucs

Photo of Stan teaching a group how to transfer a nuc from a nuc box into a hive body box

Part of our May beekeeping classes include how to transfer a hive nucleus into a standard hive body. Here is a description of how to do it for those who missed the class. (A hive nucleus, or “nuc” for short, includes bees on five frames. It does not include the box. So when people purchase nucs they transfer the frames into a standard hive body box.)

This process is best done during daylight hours. Prepare the hive body by placing it on the bottom board and removing at least 6 frames. Stan removed 7 in this photo. Removing frames will give you room to place the nuc frames without squishing bees. 

Move the nuc box over a bit and place the new hive body in its place. Be sure the hive entrance is pointing the same way. Bees have a good idea where their hive is supposed to be and will go in the hive that is in the right GPS location. 

Give bees a little smoke at the entrance. Open the lid and give bees a little smoke along the top bars of the frames. Give just enough smoke to move bees down onto the comb.

Use the hive tool to pry out one ear of one frame. 

Gently lift one frame out. Lift straight up to avoid smashing bees. 

This photo is of the outermost frame of bees. Bees have drawn out comb, but have not started filling this one with honey or brood yet. 

Gently place the frames into the new hive body in the same order and orientation as in the nuc box. 

Next, slide the frames next to each other to make room.

Continue placing frames and sliding them over until all 5 frames from the nuc are in the box. Then replace the remaining empty frames until you have all ten in the box (or nine if you run nine frames). 

There will be bees left inside the nuc box. Stan’s preferred (fast) method is to take the nuc box, turn it upside down and hit it sharply onto the top of the box (one quick tap will do it). This causes all the bees to drop out of the nuc box into the new hive body box. Be sure to remove the nuc box a few feet away. Bees may recognize the smell of their old box and want to go back inside. 

Place the lid on the bee box and wait until dark before moving it at least 3 miles away for 3 days. 

Nuc Pickup and Beekeeping Class

Our beekeeping class at The Star Mill in American Fork was a huge success! Thanks to all who participated and good luck with your bees!

In May, Stan taught three great beginning beekeeping classes to help new hobbyist beekeepers get started. Here are some photos of one event. 

The bee truck, loaded up with beekeeping equipment

Stan talked for about an hour about equipment, bee biology, moving bees, placing hives, etc.

Then we suited up and started up the smokers for the “In the Hive” part of the class.

Stan showed how to transfer a beehive nucleus (“nuc” for short) from the nuc box to a standard hive box. 

Here is the “grimy” diagnostic hive. (The bad example of what you can find in a hive)

He also showed what robbing will look like in a hive. 

And we had a honey extracting demonstration also.

Overall, it was a success. We had a good time and were overwhelmed with information! See you next year!


Blueberry Ginger Orange Scones

I have been making this recipe for about a year now and love it every time. The recipe is adapted from Eat Better America’s Pear-Ginger Scones. Of course I had to substitute honey for sugar and whole wheat flour for white flour. They are still light and amazing! 

I love how versatile this recipe is. I have substituted other types of fruit and spices, but blueberries and ginger are pretty amazing together. And the orange zest really brings out the blueberry flavor. Enjoy! 

Blueberry Ginger Orange Scones 
¾ c Rolled Oats
1 ½ c Whole wheat flour
1/3 c Honey
2 ½ t Baking powder
2 t Ground ginger
2 t Orange zest
1/3 c Stick butter
¾ c Frozen blueberries
1 Egg
1/4 cup Milk

Heat oven to 400F. Grease cookie sheet or spray with non-stick cooking spray. 
In a medium bowl, stir together oats, flour, honey, baking powder, ginger, and orange zest. Cut in butter. Stir in egg and milk. Add blueberries and combine. 
Press dough onto cookie sheet to form an 8 inch circle. It will be about ½ inch thick. 

Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cut into pie-shaped wedges. Serve immediately.


Installing packages

Here we are getting ready to install some packages. One of these three will be installed into the box behind. 

It’s finally here! Many of our customers have requested a video demonstration of how to install a honeybee package by shaking. Enjoy!


Also. . . 
Install the packages as soon as possible after you receive them. It is best to do this in late afternoon or EARLY morning. Wait if it is raining or snowing. 

Do not use smoke when installing the package. The smoke can confuse bee pheromones and cause drift. 

If you need to store packages, keep them in a cool, dark, quiet place. Ideally, the temperature should be between 50 and 70 degrees F. Spray light sugar syrup on the screen cage about every 4 hours. Don’t drown the bees.