Beekeeping, Gardening and Quilting in Eastern Wake County, North Carolina

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Robber Bees

 Yesterday after installing the bees, I checked on them several times during the day and noticed a tremendous amount of activity - more than I thought there should be.  So I called Mr. Ellis and he had installed his package and now had robber bees trying to get to the sugar water in the hive.  I suited up and put a brick in front of the entrance and stopped all the "in and out".  After dark, I went down and had bees clustered under Hive #3 - so these were not robber bees but bees from the package that had been out and couldn't get back in the hive before dark. 
Cluster under Hive #3
This morning the bees were still under Hive #3 (it was a little chilly and early) so I moved the brick over maybe 1/2 inch for the opening.  That will give the inside bees more protection if there are robbers and a big enough space for going back and forth.  I'm not sure I had robber bees but I would be very upset and I don't say this lightly if my bees were gone.  Robber bees will strip a hive of all the honey, run off the bees and you're left with nothing.  So with the smell of sugar water they were coming from who knows where to get a free lunch.
So far so good today . . . . .

Hive #3
I've checked the hives several times today and they're looking good.  The half inch opening is just right to keep robber bees out.  Mr. Ellis called and his hive is fine and if there were robbers, they've gone on to another hive.  So we both gave a sigh of relief.  Our bees are fine for now.
More tomorrow when I'll take the package box out and put in the 5 frames.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Installing Bee Packages

Yesterday Mr. Ellis and I went to Goldsboro and picked up 4- 3 lb packages of bees (one for him and three for me).  Each package has a queen (marked this year with a white dot) and anywhere between 6000-7000 bees - more or less.

Packages are stapled together with a small strip of wood.
It was not a good afternoon for installing and I had other things to do anyhow so I put them in the wheelbarrow and left them in the barn overnight.  I sprayed them with sugar water and partially covered with a sheet.  They were fine this morning. 
So I have finished putting the girls in their new homes.  It was much easier than I had anticipated.  I did watch some YouTube videos (some were just crazy but some had good information).  I put the bees in a deep/brood box with 5 frames (a deep holds 10 frames).  The queen is left in her cage and after taking out the cork and taking a toothpick and poking a hole thru the candy, she was put in the hive using the rubber band method.  You put a rubber band around a frame and her cage/container fits between the wax and the rubber band.  Holds it perfectly and you don't have to worry about her falling to the bottom or the bees not being able to chew thru the candy to release her.  

Got the queen settled and then I took the lid off the box and put the whole thing in deep beside the 5 frames.  The queen is between frames 4 and 5. No shaking of the bees, no thumping them on the ground - just put them in and they come out of their box on their own.  Wednesday I'll check and take the box out and put 5 frames in the hive and they'll be all set.
The package box fits perfectly in the hive.

Beehive March 2016
There's so much more involved in putting a package in than I can tell in one of my posts and everybody's eyes start to glaze over after about five minutes so just know it's fascinating and I would have never thought I would be a beekeeper.  I think it might skip a generation with my girls.  My parents weren't interested and that's an understatement but my paternal Grandfather and maternal Grandmother both kept bees. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Getting Ready

Mr. Ellis and I are going to Goldsboro Sunday to pick up some packages.  A package is a queen with about 3 lbs of bees.  So today since it was so nice and I was home for a change, I started getting my ducks in a row for when the girls come on Sunday.  I'm putting the new hives in a different location - I think they need more sun and hopefully this will work.  And I've got to get some deep frames before Sunday.  Busy, busy, busy  . . . .

Hive #4 March 2016

Yes I know Sunday is Easter.  Mr. Ellis is going to church then we'll meet and go down to Goldsboro and pick up the bees.  It's the only time we can get this done - it works for both of us.  And I have to make deviled eggs, sweet tea (is there any other kind?), pick up my child at the airport and then dinner with the grandchildren.  So anyhow, we'll get it done and I'm excited to be getting some bees.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beatrix Potter

Some of the most beloved characters in all of children’s literature are those created by Beatrix Potter. This year, we celebrate the 150 anniversary of the birth of this author and illustrator in London. Perhaps her most famous work was The Tale of Peter Rabbit, published in 1902. She followed that with many other popular Tales, including those of Benjamin Bunny, Jemima Puddle, the Flopsy Bunnies and many others. Many of the characters in the books were based on Potter’s many pets and lifelong love of nature.
The proceeds from her books and related merchandise made Potter a very wealthy woman and she invested much of her money in land preservation (and sheep raising) in England’s Lake District. Beginning with only one small farm, she purchased land until, at the time of her death in 1943, she owned over 4000 acres. Upon the death of her husband less than two years later, all of the land was donated to England’s National Trust and the original house is now open as a museum.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Well something went under the sofa and they looked but it was dark under there.  So everybody got a little flashlight so they could check it out.  What did they find . . .  lots of dust bunnies, a couple of chew bones, other odds and ends.  So we left the dust and played with the flashlights. 

Monday, March 7, 2016


I can feel it - it's on the way SPRING!  Even though we did not have a lot of cold weather this winter, it was certainly wet - seems it rained every week.  Well, it did rain every week.  But the sun is shining and the temps are supposed to be in the 70's this week.  Yippee . . .
So with all that said I'll do a bee report.  I'm down to one hive.  They are bringing in pollen and I'm feeding them too so they should be fine.  I'll check them this week while the weather is nice.  I would like to have four hives so I have to either buy some bees or hope for a swarm or two later in the spring.  No need to explain what happened to the other hive but if I don't do better this year, I need to get out of the bee business.  It's heartbreaking to lose a hive of bees.