Shallow frames in medium hive body, oops!


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shallows in medium box

Bees fill voids greater than 3/8″ (1cm) with comb. When not given a guide to work with they build it according to their own liking. Hence the marvel of Hoffman frames and hive designs that encourage them to build within the design guidelines.

I made this mistake last year, discovered it, and left it until this year. Somehow I placed six shallow frames in a medium hive body located in the center brood box position. On inspection last year I realized my error when I tried to remove the frames. Oops! Since last summer I have spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning anxiously awaiting 2018 spring inspections when I hoped the box would be vacated and I could remove it. Yesterday was the day and last night I finally had a good night’s sleep. 🙂 BTW: These bees get an F for maintaining proper bee space.

Letters to a Beekeeper by Honey Hunter


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Letters to a Beekeeper is a delightful book for anyone interested in beekeeping, bees, gardening or indeed letters.

The book follows the journey of two people over the course of a year and the sharing of their passions.  

Alys learns how to keep bees and Steve learns how to plant a pollinator-friendly garden.  Steve Benbow is the founder of the London Honey Company and Alys Fowler is the Guardian gardening writer.

Read the entire review at:  Letters to a Beekeeper — Honey Hunter

Ancient Olympians ate this honey cheesecake as a post-workout snack, and we have the recipe By Noël Duan & Elan Kiderman


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Some may say that cheesecake is food of the gods—those people include the ancient Greek Olympians, who feasted on a flour cake filled with cheese and honey after their pentathlon competitions. The ancient Greeks were already aware of the connections between physical aptitude and lifestyle choices—and the athletes engaged in a variety of restrictive diets believed to enhance their performances, such as xerophagia, a diet consisting of dry foods. Like the modern-day cheesecake, the ancient Greek version was an indulgence, something you pair with your wine at the end of a languid feast.

In 250 BC, the Greek poet Archestratus wrote a gastronomic travel guide called Life of Luxury that is only preserved in fragments. In one piece that has survived, he makes mention of the dessert: “Yet accept a cheese-cake made in Athens; or, failing that, if you can get one from somewhere else, go out and demand some Attic honey, since that will make your cheesecake superb.” But, alas, he did not include any recipes.

As with the classical sculptures we now find in museums, we can thank the Romans for preserving the Greek cheesecake into posterity. De Agri Cultura, Cato the Elder’s 160 BC farming manual, is not only the earliest example of surviving Latin prose, but a glorified food blog—it includes not one but several recipes for cheesecakes.

“Cato is a proud Roman, writing in Latin,” Cathy Kaufman, food history and author of Cooking in Ancient Civilizations, explained over email. “Nonetheless, there seems to be an overlap between Archestratus’s gastronomic descriptions and Cato’s recipes.” The only possible difference between an ancient Greek cheesecake and an ancient Roman cheesecake, classicist and food blogger Andrew Coletti added, is that the early Greeks didn’t use chicken eggs.

Cato’s cheesecake recipes include a sweet version called savillum and a savory cheesecake called libum, the latter being related to our modern-day word, libations. “They were often made as religious offerings,” Coletti explained. These were simple baked mixtures of baked cheese and flour that could be eaten with a spoon. Another more complex version from Cato, the placenta cake, involves layering cheese, honey, and dough together and flavored with bay leaves. According to Coletti, black poppyseeds were also used as cheesecake toppings. Think of them as ancient sprinkles.

This was Cato’s original recipe for placenta cake:

Read fully article and get recipe here:

Ancient Olympians ate this honey cheesecake as a post-workout snack, and we have the recipe By Noël Duan & Elan Kiderman

Happy Birthday William Z. Hutchinson


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Birth: Feb. 17, 1851
Death: May 30, 1911

William Z. Hutchinson (1851-1911) was a 19th-century Michigan apiarist and author. He founded the Bee-keepers’ Review in 1888, and served as its editor over the remainder of his life. Hutchinson was an enthusiastic proponent of producing comb honey.



Catching Honey Bee Swarms


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Swarm in Five Points

Our swarm season has officially begun here in the Midlands of South Carolina. Beekeepers, old and new, enjoy the thrill of the chase which kicks in the excitement factor associated with gathering a swarm.

So what does it take to catch a swarm? I was doing a quick search this morning to determine the ideal swarm catchers equipment list and I was struck by a web page I stumbled upon which detailed the swarm catching of a young sixteen year old making a few bucks while providing a valuable community service during the spring swarm season. What impressed me the most was the young man’s minimalist approach to necessary gear. Basically he had a cardboard office supplies box reinforced with duct tape with a makeshift screen for ventilation on the lid. His second piece of equipment is a plant mister/sprayer with some sugar water. Otherwise he wings it.

I have been caught out without any equipment while driving around and responded to a phone call unprepared, yet the property owner and I have found a box, a ladder, and a pruning shear to successfully capture a swarm. Once home it’s easy enough to put them into a proper box.

But let’s say you really want to gather a swarm this year and would feel more comfortable having a few items in your car or truck ready to make short work of almost any situation. What items are in the swarm catcher’s essentials bag? Well, probably a standard Langstroth box with frames on a ventilated bottom board. If space in your car or truck is a concern a five frame nucleus box (wooden or cardboard) will suffice. You’ll want to be able to keep them enclosed for the drive back so use some screen or otherwise completely block the entrance. Next is a mister bottle of sugar water to wet the cluster down prior to shaking them or moving to your box. Sugar water isn’t essential but the bees will stay together nicely and it gives them something to occupy themselves with while you work with them. Other items which the homeowner may not have available: ladder, pruning shears or loppers, small handsaw, bee suit, gloves. That’s pretty much all that’s needed to handle most situations. An extra suit is nice if the homeowner wants to get involved. Often they are interested and it’s a good time to do some community education.

Here are a couple links if you’re interested in gathering swarms. And also, if you think you’d be interested join one of the online swarm call lists to have your name out there for people in your community to call. Warning: It’s addicting!

Red Maple, Harbinger of Nectar Flow


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Red maple has been  bloom here in the Midlands of South Carolina for about a week or more. Not sure though, it didn’t look exactly right. A little research lead me to the answer. There are male and female flowers. That explains it!

Happy Birthday Nikolai Nasonov


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Nikolai Viktorovich Nasonov (Feb. 14 1855 ~ Feb. 11, 1939)


Nikolai Nasonov is best known among beekeepers for the Nasonov gland in honeybees which is named after Nasonov who was first to described it in 1883.

“The scent organ of a worker honeybee lies on the dorsal surface of the abdomen, at the front edge of the last abdominal segment. It consists of several hundred gland cells. The Nasonov gland was named after the Russian scientist who first described it, in 1883. (Honeybee Democracy By Thomas D. Seeley 2010)

Nasonov pheromone are emitted by the worker bees and used for orientation. Known as the “come and join us” scent. Bees use the pheromone to find the entrance to their colony or hive, and they release them on flowers so other bees know which flowers have nectar. Nasonov pheromone in synthetic form should be 2:1 ratio of citral and geraniol. It consists of glandular cells which secrete pheromone through c. 600 ducts into a groove between the 6th and 7th tergite. Honeybees release this pheromone for attracting other bees to join the swarm, to mark the entrance to the hive, to mark a source of water while foraging.

Nikolai Nasonov was a Soviet zoologist. Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1906; corresponding member, 1897). He was born in Moscow, Feb. 14 1855. In 1879, Nasonov graduated from the University of Moscow. From 1889 to 1906 he was a professor at the University of Warsaw. From 1906 to 1921 he was director of the Zoological Museum, and from 1921 to 1931 he was director of the Laboratory of Experimental Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. His principal works were on the morphology, taxonomy, faunistics, zoogeography, ecology, and embryology of insects, crustaceans, Turbellaria, and some vertebrates, such as mountain sheep and the ostrich. In 1911, Nasonov organized the publication of the comprehensive work Fauna of Russia and the Neighboring Countries, subsequently called Fauna of the USSR. Twenty-five books of this work were published under his editorship. In 1916 on Nasonov’s initiative, a commission was created in the Academy of Sciences of the USSR to study Lake Baikal and to organize the Baikal Biological Station (now the Institute of Limnology of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR). Nasonov was a prolific author producing works in four languages but was not a honeybee specialist nor did he have a knowledge about pheromones. Nikolai Nasonov died in Moscow Feb. 11, 1939


PORTRAIT Nikolai Victrovich Nasonov
Насонов Николай Викторович

Nasonov, Nikolai Viktorovich,+Nikolai+Viktorovich

Honeybee Democracy, by Thomas D. Seeley
circa. 2012 page 185

Pheromones of the Honeybee Colony

Nasonov, Nikolai Viktorovich (1855-1939),_Nikolai_Viktorovich_(1855-1939)

Miscellaneous References

Nasonov, N. V. 1889. Contribution to the natural history of the ants primarily of Russia. 1. Contribution to the ant fauna of Russia. Izv. Imp. Obshch. Lyubit. Estestvozn. Antropol. Etnogr. Imp. Mosk. Univ. 58: 1-78 PDF

N. E. McIndoo, PH.D. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia Vol. 66 No. 2 (Apr. – Aug. 1914), pp. 542-555

“ It is reported that Nassonoff first described the morphology of the scent-producing organ of the honey bee. His original work in Russian cannot be had here , but according to Zoubareff (1883), nassonoff did not describe the structure of this organ as seen by the writer, and he suggested that the gland cells of the organ produce perspiration.
Nasonov pheromone are emitted by the worker bees and used for orientation. Discovered by Nasonov, Nikolai Viktorovich (1883) from Russia. Known as the “come and join us” scent. Nasonov includes a number of different terpenoids including geraniol, nerolic acid, citral and geranic acid. Bees use these to find the entrance to their colony or hive, and they release them on flowers so other bees know which flowers have nectar.Nasonov pheromone in synthetic form should be 2:1 ratio of citral and geraniol (Born Feb. 14 (26), 1855, in Moscow; died there Feb. 11, 1939. Soviet zoologist. Academician of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1906; corresponding member, 1897). It consists of glandular cells which secrete pheromone through c. 600 ducts into a groove between the 6th and 7th tergite.Honeybees release this pheromone for attracting other bees to join the swarm,to mark the entrance to the hive, to mark a source of water while foraging.
Nikolai Victrovich Nasonov ( N. V. Nassonov) 1855 – 1939

Dr. Nasonov studied taxonomy and distribution of various groups of invertebrates. He was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the URSS. He visited Japan (June-July, 1928) for the study of freshwater microturbellarians. For his scientific activities and the publication list, see the following paper.

Académie des Sciences de l’Union des Républiques Soviétiques Socialistes, 1937. À l’Académicien N. Nassonov pour le Quatrevingtième Anniversaire de sa Naissance et le Soixantième Anniversaire de Son Activité Scientifique. Cover page and prefatory portrait + pp.13-32.

Literature (a selection):

Nassonov, N. V., 1924. K faune Turbellaria Rhabdocoelida Kryma. Izves. Akad. Nauk, SSSR, 18: 35-46.

Nassonov, N. V., 1925. Die Turbellarienfauna des Leningrader Gouvernements. 1-2. Izves. Akad. Nauk, 20: 817-836, 869-883.

Nassonov, N. V., 1927. Über eine neue Familie Multipenatidae (Alloeocoela) aus dem Japanischen Meer mit einem aberranten Bau der Fortpflanzungsorgane. Izves. Akad. Nauk, 1927: 865-874.

Nassonov, N. V., 1929. Zur Fauna der Turbellaria Rhabdocoelida der japanischen Susswasserbecken. Doklady Akad. Nauk, SSSR, 1929: 423-428.

Nassonov, N. V., 1932. Zur Morphologie der Turbellaria Rhabdocoelida des Japanischen Meeres. Trudy Laborat. Exper. Zool. Morfol. Zhivotnykh. Akad. Nauk, II: 1-115 + Taf. I-VIII.


Source: Historical Honey Bee Articles – Beekeeping History

Will your bees be Olympians this year?


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It takes preparation to get to the Olympics. Are your bees going to the Olympics this year?

Time is short. Will you be ready? Have you coached them up and prepared them for the adventure of the spring nectar flow? Are they building strength in population? Are they healthy? Is their mite count 1% or less? Is your equipment ready?

It takes approximately 6 weeks to prepare a bee population of sufficient size to fully capitalize on the nectar flow. The time to stimulate that increase is now. It is time to do everything you possibly can to get your bees healthy and increase their populations. The saying is, “build your bees before the flow, not on the flow.”

One either prepares before the nectar flow begins or one stays behind the entire spring. Nature does not wait for the procrastinator.

Some Spring Beekeeping Preparations


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Here are some recent pictures. I’ve been negligent posting here while making last minute preparations for the nectar flow.

Pictured above are new hive stands built for queen mating boxes, a Varroa mite alcohol wash jar, Varroa Mite Assessment Vehicle with treatment gear, a shaker box for separating queen from nurse bees, an Oxalic acid treatment sublimator, and a swarm bait hive I hung a few days ago. Not pictured is a nice swarm capture bucket I have mounted on a 23 foot painter’s extension pole.

It’s been busy but through the years I have learned that one either prepares before the nectar flow begins or one stays behind the entire spring. Nature does not wait for the procrastinator.

Deafening Silence by Misty Meadows Homestead


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So your bees died over winter. This blog post by Misty Meadows Homestead shows how we can grow as beekeepers using our deductive skills to learn and improve. Thanks for sharing your loss with us so that we too learn.

When you love someone, you are never really prepared to lose them. When my beekeeping, gardener Grandfather passed, he had end-stage renal failure and we had 5 years to prepare – it wasn’t enough. Last winter, when my 14-year old cat passed, she had been telling us for weeks that her time was coming to an end – it wasn’t enough.

No matter how prepared we ‘think’ we are, when it happens, we realize we didn’t have enough time to prepare ourselves.

Wednesday we had a little bit of warm weather – about 55º and decided it was a good time to inspect our 4 hives.  We stood in the bee yard, observing the colonies for quite some time.

continued via link below:

Read the entire blog post at: Homestead Buzz – Deafening Silence — Misty Meadows Homestead & more!

The Hive and the Honey Bee by Langstroth and His Bees


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L.L. Langstroth’s the Hive and the Honey Bee is valued as an extremely important text in the world of bee keeping. Beekeeper enthusiasts and those just wanting to gain a little more information on the small creature buzzing around outside your window. While the book has been updated and revised many times, the original written work is now available completely online,  and extremely easy for all those who are interested to access it.  Langstroth changed the beekeeping world drastically, and his views and advances are laid out in this book.

The text is broken up into different sections, which are all previewed in the summary section of the book. This creates an almost dictionary like appeal, where the reader is able to look up, by section, specific things that they are interested in. This book changed the course of beekeeping, for the first time novice beekeepers were able to have beekeeping at their fingertips- learning more about what used to be a foreign topic. In 1853, when The Hive and the Honey Bee was first published, the Internet was not a factor in the Americans lifestyle.  With the book’s publication the general American public was able to envision themselves as a beekeeper, and easily make their dream a reality.

Read full article here: The Hive and the Honey Bee

Above test edited for clarity.  SBF

Fruit Salad With Honey N Cream Dressing by akshayakumbham


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I love everything in this recipe. Fruit, cream, honey, roasted nuts. What’s not to like?

Tropical and seasonal fruits, dry fruits are used. Dressing is done with fresh cream and honey. Here I present fresh and juicy fruit salad with honey n cream dressing to relish during festive days or anytime. Njoy Cooking, Serving n Savoring!


Read full recipe with pictures here: Fruit Salad With Honey N Cream Dressing — akshayakumbham

Getting Started in Beekeeping


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Accepting What Is

As the local beekeeping association Secretary I received lots of email and often it involved a request from non members wanting to get into beekeeping. They’d done their homework which, mostly, has consisted of surfing Facebook and Youtube. They’d also asked lots of people how to best get started in beekeeping. After polling the answers they’d start to see two particular suggestions rising to the top: 1) Join your local association and 2) get a mentor. From there they deduced that they can most likely accomplish both by sending an email to the local association asking for a mentor to help them get started.

I had a very nice, polite email I send back moving them in the right direction to accomplish both getting them in contact with experienced beekeepers and a course of action to increase their likelihood of success.

As beekeepers here know, it takes numbers to be successful. If you don’t believe me make a split with insufficient nurse bees or capped brood. Timing is essential as well, start a task at the proper time and all goes easily. Success with a swarm in early April is a piece of cake; success with a swarm in August is difficult. And so it is with folks not yet knowledgeable of the mechanics of beekeeping. They want bees and a mentor not knowing the amount of effort it will take nor the proper timing in order to increase the chance of success that first year.

You too will get inquiries from friends and people you come in contact with once they know you are a beekeeper. Be prepared to help them get off to a realistic start if you want them to be successful. And that’s what it’s really about isn’t it? One hundred new beekeepers joining the association is great but not so impressive if half fail their first season because they had unrealistic expectations.

Let’s look at the “getting a mentor” concern. The old school model of getting a mentor went something like this: The mentee sought out a mentor and agreed to spend the first year helping the mentor in the mentor’s bee yard. The mentee would show up at an agreed on day and time and look over the shoulder of the mentor as he went through his hives, talking as he did so. Watch, listen, learn. Move boxes as needed and help the mentor as the tasks necessitated. This would go on for a season and the next Spring the mentor would make a split and give it to the mentee to take care of at the mentor’s yard. The mentee would work his new hive and the mentor would look over his shoulder to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes and was able to correctly comment on what he was seeing and the correct action to take. At the end of that season the mentee took his hive home and became a beekeeper.

Somewhere along the way we have deviated from this model. Now we take new comers into the hobby, put them through a 20 hour course and expect them to survive. It’s like making an early March split – risky. Nowadays the mentee wants the mentor to make visits to the mentee’s yard for instruction. And inasmuch as the clubs and associations have promoted getting the newcomers’ bees perhaps that seems reasonable to take some responsibility for assisting with issues that will naturally come up.

If we are going to move to a new model then perhaps we need to clarify and revise some terms. As it now stands we’re mixing and matching old school and new school. The new beekeeper wants a mentor, bees, and instruction. That’s reasonable. The problem is one of numbers though (remember that early Spring Splits analogy?). Most clubs can’t provide a 1:1 mentor for 100 new beekeepers every year nor should anyone expect mentors to volunteer to run around town visiting mentees weekly. So we must marry the expectations of the new beekeeper and the club acting as mentor. Each side gives and gets a bit and both walk away with more.

We do that by returning to the old school model whereby the mentee gets his/her education by visiting the mentor, but no longer at the mentor’s beeyard nor by a single mentor. The new model has the mentee visiting many mentors at events like 1) monthly meetings, 2) local educational events, 3) dinner before meetings, 4) online discussion groups 5) State Conferences, 6) connecting through fellowship with bee buddies, community outreach, etc. The list goes on… The mentee that wants to learn this art, like historically, has the resources offered and available and they go to learn – as before. The club or association organizes monthly meetings, presentations, events, newsletters, club library, allows for face to face fellowship time monthly, and online discussion groups. All things considered, the new beekeeper has more opportunity nowadays to gather knowledge than they used to with the old school model AND they get their bees their first year.

If you’ve suffered through my ruminations this far, I commend your endurance. I gave two similar presentations at this year’s state conference. I encourage the new beekeeper to take advantage of what is. There are multiple opportunities available to new beekeepers – more than enough to succeed. I also push the concept of bee buddies and fellowship for those that need a 1:1 relationship. Occasionally I hear someone complain about not having a 1:1 mentor for more personal, individual instruction as they had hoped. That’s unfortunate because they are cheating themselves out of the good of what is while wasting time wishing for the unlikelihood of what they envisioned. The fact of the matter is they have a room full of mentors at every meeting, at every gathering, at every conference. My mom used to say, “Go do the very best you can with what you’re offered. You do everything You can and You’ll succeed.” Mom was smart at marrying “what is” with success.

Beekeeping will change you for the worse by Honey Bee Suite



A bit of humor here from Rusty. Well, I think she’s being humorous. Let’s hope so!

Many of my web visitors are soon-to-be beekeepers preparing for their first delivery of honey bees. They have read, attended classes, and talked to other beekeepers. Some write to me with a few last-minute questions. But what they envision and what I foresee are completely different.

I was reminded of this beekeeping reality while watching a beginner video on YouTube. While sappy music played in the background, a lilting voice explained that once you become a beekeeper you will embrace nature for the first time! You will become attuned to weather and blooms! You will blossom as a person!

Wow. I imagine a barefoot flower child romping through a verdant meadow, a ring of daisies in her hair and a bouquet of dandelions clutched in her fist. Beekeeping is your entry into a world of peace and love and grass stains. Kumbaya in a box.

Read the full article here: Beekeeping will change you for the worse — Honey Bee Suite

Restocking Honeybees by Beehive Yourself


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Mr Woodley and Restocking

Let’s first look at Mr Woodley’s experiences, he writes in 1917:-

“I, as a scourged member of the craft, am not chastened by being wiped out [by the “Isle of Wight” Disease], or nearly so, twice…I set about repairing the damage at the outset with some success; in fact, by using formalin and Lysol in equal proportions spread on strips of thin board and pushed in at the entrances twice weekly of many of my hives, the first spring of the outbreak of “Isle of Wight” disease I preserved every stock so treated, and I quite thought I had got a remedy, and had a good take of honey from these hives, but the following winter and spring I lost most of them.  Then I bought new swarms, both English and Dutch.  Both strains were hived in disinfected hives, boiled frames, new foundations.  Again using most of the advertised remedies, I had a fair take of honey.”1

Read the fully article here: Restocking Honeybees — Beehive Yourself

Big Bear’s Beekeeping Advice For New Beekeepers by Big Bear


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Don’t listen to me. That’s my advice, right there. I don’t advise new beekeepers. There’s no point in my adding to the confusion and overwhelm of someone just beginning beekeeping. I teach beekeeping classes, do presentations and offer hands-on apprenticeship opportunities for people interested in apiculture. Could be beginners, could be long timers. Who knows.…

via Big Bear’s Beekeeping Advice For New Beekeepers — Bee Smart beekeeping project

I didn’t know what I didn’t know by Altamont Farms


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An excellent assessment of the beekeeping learning curve with some good advice.

In 2016 I developed an urge to add bees to our thriving urban farm here in Emerald Hills. The gardens were producing year round, our chickens were productive, and I was exploring a lot of interesting technology for monitoring and irrigation. I needed a new project, honey bees.

I bought a hive from a guy on Craigslist who discovered one of his children was allergic to bee stings and decided to sell off his hives. Easy, everything was already functioning. I put the hive in my garden in what I would later learn is a bad location (afternoon sun only and positioned in a manner that wind would blow into the opening) and didn’t really know what I was looking at when I inspected the hive.

Lesson learned: I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

(continued at link below)

Read the entire article here: My two year beekeeping journey — Altamont Farms

First Lessons in Beekeeping – C.P. Dadant, Published 1917


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A review of First Lessons in Beekeeping by C.P. Dadant. The current edition is written by Keith Delaplane and is widely available in hardcopy. The original is available via download here: First Lessons in Beekeeping by C.P Dadant

“Camille Pierre Dadant (1851–1938) was the son of Charles Dadant, one of the fathers of modern beekeeping techniques, inventor of the Dadant beehive, and founder of one of the first beekeeping equipment manufacturers. The business is still extant and run by the family, as is their publication, American Bee Journal” – publisher review. I’ve chosen this […]

The full article can be read here: First Lessons in Beekeeping – C.P. Dadant, Published 1917 — Gastronomy Monk

Happy Birthday Charles Henry Turner by Ron Miksha


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Charles Henry Turner (February 3, 1867 – February 14, 1923)

Here’s an excellent post by Ron Miksha of badbeekeeping blog recognizing a bee scientist who went unrecognized in his own time. Thanks Ron for bringing many of us up to speed.

You probably know that Karl von Frisch figured out how honey bees use their waggle-dance to communicate. He won the Nobel Prize for that and for other studies of bee behaviour. I think it was well-deserved and his experiments withstood criticism and independent confirmation. His discovery was intuitive and required hundreds of replicated experiments conducted over years of work in personally risky circumstances in Nazi Germany. But there is another scientist who came close to figuring out many of the things which brought von Frisch fame. The other scientist did his experiments in America, decades earlier. But he’s mostly unknown, largely forgotten.

Read entire article at: The Man Who Discovered that Bees Can Think — Bad Beekeeping Blog

Swarm Control by Bill’s Russian Bee Blog


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Here are two articles on a topic we should brush up on now that swarm season is almost here. The first article is on Checkerboarding, a swarm prevention technique invented by Walt Wright. The second article is titled, Swarm Control and Management by Dr. James Tew. (The second article is a little misaligned but you should be able to find it elsewhere.)


Checkerboarding is a relatively new approach to swarm prevention. Although it has only been published for about 15 years, it defies the old adage that “swarming is inevitable.” This submittal is intended to substantiate or quantify the advertised reliability.

Implementation of the checkerboarding (CB) manipulation is disgustingly simple. The manipulation consists of removing alternate frames of honey from the top box and replacing those frames with empty comb suitable for rearing brood. Since there is no brood nest disturbance, it can be done in late winter before the brood nest expands into the top box of capped honey. After the initial manipulation, to sustain swarm prevention reliability, maintain empty comb at the top for the colony to grow into with brood nest expansion. If that sounds too simple to be effective, you are in good company. Almost nobody believes it would get the reliability that is inherent in the approach.


Read the full article here: Swarm Control — Bill’s Russian Bee Blog

Beekeeping Calendar for February


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All beekeeping is local. These chores are for the Midlands of South Carolina or a similar climate where the bees are flying at least a few hours most days of the year. February begins a gradual warming in the Midlands but can often be all over the map with freezing temperatures as well as the occasional warm, even spring like, day.

Red Maple blooms in earnest at the beginning of this month and other early bloomers soon join in. The queen goes full tilt with her egg laying and the colony makes plans for reproduction. A lot is happening but mostly it’s a covert operation within the hives for the bees during February. While we humans believe it’s winter the bees have decided to go forward with spring plans and are building up their population in anticipation of colony reproduction (read what Randy Oliver has to say about Understanding Colony Buildup). For the beekeeper it’s crunch time to prepare themselves and equipment for the coming rush of spring. Bees will possibly swarm the later part of February in South Carolina.

1) During inspections this month we are looking to ensure the bees have enough food stores to support their current brood buildup. During February the bees will be intent on raising lots of brood regardless of their pantry stores. For that reason we are entering a risky time for colony starvation.

2) We get occasional warm, spring like, days in February.  You may do a pre-spring inspection, checking for the presence of a queen and assessing the colony and stores. Look into the hive as far down as the brood nest if the weather is warm and the bees are flying. Be purposeful and brief. Check honey supply and feed with a candy board, sugar bricks, fondant, or thick sugar syrup if below one-half super. Whatever you choose, the food must be placed close to the cluster or on top for them to access the food during cold weather. If you saved frames of honey you may add these (after thawing), placing them close to the cluster. When removing a top telescoping cover with the  inner cover exposed, if the bees are visible in the hole in the inner cover you need to feed quickly.

3) Depending on the Midlands climate, be ready for an early buildup. As brood rearing continues and populations increase, make note of increased population and congestion in the brood area. Swap (rotate) brood boxes if temperatures allow based on your assessment of buildup. Rotating boxes provides the queen with empty drawn comb to lay in as well as disrupts the colony with regards to swarm preparations. Only rotate brood boxes when most of the nest is in the upper brood box (food chamber).  You do not want to split the cluster.  Rotating brood boxes is a swarm  prevention measure, not simply to get the queen into the lower brood  box.

4) When rotating boxes notice that the bees will often have built drone comb in the space between boxes (bottom bar to top bar). You will break this comb as you separate the boxes – don’t panic. Before scraping this clean, visually assess for the presence of Varroa mites on the drone pupae. Also note whether the drone pupae are at the purple eyed stage which indicates queen rearing may start soon if efforts are not implemented.

5) Assess for Varroa levels early February and give a spring clean up treatment if indicated. When choosing your treatment method make note of how soon it needs to be out of the hive prior to placing honey supers. Remove any medications in hive if already in place.

6) If not yet done, continue to assemble honey supers, frames, etc.

7) Notice Red Maple  starting along the roadways in the Midlands. Also Dandelions, Japanese Apricot, and Camellias.

8) Notice bees bringing in yellow pollen.

9) Place and bait swarm traps (bait hives) by mid month.

10) If you are going to chase swarms this year, prepare a well ventilated traveling nucleus hive or a portable hive for transport. Sign up for swarm notifications at Bees-on-the-Net.

11) Build and prepare woodenware and frames for upcoming spring splits.

12) If you stored your drawn comb using paradichlorobenzene for wax moth control, start the airing out process.

13) Order nucleus hives for delivery this spring or as early as possible for your area.

14) Renew your association membership.  Attend local meetings.

15) While you still have time, read a couple articles on swarm control here and here. Many more are available: Google search “Swarm Prevention and Control.”

16) Email your Association’s Secretary asking what you can do to help, or volunteer to lend a hand in your organization. Many hands make light work. If you’d like to see your organization grow as well as offer and maintain your current level of member services your help is needed.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Notes and Beehives


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Sitting inside thinking about the recent rains beating down on the hives, it occurs to me that I’ve not written about my experience using markers for writing on and identifying hives.

This may appear as an advertisement of some sort but I assure you it’s simply a suggestion for those that are tired of marking and numbering hives only to realize weeks or months later that your notes or numbers have long since faded away. I tried everything to simply number my hives so I could match up my notes with the hives. I tried permanent markers, sign markers, and every marker I tried let me down. It seems the sun and the weather is a lot more brutal and persistent that I realized.

At first I tried to use permanent Sharpies for labeling hives. They make a clear and nice looking mark for stencils and labels but they faded in sunlight lasting only a couple months in daily direct sunlight, rain, etc. I moved on to their marker designed for Signs (also designated permanent) with disappointing, similar results. Then my friend showed me a really permanent marker he uses to label his hunting equipment and other outdoor property. The trick to finding a really permanent outdoor marking pen is in the name. If it says SOLID marker then you are getting real paint and not ink. I can’t remember the name of the one my friend originally showed me but since that first Solid Marker Pen I have started using Deco Color ID: Solid Stick. The ID Solid Stick is the perfect paint marker for most surfaces and is thermal resistant to extreme temperatures from -10°C to 200°C. This paint stick is opaque, water proof, fade resistant, dries in 5-7 minutes, and can be used indoors or outdoors. Use it outside on glass, tires, concrete, garbage cans, street address identifiers, PVC Pipes and plastic tubing/sheeting and much more! Indoor uses include sporting gear, toys, bicycles, boots, pots and pans, ect.  Available in 5 colors:  Red, Yellow, Blue, Black and White. They are available at Hobby Lobby for under $5 which is a little more expensive than I’ve found online but worth the price. They are truly permanent it seems. I started using them two years ago numbering hives. Last year I started using the hive tops as my notebook making notes, writing dates, hive status, etc. and so far the numbering and writing looks the same as the day I first wrote on the hive covers. In fact, the paint pen is so permanent the only way to remove the marking is to paint over older notes. Truly a product that works.

Rainy day beekeeper rambings


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I posted this last year and, with the start of our season coming soon, I can’t help but repost. I few years ago I assessed my colonies preseason and found they needed a mite cleaning. The difference in their appearance and performance was notable. They were the prettiest bees that spring – vigorous and prolific. Since then I make a point of getting my bees off to a good start early in the spring buildup. Enjoy.

To a carpenter with a hammer everything is a nail. And so it is with me. Registered Nurse with close to 30 years of inpatient hospital unit management, a few graduate level Public Health courses, and 60 years of observation. And so everything looks like a health care management problem (well not everything). Anyway, I thought I’d preface the following comments with a warning that this is just my perspective.

There is a beekeeping saying, “Take your losses in the Fall.” That doesn’t necessarily mean let them die. It typically means combine hives as needed. The economist in us tries to take the least hit possible and combine all of the weaker hives thus at least salvaging one hive out of the mess. My limited experience has been that combining 2 or even 3 weak colonies in the fall still results in a loss. Better to add each of them to a strong hive and take the hive numbers hit right then in the fall. But from a public health or infectious disease standpoint how can we do this safely? If the queen is simply weak that’s one thing, but if an infectious agent or Varroa is the issue you may be causing yourself more anguish by combining an infected hive with a good strong colony. For example, if you were in a hospital room how would you like it if the person in the next bed was being admitted because he/she was weak with a highly infectious disease? Hey, anyone want to share a room with a TB patient? Back to beekeeping… My beekeeping answer is to treat first, pinch the queen, then combine them and even then only if I suspected they were not sick. If they appeared to have succumbed to an infection and are in steep decline then I wouldn’t add those sick bees to another hive, period.

I got to the point of cringing with every Varroa lecture at conferences. But somewhere along the way after looking at the evidence left in my own combs, hives, and other symptoms, I became convinced of a few things. Varroa explains most of the unexplainable. I think successful beekeepers treat early and often. Nowadays, if a hive crashes, I suspect Varroa first. Yeah, maybe they absconded but it was probably secondary to Varroa infestation. Maybe they were robbed but it was probably after they became weak and crashed due to Varroa. I believe Varroa to be the primary cause in most cases. The other events are secondary but that’s what we can see so that’s what we believe happened. We humans are visually oriented to a fault.

But how does it happen so fast you may ask? Ever worked on a hospital ward or lived in a dormitory type housing situation where a flu outbreak occurred? How many sick individuals did you see prior to the epidemic putting everyone in the bed with symptoms? Probably just a few. That’s how it happens. A few sick individuals carrying a potent virus and BAM! Overnight everyone is vomiting with fever and diarrhea. The viri take over and, in the case of bees, a seemingly healthy colony crashes suddenly and we find ourselves perplexed. But why are we perplexed, have we not seen the flu virus in humans close schools? Or cruise ships turn around to return to port after a sudden virus puts all of the occupants in their cabins too sick to continue. Have we been too long without a world plague to have forgotten the infectious disease process?

If you’ve ever read a death certificate it states cause of death. It also allows the physician to state medical factors affecting death. So, cause of death may say “esophageal hemorrhage” but the medical factors might state, “chronic alcoholism.” And so it is with Varroa. Cause of death is “robbing” or “abscond” while the chronic illness would be listed as “Parasitic Mite Syndrome with high virus loading.”

Moving on, so when a colony crashes and robbers come in to clean up the honey guess who takes home something they didn’t ask for? Your other colonies, that’s who. Once the robbing starts the Varroa get distributed among the other hives.

First, in my opinion, you may not want to get into beekeeping if you’re not willing to treat for Varroa and use IPM methods – it’s just too difficult. But then, that’s me. I also take my kids to the doctor when they are sick and don’t let my dogs walk around with ticks in the hope they build a resistance. If you want to be treatment free at least give the bees a chance and buy property 5 miles away from the next closest beekeeper, get clean survivor bees to start, aggressively utilize IPM methods such as screen bottom boards, splits, queen caging, small cell, sugar shakes, and artificial swarms. You’ll be extremely  busy but I do believe it can work for some people. For others it becomes an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

Me? I’m going to treat them early and often after a preseason mite level assessment to establish a baseline. I also monitor mite counts post treatment to ensure the treatment was effective. As a primary offense to prevent outbreaks, I treat every spring before honey supers go on the hives. Then, typically, I do a series of 3 weekly OA treatments in June after pulling supers. During the long hot summer, if a colony starts to weaken I treat that single hive after assessment. If a hive collapses and gets robbed everyone gets a treatment. During December broodlessness everyone gets a single vaporization or dribble. I primarily use OA but I may replace one of the seasonal treatments above with a different method. That’s the two pronged plan of 1) Primary preventative treatment and 2) Aggressive Secondary post infection treatments. That’s what you do when you visit your health care provider – expect preventative measures first, and predictable, effective treatment when you get sick.

Hey, look at your hands right now. How many bacteria and viri do you see? Count them. You can’t but if you get sick you may have wished you had washed your hands a little more frequently. Prevention first, but if you get sick take your medicine!

It’s viri spread by Varroa killing our bees. You don’t see the viri, rarely see the mites that spread the viri, and frequently don’t see the symptoms until it’s too late. Good luck managing your bees’ health.

On the Honey Trail with Eva Crane — Rocky Mountain Land Library


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Trained as a nuclear physicist, world renowned bee expert Eva Crane is easily one of the most intriguing and accomplished figures who have found their way onto the Land Library’s shelves. Her sudden shift from quantums to bees came on the occasion of her wedding in 1942. Among the wedding presents that day was a […]

via On the Honey Trail with Eva Crane — Rocky Mountain Land Library

Warm Lemon Honey Drink




I have a recurring cold! Achooo!!

Lemon honey ginger tea

Credit goes to the cold weather that is here to stay for quite some time. Whenever I get cold I remember the list of things I need to take care of :  Vitamin C, zinc supplements , drink lots of water and most important to keep WARM!

Lemon Honey Ginger Tea

Apart from the above mentioned things, another thing that I find comfortable during these cold months is a hot cup of honey-lemon-ginger water in the morning.

Add grated ginger in hot water along with lemon juice and honey and your morning “tea” is ready! Once you get used to this morning routine it is hard to go back. This warm water not only helps in releasing congestion but the ginger in it also helps in digestion and honey soothes the throat.

Lemon Honey Ginger Tea

Throw in a black tea bag in the liquid and you have a rich lemony black…

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Catching Honey Bee Swarms


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My bee buddy Dave.

One of the first things that will present itself to us in the spring (actually late, late winter) is swarms. And they are great fun too (unless they are your bees). There are many ways to capture swarms such as trapping and climbing ladders. But one device I have learned to appreciate more than any other for getting me up where I need to be is the extendable pole bucket swarm catcher. A couple years ago we featured an article in our local bee association newsletter and linked to this blog which has some nice pictures. I made mine after seeing someone else’s and they aren’t difficult to build using an old bucket and a painter’s pole. Oh, the reason I’m posting this today is because this is a great winter project and one you don’t want to be wishing you had built when you see that swarm hanging in a tree.

Swarm Trap (Bait Hive) Placement Time


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Swarm trapping can be fun. For beekeepers it satisfies the same urge fishing does for fishermen. A lot of care goes into choosing and selecting the equipment and bait in hopes of finding the right combination which will most closely match the criteria the bees are looking for in a new home.

After several years of swarm trapping I think I have my preferred trap design down pat. A double 5 frame nuc, with old propolised frames only in the upper box (one frame with old comb, and four with starter strips coated with beeswax), bottom box is empty, bottom board with small screened drainage hole is attached, 1 1/4″ entrance hole with bird excluder (nail) and with closure disk for quickly closing the entrance for moving, main entrance blocked (screw used as handle if it needs to be removed), ratchet strap holds it all together. It’s not heavy and easily to transport. I’ll place this now and bait it with my secret recipe scent attractant in about a month. Placement of traps are 75 to 200 yards away from the main bee yard and along tree lines. Height is best at 12 – 15 ft. but I’m not keen on lugging ladders through the woods so I keep them at manageable heights. Scout bees will give the swarm trap a through inspection with points given for correct cavity size, correct entrance size, odor, dryness, height, and location. The more of these you satisfy the more points you earn and the greater the likelihood they will choose the trap.



Woodenware Assembly


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Before there were nail guns, powered screw drivers, exterior screws, star and hex bits, and more, there were specialized nails developed for a wide variety of applications.

Long ago, and remember when we talk about Langstroth hives we are talking mid 1800’s, there were multiple options in the ranks of the simple nail. Common nails and spikes, crate nails, cigar box nails, cooler nails, egg case nails, box nails, and more – all fine tuned for the job by shank and head size for a particular job.

Box nails, which we use for hive bodies, are slimmer than common nails of the same penny size and have a slightly blunted point which helps avoid splitting. Along the way, a 7d box nail was deemed ideal for the material and dimensions of bee boxes. It may even have been sold as a bee-box nail. It’s probably still the best nail for the job, but newer fasteners and power-nailers have lessened the demand, making it harder to find.

If you order your hive bodies from one of the major bee supply companies they typically will not come with nails. However, you may be able to order them as a separate item along with your boxes. What you’ll get is the traditional 7d box nail used for ages before the advent of modern fasteners found in big-box hardware stores.

However, what I most typically use is a substitute for tradition. Pictured are 6d, 2 inch, galvanized nails. The galvanization brings the shank size up a bit and provides a little protection from the elements. And they are easy to find in any hardware store. To pay homage to the 7d of yesterday, I usually take a few minutes to look for it on the shelves but I’m always disappointed.

Sometimes a board visually speaks to you and announces it is going to reject your attempts to apply a nail to it. I used to use soap on the nail to ease the boards objections, and the inevitable, but I now have a new helper – beeswax! Often we don’t know if our efforts help or not, but when a nail completes its task without incident we can assume credit with having eased the board’s objections to becoming a box.

I’ve noticed some prebuild boxes are now being assembled with staples. Perhaps in response to inquiries, we’re told the staples (or nails for that matter) are for holding things together until the glue dries. This may be true and I’ve started stapling the lighter, 5-frame nuc boxes but I’ll not risk my well being to a heavy, deep, 10-frame box joint coming undone sometime in the future while 30,000 bees are inside. So while I use a generous dab of waterproof Tightbond III on the hive body joints, I also appreciate the security and tradition of a nailed joint.