Wednesday, June 17, 2009

House Arrest

We got a call from a fellow who works at the phone company telling us about some bees in the block foundation of a house out on Shipley Rd. So this was a good opportunity to use the weakest hive of the lot and use it to capture and build up the hive we hope to extract from the wall of this house.

Upon arrival, we noticed that the biggest challenge would be the height of the wall. We counted 12 blocks up from the ground as the main entrance for the hive hidden in the wall. We spent some time the first day blocking many of the holes where the bees traveled in and out. We went back today to put the hive in place. We will be extracting these bees using the cone method- using a funnel to allow escape from the wall hive, all the while using the funnel to prohibit the bees from returning to the wall hive and instead going into the new hive (which was our weak hive).
We expect the extraction to take about six weeks, based on the lifespan of the bees. In six weeks, we will go back to the hive hopefully to find a full, well functioning hive.

We have a few concerns about this particular extraction. The existing queen in the weak hive is a little aggressive. She is the original queen for this hive and this hive is what is left of a swarm captured in Sparta several months ago. It had never been very strong. If things are going well at the end of the extraction period, we will determine whether to replace her or not. Another concern is that the hive is pretty far off of the ground. If a big wind comes, the hive body should stay together because of the way it is strapped on, but the bees will NOT be happy!

The pictures show the cone extraction set up. You can see the how high the hive is from the ground with the pictures of Greg and James.

Building Brood

On April 4th, we ordered six new packages of bees. We spent two months building up those six hives and by June 4th, it was time to split them make room for more growth. Where we found a queen, we left her and allowed the other six hives to make a new queen for themselves. The six hives were split into twelve and stacked up on each other with the openings facing different directions. This did save some space but created some problems when we wanted to check on the bottom hives! We had to move the top two or three supers on each hive to get to the one below which was hard work in the hot June sun!

In addition to the six new ones we split, we also split one existing hive. So far after three weeks, all but one of these hives are looking good. One is still weak and struggling. But we had plans for it...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Welcome to Holt's Bee Farm

Welcome to our Bee Farm Blog!

This blog will be used to chronicle hive progress and honey flow status throughout the year. We will post some pictures periodically.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments.


Greg Holt
Apiarist, Holt's Bee Farm