Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Swarmin' Norman

Ok, there is no Norman. But we will report about some swarms we have been seeing lately and also pass on some interesting links that you may be interested in.

Greg has spent the last month managing swarms and queens all over the region. According to Greg, every swarm is as exciting as the first one; so as long as his bees are staying put, swarms are good fun. After much experience as a bee keeper, one may find his or herself able to tell whether a hive is doing well or doing poorly just by passing by. This skill has helped Greg keep abreast of all situations in the fields.

Greg and Dwight have spent a lot of time together. As this is Dwight's rookie year in the field, Greg has spent much time teaching him the ropes and helping him manage a rowdy bunch of ladies. It seems as though his girls need constant reassurance. Speaking of drama queens, we have been working diligently to keep up our supply of queens so that we can replace who needs replacing without additional expense. David Laferney, a partner in grafting, didn't need his share of the queens from the most recent graft, but would rather have the combs. So Greg was happy to put those lovely ladies to work.

Here is some excellent info about Queenless Bees. This document helps you diagnose if your hive is queenless and perhaps at what stage of queenlessness you are experiencing. This FAQ from Bushfarms also helps answer other interesting common questions.

Also this is a beekeepers almanac that is very helpful in keeping up with what you should be doing. This is great for experienced and new beekeepers alike.

We also wanted to link to BeeKeeper Linda's visit to the Jennifer Berry Queenery. If you will remember, we have a few of her queens and have been nothing but pleased with them. Here is one post where we talk a little about them (and here is another).

More updates on Fall Maintenance and Winter Preparation soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Story of Three Hives

Friday, August 20th was a perfect day to relax at the home apiary and enjoy the bees. We will report on three of the hives in which we have recently been making some changes.

Hive #1: This was a hive that held a newly grafted queen introduced with a double screen queen excluder. Four days before, nothing much was going on in this hive so Greg decided there were not enough bees in the top. So he decided to move some from the bottom to the top. However, these relocated bees did not show their corporate ID's at relocation and it turns out Greg moved the Freight Division rather than the H.R. department (in apiarist's terms, he moved the Field bees, not the nurse bees). The way we discovered this problem was that the bees went right back home to the bottom, but not before they had cleaned out the top of the hive completely!

Hive #2: Greg had earlier observed that this one just wasn't right. As usual, his diagnosis was correct. This hive has a laying worker, which is a big problem since she can only lay Drone bees (for our younger generation, they are the "Scrubs" of the hive: no job, little ambition, no ummm...stinger). This situation calls for swift action.

Hive #3: This was a nuc with a beautiful queen who had been made into a full-fledged hive with lots of promise. However, looks are sometimes deceiving. Despite her beauty, she was useless in the laying department. This situation may call for a manual coup d'etat.

With news like this, there could be no more relaxing with the hives. Greg turned to the bee lair for a planning session.

Saturday morning after honey and biscuits, Greg and James took off on a "fix or destroy" mission (in this writer's opinion, that phrase could describe each mission these two embark upon). Here are the updates on these by hive.

Hive #1: Here they found the old queen and took her out of the hive to place her in temporary confinement. Plans are to wait 23 hours before replacing her with a small breeding nuc and a new proven queen by the newspaper method. This method is simply placing a newspaper between the main hive and the nuc, placing small cuts in the paper, hoping the merger will be peaceful.

Hive #2: If you recall, this is the hive with the laying worker. They began by taking a nuc and a queen from an out yard (Jimmy's yard) and placing it in the place of the old hive. They took the old hive about 300 feet away and dumped all the bees out on a sheet, with hopes that only the worker bees would make their way back to the hive. Greeting the returning bees would be the new nuc and new queen placed in the old hive. Greg put a queen excluded on the bottom box in hopes that she would deter the drones and laying worker from returning. We have not had very much luck in instances of laying workers. In the past, we have been successful by simply placing a frame of open brood in the old hive. This had to be done twice, but they finally made a new queen.

Hive #3: This hive also got a little treatment with the newspaper method. We will continue to post updates on how the sisters are getting along this fall!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lord willing the creek won't rise...

The French writer Stendhal said it best when he commented, "The man of genius is he and he alone who finds such joy in his art that he work at it come hell or high water. " Well, we've at least been tested through high water this week, and hope is all we have to keep hell at bay for now.

Last week our area got about 8 inches of rain in just a couple of hours. Check out some pictures here. As most of our apiaries scattered around town are well above flood-prone areas, the bees were safe. However, Greg did have to wade through swift flood waters to rescue our entire marketing division (a hand-painted "Honey For Sale" super placed down beside the road!). We of course were luckier than some to escape the damage this heavy rainfall has ravaged upon our state this summer.

In other news, we wanted to update everyone on the results of our latest queen grafting. About 50% of the grafts took and then about 50% of those mater and are now laying. They are looking great so far!

Greg is also working on a new experiment. He took one of the nucs that was unsuccessful at creating a laying queen and other one that we had moved the old queen out for re-queening and took them to a couple of nucs with eggs and larva. He grafted some of the larva in the correct stage of development and placed them in plastic cups and inserted them in the queen-less nucs. Three days later, one was beginning to build out the queen cell and the other had failed. You can see the queen cell in the picture below.

Upon closer inspection, Greg had over-looked a queen earlier, who have just begun laying. This of course was good news. Inspired by good news of early success in both nucs, Greg decided to do two more nucs the same way to see if this method will produce quality queens. We can neither promote or refuse this method at this time because of its unconventional nature; however, this was a good opportunity to get some more grafting experience without too much of a commitment.

Some of the hives are already receiving sugar sugar to help build up their supplies for the winter. We prefer not to feed, but we MORE prefer the bees not to starve. We can all agree that would be a terrible way to go.

Updates on the status of the water cannon experiment... it's not good. The few survivors have since been moved to another hive, which effectively ends that chapter. Speaking of terrible ways to go....death by water cannon is not at the top of my list.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back to School...Back to School....

In light of schools starting everywhere, we wanted to share a neat article shared with us by Alan Wood. The article is entitled "10 Valuable Life & Business Lessons You Can Learn from Bees". It highlights many of the enviable characteristics of bee and bee society. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blue Eyed Queen

Just a few minor updates for the week:

We are anxiously awaiting the results of our mating nucs we mentioned in the grafting post. Greg has already had a peek of one and the prognosis is not good. This is the one with just a few bees. We are optimistic about the others, but time will tell (time should tell us on Saturday).

Greg and James have cooked up more adventure. A small swarm dared to venture out of the bee man's reach, much to their own detriment. After repeated warnings to stay OUT of the trees, Greg proceeded to attempt to spray them out of the tree with the water hose. A bait hive was placed on the ground as their new home and the Bee Squad went on the offense with the hose. On the fourth down (fourth time knocking them down and them going right back up to the tree that is), Greg decided to drop back and punt, waiting to see what plays the swarm had up their sleeve. The swarm, severely tired out by the watery pounding decided home wasn't such a bad place to be. They retreated to the safety of the bait hive and settled in for the night. While Greg and James emerged victorious, there was little basking in the glow of their victory, as few of the small swarm were strong swimmers (read: survivors of Hurricane Greg). Greg strongly urges our readers NOT to try this at home for obvious reasons. We are feeding what is left of the swarm, but have not located the queen (who was most likely a victim of the watery assault).

Similarly, as you know Greg attended the Apicultural Society Conference at TTU. One of the classes he took was a Finding/Marking Queens class taught by Bill and Nancy Troup. This was a wonderful class and has helped Greg very much in finding and marking his queens. The first queen he found, he marked has blue eyes, one blue wing, and a blue mark on her abdomen. She should be easy to find again, as long as the rest of the hive does not tune into TLC's "What Not to Wear" and kill her for being too flashy.

The honey harvest is pretty much over for the summer. We are now getting ready for winter and selling our honey. It is sure is going fast. We have many loyal customers who were waiting anxiously and have stocked up again until next summer.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Past and Present

Warning: Today's post is graphic!

(As in, we only have pictures to post. Enjoy!)

Future #1 Sales Person...

About 20 years later, still learning from the Master.

A HOT day! This is their air conditioning.

The Master at work.

Beautiful capping

Lined up like soldiers

One of the new hive locations

Also, just in case you are very observant, it is not perpetually January 2007 in our world. Our camera is calenderically challenged. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to School! (And an Update on Grafting)

The Heartland Apiculture Society's 9th Annual Conference was held July 8-10 at Tennessee Tech University. Greg attended this conference and was pleased to take sessions by Ed Holcome, Bill and Nancy Troup, Kent Williams, and many more. Some topics that were particularly interesting were Seasonal Hive Management, Hive Increase/Making Nucs, Queen Finding and Marking, and Queen Rearing. According to Greg, this was the best conference yet! He learned many new things and got to spend time with lots of beekeeping friends, like Eddie Cope and James Crockett of Pickett County and David Laferney of Putnam County.

As previously mentioned, we tried a little grafting on July 5th. We grafted 23 queen cells in one week. Greg placed the only cell that was successful in a mating hive. 4% is not too successful, but we were pleased that the one we successfully bred was from the Jennifer Barry queen. One reason for this low rate of success could be attributed to the fact that Greg doesn't like to do things by the book. :) Often he has found that he learns more by fumbling around and trying things (or rather is FORCED to learn more BECAUSE of fumbling around). But live an learn, right?

So grafting round two... On July 14th, Greg and David Laferney tried again, grafting 30 larva. David furnished the starter hive: one running over with bees with no queen. Greg provided the larva from the Barry queen. On the 16th, we determined that we had about a 50% success rate! This weekend Greg installed the cells in mating nucs. We will wait to see the results of that.

One more update pertains to one of our new friends we have mentioned a couple of times in this blog, Dwight Johnson. Greg went to check on him and his bees on July 16th; because of his hard work and dedication, he has been given an A+ in bee keeping from Greg Holt, Ph. Bee.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grafting Again

Earlier this week, Greg decided to give grafting another shot (we have had fair success with this for producing extra queens). He started at the Jennifer Berry hive, since they have settled in nicely and currently are the best performing queens we have. He pulled a frame of eggs, or brood, and took it to the bee lair (or the basement, as laymen may call it). He grafted 23 larva into the prepared plastic cups (fake queen cells) and then installed the cups in a queen-less upper hive body that he had made by shaking all of the bees in the front of the hive and installing a queen excluder underneath, so that only the worker bees can go into the second story.

This is a queen cell (looks like a peanut with a hole in the top). Pic is courtesy of this site.

This is a plastic queen cup. Pic is courtesy of this site.

The queen-less hive body contains brood. The idea is to keep the queen in the lower hive body performing as usual, while in the top hive body, the nurse bees will consider themselves queen-less because of the excluder. Then they should proceed to make queens from the grafted larva.

In about 8-10 days, Greg plans to retrieve the queen cells and place them in a mating hive, which is a small hive prepared for this purpose with one frame of bees and food (like a honeymoon suite, if you will). We will see what kind of success we have this time.

We don't need an abundance of queens, yet it would be nice to have a supply ready to replace old or poorly performing queens before the weather starts getting cold. It would be extra nice to have a few extra to share or sell (Probably only to local turned out to be a bad idea).

Greg has begun robbing and is spreading the harvest out over the month of July. The honey, of course, is the best we've ever had. Yet, we have never experienced a year where it WASN'T the best we've ever had. For the record, it is always a true statement.

In other apiary news, we have located two new hives to Crossville, TN. We hope that the higher elevation will yield some sour wood honey, famous in that part of the region. If that is successful, we will begin looking for a location for more elaborate extension to the east.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


As Greg arrived home from town last week, he saw the biggest swarm he had ever seen. It looked as though all of the bees were making a run for it! The air was FILLED with bees. He watched it for about a half hour until it finely landed about 40 feet up in a red oak, much too high for a wise man to even think about going after it.

(You can see where this story is going...)

It only took a little encouragement from James to get Greg up on the ladder with the saw. Once the cut was complete, the bees decided to test Greg once more by going even HIGHER! They settled nicely about 75 feet up in the tree and closed shop for the night.

It sure would have been nice to hive them, since there were probably fifteen pounds of bees on the loose, enough to fill a wash tub halfway. But that is how it goes. Greg says maybe next time. Bean says maybe next time he will stay out of the trees.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Getting "Laid"

Sorry to get your hopes us, but the only thing risqué about this post is the title. Bee keeping is sexy, right? Anyways, this post is about a laying worker, which is a death sentence for the hive.

While checking the White County apiary, Greg noticed that the activity at the entrance of the hive was not right. An experienced bee keeper knows that you don't even have to look in a hive sometimes to know something is wrong. Often times you can tell as much about a hive from watching the entrance as you can from a full hive inspection. After a look inside, a laying worker seemed to be the culprit of this misbehaving hive. Perhaps the queen died, or swarmed and didn't take everyone with her, but she was gone and a worker bee had taken her place. Only a queen bee is able to lay fertilized eggs (which will make worker bees) so a laying worker means that all the baby bees are male or drones (which means they just lay around sitting on bean bag chairs, eating cheetos all day) :).

Just an aside, if you are wondering what makes a queen different than a regular worker bee is how long the bees feed her royal jelly. All bees begin the same and the amount of days they are fed royal jelly (which is a substance secreted from the head of the bees, akin to nursing) decides their role in the hive.

To remedy this situation, a frame with eggs and young brood was placed inside the hive. With any luck, the bees will decide to make a queen from one of these cells. Sometimes this solution works and sometimes it doesn't. Generally nature has a better way to fix things, so it is just a bee keeper's job to nurture the bees and give them resources to make them successful (like with having kids!). Often the best thing we can do is get out of way and let mother nature work.

We will follow up with this hive soon. Our historic losses on this problem are pretty high, so we will see if the "less is better" option works out for us. So in this case, we are really more concerned about who is doing the laying rather than who is getting "laid". They don't call it the "birds and the bees" for nothin'.

"Queen" of the Hill

Last week we received two new queens from Jennifer Barry (via Brushy Mountain). We were very proud to receive them because of their good stock and reputation. We think it is a good investment despite the price tag. We took enough frames of drawn out comb and brood from six different good performing hives to make nucs for the two queens. We did this on Wednesday. On Saturday, Greg checked on the queens to remove the cages. On Monday, he checked one of the host nucs and found several queens cells. We suspect that we accidentally took one of the old queens from one of the six hives with us to the new nuc. There was no need to panic, as Greg had a five frame nuc ready to be a home for one of the queen cells. He moved that nuc out to the Smith Apiary and can use that nuc as an emergency replacement or to help prevent late season swarming.

Tuesday, James and Greg checked on the two new nucs and all seems to be well. We thought that the host queen was killed by the new "Jennifer" queen, but it turns out that we didn't move the host queen. She was still creating some queen cells in her own hive, which meant they are thinking about swarming. So we put the extra queen cells in the queen castle to harvest those queens to replace old or ill performing queens. We also put two more queen cells and a frame for each into two separate apartments in the queen castle. Two good queen cells were left in the host hive for requeening. We will keep you updated on these queens soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From Mistakes to Double Takes

Double screen wire that is! This entry was inspired by a loyal follower, Steven C., who keeps us on our toes. Jessie made a typo in the last post and shook up the bee keeping community with the elusive "bubble" screen method. Whoops! (A lot of good an English degree did her editing skills!)

Anyways, we decided to make a teachable moment out of our mistake and talk a little about the double screen method, the why's and hows' to this technique.

First, use a double screen 3/4" frame with #8 wire in both sides with one entrance on top side of one end . Find the queen put her in the lower box with capped brood and pollen/honey. Place the eggs and open brood in the top with some honey and pollen and either a queen cell, caged queen or let them make their own queen. Place the screen between them with the entrance in rear . The virgin queen will use this entrance for her suiters. :)

In about 30 days look and see if you like the egg pattern of the new queen. If so, you have some options: kill the old queen, move her to a bank for emergence replacements, or just take your chances and put the two boxes together. If you do this, the new queen will most likely kill the old, but you never know. Use a newspaper combine for the two boxes . With this method the hive will think it swarmed and will not swarm. Use this method to requeen cheaply and easily while having the advantage of two queens laying eggs for a while and end up with a strong hive for honey production. You can also use as a split and move the top hive to a new location for replacement of winter losses.

If you have questions or comments or stories to share about your own tips and tricks, please post them in the comments area. We will try to be a little more careful about our typos, but thought it was a good opportunity to do a little explanation. Wishing you all a honey filled summer!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adventures in Bee Keeping

Despite the exciting title, things are running along on schedule at the bee farm. We are close to the end of the honey flow and look forward to at least some honey this season. Around the end of the month, we will be able to take a look at the fruits of our (but mostly the bee's) labor.

Here are some updates about the action going on around the apiary:

We have recovered from winter losses, but not without pain, cost, and a reduced crop. We did see as much swarm activity this year yet (good and bad. Good we haven't lost too many of our bees and bad because we have no acquired new swarms from elsewhere). We ended up with two, but one was unsatisfied with the housing provided and left for greener pastures. Nukes were purchased this year from Walter Kelly in Kentucky and we bought some stock packages from Rossman in Georgia and Wolf Creek in Tennessee and Georgia.

In more swarm news, we used the double screen split method to prevent swarms this year. This method was quite effective, yet out timing was a little off due to slow build up or just because we still just don't really know what is going on with those bees. After 30 years, there are still surprises. Next year we plan to use this same method and tweak the plan according to the lessons we learned this year.

At this time, we have a few extra queens for replacements and splitting, from collecting queens cells. Greg's homemade queen castle didn't work too well. That is what we get from just going from pictures. Next time, we may try reading the actual directions... We ordered two more recently; they are terribly expensive, but they are needed in order to start getting ready for a strong winter.

Those two queens were ordered from Jennifer Berry at UGA via Brushy Mountain. We hope that these renowned queens will improve our gene pool, along with some survival stock from White County that refuses to give in to the mites. Greg hopes to do a little more queen grafting later in June for replacements. We will give updates on that, as we are still experimenting with this.

In other experiments, we learned a little something this year about queen excluders. We initially were using these to keep brood (eggs) out of the top super, where we wanted the bees to produce more honey. Our results were inconsistent. Some hives worked like gang busters in the super and proved the theory of the queen excluded. Yet some were really just honey excluders; the bees would not even have a presence in that super. This leads us to believe that while it serves the purpose of keeping brood out of the honey, this is less significant problem that not having honey. We have since removed most of the queen excluders and will deal with the brood in the honey in another way.

We want to mention a new friend/cousin/rookie bee keeper Dwight Johnson. We have been working/mentoring him this summer and we would like to wish him well with his new venture. We have found it immensely rewarding and hope he finds the same fascination with these wonderfully amazing creatures.

Greg's daughter Jessie has moved to Georgia but is still able to edit our blog postings. She is excited about pursuing bee keeping at her new home in Athens. We hope to get her started in the Spring. This is exciting as we will be able to learn even more about bee behavior as we see the differences in taste, timing, and maintenance from a more "southern" perspective.

We are looking at a promising new apiary site in Jackson County. There is LOTS of clover and it may be a good idea to take advantage of new accessible locations.

So this is an early summer update. Expect many more posts as we get ready for honey harvest, late swarms, hive build-up, and preparation for winter. As Greg says, it is amazing how much there is to learn about bees; you just have to learn by doing. The trouble with learning from experience is that you have to take the test before you take the course! He just hopes to last long enough to re-take the tests once the course is complete!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Farewell...

It seems some congratulations are in order for some of our staff / family . Our son-in-law Adam has been offered a new position in Athens, Georgia (UGA campus Minister). We are very proud of him and wish he and Jessica well in all their endeavors. Jess has been a helper, partner, and #1 sales person from age two, when we rolled the arms and legs on her mothers bee suit so that she could help; she has never been one to just watch.

Jessie’s humor and sound advice will be difficult to replace. Upon looking at my bee records, she suggested I would need a bigger truck in order to make money . After using her mother's bee suit for almost 30 years and getting a new one for her birthday last year, she bragged to James,"See what you get for 30 years service!" I am hoping she will continue writing and editing this blog from Athens. Maybe we can put bees in Athens, then I could count my milage. Her mother has informed me there would be a lot. Adam hasn't been that enthusiastic about bees, but we will miss him none the less. A quote from uncle Joe, " Hard Work and Success Go Hand and Hand." I guess Adam and Jess have proven that.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Something Lost. Nothing Gained.

We've been busy, as you can see, getting ready for spring and hoping that our bees were tough enough to make it through the winter. We've checked on them periodically and have a few losses to report. We lost one hive in January and five in February. This is disappointing of course, mainly for the fact that we don't know exactly why we lost them. We have some theories, but no good evidence.

One potential reason for the loss is of course the weather. Bees know how to survive in cold spells typically. They stay in the hive and cluster up around the queen to protect her. They surround her and begin to shiver to produce friction and thus heat; they eat stored honey to produce the energy to shiver all winter long. As the bees on the outside fringe begin to get cold, the move towards the center, and bees in the center move towards the outside. We used to believe that as long as they had enough to eat, they would be fine during the winter. Yet, this winter we found hives of dead bees, some just inches from many frames of honey!

Another hive we found, we suspect fell victim to a laying worker bee. This can occur when the queen dies or leaves. Worker bees can only lay drone eggs (male bees). Male bees occur when the egg remains unfertilized. So strangely enough, drones have no father, but they do have grandfathers. (It's not quite as Jerry Springer as it sounds). Hives cannot subsist with a laying worker and eventually die out.

Mites are also another lethal foe to the honey bee or it could have been dysentery. Really, we have no idea. We will just keep trying to keep them fed and hope for the best.

We hope to have no further losses. We managed to save the honey in the lost hives to use in early spring to build up and hopefully split some strong ones we have left. Time will tell. Some times things go your way and sometimes you end up with a mess....


New Designs for a Long Winter

We have been trying a new strategy with a few of the bee hives this year (i.e. it's been a long, dreary winter and Greg and James have numerous "projects" going in order to keep busy in the bee lair).

This picture is a more rustic design of bee hive, which is both functional and interesting. First, we will describe the functionality of this design. According to some, a different type of hive can serve as a compass of sorts. Bee hives normally look the same, and are lined up like soldiers ready to be sent to battle. Some apiarists choose to use different colors and graphic designs on the hives to help the bees determine the "address" of their home hive, while also helping the keepers to determine which hive is which. Another good reason for this design is to provide extra weight on the top of the hive. We have had some instances of hives getting blown over and thought this may provide a bit of protection from the wind.

As far as attractiveness, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The lady of the apiary was none too thrilled with the new design and made a royal proclamation: "Not in my yard!" Time will tell how many of our regular hives get converted. It may well depend on the weather and how much longer our bee squad is trapped inside.

Here is a picture that provided inspiration for the new, rustic design. We honestly don't remember where we stole, I mean, obtained this image. If anyone knows to whom to give credit, please let us know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If You Can't Run With the Big Dogs...

Here are some updates for January:
In January, we visited our friends in Frankfort, Kentucky at Dadant to purchase some supplies. We got more frames and foundation and headed back to Tennessee. We stopped in Byrdstown to get some lumber for the supers. Since then, we have been building the supers and frames to get ready for Spring. We have also been feeding them lightly (to keep their spirits up) and sprinkling sugar on a piece of newspaper and placing that on top of the frame. This serves to give them a little boost as well as absorbs moisture in the hive.

Given the cold weather, we had gotten lax about using smoke to subdue them since the cold does that to some extent. The Cookeville hives were fine without the use of smoke, yet we visited Sparta on a warmer day. When Greg popped the top on the Sparta hives, they met him with guns a'blazing. Without smoke, the only casulties of this battle were Greg, James, and Glen's dog (who took particular offense at this and rightly blamed Greg and James).

Bees-1 Bee Squad-0

Next time, there will be smoke.

The Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre

One thing you don't expect the day after Christmas is a call about bees. We received a call from a friend whose son had cut into a hive while cutting wood. This particular acquaintance has had his share of run-in's with our flighty friends and has called us several times before. He knew the bee squad responds to calls in rain, sleet, snow, and despite post-holiday food induced comas.

Upon arrival, we witnessed a freezing flurry of activity coming from a freshly cut oak log. Our friends had unknowingly chosen a feral colony's home as their firewood and the bees were unamused at the disruption of their winter's slumber.

Upon inspection, Greg decided that some rubber mats would do the trick. The chain saw had cut directly into the colony and left the entire hive exposed; the mats were cut into strips and nailed onto the log to cover the damage (this was to mainly keep the rain out). A piece of plywood was used to cover the exposed end of the hollow log. We think this solution will keep the rest of the colony safe until Spring and that if the queen survived the "chainsaw massacre", they should be in good shape. If she didn't survive, they have little chance of making it through the winter.

We will go back in the Spring and check on the status of this hive. If they are survivors, we will relocate them to a new home on the farm.

Feral Honeybees are a valuable asset to your collection of hives. These survivor hives have proved strong through winters already, without chemicals. The idea is to raise your queens from strong, survivor hives so that you can introduce them to hives to breed stronger, healthier bees, with little to no chemicals. Finding and making use of these feral survivor colonies could be the key to saving bee keeping.