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Beekeeper's Log

Disclaimer: Some of the rants below may not be to your particular liking. Thank God for the First Amendment.

Please click on a linked month or just scroll down.

2000 JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

November, 2000

Date Event
11/26/00 Day 66 (LH)

It warmed up today (into the 60s) and was very bright with a lot of sunshine. We noticed that several drones were going to and from the hive. In fact, it was easy to spot them. All we had to do was watch the hive entrance for a minute and we could easily see at least 3 or 4 drones during that amount of time. We don't know why we saw so many drones. Usually, we almost never see any.

11/22/00 Day 62 (LH)

It has been cold and rainy ever since we put on the new hive components. It may warm up to the high 60s or mid 70s in the day but drops to the mid 30s or low 40s in the night. This seems to kill a lot of bees. I guess that the ones returning home when the sun goes down must get too cold before they can get in the hive. Also those on the fringe of the cluster in the hive must die as we see the bees removing the dead (bees and even brood sometimes) during the day. It sorts makes for a mess in the apiary. The hive still seems strong as there are a lot of bees in it and a lot of flight activity with nectar and pollen returning during the day. We have noticed a problem with yellow jackets. My neighbors haven't landscaped their backyard yet and it has grown into tall weeds. my guess is that there is a large underground yellow jacket nest next door. I feel sorry for the poor landscape guy who stumbles across it with his lawnmower or weedwacker one of these days. Sometimes the bees will attack the yellow jackets and sometimes they just ignore them as if they are too busy to care. We always crush every yellow jacket we see around the hive (another good use for the hive tool). Besides, I'll admit my prejudice against those little devils. From being stung by them on my grandparents' farm in Runge,Texas as a kid, I figure I still can kill about 15 more before we are finally even.

We removed the miller feeder due to the fact that, even though it is screened and ventilated, it seemed to collect an awful lot of condensation during these cold nights on the underside of its clear Plexiglas bottom (which then dripped down onto the super frames). We just left the inner and outer covers on the super instead. The miller feeder will be put up until early spring.

11/5/00 Day 45 (LH)

Today we lit the smoker and unstacked all of the LH hive components. We moved each of the frames into my two new brood boxes carefully one frame at a time. We installed our new screen bottom board and two new hive bodies. We then put 10 new frames with foundation in the old hive body and stacked it on top of the new hive bodies. We put the super (full of honey) on that. We topped off the super with our Miller feeder, inner cover and telescoping outer cover. We threw away the old rotted bottom board. We also removed the nine frame spacers from the old bottom hive body and then threw it away. The LH looks better than ever with new and freshly painted parts.

We each wore our veils but Dustin wore only cut-offs and socks. I was a little smarter and wore a white sweat shirt, white warm-up pants, white socks and rubber gloves. When we started unstacking the hive, we soon had so many bees buzzing around us that it looked like volunteer dimple counters at a Palm Beach vote manufacturing err "vote re-counting" session. With so many bees being upset, it was only natural (and quite fitting I might add) that Dustin finally received his first sting of the year. It was about time they decided to sting him instead of me. He soon went and got on shoes and a shirt. We did notice, however, that there were several stingers embedded in the back of my sweat shirt when I changed clothes inside. That's just like those bees... try to do something nice for them and they "stab" me in the back. Must have been those few remaining liberal bees (probably have been listening to too much yellow jacket propaganda).

11/2/00 Day 42 (LH)

I completed construction of my new IPM/screen bottom board. It's been raining too much to mess with the hive but I'll install the new bottom board when it dries out some.

October, 2000

Date Event
10/29/00 Day 38 (LH)

I began construction of a new IPM/screen bottom board very similar to that shown on the plans from Beesource.com. I will replace the old bottom board one my Langstroth hive with this new screened version once it's complete.

10/28/00 Day 37 (LH)

Completed construction of my lightweight Styrofoam deep brood chamber. My inspiration for this design came from an article "The Beehouse and its Beehive Part 5" by Dr. Bob Horr in the September 2000 edition of the American Bee Journal (pp 729-731). The deep brood box weighs only 7 lb (3.2 kg)!

10/21/00 Day 30 (LH)

We had to add wood strips on the underside of the miller feeder's Plexiglas to support it, These supports and a few more coats of clear silicon should have fixed the leak. We installed it back on top of the Langstroth hive to let the silicon caulk completely dry. Just as we were putting the top back on the hive, a thunderstorm approached. For the first time, I witnessed my bees' mad scramble to return to the hive before the rain struck. It was quite a sight to see with masses of bees diving to the hive entrance.

10/15/00 Day 24 (LH)

Dustin and I removed the miller feeder to repair the leak. We decided to use our smoker for the very first time ever since we bought it in June of this year. The bees are much more subdued when the smoker is going. We were going to put our new brood box between our two existing brood boxes but we put it on top of them instead. Mr. Stowe also told us it was time to remove our CheckMite+ strips as he had put them in earlier than he originally told us. We noticed that the frames in the upper brood box were entirely full of honey (and heavy).

We also removed the entrance reducer as the bees seem to be bringing in a lot of honey and pollen. The entrance was getting too crowded and bees couldn't get in and out very efficiently. The bees were in a holding pattern like the jets at Houston's Intercontinental Airport.

10/6/00 Day15  (LH)

Dustin and I built a Miller type feeder and a deep brood box this weekend. We tested the feeder for leaks with water. Upon finding everything was ok, I installed it above the super. I put about 2 1/2 cups of sugar syrup in each side. I came back 30 minutes later and it was gone! So I refilled it with 4 cups of sugar syrup in each side and then found out that it has a leak as syrup started to run out of the bottom hive entrance. We decided to leave it alone and let the bees clean all the syrup up. Once its gone, I'll remove it and fix that darn leak! It is neat to be able to remove the upper covers and look down into the super (the feeder has a transparent bottom). The feeder also lets me fill it with no danger of the bees coming out of the top of the hive.

We plan to put the new deep brood box (with 10 new foundation-only frames) in between the upper brood box and the super. We're hoping the bees will draw out the foundation and maybe even start some brood in it. This would give us frames with which to start our Top Bar Hive and Observation Hive next spring.


September, 2000

Date Event
9/29/00 Day 7 (LH)

Today was the last day for the top bar hive. Robber bees overpowered our weak hive, stole all of the honey and killed all of the remaining TBH bees. This leaves us with just the Langstroth hive. We'll probably just leave our bees in it this winter and start over in the TBH and OH next spring with package bees. I still want to make a Langstroth Hive that has observation windows. But first, I think I need to get a new bottom board for the LH. I want to get one that is screened and has a removable, slide out wood bottom tray. Maybe I'll just make one. I think I'll also make a Miller-type top feeder too.

9/26/00 Day 40 (TBH)
Day 4 (LH)

The bees removed all of the honey from the frames in the observation hive and the top bar hive in one day! Wax cappings littered the floor of the observation hive. We swept it all out to discourage wax moth larvae. We removed all of the now empty frames and put them back into the honey super (now cleaned of all the burr comb and excessive propolis). We put the LH up on cinder blocks and added the empty honey super to the top of it. I got stung again today.

9/24/00 Day 38 (TBH)
Day 2 (LH)

We removed each bar in the top bar hive and searched for our queen. She was no where to be found. All we found were combs of honey. With no queen, these bees are doomed.

We then decided to remove one of the honey supers from the LH and clean it so that the frames and box were free of propolis. We put three honey frames in the observation hive and the remaining six in the TBH. Robbing commenced during the process and we'll just let the bees clean out these 9 super combs. I got stung again today.

Dustin: Today we also saw a worker picking up and carrying off a wax moth larva and dropping it off in the grass. Good, I hope they rid the hive of them.

9/23/00 Day 37 (TBH)
Day 1 (LH) = Langstroth Hive

We got another hive today! Mr. Jim Stowe of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association was kind enough to sell us one of his hives for only $50. The hive came complete with Buckfast queen and bees. It consists of:

  • (2) deep brood boxes (with 9 fully drawn frames each)
  • (2) medium super boxes (with 9 fully drawn frames each)
  • a bottom board
  • an inner cover
  • a telescoping cover

He also treated the hive today with CheckMite+ strips and terramyacin. We'll have to remove the CheckMite+ strips in 6 weeks. Thanks Mr. Stowe for being so kind!

We drove Dustin's pickup out to one of Mr. Stowe's apiaries in Conroe and backed the truck up to within 10 feet of the hive. We all suited up and Mr. Stowe lit his smoker. We didn't end up needing it but it was a good precaution. We wrapped duct tape around all of the seams between each hive body to prevent them from separating on the way home. We then stuffed a rag in the entrance of the hive. Dustin and I lifted the hive into the back of the pickup. It was heavy! We placed a cement paver on the top cover. I made the mistake of removing my veil a little too soon and received a sting to the side of the forehead. It didn't hurt that much (my wife said she was surprised it hurt at all considering the bee stung me in my hard head). We then drove home slowly and stayed off the freeway. We got home and placed the hive in our apiary on some cinder blocks. We removed the duct tape and the rag from the entrance. We then filled an entrance feeder and fed the bees. So begins another new chapter in our beekeeping experiences.

9/19/00 Day 33 (TBH)

I noticed that wax moth larva have invaded the hive once again. They hide in between the glass and the screen over the glass. They also spin webs around dead bees on the floor of the hive. I haven't seen any on the combs though. All of the capped brood cells are now uncapped. I suppose all of the young bees hatched.

9/7/00 Day 23 (TBH)

I examined the combs today. The bees have started capping some of the honey and it seems we have capped brood and some previously capped cells that are now open. I hope this means bees are hatching.

9/2/00 Day 18 (TBH)

I refilled the division board feeder. I scooped out the few bees that had drown and put a small 1/2" wide x 1/4" thick x 10"long piece of wood into the feeder to act as a float for the bees to climb back onto if they happen to fall into the syrup.

I also noticed some capped brood cells. Finally!

The bees have decided that the top of my water pond filter is the best place to get a drink of water. There's an entire pond to drink from but they want to drink off the lid of the filter instead. The water sprinkler leaves the lid with water on it each morning. I guess my bees prefer fluorinated and chlorinated water.

I finally posted some photos of our new 3-frame observation hive.

August, 2000

Date Event
8/28/00 Day 13 (TBH)

I decided to junk the Plexiglas cover for the TBH. It was too wide now that I have mounted the observation hive next to the TBH and made it difficult for me to get my svelte figure in between the two hives.. I found that the Plexiglas, although it was dark tinted, still allowed too much of the sun's rays to reach the hive. In fact, it's been so hot that the Plexiglas had begun to warp and became very brittle. I replaced the Plexiglas with two 1/2" thick sheets of Styrofoam insulation. This insulation is the type used in walls of houses and is coated with a thin plastic sheet on both sides. I put one sheet directly on top of the bars with four bricks holding it down at the corners. To this I added another sheet held down with four more bricks. This provides plenty of insulation (two Styrofoam sheets plus a 3" air gap) and weather (as if it's ever going to rain again) for the TBH. I plan to use this same material inside the cover doors for my OH.

Speaking of the observation hive, I finally developed my photos of the OH and began scanning them. Assuming my slave master wife doesn't pester me with too many chores, I should have them posted on the web site this week. Feel free to email her and let her know how she should really try to take it easier on her old man. Just don't tell her I told you to do so (I still want to be able to sleep at night without having to keep one eye open). I still need to figure out a way to get some bees for my OH.

I removed one of the TBH's bars today to trim it as the bees were not obeying my specific instructions and had begun to attach a comb to the screen covering the window. After a quick trim and a thorough scolding of the bees, I replaced the bar. It did, however, appear that some of the bees had the same sneer on their faces that I see when I ask one of my yard lizards children to take out the trash. In my 16 years of parenting, I've noticed that children and generally most cats seem to have the same general disregard for my explicit instructions. Now my bees better not start in on me! While in the hive, I also noticed that the queen was doing fine and many of the combs were full of honey and pollen.

8/21/00 Day 6 (for the TBH, last day for the OH)

The robber bees found the observation hive and invaded it. They maliciously and without regret killed all of my remaining OH bees. I couldn't even find a trace of the OH queen. Not only did they wantonly commit murder, but they also have a warrant for grand theft as they cleaned out a full quart of the sugar water. Well the OH is as empty as Hillary Clinton's bed head for now. From the school of hard knocks, that's more lessons learned.

The top bar hive is, however, very active. The bees continue to build comb like Al Gore raising funds at a temple and are storing both honey and pollen faster than China can store US nuclear secrets . They seem to guard their hive well (obviously, US nuclear labs could learn something here) and it seems that the hive has a very good division of labor (comrade).

8/20/00 Day 5

The TBH seems to be doing well. The bees are busy building comb like crazy and I saw many foragers returning with loads of pollen.

The Observation Hive seems Janet Reno'd confused. The bees are all just standing around the queen on the middle frame. They don't seem to be going up to feed from the jar nor do they seem to be building any combs. In fact, I haven't seen one bee enter or leave the hive. Well, there goes the corporate Sue Bee honey endorsement money. I guess they'll have to give back all those miniature honey bear squirt bottles.

8/19/00 Day 4

We let the queens out of their cages in both hives. We put the top frame back on the observation hive and removed the bottom frame. We also removed the screen over the entrance. This was in an effort to let the bees find the entrance for the OH. Tomorrow we'll put the bottom frame back in the hive so that the OH will have all three frames.

I am still amazed at the gentleness of our bees. We worked them today in only shorts (it was 100F!), no shoes, no shirt, no veil and no gloves (no underwear -- oops). The bees crawled all over my hands and landed on my arms and legs but never stung me or Dustin.

8/16/00 Day 1 (starting over with Starlines)

I received the two Starline queens by USPS Express Mail service at about 8:30 AM this morning. The queens were each in a queen cage with attendant bees. There were placed inside of a plain 8.5" x 11" Express Mail envelope. The envelope had holes punched (with a standard hole puncher) around 3 of its edges. I'm amazed they survived being mailed like this. I had read that queens will make a clicking sound when in their cages and it's true they do! And no I wasn't hearing things or in a state of delirium (this time).

This evening, at about 5:30 PM, Dustin and I installed the queens in the hives. So, as of today, we are starting over with two hives. I think we have learned enough to make a go of it with the TBH, but we'll have to plenty to learn to make a success of the observation hive. 

8/15/00 I talked to York Bee and it seems that they probably won't be shipping packages of bees for some time, if at all, this year. So I changed my order from a 3 lb package of Midnite bees to two Starline queens. They shipped today.

Somehow I hope to split the few bees I have remaining. One group will go into the observation hive with one of the queens. I'll put on the entrance feeder and screen the entrance to keep them in with her for a few days. (Hmm, reminds me of my honeymoon, plenty to drink and locked up in a condo with my new wife for 3 days.)

The other queen will join the remaining bees in the top bar hive. I'm feeding my remaining bees via a division board feeder in the rear of the hive. I'm also feeding "all comers" via the entrance feeder I mounted on a shelf. This seems to be reducing the amount of bee deaths at the hive due to fighting. At this point, I need each and every bee I have.

8/11/00 I went to the Spring Post Office this morning to pick up my package of bees. Unfortunately, almost all arrived dead, including the Midnite queen and her attendants. Hello, USPS, the package clearly states "Do not overheat. Contents live animals." Maybe it should have used reverse psychology and had a label that said, "Please stack heavy boxes all over me. Be sure to store this box in a hot truck for extended periods and cut off any ventilation overnight. Also don't forget to turn the box over and toss it around some." At least then the US Snail Mail delivery drivers would have been following directions.
:-(

I called my supplier (York Bee) and told them my tale of woe. They said that I could :

  1. Get a refund of my purchase (minus the $13 shipping) or
  2. Wait a couple of weeks to see if the weather could cool off a little so they could try another shipment (and pay $13 for shipping again) or
  3. Wait until March/April of next year and consider this an early payment.

I decided to give it a couple of weeks to see if they'll be able to ship again.

In the mean time, I built what I think is a neat 3-frame observation hive. I'll post photos of it soon. I want to thank Barry Birkey for making available plans for an observation hive on his web site (beesource.com). Although I didn't follow his plans exactly, they certainly made it easy to add a few minor modifications. I'll post my plans soon here.

Now, if I could only get a queen and some bees.....

8/10/00 Dustin examined the few bees we had remaining on the comb and noticed some white worms tunneling through the comb. We took this comb in a plastic bag to our Montgomery County Beekeepers Association meeting tonight. There our friends, who are experienced beekeepers, identified the worms as wax moth larvae. They said this was a common thing to happen to weak hives. They also said that my new package of bees arriving tomorrow would clean out the larvae like Desert Storm troops policing Iraqi's. Let's hope so.
8/4/00 Day 44
We examined the hive today. We cleaned all of the dead bees out of the bottom. We looked at the remaining combs and couldn't find our queen anywhere. She wasn't in the dead bees on the floor so we are guessing that some workers must have dragged her out of the hive or some cannibalistic robbers ate her. We probably have 50-75 workers left. Obviously, this hive of bees  is finished. :-(

I called York Bee and ordered another 3 lb package of bees with a new Midnite queen (marked and clipped). If the weather cooperates, they will ship the bees on 8/8/00 and I should get them on 8/11/00.

Hopefully, we've learned our hard lessons and this new package will survive the remaining summer months and through the winter.

This time we are going to do some things different.

  • We will use only a division board feeder located in the rear of the hive this time. The entrance feeder just seemed to promote robbing and bee fighting. (It's like parking your Lexus in East LA with the keys in the ignition.)
  • We will make the entrance opening even smaller, approximately 3/4" x 1". This will make the hive interior easier to defend.
  • We will place 4 standard frames in the middle of the hive for the bees to use to build their brood comb. We just can't risk brood comb falling off the bars again.
  • We will leave top bars for the remainder of the hive. All of the top bars have been retrofitted with beeswax-coated wooden strips that have been nailed into slots in the top bars.
  • We won't be opening the hive any more than absolutely necessary. Now that the hive has had interior lighting installed (and the Beetter Hives and Gardens folks have finished the photo shoot), we'll just view the bees through the observation window from now on. (OK yes, I am a bee voyeur, but at least I didn't watch Survivor or Big Brother on TV.) This will put less stress on the bees and keep out robbers.

As we said we are just "beeginners" and evidently haven't quite made that jump to "beekeepers". Well next week we'll go back to being "bee-havers".

8/2/00 Day 42
I built a small shelf for the entrance feeder and installed the shelf about 6 feet away from the hive. There are very few bees left and I need to feed them but I don't want anymore losses due to bee fighting. I'm hoping this will provide a solution as the bees can feed (and all strangers too) but hopefully without fighting. The bees seem to feed fine right along side other bees and bumble bees. They will tolerate some hornets and dirt daubers put sometimes gang up on them and move them out of the way. Big red hornets, however, are the bullies of the feeder shelf and chase off any insects that come near. All the insects will let me observe them up close when feeding at the shelf, except for the red hornets which aggressively lung at me. That has proven not to be a good move on their part.
8/1/00 Day 41
I refilled the entrance feeder yesterday and it was drained today! I looked inside the hive and found many dead bees. Apparently the entrance feeder is encouraging lots of robber bees and then lots of bee fighting resulting in huge losses of bees. I still can't tell whether these robbers are Crips or Bloods. I noticed that there are about half the number of bees on the combs as there were yesterday and the floor of the hive is littered with dead bees.

I removed the entrance feeder and taped over its slot in the front of the hive. I have decided to soak some of the old comb in syrup and hang in in panty hose about 6 feet away from the hive's entrance. I noticed that this immediately ended the bee fighting. All of the bees (including yellow-faced bumblebees) get along when they are feeding off of this syrup-soaked comb. It's not the most efficient method of feeding the bees, but it sure does stop deaths due to bee fighting. Well that was a hard lesson to learn. I hope that the remaining bees and queen can successfully raise some young bees soon as my bee population is dangerously low.

Maybe I'll build a bracket that I can  install on the fence that will accept my entrance feeder.

The interior chain lights work perfectly and really allow me to see easily into the hive. The bees haven't begun drawing comb on the frames and I doubt they ever will unless they can raise some new bees.

July, 2000

Date Event
7/30/00 Day 39
Installed a 3 ft. section of "chain lights" (small lights in a clear plastic tube) inside the hive for illumination. Also installed 4 beeswax-coated standard 9 1/8" brood frames. I placed the frames in the front of the middle section so I could still see to the rear of the hive through the window. Dustin saw the queen in the rear and the bees have started several new combs in the rear of the hive. All may not be lost after all!

The bees emptied the entrance feeder quickly. I'm assuming it because the light installation process upset them so. Any time I open the hive now, robber bees come out of no where and much bee fighting commences. I'm going to leave the hive closed for a month now to help them build up in numbers.

We have seen what we think may be our first new bees (Midnite bees) from this queen. They have a black thorax and abdomen. They are so black that no stripes are visible.
7/22/00 Day 30
Refilled the entrance feeder. It was a about 1/4 full but the syrup seemed almost like water so I replaced it. I put some of the fallen comb in a 1 gallon paint strainer bag and hung it on the fence. I also soaked a rag in some of the honey and hung it beside the comb. The bees took no time in finding it.

Since it was hung in the opposite corner of the backyard from the hive, this seems to have stopped the bee fighting at the hive. By this afternoon, bees in the hive were back to building comb and fanning the entrance with no fighting of robber bees.

I noticed that the bees have finally found the Mexican Heather in the front yard and are going after its flowers like Bill Clinton did Jennifer. However, the yellow-faced bumblebees also prefer this heather (along with my Hibiscus) so there is some competition for its nectar.

Late this afternoon, I cleaned out the front yard bird bath and dumped the honey from the first fallen combs in it for the bees to find.

Well, I've had the bees for a month now and unfortunately, they are probably worse off than when I first got them. I have learned a lot in this short time however and hope that August will prove to be a better month for the bees. With a new cover arrangement that keeps the hive cooler and frames with foundation for the brood chamber, I hope to increase their strength.

7/21/00 Day 29
Returned home from a week's vacation to find a tragedy. After at least 7 straight days of over 100F temperatures in the Texas heat, all the combs had fallen to the bottom of the hive. When they did, their honey spread over the hive bottom in a thick syrup killing over 1000 bees. This also attracted robber bees and evidence of bee fighting was all over the bee yard with bees locked in death grips literally covering the paver bricks. Ants were making quick work of any bee that fell to the ground.

When we saw the mess, we removed all of the bars and pulled all of the comb off the bottom of the hive. Amazingly, we found the queen still alive!

We began to scoop out all of the dead bees and clean the honey off of the floor of the hive. Then the robbing and fighting got fierce. We put bars with wood starter strips back in the middle of the hive and tried to place the queen on some remaining comb fragments. We then put all of the bars back in place and covered the hive.

This time we placed four bricks on the bars then white cardboard and the Plexiglas on top of them and then four more bricks to hold the Plexiglas down. This creates a shaded open ventilation are above the bars but still protects them from rain (as if that's ever going to happen before September).

I'm afraid it may be too little too late. It's such a shame because we were just starting to get a good batch of bees hatching and they were really loading the combs with pollen and honey.

We've decided to buy 10 frames with beeswax-coated Plasticell foundation to use as our brood chamber combs. We have to wait until Monday to order it. I hope the bees don't leave before then. I hope they give us one more chance and haven't completely given up on this hive. Especially since they had to rebuild all of that comb the first time and it was only two top bars worth back then. Now they are completely "combless" (but I haven't seen any "will work for honey" signs yet!)..

This was NOT what I was hoping to come home to. :-(
Dustin and I worked the bees in just shorts, sandals and veils (no shirts, gloves, etc.). Like I said, it's been hot and we are getting very comfortable working with the bees even with all of the fighting that was going on around us.
7/14/00 Day 22
Refilled the entrance feeder again. They drained it fast this time!. Unfortunately, another comb fell off its bar. Once again, it was a bar that did not have a wood starter strip.
7/12/00 Day 20
Refilled the entrance feeder. Placed some of the honey in a small glass ashtray on the landing board tonight. We'll see if they eat it. Looked in through the window and they have completely rebuilt all of the comb that had fallen off a few days ago.
7/11/00 Day 19
We decided to press out the honey from the combs that fell. From two bars of comb, we made a quart of honey! Of course this was the bee's first honey so it was mostly sugar-water honey. We'll feed it back to the bees a little at a time. The wax from the combs mashed into a ball about the size of my fist. It looks like it's time to make a solar wax melter!
7/9/00 Day 17
Refilled the entrance feeder. Noticed a lot of bees going about their business in what either appears to be an agitated state or it seems like their doing everything very quickly. Almost as if they're in some kind of hurry. At 7 PM this evening, many bees were flying around the entrance to the hive. Usually there are only two or three bees flying around the entrance at any one time. I looked through the observation window and they appear to be rebuilding comb very rapidly.
7/7/00 Day 15
Took a picture of one of the combs. Noticed several larvae including capped brood.

Two combs had broken off their bars and fell on the floor of the hive. They were covered with bees and sticky honey ran all over the floor of the hive. I hope the queen wasn't on one of those combs when it fell as there will be several bees lost to this tragedy including a lot of larvae.

I left some of the comb with honey and larvae in it on the floor of the hive and assume that they will move the food stores to another comb. I removed the rest of the combs on the floor that contained honey. The bees will have to rebuild a lot of comb. I also got my first sting today...in the index finger. Didn't really hurt and felt like I had a splinter in me.

We took the remaining bars and installed hardwood starter strips in them and covered the hardwood with beeswax foundation. Hopefully this will provide a more stable foundation for the bee's combs. Overall it was a bad day for the bees. I hope they make a good comeback. I wonder if it might be a good idea to use regular frames with foundation in the "brood" area and use top bars in the two outer thirds for honey production.

I also noticed several bees fighting on the landing area. Three or four of my bees would gang up on the robber bee and flip it on its back or one would fly off with it.

The entrance feeder is half empty.
7/6/00 Day 14
Took some photos of the bees fanning and of the bees inside the hive. Unfortunately, my Pentax camera can't seem to get a clear focused shot that close up. We have noticed that around 8 PM many foragers return with pollen. The bees have drained about 1/4 of the entrance feeder.
7/5/00 Day 13
We removed and measured each of the combs in the middle (the brood section) of the hive. We noticed that many cells are filled with "sugar-water honey". Some cells are being capped however. We also spotted the queen again. The division board feeder and entrance feeder were empty so we removed them. We refilled the entrance feeder and reinstalled it but we did not replace the division board feeder.
Bar number Comb length (in.) Comb Height (in.)
1 16 4.5
2 17 4.5
3 17 4
4 16 4.5
5 13 3.75
6 17 4
7 17 3.5
8 12 3.5
9 3.5 3.5
7/4/00 Day 12
Took a day off to enjoy the Fourth of July! We, in the USA, may have our problems and a goofball for a President, but ours is still the best country in the world.
7/3/00 Day 11
I didn't bother with the bees today. The slave driver wife has me busy on too many honey-do's.
7/2/00 Day 10
Refilled the entrance feeder. Checked the division board feeder and it's only got about a fourth left. We also looked at three of the combs.
7/1/00 Day 9
It still must be "spring cleaning" for the hive as I found 29 workers in the bee yard today. Reminds me of a Monty Python movie line... "Bring out your dead!". (You had to see the movie to get the joke.)
I observed a bee carrying another bee and flying off with it.
Will need to fill entrance feeder tomorrow.

June, 2000

Date Event
6/30/00 Day 8
Found 43 dead bees in the yard. Dustin saw the bees carrying out their dead from the hive. Today must have been "spring cleaning day" for the bees.
Dustin saw what appeared to be a couple of bees fighting (maybe defending against robber bees?).
For the first time today I worked with only a veil. I pulled out a bar to show the kids what the comb with bees on it looks like.
6/29/00 Day 7
Checked the bars with combs and took a picture of one. Found the queen again today. Tried to take a picture of her on the comb. The entrance feeder is about half empty.
I am amazed at how fast the bees can draw comb. All of the combs are perfectly white
6/28/00 Day 6
The beeswax foundation had fallen out of five top bars, so I pulled them and installed a 1" x 17" x 1/8" thick piece of wood in each. Then I covered the wood with beeswax foundation  and reinstalled the bars. I couldn't find the queen on the six bars with combs.
The bar that I thought had a queen cell was only the start of a new comb.
I still haven't used smoke when working my bees, because they are so gentle.
6/27/00 Day 5
The entrance feeder is almost empty so I refilled it today. The division board feeder is only about 1/3 empty.
I removed and examined all of the top bars today. About six have nice parabolic combs. I found the queen on one of them. I also noticed that one bar has what appears to be a queen cell. Now why is that? Did the bees build it out of frustration while waiting on her to be removed from the cage?
Many of the cells have a light yellow liquid substance in them, honey?
I'm amazed at how gentle these bees are. I think that soon I will be brave enough to work them without the full coverall uniform (it's awfully hot!).

PS. Saw my first bats in the neighborhood at 9 pm tonight. I saw perhaps a dozen. They would fly at small rocks thrown up into the air. It reminded me of sea gulls going after popcorn. Guess I will start that bat house project after all.

6/26/00 Day 4
Looked into the hive tonight through the window. It appears that the queen is no longer in her cage. Picked up all of the dead bees in the bee yard. Will start keeping a daily record of the number of dead bees I find.
6/25/00 Day 3
The bees have made parabolic shaped cones on about five top bars. The queen is still in her cage but the bees have almost reached her. I pushed a hole through the candy to her. The entrance feeder is about half empty. The wooden float in the division board feeder had swelled and was stuck. I cut off some length and reinserted it into the feeder.
Not nearly as many bees were on the landing platform today. I hope that is a good sign.
Some of the foundation fell off the bars on to the floor of the hive. 
The dog versus bee war rages on. The dog got stung at least twice more trying to bite at the bees who were looking for water.
6/24/00 Day 2
The bees began making short orientation flights. I placed a number 3 tub full of water about 20 ft. from the hive. I also have a small water garden pond in the backyard. But naturally, my bees seem to like my dog's soaking tub (she jumps in to cool off during the day) the best. Well, the dog doesn't like this at all so she is at war with the bees around her tub. She killed about 3 bees and also got her first sting today. I might have to move her tub so that the bees will use one of the other two water sources.
A lot (~150) of bees were on the landing platform during the heat of the day today. Some were "chaining" and hanging off the end of it. I immediately thought, "Oh no, they 're going to swarm and leave". I donned my veil and bravely went to see them with just my cutoff jeans on (no shirt, socks, etc. --- it was hot.) I approached the hive from the rear and opened the door to the hive window. Bees were all over the suspended queen cage (I guess they are still trying to eat through that candy.). They had also already drawn some comb from the top bar that has the queen cage suspended beneath it. In one day they have made a parabolic shape comb that is about 6" wide and 4" tall. About a fourth of the sugar syrup in the entrance feeder is gone. I haven't checked the division board feeder's syrup level yet.
I also noticed several drones crawling around on the bricks beneath the hive. I guess the workers are kicking them out to die. There were about 10 dead workers on the ground also.
I checked tonight and most of the bees (except about 25) were all in the hive. Maybe they are going to stick around after all.
6/23/00 Day 1
Picked up the bees I ordered from Drapers at the post office this morning. (The package actually said the bees were from York Bee Company.) My queen is marked white. That doesn't seem right. I'll call Monday.
Mixed a gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup and filled my division board feeder and entrance feeder.
I installed a 1 inch strip of pure beeswax foundation into the bottom slot of each top bar.
I also made an entrance reducer. The entrance is now about 1/2" x 1.5".
I donned my bee outfit and installed my bees.
My wife took photos of me doing this (as she was bored an needed a good laugh). I sprayed the bees in the package with water, then banged the package sharply on the ground to get the bees to drop to the bottom. Then I sprayed them some more to get the ones that were hidden earlier. I pried off the wooden top and took out the queen cage. I removed the metal cover over the candy and hung her cage (hole for candy on top and cork on bottom) by a wire from one of the top bars in the center of the hive. I then took out the feeder can and placed it in the hive on the bottom. I then shook out the bees into the hive. I banged on the package to get the rest of the bees out. Some remained so I set the package in front of the hive. About a hundred bees were flying around. I put all the top bars back on tightly and covered the hive with its Plexiglas rain/snow (<== ha ha, yeah right) cover.
Tonight all the bees were in the hive with about 4 or 5 just in front of the entrance (guard bees?). I hope all is well.
6/21/00 Received my equipment from Walter T. Kelley & Western Bee Supplies (actually shipped from Dadant & Sons). Installed division board feeder and bought glass jar for entrance feeder and installed it.
6/20/00 Installed a decorative flag on the fence near the hive. It supposedly will help the bees get used to movement near their hive. Called the Spring Post Office to tell them that my bees would be arriving and to give them my contact phone numbers. They asked, "These bees will be well-contained, won't they?"  I told them, "Sure, the killer bees don't arrive until next week."   ;-)
6/19/00 Decided to lay 16"x16" pave stones in my side yard (my future bee yard). I thought it was better to do it now than when the bees arrive. Sprayed Round-Up grass & weed killer to kill all the grass, then sprinkled Ortho's Orthene fire ant killer to kill those pests (got bit about 30 times in the process), then laid down weed barrier cloth followed by the pave stones on top. OK, I know these pesticides are bad stuff. I probably could have forgone the Round-Up, but those hellish fire ants really did deserve the Orthene (and then some).
6/16/00 Purchased swarm lure from Western Bee and a 3 lb. package of Midnite bees from Draper's Super Bee.
6/14/00 Purchased equipment from Walter T. Kelley. Noticed that the Plexiglas split at one of the bungee cord attachment holes. May have to build a different top cover.
6/11/00 Purchased tinted Plexiglas sheet & bungee cords (for cover) and installed TBH in NW side yard
6/10/00 Installed; a) screen over window inside hive, b) brackets on outside to hold bars while removing comb, c) slots to hold divider/excluder boards in the future
6/8/00 Presented TBH @ Montgomery County Beekeepers Association meeting. Learned bees will probably begin brood combs in middle of hive and work outwards. May have to reduce entrance size to prevent robbing.
6/7/00 Finished construction and painting of TBH