Decapping Honey with a Heat Gun

I just ran across that video and thought that it might be interesting to some.  According to discussion on a beekeepers forum surface tension draws the melted cappings open so that your honey can be extracted without heating the honey or tearing up the combs – also without the wasted honey, wax and mess of the usual way of knife decapping.  Might be worth a try.

 

 

What Should I Do Now?!!

Honey bees bearding in hot weather
Are these bees going to swarm? Probably not. First year package hives usually don't swarm unless you completely neglect to give them room.

When the weather gets hot your bees might hang out on the outside of the hive – this is commonly called “bearding”  it doesn’t mean that they are going to swarm – even when it’s as extreme as in the picture above.  It just means that it’s hot and they would rather be outside of that hot little box than inside of it.   It isn’t really a good thing though either.  If you have a screened bottom board and you haven’t already, then you should go ahead and remove the mite count sticky board and leave it out for at least the rest of the summer – if not always.  Keep it though because you might want to use it to do a mite count.  It will probably stow inside of your telescoping cover.  Also open up the entrance some – if not all the way.

When you remove the sticky board you might see what looks like maggots infesting the debris on the board – I don’t know exactly what they are, they could be Small hive beetle larva or they could just be fly larva of some kind.  Just dump them away from your hives or feed them to your chickens.  I’ve seen them under some of my hives too, and once you get rid of them it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

If you started your hive in March with a package from Wolf Creak like many of us did, you also probably need to go ahead and add a second box of foundation.  If 7 out of 10 or 6 out of 8 frames are mostly drawn then it’s time to add more room.

You also might want to add some Small Hive Beetle traps – there are lots of different traps, but a really simple one that works is to just put 3-4″ squares of coreplast – AKA old political signs –  in your hive.  On the top bars and on the bottom board.  The bees will drive beetles into the tunnels in the plastic and you can remove them once a week when you inspect – just drop them into a coffee can with some oil in it to drown the beetles.  The trap on the bottom board will be more convenient to put in and out if you put a long piece of wire through it to act as a handle so that you can just put it in and out of the entrance without removing the bottom hive body – that will also help to keep the bees from pushing it out of the hive.  There is wide agreement that the best way to combat beetles in our area is to keep the hives strong – dense populations of bees – and keep them in pretty much direct sun.

If you’re still feeding your package bees sugar water they are probably taking it slowly if it all because our main nectar flow is on right now.  Plain 1-1 sugar syrup will ferment pretty quickly in this warm weather, and then the bees won’t take it at all, so if you want to continue to feed you need to use small containers that the bees will empty in 3-4 days or add some honey-b-healthy or other essential oil concoction to it to help keep it from ruining.  Be aware that you should never feed anything to your bees if there are honey supers on that you intend to harvest honey from.  Feeding new packages all season long is probably a good thing to do because you need them to draw out as much comb as possible before next fall.  Drawn comb is like gold.

If you’re a beginner you need to put on your gear and inspect your hives every week – you’re looking for either the queen, eggs, or young open brood which indicates that the queen is still there and doing her job.  You also are assessing how much food they have in the hive, and if they need more space or not.  But most of all you need to get comfortable working with your bees while the hives are new, small and relatively docile.  Later when they get built up they will be a lot more intimidating, and you need to get some experience now – no one else can do it for you.  You’ll probably make some mistakes, kill a few bees, and you’re sure to get stung sooner or later, but you probably won’t hurt them very much, and you’ll get better and more confident at it every time you go in.

Have fun!

 

Tips for New Beekeepers

1) Don’t get in a hurry to add another super to your new package colonies – the rule of thumb is to not add another box of new foundation until 7 out of 10 (6 out of 8 if you have 8 frame hives) of the last one are pretty much completely drawn out into comb.  If you do they probably won’t work it anyway and they will build up better with less space to heat/cool and defend.

Beautiful natural comb built on the bottom of the inner cover because a feeding shim (or empty super) was left on too long in the spring.

2) If there is any open space in the hive that is where they will build comb instead of on your foundation – bees prefer to draw comb the natural, organic way.  They will only draw foundation if there isn’t anywhere else for them to build comb.  So, always fill all available space with frames –  don’t leave out frames for any reason, and don’t add empty hive bodies to the hive for any reason unless there is some barrier to keep the bees where they belong.

3) Other than checking to see that the queen has been released try to refrain from pestering them for about a week.

4) Try to inspect your hives in the middle of the day (between 10-2 more or less) and only in reasonably nice weather when the bees are flying.  3 Reasons for this – A) The foragers will be out at work and there will be fewer bees home and it will be easier to inspect. B) If you remove frames of brood when it is cool and/or windy you might chill the brood and kill it. C) Opening a hive too late in the day makes it more likely that you will be attacked – especially at night. And despite what you might think, if you really make them mad you can get stung even if you are suited up.

5) Don’t fret too much about your new package colony getting over crowded and swarming.  Packages almost never swarm during their first spring because they lack the combination of conditions that triggers swarming.  If they do good you can worry about swarming in a couple of months if you want to, but it really isn’t too likely until next spring – when it might be hard to prevent.

6) Feed continuously for the next few weeks –  if you are administering Fumigilin don’t stop until the dose is used up.

7) If they aren’t doing anything on these cool rainy days it’s OK – don’t open the hive to check on them, you will just let all of the heat out.