Saturday, December 25, 2010


Honey makes a great Christmas gift!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Honey Harvest

Honey harvest September 5th. FlashMob gave us about 22 pounds of honey, The Others gave us about 3 pounds.

The Darker honey in some of the cells in this photo tasted like blackberries.

We used the crush and strain method for extracting the honey. Messy delicious fun! My kitchen was sticky. I also ended up with about a pound of beeswax. Gavin made biscuits and corn bread a few times over the next week. Can't wait till next year!

FlashMob's honey was much lighter in color than The Others' honey.

Fall feeding and treatments for Nosema and Mites are done. The colonies look healthy headed into winter. Lots of dead drones outside FlashMob's entrance last week. The workers boot them out before winter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Flashmob's first honey super has 8 frames full of capped honey! I added another super. I opened the hive just to check how many empty frames they had, it was early evening, and I didn't think I needed the smoker. But they were a little pissy.
The Others honey super had next to nothing. I wasn't surprised with the swarms earlier this summer. I just hope they survive the winter.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Honey Supers and Queen Drama

I added honey supers to both hives. The top brood box of FlashMob was so full of capped honey and nectar (90%) that it was all I could do to lift it off to inspect the bottom brood box. And it was very difficult to get it back up on top, I'm afraid I squashed more bees during this inspection than in all the previous inspections combined. I guess I will need a helper during my inspections from now on. The boxes won't be getting any lighter.
No new eggs in FlashMob. I saw 2 queen cells when I was inspecting the top box, as I was removing them the queens dashed out. I was able to capture one of them. I inspected the bottom box and saw no new eggs so not knowing if either of the new queens was healthy enough I let the second one loose in the hive along with the other one. I guess they will battle it out and the stronger one will survive? Or we will have a swarm.
The Others had the top brood box 60% full of nectar and capped honey. In the bottom box I spotted new eggs. Not sure if the queen is the returned swarm queen but the hive should be fine now. The weather has warmed up and blackberries are blooming.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


June 22 Garrett called me at work. "Mom, the air outside is filled with bees. I stick my head out the window and I hear buzzing." I could not leave work so I called Philip and he went right over to the house to try to capture the swarm. They had settled in the hemlock tree. He and Garrett went to gather some gear but by the time they got set up the swarm had vanished. I was not prepared for a swarm, everything I read said that a swarm would not be likely in the first year. The first swarm was The Others. July 5-6 another swarm. This time in a low branch on the cherry tree. We had just arrived home from camping and Gavin was going to help me with my overdue hive inspection. We were sitting in the garden serenely watching the hives, contemplating lunch and Anita came down and asked oh by the way had I had seen the cluster of bees over in the cherry tree. It was a surprise to us but thrilling to see. We simply lowered the branch into a box, cut the branch, and returned them to The Others hive after a thorough inspection. Lots of swarm cells, lots of drones, lots of larvae and capped brood but no new eggs in either hive. I spotted a queen in FlashMob. So hopefully both hives have queens now. I removed the entrance reducers and added some spacers in the lids to give them some extra ventilation - warm days coming up. Not sure what they're up to. I removed the feeders. They've had over 100 pounds of sugar between the 2 hives. I will check for eggs and queens next week.

Monday, May 31, 2010

2nd Story

I was not able to open up the hives all weekend until Monday - (Memorial day) because it was too cold and wet out. The sun came out Monday afternoon and I added the second story (second deep brood box) onto the Flashmob hive. The Others colony seems to be a little behind as far as numbers so I will wait until next week to add on to their hive.
Tried out my new phone's video camera. As soon as the rain died down to a sprinkle the girls all came out of the hive and had a very busy afternoon. Busiest I've ever seen them. Then Garrett and I took a drive through the Snohomish valley to pick up some coffee sacks from a local coffee roaster.(They make good smoker fuel and also you can fill them with dirt and plant tomatoes in them, or use them to mulch the paths in the garden.) What a spectacular drive.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day 29: 45 Pounds of Sugar

Both colonies are still taking plenty of sugar syrup. 45 pounds so far! I guess this is not unusual. I think next week I will need to add the second-story deep brood boxes to the hives. Today both hives still have 4 or 5 frames not drawn out with comb.

I spotted a drone again today. Look how big his eyes are!

I also spotted a bee chewing her way out of a cell. She's right in the center of the photo.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 23: Newborns and Capped Honey

A honey bee develops from egg to newly emerged adult in approximately 21 days (Range: 18-22days) for a worker bee or 24 days (drones) or 16 days (queen bee). So if I released the queens 21 days ago, there could be newly emerged workers today. I was surprised to see bees in the hive today that looked smaller and lighter colored than the rest. They have more fuzz between where their eyes are and where their wings attach. They hold their wings in towards the center of their bodies. Their abdomens are lighter colored and smaller, not as shiny and the stripes are not nearly as defined. (You can see one of these in the photo, near the top center.)
I also saw capped honey in a few of the frames. I moved a few of the frames with pollen, nectar and honey only (no brood) out to the outside of the brood box. This is supposed to encourage them to draw out the empty frames in between. I hope next week to add the second set of deep frames to each hive! Flashmob still has 4 empty frames and The Others still has 5 1/2 empty frames.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 22: Fanning, a Sting and a Drone

I noticed a bee at the entrance fanning. She was just standing in one spot (right in the center of the entrance) beating her wings so fast you could not see them. The other bees (busy because it was a hot day!) were pushing past her. She was kind of in their way. I decided to switch the entrance reducer to its middle position, allowing a larger entrance for the bees. When I was removing it, (no gloves or safety gear) I repositioned my hand so that I could get a better grip and did not see the bee on the other side. She stung me. My first sting. tip of my middle finger. Smarted for a few minutes but that's all. I waited till the bees quieted down for the evening before put in back in. When I went to push it back in, just making a little noise, lots of bees came out to just inside the entrance, and just looked at me. Some of them were upside down, all lined up and looking out - so cute.

Fanning is done for the purpose of regulating the temperature (they keep it at 93-95F) in the hive and also to help in curing (removing moisture from) the honey. I was describing to my daughter what fanning was and she said "they're so smart". I know it is instinct but how do those particular bees know to do this?

My raspberries are coming into bloom, and my bees love them! Also they are mobbing my holly tree. I've seen a few on my rosemary, forget-me-nots, and heather as well.

I also spotted a drone. He was outside the entrance, and crawled in, so I assume he was out flying. He looked large, bumbly and comical compared to the svelte and graceful sisters. I laughed. But I also wondered if he flew in from somewhere or if he came with the package? I hadn't seen any drones at all yet.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 16: Capped Brood and Queen Sightings!

Mothers Day today. My daughter Kelsey and her husband Sean came to visit and helped me with the hive inspection. Beautiful warm sunny day again today.

I have 2 extra sets of safety gear so we all suited up and had a great time inspecting the frames.   

Lots of capped brood! New eggs too, and brood in all stages in between.

We spotted the queens in both hives. I was not expecting this because last week I looked and looked and didn't see either one. Sean spotted the FlashMob queen on the side of a frame and I spotted 'The Others' queen.

 You can see the queen in this photo near the center. She is longer/larger and has a pointed abdomen.

Lots of capped brood in this photo.

You can see large larvae in most of the cells in this photo.

I put the inner cover on shallow side up by mistake last time I filled the feeders on The Others. They built some extra comb on top of the frames which we removed and saved for candle making.

Nectar / Pollen sources list!

I found a list for nectar/pollen sources on the West Sound Beekeepers Association website.

This is from the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association:
1. Oregon Grape - April, pollen and nectar
2. Cotton Wood - April, pollen
3. Willow - April, pollen and nectar is warm... See More
4. *Maple Large Leaf - April-May, pollen and surplus nectar
5. *Poison Oak - May, nectar surplus
6. *Snowberry (Buckbrush) - May-June, surplus
7. *Vine Maple - May, surplus
8. Cherry Tree - April, nectar and mainly pollen
9. Deciduous Fruit Trees - April-May, mainly pollen
10. Mustard - March, pollen
11. Fire Weed - July-August, no pollen and variable nectar
12. Raspberry - June, surplus
13. *Blackberry - June-July, nectar and pollen
14. Thistle - June, nectar and pollen
15. *Cascara - May-June, nectar
16. Cabbage - May, pollen and nectar
17. Crimson Clover - May, pollen and nectar
18. White Clover - June-July, pollen and nectar
19. Madrene - May, nectar
20. Manzanita - May, pollen and nectar
21. Dill (oil) - July, pollen and nectar
22. *Hairy Vetch - May-June, surplusnectar

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 15: Forage

On my jog-walk last weekend I was noticing flowers on plants that I never really noticed before. So much is in bloom right now. In the wild areas around here blooming now are salmonberries, wild blackberries, trillium, bleedingheart, elderberry, scotch broom, vetch, huckleberries, maple of different varieties, and more. I wish I knew which ones my bees are visiting.

I watched them today coming in all day long with pollen. Many different colors: tan, off-white, yellow, bright yellow, brownish, and this neon-bright orange, Some of the bees with this bright orange pollen were also covered all over with more of it.

(I'm looking for a list of approximate bloom times of preferred forage for our area. When I find a list I will post it.)
 Some were so heavily loaded that they had a little trouble getting back in the hive. One I saw on the landing board trying to crawl up the slope, then slid off into the grass. With difficulty she finally took off and landed back up by the hive entrance with her booty.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 8: Pollen, Nectar, and Eggs

Opened up the hives to check on the queens, make sure that they survived. Our extra safety gear arrived so Garrett helped out.

Each hive had the center frames build halfway up with comb and many had nectar, a few had pollen, and many with eggs. A good pattern of one egg in each cell, with no multiples. I'd only be happier if I had actually spotted the queens! They're obviously thriving.

FlashMob had 2 of the center frames spaced too far apart last time I closed up the hive. They build a beautiful piece of comb between the frames that I had to reluctantly remove. Cool to look at though. I made sure to gently crowd the frames snugly together this time.

When I bought the frames, they suggested black frames for the brood boxes. It makes it much easier to spot the eggs. Now I can see that it would be very difficult to spot eggs on a white or light colored base. And this was my only way of knowing today that my queens were alive and well.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 3: Uncage the Queen

Opened up the hives to release the queens. They were very calm. Garrett took pictures.

Lots of activity around the entrances - we have had a few partially sunny days. The queens look healthy. We named the NE colony 'FlashMob'.

Garrett had said he liked the 'FlashMob' colony better than the other one when they were still in the cages. He said 'They look more organized'. I noticed they seemed a bit peppier than the other colony at first. The SW colony is named 'The Others'. When I lifted their queen cage out to remove the cork and release her, there was a chain of bees clinging to the cage and each other about 4" long. Reminded me of those plastic toy monkeys. ('Barrel of Monkeys!')

Lighting the smoker! The book said to put in paper, then put in twigs for kindling, tend the little fire for 10 minutes to get it going! Say what??? Bob Combs, the instructor for the class I took at Meadowbrook said to just get a propane torch. I am now the proud owner of a propane torch. Garrett likes it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day 1: They're Here

We are now the proud hosts of 2 colonies of sweet mild mannered Italian honey bees. Hived them yesterday. My daughter Anita took some great pictures. The extra safety gear didn't arrive in time so she had to go veil-less. Not a touch of fear. She's a natural. No stings at all. I
guess this is typical - they have nothing yet to protect. No honey, no brood.

My best friend of all time from elementary school posted this on facebook today
'We cannot put off living until we are ready. The most salient characteristic of life is its urgency, "here and now" without any possible postponement. Life is fired at us point blank.' -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset - (Spanish Philosopher)

I was reading a little about his philosophy (thanks Wikipedia):
famous maxim "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia" ("I am myself and my circumstance")

Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote that "life is at the same time fate and freedom, and that freedom is being free inside of a given fate. Fate gives us an inexorable repertory of determinate possibilities, that is, it gives us different destinies. We accept fate and within it we choose one destiny. In this tied down fate we must therefore be active, decide and create a 'project of life'—thus not be like those who live a conventional life of customs and given structures who prefer an unconcerned and imperturbable life because they are afraid of the duty of choosing a project."

In all the excitement, we locked ourselves out of the house. The hive tool came in handy! Before it was ever used on the hive!

The buzz around basecamp these days is Avatar the Last Airbender - M. Night Shyamalan is making a trilogy the first of which comes out on July 2. We are watching the original cartoon series right now. In a book 2 episode, Prince Zuko is complaining to Uncle Iroh about their present circumstances.
Zuko says "..This city is a prison. I don't want to make a life here."
Wise old tea swilling fire bending peace loving Iroh responds: "Life happens wherever you are whether you make it or not."

This is the queen from our 'FlashMob' colony. She will need to stay in her cage for a few more days. They have only been together for 1 day and if she is released now, they will most likely kill her!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My house smells like sweet beeswax, pine and cedar. Latex paint too.

Arriving tomorrow:
2 packages of sweet tempered Italians!
Hives are assembled and ready, safety gear is good to go, site with good morning sun selected.

My beekeeping 101 class was last weekend. A 2 day class at Meadowbrook Farm in North Bend, through the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association. There is an apiary there and part of the class included a demonstration of installing a new package of bees. Just what I needed. I never really had any fear of the whole concept of being surrounded by the little darlings but I was a little intimidated by the whole concept of being responsible for them. I'm ready now. The class was just what I needed. Still a lot to learn.

One of my honey supers is not square. It is skewed by about 1/8 inch. I think this is the one I assembled with only half the nails (I ran out) and put them in later after the painting was done. Doesn't seem like a big deal and probably will be fine. 'Bee space' is very important in a hive, any less than 1/4 -3/8 inch they will fill with propolis and any more, they will fill with burr comb. But I've heard the spacing on the outside edges of the hive is not so important as in the center so I'm not going to rip my box apart and reassemble. I am, however, now the proud owner of a carpenter's square.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Now I've Really Done It

Last week, I ordered bees. I placed an order for 2 packages of 3 pounds of bees each and each and each with a queen. They will be arriving at the apiary supply store in 2 weeks. Lots to do.

I signed up for a class for next weekend. (At Meadowbrook Farm in North Bend) Last weekend I made the first trip down to the apiary supply store - BeezNeez in Snohomish - (so pleased to find one local and so close, they are few and far between) and purchased brood boxes, honey supers, bases, roofs, for 2 complete hives. The staff were so helpful! I think they would have spent as long as I needed them too answering my questions.

And then I spent most of the weekend assembling, painting, selecting a location for the hives (lots to consider).

Until one is committed
There is hesitancy, the chance to draw back
Always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and Creation)
There is one elementary truth
The ignorance which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

That the moment that one definitely commits ones self
Then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one
That would never otherwise have occurred.

A whole stream of events issues from the decision
Raising in one’s favor all manner
Of unforeseen incidents and meetings
And material substance
Which no one could have dreamt
Would have come your way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.