Friday, July 3, 2009

Another day, another bee colony saved!

On June 30th I got an urgent message from my friends at Turman Construction Co. that they had 'a bunch of bees' out behind the workshop. When I arrived expecting to hive a swarm, Darrel told me that the bees had actually been there for about a month! I knew I was in for a bigger job than I'd expected. The swarm of bees had found a PERFECT home inside some concrete forms that were heading to Parkersburg the next day. Darrel fired up the forklift and moved them to their own place. When we unstacked them & got to the one with the bees, we turned it over and found the most BEAUTIFUL comb & calm bees.

I very carefully cut the comb off at the top & put them into the swarm box. When I got home, I tied them into regular brood frames with twine and transferred them to a regular hive. I had just finished when Frank Warner called me & asked if I could bring some bees to his farm in Ohio. So...the bees will soon be at their new home.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monica Brooks, who also lives next door took some photos & movie clips of us working [THANKS, MONICA!!!]

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cut-out 6-3-09

Well another day -- another lost colony of honeybees saved -- this was was in the window of an abandoned building near the town dump. I did this one with two good friends, Gabe Blatt & Gary Strickland. Gary took the bees home in a brand new hive. Mother Nature smiles again!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Cut-out 5-30-09

My friend, Gabe Blatt, called & told me there were bees under the eaves in an old house in West Huntington. We met up with new beekeeper, Pete Meadows, to do the cut out & try and save these bees. We met the owner's neighbor, Kathy Seelinger, who told us that this was the third oldest house in Huntington.
When we looked up, we saw lots of honeycomb & bees.

Up we all went onto the scaffolding to begin the job of cutting the honeycomb out without harming the bees. As I cut out the combs, I handed them to Gabe who cut them down to fit into special frames that will hold them in place until the bees can fix them up right. What didn't fit into the frames, Gabe put into a large plastic bucket to feed back to the bees later. You can see the bees begin to gather at the very top of their new home to signal to the others that 'this is now the place to land'!

Gabe headed down to the ground and we handed down the large plastic bucket filled with honeycomb that didn't fit into the hive. Pete & I put the siding back onto the house & Pete used a very low powered bee vac to suck the remaining bees into a wire mesh cage without harming them. When we were done, we lowered the new hive of bees down & cut of a nice piece of wild honeycomb for Kathy to eat....YUMMY!
Gabe called Gary Strickland to tell him of our success & set up our next cut-out in Altizer on Wednesday. Thanks to the Ferguson family for calling us to save the bees instead of an exterminator to spray them. Thanks to Kathy Seelinger for giving us the history of the house & the bees. And thanks to Pete & Gabe for a real fun time...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pollinating the Cashew Tree at the Huntington Museum of Art

Recently, my friend, Carolyn Bagby contacted me. She wrote, "Our conservatory director, Mike Beck, has a cashew tree that is budding that will be in need of pollination in a week or two. We were talking about this at lunch today and I told him you might be willing to help him with this problem."
I contacted Mike who is the Director of the very beautiful Consrevatory at the Huntington Museum of Art. He told me they have a cashew tree starting to bloom & he had always wanted to try to get it pollinated to have actual cashews growing in it. I toured the Conservatory with Mike and there were several things I noticed. First, there were huge windows all around to let in light. Bees orient, in part, by polarized light. I was concerned that the bees would simply fly toward the windows and get stuck there trying to get out. To overcome this, I rubbed lemongrass oil on the opening of their hive, since bees also locate their hive by its unique smell.
The second concern was that there were several other wonderful smelling flowers in bloom. The vanilla vine, along with a few other trees and orchids were blooming profusely. Bees will always choose the flower which has the highest percentage of sugar in its nectar.
I researched cashew pollination on the internet and discovered that the flowers are very attractive to bees, which are used to pollinate the trees in the tropics. I shared this with Mike & we agreed to give it a try.
The trickiest part of the operation is that we obviously couldn't have an open beehive in the Conservatory while people were there. Since the Museum is closed on Monmdays, we agreed that I would bring a small observation beehive to the tree at closing time on Sunday, March 29th and return to pick them up the next evening.

Mike met me at the door and the we opened the hive directly under the cashew tree. As predicted, many bees flew directly to the large windows and spent their time trying to find a way out. But Mike came back on Monday and saw several bees around the cashew flowers. He even rigged up a small plastic flower pot on a long handle and scooped a few bees off the windows. He then poured those over the cashew flowers to try & give them the idea. All he got for his efforts was a stinger in the ear!
The next day, I brought a small bee vac which scoops up the bees into a chamber from which they were released near their hive after they returned to my beeyard.
Time will tell whether the project was successful & the Museum will have its own cashews. But Mike & I had a lot of fun & learned many new things about bees & trees!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cabell Wayne Beekeepers Meeting March 9th, 2009

FIFTY-SIX MEMBERS & GUESTS attended the meeting and good fellowship was had by all. Minutes & Treasurer’s Report were approved. Lots of members renewed their dues: Dwight Coburn, Terry Cremeans, Ashby Leach, Bill & Sandy Lincoln, Bill Maynard, Dr. David Nicholas, Jeff & Anna Patton, Dale Poston, Bill & Margaret Reid. THANKS to all you renewing members!
We also had several NEW MEMBERS join us: James Black, Kim Carico, Barbara Greer, Kari Kirschbaum, Herman Maynard, Pete Meadows, Ken Miller, Kenneth Miller, Renee Ratcliff, Taylor Reed, Cynthia Morrison-Skidmore, Sherman Smith & Chris Strow. WELCOME TO EACH & EVERY ONE OF YOU!

Gabe reported that Dan O’Hanlon has been appointed as the Legislative Chair of the WV State Beekeepers. Dan arranged for the beekeepers to meet with BOTH Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin & House Speaker Richard Thompson on Ag Day. He also announced that the WVBA Spring Meeting would be in Fairmont on Saturday, March 28th. The CWBA will be putting on a Beginners Bee School at Heritage Farm on March 21st from 9 am—3 pm.
It is time to put out traps for the European Hornet...these also catch wax moths, horse flies & yellow jackets. The formula is in an old newsletter and on our website.
Dan discussed the WV Queen Producers and urged all members to send in their order for a $10 queen using the order form in the State Newsletter. BEE SURE and get those hygienic genetics in your local Drone Congregation Area.
David Adams asked about bears and Wade told him electric wire is best. We also discussed moving hives. You can move them a little bit every day or move them 2 miles away for 30 days, then move them back to your beeyard in the new location. Wade thought the best way was to make a split & move it to the new location. Many people said that their State bees have died. We got them late and they didn’t get a good chance to build up due to the drought. Other than the State bees, the average loss is around 10% which is terrific. Joe Latshaw of the Ohio Queen Program says anything under 20% is excellent beekeeping. David Nicholas has gotten all 4 of his hives to survive in his 1st year of beekeeping [WAY TO GO, DAVID!!!]. Dan believes the low loss level has to do with the good genetics we have brought into this area. Studies show that once you get 50% hygienic genes into the area, your pest problems go way down.
Spring is starting late this year, winter is hanging on. This is the most dangerous time for bees because they have started rearing brood and will starve in an extended cold spell, even with honey just a few inches away.
Paul Meade says he has lost ALL his bees & was awarded the 1st ‘WADE STILTNER DOOM & GLOOM AWARD’!
Gabe demonstrated hive top feeders. Use 1-1 sugar syrup. BEE SURE there are no cracks in the cover where bees can crawl in & drown in the syrup. Watch your bees & stop feeding when they are past the danger of starvation or you may have swarms hanging from your trees. Swarming is not all bad IF you can catch them. You get a new young queen for your hive but probably not no honey that year. We discussed pollen patties: Wade does not use them but Gabe does. Bill Reid said it helps nurse bees make royal jelly for brood rearing.
Finally, Gabe discussed SWARM CONTROL. Congestion in the brood chamber is the major reason bees swarm so BEE SURE to give her plenty of room UPWARDS to expand the brood nest. Don’t split the brood nest apart this time of year. If you run double deeps or deep & medium, you might want tor reverse the boxes now to put the one with brood on the bottom. The queen will move UP. If you find queen cells cut them out if you want honey that year, pull them into a nuc box if you want to increase your hives that year. Leave the old queen in the original hive until you are sure you have a good laying queen in the nuc box, then replace the old queen with her. Just don’t shake queen cells as the developing queen in fragile.
Raising a new queen this way also helps to break the mites breeding cycle and is one of the ways to control varroa mites.
The RULE OF THUMB around here is put your honey supers on when the Redbud trees are in bloom. And stay ahead of the flow with several boxes.
Our next meeting will be on May 11th at 6 pm. This is our annual DINNER MEETING. It will be held at the South Point Ponderosa [map on next page]. We will elect officers and Gabe will speak about Books, Magazines & Online Resources for beekeepers. BEE SURE to make plans to attend.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cabell Wayne Beekeepers January 12th, 2009 Meeting

FORTY-SEVEN MEMBERS & GUESTS attended the meeting and good fellowship was had by all. Minutes & Treasurer’s Report were approved. Lots of members renewed their dues: David Adams, Nancy Adams, Edna & Otis Baker, John Bowen, Eric Caldwell, George Godby, Avery Hayden, Paul & Rick Howard, Hobart Hundley, Sr., Bob & Jana Huron, Fathers Joseph & Andrew, Sam Kilgore, Rodney & Patty Lewis, Ike & Patty Lake. Bill Maynard, Willis & Eileen McComas, Sean McManus, Tom & Nancy Midkiff, Ed, Ernest & Tom Neace, Dan O’Hanlon, Verland Perry, John Porter, Beverly Spurlock, Russell Stephenson, Mike Stickler, Wade Stiltner, Kathy & Mike Taylor, Tom Terry, Kolten Thompson, Terri & Mike Waldeck, Charles Wellman, Andy & Yolanda Williamson, and Frances Wriston. THANKS to all you renewing members! We also had several NEW MEMBERS join us: Jennings Adkins, Tina Lockwood, Tim Mathis and Mike & Henriella Perry. WELCOME TO EACH & EVERY ONE OF YOU!
John Gibson emailed us to say that his wife, Tara had delivered a daughter. CONGRATULATIONS!
Gabe mentioned that classes would be offered at the Honey Bee Expo in Parkersburg. He also urged all members to attend Ag Day at the State Capitol March 10th. Beekeepers will have a chance to talk with their legislators, and meet with Speaker Rick Thompson & Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin. The Tri-County Beekeepers will again put on their wonderful bee meeting at Wooster, OH on March 6th & 7th. The WV Beekeepers will have their Spring Meeting March 28th in Fairmont. Their Fall Meeting will be at Jackson’s Mill Sept. 24-26. BEE SURE to plan to attend some of these great bee meetings for education and fellowship!
Gabe described the grant for the WV Beekeepers that will allow you to buy a local queen this summer for $10. It will be a great opportunity for you to try summer requeening to have a break in the brood cycle of the mites and go into winter with a vigorous young queen.
Gabe also showed his homemade queen bank to hold 24 queens. You can put it in a queenless hive and the nurse bees can get to both sides of it to feed the queens. Supposedly you could bank queens all winter. It was developed in Canada. It is time to register your hives in WV. You can find the forms at:

The bees went into the winter short on stores because of the fall drought. You can pour sugar directly onto the frames over a piece of newspaper. Put a pollen patty in when the weather warms up to get brood rearing started early.
Paul Howard and Tim Mathis brought in their top bar hives to demonstrate this unique method for keeping bees. The boxes were well-made. Paul’s even had a hinged door on the front with an observation window behind it so you could check on the bees without disturbing them. Paul said that, while he was brand-new to beekeeping, he had read a lot about top bar hives online. He said that several users said that it was a natural way to control mites because of the break in the brood cycle when the honey is removed. You have to be careful when you turn the frames over because they can break off since there is no wire or wooden frame support for the honeycomb. You also need to be sure and remove the honey as you go along so they do not get honey bound and swarm on you. It is very a very natural beehive similar to what the bees would build in the wild. Gabe said these hives would be legal in WV because they had moveable frames and could therefore be inspected. Paul said that they were really for the hobbyist and could not be easily used by the commercial honey producer. All-in-all, it was a very interesting demonstration and Paul & Tim did and excellent job with the woodworking in building these hives. Paul’s will be in Ashland, KY; Tim’s will be located near White’s Creek, WV in Wayne County. Thanks to both fellows for their talk to us about top bar hives!
Gabe then showed the movie ‘Pollen Nation’ and had a garden catalog offering ‘bee attractant’. Dan said the bees were already attracted to him when he opened his hives up!
Our next meeting will be on March 9th at 7 pm. Gabe will speak about Spring Management. BEE SURE to make plans to attend.