Beekeeping is in full swing. I try to blog once a week but there is so much happening during this time of the year, I feel like I need to blog more often – but who has the time? Instead, this blog will be broken into several parts and you can just read the parts that interest you… You know? Like a really crappy magazine.
- Wednesday’s Queen Larva: a few great shots of the Queen Larva and Capped Queen Cells.
- B4 and the Beetles: Saturday, I got some great shots of the Queen in hive B4 and I did my best to eradicate the beetles.
- Melting Wax: Saturday night, I melted wax in a crockpot.
- Paint Spray and New Air Compressor: Sunday I tried out my new paint sprayer on the 30 completed hives.
- Lastly my diet and the tipping point.
Wednesday’s Queen Larva
I made my splits on Saturday 3/23/19. To make these splits, I moved the entire hive to a new location and then placed an empty box with two frames of eggs and nurse bees on the original location. Unlike a “walk-away split” I knew where the queens were.
So on Wednesday, when I went out to Dr. D’s to inspect the progress, I knew that the queen cells would be in the single box. Here are some great photos:
These photos are even more impressive given that they were taken with an IPhone while wearing leather gloves… while singing Queen’s, “We Are The Champions”.
The two down sides to making queens by splitting are:
- The bees make emergency queens out of older larva. This makes a smaller inferior queen. This can be overcome by culling the smallest cells before they hatch. In the 4 splits the bees made nearly 60 queen cells – so I will keep only the biggest ones.
- The other problem is that when you split the hives like this, the new split will be queenless for almost three weeks before the new queen starts laying. This really slows productivity.
So this coming Wednesday, I will make 10 more splits. With 60 queen cells, I am confident I can find 10 really good ones to place in the new queenless splits. This will reduce that three weeks down to about one week.
Of course I will have to ensure that I don’t place any eggs in the queenless hive, or the bees are likely to start building more queen cells.
B4 and the Beetles
Hive B4 has had beetle problems but this was my fault. Last year, I had a hive that was about to swarm, so to prevent this, I made an emergency split. However, I didn’t have any blocks to put the split on. Instead, I placed two plastic frames on the ground and placed the hive on them.
It seemed to work fine and by the end of last year, there were 3 supers on that hive. Sure I had all summer to lift it up onto blocks but that would have been too much like right. It was extremely careless of me to leave the hive so close to the ground through the winter and I suspect that is what allowed the beetles to thrive.
Nonetheless, it appears hive B4 has now beaten the beetles back. A week ago, I killed over 100 beetles and had to cut a patch of beetle larva out of two of the frames. This past Saturday, I killed about 20 or 30 beetles and there was no beetle larva to be found.
I think this may be a reasonable way for a hobbyist to deal with beetles. I simply bumped each frame onto the lid of the hive and used my hive tool to mash them one by one. Of course this is not very practical for a large scale operation… or maybe it is. The process only took about 5 minutes and very well may have saved the hive. Only time will tell.
I also got a lot of nice shots of the queen.
I finally broke down and bought a crockpot just to melt wax in. It cost $20 at WalMart but it is a lot safer and cleaner than melting was in aluminium pans in the oven. While I’m still on a very small scale, this works great.
I had intended to re-apply wax to some old plastic frames but I just ran out of time this weekend. Since I am working two jobs Monday and Tuesday, I will not get another chance before I make splits on Wednesday. It’s okay, as I am sure I have enough comb covered frames from last year to make my splits.
Paint Spray and New Air Compressor
Let’s start with the Air Compressor. As I mentioned last week, my old 3 gal. 1/3 HP 100 PSI Oil-Free Pancake Air Compressor went out. The replacement one would have cost $60 but for $120 I was able to get 6 gal. 1.5 HP 150 PSI Professional Air Compressor. So I did. Now I have a compressor that can run much larger tools and it works great.
I also bought an Airless Paint Sprayer Kit when it was on sale a couple of weeks ago for $169. While it took me a little while to figure it out (with the help of my wife), the sprayer worked great. I was able to spray a gallon of primer on 30 supers, 31 bottoms, and 33 lids in about 15 minutes.
I had a 5 gallon bucket of old exterior paint but after using an attachment for my drill, it mixed up great. However, it still had some crap on the bottom that eventually clogged up the strainer on the intake hose just before I finished painting the last stack of supers.
I may have used some choice language at this point.
While trying to find the clog, I loss the seal out of the guns nozzle. Of course I didn’t know I lost the seal, so when I finally got the hose unclogged, I hit the trigger and sprayed myself… AND THAT CONCLUDED MY PAINTING FOR THE DAY! A new seal will be in Wednesday.
Clean up was a pain in the ass the first time. However, on the second time, I pre-filled three 5-gallon buckets with clean water. When I finished, I flushed each bucket through the sprayer and by the third bucket, the water ran clean – super easy.
The Diet – 414 lbs
I hadn’t intended on turning this into a diet blog but my health is an intricate part of my homestead adventure. Besides that, if I don’t do something soon, I’m going to get my own show on TLC! So I will be leaving a small note about my progress in my weekly blogs from here out.
I’ve always had a weight problem, so the fact I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue last year isn’t the cause but it sure hasn’t helped either. Since my diagnosis, I have put on about 50 lbs. However, I’ve put on about 20 of those pounds in the past month after giving up Coke Zero for Lent and instead drinking sugar filled drinks.
Incidentally, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure a month ago as well. Because of that, I have been walking 30 minutes three times a week for the past two weeks. That pretty much doubled my daily steps, so the recent 20 lbs really came as a surprise.
Then there was the tipping point. I had already resolved myself to start watching what I eat as of today but while I was painting the hives, my wife took a picture of me in my overalls. At 6’3″ I had convinced myself I “carried it well” – the picture said otherwise.
So as of today, I am using the “My Net Diary” diet app to track my calories and activity level. I’ll let you know how it goes in the weeks to come.
Here’s to hoping this is just an awesome before picture this time next year.