It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019
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  1. #1
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    Default It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    I'd love to see a recap of 2019 from others. This is meant to be light hearted and fun way for us to share what happened. Here's my list-

    Best-
    1) I learned how to buy bees. If you lose them you need to be good at buying them. Found high quality nucs and good queens from local stock. Score.

    2) Caught a swarm. Technically the swarm guy caught it. But I found it and hived it. Apparently beekeeping is more about making a mess and cleaning it up then anything. Swarm guy is now available via instant messaging.

    3) Learned how to buy more stuff- got a great bee jacket after getting stung in the soft part of my arm one too many times. Favorite new equipment- BeeSmart robbing screen, UltraBreeze jacket, Dadant smoker, Varrox wand

    Worst-
    1) Ran from the bee yard- twice. Like a girl. I'm female but seriously, it looked ridiculous.

    2) Lost a caged queen because the cage fell screen down and with no attendants she likely starved or dehydrated and died. I buried her with a little rock marker. Lesson learned.

    3) Worst purchase- pint of Prohealth essential oils. Bees hate it I hate it. Future use as a door stop or to take paint off furniture.

    What's your list?
    Last edited by LAlldredge; 11-04-2019 at 09:24 AM.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    I learned not to buy colonies sight-unseen. Yes, I did that, bought 6 hives, for the value of the equipment they were in. Three were queenless, one was tiny, one was very testy.

    I learned that having enough bees and equipment, plus good weather, you can recover from a lot of problems. Those 6 hives (mentioned above) plus the three I had before are now 8 strong colonies, plus 3 healthy nucs going into winter. I learned how to get them to make queens, and how to use nucs as brood bombs. I learned how to boost weaker colonies, to get them where they needed to be. All in all, it was quite worth it. I still won't buy them sight-unseen again.

    I learned that end of season mites are a force to deal with. Wow, but I think they are under control now.

    I learned that buying queens for requeening is not the way I want to do things. I'm sure the queens I bought were great, but they are now gone, superseded.

    I learned that if I want to get ahead in this game, I need to quit buying stuff. Except an EasyVap, I need that

  4. #3
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    Santa Fe, NM, U.S.
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    The worst of times: This spring I went and open up what I thought was going to be a queen I was going to breed from this year. I breed her last summer and her hive was exactly what I want in my apiary, low varroa, great honey production, Gentle, great brood pattern, and nothing crazy in the propolus department. And the colony was DEAD! my breeder-to-be was DEAD!

    The best of times: I waited to overwinter a queen I loved before breeding her --she died! Obviously, she didn't have good overwintering genetics--so glad I didn't breed from her!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    I learned this year that it's more challenging than I would have expected to try to find another property to keep my bees.

    Still searching.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by LAlldredge View Post
    I'd love to see a recap of 2019 from others. This is meant to be light hearted and fun way for us to share what happened.
    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    I learned that if I want to get ahead in this game, I need to quit buying stuff.
    Great post, LAlldredge- I was smiling as I read your post... and I can completely identify with most of what you shared.

    For me, it has been on the whole a good year thus far and it seemed to be one of continually being reminded that the bees know best.

    While there are times when I can (and should) intervene, there are also plenty of times I would have been better served to have left them alone.

    An example is when I proceeded to shake-out a queenless hive this summer only to discover that they were in-fact very much queenright but were taking a brood break. I quickly buttoned the hive up and cleaned up the mess, but only after I had ruined a bunch of perfectly good comb and wreaked significant havoc on the colony.

    The good news is that when I buttoned them back up and provided them with copious amounts of supplemental feed they are now looking good by all outward appearances.

    I've also learned that some of the most promising stock (captured swarms) and equipment (Warre hives from a friend getting out of beekeeping) I have are things that I did not buy.

    Again, I enjoyed your post and I am hopeful that others share their stories from this year- thanks for starting this thread.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  7. #6
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    2019 started with satisfactory results from a 2018 experiment. I converted three of my quilt boxes to Vivaldi boards. After the roller coaster spring we had I liked them so much I converted my other quilts.

    I had a favorite queen that the workers kept trying to supersede. After knocking down the first queen cells I moved her and three frames of bees off to a nuc in mid June. After a slow start she took off and filled the nuc, and mid July she was back in a regular hive that continued to boom all summer. Her new colony is strong and well loaded for winter. The mother hive raised a huge queen that also lays like crazy.

    I bought two Ceracel top feeders and the Ceracel nuc feeder. These feeders are the bomb! Absolutely fantastic feeder.

    Mid summer all the bees got into something nasty, they were making some very weedy tasting honey. Sweet and yucky. They got to keep it. I hope this is not something they have figured out, a greedy conspiracy to keep their haul. A friend said he was willing to go ahead and brew the little bit that I harvested for mead. I'll get a bottle back. Either it will work or I'll have a paint stripper.

    I had two newly mated queens in mating nucs. I marked them prior to moving them to nucs the following day. I had them safely tucked in JZBZ cages with attendants, and then decided at the last minute to let them out and roam free one more day. They'd be easy to find. The next day as I walked into the apiary I could see one of the mating nucs was being robbed. I got in there and found the ball and got the queen out and into a JZBZ cage. She was still breathing but not moving. I gave her a drop of honey and she started moving around the cage, I thought she might make it, but then a couple of hours later she was dead. So I didn't do her a favor by letting her roam free, caged she would have been safe. My vial of swarm lure got more queen pheremones.

    Spring was terrible. Alternated between sunshine and snow from March until mid June with 60 swings, then skipped spring and went right into blow-torch. Fruit trees didn't bloom.

    In early May before I had any drones or chance to raise my own queen I had to re-queen a colony with a purchased queen. The supplier assured me her queens were gentle. I made a swarm control split a week later, and not seeing any drones yet, I bought another queen from the same lady. Both of them are meaner than snot and I've got a swollen right hand with five itchy sting spots from the weekend to prove it will be re-queening with some of my own next summer.

    I still suck at grafting, still compensating by grafting four times what I need.

    Only fell once, tripped while carrying the smoker and an armful of frames back up to the house. I tried to run it out to recover, and for a bit I thought I would, made it probably 20 feet, but gravity would not be denied her spite, and down I went. Fortunately it was a spot I had run a tractor through several days earlier so the dirt was soft and dry, but because of that I also kicked up a cloud of dust. It was spectacular. The kids laughed. Hard. I said words they shouldn't hear. The soft dirt was what tripped me in the first place.

    And, in the worst of times, a good friend passed today.
    Last edited by JConnolly; 11-04-2019 at 08:46 PM.
    Zone 6B

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JConnolly View Post
    It was spectacular. The kids laughed. Hard. I said words they shouldn't hear. The soft dirt was what tripped me in the first place.

    And, in the worst of times, a good friend passed today.
    JConnolly:

    Great post- reminded me while reading that life is full of joy and sorrow with a little self-deprecating humor mixed in. Glad to know that I'm not the only one who serves as the comic relief within my family.

    Thanks for sharing- I enjoyed the read.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  9. #8
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Thanks for sharing. Can only imagine how that looked...
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Best-
    Getting better at finding queens. Have found a few this year in less than an hour.

    Worst-
    I'm still really bad at finding queens.


    Quote Originally Posted by LAlldredge View Post
    Worst-
    1) Ran from the bee yard- twice. Like a girl. I'm female but seriously, it looked ridiculous.
    I laughed out loud at this. I've run from a hive more than once. I'm sure it looks way worse than ridiculous.
    I'm not small and I'm not a girl.
    4' 25" and 225 lbs.
    My 5 foot-nothing wife in the pink hood/shirt yells at me to "get back over here, they're not going to hurt you!"

  11. #10
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Interesting that all posts but one involve queens thus far as does mine. I go to check a week old 5 frame nuc and see it is being robbed. I take the top off, pull the queen cage out of it and see the queen is still in it, lay it down on top the frames and out of it she runs and takes to the air, last I saw of her she was going over a roof top. Best is I have tripled my hives since spring.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by Greeny View Post
    My 5 foot-nothing wife in the pink hood/shirt yells at me to "get back over here, they're not going to hurt you!"
    That was super hilarious. Thanks for sharing. The pink hoodie part was awesome.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Best was having my overwintered hive do well all summer and getting 11 gallons of honey out of 2 hives (and leaving them 75+ lb each).

    Worst was losing those 2 hives due to MAQS failure resulting in small hives that didnt make it thru a 0 degree F cold snap. I still have 2 new splits that seem to be doing well, so hopefully they both make it thru the winter.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Another random one this year. I also learned not to eat fresh crispy cream doughnuts on the way to the club meeting with a honey competition and then handle jars of honey. I got dinged for finger prints on the jars. Live and learn

  15. #14
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by elmer_fud View Post
    Another random one this year. I also learned not to eat fresh crispy cream doughnuts on the way to the club meeting with a honey competition and then handle jars of honey. I got dinged for finger prints on the jars. Live and learn
    Yeah, don't take the donuts to another State and sell them either ...

  16. #15
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Thank you, I needed this post for a good laugh tonight.

    Best: I did a successful trap-out 18' up a tree.
    I caught my own swarm.
    Having awesome mentors.

    Worst: Badly scratched the kitchen floor while extracting honey.
    Rusing to put my bee suit on to catch a swarm and not getting the zippers sealed well...4 bees in the hood.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Not much of the best of times thing here in Montana hobbyist land. Counting our cold fall, 22 F high today!, we have had the coldest year in local recorded history. Spring came late and was cold, bees did not build up and splits mostly failed. The commercial guys who came in with booming hives had a very good year, but my bees did not get built up to make much use of the flow before it dried out in July. Very poor crop for me. I did make sure I had my colonies all fed up to winter weight and have them snugly wrapped with insulated wraps and have MC on them. Mites treated and levels nil by August. Now it is wait until a warm day in early January when I take a peek to find the inevitable hog or two that has already chewed thru their stores and will need sugar bricks to make it til April. Then mid February, the pollen patties go on to build the bees and put another seasons promise in place.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Beekeeping is a journey
    1. It's better to share the journey with others especially newbies, so they don't make the same mistakes you do and a funny thing happens, you learn from others
    2. Deconstructed my TBH and re-designed it to a HH hive - the bees love it
    3. Started with a package of bees only to get 3 swarm calls within a week's time. Started with 1 hive and ended with 4 hives. Lesson: make sure you have extra equipment, you never know when you're going to need it.
    4. Learned how to go foundationless without the hassle of major cross-combing. Semi-foundation!
    5. Don't put your bee jacket in the washing machine with the hood attached. Eventually, the screening will develop holes and you'll have bees in your bonnet. Ouch! Had to buy a new jacket.
    6. Don't ignore the mite count. It can be the difference between keeping bees or losing bees. Bot an OA vaporizer and keeping the mites in check.
    7. Took a bee biology workshop and seeing these amazing creatures under a microscope has given me a new appreciation for what the honey bee is and does! Pollen under the microscopes is actually beautiful. They're as unique as snowflakes.
    8. Life is good, life as a beekeeper is better and tea with honey kinda makes it all worthwhile
    9. There are 4 levels of understanding:
    a. You don't know you don't know
    b. You know you don't know
    c. You know you know
    d. You don't know you know
    Still trying to figure out what level I'm at when it comes to beekeeping......
    Last edited by tenleez; 11-07-2019 at 01:34 AM.

  19. #18

    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by LAlldredge View Post
    I'd love to see a recap of 2019 from others. This is meant to be light hearted and fun way for us to share what happened. Here's my list-

    Best-
    1) I learned how to buy bees. If you lose them you need to be good at buying them. Found high quality nucs and good queens from local stock. Score.

    2) Caught a swarm. Technically the swarm guy caught it. But I found it and hived it. Apparently beekeeping is more about making a mess and cleaning it up then anything. Swarm guy is now available via instant messaging.

    3) Learned how to buy more stuff- got a great bee jacket after getting stung in the soft part of my arm one too many times. Favorite new equipment- BeeSmart robbing screen, UltraBreeze jacket, Dadant smoker, Varrox wand

    Worst-
    1) Ran from the bee yard- twice. Like a girl. I'm female but seriously, it looked ridiculous.

    2) Lost a caged queen because the cage fell screen down and with no attendants she likely starved or dehydrated and died. I buried her with a little rock marker. Lesson learned.

    3) Worst purchase- pint of Prohealth essential oils. Bees hate it I hate it. Future use as a door stop or to take paint off furniture.

    What's your list?
    Best of times: I treated a hive with formic acid and forgot to remove the entrance reducer per instructions. Four hours later, it was getting dark and cold, I put my hood on and ran to the hive with no smoke, worried I may have killed the bees, thinking that if they were alive, they wouldn't be flying in the cold and dark, and all I wanted to do was take out the reducer. The instant I touched the reducer, the bees came streaming out of the hive - walking. Glad they were still alive, I started fussing with the reducer. Got one side free, now to push it straight out and pull...I looked down and saw bees, all over my unfastened pants legs and shoes. They had me! I hightailed back to the house, feeling the first (and only) sting on my ankle. I carefully removed my pants and shoes, put on my bee suit, and went back to the hive in the dark to pull the entrance reducer out. And I felt grateful I only was stung once and the bees lived through my mistake.

  20. #19
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    Pleasanton, CA, USA
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    Default

    1) Bad: Lost 3 of 4 hives I over-wintered. Very mild winter means higher bee lost in sunny CA.
    Good: successfully combined Queenless hive with Queen-right that blew down in storm and lost critical mass.
    2) Bad: Ran Down quiet suburban street in full bee gear being swarmed by hot hive at 11pm - had to run about 3 city blocks before bees left me alone. Definitely Africanized.
    Good: Hot hive alone produced ~100 lbs of honey. In requeening hot hive was able to split it into 4 hives. All 4 hives going strong and no sign of aggression (mated them in different DCA - Africanized traits most likely from commercial beekeepers who bring in hives from SoCal).
    3) Bad: Lost one hive split to mites and robbing
    Good: from early Spring of 2 hives, ended up with 16 - yes sixteen colonies. I have issues of too many bees, have to split them 2 to 4 times a year so that they don’t go above 5 boxes tall and peek over fence. (And no I don’t feed my bees). Trying to keep beekeeping in down low.
    4) Bad: Due to high mite count was forced to do brood break split in early Oct.
    Good: Split in Oct 1st successfully created mated queen by Nov. 5th

  21. #20
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    Default Re: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times- wisdom and folly from 2019

    >2) Bad: Ran Down quiet suburban street in full bee gear being swarmed by hot hive at 11pm - had to run about 3 city blocks before bees left me alone. Definitely Africanized.

    Who works bees at 11 pm? That was your problem. Not Africanizaton. If there are Africanized bees in Pleasontan, why have we not heard of it? Send us some substantiation of that before issuing hysteria.
    All of my opinions and suggestions are based on my five decades of actual beekeeping,
    not so much on book learning, watching YouTube videos nor reading internet sites.

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