Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

Ongoing Adventures of a First Year Beekeeper

876 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  marant
This is my first year as a beekeeper and I decided maybe I can help others avoid some of my basic mistakes. First a brief history:

Decided I needed to keep bees when I had a sample of honey from my water meter which tasted like hot peppers. Ordered a nuc from BeeWeaver for delivery this spring, picking it up in late March. Decided I want to try to be treatment free (thus the Varroa resistant queen) and foundationless from the start. We will see if it works.

Went to local big box store that sells small trees. As I entered I saw a small swarm (smaller than a football) hanging from a pecan tree in a pot. Asked if I could have it, they said sure. Went to get what I thought I needed but by the time I returned District said I had to be 'certified'. Sure. Would not let me take the bees. Told them I wanted to buy a pecan tree. They said wonderful, just pick one out. You know which one I wanted. Paid for the tree, carried it and the bees to my truck and knocked them into a box with frames. Thought I had the entrance screened. By the time I got home the box had shifted (tie down? I don't need to for such a short trip. Sure). No bees. Two good things though, I learned a lot, and was able to return the tree for a refund the next day, since I do not need another pecan tree.

My daughter 70 miles away has had a hive in a tree for several years, so, of course, I decided I needed to trap it. Built a Hogan trap (with a lot of help from Cleo on the forum) which now needs brood to lure the queen. If my new hive has any I can get. A real question since I have never found the queen or seen eggs or larvae. But there is a lot of capped brood and a lot of bees making their orientation flights, so she must be there. Have been pushing 1:1 syrup to stimulate comb building so will go have a look.

The center frames in the second box have masses of bees on them. Finally getting one out...nothing but capped brood. And a lot of bees. Second one has sugar water and, wonder of wonders, a lot of open larvae. It is also covered with a mass of bees. Cleo says it is important to have no bees on the frame. Try to brush them off gently. They won't let go. Some stick their heads into cells. Can't find my feather so decide to use pine needles from my smoker stash. They still won't let go, but I am able to stick pine needles into the sugar water in the cells. Bees all around me by now, for the first time, but they are still pretty mellow. Let's see, time to rethink foundationless with new white comb. Do I dare shake it? It is fastened all around the frame so I give it a good shake and lo and behold, a lot of bees fall off the frame and enter the orbit around my head. No damage to the frame of brood. A couple more gentle shakes and most are off the frame. Put it into the nuc for transport 70 miles, with a frame partially full of new comb. Still bees on the frame, but most of them depart to go back to the hive. Close up the nuc and am ready to go.

Now to see what happens when I open the Hogan trap for the first time to put the frames in place.
See less See more
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Well, installed the frame of open brood and one of new comb with little problem. However, only a few of the bees are using the entrance provided. Discovered they are going around the black plastic and duct tape, using the original entrance. Come to find out, oak trees have very rough bark with fissures that are exactly 3/8", so the bees were just using them like a tunnel. Not possible to close off with duct tape. So...stuck some of my daughters cotton balls onto the duct tape and pressed them into the fissures, with the ends of the duct tape holding them in place. By the time we left it appeared they are stymied and are re-orienting to the entrance provided. Hope so.

Am somewhat concerned that the open brood may not survive until the new nurse bees discover them and begin to care for them. Any thoughts?
Nurse bees will find the brood within minutes of it being installed.

Looks like you are headed in the right direction.

I want to know more about the hot pepper honey....
I am not sure just where it came from. The hive was in my water meter so was less than 30 days old. Beekeeper from the water district vacuumed it up, found a small comb of honey, about the size of a travel bar of soap. Definite pepper taste. My neighbor had a few Jalapeno pepper plants, and, here in Texas, there is a wild, very hot, pepper called a chili pequin.

My theory is that the honey was made at exactly the right time to concentrate the pepper nectar, though it was small in quantity. I will certainly be looking for it with my hive this summer, but expect it will be diluted by firewheel, mesquite and all the other wildflowers.
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.