Stubby Bee Apiary at Rath Farms

July 13, 2024

Today was the day that allowed me to attempt my first queen grafting. Unlike last weekend, this time I was able to find some very young larvae. Unfortunately, the larvae were from the new hive (this years nuc). There was more than enough there and the hive is very strong. The overwintered hive is not queen right at present, though, the queen cells are gone, maybe suggesting I have a virgin queen. Time will tell. At this point it looks like we need two queens. The pressure is on.

After choosing where to get the larvae from, I made a starter/finisher nuc. I shook off some bees from some frames that had brood in attempts to get as many nurse bees as needed for this task. I removed a frame of brood and brought it over to the rhino for a closer look. Because it was quite warm out and I only wanted to get a few larvae grafted, I elected to do the grafting right there at the apiary.

In the end I was able to graft 12 cells. At first I found if difficult to get the grafting tool to do what I wanted it to do. But by the last graft I think I got a handle on it. I thought the problem would be finding the correct aged larvae. But it was the actual grafting procedure that I struggled with at first. I do not have hands of a surgeon. Trevor was there which was a great help. With the some of the supers sticking to the ones below them it is nice to have two sets of hands.

July 6, 2024

Went to the farm this weekend. The weather was looking good and I was excited to get the chance to start my queen rearing experience. Trevor and I arrived at the apiary about 10:00 hrs. Oh no! We have a swarm. At the time I didn’t know if we were unlucky to have a swarm or lucky to have caught it.

We quickly came up with a plan. We could see that the bees were starting to settle down on a nearby spruce tree. As we deliberated on what exactly we should do, we noticed that the swarm in the tree was growing. So, we decided to inspect the two existing hives in the apiary to see which one swarmed. While the swarm had a chance to group together on a spruce limb.

I suspected it was our over wintered hive. But why now? We had just inspected it and they had plenty of room to grow. Both hives had plenty of bees. The over wintered hive did show signs of swarming with swarm cells on a couple of frames. We were unable to find the queen. The new hive was just as strong and there too, we did not find the queen. Both hives had young larvae. Needless to say I would not be creating the queen starter/finisher hive this weekend like I had intended.

After inspecting the two hives in the apiary, we turned our attention to the swarm. By then, it was evident the queen was in that mass of bees under the spruce limb. The plan was to take an empty brood box, without any frames, and drop the bees in from the limb. Trevor happened to have a tree limb pruner in the back of the rhino and we carefully removed limbs around the swarm. Then, with most bees in the swarm under the limb, Trevor cut off the limb and I lowered the limb with the bees into the brood box. There I gave the limb a jostle and the bees fell into the box.

We left the box there under the spruce tree with the entrances open. But the box was covered, as if it were a working hive. We came back 4 or 5 hours later and moved the box over to the apiary. We add 8 frames to the box for a start and left them alone. We will come back later in the week to see how they are doing and if the queen has started laying eggs again.

Swarm of Apis mellifera under a spruce limb.
Brood box full of the swarmed bees. We left this box here for 4 or 5 hours. Returning it to the apiary afterwards
Video of swarm just before capture

July 1, 2024

Happy Canada Day!

This was the weekend to start some queen rearing. Unfortunately, the weather was too cool and wet. I hope to try again this upcoming weekend. Fingers crossed.

Two weeks ago I took a course on queen rearing offered by the Calgary District Beekeepers Association. Great course taught by Michael Dombrowski. If anything, he was able to make sure the students are confident in their attempts at this delicate but necessary beekeeping skill. I was playing around with affixing the queen cups we were given, to the queen rearing frame.

Noticed that the frame was missing braces on one side. I was able to find some scrap wood to make some ad hoc braces.
Added the cups (variety given for learning) to the frame braces. Right now i prefer the yellow ones, as they stick into the grooves and are solid. Still learning about how much wax is needed to affix the cups.
This shows the “one”side that has the proper braces.

June 22, 2024

Checked in on the hives today. Both the overwintered colony and the new colony are looking good. We are queen right in both hives. I was able to see the queen in our new colony (middle hive). I was able to identify eggs in both hives. We added a super and a queen excluder for on each hive.

Our 2 working hives on June 22, 2024 after inspection and adding a super to each.

June 4, 2024

Just spoke with Trevor and he went out to inspect the new hive to see if we’re queen right or not. I need to let Eliese know by tomorrow. He found some white crystalline stuff that we are both unsure of.

Just looked at it on my computer where I could get a better view and stop the video to take a pic. I think it is larvae.

June 3, 2024

June 1, 2024

Nuc Install

Late start to the beekeeping season this year. On June 1st, I will acquire an additional nuc to add to our 1 surviving hive. We will go into the season with 2 hives with hopes of harvesting more honey than last year. Unfortunately, the weather this spring has been cool. In fact, tonight Bergen is in a frost warning overnight. It is June tomorrow. Ugh!!

Today I picked up my yearly nuc purchase from ABC Bees. As with every year, the bees come from Bill Stagg at Sweetacre Apiaries in Tappen, BC. After an approximately 1.5 hour drive to Rath Farms, I unloaded the bees at the apiary and opened the entrance to the nuc box. This was to let the bees start to get used to their new surroundings and acclimatize for an hour or so before I started to put them into their new home.

Apiary with new storage shed

When I arrived on site, I was greeted by this new storage shed (above) that Trevor built to house all of our supplies. Everything right there on site.

After letting the new residents of Rath Farms get accustomed to their new local, I put on my bee suit and got to work. The one surviving hive is the closest to the new storage shed. When I arrived there was a flurry of activity at the entrance. The weather today was partly cloudy and about 15 Celsius. I cleaned out both of the hives on the left side of the apiary as the dead outs were still present. The new nuc went into the middle hive. Once I started moving the frames to the hive, the bees started really getting active. I wouldn’t say they were aggressive, but they were very active. I did not get stung at any time today.

Nucs Ready for the Taking
Strapped in
Some Sand Hill Cranes Just Southeast of Rath Farms
Active Winter Survivors
Awaiting Installation

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