Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beetles - My Arch-nemisis

I'm still struggling with the Mating Nuc Concepts. The idea to leave one of the nucs closed up with tape worked out pretty well. Except for the one that I didn't keep closed  absconded.

Abscond is a beekeeping term that gets used to say the bees left. However if you look it up in Merriam's Dictionary it says:

past tense: absconded; past participle: absconded

  1. leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection of or arrest for an unlawful action such as theft.
    • (of someone on bail) fail to surrender oneself for custody at the appointed time.
    • (of a person kept in detention or under supervision) escape.

      "176 detainees absconded"
    • (of a colony of honeybees, especially Africanized ones) entirely abandon a hive or nest.

Great word but anyway... The bees left the opened hive.

You can see the beetle larvae on
the drone brood.
Noah and I inspected them on Saturday only to find that the bees in out first nuc (M1) were thriving, our previously closed nuc (M2) were doing fair, and the third nuc (M3) was empty except for a shit load of those damned beetles (insert fist shaken to the heavens).

I took the infected - is it affected or infected? Beetles are a F***ing curse so lets go with afflicted! I took the afflicted frame out and placed it in a gallon size Ziploc freezer bag (perfect fit) and put it in the freezer to kill everything in it. I'll place it in M1 later this week - no reason to waste the comb.

After that, Noah and I checkerboarded Hive-D.3, making it two boxes deep. I say boxes because there seems to be a lot of different words for the same terms. The bottom boxes are brood chambers and the top boxes are honey supers but all my boxes are the same size, so screw it, I'm saying boxes to keep down confusion.

Checkerboarding is another term that has different meanings. Here in the south it means that you placed a new frame between each drawn out frame in a box. I saw a YouTube video with a guy in Canada who had been chastised for using it in this manner but here in the south, that's what it means.

Again... ANYWAY... now that the hive has two boxes (or brood chambers) it should be ready to graft from in about two weeks. The box already had three good frames of brood and was packed with bees. I only wore a veil, gloves and an untucked shirt, so I got stung about 5 times.

Lastly we poisoned all the poison ivy in the yard (it was everywhere) and, as we did a, a rogue bee accosted us. First it bumped Noah's head, then it buzzed mine, and before we could do anything, it skewered my little buddy right in the face... that's when we called it a day.

Hive Count: 9 hives and 2 Mini Mating Nucs

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing... But I'm Doing It!

Noah and the (3) MMNs ... and poison ivy
all over the damn fence!!!!!
The new Mini Mating Nucs (MMN) we made the other day aren't doing well.

For starters, they had dysentery as could be seen from the brown streaks on the front of each box. At first I thought it might be Nosema but after doing a little research I concluded it might have come from my sugar syrup.

Why the sugar syrup? Well a couple of reasons.
1. I didn't measure my sugar to water very accurately. It turns out that too much water in the feed can cause the solids in the bees stomach to swell and that could give'em the shits.
2. I mixed too much sugar water the previous time and let it mold - or whatever that slime is called that it produced. Then I rinsed the jug out with dish soap but didn't really disinfect it. So the water could have been tainted that way.

At the end of the day, I concluded it wasn't Nosema since the parent hive seemed healthy. So I made fresh syrup, treated it with Tea Tree Oil as is a natural remedy for dysentery, and then discarded the old syrup.

The next problem I had with the (3) MMNs is that all the bees went into a single MMN. That is great for the winner but the other two MMNs failed to keep their queen cell warm. Real shame.

So Noah and I decided that the best course of action was to skip splitting hives and just correct our MMNs.

This time we decided to cut the queen cells and the adjacent comb out and rubber band them into MMN frames. This way the brood and the queen cells were together and would encourage the bees to keep both warm.

This turned out to be best as half of the queen cells had already hatched - or at least had been opened by the first queen to hatch. Only (4) viable cells were left.

So we did as planned. Queen Cells from Hive-D (which actually came from Hive-D.2s eggs) and then we took bees from Hive-A.

Hive-D was as vicious as I've ever seen a hive. I accidentally bobbled one of the cut outs (which might cause the queen cell in it to fail) but when I did, Hive-D swarmed me so completely that I almost couldn't see through the onslaught. Luckily my suit did it's job. I still got stung (15) times but I had more than (20) or (30) stingers in the chest of my suit. Hopefully the new queen will mate and then calm the hive down.

Noah got stung (3) times.

We then took nurse bees from Hive-A. They too were on the cantankerous side. Possible due to all of the pheromones radiating from the stingers in my suit. However, we shook a few frames of bees into the (2) MMNs and then closed them up. 

Note the brown streaks
I closed the entrance holes with duct tape. Then, once at home and on their new site, I removed the tape from one of the MMN and left the other closed to ensure they don't all go to one nuc again.

Mabel eating cheese dip
Lastly, my dog, Mabel was stung on the ear and it swelled to about three times its thickness. I felt terrible - not that she seemed upset by it. My wife and I spent the whole night feeding her treats and loving on her. We also gave her 25mg of diphenhydramine and by this morning the swelling was much better. If my backyard bees continue to cause her problems, I will have to move the hives back out to Dr.D's place. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mini Mating Nucs - First Use

Yesterday, shortly after 5:00pm, Noah arrived and we headed out to Dr. D's.

Hive-D.1 is still full of hive beetles. All the traps were empty. But a frame of wax had (20) or (30) beetle larva that I could see and I killed about (20) additional beetles.

This time I cleaned the bottom board and removed the infected frame - I left it laying in the sun for the bees to clean up. I placed a foundationless frame in its place - giving the bees less wax to protect. Then I closed it up and said a prayer.

Next I took my (3) MMN and set them on top of Hive-D.1's lid. I then shook bees from Hive-B into the MMN.

There was a frame of drone brood in Hive-B, so I cut it out and, using rubber bands, put them into (3) MMN frames. Then I placed one of these in each of the (3) MMN. That worked great as the nurse bees were drawn to the brood.

Several sites say to put about a cup of bees per MMN but I think I got about twice that in each.

Then we opened Hive-D. They were ferocious! Luckily I have a new bee suit and so I was safe and sound - mostly. I did get stung once or twice on the chest - though had I had on my rope vest on, I wouldn't have gotten those stings.

Noah got his first sting of the season (actually 2) though his jeans. He took it well.

The colored text indicates tomorrow's planned splits
The new Queen cells were in great shape and there were (11) of them in all. Using a small kitchen knife, I cut out (3) of the cells and placed one in each of the MMN. We set them on the bottom of the MMN - I'm not sure if that is okay. We should have pressed them into the comb but I didn't think of that until this morning. Once again my knowledge was foiled by my lack of experience. I'll do it right the next time.

Well after removing the (3) cells, there were still about (8) left. So the plan is use them Wednesday to make splits if it doesn't rains - which is a good possibility. Best laid plans of mice and men and all those sorts of things.
Total (9) Hives and (3) Mini Nucs

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Hive Beetles - I went all Yoko Ono on thier asses

Wax flakes left after the hive beetles chewed through several frames
Well I didn't get back out to Dr. D's place until Saturday around noon. I'd like to say it was because I worked late but truth was, I was just exhausted by the time I got home from Vicksburg on Friday.

Anyway, Saturday was pretty rainy but it let up for a few hours around lunch - though it was still very cloudy. The bees weren't flying much, which was good, because it let me see just how many bees were still in hive D.1 - one solid frame worth.

About (8) or (10) bees were huddled around the queen cage. When I let her out she rushed down between the frames - I hope due to labor pains!

The bees had eaten about half the sugar syrup, which I took as a good sign. Had it all been gone, then I would have thought robbing and if none where gone, then I would worry they weren't feeding.

Of course the real news is that the hive was still infested with beetles. I bet I mashed (50) or (60) of them with my hive tool. Then I scraped the larva into a puddle hoping to drown them - in retrospect I should have scraped them into my smoker. Just like Yoko, I didn't stop until there were no signs of the beetles left.

I then scraped off the end of my Fat Bee Man traps (and shook them by my ear to make sure the powder was loose - it was). Then I placed (2) dryer sheets on the top bars and (3) beetle buster traps filled with mineral oil. If that doesn't break up the group I may have to get some pesticide.

I got stung just once - not bad given it was cloudy and windy.

That was Saturday... I spent the rest of the day doing fuck-all. I'm ashamed that I wasted a whole day but I did.

Sunday, I realized how far I was getting behind and spent the whole day in my woodshop. I cut out (40) Hive lids and (80) Mini lids. Trimmed (15) Mini nucs to 9 5/8" and primmer coated them all.

Then I made (12) Mini frames. I didn't make them like the Dadant style with all the fancy (TIME CONSUMING) cuts. Instead I used a bunch of scrap bottom bars 3/4"x3/8" and quickly cut, clued, and stapled them together. I also glued wax coated popsicle sticks to the center of the top bar, since these are foundationless frames. All (12) only took about 30 minutes. If I had a Jig, I probably could have made (100) an hour.

Of course spacing them will now pose a problem but I would have to attach 5/16" shoulders to the each side to make them look like Dadants. I'm still working on that problem.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Attack of the Small Hive Beetles

Brood Comb destroyed by Small Hive Beetles
Wikipedia: "The small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) is a beekeeping pest."

Now there is an understatement. I've always had issues with hive beetles. For the most part I have used dryer sheets with a fair bit of success (though I am trying Don the fat bee man's traps with less success). However, when I split Hive-D, Hive-D.1 was very week.

In my last blog I tried to add a frame of brood to strength Hive-D.1 but it proved disastrous. The extra frame of brood and not enough bees to cover it gave the hive beetles a chance to spread - and by God they did.

The hive had a stagnant water smell but given all the rain we have had in past couple of days, I assumed I was smelling the wet ground. I also noticed all the larva was gone. Not just the frame I placed but all the larva my new VSH Queen had laid on the new comb... and the beetles were everywhere.

Then I saw the beetle larva but I mistook it for wax moth larva. There were only (3) of them when I banged the empty frame onto the lid of an empty nearby hive - though I think there might have been a lot more but the others were very tiny. (later when I was home, I YouTubed Wax Moths and realized the larva was not the same and so I checked hive beetles and confirmed my diagnosis).

The hive was nearly empty - no more than 50 or 100 bees and my precious little VSH Queen. I knew it was a matter of time before she either left or died so I decided to act. I placed the queen in a plastic queen cage with one attendant. Then I took the top box off of Hive-A and banged it onto Hive-D.1 filling it with bees. (I honestly did not look for the queen but I will before I release the VSH Queen tomorrow.)

Then I fed all the hives and went home. However, knowing I had to go out of town for work on a (48) hour overnighter, I worried that the queen might starve before I could release her. The more I thought about it the more I realized I needed to make sure she had food.

So I drove back out to Dr. D's and pressed a chunk of honey comb against the side of her cage and put her back in the hive. BTW, this was about (2)hours later and the hive was still packed with bees. I am hopeful the hive will now recover.

On Friday, I plan to use mineral oil traps I got from Mann Lake - that with dryer sheets and Don's boric acid traps should overwhelm the beetles. If not, I may have to consider some sort of pesticide or research other alternative methods.

As for Hive-D: I placed a frame of eggs in it on Sunday and by yesterday I had (5)to(7) new queen cells. I plan to cut all but two out on Monday and split Hives A,B,C in half with them.

I got stung 9 times through my suit in the shoulder, on the ankle, and on the ear - all on the right side for some reason. For what ever reason, Hive-A has become more aggressive with me, while completely ignoring Noah who is only a couple of feet away observing. (7) of the stings came from Hive-A but with the pheromone already on me, Hive-D instantly attacked when I opened the supers.

Hive Count: (9)

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Best Easter Eggs Of All – Queen Eggs

My biggest hurdle of beekeeping is not mites, moths, or beetles – it’s self-doubt. It took all my resolve to go out to the bee yard at Dr. D’s.   Actually, Noah wanting to go with me is what tipped the scales.

I would have gone anyway, but it might have been later Saturday or even Sunday – hell I might have waited until today! It’s like having a workout partner – some days you don’t feel like it but you go to keep from letting your partner down.
So I went. And it was wonderful! I swear that kid is good luck. All the hives are doing well.
This is the order I checked them:
Hive-D.1 is weak but the queen is laying eggs now.
Hive-D.2 was much stronger with two frames of brood.
Hive-B had several frames of brood and had drawn out nice straight comb on the foundationless hives.
Hive-A had a little brood. However, when I handed Noah the frame of brood so I could continue my inspection, he found the biggest, fattest, orange tailed queen I think I have ever seen.
Hive-C is doing well but I haven’t opened it for a proper inspection given that it has anger issues.
Lastly, Hive-D is slammed full of drones – obviously queenless.

So here is what I did:
Hive-A was fed but then left alone (Though this would have been a great time to split it since I had the queen in hand).

Hives at Dr. D's
Hive-B was fed and I took out one frame of uncapped brood and placed it in Hive-D.1 (in retrospect, Hive-D.1 is so small they may not be able to keep that whole frame of brood warm enough.)

I took a frame of eggs out of Hive-D.2 and placed them in Hive-D so that they could raise a new VSH queen.

Then I topped off the sugar syrup in all the hives and called it a day.

I got stung three times – once through my suit into my chest and twice on my neck though my veil. Two of them left no lingering signs. However, one of the ones on my neck still had the stinger in it when I got back to the truck and looks like a mosquito bite this morning.

Hive Count: 9

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Lord Giveth and Swarm Taketh Away

Truthfully, it wasn't a surprise that the swarm was gone. In fact, I was almost expecting it. So when I opened the new hive and found only (3) little bees flying around in it, I wasn't surprised - but I was greatly disappointed.

The feeling was sort of a numb feeling. One of the worst parts was having to tell my wife - not that she would be anything but supportive. The night I caught the swarm, I sent her the video clip and she sent me the text you see here. She deserves better.

Maybe it was because I left the Lemongrass Cotton Ball inside the super. Maybe I should have captured the queen in a cage. Maybe I should have put a queen excluder over the exit. Was there something wrong with the pallet wood I made the super out of? Maybe it was just bad luck. I don't really know but I will try the queen excluder next time.

You ever notice how when good things happen it's a blessing but when bad things happen it's just bad luck - and there in lies my real disappointment. Yesterday, I thought God had sent me a good omen. Today, I wonder if he is paying attention at all.

I don't mean to sound so petulant. I'm trying to have faith. Actually my prayer this year, isn't that nothing goes wrong, but that when things go wrong, God will teach (or at least lead me to the answers) and make me a better beekeeper. Maybe that was what this was about.

Me and Zack painting hives back in 2006
Today actually marks the 11th anniversary since I bought my first bees. I'm not actually sure of the exact date (being that Easter moves around the calendar) but it was on Good Friday 2006 (I had to actually make a timeline to figure the year out).

I can't believe how much has happened over those years. Losses and Gains (notice the order of those two - obviously I'm a negative person). Finding my wife - losing Dale. Fortunes gained and fortunes lost. My heart attack, my mom's stroke, my daughter's sudo-tumor. I published my first book. I traveled to the Canada, the Artic Circle, Ireland, Mexico, Bahamas, Malta, and back home. All of that actually happened in just the past 10 years - It's been quite the decade and Jen was there for all of it.

By the way: the hive count is back to (9).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Swarm Is Like Manna From Heaven

I caught my first swarm last night and it was like God just handed it to me.

But first... I’ve decided not to post so much about my personal life on here. I imagine if you are reading this, it’s because you are interested in bees and not in me. That being said, I have to tell this part before I tell you about my swarm:

On January 25, 2017 a collection agency accidently froze my bank account for a bill I had paid in full two years ago. They’ve admitted their mistake but my account is still frozen while they take their sweet time sorting it out. IT'S CRIMINAL. Yet when I called Morgan and Morgan (for the people law firm) to file a lawsuit yesterday, they said my case was "too complicated" for them and then wished me luck.

I can’t believe someone could do something like this without some sort of legal ramifications. Nonetheless, I was surprisingly not that upset - I think it might be because I feel conflicted about suing anyone.  However, I still think these people should be held accountable, whether I benefit or not. So I prayed about it and then emailed a local lawyer. That is the end of that story for now.

Now back to my swarm story:

“So there I was,” (You ever notice how often redneck stories seem to start with that line and end with, “hey - watch this”). Well anyway, there I was sitting at home feeling sorry for myself when my sister-in-law texted me that she had a friend with a swarm of bees.

I have never caught a swarm before so I didn’t know what to expect. I mean sure, YouTube makes it look super easy but I've also see YouTuber’s working their bees without a veil and I call horse shit on that too.

Just the same, I grabbed my gear and headed after it. It turned out the swarm was only a block from my house and, to my surprise, was only about twelve feet in the air.

Well I got my veil and gloves on and climbed up a ladder. Then, using my bee brush, I just swept the bees off the limb and into my box. It couldn’t have been easier! Of course half the bees went back up to the limb, so I repeated the process, this time using my gloved hand. Then, Bibbidi-Bobboidi-Boo, I had a new bee hive.

The two greatest parts of this story are:

First... at the very moment I felt like God wasn’t listening to me, he sent me this swarm of bees like a low hanging fruit. It felt like God was giving me a little nudge on the chin.
The second great thing about this story is that I caught the hive in one of my new beehives that I made from a repurposed pallet. That means I actually have a hive that cost me ZERO dollars.

So just like that, I now have 10 Hives. Hey - watch this... video. :)
p.s. sorry for the vertical video. :(

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Walk In The Clouds

This is a short one... not the kid, the blog.

I imagine everyone has a vision of what the perfect life would look like. For me, it's the movie A Walk In The Clouds. In fact, it is the very reason I became a beekeeper - as I mentioned in a past blog.

While I doubt I will ever own a vineyard, I still have this fantasy of the whole family coming home for the big harvest (Honey Harvest in my case). The whole family working together in the fields all day and then having a feast that night (of course everyone would share in the profit too). I know the whole thing sounds ridiculous and it is - and I am sure it will never happen.

Nonetheless, beekeeping is a good job - an average beekeeper makes upward of $70k a year. So I am encouraging my oldest nephew, Zack to learn the beekeeping trade (since on the ill-advice of his mother, he has dropped out of school at age 18). And I am hopeful that in a year or two, I will be able to employee him full-time or maybe he might even just work for someone else.

Of course, I'm not forcing it on him but I am encouraging him to help me out from time to time so he can learn. This is purely for his benefit, since he slows me down to a crawl when he is there. Just the same, yesterday I invited him to help me prep some supers for paint - partly because I felt guilty for spending all weekend with Noah (age 22) who was a genuine help. (Side note: Noah and my daughter are both graduating with a BSN from nursing school this coming Dec).

Yet when I went to pick Zack up, he had a scowl on his face. When I asked him why, it turned out that he didn't want to go. So I gladly left him. In retrospect, I think I need to sit him down and explain that this work is not for my benefit but for his. Then he can decide what to do on his own.

Anyway, a few minutes after I left, Zack's little brother, Zane (age 11) texted that he wanted to come and help. So he came down and we did a little beekeeping. It was a nice bonding experience and it definitely sparked Zane's interest. Who knows, maybe that big family harvest might happen after all.

Monday, April 10, 2017

No Eggs and the Night Dreads

My daughter’s boyfriend, Noah is interested in beekeeping and so he spent the weekend helping me – which was nice since I enjoy his company. I did my best to work on interesting projects and to allow him to observe the bees without getting stung. Nothing squelches a new beekeeper's enthusiasm quicker than getting stung repeatedly.

BTW: I got (6) stings this weekend but they were all well deserved for doing stupid shit.

I'd like to point out that I have a vast amount of beekeeping knowledge. I’ve studied beekeeping books and videos for years and I can answer most questions people ask. I’ve also gained a lot of experience through my own screw ups and I’m pretty good about only making the same serious mistakes once. That being said, there are so many times I look into my hive and feel as dumb as a dog looking at a doorknob.

We did manage to find both of the new queens out at Dr. D’s place but no eggs. At (43), I may need new glasses but I couldn’t find any eggs and I doubt all three of the new queens are just not laying. They may also need more time. Either way I felt defeated.

Once all the bees were fed, we called it a day. At home I did my best to waterboard my disappointment with a couple of bottles of Rascato but with very little success. So when all else failed, I went to bed.

The night dreads – that’s what I call it when I wake up in the middle of the night and begin imagine the worse case scenario for my life. It's not just empty thoughts; I think about sick family members, money issues, work problems and so on but I also obsess about all the things that could go wrong. I know the whole thing is compounded by the fact that I'm half asleep but it’s hard to tell if I’m insane or if I’m just really stressed out. I constantly worry that one day I’ll flip out like Leonardo Decaprio in The Aviator and my wife will just find me in front of the mirror muttering, “It’s the future… it’s the future… it’s the future… it’s the future…”

Nonetheless, at 4:00am Sunday morning, I woke up and began thinking about my beekeeping plans. Even if I could build (10) mini-nucs each weekend, I could still only get about (500) built in time for next spring. To make matters worse, at the rate I am splitting hives, I won’t be anywhere near (100) full size hives.

That was when a thought came to mind that I have rarely ever had about anything: “Maybe I should just quit.” It seems silly to think of it in the daylight but at 4:00am it seemed like a good idea – for about a half of a second anyway.

I can’t give up – this is my Plan G!

Plan A was Architecture but after designing a couple of dozen houses I got tired of designing other people's dreams. Plan B was when I became a fireman but the pay was so bad, I gave that up after about (4) years. Plan C was paramedic but that job is what sparked my anxiety issues. Plan D was offshore life but that dried up. Plan E was to become a writer but so far that hasn't panned out either - though I would gladly do that full-time. Plan L is to finish my degree and become a full-time teacher (I already teach part time). Around Plan Q is becoming a standup comic but my wife doesn’t think that shit's funny at all. And Plan Z is to keep doing what I’m doing as a Safety Man but that is far from a desired option.  (Note: I'm only kidding about my wife not being supportive - she actually supports anything I want to do... she is awesome! It sounds like pandering but she doesn't read this crap.)

So giving up on professional beekeeping is not an option. Of course reaching my goals this year doesn’t seem realistic either. That only leaves the third option; do what I can and be content “if” I do my best.

So my goal is still the same: Master grafting, create (750) mini mating nucs, and create (100) viable hives. However, that is my overall yearly goal. I need to set more obtainable, short term goals. So I made the following spreadsheet for this month and will do the same each month that follows for as long as it is helpful.

Monday, April 3, 2017

60 Stings – like being molested by a briar bush.

My wife, Jen
I drove to Philadelphia, MS Friday and picked up my three new queens. More importantly, I got to visit with Johnny Thomson of Broke-T Apiaries – what a nice guy. He answered all of my questions, which was a huge help because I couldn’t seem to find the answers anywhere. Here were the questions:

1.       Do you put Virgins or Queen-cells in the mating hive? I hear both ways but Johnny said he gets better acceptance with Queen-cells.

2.       Can you sell Virgins? Yes

3.       How long do you leave the queen in the mating nuc? 21 days. That seems a little long but he charges $25 a queen rather than $20 and that seems to make up for lost time.

4.       When to start grafting? Mid February.

a.       I had been told by other beekeepers not to split until Easter but Johnny started his splits March 1st. I should have done the same.

5.       When is the breading season? Mid February to the end of June – not much market for Queens in the summer but there is a market for Queens in the fall.

6.       What do you do with mating nucs when the season is over? Johnny uses a (3) frame medium mating nuc and combines three of them together to make a new hive in June. He said he doesn’t have an issue with bees fighting when he does this.

7.       Do you need to add bees and food to the mating nucs? No. Once the nucs get going they are self-sustaining – but if a hive doesn’t make a queen it will have to be given a frame of brood to keep its numbers up.

So these questions helped out a lot.

New hive configuration after splits
When I got home that afternoon, I went to the doctor’s place and split my largest hive (D). However, as I began checking it, I found that it did not have any fresh brood and was full of drones.

Then I started to get stung. Once or twice at first but the longer I worked the more I got stung until the bees made their way into my shirt and began stinging me over and over.

I had already split the hive into three new hives – two on the location and one to take home with me. The problem was that I wasn’t sure if I had put enough young bees in the new splits. Yet with the stings mounting, I found it hard to remain focused. I had brought sugar syrup but I only fed Hives (A) & (B). The rest of the food I ended up taking home with me as a fled the scene.

Of course I didn’t leave until all the hives where in order and closed up but once at home I couldn’t help but worry I hadn’t made proper splits.

My wife helped me scrape out the last of the singers and then counted the red whelps – (60) in all... my personal best. I didn’t feel too bad but I was chilled the rest of the night. Nonetheless, by morning the stings had shrunk to little red spots and I was no worse for the wear – though as I type this, a few spots on my chest are still itching but not bad.

I went back out to the hives Sunday and found that the queen in (D.1) had been released and accepted. (D.2) had plenty of bees but had not let the queen out yet. (D.3) the hive I brought home is full of bees and the queen is close to being released. I have put brood builder feed in all of the hives now and will feed again on Tuesday.

For now it seems that all of my splits are doing well. As for hive (D) which is the one that stung the hell out of me – well I think it is queenless and I will put a frame of eggs in this weekend if the new queens can spare them.

I also went by the old farm Friday but the field was a swamp and I couldn’t get back to check those two hives. For now they are like Schrodinger’s Cat. The good news is I have a lead on a new site that is closer to my house and so I will be moving the hives from the old farm to there as soon as I have queen cells.

I know this all sounds like a horror story but I take comfort in each sting I get, knowing that if it were easy, everyone would do it. I know it might sound bazaar but I feel that each sting it a little penance that must be paid for a great reward. I’ve spent years and thousands of dollars to earn the beekeeping education I have (weak as that knowledge may be); I’ve gone too far to turn back now.

The new hive count is (9).