The last few weeks have been very busy. Bees are wild creatures and they don’t always behave in the way you want. That being said, we’ve had some ups and downs. But overall, the bees are doing well and the nectar has really been flowing.
We recently decided to get a logo commissioned for our little operation. We commissioned one to be drawn up by The Logo Company. They did a great job and the service was excellent. The hardest part was deciding from all the great design concepts.
We also obtained a like-new 9 frame radial extractor. We purchased it from another beekeeper and got a very good deal on it. It will make harvesting our honey much more quick and easy.
Some of our hives have really put on lots of honey and we’re really excited that we will soon have a good harvest of fresh, raw honey. From talking with my beekeeping mentor, I’ve learned that we might be able to start extracting some in about a month.. We will be sure to post an announcement when we have some available.
One of the best things about our second year of beekeeping is all the free bees I’ve been able to obtain. Last year I had to purchase package bees to get started, this year I’ve not spent a dime on package bees. Last week I learned of another feral colony that was causing some trouble for a lady near Soperton, GA.
The bees had taken up residence in an old 55 gallon drum. The landowner estimated that the bees lived there for 3 or 4 years. When I opened it, I found the drum was almost 3/4 full of comb and bees. It took a few hours to finish, but I managed to get the drum cleaned out and the bees hived successfully.
So here we are… It’s the start of our 2nd season keeping bees. We got through what turned out to be a very mild Winter and we’re excited about what 2012 has in store. We lost one hive, but overall, our remaining hives are super strong. We’re really hoping to see a great harvest this year.
Last week we moved a hive to a location north of Metter. We have some friends with a nice piece of property there and they were gracious enough to allow us to set out 2 hives that I needed to get moved from my backyard. The offer of free pollination and honey helped seal the deal.
Last year the two locations in which we have hives produced honey that had very distinct flavors. I’m hoping perhaps we see the something similar now that we have 3 yard locations.
I have been late in posting updates on the bee removal we did in Portal last week. The colony was very healthy and the removal was largely a success. The bee-vac we built worked very well.
We hived the colony and placed it in the woods on the family farm. When I inspected the hive, I discovered that the bees had made several queen cells on the comb we salvaged. That told me that the queen didn’t survive the removal. I would buy a new queen, but in this case I am going to allow these bees to raise their own in order to retain as much of their feral genetics as possible.
Below is a couple of pictures we took before we began removing the bees. The exposed mass of bees and comb was really just the tip of the iceberg because much more of the colony was located up under the floor boards of the house above the black area you see in the picture. The 3rd picture is of the hives in which the bees now reside.
A couple of days ago, we received a call about a bee removal in Portal, GA. There’s an old mobile home that’s being torn down and it just so happens there’s a colony of bees living under it. We didn’t have a bee-vac and we weren’t prepared to have a removal to do this time of year. If we ordered a commercial made bee vac, there’s no way it would have arrived on time. Today we took matters into our own hands.
Having a bee vac is considered essential equipment in the modern age of bee removal. Suctioning the bees off of their comb helps reduce the number of stings to the beekeeper and, if done correctly, will enable to the beekeeper to capture the majority of the colony without injuring or killing them. After the bees and comb are safely removed from where they are not wanted, they can later be reunited in a conventional hive and relocated to somewhere better for both bees and people.
Below you can see a few pictures of a vac system we came up with after we researched the different designs people use. The 2HP shop-vac provides the suctioning power while the 5 gallon bucket will serve as the collection chamber to hold our bees. We improvised a crude regulator on the bucket lid to help reduce and control the suction in order to reduce the chance of injuring the bees. (We want to catch live bees, not make bee soup!) It might not be the ideal set-up for use on a ladder, but for the removal we have to do this weekend, I think it will work fine.
At this point, we are hoping the removal will go well and we can save as many of the bees, brood, and honey as possible. After we do the job, I’ll try to post some pictures and information about how things turn out.
If you are near Statesboro, Swainsboro, Vidalia, or Metter, GA. and need a swarm or colony of bees removed, please give us a call at 912-685-6759 or email me at rhettkelley77 @ yahoo .com.
Just thought I’d post a quick note for my fellow beekeepers:
I’m an assistant manager at a Wal-Mart Supercenter. According to company pest removal policy, any local beekeeper can be called to remove swarms that may end up on Wal-Mart property.
I’ve worked for Wal-Mart for a little over 16 yea and last year I had the privilege of being able to catch a small swarm hanging off of a trailer at the Distribution Center where I worked prior to being promoted.
I would recommend going and speaking to your local Wal-Mart store manager and let him/her know that if there’s ever a swarm of bees on Wal-Mart property, you would like for them to call you to come get them.
Things have been slowing down quite a bit in the hives as the temperature has started to drop. We’ve had some mornings with frost here, but each day sees the mercury rise enough that the bees will still come out and make their presence known. Since Fall has set in, Family and neighbors have really noticed that the bees are now very attracted to anything sweet. I have gotten a few calls about “thousands of bees” being all over a place outside where someone left an empty coke can or where other sweet liquids have been spilled.
Since my last post, I obtained another active hive. This brings us to a total of 8. I hope that we can get them all through Winter and have a really nice harvest next season. Speaking of harvest, we harvested a few frames of honey just before the golden rods bloomed. We took just enough to get a few jars, but not enough to leave the bees in a lurch for the Winter. The darker honey came from here on our family property, the lighter honey came from where we have a hive south of Metter. Having honey from our own hives has been a real treat!
Change is in the air here in east Georgia. The mornings have been cooler and the days not quite as blistering hot as they have been for the past couple of months. This past week I have been checking my hives and making sure they have adequate stores for Winter. I even harvested a frame of honey from 3 of my stronger hives.
Yesterday I bought a trailer load of old equipment from my mentor, Mr. Bobby Colson of B&G Honey Farm in Register, GA. In the deal, we acquired one strong hive and 80+ medium supers with frames. During the upcoming Fall and Winter, we will be going through all the equipment refurbishing and culling what cannot be salvaged.
I am really looking forward to next season. I am looking forward to adding more colonies and hopefully bringing in a nice harvest. Soon I hope to post some pics of the honey we harvested from the hives this year as well as come pics of the equipment we just acquired.
Yesterday we were called about a swarm that needed to be removed at Crider Poultry Inc. in Stillmore, GA. When we arrived, we were directed to small swarm hanging from a table outside of the First Aid office. I used a cardboard nuc for the capture as my son Cordell took pictures and video:
If you live near Metter, GA. and have a swarm that needs to be removed, please give us a call! 912-685-6759
Just a quick cell phone video of our hives.