This is a fascinating shot, it exposes a part of bee behavior that was previously unknown to me. I actually have seen bees in a swarm carrying bits of wax with their mandibles. I'm not sure why so few bees do this, it almost seems like an extension of their propolis collecting function, but as you can see in the picture she is choosing only the best wax, not propolis (due to its color on her baskets). I also know they will strip wax from parts of the hive that are under-worked. I wonder if they are selecting for purity, she is very picky about what wax she will collect. (the black spots are earwig poop, probably from removing the lid cover)
Here we have an interesting very visible example of a colony controlling drone populations.

I made a nuc from this hive earlier this year by taking their queen and a frame of eggs, a frame of honey and some bees, this led to them going queen-less for some time, I actually had to put another frame of eggs in because they had failed to make a new queen. So now they are queen-right and she is laying LOTS of eggs, problem solved. One thing that had worried me a bit was the sheer number of drones in this hive, at one point it seemed like there were more drones then workers.

This picture also solved a mystery with this hive, often I would hear ticking sounds coming from this one hive, I knew what they were I just didn't know why it was making those sounds. The sound in question is caused by a bee falling onto an empty frame bottom, it makes sense cause the workers are in essence "beating up" the drones trying to get them to leave, so the drones are scrabbling around trying to find food (they can't feed themselves).
This is a legit link, the petition was started by the OBA, Neonicotinoids are a systemic pesticide meaning they will make the whole plant poisons, they break down slowly so they will persist in soil and plant tissue, what worries me more then the risk of ccd is the impact a persistent chemical could have on our wildlife once more and more people start using it in higher and higher doses since it persists it would build up more then other kinds of pesticides.


Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. The development of this class of insecticides began with work in the 1980s by Shell and the 1990s by Bayer.[1] The neonicotinoids were developed in large part because they show reduced toxicity compared to previously used organophosphate and carbamate insecticides. Most neonicotinoids show much lower toxicity in mammals than insects, but some breakdown products are toxic.[2] Neonicotinoids are the first new class of insecticides introduced in the last 50 years, and the neonicotinoid imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world.[3]
The use of some members of this class has been restricted in some countries due to evidence of a connection to honey-bee colony collapse disorder.[4][5] In January 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that neonicotinoids pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies' claims of safety have relied may be flawed.

from wikipedia.

I especially love the part about industry-sponsored science being flawed. Anyway the petition is here BAN Neonics
They just ask for an address name and e-mail nothing major.
After the disheartening spring we had with almost 80% of my hives not wintering I wasn't to interested in keeping up this blog. July is fast becoming super encouraging to me, it also made me realise a few things about bees and the way they do things that I had missed before.

The first thing is we are having the best honey flow I have ever seen, in only one week (the week after being housed) a big swarm I caught put up a full box of honey, I had to make room for more comb! I was stunned, I have never seen this before. One thing I did differently was I had added an empty box of drawn comb, so they just needed to fill the comb with honey.

This revelation got me thinking about the colony needs and working processes. I have heard the idea before that drawing comb uses up honey, I have also heard folks say that drawing comb all the time is hard on the bees. I actually do not believe either of these opinions is accurate, they are both true in a way but not impactfull enough to honey production to make any real difference, I think the real issue is time, it takes time to draw comb, but a flow can be short and intense, so since drawing comb takes time not enough can be drawn to take full advantage of a heavy flow in the time needed. This means a colony will expand at a steady rate (wax making bees are proportional to colony size since they are comprised of bees at a certain age) even if you have a lot of nectar available. In a way no empty comb is hard on the bees since we take honey from them at the end of the year and they have essentially missed a lot of big short flows.

Another thing this this year is we had an astronomical amount of rain, almost all of May just rained most of June was rain as well. I thought my bees were doomed because of this but the opposite was true. When the weather cleared up they filled almost every space available to them in less then two weeks. This brings up an interesting point for my region of the world our plants need rain to flourish so hot dry weather wont produce much nectar, but this isn't true for everywhere it depends on your local ecology.

Something I have given up on is under supering. I have not been able to get a colony to move down to a new box, they just don't, so I put new boxes on top of the hive and add/move straight comb to them to encourage the bees to start building comb nice and straight. Since your only adding boxs to strong hives I don't see a problem with "cooling" issues, I have wintered bees with empty boxs above them before, with no problems.

Another pleasant thing is the genetics of my apiary, I have seven hives now and 5 of those are all descended from hive #5, I have seen virtually no bad drones being kicked out and zero chalk brood the bees look fantastically healthy, this is interesting since I do not treat them for anything and do not use foundation.

#5 has survived for 4 years in my apiary, It has made two nucs, swarmed once and made a division this year (plus the nuc)

I'm curious to know if every one is experiencing a larger then normal honey flow due to the wet weather.

    So to summarise my experience and processes:
  • I will be making an extractor fitted to my size frames and saving the comb to be used next year for honey.
  • I no longer under super.
  • I think drawn comb is very important to honey production and thus on a lesser scale bee health (since honey production can lead to better bee health if you leave them honey to winter on).
  • I still leave them honey in the winter, I also still don't use foundation or treat them for anything.
  • I never use queen excluders and I don't re-queen in the traditional sense (supplying eggs is the extent I go).
  • I think as far as I can know the COD for 80% of my losses last year was starvation (very bad year).

Been another winter, not much happens during the winter really, so I thought I would post an update, still no pictures, only thing I could photograph is more bee poop. I have seven hives alive at the moment, we still have over a foot of snow on the ground and the weather is still hitting -10c at night. But the days are getting longer!

Of the hives I lost (had 15 to start the winter) one was already dead and robed out, another was also dead but not totally empty, 3 others were either light on stores or barely hanging on from the previous year. That leaves two that died for reasons I do not know yet.

Both of my favorite hives survived, one being the daughter of my favorite hive number 5 I think, my nasty Italian hive made it and a few of its daughters. One of my bait hives did survive the other was the robed out one that didn't.
This year I am planning to make small nucs from my best hives like I did last year with number 5, but this year I will have number 5, 2 and possibly another to make nucs with.

(non-bee related)
I have been spending a lot more time working on my buckle business these days and am close to getting a new buckle design into production!
You can check my work out at
www.bronzesmithdesigns.com
and at
www.bronzesmithdesigns.etsy.com
I made a few interesting observations this year since I have more hives then last year. 

Drones, This year I had oodles of drones during may, then after the swarming hives swarmed I noticed a severe drop in drone numbers across all my hives, I even saw some workers kicking out living drones. During July there was hardly a drone to be seen, fortunately all my hives were queen right so the lack of drones wasn't an issue. In June I began weighting my four box hives every week, most of them hardly put any weight on at all, this had me worried, all though June and July the honey income was anemic even my best hive seem to have stalled, I was beginning to wonder if something was wrong with my scale. Then the last week of July and the first of August we started to get some rain, I am starting to see a few drones plus hive number 5 put on 8kg in 10 days, number 5 is roaring with activity, its daughter (number 2 nuc I made in may) has almost a full box of honey now.

My conclusion is we must have had a dearth, it was very dry this year too, some places had drought conditions. I also suspect our early year resulted in a very low clover flow, since farmers had to cut their hay early then we had a long dry period the white and alsike clover didn't get a chance to flower.

Another thing I have noticed is some of my hives are booming and others seem content to stay small (nearly one box) I'm wondering if the bees from many of my hives think they only have a single box. Next year I will try moving a couple filled frames down when I under super, this might encourage more development, one of my hives even swarmed three times from only one box I figure they didn't get the memo, it might have something to do with the frame bottoms acting like a floor (pure speculation). I also plan to try extracting the honey from my frames to preserve the comb, I want to see if this will improve production. Most folks don't like comb honey, so if I can improve production by saving the comb I would prefer this. I plan to label each frame so they go back into the same hives, I'm not sure if this is necessary though since I'm not swapping broodnest (possible cross infection of hives). Ideas?
Just a quick update, bees are doing very well, all my two box hives are needing another box each so I'm working on frames (already have the boxs ready). Number One still has chalk brood problems, I'm going to try an odd remedy Anita told me about, it seems to already be working on the other hive I have with chalk brood problems. You peel a banana and place the peel under the lid inside the hive on top of the frames, then you eat the banana, very strange but it does indeed seem to work. Number one will be a good test since they have had trouble ever since I put them in this hive, I remember giving them an old comb, I think this was the vector. Comb is best kept to a hive and not traded around unless the mother hive is free of problems.
If you would like to contact me you can send an E-mail to: SamsWildBees(at)hotmail(dot)com I am always looking for bees so if you live nearby and you want your bees gone drop me a line.