Top Entrances – Inner Cover Modification 2017

ready for modification

Got some new inner covers from Brushy Mountain for the 8 frame colonies this year.  I have purchased the 10-frame version in the past and have always been happy with them.  I like to modify these inner covers to allow for a 5/16 inch top entrance that is protected by the a standard outer cover.  These inner covers allows for warm moist air to exit the the hive in the winter above the cluster.  Since converting from quilt boxes to this type of inner cover I have had much better success overwintering.  I also have observed far less bearding during summer for colonies that have these inner covers.

These are very similar to the covers I was building back in 2012.  (See Top Entrances from 5/22/2012)  After using those entrances I liked what they did for bees, but they had a down side.  Ants love to build nests between top of those plywood inner covers and the bottom of the outer cover.  I then modified some standard inner covers.  This gave bees access to the space that the ants had previously been occupying.  A healthy colony is all that is needed to keep ants out when a standard inner cover is modified in this way.   Continue reading

Posted in Experiments, HowTo | Tagged | 4 Comments

Ain’t no party like a wax moth party

They know the drill

This deep of Lang frames looked like an Adam’s Family Accordion.  It’s a sign of allowing something to happen that should have dealt with a long time ago.  This colony was struggling last fall and I thought it had lived long enough to be out of danger from wax moths.  I thought it had frozen hard enough to kill moths before this colony died.  As you can see I was wrong.  These frames had to be beaten out of the box with a mallet and the chickens went to work on them.

tool for removing comb from foundaitionless frames

The chickens have come to associate frames in their yard with wax worm treats.  I capture many swarms every year.  Not all of them can make it.  I watch for failing colonies in late summer, but wax moths move in quickly that time of year.  If the damage is bad enough the frames go to the chickens.  When using foundationless frames in the brood chamber problems like these are greatly simplified.  The chickens will either remove the damaged comb searching for Worms or it can easily cut out using a cold capping knife.  Any excess comb or propolis is then scraped off with a hive tool and the frames are ready for service. Continue reading

Posted in Pests, Posts, wax moths | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Frame Rehab

Old frames now foundationless

Re-working old frames can be tedious, especially if you attempt to put new foundation in them. This task is greatly simplified by switching to foundationless. The most difficult part is getting the old comb and foundation out of the frame. After that the wedge board is removed, rotated 90 degrees, and nailed back to the top bar. The majority of excess wax should be scraped from the frame, but after that it is ready to go back into a bee hive.  It does NOT have to be perfectly clean.

I have hundreds of deep frames out there and only a fraction of them have foundation in them anymore. For some reason many regard the use of foundationless frames as an advanced beekeeping topic. Nothing could be further from the truth. As with everything in beekeeping there will be times that observed results may vary. I have had boxes get cross combed while using foundationless frames, but the vast majority of colonies take to them quite well. In my use of foundationless frames there are a couple of rules that when followed give good results, at least in the brood chamber.

Continue reading

Posted in Foundationless Frames, HowTo | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Big Weekend

One of my favorite songs by Tom Petty is from his Highway Companion album. It’s called Big Weekend and years ago I might have desired a weekend like the one described in the song. I’m a little more dedicated to practical matters these days and a BIG WEEKEND is one that I get a lot accomplished.

I need a BIG WEEKEND; Kick up the dust
I need a BIG WEEKEND; If you don’t run you RUST!

Last weekend was a BIG WEEKEND around here. For the last two months I have been preparing for the coming season. Everything has been assembled now it’s time for the horrible job of painting. Painting is a facet of beekeeping I don’t particularly like. It’s right up there with frame building. The fact that I dislike both of these procedures increases my desire to do a good job when I am working on these tasks. If done correctly both frame building and painting lead to years of product use without the need for maintenance. Doing things right the first time is efficient especially when you dislike the task.  By getting this stuff out of the way I can focus on the fun part of beekeeping, CATCHING SWARMS!

Continue reading

Posted in HowTo | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

My name is Jason, and I’m addicted to swarm trapping

R.I.P. – 1517

I am beginning to realize that I have a problem.  Every time I see weathered bee equipment I have an incredible urge to build a Swarm Trap.  I am powerless to overcome it…..  I’m addicted!  I am quickly becoming the crazy-cat-lady of swarm traps!  If you haven’t experienced the joy of trapping swarms you may not understand my addiction.  There is no negative consequence to submitting to peer pressure here.  If you try it and have success you will become hope-FULLY addicted to trapping swarms.

Continue reading

Posted in HowTo, Swarm Trapping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Robbing 3 –> Obtain ferals and LetMBee

If you’re reading this and you haven’t read Robbing can teach us about honeybees or Robbing – 2: What do you do? you might want to start there.  Just to summarize, last time I came home from work to a robbing episode.  Two colonies were being selectively targeted for robbing while one feral colony was left alone.

Robbing Observations


7/7/2010 – 1003

The robbers looked different than my packages from Kelley’s Beekeeping Co. in 2010. They were closer in coloration and size to 1005, the feral colony from the barrel cutout. I’ve read that robbing bees are usually older foragers and can appear darker because of hair loss.  The difference was greater than some missing hair.  They were phenotypically different.  They were darker in color, and noticeably smaller in size. Where where they coming from?  I sat down on the ground and observed the horizon. Soon I could see the course of incoming and outgoing bees and had a bearing on the source of activity. All traffic pointed toward one corner of a woods about 1/2 mile South-East of the home apiary. After reducing entrances, I went to the woods and found the colony by sound. They were in a tree BUZZING with excitement and definitely NOT getting robbed.  It was like a raucous party celebrating the plunder of their competitors.

I believe this is playing out every Fall among the feral population. This is why the feral population somehow overcame varroa.  Better adapted colonies, out-compete those lesser suited to the niche.  It keeps the Feral Reserve lean, finding the solutions to adaptation in the environment. That’s why it’s a great source for your bees!   The Feral Reserve is hanging with the challenges of today. Those are the lines YOU want for tomorrows struggles. When less adapted colonies are “snuffed out”, cavities are vacant for the following Spring’s swarms.  The robbed resources are insurance for better adapted colonies to overwinter.   Continue reading

Posted in animal husbandry, Feral Bees, Methods, Observation, Posts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Robbing – 2: What do you do?

What’s to be done about robbing?

1003 1005 1004

1003 1005 1004

“How do I stop my bees from getting robbed?”  It’s the question I get, after an account of the some brutal insect behavior. In the spirit of PermaCulture the answer this question is a “slow solution”. This will NOT be a band-aid on a robbing to get you through, what you need is a solution.  The best way to prevent robbing is to NOT have weak colonies prone to robbing pressure.  Why is your colony weak?  Where are the robbers coming from?  Do people keep bees nearby?  If you locate the robber’s hideout you learn where a stronger is living.  That’s what happened to in my case.   Continue reading

Posted in animal husbandry, Feral Bees, Observation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Community Gardens and Honey Bees… a Match Made in Heaven (or on Earth)

community garden beekeeping

photo from

If you run or manage an urban garden, then you might be wondering what you can do so that you can enjoy the best possible results. Although some people feel as though caring for a community garden is a difficult and challenging process, it does not need to be. Following the correct steps can help anyone grow and maintain a garden of which they can be proud, but avoiding shortcuts is also important to your success.

When you want to take your vegetable garden to the next level, take a look at how honeybees can help you reach your goal. Bringing bees into your community creates a mutually beneficial relationship, and if you are still not convinced that having them around is a good choice, the following information will likely change your mind.


Pollination is essential for anyone who wants to grow a healthy garden, and honeybees play a major role in the process. Although gardens can survive without the help of bees, they won’t produce as much food in their absence. If you are like many people, then you are curious about the role that bees play in the survival of your community garden.

When a bee lands on a flower to collect nectar, some of the pollen sticks to the bee’s feet. The honeybees then transport the pollen onto other flowers as they continue to gather the nectar that they will use to make honey. That process allows plants to reproduce with enhanced efficiency, and you will enjoy a larger garden as a result. Continue reading

Posted in Guest Authors | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Robbing can teach us about honeybees 1

Part 1:  Robbing is a Problem.

1517 - January 2016

1517 – January 2016

First thing’s first. Robbing sucks, but, IT’S NOT A REASON TO FREAK OUT! Take a deep breath…. Count to TEN. I remember when I began beekeeping. I read of all these alien things that could happen in my bee yard. My paranoia only increased after I went to bee meetings and heard the horrific stories told by seasoned keepers. It’s terrible when it happens and once it begins it is very hard to stop. Beekeepers can start robbing by their things they do. If you notice this after certain specific tasks look into changing procedures. In the event you didn’t do anything to cause a robbing event, many methods used to abort them point to reasons it may be happening in the first place. Continue reading

Posted in Feral Bees, Hive Reports, Observation, Uncategorized, What's going on.. | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Holes – in perfectly good woodenware

Example of bees using 1 inch holes.

bees using 1 inch holes.

I have had many questions about the 1 inch holes pictured in my deep hive bodies. When I began keeping bees I bought a bunch of used equipment from a keeper who was retiring. He had holes in some of his equipment, but I didn’t pay much attention. I was picking the boxes that had the most life left in them regardless of the holes.

Over the years the number of hives increased. For years I did NOT drill holes in newly constructed boxes. I was not convinced that they provided enough of a benefit to put a hole in a BRAND NEW box. My goal with hive equipment is make it last as long as possible. That’s why I don’t use things like staples and tacks. Things last longer when the integrity of the paint (and wood) is not disturbed. Continue reading

Posted in Experiments, HowTo, Methods, Observation, Posts | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments