Easy Cutout
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Bees forming colony behind a picture.

Bees forming colony behind a picture.

Not long ago I was presented with an opportunity to gather some bees. As usual, until you go look at it, you have to form a picture in your head with the questions you ask and the answers you get. My wife’s friends mother called about bees in her roof – way up at the apex. Based on what she described – and what I saw subsequently of where they were – I was not looking forward to cutting those out. Very high up, very difficult location. But, inexplicably, something happened to change all that.

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Flowers on my property…
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Honeybee enjoying a Texas Bluebonnet

Honeybee enjoying a Texas Bluebonnet

Up until I got bees, flowers were just pretty colorful things growing on the weeds in my back yard. And until I got bees, I had no idea just how many flowers I had growing back there – and how many there are. There are just a ton of them back there. Always could be more, of course. There are a few that I’ve yet to identify, but I’ll amend this when I do.

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Disastrous Bee Cutout
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Bees top to bottom in wall of shed.

Bees top to bottom in wall of shed.

I had a bee cutout this Saturday to do. Last week I built a bee vacuum, sure it was going to cut my cutouts from four hours to two hours. Yep. Just suck all them bees up then cut and mount the comb at my leisure then pour the bees in when done. That was the idea.

But ideas and reality rarely mesh… Continue reading


Weak Swarm
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Swarm with half of the bees out foraging.

Swarm with half of the bees out foraging.

My first swarm of the year hasn’t done a whole lot just yet. But then, the nectar hasn’t really kicked in yet. My other hives are also pretty dry too – they’re certainly ready for the flowers to kick in. Currently we have bluebonnets in bloom and have had a few trees in bloom this season so far so the bees are not starving, but the main flow from the mesquite and wildflowers just hasn’t happened yet.

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Extended Swarm
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Five-Day Old Swarm

Five-Day Old Swarm

I have always pictured a swarm as a bunch of bees and the old queen leaving the old hive, hanging out on a tree and then deciding on a new home – in just a few hours, if that. I’ve never heard of a swarm that would hang out overnight. But today’s swarm changed all that.

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First Swarm of the Year
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Swarm on Crepe Myrtle

Swarm on Crepe Myrtle

Saturday began like any other day – getting up and realizing that I’m running late.  I rushed to my job to set up some equipment at a convention and while there conducting the work I was to do, I bumped into a fellow beekeeper. In these parts that’s a pretty good thing – there are precious few of us around here. It was really refreshing to actually sit down and talk bees to someone who was as interested in bees as myself. Talking bees to my wife elicits little more than a glazed over, blank stare. Little did I know, that meeting would be an odd coincidence, or a herald to yet another hive to enter my apiary.

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Swarm!!!
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Cutout JHH-style Hive with swarm bearding on it.

Cutout JHH-style Hive with swarm bearding on it.

There’s always an occasion where you take a hive and split it. You take half of the hive and put it in another box, and the one without the queen will make a new queen from the open-brood left over. This mimics the natural way of hive multiplication, that colonies do in nature – swarming. Well, one of my hives swarmed. I think it was today, tho it could have happened yesterday. It was fairly anticlimactic tho – as I had an empty cutout hive out there – a short version of my long-hive design.

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