Second-quarter update from Michael Slivka

Michael was the recipient of the JumpStart grant. This is his second-quarter update. See the first update here.

The second quarter of my first year of beekeeping started off slowly but by the end of June, I was busier than, well, the proverbial bee!

In April, I acquired and assembled several dozen deep frames for use in my swarm traps. It rained quite a bit in my area but I took advantage of the occasional break in showers to hang my traps. I had rubbed bee's wax on some inside surfaces of the traps and hung small vials of attractant in an effort to make them as appealing as possible to the bees.

In May, I finally got the opportunity to get into some hives and handle live bees. I made several trips to Jeff Montag's apiary where I was shown how to pull and examine frames looking for the queen and/or evidence of the queen in the form of eggs and larva. I was a little apprehensive the first time I lifted the covers from a hive but I quickly realized my jacket and vail did actually keep the bees out and I have been comfortable ever since. I worked the bees a number of times that month.

I received my first bees Memorial Day weekend. SIBA club member, Jim Orem, who is quite adept at catching swarms, gives those he doesn't need away to people who have put their name on his give-away list (which I had done in March). He let me know Thursday they were coming and I picked them up early Saturday morning. I drove them home and set the trap box on the base in the spot where their hive would be placed. I removed the cover from the entry and let them acclimate to the new location the rest of the day and Sunday. Monday morning, I donned my bee suit and fired up the smoker and moved the five frames from the swarm box into the 10-frame deep. I shook the remaining bees from the swarm trap into the deep, added 5 new frames, and put the cover back on. I had read that having two or more hives is helpful in that you can compare the progress of one hive to

another, so I was happy to have an additional hive to the Jump-Start nuc, which was coming soon.

Preparing to move a swarm into a deep from a swarm trap.

I received the Jump-Start nucleus colony (nuc) on Sunday, June 2. I met Jeff Montag at his apiary at dusk to pick up the bees and I drove them home and set them on top of their hive. I let them acclimate for a couple days and then moved the nuc frames into a hive and added new frames to fill out the 10-frame deep. Jeff also gave me a page explaining his procedures for feeding and expanding the colony. I added one gallon bucket feeders to both the (nuc and the swarm) hives and filled them with 1:1 syrup with Bee Pro Health supplement mixed in. The bucket feeders required refilling about every second day. I had also been feeding 1"x6" strips of pollen patty each time I added syrup. By June 11th, both hives were 70-80% filled and I added a second deep to both colonies.

On June 16th, Roger Rickabaugh, a good friend (and Jeff Montag’s brother in law), gave me two more colonies - a nuc and a swarm. I followed the same procedures getting them acclimated to the location and then installing them into 10-frame hives.

JumpStart hive on right. New swarm and nuc acclimating in the center.

This new swarm was a challenge; when I opened it, I found that it was too spacious for the number of frames. On one side, two of the frames had shifted leaving large gaps which the bees filled with large sections of burr comb. Following advice from my mentor, I separated the burr comb as carefully as I could and suspended it in two open frames using wire.

Burr comb in swarm trap.

Now that I am tending my own bees, I realized there are some things I will do differently in the future to make things a little easier. The first is my use of the one gallon bucket feeders - I was trying to save a little money but a one gallon feeder on a healthy, growing colony does not last very long. I have already replaced the one gallon buckets with four gallon, trough style, hive-top feeders. These are less likely to be empty when I get to the bee yard every few days. The second change has to do with how I painted my hive boxes. I painted the top and bottom edges of the boxes thinking it would help keep moisture from getting behind the paint on the faces. It may well do that, but I have found that it makes it difficult to separate one deep from another. The painted edges have remained somewhat tacky making it difficult to separate them. Propolis makes that job difficult enough, so I will leave the edges unpainted in future.

The growth of the Jump Start colony progressed well through June - the second deep is almost at 70% and I will be adding a super soon to get the bees working on drawing-out comb.

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