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January 1st

Not much to report except that we are predicted to have drastic cold for this area within the next few days.I have feed on all colonies and will check them again after the freeze.

January 7th

Last nights temperature went to 17 degrees which was a few degrees above the predicted low.Expecting a Mann Lake order in today.It will have the Hopguard I plan to use for spring mite treatment along with a smoker for grandson Jonathon and a few nuc bodies.

January 20th

We have had much colder weather this January than recent years.This has delayed maple bloom and thus,brood rearing.I put more feed on today in the hope of stimulating madam queen to get busy.So far all hives appear to be wintering well.The light colored "pollen" I have seen coming in for the past few weeks turns out to be the dust from two neighbors chicken feeders.I doubt that the bees get much benefit from this dust.

January 30

January has sucked with a capital "S". Since when does the Florida Panhandle get ice storms?18 degrees again last night.The colonies seem ok and have feed on.Come on springtime.

February 4th

The past three days have been mild but cloudy.High temp was 66 today and the bees were really active.Put more feed on all but one hive.That one seems slow to get started.

February 7th

Temp is in the fifties today and the bees are flying.I see them working in the short grass/weeds but can not see anything blooming.Maybe thy are finding some extrafloral nectaries since we had a freeze again last night.I also see blooms beginning to open on the henbit and red maple but no bees working those yet.This is a couple of weeks late for those two sources.

February 15th

Still putting feed on hives.Bees are bringing in pollen and nectar,probably from red maple.All the colonies but two have made it through the winter in fine condition.The weak two will bear watching.

February 20th

The maple flow seems to be strong and we are getting a good number of flight days.I see a good buildup going on.The two weaker colonies seem to be doing better.

February 25th

Plenty of pollen available.The top of the car, and truck,are covered in yellow dust.Pines are just starting to bloom and that's when the pollen really fills the air here.

March 6th

Stacked supers in the bee yard today since tomorrows temps are predicted to be in the high sixties.There has been a good buildup and I would not be surprised to find some swarm cells tomorrow.

March 10th

Added a medium super to all colonies except for one that is chronically behind.This one will be used to make nucs.Also made up three nucs from extra brood frames from the other hives.

March 18th

Added supers to five of the hives already supered.I need to get busy putting frames together.The one pound squeeze bottles came,from Mann Lake, today.These are going to be a nice addition to the line.Checked the nucs today and all seem to be doing well.

March 19th

Caught a nice,basketball prime swarm today.They were clustered on the grapevine and went into their new home without a problem.

March 21st

Two large swarms came out this morning and landed in our two loquat trees.I hived both swarms but had to use one screened bottom board.Bees do not like screened bottoms and this colony was gone when I checked a couple of hours later.Ah well,I knew better and made up some solid bottoms.The other swarm seems happy in it's new home.

March 25th

I found a very large swarm just after dark yesterday.They must have come out in the late afternoon.The swarm was large enough to bend that one inch loquat branch to the ground.Too big for one box so they get a super from the start. The pix were taken with a flash.

April 4th

Two more swarms out today.I managed to get inside the swarm on one of them and got some pictures.That is an exciting thing for a beekeeper.There is nothing quite like being in that cloud of thousands of bees.The bees couldn't care less.

I have noticed for the first time this year that not all swarms are gentle.I have run into a couple this spring that are not only hot but would be deadly if you weren't protected.So,I'm thinking a couple of things here.One,maybe we are beginning to get some African bee influence.Two,always suit up for swarms now.For me,that has not been the case until this year.I am not talking about a few angry stinging bees,but rather clouds of stinging bees that follow for up to a quarter mile.One swarm that I hived today will be re-queened immediately and if that doesn't calm them down then I will gas them.

April 14th

Things are going especially well in the bee yard.I needed more colonies and now I have them.Between swarms and bait hives my numbers have more than doubled. This is a good thing and I may even be able to sell a few nucs and still finish with my desired number.The miraculous thing is that I am also going to have a really good honey crop.Usually it's one or the other but this year the timing was right.Almost all the colonies swarmed due to the December feeding and sudden late cold snaps that held them in the hives too long.The good thing about this is that it left a large population and gave a brood break while the new queen hatched and mated.These large populations had nothing to do but gather nectar.The brood break will take care of the mite population.So,no thanks to me but thanks to God for timing things perfectly to give me the best of all three worlds.

I harvested the first super of spring honey today.I was out and have friends waiting for some chunk comb honey so this super takes care of that.Beautiful light gold after the dark 40 weight from fall.Hot biscuits here I come.

Another swarm out today.I was completely out of boxes so hived this swarm in the wet supers from April 14th.The bees seemed to like this arrangement.Plenty of honey for them to clean up and use.The picture below is the swarm today.

April 22nd

Things are still going well in the bee yard. All but one colony seem to be doing well. One had a massive bee kill out in front of the hive. There must have been 3-5 pounds of dead bees there. I suspect poisoning as I checked the mite level and mites did not seem to be the problem. We have summer Ti-Ti in bloom and many beekeepers say that will kill bees. Who knows? At any rate the colony count has increased to 39 even after giving away three and selling a couple.

April 25th

Swarming seems to have slowed down.There is plenty of nectar coming in from the redtops,yaupon and blackberries.There should be a good crop despite the excessive swarming.The picture below is a red top in full bloom.It sounds like there is a swarm in the tree. The bees are working hard.I took off 7 supers of good , light ,spring honey. today and will be extracting tomorrow.

May 3rd

Took off six more medium supers. Nice,extra light amber, honey .

May 4th

Extracted 52 pints of honey so far from these 6 supers.

May 5th

Everything seems to be going well. There was another small afterswarm out today. I am taking off more honey almost every week now. I also took a few frames of honey off Jonathons hive in Cantonment. He has split his into two and both are doing well and making honey.

May 10th

Took off a little more honey and some comb. Took chunk comb for the pints and a few 4x4 pieces for plates. I always have customers waiting for this treat. Nothing tastes quite as good as a bite of comb honey fresh from the hive.

May 15th

Caught a large,prime swarm today. These were about a quarter mile from my bees and I think they may have come from one of the neighbors hives. This swarm was so large that it needed two deep boxes. I put a frame of uncapped brood to lock this one down.

May 30th

We saw “our” bear in broad daylight today. The bear walked slowly across the road in front of our car. This bear is becoming entirely too comfortable around people.

June 3rd

Over half of the hives now have five or six supers on and the bees are working every day. I think the major crop this year will be a nice one. The pleasant smell of fresh nectar is in the air. I have a chair under the big sycamore tree at the edge of the beeyard and enjoy watching the bees while sipping a nice glass of iced tea..

June 9th

Taking off honey today. All the colonies seem to be in good shape. I think we are in good shape to get through the summer.

June 10th

Extracting is going well. This has to be the most boring job in beekeeping. Cut off cappings,load extractor and listen to it spin. Over and over and over and over. I would much rather be in the beeyard or at the farmers market.

July 3rd

I see some bearding but this is normal for July in Florida.

July 10th

This is the time of year to watch the mite load carefully. They can quickly get out of control. I did a sugar roll on a couple of hives and the results were encouraging. I think I will wait a couple of months to treat.

July 18th

Caught a small swarm today. I will keep track of this one and see how it does.

July 23th

Did a quick inspection today. These quick looks consist of tilting the first super and looking at the top bars of the brood nest. If I see plenty of bees looking back and see the bees actively carrying in pollen I assume all is well with the colony and close it back up. The bees will be left alone now until September when I start putting on supers for the goldenrod flow.

August 2nd

This is the worst time of year for our bees. My northern beekeeper friends lose bees in winter. I worry more about our summer temperatures. I may try some insulation on top of the hives this year to help

September 12th

Put on first Hopguard treatment today. Everything seems to be going well with the bees.

September 14th

First of the goldenrod blooms today. I will be putting on supers next week and hoping for some goldenrod honey.

September 19th

Put on second Hopguard treatment. Bees seem to be in good shape. The mite drop from the first treatment was light so II may skip the third treatment this year.

September 25th

Our resident bear was patrolling the road on the forest side last night. This keeps the dog at full cry all night. At least,now the bear stays outside the fence.

September 30th

So far this fall there have been none of those annoying small swarms we had last fall.

October 2th

Tested hives to see what the mite load was and was pleasantly surprised to find very few mites. I have used Hopguard from Mann Lake for three years now and have been satisfied with the results. There ia a lot of talk online about using oxalic acid vapor for mite treartment. The word seems to be that it is harmless to bees and cheap to use. That said,I believe I will give it a try next treatment time.

October 8th

Plenty of fall flowers this year. The large field behind the beeyard is covered with tall goldenrod and asters. We have two cultivars of goldenrod here. The technical terms are short and tall goldenrod.

November 5th

No frost yet this year but the goldenrod doesn't seem to be producing anything. I will be checking for winter stores tomorrow.

November 12th

Some years we get lucky and some not. There is no goldenrod honey this year.. All colonies in excellent shape for winter. Started open feeding to make sure the bees have plenty of stores to winter on. I made a “trough”from rough cedar and the bees seem to love it.