My Bee Blog
by Donald Burger, Attorney at Law

August 19, 2008: I checked the bees at six. It was 76 degrees, and very overcast. The grass was wet. The rain gauges showed 1.6 inches of rain. It may have rain just before six. Anyway, there were few bees out on the walls. Mostly, they were on the lower deep. Maybe they decided to sleep in because of the impending rain.
At seven, when I returned from my morning motorcycle ride, it was raining pretty hard. I walked out to the beeyard to see what was happening, since I was already soaked. There were very few bees out. Did the earlier girls just go inside, or were they off to work? I don't see how they could get much done in this rain.

August 13, 2008: I checked the beesat six this morning. It was still dark. Both hives were covered in bees waiting for first light.

July 4, 2008: Independence Day. A day to celebrate distrust in government. It was 75 degrees at 5:50 a.m. Humidity was low. Even though it was just before first light, most of the bees were at work. The bottom deeps on both hives had bees hanging out, but that was it. Rain is expected.

July 1, 2008: A rare July "cool" front came to Houston. At Intercontinental Airport the gauge dropped to 69 degrees. Here it was 74 at 5:50 a.m. The bees were mostly inside the hive. There were fewer bees hanging on the walls than in several recent weeks. Ambient temperature must be the deciding factor. A check of the purple heart planting at seven revealed bees already working it.

June 30, 2008: It rained three tenths of an inch yesterday evening. It was a cool 75 degrees this morning. The bees were sparce, and evenly spaced about. More bees were hanging on the R Hive.

June 29, 2008: I forgot to note the temperature at 5:30 a.m. when I checked them just before my motorcycle ride. There were more bees hanging out than yesterday.

June 28, 2008: Today is my 12,000 mile run on the Harley. I checked the bees around 5:30 a.m. There were bees hanging out on both hives, but not in heavy numbers. In anticipation of my ride, I forgot to check the morning temperature.

June 27, 2008: At six in the morning it was 79 degrees. There was a medium amount of bees hanging on the walls.

June 26, 2008: It was 79 degrees at six. Few bees were still hanging out. Most had already left for work.

June 25, 2008: At six in the morning it was 79 degrees. There were few bees out, because it was already light.

June 24, 2008: Ted Weisgal (of Leisure Learning) and Ben DeSoto (a photographer) came to my house on Tuesday morning to photograph me working the bees. They showed up at 8:30 a.m. (I checked the bees at six and most of them had already left for work. It was 76 degrees. It was a clear day, and the bees were in a good mood. I had been a little worried because yesterday, around three in the afternoon, a gully washer came through that dumped 1.5 inches of rain in under two hours.

I fired up the smoker, suited up, and opened up the F Hive. I took out a frame of honey, and Ben shot at least a thousand digital shots of the bees and the frames. Sometimes, more than my fingers were in the shots. Mostly, however, he concentrated on close-ups of the bees. Bees were everywhere on the frame, including right next to my fingers. I kept hoping the smoke would keep them calm. I also hoped they would not take offense at a Nikon camera shoved within two inches of their tongues.

Ben asked me to take out another frame, which I did. He had me hold it at arms length. I told him that was not how we held frames, but he liked the light at that angle.

After we finished up in the bee yard, we went over to the duranta so he could take close-ups of bees on blooms. Fortunately, the whole project was completed without anyone getting stung. Thank goodness it was a clear morning, as rain is expected by noon.

June 23, 2008: At 5:45 a.m. there was a medium amount of bees on the front of each hive.

June 22, 2008: Sunday. I inspected the hives. I found about 100 dead bees in the pull-out tray for the SHB trap on the F Hive. This is not supposed to happen. I forgot to check, but theorize that maybe there is a hole in the screen bottom. I removed the Boardman feeder from the R Hive. I had not supplemented the feed of the bees for several weeks. That experiment is over. I loosened the frames on the top super of each hive in preparation of the photoshoot scheduled for Tuesday by Leisure Learning.

June 20, 2008: At six in the morning it was 75 degrees. Most of the bees were already gone.

June 19, 2008: At 5:45 a.m. it was 77 degrees. There were a medium number of bees hanging on the fronts of the hives. It seemed cooler than 77. Must be low humidity.

June 18, 2008: It was a cool 74 degrees. It was rain cooled. Few bees were hanging on the walls by six. Was it because it was light, or because it was cool?

June 17, 2008:P It was 78 degrees at 5:35 a.m. Bees were thick on the bottom deep, with fewer on the second deep. This was the case for both hives.

June 16, 2008: It was 78 degrees at six in the morning. Most of the bees were already out because it was light already. The purple heart had no bees at 6:25 a.m. and no bees at 7:35 a.m. June 13, 2008: It was 6:00 a.m. when I went out. It was first light. Most of the bees had already taken off.

June 12, 2008: It was 5:40 a.m. when I went out. It was 78 again. Full dark. Same as the past two days.

June 11, 2008: Another 5:45 a.m. inspection. Again, it was 78 degrees. It had rained the slightest bit. Same number of bees out as yesterday.

June 10, 2008: I made it out to the beeyard by 5:454 a.m. today. It was 78 degrees. It was still mostly dark, and there were a goodly number of bees on the walls.

June 9, 2008: We awoke a little early this morning. I checked the bees at 5:40 a.m. and they were hanging out on the walls. The landing pads were pretty clear, however. It was still dark. By seven, when I returned from my motorcycle ride, most of the bees were gone in search of food.

June 8, 2008: We survived the pond tour. After a leisurely morning, I took the Harley out for a spin. When I returned at about 8:30 a.m., Maria was sitting on the bench, feeding the fish. I took off my helmet, jacket and Kevlar overshirt and sat down. She told me to look up. Expecting to see a swarm in the trees, I looked up. We have two Texas Sabal palm trees. They are in full flower right now. The bees were out in force, working the blooms.

June 7, 2008: Today the garden was on the pond tour. The bees were in good form. They were flying in and out of the hive all day. Lots of beekeepers who had taken my Leisure Learning course on "Beekeeping in Your Backyard" came by for a look. I noticed that the bees were really working the duranta in the back. It is about five feet tall, and every bit as wide. It was covered with small blue flowers. I also noticed that the bees were working the rose called Old Blush.

June 6, 2008: It was 80 degrees at 6:03 a.m. Ugh. Most of the bees were already flying out, due to the morning light.

June 4, 2008: It was 79 degrees at six. And fairly light. A medium number of bees were still hanging on the walls.

June 3, 2008: It was 78 degrees at six. A medium number of bees hanging on the walls.

June 2, 2008: It was 78 degrees at six. It is beginning to be light much earlier. There were fewer bees hanging on the walls than yesterday.

June 1, 2008: I went on an early morning motorcycle ride today. So I was up earlier than normal. At 5:30 a.m. I checked the bees. Both hives had lots of bees covering the fronts of the hives. I noticed that the actual landing pad was sparcely covered on both hives. Bees were thick on the fronts of both deeps on both hives, but you could actually see the paint on the landing pad. Interesting.
When I got back from my ride, I relaxed until around 5 p.m. By then, the bees that had been out for the day had returned. This was bad because I need to weed the beeyard, and I don't relish doing it when so many bees are hanging on the walls. I fear that they won't hang for long once I start pulling weeds. Stay tuned.

May 30, 2008: At six it was 74 degrees. A medium number of bees were out, probably because of the coolness.

< May 29, 2008: Sarah woke up in the middle of the night. I gave in and let her out. It was 3:25 a.m. I decided to check on the bees since I was up anyway. It was 74 degrees. Most of the bees were outside. There was a steady hum from the hive. When I rechecked at six (it was 73 degrees) the distribution was about the same.

May 28, 2008: It rained. Most of the bees were in theeaves of the handhold cutouts.

May 27, 2008: It was 79 degrees at six. The bees were more scattered than usual. They were fairly evenly spaced on the front. Still, there were lots of bees out.

May 25, 2008: At seven this morning, thisgs were back to normal. Most of the bees were off at work, apparently not acknowledging Memorial Day.

May 24, 2008: This morning I skipped my morning observation so I could be on the road on my Harley by 5:30 a.m. This afternoon, while working in the garden, I noticed that most of the bees were still covering the deeps and supers. I don't know why they are hanging out instead of working. It was overcast, but that is the only explanation that comes to mind.

May 23, 2008: It was 80 degrees at six. Bees were everywhere, but not quite as many as yesterday.

May 22, 2008: It was 79 degrees at six. There were lots of bees on the fronts of both hives, and lots of movement by the girls. They were moving around, but not flying. It was still dark.

May 21, 2008: I was five minutes late getting back to the bees this morning, and it made a difference. It was already first light. It was 77 degrees. Lots of bees were out on both hives. There was lots of walking around. The bees were all the way to the top of the third super on the R Hive. They were really thick on the F Hive. There were a few bees on the Purple Heart plant by 6:25 when we walked past.

May 20, 2008: I was up a little early today. It was 74 at 5:45 a.m. The bees filled the fronts of both deeps.

May 19, 2008: It was 70 degrees at six. Only a medium amount of bees were hanging on the front of the hives. More on the F Hive than the R Hive. I have discontinued sugar syrup because consumption has fallen off so dramatically.

May 18, 2008: I took an easy day off today after the Leisure Learning class. The bees looked fine. I found two more patches of Purple Heart in the neighborhood. Both had bees, although not as many as the original patch. I also changed out the oil in both of the Small Hive Beetle traps. The oil was still fine, with no rancid odor. However, there was lots of debris in the oil, and patches of concealed stuff that I couldn't figure out. I figured it was better to get a fresh supply.

May 17, 2008: At six it was 63 degrees. The sugar syrup was hardly touched. Not many bees were hanging on the fronts, and there were a few more on the F Hive than the R Hive. When I rode by the Purple Heart planting around 6:50 a.m., the bees were out working it. When we drove by at a little after two in the afternoon, the bees were gone.
At 7:30 a.m. Maria and I left to go to my Leisure Learning class on "Beekeeping in Your Backyard." It was a sellout at thirty attendees. And there were no "no shows." The room was larger than in March, and everything worked well. Maria took some pictures of me giving the talk, and I hope to post them soon. The Walter T. Kelley Company gave a folding veil as door prize and also gave us a bag of delicious honey hard candy, which the students ate with relish. Dadant, Rossman, Mann Lake, Kelley and Brushy Mountain all gave me catalogues to give out. The talk lasted four hours, and covered most of the basics. There were lots of questions, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the students did too.

May 16, 2008: At six it was 67 degrees. The sugar syrup was down just a little. Just a few bees were out. Last night, at 11 p.m., I checked the hives. It was warmer then, and a lot more bees were hanging on the fronts.

May 15, 2008: It rained two tenths of an inch last night. The temperature at six was 73 degrees. There were lots of bees on the fronts of both hives. The sugar syrup on the R Hive was down to just above the half-way mark.
When we did our walk this morning, the flowers on the Wandering Jew were closed up into tiny balls. It was about 6:22 a.m. when we got to that spot. The clouds kept in the dark. No bees were present. I wonder if the flower closes as a result of rain or as a result of dark? At 6:50 a.m. I rode my motorcycle to the plant. It was full light out, but still overcast. The flowers on the wandering Jew were just beginning to open. Lots of bees were already out, trying to get inside the blooms. A few blooms in the shade were still balled up. The bees must have arrived based on light conditions, even though the flowers were not open enough to work successfully.

May 14, 2008: It was 78 degrees at six. Lots of bees out on both hives. The sugar syrup on the R Hive was down only slightly.

May 13, 2008: It was 77 as six. Both hives were hanging on the walls in great numbers. The R Hive had only drained the sugar syrup down by about two fingers. On our morning walk, I noted that the bees were still working the Wandering Jew plant, although not in the numbers I saw yesterday. On the other hand, it was barely 6:30 this morning, and just beginning to turn light.

May 12, 2008: A big day for the dees. It was a cool 64 degrees out at six. I checked the bees. Only a few girls were out. The sugar syrup had about three fingers worth left, but I went ahead and added a fresh quart since there were few bees on the front of the hive. I did note that there were plenty of bees inside the Boardman hole, and on the lid.
Our morning dog walk was a little late in starting. I'm talking about ten minutes past our normal take-off of 6:10 a.m. That ten minutes made a difference. As we headed back home on Oxford, I noticed a big expanse of Wandering Jew under an oak tree. It has to be at least ten feet by ten feet. It is in bloom. And, because we were late reaching that point in our route, it was light out. And the bees were diligently working the blooms. There were at least a couple of dozen bees going after the plant. After we got home, I did my morning motorcycle ride. At the conclusion of the trek, I rode to the site to check out the action. It was around 7:30 a.m. The bees were still hard at work. I resolved to take a picture of the girls. I managed to make it back to the plant around 9:20 a.m., and got some pictures. There were a lot fewer bees by this time, but they were still working. This plant is a definite addition to the "bee friendly" plant list. May 11, 2008: A hard rain (with hail) hit about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. I did not check on the bees until around seven. No drownings. Most of the bees were inside. Yesterday afternoon, I was shocked to see that most of the bees were still on the fronts of the hives in the late morning. For whatever reason, they never went to work. I guess it was too overcast. Today, even after the 1.1 inches of rain, they were out somewhere. Because I had put on new supers last Sunday, I skipped my weekly inspection.

May 10, 2008: It was 76 degrees at six this morning. Still dark. I checked the sugar syrup jar on the R Hive and it was only down by half. I did not exchange it for a new one. The fronts of both hives were covered with bees ready to go to work, as soon as it was light. I noticed this condition yesterday, but after Sarah's walk it was too late for a picture. By 6:30 the girls were at work. Today I took the camera with me and got pictures by flash and flashlight of the fronts of the hives. Bees covered both deeps and extended up onto the supers. I hope to post the pictures soon.

May 9, 2008: It was 73 degrees at six. The fronts of both hives are covered with bees. More than I have seen so far this year. The F Hive has a few more bees out, but barely. The jar of sugar water on the R Hive is down by a third. I did not swap it out.

May 8, 2008: It was 74 degrees at six. Lots of bees on the front of the R Hive. I quickly made the exchange with a gloved left hand. Lots of bees in the Boardman hole, and lots of bees clinging to the "empty" jar. After the exchange, I banged the jar on the ground to dislodge the bees. It took two tries to get most of them off, and I used the flashlight to flick the last girl off. There was a little sugar syrup still in the jar (less that a finger's worth).

May 7, 2008: It was 72 degrees at six, and the jar was still half full. No exchange done. Most of the dead bees in front of the F Hive are gone.

May 6, 2008: It was 65 degrees at six. Yesterday it stormed. We had 1.6 inches of rain. Yesterday afternoon, I checked the hives and the F Hive had around three dozen dead bees in front of it. At first, I though they were some kind of beetle, because the bodies were all black. But closer examination revealed the bee wings. The blackness must have been from the water logged condition of the bees. There were no similar dead bees in front of the F Hive. This morning, some of the dead bees were gone, but most were still there. They had dried out some, and it was easier to see that they were indeed bees. I exchanged the sugar syrup on the R Hive, even though the jar was down only about 20 per cent.

May 5, 2008: It was 71 degrees at six. Overcast. The R Hive was hanging on the walls, but not in numbers like the F Hive was. This is a reverse from past behavior. Either the R Hive swarmed (and got weaker) or the F Hive is finally taking off. The R Hive had only drunk the sugar syrup down by about 20 percent, so I did not change it out. I am surprised that bees were on the sides of the hives, because I added a super to each hive yesterday afternoon. Overcrowding can't be the cause, and the temperature was too mild to explain the behavior to me.
May 4, 2008: Around 3 pm I did a major beeyard visit. I inspected both hives, and added a super to each. I also added a gallon of sugar water to the F Hive, using 3 small blocks of one by ones to balance the jar abouve the inner cover surface. I added a jar of sugar syrup to the Boardman on the R Hive. Everything looked fine, except that the SHB tray in the F Hive was turning solid in parts. It still had liquid, but I saw a SHB crawling on the congealed part. I shoved it into the oil. I will need to change it soon. Interestingly, the F Hive's slotted rack did not have much debris, whereas the R Hive's was covered with pollen particles. I banged it against the fence so SHB's could easily fall through the slots.
May 3, 2008: I plan to inspect the hives tomorrow, so I did not bother them this morning. Each night this week I wanted to add a super, but wind, rain or other tasks created delay.
I gave a lecture at ten on Introduction to Beekeeping at Buchanan's. About 36 folks attended. Lots of questions, and lots of interest. Three new beekeepers reported that their hives (or at least one of the two) were only drinking about a cup of sugar syrup per day. Weird. The people with two hives reported that the other hive was draining a quart a day.
April 29, 2008: It was 52 degrees. There were under a dozen bees on the landing pad of the R Hive, and even fewer on the F Hive. Exchanged sugar syrup jar without incident.

April 28, 2008: It was 58 degrees at six. There were only a handful of bees on the landing pad of either hive. When I exchanged the sugar syrup on the R Hive, I noticed that the Boardman hole was empty (no syrup since Friday morning) and no bees were on the lid. I used the cooler temperature to pull some weeds around the side of the hive.

April 27, 2008: Back in town late.

April 26, 2008: Out of town.

April 25, 2008: It was 73 degrees at six. There were a medium number of bees out. Made the exchange without incident.

April 24, 2008: It was 74 again. Quick change. No problems.

April 23, 2008: It was 74 degrees at six this morning. Surprisingly, the bees were not out in huge numbers. I easily made the sugar syrup jar exchange, without incident. The old jar was totally empty.

April 22, 2008: Because I put on a new jar last evening, I skipped this morning.

April 21, 2008: I put a full sugar syrup jar on the R Hive. There were no bees on the empty jar lid. Seventy-three degrees in the morning.
After work, I suited up and did an inspection of the F Hive. I changed out the one gallon jar, and raised it up on two short pieces of one by one wood. Probably need a third piece. The frames were fully drawn. It needs a super. The R Hive got more sugar syrup. After I finished, I glued and nailed two more supers together, and assembled eight frames.

April 20, 2008: Today got away from me. I did not make the weekly inspection. Tomorrow for sure.

April 19, 2008: Today is a busy day. The garden is on tour as part of the Houston Rose Society's Spring Garden Tour. At six it was 52 degrees. Yikes. Only a handful of bees was out on the landing pad. I quickly replaced the empty syrup jar with a full one. Then, on to other tasks, as the tour starts at ten. Tomorrow, exhaustion.

April 18, 2008: It started raining at 4:35 a.m. Or, at least, that's when I woke up to rain and thunder. There was a lull around 7:15, so I checked the bees. A dozen girls were clustered in the eave of the handhold on the front bottom deep. I went back inside and got a jar of sugar syrup and made the exchange. Sarah did not get her walk. Rain came again. During a second lull, I went out and took a picture. Unfortunately, it was fully light by then, and some bees were flying about. Still, the clustered bees were still under the eave of the handhold. I took a picture, even though the scene was not as neat as earlier due to the presence of additional bees on the landing pad.

April 17, 2008:It was 68 degrees at six. Thee were some bees out, but not like when it is in the seventies. I quickly made the swap, and noted that bees were in the Boardman hole and on the empty jar lid. In fact, there was a slight bit of sugar syrup left in the jar. Just a trace, but it is usually completely empty. Maybe they are getting more nectar.

April 16, 2008: Today it was 56 degrees at six in the morning. Only a few bees were out. When I made the swap in sugar syrup jars, the hole in the Boardman was free of bees.

April 15, 2008: Today it was 49 degrees at six. Only a handful of bees were on the landing pad. All were moving slowly. As I made the exchange of sugar syrup jars, I noted that there were not any bees in the Boardman hole, and none were clinging to the empty jar lid.

April 14, 2008: It was 46 degrees this morning. Because I had put on a fresh jar of sugar syrup yesterday afternoon, I did not do an exchange this morning.

April 13, 2008: Today was a busy day. Lots of gardening work. And I checked up with my friend who had hived her bees yesterday for an update. She told me that the last of the bees still in the package box went inside the hive by 2 p.m. She also told me that she had checked at 3 a.m. and during the morning, and the stragglers were still in the box, although mounded up for warmth. Sunday morning was cool, in the forties, so I was not surprised that it was later in the day before they joined their sisters.
After learning all was well at the neighbor's hive, I did my weekly inspection of my hives. Unfortunately, it started cooling off in late afternoon, and a brisk wind developed. I decided for a quick inspection.
On the F Hive, many bees were flying around the front of the hive. I smoked them, added some smoke to inside the top of the hive, and waited. I then removed the telescoping cover. There were plenty of bees inside the deep I am using for a spacer for the one gallon feeder jar. When I lifted the jar, bees swarmed up through the inner cover hole into the space occupied by the jar. I used my gloved hand to sweep the bees aside before placing the full jar in place, and the bees let me know that they did not appreciate that one bit. They took after me, looking for an opening. Fortunately, my suit and veil performed flawlessly. I finished up (adding a new jar of syrup to the R Hive) and beat a retreat. I have decided to put some short pieces of one by one wooden blocks to set the jar on so as to diminish the problem of crushed bees and not have to sweep them aside. A "next weekend" project.

April 12, 2008: This morning, I headed for the beeyard at a little before six. It was still dark out. The temperature, in contrast to yesterday, was 56 degrees. Very few bees were on the landing pad. The sugar syrup exchange was simple, but some bees were still on the lid. A quick thump on the dirt dislodged them.
Around 6:30 pm I headed for a friend's house down the street. She is just getting into beekeeping, and today she picked up her bees. She asked me to watch her hive her bees, and I was happy to help. I showed up with a sack containing my beesuit, veil and gloves. No smokers were needed for this operation.
When I arrived, her boss (also a lawyer) was present, and having a martini. We all tropped over to look at the package of bees. Some concern was expressed because there were dead bees at the bottom of the package. The package was from B. Weavers. I have not experienced that, myself, but it didn't seem like enough dead bees to be a problem. We passed the time waiting till dusk (Weather.Com reported that sunset would be at 7:48 p.m.) Although the new beekeeper was ready to get on with hiving, I cautioned that it needed to get a little darker.
About 7:10 p.m. I thought it would be okay to get the queen from the package. The procedure went fine, except that there was a sting on the finger and on the bicep. I applied Benadryl Cream to both spots, and it was reported that the stings diminished. I think she crushed a bee during the queen extraction process. I don't know why a bee stung her on the bicep. I stongly urged her to wear my beesuit, but she just as firmly declined, having picked a light-weight blue blouse, on the theory that bees like blue. I don't known if the color had anything to do with the stinging, but two other stings occured as she was hiving the bees. One was to the outside shoulder and one was to the neck. I'm not sure why the bicep sting occured, but the neck sting was probably caused by the veil laying against the neck, and thus offering no protection. I have had this happen to me before, also. These bees were not happy to be hived. I was wearing my bee suit with zippered veil, and gauntlet gloves. At first, I didn't have the gloves on, but I could tell the bees weren't in a good mood, so I put them on. No stings on me.
All the steps were taken. Most of the bees went inside the hive, and about three to four hundred bees were still in the package when she sat it down in front of the hive. We watched many bees walk into the hive, then we adjourned to apply benadryl to the new stings.
I saw the stinger still at the neck site. I didn't notice it until after I had applied the Benadryl Cream. That made it slippery when I tried to catch the stinger under my pocket knife blade for removal. We could not find a pair of tweezers. Finally, I got the stinger out. She had to go inside to apply Benadryl to the bicep sting, because we could not get the long sleeves of the blouse up high enough. Another approach was needed.
I made sure there were no signs of allergic reaction before I returned hope. The new beekeeper took a couple of Benadryl capsules, and was adamant that she was doing fine. An invitation to join Maria and me for dinner at Berryhills was declined. I was back home by 8:15 p.m. Before I left, we took a last look at the bees by flashlight light. There was little flying going on, and the stragglers were both inside and outside the package. We will see if they go in by morning.

April 11, 2008: It was 75 degrees on Friday morning at six. I went to the beeyard, and played the flashlight beam over the R Hive. It was very thick with bees. In fact, there was a living bridge of bees from the front of the hive onto the jar of the Boardman feeder. I decided that there was no way of exchanging the feeders without major incident, so I did not give them fresh sugar syrup.

April 10, 2008: It was 74 degrees this morning. Bees were thick on the front of the hive. As I reached over to get the empty Boardman jar, a bee alighted on my left arm. No sting, but it was still disconcerting.

April 9, 2008: Plenty of bees out. Quick exchange of jars, using a gloved left hand. No problems.

April 8, 2008: It was 71 degrees this morning. Quite a bit warmer than yesterday. Even though it was dark, the bees were hanging on the front of both hives. I made a quick swap of the empty sugar syrup jar. I did a flick of my wrist to dislodge the bees still on the lid, but a quick check with the flashlight showed several still remained. I thumped the jar on the ground, closed the fence, and headed back to the house.

April 7, 2008: It was 66 degrees this morning, with light fog. The bees were out, but not in the numbers they are when the temperatures are in the seventies. Because I had inspected the bees early on Sunday, the jar on the R Hive was empty. I made the swap of sugar syrup jars without incident.

April 6, 2008: I have an extremely busy Sunday. We are due at the kGeorge R Brown Convention Center by one in the afternoon. I needed to get a motorcycle run in. I had to do my weekly inspection of the bees. So, I did the inspection before my motorcycle ride. It was about 9:30 a.m. when I did it. The F Hive was fine. I simply swapped out the cracker jar with a gallon of new sugar syrup. The girls were minimially upset. I did some weeding around the hive, and pulled a vine from the front. The girls tolerated the disturbance nicely.
On the R Hive, I swapped out the sugar jar and then popped the top and inner cover for a look at how much they had built out the frames on the super I had added a few (two?) weeks ago. I pulled a acenter frame and looked things over. They had built out some of the frames, and added capped honey. Other frames were being built out. Everything looked fine. No small hive beetles. Inspection done.

April 5, 2008: Winter has returned. The rain came yesterday around 3:30 p.m., and the temperature fell steadily all night. By six this morning it was 56 degrees. That qualifies as winter here. I checked both hives, and the wall-hanging behavior was absent. Most of the girls were inside, keeping warm. I took the opportunity the cool provided and pulled an errant weed from in front of the R Hive entrance, then exchanged the sugar syrup jars. I could hear a marked increase in the humming of the hive as I did this. Bees came out to see who was transgressing. No flying though.

April 4, 2008: It was 74 this morning at six. And overcast. The girls were out in force, hanging on the front of the hive, all the way to the top of the second deep. As I made the jar exchange, I marveled at how close to the clinging bees my hand comes during the exchange. Still, it is not the bees on the wall that are of concern. It is the bees on the lid of the empty jar. I bumped it on the ground, dislodging the hangers-on. Done.

April 3, 2008: It was 73 this morning when I got up, a little before six. Although it was dark outside, both hives had girls on the fronts, waiting for daylight. There were a few bees on the north side of the R Hive (it faces east), but none on the south side, where I was. I reached over with a gloved hand and removed the old quart jar. Bees were everywhere inside the Boardman's hole. Bees were also just centimeters from my hand as I garbbed the jar. I made the exchange and thumped the jar free of bees.

April 2, 2008: Nothing special about this morning, except that it was only 70 degrees. Not that many wall-hangers. A quick exchange of the jars.

April 1, 2008: The bees were out, even though it was still dark. No flying, however. I made a quick exchanged, wearing a glove on my left hand. All went well.

March 31, 2008: It was 72 degrees this morning. It had rained a little last night. I headed for the beeyard around 5:30 am. This was a half an hour earlier than usual. Still, the girls were out on the landing pad, waiting for first light. I exchanged sugar jars on the Boardman, and thumped the empty jar to dislodge the bees that were on it. No problems. Rain is expected today, so I don't know when I will get a fresh gallon jar on the F Hive.

March 30, 2008: I did not work on the hives. We worked in the yard all day, and by the time I remembered the bees, it was too close too dark, and I had not yet made fresh sugar water. Also, rain threatened all day, and I didn't relish opening the hive on such an overcast day.

March 29, 2008: Today was the day to get back on the horse. I had to figure out why I got stung yesterday.
I arose before six. It was 70 degrees out. I got the jar of sugar syrup, a flashlight and headed for the garage to find a suitable left-hand glove. I wanted a glove I could flip off if it got covered in bees, so it had to fit loosely. I found a ThornMaster glove I use for rose work. It was exactly what I wanted. I headed for the beeyard.
The flashlight revealed that the bees were out on the landing pad, but none were on the jar. Still, I decided to leave the glove on. I entered the beeyard and grabbed the empty jar from the R Hive's Boardman feeder with my gloved left hand. I used my right hand to replace the empty jar with the new one. The Boardmn hole was full of bees. Same as yesterday. I had the small flashlight in my mouth. I directed its beam at the empty jar an discovered that the lid was covered in bees. Eureka! I quickly thumped the jar on the beeyard mulch and dislodged all the bees (a fact I made double sure by playing the flashlight all over the jar). I then picked up the jar I had dropped yesterday, made a final inspection for bees with the flashlight, and reclosed the beeyard. Done. My conclusion: there had been no bees on the glass of the empty jar yesterday. The bees that were there were on the lid portion. That may mean that the bees are barely finishing the sygar syrup each day, so some girls are still working the lid. For whatever reason, I will now have to make sure the lid is free of bees. Mystery solved. I think.

March 28, 2008: It was 69 degrees this morning. It was still dark when I went out at six. I shined the flashlight on the hive and noticed that there were bees everywhere on the front. Lots more that usual. I could not see any on the glass jar. I quickly pulled off the empty jar of sugar syrup and up on the new jar. Then, a flashlight glance revealed that the empty jar was covered in bees. They had been on the side away from me, so I didn't see them with my casual glance. At almost the same instance, one of the girls let me know of her displeasure with my first sting of the year. Ouch. It really hurt. Well, okay, maybe my pride was a little hurt also. Anyway, I dropped the bee covered empty jar in the beeyard and headed back to the house for some Benadryl cream. A quick dap of the cream on my left ring finger brought relief. Within two minutes, the sting could barely be felt. I may have to take a glove out tomorrow morning.

March 27, 2008: It was 66 again. Quick swap. Bees were out. No problems.

March 26, 2008: It was 66 this morning at six. The bees were gathered on the landing pad, even though it was still dark out. I exchanged the sugar syrup jar and three bees were still clinging to the empty jar as I walked off. I blew them off the jar.

March 25, 2008: It was 55 degrees this morning. Some bees were on the landing pad at six. It was still dark. I exchanged the sugar syrup on the R Hive.

March 24, 2008: Simple exchange of the sugar syrup.

March 23, 2008: Sunday. I did not do a morning sugar syrup exchange because I was going to do a complete inspection in the afternoon. Unfortunately, in the afternoon it was cool and very windy. I suited up and exchanged the sugar syrup cracker jar (one gallon) on the F Hive. The girls were not glad to see me, even though I had smoked them. I don't think they like cool and windy days. I should have done this on Saturday. Because of the weather conditions, I simply exchanged the sugar syrup on the R Hive, without opening it.

March 22, 2008: Maria treated me to the Chris Botti concert last night. Excellent. Got to bed late. Arose at 6:30 am. It was 57 degrees out. No wind. Exchanged full jar of sugar syrup for empty. Even though it was 57, the girls on both hives were still inside. Even at 6:30 it was still fully dark out. Some bees were walking around the front of the R Hive, but none were out on the F Hive.

March 21, 2008: Exchanged empty for full jar of sugar syrup on R Hive. It was 47 degrees.

March 20, 2008: Spring arrives today. Yesterday afternoon and evening (2 pm to 9 pm), Maria and I worked the Rodeo Booth at the AgAdventure section of the Houton Livestock Show and Rodeo. Crowds were thick until about 8:30 pm. I guess Spring Break brought more people out. I think I got some new students for my Leisure Learning class.
This morning, it was 47 degrees. No wind, for a change. I swaped a full jar for the empty one on the R Hive. Around a dozen girls came out to see what was happening, but it was too cold for many bees to come to the landing pad. Within sixty seconds, most of the bees were back inside the warmth of the hive. There were no bees on the landing pad of the F Hive.

March 19, 2008: This morning it was 56 degrees. It had rained .3 inches yesterday. The bees on the R Hive were somewhat out on the landing pad of the hive, but they were moving slowly. I put my ear near them as I exchanged jars of sugar syrup, and they were certainly buzzing. More came outside at the jostling I gave the hive when exchanging the jars. No flying, though. The F Hive had under 20 bees on its landing pad.
Last night I gave a talk on small hive beetles to the Houston Beekeepers Association.

March 18, 2008: The wind has been blowing strongly for a couple of days now. The TV is reporting morning gusts of up to 31 mph. It feels even stronger. It was warm when I got up (at 73 degrees). I don't think a bee could even fly in this wind. Anyway, the girls were hanging out on the front of the hive at six. When I pulled the empty jar off the Boardman on the R Hive, the lid was covered with bees. And the inside of the hole was teeming with bees. That is unusual. Normally, when it goes empty, the bees lose interest. No stings, however.

March 17, 2008: This morning it was 69 degrees at six. I had put on the fresh quart of sugar syrup late in the afternoon on Sunday, and it was barely down any. There were bees hanging on the sides of the front of the R Hive, up about four inches. No hanging bees on the F Hive. It is windy again today. I decided not to top off the Boardman feeder jar.

March 16, 2008: It was warm, but extremely windy all day. Gusts to 28 mph, as per the Weather Channel. Blistery seems an accurate word. I figured the bees would not like my weekly inspection, and I was right. I waited until late afternoon to do my inspection. I had planned to reverse the hive bodies today, if needed. But, with the wind, I decided to wait a week. Even so, just taking the cracker jar off the F Hive caused the girls to get very agitated. They were not happy to see me. I left the spacer deep in place, exchanged a fresh gallon of sugar syrup for the empty one, and closed up the hive. Bees were flying everwhere--around me. I made a quick swap of the quart jar on the R Hive and left. One bee followed me for a few feet before returning to the hive. This high wind is not making for happy bees.

March 14, 2008. I slept fine last night. Yesterday, I had awakened at four because I thought of something to add to the web page. Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, I took the Beekeeping in Your Backyard book to the printers to make copies for the Leisure Learning class I teach on Saturday. I got forty copies. There are 28 students signed up for the course, which is the capacity of the room. Having the book done made for a sound night's sleep. This morning, it was 69 degrees when I awoke. As I suspected, the girls were out in force, but they were all milling around the landing pad. It was still dark out, and I guess then had not yet gone to work. I exchanged the sugar syrup without incident. I check on the F Hive, and they were also congregated on their landing pad. Spring has arrived.

March 13, 2008: I forgot to make sugar syrup yesterday. So, this morning, when I opened the refrigerator, there was not full quart. I quickly put some water to heating. When it was warm, I added a four pound bag of sugar and stirred. I then removed it from the heat and we took Sarah for here morning walk. When we got back, I poured the syrup into a jar and set the jar in an ice bath to cool. I then rode the motorcycle to the Post Office to check the mail. By the time I got back, the syrup had cooled. I headed for the beeyard and exchanged the empty jar for the full one. The bees were not really out. It was still around 58 degrees.

March 12, 2008: Our tree guy had his workers tip prune the tall crape myrtles by the beeyard. I have done this job many times in the past without incident. However, I always gentle lowered the cut branches to the ground, and made sure they did not hit the hive. The workers went faster, with less concern. At least initially. About two dozen branches were all over the beeyard this morning. Last night, Pete told me that two of the workers had been stung, once each. Thus, they left the branches where they fell. I was relieved to note that this morning's temperature was 48 degrees. That meant that I would not have to suit up to clear out the debris.
I had not surveyed the damage yesterday. I was surprised at the number of branches on the fence and on top of the hive. I worked quickly to clear the branches not touching the hive. I then cleared the ones blocking the gate, inside and out. I made frequent checks of the hive entrance, to make sure the girls were still inside. With a last rush, I removed the branches actually on top of the hive, as gently as possible. I then exchanged the empty jar of sugar syrup for a full one. The bees had expressed no interest. For once, I was glad of a cool morning.

March 11, 2008: It rained hard yesterday, starting around eleven and not ending until late evening. We got 1.4 inches. The bees in the R Hive managed to empty their quart jar, however. I swapped it out for a new one this morning.

March 10, 2008: Because I put the new jar of sugar syrup on the R Hive so late in the day, I was not surprised to see that it had only gone down a couple of inches in height. I topped it off.

March 9, 2008: We "sprang forward" to Daylight Savings Time. It was 55 degrees when I got up at around the new seven am. Still dark out. I will do a hive inspection this afternoon. I did not put on sugar syrup. But I did check the level in the R Hive boardman. It was empty. I guess yesterday's failure to empty the jar was a function of the all day coolness.
Around 5 p.m. I did my weekly inspection of the hives. That is a bit later than normal, but because of the time change, the light factor was as if it was an hour earlier. First, I checked out the F Hive. The one gallon jar was empty. I removed it, and then took off the inner cover. There was lots of burr comb on it. There was also a little pollen substitute left in the corners. Therefore, I gave the F Hive about 40% of the pollen substitute pad and reserved the rest for the hungry R Hive. Before replacing the inner cover, I inspected the frames on the super. The four center frames are full of capped honey. The outer three frames on each side are not even drawn yet. I put the inner cover back on, replaced the gallon jar and closed up the hive.
I then inspected the R Hive. It was teeming with bees. I decided to remove some frames for a more thorough inspection. I was happy to notice that I saw zero SHBs on either hive. In the R Hive, however, I saw capped pollen along with capped honey. Almost all of the frames were capped. I decided to add a super. I could see queen caps at the bottom of the frames. I went back to the garage to get a super and frames. I had several frames of drawn foundation and several undrawn ones. I put nine frames in the super, equally spaced. I put the drawn frames to the outside to see if that would encourage the bees to drawn out the center ones. Time will tell. There were large larvae in the hive, and I selected one as a specimen. I will figure out what exactly it is later. I added a fresh jar of sugar syrup to the Boardman feeder and closed up the hive. I was glad to do so because the smoker had gone out. I had been stingy with the smoker fuel, and I was glad the bees remained calm. No need to press my luck, however.
As a last task, I checked the SHB trap in the F Hive. It looked about the same as last week. I took off a glove and fished out several SHB larvae for my class. I put them in a small jar for the moment.

March 8,2008: Yesterday, it was cold all day. On the way home from work, it was only 52 degrees. The temperature kept falling till it was 38 degrees this morning. When I went out to change the sugar syrup, the jar was only down by about a fourth. This was unusual. I topped the jar off. I guess the all-day cold caused the bees to forego sugar syrup. We will see what Sunday brings.

March 7, 2008: We awoke today to howling winds. It had started raining yesterday, and a check of the rain gauge showed 1.0 inches. The temperature had fallen all night from 62 degrees on the way home to 41 degrees this morning. I headed to the beeyard and swapped a full jar of sugar syrup for the empty on on the hive. No bees were out. Given the temperature, that was no surprise. I finished the chapter on pollination for the book.

March 6, 2008: This is the day, in 1836, that the Alamo fell. Here in 2008, the day dawned a warm 58 degrees, but overcast. At a little after six, I headed out to the beeyard and changed out the sugar syrup in the R Hive. No bees were up yet. The jar was empty. On an interesting note, I made a motorcycle run to the post office box right at seven. There was a card in our box that an oversized package had come. I rang the service bell and got the box. The lady asked me if I was the guy at the Museum of Natural Sciences. I said yes. She asked, "The one that talks about the bees?" I said that was me. She said she thought she recognized me. I told her that I was surprised that she could do so since I was wearing beekeeper gear in the film and had motorcycle gear on this morning, including a full face helmet!. Must be my eyes. March 5, 2008: It was 46 degrees here. I changed out the sugar syrup in the R Hive. The jar was empty. No bees were out. I finished the sections on foulbrood and wax moths for the book.

March 4, 2008: It rained yesterday. Nonetheless, the sugar syrup jar in the R Hive was empty. Exchanged it for a fresh one.

March 3, 2008: I have a mediation today. I quickly changed out the empty sugar syrup jar for a new one. The bees were milling about. Looks like rain.

March 2, 2008: Sunday. Around 3 pm I inspected the hives. I started with the F Hive. After a light smoking, I removed the telescoping cover. Bees were in abundance. I took off the deep hive body I am using as a spacer and noted that the one-gallon cracker jar of sugar syrup was empty. I took it off and set it beside the replacement jar. The bees were all over the empty jar.
I next removed the inner cover. There was just little pollen substitute left on the top bars. I took the new pattie of pollen substitute, tore it in half, and removed the paper cover. I then divided that half into four chunks and placed them in the corners. I replaced the inner cover (big gap down) and made sure it was completely sealed around the outside edges.
Next, I bent down and unscrewed the lid from the fresh jar of sugar syrup and exchanged it for the lid on the empty jar (the lid with the holes in it). I then placed thd fresh jar so it covered two-thirds of the hole in the center of the inner cover. I had to nudge one bee away so I didn't crush her. I then replace the deep and the telescoping cover. Lastly, I pulled out the SHB trap and took a look. The oil level was fine. I could see some adult SHBs in the trap, but I could tell how many new ones were there. I specifically noted that there was what appeared to be SHB larvae in the bottom. I pushed the trap back in place and went over to the R Hive.
In this hive, I am using a Boardman feeder to supply sugar syrup. I am doing this more as an experiment than for practical reasons. I added a fresh quart of sugar syrup and popped the lid on the hive. All looked fine. I took off the inner cover and added four pieces of pollen substitute in the corners. I did not see any adult SHBs on either hive. I noted that it looked like there was drawn comb in the super, but I did not take out a frame. This whole routine took around twenty minutes, including suiting up and lighting the smoker.

March 1, 2008: It was 64 degrees this morning. I swapped an full for an empty jar of sugar syrup in the R Hive. The bees were on the front entrance.

February 29, 2008: Leap Year Day. Morning temperature was 64 degrees. I replaced the empty jar in the R Hive. kThe bees were milling about.

February 28, 2008: 48 degrees this morning. I replace the empty sugar syrup jar in the R Hive.

February 27, 2008: 41 degrees. I replaced the empty jar in the R Hive. No bees out.

February 26, 2008: I replaced the empty jar in the rear hive. When I checked on the hives after work, I noticed that the jar was already empty!

February 25, 2008: Replaced the empty jar in the R Hive.

February 24, 2008: This was my regular Sunday inspection. Both hives are doing well since I began feeding. Both seem strong, although the R Hive is stronger that the F Hive. Both hives had eaten all the pollen substitute. Note: I have been giving the F Hive a little more than half of the pollen substitute pad, due to its weakness. I added a full "gallon" jar (to the rim) to the F Hive and replaced the quart jar on the R Hive's Boardman feeder. The bees were gentle today. I saw what I think are SHB larvae in the F Hive's SHB trap, but no SHBs were seen on the frames of either hive. There were no larvae in the R Hive trap. Both traps had drowned adult SHB, but not a lot of them.

February 22, 2008: 57 degrees out this morning. Replaced empty jar in the R Hive's Boardman feeder.

February 21, 2008: 67 degrees. Replaced empty jar in R Hive. Bees were plentiful on the landing pad, even though it was just six in the morning.

February 20, 2008: 61 degrees. I was running short of sugar syrup. I only had 3/4 of a jar in reserve. I added it to the R Hive. Time to make more.

February 19, 2008: The Boardman jar on the R Hive had three fingers worth of sugar syrup still in it. Swapped it out for a fresh jar. Note: it was cold yesterday. High was 62. Morning Temperature was 44.

February 18, 2008: The R Hive jar is only down by a cup. Fifty degrees.

mail comments to

[Go Back to My Beekeeping Page]

[Go Back to My Home Page]