Category Archives: In the Tanglewood Apiary

Assembled foundationless frames

Got out my Brushy Mountain frame jig yesterday and put together about 50 Kelly Beekeeping foundationless frames. I’m going to try and go this route so I’m not using the same wax frames year after year. I had realized that some of my initial hives had the same frames in the bottom deep over 5 years!! Those got slimed least year during my Beetle Mania battle. Judging from the amount of comb one of my packages made in the empty deep that was protecting the syrup I don’t think that building foundation on an empty frame will be a problem.

The “problem” will be keeping them in a straight line when they are initially building the comb. I’ll post some pictures after the install as they progress.




Been awhile… time to catch up!

Yes indeed…. had a bad year last year in the apiary. Mostly due to my mismanagement and the beetles got crazy and drove everyone away! I installed 3 packages on May 16th and the beetles took over one right away. So it looks like i’m going to freeze some frames and start over with a split.

Here is one of the packages 2 weeks after installment. I put them in one deep, inner cover, 5:3 syurp on top surrounded by a deep box. I figured that the girls needed some food to start since I missed my pickup date for the packages and the bees were sitting in the warehouse an extra day and they looked pitiful. I’m going to spit this one pronto!

Package-CombAs you can see, they ran out of room down below and started building comb in the empty box!




Small Hive Beetle (SHB)

Seems one of my best nucs (or former best nuc) has succumbed to the dreaded Small Hive Beetle (SHB). Not sure what exactly has happened since this was a booming nuc, one that I made 3 splits off this spring. It was a mess and sad at the same time to see this happen. I need to obviously check the nucs more frequently to make sure this doesn’t happen to the others. I’ll update this post with pics later so you can see the disaster up front and close.

I had another 3 deep hive 2 weeks ago (and I should have taken a picture) that I inspected and there were probably several hundred dead SHB in the inner cover. The hive is tilted forward a bit and there was a mound in the corner. This is the worst year for SHB that I have encountered. I’m into Integrated Pest Management, known as IPM, using screen bottom boards and beetle traps. The good thing is that this hive is booming with bees and they were able to keep the suckers in check. Still a little unnerving to say the least. I guess I need to use more traps or find some other method to deal with them.


Early morning bearding…

Went out this am to check the bird baths to make sure there was ample water for the bees and I saw this:


Click to make larger.

And another view:

Side view
Side View

Not sure what to make of this… only 72°F this am. Could be that I added a super yesterday after harvesting the honey from another hive so they had lots of new food since the frames were dripping with honey. Maybe this is a celebration stance…

BTW, in the last two days (between thunderstorms) I harvested about 180 lbs of honey off 3 hives. One had 3 supers and the other two had 2 each. Basically the 1st super in each hive the queen had been laying so I didn’t harvest any of those frames. I guess my late spring management was alittle lacking and she needed more room. I’ll be making some splits soon out of these colonies so that should take care of that issue.

You can see that the hives are sitting on some Rohn 20G tower sections. Typically they are used to mount an antenna on (TV, Amateur Radio etc) but since I only use 25G I put them to good use!


Extracted honey yesterday…

Got 60 lbs from 3 supers…. actually it was more like 2 1/8th supers. Seems I was not doing very good hive management in one colony so the queen decided to lay in the super so I only got a couple of frames that I could extract from. For some known reason, some of the frames were partially started but the bees seemed to not like that frame and continued making foundation on the adjacent frames. Go figure… couldn’t extract from those either.

I have one hive left that I call my super hive that has 3 supers on top. So i’ll tackle that one this weekend. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do one more extraction before fall.

There was quite a few open cells that were not capped one some of the frames so I have the 5 gallon bucket in a closed up room with a dehumidifier so make sure I get the extra moisture out.

Updated: Wanted to update with a pic of one of the frames. Notice how dark it is…
Honey Frame




Building frames with a frame jig

Yesterday afternoon in the 90°F heat (in the shade), I decided to try my new Brushy Mountain frame jig. I decided to put together 50 frames and here is what I did. Click the pictures for a bigger view if you like.

Brush Mountain Frame Jig

The jig can either use the medium frame or full deep frames. The jig is actually in two pieces, full size for deep frames, unlatch the sides (see the side view below for the latch) to pull the top have off for medium super size.

I was putting super frames together to swap out new for old in my supers since those are more than 4 years old at this point. All you do is put the end bars in the slot (front and back), put dab of glue where the top bar will make contact then attach the top bar to each pair of end bars, then staple (1 1/4″ is what I use). No fuss, no muss. I did 10 frames in less than 9 minutes. Compare with doing this by hand!!!

Side view of end bars in the jig

Top bars glued and stapled:

Top bars glued and stapled

Side view:

Side view top bars glued and stapled

Flip the box over and do the same thing:

Belly Up.. jig flipped over awaiting glue and bottom bar

On the bottom bars I did two things different. One I put two small dabs of glue on the sides of the end bar (inside the “u”) so it can drip down the sides where the bottom bar attaches. Reason being that “top” of the bottom bar (that makes contact with the end bar) does not make flush contact with the end bar except on the two sides the bottom bar sits between because of the grove in the bottom bar. This way the glue is attaching to the sides of the bottom bar and adheres better that just a dab of glue at the bottom of the “U” shape of the end bar. I’ll take a picture of this later that will help my horrible explanation make more sense. Check back.

Also, I only put in 1 staple (1 1/4″) for the end bars compared to two staples for the top bar.

My next project (probably today) is put together my foundationless frames from Walter T Kelly. I think they are the only ones that I have found that offer foundationless (the bees make their oun foundation (comb)). Good quality product.

The jig in my opinion is worth the money if you have ever spent hours putting frames together using an air gun. Time factor alone will save you $$$!

Add an additional 5 minutes to pop the foundation in after you remove the frames from the jig. I guess you could put the foundation in before putting in the bottom bar to save some time, which I didn’t think about at the time. I’ll have totry that next!

Several suppliers sell the jig, all within a few dollars of each other. It’s worth it to check it out!!!



Early morning bearding…

This morning it was 68°F so I was surprised that this Nuc was bearding like it was. Looks like I need to take a peak inside just to make sure this is just bearding and not a lack of space issue. I split this Nuc 2 ways several weeks ago since there were swarm cells on 3 frames. This Nuc was an overwintered one, split from one of my other hives. I ordered some queens from Rossmans for several of these nucs and this latest batch are the most gentle Italians that I have encountered. I don’t even smoke this Nuc or the other 2 that I split from this one. It’s nice to be able to do that! I have another colony that I’ll get popped just walking close by! So next week I’m going to dispatch that queen and try the OTS notch method with a frame from this nuc and hopefully that colony will raise a nice, gentle queen.

In case you are wondering, that white object is a playing card that I attached to the nucs since they were all painted the same color and are positioned close together. I figured that it might help with orientation.

The second picture shows the nuc and another colony sitting on a 10 foot section of Rohn 20 (radio tower). Finally found a good use for them!


Building frames on Sunday

I will tell you what I just did… I ordered a frame jig yesterday. Why? Because I built 100 frames on Sunday and I can’t even tell you how long it took. Manually building them.. gluing, stapling… I couldn’t even get a rhythm. I just saw a video where a gent built 10 frames in 8 minutes using the jig. 10 frames probably took me 25-30 minutes! I wasn’t really timing but it was a LONG time… and my time is worth buying a frame jig!!


Saturday Swarm & Split

Wow… with all my other websites… I didn’t I think I neglected this one so bad! Sorry folks!

Saturday I was getting ready to do inspections and most likely some splits. As I was getting all my tools ready, one of my overwintered Nucs decided to swarm. I wish I had taken video of it but I was anxious to try and split it before they actually swarmed. I know folks are probably saying why because when they decide to swarm, they are going to no matter what you do!

This queen that I got from Rossmans in Moultrie Ga last year produced the most gentle bees that I have encountered. This is the first hive (actually nuc) that I can work without smoke! I wanted to spread her genes out since I have 2 hot hives that I need to re-queen and I want to keep this line active so I can requeen the others.

As they were pouring out of the nuc and swirling in the air, I opened it up and did a quick inspection. I didn’t find my red dot queen from last year but I did see one supercedure cell and multiple swarm cells on 4 frames. The supercedure cell made me question what the heck was going on in the nuc but all I can figure is that either the queen just left or something happened to her. The brood pattern on 3 frames was awesome, almost a perfect oval and lots of capped cells. But I didn’t see any fresh eggs or larvae… so something was amiss.

At any rate, I managed to get two splits from this one nuc, adding some frames of brood and eggs from one of my other hives. I have to keep an eye on these two nucs and see how they will do in the next few days. I desperately want to keep this queens genetics going in the apiary.

This weekends weather is not going to be that great for any inspections or splits since there is a 50-70% chance of rain on Saturday & Sunday.


Tuberosity fracture of the left humerus vs Mean Bees!

Ok… you’ve probably read my post here about my troubles with my left arm. Couldn’t do inspections for about 5 months. So I needed to make some splits yesterday since it was the first day in about 3 weeks with no rain. I have 3 new queens to install so I selected my “Jack of Spades*” hive since it’s busting at the seams with bees judging by the bearding.

The only time this hive has been open was during my spring state inspection and it wasn’t fully broken down (2 deeps, 3 supers) since the top deep was in great shape sans the SHB which weren’t too many. So now 3 months post inspection and I attempt to go in to select frames for the splits.

I started to work the hive with no veil or jacket. Everything seems quiet on the “western front” as I removed the supers. The top deep was another story. I couldn’t even pry the top deep no matter where on the box I tried to pry. Totally sealed up with propolis So after 30 minutes of frustration (and 10 lbs of sweat) I need an X-Acto knife. Ok now I was on to somthing, the blade went right through the propolis and I was making progress. As I started to pry and separate the top deep from the bottom, the frames from the bottom deep were propolised to the top deep frames. ARGH!! The bees are now not happy at all. 10 stings later, I ran for my jacket!

They didn’t let up. Even with my jacket on, I had them hanging all over me. Smoke wasn’t helping. Well I started inspecting the frames for the ones that I wanted to make the nucs out of. Bees were now even more angry. Then they find my pants leg at my ankle and started making their way North in my pants. I won’t say how North but I think you can get the picture. I was determined to finish the job at task even though I was now suffering from stings on my legs… I lost track after 20. My name must be Job because I took every sting.

I managed to complete the task, creating 3 nucs for my new Queens but the Queens haven’t been installed in the Nucs yet, I had enough for one day.

I’m going to monitor “Jack of Spades” to see if something else is going on because that colony was never like that. The brood pattern on the removed frames where a nice oval patter so it doesn’t look like the Queen is the problem thus far. I did manage to see eggs (no double or triple eggs seen) and larvae . Alittle drone brood in the lower super but nothing alarming.

Still going to physical therapy (past 6 months)for my arm, maybe I should treat it like an arthritis patient and put a few stings to it!


* My colonies have a playing card on them to identify them. I think it help bees orient (visual) when you split and make a Nuc.