Saturday, April 27, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Putting on two new Honey Supers using Imirie Shims on the Hives. How I put the Shims together and why I decided to try them!

Gluing together Shims
Drying Shims

I bought some Imirie Shims to put on my hives recently. The Imirie Shim was invented by a Master Beekeeper named George Imirie. He attributed his bee keeping success to the use of these style top entrances between honey supers. 

Providing upper entrances for the worker bees to reach the supers honey storage location makes a lot of sense, they don't have to travel through the brood chamber and up through all the other supers. 

Additionally, these Shims have been used in winter as alternate entrances for the bees and for moisture escape with good success.  

My bees are building well in their 1st super above two brood chambers. Apparently, the way to produce maximum amounts of extracted honey is to put supers with this entrance between them on before honey flow starts. 

When you do this the smell of the beeswax, sugar water, and essential oils tells the bees their stores are empty and they need to start working. This smell creates a bee pheromone which the bees sense and react by making lots of honey. 

The top entrances also make it easier for the bees to reduce moisture much faster and build a larger crop. 

These shims also help to avoid congestion in the hive because you are giving the worker bees alternate upper entrances so they don't have to make the long trek thru the brood chambers to get to the supers. Bees swarm as a result of congestion and the Shims provide a logical and elegant solution to this problem.  This just plain makes a lot of sense to me so after reading about the Shims I decided to order some from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm

Close up on Bee Entrance on Shim

Wood Glue

Glued and Drying
When the Shims came all in bundles, I glued , nailed, and then painted the Exterior of the Shims in my backyard before installation. 

I painted the exteriors
of the Shims White to
match my hives and
protect them

Got on my Bee Suit

Got Smoker Going

Sprayed the Pierco Frames within
 the two Supers with
Sugar Water and Essential Oils/ProHealth
Hives BEFORE I put on
Top Entrances and new Supers

HIVES AFTER: note the
new upper entrance (
Imirie Shim)
between the two top supers

This is my first attempt at using the Shims. I decided to install on the Full Scorpio Moon and to Spray essential oils (I use Prohealth which I buy from ) and sugar water on the frames to help stimulate production on those frames. It was also a Lunar Eclipse and I felt this was an auspicious time to introduce the new entrances to the Bees. I figured with the combination of the new entrance and the Spray I concocted would be attractive to the bees. 

Last year I sprayed my frames in my supers with the same concoction with a lot of success. Since I use plastic frames, the bees need a little stimulation to get going on them but once they get going, they are fine.

The Sugar Water Spray Recipe I used today:
4 cups very hot water out of faucet
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons ProHealth (which has lemongrass and  spearmint essential oils in it and the bees love it)

I shake it up all in a bottle. I use a leftover OJ container with a screw on top. It is good to use a funnel for everything and I bought some funnels in the dollar store which work great. I then use a clean dollar store spray bottle. I like to re-use things but I didn't want to use any kind of spray bottle that might have had a chemical cleaner in it so I bought a new spray bottle to use only for the bees. I also spray the containers down with this solution when I get a bee package in the mail and I have to wait overnight or a day or so to install the new package and queen in the hive.

I haven't seen a bee go into the new Imirie Shim entrance yet, but my husband said he saw one near it. I will let you know how this experiment is working for me throughout the summer.  Since I am fairly new at Bee Keeping, I am still just learning but when reading and thinking about the needs of the hive, these upper entrances make sense to me. Currently, I am reading "Honeybee Democracy" by Thomas Seeley which is helping my understanding of the bees. This year I am connecting well to the ideas and needs of the hive because the longer I keep bees and learn about them as a living organism the more they make sense to me and I understand them on a lot deeper level then I did just a few years ago. I am an organic beekeeper and have been highly influenced by beekeepers like Michael Bush who wrote the "Practical Beekeeper"and Ross Conrad who wrote 

"Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture" . I learned the most from watching Youtube videos too. I have learned that using essential oils in the hive is very protective and supports the bees in a hugely positive way. I am also open to learning new things from experienced Beekeepers but mostly it's been trial and error learning. In a way the bees teach you and you learn naturally from them.

Happy Bee Keeping!
Melissa Abbott

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Time! Getting Ready for New Bees - Painting some New Hives and Clearing out the Bee Yard

Painting some of my new supers and hives and getting ready for 2 new packages of Bees I am expecting this Spring. I hung the boxes along a fence to paint. I only had to paint the outside.

 I decided white was a really nice color for the bee hives because it reflects light and keeps the bees cool. I used a Latex Exterior Paint for the project. I have the idea that I might want to stencil on some designs with some interesting colors and I am researching making my own stencils for the effort.

When the new hives were dry enough, I stacked them in my honey house to dry overnight before seeing if they might need another coat. In the foreground you can see my 2 established hives.

Charlie did some burning today because the wind was going away from the bees and 
he cleaned out around the bee yard a bit while I did painting 

Here's a little peek inside my honey house and 
you can see the stacked
 hives drying, my suits, and my extractor.

A look at one of my established hives today. They were very industrious!

Stacked hive bodies and supers doing the paint cure overnight in the honey house tonight. 
Eventually they will be put into the bee yard when new packages arrive in May. Because it was so cold down south, packages will be later-ish this year. last year I got my packages in early May but this year it is scheduled for a bit later. I'll be ready!

Happy Bees are Healthy Bees,

Monday, April 15, 2013

April Spring Day and the Bees are bringing back so much pollen today!!

April Spring Day and the Bees are bringing back so much pollen today!!
I didn't see much yesterday but it was quite a bit warmer and the sun was out. I did notice some bees near the daffodils blooming in my yard. There are a few tress budding. Very busy and active today!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Melissa Abbott's Gloucester, MA Backyard Honey Bee Apiary

Bees, a set on Flickr.
A Few Photos of My Backyard Apiary

Spring Feeding of the Bees with my Recipe for Sugar Water and Essential Oil Feeding Stimulant

It's been a long winter and a couple of weeks ago started feeding the hives some sugar water to make sure they get a good start this year.

I use external mason jar feeders. I tried a hive top feeder and honestly, I didn't like it because so many bees drowned in the sugar water. I like keeping things easy and I also like watching the bees to make sure they are ok so the entrance mason jar feeders work really well. The fact that they are so inexpensive helps too!! My hive top feeder is just hanging on a shelf in my bee house. That's how much I don't like it.

My Spring Sugar Water Feeding Recipe

12 c. Spring Water near boiling
12 c. White Sugar

Add Sugar to near boiling water and mix with a wire whisk to dissolve sugars. I just mix it all up in a large stainless steel pan in my kitchen. Let cool.

I add 4 teaspoons of ProHealth Feeding Stimulant with Essential Oils to the cooled sugar water. There is Lemongrass and Spearmint Oils in this mixture and the Bees really like it. I also spray a mixture of ProHealth and water in a spray bottle on the supers and frames when I put on a new super. It really helps the bees to start production on the frames right away. 

I store the Bee Food in Spring Water Jugs in a cool place and it lasts for about 2 weeks.