Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’ Category

  • February – Paul’s Newsletter

    Date: 2018.02.12 | Category: Newsletter, Tips and Tricks | Response: 0

    Paul’s Winter/Spring Newsletter

    Greetings All!     I’ll try to do better, I promise.

    When the weather is pleasant and the sun shines on my hives, you can almost hear the girls singing.  Cold days keep knocking us back a little, but they recover quickly.

    If you haven’t treated your bees for mites yet this winter, about your only option now is formic acid (Mite Away Quick Strips.  If you haven’t treated them, I STRONGLY recommend that you do right away.

    I am very close to rotating my hive bodies to reduce swarming.  (On a double-deep hive, put the top box on the bottom and the bottom box on top.)  I will ONLY do this if most of the bees are int eh top box now.  It’s also a great time to put a Mite Away Quick Strip between the two.  The reason I do this is to give the bees a sense of more room.  In many hives after winter, you will see that virtually all the bees, brood and food are in the top box. Since bees always move up, rotating the boxes gives them somewhere to move up to, thus reducing the need to swarm.

    I’ve been feeding my bees all during the cold weather, just to make sure they have enough food.  When it’s as cold as it has been, you can’t open the hives to check.  The red quince on my farm has started to bloom in the last few days, so I am feeding all my hives now to stimulate the queen to lay.  By the time these eggs hatch (21 days), early blooming plants should be providing the nourishment the young bees need.  Your goal is to have as large a population of bees as possible as early in the blooming season as possible.  (And still discourage swarming).  The ONLY thing I do to prevent swarming is providing my bees with plenty of room to grow and by doing splits as I have time.  I never cut queen cells or clip queen wings.  In my opinion, that’s a recipe’ for disaster.

    Remember that we can have swarms as early as the First of March.  Counting backwards, since queens hatch at day 18, you might begin to see swarm cells as early as the middle of February (only about a week away).  That’s a little early, but certainly not unheard of.  Speaking of splits, that’s the best way to prevent swarms because you’re actually beating the bees to the punch, creating an artificial swarm YOU control instead of them.

    Anybody can do a split with a swarm cell.  All you have to do is divide the hive in half, making sure the queen is in one half and the swarm cell(s) in the other half.  Each half should have an equal amount of honey, brood, pollen and bees.  Then move one of the halves two miles away for 2-3 weeks.  For those of you who remember how to “notch” a queen cell, you don’t even have to have a swarm cell.  Anytime I see a swarm cell, it’s a free and easy chance to do a split.

    I’ve got a pretty good PowerPoint program on “Catching a Caring for Swarms” I did at the GBA meeting last year.  I’ve been asked to present it at the LaGrange club in February and the Tara club (McDonough) in March.  If we have an open meeting soon, I’ll be glad to do it for our club if you like.

    The Georgia Beekeepers Association Spring Conference is being held in Griffin next weekend, so register and come if you can.  It is an exceptional learning experience.  You can meet and talk to people there who are a heckofa lot smarter than me.

    Don’t forget to promote our Spring Beekeeping Course beginning February 24th.  Tell friends and neighbors to call Oxbow Meadows, (706)507-8550, to sign up.

    I’m in conversation with Dr. Keith Delaplane now about holding the Certified Beekeeper exam here in Columbus in Mid April, for those interested.  Once I get past the GBS meeting next weekend, I’ll be able to concentrate on that and will let you know as plans progress.

    If you have any questions or want me to discuss a topic in these (infrequent, sorry) newsletters, shoot me an email.

    Be good to your bees!



  • Interesting Swarm Stories-2015!

    Date: 2015.04.09 | Category: General, Guest Post, Tips and Tricks | Response: 0

    This post is a reference to one of our member blogs at in West Point.   You may have heard Paul talk about sizing up a good swarm and the difference between what a large swarm and a small swarm look like.  This post appears on member Doug R.’s blog for his Pick & Pay Blueberry Farm called RabbitEye Farm and is quite interesting.  Here is an intro, and you can visit his site by clicking the read more link.  Thanks Doug!

    … is that a 1-Cat or a 2-Cat Swarm?


    One Cat Swarm?Swarm season can be an exciting time of year if you are adept at catching bees.  We’ve seen and captured a lot of swarms over the years… some with quite a bit of effort… and some with unsatisfactory results.  So far this year, we have had the easiest time yet.  Here are three different 2015 stories and we are only one week into swarm season!

    Last year, after simultaneously getting konked on the head with a pair of limb clippers while jumping off of a 6 foot stepladder and getting rained on by angry bees, I was determined to find a better way of catching swarms.  With some research I found that bees swarm first and make a game plan second.  Seems a little risky to me, but that’s what they do.  Once they cluster on a branch they send scouts to find a suitable home.  These scouts measure the volume of a potential place and report back to the cluster.  They like the volume to be close to that of a brood chamber, which is the large wooden box at the bottom of a Langstroth hive.  See this post for hive components.  Besides measuring for volume, they tend to like places that are about 6 feet off the ground and at the edge of a wooded area.  Facing a meadow or open area is a nice touch as is an aroma of lemongrass oil.  (I’m not kidding)  They also like the potential nesting place to be dark, so a solid bottom board is a must.  They also prefer to make their honeycomb on a 45 degree angle, so placing an older frame with comb on it in the box on an angle is attractive to them.  I put a reducer at the entrance too, so the bees can be sure they can defend themselves once they move in.

    So, with this new knowledge, I put up a bait hive with the aforementioned parameters this Spring.  Our very first swarm was spotted about 30 feet in the air on a pine branch, so there was no way we could have reached it without a bucket truck.  I watched it all day… READ MORE HERE

  • A recipe for Swarm Lure

    Date: 2015.03.23 | Category: Tips and Tricks | Response: 0

    Swarm LureIts SWARM TIME again.  There are many ways to catch a swarm, but the easiest is to use a bait hive.  Paul, our president attended the recent GBA meeting and asked if he might share this recipe for “swarm lure”.  The recipe was discussed in a session about wax that was given by Linda Tillman.  Here is her response with the recipe and a link to some photos.

    Hi Paul,
    Of course, I’m glad to share.  Here’s a slideshow of how to do it:
    (If you play the slideshow, there are captions under each slide.  **To play the slideshow – go to the link, then click the downward facing arrow in the upper right of that page.  You will see the option for slideshow there.)

    A square inch of beeswax
    melted with 1/4 cup olive oil
    Add 15 – 20 drops of lemongrass oil.

    This solidifies and you can smear it quite easily.  I put it around the hole in the inner cover; on top of some of the frames, just under the entry opening.

    It’s not my recipe – some guy in Italy, I believe, posted it as a comment to one of my posts on my blog.  It’s good for one season.  Next season the lemongrass oil loses its effectiveness and you have to remake it.

  • Gearing Up for the 2015 Season

    Date: 2015.02.10 | Category: Tips and Tricks | Response: 0

    MeetingOur February 9th , 2015 CVBA meeting was well attended.  About seventy members were present.  Paul, our president, demonstrated a few feeding techniques he has developed.  He brought in a modified turkey fryer that is just the right size for his bee yard’s needs.  He also brought in items to show how he mixes and transports his rather large amount of syrup to his bee yard.  Seeing the equipment and hearing his routine made it easy to comprehend what we should be doing in our own bee yards.

    We discussed feeding, which everyone in our area should probably be doing.  Paul talked about when and why his ratio of sugar to water changes.  In the late fall, bees need to put up honey to consume during the winter so if you need to feed, this is when the ratio should be 2 sugar : 1 water in whatever measurement you want to use.  It could be 2 pounds of sugar : 1 pound of water; or it could be 2 cups sugar : 1 cup water.  This ratio changes in the Spring to a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water.  There is less sugar in this mixture because of what the bees are doing with it.  In the fall, they are converting the sugar water to honey to consume later, as opposed to Spring when they are simply consuming the sugar water.

    Jim, our vice-president, demonstrated several key pieces of equipment, which he also brought to show.  He had many tips and some easy uses of everyday items that are quite handy to know.  These are things that he has developed and uses personally.  Many items and tools can be made from modifying something you already own but some are best to get right from the beginning – like a hive tool.  It’s your own preference.  You can use a screwdriver rather than a hive tool to open your hives, but you will damage the wood and soon need to buy new bee boxes.

    Package bees are just about sold out, if you hurry, you can get on the list.  Contact Jim Ellis for this.  There are a few nucs left, contact Jim Hunsinger if you are interested in getting nucs.

    Beekeeping is not learned from books or online… It’s by experience and mentorship.  Joining CVBA and attending the workshops is your first step in learning about honeybees.  Our Spring course will begin February 21st.  CLICK HERE to find out more.

HELP! Swarms & Bee Rescue



Due to construction work, the April 9, 2018 meeting will be held at Oxbow Meadows.  Please spread the word.

Here is a handy link:


Click these handy links to find out more about our SPRING 2018 COURSE OFFERINGS:

2018 Course

2018 workshops

(see below for specifics about our alternating locations)

2017 Picnic Photos Posted!:  CLICK HERE


April 9 – Oxbow – Note: this is due to construction at UGA office.
May 14 – Oxbow
June 11 – UGA Ex. Office
July 9 – Oxbow
All dates except the picnic begin at 6PM and end (hopefully) before 8PM.

All of our meetings are on the second Monday of the month, except, of course, September’s annual picnic. Now you can put us on your calendar early and plan out your entire year of beekeeping meetings. These meetings alternate locations between Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, 3535 South Lumpkin Rd., Columbus, GA and the UGA Cooperative Extension office – 420 10th Street in Columbus, GA. Time is 6:00 PM
Becoming a member of our Beekeepers Association is easy! CVBA-MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION

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