February 22

Bee Team 1 – Now is the Time to Get Serious!

Words of Wisdom just for you!

Team 1, it appears you all are about to move from bee keeper to bee sustainer with good healthy hives.  While I cannot be sure what the weather will hold, my inspection of my hives shows the queens are now hard at work making new bees.  Based on the weather we have been hiving we are now three weeks ahead and the nectar season is already starting with blooms from maples and other trees and shrubs.  I am amazed how short time wise the actual big nectar flow is.  Coming early does NOT mean a longer nectar flow…just an earlier one.

So, what does this mean for you.  A good bee keeper must always be ahead of the game.  This last week I met with Tommy Helms several times to discuss bees (he is a master beekeeper and sold his honey in our market last fall).  Discussions with him along with what I am learning in State Bee School has alerted me to the fact that we must have our supers ready to go and must now up our game with hive inspections.  I have purchased for myself two new hives, two swarm trap boxes, additional supers, and one additional 5 frame nuc to place captured swarms in.  I spent all day yesterday painting wooden ware.  I am planning on transferring the bees in our demo hive into a real hive and then repopulating the demohive with a new nuc of bees or a captured swarm.  Yes….I have been a busy man.  You must become so as well depending on what you want to accomplish!

  • You should now be in your hive every two weeks to check the progress of your hive and be on the watch for queen cells.
  • If you get some queen cells I now know how to do a split and we can start a new hive with your queen cells, and taking some of your brood, eggs, and honey and transferring to a new hive.  But…YOU MUST BE PREPARED WITH A NEW HIVE READY  TO TAKE THE NEW BEES.
  • Last year as first year beekeepers, you really did not have to worry about new queens and having your bees swarm.  This year will be another story.  You are highly likely to produce queen cells and can easily have your bees swarm if you are not paying attention (just ask Erin Denison).
  • You have two choices….cut out the queen cells and increase space in your hive OR use the queen cells to make new hives.

Tommy Helms makes all the wooden ware in his shop and I can easily purchase new equipment from him.  His prices are competitive with Brushy Mountain and his workmanship is superior.  I plan to get a pricing list from him today and will post here for your information.

Bee Team 2 and Those from Team 1 Who ordered Early

I have your orders in and should be getting pricing this week.  Once I do I must have full payment in order to finalize and pick up your equipment.  I plan to make a trip to West Jefferson within the next two weeks to pick this up so you can begin painting your hives.  All new members should study the first three lessons I have on this blog now.  School is now in session!

Do not hesitate to call me and/or post your questions here!

February 21

Week 4 Bee Class – New Things Learned

Gaston County Bee Association’s Bee School continues.  The school is interesting with very good presenters.  Their handouts save you from having to write copeus notes.  This is certainly a school I recommend to all of you as you have time to take it.  This map shows the location of all the students in this class.  If you zoom in you will see I am the only one in the Mount Holly area.  We need to up our game here.  Sure glad we have our learning apiary!

Some of what I learned that I want to pass on to you:

For those who must use pesticides:

  • Follow the label and reduce drift
  • use loer bees risk pesticides
  • avoid spraying blooming plants or weeds that bees are foraging
  • Time of day – 3:00 pm is best
  • use safer formulations
  • dusts and microemulsifiable (MEC’s) are most dangerous
  • granules and sprays are safer
  • never spray or apply near hives

Tips for the Beekeepers:

  • Explain the importance of bees
  • tell your neighbors about your bees if they spray pesticides
  • put contact in at your bee yard if located away from your residence
  • talk to Professional Pesticide Applicators.  Don’t put bees where folks will stay
  • Register your Apiary with the NCDA
  • Cover or move your bees when pesticides are sprayed
February 20

New Things I Have Learned in Bee School February 13 Weeks 2 and 3

  • Use Diatomatious Earth and spread around base of hive for effective ant treatment.  Must put out again after each rain.
  • Use duc-tape to make tabs to slide your winter bottom board in and out
  • If you accidentally kill a bee it will give off pheromones to alert other bees…not good.!  Now I know why I was so violently attacked last year in one of my inspections.  Smoke, slow, and gentle are the rules to follow.
  • Bees seem to prefer wax over plastic is the consensus of instructors in this class
  • Do not inspect hives after working hard or when sweaty.  Showering with non scented soap is best.  Take your watch off so you do not have the sweat Oder coming from under the watch.
  • Wisk washing detergent is a BIG No No.  The Oder of this product will drive the bees crazy.
  • Best time for hive inspections are mid morning….never before a thunderstorm cause all the girls are heading home.
  • use food grade buckets for honey storage.
  • Repace brood frames when they get dirty (turn dark).  Frames for honey in supers can last for many years.  Normally brood frames should be replaced within 3 years.
  • The compound eye of a worker bee has 6,900 hexagonal facets, each acting as an independent eye.  Each facet acts independently.  Eyes can detect changes in airflow.
  • The antennae acts as the nose of the honey bee.  The ability to smell is comparable to humans EXCEPT…bees are 10-100times more sensitive to orders of wax, flowers, and other orders important to bees.
  • 7 types of sensory cells on the antennae.  In addition to smells they detect CO2, humidity, temperature, taste
  • not only determine Oder but can tell the DIRECTION of the oder
  • Bees use MULTIPLE systems for orientation/navigation including visual, magnetic field detection, and olfactory (smell)
  • The visual system includes: sun compass orientation, polarization of light waves, and landmarks
  • Congregation site for drones is usually 10 to 40 meters off the ground and about the size of two football fields.
  • I am moving to 9 hive frames, which according to a number of bee keepers,  causes the bees to draw the cone out further, makes hive inspections easier, less likely to kill bees.
February 7

Some Things I learned in Bee School Feb. 6


Great instructor tonight.  Very patient and calm.  I am learning that bee keeping is a great stress reducer.  our instructor tonight seemed to exemplify this.  So many great people in our association with great ideas and a willingness to listen and help.  Plan to leave you with the best new ideas I glean each week.


  • If you kill a bee(s) during a hive inspection, it gives off a pheromone that alerts other bees to her death…not good.  Slow and gentle is always best!
  • in general, the Queen will stay in the first two boxes.  Queen extrudes can actually cause a wearing away of the worker bees, wings….this shortening the life of the bees.  (I have also heard queen extruders  called honey preventers).  Unless I hear a compelling reason to use them, plan to not use this piece of equipment.  Has not caused me a problem so far.
  • We can use a 1:1 ration of sugar water to spray and help get bees to move up to next box.
  • Wax foundation vs plastic?….bees prefer wax over plastic.  Seems to be consensus of bee keepers around here.  Glad we are using wax foundation.
  • Bees rely on smells big time.  Do not be hot and sweaty when you check your bees.  Take a shower.  Use natural soap, no perfumes.  Do not wear a watch as it causes perspiration under the band.  No gels, hairspray, perfumes, etc.  NEVER WAS YOUR CLOTHES IN WISK.  BEES HATE WISK!
  • Your smoker is your best friend.  Never leave home without it!
  • Replace dirty Brod frames about every three years….when they turn dark!
  • Good ide go have  5 Frame Hive (Nuc) in your arsenal for emergencies.
February 6

Bee Team Two – Now We Begin!

© Blend Images / Masterfile
Model Release: No
Property Release: No
Close up of bees crawling on colorful beehive

It’s time to begin.

1. I will be ordering bees this weekend for Bee Team 2 (your class). This must be done now to insure you get good quality bees. This means it is time to get serious and send your $100 registration check in to me made out to the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market. This fee goes entirely to the market to help maintain the Apiary including mowing and grounds upkeep. I’d do not charge for my time and give it to you freely because of my love and your love for our bees. Please send your registration check to:

Scott Griffin
110 Oakland Street
Mount Holly, NC. 28120

2. I need to know now if you are committed to this endeavor so that I may order your bees this weekend. This means I need to know how many hives you plan to start up as each hive must have its own set of bees. Most, if not all of you, will begin with one hive at the apiary.

3. I will be working on a complete price list which includes the cost of everything you need from bees, to hives, tools, and protective gear. I estimate the cost to be around $500. Once I determine this cost you will need to send me full payment right away. Again, payment should be made out to the Mount Holly Farmers Market.

Do not hesitate to email me here, call, or use our blog to communicate any concerns or questions you may have.

To Bee or Not to Bee…this is the question!


“Serafina and the Black Cloak”

February 6

Attention Bee Team One


I will be meeting with Shelly at the Honey Hole this coming weekend. It is critical that I place an order for any bees you may want for the coming year. I need to place this order Saturday when I see her. I am hopeful some of you will be ready to start your second hive.

This leads me to my next issue. If any of you need me to pace an order for any equipment including supers and frames for this coming year, I need to know so I can get you a price and you can order. You are certainly free to order any of your needs as you may desire. It is important that you have at least 3 supers painted and ready to go if you want to prevent swarming and want to cash in on the honey flow. If you are late with this, you lose.

Please let me know of any needs you may have, any plans for additional hives…before this Saturday if at all possible. Most importantly, I need to know if you need more bees. My take on these bees is that they have been a superior breed. With the the exception of Erin’s hive….we have lost NO hives as of this writing. Many BEEKEEPERS have lost up to 40% again this year from what I am hearing in bee classes.

Do not hesitate to call me if you have any needs or concerns. Read our blog…do your lessons. So far I have heard from only one of you completing lesson 17-a. This is a very important lesson. When you read our blog or complete a lesson….I need to know.

I give no grades for this class….but most assuredly the bees do! Just saying!

To Bee or not to Bee! This is the question…


“Serafina and the Black Cloak”