March 29

March 2017 Gaston County Bee Association and Captured First Swarm…Long Distance!

Gaston County March 2017 Beekeepers Association Monthly Meeting

  • Began with prayer and general business meeting including announcements.

Tonight’s Program on Pests, Pollinators, and Plants

  • Identify the pest and understand its biology.  Biggest problem is the misidentification of the pest to begin with causing misuse of chemicals to control pest.
  • Not all damage is caused by pests.
  • Monitor the Pest to be managed.  Use scouting and trapping to monitor pest populations.
  • Determine if threshold levels have been reached.  Thresholds are the pests population levels at which we should take pest control actions.
  • Develop control strategies.  Chemical control is usually what we try first, but in truth should be our last method of attack.  Try everything else first.
  • Implement your integrated Pest Mamnagement Program.  Use the most effective method that is least harmful to humans and the environment.
  • Record and evaluate results.  Keep notes on what you are doing.
  • Control Failure Causes – incorrect Pest identification, incorrect dosage and application method, poor timing of treatment, development of a new investation after the first treatment.

Plants for Pollinators: (Top 25 Native Plants for Pollinators)

  • Wild Indigo
  • Virginia Spiderwort (often considered a weed)
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Stoke’s Aster
  • Lanceleaf Blanketflower
  • Bee Balm
  • Foxglove Beardtongue
  • Golden Alexander
  • Milkweeds (lots of different kinds)
  • New Jersey Tea
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Great Blue Lobelia
  • Blazing Star
  • Rattlesnake Master
  • Mountain Mint
  • Button Bush
  • Blue Vervain
  • Culvar’s Root
  • Spotted Horsemint
  • Asters
  • Climbing Aster
  • Joe-pye Weed
  • Boneset
  • Goldenrod
  • New York Iron Weed

Suzanne’s Observations” and Quick Thinking Nets Our Apiary Its First Swarm!

Below are photos of my wife Suzanne’s good observation skills and quick thinking.  She called me with her observation.  I had her make photos as I called Chris Murphy, a fellow beekeeper, and asked him to asssit me as I was in West Jefferson gathering equipment for our new beekeepers.  Chris responded quickly and after two attempts was able to move the swarm into my nuc which has been waiting for a swarm for two years.  I am now in our monthly Gaston County Beekeepers Association monthly meeting and can hardly wait to get home to see my new bees!  My guess is this is a swarm from Queen Harper’s Hive (Hive #3 in my Apiary).

March 27

Last Night of Bee School as We Prepare for Test Next Week and Link for On Line Bee Keeping Course! (I signed up…looks very promising)

Last Night of Bee School:

See the medal to the left.   Hopeful to have something produced for all graduates of our bee school.  I have Cindy Reed working on this for us.

More Education = Better Success as a Bee “Sustainer”

Okay folks, received this via email.  This looks very good and I have already signed up for the course and have begun my online course work.  Just click the link below.  It’s good stuff and believe it will help us.  Click the link below to sign on.

The PerfectBee Beekeeping Course

Tonight’s Bee School

  • Once we have enough drawn cone to store until next year we must be careful how we store our boxes and frames of drawn cone.  Learned about a new technique tonight.  Wax moths like to hide in the dark parts of the drawn cone.  Use a moth crystal drawer for every 5 supers.  Place 3 ounces of mothball crystals in the drawers.  Must check this drawer from time to time.  Let frames air out for a week before you reuse. Click this link to see moth crystal drawer and chemical you can order to place in drawer to stop wax moths.                                                             MOTH CRYSTAL DRAWER 
  • The rest of the night we are going over many bullet points to prepare for the test.  I will insert these into the blog later by scanning in the documents…will save this old boy a lot of typing!
March 21

Bee School March 20 – Honey Time

Extracting the Honey, Processing and Making New Products

Tonight should be interesting as we learn how to get the payback for helping our pollinators.  I am proud of our MHSEABS (Mount Holly Smith Educational Apiary Bee School.

Please go to Lesson 22 which I just created on this topic for more information and more videos.

  • The day before the harvest you need to have a good idea of what you are harvesting.  Good time to check condition of frames
  • Be sure your smoker operational and have plenty of fuel.  There will be a good bit of wax and propelus to break apart.  You may want o do this the day before the harvest
  • Be sure all of your equipment is ready.  A wagon or some carrying device is wise to have along with you.
  • A bee brush is really essential to move the bees out of the way and prevent them from stacking up.

  • Keep your extractor in prestige equipment.  Should be well maintained and cleaned after each extraction.
  • Take a look at your weather when you extract.  Wind can work against you.
  • Using is fume board to move the bees down.  (I use a natural walnut extract…smells great to us, but bees hate it.)
  • Do not smoke the front of hive once you add fume board as this will drive them back up.
  • Have a plastic cover to place on the ground so you can place supers on this rather than the ground.
  • If the entire super is not filled, just take out the ones that are good and be sure to replace with empty frames.
  • Place these frames you are taking in an air-tight box.
  • Continue to move to the next super and making your harvest.
  • A good way to collect is using empty supers to place frames of Honey with your lid to cover as you harvest.
  • Always have a bottle of fresh sugar water to calm the bees as needed.
  • A 5 gallon pail of Honey will weigh about 60 pounds after extraction.
  • if you are using the GCBA extraction equipment…remember to schedule.
  • Set up….Extract….Cleanup





March 18

Working to Save My Hives from the Cold

With the impending cold weather coming last week and knowing that these bees were still struggling to rebuild and survive…Chris Murphy, fellow beekeeper, came up with this idea to insulate the hives and make life a bit easier for them!  Brilliant idea and believe it helped.  Had to be careful that we allowed the hives to be ventilated as condensation (dampness) is a bigger enemy than the cold.

March 18

Disaster Strikes When We Least Expect It!


I am sad to report that when I woke up early Saturday morning I discovered this very ugly scene in my and Jax’s bee apiary in my back yard.  I was just getting ready to leave for a Saturday morning class when I discovered this huge attack on our bees.  It was very intentional and was done by human hands.  This is yet another reason why all of us must be vigilant and watch our hives and apiary.  I posted the following on Facebook:


post 1 – Saturday

I want to thank all of you for reaching out to Jax and me concerning the vandalism of our beautiful bee apiary. While we lost several thousand bees total, the core in each hive remained and protected the queen from the cold. I have been able to reset all three hives and have determined that there are enough bees in each hive to survive. However, I am sure We lost a great deal of the capped larva, which would soon become our new young bees. This will put all three hives behind for now…but if the queens have survived, they will go right back to work laying and replacing these bees. The bees will take care of any dead larva and will put things back in order. Bees are beautiful, intelligent and extremely hard working. They will survive!🐝

I have given my bees permission to protect their hive if this happens again!😂

Again, thank you for your concern. Jax and I will continue our work as bee sustainers for our community. The good news is other hives in the neighborhood as well as all hives in the Apiary are safe and untouched. There is little doubt that this action was intentional and directed specifically toward my apiary. Please be in prayer for this person or persons.

Post 2 Monday Morning

Bee Update! You can be a part of a POSITIVE RESPONSE.

So many people have responded to the recent vandalism and attempted destruction of my and Jax’s bee apiary that I cannot respond to you individually. Thank you for your prayers and concerns. Let’s us use this event to convert anger and sadness into something more positive and become even more determined to help save our beloved honeybees. I will be posting more information as to their importance as time permits. Two things you can do:

1. Make a charitable contribution by writing a check to the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market and designate your check to the Smith Educational Bee Apiary. Your funds will be used to maintain The Frances Smith Educational Bee Apiary right here in Mount Holly and will help us maintain the acre of property set aside for our bees. Funds will also be used to buy equipment and materials for our hands on bee school.
Mail your checks to Mount Holly Farmers Market, PO Box 352, Mount Holly, NC. 28120. Again, be sure to designate your funding to the apiary. We are a 501c(3) charitable organization, so your gift is tax deductible.

2. I still have room for two more people in my hands on bee class which will begin in about a week. The cost of the course is $525 and includes your complete hive, tools, protective clothing and a nuc of bees complete with queen. There is no charge for the instruction…I do this for free for the bees and because I just love to teach! I have created a blog for our classes and much of your instruction is set up in lessons here. You will also receive a copy of the Backyard Beekeeper, which I believe is the very best book for a beginning beekeeper. The rest of learning is hands on in the Apiary. If you cannot meet at an established group time, I will meet with your personally to go through the lesson using your hive.

We will place your hive in the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market Smith Educational Bee Apiary in Mount Holly for the first year, and then we will move to your home or site of choice next year. Of course, you can always keep it in our Apiary as well so you may continue to learn and fellowship with other beekeepers.

Update on Our Apiary
It appears at this time I have been able to save two of the hives and the bees have settled back in. This next round of colder weather will be hard on all three hives after this event and I have determined my third weaker hive is in trouble. Planning to transfer them into my glass 8 frame demonstration hive today which I keep inside and is heated. Very concerned they cannot survive the next several days of cold weather. Thank you for your prayers and concern.


March 9

Homemade “Honey Bee Healthy”


Okay everyone…here is a reall money saver and it is not too hard to make. These essential oils are vital to maintaining a really healthy hive when when we are feeding. I have a good friend who sells very high quality essential oils and I plan to order mine through her in the future. If you are interested in ordering I can put you in touch with her.

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 quarts

“Honey Bee Healthy”


5 cups water
2 1/2 pounds of sugar
1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as an emulsifier)
15 drops spearmint oil
15 drops lemongrass oil

Bring the water to a boil and integrate the sugar until dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the mixture from the heat and quickly add the lecithin and the essential oils.
Stir until everything is evenly distributed. This solution should have a strong scent and not be left open around bees. Cool before using.

Notes: A resource for some of the ingredients:

LorAnn Oils, 4518 Aurelius Road, P.O. Box 22009, Lansing, Michigan 48909 (517) 882-0215, 1-800-248-1302, fax (517) 882-0507, E-mail

March 9

Good News! A visit from the GCBA to our Apiary

Our Apiary was honored to have a visit from Alan Thompson, president of the GCBA (Gaston County Bee Association).  He was very pleased with what we are doing and is looking to find ways the GCBA may help us and be involved in our educational efforts.  For the short term, we will now be recognized by this association and we can recognize our Apiary as part of the instructional effort of the GCBA.  This is exciting news as we continue to move forward with our “hands on” instructional bee school.

I also learned we do not need to worry about Nosema in our hives as his inspection determined that we are good.  This combined with the fact that all hives experience this to a degree, but good old sunshine and warm days are the best cure for it.

More good news is the essential oils I have ordered for us are still good to administer before and after the honey flow when feeding….however, we do not use these essential oils while we “super” our hives and gathering honey 🍯 for consumption.

My best to both Bee Teams as spring approaches and we become busy with our mature hives and establish new hives.


March 7

Nosema – You must treat for this NOW

A look at Nosema damage!

Bee School is paying huge dividends for me now as we turn our attention to Bee Diseases.  One has caught my attention for us we must attend to right away.

I offer you information and two treatment choices:

Nosema is both the name of a condition and the organism which causes it. In the U.S. we have two species, Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae.

Both species are a unicellular fungus which resides in the gut of the bee
The parasite has a polar tube that penetrates cells of the bee
Injects the necessary elements for reproduction into the cell.
Inside the cell of the bee’s gut, Nosema reproduces by forming spores
Spores are passed within the bee’s waste

Nosema Apis is most problematic in the winter and spring
Bees will begin to expel waste in the hive and on the outside
Brown spotting on the outside of the hive will appear

Nosema staining on the outside of a bee hive

Nosema ceranae can affect a hive at any time of the year
Can cause rapid colony decline
No symptoms will be present

Both forms of Nosema are treatable with Fumagilin-B. Fumagilin-B is an antibiotic which restricts the “firing” of the polar tube. If the parasite is unable to attach to the cells of the bee’s gut it cannot reproduce.  This antibiotic is expensive (about $50).  One bottle will treat about 10 hives.

The Fat Bee Man offers us another solution, and in fact it is an effective natural solution.

I have decided for myself to use the above natural effective treatment for my bees.  I have already ordered the three essential oils I will need. The recipe and directions are as follows:

Using a blender as your mixer:

-1 cup water

– 2 tsp tea tree oil

– 1 tsp wintergreen oil

-3 drops lemon grass oil

Mix at low speed in your blender for 5 minutes.  This will emulsify the oils so they will not separate.  Add to a 1/2 gallon container and top of with enough water to make two quarts (half gallon).  You now have 1/2 gallon of solution that will keep indefinitely.

To treat bees add 1 cup of this solution  to 1:1 sugar water.  Feed about 1 pint per hive in the early spring and again in the fall.

I found all the essential oils on Amazon and have ordered them.  I plan to treat my hives as soon as my oils get here and I can make up my solution.  If you plan to use Fumagilin-B, you will need to order this and follow the directions that come with this fungicide.  (You can order this from Amazon or Brushy Mountain Bee Supply).



March 4

The Queen Extruder…What should I do?

Decisions, Decisions…

It is said that if you ask 6 bee keepers what to do or how to do…you will probably get 12 answers to your question.  Should I get a bee suit for my dog?   All things are possible I suppose

The question today is should I use a Queen Extruder?   

The queen excluder is a metal or plastic grid that covers the surface of an entire box. The grid is spaced such that workers can pass through the empty space but larger drones and the queen cannot. It is used to make sure the queen stays in the area of your colony used as a brood chamber and does not allow her to get into and lay eggs in the area of your colony used to store surplus honey. When the bees allow brood to be produced in honey frames it darkens the wax in those frames, which darkens any honey stored there later. Plus, if there is brood in frames in the surplus honey storage supers, nurse bees won’t leave the brood when you go to remove the honey with an escape board. Moreover, when examining the colony to judge the quality of the queen you’ll know where to look, reducing the number of frames you will have to examine. For reasons known only to the workers, sometimes they will not pass through the excluder, severely limiting the volume of the colony. The colony begins to think of itself as crowded and may swarm or they may stop collecting nectar because they perceive there is no place to store it. Sometimes it is said that queen excluders are instead honey excluders. This problem can be remedied by moving a comb or two with some honey from the box below to the box above the excluder, essentially telling the bees that it’s okay to go up there.

A queen excluder in place on a colony: Nearly every model available violates bee space, so there is always a buildup of burr comb on it. Do not scrape the wires with your hive tool because you may bend the wires, enlarging the space and allowing the queen to sneak through. Place your excluder in a wax melter to remove the wax instead.

Lesson 20 will give you more information on the Queen Extruder controversy.  I suggest you all take time to read this lesson.