Preparing for the 2014 Season

mold bees

Spring is finally here. It did snow today, but Spring is here. Last month we hit a warm 50 degrees and I was able to peek in at my three hives. My hive on the roof was alive and active that day. Success! Unfortunately, the two hives at the community garden did not make it through our brutal winter. I was disappointed and left the cleaning of the dead bees for another day. After a couple weeks without cleaning, mold quickly began to grow. Now not only did I have a mess on my hands, but 8-10 of my frames were molding. In order to remove the mold, I had to destroy a lot of built out wax that the bees spent a lot of effort to make.


This season I will be working with the help of an aspiring beekeeper, Darek. He’s already helped me on inspections and building equipment to replace molded parts. One of my goals this summer is to catch a swarm, either with a bait hive or by removing a swarm. A bait hive is essentially a welcoming home for any colony looking to move. More specifically, it is a box with some frames in them with a scented lure. I will likely use lemongrass oil on a Q-tip as it replicates the pheromones of a queen. Swarming colonies can smell this up to a couple miles away. Hopefully this summer we will be able to catch Darek his own hive.


These past few months I’ve been building new equipment. I have three new hives I am adding to my fleet in Chicago.


Two hives will be placed at the Roots & Rays Community Garden in Pilsen. One hive will be placed in the yard of my friends the Spiewak brothers.


Here are some of the bees’ new neighbors.


While I am installing these three hives, I will also be replacing two hives at the Met West Community Garden in Ukrainian Village. In total I will be installing five 3lb packages of bees. They should be coming any day now!


To get my surviving colony through this cool part of Spring I have prepared some fondant for them as their honey resources have run low. By feeding them a drier form of sugar, it prevents them from needing to fly and relieve themselves.


My hive was loving the fondant. They consumed a whole plate worth in a matter of days. My hive finished three plates worth of fondant before Mike’s hive even finished one plate. His hive population is approximately half the size of my hive.


Mike’s hive is hanging on. They have a very small population, but hopefully they will build back up quickly. You can see here there are probably 6-8lbs of dead bees sitting at the bottom. There were so many dead bees that they actually blocked the entrance to the hive. The live bees were able to wedge their way through the screened bottom board to exit the hive before we cleaned out the dead bees.

More to come soon on the arrival of the new packages!

One thought on “Preparing for the 2014 Season

  1. Ugh, I recently also cleaned out a dead hive that did not survive the winter 2 weeks ago. It was sad, and completely awful. I ended up throwing away all the frames that had mold on them because I didn’t want my new bee package to come into contact with any mold I couldn’t remove.

    I did get 2 hives to survive the winter by wrapping them. I had good success with that, which is the first winter I wrapped hives.

    Glad I found your blog! I’ll be following now!

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