I have uploaded a new video to YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to my cousin-in-law, Ivan, for accompanying me out to the bee yard last week. Although we didn’t see the queen, we got some nice close-up shots of my hive and bees.

This video shows a problem that I encountered during the inspection: One of my unwired wax foundation frames had collapsed. I’m not sure whether it was due to the fact that I forgot to push the frames tightly together when I added the new box, or because of the warm weather we’ve had around here lately.

I had to trim out the comb that was causing problems. Was this the best way to handle the problem? I’m not sure. What do you think? I’d love to know how other people would deal with this.

A stick of beeswax next to baking panA friend sent me an article from theKitchn.com today about using beeswax instead of grease or butter on cookie sheets, baking pans, etc. when baking. I have never heard of this so just like the author of the original article, it was news to me.

The article also claims that over time, the bakeware will retain a natural coating of beeswax so that waxing won’t always be necessary.

I’m intrigued and interested in trying this or hearing other people’s experiences. We’re right in the middle of a heat wave in Ontario right now and I don’t have air conditioning, so there will be no indoor baking until the weather cools down. However once the temperatures are back in a sane range, I’ll be sure to try this trick.

Have you ever heard of baking with beeswax instead of a grease? Have you tried it yourself? Leave a comment below.

A picture of a Facebook web pageLike us on Facebook! (I never thought I’d ever write that. So it goes.)

I have just created a new page on Facebook devoted to Beekeeping in Ontario as a companion to this blog.

Post your photos, articles, questions and ideas on the facebook page and then share the page with your friends. I will continue to update the blog as well as Facebook and Twitter, so feel free to use whatever medium best suits your needs. I may even begin offering contests in the near future.

Also, I should note that most of my posts and articles are about beekeeping in general and not necessarily specific to Ontario. I simply live in Ontario and felt it appropriate to highlight this fact in the name of my blog. I hope to help beekeepers all over the world.

To find out more and to “Like” the page, please visit: www.facebook.com/BeekeepingInOntario

It shocked and saddened me to read this story on CBC News: Millions of bees stolen from Alberta honey producer. A beekeeper and honey producer, Bill Termeer of Alberta has had more than 150 of his hives stolen recently and suspects another beekeeper is to blame.

I can’t imagine any of the beekeepers that I’ve met either in person or online doing something like this. Beekeepers are typically such honest people but obviously there’s at least one out there that has no respect for other beekeepers.

Have you ever experienced bee theft or vandalism? Leave a comment below.

Theft of bees

Image from CBC.ca


Anyone who keeps bees will need to perform bee hive inspections. This simply means opening up the hive and checking that everything is hunky dory. During these inspections, every beekeeper should have some basic tools available to handle just about any situation.

I like to keep my tools in a small plastic grocery bin that I bring with me to my beeyard. I call it my hive inspection kit. I built my inspection kit based on the opinions of many experienced beekeepers. Here’s what I recommend for building your own hive inspection kit:

A few items and tools for inspecting bee hives

Must haves

Your hive inspection kit should definitely have the following:

  • A hive tool – A small metal pry-bar to help open your hive and scrape off burr comb and propolis
  • A smokerSmoke calms bees
  • Paper, cardboard – To get your smoker started before adding twigs, pine needles, burlap, etc.
  • Lighter or blow-torch – To light your smoker
  • A veil, bee suit or jacket, gloves – While a full suit is not necessary, a veil is a good idea. A sting to the eye could cause blindness.
  • A log book – Keep logs of your visits to track your hive
  • A bee brush – Handy for brushing bees off woodenware

Should maybe have

The following items would be recommended for some people but not necessarily needed by all:

  • An extra hive tool – In case your first is lost in the grass
  • A folding pocket knife – For quick fixes, making kindling, etc.
  • Commercial smoker fuel – If you’re bad at keeping your smoker lit, use pellets or something that’s sure to keep burning
  • An extra bee suit/jacket or two – Handy for visitors to your bee yard
  • Thumb tacks or push-pinsRead how they helped me and they’re also great for marking problem frames
  • Duct tape – For everything imaginable
  • Frame rest (AKA Frame perch) – Holds your frames on the side of the box while you inspect them
  • A camera – For documenting, blogging, forums, etc.
  • A fire extinguisher – We’re often lighting smokers in dry grass. Fires are a real concern. An out-of-control fire could ruin your bee yard, property, or more.
  • A beekeeping book or handbook – Great for reference
  • An extra hive body filled with frames – In case you need to expand a hive
  • A jar to collect burr comb – I don’t let any bit of beeswax go to waste

Nice to have

These items should be in your hive inspection kit if you’re the type of person who wants to be prepared for everything possible. (Bullet-proof vest omitted).

  • Benedryl – Helpful for bee stings and other allergies
  • Band-aids – Helpful for knicks and scrapes
  • Tooth-picks or match-sticks – For examining larvae for pests or diseases
  • Newspaper – For placing in between boxes when combining colonies
  • Wood shims – For levelling hives
  • Hammer and nails – For quick repairs while in the bee yard
  • Spray bottle of rubbing alcohol – Removes propolis from hands and clothing quickly
  • An extra bottom board and top cover – In case you need to capture a swarm or split a colony
  • A digital fencing tester – For those with electric fences to keep bears out
  • A 5-frame wooden nuc box with handles – Can be used instead of a grocery bin to hold everything and doubles as a quick box if needed

I have omitted very specific pest treatments from this list, but obviously if you’re taking care of a pest or a disease, you’ll likely want extra stuff for that. It’s a good idea to start with the basics and then add specifics as you go. You’ll learn from your bees and past experiences and modify your hive inspection kit throughout the years.

What’s in your hive inspection kit? Have I missed anything above?