Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Joe lights a smoker while talking to Christina about an inspected hive.

Christina explains one instance in which you might want to rotate your boxes.

Braddock Feral Hive Extraction

A feral colony made a hive in an abandoned building in Braddock and had become a nuisance, so Burgh Bees came to extract it.

The bees entered the building through a small hole in the plywood on the second floor.

Braddock's Mayor John Fetterman alerted Burgh Bees to the nuisance hive.

After setting up scaffolding, Jim Fitzroy (left) and Robert Steffes (right) pried, sawed and muscled the plywood off that the bees were behind.

Braddock Feral Hive Extraction II

The feral hive, yet to be extracted.

Meredith Grelli and Christina Neumann look for brood on a piece of the extracted comb.

A lovely part of comb safely on the ground.

After all the comb had been cut out from the building, Robert Steffes and Jennifer Wood used a vacuum to gather the remaining bees.

Braddock Feral Hive Extraction III

Christina Neumann cuts comb from the wooden board onto which the bees built comb.

Alex Grelli looks over his handiwork. The comb with brood was cut and secured in frames with rubber bands. The bees will build these odds and ends out to fill the frame.

The nine frames of brood comb and honey extracted will be requeened to form three new hives. These hives will be placed in Burgh Bees' apiaries around town and the Burgh Bees Class of 2009 will be watching the colonies develop!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Official--We're a PA Nonprofit

We're excited to announce that Burgh Bees is officially a Pennsylvania non profit!!!

Thanks to Alex for his work on legitimizing this group in the eyes of the state!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The bees arrive in Hazelwood! Robert Steffes drove a hive from his apiary-SteffesWood-in Aliquippa, PA to Hazelwood Harvest's community garden.

Robert grabbing some tools out of the truck.

Alex Grelli and Robert clearing some space for the bees. The bees will enjoy nearly of block long of community garden and open space, including this fenced in lot.

Robert and Alex unload the hive, the opening of which has been closed for the ride.
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Colony to Hazelwood Part II

Robert and Alex move the hive with a handy device.

A sign to let any would be passersby of the new gals on the block.

The hive is in!

Meredith Grelli gets ready to take the tape and wood off the hive opening for the bees' ride into town.
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Colony to Hazelwood Part III

Meredith takes off the wood block that was blocking the bees's escape and replaces it with some grass to slow their departure from the hive.
They were ready to come out and see the sun!

Barbara Williams of Hazelwood Harvest is excited to welcome the bees to the gardens and the new wardrobe that comes with it!

Scarecrow looks pretty pleased as well.
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Colony to Hazelwood Part IV

The community garden that the girls will be pollinating.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hazelwood Harvest got a colony today

We set up a colony at the Hazelwood community garden! Check out the photos!

The girls were flying about on this rare sunny day checking out their new home. Robert will stop by tomorrow and see how they are doing. One thing we have to do is provide top ventilation that was closed off during the move. Also have to do a quick check to see if they have enough stores. We can always put a top feeder on if they are looking too light. Now is a critical time for bees as they rapidly expand their brood production in the face of spotty nectar flows and dicey weather. The overwintering bees are breathing their last breath as they get replaced with the new generation. A difficult balancing act!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feral hive extraction in Braddock Friday 17

We'll be removing a feral colony from a derelict building on the corner of 8th and Talbot in Braddock starting at 10AM this Friday the 17th. The colony looks pretty healthy, and since the structure is slated for demolition, it's time for them to move! We plan to cut the brood comb to fit deep hive body frames, secure them in empty frames with gum bands, and divide them up into "nucs" so we can requeen them with queens from Hawaii (due to arrive by post today!). All these new minicolonies will go out to the SteffesWood apiary in Aliquippa, so Robert can closely supervise queen acceptance and build them up. As the new queens start laying, we'll use the new colonies for Burgh Bee apiaries in town, as well as have a few (hopefully) for individuals taking the course.
If you want to check the job in Braddock out, feel free to come down! We'll have extra veils and gloves.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Q&A: Splits for urban beekeepers. How do you handle splitting hives, specifically the recommendation of a two-mile separation from the original hive?

One Answer:
You don't have to move splits you make in your yard to a distant location, looking to avoid the loss of foragers you put in the new colony returning to the original colony.

You can leave a split in the same yard. The young house bees who have not yet flown will stay with the brood. Plenty of extra bees shaken into the split box will insure that there are enough to keep the split brood warm, especially this time of year.One has to be careful not to feed for a couple days or returning foragers will signal the mother colony to start robbing the little split. They might do this anyway, so one has to reduce the entrance of the split to pretty small and keep an eye on it. One old time beekeeper (C.C. Miller) never moved splits away from his apiary. He would shake all the bees off the frames he made the split from, even using frames from multiple colonies, then would put the empty brood frames in a box on top of any colony separated by a queen excluder. Nurse bees will move up to cover the brood in a couple hours who had never left their home. He would then remove the box and put it anywhere he chose. The bees would stay put!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to the Burgh Bees Blog!

Welcome to our blog devoted to all things beekeeping, especially in Pittsburgh! We'll let you know all of the bee events in the Burgh here as well as try to help keep you connected to other apiaries in the world.

If you have a question that you would like answered, email burghbees@gmail.com, and we'll post the answer here. We don't pretend to have all the answers, so please feel free to post what has worked for you!

In an effort to promote bees and beekeeping in Pittsburgh, we initiated our year long intensive beekeeper training program last Sunday, April 5 with a full and enthusiastic class of 35 future beekeepers! While our class this year is oversubscribed, we're already thinking ahead to next year's classes and hope anyone who wasn't able to sign up this year will consider again in 2010.