Whidbey Island Washington Beekeeping & Honeybees - Lavender Honey - Green Road Farm - Tim Walsh

Week 1 & 2 ~ Installing The Bees



Lighter/propane torch

Hive tool

Screw Driver

screw or nail

Spray bottle with sugar syrup

The Plan:

  • Mix up the Sugar Syrup with Fumagilin-B ( 1.5 grams of Fumagilin-B to 1 gallon of sugar syrup)
  • Spray the frames with this sugar syrup
  • Using 10 frames to a super, remove two of the frame to give the bees room to drop into.
  • The bees will be poured into the center.
  • Light the smoker and smoke the bees to calm them down. The smell the smoke and think the hive is on fire and start filling themselves with food for the journey to the new hive. Filling themselves calms them down. Logic tells me that because there is very little food to eat in these boxes and the can of food inside the carton is totally engulfed in bees that smoking them at this point won’t really help.** NOTE: As it turn out the smoke masks the pheromone that bees release alerting the other bees of danger. So smoking them will help.
  • Using a screw driver remove the frame around the screen on the bee carton to allow them an easy route out to the hive.
  • Give the container a good hard tap to collect the bees in one place.
  • Open the screen up and shake the bees into the hive.
  • Remove the queen container.
  • Using a screw remove the cork near the sugar candy.
  • Poke a hole through the candy so it is easier to chew out without killing the queen!
  • Fasten the container off one of the removed frames.
  • Insert the two frames that were removed earlier.
  • Place the inner cover on top of the hive.
  • Place the gallon can of sugar syrup on two sticks above the hole on the inner cover.
  • Put the empty super on top of the main hive.
  • Put the lid on it.

How it actually went:

I started by drilling the holes in the top of the sugar syrup cans. I guessed that 1/16th” holes would be about the size of a 16 penny nail tip and that is what I had read was the right size. I think I drilled way to many holes and will make another two cans with 7 to 10 holes instead of 75 holes. I think the rate at which it will come out will be too fast. In the book ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture there is a picture that looks very similar to mine so I am hopeful that mine will work.

I mixed up some sugar syrup next.

The syrup mixture for spring feeding is a 1:1 by weight sugar syrup mixture. I use plain white table sugar and tap water. 1 gallon of water equals 8.33 lbs. Dissolve the sugar into warm water. I heated the water just enough to speed up the process but not very hot at all.

Here are some common ratios for sugar syrup:

  • 1:2 – is an egg laying stimulant for the queen in early spring1:1 – is an artificial nectar to get bees to build comb and feed brood larvae in spring and summer.2:1 – is a winter feed substituting for honey in the fall or early winter

I added about 3 grams of Fumagilin-B to the 2 gallons of sugar syrup and poured it into each gallon pail and sealed the lids. I poured the remainder in two spray bottles to spray the foundations with.

The Italian Honeybees looked pretty mellow…very few dead ones.

We packed up the truck and headed to Whidbey. It was April 20th and snowing when we left Edmonds. ..yes snowing…insane. We stopped at the

Snowgoose roadside stand in the Skagit valley for an ice cream cone. This incredibly large flock of Snow Geese took off just as we were leaving.

Brendan & Erinn



The ice cream cones at this stand are legendary.

We arrived at the farm around 4:00 pm.

It went more smoothly than I thought it would.

We suited up, lit the smoker with a blow torch, smoked the bees a little although as I mentioned earlier it did not seem to make a lot of sense as there was not a lot of food for them to consume.

If the theory of smoking is that the bees smell smoke, think the hive is on fire, load up on food for the journey to a new hive and then get mellow from all the food then I was not convinced it would mellow them out at this point. Brendan decided to smoke one hive and not smoke the other as an experiment. *(*note – as it turned out I should have sprayed them with sugar syrup not smoke…)….** NOTE: Smoke masks the pheromone that bees use to alert the others to danger….so smoking would help.

The first hive was mellow. Erinn, Julie and I sprayed the foundations down with sugar syrup and removed two middle foundations to give the bees some room to fall into.

Brendan smoked them a bit. I pried the small bits of trim keeping the screen on and I gave them a tap and dumped them in (most of them anyway). A few flew at Brendan and me with a little aggression but not too many.

I then took the queen’s little box out of the container. This just had a small cork in one side and not the candy/cork that I had read about so I was not sure what to do. I ended up removing the cork and putting a little pollen patty in the end where the cork was. I then attached it to the frame and inserted it back into the hive along with the other frame.

You can see the bees clinging to the queens container.

I put a pollen patty on top of the frames. I didn’t know how this was done so I took all the paper off and placed it off to the side. It turns they are just layed down and maybe rip a little of the top paper off as the bees will chew through it an ddiscard of it. We will see what happens.I put the top cover on, put two sticks in parallel to support the gallon of sugar syrup.

I turned the gallon of sugar syrup upside away from the hive to see how much syrup would come out to see if there were too many holes or if they were to large. Initially there was a rush of syrup falling but it then stopped and I placed it on top of the sticks.

I then put an empty super on that and put a lid over it.


The next container of bees had not been smoked very much at all. I followed the same procedure as before but Brendan and I both both seemed to think they were a lot more aggressive. More of them attacked us but it did not last that long and soon there were no bees on us and they were all in the hive. So I think I would conclude that using the smoke did mellow them out a bit BUT I should have sprayed them with the sugar syrup mixture instead, so that is what I will try next time….thus the name of this blog “Newbie Beekeeping”.


April 25th 2008

So after 5 days I was able to steal away and check them out.

As I approached the two hives I immediately noticed that one hive had bees flying in and out of the front and the other one seemed totally quite. The quiet one had maybe one or two bees on the outside and no bees flying in and out. As I approached the quiet hive I saw lots of dead bees in front of the entrance. I thought they may have swarmed and left or maybe they were all dead or maybe they all went into the other hive. One of the queens did seem small compared to the other one and I even wondered if it may have been actually just a worker bee and not a queen.

Quiet Hive

Busy Hive

I took the top cover off and immediately heard a lot of buzzing. The can of sugar syrup I had put in this hive seemed to have a faster flow to it and the bee were all over the sugar syrup that had leaked out. They were not really eating any of the pollen patty, in fact the bees in both hives didn’t seem too interested in the pollen patty. I had replaced the cork in the Queens chamber with a bit of the pollen patty and they had obviously eaten through that and released the queen.

Quiet Hive Feeder

Busy Hive Feeder

The two hives also differed in how much comb had been built. The mellow hive with the bees coming and going definitely had more comb built. It was all in the center frames where they were all clustered together. The plastic pierco foundations didn’t seem to bother them from what I could tell. I was surprised that in less than a week they were already building out comb.

The quieter, more aggressive hive had less comb built out. What they had built out was in the middle foundations but they seemed far more interested in eating then building. Actually, I think that if the bees were out foraging for nectar the number of bees working on comb would have seemed the same between the hives. One just seemed to find it’s source of food from within the hive and the other found it out in the wilds of Whidbey Island.

I found this bee covered in dandelion pollen. But, as she flew away she jumped down into the grass and holding onto two blades of grass wiped some of the pollen off before flying away…wild kingdom to say the least 😉

Collecting the Pollen

Wiping the Pollen Off

It seems like the bees would have to be busy to, in just 5 days have already collected so much pollen.

Bee with Pollen touching down

Incoming bees

A Drone (Male Bee)

Go To Week 3 & 4




November 2017
« Mar