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Crazy New Beekeepers

July 7th, 2009

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know we’re new beekeepers. We got our first hive back in April. We’ve been checking on the bees regularly and they’re doing quite well.
The week before last Mr Chiots checked on the bees one day while I was gone and he got stung. He looked inside the hive and didn’t see any eggs so he got worried that our queen was MIA. He called Dave, the guy we got our bees off of, for some advice and Dave suggested requeening the hive. So we ordered up a new queen. We were hoping to get an Ohio Queen Project Queen, but the guy we wanted to buy from was out of queens for the year. So we ordered up another lovely Italian lady.
We got the queen. We decided to do one more hive check to see what was going on inside. Low and behold the hive was bustling with activity and the queen was in there doing her job laying eggs and everything looked just like it should. We called Dave and he suggested requeening anyways, which would involve catching and killing our old queen. We didn’t really want to do that because she’s been such a great queen so far, so we decided to do what any crazy beekeepers would do, we decided to split our hive.
We ran out and bought the few things we needed and went about splitting our hive. Basically when you split a hive you take some of the bees from the orginal hive and put them in a new hive with the new queen. You leave her in her cage for a few days so the bees accept her as theirs and then you release her and you’ve got yourself another hive of bees.
Now of course, nothing is as simple or as easy and it sounds on paper or in our heads. There are a lot of steps involved in splitting the hive, the most tedious task being finding the old queen to make sure she’s not in the frames you move over to the new hive.
After searching and searching we finally found her (she is unmarked). She was of course not in the same spot she’s been every other time we’ve checked our hive, which made us a little nervous at first. But we finally found her and put her safe and sound back into her old hive.
The smoker comes in quite handy during these times since it keeps the bees occupied while you’re trying to work. Since we were in the hive for so long looking for the queen we were glad we had it around.
We then moved some frames over to the new hive and put the new queen cage in. Dave suggested we wait 4 days to release her, so today’s the day we plan on doing that. If they accept her, which they should, we’ll how have hive #2 at Chiot’s Run. The one thing we have to worry about is that both of our hives can build up enough reserves of honey and pollen for the winter. We plan on feeding them some sugar syrup through the dry nectar flow in July-Aug so give them the best chance of survival.
So we now have 2 hives at Chiot’s Run. We hope they both are strong going in to winter, if not we may combine them again for better winter survival chances. We haven’t even named the first one and now we have another.

Have you ever done anything crazy where you had no idea what you were doing but went ahead and jumped in with both feet?

27 Comments to “Crazy New Beekeepers”
  1. kristin on July 7, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Every day.

    Reply to kristin's comment

  2. Dave on July 7, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Wow two hives now! I find it very interesting but I’m not sure I could keep up with the hives. The benefits of locally grown honey are really cool though.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Water Conservation Tips =-.

    Reply to Dave's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on July 7, 2009 at 8:57 am

      Next year we are planning on building a Warre Hive which only requires a few hours of care a year. The upkeep methods with the Langstroth hives that we use now while not time consuming are very invasive. For more info on the Warre Hive and natural bee keeping check out

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • Les Burkholder on July 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

        could you please double check the website you mentioned for the WarreHive?
        I tried to access this site but it came up as an error??????
        I’m the guy that was picking up my bees from Dave the same time you were.

        to Les Burkholder's comment

      • Mr. Chiots on July 7, 2009 at 5:50 pm

        Fixed it Les. Another good site is

        to Mr. Chiots's comment

  3. KitsapFG on July 7, 2009 at 8:59 am

    I am enjoying your posts on the bee keeping. My parents did this when I was very very small and while I remember that they did it, I was too young to really take in what they were doing.

    I do crazy things all the time. It is my opinion that good gardening takes just a little bravery (or foolishness some might say).

    Reply to KitsapFG's comment

    • Susy on July 8, 2009 at 10:11 pm

      You’re right, gardening and pretty much anything dealing with nature (like bees) does take some bravery. You never know if a crop will thrive or fail and often you have nothing to do with it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • deedee on July 8, 2009 at 11:00 pm

        only if brian will let me wear the suit!

        to deedee's comment

  4. warren on July 7, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I think most folks get into beekeeping by just jumping in. I know I surely did but I am hooked now. If you aren’t already hooked, you are in danger of soon becoming addicted!
    .-= warren´s last blog ..Local Art =-.

    Reply to warren's comment

    • Susy on July 8, 2009 at 10:12 pm

      I knew Brian was hooked when he said, “HM, we should have bought another package” about a month after we installed our first.

      Next year we’re hoping to build a different hive and get a 3rd hive.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. steve carr on July 7, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Crazy, indeed. You’re nation building.

    Next time, see if there are any bees in favor of disestablishing the monarchy for a democratic republic.

    Reply to steve carr's comment

    • Susy on July 8, 2009 at 10:13 pm

      We’ll see, I’m sure it would quickly descend into chaos and nothing would ever get done and they’d starve over the winter.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Stephen on July 7, 2009 at 11:16 am

    We are also newbees and would like to exchange links.
    .-= Stephen´s last blog ..Eddie Izzard – Covered In Bees =-.

    Reply to Stephen's comment

  7. finnyknits on July 7, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Well, yes. And I’m getting ready to start my own hive next spring, so I’m following your updates closely. You guys are really kicking ass! Any firsttimer advice you want to offer up?
    .-= finnyknits´s last blog ..Adopt a Crop update: Let’s see if they miss me. =-.

    Reply to finnyknits's comment

    • Susy on July 7, 2009 at 10:30 pm

      I don’t know about that, but being a newbie I guess you don’t realize that you’re making all kinds of mistakes.

      I would recommend reading tons of books and joining or at least attending a local club so you can find someone in the area that you can call if you have problems.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. stefaneener on July 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I started beekeeping because a swarm had showed up. Jumped right in. I’m still jumping, still learning three years later. I wish I only had two hives — somehow, before the winter, I have to decrease by one hive. I have good friends to ask about, and a local group, but I still feel as though I don’t know enough. I think it’s just part of the process. And it doesn’t help that every keeper has different ideas of how to proceed!

    I’m crossing fingers for a really big harvest this year, though!
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..Nature’s first green is gold =-.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  9. deedee on July 7, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    i can’t imagine you guys doing anything crazy…. :) (but it’s definitely entertainment for the rest of us!) i think what you’re doing is awesome. i’m not in a place where i can do that stuff yet, so i’m living vicariously through your blog!!!

    Reply to deedee's comment

    • Susy on July 8, 2009 at 10:10 pm

      Well, you should come for a visit sometime and we’ll let you tend the bees with us.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Kelly on July 8, 2009 at 8:20 am

    You guys ARE crazy – I LOVE IT!!!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog .. =-.

    Reply to Kelly's comment

  11. sarah on July 10, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Great photos. Interesting read. I am a beekeeper as well- here in Montana. I wish your new hive the very best! Your blog is a great read..

    Reply to sarah's comment

  12. Kim French on July 11, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Wow susy! I had no Idea how much you do. Your pictures make me want to go play in the garden although I’m not quite brave enough for the bees.

    Reply to Kim French's comment

    • Susy on July 12, 2009 at 12:41 am

      I am a Meade/Hatfield, the crazy come honestly :)

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Mary on July 12, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    It seems like most things I do are this way- jump in and then think afterwards! We just became beekeepers this June and I haven’t a clue but am loving learning about the bees! 2 weeks ago yesterday I went to check on our bees water and ended up getting a rattlesnake bite which sent me on a wild 10 ride in the hospital. Several had mentioned that I would probably give up my bees after all that has happened- NOT FOR A MILLION DOLLARS! I have already fallen in love with all things bees!

    What a sweet blog you have here – I plan on being back as I really would love to organically take care of my bees but am not seeming to find alot of information at it. Would you know of any books or sources that would help me?

    .-= Mary´s last blog ..What are your favorite Decorating reads? and More fun giveaways =-.

    Reply to Mary's comment

    • Susy on July 13, 2009 at 3:38 pm

      I really enjoyed the book “Natural Beekeeping” which has a lot of great ideas on how to do it naturally. You can also glean some information from There’s a beekeeping group on there and they share their recipes for natural beekeeping.

      I use an essential oil syrup to feed my bees, I make organic evaporated cane juice syrup for them and to each half gallon (I usually use 5 cups sugar & 5 cups of water to make a half gallon of syrup). To each of these half gallons I add 1 drop of tea tree oil (helps them not get nosema & other diseases) and I add 3 drops of lemongrass oil. There are people that also add some apple cider vinegar and other essential oils, I think they talk about their specific recipes on Freedom Gardens.

      Here are a few websites to check out:

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Checking on our hive split | Chiot's Run on July 16, 2009 at 4:48 am

    […] we went out and checked our two hives. We wanted to make sure the old hive was still doing well and thriving, and they are (time to put […]

    Reply to Checking on our hive split | Chiot’s Run's comment

  15. ed on July 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    what a cruel guy that Dave is. I could never kill a bee for any reason. I think you made the right decision

    Reply to ed's comment

  16. Checking the Bees in Spring | Chiot's Run on March 16, 2010 at 4:47 am

    […] fall, trying to give them the best chance for survival. If you were reading the blog last summer, you’ll remember that we split our hive. We were worried that the new hive, which was the smaller of the two, might not make it through the […]

    Reply to Checking the Bees in Spring | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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