Valve Box Removal – No Smoker – a bit of attitude

When performing removals – we don’t always get to pick the ideal conditions.  Environmental factors play a big role in the behavior of a hive.

When it’s windy, overcast, humid, etc, etc… there are more bees at home than usual – and are in defense mode instead of out foraging.

After 2-3 days of rain – I had a window of time to do this removal.  As guessed – they have a bit of defensive attitude due to:

  • Rainy prior (and current) days
  • Overcast Sky
  • I forgot my smoker

What?  Why would you do a removal or ANY bee work without a smoker?  It can be done.  Should it be done?  Probably not…  But with proper knowledge of how to deal with the bees, it’s possible….

Now – a month after this removal, the bees are doing well in the nuc box they moved into.




New Bee Yard Setup


A short video with highlights from setting up a new bee yard for a customer.   Hive stands, 10-frame Langstroth woodenware, and NUC colonies – delivered and setup.

If you have not yet subscribed to my YouTube channel – be sure to!  There will be a link in the video – near the end to subscribe to my channel.


And part 2 of the bee yard setup:


Varroa Mite Management with your hives

Varroa mites are the latest finding in the plight of our agricultural (and hobby) European Honeybees.  The Varroa Destructor is known to be a vector (carrier for diseases) for several viruses, including (but NOT limited to:)

  • SacBrood
  • Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)
  • Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV)
  • Nosema Apis
  • Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV)
  • Lake Sinai Virus 1, Lake Sinai Virus 2 (LSV1, LSV2)
  • Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)
  • Kashmir bee virus (KBV)
  • Kakugo Virus
  • Varroa Destructor Virus 1
  • Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV)
  • Slow Bee Paralasys Virus (SBPV)

(list source: )

While there is a rift in some beekeeping circles and groups about whether varroa mites can be managed with breeding “varroa resistant” or with “hygienic behavior” in bees – the fact remains that if bees are bred to coexist with – or to tolerate the varroa mites, then the colonies are subjected to a variety of possible diseases.  Folks that are “treatment free” – should still perform varroa mite count tests – and not be disillusioned about the fact that mites are in your hives.

Another option is to use scientifically bred lines of queens that produce workers that do indeed perform hygienic behavior as a method of culling affected brood that has been infected with mite progeny (offspring) )from a reproductive foundress (female founding) mite.  Research on this line of selective breeding can be found through Arista Bee Research Labs around the world.

A fantastic resource for learning to do mite-counts and various treatment methods is available at : (link will open in new tab or window)  This has been updated in June of 2018 – and also includes links to videos showing how to perform mite-counts as well as several treatment methods.

Monitoring methods

Varroa mites can be monitored with any of several methods.

Alcohol Wash (or soap/water wash)

Sugar Roll

Treatment Methods

Dealing with varroa is a delicate and tricky proposition – when it is considered that we are trying to eliminate a “bug ON a bug”.  And the host bug (apis mellifera – or honeybee) we want to thrive and be healthy.

A variety of treatment methods can be employed.  I’ll also say, though – that some have proven to be ineffective.   See this video link for a quick overview.

  • VSH Lines of honeybees (Added Nov 2019)
  • Oxalic Acid (OA) Vaporizing
  • OA Fogging
  • OA Drizzle
  • OA Long Release (shop towel application)
  • Thermal Heat Treatment of the hive (added Jan 2019)
  • Apiguard
  • Formic Acid
  • Drone Brood Culling
  • Brood Break
  • Thymol (in various application methods)
  • Screened bottom boards (ineffective – not a control – but as a monitoring method)

There are many more treatment methods that were found on the internet while researching treatment methods.  Some – such as using screened bottom boards – have been dis-proven to be effective by themselves – however MAY be an aide to help another method be more effective.  Regardless – it is recommended that you employ at least two methods for varroa control.

Newer methods of applying Oxalic Acid are being experimented with by several researchers, including Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping, and others in Central Texas.

Randy’s OA results are shown here:
and his 2019 end-of-year report is here:

(Jan 2019) – Experiments with using thermal heat treatments of the hive have proved effective for varroa management.  In essence, the hive is heated to 106 deg. F for about 2 hours.  This mimics the temperature that is achieved in nature that is associated with hive overcrowding for swarming action.  This temperature also is that which the varroa cannot survive.  When the hive temperature is raised to 106 deg. F. – the mites attached to the bodies, and those that are in the brood cells are killed – thus breaking the mite’s life cycle – and allowing the colony to move forward with fresh brood that is healthy.


Honeybee Health Coalition:

Arista Bee Research Labs

Randy Oliver – Scientific Beekeeping –

Mighty Mite Thermal Industries –

Dave Cushman –

Photo from:


Nucleus Colonies (NUC) honeybee hives for sale – Harmony Hollow

MAY 2018 – Harmony Hollow has added nucleus colonies (NUC) to the line of products available.  NUCs are a “starter” colony that include a mated and egg-laying queen of known Italian genetics, several frames of eggs/larvae/brood, at least one frame of resources (nectar/honey/pollen) and a frame with foundation for the bees to draw fresh comb onto.

NUCs are $200ea for the 2018 season.   These bees will be provided in a waxed cardboard NUC box – ready to transfer to your permanent woodenware.

Pickup of colonies is by scheduled appointment at:

  • Wolfsong Farm near Forney, Texas
  • Locust Grove Sanctuary in Farmersville, Texas
  • Zentopia Acres in Ponder, Texas
  • If reasonable distance – we can arrange for delivery – and I can install into your readied woodenware – for a $50 delivery fee.   In all cases – purchase and pickup/delivery needs to be personally scheduled.

Care for your NUC:

After purchase, you will need to carefully move the frames of bees to your prepared woodenware for them.  This can be 8-frame or 10-frame boxes.  The safest way is to pick one of the outside edge frames that is either empty, or has the nectar/resources on it to remove and place first.  Then the other frames can be pulled away separately and placed into their full size hive body.  Watch each frame closely for the queen, and the brood frames for freshly laid eggs as well as various stages of larvae and capped brood.

It is highly suggested that you also have a feeder available for the bees.  Internal frame feeders, or a feeder that sits on top of the brood box for the bees to access from inside will reduce robbing from other hives or colonies in the area, and will encourage the bees to draw wax on the additional frames in your hive and maximize the population (and their hone/food stores) before entering the next winter.  Reduce the entrance down to an inch or so to further reduce any robbing activity from feeding your bees.  Sometimes placing a robber-screen or some blockade in front to the entrance will discourage robbing activity.

Note:  This is a livestock/NUC hive purchase only – and does not include “mentoring” or consultation on how to manage or care for honeybees.


Bee Yard Project – Convert Frame Feeder to No-Drown Feeder – DIY

This short video outlines how to convert a standard frame feeder into a no-drown feeder for syrup being fed to bees.

All items for the upgrade were available as scrap from my personal workshop – so no additional materials were purchased for the improvements.  The only expenditure was my personal labor.

Be sure to watch to the end – for a few outtakes/bloopers….


Shed Bees – Carrollton

The homeowner noticed bees entering and exiting from the shed in the back yard the week before.   Since we were still several weeks prior to our swarm season – I suspected the bees * may * have been there a bit longer than the homeowner was aware of.

A nice queen was found, the bees were successfully relocated to a Harmony Hollow outyard – and are bringing in pollen and nectar to rebuild in their new home.

If you watch my videos – please hit “subscribe” from my YouTube channel – and give the videos a “thumbs up”.



Second Story Soffit Bee Removal – Dallas

These bees have been in the soffit for a while.  The homeowner bought the house recently, and needs to do some work – that the bees were preventing.

After a successful removal – the bees were re-homed to a Harmony Hollow Apiary outyard – and are doing well.


Winter work – preparing for spring honey flow – Building Frames

Enjoy this quick video of assembling frames for honey production.  Foundation will be added to the frames just prior to putting them on the hives (to keep the foundation clean until it’s time for the bees to draw comb).


Link to my YouTube Channel for you to “like” and Subscribe to my videos:
Harmony Hollow – YouTube

Brianna’s Bees – Swarm Catch from 2014 (video in link)

It’s been a while, however I found this gem of a video in the vault – that never got published.  A swarm arrived at this young lady’s home the night before.

Brianna was excited to learn about the bees, and had never experienced a swarm like this – she insisted on bravely scooping the bees by bare hand – just like I did.

The queen was quickly found – however the rest of the colony decided to fly around the neighborhood looking for her scent (my queen clip may have had old wax or something masking her scent on it).   Not on video – but I walked in the street and sidewalk with the queen clip in my hand for the workers to catch a whiff of her scent and return to the hive box I’d brought.   They quickly found her, and she was placed in the hive body – and they started pouring in.  The next morning they were picked up and taken to the bee yard.

Be sure to give the video a “thumbs up” within YouTube, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for updates!
(hover your mouse over the video, in the lower right hand side, click the YouTube logo to open the video from within YouTube to “like” it and subscribe.)

Link to my YouTube Channel for you to “like” and Subscribe to my videos:
Harmony Hollow – YouTube

DIY Protein Patties / DIY Pollen Patties (video in link)

It is early January 2018, and several of the overwintering nucleus colonies (NUC) are needing a protein boost since there has been no blooms for the bees to visit since late fall.  Once the queen lays eggs, and the larvae hatch – they need a ready supply of protein for their growth and transformation from larvae to pupae to adult bee.

This video shows the process of making the pollen patties, as well as installing them into the hives for the bees to use.

Link to my YouTube Channel for you to “like” and Subscribe to my videos:
Harmony Hollow – YouTube

Ingredients:  Soy Flour, Rye Flour, Inverted Sugar Syrup