St Francis Seraph School

We want to start off by thanking the staff and students at St. Francis Seraph School for hosting a hive in Gaiser Bee Co. apiary for the 2017 beekeeping season.  

We went out to the school in April and brought our live honeybee observation hive and some of our tools with us.  The kids spent the day learning about why honeybees are important to our community, how they make honey, and the roles they play within the colony.

The kids then used their artistic side to help us create a custom a hive, unique to their classroom. The St. Francis Seraph School hive is one of the most colorful and detailed hives in our apiary now! Thank you guys!

These children had questions beyond their scope of education indicating they were well read on the subject of honeybees. They were enthusiastic and inquisitive demonstrating a sincere interest in learning about bees.
— Dr. Cory Gaiser
St Franics Shearph School Cincinnati Ohio and Gaiser Bee Co.

INSPECTION DAY May 14th, 2017

New honeybee colonies can start from a number of sources.  For the St. Francis Seraph School hive, these girls started from what is called a package of bees.  These honeybees were from a bee farm in Georgia.  We picked them up in late April and placed them into a temporary home until we had an assembled hive for them.  So on May 14th, after the school visit, we took this colony and placed them in their permanent home.

While transferring them to their new box, we observed how well they were doing and knew it was time to expand their space.  We noticed their main color was a bright yellow, they had a flourishing population and plenty of eggs.  The queen was doing so well, that we even saw new queen cups, 7 to be exact, which are cells that worker bees will form with the anticipation of making a new queen.  This tells us that the existing queen felt they had outgrown their current home and needed to move out.

When they do this, it is called swarming.  Swarming is the natural way honeybees expand their population.  When the colony outgrows its home, the existing queen will communicate to the workers that it's time to make a new queen to take over because she is moving out.  When she does this, she takes about half the colony with her.

What we did to prevent this colony from swarming is split the hive into 2 hives– that way we can try to control the growth and keep them from leaving.  Although swarming is great for repopulating, sometimes they end up in areas that aren't so favorable.  Ending up in homes, garages or parks can result in people spraying and killing them.  In order to avoid this, we try to create an ideal home for them so that they stay in our apiary.

This swarm landed on our bedroom window.

This swarm landed on our bedroom window.

After transferring the colony to their new home, we found the queen and marked her with a yellow color. This color will help remind us of her age.  Every year beekeepers will use a universal color chart to mark their queens.  This year that color is yellow.  

She is now marked and looks great!!

We placed her back into her home after the coloring dried and she went right down.  Everyone looks great and this new colony is doing so well that we even added a second box on top so they had more space to grow their population.  We will do our next inspection on them in about 4 to 6 weeks and update you on their progress!

St. Francis Hive


On June 9th, we did our second inspection on the beautiful St. Francis Hive, and the bees seemed to be doing fantastic. They were very calm and docile as we were handling the boxes, which is more than ideal.

This colony of honeybees is thriving and quickly growing in numbers. When we opened up the boxes, we noticed they had tons of stored pollen that was all different colors. The population is doing so well and expanding so quickly that they even started making queen cups– we noticed so many of them it was hard to count!

We couldn't seem to find the queen but we do know she is in there because there's an abundance of eggs and the bees were crafting their queen cups, which means they could potentially swarm. The queen cups are a signal to beekeepers to add a new box so there's enough room for the growing population.

This colony may have already swarmed because they seemed to be slightly lower in numbers but they are healthy and still laying eggs/hatching baby bees so now they are in the process of regrowth!

Overall, these ladies are looking great. Be sure to follow this blog for updates and feel free to leave comments, questions or concerns. Stay tuned for more info on the next inspection!

inspection day august 5, 2017

We went out to the apiary for another inspection on August 5th and decided to treat all of the hives for precautionary reasons.

We're getting to that tricky time of summer when it's much too common to find the hives being infiltrated by mites and other unwanted species. We saw these bees had fallen victim so we ended up having to treat them for Parasitic Mite Syndrome(PMS). 

Reports from the Ohio Department of Agriculture are indicating that the varroa mite population this season appears to be excessively high. Varroa mites are minuscule in size but they latch on like ticks and drain the life from the victim. We wanted to see if this was true with our hives so we did a thorough inspection on 10 of the hives in our apiary.  Of those 10 hives, 6 had obvious signs of heavy mite infestation.  Including but not limited to:

  • bees with deformed wing virus
  • poor honey storage
  • spotty brood pattern
  • larva that appears melted in their cells.

But, not to worry! Just because your hive has mites, doesn't mean it's the end of the world– or their world, really. We have started treatment and will be treating every hive in the apiary every five days for the next twenty days to ensure that the brood, currently in the larvae stage, is fully treated and protected from the varroa mite infestation once they hatch and start to grow/work. We believe these ladies will pick themselves back up and become a healthy, thriving colony once again in no time! 


Because of the high number of Varroa mites throughout the entire state of Ohio, we spent the month of August treating all hives.  We did an organic treatment of oxalic acid in 3 treatments, 5-7 days apart in order to treat all capped brood as they hatched.

fall extraction season: late summer - mid fall

Inspection Day September 9, 2017

After treating all of the hives and monitoring the bees behavior throughout the month, we opened their homes back up on September 9th to see how everyone was doing. We specifically went in to check on the status of the Varroa Mite treatment and to see where their food supply is at. 

The treatment looks like it worked tremendously and everyone seems to be happy and healthy! Therefore, we proceeded with checking the food supply and decided to add in some Easter marshmallow candies on the inner cover until we start the feeding for fall. 

Feeding during fall is necessary after extraction season so that the bees can continue building up their food supply for the winter months, before the cold gets here. 

october 3, 2017 inspection day + final extraction!

On October third, we went to the apiary to gather the frames for our final extraction of the year– the beloved fall honey!

Fall honey is dark in color, plus rich and bold in flavor. It is a bit thicker and more of a dark amber color compared to spring honey. While darker honey is more flavorful and intense than light, it also contains more nutrients; including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

We didn't pull many frames from the newer colonies this year so the honey you will be receiving will be coming from some of the stronger, more established hives– so yours can continue to thrive. 

The final step, in the first week of November, will be to go through and consolidate some of the colonies and insulate them.

CLICK HERE to see a video of how we will be preparing the hives for winter

We will be sure to keep you updated on our next visit out to the apiary. Be sure to follow this blog for updates and feel free to post any comments, questions or concerns.

Stay tuned!