August 11, 2014...The Tulip Tree is still going strong.

August 11, 2014…The Tulip Tree is still going strong, but is it possible some of the leaves are turning yellow?

According to an article in The Washington Post a long dry spell can cause the Tulip trees to shut down some of their leaves, which makes them turn a bright yellow.  I’m not sure that we are seeing the beginnings of yellow leaves, but we have come through a long dry spell.

I read on the web sites that people love their Tulip Trees, EXCEPT when they rain sap.  “Do not park your cars under a Tulip tree,” and yet I didn’t see much sap on the ground.  Maybe the trees in the Pacific Northwest are better behaved. :)

August 11, 2014...baby leaves are still being produced.

August 11, 2014…baby leaves are still being produced.

 

6 seed against sky

7 smallish leaf

Seed pod

We are going to have to wait at least another month before we see the inside of the seed pod.  This one is still green.

I recently picked up a book by Daniel Chamovitz, “What A Plant Knows.”  In the first chapter he writes, “Plants see if you come near them;  they know when you stand over them.  They even know if you’re wearing a blue or red shirt.”  I wonder if the Tulip tree sees me coming by occasionally to see what’s happening?

 

 

Bee Beard is Back!!!

August 9, 2014, 10:34 am...Waggle dancing takes place.

August 9, 2014, 10:34 am…Waggle dancing takes place.

After reading Honeybee Democracy, by Thomas Seeley, I sort of knew what to expect on swarm behavior.  The scouts would each go out and report back to the swarm.  They would indicate the direction of a possible future hive location by doing a waggle dance in relation to the sun.  Straight up meant “in the direction of the sun,” or angled off from straight up meant that angle direction from the sun.  If the scout bee thinks she’s got a real good location, she will dance more emphatically.  Other scout bees will look the location over, actually measuring the sides, and judging if it’s a good location.  They will report back to the swarm.  This can take several days.  This bee is waggling just a bit.  I wouldn’t call it a real hard sell at this point.

11:15 am...I had been seeing some scout bees around Bee Beard log hive.

11:15 am…I had been seeing some scout bees around Bee Beard log hive.  More now.

Since it got robbed out last month, after several weeks in decline, I made the decision to take Bee Beard out of circulation, sort of retire it, let it rest up til March whereupon, I could introduce a new swarm to it.  I was in the process of dismantling it, when this August swarm took place.  I had to work like a mad man.  My printing deadlines were just going to have to wait.  I hope my customers understand. (Do I have any left?)

I scorched out the inside of the hive, shortened up the quilt box so it fit looser, and melted small bits of comb to the five top bars.  I added new leaves and sawdust to the bottom cavity and new sawdust to the quilt box.  This time I drove a fence post into the ground and fastened it to the log hive to keep the winter winds from toppling it.

August 8, 2014...fence post fastened to Bee Beard log hive.

August 8, 2014…fence post fastened to Bee Beard log hive.

As a natural beekeeper, I was hoping maybe, just maybe, the swarm would choose Bee Beard for their new place.  I mean how much more natural is that?

At 70F (20C) it's a good day for a swarm.

At 70F (20C) it’s a good day for a swarm.

2:20 pm...As luck would have it, (and I do mean luck)  the swarm broke up to relocate to Bee Beard.

2:20 pm…As luck would have it, (and I do mean luck) the swarm broke up to relocate to Bee Beard.  In the video you can  feel the power of thousands of bees swirling around.  I’m afraid I got a little emotional in talking about  it.

2:30 pm...Bee Beard is covered in bees.  In the video you can see the bees crawling upward and circling the mouth before entering the mouth entrance.

2:30 pm…Bee Beard is covered in bees. In the video you can see the bees crawling upward and circling the mouth before entering.

I guess you could say we were ecstatic.  We just stood there in the middle of all that bee energy and talked about it what we were witnessing.

August 10, 2014...The next day was back to business with time out for reconnaissance flights.

August 10, 2014…The next day it was back to business with time out for reconnaissance flights.

August 10, 2014...the day after the swarm, shows the bees on the observation window.  They've got to build their own comb so they are hanging out here for a while.

August 10, 2014…the day after the swarm, shows the bees on the observation window. They’ve got to build their own comb so they are hanging out here for a while.

Bee Beard’s back story.

The swarm’s back story.

August 7, 2014...Nobody wants to see an August swarm.  Yet here it is.

August 7, 2014…Nobody wants to see an August swarm. Yet here it is.

There was little doubt about where the swarm originated from.  It was parked in the plum tree behind Bee-atrice Log hive.  I just didn’t want to believe it was from Bee-atrice.  I had such high hopes for her.  The swarm that found her has been there for only two months to the day.  It was a big swarm that day on June 7th.  I had never seen bees build so fast as you can see by the pictures.

July 9, 2014...After only one month the comb has been built where it's becoming visible in the observation window.  These bees are serious.

July 9, 2014…After only one month the comb has been built where it’s becoming visible in the observation window. These bees are serious.

July 14, 2014...Comb is already touching the window

July 14, 2014…Comb is already touching the window.  The mouth entrance is seen at the lower middle.

July 18, 2014...Three combs are inching their way down the window.

July 18, 2014…Three combs are inching their way down the window.

July 23, 2014...The observation window is filled with bees and comb.

July 23, 2014…The observation window is filled with bees and comb.

 

July 23, 2014...Bee-atrice's bees have settled in nicely.

July 23, 2014…Bee-atrice’s bees have settled in nicely.  This picture shows the bees and naturally built comb…no pink plastic foundation here!

I was just getting ready to shoot some videos of Bee-atrice’s two month anniversary over the weekend.  We were sitting at the dinner table when my wife wondered aloud about that brown spot in the plum tree.   I was hoping it was our eyes playing tricks on us, but noooooo, it was the real deal…an August swarm.

August 8, 2014...After Bee-atrice swarmed, brood temperature is holding steady.

August 8, 2014…After Bee-atrice swarmed, brood temperature is holding steady.

August 10, 2014...A look through the observation window shows many fewer bees after the swarm.

August 10, 2014…A look through the observation window shows many fewer bees after the big swarm left..

Now we wait and worry for the emerging virgin queen to come back alive and inherit the hive…fingers crossed.

Bee Beard is Back!!!

7-23-14...Bee Beard log hive is getting robbed by one of my other hives.  That's no surprise.  It's been on a downward path for awhile.  Is it because it robbed out a hive that had nosema ceranea?  I don't know but it's possible.

7-23-14…Bee Beard log hive is getting robbed by one of my other hives. That’s no surprise. It’s been going down  for a while. Is it because it robbed out a hive that had nosema ceranea? I don’t know but it’s possible.

I call myself a ‘natural beekeeper.’  A natural beekeeper doesn’t try to prevent the bees from swarming, lets the bees build their own natural comb, and intervenes as little as possible.  I never opened this hive up.  The bees came from a Myrtle tree hive, captured in a swarm bait box which I had hung on the tree.  The bees chose the bait hive in early June 2012.  A person could argue that’s not exactly natural, but my point is, these bees came from a tree…not a package.  Bee Beard was one of my very first hives.  It survived two winters without any intervention on my part…no feeding, no mite poisons, no antibiotics.  It was a strong hive with bees coming and going in strong numbers.  In the spring of 2013, it threw six swarms.  In 2014, it threw at least three swarms.  In early July, I started seeing decline.  I didn’t want to admit it, but the numbers were clearly going down.

I wondered if it had gotten infected with the nosema ceranea.  The bees had robbed a possibly infected hive in December.  Or maybe it had something to do with neonicotinoids in the bogs nearby.  It’s also possible the new queen never made it back to the hive after the three swarms.   Whatever the reason, I knew I would have to face the fact that it was time for Bee Beard to retire for a while.  The wax moths would find the hive, lay their eggs in the comb, the larvae would eat the wax and clean it out.  I’ve never seen it happen, but I’ve heard it’s the natural way.  When the wax is cleaned out, the bees will find it and start all over again.

August 3, 2014...I was resigned in my mind to let the wax moths clean out Bee Beard log hive until I saw this Bald Faced Hornet exiting the hive at the side entrance.

August 3, 2014…I was resigned in my mind to let the wax moths clean out Bee Beard log hive until I saw this Bald Faced Hornet exiting the hive at the side entrance.

When I saw the Bald Faced Hornet, I panicked.  What if wasps got in the log hive and built a nest.  Not knowing what it was or what kind of nest it preferred, I knew I wasn’t going to take a chance.

August 3, 2014...I started taking Bee Beard apart by pivoting the hat.  I was surprised it came apart so easily.

August 3, 2014…I started taking Bee Beard apart by pivoting the hat. I was surprised it came apart so easily.

Getting the quilt box out proved to be difficult, more so than this picture implies.

Getting the quilt box out proved to be difficult, more so than this picture implies.

Inside Bee Beard with about half the comb dug out.  I decided to take it all out just in case it was infected with something.

Inside Bee Beard with about half the comb removed. I decided to take it all out just in case it was infected with something.

Bee Beard log hive, down for the count.  I had cleaned it out.

Bee Beard log hive, down for the count. I had cleaned it out.

A pile of old comb came out of Bee Beard.  I considered saving it, but maybe it's infected...better not.  I'll build a solar wax melter.

A pile of old comb came out of Bee Beard. I considered saving it, but maybe it’s infected…I better not. I’ll build a solar wax melter.

 

My plan was to plug the hive up until March or April, torch out the insides, put in some fresh natural comb and bait it with Lemongrass oil.  Isn’t there a saying, “Plans are made to be changed?”  If there isn’t, there ought to be, because on returning from an out of town trip, my wife spotted something in the tree.  “What is that brown shape in the plum tree?”  “Whaaaat?  ANOTHER SWARM???  IN AUGUST???”

To BEE continued…

The Swarm’s Back Story…

Bee Beard is Back!

 

 

August 5, 2014...Male squash blossom (possibly an acorn squash)  You can see the small sipping holes where the bees get the nectar.

August 5, 2014…Male squash blossom (possibly an acorn squash) You can see the small sipping holes where the bees get the nectar.  Male blossoms open earlier than female blossoms and stay open for days at a time.

August 1, 2014...A honeybee sipping nectar from a male squash blossom.  This was a surprise to me, that male blossoms had nectar.

August 1, 2014…A honeybee sipping nectar from a male squash blossom.   The bee picks up pollen from the anther to transfer to the female blossom.

Honeybee sipping from nectar fountain of the female squash blossom...rubbing pollen upward onto the stigma (?)

The blossom provides  nectar to attract pollinators.  This honeybee is sipping from nectar fountain of the female squash blossom…rubbing pollen onto the stigma.

August 6, 2014...this female blossom just opened today.  Already there is a bee in attendance.

August 6, 2014…this female blossom just opened today. Already there is a bee in attendance.

I'll keep an eye on this acorn squash for a couple of days...it should start getting larger.

Open at 9:29 am or before…

After being opened one day only, this female blossom closed up shop.  Male blossoms open earlier than females and stay open for days at a time.

Closed at 7:04 pm…after being opened only one day, this female blossom closed up shop.

 

August 7, 2014...blossom closed yesterday and remains closed.  A measurement of 1 3/16" (30 mm) is made on the diameter.

August 7, 2014…blossom closed yesterday and remains closed. A measurement of 1 3/16″ (30 mm) is made on the diameter of the tiny acorn squash.

 

July 18, 2014...Although I walk past this plant just about every day, I never took notice of it until it started blooming about a week ago.  I became curious whether bees would be attracted to it.  Yes, there were...even as early as 8:30 am..

July 18, 2014…Although I walk past this New Zealand Flax  just about every day, I never took notice of it until it started blooming about a week ago. I became curious whether bees would be attracted to it. Yes, they were…even as early as 8:30 am..

July 17, 2014...bee going deep for nectar.  I recently read a website that honeybees can't get the nectar from New Zealand Flax, and yet I saw many honeybees attending these blossoms.

July 17, 2014…bee going deep for nectar. I recently read a website that stated honeybees can’t get the nectar from New Zealand Flax, and yet I saw many honeybees attending these blossoms.

July 12, 2014...Hummingbirds also visited, but were often chased away by rivals.  Why is that?  There is plenty to go around.  "Why can't they cooperate for the common good," my wife asks? I have no answer...Why can't humans cooperate for the common good?  Looking at our blue planet from space, seeing nothing around that's inhabitable for light year distances, you'd think we'd want to work together for our mutual survival.  Just some thoughts in light of the current world affairs.

July 12, 2014…Hummingbirds also visited, but were often chased away by rivals. Why is that? There is plenty to go around. “Why can’t they cooperate for the common good,” my wife wonders?  I have no idea…Why can’t humans cooperate for the common good? Looking at our blue planet from space, seeing nothing around that’s habitable for light year distances, you’d think we’d want to work together for our mutual survival.
Just some random thoughts in light of the disturbing current world affairs.

July 14, 2014...July 14, 2014...When I saw reddish orange pollen coming into my Bee-atrice Log Hive, I wondered where it was coming from.being transported into the hive...perhaps nectar too?

July 14, 2014…When I saw reddish orange pollen coming into my Bee-atrice Log Hive, I wondered where it was coming from.

Reddish orange pollen.  I was wondering where that was coming from

Reddish orange pollen, coming from the New Zealand Flax.

Ants like it too.  When I was shooting the video I waited and waited until the ant emerged, then another, and another.

Ants like it too. When I was shooting the video I waited and waited until this ant emerged, then another came up,  and another.

History of flax use in New Zealand

The Short Story of Flax in New Zealand

How to clean and harvest New Zealand Flax

How to make a small purse using the leaves.

June 29, 2014...Honeybees and hummingbirds get nectar from these little gems.

June 29, 2014…Honeybees and hummingbirds get nectar from these little gems.  We’ve decided to grow more alliums next year because the bees love them and the deer don’t.

June 23, 2014...We started these seeds under lights in the house, hoping they would turn out well.  We're very happy with the results and the bees love them too.

June 23, 2014…We started these Cosmos seeds under lights in the house, hoping they would turn out well. We’re very happy with the results and the bees love them too.

June 10, 2014...Honeybee getting nectar.

June 10, 2014…Honeybee getting nectar on this Cosmos

June 16, 2014...This little stand of California poppies planted itself on my Hugelkulture bed.  In the background you can see some wallflowers (Erysimum).

June 16, 2014…This little stand of California poppies planted itself on my Hugelkulture bed. In the background you can see some wallflowers (Erysimum).

l

What kind of bee is this?  Maybe Amelia or standingoutinmyfield will know.

What kind of bee is this? Maybe Amelia or standingoutinmyfield will know.

A new type of poppy, called a Twister poppy.  Attracts bumblebees and is a pay grade above the California poppy.

A new type of poppy, called a Twister poppy. Attracts bumblebees and is a pay grade or two above the California poppy.

I started the Phacellia seeds in the house to attract the honeybees, but rarely do I see honeybees on them. No problem, we need to help the bumblebee as well, in this case the Yellow-faced bumblebee. (bombus Vosnosenkii)

I started the Phacellia seeds to attract the honeybees, but rarely do I see honeybees on them. No problem, we need to help the bumblebee as well, in this case the Yellow-faced bumblebee. (bombus Vosnosenkii)

Relatively short-lived, this Veronica Longifolia, 'Pink Eveline' served as a nectar source for a short time.

Relatively short-lived, (blossom wise) this Veronica Longifolia, ‘Pink Eveline’ served as a nectar source for a short time.

Speedwell, Veronica Spicata, 'Royal Candles.'  The colors of this one stand out well.

Speedwell, Veronica Spicata, ‘Royal Candles.’ The colors  stand out well.

June 29, 2014...Sometimes when the bumblebee exits this blossom, it will pick up a streak of white pollen

June 29, 2014…Sometimes when the bumblebee exits this blossom, it will pick up a streak of white pollen up it’s back.

Piano composition by Kiera O’Hara.

Music by “The Bottom Rung”

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