In an effort to get the bees to move up to box #3, I made some ladders.  The first two boxes were full.  I knew I better give them more room, but they wouldn’t move up…until I added ladders.

March 24, 2014...The bees would not move into the empty box.  I pulled out some bars so I could replace them with ladders.

March 24, 2014…I pulled out some bars so I could replace them with ladders.  I’m reluctant to use foundation, so I’m being miserly with what I have left in old comb…MY COMB which doesn’t contain any toxins from mite strips, meds, or antibiotics.  As long as the ladders are 7.5″ (19 cm) they work well.

Second ladder is added.  In all I placed about four ladders.

Second ladder is added. In all I placed about four ladders.  A 7.5″ (19 cm) length of wood is added for stability.  The remaining four bars have small pieces of comb melted on.  When I have no comb left, I just use the lengths of wood with wax melted on.

Looking up from underneath the box at the ladders and non ladders.

Looking up from underneath the box at the ladders and non ladders.

March 24, 2014...bees moved in right away.

March 24, 2014…bees moved in right away.

April 18, 2014...#3 box is 3/4 full, time to add box #4.

April 18, 2014…#3 box is 3/4 full, time to add box #4.

Box #4...bees move up with ladders.

April 18, 2014…I just added box #4, again with ladders…bees move up immediately.

Many thanks to Johann for the deft camera work.

 

 

The Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher is called into action.

Whenever we find a swarm much above eye level,  the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher is called into action.  You can make one by cutting the bottom out of a plastic flower pot and attaching a cloth sack.  The height is adjustable by the length of bamboo used.  Many thanks to Don Steinkraus for writing about it, and Terry Kelly of Berkeley for sending it to me.  It’s invaluable.

I consider myself a ‘natural beekeeper.’  I don’t make splits, raise my own queens, or buy package bees.  I let the bees swarm.  I believe in the adage, “Swarming Bees are Healthy Bees.”  Having said that, when the bees swarm, we have to catch them.  If they swarm into the bamboo, it’s lower to the ground, but difficult to get.  If they swarm into the spruce tree, they generally cluster up high.  The first one this year formed high, then re-formed to a lower more reachable area.

Pipe hangers to attach a length of bamboo.

Pipe holders for a length of bamboo to slip into.

Sew in a curve to avoid trapping bees in a corner.

Sew in a curve to avoid trapping bees in a corner.

Velcro attaches the sack to the cut off flower pot.

Velcro attaches the sack to the cut off flower pot.My first swarm this year happened last week.  I was busy with printing deadlines when my wife shouted, “WE HAVE A SWARM!”  The bees seem to like this spruce tree.  It’s been the scene for three swarms now, two of which we have caught.

Centering the catcher under the swarm.

Centering the catcher under the swarm.

The idea is to position the catcher under the swarm before bumping the branch to make the bees fall directly into the sack.  Last year I was able to ‘pop’ the branch upward to get a bunch of bees all at once.  This time it didn’t go as planned.  The bees clung to the branch.  When I ‘popped the branch,’  They started flying around and getting all defensive.  The camera lady was concerned (maybe because we were both getting stung) so we didn’t get the action on video.  The next morning we were more successful.  We trimmed a few branches and I was able to ‘pop’ the branch from above.  The bees fell into the sack, the sack was emptied into the empty Warre, and all is well as of day 4.

April 15, 2014...This is day 4.  I'm assuming the bees have decided to stay.

April 15, 2014…This is day 4. I’m assuming the bees have decided to stay.

April 15, 2014...the bees can be seen through the observation window.  Chaining to 'measure' for building natural comb.

April 15, 2014…the bees can be seen through the observation window. Chaining to ‘measure’ for building natural comb.

I've heard about this bee sting remedy...soften up the end of a clove of garlic.  Rub it onto the sting.  It seems to relieve the pain and the swelling.

I’m sure you’ve seen the you-tube video of the guy putting his  bare hand into a swarm of bees.  As I suited up to get this newly formed swarm, I’m thinking, “what a sissy I am.  The swarm just formed, they’re not going to sting.”  Let’s just say, I’m glad I was suited up.  I was able to give this bee sting remedy a good test.  By softening up the end of a clove of garlic, rubbing it onto the stings to relieve the pain and the swelling, I can report that it worked well on all our stings.

I have to thank Ron of www.biobees.com.  If you daub some of this around the sting area, it will cover up the bee's alarm pheramone...just don't daub it on your sting because it can be much more painful than the sting itself.

I found out about peppermint oil from one of the bee forums.  If you daub some of it around the sting area, it will cover up the bee’s alarm pheromone…just don’t daub it directly on your sting because it can be much more painful than the sting itself.  Believe me, I know.

Catching the bees  into the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher video

March 13, 2014...a leaf is shaping up.

March 13, 2014…a leaf is shaping up on our mystery tree

April 13, 2014...As I was walking this leaf back home, I passed Linda's house.  "Linda, how are you at identifying trees," I asked.   "Hummm, that looks like an ivy tree."

April 13, 2014…As I was walking this leaf back home, I passed Linda’s house. “Linda, how are you at identifying trees,” I asked. “Hummm, it looks like some sort of ivy tree,” she replied. “Are you kidding?” “This is a tree with a single wide trunk,” I countered. “Well, there are such trees as ivy trees,” she said. “I will let you know when I find out,” says me.

April 13, 2014...Back of leaf.

April 13, 2014…Back of leaf.

March 13, 2014...trunk of mystery tree

March 13, 2014…trunk of mystery tree

Bare tree in March

Good Advice From Bees

solarbeez:

This brought a chuckle from my wife and I. I just had to pass it on. :-)

Originally posted on Romancing the Bee:

Bee humour

Have a wonderful Spring day!!

View original

Mason Bee Launch

March 6, 2014...Cocoons transferred from refrigerator to this "Launch Box," ready for action.

March 6, 2014…Cocoons transferred from refrigerator to this “Launch Box,” ready for action.  There should be about 100…

Launch box complete with about 100 cocoons.

Launch box complete with about 100 cocoons.

March 6, 2014...first set of Mason bee blocks set up on new shelf.

March 6, 2014…first set of Mason bee blocks set up on new shelf.

March 30, 2014...We have lift-off.  After 24 days of anxious waiting, we see a bee emerge.

March 30, 2014…We have lift-off. After 24 days of anxious waiting, we see a bee emerge.

I'm guessing this is a female.  I'm so relieved to see them, because after pulling them out of their tubes last year, I wondered if I had handled them too roughly.

HB says this is a male.  You can see a little yellow fuzz on the face and it has long antenna.  I’m soooo relieved to see bees, because after pulling them out of their tubes last year, I wondered if I had handled them too roughly.

March 30, 2014...I'm guessing this is a male mason bee.  The males live but a few days.  After they mate with the female, they die.

March 30, 2014…I’m guessing this is a male mason bee. (“Not so fast, Pat”.  HB says this is a FEMALE) The males live but a few days. After they mate with the female, they die.

A female has already chosen her first tube.

A female has already chosen her first tube.

Carolyn Prola, author and historian who lives in Myrtle Point, Oregon, shows off her Mason bees.  Her bees are ahead of mine by a week or two.  Carolyn is responsible for getting me back into Mason bees after a couple of false starts.

Last year’s Mason bee beginnings

Last year’s Mason bee successes

After attending the funeral, I had just enough time to look for bees in a desert setting.  Just for a little variety, I wanted to photograph bees getting pollen in the Arizona desert where I grew up.

While looking for bees in the Scottsdale area, I found these two green parrots nesting in a saguaro cactus

                     In my quest for bees, I spied  these two green parrots nesting in a saguaro cactus.   Footnote, Lauren Harter has ID’ed these as Rosy-faced Lovebirds.

I so wanted to get some photos of bees on this bush, but I never saw them.

I so wanted to get some photos of bees on this bush, but I never saw a single one.

The Palo Verde trees (Parkinsonia aculeata ) were in full blossom at the airport, but there was no way I could get off the shuttle to set up a camera.

The Palo Verde trees (Parkinsonia aculeata ) were in full blossom at the airport, but it was impossible to get off the shuttle to set up a camera.  Out here, the trees were just coming into bloom, but still no bees on them.

Yellow blossoms on bush

Yellow blossoms…Is it Grey Desert Senna (Senna artemisioides subsp. sturtii)?  I don’t know, but it was a beautiful desert setting in someone’s front yard with Mexican Fence Post to the left, saguaro in the background, and prickly pear in foreground right…no bees, though.

A rock is embedded in this young saguaro.  As it grew it must have carried it upward.

A rock is embedded in this young saguaro. As it grew it must have carried it upward.

A desert bird.  My knowledge of birds is completely underwhelming.

A desert bird. My knowledge of birds is completely underwhelming.  “A Beehive Inside My Heart” says this looks like a Mourning Dove.

Jumping Cholla.

Jumping Cholla.  This cactus doesn’t really jump, but if you’re walking close enough to brush it, a piece will break off and attach itself to you.  It can penetrate a leather boot.  If there is moisture such as contact with skin the tips will curve and lock themselves under the skin.  There are actually two basketballs here, one slightly behind, left of the cactus.

I can picture a spirited basketball game where the ball gets away and bounces against this jumping cholla...and there it stays.

I can picture a spirited basketball game where the ball gets away and bounces against a jumping cholla…and there it stays, because who wants to risk getting stuck with the sharp needles.

Gambel's Quail hiding. They run fast and hide when they are not running.

Gambel’s Quail hiding. They run fast out in the open, then hide under some cactus.  On the video you can see it run between hiding spots.

Could this be a cactus wren?  It's hanging on a palm tree.  If anyone knows, please advise.  You can hear it's song in the video.

Many thanks to Lauren Harter, Jim Fox, and “The Prospect of Bees” for identifying this Gila Woodpecker.   You can hear it’s song in the video.

Thanks to Lauren Harter for the name of this European Starling.

Thanks to Lauren Harter for the name of this European Starling.  In the video the bird just sits on the branch as if to listen to the other bird calls.

In desperation, I asked these fence workers if they know where I can find some honeybees.

I asked the fence installers where I could find honeybees?  They pointed to a broken cinder block that I had just about stepped on.  There was my first sighting of bees.

At first I thought these were wasps, because I had never seen a ground hive of honeybees, but here they are with pollen baskets laden.

At first I thought these had to be wasps, because I had never seen a ground hive of honeybees, but here they are with pollen baskets laden.

Ground hive bees packing orange pollen.  I wonder where they're getting it?

Ground hive bees packing orange pollen. I wonder where they’re getting it?

It's almost time to get packed up and head back to Oregon when my son-in-law mentions he saw bees on the grapefruit trees at the rental.

It’s almost time to get packed up and head back to Oregon when my son-in-law mentions he saw bees on the grapefruit trees at the house where we’re staying.

At last I find the bees, right in my own backyard.

At last I find the bees, right in my own backyard.

One last desert setting at the airport.

One last desert setting at the Phoenix-Mesa airport.  It’s great to visit at this time of year and while I miss the desert colors and bird song in the spring, there is no chance I want to visit in the summer.

The video features a daybreak orchestra of bird calls.

 

If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer. OUCH!

In Memoriam

Wallace A. Reed

May 19, 1916 – March 7, 2014

Dad at 97 years old

Dad at 97 years old

I answered the call from my youngest sister Friday morning, “Dad is gone.  He died at 7:00 this morning.”  The news was not unexpected, but I still had to sit down to process it.

Two days earlier the hospice nurse told my younger brother and sister that Dad would probably not open his eyes again, but that he could still hear. My brother gave me a call.  “Pat, you can talk to Dad.  He’ll be able to hear you if I put the phone to his ear.”  I thanked Elliott and told my Dad who I was and how much I appreciated him being my father.  I also told him some stories he had told us about himself when he was a young man.  When I was done, my sister told me he had raised an eyebrow one time when I was talking to him.  I was hoping it was because of one of my stories…

The only time I remember Dad drinking was on New Year’s Eve.  He would unlock the liquor cabinet, dust off a bottle,  and we would share a drink, cigar, and some stories about life.

“With whiskey on beer you have nothing to fear, but beer on whiskey is kind of risky.”

That little ditty came at a price for Dad.   He didn’t have much drinking experience when he entered the army, so when his buddies took him drinking, he learned the hard way.  As the story goes, he had a few too many of these ‘boilermakers’ at the urging of his drinking friends.  When he got back to the barracks, Dad knocked over every single ash tray on both sides of the walkway in getting to his bunk.

Dad was a very competitive sort.  He loved to play ping pong.  He had that ‘ready for anything stance.’  I can picture him staring down his unlucky opponent.  I played him whenever we visited.  He would let me get  a little ahead and then bring out his “A game.”  With his fierce stance and stare down,  my game just went to hell.  The single time I did beat him was a hollow victory.  He was over 90 years old and we only played half a game…(he didn’t have time to bring out his A game.)

Dad playing ping pong when he’s 96 years old.  He was still good.

Dad was a man of great generosity.  There was a story behind that as well…When he was a young man, maybe about 2nd year of college, his Mom asked him to help her drive cross country to Vermont to visit her family for the summer.  While there Dad took a job waiting tables.  He said he waited on certain group of four women all summer, and they never tipped him up until the very last weekend and then they gave him a tip of only 10 cents.  He was appalled!  That must have made a big impression because he always tipped generously.

Before Mom died, one of her caregivers, who was from Haiti, had a son who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was arrested for robbery.   Dad found out about it and went to the hearing.  I had to admire Dad for going to bat for this kid.  Without Dad’s help, that young man could have gotten tangled up in the county legal system for a long long time.

I have to admire Dad for other reasons too.  While he was a busy busy man, he always took time  to take his kids on a summer vacation.  We lived in a landlocked state, but every summer we’d drive the 8 to 10 hours to the California beach to visit Grandma.  Back then car radiators boiled  over frequently so we’d rise at about 2 am, get into the previously loaded car and drive until daybreak.  Mom had this big picnic basket stocked full of food for a breakfast at sunrise in the desert.  After we crossed the Colorado River, we’d stop for lunch in Blythe at the restaurant with cockroaches running at the entrance (forever dubbed “The Cockroach Restaurant.”)   Those long trips and the week vacations on the beach were so much fun.  This was before television, so in the evenings we’d often play cards…canasta was big in those days.   One year he treated us to a vacation at a dude ranch in Colorado.  We took a train pulled by an old steam engine along a creek deep into mountain country. This place featured horseback riding and hiking trails up in the mountains.  My favorite memory is of the rope swing that hung from a tall tree over a drop off.  You’d swing waaay out over a cliff.  I still get chills just thinking about it.

Dad knew Mom wanted to visit her family in Germany.  They planned a trip to drive cross country from Phoenix, Arizona to New York, board an ocean liner, and sail to Europe…with all six kids.  When we arrived we stayed in youth hostels along the Rhine River, got a ‘private audience’ with Pope John the 23rd in Rome, and visited many museums and historical monuments across Europe.

After the tragedies of September 11, Dad thought it would be a good idea to talk to his kids at least once a week.  He called each of six kids on a different day of the week and  talked with his brother on Sunday.  Through those weekly conversations, Dad kept up with his far-away children and grandchildren.  He knew the birthdays of all his grandchildren.  The birthday cards were on time and always included a little something extra.

Living with a father who is always right can be difficult, but I remember one time that I was right.  It was on one of those long trips through the desert that we had a tire blow out.  That was in the Oldsmobile.  Dad really liked that car.  It had spunk, a lot of ‘get up and go.’  Dad liked that.  Well here we are stranded by the side of the road in the middle of the desert with very little traffic.  Dad finds the bumper jack, sets the brake, and jacks up the car.  He pulls on the lug wrench til he’s red in the face, but none of those lug nuts came loose.  He is so frustrated.  I pipe up with what seems to be a good idea.  “Dad, why don’t you turn them the other way?”  Dad responds angrily, “The threads don’t go that way, I’d be tightening them up.” (I was maybe about 7 or 8 and didn’t know about the ‘righty-tighty, lefty-loosey’ rule.  I just figured if it doesn’t work one way, go the other way)  He struggles some more…no luck.  I say again, “try it the other way.”  “Pat, that won’t work, I’ll show you.”  Well, for some reason on that particular model Oldsmobile in that particular year, Olds had done the unthinkable and reversed the threads on the lug nuts.  The tire was changed and we were back on our way. That day back in the 50′s, that day by the side of the road in the lonely desert, that day I WAS RIGHT, and Dad had to admit it.

My older sister Barbara’s memories about vacations…”He did love that Olds. I think it was  ’51, and if I recall correctly it was a coupe. Wasn’t that the car we drove up to Durango with?

I remember that tire swing at Ah! Wilderness. That was the best swing! I also remember riding that narrow gauge railway to get there, and our tiny little cabin.

My favorite vacations were at Balboa though, because of all the relatives and how beautiful it was/is. We also left early because there was no a/c in the car. Also my guess is that we were too sleepy to do much fighting. I remember the excitement of getting closer and closer, and then trying to be the first one to see the ocean. And how welcome the sea breeze was after our long drive. Grandma always had lots of food that tasted wonderful, and we would play Canasta or some other card game after dinner and laugh and laugh.”  (Footnote:  Barbara was ALWAYS the first one to shout, “I see the ocean.”  The cool breezes of which were always a welcome change to the 110˙F heat of Phoenix.)

Kathy added this…I am remembering the frequent recitation of the attached, most vividly as the car was being started in the old carport.”   Love is

The strong confidence and fierce competitiveness served Dad well.  He was an established anesthesiologist in a growing city, but he felt bad about the high cost of health care.  He and his partner set out to change that.  He figured that if patients did NOT stay overnight for procedures that didn’t require it, they could be charged less…much less.  He and his partner, John L. Ford built the first Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC).  And when he built it, he built it ACROSS THE STREET from a giant hospital.

When you read the obituary, Dad’s Obituary it’ll list all kinds of accomplishments.  It makes Dad seem larger than life.  In a way he is.

Now Dad, when you are playing ping pong with the Man upstairs, don’t bring out your A game.  I’m just saying…

1937...Dad is on his way to Cologne,  Germany, to meet my Mom to be...He met her the year before in Vermont, when he was visiting Grandma's relations and Mom was a foreign exchange student.  Smitten with her, he returned to California to finish college and Mom returned to Germany.

1937…Dad is on his way to Cologne, Germany, to meet my Mom to be…He met her the year before in Burlington, Vermont, when he was visiting Grandma’s relations and where Mom was a foreign exchange student. Smitten with her, he returned to California to finish college and promised Mom he would visit her in Germany after graduation.   Soon after he arrived in Germany he and Mom went to apply for a marriage license.  The authorities tried to persuade Mom NOT to marry an American, but she wouldn’t listen.  By this time, Dad had learned enough German to attend med school in Germany…Guess Mom was a good teacher. Picture submitted by my older sister Barbara.

That was a 1940 Chevrolet.  It hauled our family across the desert to Phoenix, Arizona in 1948.  My older sister Barbara got to drive it when she was in high school.  She says..."When I was 16 I got to drive it when Ellen was not driving. By that time it had only one gear, second, and the horn honked when it turned the corner."

Dad with a 1940 Chevrolet.  This was around the time he entered medical school.  That Chevy hauled our family across the desert to Phoenix, Arizona in 1948. My older sister Barbara got to drive it when she was in high school. She says…”When I was 16 I got to drive it when Ellen wasn’t driving. By that time it had only one gear, second, and the horn honked when it turned the corner.”

Around 1940, Mom is holding my oldest sister, Ellen, Dad is looking on, and Dad's sister, Betty, and brother, Bob, to his right.

Around 1940, Mom is holding my oldest sister, Ellen, Dad is looking on, and Dad’s sister, Betty, and brother, Bob, to his right.

Dad, Mom, and two kids in 1952

Dad, Mom, Elliott and Barbara

Dad with some of his kids in 1956.  I think he had just caught a fish and was preparing to clean it.  I'm the one leaning against the tree.

Dad with some of his kids in 1956. I think he had just caught a fish and was preparing to clean it.  Kathy, Dad, Ellen, my younger brother Elliott, and Pat, leaning against the tree.

November 23, 2006...Dad with his great grandchildren during a family reunion.

November 23, 2006…Dad with his some of his great grandchildren during a family reunion.

November 23, 2006...This was taken at Thanksgiving with his two sons.

November 23, 2006…This was taken at Thanksgiving with Elliott and I.

November

November 23, 2006…Family reunion in Phoenix with Mom, Dad, kids, grand kids, and great grand kids.

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