Posts Tagged ‘bees on Oregon Coast’

…reads the headline of my letter to the editor last week.

The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

has a mosquito problem.  During summer high tides, water fills holes that don’t drain back out.  Pools provide habitat for the salt marsh mosquito, Aedes dorsalis.  People that live near the marsh complain that they can’t go outside without mosquitos biting them.  “It’s hard to get to the car from the back door without several mosquito bites.”  I can’t mow my yard without several layers of clothing.”  “I love to garden, but I feel like I’m under house arrest, because the mosquitos are so vicious.”  The motels have had cancellations, the real estate people can’t show houses, and the golfers are getting eaten alive.

Pressure to DO SOMETHING NOW drove the decision to aerial spray not just the 300 acres of the Marsh, but another 10,000 to 12,000 acres of outlying area.   That’s when I heard about it.  Shigeo Oku, vice-president of Coos County Beekeepers Association called  to warn me.  “Pat, they are going to spray near your place.  You better do something about it.”  I’m thinking “Whaaat?   The Marsh is a few miles away.  They wouldn’t spray all the way down here.”  Maybe I better call the newspaper and get a look at that spray map.

The Bandon Marsh is a few miles from me...why do they have to spray so close to me?

The Bandon Marsh is a few miles from me…why do they have to spray so close to me?

I called the county to confirm.  Yes, indeed, they are planning to spray, near my house (and hives) probably  next week!

“The spraying that will be done outside of the marsh targets grown mosquitos only (not larva). Also it (Dibrom) is in a very small concentration, ¾ ounce per acre, which will ensure that it is not strong enough to effect anything larger than a mosquito, it does not kill larva, and it cannot penetrate water.”

We look up Dibrom and get NoSpray.org   Hummm, that sounds pretty bad, let’s look up another one.  Uh-oh, it’s definitely BAD!  “Very toxic to bees.”  I call the county back.  “Hey, I’m a beekeeper.  That spray can drift over and kill my bees!”

“Just cover your hives for a while.  Put your phone number on the hot line and we’ll call you when we are planning to spray.”  The county sends me a fact sheet.   “Dibrom immediately begins to breakdown upon release of the spray droplets in the open air.  Dibrom also breaks down rapidly in water and in sunlight.”

Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, maybe it’ll be okay.  Just to make sure I’m calling the Oregon State University Honeybee Department.  I’m referred to Ramesh Sagili, (Honeybee Research and Extension Entomologist), who stated that “the residual toxicity for Dibrom is TWO DAYS!”  Sagili says if the pesticide lands on a blooming plant (like a dandelion) and if the honeybee forages on that plant, the honeybee will be poisoned, for up to two days after the pesticide has been sprayed.  I can’t cover my hives for two days.

That’s what prompted my letter to the editor.  When I read the newspaper next day, I see other people have written, most notably the Xerces Society  urging the US Fish and Wildlife Service NOT to spray.

Just about that time our friendly librarian, who knows how we feel about our bees, calls us with the name of a person who is actively monitoring the situation by attending all the meetings with the County Commissioners.  We call Chris Wiggins.  She tells us at a recent meeting, the County Public Health Official has offered to hold a town hall meeting to answer questions from the public.  We tell Chris we know of a friendly local printer who would be willing to print posters advertising the meeting.  Posters are posted, notices are handed out, radio stations are called.  We go to the meeting Monday evening hoping we get enough people to let the county know “WE DON’T WANT THE SPRAY!”  I bring copies of Dibrom MSDS sheets.   (See environmental Hazards on page 2)

Happily there were too many people for the scheduled room.  A bigger room was provided.  The meeting can be best described here.

Most of the people were against spraying.   A few people said “Please spray…My life has been turned upside down because of those (bleeped) mosquitos.”  I had to sympathize with them even though I was against the spraying.  I think the single argument that swayed the commissioners most came not from people wanting to save the bees and other wild pollinators and insects,  nor from the people worried about a health risk, but from the cranberry farmers.

The cranberries will soon be harvested.  If they show any pesticide residue, (they measure in parts per trillion) their entire crop can be rejected.  Several growers asked pointed questions…”Does that pesticide specifically state ‘safe for cranberries‘ in the literature?”  “We can’t spray anything past July.”  “Are you sure there won’t be any residue on my berries?”  “What if my crop is rejected?”

Two days later, again at the County Commissioner’s meeting at the Courthouse, it was announced the Dibrom (adulticide mosquito spray) was cancelled.  MetaLarv, which is highly toxic to a wide range of aquatic insects and crustaceans would still take place on only 300 acres directly on Bandon Marsh.  While we felt bad for the wildlife that would be poisoned by the larvacide, we breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing our bees dodged a bullet.  We are hoping the US Fish and Wildlife Service will now adopt an Integrated Pest Management system to prevent this from happening again.

I am not of the opinion of many people that we should replace the flood gates to keep that area for farming.  When we first came to the area that was a dairy farm.  We hauled truckloads of cow manure to our bountiful garden.  The dairy farm has been gone for many years now. If this spot is deemed good for wildlife protection and things like carbon storage then it’s a good thing. but please don’t let the mosquitos get out of control again.

Salt Marsh, a great place to store carbon.

Salt Marsh, a great place to store carbon.

Aerial map of Bandon Marsh showing close proximetry of cranberry bogs, Bullards Beach State Park, and Coquille Lower Estuary.

Aerial map of Bandon Marsh showing close proximetry of cranberry bogs, Bullards Beach State Park, and lower Coquille Estuary.  Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways Online (www.byways.org)

Footnote:  In a conversation with a cranberry farmer, I learned that at least one of them uses the dreaded neonicotinoids on their crop.

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When Dan discovered a tree full of bees on his property,  he wanted to save the bees and the tree so he asked Del for help.

Hive with a fresh swarm and queen is above.  Trap-out screen below.

Del built a platform to hold the hive, a 5 frame nuc, above the screened ‘trap-out.’

This bottle of sugar water is accessible from outside the hive.  Del can add more water without disturbing  the bees.

This bottle of sugar water is accessible from outside the hive so Del can add more water without disturbing the bees.

The screen is fastened to the tree so the bees have only one exit and that is through the narrow hole in the end.  The hole has wires sticking outward so bees can only travel one direction…out.  The idea is the bees will come back to the screen, discover they can’t go back in and use the hive box above.  If all bees smell the same, they will be able to enter the hive box unchallenged.  When Del sprays peppermint water on the bees, it not only calms them, but makes them smell the same as the bees in the hive.

Bees are leaving through the one-way exit

Bees are leaving through the one-way exit

The temperature on the fourth day is 92 deg F. (33 C).  As more and more bees move out the internal temperature will drop.

The internal temperature on the fourth day is 92 deg F. (33 C). As more and more bees move out the temperature will drop.

Dan, the property owner checks on the progress

Dan, the property owner checks on the progress

Del and Jim, on level ground after discovering the tree has more holes that need to be plugged.

Del and Jim, on level ground after checking on status of hive. Jim collaborated with Del to come up with a plan on how best to remove the bees  with the least number of casulties, monitored the internal temperature of hive on an almost daily schedule and kept the screen exit open when the drones tended to plug it up.

As the internal temperature of the tree dropped, the hive above grew.  Five frames grew to 10 frames, and soon they added another 10 frame deep.  After about 6 weeks,  when the thermometer had plummeted to 78 deg. F (25 deg C.)  it’s time to move to the next phase.  The screen is removed and Shigeo opens up the tree with his chainsaw.

Shigeo cuts a wider hole to get at hive in tree

Shigeo cuts a wider hole to get at hive in tree

Removing bees with Shigeo's bee vacuum.

Removing bees with Shigeo’s bee vacuum.

Pulling bees off combs

Pulling bees off combs

Bee-vacuumed bees

Bee-vacuumed bees

Tree is completely free of bees.

Tree is completely free of bees.

Del shows all the comb that came out of tree

Del shows all the comb that came out of tree

Stuffing insulation into the tree cavity

Stuffing insulation into the tree cavity

This tree is 'insulated' against the possibility of another batch of bees entering it.

This tree is ‘insulated’ against the possibility of another batch of bees entering it.

...and sealed up

…and sealed up

This has been a joint effort with many 'players.'  Shigeo Oku brought his bee vacuum and expertise.

This has been a joint effort with many ‘players.’  On the left, Shigeo Oku, vice president of Coos County Beekeepers Association, brought his bee vacuum and expertise.  On the right, Del Barber, president of Oregon South Coast Beekeepers Association was project leader.

Jim Sorber helped from the very beginning, monitoring temps and checking the screen.  Shigeo and Jane brought all their equipment to help in the final stages.  Mureen Walker shot the video and photos when the tree was opened up and last bees were removed.  Del Barber was project leader, making everything happen.  He built the trap-out, set up the hive box in the tree,  and successfully moved bees from tree to a hive box.  Dan Rinehart owns the property where the bee tree was located.  Thanks to everyone, both bees and tree were saved.

Jim Sorber helped from the very beginning, monitoring temps and checking the screen. Shigeo and Jane brought all their equipment to help in the final stages. Mureen Walker shot the video and photos when the tree was opened up and last bees were removed. Del Barber was project leader, making everything happen. He built the trap-out, set up the hive box in the tree, and successfully moved bees from tree to a hive box. Dan Reinert owns the property where the bee tree was located. Thanks to everyone, both bees and tree were saved.

This video shows the steps taken to successfully move the bees out of the tree and into a box hive, and how to prevent future bees from relocating in the tree.

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Now to get the observation window panel in place.

Early 2012…The foundation is in place, now Hal will fit the window panel on.

Measuring the bolts

Measuring the bolts

Fitting the window plug.

Fitting the window plug.

Hope this caulk lasts for a while.

Sealing up the cracks.

What do you use to lift a large log over fence?  A large tractor of course.  LG demonstrates how to do it without smashing your fence.

What do you use to lift a large log over a fence? A large tractor of course. LG demonstrates how to do it without smashing your fence.

August 18, 2013 Log hive #2 built by Hal, owned by LG, is doing very well

August 18, 2013 Log hive #2 built by Hal, owned by LG, is doing very well

Log Hive #2 with lots of beautiful honey comb

Log Hive #2 with lots of beautiful honey comb

While visiting the 113 year old Gearhart ranch last week I had the occasion to ask LG, (the owner of the log hive) if he would show us the #2 log hive that Hal built for him last year.

The Story of Hal’s Bee Trees

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Bee Beard...August 1, 2013.  The bees always fly around at the entrance between 1:30 and 3:30.  I'm not sure why, the outside temperature is only 68 F (15C)

Bee Beard…August 1, 2013. The bees always fly around at the entrance between 1:30 and 3:30. I’m not sure why, the outside temperature is only 68 F (15C)

After it threw six swarms, I wondered if Bee Beard had anything left.  Yes, there were bees but was there a laying queen?  Then in the beginning of April,  I started watching in horror as drones were being tossed out of the entrance.  Drones with reddish colored eyes and ‘chewed up’ wings.  I checked the bee literature and learned that I was looking at a good example of “Deformed Wing Virus,” thought to be caused by the dreaded varroa mite.

Two bees evicting one with Deformed Wing Virus

April 1, 2013…I was filming the bees at the entrance when I heard a thump on the landscape cloth. Two bees were evicting one with Deformed Wing Virus

It started in the beginning of April and continued through the end of the month.  Then came Drone Awareness Month.  I thought for sure, this would be the end of the hive because I had a “laying worker.”

April 25, 2013...SIX DRONES visible.  I have never seen so many drones at the entrance.

April 25, 2013…SIX DRONES visible. I have never seen so many drones at the entrance.

You can notice these bees because of their eyes.  The tops of their eyes meet in the middle.  Also drones are big.  In the video you’ll notice how much bigger they are then the worker bees.  I wasn’t worried about their size however, I was worried there was no queen.  For this many drones in one place, it meant (to me) only one thing…a laying worker.  If there’s no fertilized queen (possibly because of all the swarms) then sometimes a worker bee will start to lay.  If you inspect the combs, you’ll see the eggs laid on the side of the cell or multiple eggs in an individual cell…the sign of a laying worker (or more than one)   Workers are not fertile and can only lay drones.  If they are only laying drones, the colony will die out, because drones don’t work.  Since I didn’t want to open the hive and intervene,  I was going have to sweat it out.

August 4, 2013...I see lots of bee activity and pollen going in.  Is it possible my fears were unfounded?

August 4, 2013…I see lots of bee activity and pollen going in. Is it possible my fears were unfounded?

Bee Beard Log Hive is an experiment in what happens with no intervention.  I don’t medicate, miticide, or treat the bees with anything.  That includes essential oils and powdered sugar.  I don’t take any honey.  These bees came from a myrtlewood tree last June.  They’ve never even been smoked.  We grow many bee-loving flowers, but I know that bees also go elsewhere for foraging.  Is it possible the Varroa mite and deformed wing virus are still around?  Of course…but as long as the bees can adapt, that’s as much as anyone can want.  I guess I’ll know more by next spring, but right now they look good.

Bee Beard looked a little sharper last year when it finally got some bees.

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This is actually a fly...I didn't know that while I was filming it, but I kept it in the movie so you could see the tongue.  I'm wondering if this inspired 'Alien.'

This is actually a fly…I didn’t know that while I was filming it, but I kept it in the movie so you could see the tongue. I’m wondering if it inspired ‘Alien.’

This is the tail end of the kale flowers.  In April, the bees were so busy on the kale you could hear the happy humming.  In June when I'm finally posting this, the kale has been pulled and hung so the seed pods can dry out.

This is the tail end of the kale flowers. In April, the bees were so busy on the kale you could hear the happy humming. In June when I’m finally posting this, the kale has been pulled and hung so the seed pods can dry out.

We've worked up a flower garden near the bee hives.  This is an Echium which was given to us by Shigeo who was very helpful with his "Big Dog" chainsaw carving out my Bee-atrice log hive.

We’ve worked up a flower garden near the bee hives. This honeybee is working an Echium which was given to us by Shigeo who was very helpful with his “Big Dog” chainsaw carving out my Bee-atrice log hive.

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This large hollow tree was found during a logging operation along the Oregon Coast.

During a logging operation along the Oregon Coast this Hemlock was found to have a bee hive.

If you’ve ever built anything using wood, chances are it came from a forest in the Pacific Northwest.  Douglas Fir, (scientific name Pseudotsuga menziesii),  is an incredibly valuable commercial timber, widely used in construction and building purposes.  A high percentage of Doug Fir grows in Oregon and is brought to the mills by loggers.  Logging is the 2nd most dangerous job in America.

During a logging operation, one of the heavy equipment operators noticed a hive of bees in a hollow log. Wanting to follow in the footsteps of his beekeeping mother, he asked Hal to transfer the bees to a hive box.  I’ve never been involved with a ‘cut-out,’ so when Hal asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance.

I've never been involved with a 'cut-out,' so when Hal asked if I was interested, I jumped at the chance.

Natural comb can be seen in his hollow log.

Hal reaches in to cut out the first comb

Hal reaches in to cut out the first comb

The first comb is put into the Lang.

The first comb is put into the Lang.

One comb at a time is transferred to the Langstroth frames.

One comb at a time is transferred to the Langstroth frames.  The pre-mounted  rubber bands around the frame hold the comb in place.

Hal, extreme right, did the 'heavy lifting,'  reaching in and cutting the combs out.  Patti and Amber helped with the  frames and tied string loops and Rod worked the smoker.  Pat is on the left, but all he did was work the camera.

Hal, extreme right, did the ‘heavy lifting,’ reaching in and cutting the combs out. Patti and Amber helped with the frames and tied string loops while Rod worked the smoker. The cameraman  is on the left.

Pollen-packing bees after a long rainy spell, 5-31-13

Pollen-packing bees after a long rainy spell, 5-31-13

A video shows all the action.

The next challenge…

A hive under tree house on steep slope

A hive under tree house on steep slope

These bees swarmed up here "not that long ago and built comb like crazy" according to the owner.  He'd like to get it removed so the kids can feel safe in the tree house above.

These bees swarmed up here “not that long ago and built comb like crazy” according to the owner. He’d like to get it removed so the kids can feel safe in the tree house above.

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