Archive for May, 2014
Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Bee-loving flowers, Bumblebees, Music video, Natural Beekeeping, Poached Egg Meadowfoam, Videos, tagged bee-loving flowers, beekeeping, bees and borage, bees and Cascara Buckthorn, bees and Cotoneaster, Bees and Hidcote Hypericum, Bees and Huckleberry blossoms, bees and lavender, Bees and Meadowfoam, Bees and New Zealand Cabbage blossoms, Bees and Pink Chintz Thyme, Bees and St. John's Wort, bees on Oregon Coast, bombus flavifrons video, bombus melanopygus video, Bombus vosnesenskii, growing flowers for the bees and butterflies, honey bees, macro nature video, natural beekeeping, pollinators, Wild pollinators, Yellow-faced Bumble Bee on May 31, 2014| 2 Comments »
Posted in Hives, Log hives, Natural Beekeeping, Swarms, Videos, tagged beekeeping, bees on Oregon Coast, Capturing a swarm, honey bees, Log hive wood carving, Log hives, natural beekeeping, Verticle log hive, wood carving on May 21, 2014| 4 Comments »
By late afternoon, all the bees returned to the tree hive.
Could it be that the queen can’t/won’t fly? It came from a swarm, so I know it’s wings haven’t been clipped. I guess I’ll find out in the next few days what is going on, but if a more experienced beekeeper wants to hazard a guess, I’d be curious.
In looking back at where this swarm originated from…from my log hive, on April 18, 2013. The swarm picked this patch of bamboo to settle in.
Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Bee-loving flowers, Natural Beekeeping, Poached Egg Meadowfoam, Swarms, Videos, Warre Hive, tagged bee-loving flowers, beekeeping, bees on Oregon Coast, honey bees, macro nature video, Mary Schamehorn, Mayor of Bandon, natural beekeeping, nature photography, poached egg meadowfoam, swarm, Warre hive, Wild pollinators on May 16, 2014| 10 Comments »
…that’s when she called me.
Okay, I’ve got to move the birdhouse out of the bee garden because, well, we’ve got to be able to weed and water without the bees buzzing us. After two days, I pre-dug a post hole, waited til night and ‘posted’ the birdhouse among the ferns about 20 feet away. (Something most beekeepers would tell you NOT to do because the bees might not be able to find their way back to the hive.) I stuffed tissue paper into the entrance hole so the bees would notice something was different. They would have to make orientation flights all over again. I’m thinking that maybe the Warre was too close to the birdhouse…if I move it away, maybe they will want it more. My wife said I was crazy to think that. I says, ‘maybe,’ but we’ve got to get it out of the way.
Mayor Mary’s side of the story… (Scroll towards the bottom til you see the birdhouse swarm)
Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Bee-loving flowers, Videos, tagged bee using mouth to gather pollen, Bees pollinating Camas, Camassia leichtlinii, Camassia quamash, Heiko Koester, honeybee pollination, Six-petaled blue purple flower on May 12, 2014| 14 Comments »
Heiko Koester says, “The plant you saw was either Camassia leichtlinii or Camassia quamash. If it was knee-high or taller it was probably the former, if shorter probably the latter. Ethnobotanically speaking they are both fairly interchangeable.”
Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Hives, Natural Beekeeping, Perone Hive, Videos, tagged ivy nectar, ivy pollen, Ivy pollinators, natural beekeeping, Perone hive, Perone hive one year anniversary on May 8, 2014| 10 Comments »
In Vernon’s words…”This winter I built a second Perone hive. This version includes 16 ½ x 11 ¼ inch observation windows in the front and back of the brood box. The windows are 1/8 inch plexiglas that my local hardware store cut to size. The plexiglas was so easy to work I bought two additional pieces to cover the roof and another to serve as a lid over the brood box grid bars. The roof covers were adhered to the wooden roof and sealed on all sides with beads of aquarium-safe silicone cement. The window covers were made of knotty pine. Otherwise the design of my two hives is the same.
Lacking a swarm, I decided to stock the new hive with purchased bees. A 3 pound package arrived April 15. After a night in my garage, the package was placed unopened within the Perone hive brood box for 40 hours to allow the bees to acclimate. Then I opened the package, removed the queen’s cage, and suspended the queen’s cage under a centrally located top bar using masking tape.
The bees had been packaged with enough syrup to feed them for a week, and I’d been warned that they might need that much time to accept their new queen. However, when I opened the package the feeder was empty. Probably the syrup had leaked out.
A lot of dead bees were observed inside and outside the new hive during the first six days after freeing the queen. Since then I’ve found very few dead bees and the overall foraging behavior of the colony has become more purposeful and successful. About 10% of the foragers are returning with bright yellow pollen.
A week after the new bees were introduced, the two colonies display similar behaviors at their hive entryways.
Early in June the physical appearance of the foragers should change a bit. The queen of the new hive is a Carniolan variety, but the bees shipped with her in the package are all Italians.
Hive Inspection the Perone Way
When it isn’t too cold outside I find it restful to sit on a lawn chair about two feet in front of my hives and watch the foragers come and go. It’s a form of meditation. That’s what passes for hive inspection at my apiary. The foragers never sting me. When it’s cold the bees stay inside and no inspection is possible.
I’ve been told that my bees have mites because all hives in the USA have mites. Perhaps that’s true, but I’ve never observed any sign of any disease. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. But if mites are present they don’t seem to be a threat to the survival of my colony, at least not yet.
Some of my friends are trying to combat mites by keeping “hygienic” bees that are naturally vigilant in removing mites. The Russian honeybee strain is supposed to be hygienic, but I don’t know anyone who is raising them. Instead, several are going to “requeen” their hives by introducing queens from hives that are certified never to have been treated for mites. The fact that the queens are still alive without treatments makes them “hygienic.” To me this sounds like circular logic. An equally valid conclusion is that mite treatments reduce the capacity of a colony to fight infestation through normal comb maintenance. In other words, all bees are hygienic until poisoned.
Going into Winter, the comb occupied only a small fraction of the big Perone hive. It’s likely that the over-Winter population was quite small. Now the colony is a year old and business is booming at the entryway. The yellow pollen is almost certainly myrtle and the bees have been collecting it for months. The orange pollen is of unknown origin and sticky. Some foragers are returning smeared with it.
May 25, 2014 Vernon’s entry…”There’s been a population explosion in the year-old hive. During the warm hours the small entryway seems hardly adequate. To relieve congestion the bees have developed a traffic pattern with exit on the right and entry on the left. The system breaks down a lot but I’m still impressed.
I keep a couple of supers stored away. One of them has an entry, and stacking it on would give the old hive bees two doors. This morning I decided to take off the roof and look down through the bars to see if the hive is ready for the super. A clear plexiglas lid over the bars allows me to look inside the brood box without opening the hive and disturbing the bees too much. The bars are oriented north-south, and the eastern 3/4 of the hive looks full. Four or five bars on the western side aren’t being used yet. The brood box still has room, so I didn’t add the super.
While I was at it I looked into the new hive observation window. I take back all the bad things I said about my package bees, because they’ve been building comb like crazy. Next week I’ll take pictures to record six weeks of progress.”
May 27, 2014 Vernon’s writes…“Okay, I put the super on the year-old Perone hive. With decent honey now selling for $6/lb and up I’m counting on the girls to keep me well-stocked.
The 1/8 inch thick plexiglas lid was warped pretty badly and was letting in some water droplets. I replaced it with an indoor plywood lid over the super bars. Later I’ll replace the plexi lid on the new hive as well. Actually, the thin, construction-grade boards of the hive body are also warping in some places. If spaces open up I’ll probably seal them with fine mud. Maybe I’ll give the hive a fresh coat of linseed oil.
This morning I saw a blackberry flower moving…….A bee was buried in the blossom!…….Submerged in her work! I’m waiting for the blossoms to fall from the berries before I weed-wack them. Maybe I’ll save a few berryweeds for snacks, though they attract bears.”
June 1, 2014
For the last three days foragers from both of my colonies have been bringing back much less pollen. With all the blackberries and assorted wildflowers in bloom nectar should still be plentiful. A large number of drones were observed entering and leaving my older hive, more than ever before, but still no signs of swarming.
New hive six week check-up
Moisture droplets coated both observation windows, making photography difficult. Humidity in the hive must be quite high.
There are seven combs so far, suspended from the first seven bars numbered from the east wall. The space under the first bar was a solid mass of bees so I couldn’t actually see the comb. The combs are as ruler-straight and parallel as any I’ve seen. My other Perone colony disregards the top bar orientation and builds highly-irregular comb.
This close-up shows the comb attendants are a mix of Italian and Carniolan varieties (Carniolans have darker abdomens). The package used to start the colony was comprised of Italian workers and a Carniolan queen, meaning that all the Carniolan workers in this photo were born in this hive. The package was shipped to me on April 15, so all the Italian bees shown are at least 47 days old.
July 1, 2014…The traffic at the entries of both of my hives seems slightly down from a late May/early June peak. Worried that my hives might be infected or invaded or something, I took the shutters off the new hive for a “10th week check-up.” Everything looked fine inside. Comb building is continuing at a fast clip. There are now eight combs, the largest of them just under 18 inches deep and 19 inches long.
July 4, 2014 – Vernon added…Over 50% of my foragers are bringing back pollen today. That’s a new high. Most of the pollen is yellow, maybe sow thistle, which is growing anywhere in Klamath that isn’t being mowed. That includes my lawn, which I haven’t mowed in months because it’s full of wildflowers and the bees are all over them. Sweat bees and a little black thing (probably a fly) seem to prefer sow thistle, bumble bees like the purple clover, and honey bees go first to blackberries and white clover. There’s also a low-growing purple flowered weed that attracts all the pollinators. I like the idea of providing for the bees passively, by not mowing, rather than actively planting flowers the bees might like. Of course, if I lived in suburbia with neighbors who could see my house I’d probably be getting complaints about my ratty-looking yard.
August 1, 2014 – After much waffling I’ve decided to over-winter my older hive with the super in place. My first honey harvest will be next Spring, when the colony is about 24 months old. That’s in keeping with Perone’s recommendation that the first harvest should come at 18 months or more. Since adding the super May 27 the major nectar flows have been blackberry, clover and thistle. Bees make exceptional honey from all these sources, so it’s hard to resist putting it into bottles. But I’m just not confident the hive has enough stores in the brood box alone to last the winter.
The foragers have brought back very little pollen this week. Most of the wildflowers in my unmown lawn are shriveling away. There are still some thistle, and plentiful Queen Anne’s lace. My bees don’t seem to like Queen Anne’s lace much, but they are visiting them occasionally, probably because other flowers are getting scarce. Bumble bees have elbowed the other pollinators away from the few patches of red clover that remain. The only pollinators I’ve seen on my pretty-but-intrusive orange freesia weeds are hummingbirds.
Some of my beekeeper friends maintain that the nectar flow is virtually over in my area. They are feeding syrup now. Certainly the number of foragers from my older hive is decreasing, but the new hive is sending out more foragers than ever. I’m trying to learn how to assess nectar collection by comparing the relative abdomen circumferences of the bees entering and leaving the hive.
August 1, 2014 _ New hive fifteenth week check-up
On August 1 the shutters came off my newer hive for a quick assessment. Comb building continues and the colony has no observable disease. The population is quite high for a first-year colony (though several times lower than that of the older hive). The fixed-bar design of the Perone hive doesn’t permit direct observation of honey and pollen stores. However, foraging remains vigorous and comb area is more than sufficient, leading me to conclude that the colony is probably setting up well for the Winter.
September 2, 2014
It’s been a dry year in California and my place is parched. The forager numbers are down for both of my hives, especially the older one. I doubt there is much nectar available to them. Last week the foragers brought back a lot of orange pollen and smaller amounts of other types. From a lot of observations I was able to confirm that the orange pollen comes from sow thistle. The newer hive produced a lot of drones this year and the workers are currently doing their best to expel those that remain.
October 2, 2014 Vernon’s update…”Despite my firm resolution to leave my newer hive undisturbed until next Spring I couldn’t resist removing the shutters for a quick check inside. My previous check found no measurable comb added in August. Today I confirmed that none was built in September, either. Still, the hive is full of very busy bees. A moderate number of foragers are out, bringing back a modest amount of orange and yellow pollen. No drones have been seen for the last 2 weeks, which isn’t surprising since they were being mercilessly expelled during the prior 2 weeks.”
October 7, 2014…Yesterday and today the foragers from both my hives have been out in big numbers, and they’ve been bringing back a lot of pollen, mostly orange pollen from sow thistle. When I checked the on-line weather report it said there was very little pollen from trees and none from grass and flowers in my area. So I know not to rely on pollen reports anymore. These little rains we’ve had have put the pollinators back to work.
October 19, 2014…My bees have been foraging in large numbers all week, bringing back lots of yellow pollen with an orange tinge. I’m seeing ivy flowers all over my neighborhood, and that’s probably the pollen source. An on-line article The honey and the ivy: Why gardeners’ foe is the bees’ friend says 80% of the foragers on ivy bring back nectar rather than pollen, meaning that virtually all my bees are probably on the ivy now.
October 26, 2014
After the big storm…The runways of both hives were wet. There were 13 waterlogged corpses on the new hive runway, which I removed to get them out of the way. The older hive had only one runway casualty. Foragers were out in modest numbers but they weren’t bringing back pollen. In the 10 minutes or so I was watching one worker was expelled from each hive, a behavior I haven’t seen in months. I fought off the urge to take off the shutters and take a look inside.
It’s a Tulip Tree
The Arbor Day Foundation, says a tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera is…“A fast-growing tree with bright green leaves that resemble tulip flowers in profile and turn golden yellow in fall. Greenish-yellow flowers are carried high in the tree. Stems are aromatic. Likes full sun. Grows to 70′ to 90′, 40′ spread. (zones 4-9)”
According to The Peace Bee Farmer, the tulip tree, also known as Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar tree, is a member of the Magnolia family and an important nectar source across Tennessee, Kentucky, and much of the eastern United States.
Speaking of Arbor Day, I was able to volunteer in the removal of life-choking ivy from alder and ash trees. In the process, I shot some video. Okay, I was mostly pointing the camera in people’s faces, but I was able to actually DO some work too.