Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Bee Video, Bee-loving flowers, Log hives, Natural Beekeeping, tagged bee tree, bee-loving flowers, beekeeping, bees in tree, bees on dahlias, bees on Oregon Coast, collarette dahlias, dahlia, Feral bees, giraffe pattern dahlia, honey bees, honeybees in a tree, Mignon dahlia, natural beekeeping, orchette dahlia, Wild pollinators on August 26, 2014| 12 Comments »
Kathy grows dahlias…lots of them. Knowing of my interest in bees, she has explained how bees have helped her to grow different kinds of dahlias. For many years, she hand pollinated the dahlias she wanted to hybridize. About a year and a half ago, a swarm of bees chose a nearby cedar tree as their future home and started visiting her dahlias. Kathy says she gets much better results from the bees’ pollination. She collected the seeds after pollination and grew over 2500 kinds. Of the 2500, she will select only about 100 that make the grade. (I’m glad I don’t have to decide, I like them all.)
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. 🙂
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?
Posted in Bee Video, Hives, Log hives, Natural Beekeeping, Swarms, Videos, tagged attracting a swarm, honey bees, Log hive wood carving, Log hives, natural beekeeping, Swarm relocating into a hive, Verticle log hive, wood carving on August 11, 2014| 19 Comments »
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Now we wait and worry for the emerging virgin queen to come back alive and inherit the hive…fingers crossed.
Posted in Hives, Log hives, Natural Beekeeping, tagged Bald Faced Hornet, Log hive wood carving, Log hives, Myrtle tree, natural beekeeping, neonicotinoids, Nosema ceranea, swarm bait hive, Swarms, Verticle log hive, Wild pollinators on August 9, 2014| 10 Comments »
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.
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.
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…
Posted in Bee to Flower relationship, Bee Video, Bee-loving flowers, Natural Beekeeping, tagged anther, bee-loving flowers, honeybees, honeybees and squash blossoms, Kiera O'Hara, natural beekeeping, squash bees, squash blossoms with bees, squash female blossoms, squash male blossoms, stigma on August 8, 2014| 7 Comments »