Posts Tagged ‘attracting a swarm’

May 21, 2015.....Hal stands proudly next to his log hive #4. The bees voted his hive as their top favorite place and moved in about two weeks ago. How tall is it...? Eight feet tall (2.4 meters) Bee hive capacity is 7524 cubic inches (123 liters)

May 21, 2015…..Hal stands proudly next to his log hive #4.¬† Bees voted his hive as their top favorite place and moved in about two weeks ago. How tall is it…? Eight feet tall (2.4 meters) Bee hive capacity is 7524 cubic inches (123 liters)

Frames are cut away to be able to see the comb being built through the observation window.

Frames are cut away to be able to see the comb being built through the observation window.

Looking inside the hive during the construction phase, you can see the screen Hal nailed in to let the mites fall down.

Looking inside the hive during the construction phase, you can see the screen Hal nailed in to let the mites fall through.

Bottom board holder slot

Bottom board holder slot

Hal explains the construction of it.

Hal explains the construction of it.

May 18...Comb length after about two weeks 3 days.  Note the mid entrance hole.

May 18…Comb length after about two weeks. Note the mid entrance hole.

May 21...Three days later, the comb is even with the mid entrance hole.

May 21…Three days later, the comb is even with the mid entrance hole.

Log hive #5? Hal already has the wood for it. He will be using cedar this time.  Solarbeez might have to build one too. :)

Log hive #5? Hal already has the wood for it. He will be using cedar this time.
Solarbeez might have to build one too. ūüôā

It's Garden Time...and time for Patti to show off her garden.

It’s Garden Time…and time for Patti to show it to us.

Patti, a young 80 year-old,  built this fountain and pond completely by herself.

Patti, a young 80 year-old, built this fountain and did all the landscaping for the garden.¬† The surface she’s standing on are old recycled roofing tiles.

Lobelia grows between the steps that lead to the deck.

Lobelia grows between the steps that lead to the deck.

Cosmos is blooming already.

Cosmos are blooming already.

Sedum will provide much needed nectar during August and September.  I'm very grateful to Hal and Patti for alerting me to this wonderful nectar source for my bees.

Sedum will provide much needed nectar during August and September. I’m very grateful to Hal and Patti for alerting me to this wonderful nectar source for my bees.

What do you do with a log hive that has rotted out?  If you're Hal and Patti Strain, you'll make a pretty flower bed out of it.  They've already had some requests to make more.

What do you do with a log hive that has rotted out? If you’re Hal and Patti Strain, you’ll make a pretty flower bed out of it. They’ve already had requests to make more.

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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.

There’s a new hive in town!

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April 22, 2014...Swarm in short tree.  Baited nuc hive very close.

April 22, 2014…Swarm in short tree. Baited nuc hive very close.¬† Wife says, “DO NOT CUT MY TREE.”¬† The bees refused to enter this hive.¬† Hal waits four days…no luck.¬† He gets a bigger hive.

April 24, 2014...Hal coaxes the bees in, opens the lid briefly to show us the bees, before closing everything up.

April 24, 2014…With a bigger hive consisting of two Westerns, Hal coaxes the bees in, opens the lid briefly to show us the bees, before closing everything up.

 

 

Hal cinches the belt so we don't have to worry about the hive sliding open and bees flying around our heads.

Cinches the belt so we don’t have to worry about the hive sliding open and bees flying around our heads while driving back.

April 24, 2014...This is the log hive where the bees swarmed from.

April 24, 2014…This is the log hive where the bees swarmed from.

January 22, 2014...Same log hive, the bees are clustering up high.

January 22, 2014…Same log hive, many fewer bees which are clustering up high.

Ready to roll, back to home.

Hive loaded into car, we are good to go!

April 25, 2014...Day 1.  Bees still here.

Next morning…Day 1. Bees still here.

April 27, 2014...Day 3.  The bees seem to be happy.  Maybe they will stay.

April 27, 2014…Day 3. The bees are flying well.¬† Looks like they have accepted the move.¬† Thank you, Hal, for getting us bees that have not been medicated, treated with mite strips or even fed with anything but their natural unadulterated honey.

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Bee-atrice is looking good.

Bee-atrice is looking good.¬† Okay, the yard sign on her head isn’t too flattering, but it was all I could come up with in a hurry.¬† We will fix that later.

¬†When Bee-atrice became aware of her beauty she developed a real attitude.¬† Her long golden hair, the color of the setting sun, a beauty mark on her face, and the fact that she was carved out of a hard wood by a professional wood carver made her vain.¬† In conversations, the iPod would always be pulled out to show how she was carved. She would tell people.¬† “I’m special.¬† I was carved out of myrtlewood which only grows on the Oregon Coast and in the Holy Land.”¬† We told her the brochures weren’t exactly true, myrtlewood also grew along the California Coast, and the kind in the Holy Land was a different variety.¬† She would counter with the fact that “Myrtlewood” is the only wood still in use as a base “metal” for legal tender,¬† “besides my mouth was carved ‘open’ so I can sing.”¬† I think she fashioned herself as some kind of diva or something.

We decided to place her near Bee Beard. ¬† We just figured they’d hit it off because they had so much in common.¬† One look at Bee Beard and she realized her open mouth was carved to let bees pass in and out.¬† She was shocked and humiliated…stomped off in a huff. I couldn’t figure it out.¬† Bee Beard has never complained about anything, not even once.¬† He’s been through a whole year of wind, rain, and bees. ¬† It’s true we’ve never smoked him or bothered him much, I just figured Bee-atrice would be the same.¬† Not so…“I don’t want to be next to him and I don’t like bamboo.¬† It attracts wasps.¬† We ended up promising her a one of a kind Easter hat and face her into the sun so it could shine on her beautiful golden hair.¬† She gave in to the flattery, but there was no way she would agree to be near Bee Beard or even to look at him.

The bees first couple of nights were spent here in the upper corner of log.

The bees first couple of nights were spent here in the corner of log.

I've always wanted to note the temperature of the hive.

I’ve always wanted to note the temperature of the hive.

I'm surprised this is only 83 F (28 C)  I wish I could see inside better, but I'll have to wait until the combs are visible in the observation window.

I’m surprised the temp is only 83 F (28 C) I wish I could see inside better, but I’ll have to wait until the combs are visible in the observation window.

A short video show bees already bringing in pollen on Day 6

Bee-atrice gets a bonnet

The start of the project

Bee-atrice…the Carving

Preparing Bee-atrice Log Hive for Prime Time

Hal started it all

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Bee Beard Gets a Life (20,000).

The creation of Bee Beard was influenced by many different people.¬† Hal (The Story of Hal’s Bee Trees) was the main instigator.¬† He started his first log hive around May or June 2011.¬† I was impressed that a swarm had actually picked his log hive to live in.¬† I liked his hands-off log hive credo…

“BEES WILL NOT BE MOVED, MEDICATED OR ROBBED OF HONEY

THE COLONY MAY SWARM AS DIRECTED BY NATURE”

I wanted to try the same thing, but not being retired I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend so much time hollowing it out.¬† I looked up log hives on the web and came across Gaia Bees.¬† I emailed Michael Thiele who gave me directions on hollowing out the log.¬† It was about this time that a new beekeeping friend, Terry Kelly of Berkeley, a writer, top bar beekeeper, and mushroom log grower, started sending me packets of bee articles he liked.¬† My log was partially hollowed out when another packet of articles came in the mail.¬† The very first thing I saw were copies of Slovenian Bee Hive Art.¬† Not only were there paintings but there was a face carved on the front of a hive that served as the entrance to the hive.¬† The bees entered through the mouth, nose, and eyes into the hive.¬† It took all of 10 seconds to decide I wanted to do something like that on my log hive.

I shared my idea of a wood carving with my wife, and she suggested I try the new chainsaw wood carver in town.  I talked up the idea with  Brian and Zada Vorwaller.   He offered some suggestions and we came up with Bee Beard.  His wife, Zada videotaped the carving and my son-in-law, Jim Montgomery edited, sped it up, and made it you-tube acceptable.

I wanted feral bees if possible, but commercial hives are placed in the bogs near me between late May into mid July. I knew I had to populate the hives before the bog bees got interested. ¬†¬†¬† How to get feral bees became an obsession.¬† After reading McCartney Taylor’s book on Swarm Traps and Bait Hives, I built 9 bait hives.¬† Hung them mostly on private property. ¬† I want to thank Bernhard Zaunreiter (see Swarm Trapping 2012) for posting a photographic “how-to prepare bait hives” post on the biobee.com forum,”¬† and answering my bait hive questions.

I finally was rewarded after placing two boxes on or near feral bee hive trees.  On one of the weekly inspections, both had caught swarms.  This bottom tree supplied Bee Beard.

The transfer of bees from bait hive to Bee Beard was quite an adventure, but the bees are settling in now and the itching is subsiding.

I¬† want to express my appreciation to Phil Chandler for creating¬† biobees.com forum.¬† I’ve got so much to learn and this is a very friendly, positive and informative place to do that.¬† Thanks to those stalwart friends who gave me encouragement during my dark days of no bees, when¬† I started regretting not ordering package bees and despairing that I wouldn’t get ANY bees for another year.¬† Mobeek, Bugscouter, KittyLabyrinth, newwoman, baz, and jaywoo kept me going.

This short video shows the bees entering through the hat.¬† I left a little gap in the quilt box to make it easier to pull out.¬† I think that’s where they are going.¬† A few enter through the mouth entrance.¬† I’m hoping when the comb gets built down that far, they will use the mouth entrance more.

I noticed the bamboo is shading the hive too much in the afternoon…the Warre Hive, on the south side of the bamboo works 1-2 hours longer, so I’m going to trim back the bamboo to get more sun in late afternoon.¬† After all, that could spell the difference between making it, or not making it.

Bee-atrice Log Hive Steps into Prime Time

Grand Kids Log Hive gets bees…two swarms almost at same time.

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Saturday brought the usual “check the bait boxes routine”, sigh over no bees yet, and daub some lemon grass oil on the outside. The first box I looked at was on the feral tree on private land. “WOW, I’ve got bees and they’re bringing in pollen. That means they’ve got a laying queen.” What do I do now? I’ll check the other bait hive across from the park…”WOW, that’s got bees too, and they’re are also bringing in pollen. Yikes, I can’t handle two at once.” I talked with Hal who advised me to wait until all the foragers came in. That would be another two hours. Went home to get my wife so she could provide moral support.

At 8:15 pm we stuffed some paper into the entrance hole and duct taped it securely. Got back around 8:45 pm. Should we stick them in now or wait til morning? We might get rain in the morning and it’ll only take a few minutes, let’s just put them in now. Plan is to unscrew the lid of the bait box, lift out the bars, put them in the top of Bee Beard log hive, put the quilt box in and pivot the hat back in place.

Since I had just had a successful swarm retrieval two days prior, I had confidence this would take about 15 minutes then we sit down for a cup of tea and congratulate ourselves.

The transfer did not go as planned…I didn’t suit up properly, it was almost dark, and as soon as I started to remove the lid I knew I was in trouble. Wife says…”sounds like they’re mad.” I tried gently lifting the bars out, but had to jerk them a bit. The bees went ballistic. Then the stings started. They got up into my bee suit between the veil and my face, up my pant legs, and on my wrists. At least I found out I’m not allergic to multiple bee stings, although I’m itching a bit. I had to vacate the area with the box lid part way open, the top of the log hive open, and our confidence shot.

All night I’m trying to formulate a plan of action for the next day…wondering what the heck I was doing…how did I ever think I would be able to pull this off, are these bees going to attack my wife and I when we’re working in the garden? What about our pets? Why did I want feral bees? What was I thinking?

Next day I called Shigeo from the Coos County Beekeepers Association. We talked about the incident and about the other bait hive which I was NOT about to get. He says to call Randy. Well, I know Randy, he’s awfully busy with his regular job, plus the last count of swarms he had gotten, was 23 and that was a week ago. He probably doesn’t need any more. I’ll call Del, another club member. We talk for awhile, he builds up my confidence and says “call Randy.” I call Randy who luckily happens to be working with the bees in the blueberry farm on the coast. (my area). Randy says he’ll be over as he finished up early on the blueberries.

I better get ready. Find the smoker. (never been used), light it up so it looks like we know what we’re doing. Very soon, Randy and Loni were driving in. “Hey I got my smoker lit up, do you want it?” “Don’t need it with suits, besides the bees don’t like smoke.” They zipped up their veils, walked confidently up to the hive, bees still circling angrily. Within a few minutes, they emptied the bait box of the remaining bees, got the bars into the log hive, installed the quilt box and pivoted the hat in place. They said the bees will settle down in a while and not too worry too much about working in the garden, they’d get used to you, but if they go through a dearth, they might get a little testy. We were much relieved.

It was nice to see a husband and wife team working with bees. They have worked together for about 20 years so know exactly what to do to put things right. Their business name is Oregon Mountain Wild Honey.

Randy and Loni after getting bees into Bee Beard

Randy and Loni give us a taste of their blueberry honey, fresh off the comb

A short video of Bee Beard can be seen here… Bee Beard Gets Bees

Video of the carving of Bee Beard

Hollowing out the log.

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Randy seems to know all the bee trees in the county.¬† I asked him if he thought hanging a bait hive up a certain logging road would be permissible with the owners.¬† He said “There’s no bees up there.¬† What you ought to do, is hang it at (a not to be disclosed) wayside.¬† There’s a bee tree there.”¬† Deep in the middle of a shaded grove of Myrtlewood trees was a bee tree.¬† It was spotted by a picnicker who was interested in what I was doing.¬† About 20-25 feet (6-8 meters) up was a bunch of bee activity. I chose a tree about 50 feet (15 meters) away facing the river to hang the bait hive after baiting it with old comb and LGO. The family of picnickers and their kids were excited to¬† learn the plight of the bees and what backyard beekeepers are doing to help out.

It’s not as pretty as Bernhard Zaunreiter‘s, but hopefully it’ll do the job.

Updated to “Kicked out of State Park.”

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