Posts Tagged ‘Feral bees’

August 16, 2014...This anemone dahlia serves as a rest stop.

August 16, 2014…This anemone dahlia serves as a rest stop.

Looking over Kathy's dahlias at some of the 2500 kinds that must be whittled down to 100.

Looking over Kathy’s dahlias at some of the 2500 kinds that must be whittled down to 100.

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.)

This is one of 2500 varieties that Kathy grew this year.  She must whittle it down to about 100 keepers.

This is one of 2500 varieties that Kathy grew this year. She must whittle it down to about “100 keepers.”

This is known as a giraffe pattern.  Kathy says she is indebted to the bees for this one.

This is known as a giraffe pattern dahlia. Kathy says she is indebted to the bees for their pollination services.  I am intrigued by the variety of styles.

Orchette  Get this from Kathy.

An orchid form dahlia

August 16, 2014...Since the bees adopted this tree sometime last year, Kathy has let them pollinate her dahlias.

August 16, 2014…Since the bees adopted this high up cavity in a cedar tree, Kathy has benefited from them pollinating her dahlias.  In the video you can see how high up it is with a steady stream of bees flying in and out.

Is this a keeper or will it go into the compost?

Is this a keeper or will it go into the compost?  Kathy hasn’t decided yet, but she does like what she sees.  It started opening up yesterday and will look different tomorrow, “it’s promising,” she says.

Kathy says she is indebted to the bees for making this one.  She is planning to keep it.

Kathy says she is indebted to the bees for making this one which she is planning to keep.

Sunspot...a mignon dahlia creation that Kathy has let us grow for our bees.

Sunspot…a mignon dahlia creation that Kathy has let us grow for our bees.

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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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As a newbie beekeeper I thought the bees just kept within the hive during the winter, leaving the hive infrequently.  I know things are different on the coast because we rarely get snow, but we get loads of cold winds and driving rains.  So it’s to my surprise that the bees are so active.  They are actually bringing in pollen during January and early February.  I’m hoping the yellow pollen is gorse, because everyone around here hates gorse so much (with good reason…it’s blamed for burning the town down in 1936), I’d like to know gorse is good for something, especially since it usually blooms early February.

I’m concerned about the Warre hive. The top video shows the front of the hive with the bees bringing in yellow and orange pollen and through the observation window in back.   I’d like some advice from more knowledgeable beekeepers about what to do.  I almost nadired another box underneath, had planned for the forecasted hottest part of the day at 55 deg.F (12 deg.C) but then the temperature turned cool.  Should I add another box so they can grow into it before they swarm or should I wait for a few more weeks because the winter weather will return the latter part of February and into March?  Another box means they have to heat it.  I’ve got a dry sugar pad above the box as a just in case food source.

The log hive below looks very strong, lots of activity whenever the sun comes out and the temps are in the 50’s (10 C) bringing in pollen during January and February.  Those bees came from a feral tree hive.  I’m leaving them alone to fend for themselves.  I’m hoping the hive will act as an undisturbed ecosystem…bees adapting to survive mites and other pests.

Hope to have another log hive in place before they swarm.

Hollowing out the log  Carving the log

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Sandi works for a company that orders printing from me all the time.  Whenever she would call, I’d bore her with my excitement about bees.  At that point I didn’t have any bees and was building swarm bait hives, wondering where I could place them, and in general being hyper about getting some.  Eventually, I got some bees.  So when Sandi called in late June to say she had a swarm on her property and didn’t want them because she was allergic, I felt obligated to get them.  She had suffered through my bee-brain ramblings, so I better come through.  I was still smarting from the feral bee hive transfer to Bee Beard Log Hive and didn’t want a third hive, but there was a couple whose daughter had built them a top bar hive that needed bees.  I called them and yes, they still wanted bees.

I’m sure there are better ways to capture a swarm.  These bees were snug against the trunk of a small fir tree.  I couldn’t bend the tree over the bucket to shake them in so I just sort of ‘brushed’ them into the bucket…watching for the bees to stick there rear ends up and fan the pheramone…”the queen is in the bucket.”  Hearing the grandkids exclamations are priceless.

I don't understand it.  I got stung 25 times when transferring bees into Bee Beard and didn't swell up as much as this time with only 5 stings!

I don’t understand it. I got stung 25 times when transferring bees into Bee Beard and didn’t swell up as much as this time with only 5 stings!

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I’m happy to report my Bee Beard log hive came through the hurricane-force winds without getting blown over.  The bamboo and ‘staked’ hay bales must have protected it enough.

Since we are new to beekeeping  we try to pay attention to the advice of more experienced beekeepers.  We have been warned about robber bees attacking the hive…robbing the honey.  I shot this video in an effort to find out if my log hive is getting robbed.  I don’t know whether these are robber bees or just the normal activity of the hive.  They are still bringing in pollen so I’m assuming (naively?) it’s all normal behavior.  The bees came from a feral hive in a tree on private property.  Maybe it’s strong enough to defend itself.

A short video of my Warre Hive is included.  Much less activity can be seen around the Warre.  Is it because I’m feeding them sugar?  Maybe the bees don’t feel the need to venture out.

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In anticipation of the wet stormy weather that the Oregon Coast is known for, I closed up some gaps on the log hive with a bicycle inner tube.

Bee Beard gets a headband to protect against the cold winter winds.

Bee Beard with headband as seen from side

Bee Beard as seen through the observation window 10-8-12. Bee-built tunnels provide access to the honey.

The large number of unfilled cells is a concern, but the bees are still packing pollen, so hopefully they will get filled with something.

This truck inner tube covers the gaps in the ‘wood plug’ that covers the observation window. It’s removable so I’ll be able to look through the window from time to time.

This log hive has exceeded my expectations for the summer.  It has built up fast, didn’t swarm like my hive last year, (swarmed two months after I got it), and has out performed the Warre hive even though I got it going about the same time.  Now for the real test…will it make it through the winter?  I haven’t taken any honey from it, I’m not going to medicate or hang miticides, and I’m not going to feed it.  It came from a natural living tree hive and made it through the winter last year without intervention so I feel it has a good chance.  The only intervention I have given it is to peer through the window from time to time.  If I get a swarm from it next year, I’ll count it as a success.  Maybe I’ll have my next log hive set up in time.

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Quite a mouthful. This photo was taken the evening before.

The bees started being very active fairly early in the morning.  I ran to get the video camera to document what was going on.  They grouped up on the outside of the hive entrance.  The group slowly moved up the right side of the hive and then under the nose.  My wife thinks this was a bunch of drones hatching, because they look bigger.  I couldn’t get couldn’t get a good fix on the eye pattern.  The next day was normal activity.  Any ideas?  We welcome your comments.

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