Posts Tagged ‘Log hives’

Many thanks to Steve Montana for permission to use his music.

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September 8, 2014...Post swarm day 33.  There's a shadow across her face.  I hope that's not a bad sign, but the bee math doesn't look good for her.

September 8, 2014…Post swarm day 33. There’s a shadow across her face. I hope that’s not a bad sign, but the bee math doesn’t look good for her.

I’ve looked at various charts explaining Bee Math, but I like the way Michael Bush puts it best…”If a hive just swarmed today, how long before the new queen is laying? Assuming this was the primary swarm, it usually leaves the day the first queen cell gets capped. So that means a new queen will emerge in 8 days. That queen may leave with another swarm or the workers may allow her to kill all the others and stay. Assuming she kills all the others (which are staggered in age, so they will emerge at different times if they do afterswarm) then she should be laying most likely two weeks later. So that’s about three weeks give or take a week. (two to four weeks).”

Bee-atrice swarmed a month and two days ago.  That makes it 33 days…(well past four weeks) She had built up fast having gotten occupied by a wild swarm only two months prior on June 6, 2014.

July 27, 2014...The most advanced stage of comb building before the swarm on August 7.  (I had planned to post a two month update on her strong progress, but she up and swarmed on me)

July 27, 2014…The most advanced stage of comb building before the swarm on August 7. (I had planned to post a two month update on her strong progress, but she up and swarmed on me)

 

August 8, 2014...Bee-atrice through the observation window exactly one month ago.  This shows how much comb was built in the two months the wild swarm occupied her.  This is the day after she had swarmed.

August 8, 2014…Bee-atrice through the observation window exactly one month ago. This shows how much comb was built in the two months the wild swarm occupied her. This is the day after she had swarmed.

August 8, 2014...Temperature holding steady at 93F.

August 8, 2014…Temperature holding steady at 93F…good for brood rearing.

September 8, 2014...And this is today.  Doesn't look like any more comb has been built, The number of bees hasn't increased.

September 8, 2014…And this is today. Doesn’t look like any more comb has been built, The number of bees hasn’t increased, and…

...and this is the awful final sign that things are not going well.  62F (16C) means there is no brood being laid.

…and this is the awful final sign that things are not going well. 62F (16C) means there are no eggs being laid.

Maybe I’m wrong, but math is math, and the numbers don’t look good for Bee-atrice.

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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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August 7, 2014...Nobody wants to see an August swarm.  Yet here it is.

August 7, 2014…Nobody wants to see an August swarm. Yet here it is.

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.

July 9, 2014...After only one month the comb has been built where it's becoming visible in the observation window.  These bees are serious.

July 9, 2014…After only one month the comb has been built where it’s becoming visible in the observation window. These bees are serious.

July 14, 2014...Comb is already touching the window

July 14, 2014…Comb is already touching the window.  The mouth entrance is seen at the lower middle.

July 18, 2014...Three combs are inching their way down the window.

July 18, 2014…Three combs are inching their way down the window.

July 23, 2014...The observation window is filled with bees and comb.

July 23, 2014…The observation window is filled with bees and comb.

 

July 23, 2014...Bee-atrice's bees have settled in nicely.

July 23, 2014…Bee-atrice’s bees have settled in nicely.  This picture shows the bees and naturally built comb…no pink plastic foundation here!

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.

August 8, 2014...After Bee-atrice swarmed, brood temperature is holding steady.

August 8, 2014…After Bee-atrice swarmed, brood temperature is holding steady.

August 10, 2014...A look through the observation window shows many fewer bees after the swarm.

August 10, 2014…A look through the observation window shows many fewer bees after the big swarm left..

Now we wait and worry for the emerging virgin queen to come back alive and inherit the hive…fingers crossed.

Bee Math for Bee-atrice

Bee Beard is Back!!!

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7-23-14...Bee Beard log hive is getting robbed by one of my other hives.  That's no surprise.  It's been on a downward path for awhile.  Is it because it robbed out a hive that had nosema ceranea?  I don't know but it's possible.

7-23-14…Bee Beard log hive is getting robbed by one of my other hives. That’s no surprise. It’s been going down  for a while. Is it because it robbed out a hive that had nosema ceranea? I don’t know but it’s possible.

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.

August 3, 2014...I was resigned in my mind to let the wax moths clean out Bee Beard log hive until I saw this Bald Faced Hornet exiting the hive at the side entrance.

August 3, 2014…I was resigned in my mind to let the wax moths clean out Bee Beard log hive until I saw this Bald Faced Hornet exiting the hive at the side entrance.

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.

August 3, 2014...I started taking Bee Beard apart by pivoting the hat.  I was surprised it came apart so easily.

August 3, 2014…I started taking Bee Beard apart by pivoting the hat. I was surprised it came apart so easily.

Getting the quilt box out proved to be difficult, more so than this picture implies.

Getting the quilt box out proved to be difficult, more so than this picture implies.

Inside Bee Beard with about half the comb dug out.  I decided to take it all out just in case it was infected with something.

Inside Bee Beard with about half the comb removed. I decided to take it all out just in case it was infected with something.

Bee Beard log hive, down for the count.  I had cleaned it out.

Bee Beard log hive, down for the count. I had cleaned it out.

A pile of old comb came out of Bee Beard.  I considered saving it, but maybe it's infected...better not.  I'll build a solar wax melter.

A pile of old comb came out of Bee Beard. I considered saving it, but maybe it’s infected…I better not. I’ll build a solar wax melter.

 

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…

The Swarm’s Back Story…

Bee Beard is Back!

 

 

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June 8, 2014...Bee-atrice has BEES.  It's been a rough time for her, but I think this one will take.

June 8, 2014…Bee-atrice has BEES. It’s been a rough time for her, but I think this one will take.

June 16, 2014...10th day of bees in Bee-atrice.  I think they will stay this time.

June 16, 2014…10th day of bees in Bee-atrice Log Hive.   I think they will stay this time.

While I was out of town, a huge prime swarm chose Bee-atrice Log Hive for a home.  I knew if we waited long enough, we’d get lucky…I just wish I could have witnessed the swarm moving in.  Bee-atrice was happy.  She had been rejected twice.  I had tried to console her after she had been rejected by two small swarms that I had given her.  I told her that “rejection” might more appropriately be referred to as “redirection.”  Those small swarms would not have made it anyway.  I told her that she just had to be patient until the right swarm came along.

April 27, 2014...Pat drops the little cast swarm into Bee-atrice.  They stay a total of two days, then take off to parts unknown.

April 27, 2014…I drop the little cast swarm into Bee-atrice log hive. They stay a total of two days, then take off for parts unknown.

May 25, 2014...A second chance presents itself, in the form of a swarm in the apple tree.  I get the swarm bucket ready.

May 25, 2014…A second chance presents itself, in the form of a swarm in the apple tree.   I bag it and drop it into Bee-atrice.  I thought for sure it would stay, but after 8 days, it took off for the Asian Pear tree.  I started thinking something was wrong with Bee-atrice…then it dawned on me…maybe I was the problem.  Maybe I should just back off and let nature take it’s course…thirteen days later (while I’m away), a huge swarm picks out Bee-atrice.   She later tells me, SHE rejected those little swarms, not the other way around.  I guess she didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

June 9. 2014...lots of bee traffic at the entrance.

June 9. 2014…lots of bee traffic at the entrance.

June 10, 2014...This is the first time I've ever seen 94 degrees register on the thermometer.  This is the optimal temperature for brood.

June 10, 2014…This is the first time I’ve ever seen 94F degrees (34C) register on the thermometer. This is the optimal temperature for brood.  Three days ago it read 60 degrees (the ambient temperature)

June 9, 2014...the bees can be seen through the observation window.  If they stay, we'll be able to watch the comb building process.

June 9, 2014…the bees can be seen through the observation window.  If they stay, we’ll be able to watch the comb building process.

June 16, 2014...10th day, natural comb can be seen already, through the top side entrance.

June 16, 2014…10th day, natural comb can be seen already, through the top side entrance.

June 19, 2014...Day 13, this is where the bees hang out at night while they are waiting for the comb to be built.

June 19, 2014…Day 13, this is where the bees hang out at night while they are waiting for the comb to be built.

June 19, 2014...In this slightly out of focus shot, you can see how far the bees have built the natural comb...almost to the top of the observation window...a length of about 14 inches (35 cm).

June 19, 2014…Day 13, in this slightly out of focus shot, you can see how far the bees have built the natural comb…almost to the top of the observation window…a length of about 14 inches (35 cm).

Drones dropping down every time I uncover the observation window…

The carving of Bee-atrice.

Getting her ready for a swarm last year.

Bee-atrice’s debut

A Bonnet for Bee-atrice

Two month’s later Bee-atrice’s swarm chooses Bee Beard Log Hive

 

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May 11, 2014...This little nuc hive survived the winter without any help from me.  No sugar feeding or pollen paddies. (Tough love)

May 11, 2014…This little nuc hive survived the winter in a tree without any help from me. No sugar feeding or pollen paddies supplied. (Tough love) No honey was taken.  It came from a swarm on April 18, 2013.  Now it’s ready to swarm.

Bees revving it up to make their move

Bees revving it up to make their move

Ten minutes later, the bees appear to be headed back into the hive.

Ten minutes later, the bees appear to be headed back into the hive.  Later in the day, all was quiet.

May 19, 2014 (8 days later)...A swarm starts to form in the bamboo.   Could this be two swarms from the same hive?

May 19, 2014 (8 days later)…A swarm starts to form in the bamboo.
Could this be two swarms from the same hive?

May 19, 2014...While the swarm is forming on the bamboo, bees are fanning at entrance to tree hive.

May 19, 2014…While the swarm is forming on the bamboo, bees are fanning at the entrance to the tree hive.

By late afternoon, all the bees returned to the tree hive.

May 20, 2014 (next day)...A small swarm in the blackberries...

May 20, 2014 (next day)…A small swarm in the blackberries…

...and a small swarm in the bamboo.

…and a small swarm in the bamboo.

Again, a small group of bees are fanning at the entrance, while other bees are flying around the two swarms.

Again, a small group of bees are fanning at the entrance to the tree hive, while other bees are flying around the two swarms.

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.

May 21...I checked to see if the swarm was still in the bamboo this morning.  It was.

May 21…I checked to see if the swarm was still in the bamboo this morning. It was.

A closer look reveals that while small, this swarm might be big enough to make it.

A closer look reveals that while small, this swarm might be big enough to make it.  I called Bob to see if he still was interested in getting  swarms for his Kenyan Top Bar Hives.  He was.

Bob bags his first swarm.

Bob bags his first swarm.  Bee Beard Log Hive looks on, as patient and quiet as ever.

Bob said he was interested in getting the blackberry swarm too.  It went very well.  Here the bees are fanning to indicate the queen is within.

Bob said he was interested in getting the blackberry swarm too. It went very well. Here the bees are fanning to indicate the queen is within.

Bob was patient when I asked him to pose with the blackberry swarm in bucket...hey, I've got to bid them 'goodbye.'

Bob gets his second swarm.  “Two in one day,” not bad for a new beekeeper!

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