Posts Tagged ‘Log hives’

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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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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January 14, 2013...a beautiful warm day brought the bees out to the heather.  I saw very few honeybees, but very many bombus Melanopygus (this one) and also Bombus vosnesenskii (yellow-faced bumbles)

January 14, 2013…a beautiful warm day brought the bees out to the heather. I saw very few honeybees, but very many bombus Melanopygus (this one) and also Bombus vosnesenskii (yellow-faced bumbles)
Here you can see the pollen release.  When the bee gets the nectar, the pollen shoots out.

Here you can see the pollen release. When the bee gets the nectar, the pollen shoots out.

As she grooms herself with her front legs, you can see what looks to be a static electricity charge on her bee fuzz...shows up better on the video.

As she grooms herself with her front legs, you can see what looks to be a static electricity charge on her bee fuzz…it shows up better on the video.

This short video shows a bumblebee (bombus Melanopygus) sipping nectar from heather in mid January.  As she sips, pollen can be seen shooting out.  Later she grooms herself.  I noticed what looked to be a static electricity charge when her front legs combed her fuzzy head.

I didn’t want to interrupt the music so I added some video of my Bee-atrice log hive which didn’t make it through the sub freezing weather.   I looked at a comb which had some capped honey as well as uncapped cells.  I replaced the comb in the hopes that this hive will attract a swarm in spring.

It should be raining sideways this month.  It’s not.  After our cold snap, we’ve been enjoying daytime temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s F. (10’s and 20’s C)  When I filmed this it was 71 F. (22 C).  Our honeybees love it.  They are bringing back yellow and orange pollen.  I can’t figure where they’re getting it because the pussy willows aren’t blooming yet, but traffic is heavy as can bee seen on the video.

This is my second winter with bees.  They don’t fly when it’s raining of course, but we do get breaks in the rain, the sun pops out and the bees are flying.  I feel bad for the beekeepers that must tuck their charges to bed in the autumn and trust they will emerge when the weather warms up sometimes months later.  I’m talking about people like Emily Heath among others in cold far away places. 🙂 I guess you could say I’m spoiled to be able to see them active during the winter.   I don’t know what will happen in spring.  It’s possible we’ll get our rain then…given the choice, I’d rather get it now.  In any case the bees are making use of the warm weather.

How are your bees?

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December 27...Bees in Bee Beard Log Hive have found a pollen source late in the year.

December 27…Bees in Bee Beard Log Hive have found a pollen source late in the year.  Natural comb can be seen in the rear.  In the video, the bees can be seen entering the hive and moving downward in front of the comb.

December 27...Warre Hive is being fed with a dry sugar mix consisting of green tea, chamomile tea, nettle leaf extract oil, and a few other little gems.  The sugar was placed on a 2" x 2" frame and positioned between the brood box and the quilt box, then sealed with red tape.

December 27…Warre Hive is being fed with a dry sugar mix consisting of green tea, chamomile tea, nettle leaf extract oil, cane sugar, and a few other little gems. The sugar was placed on a 2″ x 2″ frame and positioned between the brood box and the quilt box, then sealed with red tape.  I’m not real excited about  feeding sugar to the bees.  It’s possible that I won’t do that next year, but that’s what I said last year too.  It’s the only hive that is being fed this year.

December 27...Even this little hive was flying today.  The pink insulation is meant to cut the cold wind, but it still lets the hive breathe through the quilt box on top.

December 27…Even this little hive was flying today. The pink insulation is meant to cut the cold wind, but it still lets the hive breathe through the quilt box on top.

Status of hives one year ago

This short video shows the bees bringing in gobs of orange pollen.

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November 14...I finished her 'bird house' bonnet.  I hope she likes it.

November 14…I finished her ‘bird house’ bonnet and set it on her head last night after all the foragers were in.   I hope she likes it.

A closer look reveals the latest in the twigs and moss fashion.

A closer look reveals the latest in the twigs and moss fashion.

The bonnet fits on this quilt box filled with myrtlewood shavings.

The bonnet fits on this quilt box filled with myrtlewood shavings.  The quilt box keeps the ‘hive scent.’  The sides of the bonnet block the wind from entering the top crack between the quilt box and the top of the hive…the place the bees use to enter and leave the hive at this time.

It was not 'her style' and she was not afraid to complain about it.  "It's too plain," she says.  "I want something unique, like I am."

I had tried to go the ‘easy way,’ by using a Warre cover, but it wasn’t  ‘her style’ and she wasn’t afraid to complain about it. “It’s too plain,” she says. “I want something unique, like I am.”

This was the only way I could think of to cut off the

Since the bees were not using this mouth entrance, I wanted to reduce the amount of cold winter air blowing  into the hive.  My wife says I’m not allowed to make any snide comments about it.

Meet Bee-atrice…

The inside info on Bee-atrice

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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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Now to get the observation window panel in place.

Early 2012…The foundation is in place, now Hal will fit the window panel on.

Measuring the bolts

Measuring the bolts

Fitting the window plug.

Fitting the window plug.

Hope this caulk lasts for a while.

Sealing up the cracks.

What do you use to lift a large log over fence?  A large tractor of course.  LG demonstrates how to do it without smashing your fence.

What do you use to lift a large log over a fence? A large tractor of course. LG demonstrates how to do it without smashing your fence.

August 18, 2013 Log hive #2 built by Hal, owned by LG, is doing very well

August 18, 2013 Log hive #2 built by Hal, owned by LG, is doing very well

Log Hive #2 with lots of beautiful honey comb

Log Hive #2 with lots of beautiful honey comb

While visiting the 113 year old Gearhart ranch last week I had the occasion to ask LG, (the owner of the log hive) if he would show us the #2 log hive that Hal built for him last year.

The Story of Hal’s Bee Trees

Hal’s #3, #4, #5 Tall hives

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