Posts Tagged ‘natural beekeeping’

Grand Kids Log Hive

October 8.....Grand Kids Log hive might be showing signs of a comeback.

October 8…..Grand Kids Log hive might be showing signs of a comeback.

About a month ago, I was in despair about this hive.  The temperature had dropped, I saw drones flying out of the hive, and the number of bees around the entrance had declined.

Sept. 3...The temperature has dropped to 87˙F. I've seen this happen before. The temperature drops indicating there is no brood up here. It could just be that the eggs are being laid in a different section or that no eggs are being laid at all.

Sept. 3…The temperature has dropped to 87˙F. I’ve seen this happen before. The temperature drops indicating there is no brood up here. It could either be that the eggs are being laid in a different section or that no eggs are being laid at all.

Sept. 3.....I've been seeing more comb now. I'm not happy about it because it means there are fewer bees. What is happening?

Sept. 3…..I’ve been seeing more comb now. I’m not happy about it because it means there are fewer bees. What is happening?

Sept. 17...Then I saw a drone exiting. I took it to mean I had a laying worker. Not good. This hive is 'going down.'

Sept. 17…Then I saw a drone exiting. I took it to mean I had a laying worker. Not good. This hive is ‘going down.’

Sept. 21...The bee population is dwindling. What more evidence do I need that this hive is history.

Sept. 21…The bee population is dwindling. What more evidence do I need that this hive is history?

Oct. 4...Temp has risen 2˙F. What is happening?

Oct. 4…Temp has risen 2˙F.   That’s interesting.

Oct. 6...Are there more bees here?

Oct. 6…Are there more bees up there?

Oct. 17.....I had just visited a big hive that had gotten robbed out. I was worried these might be robber bees because when I looked inside the hive, the bees were running around on the inside of the hive.

Oct. 17…..It looks like there’s a lot more traffic here.  I hope they aren’t robber bees.

Oct. 23.....WOW! Look at all these bees inside!!! The hive must have superceded, but why had I seen a few drones last month?

Oct. 23…..WOW! Look at all these bees inside!!! The hive must have superceded, but why had I seen drones last month?

Note:  I asked this question on beesource web site.  Harley Craig answered  “…those drones could have been from anywhere in my limited experience when you see a lot of drone interest in a particular hive they typically have a queen getting ready to mate or just had one return.”  Maybe drones were already sniffing out a new prospect. 🙂

November 4...New comb has been built.  This new queen is ambitious, but is November a good month to be building new comb?

November 4…New comb has been built. This new queen is ambitious, but is November a good month to be building new comb?

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Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11, but that swarmed moved on without us capturing it.

Standing tall, Bee Beard Log hive is doing well since it was revived in August 2014. It swarmed at least once on May 11 of this year, but that swarm moved on without us getting it.

Sept. 23...Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 23…Lots of good orange pollen being carried into this hive. This hive will go into winter without me intervening in any way.

Sept. 17...These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I'm starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don't understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into the winter shadow.

Sept. 17…These birdhouse bees are doing so well, I’m starting to think that small bee hives are the way to go. This hive has no other openings other than the entrance. I don’t understand how they can survive without much ventilation, but they are doing well, which is a good way to head into their second winter shadow.

Here's a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

Here’s a closer look at the entrance showing how crowded they are.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in. This is at 125x (digital zoom) and not as sharp.

The video shows the amount of pollen flying in.

May 14...The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice went into swarm mode.

May 14…The day after the big swarm moved into the Grandkids Log hive, Bee-atrice log hive went into swarm mode.

May 14...Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I'm happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing lots of pollen. They can be seen flying well here... https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byp0gCTqCQ6rZjBJVmZOa0FJZzQ/view?usp=sharing

May 14…Ron got this one. He lives just up the road. I’m happy to report that Ron says they are doing well. They are active and bringing in lots of pollen.
They can be seen flying well here…

Sept. 23...I'm down to only one Warre hive now. It's doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive 'shuttered' in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I'll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Sept. 23…I’m down to only one Warre hive now. It’s doing well with lots of pollen coming in. You can see Bee-atrice Log hive ‘shuttered’ in the background. When the wasps were running rampant inside, I had to wrap it up. I’ll clean it out (scorch it) come spring and try to attract another swarm.

Bees head into the Warre loads of pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven't taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Bees head into the Warre loaded with pollen. This hive is heavy. I haven’t taken any honey from it. I think they will make it through the winter without me feeding.

Sept. 23, 2015...Sad to say, this hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.

Sept. 23, 2015…Sad to say, the Grand Kids Log hive is not going to make it. The temperature started falling in mid July, and now I see wasps nosing around and drones flying out.  The Grand Kids are back.

Sept. 3...Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 3…Temperature is down to 87F (30C)

Sept. 21...Looking up into the empty combs, this hive is clearly NOT going to make it. When the wasps start attacking, I'll plug up the entrances and wait until spring. Maybe I'll get lucky with another swarm...

Sept. 21…Looking up into the empty combs, I see a lack of bees.  Clearly the queen isn’t laying and I’ve seen a few drones exiting.   Footnote:  This hive must have superceded a queen, because there are not only new bees, but also new comb.  This is the only hive I can see from the house…from where I eat actually, and I gotta say, I’m so happy to see the bees flying to and from this hive when I sit down to eat!!!

Steve says his swarm 'is hanging in there,' but he's starting to feed again because they haven't built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

Steve says his swarm ‘is hanging in there,’ but he’s starting to feed again because they haven’t built up enough comb to get them through the winter.

We are headed into autumn with four hives, which is all I ever really wanted, but I had really hoped that Grand Kids Log hive would be among the survivors.  It begs the question…are smaller hives better?  I’m beginning to think so.  I’ve thought about partitioning off the big log hive, but then there might be air flow issues.  The birdhouse bees seem to deal with lack of air flow, so maybe it won’t be an issue.  Right now I’ll let nature take it’s course and hope I can attract another swarm in spring.

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The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well.  From the lobelia in the front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well. From the colorful lobelia in front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

July 3...Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

July 3…The Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

July 3...The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already.  It's older siblings can only watch with envy.

July 3…The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already. It’s older siblings can only watch with envy.

This deer seems to be asking me the question...

This deer seems to be asking me the question…”What are you doing out here at this time in the evening, this is MY time?”  In the video you’ll see why she looked up…she picked up the sound of the camera’s zoom lens.  Their hearing is phenomenal, but luckily their eyesight isn’t that good.  I’m standing in the sunlight just a short distance away, but she can’t see me very well.

Arrrgh!  Deer damage!

Arrrgh! Deer damage!

I'm not sure if there's any reason to net what's left of these potatoes.  They have been stripped of their leaves by the 'cute' deer. :(

I’m not sure if there’s any reason to net what’s left of these potatoes. They have been stripped of their leaves by the ‘cute’ deer. 😦

I mulched this corn in the morning...by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it.  A temporary fence is now in place to protect it...I hope it recovers.

I mulched this corn in the morning…by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it. A temporary fence is now in place to protect it…I hope it recovers.

This tomato's only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

This tomato’s only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice.   We're so happy to finally see the blooms, but we've yet to see the bees on them.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice. We’re so happy to finally see the blooms, but we’ve yet to see any bees on them.

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A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler.  I spotted it here before it took off.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler. I spotted it here before it took off.

June 19...Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

June 19…Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

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Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

 Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could.  Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down.  Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.


Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could. Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down hard. Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I've ever caught.  I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I’ve ever caught. I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

First bucket is full.

First bucket is full.

After another catch in the sack, this bucket was full.  The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time...

After another catch in the sack, this second bucket was full. The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time…

Even more bees in the bee vac which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid.  I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees.  I'm happy to report that no dead bees were found.  The dimmer switch worked perfectly.  Plans were found at beesource.com .

…which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid. I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees. I’m happy to report that no dead bees were found. The dimmer switch worked perfectly. Plans were found at beesource.com .

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it's safe to say, the queen is within.

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it’s safe to say, the queen is within.

Big Swarm has a new home.

Big Swarm has a new home.

June 18, 2015...Steve reports that his 'girls' are doing well.

June 18, 2015…Steve writes, “Just an update, “girls” doing well.  Happy pollinators week!

The above swarm worked out well, but it was only after we abandoned our efforts to try to bag the swarm below.

This was a 'pancake' swarm,' lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.   Are they going in? It looks like it...but they decided not to enter the bait hive.

This was a ‘pancake’ swarm,’ lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.
Are they going in? It looks like it…but they decided against it.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve's Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang...not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve’s Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang…not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I figured,

I figured, “okay, they made their choice,” but a couple of hours later, I found them going back to the Lang.

...all grouped up on the SIDE of the hive.

…eventually grouping up on the SIDE of the hive.

Since the swarm had been without water, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang.  They would have to go into it to access the sugar water.

Since the swarm had been without water or sustenance for a few days, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang. They would have to go into the hive to access the sugar water.  That ought to work…it didn’t.

Then the bees move over here about 5 feet.  I set up some moss water...

A day later, the bees moved over here about 5 feet away. I set up some moss water…

...and an inverted swarm catcher.  I called Steve saying I didn't think he would want this little swarm.  It's possible that it's a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can't fly.  He agreed.    Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge.  We both agree we're glad we waited.

…and an inverted swarm catcher. I called Steve saying I didn’t think he would want this little swarm. It’s possible that it’s a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can’t fly.
Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge. We both agree we’re glad we waited.

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May 31...The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work.  We like it so much we're going to add more on the other side.   The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we're growing...some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

May 31…The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work. We like it so much we’re going to add more on the other side.
The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we’re growing…some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung.  The bees probably don't care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung. The bees probably don’t care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

Are these drones?  It almost looks like it.  Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)...I'm hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. :)

Are these drones? It almost looks like it. Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)…I’m hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. 🙂

May 31...The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure.  This is a 'before' picture.

May 31…The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure. This is a ‘before’ picture.  I’d like to make a little path going past the hive and circling back past the sunflowers I just planted (if the slugs don’t eat them first.

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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. 🙂

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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