Posts Tagged ‘Swarms’

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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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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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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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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The Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher is called into action.

Whenever we find a swarm much above eye level,  the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher is called into action.  You can make one by cutting the bottom out of a plastic flower pot and attaching a cloth sack.  The height is adjustable by the length of bamboo used.  Many thanks to Don Steinkraus for writing about it, and Terry Kelly of Berkeley for sending it to me.  It’s invaluable.

I consider myself a ‘natural beekeeper.’  I don’t make splits, raise my own queens, or buy package bees.  I let the bees swarm.  I believe in the adage, “Swarming Bees are Healthy Bees.”  Having said that, when the bees swarm, we have to catch them.  If they swarm into the bamboo, it’s lower to the ground, but difficult to get.  If they swarm into the spruce tree, they generally cluster up high.  The first one this year formed high, then re-formed to a lower more reachable area.

Pipe hangers to attach a length of bamboo.

Pipe holders for a length of bamboo to slip into.

Sew in a curve to avoid trapping bees in a corner.

Sew in a curve to avoid trapping bees in a corner.

Velcro attaches the sack to the cut off flower pot.

Velcro attaches the sack to the cut off flower pot.My first swarm this year happened last week.  I was busy with printing deadlines when my wife shouted, “WE HAVE A SWARM!”  The bees seem to like this spruce tree.  It’s been the scene for three swarms now, two of which we have caught.

Centering the catcher under the swarm.

Centering the catcher under the swarm.

The idea is to position the catcher under the swarm before bumping the branch to make the bees fall directly into the sack.  Last year I was able to ‘pop’ the branch upward to get a bunch of bees all at once.  This time it didn’t go as planned.  The bees clung to the branch.  When I ‘popped the branch,’  They started flying around and getting all defensive.  The camera lady was concerned (maybe because we were both getting stung) so we didn’t get the action on video.  The next morning we were more successful.  We trimmed a few branches and I was able to ‘pop’ the branch from above.  The bees fell into the sack, the sack was emptied into the empty Warre, and all is well as of day 4.

April 15, 2014...This is day 4.  I'm assuming the bees have decided to stay.

April 15, 2014…This is day 4. I’m assuming the bees have decided to stay.

April 15, 2014...the bees can be seen through the observation window.  Chaining to 'measure' for building natural comb.

April 15, 2014…the bees can be seen through the observation window. Chaining to ‘measure’ for building natural comb.

I've heard about this bee sting remedy...soften up the end of a clove of garlic.  Rub it onto the sting.  It seems to relieve the pain and the swelling.

I’m sure you’ve seen the you-tube video of the guy putting his  bare hand into a swarm of bees.  As I suited up to get this newly formed swarm, I’m thinking, “what a sissy I am.  The swarm just formed, they’re not going to sting.”  Let’s just say, I’m glad I was suited up.  I was able to give this bee sting remedy a good test.  By softening up the end of a clove of garlic, rubbing it onto the stings to relieve the pain and the swelling, I can report that it worked well on all our stings.

I have to thank Ron of www.biobees.com.  If you daub some of this around the sting area, it will cover up the bee's alarm pheramone...just don't daub it on your sting because it can be much more painful than the sting itself.

I found out about peppermint oil from one of the bee forums.  If you daub some of it around the sting area, it will cover up the bee’s alarm pheromone…just don’t daub it directly on your sting because it can be much more painful than the sting itself.  Believe me, I know.

Catching the bees  into the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher video

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