Posts Tagged ‘Wild pollinators’

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

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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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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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…and gets it from the honeybees!

June 2, 2014...The pink poppy just opened up this morning.  Maybe that's why there are so many bees on it.  Many more than the red ones.

June 2, 2014…This pink poppy (Pink Princess) just opened up this morning. The honeybees seem to favor it over the red poppies..

By contrast, there is only one bee at a time on the red poppies.  Maybe they think it's more dignified. :-)

By contrast, there is only one bee at a time on the red poppies. Maybe they think it’s more dignified. 🙂

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May 29, 2014...At one time there were five bees in here.  By the time I grabbed the camera they had all left the scene.

May 29, 2014…My wife said there were five bees on this earlier, but when I grabbed the camera, I only caught one bee.

May 28, 2014...The New Zealand Cabbage trees are blooming.  Our bees love it.

May 28, 2014…My neighbor’s  New Zealand Cabbage trees are blooming. I’m glad it’s on someone else’s property because there is a strong odor associated with it.  Our bees love it.

May 28, 2014...New Zealand Cabbage has been blooming awhile.  There is  a strong odor that attracts the bees as they are numerous.

May 28, 2014…New Zealand Cabbage has been blooming awhile.  Our bees are all over it, all day.

May 27, 2014...A skipper is probing the depths for nectar.  In the video, you can see it try several spots before finally succeeding.  The bees love this plant as well.

May 27, 2014…A skipper is probing the depths of this Pink Chintz Thyme for nectar. In the video, you can see it try several spots before finally succeeding. The bees love this plant as well.

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…that’s when she called me.

May 1, 2014 Mid afternoon...Photo by Mary Schamehorn.  I'm glad Mary got a shot of this.  When I got there, they were relatively peaceful.

May 1, 2014 mid afternoon…Photo by Mary Schamehorn. I’m glad Mary got a shot of this. When I got there, they were relatively peaceful.

4:38 pm...By the time I got there, the bees had settled in.

4:38 pm…By the time I got there, the bees had settled within the birdhouse.  I looked at it, determined I could remove it from the post, and got my tools together.  Ha ha, the screws were rusty I couldn’t get them to budge before stripping them out.  I had to remove the post too.

I placed the birdhouse next to the newly assembled and baited  Warre hive.   I was hoping the bees would recognize a 4 star lodge with ample room to grow.

I placed it  next to the newly assembled and baited Warre hive in my bee garden.  I was hoping the bees would recognize a 4 star lodging with ample room to grow…they didn’t.  I gave them plenty of time to reconsider, but they weren’t having it.  I couldn’t leave them there, like that.  I didn’t want to grind the brackets off or pry the birdhouse floor off because it would have been too stressful.  “Dramatic and traumatic” are words I like to avoid in beekeeping.

Okay, I’ve got to move the birdhouse out of the bee garden because, well, we’ve got to be able to weed and water without the bees buzzing us.  After two days, I pre-dug a post hole, waited til night and ‘posted’ the birdhouse among the ferns about 20 feet away.  (Something most beekeepers would tell you NOT to do because the bees might not be able to find their way back to the hive.)  I stuffed tissue paper into the entrance hole so the bees would notice something was different.  They would have to make orientation flights all over again.  I’m thinking that maybe the Warre was too close to the birdhouse…if I move it away, maybe they will want it more.  My wife said I was crazy to think that.  I says, ‘maybe,’ but we’ve got to get it out of the way.

 

Next day, the birdhouse/hive is in it's new location.  The bees are aware something is different because of the tissue paper stuffed in the entrance hole.

Next day, the birdhouse/hive is in it’s new location. The bees are aware something is different because of the tissue paper stuffed in the entrance hole.

 

As I wife bicycled to town, I noticed a bunch of activity between the birdhouse and the Warre hive.  I got my camera to document my findings...I was going to have it on camera so I could show my wife I knew what I was doing.

As my wife bicycled to town, I noticed a bunch of activity between the birdhouse and the Warre hive. I got my camera to document my findings…I was going to have it on camera so I could show her I knew what I was doing.  They are fanning from the nasonov gland to indicate the queen is within.  Wow, that didn’t take long.  My wife is going to have to admit I was right, but I’ll be humble and admit it’s just a stroke of luck.  But it was too good to be true.  By the time she returned the crowd at the entrance was thinning and the bees rejected this hive once again.

 

Here is where they will stay.  It's the house they chose and while the location has changed a few times, the house is the same.

Here is where they will stay. It’s the house they chose and while the location has changed a few times, the house is the same.  I just wish I could have fastened it to a taller post.

Mary's bees have settled in now.  They have discovered the Poached egg meadowfoam.

Mary’s bees have settled in now. They have discovered the Poached egg meadowfoam.

Mary's bee cleaning off her antennae.  How do I know they are Mary's bees?  The abdomen colors are different.  I'm happy to get new genetics in my bee yard.

Mary’s bee cleaning off her antennae. How do I know they are Mary’s bees? The abdomen colors are different. I’m happy to get new genetics in my bee yard.

Mayor Mary’s side of the story…   (Scroll towards the bottom til you see the birdhouse swarm)

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March 6, 2014...Cocoons transferred from refrigerator to this "Launch Box," ready for action.

March 6, 2014…Cocoons transferred from refrigerator to this “Launch Box,” ready for action.  There should be about 100…

Launch box complete with about 100 cocoons.

Launch box complete with about 100 cocoons.

March 6, 2014...first set of Mason bee blocks set up on new shelf.

March 6, 2014…first set of Mason bee blocks set up on new shelf.

March 30, 2014...We have lift-off.  After 24 days of anxious waiting, we see a bee emerge.

March 30, 2014…We have lift-off. After 24 days of anxious waiting, we see a bee emerge.

I'm guessing this is a female.  I'm so relieved to see them, because after pulling them out of their tubes last year, I wondered if I had handled them too roughly.

HB says this is a male.  You can see a little yellow fuzz on the face and it has long antenna.  I’m soooo relieved to see bees, because after pulling them out of their tubes last year, I wondered if I had handled them too roughly.

March 30, 2014...I'm guessing this is a male mason bee.  The males live but a few days.  After they mate with the female, they die.

March 30, 2014…I’m guessing this is a male mason bee. (“Not so fast, Pat”.  HB says this is a FEMALE) The males live but a few days. After they mate with the female, they die.

A female has already chosen her first tube.

A female has already chosen her first tube.

Carolyn Prola, author and historian who lives in Myrtle Point, Oregon, shows off her Mason bees.  Her bees are ahead of mine by a week or two.  Carolyn is responsible for getting me back into Mason bees after a couple of false starts.

Last year’s Mason bee beginnings

Last year’s Mason bee successes

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