Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bees in California, the Winter of 2009-10


This is my niece's hive and Nutcracker/Beekeeper, a perfect beekeeper Christmas decoration.. They live in the hills above Oakland, CA so the bees are still snuggled in for the winter. You will find her blog at Wonderfarm. With the normal wetter and colder weather in No Cal she has not posted much on bees for a while but there are older posts about the arrival and installation of her hive. This time of the year we all search for things to post.

video

In Southern CA there almost always a bee season, even though some claim a dearth this time of the year, given a chance the bees find something to harvest. This may be New Years to the two legs but it is just another work day for the Twitchy Bees. They just keep on working. This video is a normal day for the Twitchers. This video was shot around noon on a semi-sunny day. The same rate of activity occurs on most days with decent weather. They are usually out well before 7AM PT, the earliest I have checked. They keep this up until dusk. About 3P each day things get even more active when the the Orientation flights occur daily. Thanks to my Secret Santa I got a Flip Video camera for Christmas which I used to shoot this particular video.. It is very easy to work but I have to learn a couple extra steps to get the videos to upload to Blogger.
In another week or so I plan to make an extensive examination of the hive. With the Flip Video Camer and the Canon Rebel EOS Digital 35mm I also received you can be sure there will be more and much abetter pictures for the Blog.

Happy New Year and may the Bees be with you.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Bee Vac and Seasons Greetings

The Bee-Vac information is coming but first you have to visit my dogs. These guys will pose for seasonal pictures, the bees won't.


The puppies, Vero, Decker, Ace, Joi, born Oct 1, 2009. They are with the breeders of Deuce and Betty, Marie & Tom Quarles in Oregon. They will keep two puppies and two have their new homes already selected. (That is a hired Santa, not me.)

Mama Betty

Step Dad Deuce who stayed home with me. Betty is flying back home on New Years Eve.
Seasons greetings to everyone.
**************
Yesterday at the Backwards Beekeepers meeting, Steve Rosales brought along his Bee Vac and explained how it worked. I did not have my lap top and did not recall the site where Steve found the plans for the Bee Vac. After I got home found the link.

Robo's Bee Vac

The evolution of the Bee Vac and construction directions are posted on Robo's World BushKill Bee Blog. There are also large number of posts from people who built their Bee Vacs from his plans. I strongly suggest reading or at least checking over the posts for more suggestions and improvements. Robo does respond to any questions. One question that comes up in in regard to the size of the vacuum motor. Lower horse power vacs, 2-4hp, will work but the problem comes when the actual bee vac cannot get close to the hive or swarm. This requires a longer hose and the longer the hose, the less effective the vacuum becomes. If you look at the pictures of the recent capture where I assisted Steve, you will notice the actual Bee Vac and capture box are on top of a couple more hive boxes. This was done to get it closer to the bees and not lose suction. These are things you remember through experience, it was a good thing Steve was in charge. He plans his operations very thoroughly.
It has been suggested that a non-ribbed hose might be easier on the bees than the usual vac hose and a foam pad mounted at the end of the "in-box" might help also. That could be true but Steve has found a very minimal number of dead bees at the bottom of the box after he moves the hive body to its permanent site. The number is so small as to be inconsequential if you do not have the vac running at full strength.
Another thing he does is bring along a small plastic container with a lid plus some tweezers. He uses those to collect the queen if he sees her. That way she will not be injured going through the vac system and once she is inserted into the new hive body the other bees will stay with her.
Make sure you have some duct tape along to seal the hive box and bee vac sections together when transporting it back the new site. With just the strap holding things together it is easy to knock the pieces out of alignment and leave escape points for the bees. (I speak from experience.) Bring along an old sheet to toss over the hive/vac in case it gets tipped over or anything in transit.
Other handy items are extra extension cords, plenty of smoker materials and something to light it with. I like having a small table to cut down any brood comb to fit frames. I no longer get down on my knees to work unless absolutely necessary. Bring along several clean buckets with lids for holding honey comb, brood comb and any trash comb and keep the bees out of them as you work. You should have several hive bodies with empty frames in case the capture hive turns out to be very large. In addition you will need more hive boxes with empty frames for the brood comb along with knives for cutting it down to the proper size and rubber bands or string to tie it in place.
Collecting a hive/swarm may not be a fast operation unless it is very small so plan things carefully and bring some water to drink and leave enough time for the operation. One thing about Steve is that he is very deliberate and careful with the bees, that is the main reason he loses so few of them. Rushing will cost you some bees and maybe the Queen, not a good thing.

If you are not good with wood working or don't have the tools, Robo may be able to help you with a bee vac. Check his blog and contact him.
I would like to take this time to thank him for posting the information on Bee Vac and thank Steve for inviting me to assist him collecting. Find another novice beekeeper in your area and ask for help, most are grateful for the experience. An extra pair of hands or two is very beneficial
I have an extra bee hat and veil which I bring to allow neighbors to get a close up look if they want to, just good public relations and dispelling some of the Killer Bee myths.
If you have any questions, use the thing off to the right to contact me. Bear in mind I do not have a Bee Vac yet but I am doing some work for a friend and he will pay me with some choice wood work that may look like a bee vac.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
Be good to the bees and your Honey.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Gift Of Bees

It is the time of year when you may feel like assisting others. Given the financial problems that many face, most of you will be helping locally. However, there is a way to reach beyond our national borders and assist others.

Heifer International provides a way to help the needy another way. Your donation can go to buying a heifer, a goat or even some BEES in another country. You select which project you want your donation to go to.

Keep the Spirit of the Season going whether it is a Gift of Bees or some canned goods taken to your local shelter.