Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bees In Lavender

Originally uploaded by dmb90260
If you read the last post you saw this opening sentence "The Bees are being busy making honey and I have nothing to show about them for a while."

Hah! The bees were up to much more than making honey. After posting that entry I was doing things around the house including laundry. The bee hives are located by the outside wall next to the laundry room. As I was loading the dryer I heard a very loud and persistent buzzing outside. I checked the Twitchy bees, their hive is four supers high and could use another one soon. They were no more active than normal but four feet away the Playa Vista bees were in berserk mode. There were bees on the ground, on the front of the hive and zooming all around above the hive, lots of bees, very active bees.

The little dog in the previous post got curious and was wandering near the bees. Mainly out of concern for her I got her away and inside the house quickly. My other dogs have gotten bees tangled in their coats before, never stung, and now  know to leave the bees alone. The youngster has more to learn.

I knew the Playa Vista bees needed more room but with a road trip in mid-May and some dog activities I was slow in addressing the issue. I had to get some new hive boxes, nail them together and make and install the wax starter strip in the frames. Six days ago I finally completed that work and added a third box. Normally I would have swapped a couple full frames from the second super with a couple empty ones from the new addition. The bees looked happy and I was preoccupied with other things so I did not do the swap.  I did note a number of larger dark bees around the front of the hive. I was curious but not concerned with this, there did not seem to be any conflict between the normal small bees and the larger ones. Now I wonder if they were drones, going on or returning from a mating flight.

When I left the bees by the laundry room I did take time to note there was no fighting, my first guess for the cause of the activity.  It was mid morning and orientation flights here usually occur around 2-3PM so that was not the cause. Once I got the dogs in the house and secured I went back out and could see bees flying next to a persimmon tree across the back fence in the neighbor's yard.   I now had an idea of what was going on.

I went into the garage and donned my bee suit. Not positive of what was happening. I took a little longer so I could get my boots out of the truck also. I wanted to be protected just in case I found a big problem. I also went back and got my camera.

The activity around the hive had subsided but there were still bees on the ground and they were not fighting.  There were small feral bees and some of the larger ones.

The bees had swarmed and had settled on to a branch of the persimmon across the fence.  I had  been too late adding the third super.  Not only was I late, I was very late.  According to our Bee Leader, Kirk, when bees swarm, they made the initial decision to do that a month earler.  They had to make a swam cell, let it develop and then have the new queen make a mating flight, all before the swarm would happen.  It is not an overnight thing.  The super should have been added while I was off at a vintage trailer rally in May.
 
There is a raised planter along the fence in this area and they were not up high.  I was able to stand there and reach up to the swarm.  These were all small feral bees sort of light colored
I pushed an empty nuc up under the swarm and attached it with a bungie cord.  I have the branch a big shake and whacked the bottom of the box then left the bees for a while.  I went back and did the whack thing two more times. I could not see the Queen and wanted to be sure she was inside.   The bungie technique is very easy if you are not pressed for time and the swarm is where it does not attract undue attention.  You will be leaving it in place for long periods and you do not want some curiosity seeker to come investigate that whit box in a tree or bush.


  After an hour or so the bees had moved inside the nuc. ( I added the second bungie to make it more secure)
 I lowered the nuc to the fence and propped the lid on the nuc for another half hour so any stragglers could find the queen.
Since these neighbors do not know about my hives I moved it down directly on to the lavender bush, out of sight out of mind.  Later I settled the lid onto the nuc and added a strip of cardboard over the screen I had cut into the lid.  I may swap the screen lid for a solid one later.  Right now I want the to just settle in.   The hive can stay there as long as it is just the nuc.  A normal wooden super will not be able to stay there but this is okay for now.
I have to decide on what to do with the bees.  I do not really want another hive in my limited space but these are tiny feral bees and very easy to work.   I do not want to give them up.  I could give up the Twitchy bees instead but they have a four (soon to be five) super hive and are my honey makers for now.  I do need some honey out of this deal.
I just checked and the bees are still there but this is no guarantee they will stay.   I have had them stay overnight and still leave during the day.  



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perfect Dennis well done