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.

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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Feral Hive - New Home - Redondo Beach

Steve Rosales contacted me a couple weeks ago. He had located a hive of bees in a tree that needed to be moved. They were not up high and could be reached with a small ladder. This matters to me, I rarely go past the third step of any ladder.

Today was the day but first I needed some waffles cooked on my Cast Iron. This is not bee related, I just love my Cast Iron and waffles in the morning.

We got to the site and Steve found a lonesome drone walking around the ground. He was symptomatic of this hive. They were extremely quiet and easy to work with. No stings at all except at the very end. I figure that lone bee was annoyed with being sucked up by the bee vac and wanted some revenge. The home owner said no one had ever been stung by these bees,

This was our target. It looked like a large swam but the bees had been living there for 3-4 months. They did not sting anyone but they scared people. This tree was right next to the sidewalk.
It was a nice rounded V-shaped hive.

Steve hooked up his weapon of choice, the mighty Bee Vac. The two white pieces and the hive body between are part of the Bee Vac, The other two hive boxes were just to give it a little height and allow us to reach the bees better. This is a 5HP Sears shop vac. It sucks the bees in the bottom white section. The suction pulls through the middle hive box ot the top white piece which is closed off with a screen. There are some bee losses with this but it is much better than the exterminator. We can adjust the air pressure of the Bee Vac so the bees are not slammed into the hose or hive. A high percent of the bees do survive.

We were well supplied with empty hive boxes, nuc's and spare frames. The Home Depot orange buckets make good storage containers for honey and brood comb as it is removed.

Steve did most of the bee collecting. The new beekeeper Ed Garcia was filming the event for posterity and jumping in to help when he could. The neighbors came over for a glance from time to time but most kept a good distance.

Slowly sucking in the bees the comb was revealed. There were 5-6 large comb sections fully entwined in the branches and some old Christmas tree wires. It was well secured and safe from all but the biggest winds. . As Steve removed the bees he took down the comb in as large sections as he could. With the branches coming in and out of the comb it was not easy to get big pieces. Steve takes great care to preserve the comb.

The comb that was clearly honey was placed in one bucket and brood comb into another. As ir came available I took the brood comb and cut it down to size to fit the empty frames. We ended up with 6 frames of brood that was set aside and later put into the large hive box which would be the base for the hive. Over time the bees will connect all the comb bits and pieces and seal it into the frame. When that is done they will bite though the rubber bands and toss them out of the hive.
Can't you hear the workers talking.. "Jane, it is your turn to bite through that rubber and not get killed! Good Luck! " (Girl name used on purpose, all working bees are females.)

Between filming Ed was assisting Steve and up on the ladder sucking in bees and removing the last comb bits. As mentioned earlier, I am a ground sort of bee guy. Tall helps in getting to them but workers willing to stand on a ladder and use both hands to work are extremely helpful. A number of bees clustered on the branches but they were collected too. We did not see the queen but Steve is very methodical probably got her as he worked.

The bees are now at their new house. The bottom box contains the frames I filled with Brood Comb. The upper box is the one we collected the bees in and is filled with empty frames. There are still bees in the bottom piece off to the side of the hive , it is the bottom of the Bee Vac system . It will stay there for the day so the stragglers can crawl into the hive. They just want to find the queen. Ed's home-made lid works very well, it has plenty of space between the top and the frames. Steve was able to put the honey on top of the frames under the top so the bees have plenty to eat as they get used to their new home. Doing a methodical, non-fatal bee collection is not fast work. This job took about four hours with all of us working. It was a good way to start the day.

Ed will be editing down his work the next few days and it will show up on YouTube. When it does, you will find a link him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Family Cut-Out

The Beekeepers, Marcus and Bonnie Taylor, fellow members of the Backwards Beekeepers.

One of the assistant beekeepers, in a true beekeeping family, everyone helps.

The target

It took some extra work to gain entry but...

This is what they found inside.

But you need to read the whole story of Bonnie and the Wild Bees!!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,
or How to Make a Thousand Mistakes and Still Capture a Beehive
by Bonnie Taylor

For the last couple of weeks we've been keeping an eye on a hive in a large plywood box t the back of a neighboring vacant property. The box was about 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide by 4 or 5 feet long at the very back of the property. We were faced with a problem -- try to cut them out now, or leave them over the winter at the mercy of a real estate agent, anybody who might be hired to do a clean-up job, or a possible new owner. With some encouragement from Kirk and other Backwards Beekeepers, we decided to go for it. We had no idea what we were in for!

We were a crew of five: my husband Marcus and I (Bonnie) and three of our four children, helping out in the adventure. We had lots of info from months of research, and zero experience! The plan was to get started on Friday, just as I was about to get into my bee suit, I started feeling bad, and the next thing I knew, I lost my breakfast (food poisoning?) and Marcus followed not long after. By Saturday we felt fine, though. We got busy finishing up painting the hive boxes and stand, and didn't get our suits on until around 1:30pm. We should have started at 9 am! We opened up the hive and it turned out to be BIG. We thought we were well-prepared with 2 nucs and 2 five gallon buckets That turned out to be not enough!

The hive took up about 1/3 of that big box. It was full of old junk -- miscellaneous engine equipment, a toilet seat, and a rat's nest. Mr. Rat ran out as soon as we smoked up his house a bit. We pried up the lid to see where the hive started, and Marcus used his saw to cut the lid so we'd have better access. The comb was built diagonally across a corner of the box -- about 12 rows of it, all tangled up in the junk. My husband got busy cutting it out, while I tried to fit the stuff he cut into the frames with rubber bands to hold it. This is a lot trickier than it looks, especially when you've got bulky gloves on. The rubber bands got stuck in the cracks at the ends of the frames, and when I tried to roll the bands over to put them in place, I'd end up squishing bees, squishing the comb, or having a rubber band break. Several times I cut it too small, and the comb fell out. Meanwhile, my husband was having a lot more luck cutting the comb out than I was getting it into frames. It was piling up!

The Good: My teenage daughter Madison was our photographer, and she got braver and braver as the process continued. Wearing no veil or gloves, she got up close enough to take all the pics. She got the first sting when she put her hand down on a bee and it got her palm. She said, " Is this supposed hurt?" My son (age 11) was in the middle of everything with only a veil and gloves. Pretty soon the gloves were off and he was licking up the honey along with the bees. He got stung on the finger, and the arm. He rubbed some dirt on it, and called it good. Don't you just love little boys? He later got stung again when a little cluster dropped on his shoe and two more went up his pant leg. He ran off dancing, but refused to take any Benadryl. He was back soon right in the middle of everything. My youngest daughter (age 7) just loved watching everything. She had a veil, and she helped with the smoker and with fetching and carrying. What an amazing learning experience for us all.

The Bad: I looked at the sun and knew we had about 45 minutes of daylight left. I worked as hard as I could trying to find brood comb to cut out into rectangular frame shapes. Half the time they ended up looking like trapezoids, and it was really hard to get them into the frames. The next thing I knew, the sun was down, the comb was all cut out of the box, and only a few of the bees were in the nucs. I had filled both buckets with comb, and realized we needed to figure out what to do. We tried brushing the bees into the nucs, but there was too much junk in the box to get them under where the bees were bearding, and we had left too much comb hanging on the side -- they were clinging to it fiercely.

The Ugly: At this point, we felt like complete and utter failures. We had taken all of the beautiful work of the bees and trashed it like a couple of dumb bears. It was now really dark, and we felt like the only thing to do at that point was to put the nucs inside the box as best we could, and cover the whole thing up with a tarp. We weighed down the tarp with some rocks, and took the walk of shame back down the hill, feeling like we were leaving the bees to die a cold death because of our stupidity and inexperience. To make matters worse, we thought we might have killed or lost the queen. Towards the end, I had even quit looking carefully at the comb for eggs and uncapped brood. I never saw any. For all I knew, the hive would also be unable to requeen itself because I'd started throwing comb in buckets to get it out of the way after dark. To make matters worse, we wouldn't be able to get back to the mess we left until Sunday afternoon. I'm a volunteer pastor at our church, and we both had commitments there Sunday morning. Both of us had nightmares about bees dying and vowed that even though we had utterly messed up, we would try again in spring.

When we finally got back up there, we were happy to find that there were still thousands of bees bearding on the wall in the grooves an inch or so deep where the combs had been. Still only a few bees in the nucs. At this point, we decided to be smart and call Kirkobeeo. He told us to pull the wall of the box off, and whack it over the nucs (we ended up doing it over a hivebox and a nuc because it was so big. Whoosh! In they went! We whacked, waited 20 minutes, whacked again, waited again, etc. I had a little bitty whisk broom and dust pan, and we cleared up little clusters here and there as best we could. The bees were finally staying in the box! Whew! Several phone calls and a couple hours later, all was well, and the bees were all climbing in the box. We left to get some dinner. A couple hours later, we went back up with a flashlight and all the bees were hunkered down for night. We put the entrance reducer on, and covered up the hive (loosely) with the tarp to help keep out the wind.

I am quite happy to report that in spite of our blundering, the bees are doing very well! They were really crowded in the first box, so today I added some frames with starter strips and another empty box on top and fed them some of their honey in bag. They were very happy and we had only given them a little hint of smoke. The honey is amazing -- dark, buckwheat and wildflower, I'm guessing. We're saving it all to feed them. I don't feel like I can quite call myself a beekeeper yet, as these gentle girls still haven't stung me!

Some pictures are here:

A million thanks to you, Kirk for all your help!

-Bonnie :)

ED Note: There are many more great pictures on the site listed above. Do go look at it and you will not be disappointed. Thanks to Bonnie for allowing this cross post of her message.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Twitchy is Good.

When Kirk supplied these bees he mentioned they were twitchy. That is his term of bees that want to do things their way and do not care for human interference. These are definitely twitchy, not Africanized, just twitchy. I have been stung on the head because I was too close to the hive and did not have my bee hat on. They do come and check me out if I am too close or trying to work on the hive. The head stings were because they got caught in my hair, not because they were attacking me or I would have a lot more bees up there.

That being said, these are very hard working bees. I had planned on doing an inspection today but when I went out they were very busy. I had my Droid phone in hand and decided to try my hand at using the video camera. It cannot zoom or anything but it takes good video. You can clearly see how busy these guys were. They did not need me to be poking around the hive so the inspection has been put off. This type of fervent activity is not at all unusual for this group of bees. They are at work constantly. This is not the Orientation Flight activity or bees robbing. All the bees are checked before they are allowed in. I do want to see how much work they have done since I was end at the first of the month. They are constantly bringing pollen and I have no idea where they are getting it this time of the year. Twitchy but very hard working, as far as I am concerned, twitchy is good.
(Just remember to suit up and use smoke when needed).

The video above was taken on the LA coastal area on Nov 20 at 2PM which was a bright sunny day even though it was not really warm. As noted the bees were very active.

This video was taken the next day which started with bright sun shine but it was overcast and 5-10 degrees cooler at noon. Cooler or not the twitchy bees were still working very hard. Look at all the pollen they bring in. I had the camera about a foot from the hive opening and dared not get closer since they are the Twitchy Bees. This is another video off the Droid which does not have a zoom so I have to reach in slowly and be ready to move away if they request that.
. It is in the low 60's after noon in LA, we are almost freezing... LOL

For anyone in the Los Angeles Area, the next meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers will be Sunday Dec 20, 2009. Click on the group name for details, there are directions on the group pages, look on the right side of the page. The meeting date may be old but the directions are good.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hard At Work & More Housing

This is supposed to be the dearth for bees around here but it is Southern California so there always seems to be something out there for bees. When I checked the hive two weeks ago I left a large baggie with four cups of sugar water to help the bees along. In the mean time the bees have seemed very active and the weather has been good so I left them alone. The weather is still great so I decided to check them today, nothing extensive, just see how they are doing and add another baggie. They seem to be doing very well.

Remember this frame from the Oct 17 inspection.? #9 second frame from the end of the hive box
This is how it looked two weeks ago.

This is how it looked today.

The "empty" last frame now looks like this. These were the only two frames I removed. I did peek at the #1 frame and it looks like #10 with the little bubble of wax. That was enough for me.

I returned the two frames and everyone seemed very happy. This time I used the Kirk method and smoked the bees first, leaving them for five minutes. I repeated that and then put a little smoke in the top before finally opening the hive. The twitchy bees were well behaved today.

The first time I put the baggie of sugar water into the hive there were issues. I could not cut slits into the baggie with gloves on and the bees advised me to leave after I removed one glove to make the cuts. Now I use a surgical clamp to grip the baggie before I get near the hive making it easy to lift the baggie off the liquid and cut the slits just before placing the baggie in the hive.

With eight of the frames well filled and the bees starting on #1 and #10, I decided to add another hive box. I might have moved one of the full frames up be decided the bees can make those kind of decisions. I placed the baggie on the new box which should lure the bees up higher in time. The old baggie had a little of the sugar water left in it after being there for two weeks so the baggie does not seem to be their main source of food.
Since I was in the area I did add a little more Tanglefoot around the concret block base. It works well but the ants keep finding paths around it. A small bit of wind blown debris can provide a path for them. One advantage to having the hive on a concrete pad is the ant paths are easy to spot. I am organic with the bees but not the ants. I follow the path to the source an apply stuff but not so much that spray will reach the bees. In time I may add a water trap under the blocks. No one method seems work all the time and I cannot afford an Echidna or aardvark. ,
The old baggie had a lot of propolis so I scrapped most of it off.

This will come in handy when I get to making wax starter strips. According to Kirk adding the propolis to the wax will make it more pliable and easier to use when making the all-wax starter strips. Some people eat propolis for health reasons. I have enough problem with spinach in my teeth without adding something else very sticky. The starter strips are a long way off, I need to triple the size of the hive before even thinking about removing honey and gathering wax
But that is what keeps us going.....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Improved Bee Cookies

Another batch waiting for the oven.

A little practice and they are starting to look better than the first batch. It may be the different recipe along with better techniques for cutting the images out of the dough.
I have a half pint beer glass that is perfect for the round honey bee. The straight edges are harder to pull off, notice the rippled edges on some of them.. Now I am doing them one at a time, roll the dough, sprinkle flour on the mold, press to imprint, cut it out and put on the cooking tray. It is labor intensive but they do look good.

One more recipe to try before shutting down for the season.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bees and Christmas Cookies

Tis The Season.

Years ago my Mother used to Springerle cookies a couple month before Christmas. These are anise flavored (most of the time), imprinted with graphics and can be made hard or soft. Mom's were the hard variety. She would hide them away somewhere and by Christmas they rock hard. They would last for months but were wonderful when dunked in coffee.

Last year I was reminded of them and contacted my sister trying to find the Springerle rolling pin Mom used. No luck, it had disappeared over time. I bought a rolling pin and surprised my brothers with a package from Mom for Christmas. (Mom is 95 and lives in a Senior residence).
These were good with a nice flavor but on the soft side. I needed to do better this year.
I could not find the recipe I used last year so I started to look for more on the web.
I have selected three to try and during my search I found The Springerle Baker full of good information including a link to International Trading Co. where I found some Springerle molds.
I selected a few.

A maiden sitting next to a skep.

A fine looking bee on comb

Mushrooms and pine combs visited by a nice little bee.

Two gentleman enjoying a pint. Got nothing to do with bees but maybe that is mead they are drinking.

Springerles take a while, it is a very stiff dough to work. Some recipes need to be chilled before they are rolled out and imprinted. After imprinting all need to sit at least 12 hours so the crust on the top can set up. Cooking is a snap, done in 12 minutes and then they should be stored away for at least a month.

Recipe #1 is from Aliens in This World blog. This was posted a couple years ago with a follow up this year. I used it for the first two batches. Needed a second one because with the first attempt I used the paddle instead of the wire whip for mixing the eggs which did not froth the eggs enough. Then I used jumbo eggs which required a lot more flour. So, #1-A, added 2.5 cups of flour and used bakers ammonia with 4 jumbo eggs.
#1-B, used two large eggs , two jumbo eggs and added a cup of flour with baking powder instead of bakers ammonia (hartshorn or ammonia carbonate).
#1-A is done and stowed.

More recipes to bake and pictures to take.
Here's hoping the imprints get better but we have bees.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bees and Trees and Bee Dancing

Linda's Bee Blog has some items about trees and bees she has been dealing with. These have been interesting reading and then suddenly bees in trees seemed to be everywhere

Friends of mine run on the horse trails/bridal paths in the Palos Verdes area. Once my "bee skills" were revealed they told me about bees in a tree along one trail that were bothering horses, riders and joggers. My services were requested, such as they are

This stump is 4-5 feet tall and about 10 feet off the trail

I did not have my bee suit so I did not get too close to the stump. The bees did not seem interested in me and their flight path did not seem to be over the horse trail. That made me wonder if the problem is nervous people rather than nasty bees.
Then there was the "Private Property No Trespassing" sign close to the stump. There is also a sign saying "Danger Bees" near the trail. Without permission and log cutting tools, this hive will be staying right were it is. Some bees are meant to be free and wild.

The next bee tree had a different story which can be see on the Backwards Beekeepers Blog but that is not the full story. Yesterday was the monthly meeting of the Backwards Beekeepers at Farmlab. The is located near downtown LA in an old industrial area right next to the train tracks and the LA River. The outside area where we meet is mainly under a bridge but there are lots of plants in containers that were recovered from a community garden which had been shut down a few years ago. Farmlab has some experiments going with hydroponic gardening and capturing rain water.
Our meeting space is free and they give us coffee a treats just for showing up. To return the favor Kirk, our bee leader, has installed one of his captured swarms in a hive out among their plants.

Kirk decided they could use a hive of bees in a natural hive so he brought along the bee tree he had picked up the day before.

The bees were well screened but there were always 4-5 of them on the outside of the screen. No telling where they came from. it is hard to believe they have been hanging around the tree as Kirk drove around with the stump in his truck.

I did notice something kind of special. I used my camera for the video so it is not the best presentation. Watch the bees closely. Near the end of the short sequence and you will see the bees apparently doing the bee dance. This is how bees tell each other where the good flowers are. What are they telling each other this time? It does not look like random movement to me.

Kirk taking the bee tree to set up in a far corner.

This was a very cramped space to try and shoot. You can see Kirk's glasses as he is starting to cut the screen loose. At this point things happened fast. "Boy those bees are pissed off" was the first comment. The three or four of us who were close by fled quickly. We retreated thirty yards away back under the bridge but one or two of the annoyed bees came along too and let us know what they thought. The meeting was officially over at this point.
No one got stung and we hope the bees will stay with their home in the new site. Some time later Kirk will show up with a bee hat and smoker to remove the rest of the tape and screen.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Twitchy Bees

The non-standard weather continues. We went through some very hot weather, next it was a cooler spell followed by rain and now it has been in the 90's the last two days. It is hard enough for me to decide if it is long pants or short pants each day. I have no clue how the bees are handling things.

I have been doing some feeding with sugar water but with cooler weather I try to keep out of the hive and they are on their own. I have been surprised how much pollen I see them bringing it. It is from other sources because it is whiter, the bright yellow has been missing.

Then there is the heavy activity I have seen lately. A couple times, too early for the orientation flights (usually late afternoon), there has been very heavy activity at the front of the hive. The first time I did not know what it was but robbing came to mind so I added the entrance restriction board and it is still in place. Even with it there yesterday morning the same activity was going on. I had put a baggie with 3 cups sugar 3 water in before the rains came which needed replacing. It was definitely time to look inside.

The hive looked normal and the sugar water was gone. At this point the bees are very calm but as soon as I remove the old baggie and make that noise the twitchy bees show up.

At this point they are buzzing all over the place but I had my smoker out and made good use of it.

The first frame was empty but the next one has nice comb, much of this is very recent.

The third frame in and the first of the original five starter frames.

All of the other original frames looked just like this, covered with bees and brood. I do not recall seeing any drone cells with is probably normal this time of the year.

Two shots of Frame #8 which is progressing nicely

Frame #9, this will be fun to watch grow. #10 was empty.

All the frames back in place and new baggie with 3 cups each sugar & water. I put the cover back on and called it a day.. until later.

The ants have found a path up on the back side. There was some wind with the rain so some bit of debris is supplying them with a bridge. I am letting the bees settle down and then I will go out this afternoon and apply some Tanglefoot to solve that problem.

When I was inside I did look at the bottom board and it was clean. If there had been robbing there should have been some detritus on the floor from robber bees tearing open the cells. I guess it was not robbing. Just had a brain fart, maybe it was the girls chasing out the drones for the winter? I did not see the queen either but there are a lot of bees, she must be there. I can deal with the twitches for now but come Spring I may have to do the smush and see if we get a queen that makes calmer bees. But that will be another post and much later on.

In general the bees will make all the decisions but I am a little jealous of my niece who almost goes out and almost pets her bees with no problem. They came from a grower and mine are definitely feral. I prefer attitude in my terrier dogs, maybe I should develop that for the bees too.