Sunday, July 26, 2009

Moving Day

I had a couple issues to deal with in my hive. First I use medium hive boxes and had two large frames which extend from the upper super to the bottom hive box. I wanted to exchange them for the proper size frames and make it easier to inspect the hive.

I also had this swarm I collected off my neighbor's BBQ. I was very curious to know if I had the remains of a queen cell in my hive. Did the swarm come from my hive?

The two issues converged with Russell Bates the blogger for Backwards Beekeepers. He has more experience than I do and happened to need bees for another hive. Voila, solution, he would give me a hand and I would give him some bees. He showed up and after a brief introduction to my dogs we went to work.
Applying a little calming smoke.
We moved the top (3rd super) and went to work.. There was only a little comb in the top box. The other two had lots of comb. Here Russell is inspecting the first frames we removed to make space to move the frames around.

Russell looking for eggs. He spotted some with the magnifying glass. I still could not see them. This is a case of old eyes looking through a veil at a repetitive pattern. I was lucky to not fall over from vertigo. It was very wise to have some younger eyes on hand.
Check this one closely and see if there are any eggs. I still cannot find them.
This is one of the two large frames that we would be cutting down and putting into four medium frames.. Both of these frames were loaded with brood. We were going to swap the lower and middle hive boxes but with all this brood it was decided to leave them as they were. You can see the comb extensions I had to deal with at every inspection.

This is one of the large frames cut down and put into two medium frames. There was a lot of carnage. The large frames had wire and the comb had to be cut around the wires, losing a number of larvae. Sad to do that but the Queen has been very productive and will have no problem providing more eggs.
One of the new mediums installed. They were held in with a combo of string and rubber bands.
Russell installing the last of four new medium frames

All done and back together.

Russell about to leave with his reward but he had a passenger in his hair! I could not spot it at first but Russell was very adamant that he could hear it!! A couple seconds later and I removed it.
Russell in a better mood with his box o'bees. I really appreciated the help and I must say the bees were very calm and cooperative considering the extremely invasive inspection and changing frames. We did not find the remains of any queen cells so it is extremely unlikely that swarm originated from my hive. So all questions were answered and both of us learned a lot today.
It was a fine Bee Morning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"There is a bee hive in my back yard"

My bees seemed much less active the last few days and I did not know why. Now maybe I do.
I had just arrived been back home from a trip to the Vets and my neighbor was at the front door. This is sort of a reclusive couple but he did know I have a bee hive.
"There is a bee hive in my back yard"
I double checked with my bee guru Kirk on what to do. As I was calling him from the kitchen I could look out the window and see into the neighbor's back yard and spotted this.

It was a swarm on the underside of his BBQ. I went over for a quick survey and took a couple pictures.

The neighbor had been with me for the first inspection but then barracked himself in the house.
I got my bee suit and a new nuc ( nuclear bee hive box) I just happened to have. When I ordered my bee suit I had added a couple nuc boxes to the order because they were so cheap. It was a good thing to have them on hand today.
I have one medium hive box that I just use when inspecting the hive and those frames were waxed and ready. They are medium frames in a standard nuc box and do not stand up straight or hang properly but Kirk said the bees would not mind.

I put the nuc on a small table and slipped it under the BBQ. I tried brushing the bees off but they were not cooperating and the space was small between the BBQ & the nuc and they were not easy to reach with the nuc in place.
I lifted the BBQ and dropped it a couple inches. The bees were annoyed but the results were better. Some of them, hopefully including the Queen had dropped into the nuc. You can see many of the others marching down into the box.
A little later there was still a fair sized cluster under the BBQ. I tried brushing them into the nuc and they just got annoyed again. I decided to wait and for now the nuc is under that BBQ lip with the lid resting on top to provide shade from the sun. The Queen seems to prefer it dark.. I am fairly sure I have the queen since the initial shake of the BBQ. In an hour or so I will gather up the nuc and move it to my yard.

Got most of them into the nuc and closed it up. The next time I will seal the sides ahead of time.
You can see bees between the nuc side parts up on the right side. I hope the queen was not in there. I tried to not smush them when I put the lid on. A lot of them crawled out the back space later on. Now the front access hole is open, they can decide to stay or leave. I will seal it off tonight after they are all inside and see how they adapt.

There were a number of stragglers still buzzing the area. I tied to wet their wings and sweep them up but had no success with tat. I added some bleach to the spray bottle and misted the area where they had been. Maybe that will encourage then to leave by tonight.

I will not know if this swarm is from my hive or just a coincidence. I will be checking my hive by the weekend and see if there are any old or new supersedure cells.
I have not decided on what to do with the hive. I do not really have space for two hives. The houses here are only about ten ft apart in some places and I do not plan on calling attention to the hive I do have.
Their temporary home right next to the lavender.

UPDATE: The bees overnighted nicely in the nuc and seem to have decided it is a good home.
If they decide it is not a good place they will leave but this AM they seemed happy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Bee Productive.

One good reason to have bees is to increase the crop size. I cannot guarantee this is due to the bees but the tomato crop seems to be larger this year.
Cherokee Purple on the left, Mr. Stripey in the middle and Mortgage Lifter on the right, all full of tomatoes.
Mortgage Lifter next to San Marizano Roma tomatoes.

San Marizano will be the first to ripen this year. Looking forward to sampling it this weekend and already have Mozzarella cheese and basil ready for Caprese.

Thanks bees.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Into The Hive

This past weekend I planned on going into the hive but things happened and I did not make it so come Monday morning it was time for a solo jaunt in among the bees.

When I removed the top cover the bees were very calm and peaceful. They stayed that way when I too the top super and set it into an empty hive box..
This is the bottom box with the space where the two large frames extend down into the lower box. I believe that bit of comb broke off the #3 frame when I lifted the upper super off. No problems so far, everybody was calm. Until I reached in to grasp that piece of comb. Suddenly no one was happy. I gently took the comb and put it into the #1 frame still in the hive box. I probably should have removed it but I am new at this and those were unhappy bees. They calmed just a little bit so i continued and looked at all the frames, removing all but that #1.

This was typical of the frames in the lower box.

This is one of my Frank Gehry frames still off not square. I would hold that one out and place it into the third super I added as I finished.
I lost track but believe this is from the lower frame and these are brood cells.

This is from the second super and looks to have lots of pollen.
This is one of the large frames that arrived with brood cells and new comb added at the bottom since my last visit about 20 days ago..
I looked for eggs but did not see any. There were plenty of larvae about. If you look at the middle arrow and move to the left there appears to be a bee with a very large brown thorax. This might be the queen. I was unable to positively identify her when I was in the hive and only noticed this one when blew up and cropped the picture.

When I was done I had a three box hive, all mediums. I pulled one of the frames with honey in it and placed it in the middle of the top box.
The next time I go into the hive, 3-4 weeks, I will cut down the comb in the two large frames and replace then with medium frames in the two lower hive boxes. Another learning experience to look forward to. The bees seem healthy and reproducing nicely with evidence of a queen. I have no clue how many they are but we will see how long it takes them to fill most of that third super. Since that will likely be My honey, I will be watching them closely.
As I read other blogs and forums I am happy to being doing this in So Cal where we are not subject to massive rains in the Spring and Summer. With our climate I doubt anything close to a 'dearth" exists around here and my Spanish lavender never stops blooming.