Thursday, March 31, 2011


Late yesterday the Bee Rescue got a call from Janice working at a construction site near LAX.  By that time the construction people were long gone.  I have her a call early this morning and went over.  The bees are next to the trailer on the left size.
This was a nice size swarm and had the prospect of a simple recovery.  I took my time to explain things to Janice who was very interested.

I suited up and got the few items I might need, nuc, sugar water and a plastic bottle scoop.  I was taking my time using this as an educational opportunity.  Janice went next door to get some of the man who were interested too.
I gave them a little spiel, looked at the bees and my first thought was "orientation flight" which made no sense at all.  Then the swam exit light came on.  It was over.

I got one close look and saw only two beads of hanging bees.  By the time I got my camera, only 20 feet away, they were basically gone.  Just like that in under 2 minutes they had good looking for a better home.  Today was very warm and very warm very early.  I should have sprayed them immediately instead of pontificating about bees.  They might have stayed long enough to collect.  Another day and another learning experience for the locals but the beekeeper too.  Sometimes you need to shut up and get to work.
I was slightly depressed and needed a perk so I went to Costco and bought my eMoto ecco 1.5 Electric bike.  It is still charging and will not be tested until tomorrow.  It will be a boon to my sad knees and I no longer have to hoist my leg over the center tube.  Yea!!
Yesterday I planted my Heirloom tomato crop for 2011.  That is how I got into bees.  I had tomatoes, added compost and worm programs and then heard Russel on the radio talking about bees.  Eight plants this year, Paul Robeson, Marianna's Peace, Cherokee Purple, Black, Brandywine, San Marizano, Oxheart and Fireworks.

Tomatoes to worms to bees and now an electric bike.. is this evolution?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Couple Notes

The Backwards Beekeepers meeting was yesterday where I planned to demo the Solar Wax Melter but the weather did not cooperate at all.  I had guessed this would happen so I processed  some of the Pierce Hive Capture comb earlier in the week.

This was after 3-4 hours of sunlight.  I left it for a couple more days and it reduced more.
This was old comb and very dark, it does not produce much wax and you end up with all the dark stuff on the paper filter.  That is slumgum.  It does not look good and you could throw it way.  Don't do that unless you have a lot of it.  The slumgum and the underlying paper make excellent swarm lure.  Just tear off a piece and put it in a hive that is empty.  You might get a swarm with out any work or using a Bee Vac.

Speaking of the Bee Vac, Rob of Bushkill Farms was the originator of the first Bee Vac I saw and his plans were the inspiration for the one made for me.  Rob is now selling his Bee Vac and has a website where you can order one.  If your woodworking skills are limited and you need a Bee Vac, this is a fine option for you.  Do check out the discussion of the Bee Vac on his regular site.  There are a number of observations that might be helpful if you want to make your own.

On the lighter side, check out Max Wong's blog, My Roman Apartment and her adventure playing a beekeeper in a Kashi commercial.  It has not been aired yet.  Watch for  it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pierce College Hive Capture Videos

This was a group effort in capturing bees and capturing video.  Excuse the quality, these were very excited amateurs having a good time early in the morning.   I tried to identify most of the workers but I know I missed a few.  Apologies to those but the names I remember were Roberta, Warren, Tom, Danny, Gwen, Ruth, Patrick , Ann and Ceebs
Great Job on all fronts.
The Bee Vac rental fee.
This honey is very thick, it should be great on warm toast.  The wax in front will be at the bee meeting next week so I can demo my cheap but effective solar wax melter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Swarming A Hive

Danny with some of the booty from a large hive collected at Pierce College.  10 or so Backwards Beekeepers made the 6:30AM arrival to gather up these bees.  The bees had been touchy when approached earlier in the wee but were not bad today.  With a bit of smoke and sugar water they were relatively calm and only one sting was reported.  (I had to make a couple extra trips back to my truck for Bee Vac parts and neglected  to have my hat on and one girl spotted a target of opportunity.)
Tom putting brood into frames with Gwen capturing it for posterity.  Ruth gave a quick seminar on Housel positioning while this was being done.  I understand it better but not 100% yet.
There is a queen cell shown here.  One piece of comb had at least five queen cells as did others.  The hive was supplying bees for the area over a long period of time.
Using the Bee Vac to remove bees from the comb.  This was the inaugural test for the Mighty Bee  Vac and it worked very well after a couple small adjustments.  Almost everyone got a chance to man the hose.  There were plenty of bees for everyone.
The honey bucket is about to over flow.
This is near the end of the removal.  All the light covered area had comb on it.  Some pieces were two and half feet or longer.
Roberta checks the bees in the Bee Vac. 
The cutting board after all the comb has been cut down and put into frames or the comb buckets.
These are the bees as they arrived at Tom's for their new home.  The Bee Vac plastic lid was removed for the trip to make sure there was enough air and it was covered with a sheet for extra protection.  The design worked just fine and none of them got out.  But they were very annoyed when the sheet was first removed.  By the time they were ready for the hive they had calmed down a good bit.
There were special plans on how to remove the super from the Bee Vac.  Once on site Tom and I decided to use the direct approach.  He put a super full of brood on the bottom.  Then I lifted the BV super and Tom pulled out the bottom of the BV and this super was placed right on the brood super.  The same minimal approach was used for the top.   Remove the BV top and drop a top board on the hive.   Pull the plug off the bottom of the brood super and leave the area, quickly.
Tom and his bees should be happy in Highland Park.  One bee did follow us to the street but she left without out getting either of us.
All in all, a fine operation.  A large hive was rescued before the building it occupied was destroyed.  Had Backwards not stepped in the hive would have been sprayed.  Several club members left with brood for their hives, a couple of us had some honey and Tom has a new hive.
Best of all everyone got some valuable experience and the Mighty Bee Vac proved to be a full success.

I do have some videos from the event.  Once I figure out how to do it, I hope to have them up on youtube and linked to this site.  

Once again Backwards Beekeepers helps save the world, one hive at a time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sticky Bees in The Morning

 Late last night I got a call from Ed Garcia.  In December 2009 I had helped Steve Rosales collect a hive out of a tree.  Those bees found their way to Ed's house and late yesterday they had swarmed.  It was starting to get dark so we decided to wait until this morning to collect them.  It has been very cold for So Cal and the bees would not be moving early.
The bees were in a swarm cluster about seven feet up In a quince tree.  It was still slightly overcast at 9:30am, still on the cool side and the cluster did not have many active bees.
Below the cluster there were a lot of bees that had fallen off the cluster.  Some were moving and probably will come back to life when the sun warms them up.

The bees were almost out of reach but Ed clipped the branches and I collected the bees as best I could.
The bees were still not very active and some clumps fell to the ground but the bees would come to the queen in time.

The branches were dropped directly into  the nuc until they were all cut down, then I removed the vegetation for the nuc.  The nuc was deliberately placed near the bees on the ground in case they recovered.
A few small clusters remained in the tree for now but they would find the queen if she was in the nuc as I hoped.
The bees were not extremely active or aggressive but they did encourage Ed to move away.  I had some thin trousers on instead of my bee suit pants and had a couple bee reminders before we were done. That the price of playing with bees and maybe my sore knees will feel better now.
When bees are cold they are sticky, very sticky, clinging onto almost anything including the beek.
They loved my hat and remained in clumps where ever they landed but the hat seems a very special place to them. Could it be a fat head provides a bigger better landing area?.
Main work done, waiting for the bees to move in.
Some of the bees were climbing up the side of the nuc looking for the queen. Most of the bees were in the nuc which will remain in place the rest of the day.  Later in the evening Ed will put the lid on the nuc and move the bees next door.  He already has a a base ready for the nuc and can replace that with a super in a couple of weeks.
These girls will find the queen when they are a little warmer.
Even after getting Ed to brush me down before I left there still was one small cluster of sticky bees that was not quite ready to fly yet

This was a nice way to start the day and my first swarm capture of the year.  Ed will expand his apiary with bees he already knows.   They were not aggressive back on 2009 and still seem to be the same now.  I looked at his other hive.  It has an empty super on the top, Ed added it a few weeks ago but unknown to him the bees had already decided to swarm.  His added  box would not have any effect on the swarm plans.   In a few days Ed will take the empty super off the top of the hive and move it to the bottom.   Sometimes the bees will go down easier than go up and this may prevent another swarm.  
Ed gave me a video he shot of the hive capture back in 2009.  I will have to find a way to edit it down.  It was a fun job and I learned a lot but no one I knows needs to watch a video of the length it is now.  I already bore them with bee stories, a bee video might be too much.
I could have used the Mighty Bee Vac this time but  it is better suited for a cut-out.  The Bee Vac needs to go to work, Soon.