Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sacred Bee Project

The San Gabriel Mission has a bee problem and placed a call to the Backwards Beekeepers Bee Rescue Hot Line.  I went out yesterday to check it out.

This side of the Mission has the cemetery for many of the clergy who served here from the beginning.

Access is limited to a ladder and climbing 12 feet up to the chamber that used to service the belfry, fallen long ago after many earthquakes.   That is Chuck from the Mission on the ladder, not me.
The bees are one side of the space now.

It looks like there was a bee hive on the other side of the space at one time
After checking out the job I hope to organize a capture of the bees in a couple of weeks.  I need to find Beeks who do not mind ladders and who can fit into the space where the bees are.  I fail on both counts.  I am too tall to fit comfortably and going up ladders is not my forte.  Stings are not a problem for me but ladders are. 

 After checking out the bee site, Chuck of San Gabriel Mission took me on a tour of the gardens and spaces to look for a good site for a bee hive.  He would prefer they stay at the Mission, but not in the Mission.  He considers the Mission a sanctuary, even for bees,  We have located a couple areas where a bee hive is not likely to come into contact with the many tourists that come to the Mission on a daily basis.

EDIT:  Since i live a long way from the Mission, they will be looking for a volunteer to be the Official (maybe sanctified) Beekeeper of Mission San Gabriel Archangel if the hive is established there.  Someone living in the area will do and it can be new beek.  Just think of the blessings you will get and you can keep the Holy Honey too.

Watch this space for an update on the Bees In The Belfry.  Anyone interested in helping with this project can contact me through this site or using the Backwards Beekeepers Mentors list
Bear in mind that access will be 12 feet up a ladder and the actual working space is limited,
The target date for now is the first Saturday of August.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Madronna Marsh Bees

 Backwards Beekeepers Ed and Randy take on a rescue that was reported to have been there a week.  Maybe, this is a lot of comb for a hive that is not huge in bee numbers.  I suspect they were just noticed a week ago and had been there longer.
Kelly from Madronna Marsh Nature Preserve contacted the Backwards Beekeepers Bee Rescue Hot Line. This an old sump area that had been undeveloped for years.  It gradually returned to its original life as an attractive place for wildlife to gather.  The citizens of Torrance decided to keep it that way instead of letting developers fill the space with little boxes of ticky tacky or big boxes of more.
They had bees in a water control unit next to a garden path.  Ed Garcia and Randy took the call and set up a rescue date. I got an invitation to take a few pictures and add a pair of hands when needed.
The first step was a little smoke.  These were very calm and nice bees, the smoke may not have been needed but better safe than sorry when it comes to bees.
Most of this type of in-ground units do not have a lot of comb. This one had five nice comb sections.  Four stuck to the lid and one stayed in the unit.  All of the comb was removed.  It contained some very nice honey (and tasty honey and pollen but now that I think about it I do not recall there being any brood.  Here's hoping we did not hurt the queen, we never spotted her but the bees acted like she was in place in the nuc when we were done.
The lid was placed over an empty nuc with the combs hanging inside and the last piece of comb was added also.  This gave something for the bees to concentrate on.  Before cutting off each piece of comb, Randy and Ed thumped the lid to make the bees fall into the nuc and get out of the way of the knife Ed used..
Some of the comb was big enough to make two pieces to put into each frame.  Ed and Randy tried to keep the comb pieces oriented the way they had been on the lid.
This was a small job so each piece of comb could be removed and put into a frame before moving on the next comb. For a cut out this was a pleasant little job with little mess and no property destruction.
Rubber bands worked to hold most of the comb in place on the frame but cotton string was used for a couple of the shorter pieces.( Use only cotton string, never nylon, it is too hard for the bees to deal with.) Once the comb has been secured to the frames by the bees they will cut the string and rubber bands and pull them out of the hive.
The bees seemed to adapt to their new home quickly.  There was comb in five frames all lined up the way they had been in the original hive. 
After the comb was in the frames Ed moved the nuc near the control unit where they had originally been. At first there were only a few bees around the opening.
Randy brushed the bees that remained in the control unit and encouraged them to check out the new digs.
The bees started to move up to the nuc.  They closed the nuc lid and left the nuc on site for the rest of the day.  Ed went by and picked it up later and offered the bees for adoption on the Bee Rescue Hot Line.
All done, that's a wrap.