Monday, October 1, 2012

Manhattan Beach Bee Rescue Adventures

It has been a oddly busy summer without many bee adventures.  Finally we have something to post.   Enjoy the videos shot with my Sony Bloggie.  Any problems are with the operator and not the equipment.

One of the grounds keepers for the City of Manhattan Beach contacted Backwards Beekeepers.   There were bees under a storage shed immediately adjacent to softball field and a soccer field.  The bees had not caused in problems but they needed to be removed. Susan Rudnicki and Ed Garcia showed up to do the job with an assist from new Beek Clint who planned on taking the bees.  I came along to video and bring the heavy equipment.. a generator and also do a lot of pontificating and offering unsolicited advice.

Susan checks out Clint's bee suit as Ed vacuums excess dirt and chalk from the floor. You can see the bee entrance below the door area.

Ed cuts the floor board and removes some screws.  We did not know how deep the hive went.  Notice Ed's fine bee hat and veil, he is very inventive.

Ed opens the floor to expose the hive. 
Please excuse the different video looks, some were embedded using Sony Bloggie and others came from YouTube. 

 Ed and Susan put the comb into frames with some
help from Clint and more useless advice.

Susan decided to leave the hive overnight to collect stragglers after putting another super over the comb frames.
Before leaving the hive was placed on a chair with cans & oil to cover the legs and keep the ants out. There were too many ants everywhere to leave the hive unprotected.. Clint or Susan would pick up the hive in the morning.
It seems we missed the queen and all of the bees left the hive and were clustered under a corner of the floor.  I was at a dog event most of the day and Susan could not reach me until late afternoon as I headed back home.   I loaded my generator, shop vac and the new Nuc-Vac and went to meet her and Save the Beach From The Bees!!

Susan has her first try at using the Nuc size bee vac.  She will be sucking up all the bees into a capture box.  This box has a screen top and board that slides in and seals off the bottom of the box once it is tilted and bees are off the bottom.  This great device was designed and made by Steve Shultz.  The strength of the suction is controlled by reducing or opening the hole on the top of the Bee Vac.

Mark from the City of Manhattan Beach opens the floor to give Susan more access to the  bees in the far corner.  Note that Mark has on shorts and sandals  These were the calmest and nicest bees I have run across, no one came close to getting stung.

Clint arrived and helped Susan to secure the hive boxes since they still have the comb and brood that were put in yesterday.  The brood may not survive with no nurse bees taking care of them last night but the comb will be put to good use by the bees.   The Nuc Capture box will be put into a net laundry bag when Clint takes it home.  As soon as practical he will dump the bees in the capture box right into the hive with the comb.  There is a pretty good chance the bees will stay since this is their comb and smells like home to them... or so we hope.

Another fine rescue pulled off by Backwards Beekeepers and the kids of Manhattan Beach have been protected from bees.  LOL

Monday, May 14, 2012

Honey Harvest May 2012

Over the last two and half years I have taken very little honey out of my hive, probably no more than two frames on two occasions.   When Laura and Randy helped me inspect my hive in March, ( there was lots of empty comb but no other problems in the hive.  Within two weeks the hive exploded with many more bees working every day.  With six hive bodies on the hive it was time to explore and harvest some honey so the bees would have plenty of room and not swarm.
Randy showed up again to man the cameras and offer the occasional third hand when I needed it.  Most important is the mental support of having someone else there to offer advise if you need it

Before going in I added a little smoke into the top two supers but the bees were incredibly calm during most of the operation.   The top super #6 had some comb and a few bees, it was set aside quickly

The smoke sent the bees down and we could see the good looking comb on all of the frames in super #5

This hive is a propolis producer in a big way every nook and cranny is always well sealed, sometimes annoying so when I am trying to extract a frame.
Gorgeous. This was the front end frame, things were looking up.  It was set aside on the frame holder to leave space to work the other frames
Frame #2 was just as pretty.  Note the Blue Gloves.   Randy found them at Home Depot.  They are thicker and more sting proof than standard yellow kitchen gloves but have a more tactile feel than the leather bee gloves, thanks Randy

#3 had less honey on the frame, typical for bees.  The honey goes on the outside of the hive and serves as insulation and food stores.

#4 was much the same, for the first pass through I slipped the frames back into the hive in the original order.

#6 had a few drone cells but was mainly honey. That is not a gang sign for bees.  In the video I was signalling that this was frame #7 and that is the last two of seven fingers flashed.

Opposite side of #6

#7 and the full frames of honey were back

I cut out the comb leaving a 1/2 inch or so along the starter strip and placed it back into the hive in the position where it was. I took four or five frames of honey out of super #5

Super #4 had frames that were sealed very tight.  The first frame separated when I was trying to get it out.  Once I got the #2 frame out I was able to remove #1 and then replace it with a new frame.

A couple of the frames had cross comb which came apart with the frame was lifted out.  I cleaned those up some and returned them to the hive.
The bees were still very calm, generally moving to the back of the hive and out of the way.  There was a large mass of bees around the entrance but they stayed there, very little aggressive activity with the hive

After collecting 3-4 frames of honey from super #4, I put the hive back together and hauled my booty off to the garage. I may be able to get it bottled today. 

Randy took some videos too but one was 21 minutes long.  I need to do some editing on the videos and will post them later.  That may take a couple of weeks, my normal net connection does not handle large files easily.  I have a MyFi hot spot that works well but I am close to my data limit for the month so any file transfers will have to wait until the next billing period.

A fine haul of original honey from The Dale with a big assist from Randy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Earthday took up an entire weekend.   The first stop on Friday was at the LA Zoo Magnet school with Ruth Askern(in front of the screen) and Summer (off to the left).  This is a small school buried between the Autry Western Museum and LA Zoo.  If no one told you it was there you would not find it.  We had four classes of teenagers in 50 minute sessions.  Summer made a great Powerpoint program which was a fine starting point for the talks.  Summer and Ruth did most of the lecture work and I added a few pithy comments and took bad pictures with my camera.  From all reports the presentation was a big hit, especially Ruth's Observation hive. There were about 20 students in each session.
Saturday found us at Ballona Creek Wetlands.  They were doing a trash clean up and invasive plant removal day with a lot of scouts doing the work.  The weather turned out perfect for us, no hot sun and not too cool.
Ruth and Alyssia did most of the talking and demos as I sat off to the side fielding Bee Rescue Hot Line calls.

Ruth's bees up close

Alyssia talking to the crowds.   We had about 120 kids that signed up to work plus their parents and adult group leaders.  There were just enough to keep us busy

On Sunday BBK showed up at Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes, finally with a banner.  At Ballona Creek Wetlands we were close to ancient burial grounds so nothing could be put into the ground and no banners,  No such problems in Palos Verdes.
Laura checking out some of the local wildlife that showed up at the table
Bees, comb, frames and books, just as some people and we were ready
Phoenix in the BBK shirt, Laura behind the table, Susan in the bee suit and Ian at the far end were ready for all questions.
Ian was there to check out how the event was done so he can do the same the next weekend in Orange County.

Observation hive bees

What Earthday demos are really all about.

The first weekend was taken care of and next up will be at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach the following Saturday

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hermosa Beach Arbor Bees


Several calls came in to the LA Bee Rescue Hot Line looking for help.   The bees were on an arbor under which the kids played.  This turned out to be a very easy capture.  There was a basketball goal handy which I pulled over under the swarm.   I put a nuc on it after removing three of the frames.  Using a bee brush I swept most of the festooning bees into the nuc. The bees were clinging to vines on the arbor so it was hard to tell if i got the queen with so many bees still up among the vines.  I gently scooped as many of the bees as i could.  This had to be done carefully.  If I killed the queen this entire swarm would have been doomed.  The swarm had not started to make comb so there was no place for her to lay eggs.  No eggs meant no larvae to make an emergency queen. 

Look at all the little butts up in the air and nasonoving.

Eventually there were a lot of the bees nasonoving and I was confident She was in the nuc and shortly after that the other bees started to get into the nuc also.   I slid the nuc lid over most the top, opened the hole in front and left the bees there.

I returned at dusk and all of the bees were inside.  I closed the lid, plugged the holes and took the nuc home.   It is now resting on my back garden wall.  I hope to get them to a new home today or tomorrow.

This is one of the easier ways to capture a swarm, it was a pleasant operation.  Now to see if the bees decide the nuc is okay as a home for a while.  At least 50% of captured swarms move on, seeking better accommodations.  Such is life for the Beekeeper.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swarming Redondo

Late Saturday afternoon the LA Bee Rescue Hot Line got a call about a swarm in Redondo Beach.  I contacted Susan to get it I could not get away.  Rain was coming and the bees might prefer being under cover.
This was a nice compact little swarm which was very reachable.  The homeowners put a blanket on the grass to watch what was going on.  I pontificated on bees and by the time I turned around Susan had them in a nuc.  That is why there are not bee collection pictures, it was over quickly and the nuc closed up.  We left the bees under that bush overnight.  The nuc was well away from passersby would be secure.   Susan picked it up at 6:30AM on Sunday.  At the Backwards Beekeepers meeting later in the day Susan found someone to give them a new home.

Forgive the artsy effect but my hands were full and this is the only shot I have of the house.  Catherine had a swarm in a camellia bush along her driveway in Redondo Beach..  I was not on bee duty so mid afternoon I went to check them out.

After clipping some branches I was able to slip the nuc under the bees and shake them in.
A bit of of nasonoving said the Queen was in residence.   I slipped a lid over the nuc and left them to adjust until the next day.
Catherine was very happy with the result

I went back to collect them this morning.  They were very active and Catherine informed that yesterday after I left they make a big swarm cloud but apparently decided this space would do and returned.  Rather than disrupt them right away I will wait until after dark and go seal the nuc and bring them back to the Apiary In The Dale.  I do not know if they will stay or if this will be a layover spot.  We shall see.  Fro now I have enough bees.
Still wrapped in the transport laundry bag, the bees are now parked The Apiary In The Dale, their home for a few days.

Uncovered and settled in for the night

The residents are not very active but one solitary bee traveled here outside the nuc but inside the laundry bag.  It will find its way inside soon.