Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bee Vlog - May 25, 2013

It's been a busy swarm season for me. I caught 3 swarms and did 3 cutouts. This video shows the progress all these bee colonies have made so far. We got to see Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Helen. It was quite good luck to see Queen Helen, as we did not see her during the cutout (May 18th), but it looks like she pulled through just fine.

Queen Guinevere seems to have Varroa mite problems. One of the workers had deformed wings caused by a virus transmitted by mites. Quite a few mites were found on the board under the bottom screen. I didn't do an exact count to see how bad the infestation is, but it does look high. Of course, the board has been in there for nearly a month, so it could just be that. I do not apply treatments, but I will be watching this colony to see how well they pull through.

Queen Dulce and Queen Guinevere are growing nicely and will be ready for a 2nd box in the next week or two.

I also plan on building some quilt boxes to place on top of the hives to give that a test.

Video Link

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bee Vlog - May 18, 2013

Someone contacted me about a beehive living in a pillar in the front porch of their house. It has been there for about 4 years and they've tried killing it a few times with bee & wasp killer. Each time it was sprayed it set back the colony a bit, but never completely killed it. They've also had other people out to try to seal up the opening with expanding foam, tar, and caulking, but that never really worked either, as the bees just chewed through and reopened it.

It took about 4 hours just to get the pillar open. We took a great deal of care in removing the cedar siding so it could be reassembled easily. But then we discovered some OSB that was nailed in place and refused to pull free. So cutting it open was the only option.

The hive looked like they had recently swarmed, but with no queen cells to be found. There were no drones, some young larva, but no eggs, and we never found the queen. The comb was very dark. They had very little capped honey. Just for safety, I gave them a frame of eggs and brood of all stages to give them the opportunity to raise a queen, should they need to.

Video Link

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bee Vlog - May 7, 2013

Back to the same farm where I did the chicken coop cutout, this time a swarm has just recently moved into the wall/ceiling of the house. They really put themselves in a difficult spot this time. It would be very costly to attempt a cutout, so I'm giving a try with a trap out.

I made a cone from some window screen material and stapled it as best I could around the opening they are using in the wall. I'll return tomorrow to make sure I did a thorough job in closing off all openings. If they can find another way into the hive then the trap out just won't work.

Video Link

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bee Vlog - May 4, 2013

Dulce & Elizabeth
I moved the baited swarm, Queen Elizabeth, to their new home. It's a very small colony. Only occupying half of 3 frames. But there are eggs present and they seem to be doing well.

Queen Dulce is really doing superb. 7 of the frames are drawn down. There's eggs and plenty of food coming in.

Both swarms started at the same time, but with significantly different numbers. So it should be interesting to see how they compare to each other.

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Catherine & Guinevere
The swarm I caught on May 1, Queen Guinevere, needed to be moved to their new home. This was a more simple move of just closing up the hive the night before, moving it, then opening it back up again. I guess I moved this one far enough away that no foragers or drones came back to their old location.

I checked the bottom empty box on Queen Catherine to see if they've moved in there yet. I suppose they don't need the room yet because they haven't moved down there.

My attempt to do even a minor inspection without a smoker was not the best idea. I did get an aggressive sting. The bees were much more on guard this time.

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Beatrice & Flora
Queen Catherine came from a hive I cut out of an RV last week. I didn't need to do an inspection, but I was curious about what happened to the queen cells I left them with. It turns out that the hive changed its mind about swarming and/or requeening and has destroyed the queen cells.

I suppose at the time of the cutout I could have just split the hive. I had a queen and knew where she was. I also had queen cells. But because cutouts are such a mess, and the hive really has to spend some time healing (it's basically like a major surgery), I didn't want to take any risks. Besides I didn't know if either the queen cells or the queen had become damaged in the process. So I kept it just as one hive and let the bees figure it out.

Queen Beatrice is a really strong colony. They haven't made too much progress in the new top box, which I'm okay with. I don't really want them growing too fast anyway. I'll take slow and steady.

Video Link

Lost Foragers
When I relocated Queen Elizabeth from the bait hive to their new location, I only moved them about 1/4 mile. There's an old saying that you have to move them 2 feet or 2 miles. Anything in between and the foragers can go astray and not make their way back to their new home. Well, this was an opportunity for me to learn that lesson the hard way.

There are ways to move a hive less than 2 miles, but I didn't observe those methods here. When I moved them I closed them up at night to make sure everyone was home. Then the next morning I moved them to the new spot, took the frames out and put them in the new hive. Unfortunately, the bees that didn't get put into the hive just flew off, not really knowing where they were, but they seemed to know the way back to the old place.

What I should have done instead is move them to the new spot and either leave them there closed up for 3 days, or just open the entrance and stuff some grass into it. Either way would force them to take orientation flights and reset their homing flight path. After they reorient I could then transfer the frames to the other box.

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Bee Vlog - May 1, 2013

An easy swarm catch, in the same neighborhood as the 2nd swarm I collected (Queen Dulce). So I wonder if they're coming from the same hive, or a different hive from the same beekeeper.

Video Link

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bee Vlog - April 28, 2013

After the cutout I still had 2 buckets of bees that needed to be assimilated into the hive. There wasn't sufficient room in just the one box for all these bees, so I added another box with empty, foundationless frames on the bottom, dumped half the bees in there, then dumped the rest into the top box. Wow, what a lot of bees. I'd estimate I pulled out at least 10 pounds of bees in this cutout.

When I released the queen the bees were so drawn up to the cage that it was difficult to get her out and get a good shot of her on camera, but we lucked out there and caught a quick glimpse.

Upon review of the video I noticed how overly excited the bees were to get to her. I know that most of these bees had been in the bucket overnight, and probably thought they were queenless. So I'm wondering if their actions of climbing all over the cage was an act of joy and celebration or aggressive "kill the intruder." I suppose we'll see soon when I do an inspection to see how well things are going.

Video Link

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bee Vlog - April 27, 2013

I got to put my beevac through the ultimate test and removed a hive of bees from inside an RV. It was a small opening—about 8 inches by 8 inches, to a good sized cavity—about 16 inches on all sides. The last time I was out there the hive was pretty small but looked strong.

Photo taken March 22, 2013
The hive was tucked up inside the opening and wasn't easily visible from the outside.

Photo taken April 27, 2013
After just 1 month the hive has boomed into a massive wall of bees and lots of comb.

This time they were so full I'd say they were about 3-4 days from swarming. I found several queen cells and was able to save some of them in case I accidentally killed the queen.

I did find the queen completely by luck. I was taking a break from vacuuming the bees and just sat and watched inside for a minute. Then on one wall, down low where the light was good, the bees all parted like a curtain and revealed the queen to me. She was just sitting there calmly cleaning herself. So I gently scooped her up with the queen clip and stowed her safely away in the hive box. Welcome Queen Flora!

The beevac performed well. Although it did kill about 10-20% of the bees. I think it's due to the ribbed hose. I'd like to find a smooth wall hose to see if that is more gentle. I filled 3 buckets about 4-5 inches deep. I only brought 2 with me, so one had to be emptied into the hive box and refilled. There were so many bees.

The whole process took about 4.5 hours. It was a very messy ordeal. I had a thin coating of honey all over my bee suit, and a thick coating on my gloves. I got a few "accidental" stings from bees that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. 2 through my gloves and 1 on my ankle. But I think I'm starting to get used to them. It's not that the pain or swelling or itching is diminishing (although that can vary depending on the intensity of the sting), I think I'm just not as bothered by them. They happen, I get over it.

Video Link