Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bee Vlog - April 26, 2013

I got a swarm call that sounded too difficult to get (40 feet up a tree) so I passed on it. But I spread the word to a few other lists I know of. After I got off work I stopped by to see if someone had come to get it or if it moved on. When I got there I found that the home owner had contacted someone else who was willing to give it a try. They had an extension ladder leaning against the tree and were using a very long fishing net to scoop up the bees.

It turns out the home owner who called was the beekeeper who's bees had swarmed. He wasn't interested in having a 2nd hive so he didn't want to collect the swarm. But the beekeeper who answered the call had lost all 3 of his hives over winter, so he was starting over again. It looked like a lot of work trying to scoop up those bees and putting them in a hive body, so I was content with just observing.

There were still a lot of bees on the branch when I arrived, but within a couple minutes they all took off. At first they flew out over some neighbor houses and trees. We thought they were leaving for sure. We went around to the street to see what direction and how far they had gone, but then we noticed they were returning and were descending on the hive body.

I think they took off, then realized the queen wasn't with them so they headed back. When they got back they caught the "homing scent" down in the hive and moved right in. It was spectacular to watch the cloud moving like that.

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Queen Beatrice
It's been a month since Queen Beatrice's last inspection. I needed to see how well they've been filling out the frames, check for queen cells, and see if they need more room. They had fully filled out all the new frames from last time so I added another box. The bottom box was getting filled with honey, so I moved it up to the top (under the new empty super).

They were pretty calm and tolerant of my "invasion" during most of the inspection. It wasn't until the end they became more defensive. A couple guard bees really started warning me and trying to push me back by buzzing at my face. Not bumping, just taking a defensive posture. I think it was because I was rushing things a little too much. It was late in the day, I hadn't eaten dinner yet, so I was hungry and trying to get through it as fast as possible. Because of my rush I was probably crushing more bees than I should while putting the boxes back together and my movements were probably less than fluid.

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Queen Catherine
When we did the cut-out on this hive we secured the comb into the frames with rubber bands. Now that the comb has been braced by the bees we can cut out the bands. We tried being gentle and carefully remove the bands, but that wasn't as easy as we thought. It's also less gentle than you'd expect. We tried gently breaking the bands, but that's also not easy or gentle. It turns out, that just cutting them is the quickest, easiest, and actually most gentle way of doing it. Do some bees get flicked by the rubber bands in the process? Probably, but it's much less harmful than the squishing and rolling that was happening with our other clumsy methods.

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