Friday, June 18, 2010

hive update 6/18....

well, i got into the hives tonight to see if any of my predictions were true.

1. the garbage can hive, which i thought i had injured the queen has started to re queen itself. the injured queen was no where to be found and there are 2 queen cells. so it looks like that hive is in the reforming stage, but they have brood and i'm thinking it'll be alright.

2. the new queen hive. 2 queen cells still, good worker numbers and brood, so this looks ok.

3. the original bill bird hive (originally the first construction hive). :( this one is just not going to make it. even with brood, the hive isnt replacing its queen. and honestly, i dont know if this hive ever had a laying queen, there were eggs, but i am betting it was laying workers. if you recall, this is the hive i found a queen under the bottom board and when i placed her in the hive, she was balled up by the worker bees and dead by the end of the day. in fact, tonight i will shake out the bees and use this box for my hive pickup tomorrow.

4. looked into the third construction hive (refer to picture on previous post) and i saw newly laid eggs and saw a nice fat italian queen. so this one is the new bill bird hive (renamed in adjoining picture). so bill, we are still in the game, this one is looking good. we need to plan on day and time to make the drop off.

tomorrow 6/19 - keith and i will be up early to wrangle 3 more hives from the construction site.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

the apiary lineup

so when i am talking about the hives - you know which one is which.....

garden update 6/15

planted round 2 of corn yesterday. 1bed down 1 left. we should see a good succession of corn this year - 75 days away - i cant wait.

challenges in the apiary

this past weekend, i was able to carve some time and go thru the hives, see whats up and whats the next steps i need to take.

i have the hives named - based upon where i got them and allows me to keep somethings straight in my head.

so i have the following hives:

first serrano hive
folsom hive
second serrano hive
nuc hive
first construction hive
garbage can hive
second construction hive
third construction hive

not soon after i started working the hives, my neighbor called up to me and said she saw one of my hives swarm. my neighbor isnt a fan of bees, but she has a good attitude on it. but i wasnt sure if she might have confused a swarm with a big orientation flight.
i worked first serrano and folsom hives, sorting frames in both and adding a honey super on the folsom hive. got to the second serrano hive and found the neighbor was right. there was about 7 sealed queen cells (see pix) and it was obvious this was the swarmed hive and the neighbor was right. why did it swarm? who really knows, as hives based upon swarms and not requeened do have a tendency to be swarmy - but i bet i didnt place a second story on the hive soon enuff. so on a second story went - kinda like closing the barn door after the horse got out - but better late than never.

the nuc hive looked, good found the queen and added a second story to it.
the garbage can hive needed to be moved from the nuc box to a full size hive (it was sitting on top of the first construction hive). there was old comb in there that bees had made a mess of. in transferring to the new hive, i may have injured the queen. time will tell, but this hive may be re-queening itself, if i dented her too much. although i thought i was being careful, its obvious i wasnt careful enough.

the first construction hive (destined to be bill bird's hive) i saw eggs laid in cells - but numerous eggs (usually a sign of laying workers or a young queen). upon further inspection, i saw a cluster of bees under the bottom board on the metal screen - and there was a queen bee. thinking it was the queen for the first construction hive, i marked her and placed her in the hive - where she was immediately balled up by the resident bees. not a good sign. by the end of the day that queen was dead and the future of that hive is up in the air. so bill, this hive may or may not make it - but i have others, so we are still on track - no worries.
the second and third construction hives were still in the nuc boxes they were placed in upon capture and it was time to liberate them to full size hives. when the hives were originally captured - i placed the brood comb into the nucs to help the hives in their transition to a new home.
the second construction hive cleaned up pretty quick - found the queen, marked her and moved the brood comb to frames and all is well. the third construction hive was bit more of a challenge. in it i found the same sealed queen cells that i placed in there from the original capture - but i saw evidence of eggs. so what to do.

i created new hive (lets call it the new queen hive) - i moved the queen cells to a nuc, shook off some worker bees and now its a waiting game.

luckily, i got a call this week from the construction site and there are another 3 hives that need to be gathered - so keith and i will be up early saturday morning to gather them. 2 to my apiary and 1 to fill up keith's extra hive. so bill - as you can see, we will get one to you and venus no matter what.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

solar wax melter

i have had the kit for almost 10 years and finally put it together. the melter renders beeswax from old hive comb and hive scrappings. painted black and a glass top, and it gets pretty hot in there.
you can see the old comb i placed in there earlier today.

garden update 6/6

most of the seeds popped this weekend - 1 week after planting. still mia? carrots (they take forever), potatoes and watermelon.

i planted 1/4 of the corn and will follow with an additional 25% every 2 weeks.

see, i told ya bill....

it has your name on it....

the other picture shows some his girls in action. i was unable to see if the queen was there when we captured the hive, so a few more days and i will cleanup the old comb and look for the queen and if i cant find her, i will look for new eggs. i will keep you apprised of its progress.


keith - bee keeping action hero - got a call about several established hives in a construction area that needed to be cleared out or they would have to be exterminated. he, being the very eager newbee (pun intended) beekeeper, saw this as golden opportunity to jump start his beekeeping hobby.

at that point, i had three hives already from swarms i captured and was not as eager as keith to bust into existing hives, duke it with bees defending their home and hope to convince them i was the good guy and was there to help.

our first trip , brought home a smallish hive, that seemed to sulk about 2 weeks before it starting taking sugar water. i havent even looked for the queen in that hive yet (i know she went in, so not worried about it being queenless), hoping the hive is able to survive.

memorial day weekend came and keith and i were out to wrangle some bees. 6 am and we were busy. the bees had taken up home in concrete forms.

using sugar water, smoke and patience, keith and i were able to get most of the bees into our smaller portable nuc hives. bees typically arent too cooperative when you try to move them to a new home - but for the most part we won. keith used full beekeeping gear and survived without a sting. i prefer to work without protective gear (not as hot, and usually i dont need it as swarms are very docile) and ended up with 10ish stings, i lost count, but typically just power through stings and all.

so up in the garden i have 2 hives that are in rehab - and one has bill birds name on it.


picked up swarm #4 about two weeks ago. i didnt think to take a picture of it - as the swarm cluster was hanging off a garbage can wheel and it was raining and - well i just forgot. but not more than 5 feet away from the cluster was a bunch of bees in a nice knot hole in an oak tree.

there really isnt a way to get them out, without damage and the home owner was happy to let them stay, but its cool to see the bees in a tree. the owner says that this hole has housed many hives over the years, but they eventually die off - probably not big enough for a critical number of bees to survive the winter.