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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hey Girls...Again.

As my usuall readers know (if I have any)I open the hive every week. It's really incredible to open a hive with 12,000 bees flying around and not having to worry about being stung. Anyways, this inspection was a little different than the past two. I had a little more trouble lighting the smoker. I as liting it and suddenly the thing went out in a phlume of smoke. I was pumping for a few minutes and when I noticed no flames were comming out I kept pumping and looked down it to see if any embers were still lit. I think I've reached a new low in stupidity. Right when I get my face over the smoker about a foot up, a flame shoots out and scorches my veil. I was fine after that but now I think I learned my lesson! I walked up to the hive and smoked them as usuall and since I've already shown that before I didn't take any pictures of it. I did the usuall inspection and if you look at the post below I said I would try to get a picture of some cappings...well, I got it.


In the first picture is two drones surrounded by workers. I just wanted anyone who has never seen bees to be better able to disifer between the two castes. A neat thing about drones is that they have no stingers and they do no work in the hive. "What good are they?" you may ask. They mate.

In the other picture you can see the typical orientation of stuff in the cells. I think I took the picture side ways or up-side-down. So, the capped honey( very white cappings) is near the top of the frame and then there is a ring of nectar and pollen followed by the capped brood (tan-colored cappings near middle of frame).

P.S. Sorry about the blurred spot on the photo. There was a smudge on the lense that I didn't notice until I uploaded the photos.

NEXT WEEK: Pictures of the Queen and her Court

Thursday, June 23, 2005

2nd Inspection

Unfortunetly, the cammera didn't have any power left so there are no photos to go with this inspection. Anyways I opened the hive like last time and the bees were actually much queieter than before. I proceded to remove frames on at a time for inspection untill I came the the one near the center. I picked it up and there was capped honey, already. I continued looking and there were eggs with young larva. And what could make this inspection better, right? I saw the queen! Her highness was walking around on the frame and was surrounded by a court of 11 workers. Just then a tree trimmer that was hired to trim the various oaks around the house in preparation for hurrican season said, "Are you fo' real?!". He then called over another laborer to come watch me inspect the hive. I showed them the capped honey, workers and drones. None of them were wearing veils, even though I offered them a spare, and no one got stung, including me. I continued to inspect and found that my hive actually had SHB(Small Hive Beetles) which, despite their name, are a huge problem! After all this I dusted the bees with sugar, closed the hive, attached the feeder and sprinkled the surrounding area with cinemon to repell the ants. Next week I should start seeing some capped brood and I'll try to take some pictres of it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

It's Been A Week

Well, as anyone who comes here often knows, it's been a week since I've inspected my hive. Unfortunetly, I couldn't inspect today and I have to aim for tomarow. Today, in my are, it was overcast, good chance of rain and the trees on the property were being trimmed in preparation for hurricane season. All these things combined equal very crabby bees. I had to close the enterence to the hive today so a cherry laurel next to it could be trimmed. I did make the mistake, though, of closing it at about 10:00am. At that time most of the bees were out of the hive and the retureing foragers soon piled up in the hundreds. Oh well, next time I close the hive I'll do it after sun set or before sun rise.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My 1st Inspection

I've finally inspected my hive. It was incredible. I cracked open the cover, smokeded them and proceded to remove and replace frames without a single sting. I did manage to get some pretty cool comb though. It's all created by how I introduced the queen bee. She's in this little cage and the bees have to eat through a rock candy plug. It gives them about a week to accept their queen but durring the introduction I loose the use of one frame. In that gap the bees built a huge peice of comb that you can see in the photos literally hanging off the side of a frame. Not shown is when that peice of comb slid right off the frame and onto the ground with a couple hundred bees on it. Needless to say, the bees didn't like that and my cammera woman, who wasn't wearing her veil had to back off to avoid getting stung. In the next few hours after the hive inspection all the bees that fell to the ground made it back into the hive.

There was about four pounds of syrup stored in that peice of comb and I'm sure that's why it failed...or, it could have been that I tore it's main support when I removed the hive cover. Anyways, I found the queen: she appeared healthy and had been freed from her cage. The photos are pretty much self explanatory so, enjoy.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tomarow I will Inspect...Today I Observe


The first photo I took just a few minutes ago and sorry about the out-of-focus honey bee. I think I alarmed them when the flash went off.

In the second photo you can see one of my open feeders that I made from an old whip cream container. The styrofoam prevents the bees from drowning.

In the last photo is a look at the hive box itself. When I first installed the package it rained for three days straight and some of the loose sand was splashed onto the outside of the hive. I just put the feeder in yesterday afternoon and that's a 1 pint jar!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Anticipation While Awaiting Inspection

I can't wait to look at the hive. I've spent atleast two hours every day staring at it and now I can confirm that my queen is laying eggs. The bees are bringing in a yellowish pollen(later found out to be from watermellon flowers)in such clumps that they look like over burdened saddle bags on the bees' hind legs. In the past 2 days they've gone through 1/2 gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup!

I have to wait untill Wednesday or Thursday befor I can open up the hive and replace the last frame. Waiting is the worst part of beekeeping! I just really...REALLY want to see what "my girls" are doing. I am a little confused though. It's about 95ºF and the hive is in full sun. There was only one bee fanning. Given the heat created by heavy traffic I thought that more bees would be fanning.

NEW USE FOR LIZZARDS AND ANTS! Earlier I saw some wax moths being ejected from the hive and their wings were torn as they fell to the ground in front ofthe hive. There were about 2 after the fourth day. I was sitting watching the bees yesterday and a lizzard ran over there and then ran under some vines with half a moth hanging out of its mouth. There were also some ants taking apart the other one. So far they havent gotten up the hive stands let alone the enterance so I think my bees are safe.

To try to compensate for how fast the bees were eating the syrup out of the friction top bucket I started a "feeding trough". I put a pint of syrup in there and it floats in a small saucer or water. No ants can get into it and I can watch the bees all fly back to the colony. Some of them are so heavy that they fall a few inches short of the enterence and crawl up there in the next few seconds.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Abuzz with Exitement

The day has finally come. My bees were available. I had ordered a three pound package from Spell Bee co. and it finally arrived. THe bees were as loud as the drone of an air conditioner and had to be picked up at the post office. (They even kept it open late so I could get the bees!) I brought it home and a few hours later I installed it.
I covered the package with a thick sugar syrup and gave it a sharp bang against the ground. The cover was pryed off with my hive tool and I removed the feeder can and eventually the queen cage aswell. Trust me, there is no more intoxicatingly adrenalin inducing experience as slamming 12,000 bees to the ground. Anyways, I removed the cork and placed the queen cage between two of the frames. Next, I had already removed four frames from one side so I began shaking the bees into it like yesterday's garbage. Then, I noticed something horrable! It was begining to rain. Rain and wind are the two elements that will drive bees mad. Immidiateely they began grabbing onto my veil as if they were trying to attack my face. I continued shaking and thousands of bees fell against the bottom board. Slowly I began replacing the frames of foundation and then slapped the cover on just as the rain started falling harder. Some bees were left in the package so I left the package there so they could join their breatheren.
I attached the feeder and put on the enterence reducer then headed away. When I got back int o the house I noticed that there was something on my veil. I took it off and noticed that a few bees had flown on there but never left. This is probably the part of the story where I'm supposed to tell you how badly I got stung, right? Wrong! I was able to carry them over to the hive and brush them onto the enterence without wearing a veil, gloves or anything. How's that for docile?

These photos go in order from the bottom to the top. The very bottom photo shows me shaking bees into the hive box. The next photo depicts me replacing frames of foundation and the photo after it shows me(of cource) sliding the hive cover onto the hive as the rain starts to fall. The very top photo shows the covered hive with a pint sized mason jar inverted for feeding.