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Sunday, August 21, 2005

I Checked Again but no Queen

Again, I couldn't find the queen. I suspect that she's been hiding in the burr comb but, I don't know. I trimmed it all and still couldn't find her so I gave up. I did, however get some interesting photos.


As you can see, the frame has bees, brood and honey. The other picture is of the slot created when I removed the frame. thousands of bees are clinging to the sides of the frame and wall. Nothing out of the ordinary happened out at the hive exept, my smoker went out three times(I've been packing it to tight.) and I had a friend ask to come along. Granted, she wouldn't approach the hive without wearing a pair of jeens, shirt, overcoat, gloves and a veil, but, it was a step. Anyways, I did a major brood disection with some burr comb. There were about 300 larvae and pupae. None had varroa mites and only one had sacbrood so, I think the bees are staying on top of the diseases.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My Bees are Bearding Again

As I sure anyone who comes here remembers, I have posted some pictures of small beards just a lttle over two weeks ago. Since then the population has sky rocketed and I have more photos. Tonight it rained(yes my bees only beard at night) and I saw what I thought was very interesting. There were no bees at the enterence but thousands just inside and thousands were bearding under the enterence. I crouched down and saw something I've never bothered to look for. Under the hive were hundreds of bees, either walking aimlessly or clinging to the screen on the bottom bored and fanning. I never thought that the bees might be fanning under the hive. (If I get up the corage I just might stick my hand under there and get a few photos, but, that's a big if.) So anyways, here are the photos.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

What Happened to my Gentle Bees?

Well, I said I would try to get some pictures of my queen right, well, I couldn't. I couldn't even spend the time to look for her. I'll tell you how it went...I had gotten on all my gear and lit the smoker. All my smoker fuel was missing so I had to run around the yard and pick up pine needles. I collected all that I could and lit them as usual. I approached my hive, smoked them and then came a different reaction. Instead of heading into the colony to gorge on honey they flew up into my face and I had several land on my veil. I popped the cover, as hundreds flew arround me, and smoked the super. There was a buzz louder than I've ever heard from my bees but I continued. I looked in the super and not a frame had been drawn. A little disapointed, I tried to take it off and lifted the entire hive! They had completely propolized it in a week. Now I had to pry it off with my hive tool but, just to get between the supers I ended up prying them apart with a *SNAP* and in the beekeeping world this is a BIG mistake. Once I got it off I smoked them and then found that the frames were heavely propolized to the sides. Even worse, they had built alot of bridge comb so when I moved the frame the bees lost about a quarter cup of honey. After I removed two frames I had been pumping my smoke so hard that if flamed and I had to stop and snuff the fire. Unfortunetly, that at up all the fuel I had in the smoker and the smoke went out in about two minutes. Completely out of smoke I removed one frame flipped it over, it looked fine, placed it back and then I looked at my left hand. I had five stings in the leather. Not one got through but it told my that the bees were to hot today to be worked. I closed up shop after only examining three frames. I think my major mistake is that 10:30 has become too early and there were way to many bees in the hive then. I should have waited until 1:00pm. The hive's population is boooming and I'm hoping that they'll draw out the foundation in the super this week. Oh, and, one more note, I did a drone cut style of varroa inspection and found that my brood don't have varroa. Or, at least, there is only voarroa in 0/100 cells.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

A Little off Topic...

Well, I walked outside today just because I like to look at my bees. I step outside, pause a second, and then this loud buzz flies right past my head. I look behind me and there it was, on the front door; a Cicada Killer. For those of you who don't know what Cicada Killers are, they are among the largest wasps in north America at about 1 1/2 inches long. Guess what is was carying...a cicada. I, at first, was affraid of it, I mean, the insect was huge and louder that my bees ever were. Then I thought, "This could be a great specimen for my Insect Studies Merit badge." Yes, I'm a boy scout. Anyways, I run inside; around the back of the house, not the front door. I grabbed my veil and gloves and threw them on. I would soon find out how good a choice that was. I ran back out and then saw that the Cicada Killer wasn't on the door anymore. As I was begining to think I got all exited for nothing I heard the loud buzz again. This time it was on a wall at eye-level. I had grabbed a jar and tried to capture the wasp. It stung my glove and flew off. Then, for some reason, it came back and started malaxing the cicada. I got it in the jar and it was mine. I'm going to mount it later today, once it dies. Hopefully, I'll get a picture of it soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I got my letter...

Yes, I have finally, after over a week, gotten my regestration number and am now fully regestered with the state of Florida. NOW I'M LEGAL! I'll probably be painting the number on the side of my hive tonight when the bees aren't flying and for now I'll look forward to opening the hive on Sunday.

P.S. I want to name my queen...any sugestions?

Monday, August 08, 2005

I am Now an Oficial Beekeeper

You may be wondering why I am saying this. I didn't get my regestration number yet or harvest honey. I'm saying this because I've finnaly experienced the pain of the honeybee's stinger. Today wasn't the best day for inspection; rained earlier and was cloudy, but I wanted to see what my girls were up to. They were a little cranky today because of the weather and the second I opened the hive it started thundering. I was already half way through the inspection so I thought I'd be able to finish in a few minutes. Just then I lift a frame and...BAM...I got a sting right at the end of my thumb nail. At first I saw it and didn't feel anything then, it felt like it was a nail drilling into my skin. I looked closely and could see that it was still moving and pulling its self in even further. I popped it off with my hive tool and after that the pain just became more intense. I smoked my thumb to cover the alarm pharamone and kept working. After that I didn't get another sting but I think I'll think twice befor working the bees without gloves. Isn't it ironic though that I never had a single sting on my gloves and the first time I take them off I get stung. Anyways, I didn't see the queen and to be honest, wasn't looking to hard for her. I just wanted to make sure that the hive was in good health
then, close up shop.


I finally got a chance to super them, as you can see in the photo. If you're wondeing what super means that is to add another box on for the bees to make their colony larger. Right now my thumb is kind of swollen so it's a little hard to type. In the other photos you can see liquid, gold, honey in the making and the bee with its head in the cell is actually regurgitating nectar so it will ferment and predigest. In the last picture you can see some brood cappings and if you look carefully you can see some bees comming out of their cells. You can also see some very young bees that just emerged from their cells and have a soft, downy appearance and also a little matted. Untill the next inspection I'll be resting my thumb.

P.S. If you click on the photos you can see them in a larger size.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A Foul Odor and even Worse Feeling

I went to see and pick up this hive that I've been ranting about for the past few days. I had to rent a moving truck just so I could bring it the was back to its new location. After a ride there which only increased my anticipation I opened the door, grabbed a flashlight and headed to the area of the property the owner said the hive was at. Just fifty feet from the truck I could tell something was wrong. The air had a smell resembling rotting fruit; a pungent odor. I walked up to the hive, noticed no bees were at the enterence and knocked on the side to see if any were home. The smell had gotten stronger. I placed my ear on the side of the hive and thumped some more; not a buzz could be heared. Then I shined my flashlight at the enterence and saw something that made me lose hope in getting this hive; SHB larvae. These little worms cover everything in slime and cause the honey to ooze out of its cell. Everything begins to rot when they're around. I grabbed my hive tool and tried to pry a box apart. I looked up and noticed that there was a large chunk of granite on top. I lifted it off and found that the top super was covered in fire ants. I then cracked the propolis between the box and the one below it and was met with an odor so foul it could make a sewer rat puke. Discouraged I called the owner and said,"When last did you check on you're hive?"
"Oh about a month ago."
"Well...they're dead..."
Just to show you what the hive looked like I took a few photos of the hive and the enterence. On the enterence photos you can see the pool of slime just oozing off the bottom board.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

About the hive...

I just got a call answering all my questions about the hive. It has a deep styrofoam brood chamber, queen excluder and four honey supers. Apparently, the bees are Buckfast and quite docile, in his opinion. In case you're wondering, the bees I have had since June 8th are called Italians. Buckfast are actually a man-made cross breed. Right now I just have to rent a pick-up and head over there for the colony. My current idea is that I will be able to get there to remove them on Saturday or Sunday. This project will be tough though. The brood chameber weighs at least 70 pounds and each super weighs at least 40. That's 230 pounds! It's a backbreaking load so I'll have to dismantle a few supers untill I get them the 30 miles to the new location. It's times like this that I'll wish I had one of those fork lifts they use in those warehouse stores. In a couple days I'll be able to tell you if everything went off without a hitch or I just dropped 50,000 angry bees on myself and aquired numerous stings. Wish me luck for the first one...

It's Christmas in August!

I just got a call from a local beekeeper who wants his hive removed and guess what...I get if for free! The apiary inspector checked it out just this summer and it's disease free. So, now I'll have two hives and twice the honey! I have no idea how aggresive they are but, hey, if I can get a hive of bees inside a hive that is worth $60.00 I'll be VERY happy. Later I might be able to post photos of me moving the hive about 30 miles to its new location.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Some Bee Behavior

For those of you that have watched my bee videos you have seen some bee behaviors such as fanning and guarding. For fanning bees flap their wings at the enterence and inside the hive to improve air flow and reduce temperature as well as humidity. Guarding is self explanatory but, the bees that are guarding are alert and perched on their two hind pairs of legs. Now I will show you a behavior called "bearding". You can see some photos of it below.


This behavior can be done at any time of day and its purpose is mainly to "cool off on the front porch". This is a rather small beard; some colonies can make beards over six inches long. While these bees are bearding they are all dependant on eachother as they connect with the hooks on their feet. They almost seem to form a chain sometimes and for drawing out comb they hang like that one the inside but can stay their for a few days. I hope that I will later be able to show an even larger beard.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I have done it!

Finally, I have found a site to handle my bee videos and audio clips. The links to these are at my other site at http://beevids.blogspot.com. Be sure to tell me what you think.

Monday, August 01, 2005

I Passed!!!

Yes, I've been inspected today and my hive passed inspection. Unfortunetly, my hive has sacbrood. It shouldn't become a major issue but, I'll keep checking on it to see if it worsens. All in all the inspector said I have a very docile and healthy hive; great to hear when you know the fate of an unhealthy hive, burning. The inspector seemed to be very confident in his work. He inspected the hive without wearing even a veil. Sorry, no photos this time but I saw the queen. Hopefully, next week I'll get the photos. In case you're wondering why I'm having such trouble getting a photo of a queen, she moves to the dark corners of the hive when I open it, there's only one of her and 30,000 of her daughters and she moves very fast on the comb. I'll search for her next week and just might get a good picture. For those of you who don't know what sacbrood is you can read about it here.