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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

That's more like the bees I know...

On Tuesday I went over to check on that nuc I installed on Sunday. I approached the hive, saw that the feeder was already empty and mixed up some sugar syrup. In two days the bees had already eaten a pint of sugar syrup! They were indeed thirsty. What was really nice was there temperment. I was concerned that they would be like when I installed them so I put on my veil and gloves as tight as I could and slowly approached the hive. I thought it was odd that on the sand around the hive bees were landing, licking the ground, and then flying back up to repeat the process. I stood next to the nuc, reached down, grabbed the feeder; gently pulling it back and there were half a dozen Small Hive Beetles that had been hiding under it. Surprisingly though, the bees hadn't given me a single buzz yet. The jar was clearly empty so I pulled it out gingerly and slowly placed in another. Still, not a single bee had so much as flown up to my veil. I put the feeder back into the enterence and just stood there for a few seconds. Watching the bees at work, bringing back pollen and nectar and defending the hive. After a few seconds I walked back to the car, took off my gear and drove(rode) on home. It's really to bad that as colonies become larger they become more aggressive. To be honest, I can't wait until spring when the colony is small and gentle. Now that my colony has gotten so large it would be idotic to inspect them without wearing gloves and a veil. Hopefully, this weekend I'll get pictures of both. I think that right now the colony at my house is getting close to or above 60,000 bees.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No Flow...Let's Split

Well, the split went a little less than well. I smoke the hive as usuall but, I completely taped my gloves to my shirt and my veil to the neck portion of my shirt. The hive had gotten so large that I was actually becoming scared of them. The queen I ordered arived on Friday, a day early and on Saturday we had to drive about fifty miles to borrow a nuc box. With all the parts rounded up I find that I didn't have enough foundation for three frames so I would replace the frames I took from my hive with empty frames. So, anyways, I organized all the stuff, after spending about an hour closing all the enterence holes in the nuc, and began to do the split. The bees greeted me as usuall, about four thousand taking to the air with a deafening roar. My camera woman at this point had to retreat because of a sting to her finger. Anyways, I took down the first super; somewhat heavy but, light in comperison to the super just below it, and at that point I reached the brood chamber. This hive is booming with bees and I think that it has reached it's climax for the year. I quickly determined which frames to take and placed them in the nuc with the queen cage much in the same way I installed the package a few months ago. It was right about here that things began to get ugly. I replace the frames I took with empty ones and then go to bring the nuc to the short 2.5 foot tall fence. About halfway there I got stung in the only exposed area of my arm, the ventilation mesh. Now, I scraped the stinger out as usuall, accidentally ripping my gloves and, would you believe it, my smoker went out. Now I had to rush to put back the supers and cover just as the bees were beginning to lose their temper. I got the cover on but, the boxes wern't perfectly aligned. They're off about a half of an inch, luckily, the boxes are three quarters of an inch thick so I just left the bees. Surprisingly, the sting had completely lost its pain after the first five minutes, I was rushing because I was afraid of the comming stings given I couldn't cover the alarm pharamone. I moved the nuc and found a few straglers on the out side. I brush them off but they just keep comming back. I quickly carry the nuc to the garage remembering that bees will always fly to a source of light. Then, as soon as I had the nuc in the garage I went inside to cool off for a few minutes. When I came back it appeared that there were just as many stragglers as befor. Confused, I close the garage and turn on a florecent light, in a few minutes hundreds of bees were banging into the bulbs and I knew that there was a leak in my sealing of the hive. I brought the hive back outside and bees were just pouring out in a steady stream. After attempting to close it up I decide to wrap it in a bed sheet to take it the some five miles to it's new home. I hop in the car, somewhat nautious with dehydration, and head over to the property, praying that the bees don't get out into the car. As soon as we get there I open the trunk and one bee flys out and gets tangled in my mother's hair. We remove it and I carry the nuc back to the spot some fifty feet away with two cinder blocks to stand it on. I organize the blocks and took off the bed sheet. There wern't any bees so I thought that maybe I had done and ok job. I lifted the nuc onto it's make-shift stand and tried to tear off one peice of tape. The entire bit that I had covering the enterence came off and hundreds of bees flooded out with a very agrivated buzz. I ran off for a minute then came back to pull the cloth from the main enterence. After that I grabbed the bed sheet and walked away, whipping the bees off of it. Appearently, the bees thought they were bulls and charged right at me. That's what I get for being stupid. So I ran away at this point and went about 100 feet to the driveway, whipped the last few bees off the sheet and brushed some off my back, then took off the gloves and veil. It had been about two hours and I was so dehydrated that I began vomiting. Not in massive amounts but it was clearly there. I crawled into the car, leaned back and sighed in releif, "That took longer than I thought it would."

NO PHOTOS...sorry

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Devide and Concour

Yes...I know I spelled the third word of the title wrong but, that's not why I'm writing. I've been offered to keep a hive of bees on a neighbors proporty and jsut today went to look for a good spot. Almost anywhere was perfect, and their property is filled with palmetto, which makes delicious table grade honey. Oh yeah, and did I mention it's 11 acres! However, there are a few unfortunate parts of this. One, I needed to get about $140.00 worth of equipment and I accidentally ordered the queen a week too early. Right now I'm calling around to see if I can get the one part I'm missing within the next two days. I've only got to days before it arives and I'm not ready! So, now I must crunch the numbers to see if it is possible to get a nuc box and bottom in time. So, if it all works out, I'm going to make a split on Saturday! Exiting, nerve-racking, and a little bit concerned. All these can describe the events planned for Saturday.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ugh...MY BACK!

Well, I wan't able to really inspect the bees today. I got the first super off, not much work had been done and then I go to lift the next super after prying away some propolis. The second I got if off the hive body it felt like my back was going to snap. I had to end the inspection early because of that and the bees wern't behaving normaly...when I opened the cover and smoked them instead of all retreating between the combs thousands traveled upward and poured out. Smoke is suppose to have the opposite effect. I'm really not sure what it was but, I'll try again for tomarow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A New Perspective

Every day I've been looking at the enterence hole I drilled into the super I put on the see if the bees were up there yet. For any of you that don't know what an upper enterence is, it's a hole drilled just below the hand-hold of the super. Anyways, up till today I thought the bees weren't in there yet because I didn't see the chericteristic ring of bees around it. Just today, either beacause I'm crazy or obsesive, I stuck my head in front of it and could see at least a dozen bees fanning out the small hole and a curtain of bees inside. Now all my worries that the bees weren't using the super are unfounded and, hopefully, within the next month, I might get my first honey harvest.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Occupational Hazards

This morning I was just out by the hive with a headlamp on. You know, those little flashlights that you put on your head. Anywasy, I just wanted to look at the beard before I left for school and, having just woke up...NOT THINKING... I left the flashlight on a white light instead of red. Instantly, the bees began to orient to what they thought was the sun and landed on my face. This is one of those moments that teaches you that bees are not forgiving of stupidity. Anyways, I did the un-beekeeper like thing and swated at them then, began runing away and hopped the fence between the patio and my bees. It's the fastest was to my house. The second I got over the two and a half foot tall fence (which I literally "hopped") I suddenly felt this sharp pain in the palm of my hand. Remember that this was in the dark so I couldn't see a thing. I thought I bumped the rose bush but then, it began burning and felt like it was moving. I have to say that this bee sting felt less painfull than my first one but, still hurt. It got pretty swollen and I couldn't bend my pinkey. I have, however, learned two lessons from this...1. "I'm not allergic to bee stings, yet." and 2. "Never crouch down with your head near the enterence of a hive that has over 10,000 bees bearding with a light on your head..." There was a very sweet smell, though.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

3...2...1...BOOM

Yes, my hive's population has EXPLODED. There is also a HUGE honeyflow going on right now. Last week I checked on that super and they were beginning to draw it out and I was pleased with the progress. In just a week the whole super has been entirely drawn out and it's all filled with ripening nectar and honey. All I've heard that's providing a good honeyflow right now is Palm, Palmetto and Brazilian Pepper. Given the color of the stuff it's probably Palm or Brazilian Pepper.
Anyways, I lit the smoker and headed to the hive as usuall. This is a little later than I usually inspect them so the hive was in shade. I opened them around 3:30 Pm as opposed to my usuall 10:00am. They were again very gentle and I smoked them as usuall and the second I got the cover off was amazed at how many bees were up there. I picked up the first frame and every frame after that was the same way...filled with honey and ripening nectar. After fully inspecting the super I tried to pry it from the brood chamber but, it was too propolized. For five minutes I ran my hive tool along the crack like a box cutter. I moved to lift the super and when I felt this enormus weight I thought that I was lifting the brood chamber too. Then, I looked down and the super was about three inches clear of the brood chamber. That thing had to of weighed about 50 pounds. For a hive to draw and fill combs to the point that a super goes from 15 to 50 pounds in a week there must be one SERIOUS honey flow going on now. All I have to do is get a queen excluder and I'll be able to put on the super I have for honey harvesting. And I'm goning to need an extractor which come at a pretty penny. So, after I removed the increadibly heavy super it was time to inspect the brood chamber. I removed the first frame which had to be about 9 pounds with honey and pollen. That frame had no brood, just pollen and honey. The next frame was filled with eggs and young larvae and having seen eggs, larvae and capped larvae I had done everything I needed to in the inspection. I didn't search for the queen because, that would require me to inspect every frame and, if I leave a few frames undisturbed the colony gets back to work in no time. Besides, I had searched for any disease or paracite in the first five frames. Next week, I may have to throw on another super. This hive is growing like a weed...a very nice to have but somewhat scary weed.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Super Super

(For any of you who don't know this, a super is a box that a beekeeper puts on a hive to store honey or expand the brood nest.)

I've been off at the beach for memorial day weekend and inspected my bees yesterday but, I couldn't get onto the internet untill today. Unfortunettly, I didn't take any pictures but it was probably the best inspection I've ever carried out.
Yesterday was sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and it had been two weeks since I opened the hive, so I decided to try for an inspection. I lit the smoker and did everything as usuall. I used my hivetool to crack open one side of the cover to blow some smoke in, then, I lifted the cover thinking it would come off as usuall. I strained as hard as I could and the entire hive came up. It had to of weighed over 60 pounds! Anyways, I used my hive tool and scraped enough propolis off to pull off the cover. I was half expecting that the bees hadn't done anything with the super I put on then a few weeks ago. I was wrong, and noticed that the second I took off the cover. There were actually hundreds of bees in that super, unlike the usuall one or two dozen.
I pulled up the first frame and it wasn't drawn at all. Then, the second and it was about half drawn and so was every frame after that. Once the cells were drawn ,however, instead of being filled with brood like I thought they would they were filled with ripening nectar. I think this is a sure sign that the bees have changed their focus from horrezontal brood nest expansion to vertical honey storage.
After I was done with the super I had to lift it off to check on the brood chamber...easier said than done. Again, it was so propolized that I had to strain to pry the boxes apart. I lifted it up and it had to weigh at least 15 pounds. Not very heavy but, it's a start. I carved away the propolis and smoked the bees off of the ears of the frames. Lifted one up and it was picture perfect. There was about 1/3 of the frame at the top filled with capped honey, of which I sampled a few drops. There was also a solid brood nest core. I did some scraping of comb at the bottom of the frames and did another brood cut. No a single varroa and I didn't find any sacbrood. I saw plenty of eggs and young larvae so after checking four frames I figured I wouldn't disturb them anymore.

Again, this probably was the best inspection I've had in a long time. Not a single sting and none have gotten into my veil, yet. There wern't even any bees clinging onto my veil. There are usually about a dozen or so. This has again been a demonstration of how bees can change their moods by the weather.