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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Assosiation Work Day

Today was a work day for the Tampa Bay Beekeepers Assosiation and I must say that it was very enjoyable. The apiary has fallen to ruin with only a quarter of the hives there were two years ago.(This is going to be long so bear with me...) Anyways, I showed up there at about 8:50 and the entire place was overgrown with grass waist high. The bees weren't really active so the eight of us that showed up waited for about half an hour for some of the bees to leave the hives. Eventually, we all donned our veils and lit out smokers to begin a few hours of work. There were about 20 colonies there but, not all were doing very well. They were on pallets for easy movement and apearantly, it got cold enough the night befor that dew was on the ground. Anyways, I watched what other people were doing for a while and moved onto my fist colony. It was BOOMING! The three medium supers on there were filled with honey and it needed a fourth. That's roughly 180 pounds of harvestable honey on one hive. After a little more rumaging around in the brood box some distance below, I concluded that this hive was healthy and moved on to the next one. It was acutally not doing so well. There were probably 30 pounds of harvestable honey and the colony itself was failing. I was instructed to grab a super full of honey off another colony and place it, bees and all, onto the colony. I did and so moved onto probably the most visious colony I've ever seen. I lifted the cover off and there weren't very many bees. I tought maybe it was queenless so I took off the honey supers and the queen excluder and came to the bottom brood box. It was terrable. It turns out that this colony swarmed in in the last month. It was actually an unused deep box that was just set off to the side with a few supers on it given the colony was a dead-out. All the frames were either foundationless, just wires or warped so, about half of them were taken out and replaced with foundation frames. It was at this point that I noticed that there were probably about a dozen bees trying to attack me through the veil and everyone else in the area. David then said, "I think it may have some africanization in it." I definately agreed when I felt a sting right through my jeans just above my knee. My bees have never stung me through a shirt or pants. Anyways, after working on scraping burr comb from that colony for about half an hour it was time to work another palet. I moved over to the last three hives I would do that day(bringing my total to six). The first one was so heavy with honey that I needed some help lifting the supers off. I got down to the brood box and was noticing a specific problem with queen excluders. Unless the propolis is carved all the way around(which is impossible given the setup) bees would be flung strait into the air like a trampoline. They really didn't like that. The hive was doing very well anyways, so I put the queen excluder and supers back on and went to work on the last two. The next one was basicly the same so I'll talk about the last one I did for the day. It wasn't much better than the visious one I talked about. But, this time, I was stung just below my left shouler blade through my shirt. Someone near me commented,"I think they take a short cource in human anatomy to know where it hurts most." I ripped out the stinger with my hive tool and continued working on the hive. It was definately on its way to becoming a dead-out. We worked on exchanging brood from other hives just to get this one "back on its feet". Oddly enough, non of the hives there had screened bottom boards or upper enterances; both of which I've found key for colony success. Anyways, the day was concluded with five of us, standing in a circle, all with our veils on, discussing our worst stings. One man said that when he started beekeeping he would remove comb with honey, brush the bees off, and eat it. Apearently, once he missed a bee and it stung him in the tounge. I was so thirsty after all that work but I had a few dozen bees on my veil and didn't want to take it off. I grabbed my bee brush, brushed them off, and grabbed a much needed sip of water. The bees still flew around as I had alarm pheramone on my from the stingings. It was a great deal of fun and I can't wait 'till next month.


Blogger Jessica Klarkson said...

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11:57 AM, October 15, 2005  
Blogger The Beekeeper said...

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12:01 PM, October 15, 2005  

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