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Thursday, December 29, 2005

I might get a harvest sooner than I thought...

In my past few posts I stated that there was a honeyflow. Today, I learned just how strong that honeyflow is. Currently, the hive I have here (the Italian one) consists of a deep brood box and two supers. The botom super is filled with pollen and capped honey and the top super is over half capped with honey. At this rate I'll be able to harvest honey before the end of February and maybe sooner! When I opened the hive the bees were clearly busy; bees were flying in heavely burdoned with pollen and nectar and the entire hive had a sweet smell. No doubt do to the ripening honey. I pulled off the first super after a fair bit of prying. I thought that they must have collected alot of propolis but, when I got it off I saw tons of virgin white comb that was attaching the supers. This flow is so strong that the bees are violating "bee space" to store it all. I was going to take off that super and check out the brood box but, given it's only about 70ºF I didn't want to chill the brood. When the brood get cold (below 90ºF, they die. There was also the issue of the bees being a tad aggressive to my presence. I may have to requeen come spring. So, I lifted the super, heavy with ripening honey, and my smoker slips and burns my thigh. I screemed and dropped the super with wood, wax, honey, bees and all. Luckely, I dropped it onto the hive and not the ground. I actually burned a hole all the way through my khakis. This was very painful given I had just burned my leg. I slid the super into alighnment and put the cover on. I brushed off the oak leaves and dirt that had accumulated on it and walked away. I guess I'll have to use my gift card for Dadant to buy some new shiny extracting gear.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Some Bee Foraging Behavior...

I was bored today so I watched honeybees on Spanish Needle. It was windey today with gusts around 12 m.p.h. In less that one square yard there were five honeybees foraging simutaniously. That's kind of odd given I've read that bees stop foraging after around 8 m.p.h. winds. It was really cool to watch how they would bite the pollen off the anthers. they would just dig their heads in, clamp down with their mandibles and just "rake" it back to their legs. I had never acually stopped to watch them forage. There was one intresting niche they did though. They would actually sit on the flower or the pettles and either fly to a stem and crawl up it to get to the flower-head or they would "jump" from flower to flower about 1 inch away from eachother. To be honest, I thought that the bees would usually fly from flower to flower but, it was really interesting to see them quite literealy jump.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I found out what's blooming.

There's been a honeyflow going on lately so I figured I might as well go around and see what it is.There's only one plant blooming in abundance in the neighborhood and that's Spanish Needle. And humor me, this being my first year I'm trying to establish what my honeyflows will come from and this is more for my own records than it is for anyone else to read. Anyways, my camera has a dead battery and since I don't feel like waiting three hours to do a post I'm just gonna pull a picture of it off google. It is kind of funny though. Every spring and summer I hate this stuff given it grows on/near the beaches and has a tendancy to stick and cut into one's foot. I guess it's cool that in the winter I still get a honeyflow and these flowers are good for pollen too. There is an unbeliveable amount of activety around the enterences every afternoon. There's heavy trafic of bees (at least 6 bees a second!) and it's only around 60ºF. They were even flying when it was around 52ºF and these were foraging flights, not deffication ones. Anyways, here's a picture of that annoying, but usefull, Florida Native.

Sorry I haven't posted anyting in a while. I'm going out of town for the holidays so I won't be posting too much after this untill early to mid January. Although I like to inspect and work the bees it's at this time of year when the temp hovers anoud 70ºF and drops in the evening I like to stay out and reduce the stress on the colonies.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Deja vu...

Today was a good warm day in winter; a high of 80 degrees! It was finally warm enough to do an extensive check on how the bees were doing. The large italian hive got a clean bill of health and was very docile today. I didn't get one sting! The population has clearly diminished as has the brood nest. Anyways, I took off a super, which I thought was empty, so I could fill it with sugar syrup and give it to the russian colony. It took me about 15 minutes to fill the super with 1 1/2 gallons of syrup. In the center frames there was a actually fermenting, recently gathered nectar. Somewhere near here there is a species of plant blooming in mid winter. I went over to the russian hive which I last inspected a couple of weeks ago so I was unsure if it was even alive. They couldn't be more alive. Although there wasn't much activety at the enterence, the inside was buzzing with activety! They were very low on honey stores and actually didn't have much more that a few ounces of capped honey. What honey/nectar they did have was black as tar and most of it was stored in brood cells. It makes sence given the queen isn't laying very many eggs when the day length is shortening. I put the super full of nectar and sugar syrup when the man alowing me to keep bees on his property walked up and told me about a hive in a water meter. "I found it the other day jogging, did your bees swarm?"he asked. I replied that there was never a population drop large enough to indicate a swarm had ocurred. He kept telling me it was a beehive and as much as I didn't believe there was a subterranian hive of bees, I looked into it. We walked about 60 yards up a street and stopped at a tree. There was a group of bees ontop of what looked like a city water meter. I told him they were definately bees, but not my bees. The russians I had were almost a jet black, these bees has tan, italian colored bodies. The bees were all fanning and flying in and out of a slot at the end of the meter and in the little key hole at the other end. Thus, I come to the name of the post, it was just last week I was told about a hive someone wanted removed. The good news about this hive is if they pass the aggressian test they should be relatively easy to capute compared to the hive 25 feet up. First, I'll have to call the city to see if they'll even let me do it given the hive is nesting in city property. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It looks like that won't be happening!

I've now determined that it is a touch too dangerous to be taking the colony. It seemed a little on edge at first but, after this aggression test I did it would be insane to try. Anyways, I went over to the colony, got a long pole and put an old, black sock on it. Before I did this I was sure to have a smoker on stand-by just incase... I was swinging the sock around to determine how aggressive the bees were and something really surprised me. When it got within 6 feet the bees began head-butting it as if to say "GO AWAY!" As soon as it got within 2 feet it was clear I couldn't take this colony. DOZENS of bees fell off the comb to attack this small opponant. At one point the sock appeared to be encased in bees. Some smoke made short work of that but, needless to say, I'm not up to the job. As I said before, being 25 feet in the air taking bees seemed to be crazy enough but doing it on an africanized colony seems more like suicide! Either way, as much as I wanted to get these bees I had to tell my neighbor to call an exterminator since, I just don't have the stuff to deal with an africanized colony.