Wednesday, January 19, 2011

blue Koolade

Probably my last blog for awhile.  Yesterday I dissected the hive.  Found a lot more bees than I thought and a lot of honey which I salvaged and am also melting down the wax.  Could not find a queen in all the mess, but that doesn't mean she wasn't there.  Looks like they all died at once, shades of Jonestown as they all had little cups in their hands.  If it was disease, I don't think they would all have died simultaneously,  probably stress and the cold snap, with dysentery thrown in.  Still kind of sad,  maybe if I had brought them into the garage they may have made it.  Have to clean up the mess in the hive today and make it ready for the next swarm.  As I am thinking about it, I'm not sure the top bar hive works well in the northern climes, will have to work on insulating it before next winter.

Almost done with the roof for the new hive, kind of making it up as I go (will post a picture when done).  Ordered bees from a guy upstate, will pick them up in May, tried to find an apiary who doesn't use chemicals.  Sounds like catching another feral swarm is iffy at best but will still try when spring arrives.

So long for now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hive dead

Sad day!!  After 4 days of seeing nor hearing anything, I took the hive to the garage and opened it.  The bees were all at the top next to the food but were all dead.  Not as many as I had expected so I'm concluding they didn't have the mass to stay warm enough to survive.  Today I'll look for the queen and clean up the mess of bees and melt down the wax, although I'll save some of the comb for the bait boxs.

Making of the octangonal hive is progressing slowly.  Should have the roof done today.  Will post a photo when finished.  Not sure if I should order bees or just hope I catch some.  I'm tending to do the later.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2nd hive

So far the bees are holding their own.  I have stopped lifting the lid to check on food supply as it looks like I fed them enough till warmer weather arrives.  Plan on placing some black roofing material under the hive to see if the ones who fall can be warmed and return to the hive.  Once they hit the snow and linger, they are doomed.

We have had wild bees in my back yard for many years and when they swarm again, I hope to catch them.  I also plan to place a trap back where I caught the first batch. 

After further reading on bees and bee keeping, I have decided to build another hive.  This one is going to be based on the octagonal hive but I thought I would have some fun with it.  I don't believe that all bee keepers have to be so frugal.  If I'm going to put a hive in my suburban back yard, its going to be fun.  How about a pagota???

The hive will be a Warre but with some modifications.  1)  I plan to add vents in the cover board to let out moisture.  2)  I plan on adding a feeding tray below the quilt, size to be determined later, I will put it on in the fall and add food as needed without losing to much heat.  3)   I plan on adding a sight glass door in each box.  4) I think a screened bottom will be called for especially after last summers heat spell.

Yesterday I took the dogs to CT to buy some Atlantic Cedar.  I chose this for its insect resistance and hope it will deter mites from infesting.  The lumber yard guys said the bees love it, especially wasps, as they get hasassed all summer. 

Its out to the garage to begin on the hive's.  Anyone interested in one, let me know.  I'll post a picture when it done.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gathering the bees

While hunting in upstate New York last fall, my dogs and I came across a feral bee hive.  First one I ever saw, so we all watched as the bees did their thing.  The hive was built in a bush approximately four feet off the ground and because of the weight it had tipped over exposing the bottom to the weather.  We left, but on the way home as I thought about it, I knew the hive was doomed.  I got home and knowing nothing about bees, started to read about them and decided I would try to save the hive.  And so It began.  I built a top bar hive and as the fall continued, I monitored the hive to see how it was doing.  I brought my clippers and would occasionally remove a branch here and there as the bees let me.

The first time I tried to gather them ( I had brought an ice chest for the purpose) it was too warm and the bees became very agitated, so I left them alone.  A cold day would be better.  That day came on Nov. 10, it was 26 degrees, so a little after dawn I trekked back in with clippers and ice chest.  I removed the lower branches and slid the chest under it.  No bees so far.  I clipped the remaining branches and lowered the nest into the chest.  The bees remained friendly, so I brushed the ones crawling around into the chest and closed the lid.  Home we went.

I had ordered a bee suit so when it arrived it was time to transfer the bees to their new home.  I had occasionally opened the chest to let out moisture and feed the bees some honey and the few that flew out disappeared into the back yard never to return, so I knew that doing the transfer outside would not work.  I built a fire in  the woodstove in the garage and brought the chest in and opened it.  No problem so far.  My intent was to free the hive from the branches, attach the combs to the top bars, and wah-lah, a new home for my new bee friends.  Not.  While trying to move the hive from the chest, the bees came out in droves, filling the garage with flying insects ( I should say friendly insects because the did not attack).  Plan A was out of the question, so I just installed everything into the hive as was, branches and all, and would take care of it in the spring if they survive.  Probably a good decision as I read more and more.  I had to modify the comb to get it to fit, but it was so empty I just cut away the empty cells.  The whole thing only weighed 7-8 lbs.  I placed the hive in the new home and waited.  Most of the bees went back to the hive, some landed here and there, and quite a bunch landed on the windows, being cold, they bunched together for warmth.  So I got my spatula out and carefully picked them up and put them back in the hive.  Believe it or not, after about an hour, they were all back in, including two that didn’t seem to want to go. 

Probably not a good idea, but as the weeks went on, I would occasionally look in to see if they were eating the food and pollen that I purchased for them, they were.   We had a terrible blizzard with 50 mph winds and 2 feet of snow on the 26th of Dec, so yesterday, New Years Day, I trudged back to them and see how they were doing.  What a surprise, I guess they wanted to celebrate the New Year because they were out and having a great time. 
Checking later in the day I found about 30-40 dead outside the hive.  Not sure if they wanted to die outside or just succumbed to the cold.  Anyone have any ideas?   Will keep you posted to how things progress.  So long for now.