Friday, May 24, 2013

Entrance feeder

Yesterday I installed the entrance feeder into the swarm hive, but I found that it constricted the entrance so much that the bees were having a hard time bringing in pollen and such.  So today I modified one of the brood boxes with a dovetailed slide which will accommodate the entrance feeder and will also serve as a top entrance for wintering the hives.  This will be a standard on all my boxes from now on.  This is an adaptation from the Sterwarton hive.

I also added a viewing window (slide operated) for checking on the bees activity without opening the hive.  You can see both the windows and the feeder/upper access slide.  Later

Only 50 or so bees left in the package.  Later

Thursday, May 23, 2013

One new package dead

As of this morning I am officially stating that my hive is dead.  There is no queen and only about 3-4 hundred bees hanging in a cluster.  My Oxalic acid finally came ( to late) but I gave them a dose anyway.  If I can, I will put a swarm in with them and monitor.  Still no word from NBL, so can't be sure why they died but am still clinging to Tracheal mites, but as fast as the colony died, 11 days, I can't be sure.  Will just have to wait and see.  Other hives still going strong.  Suppose to rain for the next three days so I gave them a last dose of syrup for comb building.  One bee was bound and determined to sting me but I got away both times as she chased me all the way to the house.  Neighbors must think I'm crazy, running and swatting across the yard.  Later

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Package almost gone

Checked on the status of the diseased hive this morning and found less than 1,000 or so left.  Still bees coming out to die on the ground.  I guess the activity that I saw around the entrance was from the neighbors, robbing the food that I left in the entrance feeder.  All other hives doing fine.  Probably weeks before I get results and definitely no time left for fumigation.  Viewing through the observation window I can see that there are no brood cells capped.  Guess the queen didn't make it.  Later

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Off to find a better home

While doing more spring yard work ( the wife's home on weekends) I failed to notice what was going on at the hives and when I checked around noon, I found that the small swarm had vanished.  I guess I made the mistake of not providing enough room for them in the Nuc.  Live and learn.  Although they had been pulling comb on the bars, only 2 bees are left in the hive diligently working, nothing the wiser, guess they didn't get the E-mail.

The bad hive is down to about 20% bee's remaining.  Surprising as it seems, there was some activity from the entrance.  Looking through the observation window, I can see that they have been building comb, about 5 starters in all.  The  larger swarm which I caught has comb down to the bottom board almost, the difference between package and feral I guess.
Because I don't have observation windows on the second package hive, I don't know what's going on inside of it.  They are very hungry though, as I have given them over a gallon of syrup since last Saturday.  I have new queens coming in June which are Hygienic Carneolans.  Have no idea at this time where they will go.

Still no Oxalic acid in the mail so the treatment hasn't started, better get here fast.  Definitely will treat all my hives as it causes no ill effects, so they say.  Later

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cicada's are here!!!

We have been waiting patiently for the ground to get warm enough for the 17 year Cicada hatch.  While mowing the lawn, I bumped the Rose-of-Sharon tree and the cicada's hit the air.  They crawl out of the ground, shed their skin and because they can't fly far, its kind of flap your wings like crazy and angle for the ground kind of flying, unless it is able to catch a thermal, it can actually make it up in a tree.  The higher they go up trees, the better chance of flying to a mate. 

I remember the last time (1996), my wife and daughter had gone shopping and about an hour before they got home I went out back and stood still in the middle of the yard.  The Cicada's began to crawl up my legs, HUH OH,  I had shorts on.  I ran for some duct tape and by the time my wife returned, I looked like one of these photo's of the girl covered by bees.  Sorry, no photo available.

The only bees I see coming out of the diseased hive are ones that are coming out to die.  To Bad, I wish I really knew what's going on.

Last year I had trouble inspecting my TBH because the weight of the honey kept breaking the comb off into the bottom of the hive.  So this year I have been making my section boxes shorter and have added a wire support to the frames, should do the trick.  Later

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Dieing bees

Yesterday a saw bees in the bee house on the floor spinning in an erratic fashion and seem to not be able to fly.  This morning, all those were dead on the floor and there were many more, and more on the ground in front of the hive.  The other hive is strong and is hauling pollen and nectar in, in a somewhat robust fashion.

I called Joe at Better Bee and he didn't have a good answer, but as I was awaiting his return call, I started a search, and the closest I can get to the symptoms is Tracheal mites, aimlessness, spinning, can't fly, gathering hoards in front of the hive on the ground, so I sent a package to the National Bee Labs in Maryland to verify the problem.  I also ordered some Oxalic acid and will build a copper dispenser to gas the bees.  Its suppose to kill both the Varroa and Tracheal mites.  Hope they last long enough for the treatment.

The hive seem to have no purpose and have eaten little, they have built a small amount of comb, but seem to just hang from the top bars in a mass.  When I think back to releasing the queen, I remember that they hadn't even tried to get her out.  The candy plug was as good as new.  Today the feeder was only 1/4 empty, where the other hive had eaten at least a half gallon of food.

Checked on the hive this evening and I'm down to about 1/3 of the bees I started with.  Could only see 1 forager going out of the hive to gather.  Dead bees everywhere, I guess by the time the treatment gets here they will all be dead.   Will have to wait to see what the prognosis is.

I am amazed between the difference in attitude between package bees and feral swarms.  Once the swarms decided that they had a new home, they were off foraging and the entrances to both the new hives were buzzing with activity, while the sick hive had nothing going on and the other package was just going about its business with nothing spectacular happening, although, bringing in lots of pollen.  Will have to use the treatment on them too.  Later

2nd swarm

Loaded the truck and headed out at 6:30 this morning to catch the swarm before they depart as its suppose to be hot today.  Arrived on site and took a real picture this time.  Went back to the truck and gathered the gear.  The guy said they had been in the tree for a couple of days but that didn't dawn on me until they attacked.  They got me about 7-8 times about the head and neck before I could descend the ladder to safety.  That's the very first time I've been stung catching swarms.  Part of the problem was they were attached to 2 branches and I was having a hard time getting my catch sack under them.
Anyway, I put on my jacket and hood and got them out with no more trouble.  Would have been funny to watch, me swatting like crazy and trying to get off the 10' ladder without falling.

Got home and hastily built a Nuc for the small swarm I caught last night and gathered together odd parts for todays larger swarm. Then spent the rest of the day making new frames for my new hives.       Later                                       
                                                                   Real pics attached.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First swarm caught of the year

This evening, just as my wife and I were about to dine out, I got a call from a young couple saying they had bees in their back yard and could I come over.  Much to my wife's chagrin, I said of course, as it was not to far away.  The swarm, (no picture attached because I forgot to save it) was a small one about 8' up a small tree.  For them to swarm so late in the day is unusual.  I drove home, got my gear and went right back.  I set up the ladder, took the unsaved picture, and proceeded to gather them in, all the while the couple were watching in amazement from their living room window.  He came out later and asked, " how could you do that without any protection".  I said they don't sting unless they are pinched, and I did pinch one and got a light sting on the palm.  "I still can't believe it" he said.   Just got another call through Debra, one of the SI bee keepers about a swarm, could I call the guy to arrange catching it.  I did, and am going to get it first thing in the morning.  I am totally not ready for this.  Later

Monday, May 13, 2013

Queens released

This morning, as I was feeding the bees, I lifted the top box from each hive to see if they had released the queens.  The queen from the nasty hive had been released but in the other, a piece of old comb had fallen down onto the queen cage and she had not been released yet, so I opened the cage and let her run in.  She had been with these bees in the cage since they left Georgia so I was not concerned about her being accepted. .  Kind of chilly today so the bees aren't flying much.  In the hive with no loose queen, the bees are just hanging in a ball.  Will check later to see if I can see the queen and see how they are doing.  They should get ramped up now they have a queen.  Both hives seem very docile, as I smoked very lightly and had no problems, probably from the cold weather.  Later

Solar wax collector

Yesterday I found several pieces of HDB (high density board) the neighbors had thrown away so I put them to use by creating a solar collector.  I bought  2 pieces of 10X20 in. glass ($21) and a cake pan ($4) for a total outlay of $25 bucks. 

I built the box slightly wider than the cake pan and about 5 inches longer.  At the upper end I glued a strip of wood for the lip of the pan to rest on about 1\2 in down from the top.  I then placed a stopper (so the pan stayed at the top) for the pan, just high enough to allow a piece of Tupperware (5" sq and 2 in. deep) to sit on.  I then drilled a series of 1/8" holes at the bottom end of the cake pan for the wax/honey to drain through into the collector under the pan end.  For the top, I put 2 grooves into a 3/4 X 1 in. board to fit the glass and cut and fit it just larger than the top, about 1/16+ bigger. I then fit a strip about 2" wide around this to finish the top (hinge-less)  just large enough to snuggly fit ( not to snug) over the box with about a 3/4 in lip.  I then sprayed it black on the inside.  Even though it was only 60 deg. out but sunny, I threw in some smashed comb and honey left over, which I had drained from the dead hives, comb which I had collected and put the lid on.  Later in the day, most of the wax had melted and drained into the collector, along with the honey that was still trapped in the smashed wax.  As the honey was heavier, it settled to the bottom and was easily separated.  The honey I got from this was almost white and utterly delicious, I have no idea where the bees got it as most of my honey is dark amber.

Great cheap do it yourself project that really works.  Later

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bee packages have arrived

Today I took the dogs on the 200+ mile trip to Better Bees in Greenwich, NY to pick up my bees and a few other things that I ordered.  Put them in the back of the truck and came back.  When I got home I saw I had a few straggles that road-out the trip clinging to the sides of the packages.  I was also amazed that there were no dead bees in the bottom of either box (the suppliers keep saying that it isn't unusual to find several hundred bees dead on the bottom of the package), so much the better.  I placed one package in the old nasty hive outside, put in a pollen patty and filled the top feeder.  Then I went over to the other box and began to open it and my thumb slipped down onto the screen and one stung me, just a little sore but that's all.  Went back to the house to wash my hands to remove any pheromone smell and got in my suit just in case and I feel penned in when I'm in the shed with a lot of bee's flying around.  I had given them a large dose of sugar water spray before I dumped them in the hive and not much happened, gave them a pollen patty and put the feeder in the entrance.  Checked them about 2 hrs. later and most of the sugar water is gone already, guess I'll be cooking up some more soon.

Its really good to see bees flying around again, just in time to take advantage of the Russian Olive bloom. 

Checked the bees again late afternoon and found several large dark bees on the ground in front of the hive and one with his wings tore off crawling around.  Looks like robbing from the feral hive already.  Shut down the entrance to give them more protection.  The other hive seems to be doing fine, maybe because its an entrance feeder and not a top feeder inside the hive.  Will have to monitor more closely.  Later


Monday, May 6, 2013

Bee call out

Got my first bee call out of the year yesterday, but it was a false alarm.  No bee's wasps or anything.  The woman was quite perplexed as was I as she swore she heard loud bussing when she entered her crawl space.  Maybe the first Cicada's of the year.  We found one not quite ready to pupate putting in flowers in the new garden.  5 days until I pick up the new bee's, can't wait.  Later

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Apple trees blooming

Yesterday I took a spring yard work breather and walked back to the apple trees to see how pollination was coming.  Looks like few apples again this year as unfortunately all I found was a single honey bee flitting amongst the blossoms.  Not much today either but the carpenter bees were working so maybe there's hope for some apples if the squirrels don't eat them all again.  A single bee came around when I was cleaning out my hives, but apparently was just looking as he did not come back.

The big maple tree is finally gone, 4 hard months cleaning it up by myself.  Made table slabs from the main trunk and got about a thousand bf. (winter project).  Had the stumps ground down but trying to dig out the roots was a bear.  Put in another flower garden where the maple tree was, with some annuals this time and put a Red-Bud in the center.

Acquired a dozen Heather plants from Michigan Bulb and put them in the ground in the bee garden (my wife doesn't know that all the flower gardens are for the bees).  They were 4" pots so it will take awhile for them to grow.  I also ordered 2 Oak-leaf Hydrangea's, suppose to be great bee plants too. 

Pick up my 2 packages of bees on the 11th, can't wait.  Started building another octagon hive, this one slightly bigger as I'm going to put wider bars on the two ends for more honey storage  I am also going to support the top bar combs with wire supports, have a wire bender coming soon.  The hives will be slightly larger but also shorter by 2" as I found the long combs have a tendency to break when I examine them.  Being shorter and having wire support should do the trick.  Happy summer.  Later