Friday, June 28, 2013

Brood patterns in lesser swarm hive

Inquisitiveness got the best of me today so I lifted the top box on the lesser hive to check to see if the new queen was laying.  And she was.  Now to see if the small number of bees can last until the new brood hatch.  All other hive are doing well.  I did notice a couple of beetles in the package hive the other day, but I think I'm just going to let the bees take care of them.  Maybe I'll put in a trap when I pull the honey next month. 

No more Cicada's, saw the last of them, scattered on the ground, today while I was walking the dogs.
Haven't seen one flying for 2 days, kind of sad.  The damage to the tips of the branches where they chew them through is amazing to see, all about 12 to 15 inches long, brown and dangling.  Some trees are completely covered, while others are sporadic.  They seen to like the young oaks the best.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Never disturb your hive before a storm

Today I mistakenly decided to nadir a different brood box to my package hive.  I generally work in shorts and tee shirt, that was a mistake.  A storm is in the wane and the bees were not easily put down with smoke.  The new flight bees were out circling and that was probably a good reason to delay my work, but I dove right in as usual.  I first lifted off the comb super.  They had started to build comb with honey below the queen separator so that had to be cleaned first.  That started to make them  disturbed, but not yet angry.  I then lifted the 2 brood chambers off (together) and set them aside.  At this point the bees decided that I was an intruder that needed to be dealt with so here they came.  Luckily at that point I had nothing in hand and outran all but 2, which stung me on the back of the calf.  On with the suit.  The bees had just started to build in the brood chamber I had put on a couple of weeks earlier so it was full of bees doing bee work.  I set it aside and placed the new one in its place.  Then put the hive back together and let it set for awhile.  Later I came back to check.  The bees were still in an angry mood and chased me out.  Again I returned, this time from the back.  I opened the door to the glass viewer and was assailed by bees, it seems that during all my work, one of the glass panes came undone.  Guess I'll not be viewing the progress of this brood box for a long time.

One good thing, The top brood/honey chamber is full of honey, as I had expected, so I will remove it on the 15th of next month, hopefully no storm eminent.

On another note, the constant din of the Cicada's is diminishing and you can make out their individual songs.  From the noise I thought for sure I would be swallowed by the Langoliers.  Later

Saturday, June 22, 2013

2nd queen released

Checked the hive this AM and found about 25 or so dead bees in front of the hive.  Yesterday I noticed what might have been robbing going on and looking into the hive I can see they have stored little honey, or, the honey they stored to date is being robbed.  If so, now they have a queen, maybe they are starting to defend the hive.  Or, maybe by spraying some of the bees surrounding the queen cage, I doomed them and the rest of the hive retaliated.  I did not find the queen amongst the dead bees.  Or, maybe they just got the ambition to clean out all the dead bees in the bottom of the hive.

The hive seems no different today than yesterday, so its hard to tell what's going on.  I don't go into the hives by removing frames, I just try to ascertain what's going on by observation of the flight bees, and the inspection window, which only shows the very outer edges of the combs.  I will be able to see honey and pollen buildup and some brood cells (I hope) in the near future.  If the queen took, the comb build-up should be seen also.

As I watched the package hive early this morning I saw that about 25% of the bees could not make it to the landing board they were so full, and crashed in the grass short of it.  They would rest awhile and then fly up and into the hive.  As I watched, they would come screaming down from above the trees and just before the hive they put on the brakes and hovered a second and then went inside.  Those to full and heavy to stop, ended in the grass.   Kind of fun to watch.  Later

Friday, June 21, 2013

Queen released

Its summer solstice and the queen in the lesser hive has been released and the tempo of the hive has increased.  The other hive seems to be trying to kill the queen so I sprayed them all with HBH to try and give them all the same smell.  Will check again in the morning.

Stopped in at the house with the bumble bees and found 2 still getting in.  They would land at the bottom of the wire screen and then keep bumping their head against the trap door, slowly opening it until they could crawl in.  Was amazing to watch.  Will try and get a video of it tomorrow.  Told the guy with the bees in his eave that I was not going to continue and (much to my chagrin)  he should just call an exterminator.  I might have continued but he was to cheap to understand that catching a swarm in five minutes and spending countless days trying to rid bees from a house was not the same price.  It just got to be to dangerous for me to keep climbing higher and higher trying to plug all the holes in his eave, speciously for nothing.  Later

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Queens arrived

This morning as I was removing a nest of bumble bees from a house I got the call that the package I have been long awaiting was at the post office ready to be picked up.  Finished with the bumble bees and headed for the PO.

Picked them up and they were in good shape, so after letting the bumble bees loose, I went home and installed them in both the swarm hives which have no queens.  One hive is large enough to carry over until the brood start to hatch, the other I'm not certain of so will have to keep a close watch.  Still a lot of good forage for the bees out there, so that's good.

Yesterday the back yard was alive with bees coming and going and when the new flyers came out the whole yard buzzed, or was that the Cicadas, its hard to tell.  I look around and I see the ends of branches all broken and hanging where the Cicadas have chewed them off to lay their eggs.  Natures own landscape pruners.  Later

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No queens today

Mail came and no message my queens are here to be picked up, hopefully tomorrow.  Checked the trap today and found the splice had come open on the tubing into the trap.  The bees have found another entrance under the shingle siding further up the peek.  Will have to find a 30' ladder to close off all the entrances so they have to use the trap.  Will take some foam spray also, along with a better grade caulking.  Sucked up a couple hundred bees with the vac and let them go in front of the hive containing all the rest I have vac'd up.  No brood that I can see in 2 of the swarm hives, but the other  swarm hive has lots of new foragers coming out and I can see good laying patterns.  The honey filled comb is descending further down each day. 

I think I'll plug the bottom entrance to the package hive to force them to using the upper entrance in the comb super.  That will make their trip a lot shorter as they don't like going over stored honey to get up into the upper super anyway.  My plan is to remove it in July when we go to Texas to see my newly born grand child, just yesterday.  The upper brood box may get taken off too, if its full.  Later

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nadir added

Going on a 4 day trip so I decided to add another brood box to the bottom of the package hive seeing as the queen is laying well.  Both the upper boxes are full and the comb super is getting there.  I would not want the bees to decide that they want to swarm while I'm away and its raining again so I can't open the hive to inspect for queen cells.  Will do that when I get back when the new queens arrive on Tuesday when I decide where to place the new queens.  Later.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

New bees out

A new excitement has developed in the hive today.  Its 80 degrees and partly cloudy and right on schedule the brood is hatching and the nursery bees are celebrating their new freedom with the circle dance they perform in front of the hive.  To drink in the aroma of the hive so they can find their way back safely after the first sortie of their life.  What an exhilarating experience that must be.  I guess its time to neder another brood box under the other 2 so they have room to grow. 

The Cicada noise is deafening an very eerie.   Later

Monday, June 10, 2013

First brood hatch day

Today was suppose to be an exciting day as the first brood from the package are to hatch.  Unfortunately, its pouring outside again and will be for the next 2 days.  Guess I'll have to wait.

Put up the trap again this morning only did a better job of sealing off all the exits.  The caulking I was given to seal the holes under the shingles seemed to be a good food source for them as they ate right thru it and were out in full this morning.  It was raining and they didn't like me around so I had to work on top of the ladder in full gear, hate that.

Have 4 full hives now, one without a queen but it seems to be doing well, building good comb and all that.  Will place one of the queens I'm getting in there and will decide where to put the other when they arrive next week.  May get a queen from the trap too.  Later

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Third swarm from same house

Yesterday I got another call from Charles in Mariners Harbor and he said another swarm formed in the back of his garage.  Went to see and found them attached to a series of branches but low enough to grab.  Set up the ladder and shook most of the into one bag but those on the opposite side of the branch did not come down, so I got the other bag and tried again.  Got half of those, so tried to move the rest by hand but there were just to many branches in the way to get a good grip and the vac was out of commission so I set the trap above them in hopes they may climb in, which they started to do.  Then I went and delivered the swarm to Debra, our Staten Island Bee keepers coordinator, who had requested some if I had any extra, as I did.  As it turned out, I forgot my bee suit back at the catch site so I had to shake all the bee into the TBH bare.  One bee got stuck in my belt line of my pants and when I bent over I got stung, no big deal by now.   Did not stay to see if the bees took to the new hive.

This morning I checked on the bees at Debra's house and they have settled in nicely.  Picked up the sacks and went back to the other site to get my ladder and measured the height from ground for trapping the bee nest in the bar (got permission).  Will need to make a larger trap if its the colony that's put off all these swarms.

Checked for queen cells in the octagonal hive and was amazed at the beauty of the comb ( pictures attached) after just three weeks.  The top box must weigh over 35lb already, will have to neder  another box under as the second box is half full already.  I did add a comb super and they are working that as well.  Its a great year for nectar, may even get some honey to sell.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer is here

When the fireflies begin to emerge and do their mating dance is the first sign of summer for me.  The three days of extreme heat and humidity finally brought them out.  Sitting on the back porch watching them light the back yard with twinkling keeps me mesmerized for hours (Always with a wine in hand of course).  I think that the Cicada's have taken a backseat now viewing wise, but the noise level surely can't be beat by them.  The noise reminds me of the movie "The Langoliers", and sometimes I'm afraid to fall asleep. 

All bees are doing fine, except one hive is missing a queen, and replacements aren't due for 2 weeks.  It has two combined swarms and they are both huddled in separate corners and won't come out to play.  Tomorrow I'm going to mix them back in with the big swarm from Sat., that hive seems to be acting more like a colony and may have a good queen.

Got a call from "Mark" and he wants me back to collect the 200 or so bees left in the eave.  Want to stop back to the seedy bar and check them out again, maybe set up the trap there sometime.   Later

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Another swarm

Finally late yesterday I got a call from a man who said there were bees clinging to the underside of his eaves.  So off I went, so fast I forgot the camera again.  The man (Mark) said they had been there for a few days.  No longer a swarm, but a colony, I switched to plan B.  Most of the bees were still clinging to the house siding, but I noticed that there were a lot of forage bees coming in and they were going under the trim board in about 4 places.  I went back to the truck and got out the bee-vac and set up the ladders and began to vacuum up the bees.  As I worked, less and less kept coming out from beneath the trim, but after about an hour and a half I was tired and called it quits for the night.  By the time I wrapped things up there was only a handful of bees balled at the only entrance I hadn't sealed up.  Last night in the dark, I transferred the bees into the sick hive ( having treated it twice with Oxalic acid fumes) which I had moved outside.  Today I will go back and see whether to set up the trap or just vac up as many as I can get.  I think they will abandon their new home as it seems much to small, and won't have any bees returning from foraging.

On another note, yesterday I met with Mike, formerly from the Staten Island Advance, who is doing a photo essay of the bees from NYC.  He took pictures of the hives and bees and in the process I inspected the swarm hive by turning it upside down and inspecting from the bottom ( no chance to roll the queen) and he got some nice pictures of the bees on brand new comb without all that frame shit in the way.  The queen has been laying as there were capped brood cells, although they are very sporadic so one of my new queens will go there.  I guess the other will go to the new swarm, as they have none right now.  No queen cells in the hive inspected, but will look at the package hive to see if they have one to spare.

Got another call from the same gentleman I visited last week that another larger swarm had settled in his back yard.  This time I have the camera, and found them entwined in a rolled up chain link fence. It was a huge swarm, upwards of 20,000 bees but gentle as can be and I had them vac'd up in no time.  Where to put these is the problem, I guess they will go with last nights catch.  I also found the main nest in the back of a real seedy bar, don't know if I dare go in to ask permission to trap the hive.  Checked on the eave bees and only saw 20-30 or so.  Will vac tomorrow.  Later