Saturday, August 31, 2013

Treating for Varroa w/OA

After having lost one hive this week, I spent this morning setting up to treat the #1 hive with Oxalic acid by fumigation.  First I smoked the upper box to get out most of the bees, and then I removed the box and set it aside.  I placed my special cover over the hive and then began heating the melting tube.  Soon the bees began to leave where the mist was coming out.  In two or three minutes the process was over, so I let the hive sit for a while (15 min) to absorb the mist, which cools to a fine dust on everything.  My attention now was to deal with the top box.  An inspection revealed that it had a lot of bees, more than a super full of honey should have, so I rolled it over and found not only some brood in the lower parts of the comb, but also a lot of pollen stored for next spring buildup.  So after the 15 Min.'s I replaced the top box, then put on the blanket and cover. 

When I removed the cover originally, I saw that the beetles had been using the traps and many were dead on the top bars, but my thumb crushed another half dozen or so that tried to escape.  Maybe this treatment will keep these bees from leaving like the other hive.  I will treat again next week with powdered sugar and Thyme. 

I found on line a powdered sugar with no corn starch, made by King Arthur Floor, kind of expensive for 1#, ($12.50 with shipping) but I tried making my own and its not worth the energy.  Later

This afternoon the sky behind the house was again full of flying bees.  I thought, here goes # 3 hive.  But much to my amazement, they all circled awhile and came back to the hive.  I'm going to have to stop watching, it takes to much out of me.  Later again

Friday, August 30, 2013

Mites ahoy

Pulled the sticky board today and was not to happy.  Lots of mites, bordering on the threshold of having to do a major treatment. Also had several beetle larvae squirming around.  Will have to let the traps do there thing.  Also ordered some Beetle Blaster traps to put in.

Suspecting the other hive had mites also, I put on the OA smoker and gave them a dose.  Tomorrow morning I will do the same for hive #1.  So much for Warre saying   "just watch the entrance to see how things are going".  Guess he didn't have mites or beetles in his time which never come out to say hello.

I saved the sticky board to show the Meetup group next weekend.  Later

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hive absconding

As I was enjoying my lunch sitting in the screened porch overlooking the back yard I notice abnormal activity at the hives.  Thousands of bees circling from ground to tree tops.  As I approached with the camera I saw all the activity coming from # 2 hive.  I sat down in my bee chair next to the hives ( but not close) and observed and listened as there was quite a roar and took a few movie shots of the event.  My first thought was that I had an August swarm and thought about getting my equipment out, but as I watched the bees circling, they began to diminish in numbers and then it was back to normal.   The whole event was maybe 7-8 min.  My guess is that they were being robbed but I went over to the hive to examine the bees on the ground, they were their normal docile selves (not like two days ago).  Beats me!!!  Later I checked the observation window and it seems there are a few less bees in the top box, the lower two I can't see into so don't know what's going on in there.  The honey stores seem to be in tack though so that's even more confusing. Will have to check the trees more closely for a swarm, but they did not act as if they were in the process of swarming, when I was out there.  Later

You'll have to excuse the end of the video, a bee landed on my leg and I was a bit jumpy from the other day.

I  put a sticky board under hive #1 today to get an idea of my mite counts, if any.  Saw lot of beetles again and killed several more.  Seems like the thumb method is pretty sure.  They have been eating at the traps too.  Later

PS:  Just opened my hive and to my un-surprise, found it almost empty of bees.  I guess I just witnessed and absconsion.  So long my little friends.  Its a shame, all you can do is sit there and watch them go, there's nothing that you can do to change their minds.  Will have to do a close inspection to see what was bugging them.  If all looks normal, maybe merge with the other hive.  Later

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wrong move again

If you believe in holistic medicine and bee stings are good for Rheumatism, than I'm good for at least a couple more years.  Yesterday after putting feed in the merged hive, I had some left over so I put some in an entrance feeder for hive #2.  This afternoon I saw it was empty so I decided to remove it.  I guess the bees figured it was theirs to keep because they came at me with a vengeance.  I only wear shorts and a t-shirt working the bees normally and these had been exceptionally docile so I thought nothing of going in and removing it as I had done many times before.  Mistake,  I got nailed three time on the ankle and once on the hip through my shirt.  I can only guess that maybe there was some robbing going on and that made them really aggressive.  Will have pay more attention from now on.

I have a bee meet-up coming in 2 weeks, better have them bring suits. 

The merged hive is going great guns since the merge with lots of new comb being built, will have to feed again as its better to feed to make comb than let them waste all that energy bringing in nectar for comb building and not honey storage.  Later

Monday, August 26, 2013

Inverting hive

The action from in front of the combined hive has increased from dribbles to more bees then the other swarm hive, so today I pulled the paper from between the hives.  I had originally placed the lesser hive on top so the other hive would have little disturbance having  new-comers in its presence.  So today, because they had merged, I pulled all the boxes apart and inspected them and then replaced them with the lesser hive on the bottom.  I did this because the other hive had almost a full box of filled comb for the winter stores and with their brood on the bottom, they would spend the fall moving all that honey up to the top as it should be.  This way they can spend the fall gathering new nectar and fill more comb.  I also placed the feeder back on just to give them more food to store now the two hives were one and had not enough stores for the upcoming winter.

In the whole process the bees were very gentle and I probably didn't need to suit up, but you can never tell this time of year.

Its kind of curious that when I inspected them, they had not merged as I might have expected, I think that both queens have survived the merge and just went on with their own place in the hive.  Will have to monitor and see what transpires.

I also discovered a few beetles, but the inspection found them to be mite free, or should I say, no major infusion.  I'll make up a mite traps and place inside all the hives just to be safe.  Later in the fall, when I winterize, I plan to miticide with oxalic acid just to be safe.  Later

Its later and I just finished installing the beetle traps.  All three hive had a little more than a few beetles so the traps are just in time.  The best hive had the most and I killed about 20 or so and five or six larvae also.  Hope it was beetle larvae and not moth worms, will have to look that up,  Later

Monday, August 19, 2013

Merging hives

Yesterday I looked under my lesser hive (#4) and found not much progress, but there were some brood cells.  Not much in the way of capping's on the bottom board either, so I decided to combine my 2 swarm hives.  Yesterday I moved the two hives close together so the bees in #4 could find the new hive easier when I made the switch.  This morning was cool and I new the #4 hive would be in a ball so I broke out the smoker and took the roof and blanket off #3 and removed the inner cloth and replaced it with a sheet of paper.  I then took my knife and cut some slits in it so the two hives can inter-mingle their scents.  I will remove the paper in a couple days after the have chewed through and joined together.  I then took the 2 top boxes (they had built down into the second box) from #4 and placed them on the paper.  I then opened the side entrance for the bees to use in the interim.  Within a couple minutes the bees which had been in the bottom box of #4 had found the new entrance.  So far so good.  We'll have to wait on the queens to see if they will fight it out or just accept each other.  Later  As a side note, I found six little kittens about 4 weeks old, out in the barn under the wood pile, anyone need one???  Will have to feed and make friends with them so they don't get to feral before
I give them to the HS.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The crows

I'm going to deviate from my chronicles of raising bees and write about a funny thing that happened to us on our little farm in the city.  I own about a half acre of property in NYC, well, its really Staten Island but technically its NYC.  We have apple trees, a pear tree, plum trees and vegetable gardens, plus numerous flowers gardens and elderberry, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry bushes.  keeps me sane in the big city.  Our house has a 10X24 foot screened porch which is really our living room for most of the year.  One Sunday morning as my wife and I were enjoying our coffee whilst looking at our accomplishments in the back yard, I saw something hopping along the bushes.  It was black and a first I thought it was a cat, but the hopping confused me.  Then I heard a crow call of distress.  I realized the hopping thing was a baby crow and my thoughts went back to my youth when my dad had caught a crow and tamed it for us as a pet. It could even say a few words.  So I told my wife that I was going to catch it, so I went out to where I had last seen it and started my hunt.  I soon found it under some low grass and snuck up behind it and made my lunge.  With bird in hand I brought it back to the back steps and tried to calm it, which I slowly did.  By this time the mother crow had begun an alert call for help and slowly the sky began to fill with circling crows all blaring loudly.  We thought that this was great as the church next door would be getting out soon and the sky would be full of circling birds all screaming loudly.  We laughed.  Finally the mood changed as more and more crows showed up, now approaching several hundred, and my wife said we had to let it go.  Reluctantly I agreed and took the now calm bird to where I found it and said goodbye.  Goodbye or not, the crows decided to take roost in my back yard for the next three days and every time I went outside they began screaming at me, which made my wife and daughter laugh wildly.  Finally they left  and life became routine again with weeding and other such mundane things.  Later

Vacation over

Just got back from a 2 week trip to TX seeing my brand new great grand daughter.  By the time I left they were calling me the baby whisperer because every time she cried they would give her to me and she would stop within minutes.  Only saw one bee hive on the whole driving trip up and back and that was just across the river in NJ.

Anyway, checked on the bee's.  While clearing weeds in front of the hives they came out to meet me and stung me on the hand, must have been in the weeds I was picking. Good to be back.  The lesser swarm hive hasn't improved a bit, but the other (#3) has filled the top box and is extending into the lower one.  Will have to combine the two later in the fall for sure.  Everything is still green, unusual for August, even the clover is still blooming.  I've noticed that where-ever the bumble bees hang out, the honey bees stay away, so much for planting honeybee friendly flowers in my yard, its full of bumble bees, but they are suffering too from diseases so its good to see them doing well.  Later