Monday, July 16, 2018

with and without Bee Cozy hive wrap

bee, beekeeping, temperature, ventilation, winter, cloake board, respiration, bee cozy, hive wrap,
There's no ideal way to compare winter bee respiration with and without the Bee Cozy, but I'll do my best here.

IR temperature measurements started on 12-Nov-2017 without the Bee Cozy.  See a previous post, bee respiration, for measurement method.  On 2-Jan-2018, the 17.0°F outdoor temperature convinced me to add the Bee Cozy to two vertically stacked hives.  Only the queen excluder portion of a cloake board separate these hives.  1 Bee Cozy is added to the bottom hive (4 boxes) and 2 overlapping Bee Cozys are added to the top hive (5 boxes). The Bee Cozy is designed for 10 frame equipment.  So, the Bee Cozy easily slips over my 8 frame boxes and cloake board with no effort.  This 2-Jan-2018 measurement point appears as a blue dot in the lower left corner of dots - Paver temperature equals 17.0°F and Top Vent temperature equals 31.0°F.  On the graph, think of the horizontal axis as outdoor temperature and vertical axis as the bee respiration temperature.

All graph points lie above the green line (x= y) which is consistent with an active and alive hive. Blue dots are measurements without the Bee Cozy and trend beneath orange dots which are measurements with the Bee Cozy.  Excluding a few points, the Bee Cozy consistently increases bee respiration (Top Vent) temperature.

Wondering why I went into winter with such a tall stack of boxes which requires step ladder beekeeping - there's no good reason other than lazy beekeeping.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

crush and strain simplified

bee, beekeeping, combcapper, crush and strain, escape, foundationless. walter t kelly, Strainer and Bottler, brushy mountain, escape, harvesting, honey, wax,
It's called crush and strain, but there are surrounding steps to this simple slogan.  My honey harvest starts with the bee escape and ends with bottling.  So that foam can rise before bottling, strained honey is left to sit for a few days. With just one 5 gallon bottler, lots of honey and a busy day job, I had to modify my sequential honey harvest process.

Lucky for me, Home Depot sells food safe 5 gallon buckets - I bought two buckets to store crushed comb (wax and honey).  When the bottler becomes available, then I pour crushed comb into the strainer bottler

I'm trying to avoid making a large horizontal sticky mess in the kitchen.   So, I work in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Imagine a compact vertical stack - from the bottom up: brown paper, 5 gallon bucket, combcapper and medium foundationless frame of capped honey. In under an hour, Melissa and Dillon help cut comb from 14 frames with a paring knife.  Comb is crushed in the bucket using 2 inch Plastic Joint Knife attached to a pole.

Friday, June 8, 2018

crush and strain with Combcapper

bee, beekeeping, combcapper, crush and strain, foundationless. walter t kelly, honey, wax,
Combcapper gadget simplified my crush and strain process.  I'm not using the supplied nail and cut the medium foundationless frame down in thirds, guiding each 1/3 piece by hand into the 5 gallon bucket.  The combcapper holds the frame securely - an essential element when using a sharp paring knife. Michael Willis, coworker and beekeeper, helped me in the kitchen extracting 12 frames which yielded 4 gallons of strained honey.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

record hive sound with OSBeehives


bee, beekeeping, crowdfunding, hive health estimation, screened bottom board, sound recording,

bee, beekeeping, crowdfunding, hive health estimation, screened bottom board, sound recording,

OSBeehives sells a solar powered in-hive detector which connects to WiFi and your smartphone.  A successful crowdfunding project, I used their free phone app to record the sound of my hives. Laying on my back, holding the iPhone beneath the screened bottom board, I made a sound recording of each hive.  The app analyzes the sound and categorizes the hive health into one of six states.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

tulip popular flower windfall

bee, beekeeping, checkerboarding, foundationless. walter t kelly, honey cap, nectar, Small Hive Beetle, tulip poplar, sustainable, swarm, swarm lure, swarm trap,
Today I discovered the first 2018 windfall of the tulip popular flower kind.  Tulip poplar flowers could be a valuable nectar flow for the bees if the weather cooperates - no hard rainfall please.

In late February for one hive and mid-March for the other hive, I checkerboard the honey cap using foundation-less frames with no drawn comb. Both overwintered hives are flying with nearly equal vigor and have an amazing low number of small hive beetles during hive inspections, but are not drawing comb as I expected.

On March 29th I hung 8-frame deep swarm traps from crepe myrtle trees and now wait for the first scout bees - apparently I'm waiting impatiently.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

2018 spring bloom markers


Acer palmatum, bee, beekeeping, bloom, Bradford Pear, Carolina Cherry Laurel, Carpenter Bees, climate, growing degree days, pollen count,
I was hoping to simplify my tracking of spring bloom markers, but instead I added another marker, Growing Degree Days (GDD), which is easy to calculate using free web-based tools.  Julian Day allows me to convert MM-DD-YYYY date format which spans 3 months (February to April) into a seamless day of the year format. GDD is a major convenience, I can tap into a database of daily temperature minimum and maximum instead of recording my own observations.  Focusing on the last two graph points, the accumulated warming this year is roughly 25 days delayed compared to last year (84 versus 59).
Acer palmatum, bee, beekeeping, bloom, Bradford Pear, Carolina Cherry Laurel, Carpenter Bees, climate, growing degree days, pollen count,
Here I compare additional observations with GDD, 1) Acer leaf-out in my backyard and 2) first day that the pollen count exceeds 1000.  Notice how well these markers follow similar graph trends.
Acer palmatum, bee, beekeeping, bloom, Bradford Pear, Carolina Cherry Laurel, Carpenter Bees, climate, growing degree days, pollen count,
Here I show a free web-based tool by AgroClimate which compares this year's GDD to the previous year.  Reading from left-to-right, notice where the curves depart - last year's accumulated warming began in mid January, approximately 30 days earlier than this year.  If the daily high does not exceed 50°F, then the daily contribution to accumulated GDD is zero - the curve does not grow in height. I love this graph layout, but I can't use this tool to go back further in history. This tool can draw the average GDD (not shown), but we all know that no such thing exists in the wild - we have never experienced an average year of weather.
Acer palmatum, bee, beekeeping, bloom, Bradford Pear, Carolina Cherry Laurel, Carpenter Bees, climate, growing degree days, pollen count,
Here I show a free web-based tool by Weather Underground which I used to calculate GDD beyond the previous year in history.  In previous years, I kept the starting point equal to January 1, and I change the ending point in a trial and error manner to achieve a GDD value close to 296.  Why 296 - this is the GDD value where the Atlanta pollen count exceeds 1000 this year.

                     2009 2010 2011 2016 2017 2018 
                      day  day  day  day  day  day
Bradford Pear          65   79   60        56   53
Carpenter Bees         68   87   72        63   77
Acer palmatum leaf out 73   92   77        64   76
Carolina Cherry Laurel 73   97   83        57   76
Pollen Count over 1000                76   51   84
GDD=296 (base 50°F)    92  104   93   84   59   84
Here I show other values that do not appear in the graphs.

Friday, March 23, 2018

bees forage without pollinating

bee, beekeeping, blueberry, Carpenter Bees, nectar, foraging,
For years I've visited my neighbor's blueberries, but all I ever see is foraging bumble bees.  Today the visitors include carpenter bees and honey bees. There's something odd about this photo, have you noticed?  Bees are not entering the flower. Carpenter bees have chewed holes and honey bees forage without pollinating the blossoms. See this link from Cornell University.