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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Native Crabapple Tree Mar '18

bee, beekeeping, crabapple, redbud tree, trees atlanta, native pollinator,
Thanks to Trees Atlanta, a small native crabapple tree attracts the honey bee.  This species and eastern redbud were planted along the street over a year ago.  I took a few iPhone photos and the first photo turned out best.

At the MABA meeting, Geoffrey Williams of the Auburn Bee Lab was asking the question which wild flower species attract which species of native pollinators.    I have my own questions, which tree species are better at attracting honey bees, and the ultimate question of what location and tree species attract the honey bee best.    Trees Atlanta plants multiple trees of the same species side-by-side.  Turns out that the native crabapple tree with the best mid-day sun attracts the honey bee.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

drone Feb '18

bee, beekeeping, drone, swarm trap,
The voice of reason, my spouse, captured this iPhone photo on February 24th.  My attempts at putting my eyes and two hands into a line resulted in poorly composed or out of focus photos.  The abundance of spring drone bees is an urgent reminder to prepare my tree hanging swarm traps.

a gateway to wild bee conservation

bee, beekeeping, conservation, native solitary bee,

bee, beekeeping, conservation, native solitary bee,
This UK purchased bee habitat contained paper straws for Mason Bees.  Over time I replaced paper straws with more durable reeds.  This winter the reeds were sealed with mud, but recently I discovered holes and more recently discovered Mining Bees entering the reeds.  Typically I find Mining Bees tidying their entrance holes beneath our shrubs.    For a write up and images of Mining Bees, have a look at the Mark Schlueter's website, Bees of Georgia.

NPR ran a story, "Honeybees Help Farmers, But They Don't Help The Environment" which has a link to an editorial news article.  The editorial contains a photo of commercial beekeeping in what appears to be a high plains desert environment in Spain - probably not a environmentally appropriate place to drop lots of bee hives.  From a urban beekeeper point of view, I'm left with no moral concerns.  Whoever has not used a shocking news/blog title raise your righteous hand.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

mahonia Feb '18

bee, beekeeping, beeline, foraging, mahonia, pollen, Thomas D. Seeley,
For weeks now, bees forage on mahonia and maple, but as the expression goes, not in my backyard.  This iPhone photo marks a small backyard pride milestone where I can follow the entire beeline between plant and hive.   Click on the image and surprise yourself at the photo detail.