Monday, August 24, 2015

maladaptive behavior - washboarding

I'm re-reading the public library copy of Honeybee Ecology.  This time around, I discovered an explanation of washboarding.  On page 18,  the author describes bees moving forward and backward as "planing."  In the wild, bees scrub the rough wood landing area of a tree trunk hive. The same bee behavior on an already smooth man-made hive makes no sense.

Compared to honeybees in nature, the author lists other maladaptive behaviors such as the over production of honey and a reduced tendency to swarm .  These insights hurt my feelings.  I'll get over it, but are my motives bee fitness or honey production?  On reflection, why wouldn't my existential pain include beekeeping?

I'm looking forward to finding other gems missed in earlier readings of Honeybee Ecology.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

sky burial - stack of sticky frames after crush-and-strain

I'm complaining about a good problem, too many frames of capped honey.  I credit the success mostly to honey bees from over-wintered hives and favorable Atlanta spring weather.  

I purchased a Sterilite® ClearView™ Storage Tote - Transparent with White Lid 66Qt. from Target.  The 12.25 " H x 16.25 " W x 23.5 " L dimensions are ideal for the storage of 15 medium frames of capped honey - the maximum processing capacity of the 2 (5-gallon) bucket strainer and bottler.

I'm using a a third 5-gallon bucket and a plastic scraper attached to a pole to thoroughly crush the honey comb.   I'm not a solo act - Ram, Melissa and Dillon volunteered to help - not counting the kitchen clean-up and hanging brown paper, the crush-and-strain process takes about 30 minutes.

After cutting away the honey comb, the frames are returned to the Storage Tote.  Over-night, a considerable amount of honey drips into the Tote and I captured these honey dripping too.  As seen in the photo, I stacked the sticky frames outside and in a location away from the hives.   The bees assist with the final honey clean-up of the sticky frames - a circle of life scene which reminds me of sky burial.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

swarm attached to outside of swarm trap

This story begins with several days of bees scouting my 4 swarm traps - each trap contains some brood comb and a swarm lure.  Next, I discovered a huge swarm attached to the outside of my tree hanging 8-frame swarm trap.  During back-to-back cool drizzly weather days, I wait for the swarm to move into the box.

After 2 days, I give up waiting and successfully lower the trap and bees to their new location.  After the bump transfer, I discovered 3 pieces of comb - previously hidden beneath the swarm.    Outdoor comb construction was almost beyond my imagination.

For a few days, I will keep a queen includer beneath the new hive and a 1gal pail feeder with Honey-B-Healthy above the inner cover.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

spring 2015

Reached yet another bloom marker, Tulip Poplar flowers - and with some weather luck, more nectar forage for the bees.  Already, other nectar flows required that I add more medium boxes to two over-wintered hives which are busting with bees.

Earlier this year, I replaced two hanging 5-frame swarm traps with 8-frame swarm traps and removed the bee cozy.  Scouting of the new traps began in early March - stay tuned for move-in news.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

warm bee respiration and non-invasive winter measurements

I am using an inexpensive RadioShack Waterproof Pocket IR Thermometer to measure temperature differences between cool outdoor air and warm bee respiration.  Winter temperatures arrived and this makes these contrasting temperature measurements possible.  At dawn I record the top vent and concrete paver temperature.  The concrete paver sits on top of the hive and acts as a surrogate for smoothed outdoor air temperature. These 2014 measurements are a follow up from a previous post two years ago, winter ventilation and pocket IR thermometer.

I have three bee hives (Kent, Buda and Pest) and mid-day flight activity at the Kent hive is consistently greater than the other two hives.    

If hive visits do not permit mid-day flight observation, then this non-invasive method provides some assurance that:
  • The hive is still alive provided that the graph points are above the green x= y line.
  • Greater contrast with outdoor temperatures correlate with increased mid-day flight activity.  The Kent hive trend line is further from the green x= y line, while less flight active hives have a trend line closer to green x= y line.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

betterbee wood nucleus box attracts swarm

I created 5 swarm traps - all contain some dark brood comb and a swarm lure.  After many days of scouting, the swarm selects one - yellow highlighter indicates the characteristics of the selected swarm trap.:
  • entrance size and geometry -  1" round or 12" x 3/4" rectangle
  • entrance height above ground -  3' or 16'
  • entrance orientation - south, east or west
  • cavity volume - 1387 cubic inch or 5030 cubic inch
  • direct morning sun or no morning sunshine
Not every combination was created
  • 3 large volume swarm traps have a 12" x 3/4" entrances which face west and are 3 feet above ground.  
  • 2 small volume swarm traps have a 1" round entrance facing either south or east and are 16 feet above ground. 
As the swarm trap contains movable frames, there is no urgency to lower the nucleus box to a shady ground location.  If morning sun played a significant role in their cavity selection, then let them enjoy the sun while the weather is still cool and wet.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

small hive beetle larvae & dark brood comb

If I told you what happened, you probably would not believe it. The first photo contains the queen's retinue. When my finger tips touch these bees, enough space opens up for me to see her majesty - this experience is a rare gift.
I have been away for one week and returned to a hive with significantly fewer bees - maybe the hive swarmed, perhaps more than once.  My concern is that this hive has a huge surplus of honey, and many deep frames of dark brood comb attractive to small hive beetles (SHB) - too many frames, too much space and too few bees to keep the SHB confined to the margins of hive.

To my horror, several frames in the bottom box of this skyscraper hive contain SHB larvae crawling through pollen, honey and the dark brood comb.   I created a new hive configuration containing no dark brood comb at all.  I moved the small population of bees onto clean light colored comb, added a one gallon pail of 1:1 syrup (with Honey B Healthy) and reduced the entrance.  Stay tuned.