Saturday, April 22, 2017

2nd swarm trapping

This morning it's not clear whether I'm observing active scouting or a move-in at the hanging swarm trap.   After a few more hours, I looked again and now convinced there's a move-in - see the large lump of bees attached to the bottom of the box that was not previously present.  Tomorrow the forecast calls for rain - so, I'm glad they'll stay dry.  This is my 2nd successful swarm trapping this spring.

This is my largest swarm ever, I always say that.  In a few days, I'll transfer the frames and can really judge the size of this swarm.

This hanging 8-frame deep contains 1 frame of brood comb, 7 frames with foundation and a swarm lure.   A hole saw was used to create two entrances - one that you can see and another on the bottom side.

Hanging swarm trap advantages:
  • no ladder climbing required with this rope hanging scheme
  • large volume created by 8 deep frames
  • movable frames can be transferred into other deep boxes without cutting comb 
  • bottom entrance encourages complete move-in and discourages comb building beneath the box
  • sustainable alternative to splitting
Hanging swarm trap disadvantages:
  • requires foundation as the swarm trap is not left-right level
The best element of the hanging swarm trap scheme is the safety of no ladder climbing. My next steps include using window screen and duct tape to cover the bottom entrance and to gradually move the trap to its final location.  I'll move small distances every day or every other day to minimize bee entrance confusion.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

2017 nectar flow

Bee cooperative weather is supporting a strong nectar flow of holly bushes, white clover, spiderwort and tulip poplar. Native mining bees and carpenter bees are extremely active too.

This year, I started to checkerboard the honey cap of over-wintered hives on March 6th. Since then, I check the honey cap every three weeks. My version of checkerboarding uses foundation-less frames with no drawn comb. Yesterday, I added another medium box to each hive. I don't know how long this nectar flow will last, but I have monstrously tall hives.

My swarm capture is drawing comb and growing in size too, but at a much slower pace than over-wintered hives.  

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Swarm Trap - March 25th '17

Active scouting quickly changed into a mid-afternoon move-in.   Bees appear to be pouring sideways into the swarm trap entrance. This hanging 8-frame deep contains 1 frame of brood comb, 7 frames with foundation and a swarm lure.   A hole saw was used to create two entrances - one that you can see and another on the bottom side.  I don't want to use foundation, but the non-level box is not suitable for foundation-less frames.   It's too good to be true, this swarm did not demonstrate any comb building behavior beneath the box.   After an hour, everyone was inside.   It rained last night. I'm glad they stayed dry and are presumably busy drawing comb.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 spring markers & honey cap

What feels odd about the first photo?  Maybe it's the expectation that the flowers are larger than bees - not in this case of this holly bush. Here's another prolific flowering tree in the neighborhood - Carolina Cherry Laurel appears in the second photo.

                       2009   2010   2011   2016   2017
                        day    day    day    day    day 
Bradford Pear            65     79     60            56
Carpenter Bees           68     87     72            63
Acer palmatum leaf out   73     92     77            64
Carolina Cherry Laurel   73     97     83            57
Pollen Count over 1000                        76     51  

The point of tracking these day-of-year values is to synchronize my beekeeping practices with spring weather.  The first step/acknowledgement is to admit that there is no such thing as an average year- we have never experienced an average year of weather.  My journal contains spring marker dates which sometimes appear in different months.  So, dates are converted to day-of-year to make the comparison between years easier.  I'm experimenting with comparing first pollen count over 1000.  Pollen count is easy to acquire, loosely correlates with temperature and maybe more objective than my journal notes.

I first saw Steve Page speak at Georgia Beekeepers Association in 2015 on the topic of Sustainable Beekeeping.   Do you want to learn more, sign-up for "It's Time To..." the free email mentoring of Coweta Sustainable Beekeeping.  As Steve is influenced by other beekeepers - so, I'm influenced by Steve and have adapted my beekeeping management which uses Kelly foundationless (F Style) frames.  Last Monday (day 65), I removed the bee cozy and checker-boarded the honey cap of my hives.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

chilled drone brood

This morning, the low temperature was 35 °F and I found chilled drone brood at one of the hives.   On the landing board, you can see a range of drone development by way of eye color, pink, purple then black.   On the top edge of the photo you can see that the bee cozy insulator is still on.  

The hive with chilled brood has a temperature measured at the inner cover notch of 84.5 °F.    It's sad that this hive became out of sync with the number of adult bees and are not able to keep the periphery of the brood chamber warm.  The next hive over measured 77.5 °F at the inner cover notch and is found without chilled brood.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

winter watering with bubble wrap

When winter days only warm to 50 °F, my floating plastic straws or Scotch Brite pads did not protect the bees from drowning.   In my disappointment, I tried to imagine something better, perhaps plastic straws and bubble wrap.   Even more simple...I'm using one layer of bubble wrap with the smooth side down.  I cover almost all of the water source with bubble wrap - works great!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

mahonia Jan '17

In Atlanta, winter storm Helena kept the honey bees cooped up for days.  Now the bees forage in very mild 70's °F. The bees return to the hive with yellow and dark yellow colored pollen.  As you see, mahonia is a dependable early resource for bees.