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 shocking titles 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. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

bomb cyclone

bee, bee cozy, beekeeping, climate, cloake board, condensation, respiration, telescoping cover, ventilation, winter,
Winter storm Grayson brought cold temperatures to Atlanta, but no snow.  Use this link to see NOAA's satellite image.

Here's a photo of the upside down telescoping cover.  Warm moist bee respiration which left the inner cover notch, condenses on the cold telescoping cover and froze as a white ring.  Click the image for more detail.

17 °F temperatures encouraged me to add the bee cozy hive wrap now.    The hive wrap is designed for 10 frame equipment, so easily slips over my 8 frame boxes and cloake board.   I'm overwintering a tall vertical double stack of hives.   The stack contains a cloake board, where I removed the cloake board's sliding floor leaving its queen excluder to separate the two hives.  I added two overlapping cozys on the upper large stack of boxes and one cozy to cover the smaller lower stack of boxes.

From the bottom up, here are the hive elements at this time.
  • screen bottom board with counting board insert removed
  • 1 bee cozy hive wrap surrounding 1 deep box and 3 medium boxes 
  • cloake board with integrated queen excluder and sliding floor removed
  • 2 overlapping bee cozy hive wraps surrounding 2 deep boxes and 3 medium boxes
  • inner cover with top notch ventilation
  • two sheets of 3/4 inch XPS insulation 
  • telescoping cover
  • white corrugated plastic sheet overhang
  • concrete pavers on top

Sunday, November 5, 2017

tradescantia pallida - three petals and six yellow anthers

bee, beekeeping, bloom, foraging, purple-heart, spiderwort,
While waiting for the light to change on a busy Atlanta street, I saw lots of bees on a patch of tradescantia pallida, also known as purple-heart or purple secretia.  These plants are growing from east facing gaps of a sidewalk wall. 

The bee weight folds the filament at right angle.  Click on the image, it's hard to distinguish between bee's pollen load and the three anthers in her grasp.  Does the recent warm November rain make the filament more flexible? Perhaps these are extra long filaments, I don't know.  In the process of counting petals and anthers I discovered on Wikipedia that this New World plant is part of same genus as my bee friendly plant favorite, spiderwort.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

CO2, staple food and goldenrod pollen

A Living on Earth radio article draws a connection between atmospheric carbon and the nutritional value of staple food.  Staple foods grown in elevated concentrations of CO2 result in a decrease of iron, zinc and protein.   These results are reproduced in an experiment where staple foods are grown in a CO2 controlled environment.

This time of year, the hives have a stinky smell.  Imagine the smell of hiking boots or dirty gym socks.  Strong un-sweet notes can be found in pockets around the hives.  I have goldenrod to thank for this smell.  Goldenrod is a vital late summer forage for honey bees.  I was surprised to see that this radio article also speaks to how goldenrod protein decreases as CO2 increases.  Goldenrod pollen samples taken now have 30% less protein than samples from 1850's.  In the same way, these results are reproduced in an experiment where goldenrod is grown in a CO2 controlled environment.

Have a look at the graph showing the CO2 increase since the 1850's.  I expect a further decline of staple foods and goldenrod nutrition in the future.
bee, beekeeping, climate, CO2, foraging, goldenrod, nutrition, pollen, staple food,

Sunday, October 8, 2017

wax moth larvae cleanup

bee, beekeeping, chicken, debris, honey comb, Small Hive Beetle, wax, wax moth larvae,
Lazy beekeeping has a few downsides. This summer, two tall stacks of boxes with drawn comb and no bees attracted wax moths.  Next, the wax moth larvae ate the drawn comb...all the comb.    Larvae chewed the wood too, compromising some frames and boxes.  What was I thinking - to busy with other things, to hot to wear the beekeeping hoodie.   The not so lazy cleanup went on and on.  I'm a philosophical contradiction.

The chickens enjoyed live snacks and a few wasps helped with the crushed larvae.  I'm grateful that the problem was not small hive beetles.