Saturday, January 23, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas, bee respiration and flight activity

Winter Storm Jonas brought 1.8 inches of rain and a dusting of snow to Atlanta.   The bees are not flying this chilly morning, but the inner cover notch is where I'm focusing my attention.   25.5°F outdoor temperature are compared to warm moist air, bee respiration, exiting the inner cover notch.

At the notch, I measured the temperature of three hives as 31.5°F, 36.5°F and 34.0°F using an inexpensive IR thermometer.   This small range of notch temperatures correlate with how I judged flight activity on warmer days.    In other words, the 36.5°F hive flies most vigorously on warmer days. Notice the drop of condensation (not rain) hanging on the telescoping cover.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Arctic Oscillation & Bee Cozy Hive Wrap

This might not be the optimal time to add the bee cozy hive wrap, but I'm itching to acknowledge winter.   As you can see from the Arctic Oscillation forecast, this is the first significant negative downturn this winter.  Atlanta December temperatures have been mild and I held off adding the bee cozy. My concerns include limited winter forage and a larger than seasonally appropriate bee population. Here are the hive elements at this time.
  • screen bottom board with no counting board insert
  • bee cozy hive wrap surrounding the June-July hive re-sizing
  • inner cover with top notch ventilation
  • two 3/4 inch sheets of XPS insulation between inner cover and telescoping cover
  • white corrugated plastic sheet overhang with concrete pavers on top

Thursday, December 10, 2015

winter-flowering ornamental cherry tree


Sorting through my latest camera work, I found a few lucky photos which overcome bright back-lighting, shooting through a window and fast moving honey bees.  In the backyard, the winter-flowering ornamental cherry tree bloom looks great and attracts honey bees too.  In some sunny locations, mahonia is or is about to bloom and spiderwort are still in bloom.

In Atlanta, November and the first half of December have been warm. NOAA climatology based on El Niño have yet to develop into cooler mid-Atlantic weather.  I'm watching the Arctic Oscillation 7 day forecast closely for a negative downturn before adding the bee cozy hive wrap. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rowse Honey TV Advert 2015

I discovered a humorous advertisement in the UK.



Sunday, October 4, 2015

pollen source between equinox and winter solstice


Tropical Depression Eleven strengthened and became Hurricane Joaquin which brought extended drizzly weather and heavy rain to Atlanta.  In the rain gaps, backyard  honey bees vigorously forage for pollen. By hive odor, the pollen is probably goldenrod.  The photos show other plant species of interest at this cooler time of the year, Angel's Trumpet and Camellia.

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.