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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Arctic Oscillation Jan '17

Here's my go-to metric, Arctic Oscillation, for anticipating history making low winter temperatures in Atlanta.  I can hold-off no longer, today I added the bee cozy for the first time this winter.

Listed from the bottom upwards, here are the hive elements at this time.
  • screen bottom board with no counting board insert
  • bee cozy hive wrap surrounding the late August hive re-sizing
  • inner cover with top notch ventilation
  • two 3/4 inch sheets of XPS insulation
  • telescoping cover
  • white over-hanging corrugated plastic sheet
  • concrete pavers

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Honey Comb Cell Size & Machine Vision

Here are my final results using natural comb, back lighting and the programming language SimpleCV.  The cropped image is from a frame which does not have foundation.  Presumably, this light colored wax was used to store honey.

If you see the hexagonal boundaries, then you know that the image is rotated - the bottom of the frame is found to your left.  In the book The Buzz about BeesJürgen Tautz describes how bees convert tube-like wax cells which resemble the shape of the bee body into a hexagonal wax form.  In the image, circular-ish tube-like cells are surrounded by hexagonals.

I colored coded the SimpleCV identified circular-ish cells - green are larger and blue are smaller. Part of the image is over exposed, so a few cells are not detected.  As you can see, like sized cells are found next to one another.  Also, cell size varies with the most likely between 5.1 and 5.2 mm.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Natural Cell Size & Machine Vision

I'm in the process of measuring natural cell size using a simplified version of machine vision OpenCV software - it's called SimpleCV.    Still, the SimpleCV learning curve is steep and I would not recommend SimpleCV to the non-programmer - it's not simple to create a robust workflow to measure natural cell size.    Don't attempt this programming journey without the book - Practical Computer Vision with SimpleCV -The Simple Way to Make Technology See.
Michael Bush has written on the subject of natural cell size and focused on measuring brood comb. I'm going to start my measurements with cells used for honey storage. Honey comb is not darkened. So, I'm able to light the cells from either the camera side or from behind the cells - I've decided to start with placing my light source behind the cells.  This honey comb was drawn without foundation. I'm using Medium Foundationless Frames from Kelly Beekeeping - select frame style F.

Here are a few photos of my setup and SimpleCV results so far.