Sunday, April 29, 2012

Scotts Bees and the Lindsey Hive Queen

Yesterday we installed Scott's bees, he is just starting out and I'm mentoring him. They have a really nice garden and a great location for bees, they should do well there. here is the video of Scott installing the bees.

After we installed Scott's bees we headed to my house to install a queen in the Hillsborough cut out hive.

I showed Scott the bees we cut out of Lindsey's house on Wednesday. Not much comb was drawn, yet enough to find eggs in the comb already. I was very pleased and Scott quickly located the queen, she is seen on the video below at the 16 second mark

We are still moving Meg's mom and step dad, and still no help from the rest of the family, yes we'll remember this. Moving and setting up after the move is exhausting work. Meg works 60+ hours as a teacher, isn't it teacher appreciation week? I'm working on a huge deck project at the bottom of a hill and the leg work is exhausting. In a day and a half two of us took down a 12' x 28' deck that was 14 ft in the air. The deck topping was redwood 5/4 x 6s , I plan on planing some of it and using it for building bee wooden ware. here on the east coast redwood is very expensive. Also a buddy of mine is taking some of the redwood as well.

Eating lots of peas from the garden, no time or energy to do any weeding or planting. I have 12 tomato plants that need to be planted.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More bees??

Guess we have enough bees here now. I have to talk to the owners of the farm down the road to see if they want more bee hives. Yesterday I removed bees from a ceiling in a closet about 5 miles from here. We dropped the bees into the box of bees I took out of a basement a few weeks ago. Used  newspaper between boxes so the bees can adjust to each other in the same hive, otherwise they might just kill each other.

Lindsey lives in the house where we took out the bees, just days before told me she moved downstairs because she was afraid of bees. Well yesterday she helped me with removing the bees, she did not even get stung. She took a lot of photos and video as I was removing the bees. Guess what I forgot to put the battery back in my camera. Hopefully she'll send me some photos on CD and I can show you some of the action. This video of me installing the bees into a hive Lindsey took with my camera in my back yard.

So I checked the big hive that Kitty and I cut out in Hillsborough several weeks ago, they were pissed I got 3 stings in the legs through my jeans. Both 10 frames deeps are nearly full of honey and a little pollen. Thinking I need to get them a queen on Saturday as no eggs or brood were seen.

My split nuk that I pulled from the mother hive on March 15th got a queen on Friday, finally. They had 4 deep frames of honey and I gave them 5 new frames. The top bar hive I can now see three combs from the window and I checked one comb it was full of eggs!

So we have 5 hives here in the yard and one at a farm currently, not seeing getting anymore as I'm now too busy to work anymore hives. And I believe I have one hive that needs a queen and this newest one we'll have to wait and see if it needs a queen.

The garden report. April 21 I noticed waterlilies blooming in the pond, never seen them before May before. Also on April 21 we ate our first Sugar Snap Peas, last year on May first I took photos of the flowers not the peas!

Rain we have had lots of rain, first April in years we have had this much rain. Barely missed a frost on Monday night hope we are done with that.

The reason you have not seen any posts from me lately is we moved Meg's mom and step father last weekend, it is still not finished. No help from her brother who lives 30 miles away nor the 3 step siblings. Nice to have some help, would it have been nice.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Honey Bee swarm grabbed today

This morning I was home taking care of business and got a call from the OCBA Swarm Patrol that a swarm was in a tree and  could I go get it? I said yes as I looked at the cardboard nuk box Meg bought me 2 weeks ago. So I rushed about to put the box together and gathered my things to go get this swarm 7 foot up in a tree. Brought the camera but left the memory card, darn..

Got there and the swarm was huge 4-5 pounds of bees and more like 10 foot up in the tree. My 6 ft ladder was too short. The home owner offered her pick up to set up the ladder in, now the ladder is 9 foot tall good enough. I'd recently hurt my finger and it is in a split, so I'm a little disadvantaged in getting this big swarm. So I'm up in the back of the truck, I see the method I'll use. The limbs are nearly 3 inches and will hardly shake. So I set the ladder under them as support if the box gets to heavy. I climb up on the side of the truck bed and grab hold of the limb for balance and shake the bees off. With my good hand I hold the card board nuk box just a few inches under the bees. I shake it as hard as I could and half the bees dropped right into my box! The other half stayed on the limb.

I set the box down in the bed of the truck and cover it. Bees start moving in, a few at a time. No bees are exiting, a very good sign. The rest of the bees thousands of them start to take flight in a swarm, they leave, circle and return. Bees everywhere in the air around us for a good 30 minutes. The bed liner in the truck looks like a landing strip, at first a foot wide and two foot long, growing to a mass of bees a foot wide by over four foot long. All moving slowly or waiting their turn as bees proceeded into the box 8-10 at a time. And no memory card, it was so cool!

By the time only 40-50 bees were left I closed up the box and headed home with them. Thinking Meg will have a fit with me setting up a 6th hive in the yard. OK I'm going to the farm down the street, I'd talked about putting bees there a month ago, they were cool with it. I found the owner as they were eating lunch. We went and sighted out a spot for the bees, she carried the bees and I grabbed a concrete block to set them on. Set the bees up on the block and opened it up. With in minutes the bees were bearding out of the small nuk box as shown below.

Looked to me as if they were going swarm as this nuk box was too little to start with this many bees. I went home and gathered up a 10 frame hive box and another concrete block to set them on. I painted the lid and bottom and then put foundation in frames I already had put together. All as the bees foamed out the front of the nuk.

After the hive was ready I grabbed the box and shook the bees off the front. Opened the nuk to find the two frames inside covered in bees and the rest of the box as well. Set the frames with bees inside and waited. Again a big flight of bees in the air and finally most went into the new bee hive.
I returned an hour of so later to get the cardboard nuk box and was told that one of the farm workers had been stung already. They laughed at me and said the bees were just settling in. I'm thinking another box will need to be put on this hive in a week or so. So I now have a sunny spot of my bees on a one acre farm. 

 Promised you I would show you the rest of the new top bar hive Meg painted. Above is the Bee Express and the honey cell window. Below is the flowers side. The bee package was installed on Saturday. Really did not need to buy bees, today's bees would have loved this hive. I released the queen tonight, not much progress could be seen thought it has been made in just two days.
 The bee hive we cut out a week ago Saturday, I looked in on Friday. Bees hatching, drones galore and the combs all were secured to the frames already. Bad news is on Saturday David and I looked at the front of the hive and counted at least 6 bees with deformed wing virus on the ground in front of the hive.

The nuk I split from the main hive 30 days ago had a small amount of drone brood in it, I'll wait a few more days to see if it gets worker brood or not, and get a queen for them if need be.

Never thought bees would be so much fun. I mentioned my friend David was over on Saturday. They had an empty hive he was getting ready to install a package in next week. While they were here visiting  a swarm moved into his hive!

More on gardening soon. Below is a camellia that surprised me on Saturday Camellia japonica 'April Dawn' our second ever bloom.
Been watering like crazy, no rain in sight everything is wilting with temps reaching into the mid 80s already. Broke the sprinkler this morning. Replaced the sprinkler and bought a broken one today. Meg found a really good metal sprinkler on her way home tonight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Play House in Trinity Park

This week we did a special project to a child's birthday. He wanted a tree house but they did not have any trees to build it on. So we built a play house about 6 foot off the ground. The house is 4ft x 6ft and the porch is 2ft x 6ft. Talk about excited kids!

We were going to have two small storm windows, but could not find any small enough to look right and we worried that large glass windows might be a safety hazard. So I built these three little wood windows with latching shutters (no glass). The shutters have a bar in the middle so the kids can not climb out. Funny the stain they picked out is the same colors at our house!

The decking, ladder rungs and railing pickets were all left over scraps from a recent project. This project took two of us 4 1/2 days to build and paint.

Monday, April 09, 2012

New Kenya Top Bar Hive!

I know some of you have been waiting to see the Kenya Top Bar Hive I built and Meg painted. Found plans on the internet and modified them to suit my needs. It was built mostly from scrap wood, the bars, roof, trim and legs. I bought the 1 x 12s spruce for the main box and joined them to become 1 x 14s, spent about $30 on that wood. The bottom screen and roof tin was scrap I had laying around. I'm a handyman, so I get lots of left overs and cut offs.

The legs are treated 2 x 4s. Normally one should not paint treated lumber until it has dried for 3-6 months, these 2 x 4s were about a year old, so painting them was not a problem. You can see under the back where you can insert a sticky board to do mite tests.
The landing board is cedar so it can remain unpainted and still hold up a long time outside. The sides are painted also, you'll just have to wait for another post to see them and the window I made to look inside. Funny thing about this hive is Meg has an antique bread box, looks just about like this hive in design and size. The package of Italian bees for this hive are coming this Saturday.
My last post was the bee cut out, my first as lead person. It was a blast, I stayed mostly calm and the bees did not get too upset. Anyway Yesterday I looked at the hives in the morning. Found the Kimberly swarm collected last Monday had absconded, only one bee was in the box. So we went from three beehives to four on Saturday and back to three hives on Sunday.

 Wait look up a swarm from the new feral bees 30 foot up in one of our oaks. I took this photo and the below video from our roof top. Meg found it as I was showering getting ready to be with Meg's family for Easter. Couldn't do anything that high up in the tree anyway. So I placed some honey comb in a swarm box on the woods deck and some comb in the new top bar hive before we left. The swarm trap was still 12 foot up a tree very close to my swarm. We returned 4 hours later and bees were coming and going in the swarm trap up in the tree. So I've got frames in the swarm box I'm letting them move in then I take them down after dark in a few days and place then in a dual nuk, back to 4 hives...

Meg and I crushed and strained feral honey last night, not bottled it yet we might have a gallon of it. Strong taste lets you know your eating honey that is for sure. Our first honey harvest, yeah! Now I have 2-3 pounds of old wax I'm going to melt in a solar melter and see if we get yellow wax or not.

Back to gardening. Meg's mother is moving Meg has been bringing home plants from her garden. Hostas, hellebores, daisies, daffodils, Lilies of the Valley and others. One hellebore was 3 foot across, still another one like it left there. It'll wilt out and reduce in size some what, still beautiful.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

First beehive cut out today!


Today Kitty and I did a big beehive cut out today. I'd helped with one last year and this was Kitty's first. Kitty is also a blogger find her at Labyrinth FarmKitty has posted about the cut out with lots of photos here. This hive has been inside a shed wall for about 20 years. It measured 24" x 42" and was 4 1/2" deep. We filled 2 deeps with 15  frames of bees, brood,  comb, honey and pollen. Likely 15 pounds of honey which we'll crush and strain in the future. The un capped honey we'll return to the bees. Also about 15 pounds of odd pieces of comb I'm leaving out for the bees.

You might ask did we get stung? Kitty got two and a half stings, one through the glove the other while tasting the honey without gloves, the half sting was through her pants. I saw bees sting my gloves but did not get any stings from these bees. Once home and I set up the new hive I took off my gear and my mother hive bees chased me 100 foot and I got stung in the head as a bee got stuck in my hair. Think I killed another that was going for my cheek.

Kitty took this video with my camera. I forgot to tell her not the turn the camera on the side. So grab your laptop and turn it sideways to view.

This is yours truly tearing open the wall of bees. Kitty did a great job of filming this. I had to cut each of those slats of wood to get to the comb and cut the comb around those slats to remove them. Must have been 7-8 layers of comb running up the wall 3 1/2 foot, some comb was nearly a foot wide. Wish we'd had photos of those. perhaps Kitty will post some photos on her blog as listed above and in my side bar as well as Labyrinth Farm

So we did not get many photos. The reason was the camera got covered in honey then covered in bees. My gloves and tools were all a sticky honey mess. That reminds me I have yet to taste the honey... The above photo is of about 1/3 third of the hive cut out.
So after 4 hours of being in my make shift bee suit cutting these girls out, here they are at home in my yard. I added another deep box with 3 frames of new foundation and 7 simple top bars. We'll see what they like! The box on the left is my bee vacuum box, the screen is the cover for it. I'm naming this hive Evelyn for the lady whose shed these bees were in.

Let me tell you what else happened once I emptied the remaining bees into the hive. Shortly afterwards I was on the phone looking outside I saw thousands of bees rising up into the tops of our willow trees! Then they kind of settled back down and flew all about in front (20 -25 foot out) of the hive for a good 45 minutes. I walked around the garden and bees were on all kinds of flowers. I did not see them returning with pollen, but feel like they like the place.

So on the back porch Meg was painting the top bar hive. Several times she bolted into the screened porch because bees were chasing her as she was painting the hive. What a trooper she is. The top bar hive is nearly finished, bees arriving next Saturday!

For the record, I believe our bee yard doubled if not more today in the number of bees. We added one hive and now have 4 hives. Betting some of these new bees will swarm and perhaps I can add them to the double nuk along side the Kimberly hive. We still have two unnamed hives in the yard.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Queen Kimberly

The swarm I caught on Monday was pretty small covering only 1 1/2 frames in the hive. Today I moved them into a 10 frame deep made into a dual nuk. In other words one hive box that holds two smaller bee colonies.

Anyway the girls were very easy to work with no threats from any of them. I did get photos of queen Kimberly as seen below in the center of the photos. I'm no expert but she looks to be a very mature queen and not a virgin queen as one might expect when seeing two swarms and this was the little swarm.
 To me these bees seem very dark when compared to my blond Italian bees. Could they be Russian or feral ? Funny, I was sitting in my chair watching the bees and I noticed a different cadence in the buzzing coming from these bees. Might it have been because of the empty foundation?
As you can see they have a lot of work to draw comb so she can lay eggs. I do not have any extra drawn frames yet. The wax foundation was just barely drawn in a few places.

Monday, April 02, 2012

My first swarm capture!

Today I got a call from our local bee club (Orange County Beekeepers Association) that two swarms were in an Eastern Red Cedar tree not too far away. I gathered my gear and headed over there. Once I arrived I knew why the bees were there, the garden was fabulous with lots of flowers for the bees.

 One swarm was bigger and about 20 foot up in a 25 foot tall cedar, not very promising to get to at all. The other swarm was about 7 foot up and easy to get to. So I readied myself to get the lower swarm and the upper swarm took flight just as Meg arrived. Meg followed the swarm up the hill and into a woodland where it looked hopeless to find them and on private property. I stayed with the lower swarm ans focused on capturing it.

My first attempt at getting the bees was to cut off the small limb they were on, the limb was heavier than expected and the bees missed my box on the ground by a foot or more. I did get maybe 100 bees in the box. We watched the bees enter the box to investigate for 10 minutes or so. By then the swarm regathered close to where they were to start with in the tree. Decisions had to be made, so I set up the ladder and grabbed the box with  bees inside removed the cover and knocked the bees into the box. Most went in the box!!!

Put the cover on and placed the box on a stump, the bees were going in, none coming out, a good sign. Within 30 minutes most bees were inside the box. The box is actually an 8 frame deep, cover and a screwed on plywood bottom. It  had 2 undrawn frames of foundation and a swarm lure inside.

Left the bees to figure it out and came back at dark to bring the box of bees home. Kimberly the homeowner assured me that all the bees did go inside. I set them down next to the big hive and we'll see in the morning as I need to add more frames and figure out  how to get these girls into a hive. We'll be naming this hive Kimberly.

Update the morning after. The bees are still there barely covering 2 frames. I gave them a boardman feeder full of sugar syrup. Only 5 dead bees in the bottom of the box. Now I need to decide what to do with them being such a small colony?

Oh, today I found 2 Tulip Poplar blooms on the ground in the hellebore garden, so it begins. Bees time to get busy and gather nectar and make lots of honey.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Waiting on these flowers!

Yes Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera this is the flowers our honey bees make most of their honey with. Normally one can not see the buds or the flowers because they are high up in the trees. Our ponds edge has poplar saplings with buds so we can watch them develop.
Tulip Poplar bud, I knew they were starting budding this morning because the porch had lots of those leaves at the bottom of the buds on it. My guess is another one to two weeks before the bees get to enjoy them.

I saw my first blackberry bloom today, they can be a great food source for bees as well. The recent rains has helped the white clover bloom profusely along the roads around here as well. Of course the bees were very busy today.

Today Meg and I worked on the garden. Yesterday we went to Big Bloomers and bought a lot of new plants! A lot of them got planted today. My favorite is the 'Elizabeth' Ginger saw it at Duke Gardens and had to get it. Planted Moon Flower Vines and Cardinal Climbers to cover one end of the screened porch. We bought 4 kinds of ornamental sweet potatoes too, entirely new to the garden. Since we thought these would go great in pots, back to Ollie's to get some of those earthenware they are selling for cheap. We picked out 6 big pots for $75. The big blue ones I bought last time were gone..
 Meg was again in a panic about mice in the house. For weeks she has had 3 doors open to the outside all day. So either the mice wander in or Valentine (on top of our cloths line) brings them in alive and lets them go. Anyway Meg found a mouse in our pantry, it hid in a box of home made pickles. I carried the box out of the house, she got Valentine. She held her over the box and she got scratched, Valentines does not like to be told what to do.  The mouse jumped out of the box, Valentine assumed a play chase and shortly after waltz away with it in her mouth.
Dr Ruppel a full two weeks ahead of schedule.