Thursday, July 26, 2007

Weekly hive check

Yesterday, Tim came over and checked my hives with me. See pics (courtesy his wife Leslie).

Tim did alot of rearranging within the good hive. Basically he took some frames full of honey from the lower boxes and moved them up to the top..and moved the empty frames to replace the bees something to do. He was very approving of their work so far and seemed confident that I would get some honey off of this hive this fall! yay!

The other hive he agreed is basically dying. He said I could experiment and try to move a frame w/ eggs from the good hive into the problem hive and see if they would create a new queen from them. We did see a supercedure cell in this hive. I will see about doing the experiment he suggests...but I must be absolutely sure that the queen is NOT on the frame that I move from the good hive, or else it will die too.

The white part is capped honey!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A bee's life

here's a picture showing the lifecycle of a bee. Click on it to see it up close.
I particularly like the day 21 activities of.."clean cells and loaf".
This diagram was provided by Jerry Mixon, who also made my hive equipment!

A beekeeper's job is never done

I am back to preparing more boxes and frames for expanding at least the good hive for now. I went to Tim's on sunday since he has a workshop with a nailgun, etc. Together in a couple-three hours we were able to crank out 4 boxes and 40 frames (no wax). I will do the wax foundation work at my place since it is so time consuming.

In order to have a box ready to expand in the good hive by monday (I felt I was already pushing my luck by waiting this long already to add a new box), I borrowed a box originally slated for the 2nd hive. For the frames, I cheated on my work, and inserted wax but instead of wiring them (to hold the wax in place) I used support pins instead. It will be interesting to see the difference in each type of frame once the extraction part comes into play.

Also, yesterday, when visiting my hives, I was called in to resuscitate a debilitated mason bee (small bumblebee looking bee). (I wish I'd videotaped this!) Apparently it had been sitting on the deck all day (it was rainy and cool yesterday in seattle)...barely moving. Unsure if it was injured or just tired or weak, I attempted a revival via feeding of sugar water. I took a toothpick and dropped a few drops in front of it. It fumbled around for a bit, but before long I saw its probiscus come out(long tube thing, normally inserted into flowers to extract the nectar). It slurped up the sugar water and fumbled around some more. I repeated the process a couple of times. Eventually, it started cleaning itself off. By this time, I went to go get my camera...but by the time I returned, it had flown off!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


These were from a hive visit on 7/19. Jin Lai (from work) is narrating and running the camera.
The first hive was still booming, ready for another box.
The second hive was still pitiful, few capped brood (worker bee), didnt see eggs actually, but the lighting was shady. Saw pupae. Didnt visualize the queen. Still only 4-5 frames in the first box with activity (found TWO swarm cells again, which I deleted). The upper (second) box had a couple of frames w/ activity/wax drawn.
I talked to Tim about this and he said we'll probably end up combining this hive with the good hive eventually.
On the way to the hive
On the way to the hives
smoking the entrance
opening the hive
opening the hive2
opening the hive3
opening the hive4
opening the hive5
opening the hive6
opening the hive7
opening the hive8
opening the hive9
opening the hive10
hive inspection
hive inspection2

This is the second hive, notice it is only two boxes high and a few frames of activity. It also sounds much louder than the "good" hive.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More equipment

I have been scoping out the method/device that I will be using (in the Fall) to clear the bees from the honey. Basically the idea is how to get the bees out of the boxes that I will be pulling off of the hive in order to extract the honey. There are various methods from what I understand. These include fuming the bees out, which I dont think I like that concept- you risk contaminating the honey with whatever is used to fume them with (some sort of smelly chemical or natural component). I wouldn't like this if I were a bee, so I don't think I will choose this method. The other methods include:
An Escape Board - which is a specially designed board that is placed below the hive boxes that are to be removed...the bees in the box can leave, but they can't return very easily.
A blower - somehow rigging up a leaf blower or something similar to blow the bees out of the boxes being removed. (one of our club members uses this method, but I've never seen it in person).
Brush - a bee brush can be used to manually, and lightly, brush any bees off of each frame in a box being removed...this is obviously more time consuming.

In researching the escape boards, I found this site which has some pretty intricate designs. I think I am going to try to make the triangle escape

but, I won't need it till the fall. I first gotta get my additional hives and frames built. My mentor offered up his nail gun/garage and assistance, so perhaps this will go more quickly than last time, and my condo neighbors will probably appreciate it too.

Monday, July 16, 2007

checked the good hive last thursday

This hive is booming! it is four boxes high now with the top most box having drawn comb activity on all frames (but not fully drawn out yet). There was honey, no brood in this top box. The Second box down was fully drawn on all frames w/ a small amount of brood in the center, but it was 30 lbs heavy. I thought I was going to break my back lifting it to the ground and back to the the box is awkward to hold. The third and fourth boxes had more brood activity. I saw the queen in the bottom box, she was on the outside frame. I moved quickly to not disturb her.

I talked w/ my mentor and I need to get with him to create more hive equipment which I think I will receive tomorrow from the beekeeping supply place.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

weekly hive check

I went in the problem hive quickly on monday to see what was going on.
There was still very little progress, two boxes, perhaps 5-6 frames with comb drawn between both boxes, few eggs, some brood, and some capped brood, and some capped honey. I also noticed what appeared to me to be a swarm cell in the lower box...a queen (peanut shell looking cell) was in the making. I learned from Tim that a queen cell found on the lower third of a frame is a swarm cell, whereas a queen cell found on the upper portion of a frame would be a replacement queen - as in the old queen was ailing or dead. Well, since this hive was nowhere near being over crowded or in need of swarming, I was a bit confused by this finding. I went ahead and "deleted" this swarm cell, hoping I was making the right choice given what I was seeing. White goo oozed from the cell and I had to banish from my thoughts the loss of bee life that I'd just inflicted.
I later called Tim and he said that since this hive consists of bees that had swarmed previously, that perhaps they were obsessive compulsive bees and just had swarm behavior on their minds. (see, this is the sense of bees that I just don't grasp yet) In his infinite wisdom of how bees behave, Tim reassured me that I'd acted appropriate to the situation.
I didn't have time to go into the other hive...will go back on thursday to check on it.
I ordered more hive equipment as Tim said I should be prepared to have up to 6 or 7 boxes max on each hive. Four of the boxes would be left on the hive all winter and the rest (2-3 boxes) would be my bounty of honey (I think there is ~ 25lbs of honey per box). That problem hive has alot of catching up to do.