Archive | August 2010

Darn The Rain

The weather was crap all day today. It was maybe 63 at the warmest, but it’s rained all day. Lots of bees attempted to fly, but after a while there ended up being a pile of them dead at the door. I put some sugar water out, right at the entrance; because I know they don’t have enough honey to make it through the winter. Hives are supposed to have at LEAST 50lbs of honey to make it through, but I’d be surprised if the entire hive weighed 50lbs. They only have about a frame and a half of nectar/honey stores though, so I’m really concerned that they won’t be able to survive. Hence the feeding. I did a bit of research today, in the hopes of finding an internal feeder or something that I could build quickly and install without too much trouble. The cheapest and easiest thing seemed to be a Ziplock bag full of sugar water with holes poked in one side laid on top of the frames.

It’s annoying because yesterday was sunny and nice and then all of the sudden the weather became Washington weather again. Pray for my bees! I’m going to take the roof off and feed them a jar of sugar as soon as it’s a nice day.

The Fourth Opening

Due to the fact that I was going to leave unexpectedly, and that Fridays have become a sort of Bee day, I decided to open the hive up early in the morning instead of later in the evening like I normally do. I opened it up around 9 or 10 am, instead of my usual 5 – 7 pm range.

The bees are definitely doing their job and expanding. They still aren’t interested in the upper box, but they’re making progress for sure. It was interesting to see how on the newer frames, the ones that aren’t completely drawn out and were put into the middle of things last week, they only drew out the part closest to the entrance. They did this on the three new frames. There was also a lot of bees just hanging on the bottom of the frames, not really doing anything or concerned with the fact that I was in the hive.

This one of the newer frames that isn’t entirely drawn out. It’s got two of the weirdly shaped cells on it B called these “supercedure cells”. They are cells intended for a replacement queen, built in the middle of the frame and made large because the queen is larger. I broke this cell, and the other one that I could see. I think I found three of them total in the hive.

I know I really don’t need to keep showing you pictures of her, but here’s the queen. Again. It’s the same one, so I don’t know what the bees are planning exactly.

I did see an enormous insect leave the hive yesterday, and I think I found out what it was today. It was a huge black wasp. They will scout for honeybee hives, and then try to break in to leave their scent so their sisters can find it easier and help attack the hive. One actually showed up while I was working the hive and I smashed it before my sister could get a picture of it. There was a bee that was fighting with it, which I smashed in the process of killing the wasp, but I feel like the bees death wasn’t in vain. It was weird to see a honeybee fighting with something that was at least two and a half times as big as she was though. I hope that no more show up, because I haven’t read anything about how to help the bees fight off intruders like that.

The Second Box

I know it’s really not necessary to open the beehive every week, but I’m too in love with it to not open it. I almost didn’t bother with trying to get some pictures because my mom wasn’t home, but I asked my neighbor at the last minute and she bravely came over to help. She stood less then five feet away in shorts and a t-shirt and took these pictures. Once I looked through them all I could think was, my mom’s fired from being my photographer. Ok, I need to actually show you these pictures now. lol.

The bees are clearly doing well, but you can see where they’re living and where they aren’t. They WANT to build comb, but they won’t do it where I want them to. They’re determined to build it on the top of the hive and the edges of the frames, instead of on the empty frames at the edges of the box. So I rearranged things and moved the empty frames into the mix of the brood and honey stores.

Speaking of honey, here it all is. It’s not much, certainly not enough to get them through the winter, but there’s definitely more there than last time.

And boy do they have a lot of bees to feed. J (my neighbor) was taking such great shots I just had to show you this. It’s too up close not to.

Look at all the babies! Aren’t they so cute! This entire frame (this whole side and most of the other side) was covered in brood. The population should increase rapidly in about… a week. If you can’t tell what I’m talking about, I mean all the white stuff at the bottom of the cells. Every comb has a little white larvea in it, which means that for every cell, there will be a bee. I showed my mom this picture and all she could say was “holy shit”.

Here’s the queen, the one who’s controlling it all. For whatever reason the bees keep trying to make queen cups in the middle of the frame, which means they’re trying to replace the queen. If they’re trying to make queens that will be a part of a swarm, then they make them at the bottom of the frames. I uncapped the queen cup, in the hopes that would deter them. They tried to make one before B gave them to me, so I don’t know what they think is wrong with the queen. I like her. lol.

I decided to put the second box on. They clearly want to expand, and this way they’ll be able to without any trouble. I’ve been noticing that there’s more and more of them gathering at the top, so I figured a new box would do them good. Especially since they were trying to build on the inner cover.

It’s Almost Too Hot To Function

Due to the extreme heat the past few days, the bees have been really inactive and stayed mostly in the hive since it’s been too hot for them to fly. I’ve noticed though, that they become VERY active around four o’clock everyday. Hundreds of them come pouring out of the hive for an hour of flying about before most all go back in for the night. Perhaps it’s cool enough then for them to come out, but why they don’t all stay out is something I don’t understand. Anyway, because of the heat, I’ve been watering some of the newer additions to the yard, and since the hive is so hot, I spray it down too, with a light mist. I did this when the bees were doing there evening flying session and this was the result.

 

They all landed on the hive and lapped up the water, which they were unable to get during the day.

 

I sprayed it several times during the day, only coxing a few out for a short period of time. But since so many were out already, more seemed to come willingly to help get the water. I hosed the hive and the concrete slab it sits upon down several times. The concrete slab collects an immense amount of heat during the day, and since its underside is Styrofoam all the heat is reflected back straight up to the hive. It becomes ridiculously hot, so I cool it down every so often to help the bees.

All of the sudden they all began crawling back into the hive. It was really interesting to see, but hard to capture in a picture. They were only interested in front of the hive, the other sides didn’t seem to matter at all, even though it looked as if there were more water on the right side than on the front.

Anyway, as soon as I saw that there were so many of them out, I had to run and grab the camera. And since they needed to be cooled down anyway, I figured it’d be an opportune time to take some pictures.

You all might’ve noticed the new header I’ve got. I would like to give a special thanks to Auntie Annie or Honey (or whatever she wants her alias to be) for making it for me. She did an amazing job with it and I’m truly thankful for it.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today.

It’s A Hot, Happy Hive

Here (if you look REALLY closely when the image is zoomed in) you can see several bees fanning air into the entrance of the hive. It was 98 degrees at one point today, so the hive was HOT. Bees will attempt to cool the hive by fanning air in by standing at the entrance and using their wings to move the air into the hive. They will also gather excess water and then fan air over it so that the water acts like a kind of sweat and cools the hive down from the inside. They often combine these two techniques, so that things are more efficient.

This is more of a ‘look at it because it’s pretty’ picture than anything else.

Bees aren’t “supposed” to fly when it’s this hot out, but clearly that’s a load of crap. The air was full of bees, and they could be seen circling up away from the hive light tiny balls of light. It was actually really pretty.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Just wanted to show you that the hive is repeating this (what I thought was) unusual behavior. Oh and also, they devoured the quart of sugar in about 9 hours. Probably less because it was so hot that the sugar water was probably evaporating and thickening.

Round Two

This is the second time I’ve gone in and looked through the hive. Let’s examine what I saw.

Before I opened the hive, I put out a pint/two cups of sugar water for the bees to eat. Within three hours of setting it out, they had taken ¼ a cup into the hive. And I even went in and worked the hive in the middle of those three hours.

I could tell from just taking the top off that they were becoming a stronger hive.

They’ve started drawing out new comb on the frames I moved inward last time. Thinking back, I probably should’ve moved the newly drawn-out ones closer into the center of things, and moved the still empty frames in as well. The bees seem uninterested in drawing out the frames on the edges, but continue to make comb elsewhere in the hive.

Like here for instance. I removed the burr comb from the bottom of the frame, and then took a closer look at what was happening in the center of things. This will be hard to see for you (if I hadn’t seen it in person I wouldn’t know what this picture was showing) but in the center of the frame is all new larvae. The light golden circle in the middle is the larvae. It’s a nice solid patch, which means a healthy queen, and it also mean that there are this many new bees in the hive (since last time this was capped brood).

This will be even more difficult to see, but the queen is just up and to the left of the center of the picture. She’s got a longer body than the workers and has the blue paint on her back. This frame was mostly nectar stores, so the fact that the queen was over here shows that there isn’t enough space for her to lay eggs (meaning there isn’t enough comb in the hive). She’ll just have to make due with what space she’s got, and we’ll all have to hope the workers can make more wax. The sugar water I’m feeding them should help to induce wax production.

My mom was emailing B today, who mentioned a new type of hive he was thinking about, and it actually seems kind of interesting. It’s called a Top Bar Hive, and it seems A LOT more effective then the conventional hive. The bees get to build all of their comb from scratch, without having to follow a preformed pattern. It’s so simple to build that I could do it myself without any trouble. The bar (it would be a frame in my current hive) utilizes the bee’s natural instincts and allows them to build comb the way they want to. The entire hive essentially becomes usable burr comb. If I get a second hive, I’d really like to try using this. The only down side is that it has little to no precautionary measures that can be implemented to reduce the likelihood of a swarm. The hive is designed to be horizontal instead of vertical, so the switch of boxes that happens in spring with my current hive, can’t be done with the TBH. I’d still like to try the TBH though. It sounds really fun and functional and practical. And CHEAP. It costs about $70 to make. Mine cost about $250.

Anyway, all is well in the hive, and within the week they’ll be ready for a new box. I apologize for the pictures. My mother insisted on taking pictures so that my face was in every one of them. It makes being anonymous while still trying to show pictures about your life difficult.

There Was An Explosion

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I was absolutely shocked when I saw the bees like this. I thought they were being attacked or something. This behavior is NOT normal for them, so it really freaked me out. My first thought was to grab the camera so that I could email some pictures to B (and then blog about them lol). So that’s what I did. B said this was just the expected population explosion. I’m still alittle skeptical. I mean, why would this many bees come outside of the hive at once? What’s the point? They didn’t seem to be attacking anything though, so I figured it would be alright. I went inside to email B the pictures and when I got back outside it was like nothing had ever happened. There were maybe ten bees flying. I know that the dogs had nothing to do with it, because they’d all been sleeping.

B said to expect this again tomorrow, so you might see another post again soon.