Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fall cleanup and Honey in a straw

Remember in my last post I talked about combining two hives to make one?
Well, I didn't realize it would be so quick! I put them together the afternoon of Aug.19th and the morning of the 21st I was walking around the yard and I saw white powder???....or is that dust???? Did I powder sugar them when I was in there last???? Well if I did it surely wouldn't be on their front porch and all over the ground?? (It's funny how when you're telling what is running in your mind it seems like the thoughts take longer than they actually do) In this case nanoseconds LOL:O) Anyway it hits me...bam! You Nut! It's the paper from in between both boxes!
This top picture is the back of their hive (the back porch) Some of them enjoy hanging out back here.
This is the front of the hive
This is in the yard. Those girls were bizzy! that paper was all over the place! But they made a successful combination. I opened them up long enough to slide the frame they were on into the box with the rest of the bees, took off the extra box and put them back together. Everyone seemed happy and content.

We went to a Bee meeting last Saturday and had such a good time. It's something to see when a group of people that are interested in the same exact thing can have so many different ways of taking care of it. Some people stand back and don't really let their way of caring be known...and others (like me) just jump right in feet and mouth first! Then I want to kick myself all the way home! Not that I feel my way was or is wrong I just wish I could be one of the wonderful people in this world that could just sit back or stand back quietly and still be heard. Am I making sense?
I want you to check these two pictures out...click on them to enlarge. This little bee came buzzing up just as I was trying out some honey....several people brought some of their honey to sample..and boy was it delicious! Even little "Miss Bee" thought so...she didn't want to leave that honey. If you look close you can see her wings still flapping. Someone had put a straw in the honey bowl for easier dipping of the honey.
Isn't she cute! She finally got her fill and flew off.
Til next time...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Combining two hives to make one

A big dark cloud came up so I had to start my project inside....Our pee-wee hive (the last swarm we rescued) lost their queen a few weeks back and started another queen but when I went into them last Saturday she was gone as well....I really would like to know what's happening with our queens.....We decided with Fall coming on it will be wise to combine pee-wee with one of our strong hives...so that is what I did today along with investigating hive #1 (which by the way is doing well);O).*sigh* *of relief* I had a thought today while I was in hive # 1......I do a lot of talking and conversing with the girls;O)....It's part of my therapy;O) anyway, it accured to me that beekeeping is very very hard work! Not to mention that's it's HOT AND HUMID!!!! But on the bright side I do get free time with thousands of therapists....a trip to the spa....sauna and a facial.....plus exercise! all at the same time;O) I also came up with an idea for homeschoolers.....
If any of you out there are reading this maybe take me up on it...here goes, it would be such a learning experience for those of you that don't live on a farm or maybe even perhaps you do, but if you could get in touch with someone that has something of an interest to you or your child(ren) if they would let you and the children come for a day and help out with whatever the interest may be. Example a day with the bees......a day with the milk cows.....a day with the goats/sheep/pigs/horses....the list could go on and on...maybe even an animal shelter....The reason I came to this is there are sooo many people that are just soooo unaware of what life is all about and where our food comes from...that's one reason why I feel we are losing America, our rights, our freedoms......Okay this post is about the bees so this subject will have to post on my "nature" blog...jump over sometime.... you can link over to it through "my profile" section....
First of all you need to place (the book calls for newspaper but I didn't have any so I used packing paper) a thin sheet of paper over the bottom of a hive body box. I had this brilliant idea that I would get a jump on this by using a box that we have extra, it's a brood box, it holds large frames. I thought that was the type I would need but it ended up being that I needed a honey super box. It holds small frames. Naturally I found this out after the big dark thunder cloud passed by and I went outside to get started......only to find I had to start all over! The thing is to place the paper over the bottom of the correct box and tape it. I didn't follow the book really at all because to me everyone has their own way of doing things suited on the project or occasion;O) But I did get the concept/idea.
Next poke holes into the paper...this allows air flow and the odors of each hive to pass through so they can get used to each other and hopefully acceptance will take place:O)
This is our pee-wee hive....notice there is little to no activity coming or going from the entrance...notice also the extra box....that's so we can feed them and keep out robbers at the same time.....(robbers are other insects that will kill a colony to get their honey or food) it can happen so easily to a small hive.
See how few of them there is??? In their defense though most of the girls are out foraging plants and flowers for nectar and pollen.
I only put one frame into the papered box because there's just not enough of them to bother with putting all of the frames in just to take them back out in a few days...
I took the top hive feeder off of the stronger hive that will be their new home and put it on top BEFORE I took them over because I didn't want a scene! A battle! They would have killed each other on the spot....or should I say the stronger hive would've rushed in to take pee-wee's honey and killed them in the process. You see honey bees can also fall into the category of robbers :O(
Here is their new home....see the little raised lip of wood on top??? We were squishing to many bees (one is way to many for me) when we put the top hive feeder on because it sets right on the top of the frames....look at where a good portion of the bees are!!! Well, not really......but you get the idea...That's a lot of bees to squash! So I asked my husband (he'll do anything to help out):;O) to make me a spacer, so he did...we now have one for every hive and it makes me so happy NOT to hear a crunch when I put them back together!
Almost finished... it's supposed to start raining tomorrow so I trimmed the paper away from the outside of the box so it wouldn't soak through
Every thing is calm and it's getting time for the foragers to make their way back home before dark.....these poor girls never take a break I don't believe.......I have gone outside before dawn and there is always a group on the porch cleaning...waiting for day break...time to take off in flight to gather pollen or nectar......from the time they start chewing their way out of their cell they are working.....the minute they crawl out of the cell they are fed by a "nurse" bee, then they turn around and go head first into their cell to clean it out spic and span! After that is done she becomes a "nurse" bee and takes care of and feeds the others that are hatching out....after a few days to weeks they start their solo flights....I love to watch these flights....they will hover off of the porch then up a little way trying out their new found skill...wings.....flight..,..during this time they are making note of what their hive looks like and where it's located. In the early morning and evening it looks like a super HoneyBee highway in our yard! It gives me such a refreshing and calming spirit.....Nature at it's best....;O)
Some foragers coming home to a hive that's moved:O( I took them over to where their new home will be so hopefully....I have read where most bees will except foraging bees into their hive "as long as they are bringing in food and not taking it away" sounds like a good deal....:O)
Until next time...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Queens, Natural or Grafted

Queen Bees....Natural or Grafted.......This is a subject that I'm still not sure about. I first of all by every means believe that the best way is the Natural way. I love watching the process of the bees when they are making way for their new queen. They have this way of knowing if or when they will need one, but sometimes all of a sudden they sometimes find themselves queenless with no warning at all. This is our first summer with more than one hive and we have had a time with them keeping a queen. We have no idea why we've lost queens out of perfectly strong, healthy hives. Since this can happen over night (per se) it's important to go into the hives on a regular basis. In my last post I wrote about this particular hive where we went "up the country" to get a new queen.....that is a "grafted" queen. I know I should know about this grafting process by now but I don't. I've just been depending on the bees to take care of that for me:O) But I will be studying up on the subject and will let you know what I think about it. NOW...if there is anyone out there reading this and would like to give me some insight on this I would love your input. Please feel free to leave me a message/comment.PulllleeeaaaassseeeeeeeI went back into the hive Friday morning to see if the bees had eaten through the candy end to release the queen, but they hadn't so I helped out a bit....I took a nail and made a small hole into the candy and put the cage back into place, closed up and left them til Sunday afternoon. The whole time on my way out to the hive I'm saying to myself.... please let the queen be alive..... please let the queen be alive.....from what I've read it's very hard to get a hive to except a new queen.
I removed the box and no queen...still mumbling under my breath...please let the queen be alive...
Sooo I start with pulling every frame out and examining it carefully! First frame...no queen no eggs...which I was glad there were no eggs because at this point I would probably have freaked out thinking the nurse bee found her way back and started laying all over again.
Another note...if you have a layer worker (nurse) bee she will destroy the queen cells if the bees do try to hatch a new queen and if she had found her way back she would've killed the new queen!
I went through seven frames and saw nothing but bees....the eighth frame I found eggs! Oh.... My heart didn't know if it should drop or jump! I did feel a slight sinking until I pulled the ninth and last frame...
AND here she is!!!!! I have two white arrows pointing at her. I want you to notice her color.....because in the pictures at the end of this post, I have a new queen that another hive just hatched out "naturally" and I found the colors are so very different. The "grafted" queen is pretty much solid in her color on her abdomen.
Here she is again (white arrows) the blue arrows are pointing to drones, they are male bees and have really big eyes.....(they're so handsome):O)
Now this picture above and the ones below are of a new queen that just hatched from another hive we have. See her colors (she's at the bottom of the frame and arrows are pointing at her)
Here she is again, the tip of her tail is black and she has faint dark stripes. I think she's beautiful!! I also think the "grafted" one is beautiful too......I really do need to google and search the web for more information about this "grafting" thing. I've got lots of books on honey bees but none of them go into this subject...they advertise for you to "buy" one but I haven't been interested in "grafting" a queen so haven't bothered. Well....now my curiosity is up....
Gotta go surf the net.....:O)
Until next time.....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't let go

I have been so slack on updating this blog. I've been really busy with this particular hive. Remember the last post about European foul brood? Well, from what I've read it's not uncommon for all hives to have a small amount of this going on...it usually goes undetected and the bees take care of it. If it's a healthy strong hive that is. Which this is a strong hive but something happened to their queen and they've been on a steady decline. In the last post I mentioned they were possibly without a queen so I went back in to make sure and for sure there was no queen. My husband and I spent a whole morning taking the hive apart (this is a good thing to do every couple of months or so...you'll see why) This is so neat how they link together holding on to each other. On the very bottom underneath the screened bottom board (we use these because of the heat and humidity in our region) there was a couple of spiders, this one is a black widow. On the other end was a different spider with 3 balls of eggs. I took them over to a wooded spot and let them go there.
On the very bottom of the platform that we had the hive setting on were these pest again! Wax moths....they hatched in the debris that fell down through the screened bottom board. We done away with this platform and just went back with cinder blocks. It's better ventilation anyway.
When you have a worker bee that has turned herself into an egg laying bee, she thinks she's the queen and so do the other bees. But this is their downfall. She can only lay male bees (drones) they have nothing to add to the hive . Their only purpose is to mate with the queen. I'm partial to mine and like to think that ours are also taste testers of the honey....I've seen them with their heads in the nectar cells eating and told my husband they tell the girls when it's time to cap the honey:O) Anyway with no queen laying worker bees (females) to keep the hive producing pollen and honey, the hive dies out, and this can happen very quickly!
So we took the hive apart....we took the hive across the yard (supposed to be at least 100 yards, but we didn't have that much yard without infringing on the other hives, so we went maybe 60-70yards) and brushed off all of the bees....you have to make sure every last bee is off of the frame. You don't want to take the risk of the layer bee to be left on there. In theory the layer bee is what they call a nurse bee...meaning that she has never taken flight. Her job until she reaches age is to take care of the brood. Honey bees go through several roles during their short time here on earth. I'll post about that another time, if I go there now I'm liable to never finish this story! Again in theory since she has never taken flight she will be left where she was brushed (I so hated to do that but we had to, to save the hive).
We went to a Honey bee Apiary that's a little over an hour west of here and bought a queen. We met the owner whose a forth generation of beekeepers and he spent quite a bit of time talking with us. The staff were also very sweet and showed us a letter they had just gotten from Egypt. They ship all over the world and are world renown for their queen bees. We didn't know that... funny how you can live close to something so popular and never even know it, huh? Wilbanks Apiaries
(The pictures got mixed the next one with the blue gloves is the one I wanted here) Oh well, this picture is when we put the queen down on the top of the frames...see how the bees crowded on the box?? Had she been exposed the bees would've killed her. Honeybees don't take kindly to intruder bees. We will keep her in this box in between two frames for the next few days and HOPEFULLY they will except her. They need to get used to her pheromones.

Here she is in between the frames.....but shes upside down! There is two end openings to the queen cage box...one is corked and the other is filled with a soft sugar "candy" that the bees eat through to let her out. The "candy" end needs to be up because there is also "nurse" bees in the cage with her and if they die they'll block the hole and she will also die before she can get out.
This is our first experience with a bought queen, we've been through the queen replacements before (you can see in my previous posts) but they have been "natural" meaning they hatched her on their own. So I'll keep you posted on the progress of this BEE adventure:O)
Until then BEE connected:O)