Sunday, July 24, 2016

Foundationless Frames Update: Day 19

Here are the pictures from Day 19.  Much of the brood is now capped.

Day 19
Up close:

Friday, July 15, 2016

They LOVE the Pumpkin Blossoms in the Morning

Good Morning from Spokane!

We are having a cool morning with temps the low 60's with a clear blue sky. It is quite beautiful.
I headed out to enjoy a brief cup of coffee when I noticed that the raised bed garden, which is completely "volunteer" this year, has some amazing pumpkins growing there.  They are trying to take over the yard - like a scene from the movie, "Little Shop of Horrors".  Their blossoms are an intense yellow/orange and are usually opened up to seemingly gather the warmth of the sun.  The bees are crazy for them and they appear to 'squabble' over access to the flowers.

Beautiful Pumpkin Blossoms

Here is an up close shot and  you can really see the 'messy' pollen all over the bee.  I've read that this effect may come about due to the static charge the bee develops as it flies.  Sort of  like that junior high trick with the balloon with your hair. The plant's charge is grounded and this allow the effect of the pollen grains 'jumping' onto the bee as it lands.  

Amazing moment

Monday, July 11, 2016

Foundationless Frame Experiment: Day 7

Hello to Everyone!
... and a special shout out to my followers from the EU!  Thanks for visiting!

I was very eager to see how the bees reacted to my "foundationless" frame with small starter strip.  So, today after 7 days I opened up this active hive to take a look.  As you can see they have built this up quite nicely. The queen has been very busy in this new comb as well.  If you look to the left most edge of the comb you can see the 'original' starter strip.
7 days later !

Check out that new brood too...

Eggs and Young Larvae

So, with this experience I have decided to try this approach with another strong nuc.  This nuc started off with me about 2 months ago.  It was a single frame with capped brood on it.  I just let it grow in this 4 frame nuc box until today.  It was crammed!  I sprayed them with my lemon grass 1:1 sugar syrup to get them to calm down and move down into the box.  They were not too happy with me opening the lid!

Nuc Full !

New Box - "Before"
I had previously set up the new box that they were going to be placed in.  I used 2 more 'foundationless' frames, checker boarding them between the 4  original frames.  These were packed with brood, especially capped brood that will be emerging soon.
Frames inserted - Hive returned to its original location

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nearby Wild Flowering Plants and Pollinators!

On our dog walks around and along the Spokane river we can see many flowering plants that provide food for our native pollinators and honey bees too.

Here is a 'wild' alfalfa plant growing along the edge of the Centennial Trail.
Single Alfalfa Plant with many Honey Bees working it

It is not nice to stick your tongue out while being photographed!

Mystery Plant?  

This appears to be a 'Vipers Bugloss' Echium Vulgare plant but I'm not completely sure.  The blue purple flower is nearly iridescent in it's color intensity.  Here there were lots of Bumble Bees working this plant!   

Vipers Bugloss?

Here a closer view of the blossoms.

Flowering Bugloss?
Here is a closeup of a Bumble Bombus Apidae?  working the blossom.  They appear to stick their entire fat heads into the blossom.  They seem to fly around with their tongues hanging out as well.

Monday, July 4, 2016

"Foundationless" Frame Experiment - Day One

I've been reading quite a bit about using "Foundationless" frames as a way to allow the bees to draw their comb 'naturally' with the correct size they prefer.  In the past,  I have made mistakes with regards to beespace and they have gone wild making their own comb and they created a huge mess for me.  So, it is very important that they have a guide to get started.  In this picture you can see that I simply took a small strip of surplus wax and tacked it in with some Elmers glue, using the top bar groove as a guide.
Standard Deep Frame
This hive started out a month ago in a small 4 frame breeder Nuc.  It was getting congested and the queen was getting busy.  I wanted to provide her more room to grow and to give young bees 'something to do' in terms of wax production.  The drawn and filled with the green paint you see is a foundationless one that I setup last year.  I paint these to give me a clue when I open up the hive.
Frame of new brood
This brood will be hatching out soon so I 'checkerboarded' it with the new frame.

1st New Frame Added
 Now the new frame is snugged up with the existing one to obey 'beespace'

I repeated this for the next frame.  Now there are two new foundationless frames inserted into this young colony.  I will come back in a week to check on their progress.  The nectar flow is still on here in town so I expect a good build up
2nd New Frame is added

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Speaker Swarm" rescued!

A friend of mine called me the other day about what he was a honey bee 'nest' in a junk floor speaker in his backyard.  I came over and took a peek.  Yes, it was a honey bee swarm that had taken up residence in a large floor speaker.  It was incredibly hot and they were bearding up on the out side.  I opened the speaker and the comb simply fell off as it was melting.  I put a board on top of it to give it some shade and came by later that night.  It was pretty cool and the bees were inside the speaker box.  I simply picked it up carefully and took it home.

The next day, I waited until it cooled off a bit and then re-hived them into a proper 8 frame box.
Quite a mess at first
I carefully opened the speaker box and dropped the 'main ball' of bees into the 8 frame box.  As you can see they were quite confused at first at this.

I sprayed sugar water (1 to 1 mix with lemongrass/peppermint/thyme essential oils) on the frames in the box and provided them with plenty of syrup.  You can see my 12 jar inner cover/feeder.  The jars are sitting on 1/8th hardware screen so I can change out a jar without disturbing the colony.
Up close view

Here is an up close view.  They were fanning like crazy!

About an hour later, they settled down quite a bit.
They have consumed about a quart in a half of syrup in one day.  The heat really brought out their activity
Settling down now

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dealing with Sparrows Eating my Bees !

I have noticed that my neighbors Cherry produced a lot of cherries this year and this attracted lots of house sparrows and starlings.  Well, the cherries are done now and these little 'marauders' have moved their feasting to my bees!  I am using my yard for breeding queens too so having these birds here is a serious threat to my operation.  What to do?

I came up with this last night.  I purchased a hawk plastic statue and now my yard is as quiet and bird free as it can be!

I will move it around a bit so they don't get used to it being there.  Now, my bees can forage and fly with one less predator so close to their home base!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bee Bucket Watering Idea - Update

The other day, I was working in one of my out yards that has a water access problem.  A neighbor complained that the bees were in his horse trough and had asked me to do something about it.  I put my 5 gallon water bucket to work!

The bucket needs to be 'topped off' or refilled about every 2 weeks or so.  

So, when I can dropped by I noticed about 5 to 8 bees drinking on the sponge.  I grabbed my cell phone camera but a few flew off but as you can see they seem to like this.

I put in a few ounces of mineral salt to water mix.  We have not heard any more complaints from the neighbor!  I'm not too worried because I will 'bribe' him in August with some honey !  :-)

They seem to use this a lot!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The New Moose Meadow Apiary Honey House and new Bench !


I recently had a friend and former student of mine carve me a beautiful wooden bench with our our Apiary's initials.  We set it up today and are making fine progress on the Honey House with the plumbing and electrical work being done now. In August, we will be up and running extracting honey!
New sitting bench!

Libby likes the new bench

Making great progress and getting ready for Fall Honey Extraction !

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Working with 'Foundationless' frames

I've read recently how they bees like/prefer to make 'their own' comb.  However, we all have seen how they will go 'freestyle' and muck up a box pretty fast with bur comb and other strange wax creations!

So, here I'm working with a medium frame and a simple strip of wax foundation.  I just glued it into the groove and let them have it.

To help guide them, I just place this frame in between to already drawn combs.  This helps keep things straight and as you can see they  know just what to do.

Medium frame with a starter strip of foundation

Monday, June 20, 2016

High Quality Queen Raising WSU Workshop

This was a fantastic training opportunity where a great deal of valuable information was passed on.  We spent time in the Apiary and built cell builders using the Cloake and Swarm Box methods.  We also grafted larvae and were able to select just the right age of larva for successful grafts.  I had a great time!

Dr. Sue Cobey discusses the fine art of setting up a good cell builder!

Breeder Nucs 'staged' for frames of brood and bulk or 'shaked bees'

The guys were very interested in it's construction!

Sue Shows how to tell Drone Maturity and Quality 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Flow Hive Inspection !

This week I got the privilege of helping a mutual beekeeping friend do an inspection of a Flow Hive.

Our mission was to check the hive and to give it another deep super - if needed.  The hive was building nicely and it was interesting to see how the apparatus works.

This hive started as a Nuc and was coming along nicely - with lots of eggs, brood at different ages and 2 frames of solid capped brood.  We have it another deep to build up.  So, there are now 2 deep supers with the Flow Apparatus on top.
A very nice spot with straw bales to provide some protection from the wind

This is the 'rear' side of the Flow  Apparatus.  The collection 'frames' have a drain port as shown here

Top View of the  Flow 'Super'

The Queen Excluder is a MUST.  She must not get into the Apparatus

The owner is using some 'foundationless' frames  that were being built nicely!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Swarm Adventures

We just experienced some wild fluctuations in weather recently.  A few days ago it was in the 90's.  Then, we had some rain with cool weather.  Today, it became very nice in the 70's and the swarm impulse must have been strong.

A handy ladder for staging the swarm box

Good Size swarm - basketball ball size
Couldn't resist a 'selfie' with my new hive!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Bee Water Bucket Idea

I have struggled with different types of bee watering devices with limited luck as I don't like to see dead bees floating because they don't swim well.

So, I've come up with a cheap and easy way to do this.  I take a 5 Gallon bucket and cut out a piece of foam padding to match the circumference of the pail  This 'floating raft' stays moist but they bees can still land on it, drink and fly away with no danger of drowning.

Plus, I can add mineral salt to the water and they can get their necessary minerals as well.  The foam also keeps it from evaporating too quickly.  I have yet to fill it or top it off yet.
The bees like it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

First Hatch

First Hatch

Today - I  observed the first hatch of the first batch of queens I 'harvested' back on May 1st.  I could actually hear the others scratching to chew themselves out of their cells.

In nature, this first queen would seek all the other cells and kill them.  But I have other plans!

I have them in these 'roller' cages that keep them from doing that.

Friday, May 13, 2016

First Cell Builder

I was able to 'harvest' 10 fully developed, capped cells today!  Not a great result - but I will keep making more!

They will be going into breeder nuclei early this Sunday.  If everything goes to plan, I have 10 more nucs in a couple of weeks or have queens available for folks!

These are all daughters of a very strong carnie winter survivor this year.  Tough gals and built up nicely this early spring!

Monday, May 9, 2016

A "bee" visit to the Montessori Elementary School

Today I had the opportunity to take my observation hive to this school and have a chat about bees.  The kids were very interested in this and the tools that you use with beekeeping.

A Captivated Audience !

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Swarm Management in my Bee Yard

I've heard from many of my beekeeping buddies that their purchased Nucs, back in April, have really taken off with this current amazing nectar flow!  Lately, the weather has been beautiful and the flower bloom is fantastic. However,  this can have an unfortunate result.  The hive may build so quickly that they feel the 'swarm impulse' and build queen cells and take off!  

So, I read about this problem and its remedy:  Swarm boxes.  Here, I've suspended a box with some frames of drawn comb in a tree not far from the platform.  It is hung on a strong hook so I can quickly lower it at night if I get 'new renters' moved in from one of my hives.  "An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure"
Hung on a tree about 12 feel up on a quick disconnect 
I sprayed the inside with my "Lemongrass lure" - just in case!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Getting Ready for Queen Rearing

Today I was going through some preparation for raising Queens.  I built these last winter and now they are getting setup for the first round of cell building.  I know how the cell builders turned out in 12 days.  I will keep you posted!