Saturday, May 29, 2010

Much Ado about Robbing

We left the hive on the sidewalk overnight, and this morning there were bees flying in and out. By the sunny part of the day there were a good twenty or more bees coming in and out of the entrance. We got all optimistic about the belief that we were hosting a swarm, but figured we needed to pop that top deep box off and put a feeder on top.

So we took off the top box...peeked in the bottom box...and there were maybe ten bees sitting on frames hanging out.

We have a new theory. One bee flew into the garage, found the old deep and frames sitting there and found a little something left in a few of the cells on the frames that she thought was worth collecting. She went back to the hive, recruited some of her sisters with a little dance and brought them back to the garage.

Just then, ABK and teenagers came to get in the car. ABK moved the hive outside and the bees continued to rob those small portions of whatever was still in the hive. (We had left it out on the open air porch for a month or more for the bees to clean out prior to storage.)

So...robbing, not swarming.

We went ahead and moved the hive out to the middle of the yard, where they can rob it to their little hearts' delight....and where, if they feel a need to swarm this week, they can move in. But probably not.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello, What?

Imagine my surprise when I come home, bags of groceries in hand, only to discover a hive on the sidewalk leading up to the back door of the house. What what?

Not just a hive, but a hive with bees going in and out.


I was home for lunch, and this was definitely not here then. It is my hive...I recognize the paint.

So I'm still standing there, groceries in hand, when the Assistant BeeKeeper returns from her voyage to return the visiting loaner teenagers to their parents. It turns out that when they went to get in the car the garage door had been up a while, and there were BEES everywhere in the garage. They were mostly concentrated on the unused hive box that was just sitting in the corner, minding its own business.

ABK grabbed the hive, plopped it on the sidewalk on a bottom board, threw on a cover and hit the road.

So...we peeked in just now when we put on an inner cover, and there doesn't seem to be a whole swarm in there. We think these are mostly scouts, and that the swarm is hanging out in a nearby tree somewhere.

Now we wait and see. If they move in, then we start slowly moving the hive a few feet at a time to a more optimal location.

ABK points out that it was Memorial Day weekend or thereabouts last year when we caught a swarm next door.

This reminds me of when our friend Greg, a professional beekeeper, used to keep an empty hive on the back of his truck in case he needed it in a hurry to catch a swarm. One day he went out to his truck and saw bees going in and out of the hive. He peeked under the cover and a swarm had moved in without his assistance, right there in the bed of his truck. They were completely moved in and setting up housekeeping.

You just never know. The girls are very resourceful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May 22 check on honey supers

Took a peek inside the supers we added to each hive. In the little hive (pictured above and below) the bees are beginning to draw out beautiful white comb on two or three of the frames. This hive has been looking good lately, with happy afternoon dances of bees around the hive.
In the enormously tall hive, we peeked in the top two supers. The newest frames on top are a similar story...the bees are just beginning to draw out comb. In the super just below, the frames are all full of nectar and the top cells are capped on each frame.

In other news, got a call from my cousins Rhonda and Kathy, and Rhonda's husband Steve this morning. They described a swarm of bees hanging on a low branch behind my aunt's old house. I advised them to find a local beekeeper...and wished they lived close by, so that I could capture that low hanging swarm myself.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Adding Supers

We made a field trip to Saluda, NC today to buy some more shallow frames and foundation. Peeked in the big mama hive and found they were busily filling the shallow box I added last week with nectar, so popped yet another super on top. This one had five frames with wax already drawn out and four frames of foundation (flat pieces of wax upon which the bees will build honey comb). I put the foundation frames in the middle in the hopes that they will start their work from the inside out.

A peek in the little hive showed a lot of bees and some beautiful new white wax in the top deep. Encouraged by their obvious progress, we popped a shallow super with ten frames of just foundation on top of them. If I'd anticipated this, I would have given them the drawn out comb, but as it was, I had to jog to the garage to get the super to top them off.

It is great to see both the blooms on the trees and the obvious signs of the bees working.

Using Bees to Keep Elephants Out of Your Garden

This news just in:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Quick Peek

You would be so proud, really. I went into both hives today and inspected all the frames in the top box of each ALL BY MYSELF. No ABK (Assistant Bee Keeper) to do all the work and talk me through it. I was cool as a cucumber, and oddly, so were the bees. (Lucy and Ethel, the chickens, did not help. They just showed up for the photo session afterwards.)

In the ubercombined hive the bees had eaten through all the newspaper between deeps as if it had never been there, except to make that nice decorative skirting on the outside. There was a little bit of honey and some capped brood on several frames. I saw no uncapped brood, but hoped there was some down below. The brood, which took up about a quarter of several central frames, appeared to be mostly worker brood.

Since it takes 21 days for worker brood to develop, this brood could have been eggs or young larva when we transferred the deep from the other hive.

The far right two frames in that top deep still had just foundation, but there were bees who looked like they were all set up and prepped to draw it out. I'm hopeful about this little hive. I was curious about the bottom deep, but not set for heavy lifting and bee ticking off today.

In super happy hive, I peeked in the top shallow super (there were two deeps and two shallows when I started). The top shallow was absolutely full of lovely uncapped nectar, soon to be honey. So I popped another shallow on top, full of drawn out honey comb, ready to fill.

Next order of business is to buy some more shallow frames to allow continuing expansion. I've already got some shallow hive boxes and five frames of drawn out comb, but would need at least four more frames to add another shallow to the hive.

I used the frame grips so I could keep the smoker or hive tool in one hand while I held a frame with the other. Worked just fine.

I'm feeling ready for my practical (hands on) test for the certified bee keeper exam on June 5. I passed the written, so full steam ahead!