Monday, September 28, 2009

Going Out on a Limb

I saw a notice on one of the bee forums from Keith, a guy who was trimming one of his trees and happened to slice through a fairly impressive hive. The hive had been basically bisected; when I got there, one of the sawn limbs retained some comb, but the other chunk retained all the bees. Pretty easy to figure out where the queen was!

Here's what the back end (the sawn-thru portion) of the hive looked like:

And here's the front entrance, the way the bees were originally accessing this tree. You can also see where an offshoot of the hive was sawn through.

To transport I decided to just staple some cardboard onto the two exposed areas, because the saw cuts were pretty smooth. I then plugged the front entrance with some comb I pulled from the cut limb that just had comb, but no more bees. Here's what it looked like when I put it in my truck:

Once I got home, I slid the limb into my John Deere Gator bed, transported it to a temporary stand, and slid it onto that. Then, I just used my hive tool to pop the wax plug. Interestingly, during the 20-mile drive home a number of bees had found their way past the cardboard, and were clustered on the outside of the limb (that protruding part that wasn't sawn through) like a mini-swarm.

I did not charge for this pick-up, but ordinarily here in SoCal it would be about $100--- half for travel time, half for the pick-up. But these were nice folks who were concerned about the bees and trying to do the right thing, and I just didn't feel right charging them.

Next challenge: figuring out how to move these girls out of the limb and into a hive box. Gonna take some creative thinking...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Waiting for the Fall Flow

Right now only a few random pepper trees and one lone eucalyptus is blooming in this area, so I've been feeding 1-1 sugar syrup for several weeks. My goal is to make sure the hives are full, so when the fall flow starts (around here, primarily eucalyptus) they'll store all the honey in the supers, and I'll get a bunch of nice, dark eucalyptus honey.

The flush for the euc's lasts through January, which takes us nicely into the early sage bloom, followed by hollyleaf cherry, among others. All of this, of course, presumes a modicum of rain in Jan/Feb. The hollyleaf cherry didn't even bloom at all this past year, due to the drought.

Predictions this winter are actually for an El Nino, a period of unusually heavy rain in the Southland which could potentially ruin February, (that's when they usually hit the hardest) but could also make for a very productive, albeit a little late, spring flow. The chaparral typically blooms like crazy very soon after any significant rain.

Now that every hive has been treated with Apiguard, I'll put some sticky boards out this weekend and see if we've decreased the population to tolerable levels. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Treating a Hive with Apiguard

I've talked below about powdered sugar treatments, and I continue to experiment with that method as part of an overall management protocol. However, after treating a couple hives with Apiguard, a thymol-based "natural" mite killer, I experienced a reduction in mite drops of 50-66%. That seems pretty good to me, so I decided to treat the rest of my hives with Apiguard as well.

This video shows how easy and quick it is to treat with Apiguard. You simply leave this first treatment in the hive for two weeks, then replace with another packet, which you leave in until the gel-like solution is gone.

I got my Apiguard here, from Bee-Commerce. That's Howland Blackiston's website, where you can find lots of high quality beekeeping gear. He's also the author of the first beekeeping book I ever read, "Beekeeping for Dummies." I highly recommend including this book in your beekeeping library.