Saturday, October 31, 2009

Relocation of "Log Hive" Failed

Well, bummer... I noticed a dearth of activity in front of this hive, (see video below) so I opened it up. Found a bunch of dead bees on the bottom board, right near the entrance--- which indicates a fight to the death for the hive. I pulled the comb, and yellow-jackets were all over it, including a bunch of dead ones.

This hive probably absconded in the face of an overwhelming attack by yellow-jackets. I had placed a YJ trap near the hive and caught a bunch about a week ago, but I must have been too late. Damn.

I pulled the hive apart, cleaned it and stored it. I kept the comb (it had been robbed of pretty much all the honey) to use as bait in "swarm traps" next year. Swarm traps are simply empty hives with some comb in them, and a drop or two of lemongrass oil to attract the scout bees during swarm season. The idea is to tempt a swarm into setting up home in your hive, saving you the effort of actually catching 'em!

Learned some good lessons about preventing robbing frenzies and yj raids in the future.

1. When removing comb from the original hive, vacuum off the bees and place in a covered container.

2. Once the bulk of bees are vacuumed, take the comb and frames somewhere protected and band the comb into the frames. I did this in the open, right next to other hives, and the robbing was ridiculous.

3. Then, put the frames into the box and immediately dump the vacuumed bees into the box. then, close it up and put an entrance reducer in place (or temporarily close the entrance altogether, which might be an even better idea).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here's Video of the Log Hive Relocation

Sean Arenas, my fearless videographer, did a great job of editing down a bunch of footage of my forced eviction of a beehive from its tree limb home, and relocation into a regular Langstroth hive body.

As I write this it's three weeks later, and the hive seems to have settled in. This Saturday (today's Wed) I plan to open 'em up and see how they're doing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lost the Little Hive; Log Hive Under Attack; More...

That little bunch of bees I got from the compost bin (see below)? They're gone. Driven away either by ants (they went after the sugar water I fed them) or maybe yellow jackets... maybe even other bees, I don't know. They just up and split.

Meanwhile, that hive I pulled out of the log has been under attack by yellow jackets, and they are pissed! I tried taking a look at the front entrance, and they were after me like a squadron of fighter jets, head-butting my veil and just generally calling me out. Fortunately I was completely suited up.

There was a lot of honey in that hive, so it's generating a lot of interest from yj's, other bees, and presumably ants soon. I've gotta stick the stand legs in tin pans filled with oil sometime soon, to stop the inevitable ant invasion.

On a more positive note we got some rain this week, and there's some eucalyptus blooming, among some other wild flowers. So, just for the heck of it I supered four of my hives that already had good food stores, and we'll see if I can get some eucalyptus honey this winter. Very dark, rich honey.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Removing a Hive From Inside a Tree Limb

Remember that hive I got from the guy who lopped a limb off his tree, only to find a thriving colony inside? (See below)

Well, Saturday I decided it was time to "evict" (Sean, my videographer's word) this hive and relocate them into a conventional hive box. They were perfectly happy in the limb, but they weren't gonna do me any good in there.

Now, Sean shot a lot of video on this, and I'll post that as soon as he's got it edited and uploaded. But the basics steps were this:

1. Prepare the new hive box and position it next to the log.
2. Slice and dice the log with a chain saw, taking care to guide the blade through wood, and pulling back whenever I felt the blade hit hollow space.
3. Vacuum bees into my homemade bee-vac, while removing comb.
4. Rubber band the removed comb into frames, and put the frames in the box.
5. Dump the bees from the vacuum into the new hive.
6. Reduce their entrance so they could defend their new home, and remove the log.

All of which sounds straightforward, right? Well, as you'll see from the video once I get it posted, it was a bit of a scene. Learned some good lessons, which I'll note along with the video, so they make more sense.

At any rate, here's a shot of the log once I opened it up.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tiny Swarm Capture; Hive Updates; and a Good Reason to Wear Gloves

Busy bee weekend. Got a call from a friend who had a swarm settle inside one of his compost bins. I took a nuc (a small hive body) over, put it in the compost bin, and used a garden trowel to shovel a couple of small globs of bees into the box. Here's a pic:

I set 'em up back home with a feeder. It's a super small cluster; if the weather gets cold I'll have to combine them, probably with the feral hive I got from a garage wall (see earlier post). We'll see.

Meantime, I did a pretty detailed inspection today of all my hives. I removed feeders from all the hives I was feeding; they've all got great stores and strong populations. they only have brood on a few frames in the lower deep; but this is the time of year when the breeding slows down, so I'm not too concerned. They've got plenty of chow, that's for sure, so I don't need to feed them anymore. Plus, the eucalyptus is starting to bloom, so I may get some end of the year honey!

My latest mite count showed the Apiguard did a pretty impressive job. The one hive that had way too many mites to count, thousands, was down to 50 on the sticky board after a 3-day drop. The rest were all quite a bit lower than that, and all showed a reduction from the initial count.

Finally, I've got another good reason to wear gloves. Lots of beekeepers don't like gloves, but I swell up pretty bad when I'm stung (see earlier post of my Elephant Man face) so I wear 'em. Good thing--- today I took off one of the top covers, and was greeted by some mummified bees in very sticky web, and hunkered in a corner, the biggest Black Widow spider I've ever seen. I wish I'd thought to take a picture, but honestly my first reaction was to squish her with my hive tool.