Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Color at the Bird Feeder 3.31.15

The Painted Buntings are almost in full color. Isn’t he a beauty?

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The bird on the left is an Indigo Bunting….he is just starting to molt.

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This Woodpecker likes a turn at the feeder….everybody leaves when it shows up.

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I call this one “little Mommy”. I can see where she has been nursing little ones.

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I run off the other squirrels but “little Mommy” gets to grab a bit now and then. Only problem…she tosses most of the seed on the ground to get the sunflower seeds.

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The one on the left is just starting to molt…the one in the middle is a little farther along.

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The Indigo Bunting in the back is just about colored out. Usually when you see them this bright it’s time for them to leave.

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The green bird is either a juvenile Painted Bunting or a female.

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Watch the activity…..Cardinals, Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings, Titmice and Woodpeckers.

Sometimes you can even see some Honey Bees in the back ground. The hives are just behind the feeder.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Honey Bees working Spiderwort 3.17.15

I planted these last year and they’ve come back very nicely. The Honey Bees take a lot of pollen from them.

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This little gal already has a basket full.

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They work very hard.

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Their wings are just a blur.

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This one is visiting the same group of flowers but she doesn’t have near as much pollen.

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I took some of these out of the video…so they are not very clear.

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Here’s another with a basket full. I wonder how much it weighs compared to the bees weight.

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Watch the video and see how hard they work.

Every plant in my yard is “bee food”. No pesticides or herbicides…so most of it is weeds…but if it has flowers that the bees can benefit from…it stays.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bee Box (Squirrel box) swarmed today 3.5.15

I did not think it would be long before this one swarmed. I looked out and the front was starting to fill up with bees. The “mutton chops” are usually only there in the morning and then the bees start foraging and they are gone.

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I noticed them just as they were getting started.

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and then the air slowly fills with bees.

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The “mutton chops” are in the air now…

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and then the sky fills up….

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The Queen finds a spot and they all move in on her and settle down.

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I set up a swarm catcher and then called my friend, Debbie, to see if George wanted me to catch them. She brought up one of his hive bodies and we set it up.  Watched for a few minutes then she went home. I came in to download the pictures and video…when I went back outside…they were gone.

Another video:

How do they know who stays and who goes?  Amazing.

The two Lang’s hives have not swarmed yet but they have two deep boxes for brood nest and have room to expand…. but they will.

George does want another hive so we’ll keep his box here and hope one of them finds it attractive.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Bar Hive swarmed today (3pm) 3.2.15

My TBH was jammed full of bees. 

Here is a peek in the window taken a few days ago. It was so full you could only see a few pieces of comb. The white comb is fairly new..built shortly after the Red Maples started blooming in Dec.

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I started to set up my swarm catcher then decided to call my neighbor and see if he wanted another hive. Debbie told me he was setting up a hive next to the one he has. His hive is full of bees also and he figured it would be easier to catch his own…so I didn’t set it up. Don’t want to catch them and have no home for them.

A few hours later I looked out and they were in the air.

I love watching them doing their orientation so I check on them every now and then….this is not orientation.

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It’s amazing how many bees there are.

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The sky is full of them….

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They have decided on this tree and most of the bees are hanging out over here.

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It wasn’t long and I started to see them collecting on this branch.

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It’s a nice sized swarm…..I’ve read that the Queen will take about half the bees when it gets too crowded. They have Queen cells already started so the old hive will have a new Queen.

She will have to leave the hive to get mated. That is when she is most vulnerable. Sometimes they don’t make it back and the workers have to start another. During this time some of the older bees are dying and the numbers get lower. I’ll leave the robber screen on until they have had time to rebuild. Wax Moths are a problem with a weak hive.

I am hoping the bats will keep the moth problem under control. So far..there are about 8 bats in our bat house.

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It is only 25’ from the hives but I have a street light nearby and solar lights. Moths are attracted to light and the bats to the moths….at least that’s the way I hope it works.

Looks like they’ve settled in for the night.

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This is what it looks like from underneath.

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I took this photo of the window in the TBH half an hour after the bees settled in the tree.

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A closer look…you can see the comb now…

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The girls have settled down but still several on the robber screen….as you can see that there are not many in the air now.

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Hope they find a nice hollow tree….and keep on populating.

Through all of this the workers in the other hives just continue to do their job. How do they find their way through such a traffic jam.

I think the next to swarm will be the “bee box”. It is a box we put up for the squirrels to make a home in….

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The bees in the swarm will be sending out scouts for a new home. Once they decide on it…. the air will be full again.

Watch the video below. I was walking around while filming so there might be a shaky spot or two.

I love my bees. Hate to see them go..but that is the way nature intended.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Honey Bees 3.1.15

Here is a look inside the hive through the windows Jim installed.

This is the second deep of the “blue” hive. I have no window in the bottom deep and it’s too late to add one now.

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This is my Top Bar Hive….it looks full of bees. March is swarming month….don’t think it will be long before some of these look for a new home. The white comb is new since the Red Maples started blooming in Dec. There is comb behind all the bees on the right. They started building there last year.

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This is the bottom deep of the “pink” hive….

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This is the second deep. A few days ago it was all empty comb and a quite a few bees cleaning. Today it looks pretty busy. Hope the Queen is starting to lay up here.

This is the most bees I’ve seen in this deep since last fall.

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Since both Langs hives have 2 deeps for brood nest, I don’t expect them to swarm right away…but the Top Bar looks like it is running out of room.

There is also a super on each Lang hive and when I checked them a few days ago there was still a few frames of honey. I’ll keep checking but if there is no more frost to kill flowers and buds they should be fine.

I am trying to keep from having to feed them…but have saved 3 quarts of honey from their hives to give back if necessary.

I left the “robber screens” on the fronts of the hives. The hives are strong enough to defend themselves but if there is a killing frost and nothing to eat the bees that live in the woods will be looking for a place to rob. There are also several hives within 3-5 miles and they will travel that far if no feed nearby.

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Here is a video of the blue hive doing orientation. I wish I could capture all the bees in the air. I was standing about 3 feet from the pink hive when I did the side view and they didn’t bother me…but you can’t imagine how many are flying around. Especially if the weather has been bad and all 3 hives orient at the same time! Amazing! I love these gals.

I have never seen the Raccoons bother the hives but I do have ratchet straps over each one in case the bears visit or we have high winds.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Raccoons and Opossums 2.24.15

I’ve seen a momma Raccoon and 3 little ones come in the yard off and on for about a month. Lately 2 have been coming in together. I think it might be 2 of the kits.

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I’ve also seen 3 different size Opossums come in. This is the smallest of the 3. From the looks of it’s R ear it has been in a scrap or two.

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They definitely are not the cutest little animal on the block…

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The medium sized one just showed up.

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Both of the cats were on the porch….neither of them paid any attention to the Opossums….and they Opossums did not have any problem with the Raccoons.

This is my backyard…no pesticides or herbicides so there are lots of bugs for the critters and weeds….at least it is green.

Sure do like my critters…..

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Honey Bees at the “Frog Pond” 2.7.15

My sister, Joanne, gave me this little concrete “frog pond” a few years ago. I put it on the rear deck to catch the drips from the down spout. There is a lot of condensation early morning. It keeps water in it all the time.

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It was originally intended for the cats…but the Honey Bees decided they liked it too.

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I added the rocks to give the bees a way to get out of the water if they fell in. Sometimes a drop will splatter and hit one of them.

You can see it’s a popular spot even though many of the bees go to the bird bath.

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Enjoy the video. I had a couple of bees land on my shoulder while I was taking video and photos…no stings…just curious what I was.

Love these little gals.