Friday, March 25, 2011

Trap Out Hive….30 days

We took a trip to the “Trap Out” hive to see if they needed any more honey. They still had half a quart. I guess there are  enough plants blooming that they are getting al they need by foraging.

I lifted the inner cover and took a look to see how they were doing. I was thrilled to see new white comb.


It looks as if they have been working on at least 3 frames.


I didn’t lift any frames out to look for a Queen. The hive will remain  in place for another week or two….then we can bring it home. I’ll wait until then and have George (friend and bee mentor) look at the frames with me. He’ll be able to tell if there is a Queen…..if she has been laying….and if there is capped brood, and give me an idea of how the hive is doing.

I’ve seen several of his frames when he worked his hive….have seen a Queen…brood and Drones….but I don’t want to take a chance and be wrong.  If there is no Queen, then I will have to buy one.

I took a quick video….it’s not very good because I was rushing to get them covered back up.

I hope my next update is from home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I have bees!!!!

Late Sunday afternoon, my friend Debbie called. They had received a call from someone in the area that had a swarm of bees in a tree…not very high off the ground…and did they want it?

Their hives are full and they didn’t want to start another so they called me. Of course, they knew I’d want them.

I had just handed Jim his supper….he was eating as fast as he could…I put my plate on the counter..went to the shop and made a swarm trap out of a cardboard box by cutting  a hole in 2 sides and taping window screen over them.

We headed to the swarm tree. It was a very small swarm and there was a group on the ground. The bees on the ground were in a circle about 7” in diameter. I laid the box on it’s side and with my bee brush coaxed most of them in the box. After a few minutes they settled a bit and then I held the box under the swarm in the tree…shook the branch so they dropped in the box.

With the box sitting on the ground and the flaps tented….we waited for all of the scouts and foragers to come in. It was getting close to dusk when we got there so we didn’t have to wait very long.swarm boxcs

I smoked the tree limb where they had swarmed to discourage all the returning bees from settling there, and made sure there were no bees left on the ground, then stirred that up with my shoe to cover any scent.leaf with beescs

Just as it was getting dark all the bees had gone into the box. We closed it up…taped the flaps and it rode home on my lap.  Only a mile or so.

Once home it was dark. Jim grabbed the honey bear and a flashlight. I placed a little honey on a strip of board and laid it in the bottom of the hive. We battled mosquitos while dumping the bees into the Top Bar Hive. 019cs

This morning I was up early to watch the bees venture out from their new home.

Once the sun hit the front of the hive they started coming out and doing their orientation flights to learn where their new home is.


I was happy to see them come out…..but even happier to see some of them going back in.


The Blue Flags (Iris?) are all within 20’ of the hive and I have 2 Bottlebrush bushes blooming in the front yard.



Yesterday both Bottlebrush had bees on them but today they were humming. I watched several leave and fly to the hive ….so some of the bees were ours.


The Tangelo is just to the R of the bush above and there is a small Navel Orange tree near that. It is just starting to bloom. There should be plenty for them to forage on without having to travel too far. Just down the drive are a lot of weeds and wild flowers blooming.

It is a very small swarm. I don’t know if there are enough bees for them to survive ….but I hope so.

Here is a look inside the observation window…you can see there are not a lot of bees. Of course, several were already outside.

Here is some of the action at the hive entrance this afternoon.

Today is Tuesday and they are still here….so maybe the hive we built has passed the test and they are willing to live there.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Honey Bee update


It’s been 5 days since my last check. They still had plenty of honey. The weather is warm, the orange trees, bottle brush and flowers are blooming all over…pollen everywhere. I leave the honey jar for days when they can’t forage….either too cold or raining.  They have no stored honey of their own and still have to eat.

I had the honey jar in the empty side of the hive. ( picture from last check)069cs

I decided to put the rest of the empty frames in and set the honey jar on top of the inner cover, inside a super.  I wont have to lift the inner cover each time I check the honey. It is hard on the bees if I keep changing the hive temperature by raising it up each time.

I didn’t take any pictures, but Jim did get a quick video.

There were a lot of people at the church and I didn’t want to antagonize the bees. They were very quiet. I merely pulled the jar and blocks out and slipped the inner cover back on. I don’t think there were more than 3 or 4 bees buzzing around. But I was thrilled to see them “festooning” (hanging together by their feet) on 2 of the 3 empty frames, were there weren’t any last week and the top of the bars had more bees than last time.

As the bees leave the tree thru the funnel, they are not able to return and must move into the hive ……so the numbers should keep increasing.

Most of the bees should have emerged from the brood cells. And hopefully the queen has emerged, mated and is laying eggs in the empty brood cells. I might be a bit early in my thinking…..I just read on   that it takes 24 days to get a laying queen even if you have to start from scratch. I did have a queen cell and they were feeding her at the time we moved that frame into the trap out hive. If she survived then maybe I have a laying queen. I don’t dare look!

We need to leave it at least another 2 or 3 weeks…..until we don’t see any more bees leaving the tree. Then I will have my “bee mentor” George, help me look for her. If I don’t have one….I will have to purchase one.

Here is a close up that I cropped out of last weeks pictures. Aren’t they beautiful?072cscs1a

I sure hope that little Queen made it.

Check in for the next update.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Indigo Bunting

This little bird is almost harder to capture than the Painted Buntings.


You can see his is in molt. Won’t be long and he’ll be in full color…and they are beautiful then.

He’s sitting in the Bottlebrush waiting for someone to go to the feeder. There is a green Painted Bunting with him.


This video isn’t very good but it was all I could get.  When he came back he stayed on the far side of the feeder.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Honey Bee trap-out of church tree 2011

Our neighbor and friend, George, has honey bees and has been helping me learn about them by letting me watch as he checks his hives and showing me the equipment I would need.

A local church has a tree with a hive in it that they want removed. They are concerned about children playing near it.

On 2.24.11, George checked his hives and added supers for honey storage. The 3 supers in the wheel barrow in the foreground all have frames. Each hive will get one super.017cs

While he was inside the hive he looked for a frame of brood that also had a queen cell on it. He found one, left some bees on it and placed it in my hive. I believe this is the frame he decided on.


The super in the foreground was removed from the hive body in the middle. Sure are a lot of bees there.


When his hives were put back together, the frame with the brood and queen cell and bees, was put in my hive. He put a stick over the entrance so we wouldn’t lose any bees on the way to the bee tree. Once there it was removed. We’re all suited up….except  Jim….he hid behind the camera.


George and Craig put the cone, that George had made, into place. It was stapled and then quick dry cement was put around the edges. The hive was set on a couple of cinder blocks with the entrance near the opening in the cone.



Once everything was set in place, I put a jar of honey,  with small holes in the lid, upside down on a couple of blocks so the bees could get under it to get at the honey.

Jim and I checked the hive each day for several days….finally decided they had found a way past the cone…we took extra screen and stapled it in place….

Continued checking each day…still getting past. 

On 3.3.11 we removed the extra screen and made up more quick dry cement and cemented every spot that looked possible for them to use.  Our evening check showed no extra bee entrances.  I think we have it right this time.

We will leave them alone for awhile. They’ve still plenty of honey……we’re going boating.


It is cold and drizzly and the weather report is for another night in the 40’s …..and 50’s the rest of the week. Decided we’d better haul the boat out and head home to make sure the bees had enough honey to get them through the week.

We opened the hive long enough to pull out the almost empty jar and add a half quart of honey….closed it up and left.

Check back for more updates.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Orange blossoms in the Hammock

My Tangelo tree is in full bloom…..aren’t these beautiful? This tree is just a few feet from my kitchen window…..the breeze blows the fragrance right into my kitchen. It is my favorite time of year.


But I am not the only one who appreciates them…….this big fat Bumble Bee was only one of six that I saw on the tree. We must have a small hive of them nearby. They are so soft and fuzzy looking ….it reminds me of a story… brother, Dan, as a child of about 5, caught one……he immediately let it go…..and brushing his hand…repeated over and over..”hot birdy, hot birdy”.  As I stood and watched this one….I could understand the fascination of picking one up and holding it.


I was glad to see the Honey Bees at the blossoms also. You can see it is sipping nectar.


I was surprised to see two differently colored bees. Guess I’ll have to study up….


You can see how much darker this one is. I followed it all over the tree trying to get a good picture of it’s abdomen.


Until I got interested in having hives of my own, I didn’t realize there were some many kinds of bees….Italian, Russian, Carnolian and the European Dark Honey Bee, just to name a few. …the European Dark Honey Bees are some of the first bees imported from Europe. This could be one of those.


These two seemed to work well together…the bee on the R has pollen on its hind legs while the bee on the L is definitely sipping nectar, perhaps they each had a different job.047cs

I don’t treat my trees with chemicals …so the leaves aren’t always the prettiest….but they keep on producing. I hope that this time next year…it will be my bees on this tree.