Sunday, March 24, 2013

Jim’s latest project

We bought this truck knowing it would need some body work. The hood had a lot of pits in the paint…all the way across the front.

I was busy with the bees and didn’t get a picture of the damage..but here is what it looked like after he finished the body work


Evidently it had a flat tire and damaged the R fender. Took a couple of chunks out of it and put a big crack in it.


The L fender had a couple of dents…he made a tool to pull them out them filled them in.


The L  rear fender also had a big crack and some other damage.


The top of the fender had several chips and small cracks.


We don’t have a paint booth or a building big enough to put the truck in….so he pulled it out into the drive…..taped paper where he didn’t want paint and got started.

The heavy rain last night had packed all the dust down and that was a big help.



Had to get one bee off the hood.


and then a second one landed….I was sure hoping the swarm wouldn’t decide to see if it was a big hive.


And the finished product after 5 coats…..the fender with the worst damage behind the rear wheel.


Not bad for a back yard paint job….


Sure wish I could show you what it looked like before he started on it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

3.21.13 Swarm still in the tree

It rained last night and rained hard. Don’t know how the bees managed to stay together…but they did. They are in the same leafy tree. Guess they are smarter than I gave them credit for.


It’s 9:30 am…sun is shinning on the swarm.

I checked the hive stand at 3:30 am and no ants. Then I started thinking about the little hive catcher. It has 5 frames in it. I had some comb in the fridge and thought that if I melted it and put fresh wax on the bars that a scout might find it attractive and pass the word on to the Queen.

They didn’t make a move all day…just scouts.


I set up a super with frames…didn’t have a top or bottom so improvised. Trying to give them ever chance I can.


My friend, Debbie, called and I told her about my temporary  set up and she said George had a hive I could have…I jumped in the car and headed to their house. Had to take the 29 Gazelle…


Jim was painting the truck.

The hive needed cleaning. The bees had left. I got right to work scraping the old wax off and using a torch to sear all the corners and any place hive beetles might lay. Once I had them clean I set it in place of the temporary hive. Thought for sure with all the nice fresh smell and 2 frames of pollen they would move right in.

It was down to 40* last night…I don’t think they’ll hang out for another day.


I have been watching this swarm for days…hardly daring to walk away for a few minutes.

Jim and I were busy in the shop…both working on hive frames…suddenly we were getting lots of bee company…he went out to the tree…they were gone…and they didn’t move into any of the hives.

I’ll leave the empty hives set up…March is swarm season…maybe someone will move in or we can catch a swarm.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3.20.13 Swarm is still here

It rained for a little while last night so I went out about 4 am and checked the hive stand….no ants. Guess they don’t like Jim’s grease.

The swarm is still in the tree behind the hive.

It rained again this morning…and quite hard but not for very long. But it was cool. They are in a tight cluster. It’s almost 4:30 pm and a little sun is filtering thru the trees, but I don’t see much activity. A few scouts out and about. Some even checking their old home.


This is how they looked yesterday when they moved the first time. I originally said this was a 60’ tree but I think it is taller.


It was interesting to watch it continually change shape. Then it moved to the tree it is in now.


a little later….


They are beginning to tighten the cluster.


The tree is too tall to get to with a ladder , and I can see no way to get them on this little limb even if I were to climb up. They need to move a lot lower before we can get them or just make it easy on us and move back into their hive or the little swarm catcher hive.

Late afternoon they are still here…guess they’ll spend the night in the tree. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Swarmed 3.19.13

What started out to be an interesting day…yesterday…ended up being disappointing.

I was happy to see more pollen coming into the TBH than had previously been coming in…and I thought I had solved the ant problem.

My neighbor, George, has 2 hives and came up to see my bees. I opened the observation window and it was empty…just the comb and a few bees. We looked overhead and could see them flying around the top of a tree. They had left home. When I opened the hive there were more red ants. I don’t know if they didn’t like the TBH we built or the ants ran them out. At any rate, they are free.

I could hear them in the trees and finally saw where they were sitting in a nice big swarm….about 60 or so feet in the air and back in the woods a bit. Didn’t see them this morning but the sun is just getting in the trees. I’ll look for them later.

I took the 2 combs they had made and the 2 that I got as starters from Sam out of the hive and Jim installed the bars they were on into Langs frames. When I put them into the Langs hive I looked for ants and didn’t see any. I guess the screen on the inner cover helped keep them out and the bees did a good job of guarding the entrance.

I went out to check the hive stand for ants about 10 pm….there were several running around. Jim has a 5 gallon can of grease and we did up the legs. I checked again at midnight and there were ants at the base but none going up. It is a temporary fix…big red ants weakened a hive I had year before last. They are a problem here in the woods. The hive stand was set in concrete so we can’t set the legs in cans, but Jim reminded me that area can flood and that is why ours are near the top of the stand. They just need a bit of modification.

About mid morning, Jim gave me a call and said they were on the move. They settled in a tall tree closer than they were yesterday afternoon. A little later he hollered again…they were moving. This time they settled in a tree about 40 ft off the ground and almost directly behind the hive they had vacated. They were still there when the sun went down. They’ve swarmed to 4 different trees since they left and all are in the same area…getting closer to the hive?

I’ve watched bees go in the TBH …sometimes only 1 or 2 at a time….sometimes several. Maybe they are going to come home? I hope so…don’t know if they do that or not. If the scouts have been checking the hive and find it OK…maybe they will.

Tomorrow looks to be another interesting day.

The Langs was really bringing in pollen today. Maybe the Queen needed the extra comb for laying.


Early this morning I think over half the bees were bringing in pollen.

Here’s a short video of them early afternoon. I didn’t see quite as much. Don’t know much about pollen…it may be more available early in the day. Something else to learn.

It’s been dark for several hours…I just did my ant bed check. None on the hive stand and the guards are in the entrance of the Langs.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Interesting day 3.18.13

I could hear a tap tap tapping on the tree out front. It was a Pileated Woodpecker, the one that was the inspiration for “Woody the Woodpecker”. 

See how fast he can peck a hole in a piece of a Cabbage Palm.

Then I decided to go out and do a pollen count. The Langs hive has been bringing in more pollen than the TBH.

I spotted 2 dead red ants on the TBH so opened the observation window to check inside.  Several ants! and they were big red ones. Some almost 1/2 inch long.

Many were behind the follower board that separates the section of the hive the bees are starting in. As they build I will move it farther to the rear to give them more bars to build comb on.

I got a wet paper towel and removed the bars so I could squish ants. Once I got all of them out I could still see several in the front half,  so I moved a few bars and got them. Bees didn’t mind at all.

I lifted the cover on the Langs and there were a dozen or more running around on the inner cover. I had covered it with screen so they were not able to get inside from there.

I put a porch on the front of the Langs and have not seen them bring out any dead ants so I’ll leave them alone until I do.

The TBH was bringing in more pollen than yesterday.


I got these within a minute.


They still aren’t bringing in as much as those in the Langs.

Got this one by accident. My camera is so slow that by the time it takes the photo the bee is already inside…so just started snapping away.  Love these in flight shots.


While I was sitting there the “kids” came out. I was sitting so still they never knew I was there until I moved and then they were off like a shot.


Except for the ants it was a great day for wildlife. We’ve watched these two raccoons from the first time their mother brought them out.

In this video you can see how close they were to the area I was sitting in. Part way thru you can hear the call of the Pileated Woodpecker, and his tap tap tapping.

Lots of bees in the TBH…but they do not seem as active as the Langs. Hope that doesn’t mean there is no Queen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Honey Bees from Anarchy Apiaries……….treatment free small cell 3.14.13

I have been looking for small cell Honey Bees raised here in Florida and  was referred to Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries.   It’s a very interesting read if you are interested in a back yard hive of your own.

We drove to Vero Beach, FL and picked up 2 packages. He also supplied me with a frame of honey for the Langstroth hive and 2 for the Top Bar Hive. They are natural comb…not commercial wax foundation.

When we got home, I set things up…checked to make sure I had all my equipment. I did wear a white long sleeve jacket and a veil but no gloves.

I had my camera outside and didn’t realize Jim was snapping pictures. So glad he did. I do most of the picture taking for the blogs and usually behind the camera, not in front of it. Kind of nice to see me at work….or is it play?  Definitely play! I love these little gals.


I set one package of bees in the Langs hive while I installed these in the Top Bar. I had originally ordered one package and was having trouble deciding which hive to put them in. Jim came up with the perfect solution….order another….so I did. I called Sam and left a message that I would like a second one…giving him very little notice…but he managed to get the second one for me.

I got the package open….shook the bees into the hive…..that was the easy part. It took awhile to get the bars in place without squashing any bees. 


As they went inside I carefully closed the gaps in the bars.


Once I got several in place I walked away for a few minutes and let them settle down.


The two bars that have most of the bees on them are the 2 Sam gave me that has comb and honey on them. The bees stayed close to them and eventually went down on them.

The box they came in is sitting on the chair with the screen for them to climb up to the hive.


All the bars are in place. I have screen over them to help keep wax moths out. The top is leaning against the tree on the right. Most of them are in the hive or on the front at this point.

I removed the box, rinsed it off and stored it in a shed where the bees wouldn’t be attracted to the queen’s scent, if there was any left in it.


I let them settle awhile then installed the other package into the Langs hive.

There are spaces between these frames so I was able to put them all in place and then wait until the bees went down.


The inner cover goes on next and then the top. The inner cover is necessary because the Honey Bees would glue the top down and there would be no way to get it off since it sits down over the box.

I put sticks in to reduce the size of the entrance so they wouldn’t have so much area to defend if robber bees showed up.  I think there is a hive nearby. I don’t know if they are managed bees or a feral hive, but  my Bottlebrush bushes have been humming with bees lately. My friends, George and Debbie live a few miles down the road and have 2 hives of their own, but they have more Bottlebrush than I do and there is a nursery even closer to them with lots more so I don’t think it is their bees.

I was hoping to attract a swarm but didn’t want to miss out on a chance to have small cell Honey Bees and had to get them while they were available.

Once the hive is stronger I’ll remove the reducers and give them more access.


You can see the inner cover. Once the bees had a chance to settle, I added another box called a “super” on the inner cover and a small jar of Sam’s treatment free honey, then put the top on.022css

The Queens come in a small cage with a cap on it….under the cap is a bit of sugar candy that the bees will eat away and release her. This gives the bees time to get used to her pheromones (scent) and accept her as their Queen.

I forgot to take the cap off the one in the Top Bar Hive. I had received a message from Sam reminding me to remove it… did the Langs right the first time. Had to open the TBH….reach in ….get the Queen Cage and remove the cap.  It’s a bit intimidating to reach down in thousands of bees and pick up their Queen….but they didn’t mind a bit. I  got  the cap off and the bars back in place without any trouble. Not one sting.

I will check the cages in a few days to be sure they have been released.

I did get 3 stings during the TBH install. My fault. I closed my hand with one in it…sting on the palm. Pinched one between my knuckle and a bar….sting on the knuckle….and did the same to another with the middle finger…sting .  I have a few fat places on my right hand. Guess I need to start using my L so they can match.

Looking in the window of the TBH shortly after it was closed up.


This morning it was pretty cold….and they were all clustered around the comb.


I shined a flashlight in and I believe the Queen Cage is empty. Hope they didn’t get her out too soon.

I hope they are all over the comb like that because she is happily laying. 

Anybody see a Queen? 

I’ll be perched in my chair watching…hoping to see her. They are so interesting. I could watch them for hours. Guess I need a “Bee Cam”. Something else to research.