Thursday, January 31, 2013

Honey Bees 1.31.13

I have a Langstroth hive, a Top Bar Hive and a 5 frame swarm catcher…….all empty.

I had a trap-out swarm in the Langstroth, last year, but it was over run with big red ants. That really cut down on the bee population. I bought them a Queen but it still didn’t survive.

I purchased a 3# pkg of bees for the Top Bar Hive. They seemed to be doing well. It has an observation window and I could see them building comb. But, looking back, I realized that they had stopped adding comb and I had noticed them carrying dead bee larva out. Being new at this I didn’t realize that the wax moths may have already been in the comb that I could not see.  We went away for 10 days and when I came back the bees were gone and the comb and hive were full of wax moth larva.

I burned all the comb and larva. Probably should have put it out and let the birds have a feast, but didn’t want to create a problem for other beekeepers in the area.

I would like to try again this year. I have all 3 set up, hoping to attract a swarm. I check them regularly to be sure nothing has moved in (other than bees) and put Lemon Grass Oil in them to attract bees.

I’ve put a screened inner cover on the  Langs’ and screen on the Top Bar.  A friend with a few hives had screened inner covers on his hives and found wax moths on them. It kept them out of his hives. So I’m trying that this year.

It is the end of January, here in Florida, and there are  a few flowers blooming…but not many. My Bottle Brush bushes are just starting to put out blooms and they draw bees. I would love to get a swarm of feral Honey Bees.

Here are some photos of the bees that come…..this is the top of a mason jar.



I put some honey on a tape measure …..but I don’t know how big a small cell bee is….


If anyone can tell  from these pictures, please let me know.



The jar has 3 holes in the lid and sits on  1”x 1” sticks so the bees can get under it.  There may be a dozen bees on it at a time with others coming and going…….. until I put some on the top and let it drizzle down….then within a few minutes it is swarming with bees. As soon as the excess is gone the number of bees dwindle.

What are my chances of attracting a swarm by having a feeding station?

My friends, George and Debbie, have 2 hives and that is where I buy my honey. They are only a couple of miles away, so I could just be putting it right  back into their hives.

Does the dark bee in the picture below look like the same kind of  bee as the others?


March is the swarming season here, so I am a bit early, but the weather has been warm all winter, with only 1 hard frost in my area, that I know of. I noticed some of the palms in the tree farms surrounding us, have started to put out blooms. I am hoping the warm winter will help the bees to survive and increase their numbers……and that some will want a nice place to live……preferably in one of my hives.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Painted Buntings, Cardinals, Titmice, female or juvenile Indigo Bunting at feeders

Today was a busy day at the feeders. The temperature was in the mid 40’s and everyone was hungry.


I had the woodstove going and the sliding door open enough for the camera.

The little brown bird on the L is either a juvenile Indigo Bunting or a female. Look closely at the throat on the green bunting. Looks like it might be a juvenile male. It is starting to show some color.


This little guy is so pretty I just couldn’t stop taking pictures.




In this video they continually fly in and out. At the end there are 5 males buntings on the 2 feeders.

The cute little grey bird with the topknot and big eyes is a Titmouse.

I love the section with the Painted Bunting sitting in the Bottle Brush bush. You can really see how beautiful their colors are. It’s a dark overcast day and they don’t show off as brilliantly as they really are.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Visitors to our backyard

One of the most beautiful birds to grace our backyard is the Painted Bunting.


The Red Bellied Woodpecker is always full of energy. It goes from the feeder the Bunting is on to the platform feeder and then to the trees. I love watching it on the platform feeder….sometimes on it and sometimes under it.


This squirrel normally tries to raid the feeders.  Since the Sweet Gum tree has started to put out buds and tiny leaves, it has been feeding there.


It’s fun to watch it hanging upside down to get at a morsel that caught it’s eye.

Look closely at the picture….looks like there are some fuzzy little seeds. When they are grown and fall on the ground they are full of spikes like a mace. Not fun to step on.


Sights and sounds from the yard.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Red Bellied Woodpecker

One of the things I like best about winter in Florida?  The cool nights make it possible to enjoy a woodstove.


I started a fire about 6 am…..around 0715 the birds really started to come to the feeders.

The next thing I like about winter in Florida?  I had all my windows and doors open by 10 am.

I believe this is a female Red Bellied Woodpecker.


Isn’t she beautiful?


Looks like she may have a striped sunflower seed.


Not sure what she has in this one. Notice how she uses her tail to stay balanced.


She came with the Titmice, but there were only a few birds.