Bee on my privet

Thursday, August 1, 2013


No, this is not a horror film on late night Syfi channel. Though I bet they will make one eventually.
  Zombees are bees that have been parasitized by the Zombie Fly, Apocephalus borealis. The fly injects it's eggs into the abdomen of the honey bee where they develop over the next 5-14 days then the maggots crawl out of the hapless bee's body. Fun, huh?  is a great place for information on these gruesomely fascinating creatures. If you have bees set up a trap and do some samples. It's fun and educational and creepy.


These are not pictures of Zombees. These are pictures I just needed a link to lol.
The bee with the amber liquid appears to have harvested some propolis and then got told to go fan the front door.
The second picture is arguably one of the coolest I have taken as you can see the pattern the wins follow by looking at the shadow of the bee.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Swarms in July

A few days ago I received a call from a friend. His lawn care guy said there was a tree down in the yard at one of his houses. He goes to check it out and sure enough, half of a huge willow is laying in the back yard on the ground. He proceeds to chop it up with his chain saw until he gets close to the fence. As he get close to the fence he notices a bunch of bees flying around and calls it quits. This is where I come in.
Glen calls me and tells me he thinks there is a honey bee hive in the downed tree in his yard. I gather my bee things and a chainsaw and head over to take a look. After a brief inspection of the premises, my wife finds the colony. We pack up and tell Glen that they are indeed honey bees and that I will remove them the next day.
 Early the next morning, I clear vines and small shrubs from the area where the bees are and start making the log shorter. I get to the colony and screen the end. I wait till after dark and toss the whole log in the truck.
 When I get home I lay the log on the hive support where I am going to make their home and cover the entrance with leaves and such so they will reorient when they head out the next morning. I was not sure if I moved them a sufficient distance to ensure they would not head back to where the log used to be. Better safe than beeless.
 About mid-day I go and check on them and notice a large glob of hive beetle larvae in the end of the log. I figure now is as good time as any and proceed to cracking the log open. Wow. I cannot even begin to explain this poor devastated hive. How they managed to keep going is beyond me. Apparently, when the branch fell, all the comb compacted into a heap on what is now the floor of the hive. I am guessing the queen died in there somewhere because I never found her and there were no eggs, just honey. There was also very little usable comb. The small hive beetle infestation was so overwhelming that I just burned the log after I coaxed the bees into a langtroth. No useable honey or anything.
 To add insult to injury, after I got the bees into the langstroth hive, the bees that live in the pole on the other side of the shed began robbing them of the syrup I just fed them. To combat this, I blocked their entrance and moved the hive about 50 feet and them placed an empty 5 frame nucleus hive in it's place for any bees that were out to get into.
 I left for several hours........
 When I came back pandemonium was well under way. The sequestered bees decided they did not like being kept inside and removed the plug on the hive entrance. They then flew to where their hive used to be and for whatever reason, two colonies of bees were beating each other up over an empty box. Bees are apparently not as smart as I gave them credit for.
 I took the 5 frame apart and shook the bees out. It was getting pretty close to dark so everyone started heading home. I then moved the hive back to it's original location so the bees could get back in. I then made a screen tunnel about 6 inches long that leads up from the entrance hole to help prevent further robbing. I figured everything would return to normal at this point. I was wrong.
 At the crack of dawn (for me, around 8:30) I headed out back to check out the continuing craziness. I was not disappointed. There were bees everywhere! Oddly there were thousands on the empty five frame nuc hive. I had the front blocked off so they were just covering it. I cracked the screen a little and they started pouring in. At this point I am clueless. What the heck is going on? There are still bees all over the place in the air.
 I start walking around and notice there is a big wad of bees on the ground about 15 feet from the hives. Looks suspiciously like a swarm. So I poke at it with a stick. Sure enough there is a queen in that ball of bees. I grab another empty nuc and lay it next to the swarm and herd the queen in the
hive. This was not as easy as it sounds. I then ran and made a queen cage. Upon returning I could not find the queen till she comes waltzing our of the nuc like she owns it. I try to get her in the cage and she flies off. Grrrrrr. Why do I keep bees? Why will they not bend to my will?
 I go check the other nuc that I now figure is a primary swarm and there on top of it, is the queen I was trying to catch. After chasing her around for a bit I finally get her into the cage. I put her in the nuc where I want her and set it up on a ladder where the bees can find her easier.
 After all that is settled, I open the hive that was robbed last night. there are dead bees all over the place. I smash a few obligatory small hive beetles and begin to sweep up the bees on the baggy feeder. Apparently a few of them were not dead and I get stung three times on two fingers. Good thing I am left handed. There appear to be enough bees left to make a go at it so I add a frame of brood from the other bee yard and close it up. I will probably add the queen I caught today to this colony as the swarm is small and they need a queen anyhow.

The ball of bees I found on the ground.


The elusive queen. Trust me, she is in there.
Nuc waiting for bees to fly in.
 See the bees fanning on the porch? They are fanning queen pheremone to bring in everyone.
The logs bees' new home. 
 The log. Notice the smashed comb.
 The entire log was just filled with larvae and beetles. I ended up burning it.
That's all till next time where hopefully I will finish my Zombee blog.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bees in a Pole - the sequel

  Let me tell you a story. A story of desperation, hard work and perseverance.

  I begins in a wooded lot on the other side of town (not your town, mine). If you read my last post then you have a pretty good idea of what is going on here. I sometimes do silly things like for instance post things in Craigslist like "Will remove bees, swarms and hives for free.". While this generally does not lead to any real difficulties, there is always that one time.
 This, is that one time.
 I post the afore mentioned post on Craigslist. A few days later I get a call. A guy wants me to remove a hive of bees. Now as a beekeeper, a hive is a box where the bees live. He tells me it is  a thriving colony. Great, I say to myself, some nice easy free bees and they come in a hive! After speaking with him a few minutes, I realize this is not going to be as easy as it seems. So I head to the site (You know, the wooded lot mentioned earlier) and size it up.
 I arrive and check it out. Sure enough there is an old steel gate post full of bees. I think to myself, this should not be to hard and tell the guy I will get them out as soon as I can.
 Several scenarios entered my mind on how to successfully remove this colony. None of them ended up being the final conclusion to this epic rehoming saga.
  Here is how it went down.
  A few weeks ago I show up with plans to take the bees home. The bees wanted none of this and refused to go in the pipe so I could close it off. We went home empty handed.
 The night before last I head out there with some proper bee equipment (smoker and such) and smoke them. They grudgingly go into the pole and I screen it up.
  Now imagine this if you will. I have my truck, an inverter (a doohickey that converts 12 volt car electricity to 115volt household electricity), and finally a recently purchased 7" angle grinder with metal cutoff wheels. Also the angle grinder was bought at Harbor Freight. Those of you who have used Harbor Freight tools probably know what is going to happen here shortly.
  I did test this setup at the house prior to heading to the site. It errrr worked-ish. So at the "hive" I hook up said equipment and head over tot he post and get to cutting. Hmmm seems that when I get into it a bit it draws too much power for the inverter to handle. After turning the inverter off and on like 25 times, we give it up open up the hive and head home.
 Last night we return again we screen the entrances. But this time I have a 5kw generator. Hehehe Should be no sweat, right? Wrong. After getting about 4 inches around what is a 30" circumference post the angle grinder gives up the ghost. Ahh Harbor Freight power tools. So I leave the bees screened in and head home.
 This morning I arrive with the sun at Harbor Freight and trade my non functioning angle grinder in for a fresh new one. Again, we head over to the bees. Again I get to cutting. Poor bees. This time, however, everything goes according to plan and I manage to cut all the way around the post. At this point I realize the wall thickness on this thing is 1/2". No wonder it took so long to cut it. I would guess it took at least 45 minutes to cut all the way around the post. 45 long chigger and spark filled minutes. I also took breaks to allow the pole to cool so the bees would not overheat.
 While I am cutting it, I slide shims in the crack to keep the post level while I am cutting and to prevent the blade from pinching. After I get it cut off, I figure I will pick it up a little and have my son slide a piece of screen under it to keep the bees in. Lets just say that the pole probably outweighed me and it did not budge.
 Time to bring out the heavy stuff. I have a roll around A frame that has a 6' I-beam at the top that I can roll a chain hoist on. We drag it out of the truck and assemble it like a giant Erector Set. Now again let me set the stage here. I am on a "paved" road and the post is about 10 feet into the woods. My crane has 6" solid tires. It did not exactly roll into place but we got it. I wrap the chain fall chain around the post and clip it to itself. I begin to hoist it up. Here is where, in hindsight, I could have saved myself a load of issues. Instead of leaving it just clipped to itself, I should have tied I rope to the other side of the chain to balance the load. I didn't and pandemonium ensued. I started up with the hoist and as the last bit of uncut metal separated, the entire post quickly and violently came off the base and skewed at a 30 degree angle. There is now a nine inch hole out of which thousands of very excited bees rapidly exited. We didn't stick around to watch.
 After the bees kind of calmed down, I went back in and attached a screen to the bottom of the post.
 Now, I have to say, these bees are taking all this very well. I have not been stung or really harassed this whole time except once at the very start of this. I am working in shorts and a t-shirt with no veil.
 Getting the gantry in the woods was hard, getting it back out with several hundred pounds of steel and bees was a miracle. Especially with a whole load of bees buzzing all over the place. I would like to take time out to thank my wife for helping get this out of the woods and on to what passes for a road in that place.
 It gets easier now. We hoist it into the truck and tie it down and drive it home. After we get it home I hoist it back out and on to the ground. Unfortunately some comb was damaged and honey leaked out into the truck bed. I kind of muscle it into its temporary place (till I figure out how to get them to move into a lighter and more accessible hive) and open all the screens. They are currently repairing the damage I caused and out collecting nectar and pollen. I am glad they are finally here. I can't stop watching them. They are such a busy hive.
Here they are heavily bearding as the sun hits the post.

A close up of the beard.

A temporary resting place. I should probably level it out.


Here they are still strapped down in the truck.
A really big gate post.

The A-frame. The chain fall is in the bucket.
Look at how thick this steel is!!
The obligatory SHBs lurking in the bottom.
Well, this is where it's at till I figure out what to do with them next.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pole Bees

 I got a call a couple of weeks ago about some bees in a fence post.  Actually I was told I could come get a hive of bees. I was thinking "Great! A hive of bees free for the taking". After talking to the guy I begin to realize that it is not going to be so easy after all.
 Apparently they are beginning construction on this land soon for a youth athletics park. Just inside the fence is an old gate. A gate the likes of which they do not make anymore. Why don't they make them anymore? Because they don't need to. The ones they made are all still in service. Even the one with the bees in it still works. I think it was for a rail road bed but I am not sure. None the less, this is the heartiest gate post I have ever witnessed.

As you can plainly see, this is not your average gate post. It harkens to the great gate posts of yore.
 I went out one night a few weeks ago to size this thing up. There are tons of bees in it. It is a thriving colony. It is also surrounded by Chinese tallow and all kinds of wild trees and plants.
 My first thought was to cover all the holes then connect a box to the top hole with a short length of hose and slowly fill the post with water and then just take the bees. I am not sure if would even work honestly. I then thought of a bee vac. Again due to the nature of the hive, I did not think it was going to work. A trap out might work but I am pretty sure more bees would move in next spring(As a matter of fact, I might see if I can put traps out there next spring.) plus I would then need a frame of brood and such to get that colony going.
 So then I hatch a plan, a crazy plan, that involved some really big tools. I would cut it off and just take the whole thing home and work from there.
 Last night I traveled to the site. I figured I would just screen the openings and cut the gate off. At that point I would start cutting the pole off at the base and just leave a couple of places to hold up the pole and I would slide screen in there and then finish off the cut. Well when we got there I swear the post grew like 40% or more. I don't remember it being so big. I started clearing around the post waiting for dark to fall so the bees would go in the post and I could screen it over. Well either it is just too hot for the bees or that pole is really full. They would not leave the outside of the pole. They were bearding heavily and also looked like they were washboarding. I think they were laughing at me personally.
 As it got darker we started questioning whether or not we would even be able to get the post in the truck without mechanical help. After I finally got stung once ( I was wearing shorts and a t shirt, my usual bee keeping outfit) as I kept hitting the post with the shovel and I had a very bright headlamp on. I suppose I would have been aggravated as well. I decided that maybe I should have brought some bee keeping hardware.
 We head home beeless. After sitting pondering how to move this thing, I get a few ideas. I have a gurney that I can roll around with a chain fall on it. It has decent size wheels on it but not off road stuff. I figure I could set it up over the hive on some boards and when I have the hive lifted we could just make a plank roadway to the truck. That would require some intensive manual labor and a lot of tree chopping and a few logs needed to be clear.
 As I was pondering this, I notice a name on my Facebook list. Hmmmmmm This guy has a track hoe. I wonder if he feels like going on a bee crusade? I hit him up and sure enough for a nominal fee (he has to pay a driver to get the machine out there) he would gladly load it in my truck with the track hoe. Yay! Hydraulics!
 So aside from some really detailed scouting and a little clearing around the hive I did not accomplish much last night. Well my doctor might argue that all the exercise did me good. Personally Louisiana humidity is pretty rough and I would have rather had the kids do all the digging.
 As soon as I get a schedule together, I will make a new post hopefully detailing the successful transplant of this very active colony.
 Till that fateful day,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A little bit of honey

I purchased my bees a few months ago, just as everything around here was starting to flower. As I mentioned I purchased a couple of nuc packages. The great thing about them is that the hive is already established  and has brood and egg laying, the whole nine yards. It is just in a smaller hive. Fortunately, the time I installed my nucs into their normal hives coincided with normal growth for a colony. One of my colonies is doing great and I am about to add another deep super to it. The other is doing better and I will check on it this weekend.
 I have been watching the strong hive. It has been storing a lot of honey. Most of the honey is either mixed with brood or pollen or both. However, in the top box, the outside frames looked like all honey. When I went in there last weekend, I found they had capped one side of the frame. When they have caped the comb, it means the honey is ready. Oddly the other side of the comb was not even drawn out. Feeling a bit guilty, I took the frame of honey home.

Isn't it pretty?
Unfortunately, this is a plastic foundation. So I had to scrape the comb off and crush it up a bit and let it drain overnight. To do this I took a battering bowl I have that has a rack for whatever you are battering that sits above the batter. I laid a cheese cloth on the rack then put the crushed comb on top of it. I let it filter overnight and the squeezed the remaining honey out the next day.
 I managed to get about 15oz of honey from that half frame. I am pretty sure they have more now. I might add another box and pull some more in a few weeks if the weather holds up.
 So here it first jar of honey. Thank you bees. : )
A nice jar of honey. Wish I could share.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A bee of another color

Recently my wife asked us nicely (read "forced") to dress nicely and return to a place where she likes to take family pictures. Rather she like me to take family pictures. So as not to stir up and trouble we grudgingly did as she asked.
 "What does this have to do with bees?" , you ask. Well it just so happens that when we arrived at the place, my youngest son found some bees. The site is littered with boulders and large rocks. It is very unusual for this area which is why my wife likes it. I secretly thinks she tells her friends we vacationed in the mountains.
 As kids do, the first thing they did was start climbing all over the rocks. There is one in particular that they love to climb on so they raced to it. When they go there my youngest said "Stay away from there! There are bees everywhere!". Of course, I had to go look at them.
 I have never seen a ground dwelling bee before and was amazed at how they dug their little tunnels and made the entrances.  There were several hundred entrances and quite a few of them were being used. I was right up on them and they just ignored me. So I snapped some pictures. There were really neat to watch.
 I didn't know anything about these bees so I forwarded my pictures to Rusty of (listed as one of my favorite sites). She did all the foot work for me and actually did a post on her site about the bees I found. Now Rusty is a wealth of bee knowledge and I rely on her for actually learning things about bees and beekeeping. She has a real site and server and there is tons of good information about beekeeping on there. One of the things I like most about her is she is not afraid to experiment to try to make her bees happier and more productive. I use a lot of her information. Check it out if you are interested in bees, pollinators in general, or actual beekeeping.  Oh, and here is the post that made me famous I'll sign autographs late.
 Rusty's  hard work and perseverance paid off for me as now I can just read her post and pass on the info. Thanks Rusty.
 The bees we found are called Chimney Bees. They are much larger than honey bees but smaller than carpenter bees, at least the ones I have seen. Also their abdomen is hairy where a carpenter bee's is furry. The dig tunnels in clay type vertical walls and make an entrance that looks somewhat like a chimney. They are solitary bees that live in a community. Seeing them flying all over the place and finding their own nest is really neat to see. I had a lot of fun observing them. If you want to know more please see Rusty's post on her site. She is definitely more of a teacher than me. I consider myself a mere chronicler of my personal mishaps.
 However, I will share some original pictures that Rusty did not. So you are seeing virgin territory. Well sort of. Rusty did get to see all the pictures and she chose the ones she wanted to post.
 Here you can see a bee digging a new home. The clay is grey because she uses a secretion to soften it and smooth the inside.
 A view of many tunnels.
 Bees vs ants. I tried to get rid of the ants. Notice the pollen on the rear legs.
 Ok, maybe not all of these are first posts. I likes this one. I shows the entire community.
 Coming in for a landing.
 Home sweet home.
 Top view of a captured specimen. It later flew back to it's home.
 Front of previous bee.
 Air delivery of pollen. She puts the pollen in the tunnels with the eggs so they have food when they hatch.
After chilling this bee, I placed it on a dark rock to help warm it back up. Notice the tattered wings. She is an older bee.
Chilling them allows me to take good pictures without undue harm to the bee.

Next time, my first extraction.

Till then,


Monday, May 27, 2013

The Benifits of Good Photography.

As I told you in my last post, I combined my colonies to ensure the weaker one will at least supplement the stronger colony. As I was checking the colonies my photographer, my 15 year old son, was taking pictures. As a new beekeeper, I am not as familiar with what brood looks like as I should be. However, after checking the pictures he took when I got home, I realized I made a mistake.
 I ran back out the next morning and separated the boxes. I then went back through the weak hive and found the queen. Whew! I was worried that they already comingled and that one of the queens were dead. Everything turned out ok. It looked like there was a decent amount of brood, not as much as I would like but not bad and the queen was laying eggs. I am hoping the bees that hatch out will expand the brood nest and increase the colony strength considerably before the end of the summer. Fortunately we have fairly long summers here so they should have plenty of time.
Here is one of the pics that changed my mind. All the open cells appear to have brood in them as well. I am pretty happy about that. I will keep an eye on this hive and keep my fingers crossed.

Till next week,

Friday, May 24, 2013

Colony Failure

I went out today with the intention of putting the screened bottom boards on. However, things were not looking good.
Well, I tried over and over again to get my weak colony to flourish. I thought for sure what I did last week was going to work. It did not. I don't seem to have a queen. There are no eggs, no brood and no new bees. The brood I put in last week are all hatched out and they were building what looked like an emergency queen cup.
At this point, I just gave up. I combined the two hives. To combine them, I just removed the top cover from the healthy colony, stuck a sheet of news paper down and placed the two boxes of the weaker colony on top.
 I am fairly certain that they will thrive now. Hopefully the increase in population will get the colony to a nice healthy level.
 Unfortunately that brings my colony count to one. That means I have no fall back if something else goes wrong. I really need to catch a few swarms. I even set up a full ten frame hive as a trap out back. I should probably move some of them out of my yard and into the local woods.
 Not a lot of good pics for this. But here are some pics for the sake of something to look at.
 The healthy colony
 Bees a buzzing
 Can't tell if this is empty comb or maybe pollen?
 I little bit of brood but not enough in my opinion
 A very uneven pattern.
Crystal clear honey.

What appears to be an emergency queen cup.

 A bee eruption from the big colony
A dead bee on the bottom board.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Some Bee Ventalation

As promised here are some pictures of the completed screened bottom boards. Bear in mind that all my stuff is made at home with the exception of frames. There is no way I am going to make those when I can get them so cheap.
 None the less, feast you eyes on this...
 Here is a nice top view of the screened bottom board.
Notice the slot under the screen for a mite sticky board.

Here you can see the whole slot for the mite sticky board.
I sure hope the bees like it.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Grapes of Endurance

While not about bees, this saga happened in my back yard and thus bears telling.
 Several yeas ago, four, I believe. I figured I needed some grapes. Not that I planned to get them or anything. They just looked cool at Sam's Club. A box of four but for whatever reason, only three varieties. Still, I imagined the vast amounts of raisins and wine that would soon be in my future. My own vineyard. What could be better?
 I purchased my grapes and proceeded to plant them about 20 feet from the back fence. Plenty of room for them to grow and me to mow and hopefully harvest my bounty. I left the tags on the grapes so I knew where the varieties were so I could anticipate my fruit. At this time I had no clue how to grow grapes. I just knew the were a vine and the source of, as I stated earlier, raisins and wine.
 Apparently I picked a really bad time to start a vineyard. That summer was the beginning of a bad dry spell for the area. I tried to keep everything watered but lost two vines that first year. The next year it was even worse. I lost two dogwoods, four blueberry bushes (I likely would have lost more but I only had four) a good bit of my privet hedges and what appeared to be my last two grapes. My wife also mowed over my son's blackberries in an unrelated incident.
 I figured it was all over and the whole vineyard thing was a write off. So I pretty much just planted nothing the following year. Surprisingly, as I wandered my non fruit bearing yard, I saw something coming up from one of the holes where the grapes was growing. At first I thought it was a weed but it ended up being one of the grape vines! well I tried to water it kind of half heartedly and it grew about three fee but died off about half way through the summer. I figured that was a wrap and I was done. It was stupidly hot and no rain in sight. No way it could survive.
 Unbelievably the next spring, it came up again! Well, I figured since it was trying so hard, maybe I should put a little effort into it. I began watering it daily. I placed fertilizer stakes around it. I also figured I needed some grape growing know how and hit the internet. I put up a trellis and attached it to the trellis. I was doing really well at this point. Shockingly well. I managed to get the vine trained down the bottom wire of the trellis and got the top started. I have it shaped like a "T" with the trunk in the middle and vines going left and right away from it. I also had another vine going up to a higher wire and it is also "T" shaped. The lower vine reached about 20 feet before winter set in and the top vine was about 8 feet. I was worried that because the vines were so thin, the ends were almost like little toothpicks, that they would freeze and die again. I just hoped for the best.
 Spring came and it budded all along the vine. Even to the very tips! This vine was determined to make something of itself. Well apparently to get grapes, you have to have a main vine that you grow one year and the following year the little branch vines that grow off that produce grapes. My little vine is currently so full of grapes that it is making my cheap PVC trellis posts bow.
 I have no idea what kind of grape it is, the label was lost the first time I thought it died. Hopefully the fruit will ripen and then I will know.
 I am just glad it did not give up as easily as me. It's really cool seeing all those bunches of grapes out there.
 The CD is to keep the birds off my grapes.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Failing Hive

Well, I was trying not to make this an educational blog, but I am going to have to lay some groundwork for this one. I ran into a bad situation at the hives today. I was out to check on my weak hive to see how it was doing. I opened it up and much to my dismay, it appeared that I had (say this in a dramatic voice to yourself) "Laying Workers". Some of you in the bee business know what a laying worker and what the prospects for the colony are. Those of you who do not know what a laying worker is, well prepare for some education.
 When a queen dies or is failing, after two to maybe three weeks, the hive, in an attempt to boost population or just some kind of innate need to have a queen, produce what is called a laying worker. This is a worker bee that does not have the reproductive parts a queen does and therefore cannot mate. All of her offspring will be drones because they only require half the genetic information thus no need for fertilization. Drones are not a good thing to have in excess in a weak colony. They are consumers only, they do not gather or do colony chores. It then becomes a self inflating problem till the colony dies off. This is NOT what I want to happen to one of my only two colonies.
  There are limited ways to combat this. You pretty much have to remove the laying workers and requeen the hive. My issue is that there was a queen in the hive and she was happy as a bug in a well hive, I guess. I am wondering if the laying worker's pheromones may have over powered the queen's.
 So here is what I did. Who knows if this will work?
 First, I caught the queen and put her in a box, all alone.
 Second, I moved all the hive parts 50 yards away.
 Third I shook, or blew ALL the bees off ALL of the hive bodies, comb, foundation, bottoms and tops. I removed EVERY bee from the hive.
Fourth, I removed a nice comb of brood from my healthy colony and placed it in the weak hive.
Fifth, I rebuilt the weak hive and let everything settle down for a minute.
Finally, I released the queen back into the hive.

 I will go check on them next Friday.
  The reason for moving the hive away and getting all the bees off is to try to get rid of the laying worker(s). Supposedly they are too heavy to fly so they just die there in the grass.
  I placed some good brood in the weak colony to help bolster the population. The bees in there are approaching a month old since I last saw brood. Hopefully the infusion of new bees will get things going again.
  Now the fun part of this whole episode was retrieving the brood from the active colony. As usual, the colony built bridge comb from the bottom box frames to the top box frames. They then filled this comb with honey. To get at the brood, I had to get in the bottom box. I have failed to mention that until I went into this hive to get the brood, I was wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants. No gloves, no smoker, no veil. Well as soon as I broke that honey comb, the bees got angry. I swear they were Africanized! They were chasing me around, digging in my hair basically trying to sting me repeatedly. At this point, I left their hive in two pieces and went and got my smoker and veil. I finally managed to subdue them enough to get what I needed from them and to teach them a lesson, I scraped off the bridge comb....again.
  I will let you know next week how they are fairing. And hopefully I will have some screened bottom boards and some ventilation ekes made that I can share with you.
 Till next time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Swarm Traps

There are several commercially available swarm traps. There are also plans online. I just built a couple of five frame nucleus hives so I decided to bait them.
 From what I understand, trapping a swarm is the purest of luck. However, they seem to swarm in the same place year after year. At the bee club meeting last night, one of the big apiary owners says he has captured seven swarms at the same church this year. The church has had bees in the walls several times. I suppose that is a good lure. He also noted that he has two nucs set up. One at the north end of the church facing north and one on the south end facing south. Both nucs have attracted bees but he says he has had the bees in the north facing hive leave after a short time. He now has both hive entrances facing south. In each nuc he placed one frame of old comb and four empty frames. For a scent lure he is using a few drops of lemon grass oil placed on the top of the frames. Hopefully he will report on his success next meeting.
 I have had a couple of five frame nucs out hoping to trap a swarm. In my Nucs there were five frames of wax coated plastic foundation and some wax from my active colony with a little honey mixed in. So far, I have attracted ants.
 Today, I decided to mimic his setup as closely as possible. I visited the health food store and purchased lemon grass oil. I then pulled all the frames out of the hives except one each. I took a sheet of foundation and cut it in one inch strips. I then fitted the strips into the tops of the frames and painted the bare ends with heated bees wax I harvested from my active hive (remember the burr comb sticking to my screened inner cover?). I then moved the stand and hives to the south side of the shed so they will face south. I think I am going to put a roof over the stand. The tops are just painted quarter inch plywood and are beginning to delaminate in the rain.
 Now they are reassembled and ready to attract bees by the thousands. Hopefully the pictures will help illustrate what I have done.
Wax painted on the bottom of the starter strip
Starter strip in place. You can see the full foundation frame under this one.
My traps aka my nucs.
    Inside the hive. An old queen box in the back to help with pheromone lure.