Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swarm outcome, sort of.

We are apparently bad as a couple at swarm capture

I climbed a ladder, cut the branch with the swarm on it





Got the branch down to the ground.

Then i found the queen in the swarm and just had to get a closer look. She crawled on my clippers and then she flew away

That's right, she flew away.

So for the uninitiated, when the queen flies away, the bees go find her. or go somewhere else, but they don't stay where you put them.

In this case it doesn't seem like they went to the new hive (but it's hard to tell), but at least 4-5 lb of them rejoined the current hive, so it wasn't a total loss.

Perhaps the rest landed in the new hive we set up. No scale on that one so it's hard to tell :)

This graph tells the tale:

You can see the drop where they leave, a couple hours of normal nectar delivery, then a faster increase in weight where they start rejoining. Just at that point is where the branch was tapped to dump the bees on the new hive.


Gosh darnit, bees!

On Easter afternoon, we had scheduled to extract the eastimated 50 lbs of honey from our hive (according to Kevin's bee scale data).

But no! When we opened the hive, we found in frame after frame, the bees had mixed their brood (baby bee grubs) and their honey! So we couldn't get any of it! All messed up!

I was so depressed about it that I took out the one and only frame of honey without grubs that I could find. And Kevin told me not to, because it was old and wouldn't taste very good. But I wasn't leaving that honey store without honey, so I took it! Even if it does taste funky.

And now, 3 days later, after we tried to spread out the frames and new queen cells to the new empty hive, the bees swarmed anyway and are amassed in branch near our driveway. A very tall, hard to reach branch. Arg!

...stay tuned for the harrowing outcome...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

sometimes you gotta carry bees home in a Civic

Well it's swarm season. Or maybe I should say "swarm season's greetings."

And this afternoon, at my work no less, there was a swarm-- just confused and clustered on a bushy tree.

Perfect opportunity to try my hand at swarm capturing! *DING!*
I got a 5 gallon bucket, a "lid" (not really a lid, but it worked), some branch clippers, gloves n' hat and my "dress whites" and drove back over to the office.

Kevin expressed concern, to say the least, but gave his partial blessing, and let me go [solo].
You know, the bees could be a not-so-friendly breed, and could mess with our hive, etc.

But I'm not known for my calculated caution, so I got on the step ladder, clipped some branches, dropped a branch of bees, scooped up said bees, thwacked some more bees off into another bucket and loaded them into the backseat of the Honda.

There were still some bees left, but I didn't have alot of time to hang around and get every last bee, so I left some. If they're still there in the morning, I'll get the rest.

I brought them home, unsure whether I got the queen or not.
I mean, it's really hard to tell where the queen is when I'm looking at our neat n' tidy hive.
In a buzzing ball of swarming bees, it's pretty much impossible.

So I have no idea if we have the queen. Some of the bees were doing what I call "treadmilling" (flapping wings, but not going anywhere) that is what they do when the queen is near, so I think that's a good sign. But then Kevin said the fact that there were still bees stuck back on the tree when I left is a bad sign. So it's a draw.

When I came home and dumped the bees into the empty hive box that Kevin prepared, they seemed fine.
However, he just checked on them (hours later) and they are back out and hanging around the which he said "you gotta find the queen and put her in the hive."

Great....I gotta get a flashlight and find one bee out of 100,000 bees in the dark...fantastic....

UPDATE: mission locate queen: fail. I got stung twice (because *someone* said I didn't need to put on the full get-up. *squint*). I did dump more bees back in the empty hive and put a glob of honey inside, so they'd have a snack and stay awhile.
Now I have to sit and wait until they calm back down so I can put the lid back on. oye.