Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bee Graduation

We just observed what we thought was the oddest thing, but is apparently normal.  About 4pm, Kelly looked out at the bees and said:  "come look at this, something is up with the bees."

We stood at the back door and gawked--the area in front of one of the hives was boiling with bees.  They were crawling out of the opening, climbing around and hovering around facing the hive.  We had never seen anything like it and wondered if something (a mouse, maybe?) had gotten into the hive.

A 10 minute search on the internet yielded the answer.

ORIENTATION FLIGHTS!

The bees that hatched out a few weeks ago have spent a few weeks doing house chores, but have just graduated to the rank of forager, so we are told.  They leave en mass and do this crazy thing all together--a graduation.  20 minutes later, the hive was back to its regular activity level.
 
Anyway, the info we found says they do this the same time of day.  We're never home to see it, but it is sooooo cool, I'm going to take off work early on Monday to see if I can catch it again.

Until then, here's a youtube video we found that will show you just what we saw, except for the guy who kept putting his hand in the way.  In our yard, it was me.  :)


Disclaimer:  This is video was just lifted from youtube, it's not mine.  The one I post tomorrow will be.  :) 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Were in Bees-in-ess Again

So, we last had bees in 2009-2010.  When our hive failed (died, really it died), we planned to get another hive right away.  Well, five years later . . . we got us some bees.

I took the bee class offered by the Northeast Oklahoma Beekeeper Association (NEOBA)--again, and learned all I could.  We bought 2 nucs--sort of mini hives which we will build up (actually the bees will do the work) in hopes of having one hive survive until next year.

On May 14, 2015, after receiving the e-mail that our nucs were ready, we drove to the super-secret bee pick-up place in Jenks and bought our new friends from the very helpful Greg and Shelly Hannaford.

Anyway, we loaded up the girls in the back of the Subie Outback. . .


when we got home, we (and by we, I mean Kelly) placed them on the specialized bee moving cart and set them on their new thrones in the back yard.  

Not soon after we removed the tape from the hive opening, there was a riot of bees in the air.  They all settled down by dark and since it's cloudy and threatening rain, they seem to be sleeping in, with only a few early bees getting out to look around. 

I made some 1:1 simple syrup last night and this morning I placed a quart on each of the hives in boardman (sp?) feeders.  We are told to feed the bees thus until the comb is drawn out on all of the frames, but not more than a gallon a week. 

I've been out three times in my night gown this morning to check on the gals and only stepped in dog poop twice. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dead Bees Don't Swarm

It has been unusually cold here in Oklahoma, just like in most of the rest of the United States. In fact it has been so cold that in mid-January most of our yard is still covered with the snow that fell on Christmas Eve. In the 39 years I've lived in Oklahoma, I can not remember any snow ever lasting so long.

Through this long cold snap, we've worried about our bees, but really couldn't do anything but talk about them.

You know what's coming, don't you?

Kelly opened the hive today to find . . . DEAD BEES. They are all gone. It makes me sad . . . they were a friendly bunch, really hard workers, and very entertaining.

On the bright side. . . I guess we don't have to worry about a swarm this spring!

We'll start again. In March or April we'll get a new queen and 5 frames of bees from one of the local beekeepers, until then . . . we'll just have fond memories of the little yellow and black gals.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BEE- vorce

The day following our Halloween foray into the hive, we noticed a LOT of bees up and about in the air. We also noticed a veritable bee wrestling match occurring in various places on the ground in front of the hive.

Oh WOW!!
That kind of scared us because we didn't mean to completely upset the bee cart.

Then Kelly got on youtube and discovered a video that showed EXACTLY what we were observing. It just happens to be that time in the cycle of the hive when the girls decide they can make it through the winter without the guys. They kick the drones out of the hive so they don't just hang around uselessly, watch football, drink beer, and gobble up all the honey stores.

Like I said . . . BEE-vorce.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gettin' Ready for Winter

Beecause (sorry!) yesterday was a gorgeous day, sunny and hardly any wind, it was a good day to play with the bees. So we suited up, opened the hive, and looked at every frame. And, we since we thought the bees had too much space to keep warm for the winter (two deep brood boxes and a super) we consolidated the space to one brood box and one super.

We started the party with a little smoke, mainly cause Kelly and I like to light matches and using the smoker is a good excuse to do that. Despite our messing with their home and their honey the bees were surprisingly calm so maybe we didn't need the smoke, but it's fun so . . .

The gals (most of the bees are gals) had really stuck the frames together, so Kelly had to work hard to get into the frames.


























We found a little bit of everything. Some great looking capped honey, which we'll leave on the hive for the bees to eat through the winter, some frames like this blackish looking one that has pollen and brood, and some nasties--like small hive beetles.

We took the frames that had lots of hive beetles on them, put the frames in a big plastic bag, and put them in the freezer. We left the frames that had lots of good stuff going on . . . brood and honey. We didn't actually see the queen, which is disconcerting. e did see some balls of bees that may have been hiding her--we hope!

Moving the frames caused some honey to become dislodged, so I took a plop of it and placed it on the top of the hive when we were all finished. Then, I put a macro filter on my camera and enjoyed the show.


If you can have a favorite bee, this is mine. She was very cooperative at the photo shoot.

With the macro lens, my face is just inches away from the subject, which bothered neither the bees, nor mee--fortunately.

Wee (sorry again) ended up with quite a bee picnic.

















What is a picnic without an uninvited guest??? This red-head suffered the revenge of Ann's stick and consequently did not live long enough to invite her friends. And finally, look there IS a picture of Ann, albeit one taken in the reflection of the glass door.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

You can BEE a star

It's Saturday, June 13.

Kelly says he thinks he needs to check to see how much the bees have built out the honey super so he needs to get into the hive for a quick check. Actually, he got some new smoker fuel and I think he was just anxious to light it up. Anyway, although it has only been 3 days since he was last into the hive, he suited up again today.

Coincidentally-- or not -- the video camera was charged and I had explored the movie-maker program on the computer a little.

So, IT'S SHOW TIME

video

The video displays really horrible hive technique--this is NOT a how to.  However, the man in the suit had no interest in my commentary on the subject.

Kelly informs that the frames did not contain honey but that the bees were building out comb, a prelude to making honey in the frames.


Tuesday June 9

From his foray into the hive on Saturday, Kelly discovered that the bees have built out comb and have filled quite a few of the frames in the 2nd brood box with honey. From talking to other bee people at the NEOBA meeting, Kelly decided the bees needed more room to play. And he decided to remove a frame from the 2nd deep box so there will be better air circulation for the summer weather. And, last Saturday Kelly didn't get a chance to open up the brood box and get a look-see there, so he planned to do all of that on Tuesday.

The portable picnic table was in place, the tools all assembled, the smoker lit and billowing, a cooler was put near the hive to hold removed frames, Kelly taped his pant legs closed and suited up . . . all was made ready.

Kelly approached the hive with confidence as I watched from the window. He expertly removed the lid from the hive, and then the shallow honey super-- all went well. Then he examined a few frames from the 2nd brood box and removed several to the cooler -- bees were still calm. YEA!!! This is what we both envisioned that working the bees would be like. Interesting, pleasurable even.

Kelly hefts the deep box full of honey off the lower box and staggers to place the heavy box on the ground. STILL, hardly any bees in the air. This is . . . great.

He pries the first of the brood frames away from the box . . . it is thick with bees, all seemingly content . . . still great. Kelly brushes a glob of bees away from the bottom of the second frame--everyone is still happy. THEN, he drops one of the frames on the ground.

and, there ensues
CHAOS
MAD BEE CHAOS

The bees boil up and begin madly buzzing about seriously focused on Kelly . . . still he continues his inspection. THEN, he drops another frame on the ground. Our son Alex joins me at the window to watch the spectacle and to offer sage commentary. We observe much waving of arms (Kelly's) and grabbing of the less protected backside (also Kelly's). . . but Kelly is a man on a mission, he continues to inspect and unbelievably DROPS ANOTHER FRAME.

At this juncture between rear end grabs, which Alex and I correctly interpret as stings, Kelly walks away trailing his cloud of bees and begins fumbling for the zipper on his suit. Alex, only partly kidding, says: "don't do it Dad, that's suicide." I'm saying other things not suitable for print. Apparently, the zipper had become undone and several bees had come inside the suit for a better view of the proceedings and Kelly was trying to alleviate that situation.

Eventually, Kelly closed up the hive and came inside to pick stingers out of his nose and eyebrows, to have a Benedryl cocktail, and to receive unsolicited and unappreciated advice from Alex and me.

As it turns out, Kelly has decided not to drop any more frames, or not more than one or two--three is just too many to drop.