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.


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

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.

Monday, June 8, 2009


So, late Saturday afternoon (June 6), I got home from a bike ride. As I made my way into the house, I noticed Kelly’s car was in the driveway and his bike was in the garage. I hollered to Kelly that I was home, but got no answer–hmmmmm, that’s strange, modes of transportation present and the dogs met me at the door, so he wasn’t walking them. I wondered where he was.
Then out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a white blur in the backyard. I stopped to look out the sliding glass door and Kelly, clad in bee suit and with a cloud of bees about his head went jogging by. He stopped on the patio and reached for the door like he was going to come in. Oh no you don’t, I thought. You are NOT going to bring a cloud of mad bees in the house. So, I reached to lock the door when he changed directions and headed for the gate.

I opened the garage door and there was Kelly, surprised to see me. "Oh," he said, "you’re home. I got into the bees."

No kidding!

As it turns out, he opened the hive to find the entire 10 frames in the second brood box completely built out in comb and FULL OF HONEY, most of which was capped cells. As exciting as that is, it is a little scary because we only have one little ol’ shallow super to add to the hive. He did that, but it won’t come close to solving what we think is our overcrowding problem.

Anyway, after being chased around the yard by bees. Kelly immediately did three things:
No 1 , he called to order a bee suit for me. There is no reason why I should miss out on all the fun because I don’t have the proper clothing.
No. 2, he called my brother, who has some hive materials built up , but not bees to see if we could use some of his stuff.
No. 3, ordered an additional brood box, frames and foundation, cause if the critters are gonna keep breeding, we gotta give 'em a place to stay.

Note to self: The bees stopped taking sugar water about 6/3/2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quality Time With the Bees

EVERYONE in Tulsa who has bees, likes bees, hates them, or uses the letter “b” in common speech knows Carl. (some of the foregoing sentence might contain slight exaggeration).

Although there are many knowledgeable bee-folks who are willing to impart their wisdom, Carl seems to be the go-to BEE-guy for equipment, fast advice and common sense. Carl invites the bee club (NEOBA) membership on excursions in his apiary (bee yard). On Saturday, (May 16) I, with my camera, and Kelly, with his bee-suit, I trekked to Turley for one such event.

I can’t say what Kelly got out of the day, but I got these photos to share.

Things to look for: find the queen; see a drone cell (hint--the comb has a dome); see the bee drinking honey; a bee with pollen; Della in the red hat.


On Tuesday (5/12) evening we noticed the bees were literally hanging out of the bottom of the hive. They were still in such a state the next morning. We figured they were running out of space –so, on Wednesday (5/13), I called in to work and said I had a BEE-mergency and was taking a day of BEE-ternity leave.

I was afraid that the girls were getting ready to flee, so I put out this bit of honey as an enticement to stay. (or, maybe to lure someone for a photo).

I finished building out the frames and installing the wax foundation for the new brood box. Kelly came home at lunch, suited up, lit the smoker, and opened up the hive. I, bravely wearing no protective clothes (well I was wearing clothing, but no bee gear), stood near by and took photos.


I felt something in my hair and reached my hand back. It felt like there were about 50 bees in my hair. So, exercising the calm, modulated, cool reaction that I usually display, I began slapping at my head. OF COURSE, I got stung. Quite uncharacteristically, that caused me to go running screaming (probably unprintable words) into the house.

Whereupon, all the while worrying about the attacking hoard of bees I was introducing to the inner sanctum of our home, I cleverly put my head under the cold shower. Then I combed the offending insects out of my hair. In fact, the attacking hoard turned out to be just a single small, now dead, and drenched pitiful looking bee.


Much to my surprise, but not at all to Kelly’s, he finished up with the bees alone, entirely without my advice and consent.

The photographic offerings from this event are somewhat limited, owing to my selfish preoccupation with self preservation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Photo Opp

We've had the bees for a month and every few minutes we are home, one of us runs outside to check on them and then reports about the activity. If Kelly comes home for lunch during the workday, he calls to tell me what the bees are doing.

So far the reports have been pretty similar and go like this. . .

Whew--weee! Those bees are busy. They are really buzzin' around.
They are bringing back gobs of pollen.

A steady diet of that same observation repeated over and over may seem a bit boring, but so far we haven't tired of it. In fact, the gobs of pollen thing is fascinating. You can see the pollen on the legs of the bees returning to the hive. Some of the pollen is almost white, some a pale yellow, some orange, and some almost gold.

Capturing a photo of the bees has been almost impossible, cause they won't pose. And, it is difficult to focus the camera close enough to get a shot. At some point I acquired some macro filters, which are really just magnifying glasses you screw on to your lens. I fitted them to my camera and knelt in the mud next to the hive, bracing my arm against the top of it--shoo'd Chai out of the way, got my lens inches from the hive, focused on a spot and waited. This little overachiever roamed into my view.

Most of the little guys don't have a load. quite this big. Maybe that's why he stopped to rest where I could get a shot.

The macro filters are also good for taking photos of flowers. Here is a honeysuckle in the yard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I do
When Kelly and I went to get our bees--I took lots of photos.
Here is Bob the Bee Guy, getting into the hive to get us our bees.
Here's the first frame he took out to show us.

We got 5 such frames, all equally full of bees, plus a queen. We saw the queen, but I didn't get a picture of her.

Our dogs, two standard poodles, Chai and Bentley, check out their new "friends."
ai, the cream colored dog, is most curious and continues to be so. I think he's been stung once, but that doesn't keep him from running up to the hive and sniffing around EVERY time he goes outside.
Bentley (the black dog) is much less interested in the bees and keeps a safe distance.


Husband Kelly’s answer to that is “why anything?” As good as that answer may be, I like mine better.

It all started well over 20 years ago when every time we visited the Tulsa State Fair, Kelly would search out the booth manned by the local bee club and begin asking questions. He’d continue with his questions far beyond the point when politeness (and I) dictated he should stop and leave. That Kelly would ignore my hints is not surprising, but If you know Kelly, you know his is always polite, so that he abandoned politeness really says something.

Every year he’d ask the same questions. Then we had kids. Eventually the kids accompanied us to the fair and they’d stir about while their dad asked his annual bee questions. They got older and began making fun of their dad’s search for the bee people’s booth and his incessant questioning of them. Then, the kids grew up and went to college, and I was left to make fun of Kelly all by myself.

In September 2008 at the Tulsa State Fair once again Kelly found the Bee People, he asked questions, but this time he took a flier about the upcoming beekeeping class. What’s more, he enrolled in the class and every Saturday for weeks, we trekked to the class, had donuts and coffee, and learned about bees.

In November, we put together our first bee hive. Kelly got a bee suit for Christmas.
And finally, on April 8, 2009, we got bees.