Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bee swarm #6!

Incredibly, that one same hive had produced try another swarm! Number 6 showed up today, 6 in only two weeks. And the are still plenty of bees in the original hive.

We managed to catch these bees. They landed on the fence right by the hive. It was of though, they landed as 3 groups... Large medium and small. First time for that!

The clump in the middle had the queen. She actually showed herself! As I was contemplating which clump to take first, she crawled right out of the center, across a pile of bees for a few inches, then back inside. The worker bees around her went crazy !

So now we have 5 growing hives, all birthed from the one remaining hive that stayed for 3 years without maintenance.

How many more? Who knows! But it is time to repair one of the three damaged hives to catch the next one!

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

2 more bee swarms

What a year that is!

That same one hive produced 2 more healthy sized swarms today. The first one landed in that same bush as the other 3. But unfortunately, we didn't have a hive ready to place it, so by the time we assembled a new hive, it left. I mean... Minutes before. If it had waited 15 more minutes we could have captured it. But alas... It took off. We followed the mass of bees for a few hundred yards and then lost them. Very sad.

But.... We came home and were complaining about missing that one when Brenda announced... "There is another cloud of bees!"

Sure enough , just a couple hours after the fourth swarm there arose a fifth!

This time we were ready. Hunter and I scrambled into our gear and got busy. This one landed on the small oak tree right by by the now infamous "bee landing bush". It was a simple matter to cut the branch and place the whole swarm inside a brand new hive.

So now we have 3 hives along the driveway, one inside the gate, and the original hive. Plus the one that got away, makes a total of 5 swarms inside of 2 weeks!

Tonight we must move the hives into position away from the driveway.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bees Everywhere!

We have been blessed with an unusual event! Out one bee hive has exploded into 4 now!

Last week it produced a swarm... and we caught it in the bush by the driveway, used our improvised bee hive vacuum to get them into a hive safe and sound.

The remainder of the hive spent the rest of the week hanging out behind the original hive. "bearding" it is called, when most of the bees come outside either due to overcrowding or high temps. We watched them for a few days and they seems peaceful, just hanging out outside the hive.

The original hive, after the first swarm, with quite the "beard" going!

Then, this morning (sunday) we witnessed another swarm arising from the same hive! It swarmed up and quickly landed on the same post, same spot, as the one last week. We had not even taken time to move the second hive from the position where we caught that first swarm. The second swarm didn't seem to care, they just collected up on the post and formed a really nice mound of bees.

While we were preparing to collect those bees, an emergency arose in town that we couldn't miss. Hesitantly we loaded up and ran into town for a couple hours. On the way home we were hoping and praying that the second swarm was still sitting on the post. As we pulled into the driveway, there were bees everywhere! Was the swarm moving? Had we missed it?

But it didn't look right... something was up...

Sure enough, the second swarm was still mounded up in the same spot quiet as can be, but the air was filled with bees! We parked and ran over to investigate. To our surprise, there was yet another swarm in progress! A third swarm from that one original hive within a week, two on this same day! This swarm was settling on the back side of that same bush!

Ok.. so.. change of plan! We had built a second bee hive vacuum to collect the second swarm, but that swarm was mounded up on one side of the post in plain sight. It could be captured with just a bee brush and a box. So that's what we did! After moving the hive from the first swarm out of the way a bit, we swept the second swarm into a box and checked for the queen. She was in there! We could tell from the action of the worker bees. So that swarm went into a cleaned and waiting hive just a few feet from the original hive.

By this time the third swarm had settled into the bush and was quietly waiting for us. The many branches made it difficult to extract, so we decided to use the bee hive vacuum that we had made this morning for the second hive (confused yet? we were too!) We moved the taped up hive into position beside the bush and connected the vacuum. This hive was a newer design and much better sealed, with a larger entrance hole. It worked even better as a vacuum box! We had the entire third swarm into the hive within about 20 minutes. After removing the tape and vacuum, it was clear that the queen was in this hive also.

Success! We now had 2 new hives along the driveway and a newly populated one next to the original hive that birthed them all! Four healthy hives from one, in less than a week.  Not bad!

Here are the two hives, housing swarms #1 and #3 along the driveway.  The bush in the middle is the now infamous "bee catcher" bush

Closeup of swarm #1 in their hive. If you look closely you can see spots where the nice white comb shows through the bees inside. There is about 6 or 8 combs built already.

Swarm #2 in thier hive, picture taken from inside. They are hanging out in the front left corner... planning their new home. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

Some garden planted just in time

We managed to get one section of garden in the ground just before the rain storm arrived. And I mean just before! We were finishing up as the lightening chased us inside.

This section has the original fava bean test plus now:


Hopefully this weather will help to sprit quickly ! We are hoping to get the rest of this section planted before the next rain, in about a week.

There fava beans are growing nicely to! It looked like a 90 % sprout rate.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, April 30, 2017

DIY Bee Vacuum, Direct to Hive!

Continuing from the last post, of the bee swarm that we watched happen from our one remaining hive...

The bees had landed on the old post inside a bush along the driveway. But then they shifted from the top of the post to the bottom of the bush!  The mound of bees was partly in the grass, situated inside 3 thick trunks of the bush.  An impossible situation for any normal recovery.

So, we built a special bee vacuum! Not really a vacuum, more of a method of moving the bees into a hive right on the spot.

Here is the starting point... a clump of bees in the grass and shrub trunk. 
First thing to do was to move a fresh top bar hive within a few feet of the swarm without disturbing them. this worked perfectly!

The top bar hive is placed to the right of the swarm, within a couple feet. We placed the divider in the middle to give an appropriate sized home for this little swarm. 
The next step was to seal the hive. Yes, seal it. This was accomplished with two kitchen garbage bags across the top, and duct tape all around. The tape sealed the edges of the bags to the outside of the hive. plus the entrance and vent holes. We even sealed around the glass viewing window. the only opening was one bar, removed to make room for the vacuum hose that would bring the bees. The hose fit perfectly through the slot left by one bar, and that was securely taped into position.

Here is the completely sealed hive, with vacuum hose for bee extraction in the middle and shop vac on the right. 

The hose for the shop vac was taped over a vent hole, that had screen inside to prevent the bees from getting into the vacuum. To hold the hose in position, we taped it to the fence right behind (past the right of the pic)

Here is a closeup of the vacuum hose connection. You can see the extra top bar holding the lid just open enough to provide easy access. 
Now, just turn on the shop vac and here we go ! The vacuum was perfect. Just enough to barely pull the bees into the hose, but not hurt them. In fact, we had to stop multiple times to "clear" the bee clog inside the hose. The little bees kept grabbing the ribs of the hose and each other.. instant clog! Otherwise it worked perfectly!

Hunter takes a turn sucking up bees into the hive

Here you ca see the hose taped to the fence to hold the weight. 
The silly looking contraption worked amazingly well! We managed to get 90% of the bees into the hive, including the queen, with virtually no causalities! The hive remained so calm for most of the operation that we didnt even need a bee suit or gloves.  Thy got a little flustered when the queen disappeared up the hose, but otherwise they just stayed happily crawling around or buzzing around.

The bee vacuum at work, almost done!

When we were all done, we had to remove hte hose to prevent the bees from escaping or gluing it shut! So we did pulled off the tape around the hose and quickly, very quickly removed the hose and dropped the bar back into place. The bees almost started spilling out to attack us, but things went just well enough. Everyone was tired and testy, so we just walked away to give them a chance to calm down.

Here is the after shot, all bees inside but not totally cleaned up yet. They got a little testy when we started pulling the tape off. We decided they had been through enough and waited till nightfall to finish

Now isnt this peaceful! by evening, all was quiet, we cleaned everything up and the bees are busily building their new home inside. 

The gently buzz of happy bees hard at work... a few scouts coming and going... all is well!
The bee vacuum was such a success, we are talking about ways to take this on the road and collect wild swarms this year to populate all the hives again.

Little Sprouts is back int he honey business!