October 26th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON DEC. 19, 2010.

It’s cold all the time now. It rarely gets above 10° C (or 50° F). Hive #1 has been slow-moving since September and Hive #2 went into a low gear this past week. Neither hive is taking much syrup from the hive top feeders, so I decided to remove them and replace them with inverted jar feeders, which the bees can feed from without breaking cluster or losing too much heat. One 500ml jar will probably do them for another week, maybe two, before I finally wrap up the hives for winter. Here’s a silly video showing the whole procedure.


Read on . . . »

October 24th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTED.

I added a hive top feeder to Hive #2 ten days ago. Many bees lost their lives to the siren song of the sugar syrup. But a few hundred dead bees won’t kill the hive.

I’ll remove the top hive feeders from both hives in a few days and replace them with inverted jar feeders for another week before I wrap up the hives for winter. As Robo says, “The bees can cluster right up to the bottom of the [inverted jar] feeder and continue to feed without breaking cluster.” Not having to break cluster at this time of the year doesn’t hurt (it rarely gets above 10° C these days). The next time I use the hive top feeders (late winter, early spring), I’ll add some straw or cork for the bees to float on so not as many drown. I’ll probably add screens to the reservoirs to keep wasps out too. Anyway, here’s a short video of the drowned bees:
Read on . . . »

October 23rd, 2010

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED.

I picked a drone honey bee off the top a hive this morning. It rained last night and the drone was stuck upside-down in a blob of water. So I brought him inside to dry off. Then I took him back out to hive where he’ll probably die before the end of the day. It’s not the best time of the year to be a drone.

So, kids, can you tell me what makes the drone bee different from other bees in the hive?

UPDATE (Dec. 22/10): I recently learned through a comment that our bees are a hybrid of Italians, Russians and Carniolans. Carniolans produce large drones with all-black abdomens, which is apparent in our drones.

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED.

Here’s the short version: Take a piece of wood the size of a regular entrance reducer (15 inches / 38.1 cm long). Cut a notch in it that’s at least 1 cm high and 6 cm long (1 cm = approx. 3/8 inch). Drive thin nails in a row inside the notch so there’s 1 cm of space between them. The nails should look like prison bars. The holes in a regular mouse-proof entrance are slightly less than a centimetre wide, so as long as the space between the nails is no wider than a centimetre, this should do the trick. Just make sure to brace it in place with something heavy or nail it down. It doesn’t get any cheaper or simpler. I haven’t tested the design yet, but I’ll update this post in the spring of 2011 and let you know if any mice got in the hives. I think it’ll work just fine. (See also Winter Mouse-Proof Mesh.)

It went up to 14° Celsius in the backyard today (that’s 57° F in Non-Metricland). I have a wireless thermometer set up under one of the hives. 15° during the summer was the magic number that got all the foragers and young bees out of the hive. But the magic number has been 10° since mid-September. The bees in both hives were out in full force. The backyard sounded like one big buzz. Check out how crowded the bees were before I opened their entrances all the way (I’ll post a quick video of it later on in the comments).

While I was out there enjoying the brief blast of warm of air, I decided to build my mouse-proof winter entrance reducers for both hives. That’s one piece of beekeeping equipment that falls well within my limited carpentry abilities.
Read on . . . »

October 15th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON FEB. 02, 2014.

Winters in St. John’s, Newfoundland, provide a messy mixture of rain, snow and high winds with irregular periods of freezing and thawing. Wrapping Langstroth honey bee hives with a Type 15 asphalt felt isn’t a bad idea. Neither is installing mouse-proof entrance reducers. Preventing condensation, though, is the top priority. A 1-inch thick piece of R5-rated hard insulation over the inner cover in the winter position will prevent condensation from building up inside the hive during the winter. We used a 1.5-inch thick piece of insulation during our first winter (because we couldn’t find anything else) up until the end of January. Then we had to switch to insulated inner hive covers because the regular inner covers don’t provide enough room for candy cakes and pollen patties. A shim lifting a regular inner cover up an inch or two would provide enough space. However, an all-in-one insulated inner hive cover might be more convenient. It requires moderate carpentry skills (which means we’ll probably go with the shims instead), and it’ll cost a little more, but here’s how we made them if anyone is interested. We’ve tested them, and they work.*
Read on . . . »

October 15th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED.

This is another video that won’t interest many people except perhaps the truly dedicated honeybee enthusiast. I stuck my camera close to the entrance to Hive #1 today and pointed it up at the sky. I did this a few days ago too and was somewhat mesmerized by the flights patterns of the bees. At first it looked chaotic, but it didn’t take long to notice the bees coming in and leaving at certain angles and positions relative to the hive. The following video doesn’t capture that phenomena as well (the background has to consist entirely of blue sky to highlight the full scope of the flight patterns), but it’s still kind of interesting. I’ll try to get a full blue sky shot sometime before the winter sets in if I can.


THIS VIDEO IS BEST VIEWED IN THE 480p SETTING.

You might hear me working a jigsaw in parts of the video. I was out back building some insulated inner covers. (Slow motion kicks in at the 2:23 mark.)

UPDATE (Oct. 18/10): These aren’t the most exciting videos, but I’ll probably post more of them in the comments for my own records. It may be interesting to see how active the bees are on various dates and temperatures. Or it might be incredibly dull. We’ll see.

October 15th, 2010

I’m posting this short video for my own records so I have something to compare next year’s new hives to. I started two hives from 3-frame nuc boxes (4 frames actually, but one frame was empty) on July 18th, which was 89 days ago. It’s now mid-October and the bees are still active — when the sun is shining on the hives. The sun is shining on them as I write this. The temperature is 12°C, each hive has a top hive feeder installed over the inner cover, and the bees are flying around the entrances of both hives. Looking good. Here’s what they looked like a few days ago on October 12th:


THIS VIDEO SHOULD BE VIEWED IN THE 480p SETTING. THE LOWER SETTING IS PRETTY BAD.

October 14th, 2010

I added a hive top feeder to Hive #2 today. I also checked the hive top feeder on Hive #1 which has had a feeder installed for about a week now with about 6 litres of syrup in one side. That feeder may have had a slight leak. I noticed a clump of bees and wasps hanging around one spot between the inner cover and the feeder for a couple days. I’d brush them away and they’d fly back to the exact spot immediately. Here’s what it looked like:

Then today as I was about to check the hive — this is a completely different topic — I noticed these dead bees and wasps outside the bottom entrance:
Read on . . . »

October 6th, 2010

Here’s some video I shot yesterday while taking photos of the bees flying around Hive #2. Not the most exciting video, perhaps, but it does demonstrate the difference between Hive #2 and Hive #1, which we thought was queenless (and who knows, still could be).


THE 480p HIGHER DEFINITION SETTING MAY PROVIDE SMOOTHER PLAYBACK.

I just noticed two bees fighting it out (at the 1:16 mark) on the bottom board and then falling off the edge. September is fighting month for the honeybees.
Read on . . . »

October 5th, 2010

I took some photos of the bees in Hive #1 crowding around the upper entrance today, coming in for their landings. Here’s one with our cat, Winston, in the background:

The photos can be viewed on my Picasa page too.
UPDATE (Oct. 6/10): And there’s a video.
Read on . . . »

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