This bumble bee was resting outside one of our hives today.
I have no idea what kind of bumble bee it is. I think it was giving up the ghost.
Just because it’s so pretty, I thought I’d post a close-up shot of the drone comb I pulled last week.
The comb is on display in our house now, up against one of our kitchen windows where the light can shine through it.
I don’t have much to say today, but I’m going to say it anyway. (This will be a long rambling post signifying nothing.) I begin work on a month-long feature film shoot next week, which means I won’t have a life for the rest of June and you might not hear much from me again until July. Beekeeping in June will be restricted to the few days I have off. So I hope the sun is shining on those days. But let’s talk about now. How about this thing?
I’m still in my first year of beekeeping and I’m learning a lot. And I suspect one of the reasons I’m learning a lot is that I don’t follow many of the more widely accepted practices that make beekeeping easier. First up are the Backwards Beekeepers out of Los Angeles, California, who have been my number one inspiration from the get-go. They advocate the use of foundationless frames, natural re-queening and starting hives from feral swarms that are better adapted to the local environment than imported queens. Let the bees be bees because they know what they’re doing better than any humans. I love what the Backwards Beekeepers are all about, but it would be foolish of me to think my bees could do as well with 1,500 hours of sunshine a year as theirs do with 3,000 hours of sunshine (and much higher temperatures). And that’s just one of the stumbling blocks. I will continue to follow their example as well as I can, but they present an ideal that I seriously doubt I will ever be able to live up to in St. John’s, Newfoundland, given the severity of our local climate. (I’ll talk about this in more detail in a future post.)
Another ideal I realize that I can’t stick to 100% is the use of a spray bottle instead of a smoker.
I inspected both of our hives today, but didn’t have my regular cracker jack film crew along. No video. No photos. But you can pretend I saw something similar to this:
Here’s a quick video of the drone comb I pulled from Hive #2 yesterday with some commentary about the architecture of the comb. I point out the drone eggs, too, which should show up well in full screen HD mode.
SELECT 720p FOR HIGH DEFINITION AND OPTIMAL FULL SCREEN VIDEO PLAYBACK.
I call this post “Architecture of Honey Comb” even though it’s drone comb because, as far as I know, there’s no difference between the two. Both drone comb and honey comb have large cells, and drone comb is supposedly backfilled with honey once the drones emerge, anyway, so they’re virtually the same.
I took a 3-minute video clip of honey bees coming and going from a hive entrance and stretched it out to 12 minutes. (I couldn’t stretch it out any further.) I replaced the slow motion soundtrack with the original normal speed soundtrack. (Then I looped it.) Then I tried to render the video file in a manner that would minimize the ghostly blur effect of the bees flying. (I still need to work on that.) The final 550mb WMV file was encoded at 720p HD and took several hours to upload to YouTube. I haven’t watched the video yet (because it’s 12 minutes long), but at 720p in full screen mode, it probably doesn’t look too bad.
P.S., The original video was 14 minutes long, but I made the last 20 seconds or so normal speed and then forgot to change the 14 in the title to a 12.
I decided to pull this natural drone comb today because the frame doesn’t have any support wire, which would have made the comb a prime candidate for snapping off the frame someday.
Jenny noticed a feature of the comb that had us in awe of the bees again. But I’ll tell you about it later.
P.S. (later): See Architecture of Honey Comb to view an illustrative video.
THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE ORIGINALLY POSTED.
We’ve put out water for the honey bees living in our backyard, but they seem to prefer dirty water from puddles around the yard. They specifically seem to favour the moist dark compost soil in our raised garden beds.
Does the soil give off some sort of fake pheromone that attracts the bees? I didn’t know, so I looked up “water” in my excellent 1947 edition of The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture (the only edition of the book I could afford) and I learned that the bees bring in more water in the spring during brood-rearing and less water as the honey flow peaks. But more to the point, the bees drink from compost piles (and composted soil) because the water there is warmer than water left in a dish. The bees are able to absorb warm water faster than cold water. So it’s not the stink of the compost that attracts them. It’s the warmth.
I think it’s fair to conclude, from this instance and everything else I’ve observed, that whatever honey bees do, they do it with the utmost efficiency.