August 16th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED.

I found some dead baby bees outside Hive #1 today, and now I’m thinking I may have made a mistake when I added the second brood chamber over the weekend.

Sad looking, isn’t it?

The forecast called for sunshine today, but the sun did not come out.

It was cold and wet all day, not a good day for bees, especially after I split up the brood nest the day before — and that’s probably what I should not have done.

Read on . . . »

August 16th, 2010

Here’s a video of Jenny and me inspecting Hive #1 two days ago, scraping some honey off the frames and adding a second brood chamber.


SWITCH TO THE 480p SETTING FOR SHARPER AND SMOOTHER VIDEO PLAYBACK.

The editing isn’t the greatest because I asked our friend, Vanessa, who was shooting the video, to take some photos during the video as well. I read in the manual that my camera can integrate photos while still rolling on video. But it didn’t work like I thought it would, so I had to cut out most of the integrated photos. It’s a choppy edit. Details on expanding the hive were posted yesterday in the Adding a Second Brood Chamber post.

UPDATE (Sept. 17/10): Just for my own records, we added the second brood box to Hive #2 around August 28, 2010, about two weeks after Hive #1.

Related posts: Dead Baby Bees and Foundationless Frames.

August 15th, 2010

THE FOLLOWING AS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED.

Another long post packed with photos…

We added a second brood chamber (or deep body or brood box) to Hive #1 yesterday. As far as I can tell, it went well. The bees were extremely calm being misted with sugar water, way less agitated than when we’ve used the smoker on them. All the frames had drawn out comb except one. We put about half the drawn frames in the new box on top with empty foundation frames between them. We installed 4 foundationless frames in the original box, placing them between drawn out frames. The honey and the brood seemed mixed together on the frames, so there were no all-brood frames or all-honey frames. There was brood in just about every frame we inspected. We saw some honeycomb hanging off the bottom of one frame, but no swarm cells. Hive #1 appears to be doing great. We’ll see how the colony adjusts to the new box and having all their drawn out frames spaced out. The big experiment is the foundationless frames in the bottom box.

Here’s a shot of the bees after we removed a few frames from the hive:

I’ll upload some video of the procedure soon. (UPDATE: The video is posted.) Until then, allow me to present a big load of photos and descriptions of what we did. (The full series of photos can be view on my Picasa page.)
Read on . . . »

August 15th, 2010

I introduced some foundationless frames to Hive #1 this weekend. I’ll tell you why and I’ll tell you how. Here’s one of my foundationless frames:

Read on . . . »

August 11th, 2010

Here’s a short video I shot yesterday of the bees orientating themselves to the hive and bringing in pollen. I also let the bees fly around my head and I show off one of the board feeders.


SWITCH TO THE 480p SETTING FOR SHARPER AND SMOOTHER VIDEO PLAYBACK.

See the previous post for a close-up shot of the bees loaded down with pollen.

August 10th, 2010

It was cold and wet today until about 3:30. Then it warmed up, the clouds parted and the bees came out of Hive #1 and made the most of the warm weather in a big way.

Within 20 minutes of leaving the hive, many were coming back loaded down with pollen. You can see balls of pollen on their legs in this close-up.

That’s what we like to see.

August 9th, 2010

Here’s the video of the non-intrusive hive inspection I did earlier today, recorded on my new fancy pants high definition camera. (Change the settings from 720p to a lower resolution if the video doesn’t load or play back seamlessly for you.)

Related post: Non-intrusive Hive Inspection.

UPDATE (Jan. 24/11): The honey comb under the inner cover is called burr comb, and the bees built the burr comb because I had the inner cover on upside-down. Whenever there is more than about 1cm of space in the hive (called “bee space”), the bees will try to fill it in with comb. The upside-down inner cover provided too much open space.

August 9th, 2010

I did a non-intrusive hive inspection this afternoon. I’ve been on a tiring film shoot for the past four days, and I missed hanging out in the backyard watching the bees, surrounded by all my veggies and things. I’m glad I had the day off. Here’s a shot of some bees in Hive #2.

By non-intrusive, all I mean is I didn’t pull out the frames. I just removed the roof and the inner cover and looked down at the frames. The bees in Hive #1 have built more comb than those in Hive #2, probably because they went at least one extra week with a feeder. (No doubt about it, feeding the bees at this early stage accelerates comb building — more places for the queen to lay her eggs.) I scraped more honeycomb from the inner cover of that hive. I plan to use the wax (I already ate the honey) to build some starter strips. From what I could see today, the bees in Hive #1 have drawn out comb on at least 7 of the 10 frames, maybe more. I was impressed with what I saw. I’m not sure when I should add another brood box to the hive, but I’m thinking as early as next weekend, the weekend after that at the latest.
Read on . . . »

August 3rd, 2010

THE FOLLOWING WAS LAST UPDATED ON DEC. 22, 2010.

DRONE BEE I took a closer look at the small number of photos we took during our first hive inspection on July 31st, specifically this photo (which, by the way, shows an excellent brood pattern; the queen in that hive is doing well). I looked closely to see if I could spot the queen. I couldn’t, but I did notice a drone bee. So for your edification, here’s a drone bee. Drones are easy to spot because they’re thick and have a big black head. Drones are male bees whose only purpose is to mate once with a queen. If they don’t mate, they just hang around the hive and get fed. All the drones are kicked out of the hive to freeze to death as winter kicks in because they’re useless over the winter. The colony, through a laying working bee, will produce new drones from unfertilized eggs in the spring for any new queens who need to mate in a hurry. ‘Tis the life of a drone.

UPDATE (Nov. 18/10): I posted this video of a drone bee walking around my hand. It shows in more detail how dark and thick drones can be. A worker bee looks like a little baby next to a drone.

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.

August 3rd, 2010

THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN UPDATED SINCE IT WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED. SCROLL TO THE END FOR TIPS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH WASPS.

My wonderful Boardman feeders are attracting wasps to the hive, and man are they nasty. Wasps and honey bees do not get along. I’ve already seen some wasps attack and kill a few honey bees. It’s pretty gruesome.

A few wasps hanging around aren’t usually a problem, but I read it can become a problem if the wasps nest is close to the hive. The bees become constantly on the defence. If some wasps actually get into a hive, well, it’s not good — and I just noticed a wasps nest in the apple tree close to my shed, about 50 feet away from the hives.

It’s times like this I wish there was a Newfoundland beekeepers association. I’ve done plenty of research, but research and real world practice are not the same. Confidence comes from practice, not from research. I wish there was a local beekeeper I could meet with close by.
Read on . . . »

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