August 18th, 2010


One of the first things I noticed about our honeybees is how they line up in front of the hive, hold their ground and beat their wings to cool the hive (detailed photos). (I assume that’s what they’re up to.) I usually see 3 or 4 bees in a row, but today I saw about 6 of them forming one long line from the edge of the bottom board going right into the hive. I suppose you have to hang around bees for while to get excited about this. At any rate, I grabbed the camera and managed to record about a minute of it. The line wasn’t as straight and unbroken by the time I hit the RECORD button, but still, bees are cool…


UPDATE (Jan. 24/11): They are ventilating the hive either to help regulate the temperature inside the hive so the developing brood don’t overheat, or they’re trying to create an air current to evaporate nectar into honey, or both. They’re also likely releasing the Nasonov pheromone which helps foraging bees orient themselves to the hive.

August 17th, 2010


I got an email from someone who noticed our cats in a few photos. They asked, “How well do your cats get along with your honeybees?” The short answer is: it’s not a problem.

We have two cats, a young cat and an older cat. The older cat, Nigel, is so completely laid back, it’s absurd. He doesn’t even notice the bees, and so far the bees haven’t taken much notice of him either.

The younger cat, Winston (seen in the photo), will chase after anything that flies. He approached the bees cautiously when he first saw them. Then he got bolder and sat in front of a hive entrance one day and tried to catch a few bees — and got stung in the face. He didn’t make any noise when he got stung, but ran away and tried rubbing the sting off with his paws. A couple minutes later he was back to normal and hasn’t tried to catch a bee since. He will notice bees crawling on the ground once in a while, but even then he’ll just sit there and look. Cats learn fast.

UPDATE (Nov. 25/10): Nigel eventually got stung in the face and freaked out. He didn’t know what to do or where to go. He ran in circles, didn’t watch where he was going and banged into the fence, and eventually ran for the back door and we let him in the house. Now whenever he sees a bee, he runs away scared.

Our other cat, Winston, continues to keep a respective distance from the bees. As seen in this photo, he gets very close to the hives at times, but seems totally at ease around them.

June 06/14: A video of one of our other cats chillin’ with the bees.

August 16th, 2010


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.


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


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.


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 . . . »

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