The Aftermath of Moving a Hive

Honey bees are impressive little navigators. They can continually find their way back to a small patch of flowers miles from their hive, and then give detailed directions to any other bee willing to listen. Honey bees can find their way back home like nobody’s business. It’s amazing. On the other hand, they easily become disoriented to their hive when it’s moved only a couple feet. A hive can be moved using various techniques designed to help the bees reorient themselves to the new location. I won’t go into that now. I just want to show how cool the bees are. They can deal with just about anything we throw at them. Today after I moved one of our hives, I stood back and watched the bees gradually reorient themselves to the exact location of the new hive. It took a few hours for all of them to get the message, but eventually they homed in on the new location. When half the colony starts cranking out the Nasonov pheromone, it’s hard to miss. Check it out:

This is part 2 of Inspecting and Moving a Hive.

P.S.: I wasn’t wearing any protective clothing during this portion of the video. Not a single sting. Some of the bees became more defensive an hour or so later when plenty of foragers were still coming back to the old spot. I was probably messing up the orientation pheromones with my stinky human smell. I stayed clear for the rest of the day. Sometimes it’s better to give the bees their space.

Inspecting and Moving a Hive


I did a full inspection of Hive #1 today, the first inspection of the year. I also moved the hive to a new location a couple feet away, further from a small walkway that cut too much into the bees’ flightpath.

That’s the hive on the left and the new location on the right. I didn’t use a smoker or a sugar spray bottle. The bees were disoriented but calm. It’s possible I could have done without my veil or gloves. But I’m not that lovey-dovey with the bees just yet. I’ll explain everything after the video.
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Slow Motion Honey Bees

The following video isn’t for everyone. A portion of the video I posted yesterday was in slow motion. Today I take that concept and stretch it out for five minutes, and that’s pretty much it. Eventually I’ll set up some contraption that will allow me to get close up shots of the bees in flight. I don’t have an expensive camera or any kind of fancy gear, and the angle isn’t the greatest, but you might enjoy this video if you’re truly obsessed with honey bees.

The sound of the bees plays at normal speed.

P.S.: I’ll try to get an HD version uploaded (which should eliminate the blur), but I can’t seem to get that to work at the moment. A three minute video takes a couple hours to upload, and then fails at the last minute. Every time.

Bees Doing Bee Things (Video)

Our active spring bees haven’t had much of a chance to get active in the past week or so. Freezing rain and fun stuff like that. But they managed to get out today. Nothing big. What I’d call moderate activity. It’s all coming back to me now like a YouTube video in my brain:

TECHNICAL NOTES: The slow-mo comes out blurry when viewed in standard definition like this. It looks much better on my PC at home. I still haven’t been able to work out a simple HD upload that doesn’t take an hour or more to upload the file. I’ll see what I can do. I’m experimenting with these shots. Jenny and I may eventually shoot a documentary about beekeeping in Newfoundland. Many of the brief videos posted to Mud Songs are rough camera tests.

Anyway, we plan to inspect our hives tomorrow or the next day — if the freezing rain doesn’t come back. A hive inspection is a major operation, one that requires our full attention. I may set up a video camera on a tripod and we’ll see what it captures, but getting through the inspection without damaging the hive or injuring the queen is our highest priority, not blogging about it (sorry).
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Video: An Active Spring Hive

I know this must be like new parents showing off photos of their baby that looks like… every other baby on the planet. It won’t be like this next year. But this year is our first spring with the bees, our first full summer with the bees, our first honey harvest — a lot of firsts — and we want a record of all of it so we know what to expect next year. Okay then. Let’s roll the video:

Some browsers seem to flatten the aspect ratio on this video and I don’t know why and I don’t have the patience to try to fix it. View it on the YouTube page for accurate playback.

That’s Hive #1. There are so many bees that they literally sound like a chain saw. Hive #2 is active, but doesn’t show much interest in the bottom entrance. I think that colony may be a different breed of bees. I came in very close to the hive to shoot this video. The bees were crawling all over my hands and around my face (I had my mouth closed the whole time). I’m extremely pleased that they’re so well behaved.

Video: Honey Bees Bringing in Spring Pollen

The sun came out today after some heavy wind and rain that washed away what I hope is the last of the snow. The temperature went up to 11°C. I scraped out some dead stinky bees and debris from the bottom boards of both hives. Hive #2 hasn’t been too active around its bottom entrance this year. Hive #1 is a different story.

I still don’t know where they’re getting the pollen, but I’m impressed.

First Spring Pollen


It was only about 7°C in the backyard today (45°F), but it was enough for the bees in Hive #2 to bring in some pollen for the first time this year.

I’ve embedded a slide show below, but to really get in and see the individual specs of pollen on the bees and their fuzzy little hairs, go to my Picasa page, click on the first photo in the series and click through them individually. The details in the close-up photos always show up better on the actual Picasa page.
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