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Ready or not, honey bee swarm season is here.

May 4, 2014 in Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, swarming

Between April and May in most of the United States, honey bees start swarming. Massive clouds of bees fill the the air and then as it starts to get quiet, you see a large blob of bees hanging from a tree limb. I did a great job at giving swarms back to the wild this year. It was not by choice, but I learned a valuable lesson that I will not forget ever again. 1.Checker-boarding, (which is a way of controlling the swarming impulse with honey bees) requires the use of previously drawn comb, not just empty frames. 2. Check for swarm cells (by lifting the top box) every week during swarm season.

I planned on making increase this year to expand the number of hives in my yard. My plan was to do it after the honey flow was over though, not before. I think I’ve lost 6 swarms so far, and counting. But I have managed to catch 3 swarms. All 3 swarms have at least 3-5 lbs of bees in them, so they will be full size hives by the end of the season. I can live with that, and I might even split a few of them since I’m playing with house money at this point.

The best part of swarming honey bees is catching them. But a not to far 2nd place is all the queen cells that are left behind that you can get creative with. Once I find the frames with them, I try to gauge when they will hatch and go back and check them until I find cells that are ripe so I can watch them hatch. Its amazing to watch them crawl out and scurry around the frame. They usually run around frantically and make the house bees mad, sometimes stopping to take a drink of nectar.  I got lucky enough to film a queen bee hatching this past weekend, so I’ll post the video below.

Until next time, here’s a few pictures, follow me on Instagram @Fromthehive to see these pictures and more.

 

 

Queen Bee

Queen Honey Bee from a recent swarm

Queen bee from a recent swarm

Queen bee from a recent swarm

Honey bee Swarm in progress !
Honey bee Swarm in progress !

 

Honey Bees guiding in their sisters with Nasonov pheromone.

Honey Bees guiding in their sisters with Nasonov pheromone.

 

Swarm after they all gathered on a branch in my front yard.

Swarm after they all gathered on a branch in my front yard.

 

 

 

Spring is Here ! Honey bees are busy.

April 13, 2014 in Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, Honeybees

Spring is here and honey bees are busy building up their population for the upcoming honey flow. This is one of the best times of year to see how well your hives are doing. A good healthy hives population will start booming and packing the hive with brood and pollen and nectar. The hives that aren’t doing well are very slow t build up and can even get robbed by nearby hives. Its a good time to requeen if your queen didn’t do to well through winter or isn’t building the hive very fast. If you want to get any honey this season, its critical to get it done as so as possible.

My bees are extremely happy this time of year and very busy. They are bringing in more pollen than I’ve seen in the past 2 years. So its a good time to start taking pictures, my favorite thing to do with bees. Lot of activity and plenty of photo ops.  I almost feel guilty because I don’t even care that much about honey, the golden sweet liquid my bees produce. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Lots more to come !

I post all these photos and more on Instagram. Please follow  @fromthehive if you enjoy Honey Bee photos. Thanks !

 

Honey Bee pollen

Honey bees bringing in pollen spring 2014

Bees exposing nasonov gland at the hive entrance

Bees exposing nasonov gland at the hive entrance

 

Honey Bee bringing in pollen

Honey Bee bringing in pollen

Honey Bees cleaning cells

Honey Bees cleaning cells

Nurse bees are super fuzzy. Honey Bees are covered  with hair that falls out as they age.

Nurse bees are super fuzzy. Honey Bees are covered with hair that falls out as they age.

Honey Bee gathering pollen on a dandelion.

Honey Bee gathering pollen on a dandelion.

Cells packed with bright colored polen.

Cells packed with bright colored pollen.

Honey Bee covered with pollen

Honey Bee covered with pollen

Open air/ exposed honey bee hive.

October 3, 2013 in exposed hive, Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees

I got a phone call to remove a honey bee hive last week. The home owner said he had just bought the home and was moving in and noticed bees on a branch in his front yard. I thought it must be a swarm. I asked him if he minded taking a picture before I showed up so I would know what i was dealing with and help make sure I brought everything I needed. I was pleasantly surprised when he sent a picture. It was a 3 comb exposed hive on a tree branch about 5 feet off the ground.

exposed honey bees

The exposed honey bee hive.

There was lots of capped and emerging brood, so these girls have been there for a month or so hard at work. Luckily,I found and caged the queen after removing the first piece of comb. That help me coax the rest of the bees in the box I used to transport them to my bee yard.

exposed bee hive

A view from under the hive

honey comb

The comb is still perfect and a pristine white.

There weren’t enough bees in this hive to successfully build up enough strength or food for winter. I did a newspaper combine with them and another hive that was strong but didn’t have the amount of bees that most of my hives have.  They combined well and the comb was even saved by putting it in a frame with rubber bands holding it in.

 

Feeding Honey bees to help with winter stores.

October 2, 2013 in Cordovan Bees, Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees

It’s dangerous around most bee hives this time of year. In most of the United States, all the pollen and nectar that bees gather is gone. Less food is coming in, bees start dying off, queens cut back on laying and the worker bees are aggressive. And thats just the bees. Ants, yellow jackets are a huge nuisance this time of year as well as other wasps and hornets. I don’t feed my bees at all during the spring and summer because I want honey that pure nectar from local forage.  But I do want the bees to have the best chance of survival over the harsh winter, so I will supplemental feed to help add some weight to their winter stores. I mix sugar and water with a small amount of essential oils into a thick syrup so they dont have to evaporate it as much. I snapped a some pictures of a few bees drinking some of the syrup that I sprayed on them while I was opening the hive. I hope you enjoy.

drinking

You can see the difference in age on these 2 bees. The bee to the left has less hair which gets worn and falls off as they forage. Younger bees are usually very furry. 

honey bee drinking

Cordovan Honey bee

drinking2

Twp sister honey bees drinking syrup

drinking3

Honey bee pictures

honey bees drinking syrup

More pictures from the bee yard, and observation hive.

August 22, 2013 in Cordovan Bees, drones, Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, Observation hive, Uncategorized

bee with pollen

Honey bee with pollen.

bee with pollen

Honey bee with pollen

bee with pollen4

A rear view of a honey bee loaded with pollen. Honey bees have an indention on their back legs where they store pollen as they return to the hive.

honey bee with pollen

Cordovan honey bee loaded with pollen

bee with pollen32

Cordovan honey bee loaded with pollen

black bees

The bees circled in red have a black shiny thorax and black behinds or “rear ends” They are not a wild or feral bee or a different race of bee as many people think. They are robbing bees. They are most likely your own bees if you have more than one hive. Bees that take to robbing open feeders get covered with syrup or honey from rubbing against one another in a frenzy and after the syrup dries, none of their hair is visible and the sugar syrup makes them a glossy black. They also look smaller than other bees because of no hair standing up on their bodies.

Cordy Drone 2

A Cordovan drone that was born in a worker cell from a laying worker hive.

frame of pollen

A frame of solid pollen

healthy hive

This is what a healthy happy honey bee hive looks like.

locust under hive

This Cicada was on a pallet under one of my bee hives. He was emerging from his nymph skin.

Nasonov pheromone

Honey bee releasing Nasonov pheromone by raising her rear and fanning her wings. This is done to help other bees find the entrance to the hive.

Observation hive

My new Honey bee observation hive. I made with materials from Home Depot, and it cost less than $50.

pollen close up

So many different colors of pollen in the comb.

queen from observation hive

This is the queen I just released in my observation hive.




Random pictures from the bee yard.

August 4, 2013 in drones, Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, Honeybees, Queen marking

I havent posted in a while and a lot has gone on. Just a few pictures today and im working on a video and a longer post for this week.

honey bee nuc hive

This nuc hive that’s about to swarm from being so crowded. I just moved them into a full size  8 frame hive.

nucleus hive, honey bees

Another view of nuc hive.

queen bee marking

I started marking my queens so I can keep up with the genetics in my yard and to know if one of them gets replaced by the bees. These numbers are placed on the thorax of the queen with a tiny drop of glue.

queen bee marking

The queens are placed in the tube with a screen at the top. You push the foam to the top, lightly wedging them so they cant move, which allows you to put the number on their back.

queen bee in queen marking cage

Here a worker bee is feeding the queen through the screen in the queen marking cage. The queens are normally fed by the workers.

A queen bee after being marked.

A queen bee after being marked.

Queen bee gets welcomed back to hive.

This is the welcome a queen gets after being away from the hive for a while.

honey bee drone comb, cross comb

This is what happens sometimes when you use all worker foundation. Drone comb is built in between the frames and has to be cut out.

 

honey bee drones emerging

Emerging drones

honey bee on a blooming sunflower

A forager on one of its final runs. You can see the damage to her frayed wings.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

A few new Queens installed, 2 from Walter Kelley & 2 from nature.

July 2, 2013 in Cordovan Bees, Honey bee pictures, requeening, Top bar hive

I bought a few Cordovan queens from Walter Kelley bees last week. I got two of the three installed in hives. The other one probably ended up being dragon fly food. As soon as I opened the cage,instead of her crawling onto a frame, she flew off into the sunset. I was pretty pissed but there was nothing I could do. It was like watching someone light A $20 bill on fire. The battery on my GoPro was dead so I didn’t get anything on film.

A lot of things have changed since then. I made up two nuc hives from a weaker hive and ende up joining them as they were too weak. They actually made their own queen and she hatched and looked to be doing well. I wont look in on them for another few weeks in the hopes that she will get mated and start laying. The queen I installed in my weakest hive is laying and doing very well.

The swarm I caught a few weeks ago at a strip mall is doing awesome. The queen is laying frames of eggs and the bees seemed to be pretty calm. I opened the hive without smoking them and didn’t have any problems pulling a few frames. They were hived about a week after my hive swarmed but aren’t building up quite as fast as my own swarm. They are in the same place in the yard, they’ve bot been fed at the same rate. Some bees just build up faster than others.

I ordered two more queens a few days ago from a guy in Florida. The queens are Hygenic VSH Italian. Im wanting to add more genetics to my yard for queen rearing. I don’t plan on selling queens as a business, but I want to eventually try to raise queens to have the ability to requeen any hives that need it, and to be able to split hives for increase. For those of you that are curious VSH stands for Varroa sensitive hygiene. These queens have daughters that are very aggressive in keeping the hive free of Varroa mites, including opening closed cells that are infested with mites and dragging the brood out of the hive. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

I also just “closed” my TBH or top bar hive. I had a comb collapse in the 95 degree heat last week. I was afraid that I would have another one collapse and kill another one of the new queens. I love the fact that you watch the bees from the side glass, but the TBH doesnt have very good ventilation and in hot weather its just rough on the bees. So I moved the bars to modified deep hive body, (sort of a Warre hive now I guess) and I might cut the comb out and put it in frames. The queen hasnt started laying yet so im going to wait and see if she starts laying before I do much more to that hive.

Hopefully I will get good video and pics from installing new queens tomorrow. I will be making splits in order to give them a home, so there will be lots to do tomorrow.

I'm still amazed sometimes at how good my cell phone camera is. Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3

I’m still amazed sometimes at how good my cell phone camera is. Sprint Samsung Galaxy S3

A few eggs highlighted from the swarm hive I referenced in the post.

A few eggs highlighted from the swarm hive I referenced in the post.

 

This is the queen from the swarm hive.

This is the queen from the swarm hive.

I wanted to keep a bar of comb from my TBH, so I pulled it and brought it to my porch. A few bees followed my and are cleaning the honey out of it.

I wanted to keep a bar of comb from my TBH, so I pulled it and brought it to my porch. A few bees followed my and are cleaning the honey out of it.

The bees will drain every last drop from every cell in this comb. As you can see in the bottom left, top bar hives are rough on the bees sometimes.

The bees will drain every last drop from every cell in this comb. As you can see in the bottom left, top bar hives are rough on the bees sometimes.

The bees build queen cups on the comb in the event that they have to rear a queen one day.

The bees build queen cups on the comb in the event that they have to rear a queen one day.

Side view of queen cup

Side view of queen cup and comb from TBH.

The comb from my top bar hive is in the background, so that was my justification for posting this on a bee blog. I think our cat has an extra joint in her legs. She looks like a meerkat sometimes.

The comb from my top bar hive is in the background, so that was my justification for posting this on a bee blog. I think our cat has an extra joint in her legs. She looks like a meerkat sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requeening on Monday, plus making a split.

June 23, 2013 in Cordovan Bees, Honey bee pictures, requeening

I’ve temporarily given up on being able to requeen my hives with my own queens that I’ve manipulated the bees to raise. The top bar hive that swarmed twice is in need of a laying queen now, so I ordered a few to make splits and requeen the TBH. Hopefully I will be able to get to that tomorrow. I also got a great fathers day gift, a GoPro Hero3 camera that is absolutely amazing and shoots great pictures and video. Hopefully I will capture all of this tomorrow to help fulfill my goal of having a honey bee blog that has the best pictures and video of beekeeping around.  I will post tomorrow night either way and hopefully the bees will accept the queens Ok. I made the hives queenless 2 days ago, so they should be ready for a queen by now.

3 Cordovan Queen Bees from Walter Kelly.

3 Cordovan queen bees from Walter Kelly just arrived.

 

The 3 Walter Kelley queens in their queen cages.

The 3 Walter Kelley queens in their queen cages.

Queen bees

Cordovan queen with attendants from Walter Kelley in cage waiting to be put in hive.

Update on the first swarm from my TBH.

June 14, 2013 in Cordovon Bees, Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, swarming

My top bar hive swarmed on June 1st. This is my first TBH and the first one of my hives to ever swarm. So there’s many things I don’t know yet and haven’t experienced before. With the internet, it easy to just go to Google and type in what you need to know and find a reliable source on information. So that’s what I’m relying on, along with reading Beesource.com daily.

There’s always a chance that a swarm that’s hived can leave the hive you put them in within the first week. There’s nothing holding them there. No eggs, no honey, and no comb. So I was a little nervous that I would lose them again. Checking on them too often before they get settled is another thing that can make them decide to leave. So I gave them almost 2 weeks of peace and quiet to get settled. I only pulled a few frames up, but they looked good and were building lots of comb and storing nectar.But, the best thing a beekeeper can see in a newly established hive is that the queen has started to lay eggs and there’s capped brood (which means baby bees that are in cells and waiting to chew their way out). I took one quick picture of her on the frame shes currently laying in. Now that I know they are settled in this hive, its going to be tough to stay out of it. I know I’m not going to get any honey from it this year, so and the bees in this hive are beautiful. Most of them are Cordovan bees and are that orange rusty color and they are they calmest bees I have.

This is the color most of the bees are in this hive.

This is the color most of the bees are in this hive.

000

TBH in new hive already has capped brood.

TBH in new hive already has capped brood.

A closeup of the queen on the comb shes laying in.

A closeup of the queen on the comb shes laying in.

 

 

Honey Bee Queen piping & Quacking on top bar. TBH

June 11, 2013 in Honey bee pictures, Honey Bees, Honeybees, Queen rearing, Top bar hive

I pulled a bar from the top bar hive to check and see if any queens have emerged yet. As I was watching, I heard one of the queens start piping and the bees reaction was awesome. They all stopped moving around and froze in place. They kinda started back to their activities in between each time she made a noise. Its pretty interesting even if you don’t like honey bees. The video shows it better than I can explain, so here it is.