Tuesday, May 31, 2011

sunday afternoon: present from James: wooden Nuc box

This afternoon James from the backward beekeepers came to my house to drop of some stuff and he gave me a very nice and practical gift.
He had built a wooden Nuc bee box, that holds 5 frames.
Painted and detailed till perfection including enough ventilation for southern california weather:
The chickens came to check it out, it looks that good ! ;-)

I helped James to catch a swarm to put in his Top Bar Hive.

The girls are going crazy in his backyard:

He also made a nice time lapse video of the bees going in and out the hive over a day:

youtube video

Thanks James!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

clean honey

The honey I am selling has been tested for 171 different kind of chemicals and _NONE_ was found


sunday afternoon: swarm capture simi valley

My wife joined me on this one for her first swarm catch.
They had been hanging from a grapefruit tree for nearly 2 weeks and the owner didn't want to kill them but also didn't want them to stay (small kids etc)

We didn't take any pictures upfront, so this was taken after we had shaken the majority in the box:

All the bees that were flying around seemed to be attracted to the box on the ladder, a sure sign the queen must be in the box. Only a handful had to be left behind.

Sunday morning: Moving hives

Sunday morning we moved some hives (including the swarm captured on friday evening) to a new place. A magnificent 2000 acre land in the middle of nowhere, used for cattle farming.
No fields that can be sprayed in a 5 mile radius!

On our way to the property

The hives in their new environment. I left the straps on, since there are (curious) cows around and even bears have been spotted (years ago).
Will move more hives to this location next weeks

Sunday, May 29, 2011

saturday: trapout

I tried a trap out this Saturday.
I first sat on the roof, and observed how/where the bees were going in and out of the hive.
I found 3 openings, 2 of them I was able to close fairly easy. Hole number 3 was suddenly the main entrance/exit. I installed a reverse funnel and put a Nuc box near the old entry point of the hive.

Then I waited. Bees kept coming out, but there was no "pile-up" of bees returning to get back into the hive. I climbed of the ladder and saw why:

Underneath the eave there was big crack along the chimney where the bees were returning to their hive.

I showed the homeowner that this gap was so large, and probably had other wholes leading to the same cavity, that I gave up this fight. I am not a general constructor.
Even though i didn't want to charge anything (no cure no pay) i was tipped generously by the home owner.

Friday: swarm catch & simple cutout

Someone called me on friday about a swarm dat had moved into a building where he has his office.

He took some pictures from inside his office:

When I arrived, some people had started a bbq and try to scare the bees away with warmth and smoke. They had also used a fire extinguisher on them.
But they were still there. So i broke down the wall and this was a *huge* swarm.
I filled up over half of my Nuc box with it. So I went back and transferred them to a wooden box.
Since there was a huge cluster of bees in a place where I couldn't get to them, I left the box there to be picked up on Saturday.

After that I went to Ventura to the home of a fire fighter who had bees in a cabinet on his porch. No Photo's though.
It was the fastest cutout ever with just 3 layers of comb, and 30 minutes later I was going home again. Arrived 10pm and made dinner.. (this is supposed to be a hobby ;-) )

When I returned on Saturday evening around 8pm to pick up the swarm catch, there was an enormous beard of bees on the front/side of the box. So I used a spare Nuc box to sweep the extra bees in, and locked them up.

Sunday morning we moved the bees to another location.
Will make a separate posting about that

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bees in a chimney in camarillo

Another issue of bees in a chimney.
When I arrived they had left already, but a few were still around in the house.
The owner had used killing spray to defend herself.
I left because there wasn't much I could do.
When she called again a few hours later, about 20 or so were in the fireplace behind the glass windows.
The owner thought these were a lot of bees :-)
I started my smoker, put it in the fireplace and the bees left.
I vacuumed up all the bees that were still in the house, dead or alive, and placed a piece of hardware cloth on top of the chimney to prevent them from ever scouting things out again:

Small detail: I am afraid of heights ;-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

swarm bees that just want to swarm

The swarm I captured earlier obviously didn't like the nuc box. After 26 hours they left and were hanging in a swarm in a tree in our garden. This was just above our bbq area.
After 2 days of hanging there, i decided to give it another try.
So i put some plywood on the patio cover (it's totally open normally) and put the bees back in the box.

I put 4 frames with wax starter strips in them and 1 frame with old comb with uncapped honey.

I put them inside this box at 5 pm yesterday
Today at 1pm they swarmed again. they were in my orange tree for an hour and finally left.

While they were in the Nuc box, they attached this piece of wax to one of the frames.
Although the frames contain starter strips with 4.9 mm pattern , the addition was done at a 90 degrees angle from the starter strip.

Oh well...

Why Honey Bees Are Better Politicians Than Humans

James gave the link to this nice article
Worth listening to the audio segment

Friday, May 20, 2011

trap out for next week

A call came in for bees near a chimney
The home owners had turned on the fireplace and burned something that created a lot of smoke to scare them away. They said a lot less bees were still staying, but they had scared most of them away. I finally climbed on the roof (I really am afraid of heights !!)
There they go, just on the side of the chimney.
They have 3 places to enter their hive.
Will install a trapout to tackle this one.

While in the garden, I suddenly saw a bird nest:

It was fairly small, I think this was made by a hummingbird
I tried photographing it from the top, but the focus was wrong.

2 swarm catches and one trapout for next week.

LG :-)

bee swarm near an outside eating facility

Another call for a bee swarm today.
A company with a nice outdoor area with water where the people can eat their lunch was the temporary landing place for a swarm of bees.

Top left corner you see the swarm hanging.
They kindly let me use a small A-frame ladder and I was able to quickly dump them into a nuc box.

the not so dual swarm *update*

It turned out the dual swarm was in fact just 1 big swarm.
When I picked them up at 8:30pm they were all in the big box and partly outside.
This is the biggest swarm i've ever come across

I sprayed them with water, and gently brushed them inside.
Even though it was almost dark, quite a few bees were bumping me on my veil.
2 got me (I wasn't wearing a full suit) :-)

dual swarm in a peach tree

This morning I got a call to collect a swarm in Thousand Oaks.
When I arrived and inspected the place, it turned out there were 2 swarms !!! in the same tree.
I only brought one NUC box, so I had to improvise a second one.

Left top is a swarm, and one on the stem.

After I brushed most of the bees in the boxes.
Flying bees were landing on the boxes and walking in. Good sign I had the queens in the boxes.

There were a lot of bees left on the tree, so I left the boxes there and will pick them up later today.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

cutout fiber box Santa Barbara

Yesterday evening a request for help in Santa Barbara was posted on the backwards beekeepers list.
I responded and although it's not my direct area (1hr drive for me to get there) I decided to offer my help. We made a deal and early in the morning I drove up there.
The information given in the PDF was excellent. Had no problem finding it.
The only thing that looked different when I got there was the box. It was at least 5 times larger than the box I did the cutout of last week.
I had taken 2 medium boxes with me and I suddenly was afraid it wouldn't be enough.
When I opened the box, there was only a small hive inside. It also seemed old comb had been removed. There was a lot of old (brittle) comb on the bottom. I took only the "fresh" comb with the brood and put them in my box. I scooped up as many of the bees as I could and dumped them in the box. when I saw most of the flying bees move towards my wooden box I knew the queen was in there. I then waited a while to gather most of the bees, used hardware cloth to make the entrances of the box in the ground "bee proof" and went home with the bees.
I put the hive on one of my 4 spots where I currently have bees, they started doing their reconnaissance flight. Let's hope they stay ;-)


Lift the lid after I smoked them a bit.

Combination of very old (brittle), old and new comb. I wonder if this was sprayed.
I didn't see any discoloration of the comb. I had seen that at several other occasions where bees were sprayed. I didn't take any chance and threw away all old comb.
Only the one that had living brood in it, I used in my box.

After I was done, box was sort of empty

Most bees moving into the box, I got the queen!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bees in a chimney

Because of my fear of hight's, I don't like climbing ladders. Sometimes you have no choice and you simply have to do it. I was called to a house in Oak Park where bees were getting into a home through the chimney. A neighbor was kind enough to lend us a ladder , I put it up against the chimney and started climbing. The ladder officially was too short and I had to stand on the top step and cling to the chimney in order to look inside the chimney.
There was a piece of metal on top to prevent bird from entering, but bees are of course way smaller.


This is a close up of the top of the chimney, to put things in perspective: there is a bee hovering on the left side.

I grabbed inside the chimney, there were maybe 8 bees in there on top of this piece of comb:

After careful inspection at home I found there were eggs inside the comb:

But there weren't enough bees to keep them warm, and there suddenly was no queen!

Next time when I'm in the neighborhood, i will put some fine bee-resistant hardware cloth underneath the big one, to keep the bees out.

My first chimney bees :-)

followup on trap out in Thousand Oaks

I returned to TO today to check on a trapout I setup on the 6th (so 10 days ago).
The Bees have moved in to the NUC box. The home owner put some plastic around the box to make it withstand the rain better.


When I opened the box up, the 3 frames that I put in were filled by the bees with uncapped honey. Sure sign there is a nice nectar flow going. I didn't see any brood/eggs. So I assume it's safe to say that the queen isn't out jet (the owner at certain times saw the bees come out 1 per second) we decided to leave the NUC box there for a few more weeks.

TBC ...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bee class Sun May 15

I organized an open HIVE/House today.
Intended for bee-ginners to get some hands-on experience in regards to bees.

5 People turned up.
They predicted a 40-60% chance of rain, but luckily it stayed dry.
After some talks and a quick tour through the garden, we set down, drank something and talked some more.
We then tasted 3 different kinds of honey, put on our suits and started doing a cutout of a swarm trap into a wooden medium box.


In the tree in the back you can see the swarm trap.

We fired up the smoker and gave them some puffs

Inspecting the first piece of comb

Showed the others some of the things to look for.

Tying in the first piece of comb in the frame with rubberbands

Some of the others took turns cutting the comb and putting them into frames.

Almost done with the cutout

Bees are starting to find their way in the wooden box

I am under the impression everybody had a great time. I hope we didn't kill too many bees.
I certainly enjoyed it.

Thanks you all !


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Audition for role in Sci-Fi movie ?!

Yesterday I helped a Backwards Beekeeper to straighten out the combs they build at a 90 degrees on the waxed starter strips. We were just standing looking at the hive about 25 ft away, not in the flight path when one lady flew straight at my forehead and stung me direct.
I figure she was in a bad mood.
The rest of the day I felt like i was becoming partly klingon with the shape of a turtle forming on my forehead.

This morning I went walking with the dog, and when I returned my wife told me to check in the mirror. Both my eyes are closed a little bit, the right eye more than the left. All because of one sting!

Risk of the trade ... ;-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Are cell phones killing bees? How the false meme spread.

You may have seen the sensational stories on the Internet the past 24 hours that it’s finally been confirmed: Cell Phones KILL Bees!

The only problem is… it’s NOT confirmed.

That’s not what the study says. It’s not even what the original article says.

Read the full article

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

16 hives active

2 more coming before the end of the week !

My goal: 100+ end of next year.

Sunday May 15th : open hive in camarillo

Sunday 15 th, starting at 11am I will host an open hive regarding bees & honey at my premises in Camarillo (ventura).
I intend to do one or more hive inspections (bring your suit!) and if the weather/temperature permits a cutout of a swarm trap into a wooden box/frames.
The idea is for new bees to actually learn and do stuff!

Further items that are available:
- how to assemble frames/boxes (air nail gun/compressor available to do it the easy way)
- waxing of starterstrips (there is a limited amount of wax available)
- honey tasting (have several kinds available)
- Southern Arizona honey is also available for sale.

Please send an email message if you want to attend : venturabeerescue@gmail.com

Looking forward to this challenge!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bees buzzing around me

When I helped Dee Lusby in Southern Arizone, we sometimes did splits of hives to make up for dead/absconded hives. We just pulled apart strong hives and moved the second lowest box (a hive consisted of 5 boxes) to another pile. In order to not scare the queen, we did this without smoking them first. Boy were those bees p****d. Took a short movie when they were buzzing around me.

Youtube link

water box cutout: *update*

At night I went back to retrieve the colony.

This is how I found them:

As you can see there was still a small amount of bees inside the original box:

I sprayed some sugar water on them, scooped them up and dumped them in the wooden box.
Drove home and when i was walking them to their temp place to store them, one of the ladies got me on my thumb ;-)

2 stings when handling thousands of bees is not a bad thing ;-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

My first water box cutout

I got a call today from a Camarillo tire store about bees in a "water box".

I quickly found the box the bees had made "home"

After carefully openening the lid (some comb broke off, but it was unavoidable)

Plenty of comb/bees inside the box

I initially came just with a NUC box, but this would never fit inside such a box.
So I went home and got a wooden medium size box.

When I returned the bees were no scared by the few puffs of smoke I gave them and most had returned on the comb. Which is what I wanted in order to catch the queen without a bee vac.

Before I cut up all comb I first shook the bees into the wooden box.
I was able to fill about 9.5 frames with comb.
At first they still wanted to go out. So the queen wasn't in there yet.

At a certain point a few of the ladies started "fanning" at the entrance of the hive, indicating "here is the queen" and you could really see a mass movement of bees towards the wooden box

As a service to the customer I sealed the entrance of the lid so they wont have returning visitors in the future.

statistics: 1 nailed me (on my back) :-)