2010-12-14 Gettin' busy up on the mountain

A warm afternoon, so Adrian and I plotted to go through the hives up at Mt. Evelyn after work.
He'd checked them quickly the day before, and the "utter hive" had been getting full, so it was time to add another box on top, and check the 2 other hives he had in his back yard....
First, The "utter hive"
The boxes themselves are from when his folks used to keep bees years ago. Repainted, re-framed.
 Adrian had cleared off a whole lot of burr comb the day before, but they had already started building it up again. No hive mat in this one yet.
Check out the red propolis, very different colour to the other hives.
 A couple of small swarm cells, scraped them off.
 This is the "tree hive", the bees we got with help from Dale about a year ago. (refer blog 2010-01-16)
Some random comb in a couple of the frames, this is because the wild comb was basically pushed onto the wire when we collected it, so it wasn't the beautiful straight flat comb that you get from using foundation. This wreaks havoc with surrounding frames, too, all sorts of random shapes hanging off...
 More weird comb on this frame
One of the "tree hive" frames.
good brood pattern, but we didn't see much pollen... 
These bees seem to be lazy ,they haven't expanded much at all in the last 9 months or so, always the same.
it has been re-queened, so what's their problem?
 The third hive, known as "the other one"
This one is the swarm from the Bee wrangler, hived 2010-11-08, but already filling up the box. A couple of empty frames, and very docile bees.
 A bit sparse compared to the others.
 The burr comb we scraped out of the 'utter hive', and propolis from the same on the left.
The big brown ball of propolis is from the tree hive.
Why so different?
And what do you do with it? We need a leaky boat, this stuff will stick to anything.
 The location, view from Adrian's back deck.
'tree hive' and 'Utter hive' (now a double) on the right.
The 'other one', in the duck run.

2010-12-13 The Girls are workin'....

It's been awhile since I last checked the hive, but I was sure the girls had been working hard. The weather had been tropical and rainy for the last few weekends, but the girls had been out and about.

 This is the Melaleuca (?) in the back yard , which has just started flowering, and the tree was buzzing with bees all day.

Not the most cooperative subject to photograph,,,

The ball of bees that had been hanging around at the entry had thinned out, I was a little worried that they may have swarmed, but there were still loads of bees in there.
Jazmina helped me out this time. Thanks !
 Some weird grainy stuff under the hive mat at the very top, I thought it was some kind of grubs, but I could see no holes. Propolis? dunno. hmmmm.
 Top box had lots of honey, probably could harvest about 5 or 6 of the frames right now..... if a had a spinner...
The top box weighed an absolute ton, that honey sure is heavy.
 The other side of the same frame. This one was right on the side of the box, almost completely capped one side, almost completely uncapped on the other side.
 Burr comb vetween the two top boxes.
 The girls having a last snack before I took way the burrs.
 All that work welding those frames together, about to come undone...
 Down in the brood box, lots of bees
 Same frame, with bees shaken off.
On this frame only we found some swarm cells, scraped them off.
 Behold the newborn drones. Welcome to Metropolis, boys!
You can see some of the grubs here, at the top of the picture and in the middle.
We didn't see the queen, and I couldn't be sure if I saw eggs, the light was not great.
I took some spoons out, we scooped out a spoon each off the frame, put them in a bee-tight container, and ate it straight away, or at least as soon as we'd de-suited and got inside. Still warm. Sweet  Northcote honey, quite mild, awesome.
Can't wait for a proper harvest.

2010 11 21 Metropolis Inspection

I'd had a disastrous bee inspection the week before where:
- I had bees get into the suit. One crawled around on the inside of the visor thing for 10 minutes. It waited until I was getting off the suit to sting me.
- I had a bee crawl up my leg, but I shook her out.
- The smoker went out, had to keep lighting it.
- I couldn't find the queen.
- Lots of panicky moments where they were attacking a gap above my glove, at the wrist. I did the mad bee dance to get them off.
- I moved the queen excluder down, but didn't know which side of it she was.
- I got stung 3 times, once just behind my ear.

....so this time Adrian came around to give me a hand.
A fair bit of honey, but not quite enough to take away and extract.
In three weeks since the top box was added, they had drawn all the comb, filled it with nectar, and even a few frames half-full of honey.

Adrian in action. nice suit.....for a KKK rally....

The girls. I tried to get a photo of the queen, but she's shy.

One of the combs from the bottom box. We spotted the eggs, so we knew the queen was in here somewhere...

The girls, amongst some cells with nectar.

We spotted the queen on the second pass. Reassuring.

Lots of frayed wing-tips on these girls.

The queen excluder. There is still a lot of brood in the second box, but in theory they will hatch, then eggs will only be laid in the bottom box, the other two will fill with honey....?

Trouble keeps an eye on things from a safe distance.

2010-11-08 Northcote Swarm Detention Centre

Lately the back yard in Northcote has become a holding facility for itinerant swarms of bees that have been collected by the Bee Wrangler, and are looking for a new home.

As it happens, we've got just the thing.

So my backyard has become a Detention Centre for swarms.

This hive in the front was the third swarm that John provided. The day after this photo was taken (the night after they'd arrived) they took off , never to be seen again. Jazmina saw them disappear over the back fence...


The Utter hive, the second one from John. Big swarm in here, and very active since they arrived.
Good feeling about this one, strong. 

We had a look at it, the two boxes were full, almost all the comb being used, so we put another box on top, with the queen excluder under the top box.
We should move the excluder down so that there's only one box of brood, but this means we need to make sure the queen is in the bottom.
Lots of bees hanging out on the front porch, buzzing away, rain, shine or night.
What are they up to?
Are they plotting to abscond with the old queen?
Adrian suggested we improve ventilation, so we jammed some thin packers to lift the lid off a fraction.
A day later, they're still packed out the front, hanging off each other.

Iggy, Falafel, Cordelia and Sookie.

Adrian came 'round to help get the new swarm in a box,
the one vacated by the last swarm we got a couple days earlier...

and to take them up to Mt Evelyn.

John the bee wrangler had these ones for a few days, before I took them .

Adrian fired up the smoker (darn that thing's hard to get going...)

..while I offered support.

Dale, the Box Hill beekeeper taught me how to drink through the visor. No Probs.

Job done.

Jazmina holding Buffy, who has a sore foot.
Adrian checked it out while he was over.

The two new boxes of bees, on their way to Mt Evelyn.