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.

2010-10-28 Welcome to Baghdad

I had seen a van parked near work, a  big yellow van with "the Bee Wrangler" written down the side, and a week ago I bumped into the man himself, John. I asked about the possibility of getting hold of a swarm, he said he'd give me a call next one he got. His job is pest control, getting rid of problem bees and wasps. A few days later, the call came in, and he handed me a box of bees. I gave him a bottle of red, not for the bees, they were free, but for the box and flyscreen. Sounds good to me. He got them out of a branch of a camelia, and the bees were still wrapped around a small branch that he had cut off and put in the box. A few were crawling around the top of the box, under the mesh. Probably a mix of australian bees, he thought, some were fairly yellow, while  others were quite black. Mix of caucasians and italians. A big fat drone was scoping us out from under the wire, watching the exchange.

That'll be John, the Bee Wrangler.

Transport from Fitzroy to their new abode in Alphington. In comfort. Glad I didn't have an accident...

First thing, get that thing smoking....

That's me and Edis, my dad, in his brand new bee suit.
He put on three pairs of socks to be sure his ankles were safe.

Inside the box.....

I shook the bees down to the bottom of the box, then up-ended it over a fresh box full of frames.

This is the old box from the Dairy hive, the one that died out over winter.
New coat of paint, new foundation on some of the frames (ie the ones that were nasty),

A few taps on the top of the box to get them down...

...and Voila, that's the camelia branch that John found the swarm in...

...removing the branches one by one, shaking off the bees, smoking them down.

Dale, the box hill beekeeper from the Tree Hive showed me how to do this.
It was getting dark, so I was keen to get this over with.

Welcome to Baghdad.

Looking forward to some Alphington honey in a while. Probably not this year, maybe next.

Thanks to Rima for the photos!