2011-10-23 Payday

Today I found out a few things:

- The (first) swarm from Metropolis, the one that I sucked out of the banksia with the swarmbuster....is dead, or good as.
- Metropolis itself is going fine,
- The other has no queen, but loads of honey....

First Metropolis, below....
 I love the way they pack the cells in, here you can see a whole lot of (larger) drone-sized cells in the middle, how do they get them to fit in amongst the smaller worker cells?
Quite a bit of honey in Metropolis, but not the 70% capped type that you harvest.....you need at least 70% capped, so that the uncapped stuff (nectar) does not dilute the honey. If there is too much nectar (or conversely not enough sugar), the honey can go off...
 Metropolis with the honey supers off
 The front door. Pretty calm, considering I was dismantling their house...
 Down in the brood box
 Grubs ahoy , which mean there is a queen in there, or at least there was a week ago when the eggs were laid.
Last swarm was a week ago (17th), so there is a queen in there. I think.
Not a lot of grubs, either, but I think this is a queen just starting to lay. I hope.
 Meanwhile, in the first swarm box....
 Heaps, and heaps, and heaps of drone cells.
Apparently when there is no queen, the the workers themselves lay eggs, but because they are unfertilised, they are all drones, and the hive is doomed. weird biology going on.
 more drones
 and more drones
You can tell by the dome-capped cells, Ian Brown calls then 'bullet head' cells.
This confirms that the queen did not survive the Swarmbuster. Tried it twice, got lots of bees both times, but both times the queen did not make it. Not sure I'll try it again.
I reckon I'll just let this one die out. No point uniting it or re-queening, there are too many drones in there for it to be any use, I think.
I wonder how long they can last without a queen?
And, over to the Other, I need to get a queen in there (from my check last week), so I decided I'd unite the Other with the swarm that I got out of the tree last week. Pretty sure there's a queen in there, so I hope it works....
 Photo above shows there is still some worker -brood in there, leftovers from the last queen. No eggs, no grubs.
 This one disembowelled herself on my suit.
Very cranky bees lately.

Need to make room for putting the box with the third swarm on top, so I need to get rid of some boxes. harvest time!
 Pulled 7 frames out of the Other, this one above was the least capped of the lot, but still over 70% I'd say.
 One of the fuller frames.
3 hours later, I had about 11 litres of honey in the tank, ready to be bottled.
Thanks girls!

++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++
Jonas : 12 (10 this season)
Adrian : 1
Edis : 1
++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++

2010/11: 34 litres
20011/12: 11 Litres so far.

That's about 3 litres per sting!

2011-10-19 Fresh hand-squeezed nectar

Tonight I got all the burr comb from the last couple of weeks, and hand-extracted it, old-school style.
I guess I got sick of eating bits of comb and spitting wax the next half hour.

Most of it is from the Other, from when it didn't have a hive mat.
This stuff is really nectar, not honey, as it was just collected (it has been through a bee...),
the comb it was from was uncapped, so it won't have the sugar content of proper honey, and it won't keep, as the sugar content is too low to preserve it.
Not so sweet.
a bit peppery, and less intense.
Honey - lite?

I filled the jar up after about 20 minutes of squeezing balls of comb in my fist.

2011-10-12 Ghost beekeepers

I washed my bee suits the other night.
Hopefully this will stop them forming a clump (armada? phalanx?) on the back of my head, as they have been doing lately.

this is a night shot, long exposure...

2011-10-18 Third swarm

A hive can't swarm twice , can it...?
hmmmm....maybe they can.
Got a message from Jazmina at lunchtime that there was a swarm hanging out in the tree over the clothes line....
...got home from work about 6:30, and they were still there....
With only 2 hives, I seem to have had 3 swarms in the last 3 weeks. I don't get it. Getting sick of this, now I see why a lot of beekeeping is about swarm prevention...

circled in red below

 The view from the top of the ladder....probably the diameter of a basketball, but longer...
 so, I 'm in a bee-suit, I'm at the top of an extension ladder leaned on a spindly branch, I'm by myself, sawing away at a branch above my head with a bow-saw....the branch snaps and  falls down in slo-mo, hingeing on where I cut it...loads of bees are shaken off, but I manage to hang on to the branch so it does not hit the ground....even so, most of the bees are by now flying around madly, and bouncing off my visor-thing. kinda dream-sequence. climb down carefully, and I get the secateurs, snip out the remaining core of bees, and drop it in the top of a spare box. One with frames and foundation below, one empty on top, just to contain them.
 slowly, i coax the bees down into the comb,
helped by the smoker. I hope the queen is in there, as the others will follow wherever she is...
 One of those random shots that happen when you carry a camera with gloves on in a bee-storm...

This dodgy vid shows many bees still gathering in the tree, confused that their queen is no longer up there, nowhere to be seen.

As the sun went down, all the bees made their way from the tree, the ground, from the air, and eventually made their way into the box. Next day I took off the second box, down to a single.

This could be a blessing, I can unite it with one of my suspect queen-less hives.....I certainly don't need another box in my back yard, 4 is way over the limit for a suburban block....consolidation is the key.

2011-10-15 Spot the drone

 Another big day, it seems like Spring is a pretty crazy time if you like to keep a few bees. This was a lazy Saturday, warmish at times, maybe up to 20 degrees, but kinda gusty and cold at times, too.  If you were going to pick the weather to do any of this stuff, you'd pick a still, calm 30 degreee day, this upsets the bees the least, as it is close to the temperature they keep in the hive,  and they do not fear for their babies catching a cold or worse. Someone told me not to open them up at all if it is under 18, you seriously risk damaging the brood.
 Trouble is, there are not many still 30 degree days like that in Spring (that coincide with weekends, too), in fact none, so far.

Todays first mission was to transfer the first swarm into a proper box, the one it was in had some sort of board that I bought at a  bee shop once and have never used, and the lid was just an old bit of ply that just barely covered the top.
 They had been in there 3 weeks now, and seemed content, from the outside. This is the swarm from Metropolis that I collected with the swarm-buster 2010, aka "the whistling tunnel of death"...
At first glance the bees seem to have survivied, they were working, bringing in nectar and honey, fair bit of activity.

 Under the lid, not much going on...
 This box already had partially drawn out comb, so they had made themselves right at home.
A few of the combs below...

 Quite a few bees in there, but it wasn't a big swarm to start with.
 I lifted each frame out, and put them in the new box, same order.
Building up a good supply of nectar in there...pollen...
 But....hang on what's missing......didn't see the queen...(i seem to be pretty bad at queen spotting, even when I know she's home..)...no grubs..... no brood.....I started looking for eggs, and I think I saw heaps of them, often multiple eggs in each cell.....
 did the queeen not survive the Swarmbuster?

This is really bad, I need to find a queen for them soon.
Dial - a - Queen?
Might have to, if I wasnt these girls to make it.
Not sure if it is worth the trouble, I could also re-unite this box with one of the others.
The 'Newspaper method'. something I haven't tried yet.
Not sure,
 OK, so this is the "Spot the drone" bit. There's at least two fatty bumbas in this shot....

OK, after a break, time to get into the Other hive, the plan was to check the bottom box. The top two supers were filling up slowly with honey, but I think this one had swarmed. Not sure, but surely the swarm that ended up in Kate's yard a week ago was from the Other...Metropolis had definitely swarmed a week prior...they can't swarm twice, can they...?

That's the Other on the right.
 Quick peek in the top box, a lot of drawing of comb had been going on, fair bit of nectar in there.
 One of the frames that had been in the box over winter, lots of capped honey, but still some bits of brood in there, can't steal this yet (or you get bee-juice in your honey from the spun brood...)
 Spot the Drone time again, ....when I put in the queen excluder in a few weeks ago, I put the queen in the bottom box, but many drones were trapped above the excluder. Too fat to fit through the queen excluder, and no other way out. Even after they died, the clean-up crew workers couldn't fit them through the QX, so they stayed there, all dried up
Excluder removed,  looking down into the brood box...
You can see the drone cells poking out proud of the rest.

 Loads of brood on some of the frames, towards the middle.
 I found two big queen cells at the bottom of a couple of the frames.
One got mashed as I lefted the frame out.
This other  little peanut I carved off.
In retrospect, this was probably a dumb thing to do, but at the time I thought 'better stop this thing from swarming...'.
...Oops, they (probably) swarmed a week ago.....
. ...that means I just killed the unborn new queen...
...this could end badly.
 So, I probably need to get a queen for this one too?
Not sure, need to check my logic, work out what hapened when....
but I got a bad feeling about this.
 At the end of the day, the girls were mighty pissed off with me.
The 2 hives I had looked at, one was apparently queenless, the other I might have just killed their only hope?
On my gloves, those little dots are lots of stingers.
 I know what they look like now, and I'm amazed I don't get stung more.
No stings today, so it was a good day

2011 - 10 - 09 Triple deckers in Northcote

A full day of beekeeping chores today, seemed like it would never end. Assembled 3 boxes, 16 frames, painted 5 boxes, then went through the Metropolis and Other boxes....

 Here's one of the weird half-sheet of foundation frames that Albinas hives came with. Cheaper, and the bees will fill in the rest of the comb as normal, apparently. Thing is, I reckon they'll get a lot more drone comb if you encourage them to freestyle down there....
 Box-drying rack out the front drive.
 Fixing foundation to frames. I find the soldering iron easy and simple, just get it hot and drag it over the wire, with a bit of pressure .
 Melts in nice.
 This girl came over to inspect the painting session.
 After all that, time to play with the bees.
Both these boxes have swarmed recently, I think. The plan is to get another box on top of each, these will hopefully fill up with honey soon.  Both of these doubles are pretty full last i checked, although the swarming would have weakened them, slowed down their work-rate with the population exodus, new queen rearing, and all that goes with it.
 Under the mat, Metropolis
 Lots of capped honey in there, but not fully harvestable yet.
 Lots of 3/4 full frames in the top box.
Still quite a bit of brood on some of the frames, though, which means do not harvest yet...
 I mixed some of the full frames into the new top box, to encourage them to go up there, some empty ones into the middle box..
 Inside 'Other'.
Honey raining down from the broken comb.
2 weeks ago in this box exactly the same thing, so I scraped it all out again.
Very messy, honey everywhere.
 Collected the comb
 Triple deckers.
Fill em' up!
 Oops, got stung. once each hand. Fernergulin tablet.
++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++
Jonas : 9 (7 this season)
Adrian : 0
Edis : 1
++++++++++++++ ooooooooooooo ++++++++++++++

 lots of bees got trapped in the comb I scraped, soaked with honey
Licking each other clean.

 Those white dots on my jeans are bee stings, lodged in the fabric.
Found them as I was geting changed.
I think I actually got stung by one of these, twenty minutes after it had been left in my pants...!
That could have been very painful.
I reckon for every time I get stung, there must be at least 20 attempts..