Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Green Christmas Craft Sale



Dad (Lorne) and I spent the day selling our liquid honey, creamed honey, beeswax candles and body products - lotion bars, healing cream, muscle/joint warming cream and lip balms.

There's lots of Christmas shopping going on in November and December so it's a good time to earn some cash.

If you're a beekeeper, whether it's a living or a hobby, you've got bills to pay.

And keeping bees isn't cheap.

This table at a church craft sale cost $30.00 which is very reasonable.  No commissions on sales either.  Can't beat that kind of deal.

It's always enjoyable to meet customers face-to-face and also answer questions about bees.

Sales were good too which really helps.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It's a Wrap


I put the bee cozy's on the hives a few weeks ago.  The black absorbs warmth from the sun really well and provides the hives with R8 insulation.  I get the wraps from NOD - the same company that makes the Mite Away strips.

As usual I left extra honey just in case we have a really long and cold winter. There's nothing worse than worrying about the bees all winter long because there's nothing you can do to help them.

In Canada once winter sets in the hives really shouldn't be opened as the lids are sealed with propolis to keep out drafts and also lifting off the lid releases all the heat.

I started with 16 hives in spring.  Lost one hive in the fall that went queenless - tried to save it but the robbing was so fierce they didn't stand a chance. I even took the hive home to reduce robbing but bees found the hive at home and robbed it there too.  That was frustrating.

I collected one swarm so ended up with 16 hives.  My plan was to not increase my count very much because they keep me very busy.

I hope your hives do well over the winter season, whether you're in a warmer climate or the cold great north!

Now's the time to think about increasing sales to pay for your equipment by dealing with the beeswax cappings you've collected.  That wax is waiting to turn into cash for you.

Stay tuned for a series of posts on some great things you can make with wax, recipes and instructions will be provided.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Honeycombs are actually built round

Honeycombs are made ROUND not hexagon.  It's the pressure of the adjoining cells that give it the hexagon shape.  Try it yourself with a soap bubble - it'll be round but when there's many soap bubbles they become hexagon shaped,: It's true.  We love the hexagon shape of combs but the bees don't build them in that shape.

It's the pressure of the adjacent cells that cause the round cells to become hexagon. You can test the method yourself by creating one soap bubble on your hand.

Then make many soap bubbles. You'll see that a single soap bubble is round but when there are many they become hexagon shaped.

Source book: The Buzz About Bees - Biology of a Superorganisim by Jurgen Tautz
The Buzz about Bees

This book is amazing and gives many facts about bees that I had never read about in other books and is well worth a read.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Some Good Bee Postures to Know

There are many different postures that bees can make and by observing they can teach you a lot about what they're up to.

This is a guarding pose.

I wouldn't mess with them if they're doing this karate-like pose.

Another Alert pose to watch for which means they're on guard or upset is when their antennae stick straight out.

Notice her antennae are on "high alert".


This is fanning.

They hunch their bodies and oscillate their wings in such a way as to draw air in or out of the hive.  Of course this technique doesn't involve flying.

Fanning is done to dehydrate the honey and also to pull hot air out of the hive in summer.  Fanning is also done after spreading water on the combs to air condition the hive.  It's also done to broadcast other chemical signals - see below.

This bee and in the photo below they are broadcasting the homing scent.

Note the little crack in the end of the butt.  You'll see a tiny tuft of white there.  That's exposing their Nasonov gland which is for home scent.

This is an important sign to see especially if collecting swarms.

Once you've tipped your swarm into a box, if you see them doing the home scenting with their butts in the air, you KNOW you've got the queen in the box.

And it's such an awesome thing to see at that time.  It's a high five moment :)




Friday, November 4, 2016

How bees choose a Home, Swarms and Dancing in Detail

This video talk by Dr Tom Seeley is fabulous.  He explains in great detail how bees choose a site, how the waggle dances progress and how the bees choose a site.

He's also written an excellent book called The Honeybee Democracy.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Honey Bee Waggle Dance and Democratic Decision-making

This is the best video I've seen to date that demonstrates the interpretation of the waggle dance.  It's easy to understand because they show the bees in slow motion and overlay the directional information.  Takes the mystery out of it.

Also and equally fascinating is what we now know is the "honey bee democracy".  The queen is not in charge of the hive.  Her job is as an egg layer.  She's far too busy to give instructions to the workers on what to do.

Instead, no one is actually in charge and decisions are made by a vote of the majority.  True democracy at work.

See the U-Tube video:


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Leaf Cutter Bee Nest


Have you ever seen the perfect round holes cut into a broad leaf plant?  I have and I always wondered who did it?

It's the leaf cutter bee.  I have several Eastern Red Bud trees and they have very large heart shaped leaves.  Leaf cutter bees really like these leaves.

Once I saw a bee on the tree but she flew off too fast for me to get a better look.  So the photos are not mine.

But I did get these photos of the actual nest.

In one of my bee yards I have bricks on top of the hives to give weight against wind or predators.

One of these bricks has a groove in the top and I had it upsidedown.

This happened to make a perfect nest site.

Of course I never did this intentionally and discovered the nest when I lifted the brick up to do an inspection.

I used my hive tool to carefully lift up the two nests and shifted them to the hive next door while I worked on my hive.

Then while I was carefully putting everything back the way it was, mom came by.

She fussed with the leaves which I had disturbed a little bit and then she crawled into the end piece, obviously to lay an egg.

I thought she'd be a much bigger bee, but she was about the same size as a honey bee, with black and yellow stripes.

The leaves are rolled and folded like oragami.  It's amazing.  Then each leaf cup is nested into the next,.

Each cup would hold pollen and an egg which would pupate and then wait until spring to hatch.

The whole nest is very delicate because it's not glued together.

These bees are important pollinators for flowers and fruit trees.

So cool.  I put everything back very carefully.

Then I found another brick with the groove and I turned it upside down too and put it beside the other one.

Just in case she needed more room for her nest.