Thursday, July 13, 2017

We Wear Socks in the Bee Yard for a Reason

One thing I know for certain: Bees will never go up your pant legs when your hands are empty.

It'll always happen when you're holding a super so flowing over with bees that you can't set anything down quickly to deal with the little runner going angrily up your leg.You won't even have a hand free to (God forbid) squish her.

When Dad was new to the bee yard he wore the bee gear to use the whipper-snipper to clear grass from in front of the hives. But he forgot one minor detail. To put the socks over the pant legs.

The bits of grass where like shrapnel on the fronts of the hives (I got him to stop and to only use the lawn mower out front) but it was too late for him. Angry bees had gone up his pant legs. He ran to the car and the next minute his pants were around his ankles while he shooed no more than five bees out of his pants.

For me, it happens frequently when I'm shaking bees off something over the hive. There's always a few that hit the ground and often they end up my pant legs. I try stamping my feet really hard which can often knock them down. Then I raise my leg and shake. But more often than not they're still there.

This frustration is easily avoided by pulling your socks up over your paint legs.

One time I had bare feet in my work boots and I ended up later in the day going up a ladder to collect a swarm. This kind of unexpected activity is where you get caught. I had no socks to pull up over my pants. So put an extra pair of socks in your bee vehicle.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Washboarding - Housework for Bees

If you've taken up beekeeping then it won't be long until you see a chore bees do outside the hive.  It's called washboarding.

The bees will be next to each other with a bit of space between then and they will appear to be moving in a rhythmic movement back and forth.

They don't always move in sync but they can often appear to be.

What are they doing?  They're using their tongues to clean the outside of the hive.

They'll mostly do this outside the entrances of the hive.

This is a task that I often see bees do once the population is built up so in a lot of ways it's an indicator of a strong hive.

See the video of the bees washboarding below.


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Best Homemade Protein Patty Recipe for Honey Bees

A couple years ago our bee club had a presentation by one of the Tech Team members of the Ontario Bee Association.

The team had done an extensive study  to find out what is the best protein supplement to feed bees.

They used all of the well known brands available on the market and also visited the USA to find out what the commercial beekeepers were using as a supplement.

They tried them all and studied the results on the hives tested.

The winning recipe came from commercial beekeepers in the USA.  They've posted the easy homemade recipe on the Ontario Bee Association's website (Ontario Bee Assocation) and you can view it at:

Homemade Protein Supplement Recipe for Honey Bees

Friday, June 30, 2017

Visual Cues for Bees

I'd read about visual cues for bees and I started to put different stickers on the fronts on my hives to help bees get back to the right hive.

Ever since I lost a queen who I found dead from a sting outside a hive I've added visual cues for the bees.  She had been on a mating flight and even still had drone parts in her rear.  I believe when she returned from her mating flight she went into the wrong hive.  At that time I had both hives identically painted and sitting side by side.

[photo - stung dead queen after returning from mating flight]

Now if the hives are side by side I change the orientation of the front, even if it's only by 10 degrees because the differences aid the bees in returning.

A few weeks ago I collected a small swarm from Home Depot.  They had landed on patio furniture at the front door.  As I swept the bees into the box I could tell these were young and inexperienced bees with a virgin queen because the swarm was small and that they were home scenting in multiple locations and took longer to figure everything out.

[photo - original first two hives with identical painting sitting side by side]

I wanted this hive placed in my yard with lots of drones so the queen could get mating done safely and get to the business of laying eggs.  I put a piece of black gorilla tape about 1 1/2" to the left of their top entrance as a visual cue.  I especially wanted their new queen to get back into the right hive after her mating flights.

Black tape on green super to the left of the entrance & new purple super on top[Photo - green super was the top box with tape marker to the left of entrance.  New purple super added and tape moved up to the new entrance]

A few weeks later I checked and the queen was busy laying and they had capped and opened brood.  I went to add a super and I removed the tape from the lower box and moved it up to the same position on the new super.

What was really cool was to watch how the returning foragers focused on that black tape.  They flew to it, hovered for barely a second and then glided 1 1/2" to the right and went right into the hive.  They had instantly found the new adjusted entry without confusion because of the tape marker.
video[Video - original marker near entrance on top green super]

video[Video - After new purple super added and tape marker moved up as a visual cue for the entrance]

That day was a really busy foraging day so the bees were returning in large numbers.  So, sorry I didn't video that day but on another swarm hive I videoed the same thing so I hope you can see how they use the tape as a locator for their entrance.

Each piece of tape on the front of each hive is placed differently so avoid confusion.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kelly Kettle a Beekeeper's Friend

While camping on an overseas trip my friend got out this metal thing that looked like a canister and in less than five minutes we all had hot coffees in our hands.  Wow.  Very nice to have a warm up on a cold afternoon.

It's called a Kelly Kettle and is an Irish design that's been used for many years   The kettle sits on a base where a small fire is created.  The intense heat rises up like a chimney through the hollow center of the kettle and rapidly heats the water.

It takes almost no fuel (leaves, twigs) to create the small fire.  There are also accessories that sit in the bottom fire bowl to cook food or a pot rest that sits on the top of the kettle.

This is great for camping and hiking as well.  Sold by it comes in a lighter weight aluminum or a heavier steel that lasts longer.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bee Culture E-Newsletter

If you didn't know already, there's an excellent and free bee newsletter that you can sign up for to receive an email each day.

Bee Culture is a magazine and the author Kim Flottum wrote the much acclaimed Backyard Beekeeper's book, among others.

They have search robots that troll through the internet looking for bee related news and then they send out articles.

Today's article is about a recent discovery that bees can see far better than scientists realized.

You can view it and also sign up on their website:

Bee Culture - Bees See Better

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Wax Moth Caterpillars saving us from plastic

This short video is very interesting.  A beekeeper and scientist happened to notice how wax moths chew plastic very effectively and now they're exploring the possibility of using them to solve our plastic problems.  More info at the link below

Wax Moth Caterpillars

I have seen how these caterpillars not only chew the wax but also the wood of the frames.  They've got quite the strong mouth parts to be able to do that.