Tuesday, September 8, 2009


TIMBER!!! But not my hives--trees!

On Henry's visit back at the end of July he suggested that two trees quite close to the hives could be cut down to bring in more light.

At the time of his suggestion we were heading off on vacation so we didn't act on it at that time.
Then when we were back we were in the process of requeening and queen acceptance and I didn't want to disturb the hives too much. I put off the idea until the fall.

It's certainly fall now. On the drive out to the bee yard I could see that the sunny side of many maples were already turning yellow and red. At least it was a warm day (24) and although it was a little overcast it was still nice out (possibility of rain in the afternoon).
I had a few extra vacation days added onto the Labour Day weekend so we opted to cut the trees down now. The other reason was that my nephew Codie (with the big muscles) was available to come and help us.

The bees looked pretty good in the morning. We arrived around 11:30. I had been noticing that the hives weren't getting much sun until late in the day and now in retrospect I wonder if that has contributed in part to some of the queen problems. Cold overcast and raining days maybe weren't helped because the hives would have been sitting in shaded moist cold air.

Dad brought his axe, hand saw and chainsaw. I brought my cup of tea, some rope for pulling the tree and my camera. Codie brought his muscles.

The $%^##W@*$ chainsaw (insert appropriate explicative) started but it began to smoke--something was wrong--and then after only partially cutting down the tree we stopped it. Then when we tried to restart the thing it wouldn't start. On the up side, we did get almost half the tree cut before the saw died.

So it was the three of us taking turns after that with the axe, and hand saw.

We tied a rope onto the tree and were set to pull it to make extra sure it fell in the right direction. The tree was only 1' from the hives so we needed to be certain it was falling away from and behind the hives.

And it did. It's always fun to shout, "TIMBER!"

We also took down a dead tree at the back of the hives. Codie did this by tying a rope on it and pulling it half down and then jumping on it until it fell the rest of the way. Yes, we're a little unconventional, but hey, we didn't have a working chainsaw and we wanted the job done.

The bees didn't appear too disturbed by all this. Around 2:30 I noticed that hive activity increased on both hives. I've noticed that around 3:00 the hives seem to get busy. I think it has something to do with the sun hitting the hives at that time. So now hopefully the sun will hit the hives much sooner in the day and encourage the bees to go out and forage more.

The other advantage will be the increased air flow in the area. I noticed right away that the air seemed more fresh because the foliage wasn't holding the humidity down under the leaf canopy.
I've been trying to think of all the variables that brought about the bee issues this year - bees on both hives that felt they needed to supersede when both had 1 year old queens with good laying patterns. It shouldn't have happened. A summer in southern Ontario is usually hot and dry (lawn watering restrictions in the city). But this year was like last year, rain and like 12 tornadoes!!! You probably heard about them on the news. On the days it wasn't raining outright it was overcast and cold with temperatures around 17 to 20 Celsius most days. It should be between 26 and 30+ degrees.
When thinking about the cold and damp I realized that the trees were probably contributing to the bees unhappiness. They made the hives shaded even on the most sunny days. There was some sun that could get through but not enough I think to make the bees feel warm enough to go out and forage.
We still have some sunny days this fall and there could be a beautiful "Indian Summer" yet so I hope the bees now enjoy and are happy with the redesign.


Anonymous said...

Great post, as usual.

I'm so glad the new queen seems to be doing well.

Kat said...

Chain saws are very tempermental. I cannot believe how cold it is there already! Unless you are talking in Celsius degrees.

Lynn said...

We had to cut 10 trees out of my garden and beeyard last fall. I always hate to lose trees, but we live on over an acre of heavily wooded land and cutting really benefitted the amount of sun on the bees. There's one more that had to go this winter. I think your bees will benefit from the cutting.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

Kat. yes it is celcius so it's still t-shirt and maybe a sweater in the morning weather but it's been like that all summer. I think my a/c came on once all summer.

Lynn - I hate cutting down trees too because I'm a tree hugger. But when I looked at this 200+ acres of swamp full of trees I realized it was fair to cut down 3.

Christy - yes the queen appears to be doing well :)